Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Partying Presbyters?

I normally try to keep Wednesdays focused on worship, but this just came across my desk. I guess it can tie into the ordination vows and examination taken (pp. 531-532 of the BCP).

Mr. Malia - a priest in the Bethlehem diocese - has been removed from office over his night-clubbing and flagrant party-spending. The bishop has done what countless committees fail to do - correct bad behavior. This is part of why I think that our postmodern age has realized a time for the return of episcopacy. Let's see what happened:
Driving from distant Wilkes Barre, Pa. - where bedtimes are early and life is slow - Malia would arrive in clubland and shell out thousands of dollars in tips, send bottles of Dom Perignon [ed. roughly $3,500] to fellow clubgoers and squire cocktail waitresses around town on shopping sprees.
What do you want to bet that he preached regularly against rich people spending their money on themselves while there are Millennium Development Goals to be done?
"The facts as reported would be a remarkable departure from normal standards of modest living to which the Gospel calls us," [Bishop] Marshall said.
I wish Mr. Malia well in his remaining line of employment, which may not last long either. I also hope that he will use this as an occasion for repentance and re-evaluation of his baptismal covenant. Perhaps he can even be restored to office? (Hey...Peter was, and don't forget it!)

But for now, thank you Bishop Paul, for being a faithful overseer of the undershepherds.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hunter and the Hunted

The Daily Mail reported on a harrowing hunt in Barrow, Alaska.


Apparently, Barrow (Alaska's northernmost town) has a history of these critters getting after folks. I'll bet this guy stands behind his governor's approval of the reducing polar bear population.

But he may have a question about why she didn't gun it down, since she can apparently see a lot from her front porch.


h/t PhDiva

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stroking my cupidity

Thanks to PhDiva for Facebook-linking to a site with photos of the 20 Most Beautiful Libraries in the world.

It included one of my favorites: The Old Reading Room of the British Library.


This is where Karl Marx came up with some of his [ahem] curious economic and political theories. But don't hold that against it. The British Museum built around the room, and eventually the library collection was moved to a new (and, in my opinion, less aesthetically pleasing) building. (I mean, look at the bones of this thing! The new building in St. Pancras is just so...square.)

The museum also houses the Enlightenment Gallery (a remnant of the old Kings Library), which is still beautiful in its own right.


More pictures here!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just Chicken IN



I hope your Christmas is a memorable one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Homily for Advent4B

This homily was preached yesterday at St. Stephen Church on the 4th Sunday of Advent (Year B). It's a short homily instead of a sermon because we had our Christmas Play as part of the service.


Here's a link to the readings for the day. Be blessed!

Last week I asked what kind of Christmas you were hoping for.

The texts this week ask a different question of us: what kind of Christmas are you working for?

Sure – holiday flurry:

  • 1 or 2 more people to shop for
  • Several gifts to wrap
  • Food to prepare and a house to clean

How will it all get done?!?

Only one sane answer: teamwork. Everyone pitches in. At our house we have a song: “clean up! Clean up! Everybody everywhere! Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do their share!”

The task before us is insurmountable, unless we have some help from our family. That’s the challenge we find – surprisingly enough – in our lectionary readings today!

Consider David’s plight: David has vowed to establish a house for the worship Lord. In turn, the Lord has vowed to establish David’s house – his royal line – forever!!!

David knows this task will be too much for him, so he rests in the knowledge that his son will be seated on the throne after him. David may not get the job done, but surely his son will carry on for him.

Thankfully for us, David’s greater son was in view – not Solomon, but Jesus. For Solomon would build a beautiful temple, but it would eventually be torn down.

Jesus – David’s greater son – spoke of his own body as a temple; if it be torn down, he would rebuild it in three days! Moreover, Jesus builds his body – the church – as a temple of the Holy Spirit. And he made a promise that the gates of hell could not withstand it.

It’s an amazing promise to David – so great that he doesn’t fully understand what is being given to him in having the messiah come from his family lineage. But this grace will be celebrated by future generations. It will be reiterated by the prophets, until the time is ripe.

As Paul puts it: “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of eternal god, to bring about the obedience of faith.”

God hid these things until his work of establishing David’s line should be complete. The entire nation desired to hear the good news of the coming king. Then, the Lord revealed it. But notice to whom he reveals it!

Our rehearsal of the Christmas story shows that he chose strange people to be witnesses to the miracle: shepherds – the social outcasts of his time; and gentiles – astrologers far removed from the covenant!

God had tried to reveal his plan to a pious priest in David’s lineage named Zechariah, but he didn’t respond – and so his mouth was shut for 9 months until the birth of his son, John who was to become the baptizer.

