Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Fun: Cubs Fan Pessimism

From The Onion . . .

CHICAGO—Stressing that “it’s only April” and that “there’s a lot of baseball still to play,” Cubs fans throughout Chicago told reporters Thursday that they remain cautiously optimistic about their World Series chances after pitcher Jake Arrieta threw his eighth no-hitter of the season, with the team scoring over 30 runs for the 12th straight game. “The Cubs have started really well, and Kris Bryant already has 38 home runs on the year, but it won’t matter unless they can play like this in October,” said longtime fan Spencer Palmer, noting that while he is happy with their performances, he isn’t getting ahead of himself after the Cubs’ five-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals by a combined score of 168-0, which included seven different batters hitting for the cycle. “Arrieta’s thrown six perfect games in his last 10 starts, but if he gets hurt, we really just have Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel, and they’ve only thrown five no-hitters between them all season. If everyone can stay healthy and maintain their average of two triple plays per game, I think they’ll have a great shot in the playoffs. But we’ll see.” At press time, Palmer had reportedly lost all faith in the Cubs’ hopes for a championship after watching right fielder Jason Heyward strike out for the first time all season.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

True Masculinity and Feeling Other

My adolescence was a social nightmare. I grew up in the rural South but didn’t fit the mold of Southern masculinity in the slightest. Sports piqued no interest in me; roughhousing made me nervous; slaying innocent animals seemed cruel and gross. Of course I never expressed such blasphemies—I wasn’t stupid! But I was everything opposite of what my Duck Dynasty-like culture insisted I should be. I was sensitive. I liked to read. I liked to draw. I liked to journal. I wasn’t your mud ridin’, hog huntin’ kind of boy.

The nightmare cranked up to a Freddy Krueger level of horror when I realized I was attracted to the same sex. While my male peers were crushing on girls, I was crushing on them. I didn’t utter the word “gay” to describe myself until I was 19 years old, and no one prior to that time knew about my so-called sexual orientation. But I knew. I was painfully aware of how abnormal, unmanly, distorted, and screwed up I was, which made relating to other guys . . . well, I just didn’t relate to them.
You could see how this might make life a little scary for me.

Feeling Other

I really thought whatever god was responsible for creating me must have been a little drunk when he pieced me together. I never felt like a woman, nor did I want to be one, but I also didn’t feel like a man. I felt other, which made me feel inferior to other males and uncomfortable around them. I mean, sure, I had guy friends. But those friendships were a forgery. Those guys didn’t know the person I really was inside; they only knew the fake Matt—the Matt who played football, partied, and dated girls just to be perceived as normal. The real Matt Moore, the one I concealed from their sight, was constantly filled with fear and anxiety in their company since I didn’t believe I measured up to their standard of manliness. I felt less than what I was supposed to be. Incomplete. Distorted. Other.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Smugness of American Liberalism

Youch. This Vox article is long. I don't agree with everything it says, but it's bold.

There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.

In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.

It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.

The smug style is a psychological reaction to a profound shift in American political demography.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Jewish Intellectual Who Predicted America’s Social Collapse

Freud’s exploration of neurosis was really an exploration of authority, as Western man was realizing the idea of divine authority is an illusion. God doesn’t exist; therefore, he isn’t a legitimate authority. Freud recognized that as belief in God faded, psychological neuroses multiplied. Instead of correcting this by pointing persons back to God, however, Freud sought to heal by teaching his patients to accept this loss of authority as a positive development.
Thus the therapeutic culture was born. In place of theology, Freud and his progeny left us with sociology. [Philip] Rieff warned that the tradeoff would not be a fruitful one.
You can read the rest.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Church Sign This Week

A church sign I photographed made it into Ed Stetzer's weekly trio!

Let's have a caption contest.

You can see the post.

HT: Ed Stetzer

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

MacBeth and Humility

HT: John Mark N. Reynolds

God exalts the humble and Satan tempts us with the kingdoms of this world. American self-help or business books may not like this truth, but true it is nonetheless. We are eternal beings and striving, coveting, lusting after place and position will destroy us. In this Presidential year, when we are apt to judge the candidates, perhaps we should turn the light of truth on ourselves.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sitting in the Church's "Broken" Section?

Powerful testimony.

Suffering can be unspeakably isolating. It can feel pointless and drive us toward depression. Depression, in turn, can drive us toward despair. And despair often keeps us from corporate worship.

Two years after my husband’s passing, the merciless cascade of grief tempted me to skip church. One Sunday I almost didn’t go because I couldn’t stop crying. Then I remembered it was communion Sunday, something my pastor called a means of grace.

The possibility of grace nagged at me until I got out of bed and looked in the mirror. My swollen eyelids told me I could use all the grace I could get. I put on little concealer, a clean shirt, a whole lot of hairspray, and went to church, 10 minutes late.

Where do unhealthy people sit?     

I stood at the entrance scanning the inside of the sanctuary. Slipping into the service proved harder than I thought. Every pew filled, a symptom of a healthy church. Where do the unhealthy sit? A deacon smiled and pointed me to the balcony.

You can read the rest.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Does the Bible Support Slavery?

In the age of 140 character arguments and memes, we have sometimes lost the ability to structure a coherent argument to argue for any particular ideological position, and, instead, simply throw out short pithy statements to defend our particular perspectives. Though I am, by no means, arguing that Christians are not also guilty of this, one of the groups that I most-often see utilizing short and un-researched arguments in memes, tweets, etc. are atheists. These misconceptions are then popularized, and brought up in casual conversations with opponents of the Christian faith. I’m often speaking to someone about Biblical morality when they throw out the objection, “but the Bible supports slavery,” as if this somehow negates Biblical morality altogether. Of course, if I asked these same people for a particular text which teaches this, they would usually be unable to do so. They’re just repeating something they saw on a meme, or heard from some talking head said on the history channel (which, remember, is also the channel that shows “Ancient Aliens”).

