Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caption This Picture!

Caption this picture from a movie that should have been better than it was (Intolerable Cruelty).

Be funny!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh boy...

One of my favorite people is in the news. Lee Camp, the author of a seminal work on discipleship, Mere Discipleship, was quoted in today's Tennessean. I'm not going to quote the whole thing here, but I would strongly encourage people to read it. Once you've read it, I've got some thoughts.

I was very surprised to read the quotes from Lee. In fact, some of those quotes almost directly contradict some things that I've thought that Lee thought and thought that I've heard him say, particularly about the Kingdom of God coming on Earth as it is in Heaven. It's possible that I've misinterpreted him, but I really don't think so.

What I think is far more likely is that Lee's comments are accurate but taken out of context. What I would like is to hear (or read) the comments in their overall context. It wouldn't surprise me for that to be the case. So unlike some people (Mr. Miller, I'm looking in your direction ), I'm going to reserve judgment. I want to hear the whole story from all sides before castigating someone. I hope others will as well.


For those interested, here's some of the Blogosphere's reaction to the story:

There are some duplicates in there, but that should cover a lot of it. Not surprisingly, most (if not, all) out there are passing judgment already. Please pray for Lee and his family.

Addenda 2:
Lee and Lipscomb have posted a response here. It is a very good one that clarifies the context extremely well. Hopefully, many of the people who have passed judgment on Lee, his faith, and his commitment to Jesus will read it and understand that context. I fear, though, that many will not.

btw, the first six episodes of Heroes is on the Sci Fi Channel tonight, starting at 5 PM CST. If you haven't seen them and have cable, it would be well worth it to TIVO or tape.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Daddy, I don't want to die on a Cross"

Last Tuesday night, Sheryl, I, and the kids went to a little service at Christ the King, a Catholic Church here in town. The service was associated with Sant'Egidio, a group committing itself to community, prayer, worship, and service to the poor.

Afterwards, Kinsey and I walked around a little and we went into the main section of the Sanctuary. They had a large crucifix with Jesus hanging on it. I asked Kinsey who it was and she knew that it was Jesus on the Cross. As we turned to walk away, she took my hand and said, "Daddy, I don't want to die on a Cross." I turned back to her and knelt down.

"Why do you think you would need to die on a cross, sweetie?"

She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "Jesus did and if he did, that means I'm going to have to too."

"No sweetie, you probably won't have to die on a cross. That really only happened back when Jesus was alive... I mean, when he walked on this earth. And don't you remember? He came back to life after he died and that means we will too."

She nodded thoughtfully and said, "Well, that's true. But I still don't want to die on a cross."

"Me either."

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Power in the Church

Interesting article in yesterday's Tennessean on Bellevue Community Church and their former pastor, David Foster.

What do you all think of one person having the power and influence over a congregation that Foster seems to have had at BCC? To me, that seems incredibly dangerous, especially if the man is as charismatic as Dr. Foster seems to have been. It's a situation that makes me incredibly glad to be in a church that has elders in authority, rather than one man (or person). I understand of course that if you get a group of elders that are out for their own power rather than the good of the church, you could potentially get into trouble there too.

Any thoughts from you all?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Once again, I spoke at Otter Creek's 50 something-ith Thanksgiving service. It was really nice and laid back and just enjoyable to be a part of it. Here's what I said:

On a day like today, it is very easy to think about abundance. Most of us will leave hear and go home to places where sumptuous meals are being cooked and set up. We will enjoy the company of family and friends. We will play games, watch games, make plans for being up way too early in the morning. We will take joy in the blessings that such a holiday offers us.

I’m particularly thankful this year. It’s been a very full 12 months. This time last year, Sheryl, Kinsey and I had just gotten back from a mission trip to England and Sheryl was pregnant. This time last year, the word of a possible move from Granny White to this location were beginning to brew and in the space of three months, we had moved an entire church building full of 50 years of history and memories to this location. My son Connor was born in May and in August my daughter started Kindergarten. It’s been one of those momentous years that I will always look back on and thank God that it happened.

As I started thinking about what I was going to say today, I honestly had trouble. I’ve talked in this service the last couple of years and wanted to think in some new ways about the subject of Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. So I decided to do what any self respecting former English/History teacher would do and go back to the beginning of this celebration.

