Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Times Aren't All That Are a-Changin'!

These are confusing times that we're living in. The first time I saw this transgender symbol, I thought Prince had changed his name, again!

"We'll Take the Christians"

In a recent discussion about the "refugee" problem overwhelming Europe at the moment – and the increasing calls for the US to do more to help (i.e. agree to take in a bunch of the refugees ourselves) – Pat Caddell said something that I thought was brilliant. He said sure we would take some of the refugees – "we'll take the Christians." I think that may be the best idea I've heard from anyone discussing the subject, yet.

Unfortunately, I believe the idiots in charge are too stupid, too hell-bent on self-destruction, and too enamored with the whole "Religion of Peace" (got to bend over backwards
to not appear Islamophobic) nonsense, to even consider the idea.

It's still a brilliant idea, though.

Meanwhile, the self-made noose around Europe's neck continues to tighten.…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This Is Only A Test...

Since I have to use the onscreen keyboard whenever I type anything, writing blog posts and emails is something I do with less and less frequency—especially if it's anything longer than a couple of paragraphs. And so I've decided to give this speech recognition thing another try. I've tried it in the past, but always ended up giving up because the thing never seemed to understand what I was saying. But that was then, and this is now, so we'll see how it goes.

One thing that is surprising (and a bit frustrating) is how different speaking what you want to write is from typing what you want to write. When typing (or writing with pen or pencil) the thoughts just seemed to flow out as you're thinking them—but with speech dictation, the speaking seems to interrupt the thinking. It makes it very difficult to think ahead—especially when you keep sneaking glances at the screen and noticing the typos it's making (although, encouragingly enough, the sentence before this parenthetical bit did not make a single mistake).

I probably should have noted the time when I started this, just to see how long it takes. Supposedly, the speech recognition software gets more accurate the more you use it. I certainly hope so. I have noticed this seems to do better when I speak in short sentence fragments (which may work to my advantage, since I often don't have the breath to get through a whole sentence anyway).

Patty (who is sleeping in the other room) just coughed, and the program typed, "If". That's pretty funny.

For some reason, this thing still keeps screwing up some pretty simple commands. Sometimes it tries to do something that's not even close to what I asked it to do. Just my luck—I've got a hearing impaired speech recognition program!!!

Unfortunately, the Open Office program that I usually use to write doesn't work with speech recognition programs. That figures. (Good heavens, I just swallowed and the program asked, "What was that?" It'll be interesting to see what it says if I ever get the hiccups!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Can't Smile...

I hate having my photograph taken, and have for as long as I can remember. I looked at some recently taken photos, and it was a discouraging experience, to say the least. In every picture, I looked either angry, annoyed, distracted (or any number of equally unpleasant expressions), even though I was quite happy on each occasion.

The problem is that I don't know what to do with my face. I can never really tell (from the inside) what my face is actually doing (on the outside). It's weird. And I don't know how to do the Insta-Smile thing that others seem able to manage so effortlessly. It's very frustrating.

If there is a photograph of me smiling, it is an illusion. I'm really laughing at something, but the shutter clicked at that split-second of time where the illusion of a smile takes place. A second earlier, and I would have looked constipated. A second later, and I would have looked like Mr. Ed with the hiccups.

So I don't smile in photographs. I wish I could -- but I can't. It is yet another discouraging trait to add to my already enormous collection.

I'll be 50 years old in about a month. You would think I would have learned to smile by now -- but I haven't. You would think I'd have something more profound on my mind to write about -- but I don't.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Michael Spencer 1956 - 2010

Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) has died, at age 53, of colon cancer. That he didn't even come close to living to see his book's release date (September 7, 2010) makes it suck even worse (if that's possible).

One of the sanest Christian voices in America, he will be sorely missed. If you've ever read any of Michael's writings, then you know what I mean. If not, then make the effort to do so from the archives at

Please pray for Michael's family & friends, as they deal with the tragedy and unfairness of his illness and death. Michael now knows that it was all more than worth it. Pray that those close to him may receive a measure of that same assurance.

If you'd like to pre-order a copy of Michael's book, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, there is a link on the sidebar. Or, if you'd like to make a donation to help with the family's medical expenses, then click on the Donate button at

Meanwhile, Fred Phelps (of the God Hates Fags Church of Demonic Theology) is alive-and-kicking, at....what?....150 years old??....and is still drawing enough breath to spew his sulfurous bile of Christ dishonoring blasphemies at a nation that's already so dead it thinks he represents what the average Christian believes. God help us.

