Thinking Out Loud

May 10, 2018

Christian Spokespeople Who Are Jerks: When They Die, New Ones Replace Them

One podcast calls them “crazy uncles.” To others they are an embarrassment of the highest order.

Exactly 7 years ago, I wrote,

Christians everywhere: Meet your new spokesmen. These are, as far as the media and many of your un-churched or non-Christ-following friends are concerned, the people who represent everything you believe and stand for. Meet Harold Camping, Terry Jones and Fred Phelps…

…Notice anything?

The point that day had more to do with men in gray suits. Others would quickly want to add Pat Robertson or Jack Van Impe. Non-Reformers aren’t too impressed with John Piper, either.

But as each of these exits the world stage, as we all will do, it seems disappointing when new ones step up to replace them. Some don’t really fit the suit — and these are invariably males — but the effect is the same. Others are so young, but are already on a clear trajectory for crazy uncle status, like the one we’ll examine today. Others are so called “watchdogs” like the self-righteous, Pharisaical Chris Rosbrough. Others, like Ed Stetzer enjoy a measure of acceptability within a large denomination such that people miss how totally obnoxious and self-absorbed they truly are. Then there’s the religious snobbery of Johnson, Phillips and Turk, which, I assure you, is not a pop-rock band from the ’70s. Or the snarky, sarcastic, caustic, infantile attitudes of the guys on the Happy Rant Podcast. And then there’s the bullying tactics of J.D. Hall which some felt led to the suicide of a pastor’s 15-year-old son.

And how on earth do we compile such a list without considering Jerry Falwell, Jr.?

(At least Joel Osteen smiles. It is disarming and goes down better than anger. None of the people listed so far would be considered affable.)

But today is about Seth. I’m not even going to dignify him with a last name.

It all started when Beth Moore decided to post a letter to the male Christian leaders who have marginalized her over the years because of her gender. I’m not a huge fan of Ms. Moore and don’t get me started on her relationship to that Baptist cash cow known as LifeWay.

She does not however, deserve the behavior — the word crap comes to mind — she’s had to put up with over the years; nor did she deserve this response from the aforementioned Seth:

“Be silent…  I detest you… you are awful… Be Gone.”

I am not going to include a link here, but trust me, the above doesn’t tell you the whole story. I’d print more, but why should everyone reading this have high blood pressure? His seething hatred for Beth Moore was so 180-degrees absolutely removed from anything resembling the character of Jesus that ought to indwell all of us, that I would at this stage suspect his status as a follower of Christ.

…and that’s when it dawned on me.

Fred Phelps may be gone but his spirit of condemnation and judgement lives on in the life of people like Seth.

When the jerks die, new ones simply step up to replace them. This a tragedy on so many levels. Worse, Seth doesn’t see it. He is, in his mind right after all. He has no apologies to make, no comments to backtrack on, no blog posts to delete.

NIV.1 Cor.13.2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

What an absolute mess the Christian church finds itself in when someone can appoint themselves a rogue judge and jury and there’s no mechanism in the body of Christ that can shut them down and shut them up.

The danger of course is how we respond to Seth, though everything in me would want to respond to him as he responded to Beth Moore; something like, ‘Be silent…  I detest you… you are awful… Be Gone.’

Instead however, I offer this: Seth, repent. Repent of who you are, who is controlling you, and what you are becoming.

 

 

February 6, 2015

Rethinking The Baby Factory

This article first ran here 4 years ago, but seemed timely given Pope Francis’ comment last week, “Some think — and excuse the term — that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits.”  So we found this article and as a bonus, all the links still work!

This is the second of two blog posts inspired by subjects covered by Ken Gallinger, ethics columnist for The Toronto Star. This one, at this writing, is still available online under the self-explanatory title: It’s Time to Rethink Call To Go Forth and Multiply.

