Christian Living

Hobby Lobby, The Music Man, We Got Trouble

Like everyone else I was shocked by the news that Hobby Lobby, a privately owned company whose owners successfully challenged the Affordable Care Act mandate that their health insurance cover birth control on grounds that they are a closely held owned company driven by Christian morality, got caught smuggling Iraqi antiquities into the United States.

Christian Living

You can’t do communion alone

When I was in middle and high school I spent a lot of time home alone. My mom worked crazy hours and my older brother joined the Air Force when I was in 8th grade. A million nights home alone will lead you past boredom. While I always kept the TV on so I didn’t feel alone I rarely watched it. (A habit I often fall back on today, to the annoyance of Kristen.) And there’s only so many nights in a row you can play video games before the loneliness of solo gameplay sets in.

In fact, there comes a point where boredom leads to creativity. Creative with things you can do alone. 

In those years I would take as long as I possibly could to eat meals. I’d take forever to cook it. Or I’d cook it out of order or one thing at a time. Anything to make it last longer and give me something to do.

One little food oriented fascination I had was with communion. I don’t know why but I’d play around with communion elements. I’d tear bread, or a tortilla, or a tortilla chip… and mimic the motions of communion that we’d do in church. I’d recite the verses, dip the bread, the whole nine yards.

I wasn’t mocking it and it wasn’t quite the real thing. Actually, I used to worry that it was sacrilegious. And I would never have told a soul about this back then. In fact, I’m a little nervous about writing about it today.

Here’s the thing: It wasn’t really communion. Sure, it was the motions of communion. I got a certain feeling during communion at church, one worth trying to replicate.

But you can’t do communion alone. Even if you nail the elements and the words and everything. Because you can’t do communion alone. 

The very word communion has the same root word as community, with a different suffix. Just like you can’t be in a community alone you can’t experience communion alone.

This is something for those of us in evangelicalism to wrestle with. We have a personal pronoun issue. Our relationship with Jesus is about communion, not ourselves. Communion with the Father, communion with the Son & Holy Spirit, and communion with one another. It isn’t about you it’s about we.

I’ve often found the way we evangelicals do communion to be a lonely shadow of the experience found in other types of churches. We have reshaped communion into being about me and my relationship with Jesus, uncomfortably giving space to create a private moment, instead of allowing communion to be about a communal thing, our collective relationship with Jesus.

Satan wants nothing more than us to look out for our own best interests. Never forget the table. The table drives us to communion. 

Photo by Pierre Porte via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Politics Social Action

Obama in Cairo

I’ve had several people ask me about the President’s speech in Cairo yesterday. Here are a few thoughts.

– I like the new methodology of this president. He recognizes that you can’t walk into every situation and say, ““We’re America, we know how to do everything.
– President Obama understands that culture is important.
He gets that you can’t walk into a foreign country and expect the audience to understand what you are doing and saying if you only do things in “American ways.
– President Obama and his cabinet are proving that they are willing to listen and learn. Talk to anyone who isn’t American or do some traveling outside of North America and you’ll understand that this is important. Americans suffer from ethno-centricity… it is our greatest weakness as a people.
– President Obama understands that aggression without diplomacy just leads to more violence. President Bush never seemed to get that. Dick Cheney seems to think that the United States is modern day Rome. In a nuclear world you can’t maintain pax romana. Just like Rome fell because of its arrogance that it was too big to fall, Bush was leading us down the same road.
– President Obama understands that we living in a pluralistic society. Conversely, his approaches seek to work within pluralism as opposed to trying to fight it. Bush is an extremely intelligent man. But he let his personal ideology leads us array.
– President Obama doesn’t see the war on terror as a holy war between Muslims and Christians. Just like the Koran talks of world domination by Muslims the Bible speaks of the same for Christians. Read Revelation from a Muslim perspective, can you see why they might think we intend to steal their land? By changing the language from religion to justice or other issues… I like our chances better.
– President Obama is using his Islamic background as a diplomatic advantage for our nation. When he quoted the Koran and pronounced words correctly in this speech, this is a very good thing. It shows respect for Muslim culture. I can imagine this got the hard core Republicans panties in a bind… as if Bush never quoted the Koran! He would have used Arabic words if he could have pronounced them!
– Acknowledging the United States was wrong to torture people is good diplomacy. Just look at the ill-will the Vatican fostered by not acknowledging their role in the Holocaust for so long. The first step towards recovery must now be backed up with “living I’m sorry.” Bush/Cheney still think torturing people was right.
– President Obama’s approach is akin to good missions work. You cannot go into diplomatic situations with an attitude of “I’m smart, let me lead you to the right answer.” You have to meet people half way and ask them to give up some of their presuppositions and prejudices as well to meet you half way. Bush would have seen this as an act of cowardice when in the rest of the world sees it as an act of courage.
– President Obama acknowledges the fact that you can be the world’s sole superpower with enough nuclear and financial power to destroy the planet 10 times over. But that doesn’t equal peace. In order to stop the war on terror you have to be a part of fixing the problems that caused it in the first place. Bush/Cheney used a might = right methodology that just didn’t work.