The good news is that Michael Spencer will do more good, even in death (via InternetMonk.com archives, The Boar's Head Tavern, his upcoming book, and those whose lives he's had such a positive impact on), than Fred Phelps could do if he lived to be a thousand. Grace will always win out over vitriol, as surely as it has defeated sin, death, and Satan. Michael knew that the gospel is all about Grace. "For by grace you have been saved through faith -- and that not of yourself -- it is the gift of God." It is what he strove to show others in his daily life. Through struggle and failure, God's loving grace is the one constant that should never be in doubt to even the weakest Christian. It's all about what Jesus has done to save us, not what we have to do to earn salvation.

We need all the Christians like him we can get. He wasn't perfect, but he strove to be honest -- about his own struggles, and especially about the transforming grace that sustained him in all things. He will be missed. God bless and comfort his family & friends at this most difficult of times.

[Addendum: Michael Spencer's book, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality, is now available for purchase. Christianity Today printed an excerpt online, which can be read here. Amazon.com also lets you read some of the book here.]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Easter...

About a month or so after finishing the book that so many of his blog readers were hoping he'd write, Michael Spenser (aka, the Internet Monk) found out he had colon cancer. Recently he and his wife were told that he has 6 months to a year to live. It's looking like he may very well not live to see his book published this Fall. But out of such devastating circumstances, came the following post. I thought it appropriate for Easter.

A brief word from Michael:

The ultimate apologetic is to a dying man.

That is what all those “Where is God?” statements in the Psalms are all about. They are, at least partially, invitations to Christians to speak up for the dying.

All the affirmations to God as creator and designer are fine, but it is as the God of the dying that the Christian has a testimony to give that absolutely no one else can give.

We need to remember that each day dying people are waiting for the word of death and RESURRECTION.

The are a lot of different kinds of Good News, but there is little good news in “My argument scored more points than you argument.” But the news that “Christ is risen!” really is Good News for one kind of person: The person who is dying.

If Christianity is not a dying word to dying men, it is not the message of the Bible that gives hope now.

What is your apologetic? Make it the full and complete announcement of the Life Giving news about Jesus.

Powerful and sobering words, especially when one considers that we are all dying. You will never meet a person on this planet who isn't -- it's just more obvious about some of us than others (and even that can be deceiving).

Jesus isn't our boyfriend. He's not our drinking buddy. He's not the poster boy for a Love-Is-Blind theology that thinks that every sin we commit is just the harmless whoopsie daisy of a precocious child's innocent first steps. No, Jesus is the love that sees into the darkest corners of our souls without flinching, and then has the nerve to die for the things in us that are so ugly that even we can't bear to face them. And then he had the audacity to not stay dead! And to top it all off, he promises eternal life to anyone who simply gives their self to him in faith (and even that faith is a gift from him).

For those who think they don't need him, he has nothing to offer. For those who know that they need him, then Happy Easter. He Is Risen. He is the light on the horizon that the hopeless think is the final sunset, but that the faithful know is the first glow of that coming Easter morn when the Son will break forth like the dawning of the perfect day that will never end.

The word, I think, is "Hallelujah!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

“And We Are”

Well, since I mentioned the song in my last post, I figured I might as well post it, too. It's not as full sounding as on the CD (because of the compression), but I hope you dig it nonetheless. It's from our (Van Gogh's) album, Gravity. Enjoy!

[Ahem...It's even better in HD at YouTube. Click HERE.]

The Beginning of Sorrows, addendum...(Of Family, Friends, and Silver Linings)

Looking through my files, in an attempt to weed out and organize, I discovered that I'd posted a piece that was missing something important. (I often find myself working on several potential posts at the same time – and it's not unusual for me to have more than one version of some of those as well. So on rare occasions something unintentionally gets left out, because it was in a different version than the one I posted. Patty suspects I'm ADD.)

