Thinking Out Loud

November 30, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Paragraph containing witty introduction and possible lynx/links pun reference to Lynx canadensis or Lynx pardinus if picture is included.

  • Let’s kick off with a very short video on the influence the King James Bible had on the English language.  This is actually an excerpt from a very interesting eleven minute video on the language as a whole.
  • From there we go to a much longer video; a sermon video where N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham, preaches in, of all places, Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.  This was recorded just a few weeks ago on November 6th.
  • With church attendance slipping, Christian colleges and universities in the U.S. are cutting tuition costs, some by as much as 50%. “…One of the most pressing issues is that there are fewer prospective students for these schools to recruit. Religious membership has been on the decline, especially among young people.” Read the full story at CNN Money.
  • A new title in the Lego Bible series has been pulled from Sam’s Club outlets for being too violent.  One Facebook comment notes, ““I hear you are banning The Brick Testament for its offensive content but not the Bible which contains all the same content…”  The Brick Bible: A New Spin on The Old Testament is the 4th book in the series by illustrator Brendan Powell Smith.  [Update: Chaplain Mike covers this topic actual pictures!  Well, not violent ones, but one that’s not suitable for young children.]
  • A good friend of ours has recorded a tribute cover for Larry Norman’s song UFO.  Enjoy a limited time free preview.
  • My other blog, Christianity 201 marks 600 posts with some thoughts from James chapter 1 about seeing ourselves as we really are.
  • Eddy Arthur at Wycliffe Bible Translators UK posts a curiosity-inducing review of a new book, Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool by T. J. Macleslie, published by Bottomline Media. If you’re tired of the “then I became a Christian and now everything’s great” genre, this may be the story for you.  Here’s the review for the book pictured at right.
  • Annie Goebel, president and co-founder of the women’s prison ministry Daughters of Destiny, met the son she gave birth to as a teen in 1973 earlier this month.  Read the story at The Christian Post.
  • Laura Ortberg Turner and Owen Strachan discuss whether Scripture dictates that women work inside the home.  First, here’s Laura’s response to Owen’s critique of Tide’s “Dad-Mom” commercial.  Second, here is Owen’s response to Laura.  That this occurs at her•menuetics makes the comments all that much more interesting.
  • Rachel Held Evans hosts guest blogger Kathy Escobar (see blogroll at right) on the topic of spiritual insecurity.  Discussion starter: “The basic premise of Christianity is that there is nothing good in us.  That original sin has ruined us and we are miserable sinners, unworthy of anything good without the blood of Jesus…”
  • Family Feud Department: My one son has been getting into a popular card game, Magic: The Gathering; while my other son — who sees the game played at his college — is not entirely convinced it’s a good idea. He wrote up his thoughts which I’ve posted as a “page” here so you could read them.
  • Concert-goers in Canada already know them, but there’s a lot of buzz everywhere lately for brothers Nathan Finochio and Gabe Finochio aka The Royal Royal. You need to have an iTunes account to get their music.
  • Matt Stone at Glocal Christianity thinks this Coke Lite commercial is actually dramatizing A Catholic Girl’s Worst Nightmare.
  • Something lacking during announcement time at your church?  Adam Stadtmiller takes up the cause of what is often an epic fail.
  • And for all you worship team leaders and aspiring worship team members, here’s how one Canadian church auditions and integrates new musicians.
  • Tony Woodlief guests at World Magazine Online on why he was predisposed to agree the people who were boycotting Black Friday.
  • And this 3-minute video provides all the reason you need to skip the big sale.  Or any big sale.  Some scenes may be disturbing.

That’s it for WLL this week at TOL; try to submit your suggestions by 9:00 PM Mondays.


November 29, 2011

Westboro Seen More Up Close and Personal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:40 am

Isn’t enough coverage enough?  I have to agree with Get Religion’s Bobby Ross, Jr. when he says,

If I never had to read another story about the Westboro Baptist Church and its “staged-for-media hatefests” … I just might make my own sign. “Thank God for small blessings,” it would read. Or something like that.

