Monday, July 25, 2005

 

Announcement:

(drumroll...)

Please note that PlaidBerry is going on hiatus in order to roll out something bigger and better. Thanks to all my faithful readers for listening, concurring, and/or telling me to get a clue. Now please go check out a whole new kind of adventure in blogging at eternalrevolution.com. It's the bomb, baby. The party officially starts August 1.

Go see what it's all about and... Get Spiritualized.

Monday, July 18, 2005

 

Emergent Stereotypes

Adam at Boar's Head Tavern does something I've been meaning to do for a while now. He tries to interject a little balance amidst all the madness over the Emergent Church. He states:

I get most annoyed when people absolutely hate it or absolutely love it... People who label the EC as a seeker-driven postmodern marketing campaign filled with gay-loving liberals who don't believe in absolute truth should really do themselves a favor and get their heads out of the sand. People who think the EC is the most wonderful thing that has happened to Christianity and praise God for giving us Postmodernity as the antibiotics to a dying culture really don't have a clue as to what they are talking about... The EC is not all bad and it is not all good.

I'd like to write a little on the subject myself, but for the time being, suffice to say that the hysteria (particularly by emergent-bashers) is getting a little old. Especially when most critics seem to understand little more about it than what they've read in excerpts from Brian McLaren's books or perused over at Emergent Village. McLaren is no more the sole voice of the EC than Rick Warren is for evangelicalism.

So, like, chill. And realize the Emergent folks are asking some pertinent questions. Perhaps people should be less quick to criticize the EC and realize that maybe - just maybe - their own denominations may not be completely flawless either.

Friday, July 15, 2005

 

On the Lighter Side...

By now, I would hope you know to turn to PlaidBerry for all the latest celebrity gossip. Do you find that you just cannot get enough pop culture? Is your insatiable appetite for all the latest on the lifestyles of the rich and famous not quite fulfilled by the plethora of ‘entertainment’ news in the form of magazines, TV shows, and websites? I feel your pain.

Here is Bill Simmons’ nice summary of a recent Cruise interview:
Tom Cruise takes his unique brand of crazy Down Under. I suggest skipping to right around the 8:40 mark, when Cruise starts icily responding to normal questions about Nicole Kidman, culminating with him telling the interviewer to "put your manners back in." Tom Cruise, ladies and gentlemen -- parent to the world.

I’m certainly not the first one to make this observation, but James Lileks is a great writer… He’s funny, yet always seems to work in some very insightful observations. Here is what he had to say today:

I would like to have a cabin… I would love to smell the ancestral perfume of the lakes – dead fish and weeds – and listen to the sounds of the country. The gutteral sigh of a powerboat motor throttling down, the soft thunk of the boat hitting the dock, the gentle plosh of the tackle falling in the water, the sudden scream of the drunk neighbor getting his hand caught between dock and boat.

But the days of a little humble shack furnished with thift-store stuff chosen for its ability to withstand mold – well, they’re over. Now you buy a lot on Lake Lelac, tear down the cabin that’s already there, build a luxurious house with all the modern appointments, then drive home. You visit it once a week, like a beloved relative who’s doing time. During the week you stare at the ceiling, convinced someone is breaking in the cabin and stealing the fixtures.

 

Oh, You Gotta Hear This...

I listened to this tape from ABC News released in 1999 and now I'm really confused. It talks about an "alliance" between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It also mentions clear links between Iraq and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

But, clearly, Iraq was a "distraction" from the war on terror, right? I thought it was common knowledge that there was "no link" between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, much less between Hussein and bin Laden? Could you liberals please explain to me what's going on here? Because, you know, it's not just this tape. There are also pesky articles like this one looming around.

Seriously, someone explain this. Perhaps it's another vast right wing conspiracy?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

 
Any Pittsburgh Steeler fans out there will really appreciate this article. Only in 'the burgh' my friends.

