Sunday, August 28, 2005
Been feeling very bummed out lately. The union members of the company where I work for is on strike. My day begins with them shouting "Scab" and other pleasantries at me and ends with the same. Second (nay, third) summer in a row without a family vacation (last year I was down with Aplastic Anemia); I think my wife and kids are mad at me.
I miss my wife ... she's in China to pick up our second adopted daughter. I wish I could be there with her, but with this strike on, I wasn't allowed to go.
Feeling restless at work. Been trying to get a raise without any luck so far. Not sure what career path lies before me. What I do seems so insignificant ...
My mom's still quite distant - Dad passed away very suddenly on Father's Day.
The words of 2 haunting songs come to mind:
I want to know what lies ahead
I want to see what is in store
I want to know what I am about
And if I have something to live for
"Something to Live For", Grey Eye Glances
I've seen that life
Touches us with pain
And we change
Becoming strangers to our friends
Tell me what happens along the way
There's a wall of silence
A wall between us
Holding back our loss
"Wall of Silence", October Project
That's how I feel these days ...
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Fascinating read .. don't know how much of it is true:
Not exactly my kind of crowd I have to admit ...
If you enjoyed the above articles, these two sister sites below have very provoking articles, tinged with a "unique" endtimes view:
Sunday, May 22, 2005
The Purpose Driven Life is a runaway bestseller. In truth, it is in a category all its own. It is closing in on 25 million copies sold and will eclipse this number soon enough. Incredibly enough, it is selling better now than when it first released. Where most titles sell quickly at first and then the sales slow, this book gained sales momentum for over a year following its release. There are those who are sufficiently naive to believe that this success owes to the value of the book. But truth be told, it is not nearly as good a book as the sales would indicate. Warren says little that has not been said before, and has been said better. I'm sure it has changed some lives and has brought encouragement to many people. But this doesn't make a book sell 25 million copies and become the bestselling book of all-time in its genre.
So how does a book, especially a book written by a professed Christian and dealing with Christian topics become such a wild bestseller? Allow me to introduce you to Pyromarketing.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Ran across this story as I was surfing the Net. It's about an Army reservist who recently served in Iraq. Here's a small excerpt:
I know because I talked to the guy who did the killing. He showed me these grisly photographs, and he bragged about the results. "Oh," he said, "I shot this guy in the face. See, his head is split open." He talked like the Terminator. "I shot this guy in the groin, he took three days to bleed to death." I was shocked. This was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He was a family man, a really courteous guy, a devout Christian. I was stunned and said to him: "You shot an unarmed man behind barbed wire for throwing a stone." He said, "Well, I knelt down. I said a prayer, stood up and gunned them all down." There was a complete disconnect between what he had done and his own morality.
Onward Christian Soldiers!
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking on the link between Christianity and violence; the books I'm simultaneously reading are:
- Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse by David Toole
- Must Christianity Be Violent?: Reflections on History, Practice, and Theology ed. by Kenneth Chase and Alan Jacobs
- Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition by Hans Boersma
Now you know why there are no book reviews on this blog: it takes forever to finish reading a book when you're reading a dozen other ones at the same time!
Friday, January 07, 2005
Further to my post dated July 05, 2004 (God Bless America), there's a relevant post here; an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Civil religion occurs when a significant number of a nation's inhabitants identify the interests of their nation with the interests of their deity. This situation is mutually beneficial for both government and religion. The government, wrapped in religious garb, achieves divine legitimation of its activities, and so critics of governmental policies can be cast in the most extreme negative light: as anti-god.
Civil religion inevitably leads to idolatry, as the nation-state acquires quasi-divine status. Civil religion also fosters confusion and coercion, as an attempt is made to apply ethical and spiritual principles that should properly apply to Christians to the entire populace.
No, I am NOT anti-American (I have a number of wonderful American friends) and the danger of civil/nationalistic religion is obviously not confined to America (think of the Balkans for starters). I pray that my American brothers and sisters who are caught up in the idolatry of civil religion will remember that "our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20).
See also the section "Nationalism, Patriotism, and Other Works of the Flesh" (pp.144-149) in Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World by Lee C. Camp (Brazos Press, 2003).
