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Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm angry today. Have you seen these Scientology commercials? "You're not your fears, you're not your failures..." Or something like, "Everyone feels that void they can't explain...and it can only be filled by one thing: the truth." Do you know why I'm angry? Two reasons:

1. They're effective; and

2. They use "evangelical-speak."

Watch one; you'll see that it's hard to disagree with any of the sentiments in them. Of course, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) so that's infuriating. This all says to me that we evangelicals need to stop evangelizing in the manner where feelings are the primary measurement of spiritual need. Or spiritual anything. Because if the language of feelings can be so easily co-opted as we see here, we might convince someone [Crap, it's on again!] of his need, but we won't persuade anyone in terms of the objective Kingdom reality wrought by God in Jesus Christ. I suppose it's somewhat of a fine line; if you don't connect at all subjectively, noone will trust you.
But it brings home the reality of the need for first principles, natural law, and reason. All Christians want to insist that we don't do "church" so that we simply have the means to make it through life. But that's what all this therapeutic, feelings-based preaching has done. Do we know that we have made scores of people vulnerable to appeals like what Scientology is making, because our presentations of "the gospel" are either entirely composed of subjective practical appeals, or spiritualized appeals to feelings, which yields the same result. One doesn't realize it's a Scientology commercial until the end, when it gives the web address. Suppose you didn't know Scientology was a weird, New Age-y cult. For all you know, "scientology.com" is the website for the megachurch down the street! It may be a rant for another day, but apparently, "outreach" is so important that we're too cool to put "Jesus Christ" in the name of our church. We wouldn't want to scare the "seekers" away, after all! Quick, someone make sure that guy gets a latte before he goes in the sanctuary! (Now, if the Lord leads you to serve coffee for people at your church, I'm not against it per se.) Forget it, it's a top 5 list:

5 Reasons I Hate Being An American Evangelical

5. We come into worship talking about a mighty, holy God, but we try to make the whole experience as comfortable and normal as possible.

4. Jesus offended people for their sake, but we can't do that. I mean, what if they leave?!

3. Sure, worship is about God, but if the dude on piano or guitar does a killer amazing job, we have to applaud, right?! It'd be too hard to encourage him after we're done worshipping. See "Children in Worship" also.

2. Other Christians are misguided brothers with wrong theology, never mind that 85 percent of us don't know our church's theology. Catholics of course are Pharisees and idolaters. Right?!

1. We wouldn't want to do the sacraments, er, I mean ordinances, too often. We wouldn't want people getting totally lost in worshipping Christ or anything. After all, everyone with half a brain knows they're just symbols, right? Right?!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One of my favorite musicians is a man who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for being a top-notch songwriter. Many of his songs are upbeat with lots of instruments, and I suppose he’s a goofy guy. But I heard one of his songs yesterday (though not for the first time) and I knew I had to blog about it. Let me state it this way: Have you noticed how many songs there are about broken families? It seems like there are a lot of them. Or maybe I gravitate toward them. In either case, a man I appreciate whom I have met, Jason Mraz, wrote a song called, “Love For A Child” on his 2008 release. Divorce is the theme, but he does it subtly in parts, so that you’re not driven away. He writes poignantly,

When the house was left in shambles
Who was there to handle all the broken bits of glass?
Was it mom who put my dad out on his ass, or the other way around?
Well, I’m far too old to care about that now.

[Me talking] The thing is, though, we never are too old to care. It’s even possible that we weren’t there or aware when it took place. Still, it affects us, it hurts us deeply. Jason Mraz knows this, and he’s letting us into that awareness. I don’t know if it’s autobiographical or not, but it could be. He continues in the chorus,

What about takin’ this empty cup
And fillin’ it up
With a little bit more of innocence?
I haven’t had enough, it’s probably because
When you’re young, it’s OK to be easily ignored
I’d like to believe it was all about
Love for a child.

[Me] A song well worth your time and reflection.
Top 5 Underrated Albums According To Me



5. Affirmation, Savage Garden—Though the title track is something of a throwaway (and I don’t agree with it) the rest deserves due credit for being very good, even compelling. You’ll first feel guilty liking it so much, but get over it; music critics are stupid, usually.

4. Dizzy Up The Girl, Goo Goo Dolls—The critics will kindly can it on this one, too; the guys should be very proud of this. I don’t even like rock, and I love this record.

3. My Own Prison, Creed—I know for certain the rock critics hate this. I also think that Scott Stapp manipulated scores of Christians into buying it. But a great album is a great album. “What’s This Life For?” is a great song, even if he uses the Lord’s Name in vain, and it’s the central question of life we should all ask.

2. Destiny, Jim Brickman—Jim’s other releases may even be more famous, but this record is so amazing! “Bittersweet” should be in a movie if it hasn’t been yet, and hearing Pam Tillis cap off this disc brings me back to younger days, hearing her hits on the radio.

1. In the Life of Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks—Why this didn’t grab the public as did all of Garth’s albums, I don’t know. But it’s maybe the legend’s best release (and that’s saying something). The savage critics wouldn’t know great music if it walked up and shook their hands.

Sorry I had to take a shot at critics in each one; I must be angry today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time for a list again, so:

The Five Things I Believe That Might Be Impolite To Say In Public (until now)

5. I believe man-made global warming is a complete lie, told to make us afraid and destroy what's left of capitalism.

4. Because Mark Sanford had extramarital relations, I will not vote for him for president, or any other thing.

3. I believe it's quite possible to be a minority and a racist. (Looking in your direction, Judge Sotomayor.)

2. I don't know the final destiny of any person, including myself, but I do know you have no chance of escaping Hell without Jesus.

1. Imo's Pizza and White Castle hamburgers may be St. Louis traditions, but they are vile crimes against humanity's palate.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tonight's Cards-Mets game was a classic for the baseball purist. 3-0 for the Cardinals, the well-pitched affair featured a complete game shutout for Cardinals pitcher Joel Pinero. He only surrendered two hits the entire game. What made this even more amazing was that the game was interrupted by rain for 51 minutes. Typically the starting pitchers do not return after such a lengthy delay, but both did, and were quite effective. If not for a late 2 run bases-loaded single by Albert Pujols, Mets starter Livan Hernandez would have allowed only one unearned run. You may recall Hernandez as the hero of Game 1 of the 1997 World Series.
At this point, let me suggest that the casual fan, who eagerly desires offense in a game, scarcely understands the beauty of a well-pitched game. I have no disdain for hitters, but I have a special place in my heart for pitchers. And surely the noblest of all these warriors is the starting pitcher. We are far removed from starting pitchers who finished 25 games in a season, but it is not an entirely lost art, as the Cardinals starter showed. Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is as likely to complete a game as not, an extreme rarity in this era. The Cards-Mets series will conclude with a great pairing, as the Cardinals will send 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter (5-1, 1.53 ERA) against Mets ace Johan Santana (8-5, 3.22 ERA).
Top 5 Reasons To Spend Your Summer Reading Books (if you can)

5. Books are safer than Las Vegas.

4. Books are always your friend.

3. Most forms of books do not require batteries.

2. Dude, chicks dig dudes that read books!

1. You wanna know stuff, right, dummy?