Monday, April 27, 2009

"those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles"

Mary Ann Glendon writes

"This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”"

One is left wondering: Who then *can* Catholic Institutions honor?

"Emergent Version of Divine Fiat"

From here

Now I totally want to own a fiat.

You could buy me one from ebay

On Listening

From here:

Henderson ISO from B. Boyle on Vimeo.

So tell me about a time when you felt you were really listened to or paid attention to.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worship Star

This sort of nails it, somehow. Made me grin widely, but not laugh. Megan says "whenever they take pictures of Darlene, the pictures are always up her nose."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

two articles from today

Bono asks "It's 2009: Do you know where your soul is"

We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.

and Vanessa Ho writes "Church won't host homeless shelter that doesn't do sex offender checks"

Homeless legal secretary Hendel, who has a bad back and depression, said "Our hopes were so high. But that's life."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Peanuts and "witnessing"

(The following really happened.)

Years ago, I used to be a Christian and was rather involved in a little Baptist church in the Seattle area. One of the activities church members participated in was door to door canvassing--er, that is, witnessing.

My two friends Mark the older and Mark the younger were out one Saturday morning knocking on doors, asking people's permission to tell them about Jesus. One of the houses they went to belonged to an older lady, who invited them in and asked them to sit down in her living room. Mark the older proceeded to engage in conversation with the lady, while Mark the younger sat at the end of the couch, mostly remaining quiet and (theoretically at least) praying.

While he was praying, Mark the younger noticed a bowl of peanuts sitting on the end table, and thought to himself that it wouldn't hurt to eat one. So he did. Time passed, as Mark the older continued to converse with the lady to whom they were witnessing. As the time passed, somehow, Mark the younger found himself eating peanut after peanut from the bowl on the end table.

In fact, he ate so many of them that when the time came to leave, he somewhat embarrassedly realized he'd eaten the entire bowl. So, being the honest and gracious Christian that he was, he decided to apologize to the lady of the house for eating all of her peanuts.

"Ma'am, I'm really sorry, but as it happens, I skipped breakfast, and I was a little hungry, and it seems I've eaten your entire bowl of peanuts." he said.

"Oh--no problem at all!", she replied. "I can't eat them, you see, as my teeth are too bad. So I just suck off the candy coating, and then stick them in that bowl."

Death to bad tigers!

In case you haven't seen this. Love the song, and loved this iteration of it. Go Susan! Hope she wins it =)

The Shining Four (You know who you are) used to have a thing with this song, and dancing on the tigers in stocking feet, in the main meeting room. Here's to the deaths of tigers of the sort mentioned in this song--Shere Kahn and his ilk

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why do I cringe so much at this?

Individually, they are ok.  Somehow the aggregate of them makes me cringe.  Hmmmmm.

I know what it is.  I'd lay you 50 to 1 odds that every single one of them drives past hitchhikers when they have empty seats.  Yeah.  That must be it. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pirates, violence, and the pledge of allegiance

The recent saga in which Somali pirates attempted (and failed) to hijack a cargo ship with a U.S. crew, and then took the captain hostage, and then got killed by U.S. navy snipers *almost* brings me back to the days when I proudly said the pledge of allegiance, hand over heart, and bought into my father's heartfelt solution for solving international crises: "Nuke 'em 'til they glow."

  Almost, but not quite.  Alas.  Today I went with my 7 year old daughter to her school assembly, wherein a few hundred kindergardeners through 6th graders all stood, put their hands over their hearts, faced the U.S. flag, and recited these old words:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I just can't do it.  say the words, I mean.  I stood to be polite.  But ... I just can't do it.

The United States is largely still convinced that violence solves things.  The Somali pirate episode seems to bear this deeply held belief out.  But the strange juxtaposition of the most violent nation in the history of nations being composed, in such large majority, of people who claim to follow such a purveyor of non-violence as Jesus Christ just tweaks me.  Our ongoing inability to figure this thing out, after Korea, and Vietnam, and the war on drugs, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the hundreds of other ultimately unsuccesful (well, depending on how you define success, I guess) military operations over the last 200+ years should, I suppose, amaze me more than it does.  Are cynicism and numbness related?  I just can't do the "Hurrah, fucked those bastards" thing today.  Try me again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter quote from N.T. Wright

via Helen at practicing church, from Wright's book "Jesus, the Final Days: What really happened"

[T]he Gospels never say anything like, “Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death” (not that many first-century Jews doubted that there was); or, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall go to heaven when we die” (most people believed something like that anyway); or better, “Jesus is raised, therefore we shall be raised at the last.”

No: insofar as the [resurrection] is interpreted in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it has a very “this-worldly” meaning, relating to what is happening here and now. “Jesus is raised,” they say, “therefore he is the Messiah; he is the true Lord of the whole world; therefore we, his followers, have a job to do: we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world.”

It is not, “Jesus is raised, therefore look up into the sky and keep looking because one day you will be going there with him.” Many hymns, prayers, and Christian sermons have tried to pull the Easter story in that direction, but the line of thought within the Gospels themselves is, “Jesus is raised, therefore God’s new world has begun, and therefore we, you, and everybody else are invited to be not only beneficiaries of that new world but participants in making it happen.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why Union church rocks

As you may or may not know, my lovely bride and I are ever so loosely associated with Union Church Seattle.

