In The News

Dear Christian, Be An Informed Citizen

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So there has been presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. There will be an election in a couple weeks so it seems fitting to talk about this.

>We live in a day and place where ignorance is the most costly commodity there is, so to speak.

Start by realizing all media has a bias. As I like to say, if you have a pulse you have a bias. Much to their protesting, that goes for the news media as well. So work at informing yourself. Read multiple sources—the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Watch Fox News and CNN.

>You also need to know the news media as a whole mostly votes for Democrats over 80% of the time–and always has.

I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, actually it’s left (Ha!). I simply think this is important to know when reading the ‘news’ and how facts are reported. There’s often a slant.

Part of the professionalism breaks down in philosophy. Too many journalists view their role as a means to “make a difference” or “report the truth” or “affect change.” I even remember hearing this while working on my Mass Communications degree from other students. The problem is, whose truth? Whose change? And for what difference?

>It’s unavoidable for ideology not to break through.

All these imply agenda and activism, and that is not the role of a responsible journalist. The fundamental role and purpose of a journalist is to report the facts, hence the name reporter. But I guess reporting facts gets boring, so ideology bleeds through. Don’t be offended. Just be aware.

>Be a responsible citizen and be an informed one.

Personally, I read around 100 headlines a day and about 10% of those articles from a variety of sources.

Being ignorant is dangerous. Being informed is effective.

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Sometimes I Hate Remembering

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I didn’t want to do this for several reasons. Mainly, because I thought everyone else would. But then I realized they probably wouldn’t. When something big, emotional, and traumatic crosses our paths, sometimes it’s easier to forget about it. But sometimes there is value in remembering the thing you want to forget forever. It can clarify what’s important to you. In a sense, by remembering the hard things you refresh your list of priorities.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

I was living with my wife in our first house in Ft. Lauderdale. I had taken a job at an insurance repair business as a supervisor of a small crew. We repaired water and fire damage, mainly. My wife and I were also deep in the process of helping start a church in Miami, FL.

This particular day I was working alone. My job was to go to south Miami(Kendall, I think) to do some punch-out on an apartment building that the company had the contract on. I have always been a news junky, so I had the radio on in my work van while driving.

Just as I had arrived there was a new flash about a small commuter plane that had accidentally flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Of course, in a short time I would learn that both those details were quite wrong.

At that point, I had no reason to be overly concerned or worried. I thought it was awful, but I had no idea. So I gathered my tools and went into the apartment building to work.

I set up and went to work. I put on my little portable radio and started painting a door jam. While I was working and listening a second plane suddenly hit the other World Trade Center building. That’s when I knew it wasn’t an accident.

From there, the news was patchy. I was lacking focus and momentum, because I was a little afraid by this time. I continued working. I was dragging, but what else could I do?

And then the first building collapsed.

The news wasn’t clear on this at first. That’s because it was so unbelievable. Eventually, the truth was clear: The building was gone. I was in shock and sick.

And then…

The other one fell.

By this time, I couldn’t work. I decided to take an early lunch. Mind you, I had only been working some 30 or so minutes. So I took my lunch in the van and listened to the radio. And listened. And listened.

Finally, I decided I couldn’t work. I was just so distraught. So I packed up, went home, and watched the TV coverage all day and late into the night. I couldn’t watch and couldn’t stop, all at the same time.

I went to work the next day. I also continued to watch the news coverage at night. But by the weekend, I couldn’t anymore. It was just too much. And that is the main approach I’ve taken since then.

I remember only when necessary.

Several years ago, I flew up to Connecticut to help my Dad move. He lived in the south west portion of the state, which functioned as a suburb of New York City.

Through the course of the day, neighbors would stop by to wish my Dad well (we were pushing out the next day). One neighbor got to talking. We all sat on the grass in the spring sun. They had a beer and I had a Coke (since I hate beer, and all).

He got to talking about his big brother. Stories of childhood, being best friends, best men at each others weddings, etc. ensued. So I asked if his brother lived in the area.

That’s when he told me all about September 11th. And I remembered it all over again. His brother worked in one of the buildings.

He proceeded to recount the events of the day—from his perspective. He cried all the while. This was a big dude. He was a construction worker, big and burly. So it had quite an impact on me. I looked at the situation totally different. I’m glad he shared his story. In that moment, it brought clarity and does just as strongly every time I remember.

