Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Quirky Video

I thought this video set to Ingrid Michaelson's "Breakable" was so weird and charming that I decided to post it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

History of Christianity in One Sentence

"Christianity was born in the middle east as a religion, moved to Greece and became a philosophy, journeyed to Rome and became a legal system, spread through Europe as a culture--and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business."--Richard Halverson, a late Senate Chaplain.

Very pithy, very true, and very sad.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Charles Finney: A Liberal Feminist?

"No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion."--Carrie Chapman Catt, suffragist.

Since the labels "liberal" and "feminist" come with a lot of baggage and Finney himself hated stereotypes, I won't pigeonhole him to these descriptions, but I will say he dabbled in activities and efforts associated with "liberal" and "feminist" goals more than most people realize. This is a great synopsis from The Rebel God blog on the christian leader Charles Finney, a figure immortalized in many conservative-evangelical camps, who ironically advocated women's rights by admitting women into his college, allowing them to speak publicly at revival meetings, etc. This aided in spurring on the early feminist movement, which had a very spiritual foundation. Finney was also dedicated to more "liberal" causes and intertwined personal faith WITH social action. Very interesting read!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sweeney Todd: A Metaphor For The Cycle of Violence?

"An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind"--Gandhi

What happens when our valid pain becomes exclusive and we forget to recognize the pain in "the other"? The following article explores this notion against the backdrop of the current hit movie: Sweeney Todd. (Gotta love that J-Depp!)

This is a good article from Garreth Higgins, a contributing writer at Sojourners, tying in the themes of the movie Sweeney Todd with the real-life web of violence in our crazy world.

Have Women Been Had By The Church?

"The consensus appears to be that as it is presented and practiced in our churches the gospel is NOT Good News for women"--Elaine Storke, President of Tearfund, a christian relief and development charity organization.

In any debate, unfortunately, each side will too often cherry pick the evidence that best supports their stance and gloss over or completely ignore any contradicting information. 10 Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused To Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage by J. Lee Grady, is refreshing because not only does the author cogently present supporting evidence, but he tackles ALL the evidence employed to support the OTHER SIDE. No matter where you fall on women issues, you have to respect an intellectually honest, holistic argument. Grady is an award winning journalist, ordained minister, and directs the Mordecai Project, an international ministry that confronts the abuse of women and challenges the church to release women in ministry.

I realize that the title alone of this book will offend many, so I would like to reiterate the introduction of the book that provides a few specific disclaimers to clarify what this book is NOT about. This book does NOT call for or advocate: female domination or rejection of male authority, an alliance with a radical secular feminist agenda or movement, gender androgyny, justification of female rebellion, bitterness, or resentment in response to male oppression or skewed biblical restrictions.

This book is about hope, healing, freedom and restoration for ALL of God's children, male and female alike; a call for all to take part in the spiritual inheritance made possible through Jesus.

The 10 lies Grady examines are:

1. God created women inferior being, destined to only serve their husbands

2. Women are not equipped to assume leadership roles in the church

3. Women must not teach or preach men in a church setting

4. A woman should view her husband as "the priest of the home"

5. A man needs to "cover" a woman in her ministry activities

6. Women who exhibit strong leadership qualities pose a serious danger to the church

7. Women are more easily deceived than men

8. Women cannot be fulfilled or spiritually effective without a husband and children

9. Women shouldn't work outside the home (not to be confused with MUST work outside the home either though).
10. Women must obediently submit to their husband in ALL situations.

Now, not all of these are complete lies, as Grady thoroughly covers, and some of them are only taught in very rigid fundamentalist churches, so some women may have never even encountered a few on this list.

