Thursday, December 27, 2007

And I am the Liar?!

Sometimes you have to just laugh at what goes down in your community... otherwise ya might weep! I am a Christian, but there is often NO ONE who can get under my skin more than a brother in Christ.

I made the mistake of discussing Santa Claus on a Christian web page. For those of you who do not know the Evangelical community very well, discussing Santa Claus is like discussing religion or politics in everyday settings. A fight is bound to ensue.

I thought the guy was really wondering how others address the issue of Santa with their young children. He asked how other people handle it. It seemed like an honest question. I told him how it worked for us.

Next, I am being accused of lying to my daughter and holding back from her the true meaning of Christmas... blah, blah, blah.

I tried to remain reasonable, but I finally got pissed and went off on a rant. Probably shouldn't have done that, but there it is.

Anyway, here is the discussion with some off topic stuff deleted. My stuff is in red.


The Issue of Santa Claus

OK, Becky C suggested in this thread (feel free to weigh in on that one too) that it would be interesting to discuss the issue of Santa Claus. So today's question is, "What do you tell your kids about Santa Claus? Why?" I'll start the discussion with our house. (Which I normally hate doing because I have found in the past that it kills comment discussion). We don't talk about him until we have to do so. We don't hide the fact from our kids that we are the one's who buy them the gifts or whoever they are from. When Kendra was 3 we took her to my brothers work where he was dressed up as Santa so she could get her picture taken. She recognized my brother. The next year she debunked us by asking my wife why we never told her Santa was fake. This year she made the little neighbor boy cry by telling him that Santa wasn't real. We had to explain to her that some parents chose to allow their children to believe in Santa. She looked my wife dead in the eye and said,"Why would their parents want to lie to them?"
Kaidance recently looked at me and said, "Dad, I just don't believe in Santa Claus."
Now, our kids watch cartoons with Santa in them, and we've been working on them about keeping quiet when dealing with other kids. So we don't teach for Santa and we don't teach against Santa. When asked directly, I feel it would be disingenuous to lie to my children so I tell them that God provides for us (or other people) to get them gifts. That's how we handle it, how about you?


I wrote this on my blog last year:

I always knew the day would come. Another milestone has passed in my daughter's life.

People debate when to tell their kids about Santa Claus. I knew the time would present itself, and today was the day. This time when she asked, I didn't evade. I told her it was time to see behind the wrappings of the gift her mother and I had given her.

And I do believe it is a gift a parent can give to their child. There are few years when the veil between imagination and reality is so thin. Santa, reindeer, elves.... I think there is a singular opportunity for blissful joy which can rarely be captured outside of a wonderful fairy tale during those early years.

A love for Santa is a love of poetry, music, daydreams. It is warm cocoa and a blazing fire. It is snuggling under the covers to keep warm on a cold morning.

I told Kathryn her mother and I had given those stories to her during those years as a gift for her to enjoy. Now it is a gift we want to give to Jacob as well. Children are so excited to know things and they have a desire to let others know that they know. I encouraged Kathryn to not take that gift from anyone.

I loved watching the thrill on Kathryn's face when she and Jacob spoke to Santa at the North Pole over a webcam this year. I am grateful for the memories of my brother Matt dressing up as Santa for her and giving her a special Christmas Eve.

I believe in Santa Claus. I know someday when Kathryn has little ones beneath her Christmas tree, she will believe in him too.

Thanks for the thoughts. I appreciate your sharing. I'm curious how you would handle my daughters question regarding the apparent dishonesty of it. Essentially she asked me why is it OK for a parent to lie but kids cannot? She's five or I'd ask her to post it here herself. :)

I've got a no BS clause with my kids. So if they want to know anything I'll be honest with them. So they've all asked and I've told them. And they went down the list: Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Kirk Cameron. They all know they're not real.

This no BS clause also got interesting when James (5) really wanted to know all the details about Sodom and Gomorrah. We had the whole "talk" that day.

So Stuart, how did that go? What exactly did you tell him? You can teach us, that way when the topic arises in our house we will be prepared with a good answer! You can't just leave it at " We had a whole talk that day" and not tell us how you answered! My curiosity is up!lol :-)

I guess we just have different perspectives. I think some people are digital and some are analog. Digital folks are in or out, on or off. There is no in between. Some of us are analog. Things level out differently under different circumstances. Everyone is going to have a line. I had a friend I worked with at a ministry who would not watch any fiction. It didn't happen, and was therefore not true, since it was not true it is a lie. He would not partake of a lie. That is his line, but not mine.

I don't think parents are lying to their children. They are living a story. They are participants in the play. I realize that other folks would not see it that way, and that is fine. I think it is rude when someone spoils the story for someone else. How much better can a fiction be than if, for a while, you think it is so?

There's an obvious difference between the Fiction and actively telling your kids an untruth. I agree that it's not my job to tell your kids or anyone else for that matter. My problem is that you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children in that you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them. Having said that, let me say I totally respect your right to do it the way you want and I am sure there are other Godly parents who tell their children that their is a Santa but as of this moment, I cannot see a compelling reason to actively lie to my children. This was confirmed by my daughter who came to the conclusion on her own that it was lieing. BTW, if you're saying I'm too in or out you need to get out on in BLOG world more often, I can think of at least 4 BLOG's that accuse me of the exact opposite without thinking hard. :)
Oh, and I love fiction. If you want to buy me some books you can see my wishlist at Amazon by searching joemartino9[at]yahoo[dot]com. You can even sign the card from Santa! :)

I think it is a parents prerogative to teach or not to teach it. We try to teach our daughter it is not her job to inform someone of the truth but she struggles with it and we still have to remind her! my kids enjoy watching the Christmas shows. I think it is like any other TV show, you can enjoy the beautiful poetry and creativity behind the story without believing it to be true.
I think some parents teach Santa more because it is an enjoyment for them! Some I think teach it for selfish reasons. I have little neighbor boys who think their presents are determined from Santa based on how well they behave. Personally I think that is wrong to teach a kid that!
My biggest problem with teaching Santa Claus is it takes away from what Christmas is really about. Plus I hate it that we teach Santa has all the attributes that Jesus has. It seems wrong to me whether it is just for fun or not. An amazing story played out the night Jesus was born that changed man kind forever! That in itself is a beautiful story that is true. Why do we have to juice it up more? Why do we have to make Christmas any more creative than that?

Joe - You make my point about an "in or out" view. You said I "you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children in that you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them." This is simply not so. They know the entire Christmas story... including the part that it did not occur on the 25th, rather it was put there to incorporate the holidays of foreign religions.