Remembering the things we never want to remember is hard. But sometimes it is good to. It helps us think on what is most important to us.

What were you doing that day?

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*Remembering Never is something I repost each year, since there’s no better way for me to say all this.

iPhone screenshot

So What About Gay Marriage?

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Did you know that Chick-Fil-A serves hate-chicken? That’s what some would have you believe since the owner was asked (at the very end of a long interview) about the long-established culture within the company. Here’s what CEO Dan Kathy said:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives…” [online source]

AAAHHHHHHHH! THE HATE! DIE CHRISTIAN SCUM FROM YOUR FATTY HEART-ATTACK INDUCING FAST FOOD!!!!

Seriously though, have we come to a place that an opinion like this is considered hate-speech? Chick-Fil-A serves anyone who comes through the doors, and even hires homosexuals. If they didn’t that would be bigotry.

It’s gotten to the point where cities want to prevent Chick-Fil-A from opening shop in their city. This week New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent a letter to New York University president asking the school to immediately end their contract with the fast food restaurant. She said:

“I write as the Speaker of the NYC Council, and on behalf of my family. NYC is a place where we celebrate diversity.”

Unless, you have a Christian world-view I guess. In response, yesterday was an unofficial “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.” I talked to someone last night who ate there 3 times that day. It was freakin’ HUGE, which, ironically, has gotten basically no media attention. But if 10 stinky hippies protest in front of Chick-Fil-A it makes the news cycle all week. Craziness.

What is happening to us? Can we all discuss controversial issues, like same-sex marriage, without hanging each other on the gallows?

I want to try to. Don’t you?

This weekend while the kids were watching an episode of Good Luck Charlie I decided to see what people were saying. That’s when I saw one of my friends on Facebook post:

Hey Christians, please remind me why gay marriage is”wrong”? And there’s this little thing called “proof” that I expect for each and every one of your claims. : )

The questions didn’t make me mad. It didn’t even make me squeamish. And it was clearly in response to this Chick-Fil-A issue that’s been building.

>I actually think this is a fair question to pose to Christians.

But I also think we must all agree on the starting point for this discussion.

There were, as usual, dozens of comments posted very quickly. It is a discussion I don’t usually get into, but for some reason I posted a response. Why? Did I want to mix it up? Nope. I just think we all need to be able to talk about things–even heated ones.

>Curiously, I have found any time that someone has been discussing this issue, the premise is never established.

A few times I have tried to establish a premise to build this discussion (and issue) on. The interesting thing is that I have NEVER had a response. Not once.

What do I mean? What’s that premise? Well, let me explain by quoting the comment I posted in my friends thread. I simply said:

I accept the challenge. But first, define the term “marriage”.

Immediately, my Facebook friend ‘liked’ my question. And predictably, it has been a week with over 50 comments and no one has answered my question. And I have to wonder why?

>There’s no question that gay marriage is an issue worth discussing no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

But if I, as a Christian, am going to answer this and get in to this discussion, then we need to establish the starting point. My point is, Christian, you do need to be able to answer this question in a way that is creditable and respectable.

>In fact, no matter what side you are on with regard to this issue, you need to answer it in a way that is creditable and respectful. 

That means for Christians (or any supporters of traditional marriage), we have to say more than, “Well, because the Bible says…”

And if you are a supporter of gay marriage, you’ve have to build on more than an emotional basis.

And it must be said, that just because someone has a different value system than you, doesn’t make them prejudice or a bigot.

>We’ve all got to develop enough strength of character to be able to take challenges to our beliefs and values. Let’s stop being so touchy.

Lastly, I share something that I think you will find very interesting, maybe shocking.

I was in my truck waiting in line to pick up my kids from camp on Monday. I was listening to the radio and decided to see what the dictionary had to say about all this. So I got out my iPhone.

I opened Google Chrome and searched for Dictionary.com.

I clicked on the link and typed in “marriage”.  And here’s what came up first:

Did you see that? The first definition, and don’t ask me why it all came up like this, was the definition for gay marriage. So where is the traditional definition of marriage? You know, the one that most cultures have held to for the past 4,000 years?

The traditional definition of marriage came up 10th. That’s dead last.

Just thought you should know.

XXXX

Good, God, & Evil

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This is a week that many people are wondering: Is God good? It’s natural when there is death and tragedy. It makes us ask:

If there is a God, and He is good, then what about all this evil in the world?

