Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What happened to Truth in Advertising?

Ok, I'm not going to name the company, because a lot of my followers will think I'm attacking an industry competitor, but I just saw the most ridiculously, obnoxiously, and laughably poor correlation in a television ad I have seen in my recollection. 

The ad opens with a large number of elementary school students on a stage at a spelling bee.  The contestant spells a difficult word (which I can't remember), the judges rule it correct, and then have a side-bar conference.  The middle judge announces that, due to the fact that not one of the twenty spellers has missed a word in a competition that has already eclipsed a fair and appropriate length of time (I think it was 48 hours!), they are acclaiming all the students winners and ending the competition. 

Then the visual "tag" of the commercial pops on the screen, proclaiming that having internet access makes people smarter.  "Imagine when everyone has it." 

So what are my two biggest reasons for cracking up and laughing almost hysterically?  Let me ask you a couple of questions.  First, when was the last time you were online reading ANYTHING posted on a "typical" website that had no misspellings or grammatical errors?  (I honestly can't remember a recent example).  Second, what are the most common sites young people use?  (Can I mention Facebook, MySpace, Twitter?)  Have you checked Facebook (for instance) lately?  I can't read two consecutive posts on the site without having to check my glasses/contacts to make sure I saw that correctly.  How badly can you spell "because?"  Just look at Facebook pages for a couple minutes, and you will likely find the answer.  It may horrify you.  It may amaze you.  It will surely make my point.

Anyone who believes that having internet access makes you smarter (or even more educated) needs to have their IQ and/or sanity tested.  Whomever you are, can you please spell "clueless?"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Church -- A Means to an End

One of my good college friends recently posted on Facebook a status, asking whether church, the Church, or a church is "a means or an end."  There are many congregations across our great land (and probably in other countries, as well) who may say they believe that church, the Church, or their church is vitally important.  Some may even go so far as to practice (even if they don't say) religion in such a way that it goes beyond being dominant in the lives of the congragation to the point of exclusivity and societal irrelevance. 

Let me first really quickly define what I mean by "church, the Church, or a/their church."  When I say "church," I mean the substance of performing church activities in a group setting--corporate worship, instruction, fellowship, communion/eucharist celebrations, and the like.  The Church (capital C) references the global, interdenominational group of believers who follow Jesus as their Savior, Source, Guide, and Redeemer (et al), regardless of affiliation, incorporating all Christ-followers of every color, creed, culture, and continent.  "A church" or "their church" references an individual, local body of believers who gather together (usually to do church as part of the Church). 

There are some individuals we know who have so immersed themselves in their church that they have no time for other non-affiliated friends (who may or may not be Christ-followers themselves), regardless of the occasion or event.  There are also, unfortunately, some congregations who go BEYOND accepting this absurdity to actually ENCOURAGING it.  Any "a church" who schedules activites on an almost nightly basis (or even more often!) has forgotten the purpose of the Church and church.  There are congregations in and near my own city who, for various reasons (size, intentions, etc), monopolize their attendees' time not spent at the job site or in school--and frequently find a way to insert themselves even into educational time--so as to effectively isolate these congregants from society as a whole.  And this is the tragedy:  society desperately needs the Church and ALL of its sane members to stand up, make a difference, and LIVE the Gospel--the Good News of hope, real freedom, redemption, value, etc. 

My Bible tells me that the Church's responsiblity--beyond giving honor and bringing glory to God--is to prepare the believer for ministry.  Not full-time church attendance.  Not every-Christian-is-a-doctoral-theologian-and-needs-to-preach.  Ministry, meaning meeting the needs of the world.  On a spiritual level (demonstrating a relationship with Jesus that changes a person from the inside), on a social level (fighting injustice, poverty, disease, illiteracy, etc.), on an ethical level (providing a moral standard of living that is above reproach, but not "bubble-ishous"), and on an intellectual level (honestly searching for real answers to tough questions, whether they be scientific, metaphysical, or geopolitical in nature). 

Please understand.  I am NOT saying that the Church or a church needs to water down its message or compromise its core beliefs to be relevant.  The problem is that church (doing religion) has become too skewed away from reaching out to make a difference.  It has become more of an aquarium-style safe haven for a country-club membership of people with like interests, who happen to also believe in a God. 

The saddest thing about this post is that some of the people who read it will probably not understand why I am so frustrated, offended, and angered by this travesty.  Others will likely not see their own descriptions in these few paragraphs.  We as Christ-followers need to stop playing at religion and start doing what we are here for--reaching, teaching, and helping others.  (I'll probably blog about this some other time, but we should, as Christ-followers, frequently help others simply to be of service, not as a chance simply to preach to them or an attempt to "save their souls."  How many people of the 5,000 that Jesus fed on the hillside later call for his crucifixion?  Did it matter to Jesus, even though he probably knew they would be faithless?  We'll chew on that for a while, later.)  In the meantime, have you any thoughts on this quandry?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"I hate feeling like this"

Sickness Stinks.  Literally.

My poor wife is very sick today.  Headache, fluish symptoms, breath rattles, weariness, aches, and general misery.  And because I'm to busy taking care of her--ok, I'm too lazy to do both, really--our fishtank and kitchen stink.  I just bought a new filter, but it will take a while to smell better, and I haven't done dishes in about two and a half days.  (I know what I'll be doing this afternoon.)

