Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An apology

Due to an inability to keep any sort of consistent posting schedule, the author of this blog has been sacked.

The person responsible for sacking the author has also been sacked.

Henceforth, all blogs will be written by a pack of wild llamas.

(Forgive me for not remembering exactly how the opening credits to the Holy Grail but I think you get the idea)

So it's been three weeks since my last post. I pretty much took last week off for the holiday and have been traveling a lot for work. I guess this is motivation for getting myself a laptop- just so I can keep up with my blog. During that time, I'd catch a headline, make a note to myself, and then stress out about not logging in to post before the topic became irrelevant. So I have a lot to write about, but little time to do it. This blog is supposed to be an outlet for all that swims in my head and it's getting pretty full up there. Instead of regurgitating everything up there, I'll instead take this time to reflect on what the point of this blog is in the first place.

Last night I was spending time with friends and the topic of politics, religion, and the ongoing culture war came up. My specialty. My friends shared a couple of anecdotes which illustrate exactly why I'm doing this. Since it's now after Thanksgiving, we're officially in Christmas season so it's time for all the talking heads to start to talk about the War On Christmas. Well one friend heard on the radio how one city was pressured by the ACLU to not hold their traditional holiday festival since it was too Christian. My friend was shocked such a thing actually happens. One of my other friends described how he was watching TV and some celebrities came on talking about raising money for the tragedy in Sudan. My friend said it was about time someone is noticing and the person he was with asked, "what's going on in Sudan?" Gee, only the largest slaughter of Christians since Nero.

Both stories show that many Christians are simply unaware of what's going on in the world. The extent of their Biblical Worldview is only what they hear from the pulpit. And unless their church is active politically, chances are the issues aren't heard. And the risk if their church is politically involved is they will only know the side of the story they hear on Sundays. So you end up with a large segment of the population ignorant of issues that directly affect them as Christians. My conviction is that mainstream American Christianity is luke warm and expects next to no commitment. This results in a church body that only plays the religion game on Sundays, or when it's convenient. If the 85% or so of Americans that claim to be Christians aren't actually living daily like one, it's easy for issues that etch away our rights or our civil morality to continue unabated. This issue is compounded when a church culture, that may be Biblically committed, is only concerned with itself. Namely, my church over the last two decades has isolated itself from the rest of the Christian world. So anything happening outside its walls was either ignored, dismissed, or mocked. Bridges are now being built from our island, but I would argue most of my brothers and sisters in Christ still don't know the issues facing mainstream Christianity. So that's why I'm here.

Another illustration comes from a comic book message board I frequent. The entire thread can be read here. It concerns the movie Jesus Camp. I admit I haven't seen it. And honestly I have no desire to. But the comments reflect the attitudes the average (as average as someone posting on a comic book message board can be) Joe on the street. It begins with this comment:

"...this kinda bugged me. I went to Bible Camp and all that, went to Church every time the doors were open, don't go anymore because most of the time the preachers harp on the same ____ over and over like the Bible was about as long a read as the instruction manual for Pac-Man. So maybe I'm out of the loop, but...At what point did it become acceptable to ANY Christian to have their kids bow down and praise a cardboard cutout of a politician? When did parents decide it was ok to raise their kids with the same extremist indoctrination used on terrorists?"

GOOD QUESTION! The first response reflects my opinion on mainstream Christianity, but put much better than I could:

"it's all part of this new christian system in America with the megachurches and an organized religion more focused on being a reactionary force to what they perceive as attacks upon them. it's religion with victim mentality... but this is what you get in an environment where people aren't willing to take the time to study and understand a text for themselves and would rather someone just tell them what it means and go with that. "

The scripture that comes to mind is John 18:34 where Pilate asks Jesus if he's the King of the Jews. Jesus replies, "Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?" The point being, our convictions must me our own idea. We need to come to the conclusions ourselves. Many people don't want to talk religion because "it's personal" or are offended when invited to your church because that's "just between God and me." Yet we take no personal responsibility for our lives and rely on others to define what our convictions are. "Outsourcing" our spirituality if you will. The truth is, the culture war that many talk about isn't against Christianity, but against a segment of christianity (note the little "c") that has distorted the Gospel to meet their own personal or political ends. It will continue so long as real Christians (with a capitol "C") stand by silent expecting political solutions and not actively engaging in the fight.