Grady boldly explores the Genesis account, examining God's ideal creation, the miserable consequences of the Fall, and the miraculous, wondrous consequences of the cross: the restoration of both men and women to their original divine inheritance through Jesus' sacrifice. He examines the lives and implications of the female heroines of the bible: Deborah, Hulda, Miriam, Mary Magdelane, the many other Marys (hehe), Junia, Proverbs 31 woman, Priscilla, Philip's daughters, etc. He analytically and holistically examines Paul's writings, which seemingly appear to bar women from teaching/preaching/praying/leading in the presence of men, limit the spiritual gifts and capabilities of women, and advocate a heavily restricted-participatory status in the home, marriage, and society. Grady masterfully weaves together the the text, original historical and cultural contexts, the original language and the various interpretations among biblical scholars. He then shifts to a holistic approach to offset these isolated verses with the heart and message of the rest of the bible, believing scriptures should affirm each other and not stand in opposition to one another. He explores church history, challenging the basis for which some of these male-dominated interpretations emerged. The book has a personal feel to it, because Grady includes the stories of great Christian women leaders throughout church history and present day women who are restricted and conflicted. His scriptural study is EXTENSIVE, exploring stories and verses in Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Job, Judges, Ester, Psalms, Proverbs, Joel, Jeremiah and large chunks of nearly every book in the New Testament.

To fight my long-winded propensity, I will refrain from relating the specifics of Grady's case (so, you should just buy the book!). I will, however, be using this book as one of many sources in my eventual multiple part study on biblical roles of women in each domain: home, marriage, and public church life.

Regardless of your stance, this will be a great read, even if it's is just to find out the reasoning for the conviction many christian brothers and sisters have to live out an egalitarian home, marriage, and church.

"'When [the women] came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven. … But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense."--Christianity Today column.

"People do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, or that Esther delivered the children of God from supreme peril … Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after His Resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what the women had found."--Christianity Today column.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Random Video

"Music possesses the power to stir the soul, exposing all that is there and all that is not."--me

I have no deep insight to offer, or even a clear reason, for posting this video, besides the fact that it mysteriously resonated with me. The combination of the song and the unique imagery stirred something in me (how's that for vague?). I think, perhaps, this video captured something honest and vulnerable and that's why I was drawn to it. So here is the video for "It Hurts" by Born and Beth Hart.

Politics Has It's Limits!

I am a political person. The role of politics is an important one. However, it has severe limitations, as does government (I'm sure that made my conservative friends happy). Regardless of who becomes President in 2008, real long-term change comes from the bottom up. There's good news and bad news to this reality. The bad news is that placing all of our hopes in a single leader to implement long lasting change in our country and around the world is unrealistic. The good news is that the people at the bottom (you and me), everyday ordinary people can be freed from banking all our national visions on the lesser of two evils. We can make the difference. We can make change--even in the muck and mire of partisan politics. Jim Wallis pinpoints this exciting opportunity in the following article.

And buy his new book, "The Great Awakening." :) (It's the follow-up to God's Politics).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Could I Resist? It's Bono!

A montage of U2's live music, pictures, and Bono quotes on Jesus and Christianity.

And while I'm on a Bono's a link to the Bono speech that changed my life: National Prayer Breakfast 2006.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Experience With Moderate Muslims

"You shall do good to your parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans and the needy, and you shall speak to men good words and keep up prayer and give unto the poor."--The Qu'ran

"Repel evil with good; as for those, they shall have the happy issue of the abode." --The Qu'ran.

For those of you who do not know, I am from New Jersey. I could see the smoke rising from the twin towers on Sept 11 from the high school in my town . My aunt was trapped in NYC during the terrorists attacks and several people from my church worked in the towers. The planes that crashed into the towers were hijacked from Newark airport, the only airport I had ever flown out of at the time. It seemed like everyone we knew was somehow affected by Sept. 11. It was a very real and personal tragedy. Within hours of the attacks, terms like "Muslim fundamentalists," "radical extremists," and "religious terrorists" dominated the news. Inevitably, fear, stereotypes, and skepticism about the Muslim community spread across the country like wild fire.

