Monday, April 7. Count me in. If you are going to participate then link to Glenn when you post.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Chris posted a quote from C.S. Lewis today that was something I absolutely needed right now. Go read the whole post, but here's an excerpt to convince you:
By members… he meant what we should call organs, things essentially different from and complementary to, one another, things differing not only in structure and function but also in dignity… How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog, and the cat are true members (in the organic sense), precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable. Each person is almost a species in himself. The mother is not simply a different person from the daughter; she is a different kind of person. The grown-up brother is not simply one unit in the class children; he is a separate estate of the realm. The father and grandfather are almost as different as the cat and the dog. If you subtract any one member, you have not simply reduced the family in number; you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost of incommensurables.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
[The title is a bad pun, I know.]
A quick question, and a "simple" one, too. It can be answered with a yes or a no:
Is it possible to worship, celebrate, break bread and have fellowship as Christians and not have an organized, formal structure to "make it happen"?
Even house churches seem to be modeled on some sort of ideal, Platonic "service". There's always a set time to meet, for one ("How will we know when to get together if we don't decide ahead of time?" and even more telling, "How will we schedule it into our lives?") And there's the idea that it is a "service", an event, and a special one at that.
It may be hard to think about in nuclear-family, detached-houses, individualism-rules-over-all modern America, but what if Christ (and Paul) really meant that fellowship was hanging out together all the time? What if there didn't have to be a special schedule to know when to get together because believers were together all the time, and it was more important to then schedule some time to be apart? Even Jesus fled from His followers more than once for some "Me time" - and with followers like me, I would understand completely.
We're told that in many cases New Testament "churches" were really just extended households. It wasn't "house church" as in "everyone shows up at Glen and Glenda's on Sunday at 11:00, bring an item for pot luck to follow", but instead it was "the house is a church, because everyone's living and eating and worshiping together already anyway".
- Do we need a "service" to make "worship" happen?
- More importantly, does God?
- And if you answer "No" to the above, then why do we do it the way we do it?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Home With Me - Chumbawamba
Your world, my world (Repeats)
San Cristobal on New Year's Day
Sunny beach, L.A.
Blue and coral Kirkstall skies
Fairfield Horseshoe in the snow
Clashing worlds in Tokyo
All the bars in County Cork
Heavy rain, New York
I sailed the seven seas
Carved my love on trees
I brought the whole world home with me
Home with me
Your world, my world (Repeats)
Barcelona cobbled streets
Words along the Berlin wall
When it's just about to fall
I sailed the seven seas
Carved my love on trees
I brought the whole world home with me
Home with me
Your world, my world (Repeats)
Graceland's Memphis, Tennessee
Killing time, Napoli
Autumn Warsaw, grey and green
I sailed the seven seas
Carved my love on trees
I brought the whole world home with me
Home with me
As an autodidact whenever I am interested in something it is my natural instinct to read as much about it as possible. I will dive in and read, read, read, picking up the history, philosophy, private languages, infighting and inside jokes as I go. If I am really interested I may even switch over to more formal study and pay for classes in the topic to help ramp up more quickly and completely. So while I have been reading a lot of books about Christianity in the past six or seven years it is also natural for me to consider a more formal theology study process online either through a college (boy, there's a hard one to figure out the gold from the dross) or The Theology Program, which gets good reviews from people who should know. I am not interested in getting a degree in the topic because I feel no "calling". It is more just my usual knowledge acquisitiveness.
But here's the deal - I think when it comes to following Christ that approach is toxic - faith-killing. It was my introduction to historical textual and source criticism of the Bible in my early 20s that caused my first crisis of faith, and that lasted 20 years. It was only by me being able to come to grips with the acceptance of mystery and faith that I was able to reconcile myself to Christianity and return to a place that filled the longing in my heart (weirdly enough, this book helped). I note that while we've been "doing theology" about Christianity for 2,000 years nothing seems settled, and in fact it appears to me there is simply ever more schism and argument and out-and-out hostility and hatred. The buzzword bingo page is up to 260 terms (and growing), many of them quite "technical", and I think every single word or phrase in it is somehow a stumbling block in the way toward what Christ said, lived and died for.
I've already written about why I don't read "the pros" online, and I think after I finish the current theology book I am reading (because I have to finish it - besides, Jeff and I are discussing synchroblogging our reviews) I am going to call a sabbatical on those types of books for a while. Maybe a long while. I just don't see them helping. In fact, they're all no different than any other political or philosophical screed, any other work of man. Each has a bone to pick, a viewpoint to push, and demons to make of anyone who disagrees with them. Each of them dissects God's love for us and leaves us with neither God nor love, but just dry, rattling bones of mere words. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
What about you? Do you think reading about theology as opposed to doing theology (praying, reading the Bible, getting out and loving and helping others) has any place in a life of faith? If "yes", are you sure? Why are you sure? How do you separate any insights gained from mere spiritual materialism? How do you pick who to read?
Friday, March 28, 2008
Tonight is Jon's Cub Scout pack's Pinewood Derby races. He's been working hard on his car with his dad, Bob - they're both very excited. I am glad Bob competed in Pinewood Derbies himself when he was growing up because I have no clue about such things. It will be fun to watch and no matter how Jon's car does I am happy for him and the effort he has put into the car. While many Pinewood Derby cars end up being solely the creation (and ego trip) of the father I can honestly say Jon's done a lot of the work himself. I saw him do some of it (with Bob's help and a bit of mine) at a high school industrial arts shop one evening, roughing in the shape a drill press, band saw and sander. He's hand-sanded and painted it, too. So the car is his. That is as it should be.
Gentlemen, start your engines...
[And perhaps as psychic prep for tonight I watched one of my favorite movies last week while Les was at work.]
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Man, I thought I was starting to see the end of this round of depression. Last weekend was good but this week has just been right back in the dumps again. Work is a big factor that I won't go into that here. Suffice to say the stress there isn't helping and is probably driving 90% of this bout.
What did help today was my weekly volunteer stint at the Samaritan Center. I didn't get my "fix" of it last week due to their being closed for Maundy Thursday but tonight made up for it. We were busy, with 100 families receiving food orders (typical is usually more in the 60-75 family range per two hour shift). It was good being busy because it helped take my mind off of me and place it on people who really need help. So now I am in a better space than I've been since Sunday.