The Christian Carnival is up at ticking time blog. Byron does a nice job using a baseball theme in putting it together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 

Off the Deep(ak) End

Good news for all those who have suffered immensely this past week in the wake of the London bombings. Deepak Chopra is here to save the day. Like superman, he's arrived on the scene just in time to disburse a message of peace. (He really likes that word.) Here's Deepak's sage advice (and it really was written in response to the terrorist attack in London):

Millions of people are ready to join in harmonious interaction with Nature -- and with our own complex inner nature -- to create a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love. Let us strengthen our intention to create that critical mass of peace consciousness. Every tear can be a drop of nourishment for the new world that wants to be born and is making itself known little by little, every day. Each one of us can help create this critical mass by becoming the embodiment of peace conciousness through peace practices:

Being Peace
Thinking Peace
Feeling Peace
Speaking Peace
Acting Peace
Creating Peace
Sharing Peace
Celebrating Peace.

I honestly could not make up something this good. Someone out there must actually be listening to this guy though. I mean I think he actually sells a decent number of books. Maybe he's hypnotizing people by taking like this (you know, with the constant repetition and all). I'm sure I could find some hippies up the road in Boulder, CO, who see eye to eye with this new age guru, but how about bin Laden? Any Al-Qaeda members converted to Israeli lovers yet from these get-happy therapy sessions?

Actually, I'm thinking this guy is destined to explode soon. It's kinda like that Seinfeld episode with Kramer and George's dad doing the "Serenity Now" bit...

UPDATE: Well here's one guy who's learned quite a lot from Deepak apparently:

So far, I've learned so much from Deepak Chopra! Like, when faced with one act of terror, simply equate it to an act of non-terror!

...Seriously, I mean, how bad is terrorism, when you compare that to our country's indifference to the homeless? Or the way we avert our eyes from passive smoking? Or gas-guzzling SUVs? What about peanuts on airplanes?

Monday, July 11, 2005

 

Wisdom of the Robed Ones

"If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court . . . the people will have ceased to be their own rulers." - Abraham Lincoln

Unfortunately, we've had to find out the hard way that Abe was right about this. So now that the will of the people in many facets of life has been overruled, we should turn to the question of how our 'Supreme' rulers are doing. Mark Steyn gives a nice summary of recent court decisions, including the following:

Last week, in two rulings, the Supreme Court decided that (a) displays of the Ten Commandments are constitutional and (b) displays of the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional.

Read the rest of the article. This would be really funny if it were not for the fact that it's actually happening.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

 

My Big Problem With “Progressive” Christianity

For the last several months I've felt a sort of calm, a sense of peacefulness for the most part. It's been very nice... and it's ending. Cue the resurgence of that one big issue. The one that keeps me up at night at times once it re-enters my mind and I begin (reluctantly) to engage it once again.

The issue to which I am referring is the big A-bomb. It's enough to desecrate any semblance of a rational conversation, dialogue, or even a relationship. That issue is, of course, abortion. Exaggeration? Well, perhaps, but then again maybe not. If we are to talk of a difference in worldview between God-fearing folks and secularists, this issue encapsulates it. (Read Francis Schaeffer's Christian Manifesto for an elaboration of this vast dichotomy in underlying beliefs.)

Okay so far - just very different worldviews. I don't like it, but I understand it. But when followers of Christ begin debating the abortion issue, I do not get it… at all. (Understand I'm not referring to exceptions in rare instances such as rape, incest, and danger to the mother's life.)

Generally, I am a big fan of the lively debate of issues. But I also know that we can twist ourselves in knots at any given moment with tortured logic or random scriptural referencing. And the idea that Christians are advocating abortion rights amounts to a most bizarre twist on the religion I believe. I’m sorry if my saying this angers some people, but I honestly can't fathom being a believer in Christ and equivocating on this issue.

So what's wrong with me and other pro-lifers (oh, I meant 'anti-choice women haters')? Well, Public Theologian explains with his post at the Christian Alliance For Progress Blog. It turns out that we are “very conservative Christians, who have grown up with a very limited perspective both historically and biblically”. Gee, thanks for the kind description.

