Friday, June 10, 2011

Flashback Friday: Origins

To make up for not being online hardly at all this week, I'm offering a two-for-one special: a Flashback to my very first post plus a little more about me.

Believe it or not, this blog started as a chain email. You know the kind: "the world is going to hell in a hand basket so forward to 100 people or you don't love Jesus!" Honestly, I was tired of getting those. The straw that broke the camel's back (or caused my inbox to exceed its limit) was one I had received a dozen times already about not praying at school being the reason our country is in the state it's in.

I thought about that for a moment. Is the lack of prayer in schools the problem with our country, or is the problem the hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of so-called Christians who think their religious duty is limited to showing up on Sunday (when there's not a game on or the kids don't have a soccer tournament) and forwarding religiously-themed emails? I was amazed that I had received this very same email so many times from so many different people.

So I wrote my own, complete with "forward this or make baby Jesus cry!" I wrote about how is it that 85% of Americans call themselves Christians yet... divorce rate is greater than 50%, more people are in prison per-capita than any other industrialized nation, x-number of abortions a year (I should know that number off the top of my head, does that make me a bad Christian?), more children are born into homes with a single parent than are born to two-parent homes (recent stat, but seriously???), and on and on.

I was curious if I'd ever see that email forwarded back to me. Honestly I doubt anyone I sent it to forwarded it on. Too much fire and brimstone. But it got me thinking how the internet could be used as a ministry tool and how individuals were empowered to voice their message to the faceless crowd. I thought a lot too about what kind of message that should be. I had just started following a couple of blogs and saw the community created around the shared convictions and open discussion. Maybe there was something to this. So what's the message?

I realized, looking around at the Christian-consumer landscape, that generally Christians have isolated themselves on social islands. They like what the Christian marketplace tells them to like (Fireproof!) and vote for who they are told to vote (Palin!). Now that's a broad-brush and not really fair, but that's how I felt at the time. Add to that the divisions between churches (I'm right, you're wrong and going to hell for it!) creating other islands in this ocean of culture, and I choose to write about that. Current events. Politics. Even throw some Bible in there. Of course, it's evolved since then, but here I am almost five years later still shaking my head at what I see out there (while thankfully spending more time concerned about what's going on in here, plank in my eye and all).

Something else, since it keeps getting asked, here's the story behind "fatha frank". I was raised Catholic, for one, and was almost guilted into going into the priesthood. When I was baptized in a campus ministry, I was in grad school, making me one of the oldest students in that ministry (older than our campus minister, in fact). Between those two I got dubbed "Father Frank" by a few friends. When I set up my accounts and online identity, I wanted to keep the name, but I didn't want strangers (since I was going to post openly to anyone on my blog) to think I was an actual priest, so I changed it. In fact, a friend and I came up with it at the wedding reception of another friend of ours. So blame him.

So now you know a little more about me, tell me something I don't know about you.

And for entertainment purposes only, here is my very first post:

What the World Needs Now

Is another religion/politics blog, like I need a hole in my head! (sung to Cracker's, "What the World Needs Now" [ed note: actually the song is called "Teen Angst") So why me? Why this blog? And if you're here because of a blog search, I'm sorry! There's not much content yet, but I'm working on it.

A couple of years ago the world was introduced to a new term, "values voters," a segment of the population that (gasp!) voted their conscience. It didn't take long before this "new" segment of Americans became commercial, worldly, co-opted by special interests, and the new pop-culture buzzword. Since the '04 election some ministers have become politicians, ministries have become special interests, and being a Christian became more about how you vote than how you live. Now we're on the dawn of mid-terms, and both sides are fighting to capture the value vote.

So what makes me different? After all, aren't I buying into the system by becoming yet another religious/political blog? That's exactly why I'm doing this. To be different. While I'm not ashamed of this being political, I want the dialogue (or would a blog be more of a monologue?) to be more deep and broad than, "W sux!" or, "W rox!" I also want this to be more than just politics, but also how religion ties into pop-culture and what we can learn from what's going on in the world.

The links to the right are a work in progress. So far "resources" are related to the topics I post about, while "blogs" are brothers in Christ whom I respect that post on their convictions and their life. You might notice some of the links look like they don't belong (ACLU????). But I'll talk about that next time. So please come back!

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