Just a few months after 9/11, my friends and I were driving around looking for something fun to do. My one friend mentioned that her friend from college owned a coffee bar a few towns over. So we went. We walked into a crowded coffee shop, replete with card playing and funky music. However, we quickly noticed that the entire place was packed wall to wall with college-aged Muslim guys and girls. My friends and I are as WHITE and "non-Muslim" looking as they come. It was one of those moments when the music skidded to a halt, cards fell to the floor, and everyone turned to stare at least that's what it felt like. The girl we were meeting rushed over and invited us to sit down. Apparently, this was a coffee/hookah bar for the Muslim youth groups and recreation centers in the area.

We sat down, ordered coffee, smoked the hookah pipe (relax, it's flavored tobacco) and played cards. Once we felt a little more comfortable, we mingled with other people. They taught us new card games and we had long conversations about the Qu'ran, Christianity, current events, and the differences, as well as similarities, between our religions. The coffee shop only played middle-eastern music and some of the Muslim girls got up and danced. The boys came over and offered to teach us! By the end of the night, we were dancing, laughing, singing, and connecting with these beautiful people, learning about their culture, their beliefs, and the diversity within their religion. A few of the guys told stories about how they had been pulled over, yanked out of their cars, and searched, but that they understood this was a fearful time full of uncertainty. Others told stories of the words "towel head," "rag heads," and "sand monkeys" spray painted on their cars, lockers, and homes. Others had their homes egged. And others shared their beliefs about Jesus, and I was SHOCKED how much respect they have for Him.

And while there are obviously distinct and fundamental differences between Christians and Muslims, plenty of common ground exists as a foundation for a meaningful and respectful conversation. These people value community, family, friends, purity, respecting elders, modesty, and truly love each other. We were on their "turf" and they showed us nothing but kindness, good will, and friendship during a time and place where both "sides" had reasons to be wary of each other.

This night will remain carved into my heart for the rest of my life. Those of you who have been to my house know that I bought a hookah pipe to serve as a reminder of the night I hung out with Muslim youth at a hookah bar. This experience kept me from branding all Muslims as extremists, radicals, or sinister enemies, as many have sadly done. It is so vital for Christians to extend a hand of friendship, hope, and healing to the Muslim community that feels alienated, misunderstood, and afraid. It's important to clarify the parts of our religion that confuse them; many Muslims are under the impression that Christians believe in three gods. We should keep in mind that there are MANY sects within Islam and HUNDREDS of interpretations of the Qu'ran, just like there are with Christianity and the Bible. We should realize that it is JUST as easy to take a bible verse out of context to justify HORRIRBLE atrocities in the name our religion as it is with the Qu'ran. We should understand that ALL religions, including Christianity, have been perverted and distorted by corrupt people, extremists, regimes, and governments to gain power and control over people and lands throughout history. We should recognize that although we disagree with the foundation of Islam, there are sincere peace-loving muslims who are trying to serve God, their families, and their communities the best way they know how. We should try to understand the viewpoint of the other to better communicate, to better love, to better reach out and to better live in peace with all people (Romans 12:18).

I came across this video and found it compelling. Watch and discuss.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

"If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive."--Martin Luther King Jr.

This is absolutely one of my favorite songs, Up To The Mountain, by Patty Griffin. It's based on one Martin Luther King's last speeches. The video is the song set to a compelling montage of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

And HERE is an article from Sojourners on MLK and LBJ

More Wise Words from the good Dr. King:

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

Good Theology From Pamela Anderson?

For years, Pamela Anderson has always given money or bought meals for homeless people on the street. No matter what city she is in, or who she is with, or how much of a hurry she is in, she always gives to any homeless people she sees along the away. Recently, she was asked why she feels compelled to do this and has NEVER passed any homeless people by. She responded:

"If I refuse one of them, I'd be like, 'Oh my God, what if that was Jesus?'"

Truth found in odd places is truth nonetheless.

Friday, January 11, 2008

They Like Jesus, But Not The Church

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."--Mahatma Ghandi

They Like Jesus, But Not The Church: Insights from Emerging Generations, by Dan Kimball, fearlessly explores the current and emerging landscape of American culture: how these generations are changing, how they view the American church, and how the Church can respond.