As we've gone through the trials and tribulations of the last two years, one of the most amazing things has been how – just when we think we might lose the van (yeah, they've threatened that), or that we've fallen too far behind on bills to ever catch up – a family member or friend will unexpectedly help us in some way that is too perfectly timed to be coincidence (especially when it's happened more than once). Heck, one time the help was even delayed (according to the benefactor), but the delay caused the timing to be perfect! Providence? I daresay.

Needless to say, if it weren't for the various and sundry kinds of support from family and friends, we would not have been able to get though the hardships we've endured. So we're ever grateful to God (my grumpiness and funks notwithstanding), and we're ever grateful to those who heeded the Spirit's nudging when it came. We are humbled and blessed to have people in our lives who love us so much (which was never in doubt, but it still amazes). As a line from the Van Gogh song, “And We Are”, says:

"We are blessed beyond reasons that God only knows."

And we are.
Yes, we are.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Killed Jesus

I killed Jesus – but he wouldn't stay dead. Then he forgave me, said I could be born again into his family (as his Father's child), and spend eternity with him and all the other losers he saves. I told him I didn't deserve such a glorious gift after all the things I'd done. And he just smiled and said, "Yeah, I know."

Such mercy and grace was so overwhelming that it killed me – but Jesus wouldn't let me stay dead. I am still shaken by the touch of such undeserved love. I stagger and babble like a drunken fool who thinks he's dancing and praising God – and the Holy Spirit keeps encouraging the foolishness, and telling God that I am.

The sheer devastatingly Divine JOY of it all can make me weep with delight. He is alive, and I tremble at the prospect of meeting him face-to-face. Some things are so good they're scary. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a loving God – a terrible good. I am humbled and hushed, and hopeful that he'll have me ready when the time comes. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Beginning of Sorrows, epilogue[?]...(So Confusing, and So Very Clear)

I'd been in a very dark funk recently. All the crap that keeps hitting us, and having few to no real options, had combined to piss me off in an intense an awesomely unpleasant way. At some point, enough is way more than enough – and yet, here comes another shovel full. Life: it's out to kill you.

And, unfortunately, most of the “advice” people offer is either useless or infuriating. I suppose most mean well (at least I hope they do), but good grief! Platitudes, cliches, and band-aid scriptures just don't cut it. Most people are plenty old enough to know better, but what can you do? I mean, even if I were the kind of idiot that grabs a sniper rifle and heads to the nearest clock tower, what are the odds of finding a clock tower that is wheelchair accessible? And then there's the whole issue of not being able to lift the rifle (assuming I did find such a clock tower)... See? I can't even do the things I wouldn't! It's maddening!!

But I digress...

So I've been listening to a lot of music, lately. Obscure music. Out-of-print-for-decades-and-never-to-even-come-close-to-being-in-print-again music. Most of it old folkish Jesus Music. Music that has been like a healing balm to my soul. Music that moves me deeply. And, as is so often the case, music that I can't really share with anyone, because I can't think of anyone I know who'd dig this stuff. And as I thought about that, it really bummed me. And then it dawned on me that that is pretty much how it's always been. I've often been into stuff that no one I knew was really that into. And while it would be cool to have somebody to talk about this stuff with, it's just not likely to happen. (See? Yet another frustration.)

The cool thing, however, is that it's reconnected me with my inner retard – the oddball that's never felt like he's quite fit in anywhere. And, for better or worse, that seems to be the me that I'm most comfortable as. I'm not cool. I'm not especially bright. My lack of self-confidence would kill any motivational expert unfortunate enough to get caught in the gravitational pull of the black hole that is my lack of self-confidence. But I'm okay with my retardation, because that's when I'm most aware of just how absurd most of what too often passes for a meaningful existence in this world is. It's also the place where it's most obvious how much I need what Jesus offers. Jesus said he came for the sick and the broken, and didn't seem to spend a lot of time trying to win over those who thought they already had it all.

Anyway, I found comfort in the songs of these obscure albums. God using music I'd never heard of (that was often recorded halfway around the world, by people who will never have a clue about how powerfully their music was used), to touch and bring healing to someone 30 to 40+ years after the albums were released. Such is the coolness of the Internet. And such is the glorious mercy of the Lord.