"but as of this moment, I cannot see a compelling reason to actively lie to my children." I think whether or not to go down this road depends on your views, and your child's views. IF your kids would view this as a hurtful lie, I wouldn't go down that road either. My daughter shrugged. She thought it was a fun ride, and likes to participate now with Jake. Our respective apples have not fallen too far from our trees.

I think the larger issue in this is having pride in the "right" view. George Carlin does a bit in his routine about someone who yells at the speeder passing him on the highway, but the @%!* who is going too slow ahead of him. HE is going the "right" speed.

It would be easy to see the person who views fiction as a lie too harsh, while a parent who encourages Santa is a liar (or as Elf would say "sitting on a throne of lies") - comfortable that you have the balanced view.

My commentary above was not meant as a critique of your stance, but rather that I understand that this is a black and white issue for you, and that you really can't see it any other way. Families need to be as respective of your views as you need to be of theirs.

Here's my point. If my kids think Santa got them the gift they are not thinking that Jesus provided them. I personally can't get around that one. To me this is definitely an issue of liberty. What about others out there. It would seem that Andrew and I agree that everyone needs to respect everyone else's view yet we handle Santa differently. (Which by the way Andrew I don't tell my kids he doesn't exist, I just don't tell them that he does). What about the rest of you?


Well it started with him reading through one of his bible story books and asking about why God destroyed S&G. I gave him a simple answer and he wanted details. I'd answer them. Then he'd have more. So we eventually went all through the sex talk and homosexuality. He had ton's of questions.

I was just honest about everything. No sugar coating it. I kept the answers simple and some he pursued me for more details, then I'd give them to him. We've tried to keep no conversation taboo around here. Though it's not like I bring them up, just through the curious mind of a 5 year old - questions get asked.

And I end each conversation with - "You know this stays between you and me (and mommy), do not tell your bother or sister or any other kids. Our honesty is a privilege."

I don't know if that answers your question or not.

Well, since I wanted to know what others think, I guess I better chime in here :). My soup is about to boil, so if I don't get back to the other thread now (assuming there is anything more to comment on), I'll have to later :).

Neither my husband nor I grew up believing in Santa Claus. Both our parents expected us to write thank-you notes to our actual gift givers. My mother-in-law believed in Santa until she was 8 or 9...when she found the doll box in the garage the next summer and realized her parents had bought it and that Santa hadn't, she was just devastated. When she confronted her mother, she flippantly replied that she (my MIL) was too old to believe in Santa and surely someone at school should have told her that by now. Of course, a lot of kids had, but she had vehemently proclaimed Santa's existence "because [her] mommy said so," so she ended up feeling like a complete fool. She determined then and there she would never lie to her kids.

My parents wouldn't even use wrapping paper or gift tags with Santa; I don't go to that extreme. I don't buy them intentionally, but if they are in a multi-pack, we use them...more for our own kids than for other peoples, just because it can be a touchy topic.

I am the director of a Sparks (K-2nd grade) AWANA club in our church, so at Christmas time, I try to steer my topics VERY carefully. If asked outright, I will tell a child they need to talk to their parents about what they believe about Santa Claus. I tell them the Christmas story and why we celebrate Christmas every year. I just try to leave Santa out of it. I have a little girl in Sparks this year, so I remind her every week that she isn't to tell any of the kids that there isn't a Santa if they start talking about him. She seems to have handled it OK for this year. A young-20's unsaved guy that has been visiting our church was talking to her about two weeks ago and asked what she asked Santa to bring her. She wasn't sure if he knew there wasn't a Santa, so she carefully answered that she had told her mommy what she wanted, since she isn't able to write well enough to write her own list. Later, the girl that invited him to church was talking to Jadyn and Jadyn sweetly asked her to let Todd know there is no such thing as Santa, as he is "old enough he really should know." Christine had the best laugh...and said she'd let Todd know that Jadyn doesn't believe in Santa.

I appreciate Erica's comment, "An amazing story played out the night Jesus was born that changed man kind forever! That in itself is a beautiful story that is true. Why do we have to juice it up more? Why do we have to make Christmas any more creative than that?" That, in essence, is where my heart is at.

So, if my kids see a Santa in the store and want to talk to him, I would let them (though it's not likely. Jadyn freaks out at Chuck E. Cheese when the giant mouse tries to talk to her...for whatever reason, she is afraid he will try to steal her shirt???). They know where their gifts come from, and that Jesus is the ultimate gift of Christmas. Taya isn't big on "dressed up" critters either; my husband wants to go to Disney, but I'm afraid how they both would respond!

We don't do the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. either.

"I appreciate Erica's comment, "An amazing story played out the night Jesus was born that changed man kind forever! That in itself is a beautiful story that is true. Why do we have to juice it up more? Why do we have to make Christmas any more creative than that?" That, in essence, is where my heart is at."

Not to be argumentative (ok, maybe I am), but EVERYTHING outside of reading a Luke (why not Matthew?) story on the 25th, or any other random day for that matter, is making it more creative. Why do Christmas cookies? Cause it is fun! Why decorate a tree? Cause it is fun! Why sing Frosty the Snowman? Cause it is fun! Why staple lights to the house? Cause it is fun!

However, when it comes to a Santa story... all of a sudden Jesus (followers?) has insecurity issues?

God has pleasures at his right hand (where Jesus sits.. coincidence?) yet everyone wants to make him a Scrooge or a child who is going to throw a cosmic temper tantrum if his name isn't said enough times Christmas Eve. I'm sorry that I am on a rant here (ala Dennis Miller), but I grew up in a Christian community that felt Santa borrowed his red outfit from the Devil. You switch two letters and you get Satan from Santa (clever eh?). I listened for years, ad nauseum, to endless pious proclamations about the dangers of lying to your children and how that would harm their future trust in Christ. This was just one more high horse that we could jump on and further distance ourselves from our community. That made us happy though cause it just showed how separate and chosen we were! God protect the poor soul who says, "Happy Holidays" to the follower of Christ determined to protect the sanctity of Christmas!

Really, if adding to the "story" is a problem, go the route of the Jehovah's Witness and ditch the presents, the tree, the lights, the carols, the dinner, the cookies, the decorations, the family gathering....ditch the WHOLE thing. I can respect that. But don't cherry pick your traditions and then act like you are being spiritually faithful to Jesus because you have the right moral ground on Santa Claus.

