Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So Hip, It Might Not Be Christian Anymore

A friend recently brought to my attention an ad from a church looking for ‘a connections guy.’  This appears to be a staff position at a church that styles itself ‘J10’ from a reference in the Gospel of John.  At the end of the ad we find “Reasons to consider applying to be the NEW J10 connections guy” followed by a list, as show below.  Kent will comment on each reason in bold print of this color.  So here go the ‘reasons’ followed by some comments on each one.

If you think church should be fun

If you define ‘fun’ properly, no problem.

If you want a place to invite your beer drinking buddies

Wonderful, unless you are going to continue drinking with them and allowing them (and you) to pretend this doesn’t really matter.

If your vision for church looks more like a student ministry than adult ministry

I’m not sure just what this means.  Make the whole church like a ‘youth group’?  But shouldn’t our ‘vision’ for the church look like the ‘vision’ of the church as revealed in scripture?  Shouldn’t we adjust ‘our’ visions to THAT, i.e., God’s, vision?

If you take God serious but not yourself

I’m not sure what that even means, but it sounds suspiciously like stupid ‘hipster’ talk.  But if you are going to ‘take God’ it would need to be ‘seriously’ because an adverb is needed there.  More on matters like this below.

If you love students but want to have more adult interaction

Sure, why not?  We have segregated ‘students’ from adults for far too long in far too many venues.

If you think potty humor is ok in church (on occasion)

There is just what we need more of in churches - ‘potty humor.’  But only, of course, ‘on occasion.’  It seems like there are plenty of occasions to encounter ‘potty humor’ in the world, so it’s rather hard to know why anyone would want to import it into the church.  I’m probably just not ‘hip’ enough to understand.

If you think church should be full of messed up people and you don’t mind dealing with their messes

Certainly, as long as the goal is not to wallow in such messes, but to begin, at least, to clean them up.

If you are a church planter at heart or desire to plant a church one day

No problem with this one.

If you live more on the edge of chaos than in certainty

In light of the repeated Biblical talk that we can know THE truth, and that we should and must speak the truth, this one seems on the verge of stupid.  Forget ‘the verge’ – it’s just stupid.

If you read because you have to, but would always rather be outside and with people.

Let’s not read overly much.  It’s such a chore – especially reading the Bible.  Do that only when you ‘have to.’  Instead, just run around ‘with people.’  You will be just as big an ignorant fool as anyone, and thus you will be able to help people in all sorts of wonderful ways.  You know, people like your drinking buddies.

If you want to be a part of a church that DOES NOT have the “same ole” arguments

Why worry about ‘arguments’ – same ole (whatever those are) or otherwise.  Since we aren’t going to read except when absolutely necessary, there will be no informed arguments anyway.  Probably just drinking buddies screaming at one another.

If you would rather the church music error on being too hard than soft

I would think anyone interested in the health of the church would want church music to err (‘error’ is a noun, not a verb, by the way – something that might slip by those who read only when necessary) on the sides of being theologically content-filled and music that is both beautiful and easily sung by a group of people.  But if you think of ‘church’ as a rock concert, then go for ‘hard’ by all means.

If you are just as messed up as anyone you know and will admit it

This is very hip-sounding.  But what about the matter of progressing in sanctification?  Shouldn’t a church leader be a little closer to the image of Christ than just ‘anyone you know’?

If you want to be a part of a church that actually reaches people who don’t attend church

An excellent idea, as long as that does not imply re-making the church in the image of the world in the warped hope of making the church attractive to the world.  A little Bible-reading might convince the people at ‘J10’ that this should be the case.  But I forgot – they only read the Bible, or anything else ‘when the have to.’

Finally, perhaps we should all think about this one:  is it possible to be so ‘hip’ that you start to slip out of what could in any meaningful sense be called the Christian faith?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The President and the Peons

[regarding last night’s infomercial for ‘Obama Care’]

Dr. Orrin Devinsky led off by asking the President if he would sacrifice the health of his own family by putting them in a government plan.

The President said “If it’s my family member, it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care. But here’s the problem that we have in our current health care system, is that there is a whole bunch of care that’s being provided that every study, every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier.”

