Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quitting Church

Andrew Sandlin links to a Wall Street Journal book review of "Quitting Church", written by Julia Duin, a Washington Times religion reporter. Duin's point is that many people are leaving evangelical churches, contrary to popular understanding, and for reasons not obvious. To quote:

The faults she points to -- relying on her own reporting and survey data -- are many. They are surprising, too, running counter to the stereotype of evangelicals bonding happily in their churches. She reports, among other things: a lack of a feeling of community among church members, inducing loneliness and boredom; church teaching that fails to go beyond the basics of the faith or to reach members grappling with suffering or unanswered prayer; pastors who are either out of touch with their parishioners or themselves unhappy, or who fail to shepherd their flocks, or who are caught up in scandal, or who try to control the lives of church members in a high-handed way. She claims that many churches have "inefficient leadership models" and that many, preoccupied with the care of families, neglect single people.


Sunday, September 21, 2008


This last week really impressed me with the approach of autumn. It's not only in the sun, but in the air as well. I've left for work with dew on my car windows. It's been cooler at night. The sun has that orange feel to it. Leaves are falling from some trees. Our silver maple has started to change colors, even if just slightly.

Many of our boulevards around here are lined with trees that change brilliant colors in autumn. Each tree has its own timetable for color. There are red trees next to green ones, and some with a rainbow of leave colors. I can't wait.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. It changes ever so slightly from summer through Indian summer into fall. The Bay Area's summer weather pattern of fog and ocean breeze changes to an offshore flow keeping the cool weather out in the ocean. Then the warm weather eases into crisp, cool days of raking leaves and playing football on the lawn. The World Series is a great time of the year. October is my favorite month. It will be great to share the season with our kids.

Weekend Potpourri

Some random things from this weekend:

  • At the click of a button we went from an exciting finish between the Giants and Dodgers, with the Giants winning 1-0 in 11 innings, to the red carpet parade of stars at the Emmy's. The two events were only a few minutes apart by car.
  • I sat on the front porch with my 14 month old. He waved at his mommy and brother as they left for the store, then he waved at all the neighbors. He sat in a front porch chair just like daddy.
  • I swept the driveway clean of all the gravel from the neighbor's backyard project so all the neighborhood kids that threw the gravel there to begin with could ride their scooters on the driveway.
  • I did a bunch of honey-do's, including hanging pictures. For each of our children, we have a collage of photos in a frame showing their first year. We put our one year old's up this time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What I'm Reading

Unlike many other bloggers, I don't often report on what I'm reading. This is because I'm simply not much of a bibliophile. But my friend Dale, who runs our church's "book table" (it's much larger than a table now, but the name kinda stuck), recommended a book to me. It's called "The Comfortable Pew" and written by Canadian author Pierre Berton in the mid 60's. He was a secular journalist who left the Canadian Anglican church twenty years earlier. He was asked by the Anglican church to write a critique of the church. It was quite controversial and became a Canadian best seller even before it was released.

It sounds interesting, and I'll write about it if I see some parallels with today's American church.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Yet Another Anniversary Of The World Not Ending

Today is the 14th anniversary of the world not ending. Harold Camping's 1992 public prediction that the world would end in September, 1994 didn't come to pass. His claim at the time was that the final tribulation, which started in May 0f 1988 according to him, would end on September 6, 1994, and that the sun would be darkened, the moon would turn to blood, the stars would start falling from heaven and the universe would soon convulse into Christ's return within a few weeks. It didn't happen. He has since revised his calculations and made many more failed end of the world predictions. His next is for October 20, 2011. This poses a problem as it would postpone the 2011 World Series indefinitely.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wisdom And Grief

"...in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain." Ecclesiastes 1:18

This verse resonates with my experience of the last 10 years of viewing the world through the lens of "a Christian world-view." This view can vary depending on what is considered, but maybe I can talk of this through "my" view. I relate the world to myself based on what I know of theology, philosophy, law, various doctrines that are held my men, the human experience, etc. The more I have learned about the world and how it relates to what I think God expects, the more grief and pain I experience. It's not like I only look outward with these things in view, I also grieve at my own life. I should, shouldn't I? It's not like everybody else is to blame for everything, but greatly my own doing. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The more I know about God, the worse the world and myself look.

There is also a realization that as bad as I think things may be, God can work through all this to accomplish great things. As grieved as I am about the current state of things, and as much pain as it causes, still I am optimistic about the future because God directs it. This doesn't always (or most of the time anyway) result in feeling better about my own lot in life because I know I can be a complete failure at everything I do with God still making the world a better place despite my situation. In general, I tend to be optimistic about the kingdom, yet pessimistic about my own life. Short of copy/pasting the entire bible in the comments section, if anybody has a pill to cure this, email me a copy of the pill. I know paradise is a ways off yet, and it will take a resurrection for us to enjoy it in fullness.

Life is full of bitter pills to swallow, yet there is also some joy. I cannot yet exult in my tribulations nor take comfort in my afflictions to any moderate degree. I often wonder if my problems are God's way of making things ultimately good for me or His way of calling down judgment upon me. They seem to fit both categories equally. Are my problems a result of my own stupidity and sin, or are they just part of the landscape of life caused by all sin and apparent random futility? I feel mostly as if I don't have the ability to discern between the two and lack the ability to know where to begin repentance. I often see how I think God meant for things to be and think to myself, "if they only knew." But then, if everybody else only knew, would they do what they knew to be right? It's less of a crime to God to do something wrong in ignorance than to do it with knowledge. Maybe I should be thankful that most people just don't know everything. That way, God can change things on His own terms without people thinking they had a large hand in it. Ignorance just might be bliss. I guess I missed out on that one, huh?