There's a lesson in there somewhere, doncha think?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The kids and I were almost in a car accident this morning. As I was merging on to the highway a state trooper had someone pulled over just up past the entrance ramp. So I merged and then moved over to the left lane (because you're supposed to move away from emergency vehicles - it's the law, blah blah). Luckily there was plenty of space behind me when I did because right after I was in the left lane either because of rubbernecking or whatever someone about four cars ahead slammed on their brakes and came to a stop, and of course then we all did. I hit the brakes and headed for the shoulder but the car ahead of me did too so then I cranked hard for the median and just missed hitting them by six inches, if that (thank God for anti-lock brakes). And since there had been some space behind me no one rear-ended us, either. Needless to say all four of us were "owl-eyed". But all was OK - God was watching out for us.
It was really weird because as it was happening it was like it was in slow-mo, and I've had that experience in other accidents and near-accidents before. "Oh, I need to head for the shoulder...Oh, I need to head for the median, cranking harder on the wheel now..." And then it was over. I wasn't even shaken, really - just like, "OK, we just missed that!" I was a bit pissed at the patrolman for pulling the guy over right where he did, but really he can't control where someone's going to pull to the shoulder in response to his lights, I guess.
The old saying about how such things make you truly thankful for your life and health and all are true - to a point. I thanked God for keeping us out of danger then dropped the kids off at school, got to work and was in a bad mood because of things here within mere minutes. So much for treating God's ongoing gift of life with joy and respect, eh? "Yeah, you saved my life this morning - but what have you done for me lately?"
What an ingrate I am. :-(
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
You often hear that as Christians we must "die to our old selves". And I think that's true. But Dutch over at Sweet Juniper also points out that the same thing happens, and must happen, when we become parents. Following is an extract, but go read the whole thing:
I look down at my sleeping son in my arms and I know there's nothing I can do to prevent myself from damaging him, from failing him in the million ways I must as a father. I cannot simply restrain myself and save him from this. The damage will not come from anything I do. It will be the result of me just being me.
Even if I were to do everything in my power not to damage him, not to fail him, wouldn't this in itself be damage, a form of failure? Who ever brags of having a perfect childhood? Perfect parents? No one wants to hear impassioned songs about perfect childhoods. I don't believe there even is such a thing. I need to fail, to falter. I need to give him my shoulders to stand on; my life to surmount. I know that one day he must hate me and resent everything I represent. If he doesn't, something must be wrong with him. Or me.
A parent must do everything in his power to protect a creature that must do everything in its own power to grow independent of him. You can't be The Man and still flip off The Man.
Gram won't stop crying in the middle of the night. I bite my knuckles. He's slowly destroying me, but I can't blame him for being born. I have to let him damage me, and weaken me, and destroy what I once was so I can be the kind of parent he actually needs me to be.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Duck and cover - this is sure to raise a storm:
In the annals of judicial imperialism, we have arrived at a strange new chapter. A California court ruled this month that parents cannot "home school" their children without government certification. No teaching credential, no teaching. Parents "do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," wrote California appellate Justice Walter Croskey.
The 166,000 families in the state that now choose to educate their children at home must be stunned. But at least one political lobby likes the ruling. "We're happy," the California Teachers Association's Lloyd Porter told the San Francisco Chronicle. He says the union believes all students should be taught only by "credentialed" teachers, who will in due course belong to unions.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My mother-in-law passed along a joke today that the pastor at her church (same denomination as ours - we used to go there) told last week during the confirmation service. She didn't like it and thought it was in poor taste. Me? I thought it was funny. Since I heard it second hand I am not sure I can do it justice, but here goes:
There once was a church that had problems with bats infesting its bell tower (yes, they had "bats in the belfry"). They tried everything to rid themselves of the flying pests. They put out poison bait. That didn't work. Then they put in speakers to make noises at all hours of the day and night, but that didn't work, either. Hardware cloth between the louvers, fake owls, bright lights - the bats just refused to leave. They finally went to the trouble and expense of hiring a professional exterminator, but even he couldn't get the bats out of the belfry. It was very frustrating. Finally, the pastor hit upon a brilliant idea. He confirmed the bats and they never came back to the church after that.
It wasn't planned but it turned out that thanks to my recent bout with depression and my current struggles with religion (I'm not struggling with my faith in Christ - just Christianity), I hadn't gone to church during this year's Lenten season. I broke my fast and went to the 8:00 a.m. service today, the first "formal" service I've been to in over a year (did you know people wear suits and ties to church? Wild! :o). I wanted to go and got up with Les when she got ready for work. The service was good and I enjoyed it and felt moved by it, driving home singing This is the Feast in the truck.
I had hoped to avoid seeing anyone I knew, but two of the greeters were from the human care board and one of them talked with me and was very nice and understanding about my resignation (in fact, I've received a lot of loving, caring responses from people about my quitting - I should resign more often! :o) And while I am currently suspicious of the practice of sermons I found today's to be good, starting with the children's lesson which carried over into the homily, focusing on the four main verbs the angel uses when talking to the two Marys:
- Come (closer to the empty tomb)
- See (that Jesus is not there)
- Go (to the others)
- Tell (them that Christ is risen!)
The point being those are the four action words we must continue to practice, over and over. I liked that. "Come, see! Go, tell!" Simple. Effective. Not a single theological buzzword necessary to get the point across.
Then I went over to Les's folks for Easter dinner and stuffed myself and got in some good time (dare I say "fellowship"?) with that side of the family, who we really haven't seen since Christmas. Got home and had a nice chat on the phone with my folks, too, who we will be seeing this Wednesday to celebrate Morgann's 22nd birthday (which is Thursday). And tonight I'm cooking a ham dinner for all of us and will make sure there are some leftovers for when Les gets home around midnight, since she loves Easter and is missing it, even though she hasn't complained about it at all.
Easter is a feast day and so far I have feasted on faith, fellowship, family and food. Life is good. The Lord is good. As I said, I hadn't planned on giving up church for Lent, but by doing so it made it special again. And isn't that a small part of what fasting is all about - making us see and feel our lives and God's love in them fresh again?
Happy Easter, y'all!
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
[Warning! Buzzword-laden post. And yes, I've written this to be provocative. As usual, that is not meant to piss off anybody in particular but instead to get some of my own thoughts and feelings out where I can examine them and think about them more.]
My denomination makes an idol (I've used that word in the last three posts - it must be on my mind) of the Reformation. Proud they are of it and their place in it. [Does your church have Reformation Sunday services? Ours does.] And firm do they stand by the Reformation's "five solas", the heart of Protestant theology:
- Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
- Sola fide ("by faith alone")
- Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
- Solus Christus ("Christ alone")
- Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
But I am starting to think that if the above theological tenets define what Protestantism is (and I think they do), then the Reformation has failed. Let's look at each of the "solas" to see why, shall we?
