Blogging Interuption My laptop is in the shop. I …

Blogging Interuption
My laptop is in the shop. I might not have it for a while so my online activities will be significantly limited. See you around.

24 and Lost Finalles Week in Review

24 Season 5 – Pretty good.
Season 6 – inevitable. Looking for the resurrection of Edgar.
I was kind of hoping that they would end it though. It’s too much now. I watch because … well I don’t know why. It’s entertaining, annoying at times and cool mind-numbing brain candy.

Lost Season 2 Finalle – Fantastic.
Enjoy the discussion about some interesting theories here:

We've been continuing our discussion on sep. of ch…

We’ve been continuing our discussion on sep. of church and state on Lady Celtic Fire’s blog.

You Have the Right to NOT DISAGREE… OR ELSE!

Iran Shuts Down Newspaper Over Cartoon
Published: May 24, 2006
“TEHRAN, May 23 — The government shut down one of its official newspapers on Tuesday for publishing a cartoon that mocked Iran’s Azeri minority and led to riots in northwestern cities.”
(full art. linked title).

Freedom of speech issue here that I find completely abusrd.

The Most Controversial Column Ever Written! by David Konig

“…Here’s how it worked: The episode centered around the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy. In the episode, there was a harmless depiction of Mohammed purchasing a snack from a vendor. The image lasted for a couple of seconds and was completely uninteresting. There was also a depiction of Jesus—wildly offensive and awful. Guess which image Comedy Central refused to air?

Using diabolical double-backwards-reverse psychology, the South Park creators made the most pro-Christian pop-cultural point of the season by forcing the question: Why is it okay to offend every Christian on the planet earth—but we can’t even mention Mohammed in polite company?

Christianity has been around far longer than modern American pop culture (even including Madonna, who’s been around an awfully long time). For Christians, the eternal truths of Christ and his teachings are just that—eternal. The Billboard Top Ten, and the weekend box-office numbers in Variety are very, very important—but next week they’ll change.

Madonna, South Park, Da Vinci—it’s all very important. Not quite as important as the fact that the Iranians are about to drop an atomic bomb on Israel and kill all the Jews, but very, very important.

Meanwhile, it’s been 820 days and counting since the release of The Passion of the Christ, and the search continues for the one Jewish guy who got beat up because of that movie. If you were in the pack of crazed Catholics who saw The Passion then swarmed out of the mall theater to beat up that Jewish guy, contact me through this website. Somehow I missed that story.”
(full article linked to title)

Yah “Ustaz” – Shokran

Christianity and America Are Not Extensions of Each Other

I started to reply to my friend, Celtic’s, comment but it got so long, I decided to make it a post. I am not calling him out but our comments have strayed away from the original post of bombing and trying to force out a Christian bookstore in Gaza. (To Celtic, I did respond to your last comment though. The comment I am responding to you is your second last).

We’ve been discussing whether or not America is an extension of the Church and vice versa. I emphatically believe that they are not, evidence of which I pointed out is not only the principle of church and state but especially the fact that Bibles are not permitted in schools. And so here we are.

Celtic, I appreciate the way you said that first line, “I believe you but …”
I honestly thought it was common knowledge that everyone knew you Bible and public schools are very controversial. My comment was specifically directed about the organization of after-school, student-led Bible study groups. There have been a lot of cases taken against school districts over this issue.

Religion in Public Schools
Brochure on School Prayer from Americans United for Sep. of Church and State
Public School Religious Groups
College Bans Dormitory Bible Studies
Good News Club v. Milford Central School District
Student sues after Bible study banned

This is a huge subject and the commentary on any of these links could take us in a number of directions. Also, I am not defending the lawsuits or the cases being made. The first link is the one that I would say is the fairest and if the groups comply with this precedent then great. The second is a brochure on the law on school prayer. The remaining links point to the controversy involving tax dollars, school time, who can be involved, the conditions etc. As said, even if I don’t agree with some of these cases, I am trying to direct you to the use of subject of Bibles in schools which leads to the bigger point that the Church and America are not brother-sister or extensions of each other. IF public schools were teaching from the Bible that Christianity was the truth, then you would have a very strong case.

