Categotry Archives: Rantings

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Democracy and Citizenship

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Categories: food for thought, Meanderings (look it up), politics? oh puh-leeze., Rantings

This post has been on the burner for several months, and I haven’t really made mention of anything political since the last presidential election (mainly because that’s not what this blog is about). But in just watching the unfolding of current events (including the health care debate), and continuing to ponder what the church’s role should be in such things…I think it’s time to write.

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Removing the Restrictions

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Categories: food for thought, Rantings

In my process of deconstructing, not just from institutional church but from institutional thinking… πŸ™‚

…I’ve been realizing that there is a common thread or theme running through it. It could be worded several ways, but all convey the same basic question:

  • What does true Christ-following look like without all the extra trappings we have attached to it?
  • How can we be more life-giving in the practice of our faith?
  • What does a true Christian look like?
  • How do we get back to the basics of living the example of Jesus, and shed all the unnecessary stuff loaded onto us by the Christian subculture?

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How One Statement Can Explain Two Years

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Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, Rantings

Kathy over at Carnival in My Head just got back from Africa with her family, and posted a preliminary report about her trip on her blog. One of the most profound moments she described was when she said her missions team was the first American team ever to actually stay at the orphanage they were visiting–that most teams sleep at a nice hotel an hour away. One of the teachers at the orphanage expressed gratefulness at this, saying, “people come to help, but they don’t really want to be with us and live our life with us.”

Ouch. In so many ways.

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The Inoculation of Religion

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up), Rantings

Recent discussions on this here blog have got my mind turning…as if it didn’t have enough to do. πŸ™‚ Not really so much agreeing or disagreeing with comments made, or anything like that…just thinking.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what would make us not know when it’s real.

For a long time I’ve thought of religion as working the same way that a vaccine does, only instead of making us healthier, it has the opposite effect.

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Self-Interest, Kingdom of God, and The Great Dilemma

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up), Rantings

So I’ve been pondering lately about the dilemma I faced while still operating as part of the institutional systems of church, the dilemma that so many well-meaning church leaders face today.

The dilemma is this: we like to see ourselves, and our local church, as part of the larger Body of Christ, recognizing that we are only a part of THE church. And yet, because of the nature of sustaining an institution, most of the decisions the leader(s) must make have to do with the growing of “our” church rather than building “the” church.

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Zombie Christians

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Categories: food for thought, Rantings

I suppose this post would have been more timely last weekend…. πŸ™‚

Have you ever noticed, those of you with a church background (particularly of the more charismatic type), that there is often a vibe in church that our minds are an obstacle to receiving from God? Most of the time it’s subtle; other times, not so subtle. But the underlying premise is that we receive from God by the Spirit in ways that our natural minds cannot understand, and that if we try to discern with our minds, it will become a stumbling block to us. You can pick up this vibe in the way things are worded–when we are encouraged in some way to “bypass our minds” when God is manifesting His presence in some way, or when we are trying to get hold of some revelation, or when we are praying in tongues (again, for you charismatic folk).

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On the Politics of Church Leadership and Completely Missing the Point

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Categories: church, food for thought, Rantings

It’s a common theme in movies and television. You see a group of friends all hanging together, and one of them comes into sudden good fortune: wins the lottery, gets famous, something like that. All the promises are made that nothing will change between the friends, but everything does. The movie or TV show becomes all about how the money or prestige changes people, and changes the relationships, usually for the worse. A lot of times the focus is on the person who won the lottery, or whatever. But look more closely, and you see that there’s just as much (if not more) change that happens with everyone else around that person. Makes for a great story every time.

Why does everything change like that? In my opinion, it’s because there’s something that happens when we perceive one of our own has “risen above”, it upsets the equilibrium–even when we are happy for that person’s success. From that point, human nature tends to respond in one of two ways: coveteousness or resentment. Either we kiss up to the person, using him/her to climb the ladder ourselves (coveteousness), or we start digging at the person, attempting to knock them off the ladder (resentment). Most of the time these responses are expressed very subtly, but reactions are a subconscious attempt to restore balance–or our perception of balance. No one can be “higher” than the others.