I learned surprisingly enough, that the first Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1619, in the Virginia Colony. The more famous one occurred two years later in 1621 in the Plymouth Colony. And like many people, that’s the one that intrigued me. Because while we think of Thanksgiving as a celebration of abundance, it was for a very different reason that the colonists in present-day Massachusetts celebrated. That celebration was about survival.

On the Mayflower at its outset from Plymouth, England in September of 1620, there were 102 passengers. By the fall of the following year, only 50 had survived. And it’s important to remember that these early immigrants would not have survived without the help of the native people of the land. Without assistance of Squanto and the rest of the Wampanoag Confederacy to teach them about ways to fertilize their crops and the best places to fish and trap. That first celebration is 1621 was not about the celebration of abundance, because it had been a hard year. Losing half your population makes for a hard year. The cause for celebration for those early settlers was simple survival. Did they have abundance? Not yet. Soon though they would. But for this first celebration, they were simply thankful for life.

Most of us here are not in that situation. Most of us don’t have to struggle from season to season, praying that life would continue, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people here today who aren’t thankful for survival. For those who have lost loved ones, who have battled disease, who have seen jobs and goals not come to fruition, who have watched children takes paths they wish they wouldn’t, for the death of a marriage. For these, like for those early colonists, the Thanksgiving is for survival, it is for making it to the next morning. These situations in the people which sometimes are easy to hide from public view but are still just as real as the dangers of starvation, disease, and injury.

It’s in those times, when you’re in the middle of them that it is hard to see God’s hand in them. How could God allow me to lose my job? How could God allow my child to be sick? How could God allow my marriage to fail? And the easy platitude would be to say, “Well, God has a plan,” or “When you come out of it, you’ll see how God was working in this.” I will say that I believe that there were lessons for me and my family to learn when I lost my job. One of those was a reliance on God and His provision, which is an incredibly hard thing to learn and wait on. The other (which I believe firmly is part of the first) was a reliance on the community of faith.

The stories that I could tell about how we were upheld by this family would take more time than I have. Suffice it to say that, even though we live in a time where admitting weakness can be cause for ridicule, saying that we needed help brought a flood of help that is one of those places of faith for me and Sheryl. And at the end of that time, when I got another job, I did see God’s hand in it, but what sustained through that time was His love manifested through His body. People becoming the hands and feet of Christ to us. We were thankful for what He did for us and in turn that thankfulness led us to a call to action.

One thing it did was really start to open my eyes to people who were hurting. And in seeing those people who are hurting emotionally or physically, there is a call for us as followers of Christ to be a blessing to people. Going as far back as Genesis 12, when God calls the then-named Abram, he says that all people will be blessed through Abraham. Part of our calling as the spiritual descendants of Abraham is to be a blessing to people, to help those who need it. If we rely on our abundance and do not share that with those in need, then we are the rich fools that Jesus speaks of in Luke 12. If our Thanksgiving to God does not include the help for the poor and those on the fringes of society, then we do a disservice to our calling as followers of Christ.

It’s for this reason that we use the Thanksgiving season once again, as a kickoff for the gift card drive. Otter Creek receives several calls per week of people needing help buying items that are not included in food stamps and government assistance. It is one way to give thanks to God for how He has blessed us by giving to those in need of help.

A word of caution though… in his book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne calls charity a dangerous thing, because it allows us to assuage guilt. It allows us to do good and to be a help without actually getting to know the poor. So while we can be a help, perhaps a goal for this next year is to actually get to know someone who lives on the margins of society. To treat them as much of a friend as the person sitting next us. As a wise person once said, It is perfectly right to ask God to feed the hungry, go out and feed someone who is hungry, then thank God for answering your prayer. We are to be God’s actors in this world. We are to be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom, His Will. And that means acting as Jesus did. That means associating with the people he associated with. The despised, the hated, the unloved. It is a radical, scary call. But it’s also the example that our Lord set for us.

And if we can commit to that, there might be someone at this time next year thanking God for their survival.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is the Revolution really Irresistible?