Consequently, it has become even more difficult for any student-led group of any kind to organize from gay/lesbian groups to other religious groups because it has become such a volatile issue.

So you know, I am not calling for government sanctioned Bible or prayers in our schools. I think it would be a bad thing to have teachers teach Christianity (who may or may not be believers or a desire to teach Christianity. Even worse would be to force someone …).

In high school, I was invited to one and just didn’t enjoy it. For me, I already saw many of these people in church and regularly attended my church so by the time school got out, I either had extra-curriculars, or wanted to go home, go out with friends, or do pretty much anything else then have another Sunday School class or whatever. That was me. As much as this may appear to be a contradiction to what I am posting about, others can have their own opinions and preferences and reasons for wanting such things. I know their club got along for years just fine without me.

There’s more to it though, I know some schools who teach world religion classes systematically and have heard mention of other various other religious classes from a historical or literary perspective. Not relevant here but a case could be made for that as well.

But in regards to what I think of this, I was bothered about the huge issue that was made up of the kindergartener who had Jesus in his painting had wasn’t allowed to have the painting in their art show. Come on.
http://Peck v. Baldwinsville Central School District
2nd Circuit again finds family can sue over Jesus poster

But the point of saying all this is to give even more context to when I continue to insist that Christianity is not an extension of America. In my opinion, it’s a global faith and as I have mentioned before our better scholars predict the epic-centers of Christianity will actually be in South America, Asia and perhaps even Africa and America will look a lot like Europe does now. As I read that book (The Next Christianity by Phillip Jenkins) I thought it may be a little exaggerated but believed that the “power” would be spread. (But I am not a theologian and I have a high respect for Dr. Jenkins). However to his credit, the thought that the biggest churches in the world are in Asia confirms some of this. Soon, there will be South Korean theologians who write from South Korea as opposed to an American seminary. I could go on and on about this and why the biggest churches are in Asia but I am getting sidetracked. But I hope you are seeing what I mean when I say Christianity and America are not extensions of each other. In fact, I think it is completely the contrary. America is becoming more and more secular. “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” is small practical evidence of this.

Celtic, I think I am understanding how you see that above paragraph. I could go through the trouble and copy and paste your last comment (or two comments ago really) but before either of us do, let me say that I can agree with you in the sense that religion can and has been used for political reasons; I do not think I have ever argued against it when put like that. What I will argue against is the idea that the primary use of religion or the implication that religion is “power” to manipulate the “masses” (you of course know the infamous line I am referring to). In that sense, I never want to see my faith used for political reason. Now, before you jump on that, let me also say that my faith extends to every aspect of life (my life and life in general) so it does affect what I believe, say and do socially, environmentally, politically, missionally, etc. But all of our actions take root and begin from our belief systems whether we claim a religion or not. Even more so, when people claim a religion and do something completely contrary to its teachings (like the killing of an abortion doctor is the example we have used several times here), their TRUE belief system is revealed! And not the one they claim to have!

There are several things I know you are trying to get me to see and one that I wish we could find more common ground on is the right role of faith/religion (its freedom) in private and secular life and how it is Scripturally speaking and from the teaching of our Bible-believing churches, it is not to be used for political and social gains but IS to change the heart of a person to what God has called us to: Love God, Love Others.

An Interview with Philip Yancey

I enjoyed this 4 min. interview with Phillip Yancey. Yancey is an evangelical writer who grew up in a Christian home but was very spetical about his faith. This has influenced a lot of what he has written and why I connected with him. He keeps a good perspective on things, is not afraid of wondering out loud, challenging traditional views, and being prophetic without sounding like a Pat Robertson. I think it’s because he does it with humility (as opposed to lunacy).