By Scripture Alone
If the Bible is "perspicuous (transparently clear; easily understandable) and self-interpreting", then why do we need dozens of English translations, over one hundred thousand expository books and tens of thousands of paid preachers telling us what it means? If we can't read it and understand it by ourselves, then one of the main propositions of the Reformation and hence Protestantism is false. Period. Apparently we need armies of professionals telling us what God meant, all the while ironically calling on each of us to build a personal relationship with God. And for all we talk about "contextualization", "soteriology", "ecclesiology", "eschatology", "hypostatic union" and so on, does any of those terms get us any closer to the true meaning of Scripture? Does any of that make it any clearer than, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so"?
By Faith Alone
If the Reformation can be summed up by one statement, it is "Sola fide". Yet, if justification is by faith alone, then why do so many people get hung up about what we must do to be "good Christians"? Partially it's because "faith is always evidenced by good works" - i.e., the tension between reconciling grace with "By their fruit you will recognize them". Of course the issue is we then work real hard at compiling the list of acceptable "fruit", defining what "makes us good", a new set of rules to live by to replace those of the Pharisees that were obviously wrong, well, maybe kinda sorta wrong, um, gee, where can we get us some rules like that?. That sort of thinking is just so much holy shit, but almost every Christian I know or have ever met, myself included, is infected by it. The difference with Protestants, of course, is we claim we're not. But we are.
By Grace Alone
Faith is a gift. We don't deserve it, but we are given it anyway. That is grace. How good is God! But instead of humbly thanking Him and sharing our gift with others, we get greedy. We determine that we deserved the gift somehow. Worse, we believe that there are others who don't. And we know who they are. We look down our noses at people who may be struggling with faith or trapped in addiction or otherwise not living up to our standards. We are saved from judgment by grace and then don't extend that grace to others.
If Christ is our only intecessor, if He is not just the sacrificial Lamb but also the High Priest making the sacrifice (see all of Hebrews), if the Spirit is here to lead us and be with us always, then why do we need ordained clergy? Note: I am not dissing people who feel "called" nor am I saying there isn't room for those who are gifted to delve deep into God's word. What I am confused about is the idea that there is some need within the priesthood of all believers to have a special class of people who alone can baptize, who alone can bless, who alone can absolve, who alone can marry, who alone can teach, who alone can stand in front of others and proclaim the way to God. The pastoral epistles make clear that there are those who will be gifted with teaching and leading, but it's a far cry from that to the "pastor as CEO" model.
Glory to God Alone
Do you believe you give glory to God alone? Really? I think we all think that. But we don't do it. If we did, we wouldn't build edifices in His name instead of giving all that money to the poor. If we did we wouldn't tear up at the national anthem, a tribalistic mechanism of this world to keep us feeling separate and special, one from another (and before you fire one off at me, note - I didn't say whose national anthem - I mean them all). We wouldn't be proud of our house, or our car, or our career. Pride is the direct and complete antithesis of giving glory to God alone.
The standard story within Protestantism is that the (Roman) Catholic church reached a point where its theology was way off course due to indulgences, saintly intercession, papal infallibility (which actually came much later) and what not, and so Tyndale, Luther, Calvin and other brave souls risked death at the stake to set "the church" aright. We Protestants look haughtily down our noses at "those Catholics" (said in the same condemning, disparaging, universal tone of prejudice as covers any bigot's snarling dismissal of "those blacks" or "those Jews" or "those Muslims") because we know that we don't make stupid mistakes about God like they do! No. No, we don't. We make our own stupid mistakes. And they are just as critical as any errancy we may attribute to the Bishop of Rome. The first is the sin of pride - a pride that comes from "getting it right" over those Catholics. A pride from creating even more schism, not just between the Catholics and Protestants, but then each Protestant denomination from the other. That pride allows us to elevate our beliefs over our love for each other, to make the church itself our god.
And thus has the Reformation failed.
Do not think I am arguing that because the Reformation has failed (as all man-made works fail) that I therefore believe the Roman Catholic church has "won". This is not a zero-sum game. In fact, I think both sides have lost. For one, by splitting, we have lost each other. We have torn apart the "one holy catholic and apostolic church". Nor am I advocating universalism - some theological points are critical to get right. But 99.99999% of everything we argue about in Christianity is simply holy shit. The second you recognize that you are not the judge, only God is, and that there may actually be people of other denominations (even, gasp!, Catholics!) that will be there in Heaven with you then you know that all this nattering is just stupid and silly, and we're off in the weeds. Again.
God forgive us, for we know not what we do.
One of the perennial topics that comes up in Christianity is "What does [secular] x have to do with [Christian idol] y?" What does Santa Claus have to do with Christmas? What do Easter eggs have to do with the Resurrection? What do costumes have to do with celebrating All Saints Day? Chaotic Hammer (CH to his friends :o) just commented some good thoughts about this on my last post. Go read what he has to say - we'll wait. On this very subject, specifically "what do Easter eggs and chocolate rabbits have to do with Christ resurrected?", I want to share an abridged version of something I emailed to a friend recently:
[When I was growing up...] We went to church, but not real "faithfully". I don't know why - Mom goes to church every week now, and has for decades. But I also went to arts and crafts night at a Brethren church in Boulder that my great-uncle had founded, and spent two wonderful summers at an affiliated Bible camp he helped found (look for Ken Baird here if you're interested - it's OK if you're probably not). I have no memories of the Methodist church in Boulder even though I was baptized there at age 11. But I do remember that little Brethren church and the nice people there. We would also always go to church with my mother's parents when we went back to visit them every year in Mountain View, MO. It's a tiny little town in the Ozarks, and they went to a tiny little country church outside of town. It couldn't even afford a full-time preacher, so they had circuit riders come through and often when there was no one "official" to stand up front my Grandpa would "speak" (preach). There was always a pot luck lunch afterwards and guests like us always had to stand up while we were shown off to the rest of the congregation by smiling, proud grandparents. Simple hymns sung with nothing but an out-of-tune piano as accompaniment. I look back now and realize how much I loved it, even if I wouldn't have told you that as a kid.