You can read the rest.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Churches of Marijuana?

Let the puns begin. Maybe some song titles?

"Lord, I Lift Your Name While High"

"Mary Jane, You Know?"

I think these churches may have really gone to pot.

Any others?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Talk to Terrorists

Sunday night at church I met a man who is a former missionary in Muslim countries and is now living in Grand Rapids. He teaches math at our community college and remains in contact with his indigenous brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, and Mali.

He said several of his Christian friends have been killed by ISIS, but that others immediately step forward and take their place. He mentioned Benjamin Tessougue, a Malian who broadcast this message over the radio after receiving his second death threat from ISIS (If you have read Tertullian’s Apology [197], you will recognize a similar defiant love in Benjamin’s message). This broadcast seems to have impressed the ISIS members, and Benjamin believes they are now protecting his life. I post it here to encourage us to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and to remind us how to be a faithful presence in our culture.
You can read the message.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

To Be A Culture-Changing Christian

Evangelical Christians are especially attuned to talk of changing culture. But what culture is, and just how it changes, is often less clear. Books such as Andy Crouch’s Culture Making and James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World should be required reading for any Christian making plans to change culture. Both books show that culture, or “what human beings make of the world,” in Crouch’s words, is extraordinarily complex, and not susceptible to quick change, especially through politics.
We can certainly point to Christian politicians who have helped change culture in explicitly Christian ways. The great abolitionist William Wilberforce is an excellent example. But think over the past century: many of the culture-changing Christians that jump immediately to mind have not been directly engaged with politics.
You can read the rest.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Art Gallery About Wheaton College's Abolitionism

Bev Horne
Your past may be stained, but your future is untouched.

It's a theme that emanates throughout a newly launched art exhibit at Wheaton College called "Second Line: The Art of Social Justice."

The exhibit features linoleum cut prints by artist Steve Prince, a New Orleans native who drew inspiration from the "dirge" and "second line" heard at jazz funerals in his city.

"The dirge is the slow, mournful tune that's played for someone that's passed away," he said. "The musicians will purposefully make music that is very slow, to draw the audience to feel a sense of sorrow, to feel a sense of hurt, to feel a sense of pain."

The Wheaton College community has publicly gone through many of those emotions in recent months in response to former political science professor Larycia Hawkins being placed on leave after saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Hawkins and the evangelical school came to a confidential agreement in February under which they parted ways.

Now, a new leaf is being turned on campus, one that aligns well with Prince's work and his interpretation of the "second line."

You can read the rest.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Will Be Remembered

When we look at the “news” we are looking at the parts of the story that history will most often forget. Nobody much recalls who was the most popular court celebrity in the days of Caesar Augustus, but everyone celebrates what happened to a Jewish girl on the first Christmas Day. Tiberius made some important decisions, but the bad choices by his procurator, Pontius Pilate, are remembered more.
It is easy to imagine this happening right now, some place, and our missing it for the ephemera of politics, sports, and celebrity.
Right now somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa there is a young woman deciding to follow Jesus. Her testimony will change millions and God will remember her name. We will not read about her tomorrow, but God is at work and history will remember her name.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I Am Pastor Kanye West

“I am the greatest living artist.”

“I have created the greatest album ever made.”
“Who will invest one billion dollars in my ideas?”
Most likely, you’ll recognize these three quotes from Kanye West’s Twitter feed that exploded into the social media stratosphere a few weeks ago. For anyone even moderately familiar with Kanye’s prior antics, this only confirmed what most of us already knew about his Mount Everest-sized ego. Kanye does what Kanye does best, which is being Kanye.

And yet, all my initial annoyance and disgust soon came grinding to a halt when I realized the horror of my own heart: Kanye was merely saying everything I believe about myself. And let me prove it by telling you how difficult my Kanye-sized ego made writing that last sentence.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Everyone Opposed to My Point of View is in the Pay of Evil

Nobody is that right or has perfect motives for decisions. The poor are as wicked as the elite as any Revolution shows. The “right” can do as much damage as the “wrong.”
I have some friends who oppose my view of marriage and of vice. They are no more in the pay of evil than the rest of us though I think their opinion is very wrong. They have a wicked view, but in fact are otherwise decent. Nothing justifies the harm sin does, but my sin counts too.
You can read the rest.

Monday, April 4, 2016

It's Still Easter(tide)

The somber season of Lent seems to last forever (40 days, not counting the six Sundays), but the joyful season of Easter lasts even longer (49 days). Eastertide, or the Easter Season, commemorates the 40 days that the risen Christ remained on earth:
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
Then comes His ascension, also considered part of Easter, and a total of nine more days when He is at the right hand of the Father.  The fiftieth day after His resurrection is Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon His Church, beginning a new season, the time of the Church.  
I hadn’t realized that Jesus remained so long after His resurrection from the dead, appearing to His disciples quite often and continuing to teach them.
And it’s fitting that the time of joy should be longer than the time of sorrow.
I suppose the Lenten disciplines, though, are easier to keep and to remember.  We need disciplines of joy too.
At any rate, have a blessed continuing Easter!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Babylon Bee on Christian Movies

In case you missed it, there's a new website of Christian satire journalism: The Babylon Bee. Below is a title and excerpt from my favorite article so far: 

Hollywood Announces Plans To Create Even More Inaccurate, Terrible Bible Movies

Fresh off recent blockbusters such as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, multiple Hollywood studios confirmed Thursday that they are looking forward to creating even more terrible Christian movies featuring wild inaccuracies and an offensive departure from the truth as presented in the Bible.

You can read the rest.