That was kind of harsh don't you think? No one has disrespected you here. If you feel that way, let me know. Everybody draws this line differently and until that last post it had been rather cordial, right? I realize that some of that might have been a reaction to your experience but in my opinion it was a little over the top.

I guess I just can't stand when someone says they "respect your opinion" or "respect your right to say what you want" then proceeds to list all the reasons they think what you do is a bad idea. I can HONESTLY say that it does not matter to me that he wants to do a Santa-less Christmas. However, he cannot in honesty say that he respects anything of what I am doing and then use descriptive phrases like "actively telling your kids an untruth - My problem is that you are purposely hiding part of the Christmas story from your children - you are telling them that Santa--not God-- has provided for them -. It is this same kind of Christian double speak (saying things that sound loving, but are filled with contempt) that lead to wonder phrases like "Hate the sin, but love the sinner". Just admit that you want to punch the sinner in the nose! Then maybe once you are in an honest place, you can deal with your anger and hate issues.

So how over the top was I?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

We are having a good Christmas day here in the Hackman household. Uncle Lee is visiting from Michigan, and everything is more fun with Uncle Lee around.

We went to church last night and attended one service, and then worked the next. Good drama, music, and message. First rate stuff as always.

It snowed last night so we got a white Christmas.

The kids opened their presents with glee. The rest of the morning was spent with Kathryn, Jacob, Lee, and I chasing each other around in Halo 2. I had a moment of greatness. Uncle Lee was shooting at me from the ground and I couldn't get into a strafing position on my airborne banshee to take him out. With little life left, I leaped from the Banshee, landed on Lee, stuck a thermal grenade on him then dove for cover. It was glorious!

Later, Lee and I are going to see AVP II while my wife takes the kids to Alvin and the chipmunks.

However you spend this day, celebrating or not, I wish you the best for now and the coming new year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bush Protects Us

This pretty much sums up my view of how Bush perceives the military and public services.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More Reverend Billy!

Here is a great interview about what led Bill Talen to create the character of Reverend Billy. If you have not yet seen What would Jesus Buy? -go tonight! Wal-mart has thrown its mighty weight around to prevent this movie from hitting the screen. Stand up and be counted! See this film!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Again with the "right" beliefs

This video is amazing. Reverend Billy gets mocked and chastised by a priest for not believing the "right" things. The priest, in my opinion, is condescending and arrogant. Yet, here is Reverend Billy, who doesn't have the "right" theology speaking graciously to his accuser. I think Billy is hitting the mark on the message of gospel and kingdom much better than the priest.

Thank you Reverend Billy for preaching a message of justice. This seems to be a message our ministers have forgotten in their haste to coerce people into the right club.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Backward Utah Legislature

Senator Howard Stephenson, Republican-Draper takes rudeness and brazeness to an entirely new level. This only happens in locales where people are strict one party voters (republican or democrat) because people like Mr. Stephenson know they can do or say as they please without consequence.

He is making a proposal for 40 million dollars to be spent on educational software for the state of Utah. I am a professed geek, and I love tech, but I also know there is no gee-whizbang software out there that will solve Utah's ills. This money could be spent much better somewhere else. I wonder how Mr. Stephenson is poised to benefit from this.

However, the icing on the cake is his contemptuous attitude toward educators. Here is the article (Deseret News), but I will supply some of his choice quotes :

Stephenson said his proposal is not about controlling funding. It's about exposing teachers to cutting-edge tools that many don't know exist. "(Teachers) are not knowledgeable of what's available."

He said that in past education legislation, when funding is competitively available in the form of grants, educators go after them "
like sharks fighting over a fish."

"(I've) learned that educators' drug of choice is grants — they smell grants, and they will move heaven and earth to qualify," Stephenson said.

"If we were to buy licenses and just pass them out they would mostly sit on a shelf, but when you give them their drug of choice they will focus in the optimum way to make sure it works," Stephenson said.

I used to hear statements of this quality come out of the leaders in Detroit when I lived there. They are on the other end of the spectrum - Democrats only. When one party rules, the people lose.

City of Draper, I understand that you will only vote Republican; but there are some Republicans out there who would be worthy to represent you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Believe it... Believe it...Believe it

In my Orson Scott Card posting, SocietyVs had some great points about belief. He asserted that mere belief is almost pointless; it is the resulting action that counts. If a belief has no practical impact (i.e. it doesn't cause you to love your neighbor, or feed the poor) then he now places it in the category of "non-belief".

I resonate with that, because I was brought up in a Faith community that was all about having the "correct" beliefs lined up; but had little impact on those around us.

I forget what it is like to be in those circles, but I had a reminder today. I keep a channel on my reader open to Mormon Coffee. I rarely see eye to eye with these folks, but it can be an interesting read. Today their post brought home again how, to some Christians, it is all about the right checklist. Here is a passage from today's post. The blog author is responding to a question about how to share your faith with a Mormon without being offensive.

"In that kind of situation I think the best thing you can do is start asking simple questions. “What do you believe about the afterlife?” “What do you believe about the nature of God?” “What do you believe about sin and salvation?” “Do you believe your sins are forgiven?” “Do you have an assurance of eternal life?” You can read the full article here.

This is my opinion, and feel free to chime in, but I think a more effective mode of discourse is for the two people to ask questions together. In the above example, the questioner has the answer and the listener is being led (or coerced) down a given path to a set result.

Hans-Georg Gadamer argued that conversations that do not contain the element of surprise are not really conversations at all. When we begin a truly open dialogue, he said, we let go of the destination; we are not sure where we will be when we are finished. If one party is in control, then no exchange is taking place.

It would seem to me that if you are going to truly converse with someone, then the question must be self-reflective at the same time it is asked. Therefore, instead of asking questions intended to lead or pin someone, might I suggest these questions:

  • Does my love for God cause me to love those around me, regardless of religious status, more or less?
  • Does my faith cause me to become irritated with those who do not share my views?
  • Has my faith caused my associations with those not in my faith to broaden or shrink over the years?
  • Are my studies of scripture challenging any of my imparted views of justice, mercy, and kindness?

Evangelicals are so caught up with what people believe. If we want to change the world, we have to put away our formulas.

It is for freedom's sake that Christ has set you free!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What do you say??

This post will probably ramble because I am ill and an emotional mess at the moment. It is traumatic here in the Hackman household tonight.

We have two cats. The one, Duke, has started peeing on various things throughout the house. Last night he peed on a comforter and my wife and I vocalized in front of the children that we may need to get rid of him. Big mistake. They cried and pleaded, pleaded and cried.

