Daily Read 10/29/2008

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I got 95 Theses, but the Pope ain't One [video]

Hilarious 95 Theses Rap...here's their website.

Lyrics after the jump

If you havin Church problems then dont blame God, son
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope aint one.

Listen up, all my people, its a story for the telling
bout the sin and injustice and corruption I been smelling:
I met that homie Tetzel, then I started rebelling
Once I seen the fat Indulgences that he been selling.
Now the Cathlics of the world straight up disgracin me
Just because I waved my finger at the papacy.
My people got riled up over this Reformation
Thats when Leo threatened me with Excommunication.
I warned yall that Rome best agree to the terms.
If not, then you can eat my Diet of Worms!
You think you done something spectacular?
I wrote the Bible in the vernacular!
A heretic! [What?] Someone throw me a bone.
You forgot salvation comes through faith alone.
Im on a mission from God. You think I do this for fun?
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope aint one.
Save me!

Ninety-five theses but the Pope aint one.
If you havin Church problems then dont blame God, son
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope aint one.

One Five One Seventhats when it first went down.
Then the real test was when it started spreading around.
Sixty days to recant what I said? Father, please!
Youve had, what? Goin on fifteen centuries?
Oh snap, hes messin with the holy communion.
But I aint never dissed your precious hypostatic union!
One place at one time. Well, thank you Zwingli.
Yeah, way to disregard that whole Im God thingy!
Getting all up in my rosaryyou little punk.
Your momma shoulda told you not to mess with no monk.
What you bumpin me for? Suddenly you sore.
Keep that up, youll have yourself another Peasant War.
You blame common folk for the smack they talkin
You aint even taught them proper Christian doctrine.
With my hat, my Bible, and my sexy little nun,
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope aint one.
Save me!


When I wrote the ninety-five, haters straight up assailed em.
Now they only care whether or not I nailed em or mailed em.
They got psychoanalytic. Now everyones a critic,
And getting on my case just because Im anti-Semitic.
Ive come back from obscurity to teach yall a lesson,
Cuz someone here still aint read their Augsburg Confession.
I said Catholicism brings a life of excess,
And we all remember what went down with Philip of Hesse!
But you forgot about me and my demonstration?
Like you can just create your own denomination?
We dont like this part, so well just add a little twist.
Now we Anglican, Amish, and even Calvinist.
I gave you the power, you gone and abused it.
I gave you Gods truth, you just confused it.
Dont you never underestimate the s*** that I done
I got 95 theses but the Pope aint one.
Save me!


Shout out to Johann Gutenberg... I see you baby.


Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death [video]

There's a gritty video out there that meshes biblical language, Plato, and is titled after the hymn "Awake, O Sleeper."

It's brilliant.  But I'll leave it up to your imaginations if the last 10 seconds utterly destroy its meaning.

Take a look and then discuss it after the break (there's a youtube version and a blog post on it too):

Awake O'Sleeper from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

Read on for conversation on this video being a great discussion-starter on issues of violence, redemption, and Original Sin.

Great imagery and video. A chaingang being awakened to their plight after a random guy who stood up for them is beaten. Lyrics like "there are chains upon your children Lord" and desiring to wake them up from the only reality they've ever known (ala Plato's Cave) is powerful and speaks to one understanding of Original Sin as being born into a violence that you cannot discern.  Gritty and powerful.

I worry, however, about the last 10 seconds. The chain-gang bands together and kicks off their chains, but you see them rubbing their handcuff wounds ("the marks of the Lord") and looking at their suddenly impotent captor with death in their eyes.  There's no finality, only assumption, that retributive violence against their captor occurs. 

If violence against their captor ensues, then the video loses its moral gravitas.  Jesus died so that redemptive and retributive violence would end.  If those who have been given life continue to respond with the violence of the sleeping-world, then they are not honoring the life of the nonviolent Savior.

