Thinking Out Loud

November 12, 2014

Wednesday Link List

 

We continue our scintillating series of celebrity photos with this dinnerware shot by Matthew Paul Turner

We continue our scintillating series of Christian author photos with this dinnerware shot by Matthew Paul Turner

Welcome back to classic format Wednesday Link List…

Here’s a cartoon left over from our weekend look at Beetle Bailey:

i141104bb

June 11, 2014

Wednesday Link List

calvinistsafety

With lots of people doing summer things this week, I thought we’d tinker with the format while nobody’s looking. ANYTHING YOU CLICK will take you to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, the Link List’s owner.  But first, we take you to Monday’s edition of the comic Pearls Before Swine (click image to link).

Pearls Before Swine June 9th 2014

I usually bury the video links near the bottom, but this week uncovered two clips I wanted to give more prominence.

Church leadership stuff:

Essay(s)-of-the-Week:

The wider religious world:

Worth reading:

Be afraid; be very afraid:

So how do you like your links? Categorized or free-range? Leave a comment!

 

Happy Hour Church

May 8, 2014

Yet Another Faith-Centered Movie Coming in August

Filed under: media, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:34 am

Calvary_movieposterI’ve got to say this one intrigues me.

Calvary opened in the UK in a respectable 7th place and held on to that place during its second week. As I write this, the movie is still holding on in the top ten, in 9th place.

After reading a little about the movie online, it seems to combine intrigue with enough quirky characters to keep you engaged, and the questions of faith it raises seem to be front and center. The beautiful scenery in Ireland can’t hurt this either. Here’s the succinct “elevator pitch” from IMDb:

After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

A review in The Irish Post provides the movie’s opening line, a reminder that if you’re a conservative Evangelical perhaps this is not the film for you. The Catholic Herald provides some context for that scene, “While the opening scene raises the disturbing topic of the sex abuse scandal, the film is not an assault on the Church.” The reviews headline offers that this film is, “a jet black comedy with serious things to say about faith.” In case you missed that, let me repeat that from all indications this is a very dark comedy, but the Catholic publication goes on to give it four stars. The Telegraph’s review seems to see the opening lines as a microcosm of the film as a whole.

The one-hour, forty-minute film is schedule to open in the US (and presumably Canada) in August. It will be interesting to see the reaction of North American critics.

 

February 8, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Yes, it's that giant drum kit from last week; only now we know it's at Breath of Worship church in Livingston County, NY and played by pastor Dr. Mark Temperato. See below.

Don’t just sit there; click something!