Now I want to say that I would not bother to address this issue if I did not respect some of the leading proponents. Public Theologian seems to be consistent in his ideology, backs up his opinions through scripture, and typically comes from a sound intellectual basis. As well, the other bloggers at CAP are generally pretty fair-minded folks with whom I may disagree often but still can respect... until we get to this issue.

There are all sorts of arguments I could make to defend the rights of an unborn child, and especially when we get in to theological reasoning. If you believe in God, the miracle of birth and creation, and God's will, what sort of arrogance do we need to espouse to believe in our having "veto power" over the decision of who gets to live or die?

But setting that whole realm aside for the purpose of this post, I think Info Theory asked the two biggest questions that need to be addressed in the abortion debate:

1. In our democratic society, do all persons have equal intrinsic rights (we are especially concerned here with the right to life--the most fundamental of all rights)?

2. When is a person a person?

Assuming most folks are not yet morally callous enough to answer "no" to question number one, I'd like to consider the second question.

When is a person a person? Can a mother flush a baby down a toilet or throw it in the trash immediately after it is born? No? Okay. What about an hour before it is born? Doesn't happen? Yes it does. Okay, well assuming you answered 'no' to those questions. Then when is it okay? Day 40? Day 52.5? But why quibble? Think of the horrible life the baby would have... the inconvenience to the mother... besides, how do I have the right to say anything anyway?

Please don't make me puke. If it's human life - a person - I have a right (indeed an obligation) to care. Hopefully, we as a society are not so far down the road to ruin that we don't even care about the answer to the question of whether we are systematically ending person-hood out of reasons of inconvenience.

Of course, this issue is a huge deal right now because of pending Supreme Court nominations. And it's the one issue I would have hoped Christians could rally around (assuming the term means something more than appeasement or something other than just acquiesing to cultural relativism).

Some good news: There may be signs that pro-abortion activists losing their resolve. Femisting.com fears that to be the case. Pro-choice activist groups “need young people to replenish their aging ranks”. Anyone else find this statement rather ironic? (Hat tip: Bush vs. Choice Blog)

I understand that we can't solve this issue by simply passing laws. We need to change people's hearts. But we should not be okay with having laws that condone the disregard for human life. There are ramifications to this disposability of life sort of mindset... and they're not good.

Friday, July 08, 2005

 

George Allen... Remember That Name

Did you just read a semi-rant against politics on this blog? Uh, well, my attention span is kinda short and has consequently drifted back into the political realm. Rest assured, however, that I'm still sick of it though and I meant every word I said.

But after reading an article by George Will, I'm reminded about the man I think could be the next President. (HT: Stones Cry Out) That would be Senator George Allen from Virgina. I initially made this prediction several months ago.

If he runs in 2008, he will win the Republican nomination. If he wins the Republican nomination, he has a very good chance of being elected President (I think, I hope, fingers crossed...) The thought of President Hillary is already sending chills up my spine. This guy is the best hope for the GOP. Just listen to him talk some time.

 

The Charm of a Quirky Movie Maker

I've been pondering recently what it is that I like so much about filmmaker Wes Anderson. In particular, this curiousity has risen in regard to some folks who "don't get it" when they watch his movies. How to explain the phenomenon to these people? Hmmm... Well, fortunately Dignan has taken on this task and done a good job of articulating the genius behind such hipster/cult classics as Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Royal Tennenbaums, and The Life Aquatic. Take a look at his explanation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

A Word About Politics

I'm sick of politics. Now, understand, I'm not apathetic or uninterested in political thought. To the contrary, I have always held a natural proclivity for it. When I was ten years old, I'd frequently go over to my great uncle Paul's house to discuss/argue politics with him. And I relished those discussions. He was a life-long Democrat, but also a reasonable fellow and could see why I held Reagan in such high regard.

I was constantly irked by the legions of my unionized relatives in the old steel town I grew up in (Pittsburgh) who blamed Reagan for the loss of jobs in the city. It was such a copout. My ideology was already formed at a young age - even if I could not articulate it at the time. In short, I believed in individual responsibility over a victim-mindset. And I still do. As such, it is the core reason I continue to consider myself a conservative.