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Stumbled across an "interesting" article titled, Sexetera: a realistic approach to a taboo subject in Chimes, Calvin College's student newsletter. I applaud Mr. Tao for his honesty and frankness in discussing a subject that many Christians of my generation are uncomfortable with. As a father of two hormonally-charged teenage boys, I certainly can't bury my head in the sand! (See my earlier post on Josh Harris' book, "Not Even a Hint").
However, I find his proposed suggestions simplistic, unbiblical, and disturbing. It is disturbing because Mr. Tao's analysis and solution, while seemingly compassionate and "reasonable", reflects a mindset that has uncritically accommodated itself to prevailing cultural norms, rather than a mindset informed and transformed by the Gospel.
Thus, he asserts: "In my opinion, it is one’s right and freedom to choose when to have sex, before or after marriage" (emphasis mine). He goes on to say, "The best solution is, therefore, a system in which people can make reasonable choices." OK, reasonable by whose definition? Are we free to redefine God's commands that don't seem "reasonable" to us?!
Anticipating such a response, Mr. Tao writes:
Doubtlessly, there is the Bible, with clear passages against sex outside of marriage. But these passages were written in a different tradition at a different time for a different audience. They are among doctrines that have been reinterpreted and restated to fit what people want to hear. It is unproductive to get into a hermeneutical debate about how biblical passages should be interpreted because the understanding of the Bible varies from time to time, culture to culture, denomination to denomination. No one can say he or she has the final answer to these complex moral questions. It is ultimately a collective agreement that defines what a community believes is right and wrong.
Wow. First of all, he admits that there are "clear passages against sex outside of marriage" (emphasis mine), but then in the same breathe, he argues that they are culturally conditioned and therefore of only relative relevance to us to today. No absolute truth, only truth that is socially constructed ("a collective agreement that defines what a community believes is right and wrong"). Furthermore, he attempts to obfuscate with some handwaving: "It is unproductive to get into a hermeneutical debate about how biblical passages should be interpreted ...". So, are we therefore now free to interpret scripture as we see fit? The Bible obviously can't speak authoritatively to us today because who the heck can understand it, and we all have our own opinions anyhow, right? William Larkin, Jr., writes: "The final element in Paul's contextualizing the truth is calling for personal change ... Such change would affect one's world-view and ultimately one's culture. ... Christ's death, resurrection, and return are inherently relevant to human beings in every culture. By maintaining the gospel's integrity and by constructive engagement with the cultural context, Paul is able to appeal effectively for the most important cultural change any person can undergo: conversion to a new identity (Christian) and incorporation into a new people (the church)." (Culture and Biblical Hermeneutics, Baker 1988; p. 321, emphasis mine) Go and think about this, Mr. Tao.
He assumes that our perceived inability to control our urges is sufficient reason to justify giving in to them: "we have to be realistic about ourselves and our capacities ... many of us are incapable, the same way as being blind or deaf, of suppressing these desires without going insane." (Gee, he's apparently not very sensitive about blind or deaf people ...)
Not ready for a committed relationship yet? No problem, because "that in no way disqualifies their right to fulfill their innate, normal desires, as long as it is done on a safe and non-damaging way". Go ahead, sow your wild oats, have your jollies. Woo-hoo!!! No need to wait until marriage - that's so archaic and repressive! Get with the times mom and dad! God is love, so surely he wouldn't want to spoil my "right" to have some fun ...
I note that Mr. Tao does not mention "sin" or "holiness" once, nor does he elucidate the transforming power of the Gospel and the call to live an obedient, cruciform life.
Now keep in mind that Calvin College is a Christian liberal arts college. I'm wondering if they have condom dispensing machines in the dorms and johns.
It's no shock that many Christian young people are having sex outside of marriage these days, despite most churches' attempts to sweep "incidents" under the rug. There seems to be a lot of moral confusion amongst Christians these days.
James Smith, associate professor of philosophy at Calvin College, has an written an excellent response.
I just recently ordered Daniel R. Heimbach's new book, True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards For A Culture In Crisis, from the good folks at The Discerning Reader. Looks to be a "must read".