December 13, 2018

Saturday Ramblings, February 1, 2014

This week Denmark became the first country to outlaw circumcision, with the main group of physicians labeling it “mutilation”.  Israel is not pleased, and some there argue that anti-Semitism underlies the new law. First Things gives a thoughtful take on it.

Relevant Magazine gave us a list of 5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave a Church. What are they?  1. I’m not being fed. 2. It’s getting too big.  3. I don’t agree with everything being preached. 4. My needs aren’t being met. 5. Unresolved conflict. Do you agree?  And what are some good reasons for leaving a church?

The author of the above article had an interesting rationale under number 3: “You know what? Neither do I and I’m the pastor. As such I fully reserve the right to disagree with myself. And every now and then I do exactly that. Why? Because I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m asking questions. And my hope is that those I pastor are doing likewise.”  I’m not quite sure what to make of this. How does one disagree with himself?

Apparently the NSA and its British counterpart have been using Angry Birds and other smart phone games to spy on you.  Is nothing sacred?

President Obama gave his State of the Union speech this week.  President Obama mentioned the Almighty three times. Not surprisingly, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington mentioned God four times in her republican response. Alas, in his Tea Party response, Utah Sen. Mike Lee mentioned God only once (unless you also count his Obamacare = Godzilla reference).

It’s not too early for a 2016 presidential primary poll, is it? Public Policy Polling has Mike Huckabee in the lead in the Republican primary race for 2016. He’s at 16% to 14% for Jeb Bush, 13% for Chris Christie, 11% for Rand Paul, 8% each for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, 6% for Scott Walker, and 5% for Bobby Jindal. On the Democratic side, Hillary reigns at 67%.  Do you have a favorite yet?

A Cambridge historian has created a flow chart guide for  when medieval Christian men were allowed to have sex. Hint: its not often.

Channel surfing Sunday night, I happened upon the Grammy awards.  I didn’t realize it was the Grammy awards at first, however.  Madonna-white-grammys-2014-683x1024All I saw was Madonna dressed up like a cheesy cowgirl. I flipped the channel immediately (my Madonna threshold being  about 3 seconds per decade), so did not realize till later that the song  was part of a mass wedding.  Yes, you read this right.  The Grammys apparently decided, “You know what we need?  We need to act a bit more like a Korean Cult.  That’s what we need”.  So 33 couples (including the obligatory same-sex couples) got hitched by Queen Latifah while Madonna and Macklemore played troubadours.  So many questions:

  • Does being queen give you the automatic right to marry people?
  • Isn’t having Madonna sing at your wedding kinda like having Dr. Kevorkian deliver your baby?
  • If  you  get married at the Grammys, can you get divorced at the Country Music Awards?

The Atlantic was not impressed: “But the mass marriage … wasn’t really for the people getting hitched. They were props. It wasn’t really for gay rights either….The main reason for the nuptials, it seemed, was to give the musicians on stage and recording-academy members a chance to announce themselves as good people.”

More on the Grammys.  Beyonce caught flak for spreading her legs (while wearing a g-string) over a chair, while Jay-z classily crooned, “We sex again in the morning, your breasteses is my breakfast.”  Meanwhile Katy Perry, thinking she was Madonna, tried to be a witch (using her broomstick as a stripper’s pole).  Still not depressed enough? These lyrics  won the Grammy for the best gospel song. And these lyrics took the prize for the best Contemporary Christian song.

The Marlboro Man has died. From lung disease. Or maybe he watched the Grammys.

It only takes 30 seconds and a red sweatshirt to own Deepak.

pope-peace-dovesWhat a beautiful ceremony:  Pope Francis invited two children to join him on his balcony, where they released two doves intended to symbolize world peace.  The doves were immediately attacked by a gull and a crow. I’m not sure what they symbolized.

More Pope news.  Francis became the first pope to grace the cover of Rolling Stone this week.

Still more Pope news. Did you know he is also a superhero (at least to some)?article-2547919-1B0A02E400000578-585_634x439

And some previous Pope news: Thieves have stolen a vial of blood from Pope John Paul II, and Italian authorities are speculating the thieves want to use it for Satanic rituals. In a seperate incident, theives stole a relic (a cloth stained with his blood) of the same Pope.

Did you know that Roman Catholic church runs 90 percent of the primary schools in Ireland?  Some people are trying to change that.

You may have missed it, but a new religion has started:”Yeezianity,”  the worship of Kanye West.  No, I am not kidding.  The Daily Mail  interviewed the founder, Brian Liebman, 23, of Westchester, N.Y.  Liebman believes West is a “divine being sent by God to usher in a new age of humanity…The idea of becoming like Jesus is intimidating, it is blinding. His perfection is so unbelievable, like looking at the sun. But Yeezus [West] is attainable. People can be like that, so Yeezus, I believe, is a stepping stone to Jesus. In other words, Yeezus is a realistic current day model of Jesus.”  Almost 1,000 people have claimed on Liebman’s website to be “Ye’ciples”.

A history professor at Houston Baptist University argues that Disney’s Frozen is “a better allegory for the Christian gospel than C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”. I haven’t seen the movie.  Your thoughts?

A good part of the country has continued to have near-record lows.  They even got a little ice in Texas.  The newscasters there helpfully gave their viewers tips on how to deal with frosty windows:h2D2AC338

The Guardian has an interesting take on Predestination and Grand Theft Auto: “Oh how John Calvin would … love the illustrative potential of GTA. “Wake up!” I imagine him shouting. You are not creating this world. It has been created for you by unseen designers working in Dundee. And it doesn’t give you real agency. Yes, to some extent you can do what you like, but you cannot be who you like. You are cast as a gangster. You can hijack cars, shoot the police and pick up strippers in bars. But you will always be a gangster. That is predetermined. It only gives you the illusion of agency.”

A Washington Post article argues that sports are replacing religion in some ways. “According to a 2012 survey by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University, 20 percent of Americans “claimed they had no religious preference,” compared with an unaffiliated population of 8 percent in 1990…Sports are on the opposite trajectory. Fifty years ago, just three in 10 Americans considered themselves sports fans. By 2012, that proportion exceeded six in 10…Modern sports stadiums function much like great cathedrals once did, bringing communities together and focusing their collective energy…In short, sports are succeeding by the measures that have traditionally defined success for religious institutions: regularly immersing people in a transcendent experience and keeping them ardently committed over the long term.” In Peyton we trust.

A group called American Athiests has bought a billboard ad next to Metlife Stadium (venue of the Superbowl).  It’s message: Hail Marys only work in football. Meanwhile one of the ads at the superbowl will be a trailer for new upcoming Noah movie.

In Israel, there is much concern over the love life of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair.  The reason: his Norweigen, non-Jewish girlfriend.   The prime minister’s brother in law told a radio audience, “Yair is spitting on the graves of his grandmother and grandfather who loved him so much and raised him.”

My daughter is away at Purdue.  She thought it would be funny to send me this link to a collection of screenshots.  I’m just glad she didn’t try the gag.

Birthdays this week include Alan Alda (78; real name- Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo), Saint Thomas Aquinas, Elijah Wood (33), Friedrich von Schelling, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lewis Carroll, General Douglas MacArthur, and Wayne Gretzky (53).

Finally, I know many of you have probably seen this, but it will be our last NFL video for a long time:

Comments

  1. Huck: Seems like a decent guy – more decent than many other candidates – but I just don’t think he can win. Plus I heard he was using his supporter email lists for spam. I’ll vote for Gary Johnson if he runs again. (He probably can’t win either 🙁 )

    Grammies: Yes, I guess when you have someone going through the performance frame by frame it can get a bit more scandalous. I liked the last verse of the Gospel song. I wonder how the CCM song would sound to someone with a terminal diagnosis. Maybe I just don’t have enough “T Mac” in the background.

    Deepak: I think the word you want is “pwn”

    5 reasons: Not sure if I agree with the reasoning for #1 (not being fed). Even if I live in an age when I access all the great church thinkers and preachers that is no excuse for the church to do a bad job at teaching. I think I’ll use that reasoning to say “I’ll just serve during the week but sleep in on Sunday… look, St. Augustine on my Kindle!”

    Frozen: It is a good movie. But I think using it as an allegory for the Gospel is… reaching. A bit. Although it is probably a better allegory for the Christian Gospel than “Fireproof”. I’ll just assert that even though I haven’t seen it…

    Happy Saturday, iMonkers!

  2. Khazidhea says:

    While I didn’t pick up on it while watching (I just sat back and enjoyed Frozen on its own merits) , I guess there could be a good case for Christian allegory with Frozen, though I prefer this article/analysis http://rebootchristianity.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-best-theological-movie-in-years.html

    • Khazidhea says:

      Note, some spoilers in that link, probably be better to watch the movie first before reading.

    • And conservatives accuse Frozen of promoting homosexuality. Cultural war without end.

      • Actually, this one seems to be a “progressive” point, attempting to read into a VERY short cutaway and the fact that Princess Elsa doesn’t seem interested in chasing after boys.

        On that latter point — if that’s what causes suspicion, women have a far bigger hill to climb towards understanding and respect than any of us expected.

      • It doesn’t help that there are a bunch of loud “social justice” types online claiming the exact same thing about it, but as a positive. People are convinced there’s a gay couple with surrogate kids in some one second snippet, and they’re squealing with glee about it. And then there are some who are convinced that Elsa is gay, or, that at the very least, her condition can only be seen as a metaphor for gayness. And again, they see this as a positive and are being very aggressive about it, calling people homophobes if they do NOT agree that the movie is about gayness in any way.

