November 24, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 3.3.2012

Welcome fellow iMonks! It’s time for the weekly venture into the leftovers here at the iMonastery. We fix a lot of food during the week and try to give you hearty main dishes twice a day (if possible). But there are some things we just don’t get around to, so we gather them all up in Baggie and save them for today. And if they’re not all tasty, at least they’re not stale. So gather ’round the table, let’s hold hands and give thanks for today’s provision of Saturday Ramblings.

Oh boy, another archeological discovery that “proves” Jesus never raised from the dead.  I think I recall reading somewhere that the only way to please God is by faith, not proof. Now, where did I read that? Oh yeah, the Bible.

The theologian who declared “God is dead” in 1966 died this week. William Hamilton was 87 when he died. I hope that as he is received into the arms of a very real and living God, Hamilton will say, “I am so glad I was wrong.”

I have a request for our brothers and sisters in the United Kingdom. Can you please keep your “theologians” on a shorter leash?

Skye Jethani gets it. Oh, does he get it. His take on the Evangelical Industrial Complex is at once insightful, correct, and troubling. What he says here about the building of celebrity pastors to support the sale of products is extremely accurate. Yes, I have been a part of the schemes (sorry, there ain’t a better word for it) to build up a pastor, get out product in his brand, and then do whatever it takes to reinvent him every few years to keep the cycle going. But don’t take my word for it. Read what Skye has to say here and here.

Sometimes organizations have to reinvent themselves, not to keep a brand-and-product cycle going, but because the times they are a-changing. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association announced this week it is laying off 50 of its 500 person staff. It will refocus its energies online.

Is college to blame for young adults dropping out of church? Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said as much in recent campaign stops. But Tim King of Sojourners thinks those college years are “exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.” Interesting reading this. Your thoughts?

Don’t forget to set your DVR to record what is sure to be your favorite TV show this weekend. ABC presents GCB, which for a while stood for Good Christian, um, female dogs. Too many people objected to the title, so ABC changed it to the three letters. It’s based on a book of the same title by Kim Gatlin which explores the practice of gossip among Christians. So, are Christians up-in-arms about a profanity used in the title of a TV show, or because this TV show exposes the profanity of Christians telling tales?

Speaking of profanity, Steven James wonders why we feel it necessary to “clean up” Scripture. Would it be better for us to read the words that were actually written or spoken, or is it ok to use stand-in words so that some are not offended? Keep your comments clean, iMonks.

Birthday greetings went out this last week to Zeppo Marx; Jim “Mr. Magoo” Backus; George Harrison; Jackie Gleason; Johnny Cash; David Sarnoff; John Steinbeck; Joanne Woodward; Elizabeth Taylor; Brian Jones; Smokey the Bear; Glenn Miller; Karen Carpenter; Roger Daltry; Dr. Seuss; and Ron Howard.

While our Saturday Ramblings bonus video typically is from one of our birthday celebrities,  I think it only appropriate to hear one more time from one who passed away this week. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehJNw-T3gpo&feature=related’]

Comments

  1. “Jesus may have been a hermaphradite.”

    I always thought he was an Israelite.

    Maybe these “feminist theologians” ought…aw…never mind.

    • Since I teachh genetics and pre-natal growth and development, I have to nail this use of the word hemaphrodite, whether it came from the author or the editor that wrote the headline. This condition can only occur when a male fetus does not produce enough testoterone in utero, leaving ambigous anatomy. The opposite occurs if a femal fetus IS bombarded with male hormones from an external source, again leading to the unusual anatomy.

      In neither case is traditional circumcision possible, and since we know the rabbi didn’t have issue at the Lord’s presentation and circumcision, it is clear He looked like a normal little boy.

      Now, if these crazy ladies want to run with the fad of people being fully of one gender but “born in the wrong body” and “feeling” like they are the other gender, they will have to take this up with the secular psychiatric agencies. This is a mental illness, and since the Lord was perfect was not an issue He had.

      Please don’t bother trying to convince me of my errors. I am well aware of the “research” and discount the issue as a mental health problem and a denial of one’s true humanity as assigned by God and Nature.