Sometimes I think I know a little of how Job might have felt: I didn't get any real answers, but the questions don't seem quite as important now. I don't understand, and yet I am comforted. It is (as the title one of the aforementioned albums suggests), So Confusing, and So Very Clear. Sometimes we don't seem to get answers because we're not asking the right questions. Other times, it's because we've so convinced ourselves there's only one possible answer that we don't hear the truth if it's not the answer we want. And sometimes,...God is just silent (or, at least, he seems silent). But just when you're ready to give up on hearing him in the thunder-clap, burning bush, scripture – or wherever you think he might jump out from to surprise you with an epiphany – he speaks to you through the obscure songs of unknown artists who were humbly trying to express the hopes, doubts, JOYS, and fears that come to anyone who is attempting to follow Jesus through the crowded, noisy, marketplace-of-a-world we live in. It's sometimes like a whisper in a hurricane, and yet the whisper is heard. I don't understand, and yet I'm blessed. I still hurt, and yet I'm comforted. I don't really get it, but I'm thankful nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hey, somebody thinks I'm funny!

I know,... I was amazed, too!

I applied to be a Ninja4Christ – and the comments I left, describing my more than ample qualifications, got mentioned at the site host's blog (my description is the first one listed – and is, of course, the longest winded of the three).

And check out the rest of his blog (it's better than mine). Also, check out his other site CryingWife.com (very funny stuff).

I'm flattered that he even noticed my resume. Now how do I break it to him that I wasn't joking?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Power Corrupts, part one: I Think Your Politics Are Stoopid

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." [Mark 10:42-45]

Maybe I'm just getting weak and shallow in my old age, but I've come to realize that the more attention I pay to politics, the less I seem to behave like a disciple of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit, which is supposed to be evident in the life of a Christian, just seems to shrivel up and die. I'm less patient, less compassionate, less loving, less likely to turn the other cheek (which isn't easy to begin with).

I've also noticed that such seems to be true of a lot of other people as well. And I hear all sorts of arguments for why the neglect of such things is excusable (if not acceptable) in light of the current direction and climate of American politics and culture (e.g., the situation we face is too grave and perilous, and the issues too important, to bother with such niceties). Yep,...when Jesus said to love your enemies, he didn't mean your political enemies. Those idiots on the other side are trying to destroy God's Kingdom...the New Jerusalem...*ahem*... America. If we don't stop them, who will?

More and more, I am appalled at how often political involvement seems to consume and corrode peoples' souls. I think a lot of people get involved intending to make some kind of positive difference. Unfortunately, by the time they go through the seemingly unavoidable gauntlet of partisan abuse, that must be endured to rise to any level of influence, they're so warped by the ordeal that they've forgotten whatever high-minded ideals they may have started out with.

Such corruption is troubling enough, in and of itself. But it troubles me even more when professed Christians succumb to such corrupting influences. And one doesn't have to be a mover & shaker to be affected.

I believe that any political system devised by humans will inevitably become corrupt and fail. And, looking at history, humanity's track record doesn't exactly inspire optimism about our chances of finding a political solution to the ills that beset our country and the world. That doesn't mean that some systems aren't better than others, or that it's wrong for Christians to get involved in trying to make things better. But when allegiance to a political party or ideology creates the kinds of angry divisions between believers that have become so commonplace that most don't even notice, then something is seriously messed up.

So I've finally stumbled upon a solution that's so simple I think even I can manage it.

I think your politics are stoopid.

That's it.

Republican? Stoopid. Democrat? Stoopid. Independent? Stoopid. Socialist? Libertarian? Anarchist?
Stoopid. Stoopid. Stoopid. ___________? Stoopid.

You may sincerely believe that if Jesus were here today he'd be a Conservative Republican – with all the rugged individualism and pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps ethos that goes along with that – but you'd be hard pressed to square such thinking with Jesus' call for living sacrificially, and in humble dependance on him and each other.

You may sincerely believe that if Jesus were here today he'd be a Liberal Democrat – with all the take from the “haves” to give to the “have-nots”, and the-ends-justify-the-means ethos that goes along with that – but you'd be hard pressed to square forcibly taking from some to give to others with Jesus' call for loving your neighbor as yourself, and in humble dependance on him and each other.