Makes sense. And besides the disappointment and pains of life, I don’t have everything I want. I’m not living in my dream house. I’m not as smart as I want to be. There’s so much, and so many ways, to wonder if God is good.

So how can we be convinced that God is good in the midst of our personal misery or frustrated desires?

We probably can’t.

>Actually, my purpose in raising this objection is not to convince the unsure to be certain that God is good.

Although I would love nothing more than to always be fully convinced of this, and to fully persuade others, I also recognize that my confidence will likely change with the next pain. I’m not trying to convince.

What’s possible is to learn to accept the premise even though we might question it, find it hard to believe, or aren’t fully convinced in the moment. This comes down to navigating the dangerous waters of emotions we go through in that gap—the Happiness Trap, depression, anger guilt, fear, etc. We can’t pretend they’re not there. We can’t ignore them. We must watch for warnings, mark the course, and weather through them. Only this way will they not consume us.

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Jeremiah warned his fellow Hebrews:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 tniv)

He knew that so much of where we end up in life hinges on how we process those risky emotions. After thousands of years, it’s still true. They can trick you into buying stock on a tip that’s obviously too-good-to-be-true. They can get you believing you don’t love someone anymore (since love is, of course, a choice).

>Even worse, feelings can even get us wondering if God is good.

In Gethsemane, Jesus’ flesh was weak. Part of him didn’t want to let him believe that God was still good. But his spirit knew it to be true, accepted it, and moved forward.

Can we do that? We have to learn to or our faith will not endure.

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Read all these related posts in order here:

God Isn’t Good.

God Still Isn’t Good.

If God Is Good, Then He Will…

Let’s Make A Deal, God.

Good & Mad…at God?

Anger Management.

Good, God &, Evil.

God is Good, But…

Reconciling God & Why Bad Stuff Happens.

The Existence Of Evil Is Actually Evidence Of God’s True Goodness.

 

VIDEO: Rob Bell Is Back And Wondering Why

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If you don’t know who Rob Bell is let me explain a little because he has a lot of influence in Christian circles. Rob has been part of my life for over eight years. I have read nearly all of his books, used several of his NOOMA videos as a basis for small group discussions, and listened to hundreds of his teachings when he was pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI. (a while back I explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story altogether). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is hard not to.

Rob wrote a book called Love Wins which I wrote a fairly scathing review title Love Wins, Christianity Loses, & God Lies. I didn’t want to, but I felt I had to be honest. Rob has recently left his church to move to LA to work on a show loosely based on his life.

Anyway, Rob is out with a new video called Rediscovering Wonder. Watch it below. Is it me or does it kind of seem like a parody?  Maybe I’m just getting old and grouchy. Maybe I’m jealous of his success. It’s worth a watch:

Prometheus, Ridley Scott, and God

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So Prometheus comes out today. This is one of my favorite mythologies in film. The Alien creature as originally introduced by Ridley Scott will always be the 2nd best villain ever in moviedom. And I mean that in a good way. (If you’re wondering, Darth Vadar is #1). I have seen the Alien movies dozens of times. So needless to say, I am really looking forward to seeing it.

In any event, I had a friend (and a Strongarm fan) email me about some ideas of God and the origins of human life that Prometheus seems to delve in to. He had some great questions which is why I want to hit on the ideas briefly here.

Joshua asked:

“From what I have read, this movie will explore the idea that God may not have been our Creator, but “aliens” or extraterrestrials did. What do you think of that?”

This is a great question. Sure, there were a few other things he said, but this was the important part. This question also alludes to many other interesting thoughts as well, which is why I wanted to post the highlights of mt response to him.

>The idea of aliens seeding life on earth, is nothing new.

Even Richard Dawkins (the famous atheist) thinks that may be the case. Which is interesting considering atheists pride themselves on disavowing foolish theories and obvious ‘myths’ for what is scientifically able to be proven (often called a philosophy of Naturalism). Go figure. In fact, X-Files hammered this point all the time. Part of the reason I loved it so much. I LOVE sci-fi.

Do I think that is what happen? No. Not even close.

I suppose I am ‘narrow-minded’. I do believe in the Genesis account. There is much to be said on that–understanding Hebrew narrative, poetry, oral tradition, etc.–but as for the major events and spiritual truths, I hold them to be absolute. Here is a great message on understanding the meaning behind the genesis account by a Christian philosopher, John Rankin, I hold in high regard.