My good friend John ever so gently called me tonight on the question of "who benefits?" when I do what I often tend to do, which is moan and complain. It's a good question. Truth is, not a whole lot of benefit often accrues. Today I saw a web site where a whole bunch of people were lengthily (gotta love that "g" in "lengthily") and strenuously criticizing Rick Warren for being a bit over the top in promoting himself and his church. My reaction to all that complaining was to wonder what all the commenters were doing along the lines of some of the really kewl social justice stuff Rick and Saddleback are doing.

I reminded of this reaction after John's question tonight. Recently I applied for a position with City of Seattle's Downtown Emergency Services Center, which is doing a lot of brilliant work with down and out populations like the homeless in Seattle. As I was researching for the position, I ran across the name of a housing project that they run called "Kerner Scott House". I recognized the name of this project because, as it turns out, Union Church people go there once a month on a Sunday to do cleanup, bring meals, and stuff like that.

Truth is, Union Church cancels their Sunday worship service once a month and everybody skips church to go work in various community service projects around Seattle.

That is astoundingly awesome. How many churches do you know who do that? Not many.

Plus, Union has this amazingly rocking person on staff whose name is Renee Notkin, who very recently traded her once-a-month or so turn to preach in to allow this interesting guy named Ron to spend 25 minutes or so telling us his personal story. This very seriously kicks ass, since story very nearly *always* trumps "teaching", in almost every possible way, IMNSHO.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter and hyperbolic claims

Pretty much the entire culture in which I am immersed is gearing up for the biggest week of the church year. Even in relatively unchurched Seattle, it seems to be all "Good Friday" and then Easter.

Dan Allender once asked "What is the most beautiful moment in the history of creation?" To which his answer was "the morning Jesus rose from the grave."

And he went on to say that you can't have that without "Good Friday". He talked about how his two life themes are death and resurrection, death and resurrection.

Must we insist on calling the bad which led to good "good"? It's a stupid name for the day

Some largish chunk--probably a majority--of the people celebrating Easter on Sunday will do so while "believing" (whatever that means) that some relatively large number of their neighbors (and I mean neighbors in the global, human sense here) are going to go through a lovely little thing called "eternal conscious suffering of the lost".

There will be a lot of talk about "salvation".

On Sunday April 12, also, 180,000 people (or so) will die. Theoretically, according to most Christians, (working off percentages here) the best that a good 120,000 of them can hope for is actual destruction in the lake of fire. But ... I'm pretty sure that "orthodoxy" has it that they will burn forever, fully aware of it.

I don't understand how you can hold "salvation" and "resurrection" and "hope" together in your being with that "reality". Just don't get it.

Also on Sunday, April 12th, at least 20,000 children will die as the termination of their starvation. Yep.

Also on Sunday, April 12th, something like US$2.7 Billion dollars will be spent on arms. Arms as in stuff to blow people up and kill and maim them and destroy their homes. Stuff that's *way* more effective that crosses.

On Sunday April 12th, claims will be made, in churches around the world, about resurrection, salvation, and hope--claims which seem to me to be far bigger than can possibly meet up with reality.

Feels like the world will still mostly be stuck in Black Friday, while all the Christians celebrate Easter.


Monday, April 06, 2009

There's a crack in everything!

Damn I'd love to go see this guy in Seattle April 23rd. Oh well.

Friday, April 03, 2009

"God sees Jesus, not you"--and a question

Recently I went to church and the preacher repeated a line that I've heard before. He said that God doesn't see us when he looks at us, but rather, "he" sees Jesus. The preacher made this clear by calling out the names of a couple audience members (whom i didn't know) and saying "So when God sees you ______, "he" doesn't see you, but rather he sees Jesus"

This seems in line with something Mark Driscoll said

You have been told that God is a loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good sky fairy who runs a day care in the sky and has a bucket of suckers for everyone because we're all good people. That is a lie... God looks down and says 'I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you,' and we say that is deserved, right and just, and then God says 'Because of Jesus I will love you and forgive you.' This is a miracle.

I don't really do the God thing so much anymore, so at one level I guess it doesn't matter. But I can't really see having much of a relationship with a god like this. I want the people I'm in relationship with to see *me*, not to pretend they like me by casting some sort of facade over me. In fact that's one of the points of relationship. If I were to do the god thing, I'd choose a god who wanted to see me.


Is this a sort of ... main or major tenet of ... "orthodox Christianity"? I mean do the Catholics belief this thing? My sense is that it's "reformed".

Do most of the people in the congregation I was at recently actually believe this? Feel like "God" is some angry fellow whose wrath must be propitiated by the death of his son, and then "he" can only look at them with a Jesus mask on them? Surely not? Maybe so? Maybe I should ask some of them.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Around the world in 80 telescopes

is a live 24 hour webcast from 80 observatories around the world, starting at 9:00 AM Universal Time/GMT on April 3rd (about 4.5 hours from now). It looks really kewl. Tune into it anytime on Friday.