Dluxe's World

Thursday, June 22

Say What?

We interrupt the pausing of this blog to post something of a headscratcher. Even Ol' Rummy is confused, so you know there's a problem.

Dan Phillips pointed out this editorial in the Washington Post discussing why a particular woman was forced to have an abortion by the "conservative politics of the Bush administration". The last time I checked, conservative politico-types are typically not into pushing people towards abortion... I think you'll find this lady's assertions just fascinating.

Dan/Dave/Booyah also links to this retort of the op-ed piece by Freeman Hunt. See nail. See nail hit on head.

[UPDATE: I feel compelled to note that, obviously, this post has nothing to do with Donald Rumsfeld. He is included only because I start to chuckle whenever I see him.]

Tuesday, June 20

Blogging: Paused

Well, let me apologize up front for what's coming... What's coming is a whole lotta nothing, I imagine.

For the next week or so, I doubt I'll be posting as we finish the mad dash towards moving to a new domicile. Yes, the Dellingers are moving from the country to the city... Well, insomuch as downtown Windsor qualifies as a city.

I promise that once things settle, there will be posts (as previously promised). In the meantime, you can go here to tickle your spiritulectual itches.

Meanwhile, I'll be packing and completing some odd jobs (like this exciting task) around the house. I'll also likely be begging people for help or paying plumbers and contracters big $$ to clean up my poor efforts. Fun!

Wednesday, June 14

In the words of Axl Rose... (?)

Where do we go now?
ah ah ai ai ai ai
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
woah oh oh oh

-Guns N Roses, "Sweet Child o' Mine"

Now, that's some serious songwriting! Whenever you think of American lyricists, the same names always come to the forefront: Gershwin, Kern, Sondheim, and Axl Rose.

I came across an advice column telling me readers will start leaving if I don't entice you with exciting teasers of future posts. Of course, this person also posted about what So-and-so said about What's-her-face in math class... Perhaps their advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Well, where is this blog going?

I do have some posts coming that I hope will be interesting. I've been slacking on the reading plan for a couple reasons (moving, working up a curriculum for the fall, and a sudden addiction to Babylon 5 thanks to the J-Man) but reading hasn't ceased. To prove it, I'll be posting a review of John Miller's Outgrowing the Ingrown Church. Shortly thereafter, I'll be ready to sum up a fascinating book called The Joshua Generation by Michael Farris.

Sandwiched around those posts will be some Bible Study... Due to recent discussion both on this blog and 'abroad', I want to take a look at two common 'attack passages' in the Old Testament that seem to come up on every atheistic website. I also want to post a little bit on church discipline - both its validity and proper exercise. So, get ready for some transliterated Greek and Hebrew everyone! It's going to be a hot time on the old blog toni... Er, in a few days!

Tuesday, June 13

What Up World?? (It's WWWednesday!)

Well, it appears that the recent debate has now died down. If you missed it, check out the comments thread from my last post. This is the most non-Dluxe comments I've ever gotten - snatching the lead away from the old Emergent Wedding post.

I do hope that Josh and this guy (adult language warning) will come back and continue the discussion... I think it's very important, especially given the different places those two are coming from.

In the meantime, it's been too long since I blogged so let's move on with life.

First off: Google, though they are quite possibly affiliated with the Borg, make wicked cool stuff. I've used gmail for a while... But now I'm hooked on Google's wicked sweet Calendar, utilizing Google's Reader for checking my blogs, and snapping all of the above into my totally rad Google homepage. Clicky the screen cap below.They also have a sweet service for posting spreadsheets to the net for editing and sharing. I wonder what Microsoft thinks of that full-frontal assault? Anyway, if you want an invite so you can get in on the fun, just lemme know!

I've heard people rave about managing blogs using feeds before, but I've always preferred the 'click-through-my-bookmarks' method. No more! I'm reading more blogs (not sure if that's good or bad) and being more efficient about it.

Second: At some point this week, this little blog will pass 1,000 visitors. Now, I figure that at least half of those visits are a combination of my own visits from random computers and my lovely wife. Even so, it's pretty interesting to think about how many people (potentially) have read something on here. It's kinda humbling, too.

Maybe someday I'll be cool like Tim Challies and people will completely misinterpret what I write, helping to strip blogging of all enjoyment! YEE HAW!

Third: Tipping the hat to Challies' A La Carte, check out this post over at Deo Volente and the linked videos** (broadband warning!). Buy a glow in the dark cross for someone you love.

Fourth: I've traditionally posted strange search entries that got people here... It'd be a shame to skip that part now.
  • The single occurance of the words 'trajectory hermeneutic' seems to have been enough to make me the world's 4th most authoritative site on the matter.
  • If you want to process 'the mean world biblically', I can help.
  • Looking for "Denny's Tim Flemming" will land you here. I assume he's the guy who came up with the Moons Over My Hammy (the greatest snack at 2am on a Wednesday).
  • I can't imagine what could be "empirically verifiable about muggeridge", but I bet it's hilarious.
Lastly: Speaking of Malcolm Muggeridge, here's a cool quote...