Well, as I've mentioned, I finished The Irresistible Revolution this last weekend. And I will say at the outset that it's a very good read. I can't say I enjoyed it, because it's the type of reading that you don't really enjoy, because of a couple of reasons. 1) It makes me realize how big the task of caring for the poor and marginalized is. 2) It makes me realize how inadequate I really am to try and help with even a small corner of that task. More on that later though...

One of the most interesting things about this book is the stories that Shane Claiborne tells about his life so far. He went from organizing student protests for the homeless to deciding that he wanted to spend a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa (so he called her up and asked her if he could come; she answered and said yes). He then came back to the States and did a year long internship with Willow Creek Community Church, which was a huge culture shock for him. These stories are really interesting as is his perspective. One thing he talked about was trying to feel like the rich at Willow Creek were as in need of help as the lepers and those in extreme poverty that he interacted with Calcutta. But one thing he said that Mother Theresa said to look for was the poverty that everyone had, and he realized that the rich or well off had a poverty of relationship. They were lonely. That was very intriguing insight.

He quoted from Dorothy Day a lot and she had some interesting quotes. For instance, "When I fed the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they were poor, they called me a communist." Something else that Claiborne talked about was that people of privilege and middle class will often use charity as a buffer to keep from being around the poor. It's easier to give money to a cause than it is to actually be around those we claim to want to help. That was an extremely convicting idea.

Last Friday, when I first mentioned this book, Sam Davidson commented that Shane's life and theology were very consistent, meaning he really lives what he believes. He acts on his theology. I'm not sure I can really be the extraordinary radical that Shane and the community at the Simple Way in Philadelphia are, but maybe it's the goal to become an ordinary one.

btw, if you're reading this, you're invited to a Thanksgiving service that I'm helping to lead at Otter Creek Church tomorrow morning at 9. We're at 409 Franklin Road in Brentwood and if you come, you might hear some of what you just read here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Connor Laughing

This is the first time I've heard Connor chuckle like this, and it's wonderful. I'm so thankful for him and Kinsey and as much of a struggle as kids can be at times, it's things like his laughter that keep you going.

So I share it with you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fun Weekend

It was a fun weekend, but a whirlwind one.

We left Friday afternoon and drove up to see some of Sheryl's family near Cincinnati. That was a good time and we really got to see some family we didn't know or see that often. Kinsey loves her Grandma Musick so much and I'm so glad she's had a chance to really know her. She loves her so much that when she thought Grandma Musick had left and she hadn't got to hug her, she burst into tears. Thankfully, she hadn't gone and we all got to say goodbye. Connor was a dream and just such a pleasant baby to be around.

We drove back yesterday morning and afternoon, and I got back in time to go downtown and run sound for the Thanksgiving service at the Ryman sponsored by Operation Andrew and the YMCA. I remember last year and how nervous I was to be standing at the board and mixing in the Ryman Auditorium. This year, it was almost old hat. Not exactly "ho hum," but certainly not as nerve wracking as last year.

This is obviously a short week and I'm still working on the Thanksgiving service for Thursday. I think I've got a line on where it's going to go. More later about the Irresistible Revolution. Have a good one.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No Time

Busy day today, so not much time to blog.

I'm almost done with an incredible book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. This is really interesting and really challenging. One of the reasons I really like it is that it talks practically about dealing with faith and Jesus' call and example to care for the poor and those on the margins. I'll talk more about it next week or the week after.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More YouTube fun

Once again, I didn't take the time to find a funny/mockable picture so here are three YouTube videos...

1) About 4 months ago, this kid from Norway filmed himself making a beatbox, except it's all done with video editing. It's also done with flair and humor that really makes it neat.

2) This second one is the same guy, Lasse Gjertsen, and it's done in the same style, except instead of a beat box, it's drums and a piano. This one is so well done and again, with humor and style, and not a bad song too.

3) This last one is one of the saddest, most beautiful pieces of animation that I've ever watched. It effects me almost as much as the song "When She Loved Me" by Sarah MacLachlan in Toy Story 2. The story that it tells in 3 minutes is just... beautiful is the only way to put it. Make sure to listen after it blacks out for what makes it so sad.

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanksgiving at Otter Creek

Once again this year, I'm organizing the Otter Creek Thanksgiving service. I've done it the last two years (here's last year's talk), and it's been weird because the Thanksgiving service was always Buddy Arnold's thing and it's very strange to be stepping into his shoes in this manner.

