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Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm officially mad about the Google ad at the bottom of my page: one of those Mormon commercials. With all due respect, here at Safe Haven, we believe unreservedly in the Nicene Creed: "We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ...begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father..." In short, Mormons are not Christians, because they deny this. Sorry; gotta shoot you straight. [What about Glenn Beck?--ed.] Well, he's not a Christian, either. I am right-wing enough to believe that he'll say something true about politics 32.2% percent of the time. But please stuff it concerning God, sir; you've now idea who you're talking about.
My friend Gail Sallee wondered aloud on the inter-webs why people shop in the mall in their pajamas; I don't have a hard and fast answer, but I have a cranky speculation: I think it is a symptom of the loss of the distinction between public and private space. A full-fledged ruckus or fracas ensues if you happen to humbly suggest that the God-man died on a cross and rose from the dead, but curses if you try to stop me from shopping at that Dillard's over there as if it were my living room. It's not that there's too much stuff in the public space, it's just the wrong stuff. Isn't that weird? We can share our bodies in public, but not our hearts. I'll make you a deal: I'll button my face if you button your shirt.
Side-Rant: I love malls. I love shopping. I love nearly everything about it. I don't have to buy anything; I just enjoy the experience. I know I'm not supposed to say this; I'm supposed to lament greed and gaudiness and suburbs and wealth and smiling and cookies. But I suspect that at least 87.8% of the time people worry about "materialism," what they really mean is, "I neither understand nor am able to tolerate the economic activity of free people." It's not like tough decisions and moral conundrums don't arise. And it's also true that without the moral formation to do justly, (Jesus Christ, directly or indirectly) one cannot hope to be just for any length of time. But it can be done. And by and large, I don't know if paternalists on the Upper East Side of Manhattan know what a voluntary, non-coercive contract between two parties actually is. Especially if one of them is non-white. Put simply, paternalism+wealth envy+dim college students="fair trade." I've yet to see an argument against global trade that didn't boil down to A) nationalism, B) "They traded, and that guy made a million dollars, while the other made a thousand. That's so unfair" or C) "I secretly continue to feel guilty about my life of American privilege, so I will unwittingly destroy the system that brought it about." We should all as Christians be concerned about the means and manner of the acquisition of wealth. We should also consider the question of what do with it after it is created. But make no mistake: new wealth needs to be created everywhere. The world is in an economic funk, and robbery or wishful thinking won't help. Leaders of the US: throw the hammer down. Slash the taxes, tariffs, duties, spending, and for pete's sake, STOP PRINTING MONEY!!!! I swear I'm not an economist, but I'm also not a moron. Even Keynes would wake up and say, "Dude, seriously, you guys are making me look bad." And after I give due adoration to our Lord on his birthday, I'm going to the mall.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

5 Thoughts On Finally Watching "It's A Wonderful Life"

5. If I become a tenth of the man George Bailey is, I shall be blessed indeed.

4. Dude, Mary is a total fox. Why'd you fart around so long?

3. Can't get much more Catholic than that movie. Just sayin'.

2. Top 3 Personal Favorite Actresses:

(3. Kelly Preston

2. Natalie Wood

1. Katharine Hepburn.

Top 3 Favorite Actors:

3. Tom Cruise

2. Jimmy Stewart

1. Cary Grant.

Also receiving votes: Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Dustin Hoffman.)

1. Look out, Potter. God is watching.
5 More Ways To Tell You Are Jason Kettinger

5. At least 88 percent of the time, "flush" refers to a poker hand, not to a toilet.

4. You've dreamed of getting "Colombo" on DVD.

3. You've seen "Bloodsport" 37 times.

2. You have yelled out, "Yeah, Carpenters!" and "Darn right, Lionel Richie!" at your TV.

1. Your funniest inside joke involves the word, "crevasse."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Top 5 Dumbest Things I've Heard Since I Started 'The Quest'

5. "I care about the Bible. I don't care about church history." I don't even know where to start.

4. "Nobody has it all right." Well, then how do you know Jesus is God, or that He rose from the dead? How agnostic do you want to be?

3. "Do you really want to join the Church that gave us the Crusades?" No, not really. But I'll take Thomas Aquinas, Chesterton, Ratzinger, Wojtyla, and Mother Theresa. Yahtzee! Or Gin. Or something.