But I also have to agree with his decision to come back to the story in the light of this 4,000-word article at the Kansas City Star.  Reporter Dugan Arnett got up close and personal with the family and especially Megan Phelps-Roper.  I have to agree with the parts of the article that Ross at Get Religion selected to highlight:

She loves her iPhone and the band Mumford & Sons and the Showtime series “Dexter,” which is about a blood-splatter specialist for the Miami Metro Police Department who also happens to be a serial killer — a complex character both good and evil. She went to high school at Topeka West and got straight A’s. She went to college at Washburn University and got straight A’s. She thought about going to law school, sat down to write her admissions essay and decided she wasn’t all that keen on becoming a lawyer. So she joined the family business.

She is peppy, goofy and, by all accounts, happy.

Oh, and one other thing about Megan: She wants to make it perfectly clear that you and the rest of this filthy, perverted nation will be spending a long, fiery eternity burning in hell.

…and this snapshot:

Megan has little problem handling the vitriol that pours in on a daily basis. Not long ago, she brushed off a Facebook message in which someone told her he planned to travel to Topeka and rape her. But when asked whether she has considered the possibility that the countless people who consider her deranged, insane, nuts and “bat-s—- crazy” might be on to something, she smiles and says, “You can’t listen to the whole world tell you you’re crazy, without wondering, ‘Am I crazy?’?”

Does that last bit show a little fracture in the fortress?

Then there’s:

She has no real friends. Few acquaintances. The majority of her outside interactions comes with the people — journalists, mostly — who stop by to profile the family. Two years ago, after a group of student filmmakers from Holland spent a week in Topeka documenting the church, Megan cried when they finally had to go. She still keeps a voice recording of one of them, a handsome, 20-something guy named Pepijn, saved in her phone.

So sad.  So very sad.  A prisoner of her own convictions.

But that’s also clear in this video; the thing that drew me in to the Get Religion story, a brief clip posted by Jewish News Weekly:

That video is actually about 18 months old, Jewish News Weekly filmed a more recent protest at this video, with an interview that begins just past the 1:00 mark. (The online site also contains this video of  Shirley Phelps-Roper being arrested earlier this summer at a funeral for a soldier, an arrest no doubt complicated by the fact that many of the Phelps clan have legal training.)

Why would God only reveal his truth to this very small handful of people?  Why would the Phelps clan continue relentlessly trying to advance their cause when it’s not advancing?  People aren’t rushing to join their church; the attrition rate is only compensated by the birth of new relatives.  America isn’t listening to their message.  Christians are not supportive of their message.

Why not pack up the signs and consign the protest to photos in albums and clippings in scrapbooks?  

Megan, regardless of who God may or not hate — and I believe he hates sin, but not the sinners — I think he has a much better plan for your life than what you are experiencing presently; it’s not too late to jump on board that alternative future.  When this life is over and you stand before God, you will stand alone; your family will not be alongside you.  Dive deeply into the gospels and gaze into the face of Jesus and allow Him to guide you.

Here again is the link to the Kansas City Star story.

November 28, 2011

A Refreshingly Different Guest Speaker Contract

While logging into my blog this morning, I checked to see how we were doing on Christian Blog Topsites — yes, I do check stats now and then — and noticed that Supernatural Truth was registering a very high number of visitors for such an early hour.  (The link is to their homepage, the blog link is below.)  I decided to investigate Art Thomas Ministries a little more closely.

He’s obviously a Charismatic — his book, published by Destiny Image, is titled The Word of Knowledge in Action — and it’s easy for non-Charismatics to jump to conclusions when they see spiritual gifts and evangelists on the same page.

So I decided to check out his page labelled “Financial Compensation.”  If you haven’t been party to guest speaker contracts, it’s a very dark world, not unlike the dark worlds in the video games my kids are forbidden to play.  Like rock star contracts.  M&Ms in the dressing room with all the red ones removed.  A pre-service snack with three types of imported cheese.  A minimum three star hotel.

I was figuring, here’s the catch, this is the page where I roll my eyes and click away to something else.

Instead, I found this:

Financial Compensation:

The most common and obvious question I receive from pastors and ministry leaders who invite me to speak is in regard to financial compensation for ministry.  What do I charge?  What are my expectations?

The answer is very simple.  All I ask is for simple travel and lodging to be covered.  If food can be included, that’s a blessing.  Outside of these, I do not request any payment whatsoever.  If a church can provide beyond these, then I consider it a blessing.  But nothing is required.