  3. Daniel, I like your Ramblings. Good stuff. However, I think you’re a bit misleading in your statement, “A history professor…argues that Disney’s Frozen is ‘a better allegory for the Christian gospel than C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’.” What he says is, ” I could probably write a post about how Frozen is a better allegory…” but then he never mentions Lewis or any of the Chronicles of Narnia again, so really he doesn’t argue that at all. A more approapriate statement would be “A history professor…compares Frozen to Dante’s Inferno.” Maybe not as sensational as your lead-in, but certainly more truthful.

    Peace.

  4. Good thing I only have to justify my choices about which church I attend to God, not Relevant Magazine’s editors.

    I don’t get how evangelicals can think there’s a bad reason to leave a church. If no one church is The One Church, then why does it matter? Go where you feel most comfortable!

    • And for what reason would you leave the Roman Catholic Church, or the Eastern Orthodox Church, and go over to the Eastern Orthodox Church, or Roman Catholic Church, each of which make claims about having a unique status among the different churches (which you facilely translate into the term “The One Church”)? It’s not as if either church doesn’t make historically compelling claims to the same forms of authority and antiquity.

      I guess you would have to come to the determination that the other is actually The One Church, by whatever set of criteria you thought was appropriate, and make the big move. Or you could give up the idea that there is one definitely identifiable monolithic institutional embodiment of The One Church, and accept that your decisions, even bout where the church truly resides, are limited and conditioned by your own biases and ignorance of many of the facts. In that case, the unity of the Church might seem more elusive but nevertheless real, not discerned in any one institution or identified by own fallible efforts to isolate and define it, but made real and present by the grace of God working beyond and despite our own limitations and ignorance.

      But I think that you are incorrect if you think that you are not even at this moment making a default choice between at least two very live and compelling options.

      • I see what you’re getting at, but is the body of Christ dependent on a given tradition’s exclusivity, or not? I’m putting all my money on “not.”

        • I’m saying that it’s not dependent on exclusivity, in response to the implication in Kathe’s comment that it is so dependent.

          • OK, but… I didn’t get that from her comment, so I’m kinda confused!

          • Perhaps I incorrectly inferred from Kathe’s comments that she is Roman Catholic or Orthodox, and that her comment is an implied criticism of Protestants who do not belong to the The One Church, and might as well just use their comfort level to determine church membership, since they have no objective criteria to do so.

            Am I reading too much into the comment?

          • Yeah you’re reading too much into my comment.

            Though isn’t it a legitimate question, if there’s more than one church that is, so to speak, “good enough,” why should a person NOT be able to choose whichever of those makes them feel the best or most satisfied? Why should there be a list of “bad reasons to live one particular church for another particular church” if both those churches are equally “good enough”? If you’re not, in fact, leaving Truth for a lie, what difference DOES it make?

          • Kathe,

            I apologize for misinterpreting, or over-interpreting, your comment.

            Well, people are able to choose a church home based on comfort alone, if that’s their inclination. If they’re like me, they might find comfort a very hard thing to pin down, since it can be uncomfortable to stay, but even more uncomfortable to leave, and certainly uncomfortable to acclimate to something new, including a new church home.

            Aside from that, just because different churches may be adequate doesn’t mean that all are equally faithful, or that some aren’t in fact inadequate. The question of whether the Truth, that is, Jesus Christ, can be found adequately embodied in the communal life of a particular church home is really the central issue. But this question is not one that can be asked and answered once and for all, since the adequacy of any particular church in regard to the question of whether it embodies the life of Jesus Christ in community may, and often does, change.

            Add to all this the fact that even where there is a level of discomfort, there may also be a measure of loyalty both to institutions and to human relationships, since this too is a facet of the presence of Truth, and the whole thing appears enormously complicated, which it no doubt is.

            And so we depend on the grace of God, not our own cleverness or adequacy in making our determinations. Mistakes we are bound to make, but, to borrow a little from Luther, it is not presumptuous for us to make our mistakes boldly, and for the rest rely upon the grace of God.

            What other way is there?

    • The church is present if the gospel is proclaimed and the sacraments are administered in accordance with that gospel. And if there are people there who believe it.

      That CAN take place in whatever denomination happens to be proclaiming it.

      Trouble is, it’s hard to find nowadays. But it’s out there if we are willing to look.

      And of course, some do it better than others. But we can’t say that the others are not Christian.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        Even if you are Catholic you can base exactly which Mass you attend on your comfort level. I like to go to 7:30 Mass because there’s no music. I’ve also known Catholics who went to a different parish from the one they actually lived in because they like the church community better or because the church has daily Mass.

  5. Doubting Thomas says:

    Yah, that best gospel song is no A Mighty Fortress.

  6. Sports replacing religion? Who woulda thunk it? Sports is religion.

    Didn’t Promise Keepers institutionalize that reality?

    • prayersheardinsongsung says:

      yep

      from youth group leader to associate pastor
      to fellowship and prayer
      to football games
      and magic words

      not my spirit.

    • I think PK tried to tie into the same atmosphere and culture as sports in an attempt to attract men. They were not endorsing sports as religion, but were rather using it as a tool. Now, did it backfire? That is another question.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        To paraphrase Chesterton, Promise Keepers attracted manly men by claiming Christ and Football were really alike at the heart, especially Football.

      • I remember Standing in The Gap and the call for such mass meetings in 1 Jan 2000. The results speaks for themselves. By 2000 nobody talks about Promise Keepers anymore. I got caught up in PK to only later find just a bunch of empty platitudes.

      • I was at “Stand in the Gap” in Washington, D. C. I have very fond memories of it. We even had a Promise Keepers choir at our church and did a musical. My young son and I were both in that choir (he also was at “Stand In the Gap”). Another special memory was when he and I and my father-in-law went to a PK rally, three generations together (a very special memory, as my father-in-law is no longer living). PK was something God used mightily at the moment. Only He knows the long-term results. I’m not a big sports person, but there was a lot to grow on spiritually through PK and I’m thankful for their ministry.

        • Ric, in some sense PK served as a “male initiation rite” in our culture which is severely lacking in such.

        • I was very involved with PK. Attended the second and third conferences in Boulder and remained active through much of the 90’s. I still marvel at the wonderful homilies delivered by EV Hill at both gatherings in Boulder.

          So, I wouldn’t poop all over PK. Looking back PK was definitely something God used in my life to show me how utterly a failure I am at being a “promise keeper”. I was forced to cry “uncle”. It broke my pride (at least once).

          The central fallacy of PK is the same central fallacy of most (if not all) of NorthAmericanEvangelicalChristianity at large; all we need in order to be good people is more preachin’, moe Bible knowledge, and some good ‘ole huffin’ an puffin’ chest poundin’ in sports stadiums or coliseum sized special use buildings paid for with tax deductible contributions.

          PK was another way for people to identify in the Culture War. Oh how I remember yelling at the top of my lungs and stamping my feet in that stadium to get the attention of the godless heathen atheist in Boulder!
          Yes, tautologies demanded.

          PK was another tool to shape the ego. How to be good, successful American Christians who were salt and light in the Successful American Culture. Oh damn, wait!! Who needs to be a successful Christian when success is easy to be had without Christian? PK baptized American Successful Exceptionalism in Jesus syrup.

          The one necessary thing that PK and the American Christian Religious Clubs and Franchises © did not and do not do is disciple in how Jesus people are to be monumental failures in the eyes of those around us, how to love the least, how to be last, and how to be Joyful in the gift of Hope we have.

          PK’s ultimate success was awakening me to its utter failure.

    • Tom (aka Volkimar) you beat me to it! I was going to say that in Australia sport has been religion ever since the convicts were transported. The football season here is the best evidence of that, although other sports pop their heads up as well. Tennis is pretty big here as well in the summer and we have an international bike race called the Tour Down Under which brings people out by the thousands. Church attendance is infinitesimal when numbers are compared.

      • CB, I can talk tennis. Tennis is to sports what Contemplation is to religion….

        I grew up in Phoenix Arizona–“Valley of the Sun”. Summer starts in late February and rolls through at least October. July/August temps in the 105-115 f. range. During summer vacation I could only get on the courts after the housewives got done around noon and had gone home to air conditioning and soap operas at which point the courts would be open and I’d spend an hour or two practicing my serve.

        I was amused by the Aus. Open being played during “extreme” heat and players having such a difficult time.

  7. Great screen shots of parental hysteria.

    The reply by one dad is classic, “…then you’re overpaying.” The only reasoned response in the whole lot…

  8. Marcus Johnson says:

    Good reason to leave a church: You find out that your pastor is the one who wrote that ridiculously condescending article in Relevant magazine, which includes deeply profound articles like, “The Non-Football Lover’s Guide to Surviving the Super Bowl.”

    Okay, I can give a better post than that.

    First, this article is a really flippant approach to some very valid concerns. The folks I’ve encountered on this website and elsewhere chose to leave their churches after a lot of soul-searching, prayer and, in some cases, at least one or more attempts to approach their church leadership with their concerns (those who didn’t approach their church leadership felt as though their leadership was unapproachable).

    Reasons #1 and #4, in my opinion, are basically the same argument (the first one being a Christianese version of the fourth). What a cold, callous response the author gives: The Church doesn’t exist to meet your needs! You could join a gang in a low-income neighborhood and get more love than this pastor is willing to give his flock (which, actually, many youth have, and for those reasons). Can’t the Church minister to its flock while, at the same time, minister to the world? Or is there a list of priorities (that is found nowhere in the Bible) that we must adhere to?

