Friday, August 31, 2007

What the Church Has Done Right

Over on his blog, Scott Freeman has asked the question: What has the church done right?

In my mind, the church has done many things right, but I'll list a few here, knowing of course that there is a flip side to everything.

1) The church has formed community. This is one of the greatest assets of the church. Within her, those that wouldn't normally join together are joined, and in the best of circumstances learn to work together in spite of differences. The downside to this is that we can make our communities so insular that we forget those that are outside of those communities and form communities with walls and barriers and not the open accepting ones that embody the spirit of Christ.

2) The church institutionalizes aspects of the Christian life. Worship, service, compassion, learning. These are all disciplines that need to be a part of the Christian walk. Within the church, these aspects can be formalized to some extent or perhaps provide a single gathering place for them. The negative of this is that these can become institutionalized and people can get so used to the pastors or ministers doing the day to day work of the Christian that we can forget that it's our work as well. Plus, the church can become bureaucratic, and natural state for a bureaucracy is to preserve itself.

3) The church directs her members toward worshiping God. In this world where it's possible to worship anything and nothing simultaneously, the church can be one of the few institutions to point her members back to the Father. This is one of the few things I see that isn't negative.

I know there are more, but this is what's hitting me right now. What am I forgetting?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fantasy Football Round 2

Well, after coming in third in the Blogger Bowl Fantasy Football last year, I'm giving it another shot. I drafted 10th out of 10, but I think I ended up doing pretty well.

QB: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Wide Receivers: Lee Evans, Buffalo; Hines Ward, Pittsburgh; Devin Hester, Chicago
Running Backs: Laurence Mauroney, New England; Lendale White, Tennessee
Tight End: Antonio Gates, San Diego
W/R (Wide receiver or running back): Michael Turner, San Diego
W/T (Wide Receiver or tight end): Matt Jones, Jacksonville
Defense: Chicago
K: Jason Elam, Denver

I have a bench of course, but I won't go through all of that. I don't think I did too bad over all. I'm hoping that Peyton throws 40 or so TDs and that pretty much takes care of everything.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Junie B. Jones and the Bad Words

A few weeks ago, Sheryl and Kinsey went through Wendy's or Chik-Fil-A or some place and they were giving out audiobooks. The audiobook we received was Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed. Now, when I first listened the book, I thought it was kind of cute. On the 1,000th time though, not so much. Junie B. Jones is a girl in the class of afternoon kindergarten. Her teacher is named Mrs. She has another name, but Junie doesn't like to use it. Junie has a brother named Ollie that she thought was a monkey when he was first born, because of a misunderstanding with her Grandma Helen Miller.

Now, we are really trying to encourage Kinsey in her reading. We think she's a lot better reader than she's letting on, but we're continuing to do a lot of reading with her. She liked the Junie B. book so much that we decided to make a reward for good behavior a collection of Junie B. Jones books. The very first book was Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Major problem there. "Stupid" is on our "do not use" list at home. A list which also includes "dumb," "hate," "ugly," and "shut up." The problem is that Junie B. uses these words all the time. Not only that, but Junie B. talks back to her parents quite often and is disrespectful to them on occasion.

Naturally, I don't have such rose-colored glasses on that I don't believe that Kinsey doesn't act like this. She does, but we really don't want to encourage that behavior in her. This is why I'm glad she watches Playhouse Disney and not some other channels where she might see that behavior demonstrated.

Sheryl and I had a choice when it came to reading the books with her each night. We could either read the words and actions that Junie B. did and use those as teaching moments or not. We actually chose the middle road. We didn't read the words. We either skipped them where we could or substituted. For instance, when Junie B. says that "I hate that big dumb Jim," I would read, "I really don't like that Jim." Where she would talk about a crybaby boy that she thinks she can beat up, I read that, but we talked about why that's not a proper way to act. I realized a bit later that Junie B. was written more for middle schoolers and her antics would be very funny to them. They were pretty funny to me and Sheryl too, but not while we have a little girl who could be influenced by them, and sometimes acts that way without their influence.

