Thursday, July 8, 2010

Moving Blog

I am moving my blog to WordPress, primarily because WP has a BlackBerry app through which I can post blogs. But to read previous posts, you'll need to come back here (

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Opponents and Enemies

Just an aside. I conceived of a new form of poetry: poetweet. It consists of exactly 140 characters (including spaces and punctuation). I even registered it with Urban Dictionary! It doesn't have to rhyme, nor is there any proscribed rhythm to it. The only structure is that it has to be exactly 140 characters. Here is my first attempt at poetweet:

Of all the sights I see, there is none so beautiful as your shadow. Knowing you're near, and the sun is shining is enough for me. Beautiful.

Go ahead, try your own! The funny thing is that it is not retweetable because you can't add any characters, so you can't attribute it correctly. And here's a further constraint: no tweetisms (like ur for you are, or b4 for before, etc. You have to spell everything out, except that normal contractions are allowed).

Ok, that was an aside. Here's what I wanted to talk about.

I have been struggling with an issue of mine that manifests in political discussions and in team rivalry (among other things). I have let myself become very strong in my expression of political ideas and with regard to sports teams, to the point that I actually get angry and defensive. I know it isn't good because my spirit feels sour when I do it. In a previous post I have committed myself to do better. But in thinking about the issue, I have come to some realizations.

There is a big difference between an opponent and an enemy, but sometimes we blur the distinction. And I think this goes to the increase of incivility in our culture today. When someone has a differing opinion (political or otherwise) we have the choice to treat that person either as an enemy or as an opponent (in this matter). If the former, then we dispense with them along with their ideas. If the later, then we engage with them in helpful conversation, discussing our differences in an effort not necessarily to convert them to our way of thinking, but to understand each other more clearly.

In sports, this means that we don't "rub it in" mercilessly when our "nemesis team" is defeated or when our team is victorious (it's called sportsmanship). I don't know why I forgot this, but I did. Now I am working on regaining this perspective in my life and relationships. One can be a fan of a certain team without vilifying other teams (soccer fans, are you listening?). I don't have to HATE the Dodgers just because they are rivals of the Padres and the Angels, one because they are in the same division, and the other because they are in the same city. I have a lot of work to do on this one!

And I don't have to demonize political progressives in order to hold to a conservative political persuasion. There is no reason why we can't all "get along" and discuss things amicably without resorting to some of the mean-spirited comments and/or actions we sometimes do. This is also true of religious persuasions. I can be a Christian without demonizing Islam or New Age or any other faith. I can hold to what I believe without having to put down someone else's belief. That doesn't mean that I have to accept every faith (or opinion or allegiance) as equally valid, but that I don't need to put it down in order to promote my own.

So I need to see others with differing opinions and allegiances not as enemies, but as opponents. Not as demons, but as friends who just think differently.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Entertainment and Religion

There are many similarities between 21st Century American Christian Religion and Entertainment. Much of what passes for church programming is, essentially, faith-based entertainment, the purpose of which is to keep the faithful happy and participating. And the central "program" for most churches is worship. As hard as we might try to the contrary, a major part of American Christian worship is a form of entertainment.

Not that entertainment is bad; it just isn't what the Christian faith is about.

And I'm not just talking about "contemporary" worship. And I'm not just talking about "traditional" worship. There are entertainment elements in all styles.

We talk about "excellence" in worship and measure it in worldly terms. Is the organist good? Does the worship leader have a good voice? Is the choir in tune? Can the preacher hold his/her "audience"? All of which points to people-pleasing. If we wish to achieve "excellence" in terms of God's measurement, we would be talking about very different things. Does the preacher live what he/she is preaching? Is the musician's heart in touch with the Holy Spirit? Is the worship genuine? Because, you see, worship is not about pleasing people so much as pleasing God.

And church programming should be less about attracting members and more about being the Body of Christ in the world. We should be meeting needs, but not so much the needs of our church members as the needs of people who are not a part of the church. Jesus said that he "came not to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45). As a "spiritual culture" we must transition away from self-indulgent, inwardly-focused programs to ministries that engage the world that God loved so much that He sent His only begotten Son to save, Who then passed to the Church that mission.

We have got to transition away from a Disneyland-type approach to "doing church" to a Mother Theresa-type approach.

Church people generally do not what to hear this. However, the world is on tip-toes, waiting for the children of God to step into their Jesus shoes and BE what they are: the Body of Christ.