Consider the original words to "Awake O Sleeper" found in the United Methodist Hymnal #551

Awake O Sleeper, Rise from Death,
and christ shall give you light. 
So learn his love, its length and breadth,
its fullness depth and height.
Then walk in love as Christ has loved,
who died that he might save;
with kind and gentle hearts forgive,
as God in Christ forgave.
It's hard for me to see anything in that original hymn that is anything other than gentle lovingkindness.  Violence against the captor is clearly not an understanding of an "awakened" being.

Further, Charles Wesley preached a sermon "Awake, Thou that Sleepest" in 1742.  In it, God's wrath is against not the captors, but those who are still asleep, or act as if they are still asleep!  So the chaingang responding in violence, even though they have been awakened to their plight, react from the sleep-world of God's wrath rather than the love of Christ who awakens us to our own selfish devices.

But perhaps this admonotion is in the video.  The final scene has the Jesus-figure looking without joy or satisfaction in his eyes, but puts on his hat and turns his back.  Perhaps that's indicative of a Jesus who saves, but is saddened when the freed resort to the violence of their situation rather than rising above. Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from DEATH! The death is not the captor, but the violence! Awake, Awake!

I guess that's the best part about art: you see what you see. 

In short, a great video that can lead into discussion of the value of redemptive or retributive violence.  I hope you use it and report back on how it went!

Here's the lyrics of the song for those interested:

Awake! O Sleeper
Oh Abraham would raise his hands
And mourn this very day
For his children left the promised land
In search of their own way
They kick and scream like wayward sons
Always wanting to sleep
And dream away these evil days
In hopes that God cant see
There are chains upon your children Lord
Chains upon your children
There are chains upon your children
We're in chains

Do you hear the lion roar?
Awake O Sleeper
Stand with me well fight the war
Awake O Sleeper
Your suffering will come again
And never fall away
For we trade our many comforts
Like the one who bled for grace
There will come a day my God will come
And put me in my place
My God I pray, Youll call my name
Instead of turn away
Let no man bring me harm
I bear the marks of Jesus
Let no man bring me harm
I bear the marks of the Lord

Welcome to our visitors!  Thoughts?


Bible in 60 seconds [video]

Via Exploring Our Matrix, the bible in one minute:

Yes, it's the same guys who did the hilarious "Mother's Day Portrait."

Here's the lyrics:










The Bible Illuminated [review]

I can be bought.  In that, I mean that you are welcome to send me a copy of something of interest to me...then I'll give my honest impressions.
Such is the case with a new book The Bible Illuminated.  The media-rich bible project based out of Sweden has retained an American PR firm to do the promotions.  This savvy firm apparently decided to make paying attention to blog posts by pastors part of their media work.

Full disclosure: I wrote about the Bible Illuminated in a blog post (Two Edgy Bible Versions), and based on those few words, they contacted me and offered me a free promotional copy to review.  They were very polite and I recognized that impressions of an idea on a computer screen may differ vastly from actual material so I accepted their invitation.

So, done with the full disclosure.  I received the copy of the book last week at my church and showed a few parishioners and friends.


It is sexy.  Not in a "rock me sexy Jesus" way, but in a sleek sophisticated way.  High-glossy cover with copper metallic lettering on the spine.  It looks like something you would put on a coffee table or on a rack at a high flutin' style salon.   Which, of course, is the point: putting the text in a new form that is eye-catching that reaches new circles of people.

First, the specifics. The Bible Illuminated intersperses a New Testament with callout boxes of key passages and full-page or inserts of images that relate to key passages.  It reads like a magazine with text, images, and captions.

But it is a purer Bible than you might think.  The artistic license is not in the text (a standard Good News Translation) or in study content (no study notes at all), but in the choice of images to associate with particular texts.  This is a double-edged sword: The choice of which pictures to associate with which passages is both the best and worst of this kind of project.

