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Monday, February 27, 2006

It could happen

What will happen when my great-great-great-grandchildren look back into history, into my life, and observe what I call stewardship? Suppose they take this look into history and cringe? Suppose they cringe like some people now cringe at their ancestors owning slaves? Suppose they look at my economic system and wonder how I could not see it for what it was, a systemic creation of greed and oppression.

What if my wise use of money when I look for a house that has good resale potential in a "good neighborhood" is really just another one of those things people do in their greed? What if it is invisible to me, but will some day become so obviously self-indulged? What if my nest egg, a wise financial move these days, is seen in days to come as an expression of my self-indulgence?

Let's suppose that greed is one day as repulsive as rape is today? When that day comes, how will history judge me? What if the balance of power becomes greed-negative rather than greed-affirmative? Will my great-great-great-grandchildren wonder if I am in Heaven?

What if greedy people become alienated, marginalized, attacked, and slandered? What if people legislate against greedy people? What if systems are created such that greedy people cannot have access to healthcare, government services, and are not allowed in church? What if people hid their children's eyes from the opulant life style of greedy people? Didn't want their children's teachers to be greedy? Greedy people cannot adopt children?

What if greed becomes the most despised sin in the world, especially the church?

It could happen.

Bought a Cow

40 Days of Fat has given us a Dairy Cow. Thanks to all who participated. Did you know that this cow will produce 200,000 glasses of milk in its life. That's going to be a much needed nutrtional boost for a family somewhere.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Praying For Sodom

Abraham asked God not to destroy Sodom. Why? Why not ask for his relative, Lot, to be rescued and the rest of the evil people to be destroyed? But no, he asked for this terrible thing not to happen to these people - these evil people. Why?

And, by the way, what was so evil about these people? They were gay, right? Wasn't that it? Well, that's what I used to think; it's what I was taught; it's what I used to teach.

Let's look at this a little closer. The angels of God in the form of men came to Sodom and were welcomed into Lot's house. What did the men of Sodom do? They surrounded Lot's house and demanded that Lot turn these men over so that they could rape them (you can look it up here). Now, you might say, "see, there you have it, they were gay and that's how gay people are."

Oh, but how wrong you would be. Look what Lot does in response. Some way, some how, it made sense for Lot to offer his daughters to these men instead of his guests. (Now, if that is taking the moral high ground in Sodom, then you know something is amuck.) Lot must have thought that opposite sex rape might be appealing to these men as much as same sex rape would be. Opposite sex rape must have been as common as same sex rape. The men declined his offer, but that doesn't change the clues into the social norms of the city of Sodom.

So what can we learn about Sodom's sin from Lot's repsonse to the men? Their sin was not so much that they preferred gay sex, but rather that they felt entitled to sex with whomever and whenever they pleased. They felt comfortable imposing their sexuality upon anyone they wanted to. Not just their beliefs about sexuality, but the sex act itself.

At this point, it is important to understand the difference between sex and rape. Sex is a consensual agreement to an intimate physical exchange while rape is an extreme abuse of power perpetrated by one more powerful person upon one less powerful person. In rape, sex is merely the means of oppression - it's not really about sex.

So, Sodom had a city full of people who were bent on oppressing other people and that was what so offended God. Not buying it? There is another clue that points this way - and it has nothing to do with sex. Check out Genesis 14. Abraham had saved the king of Sodom's butt and his people and their stuff. The king of Sodom offers Abraham a bunch of stuff and Abraham declines. The reason he declines is the clue.

Abraham declines because he never wanted the King of Sodom to have any advantage over him - that he could claim that he made Abraham rich. That implies that this king is an opportunist and perhaps (likely) an oppressor. It's just like the king of Sodom to use anything and everything to abuse and oppress people. It was so obvious to Abraham that to receive anything from Sodom's king made him vulnerable to oppression that he declined the offer. It does not indicate that the King of Sadom was gay. That was not Abraham's struggle with the king. It was his reputation for abuse of power.

So, let's get back to the initial question: Why did Abraham plead with God to save Sodom?

