May 4, 2015
Seems apropos in light of the apparent redefinitions of words like “tolerate” and “phobic” that are making intelligent discussion of legitimate differences much more difficult.
My friend, Jay Mitlo, has written An Open Letter to Kennywood, to thank the workers at a Pittsburgh area amusement park for the simple kindnesses that meant much more than most realize. The post was so well received, and so re-posted, that it effectively broke Facebook – Facebook flagged it, shut it down, until they were able to confirm it was not a virus laden spam.
In his post, Jay writes:
I write this letter to you on the eve or your opening for the season so that you may share it with your wonderful staff. Working at an amusement park cannot be an easy job. The hours are long and the people not always so nice. However, in the midst of the line cutters and helicopter moms who insist that their child is in fact tall enough to ride a given ride, a warrior angel may be in their midst. Each one of your staff had a hand in giving a kid with terminal cancer (and his family) a day of rest, a day of joy, a day of memories (which are all we have of him now) that will last many a lifetime.
What you need to know, if you do not know Jay (which most of you do not), is that Jay was writing only months after the passing of his young son, who had suffered for four years with a neuroblastoma cancer.
So when your staff is down, tired, and bitter, when they measure their desire to work on their paycheck alone, please remind them that another warrior angel may be the next one in line.
Take a moment to read Jay’s letter. You might want to get some tissues. And then pass it on to someone who may need some encouragement. I share it because it deserves to be read. I share it because it is a reminder that how we do our jobs, and live our lives, makes a difference whether we are aware or not. I share it because your work matters, whatever you do.
May 2, 2015
Here’s an astute observation from Os Guinness:
“Christians simply haven’t developed Christian tools of analysis to examine culture properly. Or rather, the tools the church once had have grown rusty or been mislaid. What often happens is that Christians wake up to some incident or issue and suddenly realize they need to analyze what’s going on. Then, having no tools of their own, they lean across and borrow the tools nearest them.
They don’t realize that, in their haste, they are borrowing not an isolated tool but a whole philosophical toolbox laden with tools which have their own particular bias to every problem (a Trojan horse in the toolbox, if you like). The toolbox may be Freudian, Hindu or Marxist. Occasionally, the toolbox is right-wing; more often today it is liberal or left-wing (the former mainly in North America, the latter mainly in Europe). Rarely – and this is all that matters to us – is it consistently or coherently Christian.
When Christians use tools for analysis (or bandy certain terms of description) which have non-Christian assumptions embedded within them, these tools (and terms) eventually act back on them like wearing someone else’s glasses or walking in someone else’s shoes. The tools shape the user. Their recent failure to think critically about culture has made Christians uniquely susceptible to this.”
March 31, 2015
This afternoon I started reading Scott Sauls‘ refreshing new book, Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides. It seems timely – at least for me.
I for one am growing weary of a culture in which increasingly polemic debates seem never ending. And while I was at first skeptical of the phrase, considering it a bit exaggerated and overblown, I am more-and-more inclined to agree that the United States is appropriately labeled a “post-truth society” – where what matters are not the facts, but rather striking a blow for your political side. That’s what it seems to me, as I read and watch the news regarding the Riots of Ferguson, Missouri, the RFRA in Indiana, among other items.
There is truth. There is wisdom. And what’s more, there are effective ways of finding the wisdom without sacrificing truth.That’s what I long for. I want to engage in intelligent discussion, both with those with whom I agree and with those with whom I do not agree. I want to understand, so I can process things from perspectives I may not presently possess. I want to be heard, without being demonized as either a bigot or a half-hearted traitor. I want to align myself to truth and wisdom, and I want to see truth and wisdom win the day. I get that most things are more complex than we may want to make them. I get that we can act wrongly even in those times when we are in the right. But call me naive, or utopian, but that is what I want.
That is what Scott Sauls advocates in these pages. Having not yet finished the book, I cannot say that everything Sauls writes will be as music to my ears. But I can say is, having read a couple of related interviews, what Sauls endeavors to do resonates with my sensibilities.
