Friday, December 2, 2016

Church Sign of the Week (12/2/16)

These church staffers know a portion of their demographic very well.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Herald Christ this Holiday Season, Don't Foist Him

Burk Parsons tweeted something a while back that prompts me to revisit the new perennial Christmas topic in the evangelical subculture—taking (or not taking) offense when people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Parsons put it this way:

Saying in a corrective tone “Merry Christmas” in response to a store clerk’s mandated “Happy Holidays” greeting is not a form of evangelism.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Problem with Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs

Sometimes I learn a lot from conversations I was never intended to hear.

This happened once as I was stopping by my local community bookstore. It’s a small, quiet store, so it was impossible not to eavesdrop as I heard a young man tell his friend how much he hated Christmas. To be honest, the more he talked, the more I understood his point. This man wasn’t talking about the hustle and bustle of the holidays, or about the stresses of family meals or all the things people tend to complain about. What he hated was the music.

This guy started by lampooning one pop singer’s Christmas album, and I found myself smiling in agreement on how awful it is. But then he went on to say that he hated Christmas music across the board. That’s when I started to feel as though I might be in the presence of the Grinch. But then this man explained why he found the music so bad. It wasn’t just that it was cloying. It’s that it was boring.

“Christmas is boring because there’s no narrative tension,” he said. “It’s like reading a book with no conflict.”

Now he had my attention.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Truth or Post-Truth?

Anyone who spends time in the world of teenagers and student ministry knows that their “language” changes over time. Words and phrases come in and out of vogue. New phrases get coined and then quickly fall out of favor. (Can I get an amen from anyone who said a word only to find out it “was so last year?”) For example, will we still be calling things “dumpsterfires” in 2020?

Another term that has popped onto the radar recently is “post-truth.” You may have seen the news that Oxford Dictionaries announced “post-truth” as 2016’s Word of the Year. You may also be thinking – what the heck does this word even mean? And while your own kids or students may not be using it, you might want to. “Post” doesn’t mean like the fence, or the old basketball position – it means “after,” like “after the truth mattered or was relevant.”

As Oxford defined it, “post-truth” means “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, whether we think or feel or want something to be “true” now matters more than whether it is true … in objective reality. You can easily relate it to the fake news phenomenon, or wishful thinking, or the echo chambers we gravitate toward online.

You can read the rest.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some History of Advent

The earliest dating of Advent is impossible to determine. The start of Easter in Christian history is far more obviously tied to Passover (albeit with different methods for dating), and Christmas came to be associated with the birth of Christ as a result of it falling during the December Solstice, the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The coming of the Light of the World made a lot of sense in so much darkness. Within a few centuries of church history, both Easter and Christmas took on special meaning due to their use in commemorating the life of Jesus.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Not All Turkey and Football

The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony weren’t the first Europeans to settle in North America, nor were they the first permanent English colonists. But because of our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, and our hazy images of their 1621 meal with Native Americans, the Pilgrims have become the emblematic colonists in America’s national memory. Although modern Thanksgiving has become largely non-religious — focused more on food, family, and football than explicitly thanking God — the Pilgrims’ experience reveals a compelling religious aspect of our country’s roots.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Case for Christian Magnanimity

In case you hadn’t heard, Mike Pence went to see Hamilton last week, and it turns out that the people who star in Hamilton and buy tickets for Hamilton are not a natural constituency for Donald Trump. What this says about Broadway and Main Street, or Red States and Blue States I’ll leave for others to dissect. And whether lecturing the Vice President-Elect was an act of courageous resistance or blinkered rudeness is not what this post is about.
Instead, I want to talk about an old fashioned word: magnanimity.
What is magnanimity? Merriam-Webster defines it as “loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity.”
You can read the rest.