Frankly, I don't know, but let's allow Abraham to teach us how to deal with people we think are sinful. Abraham had no real reason to love the people of Sodom, but he went to the Almighty God and begged for mercy - a mercy they never asked for, never wanted, and never thought they needed.

If Christians spent their energies begging God for mercy for the people they think are the most sinful rather than trying to straighten out these people through selective theology, legislation, and guilt, they might find themselves more pleasing in the eyes of God.

OK, fire away.

Some serious T & A

Thanks to everyone who prayed and kept us in their thoughts and wishes. The T & A's went well. "My, what large adenoids you have." "Better to get infections with my dear."

Now we have recovery. The kids are fast asleep right now, but when the waken, that will be when the rubber meets the road. Rainbow Sherbet, juice, Kool-Aid, pudding Jell-o, mac-n-cheese, and all things soft for the next week or so.

Monday morning at 6:30 AM both of my kids get their Tonsils and Adnoids out. We are asking God for no complications and that they not be that 1% that have ploblems (like I was for my crown, root canal, and vascectomy - how could I be the 1% 3 times?) and that recovery time is quick.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Can Christians talk to gays?

So much of the conversation on sexual orientation from the Christian perspective is deeply embedded in morality. It is as if the moral code is not merely a portion of the Christian religion, but is the sum of it. And sadly, the immoral means by which so many Christians express their morality is a hyporcitical shame that is an embarrassment to Jesus.

There appears to be so little room for legitimate conversation on the topic. When Christians lead with their (selective) morality, they have effectively engaged in such a way as to facilitate polarization. When homosexuals lead with anger and defensiveness, they do the same. The emoitional, religious, and political gravity from both sides is so powerful that not taking a strong gay-negative or gay-affirmative position is next to impossible.

So, I have a few questions to guide our thinking on the matter:

Can a Christian talk about sexual orientation without diving into morality while at the same time honor God?

Does a Christian conversation on sexual orientation require moralizing?

If you factor morality out of the topic of sexual orientation, what else is there to talk about from a Christian perspective?

What other aspects of morality (besides positions on the morality of the act of gay sex) do Christians typically miss when dealing the the topic of sexual orientation?

That ought to keep us busy for a while.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yo, I'm back

I spent the past week in Minnesota at an orientation at the University of Minnesota. I will be entering the doctoral program in Family Science this Fall. Met profs, current students, and other prospective students (I'm not prospective because I've already made up my mind).

Entering this program is my dream come true. Minnesota's program is one of the (if not the) best Family Science program in the country. What I find so amazing is that I tricked the entire faculty into admitting me. I fear I'll get busted this Fall when they realize everyone else they admitted is much, much smarter than I am .

So, I got into a discussion with a professor about religious teens who are dealing with their sexuality - specifically sexual orientation. Well, that is not the conversation I had intended on getting into, but I have to say that it was a good conversation.

I couldn't sleep that night. I kept thinking about the assumptions that go into human sexuality when it involves sexual orientation.

Religious conservatives tend to assume the choice theory. This is a behavioral approach that skips along the surface. It's wrong, you do it, so you are sinning. What else needs to be said? Yes, it can get very fundamentalist very fast.

Secular liberals tend to assume the genetic theory - born that way. If you are attracted to someone of the same sex, then you are gay - end of discussion. This can get just as fundamentalist as the religious conservatives.

So, my thinking on that late and sleepless night went this way: What if there are varying states of sexual development at various times in a person's life which are unique to each person?

Let's break that down a little:

1. Various states of sexual development - What if some people are solid in their sexuality? This would mean that there is no chance that whatever their sexuality is could ever change. However, we know this not to be true of all people because some straight people turn gay and some gay people go straight. So, some people might be fluid in their sexuality and orientation. Still further, some people might be diffuse (like a gas) and be highly reactive and erratic ion their sexuality.

2. Various times - Could it be that there are various times in some people's lives where their sense of sexuality and orientation could perhaps be swayed one way or another? Certainly this would not be true of people who are "sexually solid." But people who are fluid or diffuse (or at a fluid or diffuse stage) could go one way or the other depending on their context, who they find credible, and other factors. So, a person might be sexually solid for years, but then move into a fluid stage in their life as it relates to sexuality, and then there is the chance that their orientation might shift some or even change all together.