  • Like I said earlier this week, I don’t agree with everything James MacDonald does, but I love this quote in reference to T. D. Jakes, “I don’t think that throwing grenades in his lap as he seeks to ascend the hill of biblical orthodoxy represents the behavior ethic of Christ.”  The article is over MacDonald’s resignation from The Gospel Coalition.
  • An anonymous pastor clarifies once and for all that the kind of “church discipline” we read about in the recent Andrew story is Biblical but only where the person has not confessed their sin.  In the now well-traveled story, the Biblical injunction is being wrongly applied.
  • A 72-year old priest in St. Louis had a tendency to go off-script when he could adapt words from his sermon to better suit the theme of his prayers. But the “new English-language translation of the missal may have given bishops an opportunity to rein in freewheeling priests who have been praying in their own words for decades.”  So the Rev. William Rowe was fired.
  • For their final album, the David Crowder Band cracks the Christian charts in the #1 position, earning this writeup from Billboard Magazine.
  • Roast Pastor Department: “Only in the church will you find people who constantly disagree and argue with someone who has devoted their life to diligently studying the Scriptures.”  Read this great analysis of a problem that’s more widespread than you might think.
  • Okay, so the drum set pictured in last week’s WLL here is legit, and it is located in a church.  And the drummer is the pastor.  And the “Dr.” in Dr. Mark Temperato refers to not one, but three doctorates, presumably from School of Bible Theology Seminary and University in San Jacinto, CA. Try to look away, but you know you want to read this.
  • Here’s a story we missed last month: Australian tennis legend Margaret Court (as in tennis court; bet she’s never heard that one) is now a conservative Evangelical pastor with the expected conservative Evangelical view on marriage in general and gay marriage in particular.  But the location of the Australian Open is named after her.  So a movement started to try to rename the stadium, spearheaded by — just to confuse us in North America — someone named Phelps.
  • Christian Music:  The Canadian music and media site Your Music Zone has the announcement about a companion book to go with the song and CD Blessings by Laura Story.
  • Also at Your Music Zone the word that Downhere and Hawk Nelson are among contemporary gospel nominees for a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Award in the U.S.
  • Christian Publishing: The book Heaven is for Real has now spent longer — 53 weeks versus 52 — sitting atop a New York Times bestseller list than The Shack.
  • I never thought that reading a devotional piece about the hymn, Abide With Me, would turn up a reference to an interview with Chris Martin of Coldplay, but he’s quoted as saying, ” that of all the songs he had looked at, he found that 18th century ish hymns expressed joy and pain in the same song best.”  It’s interest to re-read the hymn’s words in that context.
  • You are expected to whisper in the library so you don’t disturb other patrons, but a man in Seattle is free to watch porn on the public library computers, in full view of another patrons seven-year old and ten-year old daughters.
  • A pastor leaves a sealed envelope in his desk addressed, “Read to [the congregation] in the event of my untimely death.” Then, two months ago, he is killed with his wife in a car crash. What words did he want his church to hear?
  • Jeff Bethke’s “religion” spoken word video finds an ally in David Bowden who says, I Believe in Scripture.  Meanwhile, James White takes 51 minutes to respond to a Muslim who responded to Bethke.
  • Reporters aren’t allowed at the National Prayer Breakfast, but the Washington Post reproduces the transcript of President Obama’s speech.
  • Lots of music links this week, here’s the new video from the band The City Harmonic, “I Have a Dream (Feels Like Home).”  Great song, guys!
  • Kent Shaffer crunches more numbers and comes up with a list of the top U.S. churches to watch and learn from; assuming you want to limit your study to the American church, and limit your role models to Evangelical megachurches.
  • With just a few months to go before the Olympics in England, churches are coordinating evangelistic efforts.
  • Tim Challies has started producing his own infographics; his Books of the Bible chart is a must-see.  Click a second time for a full-sized image; I guarantee some of you will be copying and forwarding this one.
  • If you still find yourself wanting more to read, here’s a link that will take you to Dan Kimball’s ever-growing series of Wednesday Weird Bible Verses.
  • We close today with a video from YouTube channel Get out the Box.

Join us tomorrow at Thinking out Loud for a non-interview with Todd Burpo, pastor and author of Heaven is for Real.

January 18, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Lloyd the Llink Llist Llama

In case you missed it, there was an epic link list here on Saturday, too.  Well, we thought it was epic. Or mega. Or just plain large.  And if you’re reading this on the actual Wednesday, between 00:00 and 23:99 EST, you’re reading it in an internet world without Wikipedia.

December 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List on Saturday

List Lynx

I thought it was only fair to give you weekend lurkers a window into what happens here during the week. Maybe W.L.L. can also stand for Weekend Link List.

