Thinking Out Loud

November 7, 2012

Wednesday Link List


It’s Wednesday again. Did they settle that election thing last night?

Pastor Gene Appel stands in the brand new auditorium at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, California; which opened this weekend. (See item 5 above).

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October 31, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Welcome to another Wednesday Link List. We have no plans to mention the October 31st thing here.

  • The blog Sue’s Considered Trifles is a fun place for people who love words and love language. Most posts contain related phrases and sayings, usually ending with a short scriptural or faith-based thought. You can refer friends to individual posts, or copy and paste and send as emails.
  • “Because it’s only once in awhile that we get to hear Jesus talk about brutal self-mutilation as a sign of discipleship.” So begins a sermon on Mark 9: 42-48 by Nadia Bolz-Weber you can listen to or read at her blog.
  • A consultant for the U.S. State Department brings a rather sobering article on the long term prospects for Christians in the middle east.
  • Our Creative Writing Award for October — if we had one — would surely go to Hannah Anderson, for this piece about being a mother of three at church offering time.
  • Does liturgy work with the poor and uneducated. Consider: “The liturgy has been, at least initially, a barrier to our illiterate population. After one or two months, however, they have it memorized.” Learn more at this interview.
  • Pete Wilson cites Adam Stadtmiller who suggests that our present model of what we call “singles ministry” is quite unsustainable.
  • We frequently hear stories of the desires of the people who hold the movie rights to the Left Behind books to re-make the existing films. This version gives the starring role to Nicholas Cage.
  • For my Canadian readers: If you remember the story from a few years back about the Ponzi scheme that impacted people at 100 Huntley Street and Crossroads Christian Communications, here is an update.
  • If you don’t feel there are enough Bible translations currently available, then you’ll be happy to know the International Standard Version is getting closer to being available in print.
  • And speaking of Bible versions, if your 66-book collection of choice is the King James, and the King James Bible only, then you probably want to date court someone who feels the same. For that you need to put your profile on King James Bible Singles. (You don’t need to join to read all the profiles — in great detail — already posted.)
  • Rachel Held Evans answers all your questions about the book that is causing so much controversy.
  • On a similar theme, Bruxy Cavey equates the Old Testament’s Levitical purity laws as akin to Spiritual Cooties. This 2-minute clip may not be safe for work, or any other environment.
  • Meanwhile, Kathy Keller, wife of author and pastor Timothy Keller offers some criticisms of Rachel’s book in the form of an open letter. If you click, don’t miss the comments.
  • But then you wouldn’t want to miss this review, which suggests there are Rachel Held Evanses in every church.
  • In other book news, Kyle Idleman, author of the chart-topping Not a Fan is releasing a new book, Gods at War in January.

September 19, 2012

Wednesday Link List

I appear to have spent my link list capital this weekend by turning links I had banked for today into full stories. Sigh! Please have your link list suggestions in by Monday night around 7:00 PM EST. (For my European and Aussie/Kiwi readers, that’s 19:00 New York City time.)

  • Jeremy Mann writes at The Evangelical Post on the lack of good pastors and why this is happening. 
  • Somewhat related, Perry Noble unearths a year-2000 email from the early days of New Spring, where he is averaging 60 people in attendance and running out of room! He encourages struggling pastors to remain faithful. 
  • A rather complex article by Bruce Epperly that is, one one level, an examination of the theology in James MacDonald’s Vertical Church, but also deals with the contrast between God’s transcendence and God’s immanence, and also how we translate scripture and update hymns. So basically, you want to read this twice.  
  • Frank Shaeffer is blogging and has chosen Patheos as his blogging home.  The Blog is titled, Why I Still Talk To Jesus  – In Spite of Everything — if you know his story, you’ll get that — and he kicks off with a four parter titled, The Blessed Hypocrisy “Method Acting” of Salvation. (Link is to part one.) 
  • Okay, something a little lighter… from this week’s blog discovery, Annie Blogs, a piece about God’s love with a video embed of Love Came Down a Bethel Live song covered acoustically here by Brian and Jenn Johnson.
  • If you can’t get enough of the whole link thing, Rachel Held Evans usually has a great list every Sunday, like Ben Howard’s Christian Denominations are Like NLF Teams (sure you have to be American to get it fully, but the premise is interesting), or at The Axiom Monastic Community blog, a motorcycle pilgrimage in search of St. Francis of Assisi
  • But of course, that would force us to mention Rachel’s own rather shocking re-examination of Esther (yes, the “for such a time as this” Esther) who RHE sees as far from a Disney Princess; sparking over 100 comments. Quote: “And if we’re going to be faithful to scripture, we must learn to love it for what it is, not what we want it to be.” 
  • Most popular at GodTube this weekend, Unlike Christ, a church/sermon video clip from Worship House Media.
  • And since one good sermon clip deserves another, here’s the one they showed in one local church on the weekend, simply titled Masks. (Well, the first three minutes, anyway.)
  • Christian Week (Canada’s Christian news source) story of the week concerns a Kitchener MP who wants to reopen the debate about human life and origins with a call to define the term “human being.”  
  • Christianity 201 marks 900-posts.