Kimball graciously deconstructs the confines of the christian subculture, clearly conveys the most prevalent perceptions found among the young unchurched American population regarding Jesus and the church, and provides practical and loving ways for the church to reach out to a generation hungering for Jesus.

Kimball examines the six perceptions of the church most commonly found among 18-30 years-old people, to which Kimball concludes the church needs to offer both an apology and an apologetic. To some of the claims that are valid, let's apologize and to the claims that are misunderstood, let's put out and live out an apologetic. Much like the early church did when the culture at large thought Christians were incestuous atheists that engaged in cannibalism. The church began explaining their beliefs (apologetics), so these misunderstandings could be cleared up.

Here are the top six current perceptions Kimball takes on in his book:

1. The church is an organized religion with a political agenda

2. The church is judgmental and negative

3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females

4. The church is homophobic

5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong

6. The church is full of fundamentalists, who take the entire bible literally

Just to be clear, Kimball DOES NOT advocate altering our beliefs to become more attractive to the outside world. This book is more about being able to communicate with people outside the church, demonstrate love, respect, and kindness to them, and maybe even consider some of their criticisms that may be valid. Are there behaviors of the church that are inconsistent with the teachings and example of Jesus? Well, of course there is, because the church is made up of people, and we are a flawed bunch. That's the beauty of having a Savior. It's like Tony Campolo jokes:

"The Church is the Light of the World and like all lights, it attracts bugs. You're a bug. I'm a bug. We're all bugs."

So, yes, valid criticisms exist from those outside the church. And here's why it's important to consider them. Although it is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus, the public image of the church, whether the church itself has cultivated it or the media manipulates it (I think it is both), our image, well, it sucks. The misunderstandings over what the church IS has become a stumbling block to many people who are interested in Jesus, but are turned off by the church. And it's not just the old "of course the world will hate us because they hated Jesus" line. As Christians called to love those in the world, this should concern us. We shouldn't be something we're not or compromise our beliefs, but we absolutely should make an effort to reach out beyond the four walls of the church: apologize for our faux pas and provide an apologetic to correct the prevalent misconceptions, through open communication, love, example and service.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and HIGHLY recommend it. Kimball puts a face and a story behind the perspectives found in our culture. Smart, sincere, searching people weigh in on the church's image and share their own experiences. Kimball puts forth a brave look at our present dilemma and provides creative ways to go about responding.

To drive the point home about the prevalent perceptions of the church among non-christians, I thought I'd share this clip. This is a clip from Bill Maher, the host of Real Time on HBO, who happens to be the epitome of an "unchurched" generation, only way more bitter. I don't agree with his views in this clip, especially since he's endorsing Hillary Clinton for President (although the personal hatred toward her from many christians disappoints me), but I recognize that his description of evangelical christians is a popular one. Is the church's image a victim of total media distortion or do we in the church perpetuate some of these stereotypes somehow? Does our approach to politics taint our witness? By aligning too closely with the republican party, does the world think that all the tenets of republicanism are the tenets of the church? Does this contribute to the disconnect they perceive between Jesus' teaching and the church? I'm not sure to what extent this plays into it, but let's get out into the world and find out!

WARNING: Maher uses the word "penis" and "ass" during this monologue and makes a few edgy jokes, so you probably shouldn't watch around children. And to clarify, I am not posting this video because I agree with Bill Maher, but because I think his view represents the increasing popular view held by many in our culture.

The Rapture Already Happened!!!

Only instead of being snatched up into the clouds of glory, American Christians have disappeared into secluded church subcultures and comfortable bubbles. Scared ya for minute, didn't I? :)

According to a number of surveys conducted by the Barna Group, a christian research institute, there has been a 92 percent increase in the number of unchurched Americans in the last thirteen years. In 1991 there were 39 million unchurched Americans compared with the 75 million currently. The age group between 21-35 are disappearing from American churches at an alarming rate and they are the least likely age group to be personally acquainted with a christian. Although every survey concludes that the most effective method of evangelism is to build LONG TERM personal relationships with people, it is the least used method employed by evangelicals. Street preaching, tract distributing, media evangelism, and other "one-hit" type methods are the most common evangelistic tools.

