Archive for March, 2010

Black Smoke in the Middle?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 by JEL

I compare this final season of LOST with reading the last Harry Potter novel. After six thick volumes filled with three times as many questions as answers, the last book dished answers out of a firehose. Particularly in the last half of the book when Rowling realized she needed to really stomp on the gas pedal to even keep it under 800 pages.

This last season of LOST has been delicious. Last week’s episode certainly had more than its usual share of religious undertones as more tidbits were revealed about Jacob and The Man in Black. Are they God and the Devil?

The cast of LOST in a Last Supper pose

This article has some interesting commentary from Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to Lost. I realize the above image could easily be described as sacrilegious, but isn’t it fascinating to see who is sitting in Jesus’ spot? The Black Smoke Monster, himself (in Locke’s shell). Tonight should be really interesting…

The Conscientious Objector

Monday, March 29th, 2010 by JEL

Travis Bishop was released from a military brig last Thursday. He had been serving a 12-month sentence after being court-martialed for refusing to serve in Afghanistan. Here’s what Bishop had to say upon being granted a 3-month reduction in his sentence:

“Three months clemency. Wow. I am truly astonished. Great for me? Sure. Great for future resisters? Even more so. I cannot believe that I told the Army ‘No,’ refused to deploy, pleaded not guilty, and then indicted the entire system and blamed my command in court, and still merited clemency.”

And here’s what he said back during his court-martial:

“As a real Christian, I must be opposed to all violence, no matter what, because that is what Jesus taught.”

While I applaud his feelings toward violence, I can’t help but feel strangely ambivalent about the case. The US Army is currently a volunteer outfit; there’s no draft involved. If Bishop felt this way all along, why did he join the Army in the first place?

“Jesus, Reconsidered”

Friday, March 26th, 2010 by JEL

The title of this post is taken (hence the quotes) from this NPR story by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. You can read the text of the story, but I recommend listening as the voices add a lot. It concerns reaction over Brian McLaren’s new book, “A New Kind of Christianity.” McLaren is a prominent and influential evangelical and a writer of both books and blogs.

He was also one of the first people to give us a review of What He Said. Again, listen to the story.

What About the Born?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 by JEL

Despite President Obama saying he would issue an executive order pledging that no federal funds be used for abortions, some healthcare reform opponents kept up the fight. Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer shouted “it’s a baby killer” while fellow Rep. Bart Stupak was speaking. Neugebauer says he “remains heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn…”

I understand the concern for the unborn. But does that concern end at the moment of birth? Once you’re born you’re on your own? Too bad you keep getting rejected by the insurance companies because of that infant skin rash? Sorry you’re one of 45,000 Americans who die each year because of no health coverage?

What about the tragic consequences not passing reform will have for the born?

Shane Claiborne

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 by JEL

Shane Claiborne is the co-founder of The Simple Way and the author of several books, including Jesus for President, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers and The Irresistible Revolution. After watching the video below, I think he would really like What He Said.

Bishops vs. Nuns

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 by JEL

Health care reform is grinding down the home stretch with detractors and supporters on both sides. Especially within the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out against the bill, saying it is contains a “backdoor subsidy of abortion.”

But nuns have a different view. 60 leaders of women’s religious orders representing 59,000 nuns have signed a letter proclaiming their support for reform:

“Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments … in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.”

One other thought (Go, nuns!):

“We are the ones who work every day with people who are suffering because they don’t have health care. We cannot turn our backs on them, so for us, health care reform is a faith-based response to human need.” – Sister Simone Campbell

Getting the Word Out

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 by JEL

A few weeks ago we posted about the Pope urging clergy to use the new social media tools to reach their parishioners. Now, a new tool has launched to help all church leaders digitally reach their flocks. SendingWord “digitally distributes scripture passages and church news. Simply input content to share with your congregation or specific ministry, and we’ll electronically send the messages to members’ chosen communication method: email, text message, phone call, Facebook or Twitter.”

Their press release had this interesting tidbit:

“Studies show that few religious followers turn to the physical Bible–an essential component of Christianity–daily. The recent surge of digital technology development removes barriers, enabling streamlined and convenient access to relevant content: a logical platform for daily religious integration.”

Not a “Resigning Matter”

Monday, March 15th, 2010 by JEL

Child sex abuse charges are roiling the Catholic Church in Europe. It started in Ireland where 15,000 complaints have now been collected (out of a country of 4 million), and has since spread to Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands.

Yet Irish Cardinal Sean Brady has said he won’t resign over the scandal. This despite his collection of information in 1975 about Father Brendan Smyth who pleaded guilty in the mid-90s to 74 counts of child sex abuse. Brady then sat on the information for decades while more children were abused.

He told the Irish Times:

“Frankly I don’t believe that this is a resigning matter.”

The Pope, thus far, incredibly, he has not accepted the resignations of 3 other Irish Bishops implicated in the abuse cover-ups. He is in the process of writing a pastoral letter to the Irish people that contains a “clear and decisive voice.” About what, exactly, we’ll have to see.

A Question for Billy

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 by JEL

The Wichita Eagle periodically publishes questions from readers that the Rev. Billy Graham then answers. Some of the questions are more interesting/thought-provoking than others. Like this one:

DEAR REV. GRAHAM: If Christianity is true, then why are most of the so-called “Christians” I know hypocrites? I’d rather be a complete unbeliever (which I am) than someone who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t act like it. At least I try to be a good person, and they don’t. —J.H.

You can read Rev. Graham’s answer here.

New Review

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 by JEL

We got a nice review yesterday from Amy Bayliss, a leading voice in women’s online ministry. Amy is a dynamo in Christian media circles, writing for many publications and websites and speaking at conferences around the country. Here’s what she said about our book:

“What He Said is just a brilliant concept. It is such a handy reference tool, and I really don’t know what I ever did without it. It makes studying easier and simply reading through the book gives you new insight to our Lord and Savior.”

You can find Amy online at Amy and also at Inspired Hearts Media.