He begins:

Back in the days when my wife and I were spawning our three kids, that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Indeed, back then, couples who failed to produce were looked upon with suspicion; we wondered “what was wrong with them,” even opining, if only in private, that if they were “able” to have kids and chose not to, that was pretty selfish.

But today’s truth is self-evident: There are enough of us. Likely too many. And if there aren’t too many now, there soon will be.

The reason for this discussion of course, is the sheer size of the number of us that populate this planet vis-a-vis an ever decreasing stock of natural and physical resources.

Gallinger is concerned about this, but equally concerned about the ones, “judging those couples and individuals who choose not to spawn their own replacements.” He finds both positions somewhat untenable.

I remember feeling that judgment one time about a dozen years ago when, after explaining that my wife and I had two sons, was told by an individual, “So you replaced yourself.” He meant those words in the sense of, “You’ve accomplished nothing so far.” We had clearly violated “Go forth and multiply” in his eyes, I’m not sure that our two offspring constituted having gone forth and added.

There are still denominations of Christianity wherein people are encouraged to have large families, and I’m not simply referring to old-school Roman Catholics or Mormons. In typical tongue-in-cheek style, Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like notes that “fundies” (i.e. conservative fundamentalist Christians) join the Amish in this category. (Of course, he points out that this becomes more cost-effective as the kids get older if they all learn to play a musical instrument.)

However you smile as you read SFL, there is another view, as stated by Craig Carter, professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, that God has never rescinded “go forth and multiply.” He bases this on the idea that the Genesis commandment predates Israel, and is thereby not Old-Covenant specific. (In an earlier blog post, he speaks in terms of what he calls “The Contraceptive Mentality.”)

So the question — with the paragraph below notwithstanding — that I intended to ask today is this: In light of the population stats and the depletion of scarce resources; but also in light of the command given to Adam and Eve; should Christians keep making babies to the height of their ability, or is there a time when we say, “enough is enough?”

…And now the twist.

Views on this subject in the last couple of decades have been moderating lately because of data showing that the Muslim population is expected to double worldwide in 20 years. There is an us versus them mentality that would want to suggest we must continue to procreate lest we be outnumbered.

Should this be a factor in our thinking as we try to answer the “How many” question?

About the first chart: Not all experts agree. Some see an industrialization of the rest of the world contributing to a slowing of birth rates with a peak population of about 9.5 Billion.

May 29, 2011

Christians Everywhere, Meet Your New Spokesmen

These are, as far as the media and many of your un-churched or non-Christ-following friends are concerned, the people who represent everything you believe and stand for.   Meet Harold Camping, Terry Jones and Fred Phelps…

…Notice anything?

April 9, 2011

Garfield Without Garfield = Church Without Jesus

Several years ago someone launched a most bizarre comics concept:  Garfield Minus Garfield, a reproduction of some of the daily Garfield comic strip, but without the famous feline.

Some people swear they find this most amusing, but unless you know the full concept, I think you’d just walk away feeling something was missing.

…Fringe Christian groups also have a way of leaving you feeling that something vital is being left out.  I’m betting that nine-out-ten times, that missing piece is Jesus.  I know ’cause I’ve been there, had the conversation, or listened to the sermon.  Didn’t buy the t-shirt.

So I fully understand where Darrell Dow is coming from in what must be one of his finest pieces at the often tongue-in-cheek blog, Stuff Fundies Like.  Too good to simply link to.  (You guys don’t click; I know that; I’m watching right now.)  But in importing the blog post so it gets seen by different readers, I had to something I don’t normally do, and steal his graphic as well.  Just can’t have the one without the other.

To atone for this crime, you guys have to agree to do a lot of reading at SFL, or maybe subscribe.  (I didn’t borrow the 125+ comments, however, and they are a must-read. The link takes you to both the post and the responses.)  Especially if you grew up in more conservative church years, or are still living them…

…This piece appeared at his blog under the simple title, Christ?

I’d like to issue a challenge to those of you in my audience who still attend fundamentalist churches. (The rest of you can try this too as a control group). The quest is a simple one: next Sunday try to find Jesus in your pastor’s sermon.