3. Unique to each person - Let's say there are different states of sexual orientation development and there are different times that these stages can or do occur, that does not mean it happens the same for each person. One person might be solid from cradle to grave while someone else might be fluid, but only during adolescence. Another might be diffuse, but only when within this or that context.

Ultimately, it comes down to the classic nature versus nurture question. Gay affirmative proponents tend to land on the nature side while gay-negative proponents tend to side with nurture.

I would love to hear what you think on this topic.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What's a Sin?

Note to readers: This is the article that will appear in the Jonesboro Sun on Saturday. Contained within its context is a reference to a local issue. Craighead Cournty is a dry county (no alcohol sales) that allows a few restuarants to serve alcohol with a "private club license." Outback Steakhouse just received one such license and the Baptists are ticked.

So, I was talking to a very intelligent person the other day, and this person asked me, “What’s a sin?” The question was simple, honest, and carried lots of weight. The answer, however, was not as simple as the question.

The fact that I think the answer is not simple might surprise you. People know a sin when they see it, right? Well, not so fast cowboy. Of course random and pointless murder is a sin - sure, we agree on that. But let’s look at sin another way. There are some people who won’t step foot in a local steakhouse these days because it has just become a den of iniquity for gaining a liquor license. With these people I diverge on the definition of sin, thus bouncing us back into uncertainty on agreeing about what sin is.

But let’s dive a little deeper into sin (never thought I would say that). Sin is almost always dealt with on a behavioral level – on the surface. It is easy to understand why people do this. Behaviors are easy to quantify, measure, and place on a chart or next to someone’s morality or theology. Behaviors are also easy to observe in someone else. So, behavioral “sin” becomes evidence that justifies one person’s judgment of another. Behaviors can become the hard facts through which political and religious (or a sick hybrid of the two) agendas are fueled.

Deeper is the level of motivation for the sin act than the act itself. What is the energy that made the behavior possible? Now we are getting somewhere. If I head out to the music store at the mall and lift the latest U2 cd and leave without paying, that is a sin. But is that where the started? Nope! What was it about me that would get me to do that? Could be greed. Could be laziness. Could be that I think the owner of the store is a jerk and wanted to make her pay. Maybe I think Bono is a putz and political hack and I wanted to make him pay. It could be anything.

That’s the level that matters most. Merely focusing on the behavior does not impact the motivation, and therefore the sin remains. However, focusing on the motivation will have a ripple effect to the behaviors and both sins are addressed. So, it’s as easy as that, right?

Wrong. It gets even more complicated and nuanced. Some people are going to believe that since the motivation itself is sinful, then any want, desire, attraction, passion, or anything that can be considered enjoyable, fun, or pleasurable in any way is sin. Again, not necessarily so.

The fact that I want that U2 cd, or don’t like the music store owner, or like to get a rush by taking risks – is any of that a sin? Well, is it? I know, I know – it depends. But what does it depend upon?

Our feelings, no matter how strong they are, are just feelings. What we do with our feelings is another matter. The intricate, subtle, and nuanced processes we each press our feelings through will determine if sin develops.

For example, suppose I really like U2’s cd, but I take that feeling and press it through envy. From that point on, it does not matter if I buy it or steal it, I’ve sinned. If envy is my internal response to liking something, then sin is already there. Please understand that this is a different process than temptation. Temptation comes looking for me. What I am talking about is what internal process I go through in response to my own feelings.

A different internal response to my liking the U2 cd is pressing that feeling through respect. With respect I realize that every level of the music industry from producers, to performers, to manufacturers, to distributors work hard to get their products to a place where I can access them. The artist’s very heart is poured into this product and I get a benefit from that sacrifice. So I save my pennies in anticipation of enjoying the music with a clean conscience.

You see, it all begins and ends the same. It begins with the fact that I want the cd and ends with the fact that I have it. Neither of those is sinful. However, it is everything that happens between that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blog Changes

Dear friends,

1. I have changed the name of my blog to Straying With The Truth (same url). Thanks for all of your input.

2. 40 Days of Fat, Fajita's Blog, Christian Parenting, and Successful Stepfamilies (my typepad blogs) are gone.