The truth is that every political/economic ideology that attempts to appropriate Jesus for the cause ends up with some Frankenstein's monster of a Jesus. The Jesus of the New Testament is offensive to everyone at some point, so bits of him have to be lopped off. It's easy to claim affection for an amputated Jesus. But, in reality, he eventually managed to alienate just about everyone that claimed to believe in him. He taught a message that was so radical – and such a threat to those in power (both political and religious) – that it got him nailed to a cross. And the fact that he wouldn't stay dead put the powers of this world on notice that the rules of the game had changed completely. He said that following him would not endear us to the movers & shakers of this world, but would (more likely than not) do just the opposite. He never promised his followers a nice, safe, comfortable life (in fact, he seemed to promise just the opposite). But that Jesus doesn't always make us feel good about our ambitions, so we build ourselves a new Jesus (one created more in our own image).

Jesus said that if anyone wanted to be his disciple they should deny their self, take up their cross daily and follow him. But when was the last time you heard of any seriously involved politico actually doing anything remotely like that? It usually comes down to the old, “Well, sure I'm a Christian – but we have to fight fire with fire, if we're going to get this country headed in the right direction. The other side must be defeated by whatever means necessary. The stakes are too high to blah blah blah....our children's future...blah blah...vast blah blah conspiracy...blah...war on blah...blah.....bleh....” zzzzzzzzz...

Another troubling thing is how cynical Christians become who get really committed to some political ideology. I think cynicism is a coward's refuge, so it was very disturbing to feel it taking root in my own mind. Of course, cynics rarely admit there's anything wrong with such a mindset. Or they attempt to excuse it with the old, “You're damn right I'm a cynic – I've seen too much!” But the truth is, they really haven't seen enough. Cynicism seems, too often, to be the result of a constricted view of the world – it's what happens when the soul doesn't get enough fresh air and exercise.

Christians aren't to be myopic about the world. The bible claims that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – and even encourages a healthy skepticism – so we have no excuse for being surprised by how bad people can be. But, unlike most cynics, neither can we sit looking down our noses at how stupid other people are. We are those other people. I don't know about you, but I am often astounded by the stupidity of the dude living in my mirror.

Jesus said that anyone who wants to lead should serve sacrificially. He said that following him would bring his followers into conflict with the way the rest of the world operates (even in America). But what most politicians call service doesn't look like anything I could picture Jesus or the early Christians doing. When politicians talk about the sacrifices they make while in office, it often sounds about as convincing as when celebrities complain about how rough it is being rich & famous. And far too many politicians seem to leave office much wealthier than they went in (funny how that works).

Again, I'm more concerned about the corruption of professed Christians – we're supposed to be living by a different set of priorities (as citizen's of another kingdom). Political power, financial gain, and all the perks and prestige that go along with being a mover & shaker are things that followers of Christ are to be wary of. Power really does corrupt, but it seems like too many Christians think themselves immune.

The Old Testament offers some powerful lessons in just how easily power corrupts. Every system of governance that Israel tried eventually failed, and no amount of prosperity ever seemed to be enough. But in the New Testament, Jesus came to set the world on its head and give it a spin. He was a big disappointment to those looking for a political/military Messiah. Instead, he initiated the most subversive revolution this world has ever seen. He called the powerless to follow him (the outcasts, downtrodden, drunks, whores, crooks, tax collectors, children), while seeming almost indifferent to the powerful and elite. He said it's easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. So why, then, do so many Christians today seem to think of their wealth and power as Gifts of the Holy Spirit? Is our hubris that delusional – or is it, perhaps, just a pathetic excuse to sample forbidden fruits, thinking feigned ignorance or false magnanimity will fool God into thinking our intentions are good?

Jesus said the world would know his followers by their love for each other. But sometimes that love seems to be disguised as political porno (we've gotta screw them before they screw us). Theological and doctrinal disagreements can get ugly enough – but nothing can compare to a good, old-fashioned, politically partisan free-for-all. Grace, Mercy, and Love-for-one's-enemies are usually the first casualties of such conflicts (and are even looked upon by many as weaknesses). Good humor is rarely to be found (unless it is a “Kick Me” sign, stuck to an opponent's back with a knife). Turning the other cheek is only done when speaking out of the other side of one's mouth. We let the concerns of the world overwhelm our faith in the One who has overcome the world. We've decided that Jesus' way just doesn't get things done fast enough (and with nearly the degree of punishment our “enemies” deserve).

