Happy Earth Day!

For Earth Day, here's a recap of the Blog Action Day participation on Hacking Christianity on the topic of Climate Change.  Enjoy!

  • Hacking Global Warming: exploring how our understanding of God as relational can lead to advances in understanding climate change.
  • Hacking Global Cooling: exploring how our human condition of growing closer and yet more frigid towards each other compounds the problem of climate change
  • Hacking Climate Change: exploring how aggregate individual responses and caring for individual ecosystems will yield positive understandings of God and our response to climate change.


April 19th Remembered

The fence memorial, with what I believe
is First UMC downtown in the background
Do you remember when you heard JFK was assassinated? 
Do you remember where you were when Roosevelt died?
Do you remember when Reagan was shot?

People whose generations are older than my own have vivid memories of the above dates and times when important people died or were shot.  It seems strange that for my generation what is fused in our memory isn't when particular people died but when mass numbers of people died (outside of war zones, obviously). My most vivid memories are of Waco, Columbine, 9/11.  I can tell you in vivid detail each of those moments when scores of people died and what I was doing.

Oh, and this one for today:

15 years ago today I was in an Oklahoma high school walking outside between first-hour English Comp and second-hour Computer Keyboarding. Our high school is 6 miles away as the crow flies from the Murrah Building. I heard a boom and thought it was a car backfiring in the parking lot, a passing thought that was removed 30 minutes later when teachers started turning on TVs and students with parents downtown were being wisked to the office and we found out what had happened.  One of my good friend's dads was an emergency responder and my friend went to the bombing site the next day, telling us all about it as we were huddled in the back of the yellow schoolbus. Such visceral memories.  A few days later I also remember walking the iconic chain-link fence and blocks of people posting signs, notes, teddy bears, crosses, american flags, anything as a monument to their loss. Still gives me chills.

Incidentally, I wasn't until years later that I found out that my parents and one sibling were in the Murrah Building a month previously...could have been them very easily!

My prayer for today? May goodness and mercy be of a more permanent effect than explosive hatred.


Basically the worst.hack.ever [bad.hack]

Here's a truth you can take to the bank: You know that basically you are one of the worst expressions of "Christianity" on the planet when even the KKK disavows any affiliation with you (h/t Unreasonable Faith):

The text reads:

NOTE: The Ku Klux Klan, LLC. has not or EVER will have ANY connection with The "Westboro Baptist Church". We absolutely repudiate their activities.

The Ku Klux Klan, LLC.
Wow. Yeah.

I have been in the same place as Westboro people.

I've had a chance coffee-shop conversation with a Klan member.

Let's not forget two things about understandings of Christianity like these:

(1) Both are absolutely distorted expressions of "Christianity."
(2) Both are absolutely who Jesus would want to talk to the most.



In our pluralistic world, one of the efforts of atheist/freethinking people is to advertise on buses and billboards. It is then a test for how the religious communities respond.  Do they respond with hostility and incredulity at the "offensive" billboards? Or do they respond with grace and hospitality to the efforts of one group among others?

In Fayetteville, Arkansas, there's an interesting twist to this phenomenon...well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Yep, the NWA Coalition of Reason has their billboard on the same one as a United Methodist Church.  And apparently it wasn't planned out that way.

So how did the two groups respond?
“That was a complete coincidence. We didn’t know that until we went and took a picture of the sign and said. Oh, we had no idea,” said [co-founder of Fayetteville Free Thinkers Darrel] Henschell.

And neither Henschell, nor the church’s pastor thinks it’s a bad thing.

“That could be a metaphor for how secular people and church minded people can co-exist peacefully in our society,” Henschell said.

“The first reaction is it breaks my heart,” said CUMC Senior Pastor Carness Vaughan. “But on second thought, any opportunity to get people thinking about God is a good thing.”
Over and over at HX we talk about the Echo-Chamber: how to introduce dissonance into a person's customized lifestyle.  I think we have an example right here of an unintentionally effective means to do that.  Are people's faith going to be shattered by seeing a billboard? Not likely. But will a conversation start about faith? Much more likely.  It becomes an easy conversation starter in workplaces and schools and homes about faith, and I hope people take advantage of the opportunity.  I applaud the hospitable reaction of the UMC and the CoR to see this as a conversation starter and not dueling billboards.



Communion on Easter

Quick Poll: Will your church celebrate Communion on Easter?

Why? Communion Sundays are more logistically challenging than other Sundays, and thus combining Easter with Communion Sunday (since it is on the first of the month) adds a another layer of considerations.

I'm curious how other churches are handling it and why.

If you can't view the poll in your news reader, visit us on the web or go to the poll site directly.

*EDIT* Blah, stupid poll. Just comment below or vote on the external website here. Blogger needs polls.


Stuff Christians Like [review]

Stuff Christians LikeI almost swerved off the road several times yesterday. Not for imbibing or DWS (Driving Whilst Shaving) or DWSML (...My Legs) but because I was listening to an audiobook of Stuff Christians Like.  Jonathan Acuff is a blogger on the popular StuffChristiansLike.net and the man is just hilarious. The tagline "100% funnier than The Shack" is pretty spot-on.

While you can buy the book here, the audiobook is free at the moment on ChristianAudio.com.

What I really appreciate is the way how Acuff uses humor as a hack (a humor.hack), as a way to cut through the layers of self-righteousness and embarrassment.  He's able to talk about stuff that we are uncomfortable with or that people outside the church notice in ways that are humorous but also empowering.

For instance, here's a segment from an interview found on Christian Audio's freebie interview too.

Acuff (6:00): I think sometimes we have...a Christian "F" word which is "Fine."  There's a temptation to shine up your life.  How's your marriage? Fine. How's your work? Fine. I think a lot of it stems from the core issue of believing that if you get mad and express something as horrible then it looks like God is horrible. So you don't want to say things are bad right now, cuz then a non-Christian will go "if life is bad for that guy and he is a Christian, then why would I want anything to do with that God?" There's an incredible temptation to whitewash our lives
It's humorous but with a point.  Hence, being able to poke holes in the shield of self-righteousness and expose what our little idiosyncrasies can mean to the outside world.

Finally, Acuff responds with a helpful distinction between mockery and satire.
Acuff (7:15): There's a world of difference between mockery and satire.  Mockery has a victim. Mockery's goal is to hurt and wound. Satire is humor with a purpose. And my ultimate purpose is to share the love of Christ.  The bottom line is that mockery is a great shortcut to laugh but it removes your ability to speak and love later...My goal is to make this huge mirror that is big enough that we can all look in it and go "hey is that us? Are we okay with that? Is that what love looks like?"
I highly recommend it.

Video preview after the break:

So check out the site and the book and the free audiobook, and support Christian humor as a way of breaking down the barriers between people today.


Blog has moved

I know, I know...April Fools day is a perfect day to launch a new blog...sigh.  I know practically no one will take this seriously.

But it's time.  I've been working on it for a few months and I'm too excited to wait. Here's a screenshot of what you'll find:

New Website homepage

It's not too much different, just on a self-hosted wordpress with the most AMAZING plugins and theme that only a nerd with theological credentials could have made.

Come check out the new homepage:

The RSS feed will stay the same! Don't worry!

Whatchya'll think about it?


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