So, the emerging American "unchurched" culture has no "inside" experience with everyday Christians and large numbers of everyday American Christians are spending the majority of their time with other Christians in mostly christian settings.

What are the unintended consequences of such a reality? Well, for one, our culture's impression of the church is largely dependent on evangelicals in the media (most of whom, I wish would get raptured already) or the horror stories from people who have been burned by the church and left. Now, most christian people and leaders are wonderful people, trying to live their lives in accordance to the teachings of Jesus and to love God and each other the best way they know how. But it is SO easy and SO common for believers to get sucked into the christian subculture, that most of the world does not get to encounter these people on a regular basis. We church folks have created such an extensive, safe, and comfortable bubble that it becomes completely possible to enter through the church's door and never come back out again. Somehow, I don't think that is what Jesus had in mind...

We have our own everything: churches, schools from pre-k to college, book clubs, music, stores, christianese jargon, odd bumper stickers, businesses, movies, retreats, concerts, conventions, coffee houses, theaters, magazines, news outlets, youth groups, youth centers, and even alternatives to myspace and youtube (hi, Godtube!). None of these things are sinful or harmful in and of themselves, but add them all together and we've created a comfy, isolated empire that too many Christians retreat to LONG TERM. And MANY get sucked so far in, that they make little contact with the culture at large, if ever. We might as well be raptured.

People outside the church get a distorted view of Christianity because they form their perception of Christianity based on the few glimpses we allow, and it ain't pretty. There's the TV evangelists that prey on the the poorest and most vulnerable members of society to swindle their money in exchange for false hope. The world watches as these charlatans reduce the name of Jesus to a magic trick or a lottery ticket, taking money FROM the poor to build crystal cathedrals and fund their decadent lifestyles of BMWs and mansions on hills. Or people hear mega-preachers like Pat Robertson, who blames every natural disaster on gays and liberals, calls for the assassination of leaders who he disagrees with, who famously said, "gays want to come into our churches, throw blood on us and give us all AIDS," and then later said gay people's presence at Disney World would cause a meteor to hit earth. Oh, how about when Jerry Falwell claimed the purple teletubby was gay and blamed 9/11 on liberals, gays, and the ACLU? Or what about Gary Demar, who wants to establish the Old Testament law as American Law, so gays can be executed. Or the Westboro Baptists that go around the country protesting military funerals with signs that say "God Hates Your Tears," "God Hates Fags," and "God Killed Your Sons." Or savvy politicians, who may or may not be Christians, but do not hesitate to use Jesus to "sanctify" the republican party and all that comes along with it. Or when Bob Jones University, a christian college that attracted such notorious speakers as G.W. Bush and John McCain, just lifted their longstanding official ban on inter-racial dating in 2000! Or people like Ann Coulter, who talk about Jesus constantly and then advocate the use of nuclear weapons, just to send a warning to the rest of the world. Or how about the long string of scandals involving high profile Christians, going all the way back to Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker up to Benny Hinn and Ted Haggard? Or sometimes people's only experience with church people are when they watch Christians organize over shallow issues, such as boycotting stores that say "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Or if people are really lucky, they might just be told they're on their way to hell through a comic strip track left on the windshield of their car. These are just a handful of examples...

Do you see where I am going with this? Do you see why people scratch their heads and think there is a disconnect between Jesus and The church? And in some cases, they are right, there is a disconnect between the example Jesus set and how the church behaves. Christians know that there is so much diversity within the church, so many denominations and viewpoints, and one sector does not speak for the whole. But to an outsider, it could easily seem like "the church" is full of money-hungry, power-hungry, war-mongering, male-dominated, pro-rich, judgmental, calloused, legalistic, politically partisan (bordering on theocrats), hypocritical Pharisees, who want to force their religion on others, reject and condemn those with whom they disagree, and eagerly await heathens' future smiting...