So we switched over to the Little House books set in the 1880s where children were never sarcastic or disobedient (joke). Of course, this has led to other questions like "Daddy, why do people hunt?" and "Do we eat meat?" Fun times.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I want to encourage people to read a post from John Alan Turner's blog called Conversations on an Airplane. It talks about a conversation he had with a philosophy professor, and the interesting thing is how much JAT talks about the other stuff he's read. Hume, among others.

The interesting thought for me and the question I want to pose to others is this: How much reading do we do outside of our own faith? For so long, we Christians have voluntarily ghetto-ized ourselves behind our theological walls and not dared to come out or even let others who don't share our beliefs in. But the truth of the matter is that if we really want to engage the world and have conversation with people who don't believe what we do, then we have to read outside of our walls. We have to be familiar with Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris, and Carl Sagan. I'm not very familiar. I'm more familiar with pop culture, TV, and movies. I haven't read any of the above authors.

So I'm curious. Who do you read that isn't a Christian? And do you feel that reading that helps your faith or weakens it?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Heroes Preview

You know, one month from tomorrow, Heroes returns to NBC. Here's a little something whet the appetite.

Standard promo

And this one which is just strikingly beautiful, and especially cool with the power walk at the end...

So there you go. What do you think is going to happen this year?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The front page of's International site at 3:50 PM yesterday afternoon.

And the front page of CNN's main/US site.

The difference is very curious to me.

And, while I hate to add to the noise surrounding Michael Vick, I have found two very interesting items I'd like to share.

This is a piece from written by Wright Thompson before the Vick plea deal about why so many African-Americans in Atlanta support Vick and distrust the FBI.

And this from the Daily Show last night...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Splash Day

It's obviously very hot here in Nashville, so on Saturday we went to a little splash park out to the west of us with some friends from college and their children, some of whom go to school with Kinsey.

Here are some pics of the kids.

Monday, August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2: Behold the Cheese

According to, High School Musical 2 was the most watched cable television show ever with 17.2 million people watching.

If they were anything like me and Sheryl, they were disappointed by it and immediately wanted to watch the original's songs. The fun thing about the first one was that it was cheesy and it knew it, but still had fun. For the sequel, it's like it was under the weight of the expectations for it and tried TOO hard to be the fun cheesy, and even making Troy the brooding hero in "Bet On It," while I'm sure it made the preteen girls' heart go a-flutter, just was laughably bad.

Oh well, the string of sequels not living up to the original continues, partially broken by Toy Story 2 and The Empire Strikes Back and a few others.

Here's some from the original to wash the taste out...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jesus and the Atomic Bomb

Note: This post is a followup to the one I did last Friday.

As of right now in the history of the world, only one country has ever used a nuclear device in war. Us. The United States. And I have heard all the justifications about how using the devices saved American lives, and in fact, I have probably known (and still know) men whose lives were spared because we didn't launch an invasion of the Japanese islands.

I've stated before that I don't believe America is a Christian nation or ever has been, mainly because I don't believe that nations can be Christians. They can be largely comprised of Christians or even led by Christians, but nations are largely about self preservation and protection of its citizens. Whatever the cost. Basically nations believe that the lives of their citizens are inherently more valuable than the lives of people of other non-allied nations.

And that's what Harry Truman and his advisers decided in 1945. They decided that the lives of the American soldiers were of greater worth than the lives of the Japanese civilians, and so they felt that dropping two atomic weapons were the proper way to end the war.

Now from strictly a nationalistic perspective, this was the right maneuver. And it should have been an easy call for the Americans. Particularly because they felt that the Germans would have done the same thing given similar circumstances.

What it can't be called is Christian. Plain and simple. Doing something that takes the life of your enemy (especially noncombatants) is not how Christ enjoined us to follow him. Very simply put, the one time Jesus had someone fight for him (Matthew 26:50-54, Luke 22:47-53), Jesus not only chastised Peter for fighting for him, but then proceeded to heal the ear of one of the men that came to capture him. What do I think Jesus would have thought of Fat Man and Little Boy, the two atomic weapons? I can only think that he would have thought the same thing of them as he did of Peter's sword.

The only thing I can hope is that when/if our brothers and sisters 5,000 years from now (if the Lord doesn't come back and the creek don't rise, as my grandmother used to say) and wonder how God could have worked through such a people as us, that they will give us the same benefit of the doubt as we give the Israelites in the Old Testament who committed genocide on the Canaanites. That they will simply trust that God was able to work out His purposes, even through such broken vessels.