  • Given the season, we’ll kick off with a feel-good, flashmob video; Deck the Halls as it sounded at the Carlson School of Management.  Don ye now yer gay apparel.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Andrew Jones notes that 2011 was the year we talked about hell. “How can someone say that hell contains literal fire that scorches your butt while heaven contains metaphorical wine that you cannot enjoy? That’s not consistent. It’s also bad news for wine drinkers. And how can all the words for ‘hell’ in the Greek be interchangeable while the words for ‘love’ are highly nuanced?”
  • In response to the child abuse scandals that have rocked on particular denomination, a UK sculptor reminds us yet again in this pixelating piece titled Cardinal Sin.
  • Here’s a 2012 book title that looks interesting: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. From the book blurb:Imagine Matt’s astonishment when he finds out that the guy he knows as Jesus . . . isn’t. He’s an Imaginary Jesus: a comfortable, convenient imitation Matt has created in his own image.” Here’s the video preview.
  • Pastors must love it when parishioners are literally ‘overflowing’ with the weekend message; saying that they “knocked it out of the park.”  Check out Free Will vs. Free Will.  The preacher in this case is Mark Vroegop of College Park Church IN INdianapolis INdiana, IN case you were wondering.
  • Move over Martha Stewart Department: What Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas Eve Mice desserts?   Mine, apparently; until I read about them at Daily Encouragement where they’re known as Church Mouse Cookies. Bet the Church Mouse name came first and then it got P.C.-ed. Looks too good to eat, though.
  • While this video was posted to GodTube a few days ago, I think I’ve seen this one before; the one where the little girl either steals the show or ruins the show depending on whether or not you had kids in this particular Christmas production. Note: Earplugs recommended.
  • Christian Week profiles Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes and his summary of Five Ways Porn Warps Minds.  Sample: “It taps into the neuro-circuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again.”
  • Some Evangelicals may not have liked Christopher Hitchens, but the renown atheist kept us on our toes. Hitchens passed away Thursday at age 62.  Doug Wilson offers a Christian reflection at Christianity Today.
  • At Christianity 201, I offer up two videos to try to contrast the difference between apologetics and evangelism, featuring two people who are very skilled at both. Longtime readers here will recognize the first vid.
  • At Stuff Fundies Like, it’s time to reveal the truth about Christmas — and Rudoph — in this classic sermon based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • Lastly, Roger Morris is a Christian in Australia who confesses that his kids have done the whole Harry Potter thing, and then goes on to recommend doing so, “in a controlled and supervised fashion.”  Read his reasoning at Christian Today.

March 9, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I think we’ll start with a shout out to all the people who gave up social networking and blogs for lent. In which case, why are you reading this?

  • We kick off with a few quotations from an interview U2’s Bono did with a Johannesburg radio station last month, along with a link to an audio file of the entire program.
  • The Rob Bell release date for Love Wins has been moved up by two weeks to March 15th, less than a week away!  Mars Hill Bible Church in Granville, Michigan has made no official comment, but on Sunday, parishioners were told that church staff are supportive and excited about the book’s release.
  • However, Jon Rising suggests that there’s a whole other controversial book releasing at HarperOne — the same day — and traces links to advance reviews of Miroslav Volf’s simply titled Allah: A Christian Response.   The publisher blurb helps define the book’s hot spots.
  • A young Christian woman tells her Christian father that she is gay. We’ve all heard stories like this, but what does that actually look like?  How does that play out exactly? John Shore takes what is, to many of us a very abstract concept, and spells out what that really looks like in many families in his fictional Smith Family Chronicles; episode one and episode two already complete with more to follow.
  • A couple of strong stories at Christian Week (three actually, and we’ll give each one its own bullet!). First a piece on how urban poverty is not a downtown thing anymore but is hitting the suburbs featuring the director of the Yonge Street Mission.  (In fact, urban downtown areas are reconsolidating into a very upscale vibe.)
  • Next, a piece about the relationship between the church and political debates sparked by Billy Graham’s statement that he regrets the times he waded in on political issues.
  • Last in our CW hat trick — and I don’t expect my U.S. readers to get the full impact of this, but here this is huge — Crossroads, Canada’s largest Christian television ministry gave InterVarsity Christian Fellowship five of its Circle Square Ranch summer camps.  No strings attached.  An outright gift from one ministry to another.  They become part of the ministry of IVCF as of the first of April.
  • I find it interesting that many of today’s younger preachers are the subject of condemnation by older ones because the younger ones don’t do expository (verse by verse) preaching.  But Andy Stanley really rose to the occasion in this series on Acts titled Big Church.
  • Okay, it’s not that Facebook is solely responsible for one in five divorces as originally reported in 2009; but it is definitely accelerating the process.
  • Spent about 40 minutes on Sunday night enjoying a mini-concert by an artist who is quite established here in Canada who needs to be shared with the rest of the world.  Check out Greg Sczebel’s website.
  • Got baggage?  Know someone who’s got baggage?  Check out this short video at GodTube.  Also at GodTube here’s a music clip from Christy Nockels from the new album Passion: Waiting Here For You.
  • Looking for some good news online?  Here’s a site with a difference: My Miracle invites readers to post stories of God’s intervention in their lives.  Maybe your story.
  • Got a question for The Pope?  He hits the Italian TV airwaves on Good Friday for a little bit of Q & A in a pre-recorded program.
  • Several months ago, this blog ran a piece on modesty for girls.  Now here’s a modesty test for your preteen or early teen daughter from Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl website.
  • If you’re reading this Wednesday morning or afternoon you can still catch our contest from Monday to win a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
  • Here’s another one from Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like featuring all your favorite types of church songleaders.
  • And speaking of same; here’s CT’s list of the Top 27 All Time Favorite… Hymns?  That’s right, all scientifically calculated using books which contain them that nobody actually uses anymore.  This could be the very last such list.  (Click the image to see the chart clearer as a .pdf)
  • Our cartoon this week recognizes that today is the first day of Lent, which every good Evangelical knows is the _____  ____s before ________.  (Betcha we caught a few off-guard.) Bad Sheep is the product of Jay Cookingham who blogs at Soulfari, You can also click the image below to check out Lambo and Chop’s merchandise.

