Who the Hell is Samhayen?!?

October 28, 2010


What is it about Halloween that brings all the Fundamentalist crazies out?  This video is a couple of years old, but I’m using it anyway; mostly because I’m lazy and mining other sites for material (Christian Nightmares again), but there’s plenty of fresh material out there.  As I watch this, I’m not sure what’s worse, her theology or the fact that she’s getting it all wrong.  Seriously, “Samhayen” is not the “Reaper of Death”, he’s not a god.  Heck, he doesn’t even exist!  Best I can tell is what she’s done is taken the word “Samhain” (pronounced “sau-wain”…, I think), an ancient Celtic harvest festival tied to the winter solstice that most of our Halloween traditions come from, and twisted it into this weird…, okay, I’m not using than kind of language tonight .  The early Church vilified Samhain (and other pagan festivals) to pump up their own religion and suppress the old ones.  There’s nothing remotely “Satanic” about Halloween and going to lengths like this to say that it is, well that’s  just ridiculous.

Many of my posts are inspired by quotes, videos, passages out of a book I’m reading, etc.  This one had a double inspiration: the video you just watched and this quote by James Cone :”While churches are debating whether a whale swallowed Jonah, the state is enacting inhuman laws against the oppressed.”  I think I got off someone’s Twitter feed, I don’t remember whose.  What I do remember is that when I read it, I gave a little fist pump and said “YES!”  I’ve felt this way for a long time, maybe not so much about “inhuman laws”, but that the church is basically fiddling while Rome burns.  I mean, people are starving, don’t have clean drinking water, and are dying from preventable diseases in droves.  We have child soldiers, abandoned land mines by the thousands strewn around the world and oppressive regimes persecuting and even killing people.  The environment’s a disaster, big business is actually considered a “person” in this country and money trumps people in all too many situations.  What is the Church doing while all this is going on?  Worrying about who sleeps with who or whether kids should go trick or treating.  Sometimes these idiots make me ashamed to admit I’m a Christian. 

But, then, I run across people like Shane Claiborne, Bart Campolo and Hugh Hollowell.  All three of these gentlemen gave up comfortable middle class lives to move to the inner city and start a ministry to help people who most of us tend to forget about.  I’ve only met Claiborne in passing and will get to see Campolo speak next month, but Hugh Hollowell lives and works right here in my hometown of Raleigh, NC, so I’m pretty familiar with what he’s doing.  And that’s working his butt off to help drug addicts, homeless people, prostitutes and that sort find a least a little better life than they’ve been living.  Claiborne and Campolo are too, I’m just not as connected to them as I’m to Hugh.  They can use your help, too.  Whatever you can do is always appreciated, be it financial, material or showing up to lend a helping hand.  If you’re wondering why we should help people like that, remember this little tidbit from the Boss (and I ain’t talking about Springsteen):

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:37-40


What Were They Thinking?!?

October 26, 2010

We Christians feel we’ve found the best way to live life and, because it’s so good for us, we can’t wait to share it.  Unfortunately, that zeal leads us into some questionable practices.  We’ll hijack pop culture, worm our way into politics and do God knows what else to get the point across.  Every now and then, I’ll see something that makes me think “What the…?  What are they thinking?!?”  Here are a few examples. 

I’ve used this one before, but it’s just too good to let go.  You gotta wonder if anyone stepped back and looked at this after they put in up.

I know this probably isn’t something that a good God-fearing Christian would come up with, but I couldn’t resist.  I found this picture a while back and it won’t leave me alone.  There’s no way those things are comfortable.

Christine O’Donnell may well be the epitome of what I’m talking about.  In her own words:

On masturbation: “If he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, than why am I in the picture?”

On health care, I think: “God may choose to heal someone from cancer, yet that person still has a great deal of medical bills. The outstanding bills do not determine whether or not the patient has been healed by God.”

On alternative religions: “I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven.” / “One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar.”

Christine, sometimes you just need to think it and not say it.

One of picture posts wouldn’t be complete without a weird church sign.  I can only hope they’re referring to sin.  Dear God, please let it be that. 

Believe or not, this is actually a pin given to freshmen at Bob Jones University.  What, nobody proofreads anything anymore?

This is just weird.  How the hell are you supposed sleep on these sheets, let alone get freaky?

