Thinking Out Loud

December 26, 2012

Wednesday Link List

modern church architecture
The picture: Don’t let padded seat backs stop you from having a place to store your hymnbook. This is North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana.

  • If there aren’t enough links for you here, and you’re into apologetics, the blog Weekly Apologetics offers a weekly link list to topics of interest to its readers.
  • Michael Cheshire explores a friendship with a man that admittedly, other Christians really don’t like.  To put it mildly.  Michael was told by some they would desert him if he reached out to Ted Haggard.
  • Here is the link that was added on Sunday as an update to our short piece on the Newtown/Sandy Hook shooting. Early on, it addresses that the situation is entirely unique to the United States.
  • In all the outpouring of discussion on the shooting, I especially appreciated this one at the blog Shawn in the City.
  • And here’s what a school lockdown looks like from the inside, especially tense in the wake of recent events.
  • In just days, a quarter of a million people have signed a petition to see Westboro Baptist Church officially recognized as a hate group.
  • Candid:  Author R. C. Sproul, Jr. comments on the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death.
  • Here’s a sneak preview of the acoustic version of Casting Crowns’ Praise You In The Storm, from an unplugged album releasing mid-Janauary.
  • Also on video, Matt Papa presents a 10-minute spoken word piece that dares to encapsulate The Story of God.
  • How much of what is shared in a pastoral counseling session should the pastor share with his wife? It depends on the nature of the session, and also on the nature of the wife.
  • And Cody Sanders believes that a church that skirts around the issue of the bullying of gay teenagers that’s taking place in high schools is guilty of what he terms ministerial malpractice.
  • Not sure I fully get the Christian angle on this 105-page book that can be read in well under an hour, so I checked out a few online reviews of Robert Smith’s 20,000 Days and Counting. Like this one. And this one.
  • And how long have you been alive in days? Use the calculator on Robert Smith’s website.
  • New Blog Department: New Songs of Praise recently joined the Alltop Christian list with devotional and Bible study content.
  • New-To-Me Department: The Poached Egg is an aplogetics blog that no doubt takes its name from a C. S. Lewis quotation. Lots of resources to consider and/or share.

We leave you today with a classic 2009 Time Magazine article on what was then considered a growing trend: De-Baptism. “Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had” But the rebellion wasn’t just against a Christian upbringing: “We’ve had Jewish people write in asking, ‘Can I have a certificate to undo my bar mitzvah?’” Somehow, I don’t think you’ll see these certificates in Christian bookstores.

debaptism certificate

April 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

The timely graphic above has been making the rounds on Facebook.