There are many, many really poignant associations of text and image.
  • Mad props for non-whiteness of the imagery.  Matthew has a woman in a veil representing Mary.  Luke has an African woman and child accompanying with the story of the birth of Jesus, and the three Magi are African-American guys who would look right at home on a New York street.  
  • Acts of the Apostles starts out with images of a men's soccer (okay, football) team in Sierre Leone where all the men have one leg (most lost due to civil war atrocities).  That's an interesting twist to think of Acts of the Apostles being started by people who have been handicapped and hurt by the loss of their Jesus to violence...but push on anyway.
  • In Hebrews, when talking about the priesthood and the changing law regarding Melchizedek, there's an image of the first female priest in Sweden Margit Sahlin. The line is "when the priesthood is changed, there also has to be a change in the law."  I like the theological assertion that when God has called those who are outside the law, then the law must change...not the other way around.
  • In Revelation, there is an image of a man pumping gasoline with the Scripture "the whole earth was amazed and followed the beast." That line summarizes a few other images before it: post-Katrina New Orleans, environmental degradation, and a four-page spread on an animal slaughterhouse (field?) in Nigeria.  Very political and edgy and disorienting imagery..I like it!
The front inside cover and back inside cover are images from Dreamhack in Sweden, a four-day marathon computer festival that draws over 10,000 people.  I'm not sure exactly what the publisher meant by images of thousands of networked nerds with neon case mods, but it is sticking with me.  Maybe this closed network of media-oriented people is the mission of this Bible, hmm?

There are two special sections that bear noting:
  • The Gospel of Mark has a multi-section spread with famous people, from Mother Teresa, MLK Jr, Ghandhi, to Angelina Jolie, Bono, Princess Di, Bill Gates, John Lennon, and Muhammed Ali (amongst others).  The text?  "God said 'I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.'"  These are associations with prophets, secular and religious.  Interesting...and as a friend said "very African-centered" which they hadn't seen in a bible before.
  • The Gospel of Luke is interspersed with a multi-section spread on the UN Millenium Development Goals, with a call to supporting them.  The pictures are vivid and the goals are outlined and well-written.  Any bible that includes social action (and supporting the UN, which isn't the AntiChrist supposed to come from it? Ha!) is awesome in my book.
Throughout, the emphasis on social conditions as lenses by which the text is interpreted are relevant and interesting.  One friend said that the "social justice aspect" was better than any other biblezine they saw.


Do I have reservations?  Sure I do.  They are the mirror image of the above pluses: the choice of what texts to popout and what images to associate.  It's all artistic license, but several images did not only disturb me (I would support that!) but downright offended me:
  • In Ephesians, they chose to popout from the text "wives must submit to their husbands."  Why that verse?  Further, they did not pop out the next line of "husbands, love your wives" to provide some semblance of balance.  That annoyed me greatly.
  • In 1 Corinthians, they popout the "long hair on a woman is a thing of beauty." Why? Is it to make it resemble a fashion magazine with biblical personal grooming tips?  Will the Old Testament version include Sampson's lack of mousse?
  • By far the worst page is In Matthew, where attached to "I come not to bring peace but a sword" there's an image of a child holding a gun to your face.  Dude, don't use children and handguns; that's not cool at all.  Every single person I showed this to said that was just wrong and, in fact, one person had to walk away from the table while reviewing it because of that image.  Shameful.
My difficulty with those particular above text popouts is that they fall short of the mission: to associate images with texts.  Popouts like the above do not fit neatly with their expressed purpose in making this Bible.  From their FAQ (in a google cache, as it's not listed anymore):
What is Illuminated World’s agenda? What is the goal in publishing The Book and other “Illuminated” texts?
The goal is to drive an emotional reaction and get people to think, discuss and share. It’s meant to trigger bigger moral questions. It in turn will help people to understand the common heritage between all religions through the Bible’s text. We hope people will find the images, design and layout intriguing—intriguing enough to talk about the actual stories in the Bible and what the morals and lessons mean to them and to each other. The more you know, the more you can participate in discussions about the world and understand the bigger picture.  