We happened to visit Mountain View on at least two Easters when I was young, and the church held an Easter egg hunt both times after service and lunch. Looking back, it was kinda weird, because the hunt was held in the little church cemetery, where my great grandparents and now grandparents are buried. Thinking that through I think it's great - the very young wandering around having fun and living life and being the promise of the future among those that have gone on before them - the circle of life, to use a cliché. And I remember having a great time on those hunts, looking for eggs with cousins that I only got to see every few years, depending on which combination of aunts and uncles decided to make the cross-country treks and visit Mountain View at the same time. It was "fellowship" in a true sense, I think - the kids racing around laughing among the headstones while the adults watched and smiled and chatted and drank coffee and doctored skinned knees and helped pick up dropped baskets and admired each other's grandkids.
The circle of life and simple, easy fellowship - maybe that's what Easter egg hunts have to do with our resurrected Lord and Savior? Like the wedding in Cana, I wonder if Jesus Himself wouldn't have liked just hanging out at such an event, watching the people and enjoying their company?
Long-term readers here know I really struggle with fellowship. So I may be wrong but to me what Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies and for that matter the yummy ham dinner later at Grandma and Grandpa's all have to do with our resurrected Savior is simple - to mangle James Carville:
"It's the fellowship, stupid!"
gooditsraining is trying something interesting - going to 15 church services in 50 hours over Easter weekend. She's hit six of six so far. I can't wait to read her summary when it's all over.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum for Jeff it's not really Easter weekend - and I'm cool with that, too. After all, our calendar has no relationship to "reality", and it's all just symbols anyway - distant reflections of the Real Thing seen through a mirror, darkly. In fact, like Jeff our Orthodox brethren will not be celebrating Easter for another month yet.
I tried (and failed) to explain some of my thoughts about this during Advent. Many people seem to reject all forms of idolatry - except for the liturgical calendar, which they hold to be "sacred" somehow. As if yet another man-made concept, the calendar - and a modern, Western one at that - has anything to do with anything in the Bible. So someone will probably object to gooditsraining or Jeff or both as being disrespectful or sacrilegious, as if this weekend actually means anything. It's just a date, people. And one determined by an algorithm. And one determined by an algorithm that's changed through the years, and has different implementations between the Eastern and Western churches to boot.
So, yes, celebrate Jesus's resurrection this weekend - but you should every weekend (and every day) anyway. Don't make a false idol of a mere calendar.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! And has been for every single day of the last 2,000 years, regardless of whenever "Easter" falls. Easter isn't tomorrow - it's every day.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Not if you have to work late like I do, after everyone else has gone home early.
Hopefully the systems maintenance I am stuck doing goes well enough that I can still get home in time to take Les to dinner, since this will be the last time we get to see each other (awake) until Monday evening. Her working two doubles every weekend fits in well with her being in RN school, but it sure is rough on things like getting to spend time together.
So it goes.
And instead of TGIF, how 'bout TGIGF? And I really mean that!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
[Points to whoever first gets the song this post's title is from without Googling - Erin doesn't count. :o) ]
Jeff has been riffing (pun intended) on both being bored by CCM (yes, that will be in a future version of buzzword bingo) as well as spiritually moved by some "secular" music. Others have run posts on both topics before, but it keeps coming up as a popular topic so obviously it is not just Jeff (or me!) who feels that way. Les likes Third Day while my 12 year old daughter loves Casting Crowns (and has been to one of their concerts), but both are pretty much just "OK" to me. I do love John Mark McMillan, but that's because he sings songs of lament and not just the usual "happy clappy" or "Jesus is my boyfriend" stuff.
Our denomination sings pretty complicated stuff (except for the "contemporary" service, which pretty much sticks to the CCM genre). My lovely wife, who grew up singing in choirs and playing classical piano, loves it. Me? Not so much. It is hard to tap your foot to them let alone get lost in them. In the sense of "traditional" hymns I actually love bluegrass gospel - I can sing right along, know how to find the harmonies and get carried away by both the music and the lyrics (and yes, O, Brother had something to do with that - sue me for being unoriginal). I am pretty boring - Amazing Grace still moves me to tears (I can never actually sing "that saved a wretch like me" - I choke up every time), and I guess I'm the only person on the planet that still wishes services ended with the doxology.
When it comes to secular music speaking to us in a spiritual way lots of people have their lists. Here are some (but far from all) of mine:
- Big Head Todd and the Monsters - Flander's Fields
- Everlast - What It's Like
- Bruce Hornsby - The Way It Is
- Anne McCue - Gandhi
- Lori McKenna - Bible Song
- Alanis Morissette - Still
- Spanky and Our Gang - Give a Damn
- U2 - One
What about you? Leave a comment on one of Jeff's posts.
Here's a site that rates the "walkability" of your address or potential address. Our house scored 12 out of 100 (bad). My folks scored 45 out of 100 (middling). What does your home score?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Well, the Christian Buzzword Bingo page keeps getting new words added to it. It started with about 30 words from Tom and as of right now is over
180210. I've been adding more words almost every day. Reading a post-modern theology book right now helps - I have to keep a pad and pen by the bed while I read and add about five to ten words a day just from that one source alone. Blogs (most definitely including my own) help, too.
My criteria have settled on the following two simple "rules":
- I leave terms for God out of it - God, Jesus, Christ, Lord, LORD, Yahweh, YHWH, Jehovah, Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are all sacrosanct, both out of my own personal respect for my heavenly Father and to avoid being called a heretic. However, Tetragrammaton and triune are in there.
- My daughter Morgann thought the card should be split into two - one for the professional theologians and one for the laity. However, I've decided one page should contain all the codewords. Not just those used by the clergy but also those used by "normal" Christians that confuse the unchurched (I know they do - some have told me just that) by being inscrutable or used differently than in non-Christian speech. I also include words that Christ-followers argue about among themselves.
If you want to know the state of the list at any time simply press the "About" button on the page. If you want me to add a specific word or phrase leave a comment here. And if you disagree or think I'm being evil, first ask yourself whether you can explain all the words to the uncatechized ("Bingo!" :o) without spending the next week at it.
Me? I think it has a purpose as an exercise, if only for myself, and that is to try and write less in "code". What do you think?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I recently wrote about the dangers of attaching a specific mental image to Jesus. I think there is a similar but different risk with iconifying evil. For one, it means we miss other evils. For another, we also miss the good in any human we're eager to classify as the Antichrist. It may be hard for us to find that good - it may be impossible. But images of God are they.
So, who's the devil in your eyes?