    As for Reason #2, “too big” is a very vague statement, as opposed to, “This church seems to be focused on increasing its size, rather than increasing its service to the surrounding community,” or, “This church has gotten so big that it doesn’t allow me to make a difference or have a voice.” I can’t speak for all communities, but I have yet to see someone who leaves a church because they have trouble finding a parking space or find themselves touching knees with fellow worshippers.

    Reasons #3 and #5, also, seems interconnected, with #3 (disagreeing with the pastor’s message) being a subcategory under #5 (unresolved conflict). Again, too simple of a statement. How approachable is the pastor? How approachable is the leadership? What’s the nature of the conflict? What’s the nature of the pastor’s message? If the pastor is preaching that illness is a result of a lack of faith, and has a persona that prevents someone in the congregation from approaching him, maybe it’s time to leave.

    Okay, not only have I spent too much time thinking about this particular article, I’m sure I’ve spent more time thinking about this article than the pastor who wrote it.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “Okay, not only have I spent too much time thinking about this particular article, I’m sure I’ve spent more time thinking about this article than the pastor who wrote it.”

      I don’t usually do “+1” replies, but I am making an exception in this case: +1.

    • It sounds like the reasons can be summarized by ‘I’m right, so get back to your pew so we can add you to the head count for today. It makes me look good when I get together with the other ‘hip, coffee addict, pastors’ and talk about how ‘out of the box’ we are in our little ‘circle’.

      If I’m not getting ‘fed’ because someone else is then great. If no one is gettting fed because the church has become a social coffee house with some CCM music added in, then it’s a GREAT reason to leave that group and seek a congragation that is focused on God in word and deed, not just as a t-shirt slogan.

      If what I disagree with that is being taught is adding millstones to the lives of my children then ‘get behind me Satan’ and don’t get between me and the door.

      If the church isn’t about the people in it, then who is it about – leadership? Their ‘we will be the generation to do it right, unlike all the others for the last 2,000 years’ attitudes

      Now I’m all for asking people to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem. I’m all for reminding people that the church is not there for their entertainment and socializing. But this article is arrogant and self-rightous in a way that is becoming so common these days it hurts.

      • It reminds me of the old commercial for a job-hunting website, where guy works with a bunch of monkeys. Yeah, the monkeys were happy… :-/

      • It also reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ “Great Divorce”.

        I do think caution is necessary. I had a friend in college who was looking for a better church and found one which answered all his questions, was following the bible, and was demonstrating the power of God. To him, I as an outsider was the monkey who was following an inferior brand of Christianity. What he had found was a word-faith church. I was happy to remain the monkey.

    • “…..chose to leave their churches after a lot of soul-searching, prayer and, in some cases, at least one or more attempts to approach their church leadership with their concerns (those who didn’t approach their church leadership felt as though their leadership was unapproachable).”

      As one who left church many years ago, I say “Amen!” to this. It took us a year to come to a decision to leave the church we were attending, and our decision to leave was not easy. We talked with church leadership before we did. The amazing thing was that they acted surprised when we finally made the decision.

  9. Denmark’s circumcision ban only applies to boys under 12. Coincidentally, that’s the age when Muslims get circumcised. One doubts that very many boys that age would feel sufficiently empowered to refuse.

    So, a list of reasons not to leave a church, written by a pastor of a church. No conflict of interest there! Anyway, he’s looking at the problem backwards: why go to church at all? Nothing that goes on there is likely to be of much spirtual value (although perhaps Krishna or Cthulhu disagree with me). The pretense is that churches are “communities” of some sort, although I’d rather have one actual friend (or even a second cousin) than a hundred coreligionists. Almost all of them are hierarchical–there’s always money flowing from you to somebody else, and nobody cares what you think, vs. what some preacher thinks (and which you pay him to tell you). Support for a church almost always (unless you are a Unitarian or a liberal Quaker) translates into support for retrograde social policies. Moderate churches are no good–they just provide cover for conservative ones, making them seem not so extreme. And why would anybody expose their kids to this nonsense?

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      The question of “why go to a church at all” might be a little too simple here, although I think it is a question this particular pastor needs to answer better (his answer in the article was pretty pathetic). I would prefer the question, “What does this church community offer that I can’t get somewhere else?” Trouble is, I suspect this pastor’s church, same as many others, finds the main thrust of its efforts in being the world away from the secular world and, in doing so, finds itself competing with secular institutions.

    • I’m not sure where you got your information about the age of Muslim circumcision. This is not correct. Most Muslims have infants circumcised. The Hadiths talk about seven days after birth for Muhammed’s grand children. The general Ulema (religious law/thought) is to have a circumcision before age 10. I’ve heard that some ethnic groups have tied the circumcision to a “rite of passage” experience, but those tend to be stories from the Philippines or Indonesia. I cannot speak for African groups as I don’t know very many Muslims from south of the Mediterranean coast.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > So, a list of reasons not to leave a church, written by a pastor of a church.
      > No conflict of interest there!

      And it is a silly list.

      > Anyway, he’s looking at the problem backwards: why go to church at all?
      > Nothing that goes on there is likely to be of much spirtual value

      Says who?

      > The pretense is that churches are “communities” of some sort,

      If one views community as a pretense one is self-excluded from ever being part of one.

      > although I’d rather have one actual friend (or even a second cousin)
      > than a hundred coreligionists

      I’d rather have them all; friends, congregants, and cousins.

      > Almost all of them are hierarchical

      Yes, of course. Hierarchy is a principle component of society. Not an inherent evil.

      > there’s always money flowing from you to somebody else,

      Yes, of course. Transfer of value is a fundamental part of community. Value transfers to the commons enable many many very good things [from the existence of a place for the community to gather, to the food pantry for the destitute, all the way up to roads and air-traffic control]. Taxation, voluntary and otherwise, is fundamental to society [aka not living in caves, eating worms, and dieing from diarrhea]. Again, not an evil.

      > and nobody cares what you think,

      Not my experience at all. Having space to express your views, including dissenting ones, is a reward for participation in a community. One cannot walk in off the street and start shouting, nor one should be permitted to do so.

      > vs. what some preacher thinks

      He is educated and has been mentored and has supervisors. All good things.

      > (and which you pay him to tell you)

      Yes, that is part of his job. And a vital job it is. Constancy and self-reflection require it.

      > Support for a church almost always translates into
      > support for retrograde social policies.

      Bull. This smacks of historical provincialism. I am not so much more enlightened and fair than my brutish and ignorant forebears [who, on close inspection, seem complex, nuanced, and often startlingly prescient].

      And concern for the poor, social justice, looking out for ones neighbor, care for the disenfranchised, injured and elderly. So terribly retrograde.

      > Moderate churches are no good–they just provide cover for
      > conservative ones, making them seem not so extreme

      There is some truth to this. But in the end I find this true of nearly everything. Humans bring darkness into their communities, this is unavoidable.

      • >> Nothing that goes on there is likely to be of much spirtual value

        >Says who?

        Well who knows, maybe Big Juju DOES delight in ritual. But as far as I can tell, church is run pretty much like a retarded children’s class.

        >> The pretense is that churches are “communities” of some sort,

        >If one views community as a pretense one is self-excluded from ever being part of one.

        But if one views it as genuine, and it is not, then one is in for a disappointment.

        > Hierarchy is a principle component of society. Not an inherent evil.

        Not remotely necessary for religion. It’s basically just franchising, like McDonalds. Hierarchical behavior is what you get when equality is forgotten as an ideal.

        > Transfer of value is a fundamental part of community. Value transfers to the commons enable many many very good things [from the existence of a place for the community to gather, to the food pantry for the destitute, all the way up to roads and air-traffic control]. Taxation, voluntary and otherwise, is fundamental to society [aka not living in caves, eating worms, and dieing from diarrhea]. Again, not an evil.

        But which direction is it getting transferred? Food pantries are rarely very high on a church’s priorities, and they come with an agenda (even if only PR)..

        >> (and which you pay him to tell you)

        Yes, that is part of his job. And a vital job it is. Constancy and self-reflection require it.

        That is part of his job, in the same way that beating people is part of a dominatrix’s job. But there’s no reason to have any confidence in the system of education and hiring that produced the preacher.

        >> Support for a church almost always translates into
        >> support for retrograde social policies.

        >Bull. This smacks of historical provincialism. I am not so much more enlightened and fair than my brutish and >ignorant forebears [who, on close inspection, seem complex, nuanced, and often startlingly prescient].

        I’m not talking about forebears, I’m talking about my contemporaries. The few churches who support gay rights can’t make up for the much larger, more powerful ones who oppose it. We would be better off without any of them. Scientology is probably very complex and nuanced, but that doesn’t make it worth the time of day.

        >And concern for the poor, social justice, looking out for ones neighbor, care for the disenfranchised, injured >and elderly. So terribly retrograde.

        This is just PR.

        • “But as far as I can tell, church is run pretty much like a RETARDED CHILDREN’S class.”

          Now, there’s a retrograde attitude expressed in a retrograde turn of speech if ever I’ve seen one. You betray yourself, Wexel.

          • I speak oldspeak, you speak newspeak.

          • You speak retrograde speak.

          • I don’t know anything of Wexel’s background. BUT, if his experience is with the not a-typical North American Fundagelical Religious Business Clubs, then his “retrograde” speak is extremely accurate.