      • This is fascinating stuff Pattie. Because I work with teenagers I need to think through the transexual issues as I may well be asked to support someone with these kinds of gender issues.
        Is what you’re saying that if someone is affected by the ‘opposite’ hormones more than they should be in utero, which some people use as an explanation of why a person can be one gender & feel another, then this would have definate physical consequences? And so if someone has perfect sexual organs & so on, & a clearly defined gender, then any issues they have would of neccessity be psychological, & not physically/developmentally based?

        Do you know of any really good christian thinkers that have done any work in this field?

        • No, sorry, I don’t. All I know is that there are some situations where the fetus is exposed to the “wrong” hormones, and others where there are chromosomal abnormalities where a child is not a normal “XX” female or “XY” male. (For example, Turner’s syndrome girls are XO and almost always infertile due to internal problems. and XYY males are hyper-agressive and over-represented in prison populations.)

          So, yes, an individual with normal genitals AND normal chromosomes who has gender identity issues is dealing with a mental or psychiatric problem, not a physical one.

    • I actually really like the suggestion, after reading the response from the paper’s author and her intentions. (And yes, the term Hermaphrodite was not in the original paper). Her paper wasn’t even focused on the “Jesus was intersex” claim. It was about the ordination of female bishops, and how the hardline belief that only males can hold church authority positions seems strange when considering the murky waters of human sexuality. In one section, she claims people often argue church positions should be held by males because Jesus was a male, and so her response is that we have no proof Jesus was anything we would recognize as male. He could have been effeminate, or intersex, or a eunuch, or any number of things that might make trouble for hierarchy but would create no trouble for the biblical narrative.

      And I find your comment about feminist theologians really off putting. They are good people doing good work.

      • I actually think the “telegraph” is playing us…in classic troll fashion. I found another article claiming that Oxford ethicists were “approving” “post-birth abortions”. No way is this a legit news site! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html

        • Jack Heron says:

          Yeah, that one came out a few days ago. The paper it refers to genuinely does exist – as a criticism of the arguments for abortion. The paper’s authors presented arguments for killing newborns that were identical to those often used for abortion, hoping that the readers would be intelligent enough to get the point and consider their position on abortion. The Telegraph, apparently, wasn’t intelligent enough.

          • Brianthedad says:

            Along the lines of Swift’s “A Modest Proposal?”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Wouldn’t be the first time True Believers (who usually lack any sense of humor or sense of anything beyond the Fact Fact Fact of their True Belief) saw something intended as over-the-top sick humor and took it Dead Serious.

      • Jesus, himself, told us that there are no “good” people. :D

      • Kero, if the only response to “Bishops are male because Jesus was male”is “Well, Jesus could have been a eunuch or a hermaphrodite”, then I think you need to do some more work on theology.

        I mean, maybe Jesus wasn’t Jewish, either! He could have been a Phoenician or a Roman or even an alien! How can we know for sure if we don’t have a body to examine?

        Never mind that we know Jesus had female disciples, yet the early Church does not give us them named as leaders of the churches (like James, brother of the Lord) – why not Miriam, sister of the Lord? Either we have to believe that Jesus was just a first century Jew with all the prejudices of his time and so the lack of female leadership is down to the patriarchy, or else there were women leaders and they were crushed by – yep, the patriarchy.

        Or we could believe that He was God and Man, and chose male disciples for a particular reason, and it has nothing to do with men being superior to women.

        • Martha, I totally agree with you! That was the point of the author’s response to the Telegraph article; she had written an entire paper discussing various theological thoughts on including women within church authority, and the Telegraph decided to run with one clearly off the cuff idea in one paragraph.

          I don’t think it’s a “good point” in any sense, but I find it funny and I take her meaning. I think the Telegraph was outta line, as well as people who criticize her merely for the label “feminist theologian”.

          (and for what it’s worth, I am perfectly comfortable calling the Jesus an “alien”. I think it’s plenty appropriate, all things considered :D)

        • Joseph (the original) says:

          Never mind that we know Jesus had female disciples, yet the early Church does not give us them named as leaders of the churches (like James, brother of the Lord) – why not Miriam, sister of the Lord? Either we have to believe that Jesus was just a first century Jew with all the prejudices of his time and so the lack of female leadership is down to the patriarchy, or else there were women leaders and they were crushed by – yep, the patriarchy.

          Interesting meander down a rabbit trail here. Could it be Paul & Peter got a clue from Jesus about how not to address certain social issues by keeping the social status quo that eventually changed at a later date???

          Although you mention there were no named females as early church leaders, are there any early church records of slaves holding such positions???