  • Who was where, and when?  This Bible Gateway timeline of Holy Week is worth studying.  Click to see the post, then click again to see the image, and click a third time to enlarge it. You’ve never seen the Good Friday & Easter story in such detail.
  • And if you’re looking for a meaningful Easter song, go back a year on this blog and revisit this one.  Or this one.
  • A Christian group prayed over a section of highway leading into their town and anointed it with oil.  An atheist group decided to wash off the blessing. My favorite quote from this article: “What is inexplicable to me is how atheists or secularists could possibly be affected or  ‘offended’ by prayers when they don’t view them as having any real value?”
  • A Delta Airlines passengers refuses to shut off his iPad showing a child-centered pornographic film. The flight attendant refused to intervene.
  • Teens can see the Bully movie in Canada, but can’t in the U.S. In the meantime, the movie is drawing out discussion to a level that gives the issue some profile.
  • Mark Driscoll has stepped down from chairing the Acts 29 church planting network, turning responsibility over to Matt Chandler, which in turn relocates the ministry to Dallas from Seattle.  But he’s also stepping down from the council of The Gospel Coalition. 2-in-1 story at Wartburg Watch.
  • The blog Church and Synagogue Security News, now has a section devoted to security issues arising on mission trips.
  • CNN’s Religion blog gets inside the spiritual heritage of Oikos University, the Christian college in California where Monday’s shooting took place. Excerpt: “Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape…”
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s post by Alicia Yost from America’s Next Top Mommy, here’s another of her well-written adventures in parenting.
  • If October Baby isn’t playing at a theater near you, here’s the official trailer.  And here’s a review: Jeff and his wife really liked it.
  • Check out a couple of (very) modern worship songs from Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, Ontario.
  • Seductive faith: If it feels good, you’ve done it right. But consider the source of that kind of thinking.
  • Meet Jason Meyer, touted as the successor to John Piper at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis. Elsewhere, Piper says, “The reason we are moving forward with the succession plan now has to do with a strong conviction that good pastoring is more than preaching.”
  • Financing a Christian college education ain’t easy. But a “miracle” can happen if you’re willing to work for it!  This Canadian story mentions a few principles that may apply more widely.
  • Nobody puts their hand up anymore in school, or elsewhere.  It’s all done with clickers.  Even the kids at the Bible Quiz at Southgate Church of Christ got mentioned in this New York Times technology story. They’re using 150 of them to record answers to 180 multiple choice questions.
  • Want more links? There’s always Lisa Buffaloe’s Links to Blog Blessings. Or check out The Read and Share File at Master’s Table.
  • Note to regular readers:  The link to the Christian Blog Topsites that usually appears in the sidebar has been removed as the site was apparently hacked. My computer did not entirely avoid some consequences, but is at least functional. Citing health concerns, proprietor Mark Strohm has decided to take the site down. We thank Mark for his years of service to this blog, introducing us to new blogs and introducing new readers to ours.

October 20, 2011

Letter to a Suicidal Gay Teen

Another gay teen committed suicide, this one in Ottawa, Canada which isn’t too far away from here.  It’s becoming contagious.

I say contagious knowing I have the right to use that word.  I remember years ago meeting with a California couple whose marriage counselor told them, “The best advice I can give you is to move out-of-state.” 

In the late ’70s, divorce was rampant on the west coast.  Today that advice wouldn’t work, since divorce is everywhere.  But the counselor recognized that there was a ‘climate of divorce’ there at the time and if you could get away from it, you had a better chance.

Today, with the internet, there’s no getting away from social trends, and to be gay in 2011 is to realize that bullying is indirectly taking the life of your peers.  They’re dropping out of the sky on a weekly basis.  The campaign may say, “It gets better,” but honestly it doesn’t get better right away, certainly not for the average high school student.  Jamie, the Ottawa boy, said he simply wasn’t up for waiting three years.

The newspaper reports implied that Jamie left a suicide note on his blog.  That’s not entirely accurate.  As I scrolled through the 30 pages of that blog* it was obvious to me that the entire three months he posted (apparently replacing a previous blog) it was, from the beginning,  full of pain, full of angst.   The blog was one long march toward a suicide that appeared somewhat inevitable.  What if the right person had picked up on that and been able to intervene?

It’s unlikely that readers of this blog would ever stumble across the writing of a teen like Jamie.  But if I did, would I simply click away?  Perhaps the best thing would be to leave a note; a note something like this:


Dear __________,

Somehow I found your blog today.  I’m from a different part of the world, and a different generation, but I want you to know that there is no mistaking your pain, and I could feel that pain in your writing and I care very deeply for you.

High School can be a terrible environment.  People commit verbal and physical abuse easily, and even the kid with the greatest degree of conformity can unwittingly become the target of the week.  The bullies act out on their own insecurities, perhaps even insecurities as to their own sexual identity, though you don’t dare suggest that out loud.Your life is a story that’s being written page-by-page, day-by-day.  Only you get to choose the ending.  I know you’re going through a period of depression, but your story doesn’t have to have a tragic ending.  It doesn’t have to go the way you think it does.  Your story can have an ending where you conquer, where you rise above the circumstances and perhaps even get to change some of the circumstances.  You can write new chapters where things move in a different direction, where you can look back and say, ‘It didn’t get better overnight, but here’s a scene that was the beginning of where it got better.’