There are many signs that the new administration is doing a lot to better our place in the world’s opinion.
I know Americans don’t believe this… but people really don’t see us as having the moral legs to stand on to call ourselves the world’s superpower. We see ourselves as something we are not in the world. While Obama’s methods make conservative Christians cringe… they need to put down their Obama-hating lenses long enough to see that he really is doing some incredible things.

It bears reminding conservative Obama-haters that John F. Kennedy was not liked by hard core conservatives during his presidency.
Of course, looking back we now see a President most would agree did tremendous things for human rights and the advancement of America as a world power.

hmm... thoughts

Things I’m thinking about today

Ever just have a hodgepodge of slush in your mind? Here’s some random thoughts this morning.

– While I still think of myself as a down-the-middle, maybe even conservative evangelical Christian… I’m finding myself tired of the grey haired leaders.

– As much as I’d like to say I agree with the complimentarian position of women in ministry, I thinks it’s just a politically correct version of it’s older self. I think you can put me in the egalitarian position of women in ministry, if those are my choices. I think its straight up revisionism, chauvinism, and crazy hermeneutics to say women can’t be elders and pastors in churches. (Conservative brethren allow women to practically serve in these roles, they just call them “directors of ministry” and pay them 50% less. That’s sexism.)

– Speaking of crazy hermeneutics… I think the rapture was made up by someone who liked science fiction. People argue about a pre-tribulational and post-tribulational rapture of God’s people in revelation. I keep reading the New Testement verses about that, and I have to say I think it was made up. I’m still firmly in the pre-millenial camp, but that whole rapture deal?

– This year’s American Idol is ridiculous. Paula and that new lady are cheerleaders. Seriously, what is Paula on? Randy isn’t say “dog” nearly enough. And the longer this thing goes,  the more I like Simon. At least he tells the truth.

– I’m officially addicted to the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel. I could watch them both 24 hours a day.

– I’m trying to be more green by taking the trolley to work in April. The mile walk back and forth to the trolley stop won’t hurt me either.

– I can’t wait for it to warm up a bit more so I can swim at the Kroc Center.

– The last month has been amazing on the stock market. Seriously, one of my stocks gain 25% just this week.

– Call me a hypocrite. But I made $1 per share on Ford in the last 2 months. Easy money! I think GM is going out of business in the next 6 weeks. But Ford and Chrysler are going to make it.

– I wanted to pull an April Fool’s joke on YS, I really did. But after I saw all the online jokes I was glad I didn’t.

– Speaking of work… I’ve been wanting to run around screaming about how excited I am about new stuff we’re doing. But people there already think I’m nuts so I didn’t.

– I like my iPhone, a lot.

– The other day I had dinner with Gary Shell from our church in Romeo. He asked me if I had any regrets about this move. I feel bad about it but I laughed. No regrets. I’m not the kind of leader who second guesses himself much. But I do miss our friends, big time. We are trying to scrape together a plan to go to Detroit in July.

– Baseball season is upon us, I’m calling it. Cubs win the World Series. 6 games.

– The kids Spring Break begins today. I doubt we’ll make it through April without a trip to Disneyland.

– When Jesus told his disciples, “Take up your cross and follow me” before the crucifixtion… what did they think? Is that kind of like U2’s new song, “Get on your boots?”

– Stoney still hates the water. He’s the only labrador retreiver in the world who won’t swim.