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Showing posts from 2007
Major Pet-Peeve: 'Machiavelli' is Not a Synonym for Evil Isn't it annoying that in our cultural imagination, Niccolo Machiavelli is the devil? Well, it is to me. As countless authors have pointed out, the actual Machiavelli was not any worse morally than anyone else in his day. Besides, the adjective 'Machiavellian' ought to be a compliment! Having read The Prince, I can tell you that he was, at the very least, not a naive moron in foreign affairs. We could use a few more like him. And consider the context: Machiavelli was an out-of-work starving diplomat looking to also help his native Florence. The best avenue at that moment was the authoritarian Lorenzo d' Medici, if memory serves; it was dedicated to him. Other works (from Wikipedia entry) would strongly indicate a preference for some form of democracy (republicanism) besides. I hate how we call people and things we hate politically Machiavellian. He doesn't deserve that. Consider this example: "S
[Disclaimer: The following political views are mine; you may choose or not to agree with them. No claim will be made that such views represent the majority of evangelical American Christians, or that they have any standing as 'THE evangelical position' on any issue. Thus, you in the media can now refrain from portraying us as a monolithic block of unthinking Bushbots or GOP lackeys, if we ever were. Thank you.] I must confess: I am a global-warming denier. That's really not cool to say. (Or maybe it is, who knows?) And it's not because A) I hate the earth (I most certainly love it) or B) I'm greedy (I'd like to think not, anyway) and I should say that C) to the best of my knowledge, I have not received funds from any oil/other energy company ever. Nor is my position on this issue conditioned by any, shall we say, sudden eschatological views (like, "Jesus is coming tomorrow, so who cares?" etc). This earth, once fully repaired, will be our home. If yo
It comes to pass sometimes that the seemingly culturally astute, the "with it"--miss something (or someone) blindingly obvious. Despite my professed awareness of '90s R&B, I missed a really big light: Deborah Cox. I discovered a few of her songs by accident a couple weeks ago on launch.com. I had probably heard "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here" once or twice before this. Well, that song caught my attention this time, so I listened to a few more songs, and...wow. Was I hiding under a rock? Sounds like Whitney, only better, with better songs. Of course, I loved "We Can't Be Friends," it being about broken hearts and all. That preference is odd, in that I've never truly had a broken heart romantically speaking. It's always been that way with me, loving love songs. One (non-emotive) theory might be that love songs have simpler, accessible melodies. It has always been my test: If I must sing along, it's a good song. If the words strike
Inerrancy: Vital, or Vestige of Rationalism? Lesslie Newbigin and B.B Warfield take Scripture very seriously. The Bible for both of them is the authoritative, normative rule for Christians as individuals, and as the church. But what these men said about its unique authority differed, dependent on what each man thought was the biggest threat to a lively Christian faith. Is it inflexible rationalism leading to public irrelevance? (Newbigin) Or is this grave threat due to a lack of recognition of Scripture’s origin in God, leading to a lack of submission to Him, and to it? (Warfield) How these men answered this important question, and their differing ministry contexts, lead directly to any dissimilarities between them. If I should be compelled to criticize Newbigin at all in the end, let it be known that I do so with the greatest reluctance, recognizing his heroic efforts in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. (And likewise for Warfield, though that is not the task at hand.) If
(The latest on) Why I Like N.T. Wright As I sat in my class today at seminary, our instructor was reading a quote from Wright (not wanting to dig it up "Wright" now...hehe) about how perhaps picking our "theme verses" and putting them on coffee cups, calendars, etc. seems to contradict our claim our claim that it is the Word of God. By de-contextualizing it, we are trivializing it. What a brilliant point. Some people now have a coherent, defensible reason for why they always found that so irritating:) Yea for you. If that weren't enough, I was reflecting on why I enjoyed Jesus and the Victory of God so much, and I figured it out: Wright's view of Jesus and the Gospels in that book is the Frank Herbert Version of the story. Have you read Dune ? (Frank Herbert's master-work, the very definition of science fiction, and likely in the top 50 fiction books in English of all time--about a messianic warrior-king who rules humanity in the bleak distant future--
I made a boo in that recent baptism post; I did what my professor said not to do: I used the regular dictionary to define a biblical word. But I don't have my own theological dictionary yet, so I exhort you, my loyal reader, (ha!) to back me up on this, so we don't ruin ourselves theologically, intellectually, "ecumenically, grammatically..." (Johnny Depp rules! Please, someone get this.)