Something that I really like about the service is that it's very old school. No MediaShout, no screens, one mic. That kind of thing. It's very nice to do that at times and remember the simpler roots of our tribe, the Church of Christ.

What I've tried to do over the last two years is really incorporate all the elements of OC's family into what I do (single, married, older married, senior, that kind of thing) and when I talk, I try to avoid the nationalistic fervor that can sometimes accompany a Thanksgiving service and really talk about the poor and our need to be servants to them and all of those on the outside margins.

However, sometimes I feel like I'm beating a drum over and over again. I really don't want to get to a point where people see me coming up to a mic and think, "Oh great. Now we have to hear about serving people again." Which maybe isn't all bad now that I think about it, but I also would like to keep the message of that as fresh as possible. I don't want to say the same thing all the time.

So here's where I need some help. I'm considering two things. 1) There was a guy that we worked with through the prison ministry that just got let out on parole. He's a guy that's really trying to put his life back together and I think that if there's anyone that could talk about thanksgiving in a fresh way, it would be someone like him. I was thinking about asking him to speak. 2) He may not want to speak or not be able to. If so, I'll probably do it again. How can I address the issue of concern for the poor without being annoyingly repetitive? I welcome your thoughts

btw, you are all welcome to the service. It's at 9am at Otter Creek's building on Thanksgiving morning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Connor's Curse

I've been playing Mr. Mom the last couple of days. Sheryl came down with a little bug of some sorts and so I've been taking care of her. I was pretty bummed because I didn't work the tech booth on Sunday and was looking forward to sitting with her.

Monday night was a long one. I got home and basically had to start Kinsey on her homework that we didn't do last week. She wasn't as excited about it as we might have wished and did her little stalling techniques that frustrate me immensely. While she was doing that, I made our supper and after eating it, fed Connor his cereal. I then gave Kinsey her bath and put her to bed. I then did the dishes and came downstairs to do the laundry... Long night.

Anyway, to Connor's curse. Below are pictures of me at six months. Once again, when Mom showed them to me, I would have sworn they were him. Well, I guess he'll have a good idea of what he'll look like at 35.

Me at 6 months

Me at 6 months

Cousin Katie, Kinsey, and Connor on a sleepover.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Treasures in Heaven

In his great class on the Sermon on the Mount at Otter Creek, Lee Camp covered Matthew 6:19-24 yesterday. As a refresher, here's the text:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

As you might imagine, Lee had some hard things to say about this passage, especially in a church building in one of the richest counties in America: Williamson. However, even more interesting were five suggestions that he made for the church when it comes to money.

1. Let us learn to talk about money in the church. One of Lee's points was that secrecy in money and what we do with that money can have many of the same effects on our spiritual walk as secrecy about our sexual lust.

2. Let us find more ways to encourage each other to live more simply.

3. Let us remind each other that greed is idolatry, as Paul says.

4. It may be that our habit of disposing of marriages is due to our consumerist attitudes in everything else.

5. The church ought to question whether marketing (creating desire where no need is evident) is as unacceptable as a career in prostitution.

Like I said, hard, hard words, but words that I'm interested in hearing other people's responses too. Are they too harsh? Not strong enough? Any that make no sense at all? What about that last one? Can marketing and prostitution be linked?

I'll close this by saying that hearing that is in addition to reading The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, which is an incredible read, and I'll have a lot more to say about this book in the future.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How Cultural is Scripture?

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of Scripture recently and the culturalness of it.

I grew up in the Church of Christ which has a pretty defined way of interpreting Scripture or hermeneutic. The method says that God's will for our lives is revealed completely through Scripture and that a rational person can figure it out. Through looking at the Scripture, we can see the direct commands, the approved apostolic examples, and the necessary inferences that can be drawn to give us the things that we need to do to become remain saved. For those of you who didn't know that, that little explanation might explain much about the Churches of Christ. There's not much room in that hermeneutic for the culturalness of an idea.

If you notice from the title of this post, there is an underlying assumption that Scripture is cultural. I don't really think that can be denied. It was written in a different time from us, directed to different people who lived with all sorts of basic assumptions about life.