I think the question comes because often people will feel that they are limiting God for thinking we are the only life (like us) in the universe. It is often characterized as small minded or even selfish. As if ALL THIS is only for little old me?

Exactly.

This idea does not ‘limit’ God or the possibilities in a way that demeans him. On the contrary. It does the opposite.

Often people think it arrogant to think that God created all the universe with only us in mind–as if it is merely a painting for us to look at. In many ways it is, it represents his majesty and ability. And let’s not forget what it took for him to create it all: simply speaking it.

By his mere word it was all birthed into existence. In reality, it’s no big deal for him–to create us and all the universe. It’s as if it took him 5 minutes of his time, which is eternal and infinite.

>And in reality, to think otherwise is actually what limits him and not vice versa.

Why? Because we are confining God the measures of our understanding.

He loves us enough to make all this for us. It expresses his nature, power, and glory. And it keeps life interesting and beautiful for us as we learn and explore it all.

Just my 2 cents.

Enjoy the film! I’m seeing it in 3D at 10:30 AM tomorrow!

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Student Suspended For Wearing Jesus Shirt

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Sometimes you hear of things that you can never imagine happening. Like teachers threatened with fines if they say Merry Christmas and Christmas trees being renamed ‘holiday’ trees because of the religious undertones (except for the fact that the Christmas tree has zero religious significance and is actually a pagan symbol). Anyway, now there is another situation to add to this list.

In the world of the strange a student has been suspended for wearing a Christian t-shirt.

Does it depict people burning in hell like in Dante’s Inferno. Nope. Is it a pro-life shirt with an aborted fetus crying out? Not even close.

It is simply a shirt that states: Life is wasted without Jesus.

AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! THE HORROR!!!

According to this article:

Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, board superintendent, said some students and teachers found the T-shirt offensive. “When one is able or others are able to interpret it as, ‘If you don’t share my belief then your life is wasted,’ that can be interpreted by some as being inappropriate,” she said.

Can you believe a High School student being so freakin’ evil? I know! What a jerk. Doesn’t he know he is not allowed to hurt anyone’s feelings? Dumb kid.

Obviously, I am kidding. This is a ridiculous situation. These officials are ridiculous. You have to wonder if he had worn a shirt that said Satan is my buddy! if officials would have been as upset. Probably not.

Now, the only saving grace in all this is that that this is not happening in America. Right?

Actually, I almost got suspended for nearly the same thing 20 years ago in High School (yes, I am that old and, yes, I wore some stupid Christians shirts every once in a while). Like this kid, I refused to listen to the assistant principal warning me citing ‘separation of church and state.’

So when I was called into the assistant principal’s office for an official reprimand, I asked for her to show me this policy in the student handbook. She couldn’t. And I was free to wear my cheesy religious shirts whenever I wanted.

Just some interesting news I thought you should know about happening up in America’s hat, aye (Canada, that is).

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Christian Horror Film About…Porn

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I’m feeling better so let’s get back into it…

In the world of oddities, some Christians have made a horror film. What?

It’s true.

The film is called Harmless and it centers around a box of porn.

I’m not kidding. From the movies official site:

“Harmless is a feature film shot in the popular found footage style. It’s the story about a husband and father and his battle with a box of porn that is found in the closet. Once opened, the box of porn begins to torment the family, much like a poltergeist. It’s sort of a social commentary on how pornography can destroy a family.”

Below is the trailer for the movie. And I must admit, it’s low budget (you might say ‘indie’ if you wanted to be generous about it). But I must also admit, I found it a little interesting.

Watch the trailer:

New Bible Removes ‘Christ’

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So a couple weeks ago I talked about new Bible translations that remove “Father”, “Son”, and “Son of God” as not to offend anyone. Que your outrage because it gets worse…

>There is a new Bible called The Voice that takes out “Christ,” “angels,” and “apostle.”

Now, before you get your full outrage goin’, hit pause. Unlike the Bible translation that simply removes terms that might offend people (like Father, Son, and Son of God), which I would argue changes the very meaning, intent, and overall message, The Voice aims to be a simpler read.

Let’s compare. The ever-popular John 3:16-17 in the King James version reads:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

In The Voice it reads:

“For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.”

