Posted: December 29th, 2010 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Christianity | Tags: homosexuality | No Comments »
Nicholas Lang, a gay student at DePaul University, wrote a moving article about the role religion played in his contemplating suicide as a teen.
Although all sinners were in the hands of an angry God, the head pastor sat me down that day to explain to me that God reserved his most special brimstone for us â€œflamers.â€ In particular, God was waiting for me specifically, waiting to â€œcut me downâ€ like a Johnny Cash song. Â God may have been loving and forgiving for normal folks, but He doomed gays to a life of ostracizion and depression.
-Â Religion: Crossing the Gay/Religious Divide (take the time to read the whole thing)
I understand why most religious people are uncomfortable with homosexuality, but regardless of your personal beliefs on the issue I think those of us trying to follow Jesus need to agree that the way we treat people who are gay desperately needsÂ to improveâ€”and considerably.
Posted: December 28th, 2010 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Christianity, Music | Tags: Derek Webb, songwriting | 4 Comments »
Derek Webb recently did an interview with Chris Stedman for the Huffington Post. The entire interview is worth reading, but the part that really caught my attention was the way Derek brilliantly summarized the main issue I have with Christian music (emphasis mine):
You can’t please everybody, and I don’t do this to please everybody. But the job of any artist is to look at the world and tell you what they see. Every artist, whether they acknowledge it or know it, has a grid through which they view the world and make sense of what they see. Even if it’s a grid of unbelief — that you don’t think there is anything orchestrating the world and that everything is completely random — that is a grid through which you make sense of the world.
A lot of “Christian art” is about the lens they’re looking through, rather than the world they see through it. I’m not going to criticize anybody for doing that, but I would rather look at the world through the grid of following Jesus and tell you what I see. But that doesn’t presume that all the art I’m going to make will be about following Jesus.
-Â Just Follow Jesus: Interview with Christian Singer Derek Webb
As a songwriter, and as a person who grew up in the church, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t lean towards writing songs that fit within the normal “Christian” label (for better or worse). I also don’t find much value in music that does.Â I recognize that there’s a place for songs “about the lens,” but I’ve found that I’m much more challenged and fulfilled by writing about the world while looking through this set of lenses.
Posted: December 24th, 2010 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Christianity | No Comments »
The story of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix strikes me as a vivid example of how religion can sometimes be made an end unto itself instead of a means to doing good.
“Due to the age of the fetus, there was no possibility that it could survive outside the womb,” Lysaught wrote. “Nor, due to the mother’s heart failure and cardiogenic shock, was there any possibility that the fetus could survive inside the womb.”
“In short, in spite of the best efforts of the mother and of her medical staff, the fetus had become terminal, not because of a pathology of its own but because of a pathology in its maternal environment. There was no longer any chance that the life of this child could be saved.”
“This is crucial to note insofar as it establishes that at the point of decision, it was not a case of saving the mother or the child. It was not a matter of choosing one life or the other. The child’s life, because of natural causes, was in the process of ending.”
Reading about the story of this hospital reminded me of the way Jesus was confronted with the same kind of questioning when he healed a man on the Sabbathâ€”an act that was seen as breaking the religious code of his day.
From Luke 14:1-6
1 Â It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.2 Â And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy.3 Â And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, â€œIs it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?â€4 Â But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away.5 Â And He said to them, â€œWhich one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?â€
6 Â And they could make no reply to this.
To live by the spirit of the lawâ€”religious or civilâ€”takes much more courage and reflection than to live by the letter of the law, and in the end leads to a better fulfillment of both.
Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: Joe | Filed under: Randoms | Tags: inspiration, life, wisdom | No Comments »
My high school football coach would often say, “You’re not playing to win, you’re playing not to lose.”
By that he meant we had traded being aggressive for being passive, that we needed to stop worrying about making mistakes and start trying to make plays and have fun.Â In the same way I think that many of us are living our lives “not to lose,” rather than living to win.
Answer this question: What am I scared of losing that is keeping me from living the life I know in my gut I want to live?
- Do you want to start a business but are too afraid of the financial risk?
- Do you want to write poetry but are afraid that people won’t think it’s any good?
- Do you want to serve the poor but are afraid of sacrificing the time, emotion, and resources?
- Do you want to speak your mind but are afraid that you’ll be judged by people in your family, church, or social group?
Think about which is worseâ€”having your fear come true or letting more of your life pass without trying to live it the way you know it should be lived? The likeliness that you’re going to end up completely destitute and alone are probably remote, especially compared to the reality that by doing nothing you’re losing more and more time to spend your life the way you wantâ€”no needâ€”to spend it.
Think about it.
Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
- Luke 17:33