Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sterling and the Book of Numbers

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
What would God say to Don Sterling about his racist rant?
He might tell Don the same thing he told Aaron and Miriam when they spewed hatred and insubordination toward Moses. Essentially God announced, “If you like lighter skin, try leprosy!”
You can read the rest here. HT: Chad Hovind

Monday, April 28, 2014

"That Jew Died For You"

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

While at the Q Conference this past week, I was able to meet a director for Jews for Jesus, who recently produced a provocative video. I'll let the video and the website speak for themselves.

You can access the video and all the information about it here.

You can read more about Jews for Jesus here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Q Conference 2014

I haven't been able to blog or tweet much at all during the weekend of Resurrection Sunday. My online absence during Holy Week is probably going to be an annual thing. I'm too busy celebrating my Risen Savior with my church!

And yet I'm typing this post to let you know it's going to be yet another week before I start blogging again.

Last spring, I wrote about my upcoming attendance to the annual Q Conference in Los Angeles. This year, it's in Nashville. I'll land in Music City on Tuesday and won't be back home until Saturday. I'm very much looking forward to the "Nashville twist" to the conference, namely learning how my musical training could be used in creative ways to bring the Gospel and impact communities. Of course, I'm also looking forward to some "Southern hospitality."

I haven't been to Nashville in 10 years. In 2004, I spent the summer as an unpaid intern in a jingle shop. I was able to learn more about the music business and the rich artistic/musical culture (not just country music, mind you!) that is the Nashville area. Much different than the network TV show I don't even watch. 

So, I may not be blogging, but I will be tweeting pics and photos of my experiences. 

Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Two Cents on the Unsettling History of Handel's "Messiah"

Michael Marissen, a Calvin College and Brandeis University graduate, and an author/professor of music and religion, has some qualms with the origins of Handel's Messiah, namely that the context of its creation (and, therefore, its content and delivery) smacks of Christian triumphalism over Judaism.

This controversial short-form essay was originally released in the spring of 2007, and it quickly garnered heated discussions (with some good rebuttals) at a panel later that month, which the New York Times covers here. It seems any doubts or constructive criticism relayed to Marissen did not deter him, as he plans to release the monograph, using some of the same arguably refuted theses, as he recently wrote in the Huffington Post.

His arguments are musical (that Handel chose certain musical elements when putting Scripture about Israel to music), lyrical (that the librettist Charles Jennens chose certain Scriptural passages for emphasis) and, inevitably, theological (general interpretation of certain passages of Scripture, Marissen also assumes limited atonement). It's a complicated debate involving history, theology and composer intent, and I'm not sure that I can jump into this arena of musical apologetics.

As a pastor who studied theology and music composition, and as someone who has had some experience studying and singing Handel's over-played Messiah in very "Christian contexts," I can personally say the notion of Christian triumphalism over Judaism never crossed my mind.

This was true during the movement of Messiah that quotes Psalm 22:8 (I went on to write an orchestral work on Psalm 22). In the context of Jesus being beaten before his crucifixion, unlike what Marissen argues, I only thought of myself and my sinful being as the "enemy," torturing Jesus and hauling him toward that cross. And when I sing the seemingly culminating movements of the Messiah (Behold the Lamb of God, Hallelujah, Worthy is the Lamb), I celebrate Christ's victory over my sin and his authority over all things, especially death. Also, given the charity and worship that surrounded Messiah's conception, I highly doubt Scripture (which referred to death and sin of all humanity as the enemy) was twisted to make what Marissen calls an "us-vs.-them" mentality. It's certainly not the case now, where I've seen Messiah performed.

Because an "us-vs.-them" mentality is not what Easter (or Christmas) is really about.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Checking Your Hymns at the Door?

Some interesting points here by Kevin DeYoung:

Can we only sing songs in church written by solid evangelical Christians? I wouldn’t say that. We may not know the precise theological convictions of some ancient hymn writers and, no doubt, popular tunes can come from a wide array of sources. But I question whether we should sing songs meaning something with the words that the author did not mean.

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Statue of "Homeless Jesus"

This is a bit of a conversation-starter in the arena of theology and the arts. A statue of a homeless Jesus was set up recently in a wealthy northern suburb of Charlotte. The reaction has been mixed, but mostly positive.

While the work of the cross is central to Jesus's time spent on earth, we have to remember that it's not the only way he humbled himself (Luke 9:58, Phil. 2:5-11). As Christians, we worship a sovereign God who humbled himself to the state a homeless commoner, only speaking Truth and serving others. It's a rightfully humbling thing to keep in mind this week.