3. The Healthy Family is a new blog that collapses blogs in #2 into a single blog.

4. So, Straying With The Truth is going to be my faith blog and The Healthy Family is going to be my marriage, family, and health (40 days of fat) blog.

5. I am doing this because I had too many blogs.

Harding's Core Values

There has been some (but not much) buzz on the internet about an article in Harding Magazine (the free one alums get to try to get them to contribute more money) written by Haridng University president David Burks. The article is called Re-examining Our Core Beliefs. It should have been title "Restating Our Core Beliefs," but I don't get a vote in these kinds of things.

Disclaimer: I attended and like Harding for many reasons. It served as a context for much needed growth in my life and for that I am grateful. My critique here is not to bash Harding, but to challenge as a good friend would challenge. In short, as a university, Harding can do whatever it wants. No one is under obligation to attnend there or financially contribute to the university.

Here are the 8 Core Values in a nutshell:

1. God is Sovereign.
2. Jesus Christ must be at the heart of the curriculum.
3. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God.
4. Christ's church is distinctive and undenominational.
5. Baptism is essential.
6. Servant-leaders will change the world.
7. The family must be nurtured and defended.
8. The Gospel is meant to be shared.

Frankly, you could do worse...but at the same time, there are flaws here that I want to point out.

Let's take #1 - #3 as a group. God (the Father) is mentioned in #1, Jesus the Son is mentioned in #2 and then in #3, the Bible is mentioned. Taken separately, what's the beef? Ah, but taken together there is something afoot here. Just let it roll off your tongue, "Father, Son, and Holy Bible." One of these things is not like the other.

Of all of the mighty transgressions committed by the Churches of Christ, making God and the Bible synonyms is one of the most heretical.

First of all, why mention Father and Son, but not the Holy Spirit? This is not a little oversight. If you are going mention God (which is perfectly appropriate for a Christian University), why leave out the Holy Spirit - the way God works in the world today?

Second, why put the Bible in its place? This is no small matter because Churches of Christ have a pretty significant history of limiting the Holy Spirit to the written word. I grew up with that being a direct and overt teaching. That would be like saying a letter I wrote to my wife is the total sum of my contribution to our marriage. That, my friends, is more than a mere oversight, it is offensive and lazy.

OK, this is a problem if Dr. Burks did this intentionally. That is a theology I cannot accept. However, we might be tempted to believe that it was an oversight or a mistake or unintentional. I choose to believe that it was not an intentional move; however, I am no less concerned. In fact, I am more troubled by its likely lack of intentionality because that means such thinking is so much a part of the theology that it is invisible to the author. Either way, it is the ingrained theology that is repulsive to me.

Third, why not just make a sinlge core value statement having to do with the triune God saturating the university?

I have more critiques of these core values re-examined, but I will save them for another day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Court Report

Thanks to you who kept me in your prayers. I am done and still alive.

Kudos to the attorney who subpoenaed me. Not because she drug me into court, but rather because she made special efforts to respect my time and the financial situation of the non-profit counseling center for whom I work.

She supplied me with a copy of my clinical notes (which were subpoenaed last week against my will and against privilege) and asked me questions directly from the notes. In short, I had a script. Frankly, that is a best case scenario. The cross-examination was very quick and easy - not much to challenge really.

I am just glad to be out of there and back into my domain.

My personal hell, should I be sent there, will be eternal testifying in court - without my notes.

Court

I will be testifying in court 1:30 PM CST. No prayer is unwelcomed.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Demergent Baptists, Meet The Emerging Church World

Apparently the old guard in the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention, not Southwestern Bell) and their IMB (International Mission Board) are getting a dose of the power of emerging culture and the power of the new media - blogs.

Apparently Wade Burleson, a trustee of the IMB is getting the axe from the IMB because he opposed their limitations on specific baptisms and tongues or any kind of prayer languages. This would not be news were it not for blogs. It would have been the insignificant case of the frustrated ex-IMB trustee. There is no way on earth I would have ever heard about.

