Posts tagged ‘Church’

August 28, 2011

The Power of Adapting Hymns

by Vince

N.T. Wright reflects in his book Surprised by Hope on the final stanza in the hymn How Great Tho Art:

 “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.”

The second line, Wright argues, might be better read “And heal this world, what joy shall fill my heart.” Actually, the original Swedish version of the hymn doesn’t talk about Christ coming to take me home; that was the translator’s adaption. Rather, it speaks of the veils of time falling, faith being changed into clear sight, and the bells of eternity summoning us to our Sabbath rest, all of which has a lot more to recommend it.

Wright’s book focuses on rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. If you are interested in these topics or want to find a more unambiguous understanding of what the church should preach, it is worth finding at your local library.

May 12, 2011

Is Soujourner’s a Progressive Christian Group?

by Vince

I would lean towards saying yes, they are. However, they rejected the above ad.

February 19, 2011

“Slippery Slope”

by Vince

A Mormon woman is focused on following her conscience:

September 21, 2010

What About The Children? Malignancy Rooted in the Marriage Debate

by Vince

Updated; added a link to DADT below (as of 9/21/10 at 8:49pm)
Andrew Sullivan continues on with the sulfuric same-sex marriage debate by reading the cover story by the National Review. He and I agree that this issue, along with DADT, are absolutely a theological issue first and a political issue second. The NRO stance echoes the Vatican doctrine of marriage: primarily for procreative purposes.

The article is a mass of non sequiturs. It assumes that if marriage is “for” something—regulating procreative sex—then using it for anything else must be “against” marriage, which is like saying that if mouths are “for” eating, we mustn’t use them for talking or breathing. It claims (conjecturally) that marriage would not have arisen if not for the fact that men and women make babies, from which it concludes that society has no stake in childless marriages.

Since this is primarily a theological issue, this all can’t be solved in political terms. Even court rulings dictate what is legal or illegal but cannot override the popular consensus amongst the church pertaining to same sex marriage. The key verses that are always thought of in mind, sometimes even recited verbatim on call, are Genesis 19 (make sure to read Ezekiel 16:49-50), Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9-11. See chapter 7 in Love is an Orientation for a better effort than I can ever muster at unpacking those “Big 5”.

The material to dig through related to this topic is literally endless. The material I have read, in short listing, has been enlightening but in my eyes (and the eyes of a graduate from a feminist woman’s college) has fallen short of fully encompassing the subject.

I could pontificate about the annals of political movements dabbering with this subject, but that is all downstream from the ultimate priorities and beliefs that make up the foundation of the same-sex marriage polemic. A spiritual mentor of mine in college, who is happy with being a neophyte when it comes to politics, always said that politics are downstream from our hearts, our faith, and our religious beings.

September 8, 2010

Protecting Our Country?

by Vince

Any new jack in politics can tell you that conservatives dig big defense. Have a border problem? Put up a big wall. Have a terrorist problem? Build up your military so to surpass what we had against the Soviets. That is all quite debatable. What do you think of the below?

Andrew Sullivan makes a great point by saying whether or not the above action affects our troops, as hinted that it does by General Petraeus, it is very contra to protecting our national security (which the GOP loves to flaunt and rub in the Left’s face). We have to remember that the above video is by an extremist fringe (the Dove church has 50 members and the Westboro Baptist church has just under 100) but the comments and tendencies as of late by Right wingers on camera have not been praiseworthy.

August 25, 2010

Starflyer 59

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan’s crew is dedicating a lot of blogging time to the new “hipster church” fad of sorts. The above band is Starflyer 59. Below is some info on them via an interview:

BSJ: It seems in every interview I’ve read with you, you are asked about the ‘spirituality’ of the SF59 lyrics. I for one appreciate any Christian artist who does whatever he/she feels led to do, whether it is blatantly spiritual or not. I am sure you are tired of addressing the issue of SF59 lyrics not being ‘Christian enough’. Will “Americana” have a more direct spiritual theme?