I have no desire to get rid of the cat, but he has cost us hundreds of dollars this week. I am a school teacher on a tight budget, and it is really hitting us. Not to mention, we cant live in a house that smells of cat pee.

Tonight Duke peed on the couch. My daughter started sobbing. "Are we going to have to get rid of Duke?" I couldn't respond. She fell into my lap shaking and sobbing (she is 9). The whole family started to cry.

But what she said next through her tears brought down my world.

"Daddy... I don't understand [sob] I prayed so hard last night. I prayed [sob] and prayed [sob] that Duke would stop doing that.... What's wrong?" She could hardly get the words out.

I had no answer for her. Nothing.

I know there are bigger problems in the world. I know there are parents who watched their child die this evening, while they begged and pleaded with God to no avail. Countless prayers for relief from suffering go unheeded worldwide.

But when your daughter is in your lap weeping and brokenhearted and looking to you for an answer, it is hard to put anything into perspective.

I can hear her crying herself to sleep as I type this.

As much as she has church and sunday school and friends, the truth is that most of what she knows of God right now is transfered through me. Am I responsible for setting her up with false hopes? Is she praying desperately (right now) to a God who has no intention, or ability, to answer her prayer?

As as Father, I just want her pain to go away.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Orson Scott Card - You do not speak for me!

Today in the Deseret News, Orson Scott Card wrote a classic straw man argument in his defense of Mormonism and critique of Christianity (He actually makes his straw man talk). These kinds of arguments are made by all sides. We all do it, often without realizing it. Our thoughts seem so self evident, to us, that we cannot anticipate how it will be heard on the other side of the aisle.

Click to read the article here.

I wrote a response in the blog section of the article. Here it is:

The article, though well written, only convinces the convinced. He constructs what Christians believe, and then deconstructs it. Anti-Mormons do this all the time with Mormon theology. As a Christian, I have been told countless times by (some) Mormons what I believe.

For example:

-You don't believe in modern revelation-

Yes I do, I was raised charismatic!

-You believe God is made of 3 people-

No I don't, I have always known they are three distinct persons.

-You believe God does not have a body-

No, I don't CARE whether or not he has a body.

-You follow the Nicene Creed-

Nope again, have never read it, never seen it, and hardly heard of it till I moved out here.

-You are a product of Platonism-

Goodness gracious, the simplest of web searches will show that major chunks of Christianity not only reject this, but aggressively fight it.

I am glad Mr. Card's article gives a shot in the arm to (some of) his Mormon brothers. However, it does not fly outside the Mormon circle for the same reason anti-Mormon stuff doesn’t fly with Mormons.

"The main point of disagreement between Mormons and traditional Christianity is that we believe in the biblical God — the God in whose image we were made, the resurrected Christ with a perfect body of flesh and bone — and they don't." - Orson Scott Card

Spoken like a true Anti!

I can sympathize with Mormons who resent being painted with blunt broad strokes by Antis – It is not pleasant on our end either.

I have always felt it is unwise for a Christian to go to another Christian to learn about Mormon theology. I equally believe a Mormon will get an incorrect view of Christianity if they seek out a Mormon for their information.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What is really wrong with our schools?

On a semi-regular basis, the talking heads on the evening news will discuss what is wrong with American education. If you scan through your paper, there is usually an article or two addressing the topic. What is common, in these talks and articles, is that there is always someone with strong opinions WHO HAS ZERO CONTACT WITH CLASSROOMS. Their solutions are similar to Aristotle's view on gravity, they are based on anecdote, observation, and logic - not experience. By dropping two balls of different weights, Galileo quickly showed that Aristotle's assumptions regarding gravity missed the mark.

This is my 17th year teaching. I have taught in public and private, rich and poor. There are numerous problems I see in education, yet they are rarely addressed by those in power.

Imagine this: I decide to switch careers and head back to college. My goal is physics. I have never taken a class before, but I am eager to start. I go to the registrar's office.

"Hmmmm... you seem to be about 40 years old," she says. "You would look out of place with a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds in Physics 100. Let's put you in a first year graduate program. You would look less out of place there and it would allow you to work with people at your own life stage."

Of course this sounds absurd. This could never happen. Yet, it happens in schools across America everyday.

In the example above, I would, in reality, be put in a Physics 100 class; perhaps a 200 if I tested out. In addition, I would not move on to a higher level of Physics instruction if I failed the previous class. Many classes have pre-requisites.

If I were put into a graduate level physics class as a novice, would I not feel a great sense of frustration? Irritation? Hopelessness? In addition, what would the Professor do with me? His vocabulary and instruction would be too high for my level. Should he stop instruction every 10 minutes so he can work with me? Does he "busy" the other students so he can attend to my level of need? Do I have any hope of catching up to the rest of the class in this disjointed arena when I skipped over the 5 previous classes?

To me, this is one of the great issues facing schools today. Most schools in America place students according to age. This hobbles the students who want to move forward and frustrates the ones who need more time. This causes both ends of the spectrum to misbehave. Bored, but for different reasons.

This is not as big an issue in wealthy areas where students tend to be more homogeneous. But in schools like mine, where most students come from poverty, the variance in student abilities can be enormous.

I teach a sixth grade class. By law, and by the tests hanging over my head, I HAVE to teach the sixth grade core. Few of my students are ready for it. I have a handful who can nearly read at a sixth grade level. Below that I have an even spread... all the way down to the kindergarten level. How does a kindergartener read a 6th grade textbook about the life of a protist? Two-thirds of my class cannot do their times tables. They have to think hard for a solution to 12-7.

Ex-educators, who lead workshops teachers have to attend, tell us that to succeed here we must differentiate our instruction. That means "Teach to each child on their level". The folks who lead these workshops BAILED from the classroom. I tend to not regard their advice highly. In any case, the math simply doesn't work. How do I teach six subjects to 33 different students? in six hours? at 7 different grade levels? everyday? effectively?

You will often hear proponents of the present system say "Every child has a right to instruction at their grade level." I disagree. I say every child has a right to instruction at their learning level.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What would Jesus Buy?

Pray for us sinners Reverend Billy!!!

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I jinxed Journeyman

I should not have liked Journeyman so much. I have learned over the years that I am a great barometer for the life of a TV show. If I enjoy it, it is doomed. This pattern has held true for Journeyman. This show has been my favorite this Fall. Great writing and a good story arc. The amount of junk that stays in primetime season after season is endless... but a good show never gets a chance to get its legs. Irritating!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Caffinated Cop Tazes Loudmouth Citizen

You mean you haven't seen this video yet? If not, there is about 6 minutes of nothing in the middle that you can scroll through.