Ah, but Wade blogs. Blogs connect the unconnected - instantly. Christianity Today picked up the story citing blog involvement.

Things will get worked out, I am sure, but not in the neat and tidy way that is most likely accostomed for the SBC's IMB. The days of the old school force and power are waning and a new kind of authority, accountability, and checks-n-balances is emerging with cheap and simple global media - blogs.

No longer can the establishment lean so heavily upon the silence and lack of communication power held by those it chooses to steam roll. More people than ever have a global megaphone and all it takes is a few others to pick up on it and there you are, an intense and electric blogstorm ruining your old buddy system.

May God be in this mess.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Emerging Church

If you have never heard of or are a little fuzzy on the church that is emerging, then click here and get a little taste.

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Welcome back. I want to help the conversation along a bit by making some clarifications.

Emerging Church - When you hear the words "emerging church" or more recently, "the church that is emerging," do not think denomination, organization, parachurch group, new protestant, or anything else structured, intentional, or human-willed. You are going to be tempted to think about it in these terms, but do not turn this stone to bread.

Rather, think about what is happening in the hearts of people who are either already in an organized church, are Christian unchurched, or a pre-christian and interested in the things of God. Think about what would happen in a person's heart if God were speaking to that person to move in the current world in a way that seeks to learn of the deeper mystery of God, seeks to find what motivated Jesus and capture that motivation in as relevant ways today as Jesus did in His day, seeks to shed all things that are simultaneously religious and ungodly, seeks to infuse the world with goodness.

Now image that person, in whatever context, beginning to live her or his life according that Spirit of God moving on that person's heart. That can happen at any time or place. And when God is on the move, then that is what happens. It happens all over, sometimes (usually) in isolated places. It can be lonely for the emerging person who is part of the emerging church because they have little understanding that this is happening everywhere else. They are not motivated by a crowd mentality, but rather the move of God. Only later do these emerging people find each other.

And that leads me to the next term:

Emergent - "Emergent is a growing generative friendship among missional Christian leaders seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ." (Click here to read more). You see, when this kind of thing is happening spontaneously in many locations, eventually these people will find each other. And when they do, they organize. At the same time they are already embedded within a local context and therefore positioned to make change locally. Some, however, need extraction and salvation from their church or unhealthy network. So, connecting with others and regrouping at this place or that is good.

So, the movement begins within a person (a lot of persons). Only later do those people organize. Emergent is one of many ways which these emergent people are organizing. Following links from one emerging church site to another will reveal the network - most of whom are unaware of all of the others involved.

The emrging church is much larger than anyone knows. This is true because when we measure things like the emerging church, we accumlate numbers of churches, denominations, organizations, publications and so forth. We think that this represents what is really happening in the hearts of people. No. It is only the most extreme epxression of it. That is not how the emerging church can be measured. Measurement would, in fact, be very difficult. Since it does not begin or end with organizations etc, then it cannot and should be measured in that way.

It would take a massive research project to capture the phenomenon of the emerging church. Furthermore, the context of emergence will make it look different in different places and subcultures. American emergence looks much different than African or even European. Baptist emergence is going to look different than Catholic emergence. Only until the crockpot simmers for many hours will each other's flavors saturate the whole.

Finally, what I belive is that what each individual and group is emerging from is not nearly as important as what they are all emerging toward. What we are emerging from is our division. What we are emerging toward is a deep unity some have called Deep Ecclisiology (ht Tall Skinny Kiwi). Where we are all going is much more important than from where we came.

Emerging Valentine's Awareness

My 7 year old daughter is writing Valentine's for her 2nd grade Valentine's Day party at school. She has a little box decorated with hearts. Cute. She's got 20 little pre-made valentine cards spread out over her bed. She's already written the TO: and FROM: portions of the cards...with a little extra.

My wife, wise as she is, decided to check these out.

"Richard, you need to stay in your seat."

Very interesting valentine blessing. Richard might be let down a little by this one.

"Bobby, you're a good friend to Tommy."

Why my daughter feels compelled to comment on Bobby and Tommy's relationship is beyond me. I guess Bobby is not a good friend to her.

