July 31, 2009

A People's History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass

I am currently reading Diana Butler Bass's book A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story. I will be reviewing it here in a week or so. For now, I thought I would link to the Ooze.tv site where she has an interview up. Or, you can watch it below.

One of my favorite quotes from the video is one Diana gives from Jon Meacham..."History is to a country what memory is to an individual." As I thought about that quote I realized that when the church refuses to learn its own history...it is like having amnesia. We make the same mistakes over and over. We fall for the same heresies over and over. We have to search for answers to questions that the Church has already answered. And when focus on only the history of our small congregation or denomination and stop looking at the Church's history...it is like trying to live with only our short term memory.

July 21, 2009

Through the Bible in 90 Days

A few weeks ago my friend Andy posted about reading through the Bible in 90 days...I thought "That has to be nearly impossible."

After thinking some more, I decided to give it a try. It hasn't been easy, but I sense that it is important. If you would like to give it a try here is the link to the schedule.

July 16, 2009

N.T. Wright on Homosexuality

N.T. Wright recently published a response to the Anglican-Episcopal split at Times Online.

Here is an excerpt:
That wider tradition always was counter-cultural as well as counter-intuitive. Our supposedly selfish genes crave a variety of sexual possibilities. But Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachers have always insisted that lifelong man-plus-woman marriage is the proper context for sexual intercourse. This is not (as is frequently suggested) an arbitrary rule, dualistic in overtone and killjoy in intention. It is a deep structural reflection of the belief in a creator God who has entered into covenant both with his creation and with his people (who carry forward his purposes for that creation).
Paganism ancient and modern has always found this ethic, and this belief, ridiculous and incredible. But the biblical witness is scarcely confined, as the shrill leader in yesterday’s Times suggests, to a few verses in St Paul. Jesus’s own stern denunciation of sexual immorality would certainly have carried, to his hearers, a clear implied rejection of all sexual behaviour outside heterosexual monogamy. This isn’t a matter of “private response to Scripture” but of the uniform teaching of the whole Bible, of Jesus himself, and of the entire Christian tradition.
The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”, which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant “the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire”.
Such a novel usage would also raise the further question of identity. It is a very recent innovation to consider sexual preferences as a marker of “identity” parallel to, say, being male or female, English or African, rich or poor. Within the “gay community” much postmodern reflection has turned away from “identity” as a modernist fiction. We simply “construct” ourselves from day to day.
We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to “homosexual clergy” and so on. We all have all kinds of deep-rooted inclinations and desires. The question is, what shall we do with them? One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may “love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise”. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire. But much less like the challenge of the Gospel.
Read the rest here. What do you think?

Check more post about N.T. Wright here.

July 14, 2009

Random Thoughts on Christian Holiness

A friend of mine asked me to give them a few thoughts on Christian holiness...I thought I would post those "random" thoughts here:

Holiness is Christlikeness. Biblically...holiness, sanctify, sanctification means "to be set apart." Holiness means we are set apart for God's use, but it always has a moral (behavioral) aspect. God's work in our lives means that we act as though we are the people of God.

The Israelites were given the 10 Commandments not as a way of "saving" them through works. They never believed they could earn their salvation by obeying the Law. They obeyed the Law because God had chosen them and that is how God expected His people to act. We are to live lives of holiness and moral purity because we are God's people...not because it will earn our way into salvation or give us better standing with God.

Holiness is in complete reliance on grace, but not a cheap grace. Holiness needs grace because we cannot be holy without God's gift of grace. But we also cannot be holy without a healthy respect and understanding of sin as something that hurts, destroys, and kills God's good creation. True holiness comes as a result of understanding the depth and destruction of our sin, but also the power of God's grace to forgive and help us live above sin. I am not saying that we live an absolute sinless life (see the next few paragraphs). But we don't willful sin against God by doing something we know to be wrong, and we seek forgiveness when we realize that we have sinned and didn't know it.

Another aspect of holiness is perfection. There are two ways to think of perfection. The most common, and most non-biblical, is the standard Western definition of perfection that Christianity picked up from the Greek philosophical mindset. That definition is complete and utter perfection. Nothing broken, nothing wrong, nothing sinful, no flaws...absolute perfection.

The second definition of perfection is the biblical, Hebraic one. That is the perfection of maturity...or an improvable perfection. It refers to a "fitness for use." An example that I use is one of development. A two year old who babbles, sucks his thumb, and needs a diaper is still a "perfectly good" two-year-old. A 25 year old who does those things has developmental problems. That is a rather dramatic example, but reminds us that if we can say "perfection" is not an absolute perfection, but one of being where we are supposed to be developmentally in our spiritual walk.

Leviticus 11:44, "I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy."

July 8, 2009

Rob Bell and a New Nooma

Rob Bell just released the latest in his nooma series. I don't know how long it will last, but there is a free preview available online by clicking here.

Thanks to my friend Mike for sending along the link!

July 7, 2009

Holy Hot Dog!

This weekend a world record was broken at the Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest...68 hot dogs in 10 minutes besting the previous world record of a mere 58 hot dogs. This feat was accomplished by none other than Joey “Jaws” Chestnut.

Jaws's other accomplishments include: 47 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in 10 minutes, 173 Buffalo Wings at the Philly Wing Bowl in 2006, he has won the Asparagus eating contest in 2005, 2006 & 2007.

Here are a few other Champions from the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE):

Dominic Cardo: Whole pickled beef tongue (3 lbs. 3 oz) in 12 minutes.
Don Lerman: Salted butter (7.25) lbs. in 5 minutes
Peter Bertoletti: Strawberry shortcake (15.25 lbs.) in 8 minutes
Timothy Janus: Ramen noodles (10.5 lbs.) in 8 minutes
Sonya Thomas: Deep-fried okara (9.75 lbs.) in 10 minutes

Is anyone else feeling hungry? I thought not.