But things get complicated, and as a result, I am a much more bleeding heart conservative than most. Anyway, my point is that things are complicated. Very few issues are black and white. Yet we have "teams" in politics. We have the good guys who are affiliated with your respective team - be it D or R. It's so silly because the issues the teams espouse do not necessarily flow logically. Yet people are so beholden to their respective teams that they do not let the inherent inconsistencies get in the way of good, old fashioned partisanship.

For example, why on earth should I not care about the earth just because I care about the lives of unborn children? I'm a capitalist, but there should be limits placed upon the free markets. Drilling in Alaska is not a solution to our country's oil problems. It's a stop gap, we need a solution. We need to do whatever it takes to ween ourselves off of oil dependence. And in a hurry.

We do not need an Amendment to keep people from burning the flag. If someone wants to burn a flag, I say go for it. In fact, put that person on TV burning the stars and stripes, and watch the poll numbers go up in favor of the war, trade, or whatever issue that traitor is opposing. Make more movies I hate like Farenheit 911. Please continue to speak your mind, Mr. Moore, and thank you for your help in getting moderates to move in droves to vote for Mr. Bush.

I've been doing some reading in various airports recently in the midst of a considerable travel schedule. Amongst the reading was an interesting article in The Economist magazine about giving aid to Africa. Now, in general, I like less government, not more. And I am much more inclined to support private efforts to help people than I am bloated, bureaucratic ones. But it's not that easy.

There are ten million children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. There is a genocide going on in the Sudan right now that some estimates show has cost the lives of upwards of one quarter million innocent people. Worldwide, there are more than a billion people who lack access to clean drinking water.

Oh, but I'm sorry, I forgot that I'm a conservative so therefore I don't care about these issues. I'm tired of it. (The sad thing is as long as Democrats fail to value the lives of unborn children, I'll continue to vote Republican.) My point is not to suggest that my viewpoints on these issues are the right ones, but rather that they are all over the map and I don't understand why this is the exception rather than the rule. Afterall, we are human beings with minds and not sheep. The blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty that results from blind partisanship gets to be a bit too much for me to take.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

 

Group Blogs - The Essence of Cool

The Eternal Revolution is coming! It's a blog collaborative I'm starting up that will be affiliated with my church. It will be officially unveiled sometime this summer. Stay tuned. This is also part of the reason my blogging on this site has been fairly light as of late.

Speaking of collaborative blogging start-ups, Bonnie, a friend of PlaidBerry, and six other women have launched a new effort entitled, Intellectuelle. It seems Marla Swoffer has spearheaded this effort. I've only recently discovered Marla's own blog, but I'm already giving it high marks for her references to both C.S. Lewis AND Seinfeld. These ladies will undoubtedly have some interesting things to say.

Lastly, I should note that Dignan has brought in a few other characters from the Bottle Rocket cast to join in the blogging fun. Suffice to say I will be keeping a keen eye on Mr. Henry's trickery over there. Bird Dog to Scarecrow...

Oh, and on more a random note, I'd highly recommend checking out the new White Stripes disc. It's some good ole' fashioned rock and roll for summer. Peace.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

 

A Void or A Vision?

The human state is, in a sense, a thing of tremendous comedic material. Or maybe it’s just me that I find hilarious – in an ironic and sad sort of way. I’m becoming more aware of the fact that I’m constantly distracted. The exact moment I gain awareness of some nugget of Truth, it vanishes and in returns some lame navel-gazing strain of thought. It is very annoying.

I deeply yearn, if only for a moment, to concentrate on something greater than me or anything directly related to my small little world. There is enormous peace and enlightenment in those fleeting moments of spiritual awakening. What I’m really talking about is the hope of coming to grips with the implications of the Greatest Story Ever Told and realizing that it is… true.

The best writer in the world could never recreate a story that reaches the glorious magnitude of the one told of Jesus Christ. (I would hope that even my atheist readers – though interpreting the story as a myth - would acknowledge this.) It is the tale of a thoroughly innocent man being subjected to one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised.