In a Christian church one wouldn’t imagine that it would be too hard to find Christ. Yet, as I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time last month listening to sermons from some who are proclaimed to be the premier fundamentalist speakers in America, it has struck me that Jesus is strangely absent most of the time. It’s profoundly disturbing.

I’ve heard sermons about dad’s teaching their kids, and how to deal with life’s struggles (pray more and be more thankful!) and all kinds of guilt trips and pressure to conform…but there’s no Jesus. Nothing is more awful to behold than Christians who have forgotten who Christ is or the centrality of The Gospel in our message. It’s tragic. It breaks my heart.

Without Christ there’s no redemption for our broken condition, just condemnation of our struggles. Without Christ there is no power to vanquish sin and death just the weakened arm of flesh trying desperately for a perfection it can never attain. Without Christ there’s no joy but rather a dreadful commandment to rejoice without really knowing why. Without Christ we are of all men most miserable.

Oh, and if you really want to get weirded out, try this too: count the number of time the preacher references himself and his own stories and then compare them to the mentions of the works and ministry of Christ. You’ll likely be surprised.

~Darrell Dow at Stuff Fundies Like


February 28, 2011

Makin’ Babies: How Many is Too Many?

This is the second of two blog posts inspired by subjects covered by Ken Gallinger, ethics columnist for The Toronto Star.  This one, at this writing, is still available online under the self-explanatory title: It’s Time to Rethink Call To Go Forth and Multiply.

He begins:

Back in the days when my wife and I were spawning our three kids, that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Indeed, back then, couples who failed to produce were looked upon with suspicion; we wondered “what was wrong with them,” even opining, if only in private, that if they were “able” to have kids and chose not to, that was pretty selfish.

But today’s truth is self-evident: There are enough of us. Likely too many. And if there aren’t too many now, there soon will be.

The reason for this discussion of course, is the sheer size of the number of us that populate this planet vis-a-vis an ever decreasing stock of natural and physical resources.

Gallinger is concerned about this, but equally concerned about the ones, “judging those couples and individuals who choose not to spawn their own replacements.” He finds both positions somewhat untenable.

I remember feeling that judgment one time about a dozen years ago when, after explaining that my wife and I had two sons, was told by an individual, “So you replaced yourself.” He meant those words in the sense of, “You’ve accomplished nothing so far.” We had clearly violated “Go forth and multiply” in his eyes, I’m not sure that our two offspring constituted having gone forth and added.

There are still denominations of Christianity wherein people are encouraged to have large families, and I’m not simply referring to old-school Roman Catholics or Mormons. In typical tongue-in-cheek style, Darrell at Stuff Fundies Like notes that “fundies” (i.e. conservative fundamentalist Christians) join the Amish in this category. (Of course, he points out that this becomes more cost-effective as the kids get older if they all learn to play a musical instrument.)

However you smile as you read SFL, there is another view, as stated by Craig Carter, professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, that God has never rescinded “go forth and multiply.” He bases this on the idea that the Genesis commandment pre-dates Israel, and is thereby not Old-Covenant specific. (In an earlier blog post, he speaks in terms of what he calls “The Contraceptive Mentality.”)

So the question — with the paragraph below notwithstanding — that I intended to ask today is this: In light of the population stats and the depletion of scarce resources; but also in light of the command given to Adam and Eve; should Christians keep making babies to the height of their ability, or is there a time when we say, “enough is enough?”

…And now the twist.

Views on this subject in the last couple of decades have been moderating lately because of data showing that the Muslim population is expected to double worldwide in 20 years. There is an “us versus them” mentality that would want to suggest we must continue to procreate lest we be outnumbered.

Should this be a factor in our thinking as we try to answer the “How many” question?

About the first chart: Not all experts agree. Some see an industrialization of the rest of the world contributing to a slowing of birth rates with a peak population of about 9.5 Billion.

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