If the church or event is within a half-hour of my home (in Plymouth, Michigan), I do not need any compensation for travel.  If traveling by car, I will usually come with my wife and son.  If the church or ministry cannot afford lodging for all three of us, then I will be happy to come alone. The current “business” rate-per-mile is preferred.  If distance requires air travel, then I’m happy to travel alone.  Economy class is fine–I don’t need any special treatment.  If I do travel by air, I’ll need someone to receive me at the airport and provide for my return.


If the church is within a one-hour drive of my home (in Plymouth, Michigan), then I’m happy to commute for each day of meetings.  If, however, distance requires lodging, I am happy to sleep on the floor of a tent in the church’s backyard.  Anything beyond that is a blessing!  I do not have a problem staying with a host-family or sleeping at the church.  I would, however, like to be able to shower so as not to offend the visitors!


I can be happy with peanut-butter and jelly, three meals a day.  Anything more is a blessing.

In Summary:

While some of these statements may have seemed like humor on my part, I truly do mean them.  I care more about ministering and representing Jesus than I care about my own personal comfort.  I lived for twelve days in the bush of Uganda, traveling about an hour each day down muddy roads with three of us on one motorcycle.  No electricity.  No running water. The least accommodations in America can surpass that in quality.  My desire is to love the Church rather than be a burden to my brothers and sisters…

Well that was refreshingly different.  So, okay; now if this is true, and he means this, which I Cor. 13 tells me you have to accept at face value, then this guy could not only have a blessed ministry, but he could change the world.

I mean that.

BTW, he also has a blog, and the most recent post on this morning was a very lengthy piece about the verse that says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” (I Corinthians 14:33.)  I know that disorder is the first thing most mainline Protestants or mainstream Evangelicals think of when we picture a church bringing in a Charismatic or Pentecostal guest speaker.  But he addresses this issue in a balanced way, and I encourage you to read it.

I’m sure there are d1scernment ministries (spelling mistake intentional to avoid attracting certain types of comments) who would love to spend a quiet afternoon jumping all over Art Thomas’ doctrines and theology, although personally, I have more sympathies for the spirit-filled crowd than most of you imagine. But if you hold your fire and simply examine his financial compensation page, which is all we’re asking you to do today, you find something rather faultless, rather blameless.

And it needs to be held up as model.  For all of us.

November 27, 2011

A Classic Author and Some Excellent Advent Reading

I’ve said before here that if you want to really balance your intake of Christian books, you should alternate contemporary authors with classic authors.  Today’s book review is about the latter.

It’s also popular for many people to each year purchase a book of meditations or devotions for the season of Advent, however the book under consideration today, while it is structured differently with four longer chapters, is in my opinion a viable alternative, a means of doing something completely different.  You might complete the 112-page book faster, but it is so rich, you’ll want to go back and reconsider some of it a second time.

Magnify the Lord is a collection of sermon manuscripts or transcripts that were given by Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Westminster Chapel, London;  delivered in 1959 on Christmas Sunday, Christmas Eve, the last Sunday of December and New Year’s Eve.

The subject is ten verses in Luke 1; verses 46-55, the passage we know by its Latin name, The Magnificat, or by a more contemporary name as Mary’s Song.  This outburst of praise is not light reading, but incorporates a host of references to Old Testament passages, and also serves as a springboard to a study of God’s greater design, occurring as it does at the prime moment where the culmination of God’s plan is about to occur with the incarnation.

Because these were sermons, I actually read the first chapter out loud, which makes for a better articulation of the cadence and rhythm of the work.  In print, with some rather haphazard subtitles that break the manuscript with a form that’s unclear, it might be easier to lose your way if you don’t think of it as intended to be received orally, and hear it that way in your mind as you read.

The sermons don’t present the text in the exact verse order as does Luke, but what is more remarkable here is the employment of related texts, something increasingly missing in modern preaching. It’s easy to read the sermon texts of long-departed pulpit statesmen and say, “Well, we don’t talk like that these days;” or “People had longer attention spans back then;” but these arguments pale somewhat when you consider that Lloyd-Jones’ sermons here are from barely 50 years ago.  I wonder if it’s really spiritual ADD that we’re dealing with today.