          Not a freed slave, but an actual slave having authority over its master in the church setting if both of them were believers? And both Hebrew & Gentile slave owner saints would be totally high-fiving each other over how radical of a social change this arrangement represented?

          If there is no record of such, is it implied then that only free men were chosen for leadership positions? I would think putting a slave in a position of named authority a good way to address the social custom of owning another human being. Same as naming a female to a leadership position would address the gender issue. However, it seems the social construct of that time not the primary concern being addressed by Jesus or Paul or Peter. And if males were initially chosen for such roles in the early church, does it make sense they simply represented all humanity in its two genders, social status, physical conditions, financial standings, ethnic origins, political affiliations, presence of body art, previous religious backgrounds, dietary habits, etc.?

          Because Jesus or Paul or Peter did not appear to make sweeping social changes right out of the early church development gate, it should set the universal precedent of a male dominated leadership of freedmen & imply tacit approval of slave ownership???

          Jesus didn’t name any non-Jews to be Apostles, did He? Yet Gentiles became the majority of believers in a rather short period of time. What was the early church doing ordaining non-Jews to positions of authority? Paul did this & was not questioned about it? Yet he makes comments regarding slaves & masters along with those twitch-inducing references about not letting women speak in a public worship setting & outlining proper dress codes???

          Hmmm…

  2. Jack Heron says:

    Why on earth would we keep our theologians on a shorter leash when they produce such marvellous comedy?

    (Besides, I wouldn’t worry about the Lincoln Theological Institute. Manchester University has a good number of small but contrasting theological institutes – the Centre for Biblical Studies does serious academic texts, the Centre for Religion and Political Culture is the ripped-from-the-headlines section, and the LTI is the provocative-and-controversial lot. There are some others as well, I think. Overall they seem to balance.)

  3. Tim King may hit on one point but the problem I think is much more simpler than that. Group dynamics play a large role. That which gives faith our strength also pulls people from it, community. I’ve seen plenty of young people keep and grow their faith in college but it’s usually tied to their closeness to a Christian peer community. Young adults whose community peer group are not specifically faith affirming sometimes jettison their faith to enhance their connection to their community. Yes there is often logic behind their denial/affirming of faith but we’re pack animals by nature, we absorb the faith (or lack thereof) of those we surround us with.

    Yes Eagle, your crusade experience was terrible…but that kinda proves my point.

    • cermak_rd says:

      There’s also the problem even if you have a tight faith peer group in college of having that peer group break up by graduation and possible relocation for a job. Suddenly the reasons you kept the faith aren’t there any more. No built in peer group, no association with the religious institution one was part of in college.

      Religious institutions (churches, temples,mosques) aren’t particularly fungible, even within denominations or branches.

  4. It’s funny in a sad way that GCB comes at the unfortunate time when the SBC finally was coming to grips with changing its name to Great Commission Baptists (GCB).

  5. Just finishing reading “the Bible Made Impossible.” I think there might be some reasons within it why we see the college-age exodus form the church.

  6. One more Mike says:

    Sage advice from Skye Jethani: “Read dead people. And if they’re not dead they should be close.”

    But I hope N.T. Wright lives for a very long time.

  7. Pastor Jeremiah says:

    I am deeply disturbed by the whole “celebrity pastor/super pastor” syndrome we have in our culture. How is any non-mega-church pastor going to cope with the standards . (Even worse look how a certain former mega-church pastor is desperately doing all he can to get back in the spotlight!) Is it really any wonder why we have such an ongoing issue with pastor burnout and abandonment of the pulpit and/or the truth of Scripture & Jesus?

    The hardest part for me as a pastor is not just how isolating it is to be trapped in a community of pastors who have bought into these ideals, but how hard it is to pastor a congregation of people who believe that this is how it’s supposed to be. I have actually had dear friends from my congregation tell me “I love this church. I have never learned as much about God or been challenged to live a deeper walk with God from a pastor as I have from you… but I’m looking for another church because I need a pastor who is better than me.” When I questioned him about it it went something like this “Not better, but someone who dresses and acts better than me in the pulpit – I know we’re all equal in God’s eyes, but I’d like someone who at least ACTS like they’re better and dresses like they’ve got it going on.”

    It’s a sad comment on our society when this didn’t come from just one person, but a few over the years. We want celebrity over substance, fame over relationship & power over humble servanthood.

