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Southern Fried Faith or . . . Uniquenesses of Christianity in the South!

19 Jun

Southern Fried Faith or . . . Uniquenesses of Christianity in the South!

Can I get a witness? Yes, we do just as this post suggests. Especially the part about ignoring the elephant in the room by way of believing all interpersonal problems will resolve themselves if we just ignore them long enough . . . (that is enough to make this Northern-reared girl crazy. There is nothing attractive about passive-aggressive behavior).

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Rosaria Butterfield, on Moving from Gay Studies Professor to Conservative Pastor’s Wife

17 Feb

Rosaria Butterfield, on Moving from Gay Activist Professor to Conservative Pastor’s Wife

Before this talk, Rosaria Butterfield was picketed by gay activists whom she helped equip in her own activist days. She notes that irony in her talk, as she mentions how our worldview is informed by what we read and . . . maybe it would behoove us to step away from the electronics and read some good, old-fashioned Puritan writers and their Biblically-based worldview.

They are even available in theological libraries we can download to our tablets.

Good stuff! This sister is always encouraging.

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Answering the Believer who Thinks He Can Worship Just as Well Individually

13 Feb

Answering the Believer who Thinks He Can Worship Just as Well Individually

Donald Miller may be the most well known purveyor of the belief that we can worship just as well by ourselves, wherever we may happen to be on Sunday, as we can at church, but he is by no means the only modern Christian who holds this belief.

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Who Owns the Pastor’s Sermons when They Become a Bestseller?

4 Feb

Who Owns the Pastors Sermons when They Become a Bestseller?

It is best to know in advance whether the church, a pastor, or a private enterprise/foundation owns a pastor’s sermons so when they are published, the tax implications of royalties are correctly in place.

All 32 NFL Teams Reimagined As Famous Authors

31 Jan

This is awesome. All of the NFL teams given a great writer comparison!

101 Books

This is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had for a blog post. So you’ll probably want to stop reading now.

Yet onward I go, wasting an hour of my life reimagining NFL teams as famous authors.

Why? I have no idea, other than, well, the Super Bowl is on Sunday.

I fashion myself a renaissance man. Not really, but I can carry on a conversation about both the Dallas Cowboys and Cormac McCarthy without missing a beat. If you’re the same, maybe you’ll dig this post.

So without further delay, here are all 32 NFL teams reimagined as famous authors.

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Was Your English Lit Teacher Wrong About Symbolism?

29 Jan

Turns out that those who tried to read without looking for symbolism in great books may have been on the right track!

101 Books

You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.

Turns out, maybe they were.

This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.

Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.

He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:

The survey included the following questions:

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Band of Brothers–History is Just Everyone’s Story Combined with Everyone Else’s

21 Jan

I finished the Band of Brothers series on video last night.  It was clearly HBO’s finest hour!

I love the personal touch.  Never have I seen so eloquently the fact that history is a very large river made up of the smaller trickles and streams of everyone’s personal story!

I love that the producers (Tom Hanks, whom I learned is a huge World War II buff, and Stephen Spielberg, who has produced some epics about World War II already in the past) took very little creative license with the stories of the individual men of Easy Company, 101st Airborne.  

If a man lost a leg in a specific battle in real life, that is how it happened in the film.

In fact, the most interesting part of the entire series was the documentary at the end in which the survivors were interviewed and gave more details of their individual stories.  

I wept as they introduced the real Major Winters, who remained lifelong best friends with Lieutenant Nixon, and even moved to New Jersey so he could work for Lieutenant Nixon in the factory he inherited from his father.  

The men of Easy Company have held annual reunions, along with their families, ever since the war ended.  Can we even fathom an annual reunion that has lasted for almost 70 years so far?

Since Easy Company was the assault company of their battalion, they saw some things they still cannot express, especially in the Battle of the Bulge, where they lived in foxholes in the Ardennes Forest for a winter.  Even a documentary cannot get some words past their lips.  And many wept as they spoke, even after almost 70 years.  These men, who refer to themselves as ordinary and to those who died as heroes, gave the best of their youth to their country.  Many entered the Army at age 17 or 18 and served for at least the next three years.   