November 24, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Here we link again!…

  • Five screen pages is longer by Christianity Today standards, but you should take the time to read this article by Drew Dkyk about “The Nones” and in particular, the group of people in their mid-to-late teens and early twenties who are exiting the church in droves who are termed “The Leavers.”
  • If micro-finance is a key tool for lifting people out of poverty, Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way and Peter Greer of Hope Internationalare featured in this CNN piece asking Was Jesus a Communist or a Capitalist?
  • Is the Pope Catholic?   If you missed this week’s condom controversy, here’s where it all began.
  • Donald S. Whitney brings a list of the top ten things a church can do to have the best worship services.   #2 – Have clear Biblical support for every element in worship.  Read the other nine here.
  • Tim Stafford travels to a would-be “international” Christian conference only to discover that a very western mentality governs all the proceedings.   Read his report from Lausanne.
  • Bene at Bene Diction Blogs On (BDBO) is tracking ongoing developments in the Crystal Cathedral story, and concludes that with the level of compensation the CFO received, “The flock got fleeced.”  Link here.
  • Here’s a second link from BDBO.   It concerns the reaction of a Canadian Christian talk show host to the “It Gets Better” campaign to try to prevent the suicides of gay teenagers.   The typical response which alienates non-Christian gays (and Christian ones alike, of which there are surprisingly many) lacks compassion.  Watch what Michael Coren said and a contrasting response from Wendy at New Direction.
  • Got introduced this week to a new band which does some very current hymn cover tunes.  Check out the MySpace page for Ascend the Hill.
  • Okay, if you didn’t guess by now, the graphic at the top of the post is from Stuff Fundies Like.   Click the image to link.
  • First saw this at Darryl Dash’s blog, but it’s easy to read here at Zach Nielsen’s:  The latest statistics on internet p0rn0graphy.
  • While the radio announcer reports the latest crashes on the rush hour drive home, he could be kept just as busy reporting the moral crashes of movie- and music-industry teen idols.   Here’s some discussion at Streaming Faith with a media and culture specialist at Focus.
  • And what better place to insert this link:  The blog On The Fence With Jesus, where a skeptical screenwriter and a Christian pastor discuss faith, asks the musical (pop music) question, Is Justin Bieber Really Religious?
  • Bieber also talked about how his faith keeps him grounded in the madness of Hollywood and celebrity. He told the AP[Associated Press], ‘Like, I’m a Christian, I believe in God, I believe that Jesus died on a cross for my sins. I believe that I have a relationship and I’m able to talk to him and really, he’s the reason I’m here, so I definitely have to remember that. As soon as I start forgetting, I’ve got to click back and be like, you know, this is why I’m here.'”
  • Church in a box department:   If you want to know where your denomination fits in with all the others, you could do worse than clicking through a couple of times to view The Great Chart of Denominations.   Hey, you’re curious aren’t you?
  • Or maybe you’re more into statistics on mega-churches; after all there’s a whole book in the Bible about Numbers, right?  (Warning to readers outside the 50 states:  The relevance of all this is somewhat geo-blocked beyond the borders of the U. S. of A.)
  • Here’s a great piece on “The Sinner’s Prayer” that is actually part one of two.    This was also at Christianity 201 last night, as I’m really in awe of how this writer cuts to the heart of this issue.
  • For all our U.S. readers who are heading into a weekend of massive gorging on food and massive consumer spending; here’s a re-run of last year’s TG cartoon from Joyoftech…

