Just Can’t Shut Up, Can We?

Prayer

Sometimes we get so busy talking TO God we never actually stop to listen.

All good communication is a two-way street. Make sure you’re not making so much noise that you can’t hear him.

And please, please, PLEEEEEASE knock off trying to address God by all 1500 biblical names in a single prayer.

K, thx!

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Xian Movies Suck

So today I came across the Facebook page and trailer for a new Xian movie – David and Goliath.

It’s horrible.

Of course, the producers are bemoaning the fact that Hollywood rejected the movie because it contains too much God.

Phooey.

Hogwash.

What a load of crap.

The trailer shows one of the worst movies EVER MADE.

Bad acting. Bad casting. Bad cinematography. Bad writing. Bad EVERYTHING! No wonder Hollywood doesn’t want to touch it.

I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want it to be remotely associated with my own faith.

Let be honest. All Xian movies suck.

Once upon a time people of faith put out quality material in the artistic world. Now we settle for cheap knock-offs….

Truly, I cringe every time I hear about a new Xian movie being produced. The faithful rally and proclaim, “Let’s show the world that we can make quality entertainment, too, but without all that nasty worldly stuff! Let’s go support this film!”

The problem is that we can’t make quality entertainment. Not really. We end up coming up with cheesy and trite art that doesn’t really MOVE anyone. Sure, the faithful will love it because they’re supposed to. There’s nothing else out there that presents our particular worldview, so it’s this bunk or nothing. Every time a new one comes out I hope and pray that it will be good. Not just a heartwarming, family-friendly film, but GOOD cinema. Hasn’t happened yet.

–  Left Behind (any of them)

Facing the Giants

Fireproof

Courageous

One Night With the Queen

The Book of Daniel

Son of God

None of these would be what I would call compelling art. I wouldn’t call them art at all.

I don’t want to hear, “This is a great Xian movie.” That’s a backhanded compliment. Why can’t we simply make good movies?

I know, I know. It’s tough to be a Xian in a business like Hollywood. Even Kevin Sorbo complains about how being a Xian prevents him from getting roles. That’s funny, ‘cause I thought it was his acting that did that.

I long for the day when Xians can lead the forefront in the arts. We’ve become so focused on the content – making sure the message supports conservative Xian values, that we’ve lost sight of the artistry.

It wasn’t always this way. People of faith used to produce quality art. Whether it be C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D, we used to care about the quality of art.

Now we get bad movies and an endless supply of Amish romance novels.

Barf.

Will someone please step up? Are there any artists out there who can say, I’m a person of faith and I’m not going to settle for putting out crap.”?

That’s the person I want to make the next Xian movie.

Dear Oprah, You Make Me Want to Barf


That may be a little extreme. I don’t actually feel a gag reflex to puke. But that’s the emotion (and it’s a REALLY strong emotion) I feel reading about your upcoming tour “The Life You Want.”

It’s not that I have a problem with empowering people. I think it’s a good thing to help motivate people to be the best they can be. Even the Apostle Paul (he wrote bunch of stuff in the Bible) once wrote:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Here’s the difference between a your empowerment and what Paul is talking about: you want people to get better to live a better life for THEIR glory. You even say, “Take your glory and run!” Um…what? Paul wants people to get better and live a changed life for CHRIST’S glory.

You are ME-CENTERED.

Xianity is CHRIST-CENTERED.

This tour is just another in a long line of scams on humanity. It plays to our instinctual drive to be successful. But success isn’t the goal of humanity. And, contrary to what you, Joel Osteen, and others teach, success is NOT possible for everyone.

The Bible (that’s the book that Xians from era to era and culture to culture agree is the revelation of God to humanity) makes it quite clear that sometimes bad things will happen even to the best of people.

Jesus (he’s the ONE the Christian faith recognizes as God-incarnate, the Messiah and Savior of humanity) said:

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

It’s not about “The Life You Want.” The Bible notes:

Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

There’s so much more than living your best life now (that sounds so familiar – it would make a catchy book title). Our best life now means nothing because this life ends. What really matters is living life now with eternal focus. That means we take the focus off of us and put in on Christ and his kingdom.

It saddens me that many Xians will be sucked in to your scheme. Many will be fooled into thinking that you have the ticket to a happy and fulfilling life. Your pseudo-spirituality will sucker a lot of shallow people who don’t realize that Xian faith is exclusive to Jesus; that life will have ups and downs; that good and faithful people will sometimes live hard and crappy lives and die broke.

Yeah, you make me want to barf.

So until I’m blue in the face I’m going to tell Xians that this is hogwash. My hope is that there are enough of us willing to spread the message that your message stinks.