Often life is so much fuller with warmth and love and heroism than fiction ever could be!

Band of Brothers and the Liberation of the Camps

16 Jan

Last night, I saw the penultimate episode of Band of Brothers (episode 9).  It affected me in a way I can almost not put into words.  

After Easy Company parachuted into France on D-Day, fought their way across France and the Netherlands into Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge, stood off with the Germans in the Ardennes Forest for a winter, protecting Bastogne while being encircled by enemy forces as the other U.S. forces withdrew from them (that was the gist of the Battle of the Bulge for them), and fought on into Germany, they encountered the worst thing of all . . .

On patrol, they accidentally stumbled on a Jewish work camp. This was while the Russians were in the process of discovering death camps like Auschwitz on the other side of the Reich. The footage in Band of Brothers is unreal. The work camp guards had fled that morning, in advance of the American arrival in the area. They had burned some huts, with the prisoners trapped in them. They had mowed down as many prisoners as they could before they ran out of ammunition. There were already corpses stacked in piles three feet deep that had been left in trains on the tracks in that camp. They looked to have been dead for days, if not week. There were dead bodies lying (and swelling up) everywhere. There were the walking dead, awaiting the American GI’s at the fence or lying in bunks, unable to get out of them.

The Americans broke down at this point. These brave 20 year old soldiers were openly weeping for the first time in the series. The segment is called, fittingly, “Why We Fight.”

The next thing we see, the American General Officer in that area has declared martial law and is sending the well-dressed “respectable” German townsfolk from the town right outside the camp into the camp to remove the bodies for a decent burial. One of these “decent” women catches the eye of a GI who had earlier gone into her house looking for supplies. He had thrown the photo of her German Army officer husband on the floor and broken it. And this was before he knew about the atrocities with the Jews. As he catches the eye of this lady, in an expensive dress, picking up rotting remains of humans that many Germans did not even acknowledge as human, he just stares, with the knowing look of a young man who realizes that she and her husband have knowingly profited from this misery. For many Germans may have been ignorant of the Final Solution, but if you were ignorant half a mile from a camp with the stench of death hanging over it 24/7, it was only because you didn’t want to ask questions!

I was so undone by this segment that, for one of the only times in the 23 years we have lived here, on half an acre with no curtains over our backdoor and the lower parts of our breakfast nook bay windows, I got up from the den chair, at 2 AM, with a feeling of panic because I did not have a working lightbulb in the light on our deck. I feared evil eyes looking in at me as I sat and watched the movie. And how silly was that, when we have lived this way every night for 23 years, in a fairly safe neighborhood, and rarely turn the decklights on, even when they are in working order?

Yes, this segment literally sent me into a panic attack. I suspect it does that for others, too. I understand from German friends who talked freely to me while we lived in Germany, that it was a complex time and many were afraid to speak up for persecuted people lest their own young families be ripped apart. But isn’t that how evil thrives–when everyone is too afraid to call it out as evil? Good lessons for us all in this segment, lessons from World War II and the generation of giants who fought it.

P.S. This segment probably singlehandedly gains an R rating for the series with a gratuitous sex scene in the first five minutes, as peace is breaking out. The woman never shows up further in the story and her tryst with an American GI has nothing to do with the plotline. She is just there so the producers could say, “See, even HBO can do R-rated material.” Which is kind of sad, because the violence would have gotten it an R-rating without that. And now I cannot unreservedly recommend the series to my Christian brothers without telling them to advance past the first five minutes of episode 9, to avoid the topless woman. Just saying.

Band of Brothers . . . Living History

15 Jan

For Christmas this year I treated myself to the six-DVD set of Band of Brothers, as originally seen on HBO.  I had long looked forward to seeing this series.

I have seen all but the last DVD (two episodes).  It is a fine, historical series.  No huge surprises, as most of us know the story of World War II.