Where does sickness come from?  The biblical answer is that sickness entered the world when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and ate from the tree they weren't supposed to.  The medical answer is that sickness comes from microorganisms which enter our bodies through various orifices and means and then overwhelm our immune systems.  The metaphysical/naturalist view is that our lives become out of balance, and the "sickness" is our cue to clean up our act and get things back in order.  We could go on and on, but no matter why it happens, (unless you are a hypochondriac who revels in the attention that accompanies minor maladies) we all hate feeling like our bodies are dying faster than usual.

There are different levels of sickness, too.  You have everything from the garden-variety allergy to the how-did-I-possibly-contract-this-jungle-disease-in-my-suburbian-lifestyle virus that kills with little warning. 

My grandma has cancer.  Colon.  Again.  Sometimes you wonder why the "cure" seems almost or more horrible than the disease:  chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, blood tests, x-rays, mri's, prescription pills, etc.

It makes me thankful that Jesus not only died for our sins, but that he also provided for our healing by taking stripes on his back.  He was scourged so that we can survive the things we shouldn't.  I've seen divine healing actually take place in several lives over the years.  I also believe in heaven, where there will be no sickness, no disease, no infirmity, no pain. 

There will more musings on this topic in the future, I am sure, but I have to leave this unresolved for now.  In this life, here and now, no matter how you say it, sickness really stinks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

When Misapplied Christianity Makes Me Want To Be Violent

I love people.

Let me be clear about this up front. I love people, but I hate some of the stupid things people do. Especially in the name of Christianity.

Let me give you a real quick recap: the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. And sometimes it's not what they do as much as what they neglect to oppose: Nazi Germany, McCarthyism, racism, sexism.

And then there are the attitudes that really make my blood boil. Let me first make a point about the Christ I know.
Jesus was called a friend of sinners. He was accused (rightfully) of eating with sinners and tax collecters. He regularly criticized the self-righteous religious leaders of his day for knowing, expanding, and perpetrating an Unlivable Law onto others when they couldn't truly live it themselves.
He pardoned prostitutes, admonishing them to end their immoral behavior. He challenged the pious-but-wealthy to see the needs of others as more important than their status or comfort. He welcomed the most reviled characters and the lowest of the blue-collar workers and the most foolish and foolhardy into his inner circle. He fed the hungry, welcomed the children, spoke with the outcasts, touched the lepers, and raised the dead to postpone people's grief.
In short, no one has ever been more powerfully kind, generous, forgiving, or merciful.
And then, there's the story of Jesus entering the temple court and driving out the money-changers, the con-artists, and the price-gouging opportunists. What made Him so angry, I believe--at least in part--was the total lack of respect for the character of God. Yes, God is righteous, God is just, and God is holy. But we must also realize that God is merciful, compassionate, and doesn't want anyone to die without Him. We are His most prized creation.

And people, in the name of Christ, continue to forget what He stood for. Jesus hated sin in all forms, but He loved people no matter who they were or where they came from or what they had done. I don't know them, and I'm sure their intentions are good, but everytime I walk through the streets of my city in our downtown area at night I see a small group of people who consistently trample not just what I believe, but filet the work people like me put into building relationships with the Church's castaways--the disenfranchised.
"God Hates Sin" their signs say, forgetting to say that God still loves the sinners.
"Homosexuality is wrong, and homosexuals are hell-bound" their placards proclaim, denying that the Holy Spirit draws all people to Himself.
"A moment of pleasure, an eternity of torment" their posters postulate, ignoring that though our choices have consequences, God is also a God of grace.

My heart bleeds, my blood boils, and my mind rages. My greatest desire is to walk up to them, confront their heartless, hateful, sadistic form of "Christianity," and rip their signs into small enough pieces to shove them up their ... anyway, it makes me really mad.
Why do I not take a stand? I have only excuses, not reasons: they won't listen, they won't change, I could possibly be arrested for assault, I might embarrass my friends or family, or they won't understand enough to realize the WHY of my actions. So, my blog-friends, please advise me how I can change so I can show them how to change.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


So, apparently, I need to blog. My wife wants me to share my thoughts for multiple reasons, and I figure, why not? So, here we go.

I don't have anything really pressing on my mind right now, so, unfortunately for all of you who will read it, my first blog will be a ramble.

I love my family and love my job, but it frustrates me that my job schedule prevents me from seeing my kids regularly. I literally this last week saw my kids (when they were awake) for a total of about an hour between Monday and Friday. I kiss them goodnight when I come home, and try to be aware and helpful when they are getting ready for school in the morning a few hours later, but I don't see them again until the next night when I get home after midnight UNLESS I pick them up from school--which I didn't do at all this last week.

I am trying to change my work schedule by switching with someone--ANYONE--to get an earlier schedule, but we'll have to see how that works out. If not, I have other schedule options in February and possibilities between now and then, but I've been working until either 11 pm or 12 am for almost two full years now, and the times need to be a-changin'.

My concern is not just for my emotional health, though. I think it's hard on a family when they can't spend much time together. I honestly feel like my kids need me, and I feel my wife needs me.

Let me know what you think! More future thoughts to come!