Thinking Out Loud

August 22, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Our opening graphic today is from The Francis Chronicles aka Francis, The Comic Strip, which began publishing at National Catholic Reporter on January 2nd. Click the image to see the full archives.

Welcome to Wednesday Connect #23.

♦ I decided it would be just too punishing for everyone to have to begin a third week in a row with more from Willow Creek, but there was indeed a story since our last look. After publishing that update, the Chicago Tribune reported (8/13) that the church paid out over $3M (USD) in settlements involving a child sex abuse case

♦ …and while we’re on the subject of abuse, we have the full text (English translation) of Pope Francis’ response to the Pennsylvania clergy abuse report

John MacArthur: His university has two years to remedy some serious problems. Or else!

♦ John MacArthur’s Masters University is under scrutiny for governance issues which threaten its accreditation. Warren Throckmorton reports:

The school must address issues in four broad areas to maintain accreditation. These concerns include board independence, personnel and management practice, operational integrity and leadership.
Of particular concern is a finding of conflict of interest involving president’s son-in-law Kory Welch who functions as an administrator. According to the action letter, this individual oversees contracts which have gone to friends and relatives.
There is also mixing of staff and payments between MacArthur’s ministry Grace to You and TMU. For instance, on the 2015 990 form for Grace to You, MacArthur’s son-in-law Kory Welch’s businesses were awarded nearly $790,000 for contract work. According to the report, the conflict of interest had been known for six months without any action.

♦ Carey Nieuwhof posted an article earlier offering “7 Signs Your Church is Honestly… Mediocre.” The metrics were rather superficial, the specifics wouldn’t be helpful to anyone outside a certain megachurch-imitating congregation, and frankly, I thought the whole piece was rather harsh… Which brings us to…

♦ …Michael Frost was not impressed. He offers a response on a whole other level.

♦ The African American kid had the uniform, had a scholarship and was all set to start Grade One at a Florida Christian school. But first, the dreadlocks would have to go. Instead, the kid did, and seems quite happier attending a public school…and then just days later…

♦ An African American girl is expelled from another Christian school because her hair style is “unnatural.” People, this is nothing less than a race war and these kids are caught in the middle. For the boy and girl in these two stories, the hair style is as “natural” as breathing. This must stop. 

Intermission: There were some good articles which almost made it in this week, but it was a simple case of one pop-up too many. Subscribe. Buy my book. You have 3 free articles left. Turn off ad blocker. Cookie policy. Cake policy. Pie policy. Be sure to visit the gift shop on your way out. I just couldn’t send you there. Some of these are sites which I once relied on heavily for good articles, now I rarely click through to them. Just because you can add pop-ups doesn’t mean you should.

♦ They don’t want to be called Mormons anymore. Or Latter Day Saints. It’s now “The Church.” NBC news spoke to a public relations specialist who noted that “The term ‘Mormon’ is ingrained in American culture and has a lot of good equity that the faith would be losing by shifting away from using it… He predicts confusion among people who won’t realize the full name is the same religion as Mormons, and said there’s a ‘very slim’ chance the name change will catch on.” …

♦ …How the same story played out in local, Salt Lake City media.

“Most people know that there are many different branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.,” [Benjamin] Knoll writes in an email, “but they don’t tend to know that about Mormonism.”  It would be “great,” he says, “if the public knew that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one branch of the wider Mormon tradition among many, including the Community of Christ and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”He hopes Nelson’s push to “decouple ‘Mormon’ from ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ will help make that distinction clearer in the public mind.”

♦ “A Donald the Caveman Book” says the banner across the top of the book, pictured here. Warren Throckmorton writes, “After books on Christian heavyweights Bonhoeffer and Luther, Eric Metaxas tackles the heaviest weight of them all – Donald the Caveman. I haven’t seen a pre-publication copy as yet, but I can only imagine the wonders within this prehistoric prose.

♦ You’ll either love this or hate it. The article is titled something like ‘Five Things Christian Millennials Should Stop Doing.’ So far so good. But then the writer seems to take a different tone with people who left comments. (In an April blog on his own site, the author claims Shane Claiborne supports polygamy.)

♦ The number of parameters in the various types of churches currently available in most medium to large cities, effectively leaves us with too many choices.

♦ Mystery Worshiper: The Pipester travels incognito (sort of) to a mainline church service and shares six different things he learned there. Sample hymn lyric: “May the church at prayer recall, that no single holy name, but the truth behind them all, is the God whom we proclaim.” The article is “a glimpse into what has become of the once dominant and now fading mainline Protestant tradition in America.” 

♦ Should we bring back the wake?

…Instead, we steal the body away and place it in a foreign place where only dead people go. We allow just a couple of hours in this strange place to speak quietly with the unmarked mourners. This is all done with the intention of making death easy on us; but, maybe, we have made it too easy. I truly respect and appreciate our funeral homes in Cadillac, Michigan. They sincerely serve the people with great care, etc. And my family has personally been blessed by their commitment and vocation. But perhaps we have laid upon them our responsibility. We should dig the grave. We should clothe the body. We should straighten the arms and close the eyes and kiss the forehead.

♦ Thom Rainer offers eight areas where pastors wish they were better trained, better prepared, better equipped.  

♦ Just don’t use the word “robe.” If you want to get the particularly correct word, here’s a guide to all the vestments worn by Anglican priests and deacons.

🎥 In movie news, God Bless the Broken Road opens September 7th, inspired by the popular song of the same name. The film mixes “faith, country music and stock car racing.” For the movie website, and to watch the trailer, go to (In Canada, click this link for more information.)

♦ Our frequently repeated I Know What You Did Last Sunday feature: Worship leaders post their set lists on Twitter weekly using the Sunday Setlist hashtag

If you like Flyleaf or Skillet, you’ll like Ledger Band and the song Not Dead Yet

…If that’s too edgy, there’s Dwell: A Worship Experience featuring the music of David and Nicole Binion. This is a shorter song, Song of My Heart. (5 minutes) (This is one of those audio-only “provided to YouTube” videos, preparing for the day when you’ll pay for every song you play.)

♦ The baker in the “gay wedding cake” case in Colorado may have won a big victory, but now it’s time for round two; they just won’t leave the poor guy alone.

♦ We’re all friends here, right? There’s nothing wrong with reading an erotic novel now and then, is there?

♦ So…Calvin, in Calvin and Hobbes, the newspaper comic strip, was in fact named after Calvin, as in John Calvin, the theologian. (Revelation at 2:09 mark.) 

♦ Finally, “A California pastor is planning to open a religious space with a brewery, where parishioners can order a pint and pray.” Why does it seem we run this story every 6 months or so?

After looking at some of the greatest sermons, Tim Challies turns his attention to a not-so-great sermon by one Joel Osteen. If you tend to the think the criticisms against Osteen are a bit overstated, listen to what Tim turns up analyzing the content. It might just change your mind. (13 min)

1 Comment »

  1. It is sad what is happening in the Body of Messiah today. Can you have some people that really follow Jesus next week? Please

    Comment by Angie — August 23, 2018 @ 9:07 am

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