            RobertF, your Anglicanism (which I share with you) is showing through. ;o)

          • Tom,
            Have you been received into the Episcopal Church? If so, welcome to the big tent; glad to have you inside.

        • “Well who knows, maybe Big Juju DOES delight in ritual. But as far as I can tell, church is run pretty much like a retarded children’s class.”

          Really, there are plenty of examples of backward churches in the world.

          But this is just a backward criticism. Evangelicalism is full of people who’ve inflated their egos around the idea that they’re “not religious” because they’re suspicious of ritual. Whole denominations have been built around this self-referential attitude. It’s not doing them any good. If you want to find a reason to criticize churches, look elsewhere.

    • Why go to church indeed, if you can check out anytime you like but can never leave?

    • Geez, Wexel, sometimes I wish you’d take your self-righteous atheism elsewhere. Not always, but sometimes.

      • cermak_rd says:

        I don’t see Wexel’s post as self-righteous as the original article, to be honest. And it is something that even people who attend religious services should be able to answer. Why do you go to services?

        In my case, I go to gather with my people and to worship our common deity by reading the Law and reflecting on it. I get far more out of it by going with my father and now with my niece, who is in the process of converting. Having that human chain of contact with the faith is special to me.

        Now in my case, my faith is decidedly non-hierarchical. It does not support retrograde policies. There is no ability, let alone much of a preference for being authoritarian or wanting to control others’ behaviors. I will cop to the giving cover to others who do support those things, but by and large it isn’t common even among the most extreme of Hasidics to want to control gentiles lives. It was harder when I was Christian and is one of myriad reasons why I am no longer such.

        • If you don’t think Wexel’s post is self-righteous, you’re not reading between the lines, and while a question “why go to church at all” is a valid question, it isn’t when posed by someone who clearly has no interest in legitimate debate or dialog.

        • Cermak, I *have* seen ultra-orthodox deliberately walking in the middle of a residential street on the sabbath – in a predominantly Jewish town. They do it to stop people from driving. Their shuls are in houses in residential neighborhoods, in north Jersey – and their attempts at imposing their practices on others drives people around the bend. (Especially true for the children and grandchildren of orthodox who are now Conservative, Reform or nonpracticing.)

          But I suspect this is unique to parts of NJ and NY, and not the norm in your area. Either way, I’m with you on the bulk of Wexel’s comment. While I frequently disagree with him/her, I like the fact that he/she is commenting here. It can be very hard for a person with a differing POV to be able to post on most typical xtian blogs w/o getting shouted down or having their comments deleted altogether.

          Glad you comment here as well, and hope things are copasetic in the clarinet family!

          • cermak_rd says:

            Good grief! I’ve never seen it among the Hasidic in Chicagoland. Not even in Skokie! Why on earth try to keep gentiles from driving? They’re not even required to celebrate Shabbos. Ah, I see, it’s to keep non-frum (as they see it) Jewish from doing that. Even nuttier. One of the precepts of Reform is that each Jew has the autonomy to follow as much of the Law as he wishes (except the ethical requirements such as not lying or cheating others) and the balancing requirement to that is to give other Jews the same autonomy.

            Around here, they seem to be happy with setting up Chabad houses for those interested.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Things are good in the clarinet family. The contra alto is getting some planned maintenance, so I’m playing on the bass a whole lot more. Getting better at it, too. We’re doing dance music on the big horns right now…minuets, cotillions, gavottes, etc. Dance music from a few centuries back.

        • I like the whole notion of none hierarchical congregations, and wish/hope/dream that it could be true of churches as well.

          • Numo, I used to have the same dream. The reality is that Leadership Is whether we acknowledge it or not. The real issue about leadership/hierarchy is WHAT KIND?

          • I’m Lutheran, so things work very differently to the kinds of churches where “leadership” is foir lack of a better term, a thing…

    • Wexel – “Why go to church at all?” can be easily replaced with why get out of bed at all. Life can definitely be a struggle at times and if you’re lucky enough to find a good church, it should be cherished and supported. It can become a reason to get out of bed in the morning and that is always a good thing.

  10. IndianaMike says:

    And some “pevious” Pope news? Is that a Pope who is peeved about something? Well, if they stole my blood I would be peeved too. 🙂

  11. Regarding the Revelant article, I understand what the author is saying, but those who endorse that article need to be careful about trying to avoid responsibility for their own practices. For example, I have heard pastors criticize the”being fed” excuse. However, apart from coming together for worship, prayer, and thanksgiving, is not equipping part of church? Did not many here leave the evangelical wilderness because of a lack of being fed?
    Perhaps some of this revolves around the issue of how one defines the purpose of the church.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Good comment. I also think this revolves around the issue of the purpose of the church. I suspect the author of the article would view it as the great commission. This, it seems to me, is reductionist.

  12. ” How does one disagree with himself?”

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes…” Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Robert, that is a very gracious interpretation.

      However, the pulpit may not be the right place for self-contradictions.

      • I’m just employing the help of Walt Whitman in my little sarcasm. I do believe that preachers should in the main hold to the logical principle of non-contradiction. Of course, their understanding may change and grow, but in that case, as regular public speakers, they should outline their changes in thinking in their public speaking, that is, their sermons.

        If they stick to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified, however, without adding a lot of how-to and personal wisdom, I wonder if there would ever need to be much explaining of changes in personal thinking. The sermon should not be a self-help pep talk, after all, or a forum for a preacher to exhibit his or her own wisdom, like so much beautiful plumage. I know that it can be difficult to apply the message of the gospel to the contemporary situation, but that is the purpose for a sermon, to present the gospel in a language that does it justice, and that can be heard by the congregation. Anything else is a distraction.

        Btw, I think Whitman was full of himselves.

  13. I didn’t even watch the Grammy Awards assuming I would not recognize most of the singers. I’m not up on pop music. What I always find interesting, though, is the Christian hand wringing that follows something like the Grammys but in my experience, hand wringing done by people who listen to this music or don’t have a problem with their kids listening, purchasing, attending concerts, etc. I don’t really consider CCM music a viable alternative, either, as much of that is just bad music (hey, that’s where Katy Perry got her start!)

    I say this because my children attended a Christian school in their k-8 days. Many parents spoke of the decline of the youth, culture, etc. but most of the kids knew all the lyrics to the latest Britney Spears song, and get in the car with almost any of the parents, and what’s on the dial? The local top 10 rock station. My observation in my little corner of the world is that most parents would rather have their children be in the “in” crowd than have the talk about why Miley Cyrus’ twerking is not something to emulate.

  14. Ah, Irish schools.

    I could say our Minister for Education is an atheist, and he’s been doing a lot of Big Projects (and what could be seen as a stealth, or not so stealth, agenda to increase secularism in education) but that’s as much an over-simplification on the other side as the HuffPo story.

    There’s a reason 90% of Irish schools are under the patronage of the local bishop and/or were founded and run by orders of male and female religious, and that is politics and history. Up until quite late in the 19th century, education for the poor (if they got any) was a matter of charitable initiatives, very often by lay persons such as Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice (who ended up founding the Congregation of Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers), the Venerable Nano Nagle (who founded the Presentation Sisters) and the Venerable Catherine McAuley (who founded the Sisters of Mercy).

    Due to laws passed by the British government from the 17th century onwards (the Penal Laws) both Roman Catholics and Dissenters suffered penalties barring them from participation in civic society (unless they converted to the state-established Anglican church). One of these penalties was that it was forbidden for Catholics to establish schools of their own or go abroad for education, thus leading to the rise of ‘hedge schools’.

    With the establishment of the National School system in 1830, a multi-denominational state education system was set up, but there were fears by both the Catholic hierarchy and non-Anglican denominations that this was giving a privileged position to Anglicanism and would be used for covert proselytization (and indeed, one of the aims of the system was to turn the Irish into good British citizens and stop all this rebellion and independence troublemaking nonsense).

    What happened, so, was that local schools came under the management of their local church – and since Ireland was majority Roman Catholic, that meant the majority of national schools were in effect Catholic. After independence, most new school building continued to be by the religious orders involved in teaching, with the result that the new Irish State was quite happy to pay for the running of the school but leave it up to the Board of Management (under the auspices of the local bishop) to run the school.

    The situation remains much the same to this day, with historically the majority of schools having that denominational ethos. It was only in 1984 that the “Educate Together” charity to establish and run multi-denominational and co-educational schools was set up; most parents are quite content to send their kids to the local school which is a Catholic school, because it’s where they went themselves. It really is only quite recently that the immigration of non-Catholic Christians and non-Christian families, and increasing agnosticism/secularisation of Irish society, was sufficient in numbers to warrant non-denominational/multi-denominational schools.

    I’ve never heard of anyone having their child baptised so they can get into a particular school; we haven’t had, in Ireland, the same pressure as reported in England (really, in London) to get your child into a particular desirable school so you sign up to the Church of England (or at least pretend to be more involved than you really are). We do have some ‘snob-appeal’ (that’s what I’d call them anyway) schools, but that’s more a matter of ‘have you the money to pay the fees?’ than being Catholic (even though they are ostensibly Catholic schools).

    There was a local attempt to set up an “Educate Together” school a little while back, but nothing really came of it – not because of the wicked Catholic bishops crushing them, but because there just weren’t enough numbers for potential attendance to make it feasible.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Martha, I was quite hoping you would chime in on this with some good context and analysis. You did not disappoint.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        +1 Thanks for this; facts and history are always provide a nice leavening.