JM: Yes. The theme of “Americana” is basically how unimportant music is, and it should not be your lord – Jesus Christ is. I mean it’s hard to explain lyrics because a lot of it is me talking to myself in a song. But, I hope it does encourage people. I’m tired of being sad.

BSJ: There are any number of “underground” or “alternative” Christian bands – bands that have some following, but do not get wide exposure in the mainstream CCM media. SF59 would have to be considered as one of the most popular of these types of bands. Why do you think this is?

JM: Starflyer is just not very appealing to “musicians”. I don’t have the voice or dynamics to make the front page. I used to play in my church worship band. Most of the people were into the CCM bands. They loved the powerful voice, the dynamic lyrics, the musicianship, or whatever. I just care about good songs. But, I don’t want to knock those guys. If God is using some of their ministries, it’s cool, and if God is using us not on the cover of CCM, that’s cool too.

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August 15, 2010

Befriend Someone Out of Your Generation

by Vince

Holly Ordway sees her inner-generational church as valuable:

“…we tend to congregate with those who have no more experience than we do on the big questions in life. In short, we lack perspective and wisdom.

So much of the time we get our ideas about life from all the wrong places: looking to the media and the news to show us how to have relationships, what marriage is, how to grow old, what it looks like to handle misfortune and suffering with patience and grace, how to love each other. Too often the message we get is either of false romanticism or false despair: that everything will be perfect all the time, and that if it’s not perfect, we should just give up and move on.”

Reading the activities her church takes part in makes me smile. It sounds that her church values each member, their age, their commitments, and places an equal value on each as part of their body of Christ.

Much insight can be gathered from those older (or even younger) than us. I met two ladies this year who I found were great teachers. They had been retired for a few years and weren’t as noticeable in the activities I took part in at church. Meanwhile, they were taking part in a Semper Fidelis class and Children’s ministry. Their skills together equaled almost 3/4th’s of a century worth of teaching experience. All of that was under my radar. I think it is easy to assume that older men and women are either too busy with their jobs to be bothered or are retired and seem as if they are too far removed from their line of work. That all dissipates when you strike up a conversation.

G-d bless this church – for it seems they have and more will be given to them (Matthew 13:12).

August 15, 2010

Feels Like September

by Vince

I am in a blogging mood. I’ll see where this goes.

The last few days have felt like September to me. Lately, I have had this feeling of excitement in my stomach; the school year is on the horizon, MJ and I are moving, the weather is cooler, fresher, and feels as if it is curling up around my body. It is perfect for wearing jeans, maybe a flannel, and hanging out with a good book and some coffee. Maybe one day we will live in Maine or Washington state. Watching the Twilight movies makes us think more about that possibility! I have the feeling though that MJ and I would feel similar to my Dad when he lived in Portland, Oregon: homesickness and missing loved ones back east.

This dreary day was capped off by some rain in the a.m. It feels as if the persistent heat zaps my energy from my body. I don’t like how it can make me want to stay in doors where it is cool. This I have learned is all just part of the seasons. It even includes putting up with sweating after getting out of the shower from the humidity outside. In the end, it feels like a nice balance. When I have had enough of one season, I am excited for the next (or the polar opposite).

The liturgical and cultural seasons seem to inter-mesh. Today’s liturgy reading speaks to the commonalities of life. The below are some excerpts of mine from the readings.

2 Samuel 18:24-33

32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”

33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Psalm 102:1-12

7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.

9 For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears

12 But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.

Ephesians 5:15-20

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:51-58

58 This is the bread that came down from heaven.

The theme of grief, to the point of being shaken, with loneliness and lowliness is coupled with gifts from heaven in the dual form of a loyal G-d and His bread. I have found all of the above helpful as I have ventured through the ordinary struggles of life. News can bring life and sadness. Many days have my drinks been mixed with frustrations and wondering over the unknown. In the midst of that storm, bread for my day is provided to me. Each morning, a warm cup of coffee accompanies me as I delve into silent reading. I explore what solitude is all about. Even though I am a youth director, I am alongside the youth in learning the personal meaning behind this spiritual practice. The liturgy grants me an ecumenical community that is at rhythm with me through the written Word. Someday’s this is all I have that I enjoy. Thankfully that is not always so. I may not remember the exact words each day but I look to my day in a way similar to Davids’ Psalms: “your renown endures through all generations”, a thankful song in the midst of life.

