Friday, February 24, 2006
Finally got my copy of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons
in the mail. I plan on reading it and perhaps commenting chapter by chapter in the coming week or so, as I can balance out my reading with my graduate work.
A good weekend to all.
Monday, February 20, 2006
At his Reformissionary site, Steve McCoy points
to this morning's piece by Dr. Al Mohler concerning a pro-choice outburst by Christian author Anne Lamott. You can read Mohler's piece here
. Also read Amy Welborn's take on the subject
. It was Wellborn that first drew my attention to this issue. I should mention that Amy Welborn is a fine whose blog is a must for all things Catholic. I suspect it will become an invaluable resource once the DaVinci Code
At any rate, we've been discussing Dr. Mohler's comments on Steve's site. I think Lamott is important to consider for a few reasons. First, she is a telented writer. Second, she is a popular writer with something of a large following. Stop in the local Barnes and Noble and you'll find her books on display in the religion section, recieving the attention that might not be given to the works of A.W. Pink. Third, confessional writing of the sort she does is becoming increasingly popular in evangelical circles. Think of Don Miller and Lauren Winner.
I like confessional writing. I would love to be able to do some of my own work in that vein at some point in my life. And yet there must be a caution within this genre. Just like public testimonies in church, confessional writing is subjective. It may refer to Scripture, but ultimately it is the recounting of one person's experience. It can be a tremendous help in our walk with Christ, but it is no replacement for Scripture, first and foremost, and, second, for the deeper truths of the Word that are found in theological study.
In Mohler's piece, he offers a level of discernment towards Lamott. He cites a Christianity Today
piece that says this about Lamott:
"Yet, deeper within her than her loud liberalism is a reality that has won her many evangelical readers: a zany ardor for Jesus. Lamott's fascination with all things Jesusy (a term she might as well have copyrighted) must be the reason why she is a mixed bag of hilariously antagonistic affections."
I commented at Reformissionary that Mohler may very well be troubled by more than Lamott's radical liberalism. (See the links below for more information on that - she is more than your garden variety working-class Democrat) It seems that Mohler is troubled by the idea that no one cares about her liberalism. I know I am. And what I mean by that is not that I wouldn't welcome her and befriend her. I would. I regard her as a believer in Christ. I respect her talents. Evaluating the beliefs of a public literary figure like Lamott is not the same as picking apart the stranger on the bus or the newcomer at church. Showing a certain degree of criticism for ideas and opinions that are offered up for public consumption is not, by definition, unfair and un-Christlike.
I reject the idea that we can endorse anything that claims the name of Christ. Can we offer it a seat at the table? Most certainly. But that is not the same thing as sending the product/writer/artist/preacher/program back into the world with our blessings. To sound emergent for a moment, I would love to dialogue with Lamott and her comrades (ha!), but I can't give them a full thumbs up. She is not privately voting for Ralph Nader. She is an active, proud leftist. It's one thing to vote for John Kerry; it's another to speak glowingly of Barbara Lee. And though some would suggest that Christians can vote for whomever they like, I tend to think the Lord is bothered by unapologetic support of the right to terminate a pregnancy. Anne Lamott may not be, but Mohler is not wrong to suggest that she is stepping outside the bounds of Christian tradition in so doing. I would again suggest that while God may not have a favorite political party, there are essentially two streams of political thought in this country and whatever its shortcomings, one is far more in line with the traditional ethics of orthodox christianity. The other finds a nice home in the traditions of the Enlightenment and existentialism. Such legacies cannot be denied.
For more on Lamott's ideas see the following:
Anne's interview with Powells.comHer archive at Salon.com
In the Powell's interview above, Anne speaks of donating to Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Ms. Lee gave this speech
at an anti-war rally in San Francisco in the Spring of 2003. The march was organized by the International Action Center
. The IAC was founded by Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general now doing a little pro bono legal work for Saddam Hussein. (Clark also worked on behalf of that political prisoner, Slobodan Milosevic, but who's keeping count?) The IAC is also the sponsor of the leftist group ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The IAC is part of the World Workers Party
, a Stalinist organizaiton that is more than a little supportive of the regimes (not the citizens, mind you) of Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Nice, isn't it? I've said time and again that I find Dobson to be grating, Falwell midguided and Robertson embarassing, but I don't recall any of them working with this sort of crowd. Here's the Wikipedia skinny on the WWP
. This is the splinter group that formed from the WWP.