The early Christians... enjoyed the inestimable advantage of believing that the millennium was near, which precluded them from seeking to establish a beneficent regime in this world. In the time at their disposal, it was just not worth while. Perhaps the best hope of reviving the Christian religion would be to convince the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other dignitaries likewise, that the world will shortly be coming to an end. A difficult undertaking, I fear, notwithstanding much evidence pointing that way.

** UPDATE: The funniest part of the 2nd video is the interlaced shots of Benny Hinn, his wife, Jan Crouch, and [crap, forget his name] at the start of 2nd verse of the song. Words + pictures = HA HA!


Saturday, June 3

What would John Wesley say?

I was peeking at a friend's blog today and he cites an article from the MN Star Tribune. It seems that the United Methodist Minnesota Annual Conference has voted to urge the larger church "to fully welcome gays and lesbians and to support gay marriage and the ordination of gay clergy." The official Annual Conference summary is here and the Star Tribune article can be read here.

It makes me sad to read this article... You see, I grew up at a UMC church. My parents were married there (long before I came along, I should note), I came to faith there, cleaning the church was my first 'job'. I worked on an advisory council to our conference on engaging youth. Life revolved around the white building at 200 Weiner Ave in Harrington.

Those of you who don't know me should understand that I was a music major in college. While in school, I had many gay friends... Many of them were fraternity brothers who I still talk with and love deeply. I hope that they would confirm that, while it is obvious I don't agree with or condone their lifestyle, I have not been hateful or uncaring towards them. They are and will always be some of my dearest friends.

However, I cannot escape the fact that I am convinced their conduct is sinful. And as someone aspiring to become a pastor, I feel almost compelled to comment on the statements of some pastors at the Minnesota Annual Conference. Quotes here are taken from Star Tribune article.
"The half-dozen biblical references to homosexuality do not reflect what we understand today about loving relationships. This is an identity, not a sin." Rev. Dan Johnson of Good Samaritan UMC

I find this kind of reasoning troubling. Reverend Johnson is willing to place his own convictions above the acknowledged, clear teaching in Scripture. I suppose the idea is that we now know more than the Bible writers did thanks to science, years of social evolution, and the like. In some cases, people offer so-called 'trajectory hermeneutics' in which we claim to know where the Bible was going and, based on that trajectory, are completing God's revelation in our time.

Even I learned, in my liberal UMC confirmation class, that the Bible was written by the Holy Spirit - not men - and therefore was authoritative. Johnson would have us set that aside in favor of our human 'higher knowledge'. Herein lies the flaw in Wesley's Method - the misapplication of reason and experience...

It's interesting that Johnson appeals, partly at least, to biology. The argument seems to be that, since we now know people are born homosexual, the behavior must be valid and not sinful. I'll ignore the debate around such data for now. Regardless, I wonder what Johnson would say re: the other people in the world who could be equally predisposed towards pedophilia or violence. If biological impulse makes right, then we have no logical basis to discriminate against other such behaviors.
"Many of us are greatly concerned about the direction the [denomination] has taken toward exclusion... We'll keep putting the pressure on." Retired Rev. Carl Caskey of Northfield

A little bit of historical revision implied here, isn't there? The traditional position of the church has been that homosexuality is a sin. That issue has been argued more than a couple times in church history with the historic, orthodox position always winning the day. The only current 'direction' of progress has been towards a rejection of the consistent teaching held by the church for the last two thousand years.
Like those on the other side, I wish we could get beyond this issue to do the things we're called to do... We are united on issues like serving the poor and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ." Rev. Daren Flinck of Grace United Methodist

Sadly, I must respectfully and earnestly disagree with Reverend Flinck's statement. These two camps are not "united on ... sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ". And I fear that is the most terrible thing about the issue of homosexuality within the church. While Methodists and Calvinists can argue about 'free will' vs. 'predestination' and the like, we emerge from such arguments with the core message of the Gospel being affirmed unanimously. We agree that Christ was God's Son, we are wicked sinners, that Christ's sinless life and atoning death provide the only channel to God, and that we become partakers of this unmerited gift of grace through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.

The end result with issues like homosexuality is that a very different gospel emerges. The result is a gospel where God is not holy, Christ is not Lord, and the Bible is simply another flawed guidebook (among many) on the shelf. Incontrovertible biblical evidence and the entire testimony of the church through the generations is set aside for the sake of our personal impulses and desires. Impulses and desires that we, as Christians, would affirm largely spring out of a mind that is sinful and hostile towards God.

I trust that the National Convention of the UMC will not accept the recommendations that have come out of Minnesota this week. Still, I suppose there's a lot of 'reason and experience' that could happen between now and 2008.

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Thursday, June 1

Coming to a theatre near you...

The last movie I saw in a theatre was the Chronicles of Narnia movie this past December. It was a fitting movie to see since ir seems I'm married to Lucy. Anyways, the 10th post I ever made on this blizzle was a 'review' of the flick for the internet's great benefit.