2. "Repeal Trent, and I'm there." First off, most of you haven't even read the thing. Second, this can't possibly happen. As I recall, we asked for an ecumenical council. This is it. What now? Furthermore, in Catholic theology, asking the Church to repudiate an ecumenical council is like asking the sun to rise in the west. Added bonus: Who made you who said this the Arbiter of All Christian Doctrine?

1. "Luther wasn't trying to leave the Church, only reform it." Really? Did you talk with him Putin-Bush style? How do you know this is true? Even if it is, how would Luther know he wasn't working for Beelzebub? (unwittingly) No offense. "I'll take Erasmus for the block, Tom."

Excited, Shamelessly Selfish Christmas Side-Rant: I stand to get some pretty sweet gifts this year. But even cooler than NBA Jam for the Wii, (one of the top 3 best basketball video games ever) I heard that Hollywood Squares for the Wii is out, and it's cheap. If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s, you recognize this show as one of the most underrated game shows of all time. D-list celebrities? Check. Off-color humor? Check. Tom Bergeron? Check. Also known as "Tic-Tac-Toe With Jobless Actors and Comedians." Wait, I just described Match Game. Or Dancing With The Stars. Speaking of Dancing, Tom makes that better, too. I figured it out how I feel about Brooke Burke. How can I say this nicely? Burke as the other co-host is like black licorice: It (she) looks nice, but I totally regret the experience. I remind myself of this when I wonder if I am a completely incorrigible pig who needs to star in the re-boot of "Shallow Hal."
OK, everyone. Hi. Today was the final week of the Understanding Catholicism at my Presbyterian church. It's been a fascinating ride, not least to watch the, um, interesting, reactions to official Catholic teaching on a plethora of issues. Frankly, I didn't expect to find so many ex-Catholics here. And I don't think it will wash to say that people leave the Catholic Church because they want to sin, at least not these people, it would appear. And as a semi-official Friend of the Catholic Church, it breaks my heart. Not that my community is any less with their addition, but I would tell any Catholic that he or she is sitting on a gold mine if you happen to notice. [Isn't that a little friendly to an organization that has perverted the gospel?--ed.] As soon as you figure out what 'the gospel' is, I'll let you know. But if that term means something close to, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" then I must issue an emphatic "No!" The Catholic Church believes and teaches faithfully the revelation of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. And He is to be received by grace, through faith, not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, so that no one may boast. Are there legitimate contentions between us, and even potential problems in Catholic theology (or even practice)? Of course. But let me continue to explain.
If we chiefly understand 'the gospel' as something chiefly personal or soteriological, we have almost no chance to see the faithfulness of God poured out across the centuries, in the stories and lives of those before us, and those in communions other than our own. It is not to say we are not correct, nor is it to say that the disputations of systematic theology are unimportant. But it is to say that the ground we Christians stand on is the person and work of Jesus Christ, and to further understand that those disputations concern the application of that redemption won on Calvary, not its fullness, nor the one in whom it originates. The gravest evils of the Reformation, it seems to me, were and are forgetfulness, and a certain pride which makes peace with division. It may be objected that the visible unity offered by Rome (and the lesser sort offered by Constantinople) is no panacea; this is true. But I also know that the Reformers even dared to claim that they were the faithful heirs of the ancient Fathers. Someone understood acutely that legitimacy was found in continuity. It is not my purpose here to confirm or refute that claim. Rather, it is to underscore that we have indeed fallen far if either we fail to earnestly seek that continuity, or worse, if our gospel proclamation in fact rests and depends on discontinuity. I personally reside in an intellectual hamlet that does not allow for the uncritical assumption that the disputants in the 16th century in the West were justified (pardon the pun) in what they did and believed. Neither do I assume Roman dogmas and prerogatives out of convenience. But it seems the toughest questions I am asking swirl around subjectivity and autonomy, which ominously appear to be at the heart of the Protestant project itself.
Still, if all of us desire holiness and the glory of Christ in the world in which we live, the first step is quite clear: we must join Christ in the Upper Room; we must strive to do theology with them there in the final hours, to hear those intimate words He spoke to them as words to us. We must remember that the world that hated Christ hates us too, and if we fail to stay close to him, the world will devour us. He prayed that we would be one, and he did so as our high priest. Therefore, we will not be wasting our lives or time praying for, and working toward the same unity that Christ saw fit to request! And we may find that those who seemed to be our fellow-travelers were not so; some, by reason of ignorance, and some by malice. Nevertheless, if it is the Word we follow, we will not be ashamed.