Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Theology For Pedro

I'm pissed off now, Jobu.

Look, I go to you.

I stick up for you.

You no help me now....

I say "Fuck you," Jobu!

I do it myself!

~ Pedro Cerrano (Major League, 1989)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Do You Groupon?

I rarely pay full-price for anything.  Some may call this cheap, but I think of it as the natural result of not having a limitless supply of money.  My wife knows that it often can take me months to buy something. First, I have to figure which version of the item has the best value. (I let the first adopters pay the big bucks, then I will round the corner sometime later.)  Once I know the item I want, I wait for a good coupon or sale; preferably both.

One of the items in my cost-cutting tool bag is Groupon.com.  If you aren't using it yet, you should.  It has the 2 for 1 value of an Entertainment book, without all of the clutter.  They post a local deal each day, be it food, entertainment, or services. I usually watch for stuff that is right in my area.  For example, I recently picked up a certificate to a local restaurant that was $20 for $10. Groupon keeps track of all the Groupons you have purchased, and you simply print them out when you are ready to use them (or use your Iphone app).  I have used about 20 Groupons so far, and have never had an issue.  They are even nice enough to remind me if one has been sitting unused for a while.

My favorite Groupon so far was the $49 for a family annual pass to the Clark Planetarium. We have probably been to the Imax and Dome theaters a half dozen times so far (plus, our pass includes a popcorn each with every movie).

Tonight my family will be going to Rumrz over at The District then heading to our local Redbox.  The price of both visits will be substantially reduced courtesy of Groupon.

If you haven't tried them yet, click here to check them out.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I will get a free Groupon if you sign up through my click...  win-win.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Listening to Love Wins

I finally started to listen to Rob Bell's Love Wins on my way to work today. I probably hold an even more liberal view of Hell than Mr. Bell does, so since I am already sold on this issue, I was not buying it the day it came out. I was content to wait and get a copy from the library. The audiobook is a great listen, since Rob is the narrator.

I am only a third of the way into it, but I supect that many of the negative reviews that proliferate the blogosphere are concerned with more than his view of Hell. From what I have heard so far, Bell is not just critiquing Hell, but the practical and evangelical practices that result from holding the popular Christian view of Hell.

This is Bell's true heresy. He critiques popular Christianity.

For many Christians, who have been trained to think in an us/them paradigm, when Bell makes a critique he places himself securely in the THEM category.

I was recently on David Hayward's (NakedPastor) facebook page. He was being taken to task by a Christian for a cartoon he drew that critiqued the church. The Christian said that David's cartoon was "anti-church" and that he should be making a "positive case for the Christian tradition". I would think that such a "rose colored glasses" approach would bring the accusation of "cult" were we talking about any other group.

When I heard the following quote in Love Wins this morning, I laughed outloud. However, when I was searching the Net for someone who had already typed it in, I found that most Christians didn't see the ironic humor. Most writers' defense mechanisms kicked in and they spent their sentences refuting the statement... rather than seeing Rob's use of irony. Either/or, Us/Them thinking.

So is it true that the kind of person you are doesn’t ultimately matter, as long as you’ve said or prayed or believed the right things?

If you truly believed that, and you were surrounded by Christians who believed that, then you wouldn’t have much motivation to do anything about the present suffering of the world, because you would believe you were going to leave someday and go somewhere else to be with Jesus.

If this understanding of the good news of Jesus prevailed among Christians - the belief that Jesus’s message is about how to get somewhere else - you could possibly end up with a world in which millions of people were starving, thirsty, and poor; the earth was being exploited and polluted; disease and despair were everywhere; and Christians weren’t known for doing much about it.

If it got bad enough, you might even have people rejecting Jesus because of how his followers lived.

And that would be tragic.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bill Maher Needs to Preach at YOUR Church This Sunday

Dear Priest, Bishop, Pastor - Whatever sermon you had planned for this Sunday, just tuck it away for next week. Christianity will function so much better if every congregant hears Bill Maher's latest commentary from the pulpit Sunday morning.

If you don't know Bill Maher, he is a comedian, commentator, and staunch Atheist. In this commentary he brilliantly sums up the reason Western Christianity doesn't work.

From the May 13, 2011 show:

New rule: if you’re a Christian who supports killing your enemies and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself.

Last week, as I was explaining why I didn’t feel at all guilty about Osama’s targeted assassination, I made some jokes about Christian hypocrisy and since then strangers have been coming up to me and forcing me to have the same conversation.

So let me explain two things. One, I’m not Matthew McConaughey. He surfs a long board. And two, capping thine enemy is not exactly what Jesus would do. It’s what Suge Knight would do.

For almost 2,000 years, Christians have been lawyering the Bible to try and figure out how “love thy neighbor” can mean “hate thy neighbor” and how “turn the other cheek” can mean “screw you I’m buying space lasers.”

Martin Luther King gets to call himself a Christian because he actually practiced loving his enemies.

And Gandhi was so fucking Christian he was Hindu.

But if you rejoice in revenge, torture and war – hey, that’s why they call it the weekend – you cannot say you’re a follower of the guy who explicitly said, “love your enemies” and “do good to those who hate you.” The next line isn’t “and if that doesn’t work, send a titanium fanged dog to rip his nuts off.”

Jesus lays on that hippie stuff pretty thick. He has lines like, “do not repay evil with evil,” and “do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.” Really. It’s in that book you hold up when you scream at gay people.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but nonviolence was kind of Jesus’ trademark. Kind of his big thing. To not follow that part of it is like joining Greenpeace and hating whales.