April 25, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Heads I post this, tails I don't.

Welcome back to another edition.  Has it really been a week? And just eight more months to Christmas!

  • Our lead item this week is a look at the idea of presence in preaching, particularly as it applies to multi-site churches where the pastor’s sermon is on a giant screen. Carl Trueman makes his point well, and if you only click one link this week, make it this one.
  • Much sadness at the U.S. headquarters of the Voice of the Martyrs charity, following the death of the executive director, who it appears took his own life after allegations of molesting a young girl.
  • The sinking of the Titanic proved to be the basis of several sermons in the weeks that followed, 100 years ago. “By the time Titanic put to sea, this language had evolved into a boast — reportedly shared with passengers — that ‘God Himself couldn’t sink this ship.’ Thus, when the liner sank on April 15, 1912, preachers on both sides of the Atlantic were among the first commentators to raise their voices in judgment…”
  • Have you ever heard of someone stating a personal opinion about something, but trying to pass it off as Biblical? SFL got over 300 comments when they ask that question. Here’s an example: “One pastor I had… said that a podium or plastic stand was unbiblical. He said that Ezra used a pulpit of wood, and anything else was sin.”
  • Chances are that Easter and Holy Week looked a lot different at your church than it does in most of the 37 pictures from around the world at Boston.com’s The Big Picture. This is a crash course on the variations of Christianity. (Higher speed internet helps on this one.)
  • While away from his home in Canada, uber-blogger Tim Challies finds his U.S. hotel causes him to pass by an abortion clinic. Sample:  “… our society not only allows this to happen, but is actually complicit in this genocide.”
  • Not far from the Lincoln Tunnel in the middle of the part of New York City they call Hell’s Kitchen, Metro Baptist, with only 100 members, provides support to about 1,500 people annually.
  • Here’s a project we’re doing personallythat I will mention again in a week or two: We’re uploading some of the ‘lost’ songs in the history of contemporary Christian music so that more people can here them. Warning: It’s a very diverse collection.
  • You haven’t fully explored the religious sector of the internet until you’ve read a few entries from Sister Mary Martha.
  • Doug Wilson picks up the effeminate worship services issue, but Mike Morrell at InternetMonk finds the whole premise misguided.
  • Meanwhile, Perry Noble thinks there more pressing problems for The Church to deal with, four problems in particular.
  • Tony Jones explains why he agrees with the critics who panned Blue Like Jazz: The Movie…And then, if you want details, there’s this review.
  • Garfield without Garfield? Actually it’s the David Crowder Band without David Crowder. They call themselves The Digital Age. Here’s a rehearsal session of How Great Thou Art.
  • Darrell Vesterfelt guests at Nicole Cottrell’s blog on the relationship between sin and insecurity.
  • Left this out last week by accident, but enjoyed reading where Shauna Hybels Niequist — okay, I added the middle part of the name; she doesn’t — finally got to meet favorite author Anne Lamott.
  • When a Canadian Christian bookstore owner is also a YouTube user, sometimes enough is enough when it comes to the relentless message that “This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.” Time to send a wake-up call.
  • Lisa McKay, whose husband works for a humanitarian org in Laos guests at Rachel Held Evans’ blog on her fears upon becoming a new mom.
  • In Tennessee, allowing holding hands and kissing could lead to sex, so a newly legislated curriculum refers to both as “gateway sexual activity.”
  • I thought the picture below adequately describes the weather the past week across North America, where we seem to get all four conditions coming and going in any 48 hour period…

March 27, 2012

Mark Driscoll Can Be Blunt, Rachel Held Evans Can’t

Warning: Today’s post uses a word that is that a heart of this week’s major Evangelical controversy.