This blog is titled "Public Christianity: The Opposite PC" because that's what it will take to fight and win the culture war going on around us and ultimately win the world for Christ. There isn't anything more un-pc than the Gospel of Jesus. It is exclusionary. It is hard. It does have high expectations. And we're expected to actually live our faith, not hide it in the name of political correctness or tolerance. The challenge is making this our "own idea" and understand all sides of the debate. Because there are whackos on both telling us loud and clear what to believe. This blog is to inform and educate. And urge us to live as Public Christians.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's Tuesday!

Ok, so I didn't get to dissecting the Newsweek article nor did I have time to find other juicy bits from other media sources. It's what we call at work "overcome by events" or "OBE". But I figure, if you don't know what you're doing by now then there's not much help I can offer. One piece of advice I can give though--pray. Pray the Lord's Prayer before you vote. It's entirely appropriate. "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Remember, we're citizens of Christ's Kingdom and are only renting space here for now. Remember that the government's purpose is to provide a society where our needs are met, but we can count on the God Who Provides to meet all of our needs. Ask for forgiveness, recognizing that we're sinners just like those in public office we love to criticize and have the heart to forgive the corruption and deceit that we see so often from politicians. And finally, ask to be delivered from the evil of this world--that maybe through our vote and the decisions voted-in politicians make, the world can become just a little less evil.

As for the "value voter?" Well everyone should be voting their values anyway. Be them religious, economic, social, or moral. So don't take the label too seriously and vote with a sense of entitlement that you're part of a unique special interest that will turn the tide. You're one of many, and just as valuable as everyone else in our system.

So what are you waiting for? Go vote already!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trying to figure out the Value Voter

Besides falling way behind on blogging, not to mention updating my links, and adding all the bells and whistles any self-respecting blog would have, I haven't been able to follow the deluge of articles in the press regarding Value Voters and their role in the mid-term elections. So I'll give you some links and you can try and figure it all out yourself.

First, from the National Journal, an article that does a good job summarizing the issues both sides of the isle are facing with rallying their base, distributing voter guides, facing down the IRS and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Then Newsweek dedicates a whole issue to the subject. This I haven't had a chance to get all the way through yet but will ASAP and will post my thoughts tomorrow.

Finally, I can't close without commenting on what's going on with Rev. Ted Haggard. None of us have any right to cast the first stone, but it is always disheartening to see men of faith elevated to national prominence only to have their deceit exposed. I don't know the details, and I don't want to. But this should stand out as a warning for those who want to elevate themselves, or their favorite pastor/author/minister, to a position where not only are God's eyes on you but so are thousands who depend on your voice for guidance. Interestingly, this seems to plague the right moreso than the left. Rush and Bill Bennett come right to mind. Not to mention the televangelist scandals of the 80's and Pat Robertson consistently putting his foot in his mouth. Like I said, none of us can cast the first stone, but we need to look sincerely at Jesus' views of the hypocracy of the Pharisees and pray, "but for the grace of God, go I."

Many apologies

I have to admit to a certain level of respect for those who blog regularly and are able to keep a daily, or nearly so, schedule of blogging. I've been wrapped up in just about everything that could wrap me up. If it wasn't work, it was the home life. If it wasn't home life, it was church life. And on and on. Here we are a couple of days away from the mid-terms and part of the goal of this blog is to relate politics to religion in an unbiased fashion so what do we see on this site? Two posts. Two. That's part of the reason I haven't actively publicized this site yet. I'm still getting my feet wet and my timing is horrible. So if you're looking for something substantive, I apologize. I'm working on it. Thankfully this blog has a life beyond just partisan politics and elections. So there will still be things to talk about after Tuesday. In fact, this subject picked up steam after the 2004 elections, so I expect the same this time around.

So if you're looking for something insightful, or witty, I'll give you a joke instead. There was once a very rich man on his death bed about to die. He had a vision of God and pleaded, "please let me bring my wealth with me! I've worked so hard to obtain it that it is all rightfully mine." God replied, "Ok, but you can only bring what you can fit in one suitcase." Grateful, the man packed his suitcase full of solid gold as it would have more value than paper money. Upon reaching the Pearly Gates, St. Peter stopped him and asked to see what was in his bag. Showing Peter the suitcase of gold, the man told him that God gave him permission to bring it with him. Peter confused said, "I believe you, but I just don't understand why you'd bring so much pavement."