Thinking Out Loud

March 6, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Matthew Pierce asks: “Want to feel old? This is the cast of The Sandlot today.”

Thanks to those of you who send ideas.

■ Over the past decade, we’ve watched as LGBT issues have become the new battlefield for many in the church. Over the past few months, the ‘T’ in LGBT has taken center stage, as transgender issues affecting children, parenting and the education system have increased in number and impact. Here are a few from this week:

  • In the UK, a new school curriculum coming into effect next  year would teach children as young as five about homosexuality and transgenderism.
  • Meanwhile, in Arlington, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC) kindergarten children were read the book I Am Jazz, the story of a transgender student, with the blessing of the National Educational Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. “The event spotlights transgender and gender-expansive students;” and for one child, the takeaway was, “Anyone can be anything.” The classroom kindergarten teacher is an openly gay man.
  • A U.S. parent who went along with a transitioning program for her child had a wake-up moment and now believes that she and the child experienced “a form of brainwashing as schools, popular television programs and other authoritative sources in a young person’s life seem to encourage a new understanding of a transgender person’s new life.” [Original story source.]
  • The hardest-to-read of all stories I saw this week: “My once beautiful daughter is now nineteen, homeless, bearded, in extreme poverty, sterilized, not receiving mental health services, extremely mentally ill, and planning a surgical procedure that removes part of her arm to construct a fake penis.” Five parents tell their stories.

■ Going where no-one has dared to go before, BuzzFeed asks this unique, 13-years-together couple, “Can an atheist date a Christian?” 12½ minute video. (Before he went to sleep at night, his mom would make the sign of the cross with anointing oil; “a protective covering.”)(Her take: “If you were a stronger Christian, I think you’d push it more on me.” Interesting.) We originally had this near the bottom of the list, however…this is worth watching.  

■ Plagiarism in Rachel Hollis’ followup to her blockbuster Girl, Wash Your Face. Documented examples from Girl, Stop Apologizing where she took principles and pithy sayings from the writings of others. [Already seen this CT piece? Check out this Rachel Hollis plagiarism forum.][Or more examples on BuzzFeed.]

■ Using the Old Testament as a moral authority: John Walton’s new book in the “Lost World of…” series finds him in company with Andy Stanley on the present interpretations of the first testament on various social issues. However, a Get Religion story necessitated a response when it touched on an issue that Walton said the book did not.

■ Philosophy of Church: If the worship of God is party about his mystery; his transcendence; why do we do everything in our worship environments to promote his immanence? (Meet me at the church coffee and t-shirt shop to discuss this further.)

■ Nailing it: Just because something is ‘Biblical’ doesn’t mean that it’s ‘Christlike.’ Has finding a supporting Biblical text overridden the WWJD litmus-test question when it comes to our ethics and responses? 

■ Reading, copying, studying, praying, singing… This item at the Bible Gateway blog leads you to another page promoting 14 different ways we can interact with scripture texts.

■ Environmental anxiety: Talking about the environment with someone who knows Jesus is always going to make for a different type of conversation.

■ OOPS! The video is supposed to be promoting a book about “Humble Calvinism.” The first panelist begins, “If you know Calvinism, which is really nothing more than Biblical theology…” WAIT, STOP! There’s that arrogance right there. Exhibit “A”. Check out this 7-minute cure for low blood pressure.

■ Provocative Headline of the Week: Introducing Fourth-Term Abortion.

■ Muslim prison inmates in Arkansas don’t like the idea of attending inter-faith services with… Jews? Christians? No; rather, other branches of Islam. “Though the three groups, which overlap in their histories and theology, follow distinct religious teachings, the Arkansas Department of Correction requires followers of Islam, the Nation of Islam, and the Nation of Gods and Earths who want to worship to attend a single prayer service.” (Do they force Baptists to attend with Pentecostals at the Christian service? That would be equally wrong.) 

■ Make America Bored Again! “Once you’ve truly settled into the anesthetizing effects of boredom, you find yourself en route to discovery.” A parenting article at the New York Times suggests that boredom might be a great way to refresh. Sample

But surely teaching children to endure boredom rather than ratcheting up the entertainment will prepare them for a more realistic future, one that doesn’t raise false expectations of what work or life itself actually entails. One day, even in a job they otherwise love, our kids may have to spend an entire day answering Friday’s leftover email. They may have to check spreadsheets. Or assist robots at a vast internet-ready warehouse…Perhaps in an incessant, up-the-ante world, we could do with a little less excitement.