As I detail in my book, Bible translations range from the literal to the paraphrase. The Voice leans toward the paraphrase side of the spectrum, much like The Message.

>It is not really for in depth Bible study.

It is geared for the person who just wants to sit down and read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, perhaps. It is captures contemporary English (no King’s English or Shakespeare spoken here) in story from.

Just thought you should know.

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Killing Babies No Biggie

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I will be discussing and posting some awesome stuff from our road trip this weekend. But now it’s time for a heavy Monday. Sorry.

Here is a truly disgusting development. According to this article:

Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

Sounds made up doesn’t it? Or something in some pseudo-civilized futuristic movie where every aspect of everyone’s life is controlled by the elites (like in Gattaca). Unfortunately, this is true.

These ‘medical ethicists’ published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.

They call it an “after-birth abortion.” I suppose this makes them feel better, since it is nothing less than murder.

Regarding the most vocal objections, the journal’s editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said these are “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

So this is what a ‘liberal’ and ‘enlightened’ and ‘civilized’ society comes to? No, we don’t eat our young. We just kill them because they are a bit too inconvenient for the level of luxury we desire for our lives.

Disgusting. Lord forgive us for entertaining these ideas.

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New Bible Translations Remove ‘Father’ & ‘Son’

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Just when you think you’ve heard everything, something pops up that manages to surprise you. There is a new controversy with a new Bible translation. This article points out:

A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words “Father” and “Son” from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for “producing Bibles that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” because these terms are offensive to Muslims.”

So what is the big deal. Let’s see some examples.

First, First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”

Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah,” and removes or redefines “Son.” For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiahand his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Perhaps, this should passage should be called the Great Omission instead?

Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a new Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of “guardian” for “Father” and “representative” or “proxy” for “Son.”

I get it. I get contextualizing our faith and message in order to reach people groups. But at what point are we destroying the essentials of the Gospel message. At some point, God calls us to change.

How far does this go?

Some people are even offended by mentions of God and Jesus. Maybe we should make a Bible with “Cosmic Force” and “Cool Dude” instead. Imagine John 3:16 now:

“For Cosmic Force so loved the world that Cosmic Force gave Cool Dude, so that whoever believes in Cool Dude should not die but have everlasting life.”

Isn’t that really rad? No.

At some point we missed the point and ruined the message. The Father and Son will be a stumbling block to some. Remember?

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Wanna Get Mad At Some ‘Christians’? Then Watch This…

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You know them well. It’s the group from the church that holds up those terrible signs at soldier funerals and other highly visible events. They are from Westboro Baptist Church. Most people hate them. They even mad it into my book.

In any event, here is a heartbreaking news segment from a young lady who they banished. It’s terrible. Most importantly, these people are awful representations of Jesus and I have nothing in common with them. Watch it:

Famous Atheist, Richard Dawkins, Not Sure If God Doesn’t Exist

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Last week there was a big atheist coming out. It was called the Reason Rally. It was held in Washington and where thousands of Atheists gathered to, well, I don’t know…come out against religion I suppose. I other words, it is ‘unreasonable’ to believe in God.

According the the Reason Rally website:

  • The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it!
  • This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active.

Now on to their own words…

There were many speakers. Several of the featured names were famous folks who sent in videos: Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark. Others, popular in the Internet niche of skeptics, free-thinkers and atheists, came to the microphone to address the soggy crowds in person. A sampling:

  • Friendly atheist blogger Hemant Mehta urged people to run for office, any post from school board to Congress to dogcatcher.
  • Greta Christina, author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry?,attacked every major faith, even the teachings of the Dalai Lama. In a long litany of what makes her angry, she got all the way back to Galileo (overlooking the modern Catholic Church’s restoration of his reputation). A bit ironic.
  • Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel, said there really is someone who loves and protects him and watches over his actions — “It’s me!” Christians do that too. It’s called responsibility and accountability.

David Silverman, Reason Rally organizer and American Atheists president, also spoke. His words were a thundering call for “zero tolerance” for anyone who disagrees with atheism.

Yummy!

Headlining was famous atheist, Richard Dawkins. So was he ‘reasonable’. You decide.

Dawkins called on the crowd not only to challenge religious people but to “ridicule and show contempt” for their doctrines and sacraments.

Mmmm good.

But now is a good time to poke a little back at Dawkins. Here is my favorite Richard Dawkins quote in which he says he cannot be sure God does not exist. Just thought you should see it. It’s very interesting, nonscientific, and unreasonable.