For instance, the idea of a resting Sabbath is very hard for some of us to take in due to the busyness of our lives, but for a culture that had just spent 400 years as slaves, working every day, the idea of having a day off to rest must have been as much a salvation as just leaving Egypt. Or the phrase "Jesus is Lord." To us, this is a phrase that has some significance, depending on how much we actually allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, but in the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, that was an extremely dangerous political statement, because the idea behind it is that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.

So I think that it's apparent that Scripture is cultural. The question is How Cultural is it? In most Christian traditions, the Bible is the Word of God handed down to us through the ages, but as readers of it we have to recognize its culturalness and then the natural question has to flow down: are there parts of it that are cultural to its time and not applicable to us?

An example. Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 2 Thessalonians 5:26 all talk about greeting each other with a "holy kiss." I don't know of many congregations that follow this direct command of the Scripture. We've culturalized it into a hug or a handshake or high five.

Another example would be slavery (and I know about the book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William Webb, which I haven't read but might one day) and how it's treated in Scripture (not condemned, but not condoned in the NT anyway) versus the modern mindset that we have about its unacceptability.

So question 1, how cultural is Scripture?

Question 2, does the culturalness of a Scriptural passage give us license to ignore, disregard, or alter it?

Question 3, are there general principles in the Bible that are revealed through cultural eyes which give us the principals we should follow while maybe not following the exact rule/regulation?

Or are all of these questions invalid and Scripture should be followed, no matter its culturality?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Calvin and Hobbes: The Untold Story

Instead of captioning a picture today, I thought I would share this piece I found on YouTube the other day. Calvin and Hobbes was and is one of my favorite comic strips ever, but seriously... didn't you know it would end up badly for Calvin? Warning: dark humor ahead.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Happened Yesterday

Deep down inside, I am a political wonk. I love politics and seeing how things play out, and trying to figure out why it happened. Just my thing at times of the year like this. So here's how I think the Senate race here in Tennessee played out.

Much to the contradiction of the national media who always mentioned Harold Ford Jr's race, I do not think that him being an African American played into his loss. I don't pretend to be naive enough to think that there weren't people who didn't vote for him because of his race, but I don't think that percentage was big enough to cause his loss. There are two things that I think that did play into his loss.

1) His family. I think that there were enough people concerned about his family that they didn't vote for him, either wondering if they would influence him when he got into power or he would end up like them. I think that's why Shelby County (Memphis) didn't go stronger for him. They know his family and there were enough people there and in parts of the rest of the state that decided for that reason.

2) He's a Democrat. I think that as conservative as Tennessee has swung, there were a lot of independent voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. They fear them in power. They fear the Pelosi factor. I also think there were a lot of Republicans in the same boat. They're dissatisfied with the war and the President and the party and don't agree with them, but just couldn't push the button to vote for a Democrat. I almost fell into that category myself, but for the first time in a Senatorial election, I voted for a Democrat. I fell into all of those categories and decided that the time was right for some change in DC after 12 years. I liked how he presented himself and how he campaigned (for the most part). I think that he'll be a great candidate in the future as well.

Same Sex Marriage
This wasn't very interesting in Tennessee: 80% to 20% for the amendment defining Marriage as being between a man and woman. I wasn't surprised by that at all.

What I didn't know was how it broke down in the other 7 states where there were similar ballot initiatives:
So in what seems like a pretty clear referendum on the subject, gay marriage lost. What does that mean? It seems like while there is a split, the majority supports the ban. Now interestingly, Colorado also had a domestic partnership measure on their ballot which was voted down 53 to 47. I think something like that would be something I would support more than gay marriage (which I do feel is between a man and woman). That measure getting voted down made me wonder about the politicking of Dobson and Haggard and the rest of the crew out there.

Democrats in the House (and maybe the Senate)
The country has indicated that it wants some change. The Dems won many more seats in the House than they needed for a majority and there's still an outside chance that the two undecideds in Virginia and Montana will swing their way. The question now is what really will change? The president is the Commander in Chief, so the Dems won't get us out of Iraq. They don't have a chance to override vetoes, so the laws they pass will have to be compromises on some level (not even including those signing statements Bush has been writing on laws passed by his own party). What we're probably looking at is gridlock, but in my mind, while gridlock isn't great, I find it preferable to the blank check the President has had for the last 6 years.

