Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The War on Christmas: Book Review

I guess the best place to begin is with the definition of WAR: a state of armed conflict between different nations, states or groups.

I begin there because this book begins with an assumption that is not accurate. I have not seen, nor have I heard it reported, of anyone toting weapons and battling any other person because of the Christmas season. Yes, I see your hand raised, ready to note that it may not be actual, physical war, but there is a war going on. Over Christmas? Still haven't seen it or heard of it.

I'll let the book itself bring clarity to my disagreement. In the introduction, Mr. Hodge states that "We have seen: 1. Christian-based public schools and universities become humanistic; 2. The Bible removed from schools; 3. Prayer removed from schools; 4. Creation removed from schools; 5. The Pledge of Allegiance removed from use…" and I'll stop there because, sorry the pun, there is more than enough ammo to settle my review. Humans organize, administrate and run schools and universities, and it is stated that these schools are 'Public' schools. So "become humanistic" strikes me as awkward and jaded. Humans are fallen, so says our Christian theology, so why would we expect humans to stick to a Christian script without screwing it up? As for point number two, I tutor and mentor in public schools every week, and every time I walk into the school until the time I walk out, I am praying for each student and school administrator I happen to come in contact with. Every week. Every time. Do I fold my hands and publicly make a giant declaration that I am praying, no, because when was that ever the point? I try to be aware, as much as possible, to live scripture while I am in the schools, and in my mentoring I am constantly utilizing scripture within my advising and encouraging. Every week. Every time. Do I haul out a giant physical Bible? No, because imagine learning and having the Bible on our heart, and then living it with each great and action. It matters, a lot. As for point number three, I have had numerous conversations in which we had to speak of origins, and I always share from a place of understanding that God is the beginning, and the end while we are at this conversation. Do I try and argue scientifically that God created all things and not some scientific theory? Nope, because the Bible is not scientific, so why would I argue it as such? Is Biblical creation taught in public schools as curriculum? Not that I am aware of, but when was that the responsibility of science to explain poetry? And when was it the public school's responsibility to teach the Bible?

I'll end with point number five, because it is the most confusing and doesn't have to do with Christianity, so I'm not sure why the author used this to try and make his point on this "war." The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America? As Christians we pledge allegiance to Jesus, as he is our King. So why would removing the pledge to a country be an attack on my faith? I actually encourage my kindergarten son to not say the pledge in school, even though in the state of Michigan it is actually law to have it be said (and Mr. Hodge said whoops), because he knows our family pledges allegiance to Jesus. Jesus doesn't have borders, and he isn't American, which apparently is news to a lot of people.

There is not a war on Christmas, but there are angry, bitter and jaded religious people who love picking fights about religious things. I think this was supposed to be a book about "taking a stand for our faith," but it's really a book about how to take a stand and create unnecessary friction. The "how"comes across as forceful and argumentative, which strikes me as bull headed and bitter.

I'm going to give this book a giant thumbs down, which may cause someone to want to argue with me. But I won't consider that a war, because I am not interested in fighting, as my King was not interested in fighting. Jesus, of course, did throw down some strong words for the religious people who far too often missed the entire point of what he was doing. Which I can freely talk about, pray about and write about. Anywhere, and pretty much any time. I always have, and I plan right on having those beautiful experiences and conversations. Sorry Mr. Hodge, I am not interested in your war.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fighting in the Bookstore

I love bookstores. If I am in an unfamiliar city, and I spot a bookstore, I feel like have some sense of security. Because even if I were to get lost, I'll just be lost there. I don't own any type of e-reader, and I actually think they are one of the few things that technology got wrong. I think ink and paper tell better stories, they have a depth that technology can't hold. You may disagree, which in a completely random way, leads to the intent of this writing.

Why is there so much fighting in the bookstore? Not punch you in the face and break your nose, kind of fighting. Fighting as in, this book was written about that book, but more so about how that book is stupid and uninformed. Which means someone else is going to write a book to parody both of those books, and of course trumpet itself as even more enlightened. If you are wondering where I find all these books, it is in the "Christian" aisle of your local bookstore, or in "Christian" bookstores. Awesome. Better yet, these books are in the "Christian Inspiration" section, which is all the more eye-rolling for me. These authors were inspired to call that person dumb and uninformed, and highlight their own grand enlightenment? The God who created, well creation, who is infinitely wise and breathes innovation and creativity, inspired you to write a book about that person's stupid, inspiration?

With that, I am announcing my brand new book!! Be on the lookout for it in your local bookstore, "The Tool Shed: Why The Shack lacks the tools to communicate that Love came in third place because it didn't have 50 Purpose Driven Shades of Gray" It's better than that heretic's book!

You can find me, and my better than your book, over in the "Encouragement" aisle of the "Christian" bookstore, if you want me to sign a copy, or discredit that other author.