Contrast that with the annunciation of our Lord to the Virgin Mary. She receives the news of god’s amazing – even far-fetched – plan in humble submission – what Paul would call “the obedience of faith.” She plainly but sincerely responds: “behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Let me ask again: what kind of Christmas have you been working towards?

Advent exists to prepare our hearts to receive Christ just as he is – not as we would want him to be.

So what was it about Mary that made her able to receive the message with such immediate credulity and submission – to perceive the mystery with an eye to obedience?

Some churches have said all sorts of things about her that have little, if any, basis in scripture. Ideas like Mary being conceived without sin – whether true or not (and I doubt they are) keep us from seeing the source of her real power, and thus emulating it.

We can’t afford to miss this, so look with me briefly at your gospel lesson.

1. Notice that she relied on god’s grace. “Hail favored one” it caught her off guard, because she knew she didn’t merit god’s goodness. So she – in her humility – let god define his relationship with her on his own terms.

2. Notice that she relied on god’s presence: “the Lord is with you!” One certainly gets the sense that Mary was a woman of prayer – one who knew how to enter the presence of god. Her prayer in the Magnificat (later in this chapter) shows a personal appropriation of god’s presence for her personal and community life. That sort of intimacy can only come in prayer.

3. Notice lastly that she relied on god’s word. The Magnificat shows a grasp of god’s covenant words and works in the history of Israel, as recorded in holy writ.

4. Moreover, when the word of god comes to her on the lips of an angel, she believes it fully. She knows that virgins don’t have babies – but she knows even more that whatever god purposes, he accomplishes. And whatever his word says must come to pass.

It’s her reliance on god’s grace, mediated through scripture, confirmed in a vibrant prayer life, that ultimately enables her to submit to god’s plan when he presents it and render that obedience of faith.

I’ll ask it again: what kind of Christmas are you working toward?

Christmas is one of those few times, where the space between the world and the church gets thin. People who ordinarily wouldn’t give a second thought to Jesus and the things of god find themselves strangely drawn into the promise of the Christ child.

Sadly enough, it’s a time when those of us who should have Christ at the center of our everyday lives – can somehow manage to edge him out in our rush to make it a perfect holiday season.

I’ll ask it one last time: what kind of Christmas are you working toward?

It’s not too late to take up Mary’s way.

It’s not too late to stop and re-center ourselves in what Christ has done for us:

To trust him completely for your future,

To ardently seek him as he is revealed in his word,

And to adore him in prayer.

But you’d better hurry up… just four more stopping days till Christmas.

Have Yourself a Koine Krismas

I took Greek in undergrad, so I didn't get to sit through Dr. Garrett's punny Greek songs. (I've been told that Movable Nu - to the tune of "Run Around Sue" is a pedagogical riot. Apologies to Dion - or Dio...) Still, since I love parodies and nerdy songs, I couldn't resist.

Hey Dr. Garrett...I think we might have found a new recruitment song!



Because even though I'm now a parsin' presbyter, I'm still a Greekin' DEACON.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holy Hijinx!

Last month, US Border Agents seized a large shipment of Ketamine (or Special K, a "date-rape drug") that the perp claimed were Holy Water bottles.

(Hey...Canadian churches are so empty, who would know the difference. Right?)

Well...that explains some of those Marian apparitions!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

False Gods and False Devils - The War on Christmas

G. K. Chesterton said "Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." Building upon Chesterton’s epigram, there are two forms of moral blindness, blindness to actual evil and seeing evil where none exists.

The bias in the mainstream media about Islamic Supremacist terror (calling it "unrest" or "freedom fighters") is an example of moral blindness to an existing evil. The statement by Nelson Mandela that America wants a world holocaust is an example of false devils - seeing an evil where none exists. A young leftist on TV claimed that the CIA destroyed the twin towers in New York. Conspiracy theorists of this sort have a double moral blindness - blindness to an actual evil combined with delusional perceptions of false devils.

One false devil that needs to be slain is the whole "war on Christmas." I'm sure you've heard about it, so I needn't go into any great lengths describing it. Don't get me wrong: I love the traditions we've received in this country that are used to hallow the Feast of our Saviour's Birth. Christmas trees from Germany (through Victorian England), Caroling from the French (again, through England), Santa Claus from the Dutch, etc. These have become such a part of the fabric of our national life that it seems impossible to remove them.