What do the highlighted passages and sentences mean?
Whatever the readers wants them to mean. They were highlighted and underlined for the reader to decide.
If the goal is conversation, great.  Well done.  But since this project is marketed to non-Christians, then popping out "women submit to your husbands" reinforces conceptions of the bible as anti-women and patriarchical.  Popping out "long haired women" passages reinforces the idea that the Bible is quaint and out-of-touch.  Without an image to discuss, there is no added benefit other than reinforcing stereotypical beliefs about Christians.

These are not the right type of conversations for a non-contextualized bible (meaning it doesn't offer any support or context for the bible verses like study bibles) because they do not meaningfully add to the conversation but reinforce what the echo-chamber says about Christianity.  If you view a line without context, it will only reinforce what you already think, and not start a conversation at all.  In this, while the images are powerfully and well done (save a few), the seemingly random text popouts do not work when they are not thought through.

I don't like bibles to interpret things for me.  I'd rather do the interpretation myself, thank you.  That's exactly what I wrote in my previous review, and I'm sticking to it.  I spend more time as pastor ungluing non-life-giving conceptions of the bible in people's heads, and I'd prefer publishers not to make my job harder.

However, every single parishioner I've showed this to loves this bible.  From newbies to longtime devourers of the Word.  The images draw forth an emotional reaction that reading the text doesn't always do.  I was pleasantly surprised at how different this biblezine was compared to the other ones I've read.  Perhaps it is a continental divide, as this mag based out of Sweden has a very different feel than the ones published from Nashville, TN, USA.

While I disagree with some of the image's appropriateness, the overwhelming emphasis on social justice and moral questions are excellent. Maybe I don't mind this interpretation because it fits with my ideas and matches my own lens.  Fine, the critics can say that.  But I challenge you to compare this text with any other "pop" versions of the Bible and not see how it is more provocative and emotive than teen magazine versions of the Bible are.

So, in short, I would highly recommend you take a look at this bible to see if it fits your context.  You can purchase it directly from the Swedish manufacturer, or get it on pre-order at Amazon.com (it comes out October 28th stateside).

Scripture says you can't put new wine in old wineskins.  But the Bible Illuminated is old wine, aged and rich, in a new wineskin that you may just want to pick up and flip through.  The project's choice of provocative images that expose injustice and human cruelty gives a face to the faceless survivors to whom a bible is not enough to save them, but action with biblical precepts may just change the world.  And that vision of the kingdom of God where violence is eschewed is what this project calls us all to.

Thoughts? Discuss.

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How Great I Am [video]

In honor of John's "Prosperity Gospel Praise " post, here's another one of a similar vein: Songs for the MeChurch

Hilariously biting satire.

In case you missed John's post, here's Prosperity Gospel Praise:

Personally, I'm waiting for the "Intimacy with Jesus" praise songs parody. Any takers (other than Southpark)?


The Prosperity Gospel owes me 700 billion dollars

Time Magazine has a feature article asking "Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess?" 

Blame God for not making dollars fall from the sky? 

Well, not exactly...but they do ask if the Prosperity Gospel had something to do with it.

While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise -- that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life -- had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you -- if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'"
But the best line is next.  This line really drives home the danger of the Prosperity Gospel when tied to greedy unregulated banking practices.
Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house. And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy." If so, the situation offers a look at how an native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.
I'm with Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher on this one. The Prosperity Gospel is neither.  Read on for more...

The Time piece quoted above is a followup to a previous in-depth article they did "Does God Want You to Be Rich?"  They outline the current manifestation of Prosperity Gospel here:
For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million--strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels' passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn't want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names--Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology--its emphasis is on God's promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves
In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%--a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America--agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.
There's an element of "risk" that pervades the Prosperity Gospel, making God's blessings like a casino or a high-stakes poker game.  If you aren't willing to play big, you'll never win big.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather not play that way.  And apparently there are hundreds, if not thousands of Americans, who trusted in this belief system, who interpreted an accepted loan application as a sign from God, and then were unable to sustain it and may lose their home or car or job. 