Sincerely,

The Xian Satirist

Can a Xian Publicly Ridicule Other Xians?

laugh

So the other day I was tweeting a string of jokes under the hashtag DricollSchoolOf Ethics:

Before long, an atheist/former pastor who follows me jumped and thought I was acting inappropriately.

The 140 character limit on Twitter makes a pretty bad place for debate or in-depth discussion, but I did want to take time to address the issue.

1. The Bible DOES talk about handling grievances privately between individuals. The biblical guidance for such behavior is between people who have a damaged relationship. The goal of going to the “brother” is so that relationship can be repaired and restored (see Matthew 18 as an example).

2. The Bible DOES give us multiple examples of Jesus (and others) calling out poor behavior in a public setting.

– Upset with money-changers taking advantage of worshippers, Jesus tears through the temple flipping over tables and whipping men with a cord.
– Upset with the super-religious, John the Baptist calls the Pharisees and Sadducees “you brood of vipers.”
– Upset with the super-religious, Jesus calls them “you brood of vipers.”
– Jesus repeatedly publicly calls out religious leaders as “hypocrites.”
– Paul has to call out Peter for his poor behavior regarding unfair treatment of Gentiles in the church.

While not every instance of publicly calling someone out in the Bible is a mirror image of today’s situations, there is still a strong case to be made for publicly addressing and calling out religious leaders. Jesus himself used sarcasm and satire to drive his point home.

Publicly tearing people down for no reason but to hurt is never right. Using sarcasm or satire to drive home a point about the behavior of religious leaders is well-supported in the Bible.

What do you think? Where should we draw the line between private and public rebuke?

Are Atheist Activists Just Plain Mean?

Today’s post comes from a Twitter guest, @Ninja_Noise. Take it away, my man!

atheist-baby

I will start by saying that we are Americans and live in a free country. Everyone has the right to choose what they believe in or do not believe in. Every person must make their own choice about the existence of God. However, this does not give them the right to try to remove God or religion from everyone else’s life. I believe in God. I do not hate anyone because they do not believe in God. I feel sorry for those who do not believe, but I do not hate them. I do take offense when others try to hinder my ability to express my belief in the way I choose. Most non-believers and people of faith can get along. They can agree to disagree and even have friendly but lively discussions about faith. Neither side needs the government to hinder our way of life.

But why the title question, “Are Atheist Activists Just Plain Mean?” It separates atheists into two groups:

1. Atheists – People who choose to live a life of non-belief.

2. Atheist Activists (AA) – Non-believers who want to change the way others live their life.

Being an Atheist does not make you mean. An Atheist trying to remove God and religion from everything should ask themselves, “Am I just being mean?”.

Why should atheist care if others believe in God? According to atheists, God does not exist. Why does something that does not exist cause them so much trouble? Why does belief in God bother an activist, especially when they think believers are ignorant, superstitious, or unenlightened? The atheist activists should just shake their heads, feel sorry for the believer, and then go on with their lives. We all know people who do or believe ignorant things. How does someone believing in God affect non-believers any more than believing Elvis is still alive, flying around on a spaceship with Bigfoot. According to Atheist Activists they are both equally ridiculous to believe in.

Atheist Activists argue, “What about children? Believers are forcing their values on their children.” Yet Atheist Activists are forcing THEIR values on believer’s children when they do not allow others to talk about God. Activists may ask, “How do I explain to my child why she shouldn’t bow her head when other kids pray?” Atheists have to teach their child their own beliefs or non-beliefs.

I have to try to teach my children why I believe the way I do. I have to show the reasons I believe what I believe. I have to trust that I have taught them well enough to follow in my beliefs. Atheist parents should do the same. All children are subject to outside influences. I would rather have my child influenced to think that there may be a God than influenced to take drugs, skip school, or steal. These negative influences are aimed at our children whether we are Christian or Atheist.

Do Atheist Activists tell their children that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are not real? Wait, they probably do. That seems a little mean. By the way, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have nothing to do with the religious celebration of these holidays. So please leave them alone. Singing Frosty the Snowman will not make your child a Christian. How about the Tooth Fairy? Is it ok for the child of an Atheist Activist to believe that this person exists? Remember, you’re an atheist. To you God is not real either.

And what is wrong with prayer? According to the Atheist Activists it is a waste of time. No one is there to hear. Christians may be superstitious or ignorant for believing in it but how does this hurt atheist. What is wrong with prayer if it brings me comfort, if it helps me through hard times in my life, if it helps me to make sense of things when it seems the world has gone crazy? Why do activists want to take this away from believers? That just seems mean. Would you take a placebo pill away from a patient and tell them, “It’s just made of sugar it can’t help you?” Even if it doesn’t really work, it is making them feel better. Why don’t you want others to be happy?

