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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 

Dehumanization

I have just discovered some fascinating insights/theories into the nature of Hell by N.T. Wright. Like most of his eternal pontifications, Wright focuses largely on the earthly realm rather than postulating on the post-mortem. In essence, he is describing a veritable "Hell on Earth".

In Following Jesus, Wright predicates his theory on the Biblically-based assumption that we are all made in the image of God. From there he goes on to clarify that this fact should not be treated as a right or a mere possession. Instead it is a gift which he likens to a musical instrument bequeathed to us by a parent or grandparent. He surmises:

...the way to keep the wonderful instrument in tune is to play it - to play it for all its worth; to practice reflecting the image of God, which you do through worship, and love and service to one another, rejoicing with the joyful and weeping with the mourners. You do it, in other words, by following Jesus.

Then Wright turns to consider the alternative behavior. At this point, his observation becomes really intriguing and the consequences are frightening:

But if we worship other gods - and the other gods are powerful and active in our world right now - then all we can expect is for the image to atrophy. The instrument will go out of tune.

...if it is possible, as I've suggested, for human beings to choose to live more and more out of tune with the divine intention, to reflect the image of God less and less, there is nothing to stop them finally ceasing to bear that image, and so to be, as it were, beings who were once human but are not now.

Those who persistently refuse to follow Jesus, the true image of God, will by their own choice become less and less like him, that is, less and less truly human. We sometimes say, even of living people, that they have become inhuman, or that they have turned into monsters. Drugs can do that to people; so can drink. So can jealousy. So can unemployment. So can homelessness, or lovelessness. (Emphasis Mine)

So what are the root causes that can lead people down the path to becoming dehumanized? It seems to me there are two primary sources to blame: distractions and laziness.

Echoing a theme from C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, Don Miller in Blue Like Jazz opines:

I believe that the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.

In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck suggests an equally plausible culprit for man's sin nature (or the Great Dehumanizer as it were): entropy. He states:

In debating the wisdom of a proposed course of action, human beings routinely fail to obtain God's side of the issue... We make this failure because we are lazy. It is work to hold these internal debates. And if we take them seriously, we usually find ourselves being urged to take the more difficult path, the path of more effort rather than less.

To conduct the debate is to open ourselves to suffering and struggle. Each and every one of us, more or less frequently, will hold back from this work, will also seek to avoid this painful step.

Why should we even consider such a gloomy scenario as the potential annihilation of our own humanity? I'll revert back to Wright for this answer.

As Christians, we look for the marriage of heaven and earth, not their separation; and in that light we must look with Christian realism at the possibility of a different, and disastrous, marriage, which has become all too real a possibility in our own day: a marriage of hell and earth.

This leads me to consider one of the main things I like about Wright's sermons and writings, which is well articulated by Asbell at The Thinklings Blog:

I find Wright to be refreshing in his insistence that Christianity is not about what happens to your soul after you die. Life's not about just hanging in there until death so you can get your post-mortem reward. I never find Jesus saying "do or believe such and such so that you will go to heaven when you die." He says, "give up your life now and follow me; live a life that truly means something." Followers of Jesus are to live in light of heaven, not merely in anticipation of it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

 

Little Roger Eberts

Question: Are we emulating entertainment critics or the life of Christ?

There is a phenomenon that I find to be ever more striking and apparent. Everyone has some sort of opinion to offer. Whether it’s about Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart in pop culture or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren in Christian circles, we are inundated with opinions. We are all critics. I’m not sure how or why this is happening. Although I’d speculate that it is always easier to point the finger than it is to express or live out a proactive vision.

Now, I’m not saying we do not need critical thought. It serves a valuable purpose and a necessary counterpoint to (perceived) inaccuracies and/or injustices going on. However, it seems to me that when backbiting and criticism are being stepped up, certain principles that many of us would hope to live by and exert are falling by the way side.

First and foremost, understand that I have a big proclivity toward criticism so this is a rebuke of my own behavior as much as anyone else’s. But I’m beginning to acknowledge that I have many more questions than answers.