Is that really Good News we can tell people?

Thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel?  Or on the article?

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Formulas of Wesleyan Grace and Prosperity Gospel

In a preaching class on Tuesday, I figured out the formula for the Prosperity Gospel and how it is the polar opposite to the Wesleyan formula.

Here's the elements:

  • (A) = Works
  • (B) =  Blessings
The the Prosperity formula is "If you do (A), then you will receive (B)."
  • If you give money (Prosperity), invoke the name of Jesus Christ (Name it claim it), or change your thoughts to God's thoughts (Joel Osteen), then you will be blessed! 
 The alternate equation is the Wesleyan "Since you have (B), then you do (A)."
  • Given that we already have prevenient grace, we are already blessed people.  And we respond to that blessing through justification and sanctification, through WORKS!
This is my first draft; happy to be wrong.  Thoughts?
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Hacking Poverty [Blog Action Day 2008]

{{Potd/2005-09-17 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia
This is Blog Action Day!  Read about it here.

Conversations about poverty often forget the subjects of the discussion: the poor. I am convicted that the kingdom of God is always focused on those who are on the margins, as the Good News always has to be "for the poor." But even in conversations about poverty, those who are poor are often relegated to the corners...so this is an attempt to draw them out!

What is Poverty?

First, a definition. Poverty is the condition of people whom we describe abstractly as 'the poor.'

You could say that poverty is like porn: you know it when you see it. But in defining people as "poor," we dehumanize them as we abstract their condition.
Referring to people by a label is always dangerous. We may forget that the poor are not an abstraction but rather a group of human beings who have names, who are made in the image of God, whose hairs are numbered, and for whom Jesus died. (Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor, 57) 
In doing this, we tend to view the poor as “a group that is helpless” and we “give ourselves permission to play god in the lives of the poor” as we dehumanize them and treat them as “objects of our compassion.” (Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor, 57)

The truth is that the poor DO have names and the names of people who become subject to poverty become more and more familiar to you. Poverty is creeping out of describing the "homeless" and into the decribing the condition of lower-and-middle class families.
  • Three in five of the working poor are working full time, and it is getting worse. 
  • The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay went from 24:1 in 1967 to 300:1 in 2000 (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 7-9).
  • Poverty has affected the working class that rely on agrarian income the hardest. "Family farming is ended and, with it, any direct access to the means of production for the vast majority of people. Deindustrialization has wiped out that segment of the working class." (John Cobb, Postmodernism and Public Policy, 165)
Poverty is not something abstract; thus, to approach poverty we need solutions that
  1. affirm the value of each person,
  2. are modeled after an economy of abundance rather than an economy of scarcity, and 
  3. include the non-poor as fellow participants who suffer under poverty and thus we can all work together to find solutions.
Poverty is not OK for some

The first hack is to see that definitions of poverty are done by a society that does not value each person.

Respected economists believe that "some degree of poverty and unemployment is inevitable and desireable, moreover, for the economy to produce sustainable growth and as a motivation for others to work." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 59-60)

The problem with this is that any society that tolerates unemployment "is a society convinced that gifts are not meant to be shared." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 59-60). Economists who define who is poor and celebrate unemployment ascribe a value to a person from a philosophy of scarcity. There is a "human propensity to value some persons mroe than others: the "deserving" poor should have greater access to the goods of society than the "undeserving." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 59-60)

To combat this human tendency and society norm, we need to value the totality of human work. We need a "theology that assumes the inestimable value of each person regardless of work; a theology that operates out of assumptions of sharing and abundance instead of hoarding and hierarchy among workers." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 59-60)

Poverty: a biblical model

The second hack is to model poverty solutions after God's economy of abundance rather than our economy of scarcity.