Mark Driscoll has a post on The Resurgence today where he discusses the growing trend of "intentionally making films for and marketing to Christians".
Of course, the motivation behind all of this is often more about the love of Mammon than the love of Jesus. With Christian books racking up big bucks such as the nutty Left Behind book series and their dreadful four films, Hollywood is waking up to see that there is big money to be made among the Christian faithful. And when Mel Gibson’s The Passion topped $370 million in revenue in North America alone, the potential of the Christian market was obvious.

A recent USA Today story had some interesting points regarding the marketing power of pastors of large churches: "Indeed, studios are finding that ministers who preach to flocks of 5,000 or more a week can be as powerful a marketing tool as a slick advertising campaign." The story goes on to say, "Industry executives are revising traditional advertising campaigns to recognize audiences of faith. Traditionally, studios market movies to the ‘four quadrants’: men, women, moviegoers younger than 25, and those 25 and older. The churchgoing community has become the ‘fifth quadrant.’ Just how big that demographic is, however, is anyone's guess. According to a Gallup survey in December, about 57 percent of Americans consider religion ‘very important’ in their everyday lives."

Over dinner last night, several of us were talking about churches and the balance between engaging culture with the Gospel vs. compromising (intentionally or not) on the message in order to be culturally 'plugged-in'. Though it's a bit of a tangent, I thought Driscoll's questions at the end of the article were thought provoking... So I wanna throw up some thoughts for discussion. Pastor Mark's questions are in bold italics.

Should a pastor/church endorse any form of entertainment, including a film, or is that wrongly using spiritual authority for marketing purposes?

I think the word 'endorse' comes awfully loaded for me... I think of athlete's praising some new, overpriced shoe while cashing gazillion $$ checks or strange, never-heard-of-em guitarists who have a promo deal with a never-heard-of-em guitar maker. "Mick Metalson totally shreds exclusively on Taizzor Guitars and Ernie Ball strings!"

I think that a pastor should not be in anyone's hip pocket... So being compensated for promoting something is completely wack. I remember reading stories of pastors who were getting cash/merchandise for urging their megachurch to take in the Narnia flick. That's just not cool. A pastor's motives should be higher than money. Even genuine, sincere praise is muddied by the exchange of currency.

I do think there's a need for pastors to be conversant in the culture around us*... And if a pastor finds a movie, book, or album particularly edifying, I don't have a problem with them saying so. But I would walk out of the church if I read that the topic of today's sermon was "Why You Should Go See X-Men 3 - Theology Unleashed". We've got more important things to cover, thanks.

Should Christians view the trend of filmmaking solely for their niche market as a good thing as they are gaining respect or a bad thing that Christians somehow can’t just enjoy a decent mainstream film like everyone else?

Well, let's first recognize what we are being 'respected' for: Our buying power. This isn't about the rise of morality or faith in our culture. It is about people trying to figure out how to make the most cash for their picture company. Let's not be naive.

The balance of the issue depends, to some degree, on the movies themselves. Everyone wins with more family-friendly, morally 'upright' movies like Narnia. I know a number of non-Christian fams who went to see the movie and loved it. In addition to being good films, such offerings from Hollywood spur natural curiosity re: faith which we should use to present the Gospel. We should be presenting the Gospel anyway, but if more people are asking we should praise God for the increased opportunity!

Of course, not every film with a Christian 'message' will be positive. Some will distort or fabricate facts, being sure to blur the line so you don't know which is which. This is especially dangerous now since I fear people are getting more of their theology from culture or feelings while less and less is coming from sound Bible teaching.

The bottom line is that we need to be discerning viewers. We mustn't look to the offerings at our local movieplex to validate our faith, to shape our faith, or to mark its cultural rise or fall. The world hated Christ, and we have a promise that it won't like us much either. Some movies marketed to 'us' will be good, others will be bad, and still others will be nothing but bald attempts to profiteer off of our naive urge to be validated by the world.

Should churches open their auditoriums to watch films or is that a violation of "sacred space"?

I'm not sure I can say what I feel one way or the other. Many churches are building sanctuaries that really function as multi-purpose rooms anyway.

For me to feel that such a thing is appropriate the movie's content would need to be 'super-appropriate' - including a Biblically sound, clearly presented theme. In addition, the movie should be prefaced with and followed by teaching and application by a qualified teacher within the church. I'd probably go further and say that the atmosphere of the show should be 'appropriately reverent', though I'm not sure I can really quantify that well.

How funny is it that just a few generations ago, Christians from more sectarian and separatistic, fundamentalist homes were told that watching movies was an evil to be avoided and now the same sort of people are a market for "Christian" film?

I'm not sure I agree with the premise. I think that the same seperatistic people are crying out for such things to be avoided. I just think that there's less of them now than there were then.

The question is whether or not that's a good thing? Have we made a move towards better engaging people in Christ's name or are we simple becoming apathetic to the evils of the world?

That's a topic for another time...

*I can hear the sarcastic argument now: "Well, pr0n is part of the culture... Lots of people are talking about that. Should a pastor be conversant in that just for the sake of being in touch with culture?" No. He shouldn't. Stop being ridiculous.