      • Thanks, Daniel and Adam. What I didn’t mention was that the reason the Catholic Church got a privileged position in the National School system, apart from being the vast majority of the denominations in Ireland at the time, was a bargain between the hierarchy and the British Government.

        Since the 18th century radicalism – the Revolution in France and I believe something similar in your own country? 😉 – was heavily influencing those Catholics who could afford to go abroad for the education forbidden them in their own country, both the hierarchy and the government, for separate reasons, were concerned about this. Basically, a deal was struck: as the Penal Laws were gradually relaxed from their severity and Catholics and Dissenters gained rights piecemeal, the bishops struck a deal with the government (at the time, we still had a Parliament in Ireland but this was pretty much subservient to the one in London): state funding for a Catholic seminary/college (Maynooth) in exchange for educating priests and prominent lay Catholics at home in Ireland to be good loyal subjects of the Crown and not get entangled with those wild notions of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité and armed rebellion imported from abroad (we had a failed mini-rebellion in 1798).

        This set a precedent for Church-State bargains when it came to education, and this same attitude remained in place even when we achieved independence in the early 20th century. I don’t think denominational schools are bad in themselves, and if you heard the complaints about the woeful state of Catholic catechesis over the past forty years, you’d know that most religion classes (once past primary school, which is when the preparation for the Sacraments of First Holy Communion around the age of seven and Confirmation around the age of twelve, are done) are very much focussed on ‘social justice’ issues rather than doctrine, and the curriculum for it (since it is now an examination subject, unlike in my day) includes looking at Christianity in the context of the secular world and in relation to other faiths.

        So like everything else in the world, the topic is more complicated than it appears at first!

        • There now, Martha has definitively firm it up for us. What she wrote coincides with what this Perfidious Albioni has read and heard told by his (Northern) Irish (Prod) in-laws.

    • Coming from a public school (nonsectarian) background, I can fully appreciate why many people would prefer that the public school system in Ireland be nonsectarian.

      While I can appreciate the historical background, I don’t see any compelling reasons for any church or religious organization to be in control of the public educational system. And I can equally understand and appreciate the desire for religious education to be the province of religion, not the public educational system.

      I’m old enough (just barely) to recall the time when prayer and Bible reading were pretty much mandatory at the beginning of each day in public schools here. One of the reasons it wasn’t a good thing: it was *always* biased toward the majority religion. Didn’t work well then in mixed Jewish-gentile communities, and really doesn’t work now, what with many more people, of a host of religious backgrounds, sending their kids to public schools.

      Though certainly, a kind of American civil religion *is* promoted by many public school systems. Imo, it has no place there.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Thanks for this, Martha.

      In some cities in the US, the snob-appeal idiocy extends to people jostling for places in desirable preschools… Those who do that are quite capable of teaching their children what would be learned in a preschool, but for whatever reason have split Education off from the rest of a child’s life and somehow believe that it all is the school’s responsibility.

      What I inherited from my parents is that – excluding home schooling – no matter what school a child attends, the parents are the ones ultimately responsible for a child’s education, and most of the time delegate a portion of it to the local school district. At 58, I’m sort of beyond the pale in this belief… When my kids began school +20 years ago, I was criticized by some people in my Evangelical church not so much for not homeschooling but for not sending them to the local “Christian school.” Well, let’s see: my local public school was a 5 minute walk from home, and the Christian school was 10 miles away; our public school had outstanding teachers and administration with a lot of experience and low turnover – the Christian school had good teachers but could not match that; there were Christian teachers in the public school who had a chance to make a difference in needy children’s lives, at least with prayer, and those kids were more or less forgotten by the Christian school advocates; there was just as much bullying and cliquish behavior at the Christian school as in the public school. For me this was a no-brainer.

      A blessed St Brigid’s day to you.

      Dana

    • cermak_rd says:

      I’ve seen it on some atheist boards where the atheist has decided to baptize his child so they can get access to good schools (in Ireland). So it isn’t unheard of. After all, all one has to do is promise to rear the child in the faith, but the priests aren’t gonna follow it up and make you!

      • Yes, but that’s more a problem of (a) a school is over-subscribed and (b) the school is seen as more desirable than another one.

        In that case, the school probably prioritises on (a) has the prospective pupil any siblings attending already (b) is the family living in the catchment area (c) is the family a member of the denominational ethos of the school (and that could be Protestant, as well as Catholic). Don’t forget, it would be entirely likely for parents to kick up murder over “that kid is from an atheist family, why did he/she get a place over ours?” when it comes to a ‘good’ school. Parents also make a fuss about a ‘first come, first served’ allocation of places when it comes to “their application came in just before yours did, that’s why he/she got the place”.

        I’d hate to think anyone was simulating membership in any religion just for the purpose of getting a school place. And making education non-denominational won’t solve the problem if everyone still wants to send their kids to Greenwood Academy (formerly St Tiddlywink’s Convent School) on the basis that it is perceived as a ‘good’ school for whatever reasons (better exam results, gets you into a good university, will look good on your job application, etc.): some other method of allocating places will come into view.

  15. This is a wild guess and it’s because I don’t listen to ccm but does the “Overcomer” song sound at all like “I’m a survivor” by destiny’s child?

    • Or, for those of us who are a bit older, a mildly deistic version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive”.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I haven’t actually heard the song; I just looked up the lyrics. They struck me as not that bad, but certainly not (hopefully not) the best song of the year in its genre.

      • Brianthedad says:

        Based on my wife’s explanation, it rose to popularity after becoming the theme song for ABC’s Good Morning America host Robin Roberts’ Overcomer series. Ms. Roberts recently battled cancer. The chorus gets a lot of play. It crossed over. Google “abc host overcomer” for all the info. Funny there isn’t the usual culture war buzz about this. Ms. Roberts appears in the Overcomer music video and is openly gay.

    • Well, I’m sure it isn’t off of the Dead’s In The Dark studio album…

      Paint by number morning sky looks so phony.
      Dawn is breaking everywhere, light a candle, curse the glare
      Draw the curtains I don’t care, ’cause it’s all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      I see you’ve got your list out, say your peace and get out.
      Yes I get the gist of it, but it’s all right
      Sorry that you feel that way, the only thing there is to say is…
      Every silver lining’s got a touch of grey.
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      It’s a lesson to me, the Ables on the bakers and the c’s
      The abc’s we all must face, try to keep a little grace

      Chorus

      It’s a lesson to me,
      The Delta’s or the East and the freezes.
      The abc’s– we all think of, and try to keep a little love.

      I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years, it’s even worse than it appears but, it’s all right

      Cow is giving kerosene, kid can’t read at seventeen
      The words he knows are all obscene, but it’s all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      The shoe on the hand that fits, there’s really nothin’ much to it
      Whistle through your teeth and spit, ’cause it’s all right
      Oh well a touch of grey, kinda suits you anyway,
      That is all I had to say, if it’s all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      • Ah, yes.

        I may be going to hell in bucket, babe,
        but at least I’m enjoying the ride,
        at least I’m enjoying the ride….
        ride, ride, ride…
        At least I’m enjoying the ride…

        • Yep, now you’re In The Dark….

          You imagine me sipping champagne from your boot
          For taste of your elegant pride
          I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe
          But at least I’m enjoying the ride, at least I’m enjoy the ride

  16. Richard Hershberger says:

    “How does one disagree with himself?”

    Actually, this part I have to problem with. I used to be very active in a (secular) group that included, among many other things, individuals submitting designs to a specialist subset of the group. These designs might be accepted or not, based on various criteria that were as objective as possible, but still had a subjective element to them. There were specialists on the local level who assisted the individuals in making these designs, with were then submitted on the regional level and, if they got past that (with a right of appeal if they did not), eventually accepted (or not) on the national level. There were individual specialists at both the regional and national levels making these decisions, but with copious advice. I at various times operated as both the local and regional level specialist, and as one of the advisers to the national.

    The upshot is that I found it entirely possible to have many opinions, often contradictory, about the same submission. This was particularly true when I was the regional guy. There could be the opinion were I the one helping the submitter (though it was generally discouraged for the regional person to do this, as being a potential conflict of interest), the opinion I held as the regional gate-keeper, and the opinion I would hold as an adviser to the national level. The imperatives of these roles were not quite the same, so the resulting opinions could differ. In extreme cases this could result in my returning a submission as the regional gatekeeper, then helping the submitter with the appeal of my own decision.

    How does this translate to a church pastor? I can see it happening. Unless this is one of those pastor-as-pope churches, the pastor might be participating in some activity not of his own choosing. So long as it falls into the category of adiaphora, this can be perfectly appropriate for a member–even one in a leadership role–of an organization.

    This is not to say it isn’t a terrible article. His explanation of disagreeing with himself is that he sometimes changes his mind. That isn’t the same thing. He didn’t disagree with himself when he said what he said. Changing your mind is not in and of itself a bad thing, but in the church context this requires keeping in mind what is adiaphora and what is essential. Getting riled up by adiaphora is, nearly by definition, silly. But that goes both directions: from the pastor to the congregation and from the congregation to the pastor. Was there any for the average person in the congregation to tell that that sermon he preached, and later changed his mind about, was adiaphora?

    Then there is his explanation that if his preaching sucks, that’s not his problem. And also this gem: “If you have a problem with big churches, you really wouldn’t have liked the first church, and you definitely won’t like heaven.” What a jerk!