Lloyd-Jones also addressed the fact that even today, many Evangelicals shy away from Mary as a Bible study topic because of the over-emphasis on her that we find in Roman Catholic tradition.  You see this most clearly in a passage I excerpted at my other blog.  He also addresses contemporary philosophies of Bible interpretation which are continuing to invade the modern church.  

…Mary was a person not unlike you and I in many ways who God chose to use in a miraculous way.  At first, she hesitated as anyone would under the circumstances, but she realizes that she is chosen to be a part of a pivotal time in Israel’s history, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones clearly illuminates that her understanding of what God is about to do is the key to her response.

Thanks to Christian Focus Publications for a copy of this 2011 re-issue of an excellent book, which retails in paperback in the U.S. for $9.99

November 26, 2011

Recycle Your Marriage

Hats off to blogger and writer Carol Hatcher — I love her blog name, “Sheep To The Right” — for having a piece picked up this month by CBN’s website.  If you want to do the polite thing and click, here’s the article.  Statistically, many of you won’t so here it is for those of you whose mouse finger is arthritic today:

“What are you going to do with that?”, she reached her wrinkled hand across the generations between us and placed it on mine.

“Umm. Throw it away?”, I said in more of a question than an answer.

“Oh, this would be great to make little ornaments.” My husband’s grandmother recycles everything. She saves butter tub lids, the little cotton in the tops of the medicine bottles, and the inner wrappers from the cheese cracker boxes. She comes from a time when you didn’t throw anything away.

Even with the focus on going green, we live in a disposable society. Paper napkins, cups, and plates make washing dishes a thing of the past. At the doctor’s office, you’ll be handed a throwaway gown, and the airline gives throwaway pillows.

Unfortunately, we’ve also bought into the idea of disposable marriages. When your husband leaves his wet towel on the floor or your wife never looks your way, the world tells us, toss ‘em. It’s the same disposable mentality we find on aisle 6 of the grocery store.

Care must be given to things meant to remain. We brush and floss our teeth each night hoping they will last a lifetime. We hand wash the china passed down from our great-grandmother to protect the gold from rubbing off the edges. Hours are spent bringing old muscle cars back to their original glory. Time and effort are necessary in restoring or maintaining something we plan to keep.

With the current push for Americans to recycle, the number of recyclers still hovers between 70-80 percent depending on the area of the nation. The divorce rate, however, lingers around 50 percent.

So, why not recycle our marriages?

Webster’s definition for recycle is to pass again through a series of changes or treatments, to reuse, or bring back. If we want a lasting marriage (and we should), sometimes it’s necessary to pass our marriage through a series of changes to bring it back.

So what can you do to recycle your marriage? Here are a handful of ideas to get you started:

1. Discover your spouse’s love language and speak it.

Gary Chapman’s book 5 Love Languages is a great book to help you understand how to express love to your mate in the way they need it. Chapman’s five love languages are gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Often we show our spouse love the way we want to be shown it, not the way they need to hear it. Find which love language your spouse speaks, and use it often.

2. Practice the 10-second kiss at least once a day.

You’d be surprised what a little lip-lock can do to jump-start a marriage. Make it a habit to kiss good-bye and hello each day. Then turn up the heat by prolonging your kiss at least ten seconds – the longer, the better. Even if it feels a bit awkward at first, hang in there. Before long, you’ll forget you were counting and get carried away in the moment. Trust me, some eyebrows will be rising, and they might just be your own!

3. Check in during the day.

With today’s advanced technology, there is no excuse for not communicating. Drop a quick “hope your day is going well.” Whether you text, email, or use the old fashioned telephone, contact your mate at some point while you’re apart. If you’re busy, just say so but follow with, “I was just thinking about/praying for/missing you.” A little effort goes a long way.

4. Apologize for old hurts.

If there are any unresolved issues, apologize for any hurt feelings that may have occurred as a result of you. Drop assumptions at the door and discuss the true issue. Remember, it’s important for all parties to feel like they are being heard. Use the rules of active listening, and repeat what you hear to make sure there isn’t a kink in the line of communication. Then share your feelings in a way that isn’t accusatory. Don’t forget to keep your voices low. Yelling only creates tension.