Or perhaps it’s the most reasonable thing he’s ever said. Watch it here:

Leadership is a BFD

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Today I’m talking about current events. So I was minding my own business this weekend reading the news and looking forward to seing the Hunger Games when I stumbled upon something that shocked me.

What was it?

I came upon this official Obama/Biden campaign shirt with cussing. And not just cussing. The king of cuss words:

Can you believe it?

Now, I’m not a prude. I’m not afraid of controversy (I mean, look at the title of my book). I appreciate the humor of the shirt. I appreciate them not running from the Joe Biden gaff this obviously refers to. I would be fine with it coming from third party company or independent campaign organization. I’d laugh and retweet it.

>But this is completely inappropriate coming from such a prominent leadership position–coming from the preeminent leadership postion in the world, even. 

This office of president is something that should be handled with dignity, class, and the highest degree of character. It’s not a place to be crass, petulant, or petty.

I would be equally disturbed if the GOP came up with a shirt that said: Obama, WTF?!

This is just shameful and embarrassing. The office of president is something to look up to, something that should set the example, something I should be able to tell my kids about and how there is nothing higher or important to aspire to.

>Leadership is not a place to act like some trendy teenager chasing cool.

Does our culture need to grow up a little? Leadership is a big deal. We should treat it as such. It deserves a higher standard, especially when we claim to be a Christian (like both the president and vice-president do). No?

Just a thought.

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Red Bull Pulls Commercial Mocking Jesus

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I’m not uptight. I’m not one to take issue with things that push the limits. Recently, Red Bull made an ad with Jesus in it. Yes, I do find this one to be in bad taste. Especially the part where Jesus cusses (takes his own name in vain).

What It Means To Be A Christian & What Andy Stanley Left Out About Anne Rice At Church

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So yesterday Andy Stanley preached an amazing sermon at North Point Church (as usual). He is doing a series called “Christian” and what that term means. My wife is convinced Andy read my book because some points sound so similar. I even have a chapter called “Christians” in which I challenge the Christians to not call themselves a Christian for a short season. You can read excerpts in my post called “Lose Your Religion, Christian.” I assured my wife I probably stole my ideas from Andy or someone else.

In any event, yesterday (Part 2), as an illustration Andy spoke about the famed vampire novelist Anne Rice becoming a ‘Christian’ and then leaving ‘Christianity.’ Clarifying, Andy highlighted what Rice wrote:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

-and-

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me…But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Who could disagree? Being a Christian is different than being a follower, or disciple, of Christ. Rice is correct.

>But Andy Stanley left something out about Anne Rice in his sermon.

What? Yup.

Rice’s comments are nearly 2 years old and, subsequently, the core illustration is incomplete. Rice has since gone a step further.

Anne Rice is no longer even a follower of Christ as defined in the Bible. In a recent interview regarding her new book The Wolf Gift Rice admitted:

“Everyday, I’m asking myself that, because my faith in the Christian belief system totally collapsed. I realized a lot of what I believed about Jesus was rooted in lies and falsehoods. What I’ve tried to preserve is a love for and a trust in God. Jesus coming here is the most beautiful love story I’ve ever heard.

I know I feel a palpable God — with a human face. I can’t really tell another person what I believe that is. I believe that there is a maker of the universe that knows every hair on our head — and has made this entire universe and is very aware of us and I hope and pray this maker of the universe loves us and — and I think he does.”

She says she remains “committed to Christ.” While I respect her views I’m not sure what that means anymore. It sounds a bit more like the Christ consciousness that New Agers speak of. This all-roads-lead-to-heaven spiritual vanilla is not what Jesus lived, spoke of, or died for. Jesus spoke of following Him and a narrow path (or road), but I guess if you don’t believe the Bible anymore, it is irrelevant.

Although I would not judge Rice’s heart, based on her comments, I question if she is still a follower, or disciple, of Christ. No, that is not essential to the sermon illustration, but it is some information that is important to know.

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White Says Catholics Should Listen To The “Enlightened”

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There is a disturbing new development between the Catholic Church and the White House and what religious freedom will mean in America in the future. This is something that hasn’t gotten much attention for obvious reasons.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Catholics who are standing against the healthcare mandate that forces employers to cover contraception and morning after type medication (specifically, sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception).