However, if people call them "holiday trees" and play "holiday music," what is it to me? They were pre-existing cultural expressions that were taken up in the service of the culture's interest. From the Middle Ages to the late Modern Era, the culture's interest was tied to Christianity (in the West, at least). That is no longer the case. So these cultural artifacts go back to doing what they've always done: reflect the culture. (And serving the crumbling gods of this age: Mammon.)

But Christians (or at least churchy-folk) get so tied up in who's not displaying a nativity scene, or who is giving equal time to other religious winter-time traditions, that we have no time to deal with the real evil: the war on Christ's Mass. We demand that the stores have ol' Saint Nick (though we do not even recognize him as the sainted Bishop of Myra), play Christmas Carols (preferably in muzak so we needn't be haunted by the words), and say "Merry Christmas!"

But most of these Christmas Commandos (in America, at least) neglect the holy preparation of Advent. Many churches aren't even open on Christmas Day for services! Remember what happened in 2005, when Christmas was actually on a Sunday? ("It'd be such a burden when we have all the family in." Wait, didn't Jesus say something about family values?)

And then the season of Christmas is abruptly over on 12/26 (National Return-the-crap-you-got-for-that-XBoxGame/Sweater-you-really-wanted Day). Where is Holy Innocents (c'mon, Prolifers!!!)? Where is Holy Family? Where is Epiphany? Where is Candlemas?


If anybody has been waging a war on Christmas, it's the Christians...the people who cram so much secular stuff into our commemoration of Christ's Nativity that we fail to leave room to prepare our hearts, our families, and - dare I say it - our churches and communities to welcome the birth of the King who comes in humility. And the atheists know it.

Which brings me to my second point. Plato said that courage is a combination of knowing what not to fear, combined with perseverance in opposition to that which is harmful and evil. This is where our insistence on playing the game of the Christmas War has really cost the church a great deal. In November, video game sales increased 10% (nearly $3 BILLION dollars, adding to the previous $19BILLION spent in the preceding months).

Let's put that in perspective. While we're swilling away our eggnog and CokeZero, over 1.1 billion people on the planet (17% of the earth's human inhabitants) can't even drink the water they have locally. Every 8 seconds a child dies from a water-borne disease. Did you know that for less than $10 billion dollars, the entire world could be given safe, clean drinking water? Thank God some people still know what to do with our national largess.

You've still got a week. Make this Christmas count.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Rahm, O Rahm, Emmanuel

Though I really haven't the time, I'm suspecting that by next Advent this won't be as funny. Necessity is the mother of ADvention

(C'mon....you know the tune.)

Oh Rahm, Oh Rahm E-mman-u-el
I hope you have a senate seat to sell!
Chicago politics written large,
Now that Obama has been put in charge.

Refrain

Rejoice, pro-choice! Emmanuel
has cabinet and judges seats to sell.

O come, desire of nations, blind
Us with your soaring rhetoric, sublime.
Bid rising waters hasty retreat,
And be the presidential Prince of Peace.

Refrain

Rejoice, pro-choice! Emmanuel
has cabinet and judges seats to sell.






Worship Wednesday - Psalmody

In case it isn't clear from my blog, I'm made from a blend of Christian traditions. I was baptized as a Methodist (twice!), raised (razed?) a Pentecostal, then (after a stint in neo-Paganism / Panentheism / Agnosticism) became a Presbyterian. It was in the Presbyterian / Reformed tradition that I gained a sense of who I was in Christ, so I owe a depth of gratitude that I'll never be able to pay.

However, now - by immutable decree of Almighty God in His good providence (and, I suspect, humor) - I am an Anglican. And we pray through up to three Psalms in each of our daily offices. This has rejuvenated a portion of my Presbyterian posterior - psalmody. I'm trying to find (or arrange) our Sunday Psalm readings into singable formats. Luckily, there are some really great Psalters out there - mostly from the Scots-Presbyterian tradition. CGMusic hosts three of them online, with playable MIDI formats! It's become one of my favorite tools.

But it let me down slightly for this Sunday's BCP reading (which - while allowing the whole psalm, focuses on David's establishment of a house of worship - and the LORD's establishment of David's house). So I came up with a new one - somewhat eclecticly chosen from what was there, and some of it the work of my own fevered imagination.

8 Arise, O Lord, inhabit now
your constant place of rest.
You and the ark of your great strength,
with us your presence bless.
9 Let all your priests be cloth-├Ęd, Lord,
with truth and righteousness.
Make all your saints with songs of praise
Shout loud for joyfulness!

10 And for your servant David’s sake,
suffer not, Lord, I pray.
The face of your Anointed one
to ever turn away.
11 The Lord to David did make oath,
sworn on His name alone:
12 “A son from your own body shall
I seat upon your throne.”