"Mikey, I kind of like you." STOP RIGHT THERE!!!!!
There will be no liking of boys by my daughter.

We are working on proper valentining.
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On a completely separate note, for those of you readers out there who are unsure about my gender, please continue to read and guess. It is a little surprising to think that there are some people who don't know.

Feel free to comment and disclose what you believ my gender to be.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Licensed & Ticked

Today I went to the state capitol and met with the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. I had to pass an oral exam in order to change from being a licensed associate marriage and family therapist to the more prestigious and autonomouos Licensed (not associate) Marriage and Family Therapist.

I passed!

This is a significant benchmark for me because I have been under supervision since 1999. No more. Now supervision is optional. Now the next rung ont he ladder would be to become a supervisor. I am likely to do that while I am getting a Ph.D.

So, sitting before the board and getting subpoenaed (twice) all within a week's time. How nice and stress free (whatever). I go to court Tuesday and Wednesday. Nevermind my 8 clients. Never mind my date with my daughter for lunch and reading a story to her 2nd grade class. Nevermind my date with my wife for lunch KID FREE. No, the almighty lawyers (sorry Matt) have deemed my life (and all of the people in it, the loss of income for the counseling center, and everything else) not nearly as important as their using me like a hammer to crush a person I have a committment to keep their information confidential. The judge has ordered me to turn over files and talk. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hate it when someone else can make a liar of me "for the common good." B (period) S (period)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

T & A

I am not sure what comes to mind for you when you hear someone talk about T & A, but for me, sadly, it is none too wholesome.

Today I heard it no less than 5 times. Only the context saved me. It was in a consult with an ear, nose, and throat doctor. For an ENT, T & A means tonsil and adnoid.

At the same time, I couldn't help but force back my snicker when the nurse said "T & A" with a completely straight face.

Blog Changes

I am going to be making some changes to my blogs.

1. Soon, all of my other blogs (those on typepad, anyway) will be phased out and I will no longer pay for blogging.

2. I will launch a new blog collapsin the stepfamilies, parenting and 40 days of fat stuff into one blog.

3. This blog will reamin the same in content and attitude.

4. The Flaming Pine Youth Camp Blog will remain the same.

5. Although this blog wil remain the same in content and attitude, I am thinking about changing the name. Home Front sounds kind of war-like to me. So here is the place where I need your help.

A) Should I change the name of this blog?

B) If the name is changed, what do you think about "Straying With The Truth"

C) If you can think of a better name, then please post your ideas in the comments section.

I'm gonna quash that subpoena right out of my hair

I received a subpoena this week.

"You are commanded to appear..."

These are not the words you want to read on a document with your name on it. When you receive subpoena, you must obey the command or risk being held in contempt of court, which could mean going to the slammer.

As a therapist, I get this kind of thing every now and again. I hate it because usually I feel like I am being used as some kind of useful tool for someone's manipulation of another.

Ah, but as a therapist I have a special relationship with my clients. My clients have what is called privilege. Unless my client allows me to talk about our sessions and what is in the file, I am bound not to talk.

So, I am caught between violating my client's privilege and being held in contempt. Nice place to reside, eh?

Then there is little thing called a quash. When a subpoena is not delivered ina timely manner, which this one was not, I can have my attorney (always ahve an attorney on your side) motion to quash. Bascially to me that means I get out of it.

A judge can overrule a motion to quash, but likely will not. If I do go to court, I will claim privilege, which hack off the oppsing attorney, but I won't care. Then the judge will decide whether or not I need to talk. If the judge compels me, than I talk - but under the cover of judicial order to break that privilege.

I love our legal system.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Unity 2.0 - Bono

If you have not seen it already , watch Bono here. It is about 20 minutes long.

Unity 2.0 - Political

"How can you call yourself a Christian if you are a Democrat?"

Ever heard that one before?

"Republicans are heartless, compassionless, and greedy."

Ever heard anything like that?

OK, my church background left me one political option - Republican. Since all Democrats wanted to kill babies, promote sexual promiscuity, and make everyone gay, what choice did I have? Since Christians and Republicans are all about family values, what else is there to discuss?