  17. So, in Denmark, back alley abortions have not been performed for a long time, but back alley circumcisions are about to start. In other words, Orthodox Jews cannot practice their religion in Denmark legally. I wouldn’t be surprised if this spreads around Europe, which doesn’t seem able to tolerate Jews, or their customs, very well. If I’m forced to choose sides, I’m with the circumcisers; after all, circumcision was fundamental to my redeemers identity as a Jew, and salvation is through the Jews.

    I think Bonhoeffer said something about not having the right to chant the Psalms unless we have cried out for the Jews. I think that applies here.

    • Could be this circumcision ban really is just based medical realities. I don’t think any of us would feel the same if the question was female genital “circumcisions”. I realize circumcision has been around for centuries, but if medical advances have proven that it isn’t healthy (which I don’t really know), then I do think it’s just a medical decision. If practicing one’s religion causes physical harm (virgin sacrifices, refusal to get medical care), then I think laws against it are not out of line. But I’m also not a doctor, so….

      • I don’t contend that there is conscious anti-semitism involved in this decision; I have no idea if there is or isn’t.

        But Europe has a developing set of values that is antithetical to the free practice of many religions, precisely because it ignorantly thinks that religious values, and all values for that matter, are practiced by individuals and not by communities. In seeking to protect the individual from the decisions of religious community, it reflexively and blindly imposes its own communal values on religious communities, thereby preventing those communities from forming individuals in the ways they have for thousands of years.

        I can make no general argument about the merits or demerits of religious practices with regard to this developing “secular” standard. I’m a Christian, and, as I said, an essential part of my faith, that I hold in common with the historic church, is that salvation is from the Jews, and circumcision is essential to Jewish identity, and if my redeemer Jesus was not circumcised he would not be a Jew, and if he was not a Jew he could not have been redeemer and Lord. My opposition is very particular, not made on the basis of general principles; I’m partial to Christian interpretations of practices here, and by extension to Jewish practices as well.

        One thing for certain: orthodox Jews will either continue to obtain circumcisions for their male children illegally in Denmark, or they will leave Denmark. They can no longer freely practice their religion, which is as communal as it is individual, in Denmark.

        • Muslims also practice circumcision, and there are many people in Europe who hate Muslim immigrants.

          That said, this more than likely *is* about child welfare, and a good mohel (rabbi who is licensed to perform circumcisions) is often preferred to doctors, in this country, at least.

          Still, there are a lot of Jewish people here (and likely in western Europe) who will not circumcise their male children on health grounds, and I bet there are more than a few “secular” Muslims who are in that camp.

          Circumcision is uncommon in western Europe, at any rate.

          • Yes, this law will effect mostly the Orthodox, and those non-Orthodox who hold to this is an essential religious ritual.

            But for me, the link between circumcision and baptism is inextricable and essential, and Jesus’ Jewishness was inextricably connected with his circumcision. And I don’t think it’s legitimate to spiritualize circumcision and disconnect it from the communal rite that performs and embodies it.

            And what if Danish law comes the conclusion that wine should not be given to children at Holy Communion for health concerns?

          • It will affect the many Muslim immigrants to Denmark more, I’m thinking… (Fwiw, there are Muslim characters – none of them caricatures – in all of the Danish cop/spot shows I’ve watched over the last year. Most are 1st or 2nd generation; some have one Danish and one immigrant parent. Kinda like the UK cop/espionage shows that feature South Asian Muslim characters – some are available on July Plus.)

          • Spy, not spot. Darned autocorrect!

          • Hulu Plus. I need to stop replying on a touchscreen device!

          • It’s uncommon in Canada, also.

        • For Israelis to object, when their own state is based on religious affiliation and has a history of human rights problems, is a bit ironic. Mind you, I’m *sure* that Denmark has some anti-Semites, but likely far fewer than in many other western European countries. Keep in mind that Danish efforts to get Jewish citizens to safety (mainly by means of boatlifts to Sweden) is a matter of history – and national pride. (Occurred during the Naxi occupation, for folks who might not be familiar with this part of WWII history.)

          • Denmark has a lot more anti-Semites than it once did, and far more attacks targeting Jewish citizens than it used to as well, precisely because of the large influx of Muslim immigrants. The number of Muslims living in Denmark is far greater than the number of Jews. In fact, a significant uptick in the number of anti-Semitic incidents/attacks against Jews throughout Europe can rightly be attributed to the enormous influx of Muslims across the region. The growing anti-Semitism in the world has more than one face; some of it is not the face of resurgent anti-Semitism, but of a new and different character.

          • Robert, I wonder if your statement isn’t a little too harsh? I’ve met some antisemitic Muslims – and many who aren’t. Besides, there’ already too much “nativist” antisemitism in countries like France (per the National Front party, but by no means confined to them), Greece (Golden Dawn party), Austria and elsewhere. There’s also been a frightening upsurge of both antisemitic and anti-gypsy sentiment in many former Soviet bloc countries – none of it related to the presence of Muslims.

            The prejudice that many Muslims in Europe experience (by no means confined to Arab and Iranian people, but including people from sub-Saharan Africa and further afield) is very real. Hatred of people with dasrker skin is also real. A friend’s sister (they’re Sudanese Arabs) was attacked on 9/11, while in a grocery store on her way home from work. An Englishwoman spat on her, calling her a murderer and a devil. My friend’s sister did not retaliate, and I’m sure she was both stunned and angry. But when push comes to shove, a lot of Europeans are anything but kind to immigrants and those working on temp visas. There’s a *lot* of prejudice that has little to do with religion and much to do with people being perceived as “the Other.” Ask any South Asian, African or West Indian living in the UK, for starters.

            In saying all this, I am not meaning to defend anyone’s antisemitism – it is reprehensible. But I think the picture is more complex than you’re suggesting.

          • Yes, there are Muslims who have perpetrated some antisemitic incidents. But truthfully, they are also convenient scapegoats for non-Muslims who do hateful things.

            Not always, but it isn’t exactly uncommon for people to blame-shift to whoever is viewed as the underdog, and we all tend to jump to conclusions. (As with the terrorist bombing in OK, when the chatter immediately turned to Arab Muslims as likely suspects. Remember?)

          • But numo, it’s incontrovertible that the significant rise of anti-Semitism, and attacks on Jews, in Denmark, a nation rightfully proud of its efforts to protect Jews during WWII, as you pointed out, is linked directly to the increasing number of Muslims there. There is no scapegoating going on, these are just the facts. It doesn’t excuse the Euro-fascists, but it can’t be explained as the result of scapegoating, either.

          • Robert, you were talking about Europe, and so was I.

            I obviously need to look into info about the rise of antisemitism in Denmark – thanks muchly for clarifying on that! The thing is, it probably needs to be counterbalanced with reporting on anti-Muslim incidents by native Danes. It is all quite alarming.

            Also, Denmark has been involved in the war in Afghanistan, which has fueled tensions at home and abroad. I didn’t even know about this until I watched season two of Forbrydelsen (The Killing – the original, not the US knockoff). The plot is centered around the military and atrocities that might or might not have been committed by Danish forces.

          • Robert – I have a reply to you in moderation. In the meantime, could you point me to some sources? I really want to learn more about what is going on in Denmark.

            Thanks in advance for your help.

          • I’m very aware that Europe in general is quite intolerant of immigrants, and other “outsiders.” In fact, from what I know, European nations are intolerant of cultural diversity and pluralism, as well. In the wake of WWII, there were certainly efforts to fully accept the few surviving Jews who remained in Europe, but these were for the most part people who were culturally indistinguishable from the wider societies of those nations. I see no reason to trust the democratic instincts, or the cultural tolerance, of most of Europe. I don’t doubt the veracity of the the anecdote you offered; I’m sure there are even more terrible incidents of European prejudice expressed at the “Other” than this.

            But that does not neutralize the fact that there is a rising tide of anti-Semitism among Muslims throughout the world, including in Europe. There are many faces of anti-Semitism in the world, and they all seem to be spreading.

            And I’m not sure what the terrorist OK bombing has to do with it….

          • numo,
            I recount what I learn from the paper, in my daily reading. I don’t go to the internet for my info, nor do I keep a library of references. So I apologize for my inability to offer source citations; I’m sure you can do that yourself, since I know you’re far more internet savvy than me.

            If you find info that contradicts what I’ve said, my mind is open, like my digestive tract, at both ends….

          • I mentioned the media speculation that the OK suspect *had* to be Arab for one reason: unreasoning prejudice.

            And I really must take exception to your statement re antisemitism in Europe being primarily a Muslim thing. It simply isn’t true. If anything, neo-fascist groups and nativist movements are on the rise throughout Europe. That Muslims who are antisemitic swell the tide is a given, but they didn’t start it and are still a minority group in European nations. There is one hell of a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment to go along with the antisemitism, anti-Roma etc etc etc prejudices in those countries.

            As for diversity, the UK is one of the most “mixed” countries in Euope, but part of the problem (as in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and elsewhere) is that most immigrants are from former colonies. They are looked down upon as less “civilized” for that reason alone, and many people are jealous of success (in business, education, et al) of those from immigrant groups. Yet in some ways, the UK (parts of it, at leasdrt) is quite cosmopolitan. (Compared to, say, here.)