13 And if your sons my cov’nant keep,
and to my laws submit,
Their children too, forevermore
Upon your throne shall sit.”
14 The Lord himself has Zion chose,
there He desires to dwell.
15 “This is my ever-bless’d abode,
for I do love her well.”

16 “And I will bless with great increase!
Her food stores everywhere.
With living bread I'll satisfy
The poor and needy there.
17 With salvation I’ll robe her priests!
From saints, my praises flow.
18 There David’s son shall ever reign,
the Lamp ordained to glow.

I'm thinking this goes nice with Ellacome ("I Sing the Mighty Power of God!") which is very familiar. However, Forest Green would also be lovely (though less familiar).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not Pro-Life but Pro-Lifestyle

This is what is happening all around us.



Don't listen to any Democrat who says they're for bailouts because they want to help "the little guy." Likewise, don't listen to any Republican who says they're for the bailout because of the economy. (Free markets just don't work that way, gang!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Seeing the world as a Calvinist

Apparently, a Dutch scientist has found a difference between Calvinists and Atheists when it comes to pattern recognition.

Maybe that's why we're soooo good at seeing the speck in someone else's theology, and so unable to see the log in our own practice?

I dunno...I'm skeptical of any causal connections found or posited. But it's true that an emphasis on God's sovereignty can cause one to see the world in a different light.

You might have heard the joke about the Calvinist who fell down a flight of stairs. A friend who saw it all take place asked: "Are you alright?"

To which the Calvinist replied: "Well...I'm glad that's over."

I have a friend - really the father of a friend of mine - who helped me understand practical Calvinism. At the time, I was as Arminian as pentecostals come. I would say that in evangelism, Calvinists had to be the coldest, hardest, merciless people imaginable. He retorted that when things get tough, a good Calvinist is in a much better position to sing God's praises.

That man is going through an awful battle with cancer - one he may not pull through. Yet every picture of him has a smile, and he has a quiet confidence in God's goodness and living for God's glory. It's a beautiful thing - and it's touching the lives of people who are immune to the Arminian "decide today, or burn tomorrow" rhetoric.

Why? Because he sees a pattern to God's goodness that is beyond the limits of his own understanding. He sees a purpose to his life that is beyond his own comfort, health, or salvation. Maybe that scientist was on to something after all....

What does your theology let you see when you're in the midst of suffering?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Worship Wednesday - WOW



Thank God, the contemporary Christian music has taken a turn toward actual worship of God in his attributes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Truly wonderful the mind of a child is

Justin Barrett, Ph.D. (Cornell, Experimental Cognitive Psychology) was sponsored in a debate at Oxford's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology's Centre for Anthropology and Mind (hosted by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion) yesterday. The topic was religiosity in children.

Barrett argues that children are naturally inclined to have a belief in God by the deep structures of our brains. This is a subject of deep interest to those interested in the study of cognitive and evolutionary processes in religion.

Of course, the old saying is true: the scientists will climb the heights of knowledge, only to find the theologians and philosophers camped at the summit.

I think Jesus and Paul had something to say about that....

Still, I'm reminded of what Malachi 2:13-16 teaches about marriage:
  1. that is should be life-long
  2. that a primary intention is the propagation of faithful children
Is your church set up to evangelize those who are most ready and willing to receive the good news of the gospel?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Teh Interweb Makes Us Weird








Can I get an AMEN?



Whether it's the depraved erotic fetishes out there or the bizarro religious nuts, the internet has normalized elements of cultural malignancy. Want proof? I'll say this: I had an unnerving revelation after I gave a communion meditation concerning Euodia & Synteche gathering around one bread and one cup.

Thanks, Wondermark!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Give Her Four Stars

This has been in the works since July, but it was made official on Friday.

Congratulations to General Ann E. Dunwoody on becoming the first woman promoted to four star general. Have an excellent 10 years in grade.

And may you never see five stars.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Global Warming or SeaLab

It seems that TIME is trying to get back into journalism. They've recently reported on a study that suggests a reason for storms causing more and more damage.

No...it's not climate change.

No...it's not governmental incompetence.

It's our mastery of land capture.

We are seeing more damage from natural disasters because we are able to successfully live in more dangerous places.
"There has been no trend in the number or intensity of storms at landfall since 1900," says Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. "The storms themselves haven't changed."
Wait...didn't the Goracle predict worse and worse storms because of American SUVs?