Kent Comments:

I know I am stating the obvious here, but the problem with government officials devising any kind of plans for the rest of us is this:  government officials never have to live by or with the things they impose on the rest of us - never.

The Obamas, the Kennedys, etc. who dream up schemes to impose on the rest of us never have to live with those schemes.  As we now know, some Obama appointees didn’t bother to pay the very taxes they gleefully hoped the rest of us would pay.

For example, the presidential limousine will never be subject to CAFE mileage standards.  (That is just one example of thousands of such things.)

Isn’t it long past time that we peons begin to insist that anything government imposes on us MUST apply equally to every official at every level of government?

It seems that we are in the mess we are in because most of us are weenies.  Weenies are easy victims of out-of-control governments.

I find it difficult to believe that we have any ideological connection whatsoever to the people who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Our liberty is nearly all gone, weenieishly traded for what we stupidly thought was security.  We are of all people truly most pathetic.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What’s Wrong with Schools?

All but the most naive would agree that many of the government-run schools in our country have problems.  The sources of these problems are many, but sometimes, the problems begin ‘at the top’ so to speak.  For example:

Bedford school board member Andrew Mizsak's argument with dad over cleaning his room prompts police call

by Michael K. McIntyre / Plain Dealer columnist

Monday May 18, 2009, 5:45 AM

It's odd enough that a Bedford father would actually call police after arguing with his son about cleaning his room.  Stranger still, the sloppy son is 28 years old and serves on the Bedford school board.

"I know this looks bad," said school board member Andrew Mizsak, who lives with his parents and works as a political consultant. His mother, Paula, is a Bedford councilwoman.

Mizsak's dad, also named Andrew, called 9-1-1 on Thursday after his son threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and balled his fist up at his dad when told to clean his room.

The senior Mizsak wouldn't press charges and told police, "I don't want to ruin his political career." According to the report, he said: "Andrew is 270 pounds and he can't fight him, that they do everything for Andrew and he doesn't even pay rent."

The elder Mizsak said Saturday, "I overreacted. No big deal."  According to the report, "Andrew was sent to his room to clean it. He was crying uncontrollably and stated he would comply."

Mizsak said he was embarrassed to take police away from more important work.  "My dad and I love each other very much," he said, promising to keep his basement room clean. "I'm lucky to be living in their house."

Kent comments:

Please note, if you have not already, some things about Andrew the younger – the plate-throwing, fist-shaking, 270 pound, 28-year-old.

This Andrew the younger lives with his parents rent-free.  He doesn’t like to clean his room.  He cries about these matters.  Yet, this pathetic human being works as a political consultant!  Did he help his mother get elected to the city council?  I must say that, judging from her son, this lady certainly has leadership ability.

I do believe that I have seen some of the effects of Andrew’s political ‘wisdom’ elsewhere in our country recently.

But, as if all this were not bad enough, some group of fools

elected this guy to the school board!

Why, then, would we ever wonder how the affairs of schools are in the shape they are.  As the saying goes, the lunatics are surely in charge of the asylum!

Staggering, is it not?  But even sadder is this:  these people are probably a notch above many others who have ensconced themselves in our political culture.  Think of Clintons, Kennedy’s, and the list goes on and on.  Truly, as many have feared, in a democracy the worst seem to rise to the top.

It might be time for some skimming.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rise Up, Oh Little Platoons of God!


In a recent Christianity Today article Charles Colson said [edited for length, read it all here]

The economic crisis is fueling a rapid expansion of government control over banks and industries—and soon, perhaps, over health care, which alone amounts to one-sixth of America's GNP. This transfer of responsibilities raises cautionary flags, especially for Christians.

The concept of the balance of powers comes directly from Christian doctrines. The Reformers introduced the idea of sphere sovereignty, which holds that government's role is limited so that other spheres—family, church, and voluntary associations—are free to exercise their authority.

But the expanding reach of government can threaten voluntary associations, what English philosopher Edmund Burke called "the little platoons."

. . . Why would anyone want to weaken the little platoons that run our churches, schools, charities, and think tanks, and furnish services to the poor and suffering? Part of the answer: Government bureaucrats—I know, I was one—have a voracious appetite for power. They want to control vast sums of money.