Yancey is enormously popular within the evengelical community which has always puzzeled me because he says some things that are unpopular with fairly conservative churches. Maybe the don’t know. For instance in this clip, he says something to the effect of I learned a lot about Jesus because of Gandhi. You don’t hear that a lot from evengelicals.

Clicking on title will launch Windows Media Player. If unsuccessful, go to the Sojourners homepage. Thanks to Sojourners for posting this.

Well if Keanu can do it …

I can’t stop laughing, but I just got asked to be in a movie. He (the writer/director and probably producer/camera-man/gaffer/snack table foreman/etc.) is going to email me the synopsis. That’s good bc I didn’t understand much of what he was trying to tell me. Something about Africa (and maybe Bono?). It was pretty vague. I’ve seen him around and we have had casual conversations in the past but it’s clear now – all this time he was sizing me up for talent. (Well if his talent insticts are any indication of the rest of the production, it’s not looking good for our indie director).

I tried to tell him that this isn’t my thing but you know no one listens to you anyway. As it turns out, I am not really an actor. Don’t get me wrong, I know the “business” of course. My resume includes going to movies, watching movies, buying dvd’s, reading about, even blogging about them. But then again, if Keanu Reeves can do it and I am better looking than Steve Buscemi …

The Church of Choice

The Church of Choice

Someone forwarded this little cartoon video to me and I thought it was the funniest thing. I couldn’t resist.

I was having trouble with the link. You might have to simply hit enter after on the address line after the error message comes up or you can cut and paste the link:

Ron Howard: 'It's Very Controversial'

I know, I know for a guy who is annoyed with the hype of it … I get so many emails a day about this. I thought this article was worth the time though. If you do read, the last two paragraphs with Brian McLaren are the best. (This interview is linked here somewhere below.)
Director refuses to include disclaimer in film; Opus Dei offers rebuke; Hanks blasts film’s critics. Meanwhile, Christian leaders Strobel and McLaren chime in. Plus: His Dark Materials gets new director; Scott Derrickson finds more work; Lucas talks Indy 4; and more.
by Josh Hurst | posted 05/15/06

With the most controversial film of his career releasing worldwide this weekend, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is fully aware of the heated debate surrounding The Da Vinci Code. He told the LA Times, “It’s very controversial. What Dan Brown did with the novel, we didn’t back away from in making the movie.”

Still, Howard isn’t backing down or caving to the requests of conservative groups like Opus Dei, the Catholic organization that asked him to begin his film with a disclaimer that the story is fictional. Says Howard: “I think what a lot of people have discovered—a lot of theologians—is this is a work of fiction that presents a set of characters that are affected by these conspiracy theories and ideas. Those characters in this work of fiction act and react on that premise. It’s not theology. It’s not history. To start off with a disclaimer … Spy thrillers don’t start off with disclaimers.”

Opus Dei was less than pleased with Howard’s refusal. Brian Finnerty, a spokesman for the group, thinks a disclaimer would be an important gesture. “A disclaimer could have been a way for Sony to show that the company wants to be fair and respectful in its treatment of Christians and the Catholic Church.”

DVC co-star Tom Hanks, promoting the film in London, spoke out against the film’s detractors: “We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown. But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.

“If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you’d be making a very big mistake. It’s a damn good story and a lot of fun … all it is is dialogue. That never hurts.”

A pair of Christian leaders also weighed in. Author Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ) is encouraging Christians to see the film, but only as a means of evangelism. And pastor/writer Brian McLaren compares DVC to a popular series of Christian books, saying, “Frankly, I don’t think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels.”

In an interview with Sojourners, McLaren goes on to say, “Brown’s book is about exposing hypocrisy and cover-up in organized religion, and it is exposing organized religion’s grasping for power. Again, there’s something in that that people resonate with in the age of pedophilia scandals, televangelists, and religious political alliances. As a follower of Jesus I resonate with their concerns as well.”