    If I didn’t have Eugene Petersen’s pastoral works I possibly would have abandoned the ministry for despair.

    (Sorry for the pastor vent)

    • That Other Jean says:

      Ouch! It’s bad enough when a pastor thinks he’s better than the people of his congregation, but when members of the congregation think he OUGHT to be better than them, there’s something terribly wrong. Yes, a pastor should be trying hard to set an example of a Christian life for his people and to teach them how to live lives of love and service, but that doesn’t make him better or entitle him to celebrity status, mega-church or no. I can see how isolating and discouraging that “celebrity pastor” thing could be if you’re not into the hunt for power and fame.

      • Perhaps the problem has arisen out of the belief that the “pastor” (those GIFTED as pastors) is also expected to preach, teach AND act as CEO of a corporation. Could we actually have a first century church where the “pastor” is not the “teacher” who is not the “preacher”, but where those several giftings are exercised by separate people?

        Nah! Probably not! After all, who would the congregation vilify when things displease them? Guess it’s just easier to roll the rolls into one package for convenience sake

      • People also seem to want entertainers…rather than biblical pastors…sad

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I am deeply disturbed by the whole “celebrity pastor/super pastor” syndrome we have in our culture. How is any non-mega-church pastor going to cope with the standards . (Even worse look how a certain former mega-church pastor is desperately doing all he can to get back in the spotlight!)

        “THE VOICE OF A GOD, NOT OF A MAN!
        THE VOICE OF A GOD, NOT OF A MAN!”

        They don’t call it “Celebrity WORSHIP” for nothing.

        In “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”, doesn’t Screwtape say that all you need to do is tempt and corrupt one celebrity and you get ALL their non-entity fanboys & followers & worshippers for free? (Nya Ha Ha, My Dear Wormwood…)

    • We want celebrity over substance, fame over relationship & power over humble servanthood.

      That nailed it. The kingdom of the world has overcome the church. Somewhere along the line being a follower of Jesus fell by the wayside.

      T

  8. God isn’t dead; he just wishes he was after reading about the evangelical industrial complex.

  9. As for those ossuaries, I remain convinced that Jacobovici is more showman than archaeologist with book sales and large TV ratings his primary concerns. That’s OK, though, and I hope this news – if it is news – stays center stage for awhile and prompts a whole lot of discussion regarding Jesus and the resurrection. The bigger the audience, the better.

    Jeff, thanks for the lead …this will make an interesting topic for our resident archaeology expert on Broken Road next week!

    • Christian tombs in an area associated with the Passion bearing symbols expressing faith in the Resurrection? Whoever would have expected that?

      :-)

      • After reading the article a couple of times, I remain unsure of what their assertion is regarding the ossuaries, other than they appear to be connected with Jesus’ family. If nothing else, I hope the story serves as a conversation starter. :)

        • I may be waaaay out of line, but I rather think the whole point of the exercise is to make a couple of tv specials (to be shown by the Discovery channel, naturally), get a glossy coffee-table book and maybe even a museum exhibit out of the controversy, and then in another couple of years have another amazing “discovery” to rinse and repeat.

          The thing about the ossuaries is that they had actually been knocking around for a fair few years before James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici made their announcement that the burial site of Jesus and his family had been found. I note that James Cameron doesn’t seem to be involved this time round, and it may be a case of “once bitten, twice shy”.

          When it comes to antiquities, especially Middle Eastern ones, and doubly especially Bibical ones, there’s been a lively trade in forgeries since Roman times and I have no expectation that that is going to change any time soon.

          • That Other Jean says:

            I thought the deal with this latest find, the one they’re calling the Patio Tomb, was that it wasn’t actually disturbed, except to snake down a camera and capture film of an ossuary with an incised carving of what looks like a fish–maybe a fish with a person in its mouth, like Jonah and the whale.

            The discoverers are taking it as (possible, though they’re being exceedingly optimistic) evidence of very early Christians. Or maybe–according to more skeptical scholars– it’s a pillar, or a vase, or belonged to a fishmonger. Who knows? Even the discoverers aren’t trying to link it directly to the family of Jesus, I don’t think.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            may be waaaay out of line, but I rather think the whole point of the exercise is to make a couple of tv specials (to be shown by the Discovery channel, naturally), get a glossy coffee-table book and maybe even a museum exhibit out of the controversy, and then in another couple of years have another amazing “discovery” to rinse and repeat.