Although I have no particular problem with birth control per se, I do not support the morning after medications. Like Catholics, I believe this to be defacto abortion.

Either way, I support the right of Catholics to religious liberty. They should not be forced to cover these things if they feel they conflict with their own religious convictions. For the government to mandate this, is a violation of the First Amendment.

>In this issue, we Christians are all Catholics, as they say. 

Last week, the White House had a private meeting with Catholic Leaders. In a letter released by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he communicated the nature of this meeting as the White House wanted to allegedly “work out the wrinkles” on this issue.

Dolan reveals in his statement that the White House staffers, “advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation…”

Wow. There it is.

You principled religious folks are ‘unenlightened.’ That’s how it always is. Frame your opponents and detractors as evil or idiots (or both) in order to bully them. It’s a common tactic. People of faith are often unfairly labelled as sexist, racist, bigoted, or homophobes. That’s not the case here. It’s a matter of funding not access. Women still have access.

>This is simply a moral objection–a matter of conscience. It’s why the freakin’ Pilgrims came here people!

Far be it from the White House to lecture Catholics on caring for women and children. Catholic organizations and churches care for more woman and children than anyone else.

Just thought you should know what’s going on. If this gets a hold, it sets a precedent for undermining religious liberty in many other ways.

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Pat Robertson Says God Would Have Stopped Tornadoes Had People Prayed More

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Well, Pat Robertson is at it again. I once commented on him saying Alzheimer’s was a valid reason for divorce. Now he’s saying the tornadoes in the midwest could have been prevented had people prayed more. He said this week:

“If enough people were praying He would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms,” Robertson said on CBN’s The 700 Club.

That right! The tornadoes so far have killed 39 people and caused untold millions of damage, including erasing entire towns, but that number could have been a bit more palatable if those people prayed lots and lots.

And that toddler who was ripped from her family’s arms and dropped ten miles away, may have lived if those parents just prayed more.

What a horrible and naive thing to say, Mr. Robertson. Why do you keep saying these things?

Once again, Mr. Robertson, this is not one of your finer moments. I understand how you get to this conclusion when reading through the Bible, but it is a delicate and inconsistent premise that you present. Philosophical and painful situations like this require some more study, tact, and thoughtfulness. You seem to miss this at important times. It’s not easy, but it must we done.

I know I am not perfect by any measure, but with regard to this issue, I am ashamed to share the label ‘Christian’ with you.

>Sometimes, as a Christian, it’s okay to just simply say, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not exactly sure.”

Sometimes that’s the most honest and accurate answer. Shame on you.

Here is the segment. Watch it yourself and decide.

Church Advertising “Jesus Heals Cancer” Causing Controversy

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Here is an heated news report from the land down under and to the right a little (New Zealand). It is a segment about a church that has put “Jesus Heals Cancer” on it’s billboard outside (pictured to the left).

Why?

The sign has created quite a stir because some people say it is false advertising since there is no way to verify this claim. And they are trying to get it taken down via government regulations to that end.

In particular, there is a mom in the report whose son has leukemia. Obviously, this is a grievous situation for any parent to deal with. Since Jesus didn’t or isn’t healing her son, she wants this sign taken down forcibly.

Also interesting is the second half of this segment. It really brings into question what free speech is and to what end the government, with regard to faith, can curb speech for the sake of the ‘safety’ of the general population. You know, because religion only hurts society since it holds and promotes ideas that allegedly can’t be proven.

It makes you wonder how far this can all go. If you have 7 minutes definitely watch it below.

VIDEO: Public School FAIL

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[Be sure to read the breaking UPDATE below after watching video]

Okay, so I thought I’d continue the theme from Monday in which I discussed homeschooling being made illegal. Here is a hilarious lunchtime man-on-the-street interview of public school students in one of America’s many high schools. It is also scary when you consider that: 1) we pay millions as tax payers for these results and 2) these kids will become adults and vote. For me, it also functions as a defacto PSA for private and charter schools and homeschooling.

*UPDATE*

I was contacted by a reader who sternly informed me:

I think the problem is not that the kids aren’t being taught, it’s just that you asked the wrong questions. Try some like these next time:

1. What should you do if you or your girlfriend become pregnant?

2. Where can you find free contraceptives?

3. Have you ever done drugs, or are you high right now?

4. Should each person/family work to provide for their own needs or

should the government take care of all of us?

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