So anyway, there’s my wife, sitting in church a couple of weeks ago, and the speaker is doing a two-week series on Song of Solomon and he explains that a particular phrase is referring to “her lady bits.”

I was attending another church, where the pastor was pursuing a much safer study of Matthew 5, a particular teaching of Jesus which doesn’t contain any need to use the phrase, “her lady bits;” nor the V-word which my wife informs me showed up in the sermon also.

“I’m so glad I was not there for that;” I told my wife.

“Are you kidding;” she replied; “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!”

I guess you had to be there. Or maybe not.

The V-word, which, we might as well be clear, is ‘vagina,’ also comes up in the manuscript for Rachel Held Evans new book, My Year of Biblical Womanhood; to be published, in theory anyway, by Thomas Nelson.

It actually appears twice in the text, and I’ve read both occurrences from a fringe website that claimed to be authoritative on this matter.

The publisher, Thomas Nelson, still intoxicated by the success of recent hits like Jesus Calling and Heaven is For Real, is now enjoying some additional press from this, and is hedging on the direction that Rachel should go. She can leave the words in, but have that adversely affect sales, or she can take out the offending (but not exactly slang) terms.

Earlier in the month she wrote:

They won’t let me use the word “vagina” in my book because we have to sell it to Christian bookstores, which apparently have a thing against vaginas. I make a big scene about it and say that if Christian bookstores stuck to their own ridiculous standards, they wouldn’t be able carry the freaking Bible. I tell everyone that I’m going to fight it out of principle, but I cave within a few days because I want Christian bookstores to carry the sanitized version of my book because I want to make a lot of money, because we’ve needed a new roof on our house for four years now, and because I really want a Mac so I can fit in at the mega-churches. I feel like such a fraud.

Then, last week, this:

I want to make it clear that it is not my editors at Thomas Nelson who are insisting that I take out the word “vagina.” I can stick to my guns, keep “vagina” in, and I suspect Thomas Nelson will still publish the book. The problem, as I understand it, is that Christian bookstores probably won’t carry it, and Thomas Nelson sells a lot of books to Christian bookstores.

So, as sad as it is, we have a business decision to make. Do we risk losing a bunch of potential sales in order to keep the word “vagina” in this context? Or do we decide to choose our battles and let it go?  And do I risk alienating myself from the Thomas Nelson team—which has been great so far—because I refuse to cooperate with Christian retailing, their area of expertise?

Blogger Tony Jones weighed in:

The problems with this are too numerous to enumerate. Among them:

  1. Many Christian (read, conservative evangelical) bookstores won’t stock her book anyway, because they’ll consider it “feminist.”
  2. Even if they do, they won’t sell many copies.
  3. Wait, there are still Christian bookstores?
  4. Wait, there are still bookstores?

Ha ha! Tony! Funny guy! But I agree with point #1, RHE is probably already too edgy for the conservative stores at issue.

But as I wrote at Christian Book Shop Talk, I’m not sure that its right for Thomas Nelson or Rachel or anyone else to presume on what bookstores are or are not going to carry.

…[I]t’s nice to think that the brick-and-mortar retail side of Christian book distribution still carries some weight. Guess we’re not dead yet.

But I also think they’ve been extremely presumptuous as to how prudish we really are.

Because the truth of the matter, is that this isn’t about you and me, the owners of independent bookstores and small chains; this is about LifeWay, because it’s LifeWay — or perhaps even more accurately, Baptists — who are going to raise the roof over this word.

Again, I’m not sure that this is about “Christian bookstores” as opposed to “a Christian bookstore chain.”

