Here’s a really good piece about people who ‘fess up to some wrongdoing, only to keep going and actually justify it. I’ve noticed that especially in the church culture today, when a person tries to cover something up, it seems that more blame is affixed to the cover-up than the actual sin itself. But what if someone “puts it all out there,” only to excuse it away as no big deal in the first place? Might this actually be worse than feeling ashamed and covering it up? Food for thought.
Category Archives: Faith and Culture
Yesterday was Memorial Day, a time to remember those brave men who have given their lives in service to their country. As I was reflecting on the day, I was thinking about how far our military has come in the past few decades—which I don’t mean in a good way. Continue reading
“You can respect someone’s opinion while still disagreeing with them.”
When’s the last time you heard that statement? Probably just the other day, right? I know, it’s contagious, like all shallow memes. Well, time to put this one in its place.
First of all, what does “respect” mean? Let’s get out a dictionary: “A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem.” Or, “Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.” Does that seem fair? Yes?
Good. Now that we’ve established what respect means, let’s discuss the implications of this meme. Let’s also consider the contexts where we often see it used, because let’s face it, you’re probably not going to encounter it in a discussion about what people’s favorite color is, or whether you prefer dogs to cats. This is a meme created pretty much solely for the context of political debates. And sometimes, moral political debates. Sometimes, especially moral political debates.
And that’s where things go south. At warp speed. Continue reading
A review of that Legacy Five concert is forthcoming. (And I didn’t mention this, but Greater Vision was there too and debuted some new songs!) However, I was too wacked from two back-to-back, early-morning math finals to focus on giving it the report it deserved. But I promise it’s coming, pictures and all. Meanwhile, here’s a mini-rant I threw together last night in the wake of some of the evil America has been experiencing over the past month. First we learned about Kermit Gosnell (may his memory be erased), now the Boston bombings. At the same time, I wanted to draw my readers’ attention to an absolutely incredible upcoming documentary from Korea about a pastor who started an orphanage for unwanted children (shades of Gladys Aylward in China). My intent is to lambaste some of the dumb rhetoric I’ve seen swirling around the Gosnell case and the bombings while daring to suggest that the world really can be divided into “good guys” and “bad guys” (sorry Tim Keller). So yeah, this is going to be a rather militant post. Sensitive readers, you’ve been warned. Continue reading
Brennan Manning died last week. Yet another in a strikingly long list of notable deaths over the span of just a few short weeks here in April, including Edith Schaeffer, Margaret Thatcher, and, most recently, George Beverly Shea (may their righteous memories be a blessing). The news of Manning’s death prompted me to do a bit of digging on exactly what kind of gospel he taught. I knew that The Ragamuffin Gospel was a profound influence on one of my favorite songwriters, Rich Mullins, whose Ragamuffin Band was named after Manning’s book. But I also knew that he’s been quoted, claimed and cited as an inspiration by a lot of openly liberal Christians (as just one example, Christian worship leader Carlos Whittaker has a blog entitled Ragamuffin Soul). The fact that so many different people thought he was so wonderful left me a little confused, and curious.
After my research, I could only sigh and echo Master Yoda: “Expected this is. And unfortunate.” Continue reading
Well, I tried and tried to embed this video, but it looks like I’ll need to consult the wordpress.com embed code gurus again because Godtube’s code is defying me. However, I strongly encourage my readers to hop over to this link to hear VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer’s take on this (awful) article. The topic is Christian music, specifically CCM. The author of this article lays out five reasons to “kill” it. In this 18-minute clip from his podcast, Vischer pretty much nails it as he systematically breaks down this writer’s arguments and why they’re flawed. His two co-hosts play devil’s advocate to some extent, but by the time he’s done making his case, one of them says that she has done a 180 after initially being impressed by the article. He makes many points that I have frequently made myself in discussion with friends and family, and I think it is well worth a listen. (Note: The author of the article includes a rather frightening image of two heathen metal musicians, so be prepared for that if you choose to read it, though Phil reads the most relevant portions verbatim as he rebuts them.)
I am personally very alarmed by this spirit of destruction that I see among certain liberal Christians when it comes to things bearing the “Christian” label. People like Steve Taylor, Derek Webb and this Catholic writer are not afraid to say in so many words that they want Christian music, movies, etc. to “die,” be “killed,” and other charming sentiments. It’s hateful, it’s bitter, it’s self-righteous, and it’s not building up the body of Christ. Combine all that with shallow reasoning and false claims, and you have a lethal combination.