Sometimes I feel like a schizophrenic in my spiritual journey. By that I mean, I strongly believe in core Christian doctrine such as stated in the Apostle’s Creed and the like, but it is when we step out into the periphery that I admit to bouncing all over the place.

My question, though, is what is wrong with that? Why should it be necessary for me (or anyone else) to have an opinion on what style of worship is best, the appropriate extent of liturgy in church, or what translation of the Bible must be used? But more importantly, why should I feel the need to set those parameters for others?

Theology is important and rigorous intellectual theorizing has its place. However, I for one do not want to morph into a little Roger Ebert in the pew and allow my mind to become obscured from the truly big ideas that have the power to change lives.

There are a few parameters and core values that are actually really important. These include the principles of grace, forgiveness, and redemption offered through Christ. As the song asserts, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood.”

That truth is enough to crush the huge burdens of guilt, shame, and anger to which all of us, by our very nature, are beholden. Of course, if we are too caught up in analyzing the minutia of the worship style involved, we will likely the miss the amazing message of these lyrics altogether. And what a huge omission that would be for not only our own souls but also for those who desperately need to hear it and have not yet had the opportunity.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

 

Entertainment Review - 1st Edition

Summer is a fantastic time for hiking, camping, swimming, concert-going, all sorts of things except, as it turns out, blogging for me thus far. I’m thinking that perhaps my efforts may begin to morph into more of an entertainment review of sorts at least during these warmer, sunnier months. So here is the first edition of the PlaidBerry Entertainment Review:



Alison Krauss concert mini-review. Ah, Blue Grass on the Red Rocks. Summer has officially arrived in Colorado. I hadn’t really planned on going to this one until a day before this show. Even as the music started, my thoughts drifted to the Wilco concert I will be seeing there on Friday night. But low expectations can make for a very pleasant surprise as it did last night.

Alison Krauss has a lovely voice and I knew that going in, but I did not anticipate an amazing encore comprised of three fantastic a cappella songs. Also, I had not expected the immensely talented band that tours with her, including the voice behind “The Man of Constant Sorrows” (hint: it’s not George Clooney). Banjo, steel guitar, and violin - under the moon and stars and big red rocks… To any friend who was not there, it begged the question: O Brother, Where Art Thou?


Buy this CD:

That would be Coldplay’s new one called “X&Y”. British rock is where it’s at.

Go see this movie - right away:

Cinderella Man.

Any movie with Russell Crowe in the lead role is basically a must-see at this point. And this one, in particular, has a really redeeming message to it. Good stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

 

A Shout Out to My Taggers

Hey, it’s great to know I’m tag-worthy. Thanks to both Lance and Bonnie for tagging me with the following questions.

Total number of books owned, ever: I dunno, a couple hundred I guess.

Last book I bought: I just recently bought two from Amazon. The first is called Putting Amazing Back Into Grace and was written by Michael Horton. I made it about half way through this one, and I think that’s about as far as I will get. It turns out Mr. Horton’s definition of grace is completely predicated upon a belief in predestination. Bummer. My other recent purchase is Following Jesus by N.T. Wright. Wright is upsetting some self-righteous religious folks so I took that as a good sign. So far, I dig the book. It’s got some interesting ideas in it. I’m not real well versed in Wright’s work yet, but he seems to be a thought-provoking writer.

Last book I read: Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. I guess Don most closely fits the postmodern, emergent church type. His politics are left of mine, but nonetheless I would highly recommend this one. While I found it quite easy to read, it really affected me in a positive way. It is written in a refreshing and honest narrative style and it rejuvenated me spiritually while reading it.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

1) Mere Christianity: I read this one about three years ago shortly after moving out to Colorado. I was lost. My faith was entering a crisis. Actually, it had been moving in that direction for a while. Skeptical arguments against Christianity started to weigh on me, and I was becoming unsure as to the intellectual strength of my faith. My worldview was about to crumble… Enter C.S. Lewis. Exit doubt.