Now, think of the most generous and kind person you know. This sort of person, at times anyway, thinks and cares of a world outside him/herself. Now, imagine a person not only thinking and caring for others to such an extent, but dying for them. And the sacrificial death would be intended not only for those of the friend variety, but also for those who mocked, laughed, and spat upon the man while he was dying.

Imagine the thought of loving someone in a way that is completely disconnected from your own interests. No matter what that person did or said, you would return the favor with a reaction dictated by nothing but love. No conditions or stipulations. The only strings attached are used to tie a huge bow on this divine gift of love.

During those precious, albeit fleeting, moments when I look to a cross on my wall or in the sanctuary and my tiny brain really, truly grasps the reality of the sacrifice made, I can barely contain my emotion and amazement. It is the story that we all long for internally. It fills an omnipresent God-shaped void in existence in every single human being.

This audacious tale of Christ is the only answer to the odd, nagging guilt that can linger in me from time to time. When I realize it is not about me or my own efforts thanks to an unmerited mercy and sacrifice made on my behalf, I am about to burst at the seems in a spirit of thanksgiving.

So, here’s THE question... the question that every believer should be asking him/herself and every non-believer should be wondering:

Why is it that the most prevalent ‘vision’ of Christianity and the Kingdom of God is defined by what it is not? I’m imagining myself as a non-believer now: I think of all of the best experiences I’ve had and then imagine Christianity as no more than a set of rules which would have prohibited me to partake in a large portion of them. I'm thinking, “Uh, sorry, holy rollers, keep your message to yourself. Don’t cramp my style.”

How did it come to this? Look, I’m not saying there are not rules and morals we need to live by. But the rules are not the point. The point is the greatest sacrifice ever made and the corresponding unconditional love that, when truly understood, results in an enormous paradigm shift in the mind of the believer.

At that point, there is a reciprocated desire for obedience and discipline that will swell up in us. We actually want to obey due to the gratitude for the love shown to us. You can catch a glimpse of it in the eyes of a little boy looking at his father respectfully and gratefully and seeking to please him. The same is true – though exponentially more so – to us looking to the heavenly Father.

Jared at Thinklings Blog wisely counseled:

…we should be calling the lost into something, not just away from something. My hope is we are inviting the lost into an alternate reality, into a kingdom life that buzzes and hums with God’s active presence and abundant grace and love.

Exactly. Now if you need to be told where to send your kids to school, there are plenty of self-righteous legalists more than happy to oblige. Jollyblogger, Rev-Ed, and Internet Monk have all recently and astutely pointed out (infuriating) examples of pious attempts at control mongering and/or petty rule making.

I’d rather have a vision. Or, more specifically, I want to hone in on those ever-rare moments of spiritual revelation that can occur when I get my mind off of myself. Then I want to turn around and present that thrilling Truth to people who need to hear it. The story is the Paradigm Shifter.

The secret needs to get out. Amazing grace needs to flood this superficial culture to stop the downward spiral. Everyone needs to know of one man who came in the name of love. Lives depend on it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

Doubting China’s Inevitable World Takeover?

In the financial world, as far as big-picture thinking goes, China is on the top of nearly everyone's mind. I have to admit I’ve begun falling into the mindset that China’s takeover of the world (at least economically) in the 21st Century is a foregone conclusion. Now, it may very well occur, but there is an interesting case to be made that the Communists controlling that country will not allow it to happen.

Anyone who wants proof as to why Mark Steyn is one of the greatest writers alive should read his commentary on China. In it, he states:

If you're a resource-poor nation (as China is), long-term prosperity comes from liberating the creative energies of your people - and Beijing still has no interest in that. If a blogger attempts to use the words "freedom" or "democracy" or "Taiwan independence" on Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal, he gets the message: "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech."

How pathetic is that? Not just for the Microsoft-spined Corporation, which should be ashamed of itself, but for the Chinese government, which pretends to be a world power but is terrified of words. Does "Commie wimps" count as forbidden speech, too?

...Anti-Americans betting on Beijing will find the China shop is in the end mostly a lot of bull.

Case in point: RConversation reports the latest stifling of free (blogging) speech in China, with some help from U.S. technology.

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