October 22, 2017

Saturday Ramblings – February 22, 2014

cubs-spring-fun

Note from CM: Pastor Dan is enjoying the weather in Arizona and driving me crazy by being right in the neighborhood where the Cubs have started spring training. Meanwhile here I sit in the Midwest. Oh well. As Dan rambles ’round the desert, I asked our friend Adam Palmer to pinch-hit for Dan today. Thanks, Adam!

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Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you’ve enjoyed your life up to this point, because Norse mythology tells us that Ragnarok is happening today, and therefore the world will be ending. And just as spring training was getting under way! Oh well, we may as well go out on a high note and ramble a bit while Odin and Fenrir duke it out.

Let’s get the self-service out of the way first: this week, yours truly interviewed Ron Jeremy about sex and spirituality, and his answers were almost as revealing as his 2500+ adult films. I’d love to hear your thoughts on his thoughts on my thoughts.

Speaking of movies, Noah made some headlines this week when the trade publication Variety published the results of a nonscientific, opt-in, single-question push poll conducted by Faith Driven Consumer stating that 98% of people who visit the Faith Driven Consumer website are determined to pre-hate the Darren Aronofsky film. That’s not actually what Variety reported, but it’s a little closer to the truth. For those who would be worried about Old Testament epic, Steven Greydanus makes some good points here. Of course, lost in all this hubbub and furor is the hyphen that belongs in “Faith Driven Consumer.”

Probably the best thing I read all week was from Brian Zahnd, who wrote about his problem with the Bible, which is, mainly, that as a wealthy Westerner, he is reading it from the opposite perspective from which it was written. “Imagine a history of colonial America written by Cherokee Indians and African slaves,” he writes. “That would be a different way of telling the story! And that’s what the Bible does. It’s the story of Egypt told by the slaves. The story of Babylon told by the exiles. The story of Rome told by the occupied.” Do you have the same problem?

Another week, another pair of stories about gay rights in America. For starters, a bill in the Kansas legislature that would’ve made it legal for business to refuse service to same-sex customers was passed in the Kansas House of Representatives last week but was killed in the Kansas Senate this Tuesday. These bills are largely arising because Christian business owners feel it would compromise their beliefs to provide services for same-sex weddings, but this columnist thinks that, if Jesus were around today and was aware of a same-sex wedding, He’d bake the cake.

In contrast, a pair of Christian students at the University of Missouri stood up for Michael Sam, the current NFL prospect who recently announced he was openly gay, and who will presumably become the first openly gay NFL player. When members of the Westboro Baptist Church announced they would protest Sam, this pair of believers — who expressly say they believe homosexuality is a sin — nevertheless organized a human wall to obstruct the protest. “We’re both Christians,” one of them said. “We know [WBC’s protest] is not God. God is love.”

furtickWhile the University of Missouri was expressing unity over their athletic program, Matthew Paul Turner was alerting us this week to unity among the children of Elevation, the Charlotte, NC megachurch pastored by Steven Furtick.  Specifically, Turner posted a coloring page, apparently from Elevation’s children’s ministry, that promoted dubious unity. And that wasn’t the only ink Elevation drew this week: we also learned how the church manufactured some baptisms. As a Baptist church, you’d think they’d know that baptism is a symbolic ritual and not something to check off your Christianity to-do list, right?

Hey, if that one got you angry, perhaps you should seek solace and peace in an Asian elephant. A study revealed this week that Asian elephants comfort one another when they’re in distress. If you are angry, though, don’t be surprised if an elephant puts its trunk in your mouth. That’s just how they hug. Something to keep in mind at your church service tomorrow when the music wraps up and the speaker tells you to greet each other.

I also ran across two “thinkpieces” this week that don’t deal with churchy stuff but that nevertheless provide some food for thought. For starters, this piece about the American news media. Here’s a quote: “Nobody represents America anymore. Today people assume that, in speaking for themselves, their view of the world and how they fit into it should be accepted at face value… The origin of your argument—-what thinkers used to call its sociology of knowledge—-is all that matters. The argument will either be supported or lambasted depending upon whether its readers are ‘coming from’ the same ideological or demographic place as its writers, or not. The actual evidence you assemble is almost irrelevant.” See any parallels in current Christian discourse here?

And then there’s this devastating critique of the film Dead Poets Society. I know many of you love the film, so I’ll just back away slowly now, but first just throw this out there: in that piece, replace “Mr. Keating” with “your pastor,” “humanities” with “Christianity,” and “poetry” with “scripture,” and then see if you find anything to chew on.

The decidedly anti-poetic Ernest Hemingway has been immortalized with an writing program that was given his name. Supposedly, Hemingwayapp.com will help you write like the master. It’s been around a few months, but last week The New Yorker ran some of Hemingway’s prose through and the results were what you’d expect.

And finally, Jimmy Fallon made his debut as host of “The Tonight Show” this week, and while we wish him all the best, we also understand that we need him now more than ever. There’s a clown shortage going on, you see.

Birthdays this week include actors Ellen Page, Matt Dillon, Alan Rickman, and Jackie Gleason; athletes Justin Verlander and Michael Jordan; musicians Charlotte Church, Dr. Dre, and Kurt Cobain; and the uncategorizable Vanna White.

Note from CM: Adam asked me to pick the video for this week. So, in honor of the beginning of Spring Training, here’s James Earl Jones giving his famous speech in “Field of Dreams” about baseball, the one constant through all the years. And all God’s people said… Amen.

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