People who have never known down-to-earth, loving Christians to off-set these wacky portrayals (perhaps "betrayals" is a more apt description), will inevitably form this type of caricature of the church. It's human nature. We Christians are guilty of the same. How many Christians who never take the time to know gay people personally paint them as promiscuous, leather-wearing, rainbow-clad, cross-dressing, parade-marching transvestites that are after our children? (I heard this description verbatim...)

All the incidents I pointed out do not represent Christianity as a whole, but the world will never know that if we Christians continue to barricade ourselves within our safe subcultures, listening to CCM (barf) while reading the Left Behind Series. If we do not make the vulnerable move to go out AMONG the people--not just inviting people to church--and build real, trustworthy relationships, where we listen just as much as talk, where we become transparent, humble, and sacrificing--Christians and nonchristians alike will suffer. Nonchristians might never get past their horrible impression of the church to even consider or fully understand the gospel. Our PLACE is to be in the world--smack dab in the middle of the muck and mire of human dysfunction (John 17:5). Christians will never experience essential growth without heeding to this call, to be IN the world. We can attend church services every Sunday, mid-week prayer groups and bible studies, attend our christian colleges, wear our scripture-clad t-shirts and WWJD bracelets, and do the "hit and run" evangelizing from time to time, but unless we get out and live among the people as Jesus did, reach out to the outcasts and marginalized, start publicly defending the cause of the poor and needy, and use what influence we have to demonstrate service-based christianity, we will become stagnant, disconnected Christians, twiddling our thumbs until Jesus comes back....and I wonder what He'd say?

I've been reading this book, "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations" by Dan Kimball, about how the present "secular" culture views Jesus and the Church, and the vast difference of opinion between the two. It's a book that provides great hope for the church to break out of its bubble and reach out to a generation hungering for Jesus (more to come on this book).

I don't know about you, but I haven't been raptured. I am here on earth, called to pray for and bring about God' will ON EARTH as it is in heaven. I am flawed and inadequate for such a task. I struggle with selfishness, fear, doubt, and a million other areas on a daily basis. Nevertheless, I am not ready to disappear from the world. I want to be here to sow peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I want to extend a hand of friendship to the other--the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu, the atheist, or a gay person. I want to encounter Jesus in the least, the lost, and the last of this world. After all, that is where He said we would truly find him.

"Christians are now the foreigners in a post-christian culture, and we have got to wake up to this reality."
--Dan Kimball

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another Reason To Coexist...Part 2

"Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. "--Thomas Jefferson

Read the previous post to read the first part of this article.

Two men, whose families have suffered greatly at the hands of religion-motivated violence, healing wounds by coming together....forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

Another Reason To Coexist....

"The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction."
--Jawaharlal Nehru

I am always amazed when Christians get their panties in knot when other Christians seek to be peacemakers and bridge builders to people from whom we differ. Isolating ourselves from all those with whom we differ breeds arrogance, misconceptions, insensitivity, the tendency to villify, animosity, and frankly, ignorance. Coexistence is the foreground to effective communication between conflicting views and communication is necessary for true conversion. For a refresher on my views on coexistence, see "Blessed Are The Peacemakers For They Shall be Called...Liberal Hippies?"

Even though I should see these things coming, it still shocks me.

Read Brian McLaren's response to Focus on The Family's criticism of Christians finding common ground with Muslims to better reach out to them.

Shouldn't we find points of common ground with those of different faiths and work from there?

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Wonderful World of Books

"A book is always a dialogue with other readers and other books."
-- Tim O'Reilly

I've been tagged by Terry, a wonderfully witty, intelligent, spunky woman and writer, who is also at times my ideological arch-nemesis! :) This is a survey all about books, and I LOVE here we go. But I don't follow rules so well and can't just settle on one for each question, so deal with it. :)

1. One book that changed your life: Speaking My Mind by Tony Campolo and God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get it and Soul Survivors: How 13 unlikely mentors helped my faith survive the church by Philip Yancey. These books introduced me to another side of Christianity, expressing alternative methods of approaching faith, church, politics, poverty, and living out the Kingdom of God.