■ Video podcast of the week: Danielle Strickland sits down with Bruxy Cavey to talk about women in Church leadership. (For audio, look for Meeting House After-Party wherever you buy fine podcasts.) 

Muscovy Duck (Wikipedia)

■ The case of the duck that is kosher and not kosher:

Another fundamental issue with the laws of kashrut is the lack of a Jewish governing body. Judaism has no centralized force, as Catholicism does with the Vatican. Instead, there are simply a bunch of extremely learned dudes, throughout thousands of years of history, who are considered very smart and knowledgeable and whose arguments about the various laws are widely read and sometimes adopted. But these dudes—usually but not always given the title of Rabbi—have disagreements, and their own followings.

So is the Muscovy duck okay to consume? Nobody knows for sure, which means this article is certainly for the birds.

■ Abuse: A week ago her name was kept confidential. Her father, a pastor, is now serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in a Pennsylvania state prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting and taking inappropriate photographs of four very young girls. She played a role in turning him over to the police

■ Oh, my! My wife does this. The Spiritual Discipline of Hanging out in Cemeteries. “Traditionally, Lent—which begins this week, Wednesday, March 6—is a season set aside for this very purpose. It’s a time to repent, fast, and meditate on our sinfulness and mortality as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.”

■ Love the sinner, hate their theology. A devotional/study on the clutter that comes with too much cultural immersion, based on the church at Thyatira.

■ Conference Calendar: Still room at end of the month at the Awakenings Gathering in Alexandria, Virginia; being promoted by Missio Alliance.

■ “It is always interesting when a new book appears by an author long dead. There usually are questions as to whether the author intended the material for publication. In this case you could say the material is previously published, but not in book format.” A look at A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night by A.W. Tozer

■ Church Planting without Planting: It’s called “horizontal growth” and uses many different forms to reach more people.

■ The Proverbs 31 Woman: If the rest of the book was written to men (boys actually) maybe women need to hear that the final chapter of the wisdom book wasn’t written to them.

■ A story from channel 5 in Dallas-Fort-Worth says that a house fire which killed a pastor, his wife and their daughter is being treated as suspicious.

New Music: An acapella adaptation of an arrangement of Trust and Obey originally recorded by Big Daddy Weave.

Just in time for Easter: From Living Hope – The House Sessions, Phil Wickham’s Christ is Risen.

■ With much accomplished in seven years — the greatest fruit of which was seen in the past 90 days — one of the two voices in The Elephant’s Debt (an accountability blog reporting on Harvest Bible Chapel), Scott Bryant is stepping down from the site.

■ Finally, Jon Crist sneaks his camera into a Bible Wax Museum in Ohio:

Top items from last week’s Wednesday connect:

  1. Four ways the modern church looks nothing like the early church
  2. The book with the weird title, “Cursed Above All Cattle.”
  3. Scot McKnight’s review of John Walton’s latest book
  4. Singleness is too hard; book excerpt
  5. VP Mike Pence teaching sex education to kids



  1. wow – 4 articles about trans folks and 3.5 from sites that are known for fairly fundamentalist agendas (especially Witherspoon) – either its a coincidence, or ….I feel like this is not your first attempt at convincing us that transsexual people and their supporters are trying to impose their agenda on us and steal our children, but maybe I’m thinking of someone else.

    Have you been affected by this personally? Do you know many transsexual people? I get your concern over therapists giving bad counsel – I have lived through that – but the overall sense I get from the articles you link to is that you are trying to warn us of some coming transsexual zombie apocalypse. You know that won’t happen, right? You’re not trying to say that the devil is trying to turn us all into transsexuals (actually I have it on good authority that he is trying to get us all to watch more TV and buy more stuff from Amazon; and make more snarky comments on Christian blogs).