Look, if someone were to build Sealab 2020 and then there were a sudden uptick in people dying from compression sickness or shark attacks, you wouldn't blame deep zone water pressure. Or if SkyLab started experiencing routine lung decompressions, you wouldn't blame atmospheric loss. So why are so many ideologues ready to say "global warming" for every disaster?

There are some elements of human culpability that needs to be addressed: land use and unfair insurance practices.

Before we become hopelessly lost in despair, however, there is good news: we can do something about this problem. We can enact meaningful building codes and stop keeping insurance premiums artificially low in flood zones.

But first we need to understand that disasters aren't just caused by FEMA and greenhouse gases. Says Tierney: "I don't think that people have an understanding of questions they should be asking — about where they live, about design and construction, about building inspection, fire protection. These just aren't things that are on people's minds."

In real estate, the old mantra is Location, location, location. It should be. Some plots are naturally good for building. Others have to have a lot of preparation, then maintenance. It is a poor use of our resources to continually try to fight against natural consequences. It ties up capital and man-power in maintenance rather than expansion.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heresy Helper


Yeah...I know. It's not really a meaty "Theology Thursday" post. But I'm low on time and have surgery coming up next week. Whattayawant?

Thanks, Sacred Sandwich!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Ministry Musing

I know lots of people going through the ordination process in the PCUSA. Someone from the presbytery that oversaw my own process is facing some of the same challenges of being stuck. This individual wrote a poem that got me thinking about my own process. I didn't ask permission to post it, but I used it as a reflection piece - for myself and for those who are stalled out in the process. I changed the wording, but kept the structure and the overall theme. This is like an epistle - if you listen to this end of the conversation, you can probably hear what's going on in the original poem.
What happens if I focus on the ordination process,
becoming callous (non-reverent) from the handling of holy things?
Or, in a desire to be called “Reverend,”
ignore the adjective when it doesn't come from a committee?
What if I miss the everyday chances
to live into my own baptism
because I'm focused on someone else
as a child of the covenant?
What if I never break the bread of hospitality
and pour the cup of tea at my own table,
or if I don't recognize them as “the gifts of God for the people of God”?
What if my voice is never heard (in a choir)?
What if I don't listen to those who set foot in a pulpit?

What if I made seminary about a piece of paper,
Whether a diploma,
or an ordination certificate,
and therefore wasted my time
and all our resources?

What if I believe that my usefulness to God
is equivalent to my usefulness to a denomination,
a local governing body,
a committee,
or a single congregation?

What if I think I'm not good enough,
even though the Lord of the Universe
took on flesh and died in my place,
then sent His Spirit to reassure me
of my place at His table?

What if I used seminary
as a buffer against following God's call?
What if I missed growing during that time
because I was waiting on something at the end...
...instead of waiting on God?

What if I lost sight of the glorious
ministry of the covenant people of God
because I wanted to be in the lead?

What if I missed out on the call to serve
a congregation from out of the midst of them
because I would only listen to a call if it
were duly authorized and passed through
paper channels.

What if I passed over the garment of praise,
the garment of salvation,
and the robe of Christ's righteousness
,
because it didn't look like a Geneva gown?

What if I made the mistake of taking a good thing
and missing out on the best thing.

Lord, I believe.
Help my unbelief.

Lord, You have called.
Help me follow You wherever You call.
Here's Martin Luther's prayer for his own ordination:
Oh, Lord God, Thou hast made me a pastor and teacher in the Church. Thou seest how unfit I am to administer rightly this great and responsible Office; and had I been without Thy aid and counsel I would surely have ruined it all long ago. Therefore, do I invoke Thee. How gladly do I desire to yield and consecrate my heart and mouth to this ministry! I desire to teach the congregation. I, too, desire ever to learn and keep Thy Word my constant companion, and to meditate thereupon earnestly. Use me as Thy instrument in Thy service, Only do not Thou forsake me, for if I am left to myself, I will certainly bring it all to destruction. AMEN.
May all who seek leadership among God's covenant people say Amen!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Looking for the Bright Side

Iowahawk reminds us that there is at least one thing for which we can be grateful.

I'm extremely grateful for the positive example that African American males in this country have in BHO. I long for the day when young boys start to idolize a man who worked hard in school (or at least we assume he did, since he graduated...kind hard to say since he has sealed his records. But that's the new transparency he promised, I guess.). I hope that BHO replaces all the miscreant sports stars and rascally rappers that loom large as a ticket to prosperity. If nothing else, BHO has given a booster shot to the ideology of the American dream for a segment of the populace who - either through oppression, complicity, or indolence - had lost sight of how to succeed in a meritocratic system.