What is awe-inspiring is the interviews at the beginning of each episode with Easy Company, 101st Airborne survivors.  I so hope at the end of the series they identify the survivors by name, as it is easy to fall in love with the amazing young men in the series, as portrayed by today’s young actors.  It would be wonderful to know which ones have survived to a ripe old age (many, many of them die in the series, as they did in real life). 

The series does not veer too far in either direction–it does not glamorize nor vilify war.  It shows that many bodies were (and are) shattered by it.  It is not for the faint of stomach, in fact.

But it allows us to form our own conclusions from history, as it should. It leads people to think.  

I did not realize that the 101st Airborne’s winter defending Bastogne was much like Washington’s winter at Valley Forge.  One survivor says he still tells his wife, when it gets cold and snowy outside their home, “At least I am not sleeping outside in the snow in Bastogne.”

Men are shown huddled under blankets in foxholes, sleeping like a heap of kittens with other men for warmth.  Amazing times.

It is totally understandable how the men of Easy Company have remained best friends and closest of brothers during the ensuing decades.  They say no one else could even understand what rigors and horrors they undertook that winter.  

In the battle for Bastogne and in their other battles, they had over 100% casualties (lots of replacements sent in were killed or injured, too).  

Amazing times.  Amazing men.  I am glad this series was made.

The Damage that can be done by People without Knowledge of History

14 Jan

This is going to be dangerous territory.

There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.  

You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.  

Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.

You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech.  You have a right to say it.  But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers.  You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.

People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us.  But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.  

In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing.  We don’t need to suppress speech.  But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.  

I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S.  She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.   

The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury.  What are we protecting, after all?

As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic.  Tragically so.  

But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.  

My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.”  Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”  

Really?  So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?  

So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check?  Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?

I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs.  But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does.  You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.  

In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note:  the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).  

I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history.  So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history.  Sometimes they try to give us lip service.  Sometimes they don’t bother.  

I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college.  But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you!  I always loved history.  Now I have a pretty broad background in it.  

There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II.  There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.  

And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”

It is important.  Very important.  

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Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

29 Nov

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

Christena Cleveland, a young woman consulting on diversity in the church, Christ’s Body, packs a wallop with this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor and blogger.

The Day JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley Died

21 Nov

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/11/21/the-day-c-s-lewis-john-f-kennedy-and-aldous-huxley-died/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wordpress%2Ftrevinwax+%28Kingdom+People%29

I. Must. Read. This. Book.

Yes, the author presents C.S. Lewis’s theology and worldview more sympathetically than the others, but he took the time to digest them all. How many people actually take the time to do that with views with which they disagree?

Good scholarship and, I am sure, a brilliant read.

Asking Questions to Protect our Troops

11 Nov

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-10-04/opinions/42719583_1_bacevich-troops-soldiers

This is strong language about “Breach of Trust,” a new book about the all-volunteer military service in the U.S. However the voice is an important one, helping us to grow a conscience as 1% of our population fights our wars for us (disclaimer: I was part of that 1% for 27 years).

Breaking Fellowship with Someone (a Joel Osteen Discussion)

26 Sep

Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

The other night I entered into what became a heated exchange between about a dozen people on Facebook about some statements recently made by Joel Osteen.

Some of the participants in the discussion believed the statements reveal that Osteen is not orthodox in his Christianity–that he is a “false prophet” who is not even truly a Christian.

Others believed that the statements were quoted out of context.

I don’t know either way. Joel Osteen doesn’t matter that much to me to even look them up. I don’t listen to him anyway.

However, what came next was telling.

One woman quoted the above verse as a proof text that anyone who listened to Joel Osteen was also not truly a Christian.

That was where I entered into the discussion. Two of my young friends had been defending Joel Osteen. Unlike me, they have listened to him. But, unlike what this woman was saying, I believe that my young friends are truly born again Christians.

And I believe that woman on Facebook was taking the above verse out of context.

The verse, in context, is about causing unnecessary divisions in the Body of Christ. That would be divisions over fine points of doctrine. On those, we are allowed a conscience clause.

