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Showing posts from October, 2013

Sacrilege for Your Health

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One of my favorite places in Chicago is a heavy metal burger bar called Kuma's Corner. Not only does the joint rock those sweet metal tunes, but all of the burgers are named after metal bands. And all this month they've had a limited edition burger dedicated to the band, Ghost. For those who aren't familiar with the band, Ghost is about as sacrilegious as metal gets. The lyrics are absurdly satanic, the lead singer wears a skull mask and a cardinal's outfit, and the artwork is replete with historically blasphemous symbolism.

Now Kuma's has recently gotten some press over their char-grilled homage. For starters, the patty is made with both beef and goat. Then there's the red wine reduction. And if that wasn't enough, there's an unconsecrated Communion wafer that tops it off. Needless to say, many Roman Catholics are outraged. In fact, I've heard only criticism and scorn from most within the Christian community.

I have my own reaction to this, but it&…

No Need to Believe

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"The end of god-worship discloses itself at the moment when it becomes optional." Christopher Hitchens - God is not Great
Christians are afraid of science. Most won't actually admit that, but there is an undeniable mistrust of scientific discovery within Christian communities (there's also an unfortunate ostracism that occurs when Christians venture into scientific fields and don't condemn the work done there).

For many, it boils down to evolution. Christians seem to think that, number one, all scientists support evolution and, number two, that they want to prove that the world doesn't need God. Because that's essentially what Charles Darwin did--he developed a cosmogony, or origin theory of the universe, that didn't require the efficacy of a deity. As highly improbable as the big bang is, it's ultimately not impossible. Thus, as far as the natural laws that govern our world are concerned, God is optional. And with this, I find it hard to disagree…

Great Likes

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One of my favorite bands is a Swedish doom metal group called Katatonia. The vocals are droning, the rhythms are plodding, and the tone is like wading through a lake of icebergs. Granted, not everyone's cup of tea, but I like them. And not for any particular reason either.

Some people may like the singer. He's ok. Some people may like the lyrics, but they're rather bland. Some people may appreciate the musicianship; well, I've seen them live and they kinda suck.

To be honest, I can't really point out anything exceptional about the band at all. Even The Beatles had genre innovation going for them, but Katatonia has been playing off a tested and tried blueprint for years. They are, at best, mediocre. A few years ago, I wouldn't have wanted to admit that, but I've learned an important fact since then. Not everything we like is great.

Have you ever been disappointed by a "great!" movie that someone recommended? Or a "great!" book that either…

Theostasis

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That's not a real word (at least in English). Like many folks with an interest in theology, I made it up. My working definition for theostasis is, "the state of being resistant to revision as it regards religious dogma."

It's a word that could easily be applied to those who subscribe to things like conservativism, traditionalism, even fundamentalism. The idea is that no matter what, no matter the revolutions in thought or the insights into history, a theological idea or doctrine must never change.

I think the reasoning for this is fairly simple. God doesn't change. The God of today is no different than the God of Paul or Jeremiah or Moses. Therefore, to "adapt" to the whims of culture is to discard him for a cheap image of our own making. I agree. To a point.

Yes, there are certain things culture will never like about God and will always be at war with. No student of the Bible can dispute this. But I would offer a caveat to the aforementioned maxim. God…

Twilight People

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The soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands and is radiant with intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence. Plato - The Republic
What does it mean to be human? How would we define human experience? We touch and taste our physical world. Is it fully human, then, to feel the crunch of fallen leaves beneath our feet or perceive notes of cinnamon and nutmeg in a Pumpkin Spice Latte?

We also think and dream in worlds yet discovered. Is humanity still greater for processing the equations of relativity or imagining the world of Narnia? Contemplations like this aren't made to slake the leisurely fancies of philosophers. For the way in which we view the experience of man will determine the course of our morality.

The natural man. Championed by science,…

The View from Babel

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Every single person has a worldview. On the surface, that just means that we all have a way in which we view the world. But on a deeper level, it addresses the philosophical underpinnings of our perspectives and opinions.

We might say that our worldview is the result of the various sources of knowledge we choose to trust. For example, the atheist has an naturalistic worldview because such a person trusts primarily in their senses--what they can observe. Likewise, the Christian would have a Christian worldview because trust is placed in the Bible as the primary source of knowledge.

Of course, the mistake could be made that the Bible is the only source, but this would ignore the fact that we interact with the Bible through our senses (a source of knowledge) and with God through our spirit or mind (another source of knowledge). Still, I think this mistake is often made intentionally to guard against an uncomfortable truth: there is no such thing as a Christian worldview.

Think about it. …

Hating Your Family For Jesus

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Full-time ministry isn't for everyone. Though some would say that it's the true calling of all Christians, I believe it's the calling of a select few. The elite. The exceptional. Because it requires a degree of commitment unparalleled to any other career.

Imagine being on-call, 24/7. Now laugh at those people. How lazy are they: sitting on their couches, watching TV, just waiting for their phones to ring. Full-time ministry is more than being on-call; it's about being ever present.

If you don't live on the premises of your organization, you only go home long enough for one REM cycle. You don't get to have a personal life because you are but a vapor to God. So make it count! No distractions, no entanglements, and no priorities higher than kingdom building.

That includes family. In fact, Jesus said to hate them compared to him. Do you really love him? Then tell your daughter to quit whining about her homework and help you do something that matters. Like stuffing …

You Don't Know Greek

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Have you ever noticed that pulpits are generally a few feet higher than the pews? I think it's so that everyone can see the pastor, and before sound systems, hear the pastor as well. Still, I've often felt that pastors, being so high and lifted up, were always looking down on me.

Especially as I got older and wasn't chasing Cheerio's under the pew, I found myself impressed by the things they could find in a text that I never saw before. They had this knowledge of the Bible and a command of theology that made me feel so small, no matter how big I got. You could sense it in the room too. As the pastor would say more uncomfortable things, the pews got squeakier and the scowls got tighter. But he could always say something that placated the growing discord: "In the original Greek..."

It was like magic. The scowls disappeared and were replaced with what seemed like lobotomized grins. The kind of look that says, "Oh, I see. I'm too dumb to understand. Cont…

Care Less

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On Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, the United States experienced its first government shutdown since 1995. A shutdown sounds scary and for good reason. Many government departments literally shut down including things like national parks and the Library of Congress (expect an episode of Parks & Rec in the near future).

But what's really scary is that 800,000 government employees have been sent home. Without pay. Who knows what this will do to our economy. And with our national debt increasing about $2,000 per second, it's hard to not be a little worried. Still, here's how I end up feeling about this: I don't care.

I don't imagine I'm alone in that sentiment, although I do think you're more likely to find it among my peers than anyone else. It's apathy. Plain and simple. Unfortunately, this approach to life and politics will most likely outrage my parents' generation, and garner sneers at our apparent ungratefulness.

Forgive me if I laugh at the notio…