First, let me say that I believe the cop should not have escalated the situation. He was out of line. However, what I want to focus on is the behavior of the citizen.

What I see here is becoming the norm in our society. A kid goes through his/her childhood never hearing the word "No". The parents are not willing to follow through with discipline, so they take the easier route of appeasement. Then the child goes to a school which has been completely emasculated. The child experiences no consequences for their behavior. There are second, third, then exponential chances given. If by chance, a child actually is held accountable for misbehavior, the parent is there to "protect and serve" the child. The message to the majority of modern children is "do what you want, when you want, and how you want". By the time the child becomes an adult, they have no mechanisms for dealing with a situation that does not go their way.

Then we get situations like this video. The citizen is getting angrier and more attitudinal because the authority figure is NOT catering to his wishes. This is something he is not used to and does not know how to respond.

There was confusion by the citizen as to "why" he was being asked to step out of the car, but even here it is because he assumes the cop is going to do things according to HIS prerogative (not the cop's). The citizen believes HE is the one who should be giving instructions.

The depth of the citizen's cluelessness is demonstrated when the cop pulls the tazer. He is so entrenched in the "do what I want, when I want, how I want" mode of thinking that he cannot see or believe what is happening. It runs contrary to everything he had been taught growing up. Following an instruction is something he has trouble conceiving.

The cop was wrong, but he may have saved that man from a life of continued self-absorption.

One last point; this happened in Utah. That cop is probably making 16 bucks an hour. Here in Utah, we have an aversion to paying for quality.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I think these videos are a little simplistic, but very funny. I like the term progressive. I have almost completely rejected, and become rather antagonistic toward, the Republican party. However, I have not found Democratic politicians to be too much better. I think the term progressive speaks to a way of thinking, rather than voting.

I live in the Salt Lake Valley. We are one big bowl. Pollution has a hard time getting out, and often a haze called "inversion" settles in and thickens. Our ultra right republican legislature, in typical conservative form, just shrugs at the inversion... it is a testament to our robust economy. They would never think to address our industries that belch pollution. To them, mass transit is the cry of pinko-leftist-commie-treehuggers. It is the antics of politicians like this, and their talk-show cheerleaders, that are sending so many of us in the other direction. Is it possible for a republican to make the environment a priority?

Friday, November 16, 2007


USAToday had a good article about Emergent.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ifs of Og

I was browsing a new blog today that made some very poignant points in short verse. Often stated as If-Then statements, he shows that you can say a lot in a few words. Many had me laughing out loud. This guy should fill in writing Dave's Top Ten during the writers' strike. Here are a few choice examples:

If the Good News is that you and a few others who make the cut will be saved from screaming in hell-fire for billions of years with the rest of us, when were you gonna drop the Bad News on us?

If we want to talk about true goodness, isn't beer a pertinent place to begin the discussion? Beer separates those of us who enjoy God's gift of alcohol from the people who make us want to drink it.

If Christianity is not a performance based religion, why aren't you allowed to get off the treadmill?

If Christ asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him, aren't they all forgiven completely?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Walter Brueggemann's 19 Theses

This list is making its way to various blog sites. The talk that Brueggemann gave at the 2004 Emergent Theological conversation is responsible for a marked shift in my theology. If you have heard me talk about my faith in terms of "fidelity" rather than belief, this is where I developed that vocabulary. Listen to the audio here.

Walter Brueggemann's 19 Theses
1. Everybody lives by a script. The script may be implicit or explicit. It may be recognized or unrecognized, but everybody has a script.

2. We get scripted. All of us get scripted through the process of nurture and formation and socialization, and it happens to us without our knowing it.
3. The dominant scripting in our society is a script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism that socializes us all, liberal and conservative.
4. That script (technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism) enacted through advertising and propaganda and ideology, especially on the liturgies of television, promises to make us safe and to make us happy.
5. That script has failed. That script of military consumerism cannot make us safe and it cannot make us happy. We may be the unhappiest society in the world.
6. Health for our society depends upon disengagement from and relinquishment of that script of military consumerism. This is a disengagement and relinquishment that we mostly resist and about which we are profoundly ambiguous.
7. It is the task of ministry to de-script that script among us. That is, too enable persons to relinquish a world that no longer exists and indeed never did exist.
8. The task of descripting, relinquishment and disengagement is accomplished by a steady, patient, intentional articulation of an alternative script that we say can make us happy and make us safe.
9. The alternative script is rooted in the Bible and is enacted through the tradition of the Church. It is an offer of a counter-narrative, counter to the script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.
10. That alternative script has as its most distinctive feature, its key character – the God of the Bible whom we name as Father, Son, and Spirit.
11. That script is not monolithic, one dimensional or seamless. It is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent. Partly it is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because it has been crafted over time by many committees. But it is also ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because the key character is illusive and irascible in freedom and in sovereignty and in hiddenness, and, I’m embarrassed to say, in violence – [a] huge problem for us.
12. The ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent quality of the counter-script to which we testify cannot be smoothed or made seamless. [I think the writer of Psalm 119 would probably like too try, to make it seamless]. Because when we do that the script gets flattened and domesticated. [This is my polemic against systematic theology]. The script gets flattened and domesticated and it becomes a weak echo of the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism. Whereas the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism is all about certitude, privilege, and entitlement this counter-script is not about certitude, privilege, and entitlement. Thus care must betaken to let this script be what it is, which entails letting God be God’s irascible self.
13. The ragged, disjunctive character of the counter-script to which we testify invites its adherents to quarrel among themselves – liberals and conservatives – in ways that detract from the main claims of the script and so too debilitate the focus of the script.
14. The entry point into the counter-script is baptism. Whereby we say in the old liturgies, “do you renounce the dominant script?”
15. The nurture, formation, and socialization into the counter-script with this illusive, irascible character is the work of ministry. We do that work of nurture, formation, and socialization by the practices of preaching, liturgy, education, social action, spirituality, and neighboring of all kinds.
16. Most of us are ambiguous about the script; those with whom we minister and I dare say, those of us who minister. Most of us are not at the deepest places wanting to choose between the dominant script and the counter-script. Most of us in the deep places are vacillating and mumbling in ambivalence.
17. This ambivalence between scripts is precisely the primary venue for the Spirit. So that ministry is to name and enhance the ambivalence that liberals and conservatives have in common that puts people in crisis and consequently that invokes resistance and hostility.
18. Ministry is to manage that ambivalence that is crucially present among liberals and conservatives in generative faithful ways in order to permit relinquishment of [the] old script and embrace of the new script.
19. The work of ministry is crucial and pivotal and indispensable in our society precisely because there is no one [see if that’s an overstatement]; there is no one except the church and the synagogue to name and evoke the ambivalence and too manage a way through it. I think often; I see the mundane day-to-day stuff ministers have to do and I think, my God, what would happen if you talk all the ministers out. The role of ministry then is as urgent as it is wondrous and difficult.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Here's to Loopholes!!