I'm also grateful that is a big-enough win that nobody can say their vote wasn't counted. Granted, some votes were counted that shouldn't have been. (What do you expect of the Chicago political machine writ large?) But at least we don't have to put up with some simps saying that the election was taken from them because their vote didn't count.

Now, let's see if Mr. Obama can live up to his promises of change.

And for all our sakes, let's hope he sticks to his promises for a new day better than he stuck to his promises about public funding. (Wait...does this mean we can drop the rhetoric about the Republicans buying elections? Another silver lining!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why Democracy is Broken

Because people think that government is here to help you make it when you can't make it yourself...



...rather than to stay out of your way, or facilitate your own independence.

DEMOCRACY FAIL.

Don't Blame Me

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


Yeah...like I'd vote for either of those clowns.

My vote is solidly with the Kodos party - looking forward to the first woman president.

Election Humor


h/t TotallyLooksLike.com

Sometimes God gives you a freebie

The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of a fool to the left.

Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NRSV)
Left, right, or wrong, go exercise the privilege purchased by the blood of patriots!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Priorities

Lots of folks are talking about our recession and the horrible quality of life we'll have therefrom. I disagree. Our spoiled society doesn't know lack or want.

If you want to look at bad times, look at the deprivation suffered in the 1930s in America. We can't complain when we do this sort of stuff with our money:




Hmm...socialism I could vote for!


h/t Slopshot

On this coming election day: WHERE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More Noble than Nobel

People sometimes ask me why I'm so against the whole global warming topic.

"Even if it's not man-made, doesn't it make sense to get off fossil fuels?" (Yes, it does.)

"Aren't you a corporate shill?" (Not according to my bank account.)

The problem with focusing on global warming is that it draws our attention away from concerns which we can actually address. We end up giving Nobel Prizes to imposter / hypocrites like Al Gore and leave real humanitarians - like Irena Sandler on the left, who was tortured by the Nazis for her aid to the Polish Jews in WWII - behind.
True story.

Bjorn Lomborg eloquently shows that the impact we can have by addressing other human problems (extreme poverty, malaria, food infrastructure) with the BILLIONS being pumped into "green tech" is FAR GREATER than the impact expected by even the most generous global warblers.

We lose the opportunity to deal with injustices which we can actually redress by focusing on that which we cannot effect. This is ethical escapism, in my view. At election time, sloganeering rules the day. FEED THE POOR!!! (But I'm going to ignore my neighbor who is facing foreclosure.) STOP ABORTION!!! (But I have no intention of donating to abortion alternatives or changing my scornful glances at unwed mothers.)

We like to focus on issues that are important, but over which we can do so little. It insulates us from focusing on those issues where we can do something to advance others, defend (and propagate) our values, and make an impact.

I invite you to use whatever energy has been put into the election cycle or whatever your pet issue is and do something locally. You'll feel empowered. Who knows...you may actually start changing things from the bottom up.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Saturday Sweets

I'm not a big sweets fan, but I do have a definite weakness for Coca Cola. Halloween always makes me think of candy (I grew up during the satanist-laced-candy scares of the 1980s, so I'm happy I'm not paranoid over it). Above is a picture of Haribo's Happy-Cola Gummi Candies. Why don’t more companies make cola flavored candy? Am I in a small minority of people that likes the flavor?

Here's a list of the cola-flavored candies I've enjoyed to date.

I'm sure I missed some. I had two or three really lovely ones in London...but what can't you get there?

The Gospel Recovered

Cindy Jacobs (whom I blogged about yesterday) calls her latest book Reformation Manifesto (the "new apostolic movement" often sees itself in line with a new Reformation - which is why they say the older churches oppose them).

But I'm giving a shout out to the REAL Reformation the Church continually needs.



Here's to 491 years of the Gospel recovered!

And here's "the classic"



BLESSED REFORMATION DAY!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exodus 32 to CBN

Self-appointed "prophet" and dubiously-doctored Cindy Jacobs recently announced on CBN that she had a vision - a word from God Almighty - that Christians needed to go to New York City and "pull down the strongman" that was blighting our economy.
The Lord further said, “October 29 was Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed, and Satan wants to do it again.” We must be proactive in prayer. At the beginning of the year many intercessors began to hear from the Lord that without divine intervention, a major shaking was coming to Wall Street. This would spread until there were food shortages....On September 29 last month, the US stock market went down 777 points in one day. Cindy says it was no coincidence that this happened on the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
Okay... While I disagree that God Rosh Hashanah had anything to do with it (other than, maybe, the smartest financiers in NYC were at Synagogue that day), I'm cool with her asking people to pray. I pray for the nation every day - and for people caught up in this economy. Christians are to pray for the welfare of all, and especially their country and its leaders.