What's really going to get interesting is the next two years with the Presidential race (which should be interesting). Will the Democrats get someone who can capture the public's imagination? Or will we be stuck again voting for the lesser of two idiots?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Brandon's Blog

So... Have you read Brandon's blog today? If not, you should. Well, maybe, maybe not. I'm not going to say much about it because most people are saying it in the comments over there.

However, the thing that saddens me the most about it is the blatant disregard of Scripture in the name of making a personal attack with no intention of the reconciliation that should be evident in the life of disciple. Matthew 18:15-20 clearly states:
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 "If a brother or sister sins, go and point out the fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

I'm not sure how much simpler than that it is and sending an anonymous letter to someone is a sign of someone either ignorant of it or completely disregarding it. Jesus isn't calling here for some legalistic reaction to a brother or sisters' sin. It's the ministry of reconciliation that we are called to that it doesn't seem that the anonymous sender of the letter has no interest in.

And it breaks my heart for them and for BST that he would get such a letter.

Weird Kid Dream

I had a strange dream about Kinsey the other night and I don't know if it was a cohesion of my thinking about Heroes or what. I don't remember my dreams a lot, but when I do, they're pretty rooted in reality (ok, sans the giant ant dream). This is unlike Sheryl who dreams about locomotives driving through our living room.

Somehow, Sheryl and I were Kinsey's adopted parents. And we'd just gotten word that her birth parents wanted her back and my heart was absolutely broken. I could imagine giving her up. I really really couldn't. But then we were at her birth parents house and getting ready to hand her over. I don't remember her crying, but I felt myself right on the verge of it, especially as I got out the letter that I'd written to read to her about how we would always love her and she would always be my little girl. It was at that moment that I remember watching her being born and that I was her real daddy, and the dream ended thankfully.

It's strange how those little things like that can get you through the defiant times and the "pretending I can't hear you" times. As frustrated as I get, I can't imagine being without her.

Although I did wonder what the significance of Connor having 9 toes was....

Monday, November 06, 2006


Like some other people, I've been thinking some about the Ted Haggard situation out in Colorado. It's an eerily familiar feeling that we've seen shades of in years past, from Jimmy Swaggart to Jim Bakker and all sorts of non famous people in between.

One thing that has really struck me is some of the pleasure that people have taken in seeing this guy fall in such a spectacular way. It seems that because this guy was a leader of a large church (14,000), an opponent of gay marriage, and an adviser to the President, when he's caught in an indiscretion/sin that he is vilified and the situation is almost celebrated.

So here's my question: Why is that? Is it because he was caught in a drug using, homosexual situation when he'd spoken so strenuously against it? Is it that people love seeing people in high places brought down? Is it that people love seeing hypocrites taken down?

Part of me wonders as well if Haggard's outspoken version of Christianity plays into this as well. Are Christians seen outside of our own circles as some kind of bogeymen that are just ripe such a takedown? Is that why some people have taken such pleasure in it? Because it was a(nother) "big time" Christian that was taken down?

Randy Harris once told a story about seeing a girl in the airport weeping uncontrollably with no one around comforting her. He felt that he should go over and talk to her and see if he could help, but one decision he had to make was whether to go over "Cross in or Cross out." You see, he didn't know whether the girl would associate a Christian with judgmentalism and proselytizing or if she would think of a Christian as someone who would lay down their life for her.

Maybe that's why people are taking pleasure in Haggard's fall. Maybe Christians aren't seen as those who will lay down their lives.

And that's a problem.

Follow up:

What message does Haggard's church removing him from ministry send? Is the message that we don't want struggling people leading our congregations? Or only people who struggle with certain sins? Because if it is, I think that's a problem too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mending Hearts

Last night, I was privileged to help out at a benefit dinner for a local charity called Mending Hearts. It is a program started by two women, Katrina Frierson and Charlotte Grant, whose goal it is to provide women in addiction and basically at the bottom of society with a transitional living facility, support services, and access to clothing and jobs.