2) Orthodoxy: I’m not even sure how I wound up reading a book written more than one hundred years ago with such a dry name. I think I picked it up solely based on the reference to it by C.S. Lewis. Man, this book is anything but dry. Chesterton is hilarious. I mean, like, so witty I actually laughed out loud reading certain sections. I’ve also read Everlasting Man (which is also very good), but I’ve got to say Orthodoxy is the real masterpiece.

3) What’s So Amazing About Grace: Philip Yancey really won me over big time with this one. Grace is such a mind-blowing concept, and Yancey really brings it to fruition in this gem. It is destined to be a milestone. I thought that when I first read it and I’m even more convinced of that now.

4) Jesus Among Other Gods: I like Ravi Zacharias and this one is his best in my opinion. The title is pretty much self-explanatory. Not a thorough apologetic exposition by any means, but a great little book containing strong reasoning and great emotional appeal.

5) When Character Was King – A Story of Ronald Reagan: Peggy Noonan is a fantastic writer. I marvel at her ability to articulate such smart, big ideas in such an effortless manner. So when I saw she had written a biographical portrait of my one of my favorite Presidents, I had little doubt it would be a keeper. But reading about the life of this incredible man created a sense of awe beyond what I had anticipated. Reagan was the embodiment of authenticity and character. And those traits are perfectly captured in this portrayal by the Gipper’s former speechwriter.

I’m not one to pass these sorts of things on. So I’m very sorry if that disrupts the flow here. However, I found this little exercise to be quite instructive and introspective and would encourage readers out there to take part.

Friday, June 10, 2005

 

Postmodern Medicine - Take Two

As I continue to probe into the whole realm of postmodernism, my head begins to spin ever faster, and I find myself even more confused than normal. However, I find it to be a huge help to bear in mind the distinction that needs to be made between postmodern culture and postmodern epistemology. (Thanks to David at Through a Glass Darkly for reminding me of this recently.)

As for postmodern culture, it seems to stress authenticity in place of the all too common pre-packaged church marketing schemes. I like that. Andrew at Tall Skinny Kiwi pointed out a fine article by David Posthuma entitled, Postmodern Ministry Takes Us Back to The Bible. As a member of what he deems the “echo-boomer” generation, I think the following assessment really does resonant:

If you ask most church leaders what trait most typifies the Echo-Boomer generation (ages 15 – 33), the likely response will be that the current generation does not believe in absolute truth…that the young adult decides for themselves what is true. Repeatedly, I have heard church leaders regale against the current relativistic generation because they tend to perceive such young adults as de-valuing Scripture. I believe this perception is inaccurate.

It is very true that today’s young adult wants to judge for themselves what is true…and this includes the process of knowing God. The Echo-Boomer has no love for the know-it-all pastor who tells the congregation what to believe and how to live. At the same time, the Echo-Boomer displays little long-term appreciation for topical talks we label as “Seeker Services”.

They know intrinsically that God is much more complex than these feather-weight talks convey. The Echo-Boomer, above all things seeks authenticity. They are marketing savvy. They can smell a packaged presentation a mile away…they have trained themselves to disbelieve any thing that does not display true authenticity.

It is when we turn to the epistemological discourse that I get a little leery of the potential ramifications of postmodernism. Catez has an interesting interview with Nancy Pearcy in which Nancy makes the following observation:
…postmodernism is growing ever more subjective and relativistic, reducing truth to private, individual experience ("true for me, but not true for you").

She then goes on to say:

As Christians, our goal should be to reject this dichotomy altogether. All truth is God's truth, in every area or field. God has created a multi-dimensional world with many forms of truth - scientific truth, religious truth, moral truth, mathematical truth, artistic truth, and so on. That's why the title of my book declares that Christianity is Total Truth.

I’m thinking she’s right here. As with pretty much anything, it is a matter of finding the right balance. Postmodernism can lead to radical subjectivism, while modernism can lead to radical idolatry. I suspect we want to avoid them both.