You should also know there are now alternative high schools where people are more accepting of your present sexual orientation.  You might want to seriously look into that.  Your parents would have probably helped you with college and university costs, they just need to be convinced that in your case you need that help sooner.  But you might be able to find something closer to home if you live in a larger city.  There are many ways to get that high school diploma.

I said present sexual orientation, not because I want to get into that discussion, but because you’re still fairly young, and like I said, there are always new chapters being written.  On the one hand, I recognize that you know your feelings better than anyone, so the people who say, ‘This is just a phase he’s going through,’ aren’t being honest about how things are.  But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want you to believe the lie that says, ‘This is who I am.’  Your sexual identity isn’t 100% of who you are, what you can accomplish and the person you can become.   If you write on a piece of paper, ‘I am gay;’ write it in pencil, not in pen.  You might actually some day need the eraser.  I say that not because I’m doubting the reality of who you are now, but simply because, as a young teen, you are still a work in progress.

I should probably end by telling you that part of the reason I’m taking the time to write this is because I believe in a God that loves all people and therefore doesn’t hate anyone.  I’ve seen other blogs written by young teens who are gay but have a deep faith, and are trying to follow Jesus in every aspect of their life.  They pray, they read the Bible, and they try to find ways to serve others in Christ’s name.  They are making a difference in their world.  I have no doubt about that, but of course, also being gay, they remain a bit of a mystery to some of my friends and even me at times.  I think God’s capable of sorting that, and I invite you to reach out to him in prayer, because I believe that He alone is the only source capable of helping you through the pain.  I believe if you take one step toward him, he will come running to you.

Paul.


*see comments

April 14, 2010

The Wednesday Link List

“Officially voted the finest Wednesday Link List on any blog called Thinking Out Loud”

Here’s some places my computer took me this week.   What about you?

  • Here’s a reprint from a few days of ago of what would be Michael Spencer’s final blog post on February 22 at Internet Monk.
  • My choice for in-depth article of the week is Ted Olsen’s online-only piece at Christianity Today suggesting that the annunciation may be more important than Christmas and Easter, especially in view of its relationship to the abortion debate.
  • The Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860.  It’s a little-known law in the UK — and some places closer to home — but as this person found out, it’s illegal to disrupt a worship service, as reported at Answers for the Faith.
  • They’re “disgusting and disturbing” but does that mean the Hutaree militant fringe group are not Christians?   Julie Clawson at the blog One Hand Clapping tackles an interesting subject in Militias, The Church & Christians.
  • David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor, resigns after 25 years at a Canadian Vineyard church.
  • The journalism blog Get Religion looks at the story of a church which offered love and compassion to a mentally ill man who later set fire to their church.
  • Sometimes I think we get too hung up on the “latest” thing in the blogosphere.   Here’s a post from January of last year about churches coming together to help with a funeral at the blog, 300 Words a Day.
  • If you remember my piece on bullying, republished here just a few days ago, you might also appreciate this piece by Mike Furches at The Virtual Pew.
  • At the blog Arminian Today, the blogger known as The Seeking Disciple asks the musical question, Does Calvinism Make it Easier To Sin?   Easier may not be the right word, but he makes an argument for complacency.
  • Brian McLaren plays the piano and discusses eschatology and open theology in a video series about his book posted at The Ooze TV.
  • Jeffrey Overstreet looks at Christian publishing with a little help from C. S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde and this gem from T. S. Eliot:

    “[T]he last thing I would wish for would be the existence of two literatures, one for Christian consumption and the other for the pagan world. What I believe to be incumbent upon all Christians is the duty of maintaining consciously certain standards and criteria of criticism over and above those applied by the rest of the world; and that by these criteria and standards everything that we read must be tested.”
    Continue reading here.