Image from John Burnett/NPR. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Millennials, Pluralism and the Internet

Some very insightful cultural analysis here

Critics of the millennial generation, of which I am a member, consistently use terms like “apathetic,” “lazy” and “narcissistic” to explain our tendency to be less civically and politically engaged. But what these critics seem to be missing is that many millennials are plagued not so much by apathy as by indecision. And it’s not surprising: Pluralism has been a large influence on our upbringing. While we applaud pluralism’s benefits, widespread enthusiasm has overwhelmed desperately needed criticism of its side effects.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'Captain America 2' Reviewed: Superhero Meets Postmodernism

I'll have to see 'Thor 2' to stay in the sequence of Marvel's Avengers series, but I'm really intrigued about the reviews of the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Some reviews have mentioned it to be a discussion-starter on ethics and justice. Two reviews below:



What are your thoughts? (Remember, I haven't seen the movie yet, so please keep the discussion spoiler-free).

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's Wrong With Producing a "Worship Experience"?

Some interesting points in this conversation about the philosophy of corporate worship leadership and the arts.
Marshall Shelley: So how does all this “experience providing” apply to the church?
Gilmore: It doesn’t. When the church gets into the business of staging experiences, that quickly becomes idolatry.
Marshall Shelley: I’m stunned. So you don’t encourage churches to use your elements of marketable experiences to create attractive experiences for their attenders?
Gilmore: No. The organized church should never try to stage a God experience.
Kevin Miller: When people come to church, don’t they expect an experience of some kind? Consumers approach the worship service with the same mindset as they do a purchase.
Gilmore: Increasingly you find people talking about the worship experience rather than the worship service. That reflects what’s happening in the outside world. I’m dismayed to see churches abandon the means of grace that God ordains simply to conform to the patterns of the world.
Kevin Miller: So what happens in church? Are people getting a service, because they’re helped to do something they couldn’t do on their own, that is, get closer to God? Or are they getting an experience, the encounter with God through worship?
Gilmore: The word “getting” is, I think, the problem with contemporary Christianity. God is the audience of worship. What you get is, quite frankly, irrelevant as a starting point.
Eric Reed: But people, especially unchurched people, don’t perceive it that way. They’re expecting some return.
Gilmore: They come that way at first: “Give me, feed me, make me feel good.” But they should be led to say, “Hey, this is not about me, God. Worship is to glorify you.”
Kevin Miller: But if my mission is to reach a consumerist culture—if I’m going to get a hearing for my message—then I’m going to have to provide something that the consumer considers of value.
Gilmore: That is the argument. But the only thing of value the church has to offer is the gospel. I believe that one result of the emerging Experience Economy will be a longing for authenticity. To the extent that the church stages worldly experiences, it will lose its effectiveness.
You can read more about the background of this conversation here

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Fun: A Drummer's Restroom

Seriously, why couldn't Kohler think of something like this?

Have a good weekend, everybody!

HT: Classic Rock 101, a radio station in Vancouver.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Come, Weary Souls, with Sin Distressed

Some good lyrics, courtesy of the TGCWorship Blog.
Come, weary souls, with sin distressed,
Come and accept the promised rest;
The gospel’s gracious call obey,
And cast your gloomy fears away.
Oppressed with guilt (a painful load),
O come and spread your woes abroad,
Divine compassion, mighty love,
Will all the painful load remove.
Here mercy’s boundless ocean flows,
To cleanse your guilt, and heal your woes;
Pardon, and life, and endless peace;
How rich the gift, how free the grace!
Dear Saviour, let thy powerful love
Confirm our faith, our fears remove;
Forgiveness shed through every breast,
And guide us to eternal rest.
                                     - Anne Steele, 1760

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Only in Church

Some light cheer for today from Jon Acuff:

Only in church can you do, for example, these things:

1. Ask a stranger to scoot in to the middle.

2. Hug people you don't really know.

3. Shout phrases of encouragement when someone says something good.

Read here for the explanations. Can you name any others?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Changing Loyalties to Green and Gold

For almost four years, I've lived an hour away from Lambeau Field, resisting the overwhelming cult of Packerdom. My Minnesota Vikings fanhood can be traced back to my father's childhood in Duluth, when he endured the dominant Lombardi era.

Yet I find it frustrating that the Vikings continue to collapse on themselves and rebuild, it seems almost every three years. All the while, the Packers have long landed themselves a future HOF quarterback and continue to build and reload with good players.

Along with all the inconvenience, loneliness and felt abandonment that comes with being a Vikings fan in a Packer world, I've decided today to retire my Vikings fanhood and give my loyalty instead to the Green Bay Packers.  I'll have to find a place to put all my Vikings gear, but it shouldn't be hard to find Packers gear around here.

Thanks for your patience with me, local Packer fans. I'm now with you!