Here's a good piece on the IAC and WWP from FrontPage Magazine
. National Review also ran several articles on this topic. See here
. Note in that FrontPage piece that one of the groups the IAC brought together to support ANSWER has strong ties to Hamas.See here for my concerns about leftism in evangelical circles
, particularly among artists and writers. My comments originally concerned Derek Webb, but I do not limit them to him alone. The anti-war organizations are of particular concern for me, and I would mention Webb's support for Sojourners
and Miller's endorsement of Cornel West
(scroll down), the Princeton professor who recently visited Venezuela in support of dictator and Castro buddy Hugo Chavez
Again, these folks are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would welcome them into my church without reservation. Indeed, I would welcome them into my home. I would not, however, agree with their views on these important matters. Likewise I will not be silent with the support of earnest believers leaves them with a public platform by which they can advance such views. We are all sinners, all of us fallen short of God's glory. I confess my own failings and note that I am not the final arbiter of truth in this world. Yet these disagreements deserve scrutiny for they affect serious issues in our world. We can disagree, to be sure, but the consequences might well force us to reconsider.
New post below
. Check it out.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Glenn Lucke points me to these points concerning the Chuck Colson praise and worship dust up. First, Zach at Finding Rhythm offers this post questioning Colson's authority. Rhett Smith responds.
Let me address a few of Zach's points. First, Colson's past transgressions should have no bearing on his criticism of modern worship practices. None. Not a single, solitary bit. It is, at this point, completely irrelevant. Over the last thirty years, Charles Colson has established himself as a fine voice of reason in a murky age. That Zach Ling would even bring up Colson's past activity is a cheap shot.
Secondly, Colson made the comment that the praise chorus "Draw Me Close to You" could be song in a nightclub. I don't think Colson was implying that the music itself is bad. Maybe he was, but it did not seem to be his point. It seems that his crticism is in the lyrical content of the song. I concur with him, for this one song is a good example of the classic replace "Jesus" with "baby" formula for changing CCM into bad pop music.
Thirdly, Lind pulls out that boring and trite defense of worship music: Luther and Wesley. Says Lind:
"I find it ironic that someone with Colson’s sorted past has become so comfortable in the seat of judgement and has become so certain as to what’s best for christians everywhere to listen or sing along to (Heaven forbid we sing songs that could be sung “in a nightclub” as he puts it. Maybe Colson, the big lover of hymns, has either forgotten or is unaware that some of Martin Luther and Charles Wesley’s traditional hymns were adapted from music heard in taverns. Whoops!)."
There are so many problems with this line of thinking. The line between the sacred and the secular in older societies was not what it is now. Popular music in Luther's day was not as commercialized and watered-down as it is now. Likewise Luther and Wesley lived in a very homogeneous society. They did not live in an age of classical, jazz, blues, punk, country, rap and metal. It was not a stretch to imagine that everyone in church was already familiar with the music. Suggesting that it is now appropriate that all generations of the church be forced to sing a weak knockoff of U2 or Coldplay is silly and borderline selfish. Furthermore, it is faulty to believe that such music is attracing serious numbers of committed young people. I can think of at least one non-Christian who is a fan and friend of this site who is none too impressed by the rock and roll Jesus phenomenon.
Whatever one feels about Colson, he has touched a very serious nerve. Worship is not about us. It is, of course, about our Savior. Below that, it is about the Church before it is about ourselves. Whether in lyrical content or some other aspect of corporate worship, the wellbeing of the body is more important than the personal issues of anyone in the congregation. And of course, Chuck Colson's political sins of decades past should have no impact on his commentary today. It is immature and unwise to suggest otherwise.
