Archive | October 2012

Offending Jesus: The Christian Response

To celebrate seven years of success, Chapel Bar in Aucklund, New Zealand, did what any respectable establishment would have done.

They reduced the crucifixion of Christ to a pizza-fueled sexual escapade.

Nothing says We’ve made it, like a bit of old-fashioned sacrilege. I saw this image on Buzzfeed with the caption, “If you’re a devout Christian, prepare to get your knickers knotted.” Naturally, I clicked. As a Christian, I have to admit I was offended. Turning the perfect image of agony and grace into a shameless sexual innuendo is pushing the envelope a little far, in my opinion. Consider the context.

Imagine an ad agency turning the slaughtering of Native Americans, or the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. into an edgy ad for potato chips.

How about a billboard for the Fall opening of a coffee shop featuring a sad-faced scarecrow hanging on a fence, mimicking the brutal death of Matthew Shepard? Why not a few Holocaust jokes commemorating the anniversary of a local bakery? Read More…

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How Not To Handle Politics

I seldom wax political, but in light of the impending election, and the gross amount of vitriol dripping from the social media machine, I have decided to toss my hat in the ring and offer a simple How-Not-To list. A penny for your thoughts…

1. Make politicians into 2D caricatures of themselves.

These days, we rely on soundbites and smear campaigns to inform our decisions. This reduces candidates to cardboard cutouts on which we pin medals or throw darts. We strip them of all humanity and nuance, but people are more complex than that. We know this of ourselves. We hate to be painted with broad brush strokes, but that is exactly what we do to politicians.

Spend a little time with fact checking. Research voting histories and career track records, and avoid placing blind trust in the mainstream media. If your assumptions are confirmed, vote accordingly, but don’t cast your ballot based on the emotional appeal of a thirty second commercial.

2. Satan or Savior

He’s either the savior of the world or the devil in flesh… My vote will decide! – Jonathan Martin (on voting logic)

Looking at the Internet, it is hard to locate middle ground. The candidate is either the hope of the world or its ultimate destroyer.

For some, Obama is the love child of Oprah and Captain Planet—Clean air for everybody! And you get a car, and you get a car. For others, he is a closet Muslim Socialist working on a plan to provide every female citizen with an in-home abortion kit.

Read More…

The gap between belief and action

You’re home. Someone walks in and tells you your house is on fire. After sorting through questions like, “Who are you?” and, “How did you get in here?” assuming you believe them, what are you going to do? Get out, right? Of course. Your belief will result in action.

This is the analogy I have often used to describe authentic belief in God. It’s more than a mental ascent, more than empty words. If a person believes that Jesus is the only hope, he or she will step away from the way things used to be, life will take on a different appearance.

I think the analogy works in essence, but looking at my life, it is easy to see a gap between certain things I believe and the actions I have taken as a result.

I truly believe cardio and exercise greatly benefits overall health, but the tread on my running shoes would tell a different story. I know that I would be wise to cut dairy and sugar out of my diet, but as I write this I am staring at the empty wrapper of the ice cream bar I just finished.

My belief doesn’t correlate with my actions.

You have probably noticed this in your own life, distances between what you know to do and what you actually do.

These gaps take on different forms, depending on the person. For some, it’s laziness. For others, apathy or selfishness. I don’t think it’s as simple as you either believe or you don’t. For many of us, there is a gulf fixed between brain and foot, faith and response.

In scripture, Jesus encountered a man who was really good at keeping the rules. He approached Jesus with a question. “What can I do to guarantee eternal life?” Jesus responded with one requirement, an action plan. Read More…

Modern Prayers

We live in a time of unprecedented connectivity. This is at once beneficial and problematic, as we are presented with new distractions and temptations. I have compiled a list of modern prayers to assist us in our social media endeavors.

Lord, help me be more like the person I am on Twitter.

This is one I have actually prayed. The person I am on Twitter, at least in my perception, is sarcastic, yes, but also encouraging, God-honoring and genuine. But is it really me? I have distilled my best thoughts into 140-character bursts with the luxury of a delete button. Sections of my life lay on the cutting room floor. I encourage people to #initiatelove, but how am I doing with that?

Help me to seek the approval of God and not the “Likes” of men.

So, you publish a post on Facebook. How often do you check back to see who liked it?

  • No likes = Should I not have said that? Was it not funny enough? I can do better. I swear I can!
  • 1 or 2 likes = Modest, but at least someone knows what I’m talking about. Thanks, Mom!
  • 5 to 10 likes = Sweet validation. You’re welcome, Facebook.
  • 15+ likes = This is the danger zone. You would have been better off staying at 5-10. At this range you become a greedy auctioneer. “Do I hear 20 likes? Who’ll give me 30?”

Behold the power of the little white thumb. Living for the approval of other people is an exercise in chasing the wind. God help us.

Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from those provocative links on Facebook.

Have you seen this? “Friends, I have been hacked.” Read More…

Christians and Bad Art

For many years, the Christian church has been the subject of artistic criticism. Theological, social, and political critiques aside, much has been said about the lack of creativity.

In the future, I plan to dedicate a whole week to this topic, affirming some of the criticism, as well as defending what I believe to be amazing art coming from the Christian community. For now I will focus on one thread.

The biggest charge against Christian artists has been that there is a lack of honesty in the work presented, that everything feels forced or contrived, too safe.

Honestly, I understand this argument, and agree in large part. Much of what you see when you walk into a Christian book store is not-so-clever remixes of popular culture.

Take these for instance:

Rosie the Riveter and Monster Energy drinks go to church. It’s novelty, and while it is by no means exclusive to Christian companies, this is the church’s prevalent offering to the marketplace.

This should not be. Read More…

It’s time to kill this lie.

The hardest lies to kill are the ones we want so desperately to believe. They just sound right. Like this one.

God will never put more on you than you can bear.

You’ve heard this before. It’s like a warm shelter in a snow storm.

If only it were true.

I listen to a radio show called This American Life. Every week they take a theme and share various stories surrounding that theme. Last week’s episode, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” featured incredible stories of survival through some of the craziest experiences.

The show opened with a clip from a stand up routine. The comedian started her set with this greeting:

I have cancer. How are you?

Straight deadpan. You have to hear the delivery to appreciate it. It gets worse from there. This is what the last four months of her life have looked like:

  1. She was hospitalized for a condition where bacteria started to eat her digestive tract. She then got Pneumonia.
  2. A week after she was released, her mother died in a tragic slip-and-fall accident.
  3. She then went through a break up.
  4. Finally, she was diagnosed with stage two cancer. Read More…
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