            Remember Easter season a few years ago?
            All Da Vinci Code, all the time?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      As for those ossuaries, I remain convinced that Jacobovici is more showman than archaeologist with book sales and large TV ratings his primary concerns…

      I thought the name “Simcha Jacobovici” sounded vaguely familiar, so I went down the link.

      HOLY CRAP!
      IT’S THE “NAKED ARCHAEOLOGIST” GUY!
      WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED!

  10. I think people are driven from the faith whenever someone – on the right or left – tries to control the narrative, rather than allowing to the narrative speak to us prophetically. Genesis is about neither young earth creationism nor evolution. Making Jesus gay or straight has nothing to do with the gospel narrative. The bible is not a political manifesto for Democrats or Republicans. Those who attempt to own the narrative are seeking to escape its prophetic gaze. It’s the point missed by most who read Paul’s epistle to the Romans: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1); “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). The pharisees did the same thing, making arbitrary human rules to place themselves inside the ranks of the righteous and everyone else on the outside. These statistics seem to say the same thing: for every one that fits the mold, two do not and are forced to look for truth elsewhere.

    • +1000

    • Damaris says:

      “Those who attempt to own the narrative are seeking to escape its prophetic gaze.” Brilliant!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The pharisees did the same thing, making arbitrary human rules to place themselves inside the ranks of the righteous and everyone else on the outside.

      “On the contrary, in the devil’s theology, the important thing is to be absolutely right and to prove that everybody else is absolutely wrong. This does not exactly make for peace and unity among men, because it means that everybody wants to be absolutely right himself, or to attach himself to another who is absolutely right. And in order to prove their rightness they have to punish and eliminate those who are wrong.” — Thomas Merton

  11. “The “war on religion” has become a frequent bogeyman among Christian and political leaders. But the reason church leaders have failed to stem the tide of a generation heading for the exit door is that they keep looking for an outside enemy to blame when the biggest problems are inside the church.”

    It’s about time somebody says this… that last line is the biggest underlying issue I have with the religious right – spend a day listening to their radio and TV and it’s a constant barrage of “Look! Look! Those people over there are the problem!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …spend a day listening to their radio and TV and it’s a constant barrage of “Look! Look! Those people over there are the problem!”

      How does that differ from the Communists? Or the National Socialists?

  12. I agree with Tim King–since that basically sums up my story and others who I know. It was never that I went to a secular university, it was that the Church had presented a gospel different than what I (finally) read for myself in the Bible. Like Skye Jethani said, “Read dead people.” Not just the Bible, but a whole lot of others!
    I stopped reading ‘Christian Crap’ (in the Christian bookstores) a long time ago–most people don’t like my term, but I think it’s appropriate.
    Thanks for the ‘Daydream Believer’ video:) always did like The Monkees. (does that date me?)

  13. So sad to see the top post on the ossuary is from someone jumping to rescue Christianity because they feel threatened, immediately the whole thing devolves into a shouting match. I wish some Christians would just shut up and let the event play out!

    So they found an ossuary that dates to the time of Christ, who cares?. It’s not like the hills aren’t full of them around there, and it’s not like those names are unique for the time period. It’s all subjective reasoning on the part of an archeologist looking for a story, and just because one archeologist speculates that it belongs to the family of Jesus, that’s a long long ways away from actually proving it with any certainty…

    Can we get an off button for Christians who feel they have to jump in and defend anything that challenges their worldview?, because they are seriously making the rest of us look bad…

    -Paul-

    • Paul, I don’t know if you are referring to my post, but, just in case, I was not trying to rescue anything …merely expressing an opinion about the motivation of Mr. Jacobovici after having followed him on the History Channel and Discovery for some time.

      I also tried to make it clear that I am looking forward to hearing more about this if, indeed, there is any more to hear. I am not disputing the find or their early analysis but do want to note that there is not much here upon which to base any conclusions. I am eager to hear more.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I have a request for our brothers and sisters in the United Kingdom. Can you please keep your “theologians” on a shorter leash?

    This is so old hat when you’ve spent 20 years in Furry Fandom, where a lot of artists and writers must have a herm fetish. So, to the tune of “Everyone Has AIDS!” from Team America: World Police:

    “HERM! HERM! HERM!
    EVERYONE’S A HERM!”