I have a lot of mixed emotions about Pastor John Piper, though none of them are negative. With these comments
about his cancer, however, Piper reminds us of some very deep and profound truths. They are as follows:
1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.
8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
(HT: Steve McCoy
Here's a few pictures. The first is the setup of the place where I proposed to my darling fiance. The second is of the two of us, post-proposal. Check out the rock on her finger. Too beautiful.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Sounds like Chuck Colson has had it
with much of what passes for "worship" in church these days. (HT: Glenn at CGO
So have some other people. See here
This is the most poignant part of Colson's rant:
"This view was confirmed by a Christian homemaker during a TV special on evangelicalism. She is so busy, she explained, with her kids, Bible study, cooking, and all, that she does not even get to read the newspaper. Church for her is getting her spirits lifted. Now admittedly, modern life creates enormous stress, but can’t the Church offer comfort and help people confront the culture? Of course, music is important in the life of the Church. But it cannot replace solid teaching."
I am tired of being told that repeating theologically weak choruses is how I should connect with God. That Jesus is my lover and my daddy. Yes, Christ loves the Church and gave His life for it. Yes, God is our Heavenly Father. But I have a girlfriend already. I do not need another one. I need the Mighty Fortress, the Fount of Every Blessing...I need Him to be my Vision. Of course, the response to my comments would be that just as I need the God who is a Mighty Fortress, someone else needs Him to be the lover of their soul. Fair enough, but a great portion of modern worship music is written to appeal to the deeper emotional needs of people who have been wounded. The Church should be a haven, a resting place for these folks...but someone's emotional needs should not dominate corporate worship. For that matter, deeply personal songs of distress and longing for God should not become the centerpiece of the Church's worship. We worship God in Spirit and
in Truth, not just in the subjective needs of our own hearts.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Hitch on the cartoon riots.
I had been looking forward to reading Jared Diamond's Collapse
, but after reading this review
, I'm not so sure.
There's a lot to be said about the Muslim protests in Denmark and elsewhere, but this is a good place to start. Read the first three of four paragraphs of this post at First Things.
Troubling, to say the least.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
So about this marriage deal. Well, let me say that Lori is just a terrific girl. Absolutely stunning, I must say. A beautiful woman and an amazing cook. She loves Jesus and she loves me. I am in good hands.
In talking with a friend the other night, the comment was made that the friend did not appreciate movies with a redemptive story. Note that I am not talking about movies about salvation, those that feature a tearfully repentant drunk kneeling at the altar of a country church. I instead think of many movies within the film noir canon, most of which show that we do indeed pay for our sins.
The topic was Woody Allen. I enjoy Woody Allen's films a great deal; Lori and I watched Annie Hall
last night while I graded papers. There is an undeniable truth, however, in Allen's films; almost every one of his protaganists are egomaniacs of the highest order. A proper Christian evaluation of this tendency in Allen's films will note that while we are all sinners, fallen and depraved, behaviors have consequences. In Stardust Memories
, Sandy Bates is neurotic and self-involved. He is a rather miserable character, and as a believer, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that such self-indulgence harmed Bates and the women with whom he was involved. Art doesn't have to have resolution, but it is an existential failure to suggest that art is complete without further commentary. Brokeback Mountain
may be a very well-made movie, but it cannot be ignored that in pursuing their own fantasies, the protaganists harm their wives and children. Whatever one believes about homosexuality, it is terribly irresponsible to endorse the notion that abandoning one's commitment to one's family is acceptable in pursuit of adolescent lust.
It would be unfair and perhaps even bigoted to limit this criticism to a movie that deals with homosexuality. In fact, Brokeback Mountain
is just the latest example. Yes, like Woody Allen, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. And it is because of this truth that our own criticism should not ignore, nor it should unlovingly condemn, the truth that our sins have dire consequences for ourselves and for those around us.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Well Lance and Sheryl
may not be getting married (HT: Steve McCoy
), but I am