            I lived just a few miles from the Pentagon on 9/11, and there was a *lot* of nadty backlash against immigrants who are either Muslim or who were perceived to be Muslim. It was the same in NY – some Brazilian friends of mine actually had some weird things happen after, for the sole reason that they’re not light-skinned, speak with an accent and are “foreigners.” I even read about a mixed Jewish-Arab American jazz group getting yelled at by audience members for playing music that was perceived to be too Arab-sounding at a gig shortly afterwards.the fact that they were actually using scales that are part of the Jewish cantorial tradition didn’t make any difference to the angry people, nor did the fact that they were playing a *memorial* gig for the victims. It just makes me feel slightly crazy, especially since I knew, worked with and lived by many kind and decent Muslims who were horrified and sickened by the actions of the terrorists. (I guess my background in certain kinds of noin-Western music is part of the reason that I look at some things from a slightly different perspective. I still miss the sound of spoken Arabic, from some places in the neighborhood where I used to live; other languages as well, but Arabic in particular.)

          • Robert, I have a question for you, since I’m not sure… Are you assuming that anti-israeli government sentiment = antisemitism by default? I mean, there are many people who *do* think that way, so I want to be certain that I’m not making any assumptions about your thinking on this topic.

            For myself, I don’t believe that being critical of Israeli policy and actions is the same thing as antisemitism, though it probably g,does w/o saying that some critics are also virulently antisemitic. Israel is a complex place with a tangled history, and I’m saddened by many things that go on there, while heartened by others. I just wish it was more of the latter and less of the former, but I don’t think things will change anytime soon. (Sadly.)

          • I did not mention Israel in any of my comments, and I do not equate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism. Nor did I say that the only reason for the upsurge in anti-Semitism in Europe is the increase in the Muslim population. I’m sure there is far more anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim animus in Europe than there is anti-Semitism, but then, there are few Jews left in Europe since WWII, so anti-Semitism has little room to express itself against living targets.

          • Thanks for the clarification, and my apologies if I’ve misstated what you believe. I wasnt assuming that you equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, but I was hoping to clarify what you meant, as online communication on difficult opiucs can be very tricvky.

            I think it can be really helpful to be certain f what is intended when certain terms are used; also that this is as applicable to my posts as anyone else’s.

            Hope that’s helpful, Robert.

      • The phrases male circumcision and female circumcision are in now way shape or form equivalent. The entire purpose of the female procedure is to remove sexual pleasure from the females. The male process, not.

        You can argue the merits (or not) of both but they aside from sharing a common term they are not the same thing.

  18. The whole travesty with the mass wedding on the Grammy awards show, which I hadn’t heard about until reading it here on iMonk this morning, highlights how everything is just entertainment for the entertainment media. The most serious and solemn undertakings, the most important commitments of human life, are reduced to ratings and distraction.

    And to the degree that we allow ourselves to become captive to this project of gutting the meaning out of ordinary existence, and replacing it with a kind of banal voyeurism and vicarious experience unworthy of even the low standards of the Olympian gods and goddesses, we are active participants in the reduction of life to bread and circuses. But entertainment is holy to us, just as it was holy to the ancient Roman spectators in the Colosseum, for whom the deaths in the arena were after all religious sacrifices as well as show business.

  19. I’m sure the Grammy-winning gospel lyrics “He did it before, He can do it again” were a reference to Romans 11:21:
    “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

  20. “What a beautiful ceremony: Pope Francis invited two children to join him on his balcony, where they released two doves intended to symbolize world peace. The doves were immediately attacked by a gull and a crow. I’m not sure what they symbolized.”

    My wife told me about this earlier in the week, and it made me think of the kind of thing you might find in a scene from an ancient Greek tragedy. The ancients would have brought in priests to read the meaning of what they would have taken to be a sign from the gods. But their is no earthly priest greater than the Pope, is there?

    A very foreboding event that makes the primitive part of me tingle with dread at the lurking supernatural, Bonhoeffer’s “world come of age” notwithstanding.

    Let’s hope it means nothing.

    • Ok, the thing is that predatory birds tend to fly a fair distance above the ground, looking for prey to swoop down on. So I think the problem might have been averted by releasing the doves from ground level, though of course they would still have been targeted by predatory birds regardless.

      Maybe releasing live doves was where this went wrong. Period.

    • Also, while I can understand the analogies you’re using, I don’t think that means they are valid on anything but a “primitive” level, as you say.

      The whole thing sounds like a fiasco that could easily have been averted by not using real birds, for one. I feel bad for the kids, having seen the doves attacked by predators – that has to have been one of the most preventable outcomes of this ill thought out mess.

      • numo,
        I’m completely aware that the impression I offered in my comment was from my superstitious reflexes. I said as much. I think the human imagination has an ingrained habit of looking for meanings, and patterns, everywhere and in all kinds of events, with both hope and dread. I think it overlaps with our innate coping mechanisms. I don’t think there is any special supernatural meaning to the bird attack. There are probably some who believe there is such a meaning, though, because this event almost invites such interpretation.

        • Oh, I completely agree – which includes the part about some people being superstitious and being likely to see this as a bad omen of some kind. I bet there are blog/forum posts allover the fringe-ish RCC websites!

          The thing is, St. Peter’s Square is always full of tourists, and a lot of those tourists drop food, unintentionally or otherwise. Are there birds competing for that? You betcha. And a bigger meal is a certainty fr many of them, provided they can get it.

          I have no doubt that a few heads have rolled over this, though I doubt it will ever make even the Vatican City newspaper…

  21. Regarding sports spectating replacing religion: I’m one of the holdouts who has no interest in spectator sports. The sort of qualities that the above quote attributes to viewing sports together as a community make my jaw sag.
    “In short, sports are succeeding by the measures that have traditionally defined success for religious institutions: regularly immersing people in a transcendent experience and keeping them ardently committed over the long term.”

    What, like the transcendent experience of spectators in the ancient Roman Colosseum? Although more barbaric, they at least believed their games were actually religious sacrifices; how is it that we have come to behave as if our own spectator sports endeavors are religious in nature?

    And exactly what are the values that are being celebrated and religiously rehearsed at our spectator sports? Teamwork, or personal glory? Fair play, or winning by any means? Sportsmanship, or gloating? Tenacity and commitment, or power and brute strength? etc…?

    • Sports as an integral part of religion came to the foire during the “muscular Christianity” movement of the late 19th-early 20th century.

      Am sure Richard H can fill in the details…

    • I’m currently experiencing a season of discontent at church; under what category would “leaving because the pastor insists on using a sports metaphor- usually football- to illustrate his sermon points” belong? And it’s always a winning team that steps in to illustrate his point. His current theme is membership of the church = sports team. I can’t get my head around that one.

      • I sometimes use sports metaphors when I teach my Sunday school class, and I don’t see it as much different as Jesus using metaphors to illuminate a spiritual point. But yes, I could see how that could be over-used, especially from the pulpit.

  22. “A Cambridge historian has created a flow chart guide for when medieval Christian men were allowed to have sex. Hint: its not often.”

    Legalism run amok!! It’s a wonder it took so long for the Reformation to occur!!

    • I have no doubt that the chart for women would show much harsher strictures, especially since there was a common belief that women were both lustful and wanton. Check The Canterbury Tales, for one…

  23. I’m just not sure the author of Relevant makes a solid case for those five reasons to be invalid. I think you could just as easily write, “Five Reasons Why It’s Time to Move On,” and have the same five sub-headings. It’s easy to abandon ship without noticing that the thing you think is an iceberg is just a guy out windsurfing; but it’s just easy to spiritualize staying loyal to a church when God might have a new, exciting adventure for you in another place. I think his objections to the ‘reasons’ are worth noting, but it really does take all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and unless you live in a one-church town, it would almost be foolish not to be aware of your options.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      It also occurs to me to note that modern Evangelicalism rose to prominence by encouraging people to leave their churches. Back in the day, the old mainlines had a de facto entente not to recruit from each other. There was some natural reshuffling through intermarriage, and a long-term pattern of families rising in social and economic status becoming Episcopalians, but these were fairly small scale shifts. This changed when the Evangelicals commenced large scale raiding the mainlines under the banners of “church growth” and “seeker friendly” and with battle cries denouncing the mainlines as “spiritually dead” at best, and “apostate” at worst.

      By now, the easy pickings are long gone. The people still attending mainlines (and there are many, reports of the death of the mainlines notwithstanding) tend to be there for stronger reasons than were those folks who left, and so they tend to stay put. In the meantime the Evangelicals are having trouble keeping those recruits, who were, after all, selected specifically for willingness to change churches. So now we are seeing sanctimonious denunciations of church-shifting. One cannot but appreciate the irony.

  24. I was hoping this link to David Brooks’ January 27 piece entitled, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” might make this weekend’s Ramblings. A touching refection about faith with call-outs to Heschel and Augustine, with the added plus of a link to the wonderful singing voice of Audrey Assad.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/opinion/brooks-alone-yet-not-alone.html?_r=0

    I hope some will enjoy.

  25. Richard McNeeley says:

    These are all real and found across denominational lines.
    My top 10 reasons to leave a church

    10. Your church has a baptistry shaped like a fire engine that shoots confetti at the audience.
    9. Your church has a Bring your gun to church day.
    8. Your church has a fight club for men or better yet one for toddlers.
    7. Your church is named Westboro Baptist.
    6. Your church has in International Burn a Koran Day.
    5. Your Pastor preaches a sermon on sex while sitting on a bed.
    4. Your church runs an ad featuring a statue of the Virgin Mary covered in a condom
    3. Your pastor arrives at church in a Hummer dressed as General Patton
    2. Your pastor is an Elvis impersonator and calls himself Elvis Priestly
    And the number 1 reason
    1. You pastor writes an article titled “5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave a Church”

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Richard, I had only heard of three of these. PLEASE tell me you made the rest up.