Alexis de Tocqueville understood the vital role America's little platoons play. Voluntary associations, he argued, are a buffer against the all-powerful state, which has a natural tendency to want to take from individuals "the trouble of thinking and the pain of living," turning citizens into "timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

Hannah Arendt, a brilliant 20th century political theorist, observed this phenomenon firsthand in Germany, describing in her classic book The Origins of Totalitarianism how totalitarian regimes succeed by the atomization of society—creating a mass of individuals isolated from the structures that hold civilized societies together. The result is that individuals are left to stand alone before the immense power of the state.

. . . Ensuring this doesn't happen in the U.S. is a solemn responsibility of every Christian.

Kent Comments:

And part of what this will require is that Christians finally recognize that the current administration is vigorously pursuing an ideology that is rooted in the depths of hell itself.  It will require that Christians begin to pray, not just those candy-coated ‘bless our president’ prayers, but rather, those ‘God, have mercy on us by moving in a mighty way to defeat the evil that has infected our nation.’

Perhaps some churches, those with spiritual spines at least, will work some of this into the up-coming Independence Day celebrations.

I’m not sure that enough Christians are ready for that yet.  So I am going to be praying that God will open the eyes of those who claim to believe, that He will raise up His mighty army to oppose those who pursue evil in governmental offices, and that He will in good time save us from the curse we brought upon ourselves, the curse of the Obama administration.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Episcopalianism vs. Christianity

In a recent Christianity Today post, ‘Too Unorthodox Even for the Episcopal Church?’ we learn the following:

Thew Forrester, who has rewritten the church's baptismal covenant, the Apostles' Creed, and the Book of Common Prayer's Easter Vigil liturgy to remove historic Christian doctrines, would be the first bishop-elect to be vetoed by denominational leaders since at least the 1930s, according to the church's Office of Communication.

The 2.3-million-member Episcopal Church has had bishops who have denied core Christian doctrines like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection of Jesus. But the most prominent bishops to make such claims (such as John Shelby Spong and James Pike) reportedly did not do so until after they had been made bishop.

Critics on the theological left and the right said Thew Forrester's abandonment of church doctrine and liturgy, as contained in the Book of Common Prayer, placed him too far outside the mainstream to serve as a bishop and a successor to the Apostles.

According to Thew Forrester, Christ's blood doesn't wash away sin and Christ's death doesn't redeem and restore humanity. Jesus doesn't make us one with God, but simply reveals to us that we're already and always one with God, the bishop-elect maintains.

But a Thew Forrester supporter, Wyoming Bishop Bruce Caldwell, said Thew Forrester's theology "stretches us, but not to the point of breaking."

The bishop-elect defended his liturgical and theological changes, saying they reflected the "continually evolving" Christian faith.

"What we've done is quite responsible and appropriate, and indeed the church needs to do it in order to stay relevant in the 21st century," he said.

In addition to rejecting orthodox Christian teachings about the Cross, Thew Forrester denies that Satan exists, calls the Qur'an the Word of God, describes sin as being blind to our own goodness, and questions whether Jesus is truly the only begotten Son of God. A student of Zen Buddhism, Thew Forrester took Buddhist lay ordination vows and adopted a new Buddhist name—Genpo—meaning "way of universal wisdom."

Kent Comments:

I wonder what, if anything, Wyoming Bishop Bruce Caldwell thinks would or should stretch Episcopalians to the point of breaking?

I wonder why John Shelby Spong and James Pike remained bishops after denying the faith? There are a couple of questions implied here. One is: why did the Episcopal Church allow them to continue to be bishops? The answer appears to be: because the Episcopal Church now seems to allow bishops to believe almost anything, just so they don’t announce it until after they are bishops!

Another questions is this: why call yourself a Christian if you deny most or all of the historic Christian faith? Why bother? Is it just the cushy life of a bishop? Do these people really think that Christianity remains Christian no matter what its doctrinal content? What if an Episcopal bishop announced that he (or maybe she) thought the whole idea of any kind of God was ridiculous, and that being the case, might makes right? That is a stretch, but why think it is a stretch that ‘breaks’ the Christian faith?