I was just thinking about what it's like to be young and Christian in America right now. Doesn't it seem like God is moving in a special way among us? We're finding our voice at just the right time. We do not have to choose between fervent piety and social change, as our parents and grandparents thought. We cannot be silent, and we will not be silenced by anyone or anything. No more waiting for Jesus to rapture us from a hopeless and 'evil' physical world. No more forsaking the truth while presuming to heal the world with our own wisdom and efforts. And we need (and have) our anthems ringing loud and clear to the world lost and hurting. Switchfoot said: We want more than this world's got to offer We want more than this world's got to offer We want more than the wars of our fathers... And those wars are from within, and without. But God has won the victory in Christ, and it is no less true than in the past. In spite of all the evil we see, we have not l
A Word About Worship Music, Mariah Carey, and God’s Communicative Condescension (in liturgy) [I noticed this post lacked the title I wrote, which ruins the humor of the first few lines.] A title like that, on account of its sheer pomposity, had better be about something important. But how could it be? “You just placed God’s communicating with us in the same phrase with Mariah Carey,” you protest. And it’s risky, I know. But stay here; I think I’m going somewhere. (As an aside, this blog and its owner’s music collection might be “MC” Fan Central. I own all but two releases. Therefore, please allow me to theologize in some manner consonant with my cultural context. Translation: Back off!) The other day, I found myself listening to Ms. Carey’s 1993 release, Music Box, and specifically, the title track. Musically, it’s beautiful, the very essence of 1990s vocal-pop/R&B; it is written to display those uncommon vocal talents, which, in 1993, were at their peak. As the words go, I hate
I thought arriving late to poker tournaments was an inconsequential vanity worthy of Phil Hellmuth. But, having "arrived" late to my last few on PartyPoker.net , I can discern a good reason why someone would do such a thing: to avoid losing a ton of chips early on marginal hands when the blinds (the automatic payments into the pot before cards are seen--meant to create action) are low. And the blinds go higher, this tends to focus players, letting more skilled players come to the fore. (One begins to see that 'experimenting' with marginal hands gets costly if one doesn't win.) I was very excited to see that the maximum field for the biggest tourneys on the site had increased from 4000 to 4270; however, when I finished the 2:00 PM tourney in 563rd, I was worried that I'd missed out on the "cash." Luckily, I did not. I received 854 play chips. There had been zero in my account. I've been setting a goal to only play with chips I've earned, but
Recently, I embedded myself in a discussion (once again) as to whether baptism effects the forgiveness of sins, or rather testifies to it. The Scripture verse in question (as always) is Acts 2:38. I’ll start you with verse 36 just for fun. It reads, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Verse 37 says, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And here’s verse 38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:36-38, ESV) Generally, Protestants deny that baptism regenerates the person (with Lutherans as notable exception), but the Churches of Christ say to varying degrees that baptism does forgive sins. For the record, I capitalized ‘Churches’ back there to specifical
I watched the Giants-Nationals baseball game last night. I told myself that when Barry Bonds hit home run 756, I'd not react or give it one ounce of credence. He more than likely cheated to get here. And he's by all accounts--let's be kind here--not a lovable figure. Perhaps it's the media's taint. But even before the steroids allegations, I never liked him. I loved when a fly ball hit him on the head in St. Louis, bounding over the wall for a home run. I liked watching him fail. Yet here I was, glued to my TV. Bonds came up, for the third time, with my heart racing. Is this it? Rookie pitcher. Check. Fastball clocking in at 86. Check. Home crowd. Check. Barry was ahead in the count 3-1 when I thought the perfect pitch came. High, out over the plate, with not much on it, I thought. But he missed it. And the next pitch was a curveball or a changeup possibly, because it came in 75 MPH right over the middle of the plate. Initially, it looked like it dropped (suggesting