    Honestly though, I love your blog and couldn’t imagine a week without the Wednesday Connect. And you really lay yourself out there on the other posts and I get a lot of wisdom from them. So when I see all the angst about trans folks I have to wonder, am I missing something? When the trans people I know tell me they wish someone had listed to them when they were young – or that they had a therapist that took them seriously – are they pulling my leg – are they tools of Satan?

    My guess is that this issue – like a lot of issues – is complicated. And complicated issues need serious examination – which often is incompatible with a blog and a readership that doesn’t want to dive deep. But if someone wants to dive deeper… I would suggest starting with Megan DeFranza and Mark Yarhouse.

    Comment by jeff — March 6, 2019 @ 7:56 pm

    • Hey Jeff; Thanks for writing. You might indeed be thinking of another blog; and yes, I’ve heard Megan on a couple of podcasts.

      I’ve had a number of weeks where I started to assemble all of the pieces for the Connect/Link List only to find we had three on the same subject, so I grouped them together. With four this week, I thought about going with a separate piece on Tuesday, but decided that if the trans conversation is all that central, it should really appear during the weekday that most people check out Thinking Out Loud. It goes without saying that the sites I use here are going to be mostly Christian-based or are sites someone who I do follow on Twitter referred to.

      When it comes to people in education; I know a lot of teachers, and most of them are not about trying to ideologically steal children, but it always does surprise me that the educators’ voices we hear are often from people with more liberal leanings on LGBTQI-types of subjects. Some of the sites I read simply report the news, while others take a more activist position. Personally, I think Kindergarten is a bit young for some of these issues; I’d rather prolong innocence a few years longer; but that’s just my opinion.

      The answer to your 2nd-paragraph question is yes. Most of my readers live light years away from me, and the blog has very little local following, but I still need to tread carefully here. We knew ‘him’ as a kid at church who spent more time in the lobby playing with his phone than in the actual service. Actually, I don’t ever remember a conversation. But for whatever reason, when ‘she’ showed up — attending a few church services on her own terms instead of being forced — we ended up having a couple of conversations that went beyond the superficial. Much of it consisted of me reminding her that regardless of what anyone says, she should let nothing stand in the way of responding to God. I should really spin this off into its own blog post some day, but I told her most people don’t really understand the meaning of ‘sin,’ and simply like to use the word as damning anyone who doesn’t fit God’s perfect ideal. (And truly, none of us do.) As she shared her story however, there was a bit of twist, and it turns out there’s an element of “I” as well as “T” (in the LGBTQI equation.) So perhaps that disqualifies me if it’s not a true trans story. In the same town, a boy that was in my son’s midweek church club transitioned to female, but I haven’t run into her yet.

      Trans apocalypse? I think the statistics show instead that there is an element of power of suggestion at play. (The opposite thesis would be that there were many people who simply suffered in the wrong body for their lifetimes; and I’ll grant there are examples where you can make that case.) Kids are declaring themselves gay at quite young ages, and I think many of them are more correctly bi. The pressure to decide which keeps occurring at younger and younger ages. Still, the kid (Mark) in The Connors (ABC-TV) is an interesting case of being gender fluid while (in the one episode that dealt with the elephant in the room) still stating some rather straight-sounding preferences. (That could change if the show goes into another season.) I think many of these kids genuinely are gender fluid, but the challenge of that fluidity is that if you can change in one direction now, you might want to change in another direction 24 months from now.

      Albeit using churchy languages, that’s why I described the trans debate as the next big battlefield. Maybe frontier would have been a better word. Believe me, if I felt qualified to write this as a full blog post, I would. Maybe someday the person I mentioned above will let me tell her story.

      Thanks for your comments about Wednesday Connect.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 6, 2019 @ 8:56 pm

      • Most of these hot topics come down to individuals – sort of like the stories we read in the gospels. Knowing Jesus – meeting him on some personal level – makes all the difference. I think you would agree that if we could wish one thing for folks caught in these situations, that it would be an encounter with the living God.

        You have taken on a tough job Paul – it would be easy to stick your head in the sand and pretend that the world was going to hell in a handbasket and all us “good Christians” had to do was obey the bible – but you have chosen to jump into the mud of real life and try and illuminate these issues for the rest of us. Thanks.

        Comment by Jeff — March 8, 2019 @ 8:03 pm

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