"Poverty is, in the biblical vision, never something to be put up with or to be adjusted to as normal." (Bryan Stone, Evangelism after Christendom, 216). You may recall the words of Jesus "the poor will always be with you" (Matthew 26:11). Many categorize this as "the poor are always gonna be a problem, so why try?" In contrast, I see this not as a resignation to the reality, but a commission along the lines of Deuteronomy 15:11 to "share always with the needy in your land." If those who are poor are always with us, then we need to figure out how to include them in the conversation.

When it comes to approaches, many people today will probably want coercive efforts: taxes, nations cooperating, putting the homeless on boats and sailing them into the sunset (for shame!).

However, this hack claims something surprising: We cannot legislate sharing. We believe in a God who shares without coercion. God does not force humans to accept God's grace; God's grace is a free gift that humans can accept or reject. Sharing cannot be coerced; otherwise it ceases to be sharing. In other words, forced sharing is oxymoronic!

God's sharing, by contrast, is free. God shares God's grace freely without requirements or triggers. "The paradox is that we typically say 'no' to that gift. In response to God's sharing, we choose to hoard what we think is ours, and thus choose death." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 59-60)

What would it look like to live out of abundance? This does not mean throw money at the situation with reckless abandon...we leave that to banks bailouts apparently. Rather, an alternative proposal to taxes and labor camps is non-coercive applications that does not throw money at the situation, but rather invites those who are poor to participate.

I'll cease acting like I know everything and just quote Jensen whole-hog right here:
"An alternative policy would be to dismantle the connection between government assistance and employment by providing training and education for all who are unemployed. Here there would be no means testing of recipients. Rather, local, state, and federal governments could offer several measures that enhance the participation of all in the reality of abundance, such as free education, job training, child care, and transportation. Enhanced educational options for the unemployed would satisfy both a society's need for an educated workforce and the unemployed person's desire to contribute in some way to life abundant. Apprenticeship programs for the unemployed would allow for a continuation of struggling trades (such as Navajo rug-weaving) and the creation of abundant beauty for society as a whole. The key, however, is not simply to construe public assistance as grants of money, but to include education, job training, and transportation to work as means of government assistance." (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 106)
I'm not 100% with this model (some level of government assistance and money is necessary for a society that has a vast stratum of ability to work), but the connection between valuing each person and giving value to them make this abundance-based model  rather compelling.

Poverty affects us all

A third and final hack is that it is important for those of us who are not poor to realize our own poverty.

The non-poor share characteristics with those who are poor in that we are “also made in the image of God, are also fallen, and are also being offered redemption.” But we who are non-poor ignore the Good News easier because “knowingly or not, [we] are playing god in the lives of the poor.” (Bryant Myers, Walking with the Poor, 88-90)
Too much food or too big a house makes us slaves to food and to our mortgage. The result is a life full of things and short on meaning. Like Proverbs 30:8-9 says:
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you,
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
The poverty of the non-poor is harder to change. A bank account and an abundant diet somehow insulate people from coming to feel the heartache of poverty even poverty is right next to those who are non-poor.

To the non-poor, then, the effect of discussions of poverty with the non-poor can breed a hardened fatalism, resignation, and time-worn skepticism about the possibility of lasting good news. But in understanding our own poverty, we can see our own role in this area of need as we proclaim the Good News as "a summons to the poor and marginalized to understand themselves as inheritors of God's reign, as children of God, as blessed." (Bryan Stone, Evangelism after Christendom, 85)

Thus, the counter-narrative to "work hard to play hard" scarcity model is the story of Christ inviting all around the communion table, inviting them to a banquet that overflows with God's grace. In doing so, we realize that our lives are possible not because of human work, but by God's grace which nourishes without fail. "At the Lord's Supper, there are no working poor: all are poor standing in need of God's grace, and all are fed abundantly when bread is broken and wine is poured in Christ's name" (Jensen, Responsive Labor, 9).