5. Pray for your spouse.

Praying for your mate is always a good idea, especially if your marriage is in dire need of repair. An amazing thing happens with prayer. When we pray for those who hurt us, our hearts soften, and we often realize where our own faults lie, as well. Prayer is free, it’s simple, and you can do it any time of the day.

If your marriage is cracked, beat-up, or you are just plain fed up, don’t be so quick to throw it out with the crumpled paper napkins. Marriages really aren’t meant to be disposable. With time, effort and a little TLC, you can recycle your marriage to last for years to come.

~Carol Hatcher

November 25, 2011

Unlike Keyboard, Piano Story Probably Not Black and White

I can already hear the cries of, “But, Paul; you don’t understand the big picture; there’s another side to this you have to consider.”

So let’s begin with the facts.  St. Andrew’s Church in downtown Toronto, Canada recently paid $100,000 for a Bosendorfer grand piano. 

Actually, that’s not fact, either.  The price of the piano was at least $100,000, but the exact amount is protected by a non-disclosure agreement by both the church and the vendor, Robert Lowry Piano Experts, also of Toronto. 

But can the church keep the secret?  By law, sometime in the spring the church has to have an annual meeting; copies of the budget need to be distributed and the purchase price of the piano should be there, in black and white for all to read.

Unless it’s buried in another budget item.  Last month, a Toronto Star piece on this musical spending spree noted that superior instruments of this caliber (or calibre as we spell it here) can go for up to $240,000. 

Some context:  St. Andrew’s is not a megachurch.  A survey of 1,000 churchgoers in the greater Toronto metropolitan area might, if we’re lucky, reveal 50 people who could place the church on a map or among a list of church images. 

Unless we asked a specifically downtown crowd.  The church is located in the heart of the financial district and also just a block from Toronto’s gallery of live theaters (or theatres, as we spell it here; noticing a trend?) on King Street West, not to mention across the road from Roy Thompson Hall.  Perhaps both arts-minded and wealthy business patrons require excellence in their musical instruments, and this church does host the occasional concert, and wanted a piano that any self-respecting pianist would desire to play.

However, walk a mile in almost any direction from this church or any other downtown church and you’ll find examples of poverty.  Two miles and you’ll find shelters and missions and soup kitchens.  The question is not, “How could the church spend $100,000 on a piano?”  There were after all donations as part of a two-year fundraising campaign.  The better question is, “How can a church justify having a $100,000 piano in the present economic climate?” 

It just seems a little out of touch with times we live in. But then this strikes at the heart of times we live in; where examples of grotesque wealth of the few exist side-by-side examples of gross poverty of the many. 

You’d think someone would see this and stage a protest or something.

November 24, 2011

Family Circus Models Christian Values

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:40 am

If you don’t have time to read all the daily strips on the comic pages, chances are your eyes will at least catch the distinctive single-panel circle known as The Family Circus.  As is the case with a handful of today’s popular comic strips, the strip frequently reflects themes related to prayer, church life, and religion in general.

Today we’re remembering Family Circus creator Bil Keane, who passed away earlier this month at age 89.

While the church scenes in the comic were that of a generic, American house of worship, Keane was in fact a practicing Roman Catholic.  The blog, Get Religion, which focuses on ‘the story behind the religious stories in the media,’ recently devoted a highly-recommended article to Mr. Keane.

Keane was quoted in The Washington Post

“We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment,” Keane said. “On radio and television, magazines and the movies, you can’t tell what you’re going to get. When you look at the comic page, you can usually depend on something acceptable by the entire family.”

Get Religion also cites a Keane story from the Catholic News Service

The comic also is known for its occasional religious themes. While the worship depicted in “The Family Circus” is of a generic Christian nature, Keane told St. Anthony Messenger it came from the family’s long connection to the Catholic Church. “I draw out of my lifestyle,” Bil said. “I grew up Catholic, my kids grew up Catholic.”

But the Catholic upbringing Keane had was apparently somewhat informal, as this piece at The Comics Journal notes:

“Laughter was a part of the church services I attended as a child,” said Keane, who believed that Jesus must’ve had a sense of humor: “I like to think of him as a guy who got people to listen to him by leaving them laughing and chuckling with one another.”

