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Showing posts from August, 2013

It's a Metal World After All

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On that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:11-12 I hear it rains a lot in Seattle. But imagine torrential rains that didn't stop for over a month. Or the ground beneath your feet literally giving way to the surge of a subterranean tsunami. All of that to an ancient mind that had never experienced rain before. What panic and chaos that must have flowed from the people outside the ark. They must have thought that mother earth was rejecting them like a bad transplant. For me, however, it's hard to not think of this as a cathartic moment for the earth.

Earlier in the narrative we read that, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart" (6:5-6). As the sto…

Bats Don't Lay Eggs

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For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. St. Augustine of Hippo,Genesi Ad Litterum
America. Land of the free. No persecution there, huh? Sounds great to me. I've been living under house arrest now for over five years. All because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. But what was it that I said? What was so awful about it to deserve this? I'm a good man! And I just care about the truth. What's wrong with asking questions? I never actually challenged them, you know. I kept quiet when they told me to. So much for friends in high places. Politicians. They won't be able to keep this quiet forever. People will find out what happened to me. And they know better than most how well the truth spreads through persecution li…

Love Wouldn't

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My mother used to tell me and my sister that she loved us before we were born, before she ever knew us. As a soon-to-be father, I've only come to appreciate this more. I have absolutely no knowledge of who that little person is, but it doesn't matter. My love grows by the day for someone I've never met.

Love is a mysterious and enigmatic thing. Probably because it's wrapped up in the person of God. But as perplexing as it is, it's funny to see how many people try to use it as a theological weapon.

In defending that day's platform, I've often seen it said that, "God is love. That means he wouldn't...[fill in the blank]." The problem with this is that it begs the question. Which is to say that it makes its case by defining "love" as the opposite of the thing being argued against. Or simply, it's like saying that God wouldn't do this thing because he wouldn't do it.

But our limited experiences impose no boundaries on what he…

Lessons from Bird Watching

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There's an endangered species that's been on the list for a long time, but has rarely been top of mind for most of us. And that animal is civil Christian discourse. This was made abundantly clear to me through a recent Twitter conversation between author/blogger Rachel Held Evans and Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition.

The details of how this engagement came about are unfortunately lost in the mire of the pervasive venom which clothes it. But needless to say, the two folks involved share a mutual dislike of either each other or each other's opinions (they're so easy to distinguish). Which is a shame since Jesus told us that the world would know us because of our love for one another. Sadly, love is often the last stop on the express train to our own preconceived destinations. The silver lining, though, is that as with all public mistakes, we can learn something from it. Here are three lessons to help forestall the impending extinction of friendly discussion.

1. Don'…

The Metal Made Me Do It

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There's never really been a good time to be a metalhead. Plenty of other rock derivatives have had their moment in the spotlight from disco in the late 70's to grunge in the early 90's. But heavy metal has only ever had bad moments. And about the time I became a fan was no different.

I discovered metal when I was 14-years-old. P.O.D. was the latest rage, and within a year they quickly helped me discover Project 86, Living Sacrifice, and Extol. And once I had ventured into the European scene, it was hard to look back. Gothenburg had stolen my heart, and I had no interest in getting it back. Still don't.

But the transition happened so quickly, I think it scared some people. The before nerdy and awkward adolescent was now donning all black and had developed a fascination with trench coats. As I said before, metal has always had bad moments. And when I was 14, the year was 1999.

Most of us don't really think about the Columbine massacre anymore. But I do. I remember th…

Ameri-anity

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  United States Declaration of Independence This single statement encapsulates the heart of America. And at its center is that Lockean trifecta of rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's with great pride that Americans speak of them. But there's one little phrase in that sentence that's always puzzled me: "...endowed by their Creator."

Ascribing God's endorsement to human ideals is tricky business. Granted, I think America has done a reasonable job indoctrinating its citizens by proof texting their fears away with verses like John 3:16 and 8:36. Still if we're to maintain any notions that the United States is or was a Christian nation, I think this warrants a closer look at what God really says about our rights.

Life

Jesus said that…

Why People Leave Churches

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People leave churches for all sorts of reasons. And if you didn't already know that, then the rabid responses to Rachel Held Evans' blog on why young people are leaving should be a clear indicator.

Some think the problem is they're too self-involved and need to defer to their elders. Some think the church needs to get them more involved and stop wasting time with fruitless discussion. And some think that a shift in cultural thinking might be playing a role (I heartily second that).

Oddly enough, not many have explored the fact that at the end of the day, leaving the church--or a church--is a highly personal decision. But alas, in our still modern world, we want over-generalized hypotheses and mass-produced solutions. Besides, who has time to keep track of everyone's spiritual well-being? That, indeed, is a question worth asking.

Maybe it doesn't bother anyone else, but it bothers me that so many church leaders and pastors seem baffled by the large numbers of young p…

So What?

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My wife and I were driving back recently from my grandmother's 90th birthday. It was a great turnout: 52 out of 56 family members showed up. A great time.

But return trips suck--especially into Chicago on a holiday weekend. So we were both testy. But the difference between my wife and I is that when my wife is testy, she doesn't yell at gas pumps. In public. And in front of a 7-year-old girl. Just because the pump was being slow. I think I smacked it too.

People with anger problems often throw pathetic, childish tantrums like that one. And what's funny is that the causes of most tantrums share something in common: they're outside our control. I've actually caught myself screaming at a computer:
STOP DOING WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING AND DO WHAT I TELL YOU!That's not healthy. And both of my parents are hypertensive. I'm genuinely afraid my tombstone might read: "Died From Immaturity." Because that's ultimately what a tantrum is about, right? It&#…