Lots of days I find him here:
Monday, March 17, 2008
Saturday I wrote about a cool way to create blogrolls out of Google Reader subscriptions. That post explained why the blogs in my blogroll are there - simply enough, they're in my reader. But why are they in my reader? That's easy - because they are interesting to me. And because over time by reading those blogs, sometimes commenting on them and sometimes getting comments from the authors here, I build up a liking for the human being behind the posts. I've met some really cool, insightful people in the last year through blogging.
I do prune my reader's subscriptions from time to time. I don't like to follow more blogs than I can read in a day, for one (I am not good about "catching up" with hundreds of posts). So periodically I get ruthless with those that I end up skipping and skimming anyway. Especially because it seems there's always some new blog that comes along that catches my eye and will replace them anyway. My reader subscriptions seem to bubble between 80 and 100, but out of those I'd say only twenty (if that) are hardcore daily posters, and of that some are photo blogs or else mostly short links to news or other noteworthy items. So I only need to read in a discerning way probably no more than ten blogs a day. I can do that, but not much more than that. And if a blog is inactive for a long period of time, it will get axed. Especially if it is one of the folders in my blogroll, since as my friend Aaron says you don't want to be recommending dead air.
But there's another reason I prune. In the area of Christian blogs at least I am turning away from "professionals". While in other areas I read the pros, in the "Religion" folder most of the blogs are just plain ol' folks like me. Even the hired guns in that category are small church pastors - not that there's anything wrong with that! :o). It just means they're not into the "pastor as CEO" model (mowing the churchyard keeps one humble, perhaps). The common thread in almost all of these blogs is that no one is claiming to have the answer. I mean, we all know Jesus is the answer, but beyond that no one is claiming to have it all figured out. The bloggers I read have unanswered questions, struggles and doubts. They fall down and pick themselves up again. Just like me. But they also have victories, glimpses of glory and joy. By sharing all of that with each other it makes the journey feel not quite so lonely.
When I first started reading blogs and blogging myself I filled my reader (and blogroll) with the pros - the ones everyone else links to, too. "Conferencenti" (those who seem to just flit from one conference to another) and their camp followers, professional presenters, professional authors, theologians who can churn out 2,000-5,000 word blog posts every day, people for whom blogging is as much about marketing themselves, part of their business plan, as it is about questing for God. Let me be clear - there's nothing wrong with that - I am not condemning anybody. It is just not what I am looking for. I don't want to replace one set of people telling me what I should do and think with another, ya know? Some people feel the need for that. I don't. I'd rather be in a group of people all muddling through together. Maybe we're independently rediscovering concepts that a pro could teach us in an hour ("I say! You're doin' it all wrong, boy!" - Foghorn Leghorn). But even so we're doing the searching, not being fed the answers. It makes the process more involving, relational (with God and each other) and in the end, it makes our discoveries ours, a true gift from God.
At least that's how I see it.
So, who's in your reader, and why?
Sunday, March 16, 2008
[Warning: The following is very introspective and confessional. It is meant more for me than you. I am not looking for pat answers or even sympathy, but am blogging to get it out in the open where I can look at it myself.]
Maybe I'm just a quitter.
After weeks and weeks of struggling with it I am about 90% decided that I am going to resign from the Human Care board at church. It is taking all I have not to jump from the church itself, too. I haven't been going (on purpose) for about six weeks now. Some events at church have further subtracted from my desire to attend, including a change in the small, intimate service we've been going to that pretty much is the kiss of death for it - at least for me. Which then means the only other two options for worship are the much bigger, formal and impersonal morning services. Ugh.
I could complain about everything in the church that's driving me to this decision but Dan says I shouldn't, so I won't. Besides, I know there's plenty wrong on my side of the equation. For the past two or three months I've been going through one of the worst depressions I've had in a long time. In some ways being long past the days where "suicide is always an option" makes it harder, not easier, to cope because that means there is no way out other than to just keep struggling on through it until I reach the other side. I know I will. Luckily for me my depressive episodes are never super-long lasting (well, unless you think three to four months is long - it seems long from the inside). And they are always seasonal or situational in cause (or this time, both). I'm taking some 5-HTP and that seems to be helping moderate the effects. I won't take prescribed medication for it if I can at all help it. It's not that I think that's wrong - I don't. I think it can really help some people. In fact, I envy them because that would make the problem a simple one to solve. But SSRIs have side effects with me that make them out of the question. So not much left to do except muddle through and pray.
But in times like these I have one instinct - shed. Shed the unnecessary. Shed the aggravating. Shed the irritating. Shed the meaningless. Throw things overboard that are dragging me down with them. And church right now feels like that, and the Human Care board chair really feels like that. I've been struggling against making the decision to drop it - after all, this too shall pass. Whenever Les or I get into one of these funks we have a code phrase the other one will say to help keep perspective, "Don't make any life-changing decisions right now." So I am trying to hang in there and tough it out. But week after week passes and I don't do anything I should be doing for the board. To leave the position vacant would be no different than having someone "in charge" who doesn't do anything either. In fact, that's more dangerous, because right now the church thinks someone is handling it. But that someone isn't even handling their own problems very well let alone taking on any others.
I have prayed about all this but not received any answers. I haven't talked with anyone in the church about it because that would bring up everything else I am wrestling with there and I could easily end up walking out of that meeting churchless as well as committeeless. And I am not supposed to complain or gripe about church. So I just swallow it all. But really all that leads to is a feeling that the committee, and church in general, is a load, a burden. It doesn't bring me any joy. I know I am the problem, so I am not blaming the church or anyone in it. I have written here before I just don't get the whole fellowship thing, at least not as presented in church. It really ends up feeling like a bunch of adults playing at making church a combination of the bad aspects of work (committees, budgets, minutes, politics, blame shifting, passing the buck) and community theater (where most of us get to be the audience of a play whose run never ends and whose script never changes). I read the Bible and find none of that in there. So I hear "fellowship" and want to run away. And I now understand why everyone hears "committee" or "board" in combination with church and wants to run away, too.
Hanging in there, but every day is a struggle. I make no guarantees that the next time I post on this topic it won't start with, "Well, I resigned today."
[If you read this far, I feel sorry for you. But you were warned.]
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I stumbled across this very handy post on how to create blogrolls automatically if you use Google Reader to manage your feed subscriptions (and it's even easier if you also use Blogger - the Googleverse of apps is getting more integrated every day). Basically, you can share one or more tags (folders) in Reader and then add a widget to your blog that shows the blogs in a shared folder. And your blogroll will update automagically as you add or remove subscriptions in that folder. How cool is that? I was basically doing the same thing by hand before and now I don't have to bother!