Believe it or not, the same dynamic happens in the presumed divide between clergy and laity in the church. It didn’t start out this way with the church, but over time (despite Jesus’ warnings not to lead one another in the same way as the world around us), the church began to perceive its leaders as “above” the others. The “ministry” became a place of special prestige, and the clergy became an elite class. People who were “called” to ministry became venerated, not just set apart, but set above in the minds of others. And this continues to this day. And right along with it, you see the same two gut reactions from people toward the clergy class: coveteousness or resentment. It’s more subtle in some than in others, but for many–we either cozy up to our leaders to curry their favor (or aspire to the ministry ourselves), or we criticize and judge them in our hearts, holding them up to a microscope, looking for any flaw or fault that we can use to cut them down to size.

Why? Because deep within, we feel there is an imbalance that must be restored.

Now, let me say right now that both coveteousness and resentment are part of our sinful human nature and are un-Christlike. These two reactions fuel most of the politics in our culture–politics in government, in the workplace, among friends, and even in the church. (Especially in the church, it would seem.) I have experienced these feelings as a churchgoer, and I have experienced their sting as a leader. As believers, we are challenged to do the opposite–to share in the joy of others without being jealous, and not to look at someone else’s position to compare our own value to theirs. Paul puts it this way: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; neither slave nor free; neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.”

And that’s just the point. While it is not right to be coveteous or resentful toward anyone, including leadership…at the same time, I think the false prestige we’ve attached to church leadership sets us up for needless temptation. If I’m looking at Scripture correctly, then at its heart, this whole equilibrium/balance thing is a myth–a matter of false perception. It isn’t that church leadership is a corrupt concept; in fact, there is much in Bible to support it. Rather, it’s that being a leader doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. It’s a function, a role; it was never meant to be a social class. The authority one carries (or the money or honor one has, for that matter) does not change that person’s DNA, or the color of his/her blood. It only changes everyone’s attitude. The things that make ministry positions so coveted and/or resented are things that don’t even exist in the eyes of God.

This competitive prestige thing was a stumbling block even for the earliest disciples, who apparently got in several arguments over who was the “greatest.” Jesus’ response (my paraphrase) was: “Fellas, you’re missing the whole point. See this child? If you want to be great in My kingdom, learn a lesson or two from her. And those who want to lead–you get to be everyone’s slave. Still want the job?”

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Church as Business (part 3–The Alternative)

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Categories: church, food for thought, Rantings

Part 1, Part 2

“So…if we’re not meant to be a business, what are we meant to be?”

How about a community?

How about a family?

How about a living organism?

You see, with all this businesslike structure we’ve shoved the church into, we have forgotten that the church is not a business–it never was. The church is people. When we make it about the other, we are trying to be something we are not. And the suit doesn’t fit.

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We Have Done Made It to Denver-ly (A Short Story in Three Chapters, or Maybe Four)

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Categories: My Story, Rantings, what I did today

Cyberspace is once again available to me, and I’m enjoying my first morning as a Denver resident at a nearby coffee shop before hitting my looong list of things to do to get settled. But here, for your amazement amusement, is the story of our trip.

CHAPTER 1: The Turbulent Take-off

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Note to Church: You Don’t Have to Put EVERYTHING on Video

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Categories: food for thought, media, Rantings

Cartoon Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – www.reverendfun.com

(In an indirect way, this ties in with my recent post The Rape of the Media…)

By now, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s Christianity (and Pentecostal) roots are well known. We know this primarily because of YouTube. Someone shot video of some prayer times and something Sarah Palin said in church about the war, and thanks to YouTube, that stuff can now go all over the web. When Palin became the VP candidate, and it came time for the press to do its dirty work, they didn’t even have to dig for it–the video pretty much came to them.

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