There’s interpreting, and then there’s just ignoring.

It’s just ignoring if you’re for torture – as are more evangelical Christians than any other religion. You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the cross and think, “how could a man suffer like that and forgive?” Not, “Romans are pussies, he still has his eyes.”

If you go to a baptism and hold the baby under until he starts talking, you’re missing the message. Like, apparently, our president, who says he gets scripture on his Blackberry first thing every morning, but who said on 60 Minutes that anyone who would question that Bin Laden didn’t deserve an assassination should, “have their head examined.”

Hey Fox News! You missed a big headline; Obama thinks Jesus is nuts!

To which I say, “hallelujah,” because my favorite new government program is surprising violent religious zealots in the middle of the night and shooting them in the face. Sorry Head Start, you’re number 2 now.

But I can say that because I’m a non-Christian.

Just like most Christians.

Christians, I know, I’m sorry, I know you hate this and you want to square this circle, but you can’t.

I’m not even judging you, I’m just saying logically if you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you’re not a Christian – you’re just auditing.

You’re not Christ’s followers, you’re just fans.

And if you believe the Earth was given to you to kick ass on while gloating, you’re not really a Christian – you’re a Texan.

Let's face it, pretty much everyone outside of Christian circles thinks Christians are ass-hats. I think most Christians are ass-hats, and I am one of them (sort-of, kind-of, maybe). Why is that? I think it is because of what Bill hits on here. If we lived these core teachings, we would really be Christian. However, we have turned Christianity into a club where I am in and you are out. Instead of spreading Jesus' teachings - that the Kingdom of God means you love your enemy and bless those who curse you - we encourage people to join our church or get them to do an "accept Jesus" prayer.  Then, with our blessed assurance in tow, we go on to live just as self-absorbed as our darkest corners dictate.

I have been going to church my whole life, but I can count on one hand the amount of times I have heard addressed from the pulpit what Bill talks about here. However, I have lost count of how many messages I have heard about tithing. :)

Gandhi was so fucking Christian he was Hindu.

Heh! Best quote of the year so far!

HT: Fallen From Grace

Some good commentary and push-back on this article here and here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Precious Daughter is 13

Dear Kathryn,

Thirteen years ago today, you came into my life. Your mother and I had spent the previous day getting ready for both sides of the family to come over for Mother's Day. The fridge was packed, the house was clean, and we were calling it a night. A few hours later, your momma was shaking me "It's time!" You still had a couple weeks to go, and we had experienced a few false alarms, so I was a little dubious.

However, within a few minutes, we were out the door. We had a half hour drive to the hospital where your mom worked. It was pretty clear driving at one in the morning and she had no anxiety about arriving in time. Still, if she was mid-contraction, and were approaching a red - she insisted I look both ways and then blow through it.

An hour later, you were born, and my life took on a whole new meaning. Your grandparents, aunts and uncles crowded into our hospital room to sing happy birthday to you. There were no cousins present yet, the only cousin you had at the time had been born a few months earlier and was halfway around the world.

I quoted scripture over you as I gave you your first feeding (you were a c-section and momma was still recovering). You started to turn blue. We were at Momma's bedside so I quickly handed you to her. She went into nurse mode and had you right as rain by the time I had called the nurses.

Your memories of our first neighborhood may be becoming vague now, but we were very blessed there. Most of the families around us had children who were a bit older than you and they became your playmates and caretakers. Pimenta Drive was a wonderful place to spend the first 6 years of your life.

Halfway through our time on Pimenta, your brother joined us. You two were friends from the start. As a father, there is nothing that gives me greater joy than knowing my children love each other.

You "foretold" Jacob's coming. Your mother and I were starting to believe that heaven may hold that we would simply have one child. As your mother was tucking you in one night, you declared in your two-year old voice "Momma, you going to have baby.... and I going to be big sister." Your Mama cried that night, but the next day when she went to work she had the doctor run some tests. You were right. The doctor was surprised that Momma suspected she was pregnant, she was so early. Momma had inside information.

When you were 6 we moved out to Utah. It was an adventure driving across the country with the four of us, luggage, and two cats stuffed in a Ford Taurus. It is hard to believe that we have been out here for 7 years, and that you were so little when we arrived. We pulled in on a Saturday and you started First grade on Monday.

You have always been comfortable talking to adults. Back in Michigan, you would often drift over to the neighbor's patios just so you could listen to the conversations. In short order, you seemed to know more people in our new neighborhood of Oquirrh Park and at church than your mother and I did.

Over the years you have become a determined student, a talented violinist, and successful actress. We have been blessed that you have had the influence of so many good and wonderful people.

Now here we are... you are 13!  I have to confess to a few mixed emotions on this day.  Within every parent, there is a desire to keep your little ones.... little.  You adore them so much at the stage where they presently reside, you can't help but want to keep them there.  Yet, there is also an awareness that at each new stage, your love for your child deepens.  This is because with every passing year Kathryn, you become more yourself.  Your soul has grown and your heart and mind have expanded so much from when I knew you at one.  You are so much more.... you.... and I love you.  So, I can't wait to see what comes next.

You are one of the most compassionate, empathetic, kind, and loving souls I know.... and you are only 13.  Continue to give love and kindness to all those around you, and always be grateful for those who journey with you along the way.

Happy 13th!

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