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How do we change the world?

For much of my life, I held the opinion that Christians were wise to keep their noses out of matters of state and culture. After all, Planet Earth, along with its unsavory inhabitants, is headed to hell in a handbag. A literal hell, with flames and tears and gnashing teeth.

Therefore, we should spend our limited time wisely, plucking souls from the gas-soaked Louis Vuitton before the match is lit, moving as many people as possible from lost to found.

What is the point of pushing social and political change in light of the reality of hell, to make the ride a little more comfortable?

How valuable is a vote or a tiny carbon footprint when eternity is crouching around the corner? Christians should be planting churches, not running for office or helping Al Gore combat Global Warming. Right?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was operating from an Either/Or worldview, either focus on the culture or focus on God’s kingdom. But much of the faith experience—much of life in general—is actually Both/And.

Grace and Truth.

Justice and Mercy.

The Here-And-Now and The Hereafter. 

John Piper says that “Christians tend to be in two camps: Caring only about suffering now or caring only about suffering in eternity.”

Sadly, for years I proudly pitched my tent at Camp Eternity—not that Camp Now is a better alternative.

Ignoring eternity to clean up the present is like dressing someone up for a car wreck.

So, what is the proper approach? Read More…

Abortion. I know. It’s a tough topic.

I’m surprised you even clicked the link. Abortion is one of the most polarizing topics in history. Whether you call it murder or mother’s choice, you are generally advised to keep it to yourself. Take your issue to the ballot box, but keep it off the table. Right?

Well, since this blog is committed to hanging out at the intersection of theology and culture, and since this past Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here goes nothing.

I have attached a 30 minute audio clip of a sermon by Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. Wherever you sit in the debate, I think you will find this talk thought provoking. I hope you’ll take the time to listen.

Life (Matt Chandler)

Since I know many of you will choose not to listen, I am including some highlights from his sermon below.

He opened up discussing the tragedies at Sandy Hook and Penn State. It is important to note that he was by no means minimizing the events.

“I contend to this day that we would have been shocked, but we would not have nearly been as undone if he had simply shot the adults.”

“We really dug in because, for us, the soft spot in American culture is our children. Don’t touch our kids. We’ll change the laws about it. We’ll relook at how we’re handling health about it. You can’t do it. It’s the one thing that really brings us together and makes us collectively have a desire for justice.”

“… to see our absolute outcry over thirty children who were abused (Penn State) or murdered (Sandy Hook) and the lackadaisical, non plugged in, non concern about 53,000,000 abortions that have occurred since Roe v. Wade in 1973.”

On arguments in favor of abortion: Read More…

149 Less Slaves

I recently shared a documentary on [theo]culture about the mission to rescue more than 27 million men, women, and children from a life of slavery.

That’s right. Slavery.

It isn’t just a dark era is history past. Today, in this country and abroad, people are purchased and sold like animals.

Most of us are oblivious. We’re too busy checking Facebook. And the major news outlets, with the exception of CNN, would rather talk about Lindsay Lohan’s latest bender than bring attention to this modern-day tragedy.

Thankfully, there are organizations on the ground actually making a difference. International Justice Mission, one of the organizations behind the documentary, released some encouraging news this weekend.

With the help of affiliate human rights group, Jana Jagriti Kendra, 149 men, women, and children were released from captivity in Hyderabad, India. You can read the full article here.

The men and women shared how they had been physically beaten and forced to work 18 to 22 hours a day – sleeping for an hour or two and then resuming their back-breaking work in the brick kiln. A pregnant woman told how she had pleaded for rest when she was pregnant; instead, she was kicked by her manager. One man had raw wounds so deep that the bone showed through. Read More…

What if we are the problem?

As much as I love the networking and information exchange that social media provides, it doesn’t come without a price.

You have to wade through advertisements, complaints, and images that say, “Like this if you think pit bulls get a bad wrap,” as if somewhere Roscoe the pit bull is scrolling through his News Feed in search of restitution—”Finally, somebody gets it.”

I truly wish a “like” button could cure cancer, end child abuse, and put a stop to animal cruelty. Unfortunately it can’t, but that sure doesn’t stop my friends from trying.