2. One book that you have read more than once: The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis' fictional portray of Jesus helped me grasp the actual Jesus: one that is both Just and Merciful, awesome and terrible, knowable yet mysterious, and definitely not a tame lion. :)
3. One book you would want on a deserted island: The Bible and the Chronicles of Narnia.

4. One book that made you laugh: America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart.

5. One book that made you cry: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers creates a beautiful, riveting work of fiction, demonstrating God's endless, redeeming love in the midst of complex human dysfunction. It is based on the book of Hosea found in the bible, where God commands the prophet to marry a prostitute. God goes to extraordinary lengths to redeem us, eh?

6. One book that I wish I had written: Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 by Steve Stockman. If I had wrote this book, I mostly likely would have been able to meet Bono, so there ya go.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: OK, this is a book that I am actually glad was written, but disagree with its many of its conclusions: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Erhman. It's about textual criticisms and the process that took place of translating and transposing the New Testament. Erhman's findings are intriguing, but SOME of his conclusions are obviously not congruent with people of fatih, and other conclusions should be prayerfully considered. But even Christian scholars concede to the veracity of his work, but disagree with many of his conclusions. It's a book that more Christians should read, just for the challenge of digging deeper into their preconceived notions, beliefs and faith.

8. One book you are currently reading: They Like Jesus, But Not the Church by Dan Kimbal and Everything Must Change by Brain Mclaren. So far, I am fascinated by these books, so there will be more to come on each.

8.One book you have been meaning to read: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen (love him) and 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady (reading for part of the research I'm currently doing on the roles of women, so more to come on this subject too.). I'm just waiting forAmazon to ship 'em to me!
There you have it, just a small portion of the books that have resonated with me.

I am going to tag Makeesha over at Swinging From The Vine, Catrina over at It's Me, Tonya over at The Kissack Chronicles, Deann over at The Rollins Family, and Angela over at Our World.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama and Huckabee: Do These Winners Reflect You?

The following videos are of Barack Obama's and Mike Huckabee's victory speeches last night after winning the IOWA primaries. Obama was a semi-surprise, since many were expecting Mrs. Clinton to sweep the state and Huckabee was near miraculous, since the front runners were deemed to be Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson. Out of curiosity, I'd like to know what you all think of all the presidential candidates, who you're leaning towards, and what issues matter most to you. I think it would be a good learning experience for me (and maybe some readers) to gain some insight to who and what issues matter to people of faith. So, please, weigh in with your thoughts on these two first victors, their speeches, and any other thoughts you may have on the 2008 elections! Peace!

Here are the records, quotes, and ratings for both winners from On The Issues:

Here's an article from Sojourner's Jim Wallis on both candidates' victories and what our calling as a people of faith entails, no matter who ends up in the White House. Change Won In Iowa

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Best Posts of 2007

I decided to bite off of my fellow bloggers and do a recap of my favorite posts from each month in 2007. So, in honor of the new year, here are my personal favorites of 2007.

April: Blessed Are The Peacemakers, For They Shall Be Called...Liberal Hippies?

May: Abracadabra, Hocus Pocus, Jesus! and The Fine Line Between Faith and Denial

June: The Myth of Avoiding The Appearance of Evil and But Are We Really Pro-life?

July: For Anyone Clinging To The Sparks of Hope For Change (This post is on Jim Wallis's God Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and The Left Doesn't Get it: It's one of the best books I've ever read, and should be required reading for any Christian desiring to live out God's Kingdom here on earth, even in the messy political realm.

August: Lying For The 'Truth' (a lesson on how far even Christian organizations will go to rally support for their pet causes....)

Septemeber: Lifehouse Skit and The Real Outcry Against Sodom

October: How My Boy Makes Me Proud

Novemeber: The Upside Down Kingdom (book reveiw of Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus, excellent book!) and To Emerge Or Not To Emerge?

December: Win The War On Christmas By Losing