Instead of creating a new Reader tag called "blogroll" and adding everything I wanted to roll to that I kept everything in their original folders. That allows me to mix and match different blogrolls for my two blogs. It also allows readers on my site to know what type of blog it is (or at least how my mind categorizes it) to help decide whether they may find it interesting. Finally, it keeps me from having an unread item on a blog show up in two different places in Reader (I hate that - it makes me think I am even farther behind in my reading! :o).
While we're on the subject of blogrolls, how do you choose who to add? Do you ever take anyone away?
Friday, March 14, 2008
Our broadband is down at home. It happens from time to time. Mediacom gives us much better speed via cable broadband than Sprint provides with DSL at our house - trust me, I have tried it. But about once every six weeks to two months we lose access for a few hours to a half a day or even more. Then all three Internet addicts in the house start exhibiting withdrawal symptoms.
Good thing I can blog via phone! I would not want to fail at Blog365 in only March!
Posted by Jim Lehmer at 6:35 PM
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Consider the following passage:
If nothing that can be seen can either be God or represent Him to us as He is, then to find God we must pass beyond everything that can be seen and enter into darkness. Since nothing that can be heard is God, to find Him we must enter into silence.
Since God cannot be imagined, anything our imagination tells us about Him is ultimately misleading and therefore we cannot know Him as He really is unless we pass beyond everything that can be imagined and enter into an obscurity without images and without the likeness of any created thing.
God cannot be understood except by Himself. If we are to understand Him we can only do so by being in some way transformed into Him, so that we know Him as He knows Himself. And He does not know Himself by any representation of Himself: His own infinite Being is His own knowledge of Himself and we will not know Him as He knows Himself until we are united to what He is.
Faith is the first step in this transformation because it is a cognition that knows without images and representation by a loving identification with the living God in obscurity.
Faith reaches the intellect not simply through the senses but in a light directly infused by God. Since this light does not pass through the eye or the imagination or reason, its certitude becomes our own without any vesture of created appearance, without any likeness that can be visualized or described. It is true that the language of the article of faith to which we assent represents things that can be imagined, but in so far as we imagine them we misconceive them and tend to go astray. Ultimately we cannot imagine the connection between the two terms of the proposition: "In God there are Three Persons and One Nature." And it would be a great mistake to try.
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
I still hold images of Him in my head. Sometimes I want Him to be my buddy:
The closest I ever get to seeing Him, though, is when I pass Him in the street:
So, what does Jesus look like to you? Do you think it helps or hurts you to have a mental image of Him? If He represented all of mankind as one man, do we do Him a disservice by wrapping Him up in any single "look"? Are all images of Him right? Are all images of Him wrong and mere iconography ("Bingo!")? What do you think?
...for they shall be filled:
Church to Offer 25-Cent Gas Discount
Mar 13, 6:10 PM (ET)
XENIA, Ohio (AP) - With Easter approaching, a church in western Ohio plans to help people fill up and also hopes to help fill their spiritual needs.
This Saturday, Pastor Wesley Miller and his Xenia Christian Center will pay 25 cents of the price of every gallon of gas purchased at a local United Dairy Farmers convenience store.
Miller says by offering the deal, his church can promote its Easter services planned for the following weekend while helping those squeezed by the high cost of gasoline.
AAA's statewide average for a gallon of regular is now $3.37, just 3 cents below last year's record high.
The pastor says the church doesn't mind if people show up purely out of greed, because his congregation would like to reach them, too.
The first thing I’m looking to find is “What is a boundary and how do I set one?”
That may sound funny, but I really don’t know.
I don't know either. I am not saying I am struggling with the same issues Sam is - I don't know Sam other than through his blog and his comments here, and my issues are different than his. But thinking through his question I realized I had no answer whatsoever. We're all taught about loving others via a "servant life" - does that mean there are no boundaries? Does that mean that Christianity is a seductive, dangerous, amplifying trap for codependents? I could see that being totally true. In the blog circles in which I swim the themes seem to be "love others without judging them", "accept and love people for being themselves", "always strive to have a servant heart", etc. All of that sounds like pure heroin for a codependent.
Comment on Sam's blog, or blog about it and link to it from the comments there.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Tina and Chris have been rockin' on the subject of being "in, not of" the world. Go read them. I'm not ready to write about the topic yet (lots to sort out in my head about the subject), but for an indication of where I will probably go with it note this post's title and the fact it's now part of Christian Buzzword Bingo v1.4.1. It is with despair I find most hits on Google for that phrase seriously imply Christianity is a lifestyle. It's not. Styles change. They come and go. It also implies we all need to fit into some one-size-fits-all approach to our relationship to God. And may I be blunt? Fuck that. If God wanted uniform automatons He would've made us that way. I still do not believe that He gave us free will just so that when we receive His gift of faith to us we should suddenly throw it and our uniqueness away and suddenly start living Stepford lives.
Herein endeth the mini-rant. Go read Tina and Chris.
Monday, March 10, 2008
While working on Christian Buzzword Bingo I noticed how many items in the list end with "Church" or could be combined to end with "Church". Here's a list just to get us started:
- Acts 29 Church
- Attractional Church
- Charismatic Church
- Community Church
- Confessional Church
- Conservative Church
- Contemporary Church
- Credal Church
- Discipling Church
- Emergent Church
- Emerging Church
- Evangelical Church
- Hierarchal Church
- House Church
- Liberal Church
- Liturgical Church
- Missional Church
- Modern Church
- New Testament Church
- Orthodox Church
- Postmodern Church
- Reformed Church
- Simple Church
- Small Church
- Traditional Church
Which church do you belong to? Is it listed above?
Today is the one-year anniversary of this blog and this is post #280. I honestly didn't know when I started if I would last a month. I also didn't anticipate the biggest benefit of blogging is the people you "meet" by reading other blogs and writing and receiving comments and cross-links.
And speaking of months, see if you can recognize when NaBloPoMo was in this chart of blog posts on my two blogs:
Sunday, March 9, 2008
I am continuing to think upon the subject of fellowship. Chris, Tina and Rich have jumped into the conversation with thoughtful, helpful posts. I wouldn't mind some more people joining the discussion. Post on your blog and leave a comment linking to it here.
Since I am having a hard time finding fellowship within my congregation right now I thought I would look in my life for where I have found fellowship, which for my purposes here I will define as "friends, gathered in a group". Right now, that is my working model of fellowship:
- Friends - Fellowship without friendship seems like an oxymoron to me. If fellowship doesn't include or give rise to friendship then I don't know what the word "fellowship" means. But hey, I've already admitted that. And maybe this is a flawed part of my definition. If fellowship really is just getting together at pot luck dinners and voters meetings then I can declare victory and move on, mystery solved. But I don't think so.