When more attention is paid to the words of pundits than the words of prophets; when Christians are more interested in political elections than God's elect; when Ron Paul gets Christians more excited than the Apostle Paul; when military casualties are confused with Christian martyrdom; when revolution is preferred to revival; when American patriotism becomes synonymous with Christian discipleship; when we can't tell the difference between the sin and the sinner; when a Christian can say, with a straight face, “Give me liberty, or give me death”; when the least-of-these are reduced to some-of-those; when protest replaces prayer; when canvassing replaces witnessing, then something has gone terribly wrong. And I think it's evidence that we no longer believe God is really on the job.

Jesus said we can't serve God and the things of this world. Maybe some people think they can pull it off (and maybe they can), but I'm not one of them. I found it necessary to give one or the other priority in my heart and mind, and it seems to have made a big difference in how I relate to those with whom I disagree strongly on various issues – not to mention improving my attitude in general. And (much to my surprise) it's been easier than I expected. So...

I think your politics are stoopid. I just can't take them that seriously.

Oh,...and in case anyone's wondering:

I think my politics are stoopid, too!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I've mixed emotions,...I think

I recently reread the story about a church in England that removed a 10 ft. sculpture of Christ on the cross that used to be out in front of the building because it was "scaring young children" and "putting people off". And they were going to replace it with a plain stainless steel cross (which, I guess, would be about as offensive as a kitchen utensil).

Hmmm... The Crucifixion offensive? Goodness, we can't have that! What a scandal! How dare th.... Oh, wait. It's kind of assumed to be offensive, isn't it? I mean, you don't want to use it just to be offensive -- but isn't it kind of guaranteed to be so? Doesn't the Apostle Paul call it an offense, and "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God"? Maybe the problem isn't the crucifix outside the church, but, rather, a lack of understanding (or proper perspective) of the cross by those inside.

The church's Reverend Souter says, "As a key exterior symbol for us it was putting people off rather than having a sense of hope and life and the power of the resurrection."

Which is fair enough, I suppose. Passersby not knowing the context of the man on the cross could easily be confused or offended by it. But if it's a problem as a "key exterior symbol", then just move it inside. Right? Wrong. They've apparently given it to a museum (where, one would think, it would be even more potentially confusing or offensive, since it's even further removed from the proximity of a Christian church). But, besides all that, doesn't one kind of have to come to grips with the awfulness of the crucifixion to even get to a sense of hope and life and the power of the resurrection? And what better place than a church?

I find it hard to believe that early Christians were suprised that crucifixion was offensive. In Jesus' time, the simple fact that one was crucified at all was considered a disgrace. And since the horrible spectacle of public crucifixion was kind of a daily fact of life for them, then isn't it possible that Paul keeps reminding them of it because he knew they'd immediately and vividly understand the reference? Aren't we supposed to be shaken-up by the grim reality that Jesus endured such a tortured death for a world that pretty much despises him? And isn't there a danger of minimizing the seriousness of the sins he died for, when we sanitize horrors he suffered procuring the forgiveness of those sins?

Maybe that's why Christianity in Europe has been in such decline for so long. Maybe they just got too civilized and sophisticated for a story with such a crude and violent component to it. Maybe. But then, they seem to tolerate other (more modern) types of violence.

It makes you wonder, don't it?

Obviously, a message that focuses only on our sin-guilt, and the gruesomeness of the price paid for our forgiveness, shouldn't be where the story leaves off. And it's unfortunately true that some people seem to be so obsessed with the physical horrors of the crucifixion that it borders on morbidity. But a message that wants to skip lightly over that part of the story, in order to get on to more pleasant things, seems equally wrong. Western society seems to be either excessively preoccupied with death, or excessively afraid of it -- and neither extreme is healthy (either emotionally or spiritually). Balance seems to be a rarer and rarer thing in the modern church (and society in general), but isn't balance just the kind of thing Christians are called to model in this unbalanced world?