If, as bishop-elect-who-probably-won’t-be-elected Thew Forrester believes, the Christian faith is ‘continually evolving’ then why couldn’t it evolve into some form of, let’s say, Nazism? I realize that it’s not exactly Buddhism, but if anything goes why not some good old Nazi teachings?

And who is named ‘Thew’ anyway?

Here is some advice for Episcopalians who have even a hint of the historic Christian faith left in their hearts and minds. Allow me to use to a Start Trek analogy. The Borg have taken over most of the ship. It is time to initiate the destruct sequence and abandon ship in the escape pods.

There is no future with the Borg, or in this case, the Thews. Red Alert! Get out while you still can.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Non-violent Violence Against Free Speech

[from the Evansville Courier and Press]

. . . There can be no argument that the vitriolic language from some in the anti-abortion movement evidences no care for those whose opinions differ.

There can be no argument that the derogatory and inflammatory "naming" of Dr. Tiller by some anti-abortion activists violated God's intention of care.

Self evidently the act framed by some as "killing to prevent killing" is not morally justified, if for no other reason than Commandment Six and Jesus' new commandment: love one another (John 13:34).

It seems to me the reprehensible act of throwing around language of judgment and condemnation of a person whose beliefs and practices differ from one's own such that violence is done to the other seems to point to obvious culpability.

I will support Dr. Tiller's family in seeking to make that legal argument. Arrest Randall Terry, Rush Limbaugh and Scott Beck (and the list is long) as accessories to murder.

Karen Lipinczyk is pastor of St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Wadesville, Ind.

Kent Comments:

I offer no direct comment here on the matter of Dr. George Tiller.  Instead, notice a few very interesting points in these comments.

The first is that this ‘pastor-ette’ is with the United Church of Christ.  This is the ‘church’ group of Barack Obama, at least when he is not busy emphasizing his Muslim heritage.

But more importantly, notice that the pastor-ette wants to arrest, as ‘accessories to murder’ all those who make claims with which she disagrees.  (I have listened to Rush Limbaugh now and then through the years and I have never heard him advocate killing abortion providers!  But perhaps Karen is a closer follower of Rush than am I.)

Here is an amazing phenomenon:  the advocates of ‘non-violence’ who would use violence against those who simply say things they would rather not hear!  It is rather difficult to know what to think of people, like pastor Karen, who use the name of Jesus to advocate violence against those who won’t agree with their ideas about non-violence.  After all, if you want someone arrested then you are in favor of using violence against them.

So let us try to sort the matter out some more.  Pastor Karen would gladly use violence against those who speak any kind of words of condemnation against abortion providers.  I wonder what Pastor Karen thinks about the violence used against babies who are aborted?  My best guess is that while she might in some way regret that violence, she would not be in favor of stopping it.

Perhaps pastor Karen should consider some of the things Jesus said about hypocrites.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Get It, and I Hope You Will, Too!


[This is from the We Get It Wednesday Bulletin, June 3, 2009.  We Get It is a group whose information I find very helpful for Christians who want to think sensibly about matters environmental.  I highly recommended you view and sign their declaration.]

Two elements of Earth stewardship

God gave Adam and Eve two tasks when He put them in the Garden: to tend (or cultivate) it and to keep (or guard) it. The former implies increasing its productivity, the latter, protecting it from harm or deterioration. A third task, restoring the earth from the curse, arose consequent to the fall (Genesis 3:17-19).

Biblically thinking Christians therefore cannot embrace either of two extreme attitudes toward the earth: unbridled exploitation and unmitigated preservation. Rather, both proper development and proper conservation of the earth and the resources we derive from it should concern us, and, as stewards of the earth over which God has made us rulers (Genesis 1:26-29; Psalm 8:4-8; 115:16 ), we need to make reasoned decisions about how to do both at once. Just as God is both Creator and Sustainer, so mankind, made in His image, is both to create new things and to sustain the world.

Kent Comments:

I would add one point here.  In order properly to pursue the approach indicated above, we must challenge the common assumption that human-caused change of the planet is an evil.  That is precisely the often unstated assumption of so-called ‘environmentalists.’  And it is an assumption that is at odds with the Christian faith.