If Atheist Activists do not want to believe in God that is their right. But, the next time they see a cross, or the Ten Commandments, or a Star of David they should ask themselves why these things bother them so. They are only symbols. Symbols of things they don’t even think are real. Do they feel this way when they see the Tooth Fairy or Bigfoot? Are they just mean people who don’t want others to find happiness where they can? Maybe the trouble is that these symbols stir a little something inside of them? Do they start to hear that little voice in the back of their mind or heart say, “What if God does exist?” There’s no need to fight these things because they are not real.

ARE THEY?

 

Why I Hate #FF

Recently someone asked me why I hate #FF (Follow Friday). That’s EVERY Friday when the Twitterverse explodes with people telling you to go follow so-and-so.

I don’t hate it. Not really. STRONG dislike might be more appropriate.

I understand the thought behind it. You follow someone and want to tell your own followers it might be worthwhile for them to follow this fantastic person as well. Part of my dislike is that #FF has simply become a numbers game for many.

Instead of saying, “I think this person is worth following because…” many send out a #FF to boost another person’s follower count. It quickly stops being about the quality of their content and does become that numbers game.

I saw a conversation a while back (I think it was between Snooty Seminarian and Fair IC Baptist.  They argued (convincingly) that #FF was not as effective as RTs (retweets) for gaining followers. The logic behind it is this:

a)      if someone follows you because of a #FF they will soon come to a decision that they do or don’t like your account. When they don’t like it they’ll bail.

b)      if someone follows you because of RTs it means they like your content and style. They are more likely to “stick” as followers and not bail.

I decided that I wasn’t going to put out #FFs that people would just ignore – I would try to RT content that I really liked and could get behind. So I made a game out of it.

On Thursday I put out the 4×4 tweet – the first 4 to retweet it win the 4×4 game. I give each of those people 4 RTs on Friday. It’s not about begging for RTs for myself. It’s a simple and amusing way I can “bless” others with RTs.

The real problem is finding good, original content to RT 😉 Some people who play love to converse on Twitter but don’t put out a whole lot of content of their own. So…if you’re gonna play, put out some original material Wed-Fri. I’d love to retweet you.

But then I was asked, “Your game is fun, but if you give everyone the opportunity to play how do we know who you really would suggest to follow?”

That’s a great question…

🙂

Criticizing Jesus

Hey everyone! Today I’ve got a guest blogger who goes by the handle TorturedYouthPastor (@AbusedYM). He’s a newcomer to the Xian Anon scene. Take it away, my man…

Buddy Christ, courtesy of "Dogma"

Buddy Christ, courtesy of “Dogma”

I’ve seen quite a frenzy going around about the new ‘Son of God’ movie, mostly from Christians. I’d like to add my input if I may.

From what I’ve seen on social media outlets through friends, friends of friends, and comment sections from web articles, it’s become clear that the lack of 100% accuracy in this movie leaves many believers feeling short-changed. Understandable. We wait decades for Hollywood to give us a movie worth seeing and then we get a less-than-totally-accurate depiction of Christ. So then the moral grandstanding begins.

Now before I start offending let me first say I’m just as guilty as anyone of moral grandstanding from time to time myself and appreciate when I’m brought back to the reality of my own inconsistency. So with that premise, let me begin.

Many of the comments I’m seeing are are, “I’m not going to financially support this due to its inaccuracies”. Some argue, “He’s been mellowed out” and some argue, “He’s been too Americanized” (casting issue), that “parts of scripture are altered, embellished, or flat left out”. Many conclusions is that, in one form or another, this is blasphemous to who Christ is.

I’m encouraged that believers are concerned enough to say something about these issues, however I have 2 issues of my own with how we are handling it.

#1 – Rather than taking a stand and ranting and raving on social media about how we haven’t seen it nor will we see it, why not watch it then take the time to explain to those who don’t claim Christ as Lord and Savior how Scripture differs from Hollywood’s portrayal? It was #2 in the box office opening weekend. I have to believe non-believers saw it too. So rather than fighting in house for the whole world to see about a movie, why not take the opportunity to make it a tool for discussion?

#2 – If point number 1 means nothing to you and you still want to make a moral stance on not watching it, that’s fine. No one is going to condemn you to Hell for not watching it. But at least be consistent. If you’re not going to watch Son of God because you feel it is blasphemous, then be consistent with all of your movie watching. Don’t have the attitude at the theater about not watching a “blasphemous” movie about Jesus and then walk in to the next theater that’s playing ‘Non Stop’ which takes The Lord’s name in vain 12 times, 6 of which are the big “GD”, “3 Days to Kill” which takes his name in vain 15 times, or “Ride Along” and “Robo Cop” which take His name in vain 7 times, respectively. I could continue listing movies but I think the point is made. At least be consistent.

