Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cultural distinctions and the Church

Last night my wife and I watched a movie on television about the life of author J.K.Rowling. As we are both fans of the Harry Potter series, we found the presentation entertaining and enlightening. During the movie another person asked if Rowling is a Christian. Personally, I don't know. I did read in the blog of Dr. Ben Witherington that he heard that she professed to be Christian. The other person pointed out that "professed" does not necessarily mean "yes." The this person made a statement that shocked me. The gist of the statement was that Rowling probably was not a Christian because she had said that the character of Dumbledore was gay. I'm sorry to say that in an instant my ire was raised. My response was, "Yeah, so what"?
The Church today has expended countless hours and dollars trying to keep gays and lesbians away. The homophobic mindset of American has led to naive people judging others. Theirs is an exclusionist theology that effectively negates the gospel and the expansion of the reign of God.
The scriptures that are used to defend their position are, for the most part, ambivalent when it comes to homosexual orientation. The actual word for homosexual does not appear anywhere in the canon in either Hebrew or Greek. Yet, it has seemed important to replace the love and example of Christ with concern for polity and piety. This ought not be.
I wrote in a paper for school, "As sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Christ it is appropriate for us to treat other people as we have been treated by God. At no time did God require that people become holy before they receive God’s grace and mercy and choose to follow Christ. Jesus did not tell the lepers to go and be cleansed before he would interact with them. Yet, in spite of the fact that God has accepted those who believe and trust in God’s mercy, we in the Church do not." We cannot continue to judge others based on our culture's exclusionist mores. Jesus did not. What makes us so arrogant that we think we can?

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Women's World Cup...In the Book

Well, the 2011 Women's World Cup is history. An unexpected result catapulted the Japanese side to victory. Congratulations to them. This is a bright spot for a country still reeling from a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
However, for the number one ranked U.S. team the loss serves as a wake-up call. The U.S. had struggled through the tournament. Sheer will and tenacity allowed them to even be in the finals. They reflected the American never-say-die attitude that, I think, endeared them to the many fans yelling "U.S.A" in the stands. They had overcome the arrogance of the Brazil side in the waning seconds of a quarter final match. It looked as if they were destined to win. I feared that they may have looked at the final match against the Japanese team as a cake walk. After having defeated Japan in earlier matches, this would have been understandable. But, in the World Cup that cannot be assumed. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they took the match seriously and came out swinging. In the first minute they developed a very good scoring opportunity. In fact, for much of the game they could move the ball at will. The U.S. dominated much of the game creating many good scoring opportunities...but they were unable to finish them.
Japan, on the other hand, was patient. They waited for, and found, chinks in the U.S. defense that enabled them to score when they had to. While the U.S. was the stronger side between the end lines, Japan proved resilient enough to push the ball over the goal line.
There will be people who will claim that the better side did not win. To them I say, the last time I checked, the object of the game was to put the ball in the back of the net. The U.S. could not. It doesn't matter how many opportunities are created if they are not finished. This is not to take anything away from the players who left everything on the field. Sometimes the game is not fair. The post or crossbar get in the way. The defense gets confused and the ball winds up in the net. Such are the fortunes of the game. The U.S. team deserves praise for the tournament they played. However, the Japanese team did what was necessary to win. Cudos to them. If the U.S. team had to lose, the Japanese team was the team to lose to.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


One of my professors from seminary recently celebrated his first "blogiversary." In his post for that day he recapped some of his reasons for blogging as well as the joy he has experienced. One thing he wrote was that blogging is hard work. It takes time and commitment to do it in a way that people want to follow it. That has been the difficult part for me. I simply don't have the time to blog in a regular, consistent way. Be that as it may, I hope to continue jotting some things from time to time. After all, I have nothing profound or revelatory to write. This is primarily a space for me to explore and develop my thoughts about some things. I, like many others, find that sitting down and putting words to thoughts and ideas; to things I hear and learn; to events and emotions helps to concretize them in my mind. This helps to move these things from head to heart. So, if I'm not as regular with blog posts as the experts say that I should be...oh, well. It's still interesting to me to be able to look back over months of thought development and see where I've been. If anyone cares to join me in this, they are welcome.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is the body rotten...or simply rotting

Dr. Ben Witherington wrote in his commentary on Revelation that the human body is "regularly portrayed as the weak link in the Christian's armor." Much has been said and written about the weakness of the flesh. Many today wrongly think that this is the result of some "sin nature" that humanity has inherited from the original humans. Witherington has an interesting take on this. He wrote, "the body is is [not] inherently evil..." It is simply "not currently being renewed by God. The renewal of the body must await the resurrection. The mind, the heart the emotions, and the human will are being renewed now. Inwardly we are being renewed day after day, but outwardly our fallen bodies are wasting away." I think this is a good place for one to start as one considers the effects of sin and death in the cosmos. It does not seem to be some driving force that is being spoken of. It seems more like the tent of clay that we inhabit on our sojourn through this life. A tent that will be replaced, (renewed), at the return of Christ and the revealing of a new heaven and new earth.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Last night my wife and I watched Christopher Titus on the tube. What can I say? The guy is great! I remember watching his sitcom way back when with Stacy Keach as his dad. It was hilarious. The trouble was that I was one of the two people who watched it. Anyway, after watching the show last night I started thinking about comics in general. With Comedy Central I can see a lot of stand up. Most of it is just bad. These people seem to think that if they can say F**k enough times people will laugh. I don't. There is one notable exception to this. Lewis Black. Yes, he is as foul-mouthed as anyone. But, his is not gratuitous vulgarity. It's always in context and, in many ways, speaks for the common folk who have to deal with stupid people day-in and day-out.
So, here are my top 4. (Not in any particular order.)
Jeff Dunham. Guys playing with dolls is not usually a good thing. But, Mr. Done-Ham brings these puppets to life. While there are the usual jokes, he tries to introduce a story line at the beginning of his show and follow it throughout. (Lotion, anyone?) Walter and Peanut give personality to his self-deprecating humor that is refreshing.
Sinbad. This gentleman seems to be following in the footsteps of Bill Cosby. His shows, at least the ones I've seen on television, are funny and clean. He brings everyday events and issues into hilarious focus. Well done!
Lewis Black. As mentioned before, the guy is just funny. His background in performance shines through his stand up. I enjoy social commentary when it's done well. Black does it well. I especially enjoyed his show on Comedy Central, "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil." His interaction with other comics and the audience was always done well, and, of course, was funny. Humor allows people like Mr. Black to say things that would get you or I slapped. It also creates an environment where serious social and political issues can be discussed. Well done, sir.
Christopher Titus. Family relationships can at some times, (all times?), be tenuous. Titus shares his experiences in ways that people can relate to. The overbearing father. Dipstick brother. Ex-wife. The tension that these relationships cause needs release. Mr. Titus releases his on stage. This allows us to share his experiences and gain some relief.
All 4 of these comics present a different way of seeing and dealing with the mundane events of life in America. All 4 are professionals who have taken their craft seriously and have honed their skills to razor sharpness. All 4 are my favorites.