And as Rachel herself pointed out, this isn’t the first time:

In Ian Cron’s fantastic book, Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me, which was also published by Thomas Nelson, he writes this: “Did I mention that it’s cold? You have no idea how far a man’s testicles can recede into his body until you have jumped into the Dorset Qarry…My testicles were very, very angry.”

And in To Own a Dragon, the ever-talented Donald Miller writes, “I felt as though all the men in the world secretly met in some warehouse late at night to talk about man things, to have secret handshakes, to discuss how great it was to have a penis and what an easy thing it was to operate…”

Which brings us to Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk, who really puts this in perspective reminding us of that other rather blunt book which came out just a few weeks ago, Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll.

Why is this an issue, especially with all the triumphalistic chest-thumping lately in the Christian industrial complex about how courageous Mark and Grace Driscoll were to answer questions about various sexual practices with graphic detail in their book?

Oh sorry, I forgot. Mark is a man’s man, and the LEADER™ of a megachurch. He and his church are controversial. He swears for effect because he’s CUTTING EDGE™ and trying to reach hard core unbelievers. Driscoll is ANOINTED™. He’s MISSIONAL™ and he’s got satellite campuses and he goes on shows like The View and stands up for THE FAITH™ by saying that homosexuals need to REPENT™ and that sex is only for married heterosexuals and that wives should SUBMIT™ to their husband’s leadership in the bedroom and every other area of life.

Mark Driscoll is the Christian bookseller’s dream… There’s not an ounce of thoughtfulness, nuance, or mystery about him. It’s either blackest black or whitest white, expressed in monosyllabic, in your face, turn or burn PREACHIN’™. He can say vagina or penis or oral sex or anal sex or any word or phrase he likes because he is a Reformission Rev in pagan freakin’ Seattle and he is REACHING THE LOST™.

But Rachel, well, she has a vagina and it would be shameful for her to talk about it or even use the word in public. She’s not a pastor or LEADER™ (God forbid!).

140 people have signed a petition at Am*zon to have the word put back into the manuscript.  

Karen Spears Zacharias writes:

I suppose when they signed contract with Rachel it never occurred to the publisher that she would have the balls to talk about her vagina in a book about womanhood, heh? But then I suppose Thomas Nelson wouldn’t use the word balls either, heh?…

…And theologians argue over why people today don’t find the Church relevant to their lives. Perhaps the answer to that question could be found in the books Christians refuse to print, sell, buy and read.

Sometimes it seems that all Christians publishers really want us “good Christian” women to write about are Amish Vampires.

Suzannah at the blog So Much Shouting writes:

Yes, this is a ridiculous conversation to be having in 2012.  But I believe that it is symptomatic of a fear within the church of bodies and sexuality–especially female sexuality.

Are we not a people who worship an Incarnate God and believe that our own bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made?

Blogger Allison Buzard writes:

The big question I’m getting at is this: Church, are we willing to redeem our culture’s view on sex and sexuality?

It’s possible, but we have to get over our own awkwardness.  And it’s critical that we do because here’s the reality: There are lots of folks sitting in our church pews every week who are having sex.  Some of them attend your junior high youth group.  Some of them are in your college ministry.  Some of them are in your senior ministry.  Some of them are married.  Some of them are single.  But trust you me, sex is happening amongst your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and we out to be talking about it.

And then — if you haven’t had your fill of this already — there’s the Nazarene discussion forum, Naznet, which, if you really want to consider this further, has a number of comments which reflect the variety of views on this subject.  (Note to self: Visit this site again sometime soon.) 

Conclusion:

We live in a time when battle lines are being drawn between conservative Christians and progressive Christians.  I usually find myself standing somewhere in between, trying to build a bridge between both groups; trying to maintain doctrinal orthodoxy while at the same time recognizing that this ain’t 1949 or 1953 or 1961. It’s 2012 already.The world changed in-between; the world changed last year; the world changed last week.

We need to be mindful of the duality as we interact with the broader culture; as we live between two worlds; as we exist as aliens and strangers, having citizenship in another country; but having to live, eat, breathe, work and play in a world that’s not our permanent home. (See graphic below.)