Being on fire for God can be a wonderful thing.  But, if you’re going to jump into the world at large, you better make sure you understand that world.  I’m not sure I see that happening anytime soon.  Until it does, we’ll have some entertainment.

Pictures courtesy Christian Nightmares and Jesus Needs New PR.  Christine O’Donnell quotes from Huffington Post.

Who’s Responsible?

October 24, 2010

Earlier this month, I wrote about Tyler Clementi and bullying, saying that society has to take some responsibility for this tragedy.  I also said that Christians have had a major influence on society in the matter and it’s not a good one.  In the last week, I read three articles that say the same thing and more.  And, they say it better than I did.  First, an article on the Huffington Post cited a poll by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service that shows most Americans think that the messages coming from religious institutions are contributing to negative views about the LGBT community.  Then,  Jim Wallis used his bully pulpit, the God’s Politics blog at Sojourner’s Magazine, to say that, as Christians, we should be the ones standing up for those being bullied.  I don’t always agree with Wallis, as he sometimes gets a little to political for my taste, but this is an excellent article that every Christian should read.  Finally, Gareth Higgins tells us that, ultimately, it’s our fault.  Yes, yes it is.

The PRRI poll has bigger implications than just pointing out our screw ups.  The far-right, in-bed-with-the-TeaParty group that many young people perceive as the face of the church is keeping them away in droves.  More and more of them are claiming no religious affiliation, some even rejecting religion all together.  Considering that they’re the future of the church, this is not good.  They have different ideas than the older generation about almost everything and homosexuality (and sex in general) is no exception.  But, regardless of how you feel about that particular hot potato, kids killing themselves because they’ve been made to feel like shit is a bad thing and we should speak out against it.  That’s Wallis’ article in a nutshell, although he’s much more eloquent than I am.  For me, this was the best part of the whole thing: “The fact that bullies target gay and lesbian people should mean that Christians give extra attention to protecting and standing up for them. The fact that any community or group of people is regularly the target of harassment and hate means Christians should be on the front line of defense against any who would attack.”  Damn right we should.  Doing for those who can’t do for themselves is a huge piece of  the Christianity pie.  Wallis doesn’t talk about the cause of the bullying, though.  Which is okay, because Higgins takes up that mantle very well, saying “Tyler Clementi died as a direct result of a culture of sexual shame in which institutionalized religion is the major investor.”  It’s not just some monolithic institution that’s responsible according to Higgins, it’s all of us.  Try this on for size, “If you have ever affirmed homophobia by not intervening to challenge the snide remarks that all of us have heard, you may be part of the reason that Tyler Clementi is dead. And most of the time, I myself have not intervened.  If you have ever used us-and-them language to divide sets of people into “normative” heterosexual cultures and “others,” you may be part of the reason Tyler Clementi is dead. I spoke of “us” and “them” for most of my life until a friend challenged me; I still find myself slipping into old rhetorical habits, for our culture is so deeply wedded to the myth that our identities depend on dividing and conquering.  If you have ever disrespected, dehumanized, or belittled a person because of his or her sexuality, you may be part of the reason Tyler Clementi is dead.”  I’m guilty of all of this, even now.  Whenever I see an openly gay person, the little voice in my head say “Um hmm, look at that.”  All to often, I refer to my LGBT brothers and sisters as “them” or something significantly less tasteful.  I tell myself that it’s just the way I was raised, but that’s no excuse.  In fact, it’s the very excuse that’s used by so many to marginalize people who are children of God.  And, it has to stop.  We’re going to have to come to some kind of consensus on this subject that gives everyone the respect and love that they deserve or people are going to continue to avoid us.  Worse, kids will continue to die because we’ve made them feel like they’re so vile and disgusting that there’s no hope for them.  And, that’s definitely NOT what Jesus would do.

Glad I’m Not Like That

October 21, 2010

Somewhere in the last couple of days, I read something that referenced Luke 18:9-14; that’s the story about the Pharisee and the tax collector and how they prayed.  When the Pharisee prayed, he thanked God that he wasn’t like some of the scummy people he encountered (the tax collector being one of those) and talked about all the wonderful things he did, how he fasted and tithed.  The tax collector, on the other hand, threw himself on the ground and begged God to have mercy on him because he was sinner.  I know some people don’t like The Message (modern language bible), but I like the way it puts Jesus’ explanation of this parable: “This tax man, not the other, went home-made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”  It’s not a perfect translation (heck, it’s not even that, it’s a paraphrase), nor is it the poetry of the King James Version.  What it is, though, is succinct and understandable.  But, I’m not writing this to advertise The Message or tout anything version of the Bible.  What I want to say is, all too often, I’m the Pharisee instead of the tax collector.