Sarcastic rant inspired by the Apostle Paul asking why the church in Corinth is divided :-)

Friday, February 15, 2013

You said what?

Describe the people you spend the most amount of time with?

Describe the people you have the most fun with?

Describe the people you most admire?

Describe the people you have a small slice of envy for? (It's a OK, we're just going to be a little honest)

Are there commonalities among the people? Are there places you could connect people, or is that idea completely insane to you? What are the major differences, if any?

Does any of the descriptions above describe your church? How so? How not? If church isn't a part of your life, does anything above shed light on why? OK, so why?

Obviously I'm interested in people, not describing services, because services are typically about style and church is about people. More accurately, people gathering around God, exploring, examining, listening and immersing.

Hits? Misses? Anything interesting?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eyes to See

"Where is God?" "This is what happens when we take God out of the public school system." Was it in the t-shirt or Facebook post that said, "God, where were you? God: I am not allowed in the public school."?

Wow, how disempowering for the church. Does the government actually have that kind of power? Even if we cave to that dilapidated thinking, then we're the only people that lose, not God.

God is not directed by our government's laws, motions and rules.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Did the Roman Empire approve of this? Did any of the religious sects agree with this, or believe it to be true in Jesus? And yet the Christian faith says it is true, and it did happen, and it continues to happen, right?

The United States is not a "Christian Nation," and it never was, and I'm not waiting around for it to happen either. If we are going to draw our directives from our country and our government, then we're in bigger trouble than any of us can imagine.

The first of three short letters from John, towards the end of our Bible, says, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him... No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

Among us and in us and that we might live through him. Love people, all people.

Pray wherever you want, read your Bible wherever you want, and sit and listen to God wherever you want. So we can't hang plaques and banners, pictures and religious paraphernalia in government buildings. Is that why there is darkness in our society? Really? Or maybe it's because we believe that crap and so we hand over our responsibility, our calling, willingly.

God among us, in us, and through us. Stand up church, be the church, and know that the Word desires to take on flesh in you and I. Let's not wait for the Empire to do something, because that would be abdicating the call to the church, Jesus' Bride, and handing it over to the Empire, which is at odds with God.

God is in us, so take Him to school, all schools. Take Him with you, because He is waiting for us to go! He desires to send us, He is hungry to move through us. It's time to giddy up, right?

May we have eyes to see God, everywhere. May we have ears to hear His voice, at all times. May we know that God is with us, so that we will go, and be light, and shine His light everywhere, to everyone.

Grace & Peace

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Summer is coming to a close, whether you or I like it or not. I think it's been an amazing summer and I know I've spent far more time outside this year than last year, which I am incredibly grateful for.

I can feel Fall approaching, not only in my knees (tendinitis), but also in my soul. Change, I feel change coming. I'm anxious for change because I love a good adventure and I can't stand it when things grow static.

It's time for a new season, in all of the ways that can be interpreted.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Those Who Have Ears...

I enjoy listening to teachings from across the spectrum of thought, and I often get stuck with pieces that just stay lodged in my heart. Here are a couple of quotes from two separate talks that I heard recently:

 South African pastor and bishop Peter Storey said, “American preachers have a task more difficult, perhaps, than those faced by us under South Africa’s apartheid, or Christians under Communism. We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white and blue myth. You have to expose, and confront, the great disconnection between the kindness, compassion and caring of most American people, and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly and indirectly, by the poor of the earth. You have to help good -people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all.”

 Bruxey Cavey said, "Every hour that you put into trying to get America to act more Christian as an earthly nation, is another hour that you're not working at just getting the church to act more Christian. And I think you could spend your whole life on the latter rather than the former. Rather than trying to legislate morality, we teach the church to be the church."

 Wow, both pretty striking.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hearing the ticking of a clock

When was the last time you heard a clock ticking?

Of course you would have to be in the same room as a ticking clock, but beyond that, the key to hearing the ticking is silence. When was the last time the room was quiet enough for you to pick up on the ticking? When was the last time you were quiet enough to listen?

A friend of mine, who had been a missionary in Thailand for a few years, noted on his return to the States that the most common response to his question, "How are you doing?" was, "Busy!" He quickly grew weary of the response, frustrated even. People were not good, not bad, just really, really busy. He also noted that the answer was often given with a sense of pride, as if being busy earned them a certificate of achievement. He also had conversations with his family so that they would structure their new beginning in America in such a way that their answer to the question of how they are doing could be different. It could be about how they are doing, rather than what they are doing. Of course there are seasons, occasionally, from time to time. Not all the time. Not every day. It doesn't have to be THE way of life.

Slow down, stop even, and listen to the ticking of a clock. You may even hear the quiet whisper of your soul saying, "Thank you, I needed that."