There is no Christian reason to think that a plot of forest is morally desirable about a family house, yard, and garden.  There is no Christian reason to assume that building roads somehow destroys God’s order for the earth.  There is certainly no reason to think that the unplowed prairie is an ethically better choice that a field of grain.  God did command us to subdue the earth, and to do that we will necessarily change the world.  God clearly had this in mind for the earth, and theological revisionism cannot change the meaning of the word translated ‘subdue.’

If there is any group of people in this world who can, and for many good reasons should, save the planet from most of the environmentalists who are busy trying to impose their agenda on others, it is the body of Christ.  Unfortunately, many of us are ignorant, quiet, and unaware of the real issues involved.  Large segments of what calls itself the ‘church’ are even devoted to the false religion that is environmentalism.

Those who worship the idol of environmentalism need to repent.  The beginning point of repentance is information about where you have gone wrong.  For the key to demolishing this kind of idolatry,  We Get It is a good place to start.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sing, Sing A Song

This Week's Cartoon

[This came from Christianity Today’s ChurchLaughs.com]

I almost hate to say what I am about to say, but that, of course, never stops me.

Back when I was a teenager, when Christianity was new to me, and when church was new to me, it was the era of pop music that now plays on the ‘Oldies’ stations.

But church music was, well, just that.  It was uniquely connected to church.

It was nothing like the Beetles, the Dave Clark Five, the Mommas and the Pappas, or the Beach Boys.  Understand that I very much enjoyed the aforementioned groups, and many others like them.  (I still do.)

But I also enjoyed ‘church music.’  It didn’t take much musical ability or reflection to see what ‘church music’ was about – it was easily sing-able, harmonize-able, and thus often somewhat simple music that had often been custom-designed, or at least adapted, to words that said something significant about matters theological.

Our congregation was a small church in a small town, but it was filled with enthusiastic singers.  One of my good friends who also attended this church would often sit near me, or I near him, and we would try different kinds of harmony as we would sing.  Nearby would be my Dad, and other family members, often adding some harmony of their own.  Around us, in addition to those singing the melody, were altos, tenors, baritones, basses, all joining in – it was (among other things) FUN.

We had no desire to ‘just listen’ as is so often the case at churches today.  We did not want to be drowned out by the accompaniment.  Most of all, we would never have thought the situation humorously presented in this comic was funny.  To us, it would have been a tragedy.

At church we all – young and old – expected to sing ‘church music.’  We all wanted to sing the same songs together.  We didn’t expect these songs to sound like the Beetles, or any other pop group.  We wanted songs we could all sing together.

Somewhere at many churches since then, a good idea got lost . . .

Monday, June 1, 2009

Down with the Czars!

Obama Set to Create A Cybersecurity Czar With Broad Mandate
Shielding Public, Private Networks Is Goal
By Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

President Obama is expected to announce late this week that he will create a "cyber czar," a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan.

Kent comments:

A quick check of the meaning and origin of the word ‘czar’ yields the following:


1.an emperor or king.
2.(often initial capital letter) the former emperor of Russia.
3.an autocratic ruler or leader.
4.any person exercising great authority or power in a particular field: a czar of industry.

1545–55; < Russ tsar', ORuss tsĭsarĭ emperor, king (akin to OCStsěsarĭ) < Goth kaisar emperor (< Gk or L); Gk kaîsar < L Caesarcaesar

It makes me wonder - no worry - why for the last couple of decades we have been so accepting of the various governmental ‘czars’ that various presidents have appointed.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an emperor or a king (other than God).  I don’t want anything like the former ruler of Russia.  I don’t want an autocrat attempting to rule me.  I don’t want any one person exercising great authority or having great power.

And I certainly don’t want anything even remotely related to the German Kaiser or a Roman Caesar in my government.  (That is one reason I detest Obama – he seems to think he is one or both of those!)

Thus, I don’t want a internet czar, a drug czar, an automobile czar, and energy czar, or any other kind of czar, running around trying to tell us all what to do.  It is, in fact, very American to want to do away with all czars, not make more of them!

Down with all czars, and with all those who appoint them!