Let me throw in one last point… Has any movie that’s been made based on a book (Harry Potter, LOTR, Hunger Games, etc) ever been 100% on par with the book?

So there’s my 2 cents on the matter.

Forced Gay Part II—My Hypocrisy

Permit me to get on my soap box. I waited a few days, debating whether or not I should even bring this up again. But the firestorm that I caused in my circles only solidifies in my head that we need to be talking about this…

If you had told me a year or two ago that I’d be arguing against Evangelical Christians in support of civil rights for same-sex couples I would’ve told you that you were nuts. Yet here we are.

A few days ago I wrote a post about Xians refusing to provide services for a same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled that some photographers had violated a same-sex couple’s civil rights – and the Evangelical Xian community roared.

After a lot of thought about it and an eventual change in my own position, I publicly stated that I think the photographers were wrong to discriminate against the couple and that all Xians should think twice about refusing service to same-sex couples (I’ll post the link to my full post below).

I knew that my position would clash with mainstream Evangelical thought, but I never expected the backlash I saw. And, not being one to back down from a verbal sparring, I’m going to write about it some more. I’m convinced more than ever that the Church has got to make some changes in how it approaches the LGBT community – for Christ’s sake. So…here we go.

I am a conservative Evangelical Xian (at least I thought so). I believe that God designed sexuality to be between one man and one woman who are married to each other. This means that adulterous relationships, fornication, and same-sex relationships are not part of God’s intended design. I believe that the Bible makes this case. I believe that nature and human physiology itself bear this out.

At the same time I believe that the Church should not be party to mistreating and discriminating against people – any people. I believe that the Church has been complicit in such discrimination. In my last post I compared the photographers’ behavior to establishments in the south that used to post “Whites Only” signs out front. I received criticism from Christians who told me that I cannot compare the racially charged civil rights movement with same-sex issues. I was told that the gay marriage issue is different from REAL civil rights.

To me it’s not an issue of gay marriage, racial equality, or any other issue. The topic at hand is about businesses refusing to serve certain elements of the public because of a personal disagreement with that element. Who gets to decide who is worthy of service or not? If conservative Xians can refuse to serve the LGBT community, who’s to say that racist business owners can’t refuse to serve other races?

I know, I know. “Racism is different.” That’s what I was told by other pastors. “You can’t compare racism with LGBT discrimination because racists distort the Bible for their own ends while we understand that the Bible is clearly against homosexuality.”

Excuse me?!?

Do you understand what was just said? “It’s wrong for racists to discriminate because they believe the wrong thing. It’s okay for us to discriminate because we believe correctly.” This infuriates me. The whole idea of freedom of religion is that we don’t hold another person’s private beliefs against him. You can believe anything you want and I can believe anything I want and we still come together as citizens in the same nation.

You can’t claim that your discrimination is okay because you read the Bible correctly and say another person’s discrimination is wrong because they misread it. So the civil rights laws step in and say, “We’re going to make sure that all people are treated the same no matter what their status or what your personal beliefs may be.”

If you have a business that serves the public you are not allowed to say, “Well…I won’t serve THOSE people.” I was told by other Xians that vendors ought to be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples because a gay marriage might violate the vendor’s idea of marriage as a covenant between the couple and God. I agree that marriage is designed to be a covenant between the husband and wife and between the couple and God. But being a vendor does not endorse the views of the couple.

A baker can bake a wedding cake without endorsing the couple. The florist can arrange flowers without endorsing the couple. A Xian waiter can wait tables if it were an engagement party for a gay couple.

A Christian owner of a candle store doesn’t vet her customers to make sure that no Wiccans buy candles. “Excuse me, are you Wiccan? Because I won’t sell these candles to you if you’re going to go conjure up spirits with them.”

In all honesty, I sincerely doubt that Xian wedding vendors are performing background checks to make sure that every couple they serve fits the biblical model of marriage. Would the vendor refuse to provide services for a man who divorced his wife so that he could marry his mistress? They never even ask that question. At least I was never asked about my relationship background when my fiancée and I visited vendors. No one double-checked to make sure it wasn’t an adulterous relationship.

Rather than pretending that we care about God’s ideal for marriage, we should simply admit that we’re picking a particular segment of society to discriminate against. It’s the thing to do. Gay relationships offend our sensibilities more than an adulterous relationship. It’s become socially acceptable within the Church to single out the LGBT community for condemnation.