To that end, we need authors and publishers who will translate our message into the vernacular of the day, or even the hour. We need books and book distribution networks that will illustrate Christian worldview in a way that people can understand. 

In the end, the books we create should, at times, make us uncomfortable.

UPDATE: MAY 10, 2012:

Another author, Karen Spears Zacharias faced similar resistance to explicit content and released her true story highlighting the impact of child abuse, A Silence of Mockingbirds through MacAdam Cage Publishing — in hardcover at US$ 25 — your local store can order it through Ingram using 9781596923751

September 28, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

Into each blog some links must fall

  • Pat Robertson’s recent comments about marriage and divorce weren’t his only interesting pronouncements recently; he also said that the earthquake-produced crack in the Washington Monument was a sign from God.  
  • Clark Bunch at Master’s Table had a link to a very interesting article at a Southern Baptist blog site, where Dave Miller, in part 15 of an ongoing discussion, looks at the issue of Christian liberty.
  • Actually, I’m really enjoying Dave Miller’s writing and want to recommend another article to you which looks at the issue of “who’s in and who’s out.”  Are they “real” Christians if they believe in open theism, or approve of homosexuality. And what about Catholics?
  • Catch an interview with Rachel Held Evans on NPR (National Public Radio) which looks at her “year of Biblical womanhood” experiment/adventure.
  • Termed Ragamuffin Gospel author Brennoan Manning’s final book, All is Grace is a collection of his personal memoirs. View the book trailer.
  • Pete Wilson tackles the idea of multi-tasking.  Some of us are proud of ourselves for being able to do the mental juggling act, but a report says we actually lose productivity.
  • At C201 this week, a piece about why you should pray out loud; and a piece which deals with the idea that nobody should hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once.  And a varied collection of quotes about grace.
  • Dave Wainscott has an interesting review/promotional item about the book Jesus Freak by Sara Miles, titled, If you want to see God, sit in the smoking section. Not sure on the timing of this, but the January, 2010 release may be about due for a switch from hardcover to paperback.
  • Also in our time travel department, I noticed someone had recently linked to the home page for the Christian rock music documentary Bleed Into One, but the homepage has a 2008 copyright.  I’d never heard of this film, though it looks informative. Did this movie release?
  • I really thought that the news item here about Rob Bell leaving Mars Hill Bible Church would have produced more comments; but perhaps everyone has tired of talking about Rob.
  • Anyway, if you missed Monday’s update, it looked something like this: “So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly.  Hills that is…”  Okay, Rob Bell isn’t going to Beverly Hills, but we do know he’s going to California as per this (ABC affiliate) WZZM channel 13 report from his Sunday sermon.
  • I love author interviews; this one’s a month old, but Meg Moseley has some Q&A with Abingdon Press author Linda Clare, an author bucking the Amish fiction trend with books about Native Americans.
  • Catch a sample of Chrstine Wyrtzen’s series on Hosea; one dealing with God as unchanging; or the one containing this quote: “When Christianity thrives and being associated with a notable church brings public reward, pretense flourishes.”
  • If you want to get into the extreme sport of blog surfing, check out the section with “Links – WordPress…” in the blogroll here. You’ll get the complete range of anything tagged “Christianity” (which seems to completely update the top ten every five minutes), “Jesus,” or “Church.”  Remember, not everything you read is necessarily in favor of Jesus or Christianity, or whatever search term you use.
  • Here’s the top ten Christian songs on Christian radio as reported at Mediabase and published in USAToday. You can follow the action at this site. Click the USAToday .pdf file option.

    1  Steven Curtis Chapman  – Do Everything   1,141
    2  MercyMe – Move   1,123
    3  Matthew West – Strong Enough   1,040
    4  Jamie Grace featuring tobyMac  – Hold Me   1,025
    5  Jeremy Camp – The Way   1,013
    6 Aaron Shust – My Hope Is In You   1,009
    7  Chris Tomlin – I Lift My Hands   943
    8 Afters – Lift Me Up   886
    9 Matt Maher – Turn Around   882
    10  Laura Story – Blessings   868
  • And lastly, this item which I deliver to you without comment for your own consideration…

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