Ok. All of that is a fairly dry way of saying that Mending Hearts is an absolutely amazing group of people. The stories that I heard last night... I heard of women addicted to meth and crack who are six months clean. Six months! These women were hooked on crack when Connor was born! I heard of women who had lost all contact with their families, and only after being in Mending Hearts did they reunite. A woman whose 13 year old son hung himself who because of the women at Mending Hearts got to be with him before he died. Women who are learning and relearning everyday what grace and love mean. This is a work that is taking the love of Christ into some of the darkest places of this world and pulling women back from the brink of absolute devastation. Do all of them stay with it? No they don't. Do some take advantage of it? Yes they do. But to look in the eyes of those women who are daily fighting their addictions and demons and failures and see... hope, to see a chance for life, and just how grateful they are for another day and another chance is what the Kingdom of God is truly about.

Zane Williams, who played last night at the benefit (btw, Zane, Hurry Home made me cry... again), once said that it is perfectly appropriate to pray and ask God to feed the hungry, go out and give a meal to someone hungry, then go back and thank God for answering your prayer. This is one of those times where those prayers that we pray about the Kingdom coming on Earth as it is in Heaven can come to fruition.

If you have the means, please donate to Mending Hearts. They have a PayPal link on their site and you can donate, even if you're not here in Nashville. If you are here in Nashville and have the ability, go down and visit them. See these women in their place of need and joy. Find ways that you can help. If you have a blog, talk about this work. Put a link to Mending Hearts and let your readers know about what goes on there. Even if you haven't updated your blog in six months, do a quick post with a link to Mending Hearts. This is a work of God and supporting it is doing the work of the Kingdom. It's continuing Jesus' work that he left for us to do.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Caption This Picture!

It's the election season and John Kerry is back in the news! Caption this picture.

Be funny! Or even slightly amusing!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fuel on the Fire: Why Heroes is Better than Lost

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said Heroes was better than Lost?

Someone else agrees... Has Heroes Cracked the Lost Formula?

Here's a little cut from the very short article:
A lot of fans credit the success of Heroes directly to the fact that you really have a sense that the story is coming together, which is a polar opposite of LOST fans assessment of their program of choice. In this sense it is very possible that Heroes may not have just matched the LOST formula, but exceeded it.
This is my biggest reason for thinking Heroes is better than Lost. My biggest issue is that Lost doesn't really answer the questions. It says that it is, but all of a sudden the hatch is open and then what? A computer to enter the magic numbers on? It teases you and tantalizes you, but in the end, the answers you get make no sense. I think part of the problem too is that there is basically one story. The island. And it's a narrative corner the writers have put themselves into and can't really get out of. Sure, they have the flashbacks which are supposed to flesh out the characters, but again, in the end there's not really much there. They can't get off the island without the show ending, so they are stretching it as long as possible. At least, that's what it feels like to me.

Now, I will freely admit that there is a strong possibility that Heroes could turn out the same way. We're only 6 episodes into it, and there are plenty of opportunities for dropping the ball. So far though, the only story that I'm really not excited about is the mind-reading cop (Matt) and his wife. I like Matt, but the story doesn't really seem to have any kind of direction within the larger story. Everything else, from the cheerleader to her dad to the politician to the painter, all of it works well and has a sense of really going somewhere. There's a sense of overall story and narrative that Lost doesn't seem to have, or if Lost does have it, doesn't seem to be so complex that an advanced degree in theoretical physics, metaphysics, and philosophy is necessary to grasp it. This is especially true now that the Heroes are starting to meet and interact with each other. Their stories are starting to intertwine and the sense is that story is starting to pick up.

The other thing that sets Heroes apart from Lost for me is the sense of fun about it, mainly in the character of Hiro (played by Masa Oki, who also just happens to be a programmer for ILM that did the water effects for The Perfect Storm; talk about a renaissance man). The joy that he's brought so far to his role, serving as a template for how the rest of us geeks would be if we got the power to stop time and teleport is spot-on perfect. This sense of fun also makes it a nice counterpoint to the unrelenting darkness of Battlestar Galactica, my other favorite show.

So, it comes down to it that I think Heroes is better than Lost, so far. I'm hoping it can keep its momentum, narratively. Otherwise, 3 years from now, I might be writing about why Heroes is awful and how it lost its way, similar to another serialized drama from the early 2000s....
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