The natural follow-up question I received: “If you believe this way would you marry a same-sex couple?” And without hesitation I answer all who ask, “No, I would not.” As I said, I believe that God’s design for sexuality is for one man and one woman who are married to each other. It was at this point that I was called a hypocrite, putting myself and other pastors up on a pedestal while calling out non-clergy Xians.

I don’t see it as hypocritical. I genuinely see a difference between a wedding vendor and a pastor. I was told by one Xian that there is no difference between a pastor and any other vendor or justice of the peace. Am I not obligated being licensed by the state to perform same-sex marriages?

Let me clarify in case you did not know: pastors are not licensed by the state. I have never been nor will I ever be licensed by the state. I am ordained by the church. The state merely recognizes the church’s endorsement of the clergy. I am not a vendor – I am a pastor and spiritual care-giver. I do not claim to serve the public through my service. Pastors are not the same as vendors. We’re not the same as a justice of the peace. When I marry a couple it is more than a ceremony. I pastor them – talk to them about what marriage looks like from a biblical point of view. I talk to them about God’s ideal for healthy relationships. I read Scripture to them. I’m not a vendor, I’m a pastor. That might not make a difference to you – it makes a difference to me.A friend commented to me that any issue combining civil issues and moral issues is messy. It is messy. There is no easy solution or answer to this stuff. But I see too many Xians behaving poorly. We’re not acting like Jesus.

There were several times in Jesus’ public life that he encountered “sinners”. In these encounters we see him acting the same way. He talks to them. He touches them. He cares for them. He loves them. THEN he tells them to go and stop sinning. Not so much the Church today. Our attitude is often, “Go and stop sinning. Then come back so we can love you.”

I’m ready for the Church to lead the way in loving people. Too many Xians think that loving people means encouraging and allowing sin. I’m not for a soft-sell faith. I’m not for white-washing Jesus. I still believe in the Jesus of the Gospels who proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But we forget that he loved first, called for change second. And, honestly, I think most people in the LGBT community know my position as an Evangelical pastor. I don’t have to beat people over the head with my view of the Bible. I can love them in spite of our differences.

So…call me hypocrite. Quote Proverbs to me. Tell me you think I’m going against sound judgment. Tell me that you can’t believe I’ve fallen away.

Me? I can’t believe the Church has become so coldhearted. We don’t have to stop preaching righteousness. We don’t have to stop talking about Jesus, the cross, and forgiveness of sin. But we don’t have to discriminate, no matter what our differences may be.

We can still love people, no matter who they are or their type of sin. At least – I think that’s what Jesus would do.

So I’m off my soap box. Please feel free to share this with CNN. Or Oprah. It would be kind of cool to be quoted as the Evangelical pastor who is against gay marriage but for civil rights. But keep it away from Fox News – I don’t want to be crucified… 😉

Related Posts:
~ Forced Gay: The Battle for Straight Xian Rights

So, What Kind of Racist Are You?

So this week a friend send me this video to watch. I was laughing so hard I nearly died laughing. Seriously, it was pretty bad. Fortunately my wife was able to revive me. Then I watched it again.

Have at it:

While it’s incredibly funny, the video highlights an all-too-true reality:

We judge people based on external qualities and then form opinions based on those judgments.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh boy – here we go again. Another post on race.”

Well…yes.

While some deny it or try to trivialize it, the truth is that this is a common experience in the world. As husband to a mixed-race woman I’ve been there and have heard people ask:

“So…what are you?”

“Where are you from originally?”

Here’s a true story – Years ago we were interviewing for a church position. We had sent in a resume, photograph, sermon sample, etc. The search committee called me to conduct a phone interview. Over the phone one of the deacons asked, “What ethnicity is your wife?”

My response? “Um, why does it matter?”

We did not end up going to that church.

Our problem is that, in these questions we pretend that we’re not racist. But we are. If we weren’t racist why would we even need to ask the question?

I know, know. You’re just curious. You just want information.

Baloney. That’s the kind of question you ask when you have a real relationship with and you end up having a conversation about family trees. It’s not something you ask someone superficially.

The Apostle Paul tried to address the way we view each other and the ways those views play out in behavior. He said that there is no class distinction in Christianity. There is not race distinction in Christianity. There is no gender distinction in Christianity. In Jesus the playing field is leveled.

We are no longer this or that. We simply are.

When you ask a person what he is and where he comes from you are taking away his ability simply to be. That’s not Christian. Well, I suppose it too often IS Christian.

But it’s not supposed to be…