At the blog, Rule of Thumb, Sara Foss offers some reflections from when, as a writer for the Birmingham Post-Herald, she did a piece on religion in the comic pages, where she wrote:

“[Peanuts creator Charles] Schulz’s religious references didn’t sit well with all readers.

‘I believe it is inexcusably poor taste, and offensive to many readers both Christian and Jewish, to use texts from and reference to the Bible … especially in a comic strip,” one reader wrote to Schulz in 1969. The letter is included in ‘Peanuts: A Golden Celebration,” a collection of comics by Schulz.

But some people offered praise.

Like Schulz, ‘Family Circus’ creator Bil Keane, 77, said he used to get an occasional complaint about using religion in his strip.

‘Now those same people write to me to say, ‘Thank you for putting spirituality into the comics page,’ he said.

Keane often spins gags out of children saying prayers or the family attending church. In one, young Jeffy prays, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, how did you know my name?’

Keane’s depiction of the family’s grandfather sitting angelically on a cloud in heaven, listening to his grandchildren, is among his most popular images. Readers use the strip to show their own children where people go after they die.

‘To see that in a comic strip, it does more than 10 homilies by a priest,’ said Keane, a Catholic, from his home outside of Phoenix

‘I never set out to be an evangelist,’ he added. “‘All I’m doing is showing the way religion touches a child’s life or family life.'”

A Hollywood gossip blog reported,

On occasion, Mr. Keane quietly introduced religious themes into his cartoon.

One time, Dolly questioned, “Is God white, black, brown, yellow or red?”

Mommy answered, “Yes.”

The Family Circus continues under the direction of Bil’s son Jeff, now 53, who with a recent Sunday panel (see yesterday’s post here) indicates a willingness to continue the faith-oriented themes.

November 23, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx - The lynx is considered a national animal in Macedonia where it is featured on the five denar coin

I’ll have whatever links she’s having…

  • Let’s start out with some great music: A new song by Northpoint Community Church’s Eddie Kirkland; help yourself to a free download of Here and Now.
  • Maybe your marriage isn’t in trouble, but it’s in struggle.  Justin and Trisha Davis offer four reasons why some marriages are hurting.
  • Julie Clawson has a very short, but very profound piece about how the spiritual conversion journey does not end with finding Jesus; in other words, finding Jesus doesn’t complete the process.
  • It’s possible that Charles Spurgeon’s view of Arminian theology wasn’t shaped so much by reading as it was by the stage in history where the movement was when Spurgeon wrote.
  • InterVarsity Press, aka IVP, has purchased Biblica Books, a publisher whose 170-plus titles are truly a great fit for the Illinois-based company.
  • At The Ironic Catholic, this take on Genesis 3: 16-19 — “There are three aspects taken from a casual reading of the passage: 1) God makes childbirth painful, 2) Eve and all women get cursed by God as a punishment for sin, and 3) Adam appears to get off way easy.”
  • Not sure of David Brooks’ spirituality, but this NY Times article shows how certain kinds of inequality are tolerated, and certain types of inequality are not.
  • I know there’s a word that means “fear of the number 13,” but what about phobias about “666”??  Refusing to wear the number on religious grounds got this Georgia man fired.
  • Of the making of Calvinist/Arminian T-Shirts there is no end.  The one pictured at right is for those who prefer the middle of the road. Click the image if you want to buy; click here for the backstory at More Christ blog.
  • For those of you who use small-group discipleship curriculum, this video about a whole new paradigm from Downline Ministries is going to rock your world.
  • Jon Acuff explains why it’s possible to have the congregation extend you some grace when yours is the first cell phone (that’s mobile for you Brits) to go off during a church service, but why you don’t want to be the second person to have it ring.
  • Some of you may know more than I about the Duggar family, but apparently they are expecting their 20th child.  (HT: Clark Bunch)
  • Michael Hyatt thinks novelists should offer a “director’s cut” of their work at their blogs; along with twelve other blog ideas for writers of what we could call non-non-fiction.
  • C201 highlights this week: A 30-minute video interview with N.T. Wright, and a summary of C. Michael Patton’s Why Do We Love C. S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?
  • Tomorrow at Thinking Out Loud: Remembering Family Circus cartoonist Bil Keane.  Today the comic is drawn by “little Jeffy” who is actually, at age 53, not quite so little, and continues to feature church-based themes like this one from a week ago Sunday:

November 22, 2011

A New Code/Buzzword from a New Calvinist

Of course, he could be an old Calvinist as well, but I’m allowed my own code and here, “New Calvinist” might be translated “militant Calvinist.” 