I’m thankful to Vischer for popping that bubble. Although, there was a bit at the end of this podcast, not included in this clip, where I definitely found myself in disagreement with him. He said that although he supports Christians who make art for the church, they shouldn’t expect to reach any non-believers with that art, be it music, film, or whatever. I wanted to say, really? None? Well, tell that to the people who still hold tent revival meetings. Tell that to the people who got dragged to a Christian rock concert by their church friends and made a choice for Christ. Tell that to the thousands of non-Christians who saw The Passion of the Christ. Such people do exist. It’s a needless exaggeration to say that no unchurched folk will ever hear/see/be affected by a piece of contemporary, explicitly Christian media.
But I still agree with virtually all of Phil’s points. If you have a chance to listen to the clip, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you don’t have time but still have a thought, feel free to share it.
Why the Left is Wrong About Everything (or How Conservatives Are the Ones Who Really Care About Poverty and the Environment)
There’s a myth that’s circulating in the Church. It is old yet ever-new. I’m sure you’ve heard it. It goes something like this:
“Conservatives and liberals in the Church need to respect each other, because they each get something right. Conservatives are more focused on abortion and protecting the sanctity of marriage and sexuality, which is good, but liberals are more focused on helping the poor and protecting the environment, which is also good. Everyone brings something to the table, and if they would just stop building walls and start building bridges, they could come together and recognize what the other side offers. That way they’ll help a lot more people.”
That’s the gentler way of putting it. There’s a more sarcastic way of putting it from the people who don’t even pretend not to be liberals, which essentially goes like this:
“Conservatives have a two-track mind. The only issues they ever talk about are abortion and gay marriage. They don’t care about starving children and the environment. How ironic that they claim to be pro-life! We’re the ones who really care about people (plus we get brownie points for being green).” Continue reading
An exchange with frequent commentator John Situmbeko in my post on Michael Buble (which has gotten an inordinate number of hits since I first posted it), seemed interesting enough for me to make it a post unto itself.
John commented agreeing with my points and saying that he had been unimpressed by a Buble TV special with profanity in the bloopers. He then opined, “What then can be advised to Christians that are fans of such artists, despite knowing the character of the artist? I’d rather stay away from his music, after all it is not produced with me a Christian as the customer in mind.”
I replied that I myself enjoy lots of music by non-Christians but that I wouldn’t necessarily attend a concert by one of my favorite secular musicians (although in the massively unlikely event that Paul Simon ever comes within a 500-mile radius of “my little town,” I am so already there). Upon reflection, perhaps I would revise that statement to say that I do draw a distinction between people whose character clashes with the marketing image they project and people who have never claimed to be squeaky-clean in the first place. Buble seems to me like he falls into the former category. The fact that people bring young kids to his concerts says something about the image he projects. As I discussed in my post, I think that’s deceptive given the language he’s felt free to use at concerts and in taped shows (my uncle and his wife told me they checked out a DVD from the library and were turned off by his off-color humor). For that reason, I am actually disinclined to get interested in his music. So it’s really Buble’s hypocrisy that turns me off, not the fact that he’s secular per se.
But John went on to ask a further provocative and interesting question in this longer reply: Which is better/worse to listen to—an openly heathen artist who makes good but secular music, or a Christian artist who continues to sing Christian music while living in sin? Continue reading
Well, I’m sure by now many of you have heard of Dan Cathy’s friendship with Shane Windmeyer, leading gay activist opponent of Chick-Fil-A. Windmeyer contributes to the Gay Voices corner of the Huffington Post and recently published a piece providing the details of the surprising relationship. Many Christian evangelicals have referred positively to this article and praised Cathy’s decision to cultivate this friendship. The consensus has been that this is a positive, healthy thing that will help “heal division” and further lay to rest the caricature of Christians as “hateful” towards the gay community. Even conservative evangelicals like Denny Burk are reacting this way.
As usual, I’m going to be the lone dissenter. But I don’t want to downplay the significance of this story. On the contrary, I agree that it’s significant. But I disagree regarding how we, as Christians in the trenches of the culture wars, should receive it. Continue reading
On this, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I thought it fitting to share this jaw-droppingly powerful speech from John Piper, delivered shortly after Barack Obama’s first inauguration. His words are still ringing four years later: