Wednesday, August 24, 2005

kill 'em all!!!!

Although my jerk "internet at home" brother beat me to the punch on this one, I am proud to be the first to post about the response of President Chavez. While not released to the public yet, this picture, off of Pat Robertson's kick ass website, shows who's killing who here. Are you kidding me? Chavez is going to cut off Robertson's head with that sword!!!

For more in the way of unbiased media coverage, check out this sweet article as Robertson's employees follow the story. Particularly interesting is the link at the bottom of the article that says "find your way to peace with God." Also helpful on the website is this article about how liberals in the west aid radical islam, and this recipe for Pat's Age-Defying Protein Pancakes.

I believe Ryan Hansen and I have had recent conversations about how sweet Chavez is, including his love for Cuba and offering to send Condoleezza Rice books that Cuba and Venezuela are using to promote literacy and, after a Venezuelan news presenter said that Rice must want to marry Chavez, he asked his people, in a press conference, if he should marry her, ultimately concluding, "I cannot marry Condolencia, because I am much too busy," he said in a recent speech. "I have been told that she dreams about me," he said on another occasion.

Here's the jist of all this. Robertson is a nut. To comment on some of your comments, I'm not embarassed because he doesn't represent me or authentic Christianity. This is an opportunity for Christians to say, see, this is exactly what we are not. And despite the fact that Bush says this is not representative of his philosophy, he doesn't represent us either. The church is a house of peace for all people. Anyone calling for assasinations, leading wars, or so obviously abusing photoshop to show a president in military guard weilding a sword at your head while you wear a nice suit is out the door. plain and simple.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'll See Your Jerry Fallwell and Raise You A Nut Job

Oh how lucky I am that I have home internet service.

Tonight I received multiple phone calls to inform me that the Reverend Pat Robertson had called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on last night's ever relevant 700 Club broadcast.

Evangelicals everywhere scrambled to dissasociate themselves with the original televangelist, including The Big Evangelical.

The Bush Administration "disavowed" Robertson's plan for American dominance.

Here are Robertson's main points...
*If the guy thinks that the US is trying to assassinate him, why shouldn't we just go ahead and do it.
*America might as well get rid of the people who we don't want in power because we all know we're going to later on, and we all know that we don't have another $200 million to spend on a war with Venezuala
*Finally, this son of a gun is messing with our oil. If we kill him now we probably won't miss a beat.

I was watching a report on CNN on this evening that fully brought out the crazy that was on display on the 700 Club last night. They showed clips of Robertson praying that God would open up more positions on the Supreme Court and bring more "conservative values" to the court to bring back the "Rights of God" followed up by a quote that basically said that the reason that Hitler was such a bad guy and did so many horrible things was because he was surrounded by homosexuals. Brown said that in most cases leading conservative evangelicals would surround him with support, but not this time.

It's no wonder that people can't identify with who Jesus Christ truly is. I was reading recently in Generous Orthodoxy and McLaren said that he was afraid that Jesus wasn't so much Lord to us anymore as he was Mascot championing our causes.

Here's to Robertson making the most of Jesus as Mascot.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Here's a picture of father tree and uncle mark. may they both stand forever as the greatest first picture in midwestmindset history. plus they mark (get it) the end of my excessive posting to no reply week. it is back to the disconnected urban life for me...

The letter of Paul to the church at...

I came across 1 Corinthians 4 yesterday while working on research for my thesis on reading the Bible and couldn't help but feel as though Paul was writing to our church today. Writing on how the followers of Christ should be servants 0f Christ, anticipating and concerned only with the forthcoming judgment of Christ upon his people, Paul begins to judge this community. Asking how the believers in Corinth may be different than himself, he begins to turn into sarcastic Paul again. "For who sees anything different in you?" Surely these Christians must be following in the way modeled for them, right?

"8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!"
This is, in part, the point I was trying to make through the Psalms passage on Sunday. When you have everything you need, you are not in a position of need. Earlier Paul points out that everything that the Apostle has, the Apostle has received from Christ. But these Christians have put them in a position of Kings, where what they have they have secured for themselves. Paul gets sarcastic by pointing out that he only wishes these Christians were kings because then Paul could be a king as well. Instead, "I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men."

Paul goes on to make the contrast between he and Apollos and the Christians he is writing. 10We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

One time I had some friends in a sorry hardcore band called Scumboy, inspired by this verse. I'm not sure we all realized the gravity of this verse. Paul has layed out that the model of the Christian faith is the life of Jesus Christ. He has lived the same sort of life and has called the church at Corinth to faithfully follow in his footsteps. This is a life that leaves one hungry and thirsty, poorly dressed, buffeted, and homeless. It is a life of labor, persecution, and slander. It is a life of weakness, as valued by the world as trash.

Paul asserts himself in a remarkable place of authority, taking seriously his call to be like Christ. "15For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16I urge you, then, be imitators of me." Are we not to be imitators of Christ? Surely Paul can only make such a demand because he knows that he himself is an imitator of Christ. For this reason Paul sends Timothy, "to remind you of my ways in Christ," thus the model of Christian leadership continues as the Corinthians are to model Timothy who models Paul who models Christ. Finally, Paul puts the future vision of judgment before the people, as he promises his forthcoming arrival and the judgment to follow. Again, Paul posits himself in the authority of Christ, an authority that is gained through modelling the life of Christ. Now, as it will be in the end, the servant judges the king.
18Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

This passage is an example of what James McClendon calls the foreshortened sense of time. Here both the past (the life of Christ) and the future (coming judgment of Christ) are compressed and felt in the present moment. The necessary lifestyle of the Christian, a life of fools, homeless, and rejected, is available because the past life of Christ is felt through the model of the faithful followers Paul, Apollos and Timothy. At the same time, the future reign and judgment of Christ is present in the promised timely return of Paul who represents Christ to this church in a tangible way because of his faithful following.

No doubt, the message of Paul is timely for our church in North America. Surely we have secured for ourselves all we need and we live like kings. Not many of us are homeless, buffetted, and reviled as fools. There are those who have modeled the life of Christ, and they have been sent for us to follow. The ultimate, future judge is Christ, the servant of all. When Paul says the Lord will bring to light the hearts of people and judge accordingly, he means this to be directly connected to the lifestyle lived; are they kings or servants? Are we weak or strong? Are we the rulers or scum of the world?

Revolutionary Christian killed

Some of you may have already heard, but Brother Roger, the founder of the Taize movement in France was stabbed during a prayer service yesterday. The murder occured during a service with 2,500 people in prayer together, according to the BBC. The Taize movement emerged in 1940 emphasizing the need for all Christians to come together in peace, love and reconciliation, during a time when the world was at the height of war and making peace came through violence, not prayer and mediation. In addition to creating a place for peace and eccumenical dialogue, the Taize movement has often amazed North American evangelicals because of the remarkable impact the movement has had on youth from around the world. Showing that often the most relevant thing for young Christians are the ancient prayers and practices of the church, the Taize movement received youth visitors from all over the world. While only a few North American evangelical churches have copied the ancient style of this movement, even our context that is addicted to technology and "the new" has been impacted, as youth have traveled to Taize and Taize books, CDs, and videos are purchased and implemented into some of these services. My previous post about the future for the man of peace comes to mind again to me, as Brother Roger lived as a man of peace in the midst of war. Surely there is a future for such a man as this.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

How do we read this? "there is a future for the man of peace"

So I often read through the Psalms. This one has me stuck for a while. Read Psalm 37 and come back with me.

My problem is not with understanding it, or at least I don't think. My problem is with relating to this at all. Do we have any right to read this, or any of the Psalms about vindication and justice for the righteous, as though they apply to us? This is the basic question. Two other questions that come out of it: 1. If not, do we have any right to read any bibilical passage as though it is our own? 2. If we can read it applying to us, what becomes of its meaning?

In some verses i think we may represent the "evidoers" (bushism?), because I find it difficult to ever think of us as persecuted in anyway. In what sense do we depend upon God for our righteousness, in this sense vindication and justice? Haven't we pretty much taken the land as our own already (vs. 9), secured our heritage (18), and, as such, seemingly created our own salvation?

This Psalm reads to me, in our context, as a ringing conviction and reminder that for those of us in abundance to begin to make the bibilcal story we must first become identified with the biblical people of God, those who are faithful to the Lord (3), on the side of the poor and needy (14), and depend upon God for our vindication, life, and justice. We have made it impossible for God to vindicate us, provide for us, and deliver us, because we have done these things for ourselves already. This is why we feel as though passages like this are only understood spiritually and metaphorically. Now those that persecute us are those who try to make our minds impure or have a little more money than me or try to teach our kids evolution in school. Is this a fair read of the text? I believe that for us, the text first of all requires our conversion into the person of the righteous before we can assume that God will perserve and vindicate us.

5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

10In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

14The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; 15their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.

16Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. 17For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.

37Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. 38But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. 40The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him

Saturday, August 13, 2005

mwm = man, woman, married

Congrats to the newest Midwest mindsetter, Ryan Hansen, on his wonderful new marriage. He and Karen will be on vacation for the time being. Also, congrats to Ryan's uncle Mark for having the best mustache and haircut at the wedding. ah weddings. now that ryan is married i'm sure his blog contribution will go through the roof. here's the current standings when it comes to marriage and midwest mindset:


Basically married:

Sort of not single:

Incredibly, terribly, extremely single:

The married officially are in the lead, which makes me happy. I love marriage. Three cheers for marriage! If Joanna Newsom is reading this, she should let me know so that we can get married.

And I heard that Sufjan Stevens is coming to a town near you. You better be there. and here's the other bands I'll being soon so you can all be jealous:
Fiery Furnaces
Devendra Banhart and the Hairy Fairys
New Pornographers
Catfish Haven (best band ever?)

Monday, August 08, 2005

I hope you do not become dumber for entertaining my questions.

I've got some questions, and they are probably really dumb. I hope you do not become dumber for entertaining my questions. But first some basic background...

During the summer I work with an organization called Young Neighbors in Action. It's kind of a Catholic version of Group Work Camps if you've heard of them. Anyhow, because of the job I get to see a lot of places in Chicago that normally I wouldn't. The job has put me in contact with a number of congregations that work with the poor, hungry, hurting and vunerable. As I came to each congregation I'd get to talk with the pastor or director of the outreach program. One question I always asked was what is the make up of the congregation? It was interesting to me that none of the congregations included the poor they were serving. Even when the congregation was poor itself there seemed to be a line drawn between those serving and those served. And I guess I don't understand why.

Is there some practical reason?- Are the poor too transient? Is it too hard to organize? (Dusty your sociology background may offer something here)

Is it just that one group doesn't want to include the other.

Wouldn't the poor and vulnerable be better off if we welcomed them as full and equal members of our congregations rather than just have them as our outreach projects? Are there any instances you know of where the homeless have been fully incorporated? Even the most amazing organizations I've encountered or heard stories of don't seem to do this, and it seems like a suppression of the person's dignity to me. On top of being invited to the soup kitchen, shouldn't the person be welcomed into the worship service? Am I wrong in thinking that way? Am I ignorant of some obvious answer? Is this post too long in the same way all my posts seem too long?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Why Harpers gets it right

So I know that I've been annoying on here about this before, but Harpers has followed up the previous articles that I recommended we all read with one that blows them all out of the water. This month features an article called "The Christian Paradox" by Bill McKibben that reads like a sermon we all want to be preaching, or at least should be. I know that Jonny will remind me that Harpers ultra liberal, anti-conservative evangelical stance makes this an obviously biased article, but bear with me on this on.

McKibben, who, at the end reveals himself as a "main-line liberal Protestant" takes the American church to task for not being Christian. He begins by showing statistically how biblically illiterate Americans are (12 percent think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, 75 percent think the Bible says "God helps those who help themselves"). He shows how America is more Christian than Israel is Jewish (85 to 77 percent).

The failure of biblical literacy is one thing, but then McKibben really lays it own by asking whether or not America is Christian. How would you measure something like this? Charity to the poor? America ranks second to last in governmental aid, and as individuals Americans only give 21 cents a day to the poor. McKibben's point is that "it is not that America trails badly in all these categories; it's that the overwhelmingly Christian American nation trails badly in all these categories, categories to which Jesus paid particular attention." ah yes. Even jumping on the Evangelical favorite "personal morality," McKibben shows that most Americans aren't really Christians. High murder rates, last Western democracy that has the death penalty, high divorce rates, etc.

McKibben eventually gets to his point, one that theologians of the Radical Reformation tradition have been making in American theology for the past 25 years. It's about competing narratives, or creeds, to the Gospel message of Jesus. "It is another competing creed, this one straight from the sprawling megachurches of teh n ew exurbs, that frighten me most. Its deviation is less obvious precisely because it looks so much like the rest of culture. In fact, most of what gets preached in these palaces isn't loony at all. It is disturbingly convintional. The pastors focus relentlessly on you and your individual needs." He points out the obvious, the mega churches with latte stands and Krispy Kreme doughnuts at every service, sermons about goal meeting, etc. While not rail-roading the care of the individual, McKibben criticizes this message for forgetting about Jesus' radical message about care for the other.

The love of neighbor is a radical concept, that has deep political, social, and economic implications. (See Yoder, Politics of Jesus) Christian Americans forget this. McKibben, writing in Harpers magazine, puts this out there...

"How nice it would be if Jesus had declared that our income was ours to keep, instead of insisting that we had to share. How satisfying it would be if we were supposed to hate our enemies. Religious conservatives will always have a compartively easy sell. But the gospel is too radical for any culture larger than the Amish to ever come close to realizing; [Jake note: the Amish are not the shining example, but that's beside the point in demanding a departure from selfishness it conflicts with all our current desires. Taking seriously the actual message of Jesus, though, should serve to moderate the greed and violence that mark this culture. It's hard to imagine a con much more audacious than making Christ the front man for a program of tax cuts for the rich or war in Iraq. If some modest part of the 85 percent of us who are Christians woke up to that fact, then the world might change."

That last sentance is the most important part of all of this. Are we preaching this message where we can, the true Gospel, wherein we must give of ourselves for others, share amongst all, put away violence and greed? Do we practice this amongst each other, in our churches, in our homes? Are our theological programs, papers, and conversations driving us to more seriously be students of the message of Jesus Christ? Are we constantly allowing the cross to criticize our personal, political, social, and economic decisions. Because we are, whether we like it or not, in or headed toward positions of great influence in this 85 percent of Christian America. And if we wake up to this, preach an unpopular but true Gospel, then things may actually change a little bit.