Now, if you haven’t done some Bible study or the like, you may be wondering what was so bad about tax collectors.  Tax collectors had the reputation of being greedy, sticky-fingered collaborators that soaked people for more than they were truly required to pay.  That’s because whatever the tax man collected over the amount set by the Romans, he got to keep.  You can see how that might cause a problem.  These folks weren’t in the top tier of Jewish society, to say the least.  The closest modern equivalent I can think of would be a loan shark.  Definitely people on the margins and I don’t have a problem with those folks.  Most of the time, anyway.  The Pharisee is another story.  For me, fundamentalists and ultra-conservative Christians are modern-day Pharisees and, in my opinion, Pharisees are the enemy; a brood of vipers, if you will. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought “Oh God, I’m glad I’m not like that” after dealing with some hardcore fundamentalists.  I’ve never actually prayed it, so I guess that’s something.  But, thinking it’s bad enough. 

A few months ago, I would’ve laughed in your face if you told me I could learn something from people I saw as diametrically opposite from what I believe (and, by extension, the message of Christ).  But, that’s changing.  Not so much theologically, as in practical matters.  I have to say I’m a little jealous of their zeal, even if it does lead places I don’t care for.  Sometimes I wish I could be as sure about things as they seem to be.  And, this is where I realized they could teach me a thing or two, they understand that young people are the key to the future of the Church.  They invest so much more in their youth than us mainstream people.  I wish we did that. 

I’m trying to come up with ways to remind myself not to walk around with my nose in the air and remember that even those that disagree with me are my brothers and sisters.  My former pastor used to talk about printing “Love God, Love your neighbor” on her glasses so she wouldn’t forget, but that wouldn’t work for me.  I’m terrible about keeping mine clean and adding more crap wouldn’t be good.  Maybe I can tattoo “Luke 18:9-14” in the palm of my hand or something.  Nah, I’ll still screw up and all that pain would be for nothing.


October 20, 2010

I had fully intended to do something funny this morning, but it’s not working out that way.  I was upset about this, then I realized I’m probably not as funny as I think I am, so it’s no big loss.  Anyway, I’m in the process of reading “Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church” by Kenda Creasy Dean.  Ms. Dean, Associate Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, tells us about the National Study of Youth and Religion and how it’s findings relate to the church today.  It’s very eye-opening and I recommend it for anyone involved in any sort of ministry.  So, I’m reading this morning and she relates a story by Robert Fulghum (of “Everything I Needed to Know” fame) about a question he asked of Alexander Papaderos, a noted peace activist.  At the end of a lecture Fulghum had attended, Papaderos took questions from the audience.  As people were gathering there belongings, Fulghum asked “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”.  Amid chuckles and dismissive laughter, Papaderos took a small, round mirror out of his pocket and answered:

“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.  I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine–in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.  I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light –truth, understanding, knowledge–is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.  I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world–into the black places in the hearts of men–and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

I started this blog over a year ago as a way to explore new ideas about my faith and what living it out meant for me.  I did it this way for three reasons: 1)I think better out loud, but can’t stand being interrupted.  A blog gave me exactly what I needed, 2) I’m conceited enough to think total strangers would give a flying crap what I think and, 3) I’m a closet attention whore.  I’m not a person that must have all eyes focused on me at all times (that’s actually kinda creepy), so I find other ways to garner the attention I crave and a blog is great for that.  I’m telling you this because, with the mirror story you just read, I’m beginning to understand what my faith is really about; how to “bear fruit”, so to speak.  Looking back over the last year, I can see it slowly coming together.  All the “Love God, love your neighbor” stuff I’ve written, my slide away from the staunchly conservative political views I held for a long time, the new theology I’ve begun embracing, all of it showing me how to be a mirror of Christ’s love for everyone and everything.  How to shine that light into the dark places and allow it change some people and some things for the better.  That’s real Kingdom work.  I just hope I’m up to the task.