But I think Cindy makes some SERIOUS missteps. First, she has this charismaniac idea of territorial spirits - a larger part of a mistaken notion of Spiritual Warfare as something other than sanctification. Here's what she asked people to do:
“We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the 'Lion’s Market,' or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said. “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”


When people that claim to follow God start getting around brazen cattle, I get nervous.


Here's some video of them singing and marching around the bull.

Dancing and singing isn't enough...they even "lay hands" on the thing!



I'll bet these folks know every verse about dreaded sexual sins. I just wonder if they've ever stopped to read Exodus 32.

I'm not waiting for Moses (or Charlton Heston) to come down the mountain and toss stone tablets at them.

But the idolatry police are about to throw the book at'em!!!

This is what happens when we let orthodoxy become something we "used to do." This is what happens when we're so concerned that everyone's spiritual experience become celebrated that we refuse to be biblically discerning for fear of being "critical." We like to think it's something that only "the left" does...but there's so much of it on the right, too.

With "Christianity" like this, America deserves any and every plague God throws at us.

Learn more about Spiritual Warfare here, here, and here.

Irving Norman had the right idea...

Don't Forget To Set Your Clocks Back



Don't forget to set your clocks back before you go to bed on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obamanomics

Obama promises to provide openness in his presidential administration. Yet we don't have a real copy of his birth certificate, his health records are hidden, his academic records at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law are all closed (including his thesis).

So much for openness.

So to get an idea of what he means when he says "spread the wealth" let's hear what he's said in the past:



Did you catch that?
  • Supreme Court is too bound by the U. S. Constitution.
  • We need to make legislative and administrative changes to force redistribution of wealth.
  • It's not a question of if/whether, but HOW!!!
Did you expect anything less from the most liberal senator to run for president?

I'm tingling like Chris Matthews...but I think it's actually a chill running up my spine!

Biden Balks

Looks like somebody at WFTV Orlando didn't get the MainStreamMedia Memo about soft-ball questions only to Obama / Biden.



Quoth the Obama campaign: "We are not amused!"

How dare they question The One or His Mouthpiece....

Monday, October 27, 2008

YES WE CANnula

Before you trust Obama with the military and economic power of this country, you might want to ask what he does with..."bio-hazardous material."



Barack Obama never met an abortion bill he didn't like.

If you want to work against abortion on multiple fronts, I am with you. Education, economics, and - most importantly - changing the culture. Let's get it done.

But don't tell me your pro-choice when you have no desire to extend the protection of life to these babies born alive. Opponents of the Hyde Amendment and proponents of unrestricted access to abortion in all terms (which not even Europe can swallow) are actually pro-abortion.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Choosing sides

of the brain.

http://blog.ted.com/2008/03/jill_bolte_tayl.php#more

So...right or left?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dancing With Democracy


Unbelievable McCain Vs. Obama Dance-Off

Given our current fascination with actually paying attention to reality shows instead of the points of presidential policy, this might be a fairer way of doing things.

And Alec Baldwin's comments SOOOO apply. What a lame double.

Too Late for a Write In?

I HOPE not.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ProChoice Hotels

Clarion Hotels - a family of hotels owned by the Choice Hotels international network - is now offering a discount to victims clients of the Cherry Hill Abortion Mill Women's Center.


Got an upcoming vacation? Business trip looming on the horizon? Church retreat? Let the manager know that you won't be staying at:
until such time as you know your money won't go toward having second trimester abortions.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Worship Wednesdays - The Collect

Something that helped me fall in love with the Anglican tradition was the didactic and liturgical use of the collect. The collect (opening prayer, pronunciation here) has four parts. The collect I believe is a key to liturgy. However, it is regularly abused - a few seconds of just another little prayer near the start of a service, even read together from a printed pew-sheet for the day (reducing it to merely one part).

The word “collect” in Latin is collecta - gathering together. A collect gathers a litany (list of petitions) together into a final, single prayer. Or a collect gathers silent (or even sung) prayer together into a single prayer. This is what the collect is in the Entrance Rite - the Gathering of the Community. As it gathers the silent (or sung) prayers of everyone it functions to gather the individuals into a praying community.

The bidding: The presider invites the community to prayer - “Let us pray”. Or in a more extended way, something like: “Let us pray in silence that God will make us one in mind and heart”.