      • Richard McNeeley says:

        Sorry to say they are all true.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I’d like to see the stories behind 10, 9 (First Church of Zardoz?), 4, 3, & 2 (new dimensions to the phrase “King of Kings”?).

          • Richard McNeeley says:

            2. Dorian Baxter is an Anglican Priest that impersonates Elvis during services.
            3. In 2005 Paige Patterson arrived at seminary chapel in a hummer
            4. The ad appeared in a Jesuit magazine titled America
            9. New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky
            10.First Baptist in Springdale, AR

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            All I can say about #9 is if the preacher didn’t deliver his sermon in red speedos with matching bandoliers, black hooker boots, and a Zardoz mask, he wasn’t even trying.

            “FOR ZARDOZ YOUR GOD GAVE YOU THE GIFT OF THE GUN!
            THE GUN IS GOOD!”

        • I’m tempted to say No. 4 would have to be the Jesuits: I won’t even begin to speculate on what they were trying to say with that kind of message, because I don’t want my few remaining brain cells to explode in a fiery maelstrom of destruction 🙂

    • I just gave Wexel a hard time for being a self-righteous atheist. After reading this list, I may just join him/her.

  26. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this. How does one disagree with himself?

    Multiple Personality Disorder?

    Though the real danger sign is when he starts to argue with himself and loses every time.

    The Grammys apparently decided, “You know what we need? We need to act a bit more like a Korean Cult. That’s what we need”. So 33 couples (including the obligatory same-sex couples) got hitched by Queen Latifah while Madonna and Macklemore played troubadours.

    I look forward to seeing this on South Park.

    Still not depressed enough? These lyrics won the Grammy for the best gospel song. And these lyrics took the prize for the best Contemporary Christian song.

    After a look at those lyrics, I’d rather have Jay-Z crooning over breakfast breastases.

    And Jay-Z? Holy Modal Rounders said it better over 30 years ago:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN3Vl2kf5KM
    (Doubly-appropriate with only one shopping day left before Super Bowl Sunday…)

    More Pope news. Francis became the first pope to grace the cover of Rolling Stone this week.

    “Like the thrill that’ll hit ya
    When you get yo’ pitcha
    On the cover of The Rolling Stone…”?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AxsaOdtOZE

    You may have missed it, but a new religion has started:”Yeezianity,” the worship of Kanye West. No, I am not kidding. … Almost 1,000 people have claimed on Liebman’s website to be “Ye’ciples.

    I’m waiting for the Jihad to begin between the Ye’ciples and the Belibers.
    “DEATH TO THE INFIDEL!!! DOWN WITH ALL FALSE GODS!!!!!”

    A history professor at Houston Baptist University argues that Disney’s Frozen is “a better allegory for the Christian gospel than C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.

    Funny… I’ve said similar to other Bronies regarding Pen Stroke’s “Creeping Darkness” and “Past Sins”.

    I haven’t seen the movie. Your thoughts?

    As was said to the Seven Sons of Sceva:
    “Jesus I know; and Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe I know; Frozen I don’t know. Clean his clock, boyz.”

    • Dana Ames says:

      It took me a little while to realize that “Frozen” was the new movie, and not the condition of Disney’s corpse… Which would be funny in another way entirely…

      Dana

  27. The endless pursuit of driving one’s parents crazy continues, I see! In a less tech savvy time, our youngest, at age 11, thought it would be hilarious during a road trip to pen a sign saying “HELP! I am being KIDNAPPED!” and hold it up to the window for passing motorists. Fortunately for us, the nice state trooper had a son about the same age….

  28. “…Mike Huckabee in the lead in the Republican primary race for 2016”

    I don’t usually use all caps but DO REPUBLICANS NEVER LEARN ANYTHING????

    • Vega Magnus says:

      If it is a Huckabee vs. Hilary election in 2016, I’m staying home.

    • That party is a mess.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      There was a different recent poll that added Mitt Romney to the mix,and he came out ahead.

      • See my original comment.

        That’s ridiculous. Not because I think Romney is a bad candidate, but because conservatives have been duped into thinking he’s a conservative.

        Gawd, politics has WAAAY more in common with pro sports and movie stardom than it does with statesmanship.

    • N.O. The Republican Party never learns anything, but there are plenty of Americans who want to hear the same things from their politicians of choice.

  29. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Of course they do, that is why they are so successful.

    They have learned that people have short memories, do not pay all the much attention, and are not interested in history lessons. All true. I wish my brothers of the Left where not so slow to learn the same lessons; they will get lost in tedious arguments about who, what, when, of 40 years ago. Sigh.

  30. The Good News about the Grammies (which I do not watch) is that Mandissa won Best Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Song and Album of the year.
    And she did not attend. http://lightfordarktimes.wordpress.com/

    • The Kiev posts at that site are kinda cool, with priests standing in the breech trying to stop the violence. Our church’s youth group Skyped with a couple of people in the city. Scary stuff.

  31. Regarding the 5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave a Church…my main complaint is that the list sounds so self-serving. It’s like a pastor giving a tithe sermon – great care must be taken to avoid it coming across as “you aren’t giving enough.”

    I can’t add much to what’s already been said, but as someone who witnessed a semi-exodus several years back from my current church home, I can tell you that most of the people left for good reasons. (Several friends left, and a couple of us did a sort of “exit interview” with others a couple years later to find out why.) Anyway, I’d say the primary reason – and to me a VERY valid reason – was poor and unhealthy leadership (passive/aggressive). My family stuck it out (I won’t bore you with why, though it turned out to be a period of good spiritual growth), but I certainly harbored no ill will toward those who left, and would have never suggested that their reasons weren’t valid. I also know that the decision to leave our church gave several of the families great angst.

  32. Daniel – I used to get pulled over all the time on my way to Purdue. I think it was due to my long hair and beard. I was also constantly asked by fellow students if I was in a gang, or had any drugs to sell, or was armed and or selling guns. This was almost certainly due to where I lived. What did we do before the internet? I’m old enough to completely be in the dark about the subject. Please tell me that drugs and guns are not more available due to twitter.

  33. @ RobertF;

    Haven’t yet been Received. The Bishop doesn’t come our way until April or May. Seeing as hows I was baptized by immersion at age 15 I don’t have to be re-baptized. However, from an emotional and romantic level I’d kind of like to have the whole taco, so to speak.

    • Tom,
      My wife also wanted to “have the whole taco” when she came out of evangelicalism and was received into the Episcopal church. She had been credo-baptized as a child, but it was a very negative emotional experience for her due to reasons I will not mention here, and asked more than a few Episcopal priests if they would “re-baptize” her.

      They all said the same thing: if her baptism was valid, they couldn’t baptize her again, because baptizing again is a contradiction in terms. If she believed there might have been something irregular about her baptism that could have rendered it invalid, they could offer a rite of provisional baptism, but since she did not believe there was anything irregular about it, she didn’t go that route. She’s had to live with her one and only baptism, negative and traumatic as it was to her. It was not an easy death.

      Unless things have changed, I doubt that you’ll be able to “have the whole taco”.

  34. The BEST non “Christian” movie with a Christian theme is Groundhog Day.

    His only exit from his private hell is to finally put his needs and wants after EVERYONE else in his life.

    And for most people you have to see the movie several times to pick up on all the subtle themes.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Oh, I completely agree.

      It’s also one of the best movies, period.

    • Donalbain says:

      It always struck me as being more Hollywood Buddhist than Christian. There is no suggestion that he is redeemed by anyone outside of himself, but rather he is able to break the cycle of rebirth when he finally releases his desires and simply “is”.

  35. Meeting with his national security advisers over the course of the next six weeks, Obama rejected a plan to bomb the compound, and authorized a “surgical raid” to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs .

  36. 5 good reasons for leaving the church (from the perspective of a ‘sheep’).
    1. I’m not being fed.
    2. It’s getting too big.
    3. I don’t agree with everything being preached.
    4. My needs aren’t being met.
    5. Unresolved conflict.
    It is all a matter of degree. The tone of the article is set very early ‘…As a pastor…’ It seems from his perspective, there may be reasons to leave other churches, but perhaps not ‘his’ church. Every one of those reasons is valid at some point. In my own experience, #5 has been the biggest issue. In three churches in the last twenty years I have seen ‘shepherds’ go to great lengths to impugn the reputation of ‘sheep’ to cover their own shortcomings. Those kind of conflicts are almost never resolved in spite of the key concept that the Christian witness to the world is our love for one another. In my real world experience, it is usually better to leave a church and keep peace rather than to ‘fight it out’ with someone determined to cling to their own rightness or ‘righteousness’. Pastors who imply that the fault is with those who leave may be just a little too vested in their own interests and are substituting works for grace. Feels a lot like Ezekial 34 shepherding.

    FYI – I have been reading Internet Monk off-and-on to maintain my ‘in spite of church’ faith since picking up ‘Mere Churchianity’ 7-8 years ago (after one of the episodes mentioned above). Truly appreciate the commitment to truth and grace that is found here. Still in church, BTW…

    • Good comments, Valjean (and I like your moniker).

      I agree that any of these could be a good reason to leave a church; or not — it depends on the circumstances.

      I’m glad you are sticking it out.