UPDATE: iMonk has some interesting thoughts on postmodernism. Most of it echoes and elaborates on the points I was making. But he also asks a very interesting question to which I've yet to hear a good answer:

It strikes me as particularly strange that the defenders of true Christianity don't see their tacit defense of modernism as more than a little troubling. How can these critics condemn "postmodernism" without embracing the errors of modernity?

Pomo everywhere - Tim Challies, in a new post, equates postmodernism with relativism. I can see how so many people are conflating the two, but again I think it's oversimplified, particularly when considering postmodernism also has a cultural context. Additionally, by so adamantly rejecting postmodernism, are we to assume that Tim is thereby embracing modernism (as iMonk was asking above)?

Well, now we may have an answer to that. Take a look at this thoughtful and well-articulated response to the question iMonk posed above.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

 

Who's the Next C.S. Lewis?

As I sampled some fine Colorado microbrews with my friends earlier this evening, the conversation turned to contemplating great thinkers. We named some deceased geniuses and asked where are these caliber of folks now? From a Christian perspective, this list of most recent innovators would include the likes of C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, and perhaps Tolkien.

At first blush, I was tempted to say that there are none. Folks of this intellectual caliber and insight just don't exist anymore... But I'm rethinking that. Let's suppose that type of individual exists right now - would we know it? I doubt it. There is something about the visionary that makes his/her thought process incompatible with present thinking.

Suffice to say, I do not believe the great innovator of spiritual thought currently is Tim LaHayne or Rick Warren. The type of thinker to which I'm referring is revolutionary. And revolutionaries, by their very nature, are not going to be easily received into mainsteam culture. If there is a modern day C. S. Lewis in our midst, I would not be surprised if that person is either being widely deemed a heretic or drawing reactions of complete bewilderment.

Therefore, my curiosity rises when I hear of someone who is causing a bit of a stir amongst the flock. So this leads me to a natural interest in the "Emergent Conversation". Some of its prominent leaders are certainly saying some things that are making people uncomfortable. A spirituality that is predicated upon thousands of years of tradition should be expected to be uncomfortable with new/different/hard questions being asked. And it should be skeptical.

Am I equating leaders of the Emergent Church with Lewis? No. Actually, I have no idea who may fill the enormous shoes of such a great thinker in the future. Rather, I'm merely contemplating the characteristics that may be found in such an innovator. It is probably someone who is pushing the boundaries of Christian thought and encouraging us to engage the culture in new and different ways.

The problem is that it could become difficult to some of us less educated spiritual thinkers to delineate between a true revolutionary of Christian thought and a false prophet. There clearly needs to be a mutually agreed upon foundation. It is crucial to start by considering what comprises the components of a Christian worldview.

Phil at The Spirit Formed Life explained from personal experience how losing a foundation can be detrimental. But if we are able to identify a clear set of foundational principles, then true heresy will be easier to identify (and we will be less obsessed with disagreement among peripheral issues as well). Along these lines, John at Locusts and Honey brings up some valid reasons for caution regarding McLaren's New Kind of Christian.

Unfortunately, I am still a neophyte when it comes to this whole emergent conversation. However, it does seem as if the hysteria and the negative stereotyping of the entire movement is a bit overdone and oversimplified. Go ahead and call McLaren out on some relativist tendencies, but don't rush to condemn the entire Emergent Church as heretical.

Now if we put the responsibility on ourselves to revolutionize our own thinking, we should consider the following. How can we ask difficult questions, think in new ways, but still maintain the foundations of our faith?

I am sure that Christians in Southeast Asia and Africa have some very different perspectives on our shared religion than those of us in the United States and Western Europe. When we can begin to integrate some of the best ideas and are able to acknowledge the shortcomings of our own cultural filters, we will be on our way to truely maturing spiritually.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 

Top Ten Excuses For John Kerry's Bad Grades

Had Senator Kerry not projected such a love for his own intellect, I could care less about this sort of trivial story.