    • HUG, it would appear there are Bronies everywhere; this, from Damian Thompson’s blog from the online version of “The Daily Telegraph”:

      “How sad to learn that My Little Pony, the cartoon series based on the much-loved toys, has provoked a nasty row. “Bronies” – members of the adult, mostly male, fan base for the pony models – are distressed that Derpy, an adorably slow-witted character, has been given a new voice to make her seem “less mentally challenged”. Hasbro, makers of the show, didn’t want to seem to be mocking the disabled – but the Bronies think they’re reducing “diversity” with the changed voice.

      Who can guide us through this ethical minefield? If only there were a senior Anglican bishop in the London area who was a secret Brony, dressing his toy animals in the academic dress corresponding to his honorary doctorates. But I must shut up now, because I’ve already said too much…”

      And The Sci-Fi Catholic has explained to me who Derpy is and why I should care.

      I think I agree; so what if Derpy has a cast in her eye and is clumsy and accident-prone? Is it any better to have all the ponies physically perfect in every way and never putting a hoof wrong – what kind of message does that send out about being less than ideal and fitting in?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ah, yes, “Derpygate”. I’ve been on top of it. If there weren’t restrictions on links here, I could show you so many “Save Derpy” tributes on YouTube, DeviantArt, various blogs. Since I “joined the Herd” around a year ago, I have never seen such a volume of creative output — original art, sculpture (including custom ponies), music composition, comics, original video animation, games — as around these little ponies.

        All I can say is, if it goes the way I think it’s going and Hasbro caves in along with iTunes, spread these four words around (especially if you have the ear of Parker & Stone who do South Park): KYLE’S MOM KILLED DERPY.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          As an example of the creative output, when Derpygate first surfaced, web comics were hitting the art gallery sites within 24 hours. Within a week, one of the comics was being flash-animated into this little short that says it all:

          Derpy Hooves herself tells her story of what happened, from a character POV.

          (Link placed in separate comment so if it’s deleted it won’t take out the entire comment.)

          • My honest reaction? The show is appropriate for little girls, but there’s something creepy about middle-aged men getting interested in it.

            And I can’t help but wonder why you insist on discussing “furry fandom” (yes, I looked it up) on a Christian blog. Do you think this kind of behavior glorifies Christ? (Hint: your source is a site called “Deviant Art.”)

          • Dude, enough with the thinly veiled ad hominem attacks, okay? I appreciate the perspective you bring as it’s one I do not share, nor is it common In my neck of the woods. But let’s keep to the allegorical nature of the conversation and leave off the aspersions.

            Now I have to go find my Spock ears for that upcoming Star Trek convention. Good thing God is really on the side of the Federation … I mean, on the side of us sinners. We’re sinning boldly where no one has sinned before.

          • Florian says:

            Don’t be naive. “Furrie Fandom” is not an innocent passtime like Dr. Spock. People who experience inappropriate feelings towards plush animals or cartoon mascots frankly need psychological help. I do not condemn them. I am a sinner too. There are ways to treat this kind of disorder, but first they have to recognize that they are sick. Going around posting one’s fetishes on the internet hardly sounds like the actions of someone who wants to conform to biblical principles. And to do so on a Christian blog suggests that the motive is mere exhibitionism and a desire to shock.

          • Florian, people like all kinds of things. I’ve been an SF fan since I was seven, and I think that having something exterior like that kept me half-way sane. The Internet was a joy and a boon when I found out “Hang on, you like this stuff too? You know about that obscure TV show/radio series/book?” and that there were people out there wiling to have conversations, arguments, jokes, fun and community online about all manner of things.

            Furrydom has a corner that’s odd. But every human endeavour has a corner that’s odd (take it away, Theodore Sturgeon, and what was boiled down into Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of SF is crud, but then again, 90% of everything is crud). And Deviant Art is not necessarily a site for art about and by deviants for deviants; it’s an amateur site where anyone can post fanart from basic stick figures to professional-quality work and from the most innocuous to adult-only themes. It’s not a porn site.

            Yes, I too looked down on furries as weirdoes who liked to dress up and yiff, but thanks to HUG and the grace of the Holy Spirit, I now know better and repent me of my judging the mote in my brother’s eye, for lo, were not those plastic Spock ears I coveted as a child even the beam in mine own?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Didn’t Chesterton, Tolkien, and Lewis all say that the best and most enduring children’s literature is that which has all-ages appeal? And that limiting fairy tales to “little kiddie stuff” has done a great disservice to our civilization?