Last night, I had a very odd dream. And it was very affective; that is, I was certain to have a strong emotional reaction to the events. I was in Florida, eating lunch with a man who was sentenced to death. We ate in a different place than where he would die. The strange part is, we had to hurry, so he wouldn't be late. He was a black man (knowing me, probably innocent) but I never said his name. The building we entered was not a prison; it looked like a courthouse, more than a little like the Supreme Court. As my friend entered, I said, "Whatever happens, I love you." Sister Helen Prejean was there. She entered amid a media circus, as the celebrated author, whose book became the film "Dead Man Walking." We entered next, myself, and my friend's lawyer. We were led to a very small room, barely big enough for all the witnesses. In fact, there was no separation between us and the participants. I sat in the second row, and the first row was scarcely five feet a
Lord's Supper Blather of The Day: Have you ever noticed that undeniably creepy passage on this subject in John 6? In truth, the whole section after the feeding of the 5000 men could be indirectly alluding to it, but just for fun, let's zoom in on John 6:52-59. The accusers here were 'set off' as it were, by v. 51, which prompts them to ask, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" in v. 52 (ESV). It would seem to me to be a perfect time to back them down a bit, to reassure the crowd that he is not endorsing cannibalism. To the contrary; he says : "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides [remains] in me, and I in him." (John 6:52-56, ESV) The Scriptures even righ
I dropped a DVD copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" on the floor by accident. Which would be no big deal, except that I cannot pick it up. So, now it's staring at me, but I must confess: 1. If it were destroyed, or nonexistent, I would not be upset; 2. I'm already inclined to believe that Al Gore is an insufferable scold; but 3. I'm still inexplicably curious about it. Therefore, I should implore someone to assist me in its retrieval, to allay my curiosity.
Well, it's quite possible that I wouldn't know the difference between an occasion-induced friendliness, and a romantic attraction if it punched me in the face. Bad Sign #1: I've called twice, a little over a week apart, and she hasn't called back. Voicemail. Hmmmm...On the other hand, I don't know how this operates with her. Maybe she's from the 'Vigorously Pursue Me Right to the Border of Annoying' School. Who knows? Of course, I wasn't real specific. I said, 'I'll be in town on...' and, 'Sorry, I won't be in town...Call me if you come to St. Louis.' Yet again, I'm reminded of a story a "grandma-lady" friend told me once. She said that her mother/stepmother liked this guy (her father?) and he had said, "You call me; I'll be at the bus station, and I'll change my plans if you call." Well, she thought it'd be inappropriate for her to call him. [This could have been, what, the 1950s?] She ende
OK, I have a confession to make. I went to a wedding just last week, and I saw an old friend, a lady friend. And fine, if you must know, I was completely mesmerized. She asked me to dance. And as far as falling in like, as it were, it was comepletely over at that point. I've been timid these past months with ladies I might be interested in, tired of being on the short end. That is now over. I decided right then I had to find out her status and reconnect. I'm going back to that town this weekend, and I know no other thing to do. I've been dreadfully sick for over a week, and still I thought of her, and whether I was completely imagining all the chemistry I felt. Oh, please don't be a diligent reader of my blog, Wedding Beauty! I called her to say that I'd be in town. I wonder if she cares whether I'll be in town. I wonder if she's always so friendly. But I intend to find out. And I don't really know where this boldness is coming from, but it's a welco
