Sunday, June 29, 2008

Theology Subculture Stereotypes

It's amazing how frequently I can read a blog comment and discern the theological (or other ideology) influences of that individual. I'll think, "gee, this argument, the wording, the terminology, the attitude, sound like a, b, c, x and y." I'll click through to their own blog and check their links. Yep. There's the links to a, b, c, x and y.

I also like to like to check other bloggers' links, then the links that those people link to. It's amazing sometimes how linked together in groups people can be. Somebody who links to a, c, d, y and z are likely to have many of the same links by friends of theirs. Hmmm.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 24) - The Fruits of Formal Membership

I happened across a pastor's blog while link surfing, and found a very good example of the logical conclusion of the idea of formal membership. This pastor is a Southern Baptist pastor and he made a couple of posts about a membership problem the SBC is dealing with. (Read his first post, then his second post that links to this one here about the meeting [Update: links no longer in use]). It seems that his denomination has 16 million "members" while only 6 million of these "members" actually attend church on a regular basis. This problem was addressed at an annual meeting, and the discussion had some interesting twists. In trying to tackle the problem, they found it necessary to look at how "church" is defined, then had to look at what constituted an "ordinance." This might not be necessary for a church if it looked at what a member actually is. It is a baptized Christian who assembles. Being tempted to redefine "church" or "ordinance" based on an understanding of "membership" is dangerous, because it looks at the relationship inside out.

There was also talk of purging all non-attending members from the rolls, but an objection was made that this would eliminate their greatest source of "evangelistic prospects." I'm not making this up. All this shows how basing one's idea of membership on things other than what the bible demands of us can lead to huge problems. Human nature (the sinful one) dictates that people will take the "formality" of "formal" membership and run with it. Apparently 10 million SB's think they can be members without assembling. They view "formal membership" as license to, well, do nothing. Membership is found in assembling, not in being formal. The fruits of each of these concepts will always follow.

This is a real life example of what I have said before: "formal" memberships serve mostly to create the very kind of Christians (non-attenders and pew-sitters) that they are designed to prevent.

Read parts 1-10 here, parts 11-20 here, and parts 21-30 here.

Part 23 . . . . . . . . Part 25

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gas, Food and Loading

I'm sure most of us have seen those signs on the highway that read, "Gas, Food and Loading." I love travelling on long trips by car, and I notice things along the highway, including those "gas, food and loading" signs. They're not as common in the middle of the most populated metro areas, as most exits have desired services of motorists, but on the outskirts of town or on the open highway, the "gas, food and loading" signs tell motorists that this next exit has the basic necessities of road trip travel. I've noticed the "gas, food and loading" signs ever since I was old enough to read as a small child. I've seen a million "gas, food and loading" signs and continue to notice them every time I travel.

Quite often, the "gas, food and loading" signs are accompanied by icons of a knife and fork or a gas pump to illustrate to the [supposed illiterate or foreigner] traveller what he can expect at the next exit. I've taken advantage of the "gas, food and loading" signs many times in finding what I need while travelling.

I always wondered what the term "loading" meant on the signs, as I knew what gas and food were. I assumed that those people on the road needed some kind of supplies to continue on their trip, so they would need to "load" supplies in their car. But, whatever needed to be loaded, the next exit was sure to have it.

One day in my mid-thirties I was driving down the highway and saw a "gas, food and loading" sign. Except, I wasn't paying attention to the sign; it just appeared in my vision; I didn't consciously read the sign. Because of this I mis-read the sign. This particular sign didn't say, "gas, food and loading", rather it said, "gas, food and lodging." I did a double take, a triple take, and a long stunned focus. I was absolutely floored at what I read. It took a while, but I realized that I had not mis-read this sign, but I had mis-read all of the previous signs my whole life. The first time I ever read the sign when I was a small child I read it incorrectly, and it stuck with me the rest of my life. Or until my mid-thirties at least. Then I realized what the meaning of this was. The word "loading" wasn't there, as in needing to load up on supplies, but the word "lodging" was there, meaning that there were places to stay the night. It all came clear to me.

I am firmly convinced that most of us read the bible the same way. The first time we read something - or have something explained to us by somebody else - we often get the wrong read, and it continues with us a long time, maybe the rest of our lives. We re-read the same error over and over, convincing ourselves that the error is true, making it all the harder to discover any error at all. Sometimes, God has mercy and reveals the real truth to us. I hope you find the same.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin: Baseball and Football

With George Carlin's passing, I'd like to link to my favorite routine of his, Baseball and Football. It is Baptist friendly because it has no profanity...but that's beside the point.

Today I also viewed for the first time his "7 words" clip, or at least it was one of the many derivatives of it. He showed the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the television elite by comparing several of the seven banned words and showing how the worst of them was actually visually, virtually and imaginatively displayed all the time, yet the least offensive of them was never hinted at in all these years. Food for thought from George Carlin.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why Do We Believe What We Believe?

I just saw an article claiming that drinking even up to six cups of coffee a day has many health benefits. It's all backed by scientific research, of course. This contradicts other articles I have read in the past claiming that coffee is dangerous to one's health; backed by scientific research, of course. Same for alcohol and many other things in life. Why should I believe any of them? Why do I or don't I?

I've never been to England, so why should I believe it exists? Why should I believe Adolph Hitler was a real person who actually lived? Some people claim that the Apollo moon shot was a Hollywood hoax, filmed in a studio. Why should I believe that? Who really shot JFK...if in fact he was really shot in the first place? If in fact he was a real person who was president. "Scientific research" has "proven" some wives' tales to be true, while others are false. Chicken noodle soup actually does help with a cold or flu, while children playing outside in cold weather doesn't actually cause them to catch cold; mothers calling them inside out of fear of catching cold causes them to share their germs because they're all in the house together is what causes them to catch cold. See I told you so. Did not. Did so.

And what about faith? The placebo affect is supposedly documented, that fake medicine can actually help with healing simply because the patient believes that it is going to do so. What about evolution of scientific theory? Each generation seems bent on proving the previous one wrong. Doctors used to pump antibiotics into people with the common cold. Later on, it was discovered that antibiotics don't work on viruses, and all the antibiotic use has created resistant strains of diseases.

Most of what we believe today will be laughed at at some point in the future by people who have proven us wrong. So why should I be judged for believing something contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day when I know it will be proven wrong sometime in the future? Why am I even writing about this?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Car That Runs On Water

I saw a clip of a car created by a Japanese company that runs on plain water. Somehow, electrons from the hydrogen atoms in water molecules are harnessed to create electricity. I wonder how expensive this is and how easy it might be to put cars like this into production. Peak oil? See it here:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blog Additions

A couple of blog updates: I have added my series on adoption to the left margin under "Ongoing Blog Series." I have also added Greg Qualls' blog about Christians who love beer called TheBeerean to my blogroll, the name being a takeoff on the term "Berean."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Psalm 23

Our kindergartner is reading Psalm 23 by himself from a bible, to his mom, as I type. He is memorizing it in his class at school and has been learning to read this year. It is wonderful to see him and hear him do this. "Was I reading?" Yes, you were.

A Nation Of Laws

A great quote from James Leroy Wilson at Independent Country:

"The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." - Frank Zappa

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Beerean: A Christian Who Loves Beer

Just found this site called Greg Qualls links beer drinking with Christianity and is searching for likeminded web sites. Hat tip to Bruce for the link.


Gene Redlin at Northern Gleaner posts this great quote:

"Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done." ~ Peter Drucker