…Of course, regular readers will despair that this is our first Wed. Link List repeat cartoon, so we’ll have to have a new one — the newest, in fact…

…This, of course will just frustrate my more spiritual readers who will contend that with this addition, I’ve gone off the blog’s mandate; so…

…That one should be sufficient to be offend everyone, not the least of which is Nitrozac and Snaggy, the JOT creators who probably have a two-panels-per-blog limit.

September 18, 2010

What Canadian Gideons Have in Common With The Catholic Church

Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon’s Bible.

-The Beatles

Most of the attention of religious media was focused this week on Pope Benedict XIV’s visit to the U.K., and the oddity of his interaction with a female Anglican cleric, something not permitted within his Roman Catholic world.

So I was surprised to open the online pages of Christian Week today and discover that, within Canada at least, the hotel/hospital/prison Bible people, The Gideons, are in fact officially all men.

Who knew the two organizations shared the similarity of such a patriarchal view of things?

The article begins,

CALGARY, AB—At one of the most significant conventions in Canadian Gideon history, members voting at the Bible distribution ministry’s annual gathering narrowly defeated a wide-ranging set of changes to the agency’s general operating bylaws.

“We lost by 50 votes out of about 2,700,” laments national president Brad Kennedy. “Our members voted 64.5 per cent in favour, but we needed a two-thirds majority.”

If the vote had gone the other way, full membership in The Gideons International in Canada would no longer be restricted to business and professional men, and the agency would be able to distribute a wider variety of Bible versions.

Sadly, the issue of Bible translations — the part of the story I am as a keenly interested in — wasn’t brought up again in the story.   Right now, Canadian Gideons use the NASB (New American Standard Version) which is considered very accurate but not easy to read.   It’s mostly used in Bible Colleges in Seminaries as a reference point or benchmark for checking other translations.

Back to the larger issue…

Women in the organization currently serve under a secondary “auxiliary” status, many exceeding the organization’s official mandate:

For at least the past year, Kennedy and the agency’s national cabinet have been pushing hard to bring Canadian Gideon bylaws in line with some of its current practices and a more culturally relevant model of ministry.

The Gideons face a serious demographic challenge: Nearly half of its members are older than 70, and another 25 per cent are over 60. Only three per cent of members are younger than 40. The average age of a Canadian Gideon is just under 70 years old, compared with 41 back in 1961. The agency is trying to adapt to attract more youthful members.

Indeed, some of the proposed changes have already been incorporated at the local level. Women are serving alongside men in many distribution projects in ways not technically allowable by the existing bylaws. And many active members would not technically qualify as professionals. “We’re trying to correct something that’s lost its relevance in our culture today,” explains Kennedy.

But the history of the organization — unlike the Full Gospel Businessman’s Association, which in most locations is a 50-50 partnership between men and women — is still officially male-dominated:

“A strong component of the Gideon brand is its recognition as a Christian business man’s organization. Unfortunately, if you change from that core value, while you may continue under the banner of Gideons, it will be in name only. It will not be reflective of the Gideon membership worldwide.”

– International Gideons president Perrin T. Prescott in a letter to Canadian Gideons

In other words, the international body is saying if you stop serving Big Macs according to the company recipe, you can’t really call yourself a MacDonald’s restaurant.

My opinion?

Being stuck in the 1940’s culturally and demographically is going to cause a die-off of the organization at a time it is still needed.   In terms of leadership tactics, and in terms of mission, this is an epic fail.