It was an open and shut case.

No longer. I still vote Republican (for the most part), but I do so holding my nose rather than walking with a swagger. OK, I don't really know how to walk like that, but I am not proudly voting Republican either.

The problem is that being Christian and questioning anything Republican can get a guy into trouble. And depending on your context, it can get you into real trouble. For example, your very faith can be called into question for merely mentioning that gays should be heard, respected, and honored just like anyone else. Verses will be quoted. Tempers will have to be restrained.

The cop out answer to the political dilemma is to opt out of politics. Don't vote, don't make yourself aware of things that have a any political side, don't run for office. No, bad option.

At the same time it is a bad option to get too interested in politics. When politics is equated with faith, then the political idolatry has already begun. Right now it is the Republicans who are most vulnerable to political idolatry. However, in the past two years I have seen a resurgence of Democrats guilty of the same idolatry.

Case in piont: I shudder when I hear political figures telling me what God wants and what God is doing. I don't care if it is Ray Nagan or Mike Huckabee - it's scary.

Can't we just be political and not let it get confused with our faith? Jesus respected political realities, but was not carried by them. He found a way to pay the tax, but would not seek to co-opt political power for the advancement of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not so small the one political party has a corner on it.

So let's be CHRISTIANS and then be democrat or republican

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sexy Super Bowl Commercials

Jessica Simpson can knock down a teenage boy with a pizza bit (pizza bit not really needed) and the Go Daddy Girl can cause an older man inhale deeply into his oxygen mask. The metal naked woman from mud flaps has a thing for Yosemite Sam and the not so sexy Burger King food item ladies think the plastic Burger King is creepy (finally, Burger King admits this guy is creepy). And the most sexy commercial had to be the ads for Dancing With the Stars.

I watched these with my 7 year old daughter (my son was running around like a nut and missed them) - good.

We had decided at the beginning of the game to rate a thumbs up or thumbs down or a thumb to the side for all commercials. We gave all the sexy commercials a thumbs down. It was a little awkward to watch these sexy commercials at all, let alone with my daughter. In the past I have looked away and covered my own eyes. However, I decided differently this year. My daughter get her first (official) lesson in objectification.

I could have given her a lesson on the abuse of sexual power (women over men OR men over women), but I decided to stick with the topic of making objects of women. I told her that these commercials did not treat women like women, but like objects just to sell things. She didn't get it, really, and I didn't expect her to. But the seed of the message is planted, a message saying that there is more to being a female than looking good. In fact, true beauty goes deeper than the skin.

I want my little girl to grow up beautiful into the depths of her heart. I do not want her to settle for the excessively expensive, dangerous, and fleeting surface kind of beauty paraded all over TV and everywhere else. I want her to be confident in her vlaue and to know that her beauty is measured in her compassion, love, genuineness, courage, faith, and gentleness as opposed to breast size.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Is this love?

My wife laces my morning oatmeal with milled flax seed. What does this mean?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Balanced

I asked my 7 year old daughter how I was doing as a father. She said, "dad, you're balance. You are part crazy and part stern."

Now, I am not sure if her response means I am bi-polar or if she is, but I did like the first part, the part about balanced.

This question I asked is the question that bounces around in every parent's head. It should anyway. Well, not from a self-demeaning, insecure, spineless, wussy-boy point of view, but rather from a self-aware, confident, I-can-take-critique, I am always ready to improve point of view.

Not that I enter into that question from a healthy perspective all the time, but I want to. I want to be a good dad, and yet I know that I am. I am good and getting better (with some slowly shrinking blindspots). At the same time, I know that I must be constantly ready to change...change at the speed my kids are. And that is what makes parenting so hard.

There is a point in everyone's life when it becomes easy to "arrive." When we arrive we stop. When we stop we are no longer learning. No longer learning means the world leaves us behind. And when the world leaves us behind we become increasingly different by staying the same; increasingly irrelevant by holding on to outdated relevance.