            Well, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic IS demonstrating that All-Ages Appeal. Especially in contrast to the current age of Ugliness and Grinning Nihilism. (Even Christian Nihilism.)

            And in the explosion of creative arts that is has inspired and continues to inspire, I have found more echoes of the Gospel than in a LOT of formal Bible studies and preaching. A couple years ago, on this or another blog, someone claimed a special revelation that “God has withdrawn his mantle from Christian filmmakers and placed it on secular artists.” It’s one of the few special revelations I am not skeptical about.

            And as for Furry-bashing, you’ve got to work hard to top some of the Furry-bashing I’ve experienced. Like a couple months of online harassment falsely accusing me of bestiality.

          • From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (relevant phrase in bold):

            My dear Lucy,

            I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,

            C. S. Lewis.

          • Jack Heron says:

            Florian: why should we not talk about ponies? I have met people before who thought that a Christian could do nothing except that which was explicitly praised in the Bible – such people kept me from God for years. I have met people before whose Christianity meshed perfectly well with their full and developed personality (yea, even unto the ponies and H.P.Lovecraft) – such people brought me to God.

          • “Or has this become the new civil rights frontier, after gay marriage?”

            Um – the right to be an unmarried virgin? Since we’re all Christians (okay, not all, sorry to the non-Christians for making sweeping pronouncments) on here, I assumed that was not a right that needed to be agitated for on here.

            The right to like tales of anthropomorphic animals? That goes back to “The Wind in the Willows” and probably even farther back.

            The right of sub-creation, as Tolkien said? Because we are children of the Creator, we too have the capacity and the right to create our own small worlds in art.

            The right to share with others what we cannot share in ‘Real Life’ because here is a safe place where we all know that we have various struggles and hardships in our lives, and we can trust our brothers and sisters not to quench the smoking wick or break the bruised reed?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I have met people before who thought that a Christian could do nothing except that which was explicitly praised in the Bible

            — Jack Heron

            And everything that was not Forbidden was Absolutely Compulsory.

            That’s usually where that attitude ends up. Right alongside the Talibani.

            I’ve been an SF fan since I was seven, and I think that having something exterior like that kept me half-way sane. The Internet was a joy and a boon when I found out “Hang on, you like this stuff too? You know about that obscure TV show/radio series/book?”

            — Martha

            That is something in common to the “testimony” of every Furry and Brony I have encountered:

            “I thought I was the only one!”

            And my writing partner (burned-out preacher-man, Furry, and Brony before there were Bronies) often has to counsel people in these fandoms. Regarding Furries, he says every Furry he’s counseled came out of a family and/or school situation “that could only be described as Hellish.” (And he does not use the word “Hellish” lightly.) He goes on to say that “obsessing over imaginary talking animals beats sucking a load out of your Dad’s shotgun as an escape route.”

            The right to share with others what we cannot share in ‘Real Life’ because here is a safe place where we all know that we have various struggles and hardships in our lives, and we can trust our brothers and sisters not to quench the smoking wick or break the bruised reed?

            — Martha

            And fandom is a LOT safer place to share that than a lot of churches. Think about that.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Don’t be naive. “Furrie Fandom” is not an innocent passtime like Dr. Spock. People who experience inappropriate feelings towards plush animals or cartoon mascots frankly need psychological help.

            Does Florian know that it was not Furry but Star Trek that gave us the term “Slashfic” for Same-Sex Erotic Fanfics? (The term “Slash” originated with “Kirk-Slash-Spock” gay erotica, circa 1968-70.)

            Or the Furban Legend about the Trekkie denouncing Those Furries as Disgusting Perverts just before starting to Evangelize at great length about “Doing a Hawt KLINGONNN — UHHH! UHHH! UHHHH!”

            (Note: A KLINGONNNN babe is just a Spotted Hyena shapeshifted into human form with a horseshoe crab crazy-glued onto her forehead.)

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Is college to blame for young adults dropping out of church? Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said as much in recent campaign stops. But Tim King of Sojourners thinks those college years are “exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.” Interesting reading this. Your thoughts?