Continue reading Doug Koop’s full article at Christian Week.


Related article:  That other bastion of male headship — the Southern Baptists — caught our attention here exactly two years ago, when the publishing company of female Bible teacher Beth Moore banned distribution of a magazine featuring women pastors.

Related story in USAToday Religion:  An Arizona priest is excommunicated for participating in the ordination of a female priest; although he is now a United Church of Christ minister.

October 24, 2009

Guilty By Association: Why Evangelicals Don’t Have Crucifixes

When I was in the sixth grade, my friend Jimmy Moss and his family moved to Morristown, New Jersey, where he later decided that his life calling was to enter the priesthood.

I have never seen Jimmy since.   I doubt very much he goes by ‘Jimmy’ now.  “Father Jimmy?”   Okay, it’s possible.

crucifixJimmy’s family were Catholic.   I know that because we had several discussions about it.   Not so much Jimmy and I.   Mostly my parents and I.   It was considered necessary that I know a little about this particular take on Christianity should it ever come up.

Later on, I decided to check it out firsthand.   Much later on.   I think I was in my mid-twenties when I first attended a mass.    I was working for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Toronto at the time, and there was another girl in the office who also had never been to a mass, and so we both agreed that on the next weekend we would attend a mass.

I remember several things about that mass.   It was the middle of summer and the sermon was short.   If there was one at all.  If there was, I can tell you the announcements took up more time.  It seemed like we were in and out of there in about twenty minutes.    In truth, it couldn’t have been much more than twenty-five.

I didn’t know where to turn in the missal to follow the order of service.   Someone nearby spotted my confusion and informed me we were in “the sixteenth Sunday of ordinary time,” or something like that.    But they were flipping back and forth between different sections of the missal, which didn’t help.

I also remember the guy standing at the back reading a copy of the tabloid Sunday paper.   I don’t think he ever looked up from the sports pages.    I was later informed that “being there” was paramount.   It was important to attend apparently, even if your heart wasn’t in it.  Just show up.

Which would explain the guy who was wet.   The way I figured it, he must have lived directly across the road from the church.   He had jumped out of his backyard pool, donned the minimal amount of clothing, and joined the newspaper reader at the back of the sanctuary.   He was the one dripping water droplets on the floor.  Really.

I didn’t go forward to “receive the host,” i.e. take communion.   But I tried my best to sing the two hymns. And I knew the words to repeat the “Our Father.”   And my reflexes were quick enough not to launch into, “For Thine is the kingdom…”

Most evangelicals have never been to a mass.   Nearly twenty-five years later, I would attend again.   Once every quarter century.   I guess that makes me a nominal Catholic.

…Anyway, I was often invited into Jimmy’s home.   I remember several things about it all these years later.   The first was that if I stayed for supper, Jimmy and his two brothers had to wash their hands before and after meals.    That was new to me, then, but it’s a practice I’ve adopted recently since discovering the world of sauces and salad dressings.   A good meal is one where I leave with sticky fingers that require a rinse.

crucifix2The second was the presence of crucifixes.   I think they were spread throughout the house; but the memory may be of general religious icons; there may have only been the one at the front door.

This was a Catholic home.    That was communicated to every guest, every salesman, every one of the kid’s friends.   I couldn’t avert my eyes.  Jesus was there on the cross, and he didn’t look happy.

We didn’t have a crucifix in our home.   Crosses in my evangelical world were distinctly sans corpus, a phrase I just made up mixing French and Latin.  As kids in Sunday School we were told that Catholics have crucifixes and Protestants don’t.    I wonder sometimes if it would have been good if we had one.

This Christmas, the Gregg Gift Company brought out some kind of ornament for the front hall that says, “This Home Believes.”   I don’t think one’s expression of belief should be reduced to a sign, or that a sign should be expected to carry the burden of verbal witness, but I often wonder if we should have something at our front door that alerts guests, salesmen and friends that “This is a Christian home;” preferably something that contains in its iconography the unmistakable message of the core of Christianity.

Something like, oh, I don’t know, maybe a crucifix.

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