But considering that a huge part of his campaign was designed to smear his opponent’s intelligence while propping up his own, I find it fairly amusing when coupled with the fact that Bush had a higher IQ score as well. The truth is such an inconvenient thing sometimes.

So, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Excuses for John Kerry’s Lousy Grades at Yale:

10) His professors lacked sufficient nuance in their grading.

9) He earned an ‘A’ in poli-sci before he got a ‘D’.

8) Hey, he did pretty well in French (no, seriously).

7) Four years of college and no “global test”… How did that happen?

6) It was the Swift Boat Vets! They fabricated the whole thing. Ask anyone who was on the boat, uh sorry, in the class with him…

5) The lies of the evil Sith Lord, Karl Rove, and his evil Republican minions know no bounds.

4) Okay, so maybe he’s not as smart as portrayed, but he’s electable. Er, I mean…

3) Clearly the grades were flip-flopped with someone else in his class.

2) French academies have higher standards.

1) Two words: Extracurricular activities. As they say in the ‘hood, he was a ‘playa’. (Please refer to the picture below.) Need I say more?



But isn’t writing lame jokes about John Kerry passé at this point? Well, sure, but is there really anything interesting going on in politics right now? I’m sorry but debating the fines points of filibustering judicial nominees is just not doing it for me. So, in the meantime, why not poke fun at haughty, French-looking former Presidential candidates?

Monday, June 06, 2005

 

Potential Pitfalls of Literal Interpretation

First of all, I want to make it clear from the beginning here that I believe in the inerrancy of scripture. However, this belief does not necessitate acknowledging that all scripture must be construed in an absolutely literal manner. In my opinion, allowing for some texts (particularly Genesis 1-11) to be interpreted metaphorically does not alter or lessen the meaning whatsoever. For instance, doing so does not, in any way, invalidate the story of the Origin Sin and the Fall of Man.

This topic is of concern to me for three reasons. First of all, I get frustrated when I see certain believers apply some sort of litmus test to gauge the sincerity of one’s beliefs by suggesting that if you do not believe in the literal interpretation of everything in the Bible, you are not a true believer.

This viewpoint is missing, or at least not acknowledging, any sort of nuance. By this I mean, you can believe in a metaphorical interpretation without diluting or refuting the meaning of Biblical passages. I believe along the same lines as C.S. Lewis, when he suggested the following in Miracles:

For me the Christian doctrines which are ‘metaphorical’ – or which have become metaphorical with the increase of abstract thought – mean something which is just as ‘supernatural’ or shocking after we have removed the ancient imagery as it was before.

My second concern is as follows: There are potentially adverse consequences to the “thought life” of Christians when they hold strictly to an absolutely literal interpretation. This is where many of the narrow-minded accusations originate from the secular world. For instance, if you believe the earth is 8,000 years old. Period. No questions asked. Then, it is likely you will find yourself on the defensive against nearly all scientists, anthropologists, geologists, etc. An “us against them” mentality inevitably arises.

It is also not surprising that an anti-intellectual mindset develops from this belief. I don’t think Christianity and science and the intellect should be at war with one another. Rather the scriptures, science, and nature are to be mutually dependent on each other.

Lastly, and most importantly, I fear that many Christians may experience a crisis of faith and actually turn away from Christianity due to firm, absolute beliefs in literal interpretation. When presented with vast evidence supporting at least some semblance of evolutionary theory or an “old earth” theory or questions revolving around the existence of dinosaurs, many people begin to question their faith.

This results in the combative attitude toward science that is so prevalent in much of Western Christianity. Do some or many scientists have an agenda that seeks to eradicate Christianity or go to war against it? Sure. And we, as believers, have every right to become indignant and defensive about that. But it does not follow that we should then come to view science itself as the enemy of Christianity.