The silence: This is the heart of the collect. This deep silent praying of the community is what the collect is collecting. If there is no silent prayer, it is not a collect because there is nothing to collect. Without this silence the “collect” is reduced to merely another little prayer cluttering the vestibule at the start of our service.

The collect:* After sufficient silent prayer the presider proclaims the collect, gathering the prayers of the community, and articulating the prayer of the church - the body of Christ. As Christ’s body the collect is addressed in Christ’s name, on Christ’s behalf, to God the Source of all Being, in the power and unity of the Holy Spirit.

Amen: The community makes the collect its own by a strong “Amen” - “so be it”.

The collect when well understood and aptly used can powerfully gather the community, deepen our prayerfulness, and profoundly express much at the heart of Christian spirituality.

*How to Write Your Own Collect
Examples taken from the Collect for Purity
(h/t St. Mary's Cadishead)

Step Task
Collect for Purity
Step 1 - Address Begin the prayer by addressing it to God. Almighty God,
Step 2 - Amplification Call to mind God's character - saying something about what God is like or what God has done. This serves as a mini-covenant renewal, reiterating the character of the Supreme covenant-keeping God to Himself and His people. Sometimes, a motive is used here - reminding God of His undending mercy.
unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid
Step 3 - Petition Ask God to do something that only He can do.
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit,
Step 4 - Purpose Continue by giving a reason for why you are asking, or what you want to happen. that we may perfectly love thee,

Step 5 - Motive Reiterate how this action is in accord with God's purposes and glory.
and worthily magnify thy holy name:

Step 6 - ending the prayer End the prayer, perhaps using a traditional ending, preferably Trinitarian, and finish with ‘Amen’. through Christ our Lord. Amen.


In essence, I see the Lord's Prayer as the basis of this beautiful form of praying.

SUBSTANTIAL THANKS to the good folks at Liturgy.co.nz!

Write your own collect and post it on your blog (or in the comments)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stopping the Death Spiral in the Housing Market

This plan seems to make a lot more sense than what the government is doing right now.

Anybody else up for paying $50 billion (to homeowners mortgages) over five years, as opposed to $700 billion (to Wall Street and banks) this year and more to come?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obaminable Record



Obama never met an expansion-of-abortion bill he didn't like. He is extreme on an issue that is of great importance to a large swathe of Americans.

Unborn babies don't worry about economies. They have few concerns about trade arrangements. And they aren't particularly interested in borders.

I care about all of those things and more. But I can't even begin to care about them until I care about stopping the wholesale slaughter of innocent babies. I know there are some who bemoan the evangelical prolife movement as an overly-narrow single-issue voter turnout. However, I see it more as a foundation from which all other values speak. No one would dare call an anti-poverty agenda "single-issue." Let's demand a full-orbed respect for the anti-abortion agenda as well.

(And let's go further, evangelicals, by making sure that we are taking anti-abortion measures on multiple fronts: legislative, social, economic, educational, etc.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Voter's Guide for Nominal Catholics

This is just priceless. Thanks, Agnus Daily!



Downloadable PDF version found here.

This is just nuts

It looks like this sterling example of American citizenship got more than his fair share of the change we can believe in.
"Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. (ACORN)

ACORN is under investigation in Ohio and at least eight other states - including Missouri, where the FBI said it's planning to look into potential voter fraud - for over-the-top efforts to get as many names as possible on the voter rolls regardless of whether a person is registered or eligible.
Aren't you heartened to see that Obama hasn't left his Chicago-political-machine roots behind? What would an Illinois candidacy mean without significant voter fraud? (Especially by the pros at ACORN.)*

Of course, I think citizens should bring their land of primary residence into the voting booth. That's why this coming Sunday's lectionary text from the Gospel is so important to read right now.

What is your true homeland? How are you going to carry that into the American political process?

*Speaking of voter fraud - check out this zombie-related post on dead voters.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Revvin' Reverend

Did you hear about the Harley-ridin' holy-rollers in southern California? They became bikers to reach the Hell's Angels (and others). Only, when the real Hell's Angels showed up, the Christians forgot to turn the other cheek and a Bible-packin' biker-brawl broke out! Two Hell's Angels ended up getting stabbed.
(BTW, you have to love a church where the Hell's Angels pick a fight...and lose!)

The question I have is this:
Where does the church draw the line in accommodating cultural norms (contextualizing Christianity) in order to reach out to the lost?

We've done this poorly in the past, often by being too strict (think missionary position, or our deracination efforts on the American Indian). We've also been too accomodating to the culture - especially as early Christians reached into pagan Europe.

Apparently, we're not done yet.


Thoughts?