August 13, 2010

When Judging the Church

by Vince

Richard Taylor wrote in to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Leonard Pitts Jr. is way off base in “Keeping faith, losing religion” (Sunday).He critiques organized religion in general and Christianity in particular in the easiest but most unfair and unbalanced way. If you want to discredit something, cite a long list of its failures without mentioning any of its positive features. For example, Pitts makes the sweeping statement that Christianity “has traded moral authority for political power.” It has become “a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.” It is antigay, antifeminist, antiscience, antilife. It fails to follow Christ’s most basic teaching about serving the poor and walking humbly through life.

No doubt certain individual Christians, Christian leaders, and sectors of Christianity have acted – and continue to act – in such reprehensible ways. Not a few of these acts can be called “evil.”

But surely it is unfair and dishonest to judge Christianity in particular and organized religion in general solely by these shameful behaviors. This is like judging Pitts’ life (or mine) only by what we did on our worst days. It is like evaluating America only by the slave trade, the massacre of Native Americans, unjust wars, and political corruption. America is more than these. We are more than our worst days.

In the same way, Christianity and other organized religions are more than their most blameworthy acts. They have not only Torquemada, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, St. Catherine of Siena, and other great souls beyond numbering. They have not only pompous prelates, but also millions upon millions of ordinary people who, acting both alone and together, serve the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, and stand with the oppressed.

What about some balance and fairness in our discussion of organized religion?

Richard K. Taylor


August 1, 2010

Church Attendance during the Recession

by Vince

Two reports find that generally speaking church attendance goes down during good economic times and up during tougher economic times:

Every day, the economist Daniel Hungerman looks at the graph that hangs above his desk at the University of Notre Dame. One jagged line goes down and up. This is America’s gross domestic product since 1972. Another jagged line goes up and down. This is the religiosity of Americans over the same period, as measured by church attendance. The lines show an almost exact inverse correlation.

In good times, as incomes rise, a greater range of consumption opportunities is available to the average household. In bad times, the opposite is true. Church is free entertainment—music, socialising, a bit of story telling, and a meal in the bargain if you’re lucky (or Baptist). When mom and dad are both working, a night at the movies might seem grand. When dad loses his job, church may be the most affordable way to get out of the house.

July 4, 2010

The Church and the 4th

by Vince

Stennant from Conversant Life tells of how her church is on the 4th of July:

Over the years, especially as my passion for global Christianity has grown, patriotism mixed with religion has begun to leave a very bad taste in my mouth. I find that many Christians, and the preachers who teach them, have a very wonky theology when it comes to what it means to be a Christian nation. The more time I have spent with Christians in other (especially oppressed) countries, the more the idea that America is a Christian nation strikes me as ridiculous.

In fact, and this is what I always find myself wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, there is one nation under God – but it is not the United States of America. The one nation under God is made up of people from every tribe and speakers of every language that exists under the sun. To buy into the lie that America is united under God is a huge misunderstanding of both American history and biblical truth.

The men and women who are fighting for our freedom are also fighting for the freedom of Muslims in America, Buddhists in America, secular humanists in America, and… you get the picture.

June 15, 2010

The New Face of the American Church

by Vince

ABC News recently conducted a group interview with a few young Evangelical religious leaders. Watch the full interview here.

Money quote:

When asked what issues this generation cares about, no panelist initially mentioned a traditional hot button issue, such as abortion or gay marriage. They did mention, however, other pressing issues such as educational reform, poverty, healthcare, violent human conflict, genocide, AIDS, and climate change. According to the panelists, many issues define this generation—not just a few.

As Rethink poses, could there be a new day ahead for the church, when we are known much less for who/what we are against but rather what we are for? One of the panelists mentioned that those who are pro-life only lift a finger of compassion once every four years and are ultimately only pro-birth. I don’t fully agree with this, nor do I think it is that cut and dry, but this is an interesting topic.