I'm not here to offer solutions; there's a bigger swath of the blogosphere doing that.  What I hope to add to the conversation is to make poverty approaches more holistic, in that:
  1. Poverty is about people with names, people with families, and people who are beloved children of God.  Any approach needs to include their voices in it so that we are not "doing things TO them."
  2. Poverty approaches should be based on abundance of gifts and opportunity, rather than the scarcity of funds and hope.
  3. Poverty includes the non-poor not as external to poverty or even causes of poverty, but fellow participants under poverty that we suffer under, even as we play a different role than the poor.
Dealing with global poverty has always been a constant companion to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Ending poverty will take a radical shift from current economic policies, but by the grace of God, it is possible.

Comments?  Questions?  Welcome to our visitors!

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Justice for Breakfast [video]

Here's some justice with your free-trade coffee you've got there.

It's the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights text set to music and images. (hat tip Andrew Sullivan)

Yeah, I thought it was awesome too.


Rule #12 for officiating weddings [video]

Rule # 12 from the official book of officiating weddings (clergy memorize it upon ordination...yeah) is "stick with the bride at all costs."  It is similar to a ship captain's "go down with the ship."

Here's an example of the rule:

The classiest part is that the priest keeps the bible dry. That takes talent!


Two *Edgy* Bible Versions

    Well, two relative newcomers to the ever-interesting world of bible versions.  These are pretty edgy, so don't let small children see them or their image of Jesus will be forever...awesome.

    First, the Manga Bible is an bible styled after Anime.  Jesus with Super Saiyan powers, I'm excited!
    • Since Manga is focused on action, then the Pauline letters are probably pretty boring.  But the action Jesus has got to kick some tail!
    • Editorial: I do worry a bit about focusing on the action and story of Jesus while missing out on the motivations and the theology.  But then again, narrative is very powerful, so who am I to be an old fogey about this?!

      Second, the Bible Illuminated: The Book is a pictorial representation of key verses featuring MLK Jr and Angelina Jolie (hat tip).  This reminds me of the biblezines that reach out to tweens and teens by putting the bible in magazine format.
      • Editorial: I can't stand bible paraphrases or Zondervan bibles that do the interpretation for me.  By linking images to bible verses, I think they may push me in directions that I don't really want to go.  Like how "In the Jungle" was ruined by Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.  Or how a relative ruined all the hymns in the hymnal by telling me to add "between the sheets" after each title.  Sigh.

      Well, there's two new versions for ya.  What do you think of them?
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      How to Deal with *ist Jokes at Church

      How to deal with *ist jokes (sexist, racist, heterosexist, anti-mormon) at church.

      You know the jokes I'm talking about...

      • the sly ones about women, 
      • the pointed ones about "them homersexuals," 
      • the loud and proud ones about Mormons. 
      How do you "hack" the situation by pointing out the inappropriate behavior while doing it in a Christian context?

      Carmen Van Kerckhove is a blogger on race in the workplace at her blog Racialicious. She has a guest post up at Brazen Careerist that is just the ticket. When someone tells a racist joke, here's her suggestion:

      My recommendation? Play dumb.

      Put on a bewildered expression, act as if you don't understand the joke, and ask your co-worker to explain it to you. He will not be able to explain why the joke is funny without evoking a racist stereotype. You can then question the veracity of this stereotype, thus pointing out the racism of the joke, without being confrontational and without humiliating your co-worker.

      Racist jokes rely on an unspoken, shared knowledge of racist stereotypes. Without the stereotypes, there is no humor.
      Try it out next time when you hear an *ist joke, and you may be surprised at how much more effective this can be....more than "YOU RACIST PIG" spraypainted on their bible can be.  Although that is pretty effective.



      Join Blog Action Day 2008 : Poverty

      October 15th is Blog Action Day 2008.  The topic for this year is Poverty.