As a parent I cannot afford the luxury arrival provides. I see this dynamic in the my relationship with my mother (are you reading, mom?). She does not have the luxury of settling into one fixed point with me. Darned blast if I don't keep moving, changing, growing etc. But this is what I really like about my mother (still reading, mom?) she resists the seduction of arrival. Although she is black and white on so many things, because she loves me that much, she is willing not to shut the door on this or that. In short, she continues to grow.

I need my mother to do this for two reasons.

1. Our relationship remains dynamic and meaningful. Agreement is not our cause for relationship, it is love.

2. I am going to be in my mother's place one day with my own children. How she deals with me matters significantly to how I will deal with my children. It's not deterministic, but simply just the most familiar.

So far, I'm "balanced." Well, we'll see how balanced I am the first time I take away the car keys...but that's 9 years away - just around the corner.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Postmodern Marriage

Folks, like it or not, with every day that passes we are entering a little bit further into a postmodern America. When I say postmodern I mean a pluralistic, anti-institutional, ironic, paradoxical, truth is negotiable and personalized, "what’s all the fighting about?" philosophy.

It is an invisible philosophical foundation that guides people’s assumptions. It is a reaction to the monolithic, institution-trusting, straight forward, logical, truth is absolute and generalized, "the man with the biggest guns wins" philosophy of modernism, which has been the ruling philosophy since Martin Luther did that little protest five centuries ago.

One could say that each philosophical foundation has its cracks (and crackpots), but it is difficult to deny that postmodernism is rushing in like dawn’s sunlight floods the Delta plain. Since it is here to stay for a few hundred years (until post-postmodernism takes over), we might as well take a look at what it means for marriage. Mostly, I want to focus on younger marriages. If you’ve been married fifty years, this article might just make you shake your head and say, "kids these days…"

Let’s explore a couple mantras from this emerging postmodern culture we cannot avoid living in and discuss how these impact younger marriages.

The first mantra is: "I don’t want to impose." This mantra flows from the "my truth is mine and your truth is yours" ethic that threads throughout postmodernity. Or, as Tom Cruise said in Far and Away, "I prefer to keep myself to myself." Each person’s domain is self-contained. One person’s right to assert truth ends at his or her own skin.

The good news for marriage is that there is a new and refreshing sense of respect that comes with the postmodern ethic. Postmoderns do not like conflict at all – it’s bad, maybe even evil. To impose is to conflict and to conflict is to fail. It is not that they too easily agree, but rather that they have an excessively high tolerance for disagreement. To a modern person, disagreement is a problem that requires a conflict in order to fix it. To a postmodern person, disagreement indicates a difference, but does not necessitate any remediation. Yes, this is good news.

However, the bad news for marriage is that two people living within their own worlds can get really lonely, even lying next to each other in bed. What was meant to be respect for one another results in never sharing their lives with each other, never hammering out intimate realities, never making up after the fight – because there are no fights. Some of the most intimate times a couple can have occur during conflict. Sometimes conflict is the only way you know that you matter to each other.

The second mantra is: "I can do whatever I want to." This one is the flip side of the coin. If the first one says, "I don’t want to impose," this one says, "…and you’d better not impose upon me." Now, before you say, "aha! Selfish," there is a good side to this postmodern mantra.

The good news is that oppressed people are empowered by this ethic and freed to make their way. Women, minorities, and other traditionally oppressed people groups have hit gold with this ethic. Freed to live the kind of life they were meant to, they enjoy a more level playing field. This helps in marriage because women are freer to make a wider variety of choices about their lives, but so are men. The gender straightjackets are loosened up.

However, the bad news is that selfishness can and does run amuck. A sense of entitlement can saturate a person and lead that person right to divorce court. I can go out with my friends, stay out late, never call you, flirt with other people, play my video games, shop ‘til I drop, buy that boat and do whatever I want to. Don’t tell me what I can’t do. In short, there is huge temptation for people to get married, but continue to live single.

As we move into this new and unusual postmodern world, marriages are going through a tough transition. Deep character, courageous intimacy, and patient conflict will help to hedge against the challenges that postmodernism presents.

Post-Restoration Radio

Look what Adam Ellis and Phil Wilson are doing. The first post-restoration podacst.

If you are a Church of Christ person, then this one is for you.