7--1 Corinthians 11:23-30 in Brief Before beginning the task of exegesis, it seems proper for me to explain my choice of this passage, as well as to establish some possible applications for future ministry. In this, we ought to find the endeavor both stimulating and rewarding. This particular passage is set in a place in this letter highlighted by the sins of the Corinthians described in the preceding section, verses 17-22. In short, there was a lack of sharing at the common meal that coincided with the Supper, making a mockery of their equality in Christ, divisions, and a general lack of awareness as to the Supper’s purpose. Bruce noted that the verbs in the first part of verse 23 (receive, deliver) indicate the transmission of oral tradition. Also, the words following (and those in Mark’s Gospel) were established parts of the liturgies of churches. That is to say, the occasion of the meal was, in some manner, weightier than other meals the Corinthians might have attended
Before I retire for the evening, (sleep) I had a semi-serious, semi-funny story about myself. I cuss. Being fully cognizant of 'polite' society, I don't cuss in public, in the presence of elders or children, etc. I could even say that I don't do it out loud much at all. But I have always been challenged, er, convicted by this section of Scripture. (Most clearly, verse 8.) Do you see what "filthy language" is placed alongside? Truly bad stuff. That's the troubling part; you see, I use filthy words when reading theology. Yes, I'm serious. I cannot tell you how many times reading Luther or Watson or Calvin I've exclaimed, "Holy s---, that's brilliant." It seems fairly obvious this prohibition, don't degrade people, don't cuss in anger, etc. But has anyone ever frankly felt that we don't have enough words expressing awe or appreciation that do as well as the foul ones? And if we return to the previous example, the exclamati
John Amaechi is gay. "Who's John Amaechi?" Yeah, that's what I said. He was a backup center for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (I typed that out in case some untutored wretches didn't know). As you read this , take note of the evidence Amaechi cites of his gayness, for lack of a better term. He likes opera. He cooks. He gardens. This man doesn't feel he fit very well in that juvenile cesspool of immaturity that is the competitive locker room. You don't say! I would say that I don't fit very well either. Is that evidence of anything? Wisdom, perhaps. What about the other things? To which I can only reply: Are you kidding me? This is the heart of a movement changing the face of society, people who go against prevailing sex stereotypes? There is nothing remotely unmanly about gardening, opera, or even liking the Carpenters. (I'm not terribly familiar with their catalog, but "Close to You" is a great song, for one) Who f
Something struck me at 4 in the morning; had to share it. Warning to readers: May strike some as stating the obvious, trolling for positive feedback. ( Like all your posts? --ed. Shut up!) Anyway, some preachers interrupt themselves while reading Scripture, not able to simply read the words without explaining something, and all this before the sermon even starts. This is not good. Pardon me while I digress, in hopes of hammering home something important. It has been a long tradition in the church for the more formal types of services to have an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, and a reading from one of the Gospels in the New Testament. Now, having participated in numerous services like this, a couple observations: first, in due time, an ordinary Christian will begin to have hightened spiritual awareness around these occasions. I don't mean strange happenings, neccessarily, just a feeling that says, "This is extremely important." I've been in more low-ch
(Danger: The following post is political in nature. The author does not intend any of its contents to be representative of: American evangelicals, or Christians of any other stripe or nationality. These opinions are my own.) And now, some worthwhile additions to JK's Political Encyclopedia: Republican: 1. A person who identifies with the American Republican party. Subgroup 1: A self-absorbed group of uninspired, selfish, intellectually insipid dolts who, while opposing every good idea and sitting in elected office for eons, at least knows they're not Democrats. Instructive examples include: John McCain, Trent Lott, and Chuck Hagel. Subgroup 2: The intellectual and moral heirs to classical liberalism, who espouse capitalism, freedom, and at least a tolerance for (if not affection) the persistent prevailing religious sentiments of America's citizenry. Libertarians: Angry or cynical individuals who've concluded that their sympathies lie with Republican Subgroup 2, but