It is not compromise I desire, but something transcendent: I want to remember that God is truth, for his truth to reign. I want for God’s people to be the champions for the good of all humanity – which is, after all, created after God’s image. And I want these truths and values brought wisely, winsomely, and effectively into the Public Square. The fact that some – maybe many – don’t want these ideas in the Public Square is no reason to stop taking them there. And the fact that some seem to despise these ideas is no excuse for Christians to act in a manner unworthy of the Gospel, as we engage those who oppose and even hate us.
So far, Scott Sauls is not disappointing.
March 21, 2015
Over at Grantland.com a discussion has been started to occupy the few down-time moments of sports fans during the NCAA March Madness. The discussion: Who is the greatest ever fictional basketball player?
Here are the rules:
Rule 1: The Blue Chips Rule
The film Blue Chips was loaded with actual NBA stars playing fictional characters. It would be too easy to just pick the guys from this movie, or to simply add in another guy or two. So the Blue Chips Rule is: You can’t pick more than two players from any one movie.
Rule 2: Split Personality Rule
If someone has played a basketball player in more than one movie, you can pick only one of his or her roles.
Rule 3: The Earl Manigault Rule
You can’t pick anyone who was portraying a real-life basketball player.
Rule 4: The Fletch Rule
There is no restriction on the type of movie referenced. It doesn’t have to be billed as a basketball movie; it only needs to contain some basketball scenes.
Rule 5: Fiction Rule
This is not a “Who Was the Best Basketball Player” to ever play in a movie thing, this is a “Who Was the Best Fictional Basketball Player” thing. In other words, while Shaq may have been the best player to ever play a fictional basketball character, it is not actual basketball skills this contest measures. (NOTE: Michael Jordan is disqualified from this contest because he played himself in Space Jam.) Rather who is the best fictional basketball player, which may include not only skills shown in the film, but the character he plays.
With those rules in mind, here is my team:
- Jimmy Chitwood (Maris Valainis) – G – Hoosiers
- Thomas Shepherd (Leon Robinson) – G – Above the Rim
- Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) – G/F – He Got Game
- Moses Guthrie (Julius Irving) – F – Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
- “Neon” Leon Boudeaux (Shaquille O’Neal) – C – Blue Chips
- Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) – G – White Men Can’t Jump
- Warren Coolidge (Byron Stewart) – C/F – White Shadow
March 17, 2015
This famous prayer, widely known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, is one of the earliest known European vernacular poems. While it has been attributed to Patrick, some scholars say a few of the words indicate a later period. Regardless of who wrote it, or when, there is no question that this poetic prayer oozes the spirit and substance we see in Patrick’s Confession. And these words reverberate with the power of Christianity that Patrick gave to his adopted land – Ireland.
Some Christians today find great value in memorizing this classic prayer and repeating it each morning upon arising. But even if that is not something you think you might want to try, at least take some time to read through the words, and reflect on the awesome truths expressed in this poetic prayer.
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity. Through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism, Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom…
I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me from snare of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill, Afar and anear, alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul Against incantations of false prophets,against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, Of the Creator of Creation.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
February 22, 2015
Kevin Twit and Indelible Grace have helped, directly or indirectly, shape and deepen worship for hundreds and thousands of congregations. Indelibile Grace was at the forefront of the movement to renew old hymns by setting the rich lyrics to newer music. While, no doubt, this had been tried before, it was Indelible Grace music that seems to have been widely used. Others followed, also seeing thier songs used in congregational worship throughout the USA, and the Church at large has been blessed by it. at least that is my take on it.
What was, and is, significant about Indelible Grace music, whether the re-written hymns or the newly composed songs, is that they are substantive – they bring to bear deep theological themes and truths and apply them to the emotion, without being emotionally manipulative. They simply give vioce to deep gospel truth experienced.
This video tells the story of Indelible Grace. And the featured concert held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville… I had the privilege to be there – sitting with my wife and several of our closest friends. Great night; great memories.