The Reverend also said they want to portray "an accurate biblical picture of the crucifixion as a moment of hopefulness for the world, and not one of despair." But the Apostle Paul spoke of the world viewing the cross as an offense and foolishness. And the writer of Hebrews encouraged Christians to: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

And maybe therein lies the problem. We are to focus on Jesus, but too many want to focus on just the parts of Jesus that don't upset them too much. People (believers and non-believers alike) prefer an amputated Jesus. The Liberation theology Jesus; the prosperity gospel Jesus; the positive thinking Jesus; the fire & brimstone Jesus; the New Age guru Jesus; the ethno-centric Jesus; and I expect to soon start hearing about the 'Liberty-Minded' Jesus (who is a Libertarian/Anarcho-Capitalist). But the Jesus of the Bible transcends and defies such neat and easy catagorizations. The fact that he had a zealot and a tax collector as two of his disciples should be proof enough of the radically life changing nature of the gospel (a zealot would have likely killed a tax collector, if ever their paths crossed in a dark alley -- but not after they encountered Jesus).

Then there are those who confuse the offensiveness of the cross with the offensiveness of their preaching style. But just because people are offended, that doesn't mean they're offended in the way the bible describes. Some people seem to confuse the offensiveness of the message with the obnoxiousness of the messenger. (Which is kind of how cultists think: "Ooooh, we're being persecuted because we're God's true chosen." No, you're being investigated because you're stockpiling an arsenal of military weapons, you're involved in financial illegalities, and you're practicing mind control on your members. Get a clue.)

Christianity is a faith that is full of paradoxes that, if not properly understood, may seem overly negative to some (e.g., you've got to die to get life; the last shall be first; he who saves his life shall lose it; etc). But one doesn't have to have a degree in theology to grasp such paradoxes (I mean, have you looked at the kinds of people Jesus called -- and still calls -- to follow him? You should meet the one writing this post). On the other hand, you can't approach the Christian faith and scriptures with an anti-intellectual "Oh, I just trust the Holy Spirit to explain it all to me, if it's really that important" mentality. Which brings us back to the concept of balance.

The church's curator said, "That today isn't an image which a lot of churches want to follow. They'd much rather see an empty cross where Christ has risen."

I can understand not wanting people to think that Christ on the cross is the whole story. Without the resurrection, he's just another deluded false messiah that got himself executed. But it just seems to be symbolic of modern Churchianity's obsession with never offending anyone -- i.e., the suffering Christ is more welcome in a museum than a church (providing he stays on the cross), while the church attempts to offer a "hopeful" resurrection message of a Christ that never suffered.

Still, the curator may have inadvertantly said more than he knew, when he stated, "They'd much rather see an empty cross where Christ has risen." Because an empty cross only indicates that Christ was taken down and buried. The empty tomb tells us Christ has risen. And, unfortunately, an empty church is usually the evidence of an amputated Jesus. God help us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Or Blogger Nazis?

Well, to their credit, MySpace actually replied promptly to my e-mail complaint about the link to this Blogger page being blocked. And, unlike the last time it happened, the response actually addressed the problem specifically. So I applaud MySpace for such improvements. Maybe they aren't the problem after all.

The MySpace explanation for the blocked link is:

We've recently discovered that BlogSpot pages are being used by spammers to send spam, so all links to that site have been disabled. Although you or your blog may not be associated with or linked to spam or spammers, to protect all MySpace Profiles from spam, phishing, and online scams, all links to Blogspot are blocked.

Which now begs the question: If BlogSpot pages are being used by spammers to send spam, what (if anything) are the Blogger folks doing to fix the problem? And, if they're not doing anything about it, why shouldn't I take my millions of readers and move to a different blog site

[Addendum: Since this was originally posted, I've received two "comments" that were spam links to Asian porn sites. So, apparently, the spam problem is a real concern. What losers. I hope Blogger gets a handle on the problem soon. DEATH TO SPAMMERS!!!]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

MySpace Nazis?

Well, they're at it again! The MySpace Nazis have once again blocked the link to this here blog. Their reasons? Well, let's look at those. Shall we?

Anyone clicking on the link to here from my MySpace page sees the following (just click on the picture, if it's too small to read):

Now if that's not about a load of mierda del toro, I don't know what is.

MySpace seems determined to chase me off. It's not bad enough that they're interfering with my link, and lying about the reasons why. I had an Imeem account, but MySpace bought Imeem. So there went most of my playlists – including my Van Gogh playlist, which was comprised of songs I wrote the lyrics to and sang on! They had no business deleting those!!!

I can imagine what some might be wondering: If MySpace is so bad, why not just go to Facebook? Which might be an option, if not for one small point: I HATE Facebook! But that's a whole other post.