In this vein, Blake Kennedy makes some very interesting points in a recent post entitled, “Easy Answers, Simplistic Thinking”. In it, he states:

I believe it is imperative for Christian leaders to present that there are differing worldviews who disagree with us in good faith. When we see, time and time again, the attack on the character, motives, or abilities of those who disagree, we are setting our people up for a fall. Eventually they will learn that the issues are not as cut-and-dried as the Church often portrays them, and the results to their faith can be catastrophic. (Emphasis Mine)

The question often arises from more fundamentalist types of believers as to why they should even consider the possibility for any sort of allegorical interpretation. I would say the primary danger in not doing so is that it could lead to crisis of faith.

I am not saying that an entirely literal, word-for-word interpretation is not possible. Rather I am suggesting that my own intellectual capacity is such that I could never fathom the creation of the world. And therefore it is certainly not something that I would want to stake my faith upon. God is so much more enormous and mysterious that any of us can grasp that I wonder how so many in the Western Christian church have come to believe that they can put him in a neat little theological box.

Now I notice I keep coming back to the need for humility. It's due to the fact that we really should never reach a point where we start to think we have it all figured out. The divinity is not a puzzle that we should be able to “solve” – at least not in this lifetime.

Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians don’t like the idea of so many unknown elements and, therefore, shy away from asking hard questions. Oftentimes the hard questions do not have any clear answers. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I would consider the confrontation of such questions to be an essential step in maturing spiritually.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

On the Lighter Side...

Happy Friday Y'all (or 'yunz' as they say back in Pittsburgh). Here’s some stuff that requires very little thought:

Carnival of Comedy #6 is up over at IMAO.

Now for some sad news for a very dear "friend" of the United States: Chirac at 24% Popularity Rating. It's heartbreaking really, but I’m guessing these photos haven’t helped him:





VERY funny: Top 10 UN Slogans

And finally, Star Wars III “Review”.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 

A Grab Bag of Goodies

The Christian Carnival is up at A Physicist’s Perspective.

Blog Business World is hosting the new Carnival of the Vanities.

In a haphazard journey across the blogging frontier, I found the following nuggets of gold:

1) Coyote Blog asks a good question (one that I’ve been wondering myself): “Why Do So Many Libertarians Blog?” He offers a few interesting theories as to why that might be so. This one in particular seemed to makes sense:

For a good libertarian, chaos is beautiful, and certainly the blogosphere qualifies as chaotic. The Internet today is perhaps the single most libertarian institution on the planet. It is utterly without heirarchy, being essentially just one layer deep and a billion URL's wide. Even those who try to impose order, such as Google, do so with no mandate beyond their utility to individual users.

2) As an corollary to the liberitarian theme, Blind Mind’s Eye has some interesting thoughts on how Christianity and libertarianism could be compatible.

3) Sophistpundit warns us to Never Trust The Party! He states:

I don't understand people who align themselves so closely with either the Democrats or the Republicans. Believe what you want to believe about right and wrong and how the country should be run, but why tack yourself to a particular party?

It’s a good point, and I don’t understand it either. As the U.S. has become more and more partisan, many people have seemingly begun to align themselves more with a particular party. Such blind allegiance always leads to hypocrisy or intellectual dishonesty.

4) Rev-Ed at Attention Span attributes insufficient prayer life and spiritual knowledge to a fear of commitment. He compares it to some folks’ fears of marriage (and the consequential loss of freedom). I found this to be an interesting analogy that I’m guessing is appropriate for, ahem, uh, you know some (throat clearing) single guys in particular (gulp).

5) Bill at Wallo World has an interesting post about the power of words. In it, he points to a hypocrisy that has long since bothered me as well:

I’m often struck by an ironic dichotomy in the entertainment industry: on the one hand, the producers of some “serious” film or book or song will vocalize their hopes that their words might “change something,” but when something faces criticism for the possible harm it might produce it is defended as “just” words, or “just” a story. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

6) & 7) View From The Pew and Messy Christian both have good posts about Christian stereotypes and caricatures–both why these perceptions exist and how best to counteract them.

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