I sometimes read controversial writers because I need to know what they are saying, both to teach a Sunday school class and to write my blog. I often research them so I can state a Scriptural case for why I disagree with them.

I see nowhere in the Bible that we are called to put our heads in the sand and ignore everyone who teaches contrary to what we teach.

We do have to be careful to not endorse teaching that is not orthodox Christianity. But my two young friends were not doing that. They had quietly listened to a few of Joel Osteen’s teachings in the past–they were not pushing them on anyone else.

And the woman on Facebook was making that a litmus test as to whether my two friends could be born again.

That is just wrong.

I have taught Sunday school with the mothers of both of those young gals for years. I have watched these friends grow up and start their families. Both are incredible moms, in church and raising their children to love the Lord. I may not always agree with them or with the people they choose to read, but they might not always agree with me on my choices either. That is what Christian liberty is. The freedom to read and think and pray and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

And the verse in Romans says the person who causes unnecessary division is the one who is wrong. Like the person who throws a remark out there that anyone who has ever listened to a sermon by Joel Osteen is going to hell. That person allows no Christian liberty to anyone except herself!!!

May God protect us from ourselves! We are our own worst enemies sometimes in the Body of Christ!!!

Food Wars

8 Sep

I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

I am taking my cues on this post from Doug Wilson, who noticed this trend long before I did.

Have you noticed that, as the world is getting more demanding about everyone’s personal diet being served at communal gatherings, so is the church?

No longer is it okay for someone to make one vegetarian dish or one gluten free dish or one clean-eating dish for a family Thanksgiving.  No, now we all, Christians included, are asking our hosts to change their entire menu to conform to our personal tastes.  

That’s not even polite, let alone kind, in the way Christians are admonished to be kind.

If someone goes to the effort to make us a vegetarian dish, let’s be grateful.  If they don’t, let’s bring our own and go to the communal meal anyways.  

Communal meals were very important in Scripture.  So important that the Apostle Paul gave many, many instructions about them.  Mainly that we are to be kind to each other at such meals and to let the other person be first (in priority, etc.).  

We do that because we are grateful for Christ’s great love for us and realize that, as a result, we can easily give up a few of our supposed “rights.”

Special diets are fast overcoming this kindness we are admonished to show.  

Sometimes research turns up some new data (like high fructose corn syrup being highly addictive to the human organism, which it is) and we seize on that new research and use it as a tool to clobber our fellow Christians over the head figuratively.  

I won’t use high fructose corn syrup.  I have had enough issues with food addictions (read:  sugar) that I know I need to watch out.  

However, is it my job to become a busybody, lecturing mothers who let their teens, or even their preschoolers, drink Coke?  

No, no, a million times, no.

Whatsoever they eat or drink needs to be to the glory of God.  Not everyone has issues with sugar, like I do, and even if they do, it is not up to me to come remove their sugar from their pantry.    

It doesn’t mean they are in active rebellion against God if they use high fructose corn syrup.  

I shouldn’t have to say that, but I can see I must.

Some Christians seize on every new piece of research that comes along and automatically act as if everyone has already heard about it and therefore is in sin if they don’t modify their diets accordingly.

That is not kind.  

Not everyone can afford expensive diets, even if they wanted to do them.  

Not everyone is equally literate, so not everyone can read the latest research and understand it.

Most of all, to imply that we are living in sin if we don’t immediately accommodate every new piece of scientific research on diet is to imply that it is getting harder and harder to serve the Lord.  

We know a whole lot more scientifically nowadays.  To some extent, that implies that God’s standards would change, to include us being responsible for not using products that would harm our bodies (tobacco, marijuana, etc.).  

To another extent, God did not change the sanctification process to make it a whole lot harder to live it out in 2013 than it was in 1913.  

Our attitude is to always be to glorify God by what we eat and drink.  

Simply that.  

We will always disagree about standards, but let’s be kind when we do.  

Let’s still have fellowship meals together, even when one family eats a traditional Southern (read:  fried) diet and another eats Paleo.  

Because our fellowship pleases the Lord, ya know?

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