- Gathered in a group - I am not saying that one-on-one time with friends isn't fellowship. It is the most core form of fellowship there is. But there are times when a group of friends is better. A party of two is what the waiter says when seating you, but it isn't really a party. Even this introvert admits that sometimes a group makes things better - more fun, or more interesting, or easier to bear.
I can look at my history and see periods of intense fellowship that still reverberate through my life to this day. In each case those times were at work or started there. I have made friends at every company I've worked for (except my present one, unfortunately), but there have been a few jobs that have contributed a disproportionate share of brilliant, creative, charming, loving people I am lucky to call friends. I took a closer look this morning at two of the companies where this occurred. There were few similarities between them. One was fairly small - I was employee #40. I spent over three and a half years there. The other was larger, with an employee base in the hundreds, and I was there for barely a year. The former was my first job as a "software engineer" and I was very excited and eager to be working for "a vendor", although within a year or so that had faded. At the latter I was coming off my first position as "software architect" and gladly returning to being just a "senior software engineer". I was jaded and cynical (wait - I am always jaded and cynical!) and just wanted somewhere to hide and be part of the hive for a while.
In the first I had friends who seemed truly happy there and a bunch who really weren't. Much of the time I felt more aligned with the latter. Looking back, that group (myself included) were all wrong - it was a great place to work. Then it got bought by a much bigger company and we were right to be disillusioned after that, because it changed into something different and the specialness of the place was gone. Some of the most sour gripers are still there, funnily enough, so they must've found what they were looking for in the big corporate environment. Most of the rest of us just fled. It was the mid-1990s and finding a tech job was easier than finding cheap clothes at Wal-Mart. In the second company (which funnily enough was bought by the same large company a little while after I left it) everyone was already sour and turned off when I arrived and I quickly found a gang whose cynicism matched mine and settled in. It wasn't "special" at all - in fact, it was just a grind.
Yet in both I found friends - real friends, who are still in my life on a daily or weekly basis, as are some of their families. And not just a few - I went through my address book and LinkedIn contacts and figure between the two I have eight friends and well over 20 acquaintances with whom I am still in some form of contact. How did that happen? What was the same in both?
- The first is obvious - we saw each other, a lot. Five days a week, every week. But that's just life at work. Fellowship would grow exponentially if that's all it took. And weirdly enough, with only a very few of the people did I work directly. So it wasn't shared mission and accomplishments that drove the friendships. It was mutual attraction, which sounds bizarre but is the only way I can describe it.
- We got together to talk (and bitch, laugh, gripe, joke, whine, gossip, mutter and plot) every single day, often multiple times a day. It wasn't just being in proximity that was required - there were people in those companies I couldn't stand (and still can't, and I am sure the feeling is mutual). No, there had to be time together talking. This included going to lunch together often - weekly at least, daily in some cases.
- Because bitching gets boring after a while, talk turned to other things and the discovery that everyone was really interesting outside of work. These places had attracted some top-notch people who were into a lot of cool and different things beyond programming computers. It was exciting to be around them - they made you feel special just being there.
- Over time the relationships carried over to outside of work. There was getting together for dinners with spouses, playing chess, going to movies, backpacking, parties and what have you. In those gatherings the friendships spread to each other's families as well.
- After leaving those jobs I made sure to continue to carry those relationships forward. This takes work, tending and discipline; relationships do die from neglect.
Lots there to think about in that list and all of it relevant to fellowship in church, I think. Point by point:
- I wonder if this is why some churches try and have things going on every single day, thinking the constant immersion will cause relationships to arise and grow. And perhaps that's the right model, although it smacks a bit too much of retiring from the world to me. I am still noodling on this.
- But it can't be just getting together to have yet another service where most are passive audience members. There has to time to talk and not just about things on the church's agenda of approved small-group discussion items. Which leads to:
- There needs to be more than just God-talk. Or to put it in slightly less grating terms, we can all love Jesus and want to follow Him, but our yards still need mowing and our kids still need raising and our vacations still need taking and those are good things to talk about, too. Church seems to want to monopolize the conversation with "talking about Jesus". Yet He gave us our lives to lead - I think He thinks it's OK if we talk about that, too, and not just in a "WWJD?" way.
- Everything can't happen at church. Going out to eat is important because it gets everyone outside of "church mode". So does getting together as families or friends and just "doing stuff". Not just good deeds/mission things, but "just stuff". And I think that can involve groups where only some people are believers (gasp!)
- We have to stay at it and if we find people we bond with we have to make sure not to drop them when either party changes locations.
But here's the most interesting point of all that hit me looking at my "fellowship history - in both cases, work and church, the institution itself can do almost nothing to foster fellowship! I never made a friend because we were both forced to go through some team-building exercise at work. I made them because we stumbled across each other and found we had mutual interests, likes, dislikes, and personalities that "fit". Period. Full stop. In fact, I would say in many of the cases the friendships were forged in spite of the shared experience of work. And that's where I think church gets off in the fellowship weeds.
First, it tries to foist a model where we're all supposed to feel an equal amount of fellowship toward each other (at least that's how it feels to me) and I just see that as being unrealistic. In neither company above did I have "fellowship" with the entire organization. That would be unrealistic. Therefore, is it realistic to think we can have fellowship with an entire congregation above a size of, say, 30 or 40? I don't think so. But people act as if we should. Maybe I am being unbiblical by saying that, I dunno. Second, church tries to push fellowship as a product, as a process, as a program, and it's not. If fellowship is friendship writ large as a group (which I may still be wrong about) then there is no way to manufacture friendship. It just happens and it's a gift every single time. And it often happens when the people involved decide to get away from the organization for a bit, if just for lunch, and discover each other as human beings outside of the collective. Unfortunately my first attempt at that in my church didn't really go anywhere and now that person has moved away anyway. But it's a weird friction - go enough to hook up with people and then make sure and get away enough that there can be room for friendship that has more than one thing in common.
Maybe the paid professionals at church feel differently because for them it's their job, so a lot of the factors I raise above are in play for them? I don't know. I do think pastors and staff have it harder having fellowship with us "laypeople" because they're held to a higher standard and can't be themselves (and are trained to keep their guard up anyway). That's why there seems to be a lot of "ministerial councils" and other get togethers of just the hired guns (so they can let their hair down and complain about their customers/users just like the rest of us? :o). From some of the interactions I've had with pastors via blogging I think it would be great if everyone could meet their pastor away from church first, like them for a human being first, and then have them for a pastor. But it doesn't seem to work that way. Bummer for everybody involved.