    Nothing that you or Christian Monist haven’t been saying for years.

    I have a simple request for our nation’s religious leaders who keep finding “enemies of the faith” at every turn without ever looking inward. For Christ’s sake, stop talking. — Tim King

    Wow!
    Just like Birchers finding Communists under every bed!
    Or Communists finding Counter-Revolutionaries under every bed!
    And “without ever looking inward” i.e. “The Party Can Do No Wrong — Ees Party Line, Comrade!”

    • Jack Heron says:

      It’s funny how enemies of the state/faith/king seem to multiply in direct proportion to the number of people determined to uproot them…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Just like Witches when the Witchfinders-General were active throughout the REAL Burning Times (English Civil War and Thirty Years’ War).

        • Jack Heron says:

          Yep! Paying witchfinders by the number of witches they find. Can see the problem there for sure.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Note that in Spain (where Inquisitors were paid a flat salary) there were very few Witchcraft trials, and most of the convictions were non-fatal. (Most common penalty was a forcible Cease & Desist with possible incarceration in a monastery.)

            The Spanish Inquisition observed that Witchcraft accusations spiked when Inquisitors came to town and only then, and cautioned their Inquisitors that most Witchcraft accusations were mistaken or maliciously false.

          • Jack Heron says:

            Yes, that’s very true. As I understand it, the Spanish Inquisition officially denied the existence of real witchcraft – witchcraft related prosecutions in Spain were either for *claiming* to be a witch (which would be heretical, allotting the Devil real power) or for falsely accusing someone of witchcraft.

            That wasn’t the case in England – East Anglia being a pretty nasty place for accusations. As a result, it was made illegal to *accuse* someone of witchcraft in 1736. Though I don’t think it’s on the books any more.

  16. When it comes to Christians dropping out of the faith because of college, both Rick Santorum and Tim King have it wrong. It is a classic example of how to mislead with statistics. Numerous studies show that youth who don’t go to college are more likely to drop out of church than youth who do go to college.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When it comes to Christians dropping out of the faith because of college, both Rick Santorum and Tim King have it wrong.

      When it comes to Santorum (I don’t know about King), it DOES reinforce the Evangelical Anxiety and exploits the Evangelical Fear Reaction. As well as shifting the blame from You, Dear Christian, to Those Secular Heathens under the bed.

  17. Suzanne says:

    Honestly, if a kid’s faith and beliefs don’t stand up to a few new ideas that he or she learns in college, they probably weren’t worth anything to begin with. I agree that college simply “exposing the problems with the faith they grew up with.” It’s a lot like Amish kids going out on their Rumspringa. Many return to the fold because they have no real skills to survive in the outside world; the rest sort of freak out at their new found freedom. Neither choice is good.

    • I don’t think that it’s so much a case of “a few new ideas”. More than a considerable percentage of college faculty (at least in the United States) are actively dismissive of (if not downright hostile to) religion in general and Christianity in particular. Four years (or more) of your professors and advisors mocking you as a “Jesus freak” or openly questioning your mental state in class tends to have some negative impacts on your faith.

      • Suzanne says:

        Both my children went to large secular universities. Not once did a prof make fun of them or their beliefs. Not once.

        • I went to a secular state univ and my faith was never impugned either (questioned…yes but not mocked) – but I did see some obnoxious true believers who were rude and disruptive to profs they perceived as threats…

          • Suzanne says:

            So true, Andy. Many believers are obnoxious in a secular setting (or moreso than in a church setting) and then point the finger when the perceived threat happens. “See? See?!?! They told me this would happen!!”

            Again, no real world skills to cope with anything outside their norm.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” and “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” as convenient Not-My-Fault excuses.

        • David L says:

          At lot of the “profs are hostile” depends on the college and/or major. In the hard sciences it is mostly “open wide, here’s a ton or dozen tons of facts and science you have to learn or not pass. If you don’t like it move on. Philosophy is for somewhere else.”

          Now if you’re in a Myths and Legends class or Psychiatry 101, hold on tight.

  18. Andy,

    Ditto.

  19. In reference to Steven James’ observation about “offensive words” in the Bible and using stand-in words so as not to “offend”…

    The particular words (like “dog shit” in Phil. 3:8) are miniscule in comparison to the general offensiveness of the Bible and the Gospel in particular.

    Say it like it is and let the shadow of the Cross fall where it will.

    T