Monthly Archives: August 2015
Two words that conjure up the worst in human nature is Fundamentalist and Puritan. Tar your opponent with either word and your victory is secured. But it wasn’t always this way. These two words, like all words, have evolved into something far different from what they originally meant (when is the last time you saw “gay” used as simply meaning “cheerful”?).
One of the reasons these two words turned in a certain direction was because there were some people, often the most vocal, who represented what later became the stereotype. There are some fundamentalists that shame Fundamentalism and puritans who discredit Puritanism. Continue reading
When corresponding with friends, especially those who live far away, it’s not uncommon to work the weather into the conversation. Southerners love writing Northerners in February and Northerners love to return the favor in August.
I must admit that most of my weather updates are little more than that, updates. If I mention the weather in a correspondence, it’s usually what meteorologists call the “current conditions”: the temperature, humidity (or windchill), and something about the look of the sky. Continue reading
Maybe it’s always been this way, especially among the young, but I think it’s a growing problem among adults in a highly technological age. The problem is the idea that being a Christian, or attending a worship service, has to be exciting. If it’s not cutting-edge, it’s not of the Spirit.
The challenge with arguing against such a notion is that one can inadvertently end up defending the other extreme, boredom. Every pastor has heard the definition of preaching as “The fine art of talking in someone else’s sleep.” Continue reading
When people know you pastor a church, they can sometimes act funny. When I worked in sand and gravel or in a textile mill, no one who did me a favor ever added the clause “This should get me in good with the man upstairs.” When I showed up to an outside activity, no one ever said, “Oh, good, it won’t rain now.” Makes me long to be back in a dump truck.
I understand these remarks and I realize they are said more in jest then in superstition. Though on occasion some people have made me nervous. They convey a belief that I have some kind of special inside track to God. The only proof I can offer to the contrary is to invite them to spend a day with me.
In his book The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis discusses the origins of this idea and puts it in its proper perspective, Continue reading
It was the politician Abraham Lincoln who said, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
It seems there is someone running for office somewhere at all times. And running for office is synonymous with making promises and the more grandiose the promise the better the chance of winning. Who would vote for a politician with the campaign slogan “Vote for me”? Continue reading
I recently tried to make a point with somebody about the word “religion” but I don’t think I was very successful. I’ll try again here.
Perhaps this will come as a surprise to many people, but the Bible is not a very religious book in the sense that it seldom uses the word “religion.” One of the few places it is used, and used twice in two verses, is in James 1:26–27, Continue reading
While differences in opinion are common and to be expected, it’s important to realize what’s behind the opinion. Call it a worldview, perspective, viewpoint, or weltanschauung, any specific opinion is the result of everything that came before that opinion.
In talking to people, I like to ask questions that dance around the specific opinion and at first does not even appear related to it. Where were you raised? What was it like in your home growing up? Where did you go to school? Have you ever been to church? Continue reading
It’s been said that opposites attract and it’s often the truth. There is something about a “worthy opponent” that can lead to an intimate friendship. Two such relationships from the political arena would include the 1993 wedding of Democratic political strategist James Carville to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin and the “difficult friendship” of William F. Buckley Jr. and Norman Mailer, as explored in the book Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties by Kevin M. Schultz. If Dale Carnegie is right, “When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary,” then these folks desperately needed each other.
C. S. Lewis was a man of many friends. One of those in his inner circle was British philosopher, author, and poet Owen Barfield (1898–1997). Barfield was born in London, educated at Highgate School and Wadham College, Oxford, and in 1920 received a first class degree in English language and literature. Barfield was also a fellow member of the Inklings, the Oxford group of scholars that included Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Continue reading
Putting others first isn’t hard when it’s convenient. I can do it happily when it’s something I want to do. But this isn’t how the Bible understands the idea.
In Mark 8:34 Jesus put it this way, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Notice how denying self is synonymous with taking up the cross and following Jesus. Continue reading
It’s a great question. Why do people always assume that volume will succeed when logic won’t?
Ever notice that when you have a solid argument, or when the other person’s argument is shaky, they will tend to raise their voice or become offensive by insinuation or insult? Such silliness is so patently obvious you would think to find it only among young, ill-mannered children. Alas, it’s all too common among well-mannered adults. Continue reading