Does any of the above make any sense whatsoever? I am still struggling, still working through all this "fellowship" stuff.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
In a comment thread somewhere recently the topic of life-changing teachers came up and I've been meaning to write about two of mine ever since. While researching the first one, Mrs. Bridenstine, my sixth grade teacher, I discovered she had died just last November. Here is her obituary:
Margaret L. Bridenstine 1911 - 2007 Margaret L. Bridenstine died on November 20, 2007 in Boulder. She was 96 years old. Born on July 5, 1911 in Burlington, IA to Eva and Charles Lesher, she completed her Bachelors degree at Parsons College in Fairfield, IA where she met and married her husband, Kenneth. She was a 56 year resident of Boulder, retiring from teaching 6th grade at Whittier School in 1976. Her love of teaching continued thereafter for many years as she was an English language tutor for foreign students attending the University of Colorado. She was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder and an ardent supporter of the Colorado Buffalos Buff Club, having football season tickets for many years.
Mrs. Bridenstine was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth J. "Buck" Bridenstine who completed his 32 year career with the FBI in Boulder and then became an inspector and training officer for the Boulder County Sheriff. He later received appointment as an Adult Probation Officer for the Boulder Adult Probation Department.
Mrs. Bridenstine is survived by her children, Kay Herbst of Boston, MA, Dr. James Bridenstine of Lander, WY and Timothy Bridenstine of Austin, TX; ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Memorial services for Mrs. Bridenstine will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, November 28 at 11:00am.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to an education fund to be established later.
Published in the Daily Camera on 11/27/2007.
I wrote an email to one of her sons a few days ago (which unfortunately bounced - I need to dig a bit deeper). It says pretty much everything I would've posted here anyway. I've added a few hyperlinks for anyone that cares.
Subject: Your mother was my sixth grade teacher at Whittier...
I was just getting ready to write a blog post on two teachers that made an impact on my life, your mother being one of them, and while researching found her obituary from November. I can't say I'm surprised - she lived a good long life. I hope you and your family are, if not over your grief, at least comforted by that fact.
She truly was one of the best teachers on the planet, and I bet you already know that. I was a ne'er do well growing up in Branding Iron trailer court on 28th Street (next to the old Mr. Steak). Not only did your mother teach me for sixth grade (1971-72), but also for reading in fifth because I tested into advanced reading in Mrs. Muth's class and went to your mom's class for reading. So effectively she taught me for two years. I still remember her voice. For one because after lunch, IF WE WERE GOOD, she'd read to us and I remember that. She read "Little Britches" by Ralph Moody and I think the next book or two in the series and I still adore those books (I have the whole series) and read them to this day and have passed them on to my father, father-in-law and now my children. I also remember the awesome slides of her vacation pictures with your Dad, and getting to go to her house after a day at Chautauqua at the end of the school year.
The last time I saw your mother was around 1976 or so...I was a long-haired drug-addled high school dropout (ah, Boulder in the 1970s) and I think she despaired seeing me because she always pushed me to live up to my potential and I think at that point in my life I let her down. Now I am "Director of Application Development" (fancy name for a computer programmer), and when I first had a job in software engineering in 1991 or so I sent her a letter to let her know I didn't turn out QUITE so bad, We exchanged a few letters and Christmas cards and then I let it slide. I shouldn't have. But at least I let her know she made a difference, and I am not the slacker I would've been if she hadn't been in my life.
Anyway, I just wanted to reach out and say I am sorry you lost your Mom - but know that she made a difference in a lot of lives, mine included. I found your email address fairly easily on the 'net. Feel free to share with your sibs. Know you come from special stock.
I have another post to write about a college professor who literally changed my life in more ways than one, but that will wait for another time.
Which teachers or mentors changed your life? Care to share? Post about them on your blog and leave a comment here pointing to it.
You know you live in a house with four females when there is at least one and often two laundry loads of just pink clothes every week. And woe to any white raiment that should accidentally fall into their company in the washer.
- On commas:
- My writing style is highly parenthetical. I use commas, dashes, parentheses, brackets and semicolons - a lot (often in the same sentence; it's weird but my mind actually thinks that way while I am writing). I am trying to wean myself off of most literary convolutions in an attempt at gaining clarity and discipline. To that end while I like the following quote I personally would have removed the comma. :o)
The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.
Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart
Churches can jump the shark, too. What makes us think that a church can last for 50 years? 100 years? 200? Sure, some do. But is that normal? In a society where something as simple as a TV show can't last for more than 5-7 years (at most) without sucking what makes us think we can create an institution that will last without tuning and even complete revamping periodically? Demographics shift. Here in the Midwest even towns die, let alone churches. While the decline of self-identifying Christians is worrisome it doesn't mean that every church closing its doors is a problem.
[I need to flesh this one out some more but it's been on my "to post" list for a while so I am throwing it out for conversation's sake. Have at it.]
Tom posted yesterday about how he thinks Christians are as much in danger of buzzword bingo as corporations (I'm summarizing). I took it upon myself to write a web page to help you play Christian Buzzword Bingo. It uses a list of buzzwords Tom provided plus
one some I've added on my own. The list currently (as of v1.4.1 on March 11, 2008) includes the following words and phrases:
- Acts 29 Church
- Attractional Church
- Authentic Church
- Christian Lifestyle
- Church Growth
- Church Health
- Church Multiplication
- Church Planting
- Confessional Church
- Credal Church
- Fully Devoted Follower of Christ
- Great Commandment
- Great Commission
- House Church
- Hypostatic Union
- John 3:16
- Liturgical Church
- Missional Church
- Mission Statement
- Natural Church Development
- New Testament Church
- Penal Substitution
- Postapostolic Christians
- Prosperity Gospel
- Purpose Driven
- Purpose Statement
- Simple Church
- Small Church
- Substitutionary Atonement
- 'The' Church
- What does that look like to you?
- Worship Leader
- Worship Team
Go ahead and send me more - I'll add them to the code. Always check the page for the latest version. For you techies out there, feel free to share the code. It's pretty basic stuff (hey, it's Saturday, I have laundry to do :o). It is published under the MIT license which basically means you can do anything with it you want, as long as you keep the original copyright notice and license intact.