There are, however, bright spots in the social media universe. I came across this on Instagram a few weeks ago and I immediately saved it to my phone.

It’s short, simple and uplifting, everything you could want from an image. In a sea of coffee mug shots and shameless bathroom mirror pics, this is like Tiger Balm for the soul.

%22There's nothing wrong with you%22

The only problem I have with it is the fact that it’s utter nonsense. Read More…

My Grandmother, The iPod

Facebook, I think, is the best way to tell the ones you know and love, or at least those you met once at a thing somewhere, how you truly feel, all in one fell swoop.

I do it all the time. It’s quite cathartic, actually. I also enjoy reading the musings of others, and recently a Facebook friend of mine, who also happens to be a family member, posted something that caught my attention.

Without directly quoting, it was something of an indictment on the blatant consumeristic frenzy that is Christmas, the way people turn into brutal savages, hunting down close parking spots and red-tag bargains.

My cousin pointed out that in 40 years people aren’t going to be thinking about the gifts they bought or received, rather the family members that have passed, or the moments that they wish could be relived.

I could not agree more. When some nut whacks a person in the face for the last copy of Transformers 2 on DVD, there is a problem. I mean, that movie sucked. And every year someone is getting trampled in the foyer of a store, or getting sideswiped for a parking spot. It’s disgusting.

“I want to show my family that I truly love them. I’ll do whatever it takes to buy them the perfect gift, even if that means shanking some fool in the line at Wal-Mart.”

Come on people.

As I thought further about the post, something else hit me. An underlying viewpoint came to the surface. My cousin is an Atheist. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing really, except for the context of the post itself. Going crazy over “stuff” is ridiculous.

Cussing people out over things that are going to break, wear out, or become obsolete is pointless. I remember begging my parents for gifts that I “had to have,” only to forget about them weeks later. What matters is family and friendship, people to share your life with.

But what are people? From an atheistic standpoint, at the end of the day, people are simply the result of spontaneous evolution, a collection of cells that have joined to make up what we now know as humans, the greater apes.

There is no creator. No intelligent design. Just billions of years of evolution at work.

Boiled down, we are products. Products of an evolutionary process. The “love” that we feel for one another is no more than chemical reaction, the way we have learned to respond.

In a way, we are consumers of one another. Time spent together, family parties, romantic evenings are just how we consume the product. Right?

Forty years from now my ipod is going to be an ancient artifact. My car will belong in a museum, my clothes long gone moth food. But what about my Grandma? If there is nothing after all this, if we are but a link on the evolutionary chain, does she really matter once she expires?

She was here. It was fun while it lasted and we will all sure miss her, but when she’s gone that’s it. She’ll go back to the earth she evolved from.

Does that sound right? Why doesn’t that sit well? Why does my comparing my Grandmother to an mp3 player make me sick to my stomach? I think it’s because we know better than that. I think deep down we know there is something more to this human experience.

It’s insane to clamor and fight over consumer goods that only bring temporary fulfillment.

But if we are just animals with an expiration date, evolutionary products to be consumed, isn’t it equally ridiculous to fight for love? Isn’t it a waste of time and money to develop medicines that cure disease and prolong life? Why cry at funerals? Every product has a shelf life, right? Are we any better?

I think so. I think you do too.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: lifeshots (Creative Commons)

Where was God at Sandy Hook?

20 children. 6 adults. A senseless massacre in what should have been a safe place.

“Where was the ‘God of love’ in all of this? How could he allow such vile things to happen?”

It’s a hard question, but a reasonable one.

Why would an all-powerful, all-loving being allow a madman to destroy the lives of so many people, the ones who died and those forced to live without them? I won’t even pretend to understand how these families feel right now.

I can’t say I wouldn’t shake my fists at the Heavens if I were in this situation.

So, where was He? Was He absent, arms folded in the distance? Events like these cause many people to deny the possibility of a loving Creator.

I would simply say this.

Denying the existence of God based on the presence of tragedy is like denying the existence of love based on the presence of hate. Read More…

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