Posts tagged Current Events

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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This Message Is Awkward & Powerful At The Same Time

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Saw this last night and wanted to post it. It’s hard to watch but contains some things for us all to think about when coming to politics–and both sides of the aisle.

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.

 

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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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).

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.

Homeschooling Made Illegal

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Homeschooling is more common among people of faith more than any other demographic. Think what you want about it, but, to me, it comes down to a matter of personal choice and liberty. In other words, parents should be free to make the choice and free to pursue it. Besides, we have spent a fortune on public education over the last 40 years with little to no measurable improvements. The solution is not throwing more money at the problem. The solution is to do something different.

Among other reasons, this has lead to the proliferation of homeschooling. Homeschool kids on average score higher than public school kids–and even on par with charter and private school kids. Even with this evidence, here’s my question:

Could homeschooling ever be made illegal?

It has been in Sweden. There, it is extremely frowned upon. Unless there is a legitimate reason–like sickness or disability–it is not allowed. According to this article:

On January 26, Rabbi Alexander Namdar and his wife Leah, representatives of the worldwide Chassidic movement to Sweden for the past 21 years, were served at their home with a notice by the Gothenburg school authorities.

According to the notice, four of their children who currently study at an international online school must be delivered to a Swedish school by today (Wednesday). Failure to do so could result in a fine of 16000 crown – the equivalent of $2,400 — per week.

No longer are religious convictions (like wanting to give your children a Jewish education, as in this case) valid reasons for a family to homeschool in Sweden. And if you don’t like it, you can pay $2,400.00 a day! Wow.

So why would Swedish officials do this?

Well, because you parents just aren’t qualified or smart enough to educate and socialize your children in the ways of the world. You’re ignorant primitive doofs, of course. At least that’s how I read the situation. Do I need to mention that the Rabbi’s children test just fine? In fact, they test higher than most of their Swedish peers.

Sweden prides itself on tolerance and equality. It is considered a fundamental value of the nation. In practice, not so much. This is always where big centralized government leads. This is always where social engineering leads. Authoritarianism always squashes liberty, you know ‘for the good of the people.’ No matter how you slice it, when government grows liberty shrinks. Just something to think about. So my question is:

Could homeschooling ever be banned in the land of freedom and liberty–the USA?

I think so.

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Catholics Will Not Comply With New Healthcare Law

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Today we intersect with current events. There is an interesting development with regard to Obamacare (the new national healthcare law coming into effect little by little over the next two years) and religion.

>Specifically, healthcare law mandates that employers provide coverage for their employees that incudes coverage for contraception and abortions. 

As you can imagine, some view this as a violation of religious conscience and, therefore, practice. As such, it is a violation of the First Amendment–you know, the whole separation of church and state. The government is supposed to be barred Constitutionally from dictating how we may worship, right?

The first to take a stand? Catholics. And we should stand with them.

While the requirement doesn’t apply to houses of worship, it will force Catholic colleges, hospitals and other Christian groups to provide these drugs despite their faith-based opposition to them.

So Catholic leaders began their stand this weekend. Catholic churches across America read a letter to congregants that perfectly summarized the church’s stance against the coming federal requirements. It is posted below. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

>We need to bring attention to this issue and stand with them as people of faith.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers,
including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture,
only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

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Mark Wahlberg Goes To Church Every Day

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I’ve grown to like Mark Wahlberg as an actor. I think he’s doing a good job. Even a mediocre movie like Max Payne was fun to watch since he was in it. Now he has given more reason to like him.

In a recent interview on Piers Morgan Tonight he revelled several things:

“My faith has really allowed me to overcome a lot of things — and hard work. You know, nothing comes easy…especially when you‘ve got your back against the wall and you’ve got a lot going against you.”

“But I wanted to prove to people through my actions — not my words — that I was going to change and that I was going to make a positive impact on the community that I come from,” Wahlberg continued, as he delved into the activities he participates in to help those in need. ”I could not forget about where I came from and find myself in this position without helping and giving back.”

“If I don’t go to mass necessarily every day…I definitely go to church every day,” he said. “That’s how I start my day. I like to get in there for about 15 or 20 minutes — say my prayers.”

“I pray to be a good servant to God, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a brother and uncle, a good neighbor, a good leader to those who look up to me and a good follower to those that are serving God and doing the right thing.”

Good stuff. You can watch it here:

VIDEO: Archie Bunker On Politics

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Today is a little political. Here’s a golden oldie that seems to apply perfectly to our political climate today.

This is a clip from the old show All In The Family starring Corral O’Connor. He played the legendary role Archie Bunker. My dad used to love this show and I can remember watching it as a kid. Looking back, it was hilarious. Archie Bunker is known for being a bigot. But there were also nuggets–like this commentary on politics.

Enjoy!

Farewell Rob Bell

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[Update: Rob Bell is going all Hollywood with an ABC show loosely based on his life]

I’m not sure if you know who Rob Bell is. Within Christianity, he’s kind of a big deal (pretty much the inverse of Jason Berggren). Well, he’s jumping ship.