Keeping Score

October 18, 2010

There’s so much wrong with this video, I don’t even know where to start.  First things first, however.  I found this video courtesy of one of my favorite blogs, Jesus Needs New PR .  Now that I’ve given credit where credit is due, we can move on.  I have to compliment the young man on his zeal and I believe that he’s doing this because he truly cares about his fellow-man.  His motivations are good, but his methods leave so much to be desired.  Sharing the Gospel isn’t like bowling, complete with a score card, where whoever “wins” the most souls gets extra stars in their crown.  I think this attitude is part of the reason that more and more young people are swearing off religion.

I have numerous problems with this idea of “soul-winning”.  First, it’s a skewed version of the gospel, in that it seems selfish.  It’s all about how many people one can lead to Jesus, with no further concern about what happens to them after the fact.  Nobody seems to care about what’s going on these folks life, what cares and concerns they might have, even if their basic needs are met.  It’s like, “I got you saved, my conscience is clear.  You worry about that other stuff”.  Even if we just focus on the spiritual aspect, it’s still not good.  In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus told his disciples “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”  Witnessing to strangers and street preaching are like sowing seed in rocky places and among the thorns.  If you’re going to bring the gospel to people, you need to stick around and make sure they have the support they need to mature in the faith.  The same goes for revival and TV preachers.  You’ve brought this new way of living to someone and now it’s your responsibility to see that they have the tools to continue. 

Throughout my life as a Christian, I’ve had problems with this way of spreading the Word.  When I was younger, I thought it was Satan trying to lead me astray.  Now that I’m older, I realize that wasn’t the case at all; I struggled with it because it’s not the way it’s supposed to be done.  Whenever I encounter it, I’m reminded of a quote attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel daily and, if necessary, use words”.  Get that?  He said “if necessary, use words”.  Meaning that words shouldn’t be our first recourse; that our we should spread the Gospel with our actions, not our mouths.  Maybe by acknowledging that the weird-looking guy at school is actually a person or giving the dude holding a “Will work for food” sign a buck now and then; it won’t kill you and it’ll make their day.  Who knows, you might even start building a relationship with them and find that they’re pretty neat people.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll be doing the work of the Kingdom.  And, that’s always a good thing.

What’s the Point?

October 16, 2010

Warning: I may step on some toes in this post.  If so, I apologize in advance.  I tried to keep my usual snarkiness to a minimum and at least partially succeeded.  It’s also link-heavy, but there’s some deep stuff in here and others have explained way better than I have, so I relied on those explanation.  I also Wikipedia isn’t the greatest source, but (generally) it’s more readable than most things and I previewed the entries.  While they may not be perfect, it gives the basics.  That said, read on.

I’m more excited about the N.C. UMC’s Pilgrimage (watch the video for an explanation) this year than I’ve ever been.  Unfortunately, others don’t share that excitement.  So far, I’ve heard of two churches who will not have anything to do with it.  One, Edenton Street UMC, here in Raleigh, decided not to sponsor its youth group’s trip.  Not to fear, though.  The youngsters that want to go, along with their parents pulled the trip together and they’re without official sanction.  The other is Garber UMC in New Bern.  What they did is a little different.  Garber was going to sponsor a Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event and invited other groups to help during the Saturday afternoon break.  This week, we got an email saying they were pulling out and someone else needed to take over.  Fortunately, someone stepped up and the event is still on.  That’s just the two I know about, there may be others.

So, what’s making churches pull out of the premier youth event in North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church?  One person: Bart Campolo.  They don’t like his theology.  Here’s a video that’s got them torqued:

Basically, Bart doesn’t subscribe to Penal substitutionary Atonement, which is cool with me as I’m a moral influence kinda guy.  One line in the video caught my ear, because I’ve said variations of it myself more than once.  I almost jumped up and hollered when, in response to the idea that someone had to die for us to be forgiven,  he said “Your God must really suck if he has to kill somebody, that if He just can’t get around to forgiving you unless He kills somebody.  It just doesn’t make sense to me”.   This isn’t the first time Campolo has ruffled more conservative feathers.  A few years back, he wrote an article titled “The Limits of God’s Grace“, in which he spoke about grace and free will, two major concepts in Arminian theology.  I think the paragraph that probably rubbed the most people the wrong way was:

 “You can figure out the rest. I don’t hate God because I don’t believe God is fully in control of this world yet. Heck, God is not fully in control of me yet, even when I want God to be—so how could I possibly believe that God is making all the bad stuff happen out there in the streets? I don’t hate God because I believe God is always doing the best God can within the limits of human freedom, which even God cannot escape.”