I’m referring to Adrian Warnock, who in a blog post based on a piece at Church Relevance, notes that the top three churches in a particular list are “real friends of the gospel.”   Yes, he actually said that.  They are real friends of the gospel which means:

  • The others are not real (or true) friends of the gospel
  • Anyone individual or group not part of the YRR (Young, Restless & Reformed) crowd are simply not friends of the gospel

Where does this end?

  • The others don’t like the gospel
  • The others don’t preach the true gospel
  • The others are heretics
  • The others hate the gospel

Yikes; that last one was hard to type, but are we really that far away from a schism of that nature? That’s where this rhetoric is taking us. Words matter. What we say counts.


Three real friends of the gospel.  Seven that are not real friends of the gospel.  Is there any way to put some positive spin on this horrible description? I’d be open to hear it.

Footnote: The blog in question limits comments to Twitter and Facebook; and I am not, for good reason, part of either.  So Warnock was contacted directly for a response at 11:02 PM on Sunday night, and at this writing, had not replied.  It should be added that for all I know, this sort of language is employed more frequently by other New Calvinists; I don’t spend a lot of time reading their material.

A Catholic Perspective on the Crystal Cathedral Sale

Filed under: Church, current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:06 am

I keep thinking we’re done with this story for a season, but it keeps exploding out in a variety of different dimensions, and we haven’t even begun to consider the importance of churches exercising fiscal responsibility. That’s the lesson that must not be missed here.

However, in reviewing the various online sources on the story, I came across Southfield, Michigan’s Kathy Schiffer, who reminded me that I need to consider that the Catholic perspective on the story might be refreshingly different.  In an article boldly titled, Crystal Cathedral: Was The Holy Spirit The Highest Bidder? she offers this insight about 3/4ths of the way in; but you really need to read the whole article.

The Schuller family’s friendly relationship with the Catholic Church

Robert H. Schuller spoke often about how he was influenced by the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe.  Unable to find a similar worship space in Orange County, California, he set out to build one—and he enlisted the help of modernist architect Philip Johnson to reinterpret the strong vertical elements of Catholic cathedrals utilizing modern materials such as glass.

Schuller was always respectful of the Catholic Church, saying that the Roman Catholic Church is “the mother church.”  He professed, “You are the church that has been here since the Resurrection, and you will be here 100 years from now.”

On several occasions, Schuller invited Bishop Fulton J. Sheen to speak at his church.  A bronze statue of Bishop Sheen stands at the Crystal Cathedral, commemorating his visit and serving as a reminder of Schuller’s friendly respect.  Roman Catholic theologian Henry Nouwen also preached from their pulpit.

There is a story of how Bishop Sheen, after speaking at the Crystal Cathedral, was being led through a roped-off passageway by Robert Schuller, as devoted fans reached out to touch him.  As he passed this area heading toward the car, one elderly woman handed him a note, which he tucked into his pocket.  Once inside the car, the bishop opened and read the note and asked Schuller, “Do you know where this trailer park is?”  Schuller did know; and he agreed to take Bishop Sheen to the trailer park, just a few miles away, before they ate lunch.  Once there, Bishop Sheen knocked at the door of one trailer, where the elderly woman received him with a shocked expression.  After a few minutes he came out again, returned to the car, and said, “Now she’s ready for living—in this life and the next.”  I suppose he had heard the woman’s confession.

After Robert H. Schuller’s 1,000th broadcast of the “Hour of Power,” leaders from many faiths stepped up to congratulate him.  One of the congratulatory messages was from Mother Teresa.

Schuller himself gave his blessing to the sale.  “I could not abide the thought,” the 85-year-old minister wrote in a letter to the court, “that Chapman might someday use the cathedral for nonreligious purposes.”  Catholic leaders had promised that they would “take on your calling of proclaiming Christ’s message to humanity” and “care for the campus like the treasure it is.”

~Kathy Schiffer

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