Digg This!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Scrubs Music

To dovetail on yesterday's post, those of you interested can listen to Dr. Amy Jill Levine's talk at Otter Creek Church of Christ last night at


One of my favorite shows in reruns today is Scrubs. It's a show that deals in absurdist comedy and one that seriously makes me guffaw out loud just about every time I watch it. One of the things I like the best about it is how it uses music.

For example, one of the first times I watched they did this incredible thing with Journey's Don't Stop Believing

And apparently in the first season, they had Colin Hay from the 80's band Men At Work perform the song Overkill acoustically and it was so good that I had to buy the song off iTunes.

All in all, it's just a fun show, that has incredible moments of pathos and then moments of absurdity that crack me up. And perhaps my favorite one is from "My Way Home." I wish I could post the whole episode here, but here's just the end.

Addendum: Scott Freeman reminded of me of this moment, which is one of the most beautifully sublime uses of music on the show. A woman has been asked how she wants to die, and she says that she wants it like a Broadway musical.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dr. A.J. Levine

For those interested, Dr. Amy Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, is speaking at Otter Creek Church of Christ at 409 Franklin Road tonight at 7. I have heard her speak several times, including last year, and while I might not agree with her on all her points, she has much to teach us as Christians about Scripture and the approaches to it.

I'm very much looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

First Day of School

Here are the pics from Kinsey's first day of first grade.

Kinsey in her uni... I mean, Standard School Attire.

Kinsey in the van on the way to school.

Kinsey and a friend sitting together in the class.

It was a good first day for Kinsey. She obviously has a new teacher and a lot of new friends, as well as several of her friends from her kindergarten class.

And here are a couple of blasts from the past.

This is Kinsey from last year on the first day of Kindergarten.

And Kinsey on the first day of preschool.

The years are just flying by. Incredible how it happens.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Not of This World"

In John 18, Jesus and Pontius Pilate have a very interesting exchange.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

I think in some ways, what Jesus says in verse 34 has been interpreted in some ways that don't support the context. I've heard this passage used to talk about Heaven and how Jesus is waiting for us there after we die. Which might be true, but it's not what this passage is talking about.

When Jesus says that His Kingdom is "not of this world," what I believe He's saying is that His Kingdom is not achieved by the means that this world uses. In fact, the very next sentence Jesus speaks is about His followers fighting for Him if His Kingdom were of this world. In fact, at the crucial moment of His ministry, when the perfect time to break out the swords came, Jesus not only told Peter to put his sword away, Jesus healed the ear of the one that Peter had struck. In Jesus' Kingdom, in the Kingdom of God, the means by which we achieve the ends are just as important. To put it another way, in the Kingdom of God, a evil means does not justify a righteous end.

Next week: What would Jesus have thought of the atomic bomb?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Hip-Hop Violin

I really, really enjoyed this when I first saw it and have continued to each time I watch it. Two very talented guys with very different talents.

btw, if anyone knows what the heck is going on with my Blogger template, please let me know.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Celebrity Lookalikes

I have no idea who Jens Stoltenberg is, but I'll take Denzel any day.

I'm kind of surprised I didn't get Josh Charles.

I got him a lot right after Dead Poets' Society came out. Which by the way, was a great movie to watch while in high school, but when I became a teacher... wow, talk about unreasonable expectations on what I could do and who I could inspire.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

When Inspiration Strikes...

Back when I was a teacher, ideas would occasionally strike me that I knew would hit a kid just right and I was glad when it happened. Friday night it happened with Kinsey.

We're going through a VERY selfish stage with her right now. I alluded to it in last week's post. Friday night, we went to a surprise teacher shower for a friend who is becoming a teacher. We brought some stuff for her classroom and were there to give her support (wish I'd got that when I was a first year teacher). Now, this friend is one we went to England with and generally, when she's around Kinsey, Kinsey gets her undivided attention. Obviously at this party, that wasn't going to happen and it just hit Kinsey wrong. She couldn't open the presents, she couldn't be right in front of everyone and she was pouting an incredible amount. I took her back to a bedroom and the waterworks and just SOBBING started. It was one of the most pathetic, attention seeking things she's ever done.