I like this, but I can see where some might have trouble with it.  Yes, it offers up freedom on an unprecedented level; it also offers unprecedented responsibility.  If there’s no cosmic umpire up in the sky watching and making sure everything comes out right, that means it’s all on us.  As Steve Brown said in his book A Scandalous Freedom, “You are really and truly and completely free. There is no kicker. There is no if, and, or but. You are free. You can do it right or wrong. You can obey or disobey. You can run from Christ or run to Christ. You can choose to become a faithful Christian or an unfaithful Christian. You can cry, cuss, and spit, or laugh, sing, and dance. You can read a novel or the Bible. You can watch television or pray. You’re free…really free.”  And, that kind of freedom can be scary as hell.

I’m sorry that some really good kids are going to miss out a really fun weekend with their friends.  I’m sorry that they’re going to miss out on a chance to be unabashedly, unashamedly Christian and revel in all the dorkiness that can entail.  Most of all, I’m sorry that they’re to miss a chance to hear what I think is going to be an excellent speaker giving what I think is going to be an amazing Christian message.   It’s kinda sad.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

October 14, 2010

 In the last few months, the military’s policy on homosexuality (Don’t ask, don’t tell) has been in the news.   One of the Obama administration’s stated goals is repeal of the policy.  To that end, last month they pushed for a vote on the subject; which they lost.  I understand why they were pushing.  If they wanted this done, now would be the time; soon, the climate may well be decidedly chilly for this sort thing.  And, to be honest, they had a pretty good shot.  Public opinion seems to be on the side of repeal, with anywhere from 57 to 75% in favor of allowing openly gay Americans to serve in the military.  Military opinion is a little more split, with the most prevalent opinion being “no preference”.  The leadership is leaning toward getting rid of it, with former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, current Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all speaking out for repeal.  So, why is it still in place?  Because we have to leave this decision up to politicians and too many of them are more worried about getting elected than doing the right thing.

I wish I could say the Church had the high ground in this little set-to.  I guess I could, but I’d be wrong.  Oh, so wrong.  First of all, most of the prejudice against homosexuals comes from the church.  For as long as anyone can remember, certain verses of the Bible have used (incorrectly, in my humble opinion) to marginalize, criticize and, yes, bully folks who aren’t like us.  Loving your neighbor was main thrust of Jesus’ entire ministry and, in this, we’re failing miserably.  The church supposed be the one place where everyone is accepted and loved unconditionally.  Yet all too many denominations either have caveats in their doctrine that prevent LGBT folks from getting married or serving in ministry, while others exclude them outright by denying them membership.  My very own United Methodist Church has an article in our Book of Discipline (church law, basically) that supports equal rights for homosexuals; then, we deny them the right to marry or be ordained in ministry.  And, we’re supposed the progressives on this kind of issue!  How can we expect Congress to do the right thing when we won’t do it ourselves?

That may be changing; on the legal front, if nowhere else.  Last month, a decorated flight nurse sued the military for discharging her and won, with the Air Force being forced to return her to duty.  Two days ago, on October 12, U. S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a worldwide injunction against enforcing the policy.  Now, this injunction could be left to stand and, for all intent and purpose, Don’t ask, Don’t tell would be a thing of the past.  But, the Obama administration, in all it’s wisdom, wants Congress to repeal it.  So, they’re going to file appeals and challenge the ruling.  That’s great, this isn’t enough of a political football already, so you’re going to make Congress do what you want them to.  It sounds like a bunch kids fighting instead of the leaders of the most powerful nation in the world trying to figure how to treat their citizens.  And, we wonder why the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots. 

It’s 2010 and well past time that ALL Americans enjoyed the rights guaranteed them in the documents this country was founded on.  In the Declaration of Independence, it is stated that everyone is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.  It doesn’t matter what color you are, where you worship, who you sleep with or anything else, we all have these rights.  It’s about time we started living up to that ideal.