One of the good and bad things about reading a great blog is that you get tuned in to other great blogs. By reading Coming out of the Prayer Closet, I got tuned into No Mechitza In My World and Losing my Religion. The bad part about this is that my blog reading list is starting to get pretty long. :)

Recently on No Mechitza, the author, Yael, was talking about loopholes. In her Jewish faith, she has found "loopholes" for family and friends who have turned to other faiths. Without these loopholes, she would probably have to think of them as idolaters. She has had evangelical friends who have told her about the loopholes they have come up with to accommodate her beliefs. Some of the other people in the conversation also chimed in with the loopholes they have to accommodate people with a sincere faith that differs from theirs.

I find that I look for loopholes too. I have many Mormon friends who passionately love God - they just work out the details differently than I do. Though many in my Christian circles are convinced that they are Hell-bound, I do not believe this to be true. I have heard many of my Mormon friends make similar accommodations for me.

I believe the desire for loopholes pleases the heart of God. I believe God to be, first and foremost, a Father. Being a father myself, I sometimes try to anticipate his reactions toward me based on what my feelings would be toward my own children.

It makes me proud when I see my children bend or change the rules to accommodate someone who has not been included. A game is made for four, but they change the rules to include a fifth child who is nearby. Relationship trumps rules.

I believe this makes God smile. Here's to loopholes!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Emergent Foundations

As I sit here cleaning the house with Daniel Amos blaring loud enough to loosen the foundations, I realize how much bands like DA effected my theology. These guys were planting Emergent questions in my soul 20 years ago when I just thought the tunes were cool.

Half Light, Epoch, and Phase

from the album "Darn Floor - Big Bite"

Words and Music by Terry Taylor, Tim Chandler, and Greg Flesch
©1987 Broken Songs (ASCAP)

These are the images I arrange
To fill in my report on you
Holiness, mystery, disturbing and strange
Obscuring the point of my view

Everyone seems to know just what you are
But I never seem to break through
Forgive me please if I can't see that far
Life's dulling the point of my view

Half light, coming through the dark glass darkly
Half light, where faith and doubt remain
Half light, tattoo scars where shadows mark me
Half light, I don't expect you to explain

This is the passage I undertake
Over the epoch and phase
The terror and sweetness of history and fate
The last word on the very last page

Everyone seems to think they've got it made
That you're on a rack by the door
It's true, I don't know much except I am saved
From falling through cracks in the floor


Tomorrow I'm planning to write the great book
In which I will capture our time
Set forth the fury, the sound and the look
If I could just make up my mind

Everyone seems to think you're on their side
But I don't think you're that small
How could they see it when reason has died
We haven't a clue to it all


The Unattainable Earth

from the album "Darn Floor - Big Bite"

Words and Music by Terry Taylor, Tim Chandler, and Greg Flesch
©1987 Broken Songs (ASCAP)

Earth too huge to grasp
"Will" too wild to tame now
I'll be so bold to ask
Can I wear your name now?

Sign language is the best I can do
Learning to walk without gravity
And just when I think that I know you

In the unattainable earth
Amazed in these half-light days
In the unattainable earth
Language is weak, but I keep on speaking
Of the unattainable earth

Gestures freeze in the air
Filled by those born later
Dead men spoke words here
Heard before and after

My writing is just immense amazement
Should you really reveal anything
When I just misunderstand it?


Down the twists and turns
Of a long, long story
I am here to learn
About the weight of glory

My questions right now don't need all the answers
Just, please don't ever let go of me
No, don't ever stop loving me


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why we need Unions and Government in the workplace

If you listen to conservative talk radio hosts, you will get a regular dose of union bashing and the bemoanings of government interfering in industry. Well it seems we have a great example here on planet earth of a place where unions and government do not pester big business. It seems Rush Limbaugh is right. With no union and government interference, everyone is prospering.

Um, not exactly. It seems the Right is wrong and, as many have indicated, - Big Business, left to its own devices, exploits workers.

Check out this article on the work conditions in China.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Truth Project? Part 2

About a month ago, I started an article about Focus on the Family's, "The Truth Project". My objections to the first episode were too numerous to list in one post, so I hope to finish up here.

One of the foundational issues that I disagree with is the presenter's assertion that Jesus came to "bifurcate" the world. This is a pretty common view amongst western Christian fundamentalists- that the world is divided into "Us" and "Them". It tends to be a rather thin slice of "Us" because there are many Christians in this equation who do not measure up either. A wrong answer on the orthodoxy litmus test will quickly put you in the "Them" category.

Before any of us spend too much time "bifurcating" our relationships, I think we should consider Paul's advice in Romans 2:

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

The presenter then continued to emphasize the "us/them" relationship by translating scripture into war metaphors. He believes the world is a battlefield and we must defend ourselves. I believe Jesus called his followers to a forward movement of love, rather than a defensive posture of fear. A war metaphor causes Christianity to resemble Islamic extremism, Mao atheism, or Rwanda warlords - submit or be conquered! How is this the good news of the Gospel? Do we submit to Christ because he is the most powerful? How is that different? Did Paul not declare "God's kindness leads us to repentance"?

My next contention would require you to watch the video to get the full effect, but basically, the presenter postulates a "What if?" concerning Satan. Personally, I love what if questions when it comes to theology. However, in the next step, he performs a quick slight of hand and begins referencing his "what if" as if it were now a given. He then uses it to buttress his argument that the entire cosmos is in a battle over these two worldviews (Satan's and God's). If there are only two worldviews, then everything can be neatly separated into "us/them".

I reject the "us/them" postulation. I believe there is only "us". Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Paul does not make a distinction here. He puts himself into the same camp as his neighbor. There is no superiority. The only one superior in the equation is Christ.