>This weekend he announced he’s quitting the church, Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he founded.

Most recently, he has gotten a lot of attention for his book Love Wins. I read it and had several problems with it, which I wrote about in my post Love Wins, Christianity Loses, and God Lies. Why? Well let me just let you read some of my summary points.

From reading Love Wins I gathered that apparently all us crotchety, outdated, grandpa-like Christians need to realize (or else!):

• When God says He will reconcile all creation to Himself, He means everyone can get into Heaven regardless of your belief in Jesus
• God will let people decide to accept Jesus even after death, if necessary He will take as long as needed to convince them to come in
• You’re making people think Jesus came to rescue us from God, whom you seem to think is hot-tempered, switches modes, and is inconsistent
• While there needs to be room in Christianity for a wide range of opinions and views, there just isn’t room for your finite views on Hell, sin, or salvation
• Don’t worry about confessing the name of Jesus to be saved, just make sure you are living His story out in your own life
• There is a vein of God’s story in every culture, so whatever that plan of salvation is, it is perfectly acceptable to God and don’t judge them either
• Jesus died on the cross because that’s what they needed and understood back then, and that wouldn’t need to happen today since we’re, like, way more smarter than that
• Being ‘spiritual’ is probably enough for God, so don’t worry so much about being Biblical
• The Hippies had it right because it is actually possible to meet Jesus through smoking pot
• If Jesus and Christianity have put a bad taste in someone’s mouth, God doesn’t necessarily need them to follow Him because wherever they find truth is fine with Him

These are some things I even wrote about in my own book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith:

Since discussing God and Jesus can so often be divisive, why not create a new secular humanist faith that avoids all that? One that’s totally dedicated to promoting good deeds and good will among all. This would probably be more readily accepted. Coexistence and harmony between all creation—man, animals, and environment—would create universal peace and a heavenly state. Who could argue with that? This less offensive, more congenial religion would probably have more impact on society and culture as a whole. All we have to do is leave God and Jesus out of the equation. No biggie.

>So why is Rob Bell leaving his church?

From the church’s own site it says:

Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.

What do I think? I think it’s good and bad.

In a way, Rob has been part of my life for 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 (I even 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.

But I’m worried.

Now Rob is free to go off the deep end. He doesn’t have the responsibility and role of ‘pastor’ to hold him accountable and measure his actions against. That’s not a good thing.

>Perhaps, since he doesn’t seem to hold to some foundational Christian doctrines, this is the right thing to do. 

I’m mixed.

Of course, I wish him all the best. He is an amazing communicator. In fact, I am jealous of his ability. I guess I should think what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:8:

“The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, they are preaching about Christ. So I am happy, and I will continue to be happy.”

I’m still worried, though.

Why? Rob has a lot of influence due to his gift of communicating. I am afraid that Rob will further present an application of Christianity that is some quasi-universalist, pseudo-Buddhist, completely indistinct Frankenstein of a religion in which, although it claims so, Jesus is not really essential.

I know I have many problems and likely have some of my interpretations of the Bible wrong. I’m human. That’s a certainty.

>I’m just worried that Rob will get away from the urgency and importance of knowing Jesus, that he died for our sins, and that we must believe, accept, and follow him in order to spend eternity with him.

So farewell Rob Bell. I do wish you well–with some caution.

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Judge Rules Yodeling Must Stop Since It Offends Muslims

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Today we enter the world of the absurd. Let’s pretend you have a neighbor. Now that neighbor likes to mow the lawn and…yodel.

It starst to get annoying, so what do you do? Do you: 1) ignore it 2) ask him to stop or 3) report his yodeling to the authorities.

In the world of the strange, you report him to the authorities. That’s what happened in the country of Austria:

An Austrian court has recently fined a citizen for yodeling while mowing his lawn, according to a report in The Kronen Zeitung newspaper. The citizen, 63-year-old Helmut G., was told by the court that his yodeling offended his next-door Muslim neighbors, who accused him of tryingto mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin…Unfortunately for Helmut G., his neighbors were in the middle of a prayer when he started to yodel. The Kronen Zeitung reported that he was fined 800 Euros after judges ruled that he could have tried to offend his neighbors and ridicule their belief. Helmut G. clarified that “It was not my intention to imitate or insult them. I simply started to yodel a few tunes because I was in such a good mood.”

This seems ridiculous. But I suppose in a world where diversity and political correctness reigns supreme, we must be sure no one is offended or has their feelings hurt.

In any event, my neighbors dogs always seem to be barking when we go to bed. I wonder if I should call the police.

Have a YO-DE-LE-HE-HOO of a day!

[CLICK HERE TO HEAR SOME YODELING]

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Remembering Never, Again

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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.

Debt Ceiling Explanation For Dummies

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I usually like to post something lighthearted going into the weekend. Not this time. This is kind of important.

I don’t know anything about this Congressman, but he does a bang-up job of explaining the national debt and debt ceiling problem in a way that is understandable. Definitely worth watching in order to understand current events surrounding this issue.

Have a great weekend, if you can after watching this.

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