  • Shaun Groves returns to the U.S. from Canada and is readmitted only after he gives the border patrol a mini-version of his Canadian seminar on poverty for Compassion International (complete with Q&A time!)
  • Author John Shore finds out late in March that his mother passed away — five years ago.
  • Cynthia Ware of the Center for Church Communication guests at UrbanMinistry.org with a piece of 5 Trends affecting Church communicators.
  • Academic story of the week:  Evangelical scholar and author Bruce Waltke finds his job at Reformed Theological Seminary over after he posts a video which supports evolution.   Details at USAToday, or you can read more at Jon Rising’s Word and Spirit blog.
  • Blog discovery of the week:  Confident Christianity by Mary Jo Sharpe who has just signed a book contract with Kregel Publishing.
  • Classic video discovery the week:  Christian music veteran Kathy Trocolli and the Beach Boys (yes it’s really them) team up for I Can Hear Music.  Posted in 2007.  Turn it up loud.
  • Jon Acuff is back in classic form as he examines that most unusual species: The Youth Pastor.  “#52. Tells youth group that the Psalms are kind of emo.” Check out Stuff Christians Like # 747.
  • Our cartoon this week is from the usually-not-so-religiously-oriented cartoon blog Beartoons.com where he also discusses the whole concept of atheist missionaries:

HT for Jeffrey Overstreet piece:  Nathan Douglas at Cinema Truth.

March 22, 2010

Bullying: Echoes of a Past Life

It didn’t attract a lot of comments a year ago, but I felt it was one of the better things on this blog, and because I have new readers, I decided to repeat this item today…

no-bullying-circle

This story of an 18-year old in Cincinnati who hanged herself last July after constant taunts from both school friends and strangers had an eerie resemblance to several other stories that have crossed my path lately. We sometimes call it cyber-bullying, but it’s really just harassment, ramped up to the nth degree.

Suddenly, my mind flashed back to a scene in a different era several decades ago… A group of teenagers returning from a weekend at the beach. The cottage, situated on one of the Great Lakes, was owned by a good friend, and his dad was driving us home. He’d dropped people off one at a time and arranged it so at the end it was only my friend and I left in the car.

Then he let us have it. “The way you treated ***** was terrible;” he said. “Don’t you know the boy has feelings?” Actually, no. Mainly because ***** seemed content to laugh along with the rest of us, as we ridiculed his speech and mannerisms. And some of us — like me, for example — didn’t know back then how to let a joke die…

Dear RG

The chances of you reading this are one in a gazillion, but I need to know that it’s out there. Perhaps someone else will read this who isn’t you and doesn’t know me; but they’ll claim it as their own. Perhaps by some miracle you’ll see this and recognize my name and know it’s for you.

We like to think things were better back then. There was no e-mail, or texting, or instant messaging, or Twitter. No matter what people thought about you, you could go home and shut the door and be within the safety of your family. I don’t know if your family provided that kind of refuge for you, or if our remarks were so hurtful that you went home and cried.

We didn’t really mean to hurt you. We thought you were in on the gag. Looking back, you were probably just being brave, just being defensive.

Today, the kids have all this technology and we know that bullying doesn’t have to be physical, it doesn’t have to mean picking a fight. While we didn’t have the technology to invade the sanctity of peoples’ homes and continue the harassment; we should try to remember that we weren’t that innocent in those innocent times. People were mean and cruel and said things they shouldn’t have; and some of us didn’t know when to quit.

So, RG; I’m sorry. I hope you were able to triumph over our high school stupidity and that you’ve made a good life for yourself all these years later.

For what it’s worth, I went to church back then, but didn’t understand the dynamics of living as a Christ follower. I didn’t let my faith deeply impact my behavior. I didn’t know my life was supposed to reflect a difference; a distinctive; patterned after the One I had pledged myself to serve and obey.

Some of that came together during the very last weeks of high school; some I figured out in the second term of first year university; some came together when I was 21; some I learned when I got married and had kids of my own; some stuff I worked out last year and last month; and a lot of what it means to bear the name of Jesus Christ I truly have yet to learn.