      I'll subject poverty to several hacks to get at the root of the problem (I hope some sysadmin somewhere got my joke).

      • bible.hack our way to new conceptions of some of the most-quoted Scripture passages on poverty.
      • ethics.hack into questioning why Christianity approaches poverty the way it does.
      • ...and probably a mission.hack on the United Methodist position on poverty in our Social Principles.
      So why blog about poverty?  Well, the mission statement of the group is right up HX.net principles when it comes to mass participation:
      From the smallest online journals, to huge online magazines, to EU ministers, to professionals and amateurs, Blog Action Day is about mass participation. Anyone is free to join in on Blog Action Day and there is no limit on the number of posts, the type of posts or the direction of thoughts and opinions.
      Get more info and join here to blog with me on poverty. 

      Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

      I've joined...have you?


      This is what I call success

      "Blessed are you when people hate you,
      when they exclude you and insult you
      and reject your name as evil"
      Luke 6:22


      Hacking Folding Laundry

      An important infomercial:


      Daily Read 10/04/2008

      • tags: no_tag

        • The Spiritual side of the subprime mortgage crisis. God is not to blame, but the spokespeople for God get it wrong sometimes. - post by umjeremy
        • While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise — that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."
      • tags: no_tag

        • "Getting to heaven is not the goal of discipleship" - right on. - post by umjeremy
        • Deficient view of Heaven. Many evangelism programs are focused on “getting people to heaven” not treasuring Christ or living out his mission. Ultimately, we don’t GO to heaven; heaven comes to earth through the already/not fully lordship of Christ. Moreover, going to heaven is not the goal of biblical discipleship. Treasuring, obeying, and sharing Christ is.
      • tags: no_tag

        • I must be a flexitarian! I've finally found my orientation! - post by umjeremy
        • It might seem like being a vegetarian of convenience isn't particularly inspiring, but a growing number of experts and even some famous foodies are fans. They say that cutting back on meat, rather than abstaining completely, may be a practical compromise that benefits our bodies and our environment.
      • Todd Wilken, of the radio program Issues, Etc, often evaluates the sermons of popular preachers on his broadcast, and has done this for several of Osteen's messages. He evalutes the sermons on the following three criteria:

        1. How often is Jesus mentioned? For his purposes, a simple tally will suffice.
        2. Is Jesus the subject of the verbs? Is Jesus the one who acts, or are you?
        3. What are the verbs? What has Jesus done and what is He doing?

        tags: joel osteen

        • Interesting methodology for evaluating sermons. - post by umjeremy
          • Todd Wilken, of the radio program Issues, Etc, often evaluates the sermons of popular preachers on his broadcast, and has done this for several of Osteen's messages. He evalutes the sermons on the following three criteria:

            1. How often is Jesus mentioned? For his purposes, a simple tally will suffice.

            2. Is Jesus the subject of the verbs? Is Jesus the one who acts, or are you?

            3. What are the verbs? What has Jesus done and what is He doing?


      The Love Poem [video]

      We talk at HX.net about reconceptualizing Christian tenets and showing them in non-standard ways. 

      For some, the following video may be a difficult pairing of Scripture with social issues. 

      But watch this video.  It's called the Love Poem, based off of 1 Corinthians 13. (hat tip to Jeremy Hooper)

      To know more about Proposition 8 in California, check out this link.

      I don't really have any other commentary...the video either speaks to your beliefs or it doesn't.

      But isn't it amazing to see a heartfelt vivid video...quoting nothing but Scripture that displays:

      • Minorities
      • Women
      • Interracial couple (I believe the second kissing couple is interracial..I could be wrong)
      • Gay couples

      ...All of which have been discriminated against using the Bible.  But they speak the words of the Love Poem, because, at least in the video, the Word still has meaning to them.

      And the older gentleman at 1:15?
      ...With his voice breaking at the word "Hope"?
      ......Yeah.  Broke my heart too.


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