Scary Christian Clowns?

October 12, 2010

Several years ago, Insane Clown Posse (a horrorcore rap group) released a song called “Thy Unveiling” in which they admitted they follow God:

Saying that ICP is controversial  is HUGE understatement, so there’s a good possibility that they’re not your cup of tea.  If that’s the case, here’s a key excerpt:

Fuck it, we got to tell.

All secrets will now be told

No more hidden messages

…Truth is we follow GOD!!!

We’ve always been behind him

The carnival is GOD

And may all juggalos find him

We’re not sorry if we tricked you.

There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on how people feel about this announcement.  While some people are willing to accept this it at face value, others vehemently deny that the members of ICP are Christian.  I have no idea what’s in someone else’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on whether Bruce and Utsler (ICP’s main members) are or are not Christian.  I do have some issues, though.  The content of their lyrics gives me pause, seeing as how they are filled with misogyny, hate and violence.  A little digging turned up a quote from Joseph Bruce on the matter, where he said “”You have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you’re one of them. You’re a person from the street and you speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them: God has helped me.”  I can buy that; if you want your words to be understood, you have to say in a way that your audience can grasp.  Unfortunately, that way is offensive to some.

A lot of the backlash against ICP’s faith seems to be rooted in the fact that their lyrics aren’t what we’re used to hearing as Christian music.  They curse, use violent images, refer to women as “bitches” and “ho’s”, and talk about gratuitous sex.  Just because they don’t follow some of the accepted norms of Christian behavior doesn’t mean they’re not Christians.  Bruce and Utsler, like all of us, are products of their environment and that environment was the inner city and it was hard.  I got that.  I understand that they’re trying to speak to the inner city and people of the street in a way they can grasp.  My problem with what these guys are doing and have done is that they don’t seem to be speaking out against the abuses of their fans.  The Juggalos (a fan nickname from one of their songs) have been accused of gang activity, murder, kidnapping, assault, etc.  Bruce, himself, has been charged with assault or battery more than once.  If you’re a Christian, loving your neighbor is one the biggest things you can do and clubbing someone over the head with a microphone 30 times doesn’t seem to fit in with that concept.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I like why they’re doing what they’re doing, but not how they’re doing it.  All I can do is practice some of that radical grace I go on about so much and love them.  Because, even though I hate the darkness in they’re propagating in their music, they are my neighbors, too.

What Are You Doing, Al?

October 11, 2010

In the last week or so, some prominent evangelical pastors have gone on record with their problems about yoga.  Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, said that yoga is incompatible with Christianity.  Dr. Mohler has a problem with “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine.  That’s just not Christianity”.  No kidding, Al; I think that goes without saying.  But, as far as I know, most Christians doing yoga aren’t looking for a “vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” with yoga, they just want a good workout.  According to Mohler, Christians who practice yoga “must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga.”  Mohler’s not the only minister with a beef about yoga.  Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle, said this, “Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic.  If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.”  Uh…, yeah.  Whatever you say, Mark. 

I don’t get it, why are these Christian leaders making such a big deal about yoga when there’s actual important stuff to worry about?  People all over the world are dying from disease, hunger, war, etc.  Too many people don’t know what it’s like to have plenty of fresh water.  Children are being pressed into service as soldiers in some countries.  Closer to home, there are people in our very own neighborhoods who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, families are living out their cars, people have been out of work so long they’ve forgotten what it was like to provide for their children.  All of this (and more) happens everyday and Mohler, Driscoll and others are worried about yoga?  I don’t get it.  Why is yoga such a danger?

Is it because yoga is about stretching and exercise?  Or is it the meditation part?  Maybe it’s because yoga is an eastern discipline.  Western society has a long history of ignoring anything eastern.  Well, anything eastern except Christianity and they changed that around so much it would probably unrecognizable by Jesus, Paul or any of the Apostles.  As originally intended, Christianity was about taking care of others, about being our brother’s keeper.  In the west, we’ve made it about ourselves and our stuff.  Somehow, I think Jesus cares more about how we treat each other than what kind of exercise we do.  What’s demonic is marginalizing your brothers and sisters or letting them go without the daily essentials like food, water and basic medical care.  Why don’t we fix that.  Then, we’ll talk about yoga.