Yesterday I read a story about a young girl in Cincinnati and how the taunts of her friends and acquaintances drover her to the lowest point. I read of the agony of her parents; the grief of losing their only child, and all the hopes and dreams and aspirations they had for her.

And suddenly I thought of you; I thought of us; I thought of that cottage weekend when I simply didn’t know when to shut up. I wish I could relive that weekend over again; and I wish I could have been a true friend, instead of using you as a prop for my personal love of attention.

It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. I’m sorry.

~Paul.

==============================================

While looking for a graphic for today’s post, I came across this, which also provides some food for thought.

cycle_of_bullying

March 26, 2009

Deeply Regretting Things Done in My Past

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 pm

no-bullying-circle

This story of an 18-year old in Cincinnati who hanged herself last July after constant taunts from both school friends and strangers had an eerie resemblance to several other stories that have crossed my path lately.    We sometimes call it cyber-bullying, but it’s really just harassment, ramped up to the nth degree.

Suddenly, my mind flashed back to a scene in a different era several decades ago…   A group of teenagers returning from a weekend at the beach.   The cottage, situated on one of the Great Lakes,  was owned by a good friend, and his dad was driving us home.   He’d dropped people off one at a time and arranged it so at the end it was only my friend and I left in the car.

Then he let us have it.    “The way you treated ***** was terrible;” he said.   “Don’t you know the boy has feelings?”   Actually, no.  Mainly because  ***** seemed content to laugh along with the rest of us, as we ridiculed his speech and mannerisms.   And some of us — like me, for example — didn’t know back then how to let a joke die…

Dear RG

The chances of you reading this are one in a gazillion, but I need to know that it’s out there.   Perhaps someone else will read this who isn’t you and doesn’t know me; but they’ll claim it as their own.    Perhaps by some miracle you’ll see this and recognize my name and know it’s for you.

We like to think things were better back then.   There was no e-mail, or texting, or instant messaging, or Twitter.   No matter what people thought about you, you could go home and shut the door and be within the safety of your family.    I don’t know if your family provided that kind of refuge for you, or if our remarks were so hurtful that you went home and cried.

We didn’t really mean to hurt you.    We thought you were in on the gag.   Looking back, you were probably just being brave, just being defensive.

Today, the kids have all this technology and we know that bullying doesn’t have to be physical, it doesn’t have to mean picking a fight.    While we didn’t have the technology to invade the sanctity of peoples’ homes and continue the harassment; we should try to remember that we weren’t that innocent in those innocent times.    People were mean and cruel and said things they shouldn’t have; and some of us didn’t know when to quit.

So, RG; I’m sorry.   I hope you were able to triumph over our high school stupidity and that you’ve made a good life for yourself all these years later.

For what it’s worth, I went to church back then, but didn’t understand the dynamics of living as a Christ follower.   I didn’t let my faith deeply impact my behavior.  I didn’t know my life was supposed to reflect a difference; a distinctive; patterned after the One I had pledged myself to serve and obey.

Some of that came together during the very last weeks of high school; some I figured out in the second term of first year university; some came together when I was 21; some I learned when I got married and had kids of my own; some stuff I worked out last year and last month; and a lot of what it means to bear the name of Jesus Christ I truly have yet to learn.

Yesterday I read a story about a young girl in Cincinnati and how the taunts of her friends and acquaintances drover her to the lowest point.   I read of the agony of her parents; the grief of losing their only child, and all the hopes and dreams and aspirations they had for her.

And suddenly I thought of you;  I thought of us; I thought of that cottage weekend when I simply didn’t know when to shut up.   I wish I could relive that weekend over again; and I wish I could have been a true friend, instead of using you as a prop for my personal love of attention.

It’s never too late to say you’re sorry.    I’m sorry.

~Paul.

==============================================

While looking for a graphic for today’s post, I came across this, which also provides some food for thought.

cycle_of_bullying

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