Barbara Nicolsi sums up the problem with seeing people in an "us/them" mindset:

I think that, unfortunately, a lot of orthodox Catholics and Christians are either sitting in the cave hunkered down, or they're like Jonah sitting under a Gourd plant waiting for God to vent his wrath on the world—on the ungodly—and they're going to be disappointed if He doesn't. I don't see these people having sorrow for sin; I see them having indignation towards sin. And to me, that's an important difference. Sorrow for sin is "I am a part of this." Indignation for sin is "you are the ones messing up the world!"

They did a man-on-the-street style segment where they asked people about "Truth". People with the "wrong" answer tended to be women, European, progressive looking. People with the "right" answer tended to be old, white men in suits. At this point, I felt the video devolved into a bad caricature of itself.

Toward the end, the presenter stated that he hates the phrase "people of Faith". Unless you subscribe to his standard of Christianity, your searchings are pointless. You are either with us or against us. If you are with us, you are a child of the Father. If you are against us, he says, you are a child of the devil.

I believe Jesus showed a different attitude toward people "outside the faith". The woman at the well in John 4 might have had a different response to Christ if he had called her a child of the devil.

The final question he asked was, "Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?'

My answer: What I believe about Him does not change who He is, it never has and it never will. What I believe about Him has changed over time. Many of the beliefs I felt were "unchangeable" have shifted as I learned more about Him. So I now hold many of my beliefs loosely. This does not grant me certainty or security. I have replaced those notions with fidelity. I believe this gives me opportunities to grow.

*UPDATE* For some reason, this article comes up very high in Google when searching The Truth Project. However, there are some great bloggers of Faith who have also weighed in with their concerns and observations. I have linked their pages based on a keyword search for The Truth Project.
The Hopper
God, Superman, and the Buckeyes
Recovering Sociopath
Below the Din

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

Free Burma!

Free Burma! Petition Widget

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Free Burma!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Walsh: Conviction won't 'cure' polygamy

Rebecca Walsh had a good editorial piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about the Warren Jeffs conviction . In the article she compares polygamy to a weed that you cannot get rid of. She then explains:

"Part of the problem is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has given up polygamy on earth, but not in heaven. Church faithful commonly are taught that plural marriage is possible in the hereafter. It's part of the eternal family model for the celestial kingdom. That might help "fundamentalist Mormons" justify their complicated families."

I stated something similar in a blog article last year. It generated some good discussion, and two of my LDS friends were able to weigh in with their perspective.

It is a complicated issue and the nuances run deeper than it initially appears.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Very Misused Scripture

Reading all of the blogs this week either defending or attacking Emergent folks, I heard a certain scripture quoted a lot. I am pretty sure most of the people using it as a sword to stab at others were unaware of its context, or even its reference.

"Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." They usually use the KJV, so it translates as "enmity". Using this scripture, certain folks would accuse Emergents of trying to be friends with the world, and therefore enemies of God.

It seems that they forget that Jesus was described by the Pharisees (the spokespeople for God in his day) as being a friend to the world. Jesus was described as "a friend of harlots, tax collectors, and sinners".

Did Jesus befriend the world but then later tell us not to? Were his behavior and attitude something he did not want us to emulate? Is there a contradiction here?

I don't believe so, and I think the way this scripture has been used is a textbook example of prooftexting (using a scripture to defend a point that contradicts its context).

The scripture that is referenced comes out of James 4:4. When you look at the rest of the chapter and, indeed, the entire book of James you get a different view. It becomes apparent that, to James, "the world" is a value system of self indulgence, judgment, pride, and grasping. Bigger, better, more, faster. These are all values that James refers to as "worldly", yet much of the Western church has embraced. James was never stating that this was an injunction to stay away from non-Christians; or worse, to use the dislike of someone from outside the faith as proof that you are on the right path. This attitude is in complete contradiction to the mission of Jesus.

Here is a little more context to that scripture:

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."[b]

Read the book of James. I think it is clear that James was speaking out against the world as a system of thinking. He spends so much time talking about how to deal graciously and helpfully with each other. I believe he would be disturbed to find how many Christians use his words to encourage antagonism from unbelievers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The "wink" discussion continues....

I have been reading a lot of comments about Driscoll's use of the word heretic and other adjectives. I commented a little here and there, but the discussion below was long enough that I wanted to give it some more air time. I don't know the person I was trading words with but, overall, I felt it was a civil discussion (compared to some of the other stuff going on out there, whew!)

ryan said:

Maybe you all should start “winking” at Pagitt since he is doing the very thing you all are so up in arms about. How is it that no one has a problem with him calling Jonny Mac’s gospel “harmful” and “dangerous” but when Driscoll does it he is mean and a bully? Oh wait maybe I can answer my own question, because Pagitt right!

Andrew said:

C’mon Ryan, don’t be so partisan. If Driscoll had said, “I believe their views are harmful and dangerous”, then so be it. I may disagree, but fine, we can do that. Driscoll went into personal digs. If you go to any site on “bullying”, one of the suggestions is to turn the bully’s comment into a joke. Perhaps the better response would have been to ignore Driscoll. He may be a Christian bully, but the man is still a bully. A bully needs someone to pick on. Half his audience would be lost if he quit picking on people. It’s like watching a wreck. Various emergent folks could go on just fine without the likes of a Driscoll. Could he say the same? Does he need someone to be against in order to have a platform?

ryan said:

Andrew I think your comment is the one that is partisan. Truth is if you listen to the message Driscoll actually gave he did his best to muster up humility and grace. Was he perfect no. Did he use humor that could be interpreted as “personal digs” possibly. The point is Driscoll gave it an earnest attempt to address serious matters that he felt were important. Just because he is not as likable as McLaren does not mean he deserves to just be caricatured and turned into a joke. Funny thing is when Pagitt does something like this and you are content to make excuses for it, and not hold him to the same standard; it just shows that many in the EV have an attitude of we can dish it out but not take it. Conversation is fine but it involves more than a wink.

Andrew said:

Would any response other than “Gee, Driscoll is right and fair. How did we miss it this whole time?” be acceptable? Also, the dish it out but can’t take it doesn’t work. You are not dishing it out if you are responding. Without the initiator, there would be no response. The “truth” is that all of the anti-emergent people are running around the blogs complaining that they don’t like the way some emergents are responding to attacks. This sounds like some of my elementary students who smack someone and if that person has the audacity to smack them back, they run up and tell on them (conveniently leaving out the part of their instigation).

Driscoll’s likability has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of unlikable people who are civil.

Also, please address my point about Driscoll needing someone to attack. Again, I state that in these scenarios, anti-emergents are complaining about responses to attacks. How about finding a new target to kick and then responses will be immaterial.