We immediately packed up to leave (with a 14 month old, it's a process), and when we got into the car, we started telling her how disappointed we were with her and how we knew she knew how to act, yet she wasn't doing it. And at this point, we got to the heart of why so much has been going on with her. She said that she worried that we didn't love her anymore because of Connor. So we re-assured her that that wasn't the case, but that that didn't excuse her behavior. She stayed teary all the way home and we sent her to bed as soon as we got there.

Sheryl and I talked about what consequence she needed to have, and she came out of her room claiming to need to go potty, so we let her. When she came out, I asked her why she washed her hands. She didn't know what I meant, so I said, "How did you know to wash your hands after you went potty?" She looked confused and said that she just knew that that was what she was supposed to do. I then pointed out that that was what we wanted selflessness to be for her. That it would be as natural as washing her hands after going potty. She nodded and I think she really understood it. The last few days have been better, although like any 6 year old, she's going to go in and out of them. I just hope that we can get her into a more consistent mindset of thinking about others. I think we will; it'll just take some time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Random Post of the Day

Why is the soundtrack to High School Musical so freaking hard to turn off? No music should be this addictive.

Friday, August 03, 2007

What Does Grace Cover? or How Much "Bad" Doctrine Does Grace Cover?

I currently attend Otter Creek Church of Christ, a "liberal/progressive/whatever" Church of Christ, which on the left to right scale of Churches of Christ, puts us way out on the left, but on the left to right scale of churches in general, puts us way out there on the right. It's an interesting dichotomy. One supposedly defining characteristics of these "liberal/progressive/whatever" Churches of Christ is that they have more emphasis on Grace than the "conservative/traditional/whatever" Churches of Christ. In fact, one person once thought that OC focused too much on grace and decided to leave.

One of the major tenants of the Churches of Christ is that there is a specific way to believe about God and faith. That revelation is given through the Bible and there is a specific way to interpret the Bible. If you don't interpret it the same way as the Churches of Christ do, then you're either being deliberately obtuse, you're mentally deficient, or you just haven't been taught in the right way.

Now, on one hand, that seems rather extreme, but in all honesty, it's the way that a lot of Christians believe. There are certain things that you have to believe in order to be a Christian and then to be saved from the everlasting sulfuric fires of Hell. Of course, we could debate what it means to be saved and how that plays out, but that's not what this post is about.

What I am wondering is this: How much bad belief does Grace cover? Is there a minimum that someone must believe in order to be considered a Christian and therefore saved? And if you don't believe that minimum of "orthodox" belief, does Grace cover that? Or does Grace only cover specifically repented-for sins of commission and omission? I'm really looking forward to hearing ideas on this.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Porn Myth

It is critical that if you are a man or woman, that you read this article about pornography.

The Porn Myth: In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing. by Naomi Wolf

Rowling Deathly Hallows Interviews

Deathly Hallows Spoilers below!


I'm sure many of you have read or are reading the Deathly Hallows and you might be craving more information, like What did Harry, Ron, and Hermione do in their futures for work? What about Ginny? Did Luna and Neville end up together?

Well in a couple of interviews, JK Rowlings has been explaining herself and why she did the things that she did in the books.

This one is an interview that aired on NBC Sunday night, portions of which aired on Today earlier in the week. Some good info, but more about her and her writing process and feelings now that it's all over.

This one is a web chat transcript from Bloomsbury, her UK publisher, with questions asked by fans. This is where the really juicy stuff is. Lots of questions about why certain things happened, what happened in the future. Also, what about that person that Rowlings said would show magic later in life? What did Dudley seem when the dementor started to kiss him? What did Dumbledore see in the Mirror of Erised? Tons of great stuff, but a word of warning. In Word, it's 18 pages long.

And finally, did you not like the epilogue? Did you not like the epilogue because it was Ron and Hermione and not Harry and Hermione? Did you think Ginny had far too much happiness in her life? Then this fanfiction version of the epilogue should make you very happy! This is an example of one of those Harmonian types that just truly felt that Rowlings didn't know her characters well enough to put Harry and Hermione together.

Yes, I'm completely serious. Enjoy!
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