Archive for August, 2010

The New Golden Calf: Glenn Beck’s Christian-like Political Fundamentalism

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by Jason Wermuth

On August 28, 2010, many Christians turned their backs on God. Why you ask? The Golden Calf of politics. On that date, a crowd of right-wing activists stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to hear Glenn Beck, a Mormon television and radio character, wax-poetic about how that day was the day America was going to turn back to God. Beck received cheers from the crowd, many of whom represent the evangelical Christian community. At this rally, entitled “Restoring Honor,” Beck, Sarah Palin and others spoke about God as if He personally endorsed their version of American politics. As CNN reported, Glenn Beck’s event was more like a religious revival than a political rally, with Glenn Beck preaching his own version of the gospel: “America today begins to turn back to God;” “Look forward. Look West. Look to the heavens. Look to God and make your choice.” Beck spoke these words as if his God was the one to whom the audience was looking to grant them their political prayers (Google “Mormonism” if you forgot that it’s not just another Christian denomination).

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Is Christ a Superhero?

Monday, August 30th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Those who know me personally, probably know that I have a small plastic figure of Batman on my desk. Batman is my superhero. Batman has always been my superhero. What attracted me to Batman was that he did not really possess any super powers. He is a human being with particular dedication and motivation–a story I have followed for decades until recently. The successful movies of the 1980s and 90s seemed to poke fun at the character at the cost of yielding any (moral) message. And the widely successful Batman movies of our days cast the caped crusader in yet another image; one I was not used to. This was not the superhero I had looked up to. This was different. This Dark Knight was a mere puppet of the villain with no words to spend on the moral life, the vision of the good life to which the original Bruce Wayne seemed to have aspired.  At some point after I had left my childhood dreams of being Batman behind, I encountered Christ on a crowded subway in Tokyo. Jesus replaced the need to emulate the superhero. If I were a boy today, I am not sure I would want to be Batman–that Batman they know today. I would prefer to be like Christ–he’s not a superhero.

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The Fortune Cookie Gospel

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Jason Wermuth

When I first gave my life to Christ at the age of 15, I used to think that all of the clever clothing, bumper stickers and other Christian culture icons were ingenious. I used to love that bumper sticker that read 3 nails + 1 cross = 4 given. Or how about the What Would Jesus Do craze? As with every kid from my era, I had the bracelet, t-shirt and swimming goggles (just so I wouldn’t lust at the beach). After a few years of catchy Christianese phrases and empty slogans, however, I realized just how annoying all of these things were to “the world” and other mature Christians for that matter. As the Apostle Paul once wrote “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Cor 13:11). Sadly, with the advent of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking mediums, I am noticing a new trend – The Fortune Cookie Gospel. Those stupid Christian sayings that once only graced the bumper of cars or arm bands now come from the fingers of many prominent pastors via their Twitter sermons or Facebook status updates. This is not a devastating trend, but it is definitely annoying.

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We’ve Fallen and We Can’t Get Up!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

The doctrine of creation is extremely important in understanding human nature as it should be and as it has become. Once you consider that humans, like all of creation, are contingent, having been created out of no-thing, then their fall into sin and their helplessness to recover from it makes sense.

Creation from nothing says that humans are contingent and fundamentally unstable. Part of the definition for contingency given by the OED is “the condition of being liable to happen or not in the future; uncertainty of occurrence or incidence.” This is the condition that all creatures find themselves in by virtue of their created status. As Athanasius puts it, creatures made out of nothing do not have the capacity to sustain their own existence. All humans have needs that must be met by sources outside of themselves. We must eat, have shelter, and enter relationships that form and shape us because we are social animals. In all of these ways, we depend upon something outside of ourselves to stabilize our lives.

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Gangs: A Growing Pandemic

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Antipas Harris

Youth exposure to drugs and gangs combined with a paltry 47% of African American males that graduated from high school  these days (with a perilous 28% of the ones who do graduate actually graduate on time) escalates the urban problem beyond the state of tragedy to a social collapse. Urban America is in a state of emergency while there are tons of churches and social service organizations all around. What can we do about this? What is it that we have not done to cure society’s ills?

 Last week the “Crime and Justice News” reported new findings from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). According to the report that a growing 27% (approximately 5.7 million) of public school students say that their school is both gang- and drug-infected; about 46% of the students report that there are gangs in their schools.

As an urban youth worker in Boston Massachusetts in 2005, I learned that each street or neighborhood is a “hood.” A “hood” is the equivalent of what we call “gangs.” There are the organized gangs as popularly known such as the “Bloods,” “Crips,” “Latin Kings,” MS13 Gang or the “18th Street Gang.” As 18th Street gang is named after a “hood” or 18th street in LA, MS13 is named after La Mara, a street in El Savador and 13th Street in LA. As noted here, even widely known gangs are named after street names or comprise of people in designated “hoods.” Teams of youth organize themselves to “watch each other’s back” to protect and to support each other. These teams lack constructive leadership and often veer into the abuse of substances and criminal activity. They often feel neglected by the national system and even by their own families. They often feel more loved and accepted by their own peers than from family and national support systems such as schools, and the justice system. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark Pinnock (1937-2010): A Tribute

Saturday, August 21st, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Despite all of the controversies surrounding his views of openness, Clark Pinnock was a genteel and humble individual. Most probably do not know of his struggle to read as a result of blindness in one eye, even though one glance at his numerous books will tell you that he was a voracious reader. A Canadian, he traveled to England in order to study with the great evangelical scholar F. F. Bruce at the University of Manchester for his doctorate. After completing his doctorate he first taught at New Orleans Baptist Seminary and then Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. From there he moved to Regent College (Vancouver, Canada) and finally to McMaster Divinity in 1977 where he lived out his career.

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