Lewis says that evil cannot succeed in being evil the way good can being good. Evil is not original, it can only exist as a corruption of good. Evil needs good, but good does not need evil. In the Harry Potter series, Harry could go on fine in life without Crabbe and Goyle (Malfoy’s two thugs), but they could not go on without Harry (or someone like him). Their nature requires an enemy, someone to be against, or better yet - someone to beat down. Without someone to shove below them, Crabbe and Goyle would not know what to do with themselves.

I think emergent folks could go on fine without anti-emergents, but without emergents the antis would not know what to do with themselves.

ryan said:


Wow you just don’t get it. This is not about changing your mind or making you agree with everything that Driscoll says. I honestly do not care at the end of the day, and that is not meant to be snotty. My point simply remains that when critique comes it deserves more than a “wink.” Like Driscoll or not his talk was civil, and addressed concerns that he sincerely held about the theological errors of some prominent Christian leaders. And yes the dish it out but can’t take it does work, when Pagitt calls another prominent Christian leader out on his understanding of the gospel, it is strangely silent from the emergent crowd, and double standardish, that he is not being labeled a bully for doing so. And the conservative blogs I have read have chosen not to wink at Pagitt’s comments but instead engage them. Sooner or later Emergents will have to decide if conversation means more than agree with us or we will just mock you and say you are being mean.

As to your point about Driscoll only being an antagonist, I suggest you do a little more research. What the guy is about is clear, Jesus. The guy preaches Jesus every week at this church and points people toward Jesus. Thousands of people have been pointed to Jesus by him in Seattle and seem to be able to figure out what he is for. Or how about one of the fastest growing church planting networks in the country that he founded. I think they know what he stands for; planting churches and seeing people’s lives changed by Jesus. Maybe it is really easy for you to cynically dismiss this, but the guy stands for a lot. You just have to read something else than Adam’s blog.

Last, to compare Driscoll and “anti-emergents” to evil is just absurd. First because I do not know what an “anti-emergent” is, and second because comparing people to evil is to miss that our enemies are not flesh and blood. I get that you are trying to say that Driscoll, just like Malfoy needs an antagonist to exist, but as I pointed out above that hardly seems to be the case. Because while many emergents continue to wink at one and other Driscoll just keeps planting churches, giving money to start churches in India, and point people toward Jesus. Andrew I truly hope that you would understand my intent here is not to say Driscoll has it all figured out, there is a lot you can critique him for. But to just dismiss and mock him is below any group who claim to be progressive and open minded. I am simply asking you to live by your values of possibly believing that Jesus might, just might, be working through those you consider to be antagonists.

Andrew said:

I can appreciate that, and I appreciate your attitude. My one contention would be “how about one of the fastest growing church planting networks in the country that he founded.” I really, really wish we could stop using that as a barometer either of success, or lack of it. If Driscoll is in the will of God… he is simply a servant in the will of God. No more or no less than the guy or gal who is stumbling through a church plant that can hardly get off the ground. Or better yet, let us remove the pastor as celebrity altogether. If numbers are the indicator, we should all be heading to the next Benny Hinn crusade.

I suggest you do a little more research.” The thing is, I have heard him… and every time he has a rip for somebody. Even many of his supporters say he runs off at the mouth, but they balance it off with everything good he does. He has a reputation in this regard, and it is not a good one.

The thing teaching for 16 years has shown me is that the only difference between 10-12 year olds and adults is their height and weight. I have a bully in my class right now. There is this kid the bully does not like, and yet the bully cannot stay away from this kid. He sidles up next to him to pester him every chance he gets. I tell my students that they do not all have to be best friends, but that every student has a right to feel safe in our room.

Driscoll doesn’t have to like Mclaren and his crowd. No one is asking them to be buds. I think though that it is bullyish behavior to behave how Driscoll behaves. He reminds me of the bully in my class who cannot stay away from the kid he claims not to like.

I don’t care for Driscoll, but I am not registering a domain. I simply don’t buy his books or listen to his preaching. If he doesn’t like Emergent… QUIT LISTENING. By saying the things he says, he just prejudices people against Rob Bell who have never even heard of him. I think we should let people hear and make their own judgments. If you read a Bell book and you don’t care for it… great! Move on to something else that helps your walk with Jesus. But you are nothing more than a bully if you then choose to follow Bell around and through rocks at his head. And if an emergent pulls the same stunt, I would be calling him on it too. And if I do it, let me have it.

I am simply asking you to live by your values of possibly believing that Jesus might, just might, be working through those you consider to be antagonists.” I don’t argue that point at all. I do not doubt that God works through clay vessels. I just believe that when he quit talking about Jesus and started attacking his brothers in Christ with heretic and deep shi*, it was time for him get off the podium and have a time out. And if he cannot get into a podium without using it as a bully pulpit, he needs to stay out until he can.

Andrew said:

One last one, cause this was your main point but I got lost in my pontification. “My point simply remains that when critique comes it deserves more than a “wink.

Agreed, but I think that was just the catalyst. This response page alone has generated tons of discussion. In total, the written discussion on this topic the past few days over the net has created volumes. Probably though, most folks have the same opinion they started with, but perhaps there was some movement. I am not nearly as attitudinal toward Mark as I was yesterday. ;)

ryan said:

Good remarks and thanks for taking the time to engage, plus after your line how could I not enjoy your response. Truth is I think we just have a different view on the nature of what it is to confront teaching that we view to be harmful. It seems your approach is one of live and let live, while mine might be more proactive. Now I do not know for sure which is right, maybe neither is. But I do believe and I think you do to, that these are serious matters that deserve serious consideration.

And another way to look at Driscoll that I think is worth consideration is not as bully but as untactful spouse. Truth is as a married fellow, I often do dumb stuff that frustrates and exasperates my wife. When she comes to confront me, I can either find one little thing in her approach or tone as a justification to dismiss her valid complaints. Now even if a spouse lacks tact and does not say things as well as they would always like, we still are obliged to listen carefully to their comments. All I was saying is that this whole winking thing reminded me of the times I dismiss what someone has to say just because of their delivery, even though I knew they were trying hard and they had some points worth considering.

Just one last point. It was not my intent to equate Driscoll’s success with God’s blessing or signs of his rightness. I could not agree more with you that numbers are not the only or primary indicator of the working of God. I simply listed the profound impact his church planting organization was having because it is a clear indictment of what the guy is about. It shows fruit that is not related to simply being an antagonist, but actually being for something.
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