Monday, October 31, 2005

 

Tragedy

Today I am in a rather somber mood. I received an e-mail from a friend in Waco, TX (Hello Kyle!) regarding a tragic event in the life of many Baylor students and the Waco Christian community at large. I'm not real clear on all the details, but I wanted to write my friends in the blogosphere to ask your prayers for this situation. Here is the story:

Yesterday morning (Sunday, October 30), University Baptist Church in Waco was getting ready to observe a baptism. As the pastor, Kyle Lake, began his descent into the baptism pool, he evidently reached up to adjust a microphone used for baptisms. The microphone caused a spark of some sort that resulted in the electrocution of Pastor Lake. Emergency help was summoned, but Kyle was declared dead at 11:30 a.m. at Hillcrest Baptist Memorial Hospital. He leaves a wife and three young children.

Kyle Lake was not a close friend. I knew him from my work as a bookstore manager. He was loved by many, at any rate, and he died at the age of 33.

33?

You gotta be kidding me, right?

Regular readers here will know of my grief over the loss of a cousin this past summer (You can read it here if you missed it--It isn't Fair. The feelings are the same now as then). Drew was closer to my age, but he was still young.

I feel so (what's the word?) angry, upset, sad. . . . I'm not sure what to say.

I'm still confident in God's character.

I know God is faithful and good.

But this whole thing just seems so wrong.

I hate death.

Yes, I hate it.

On the day when Death and Hades are kicked into the bottomless pit, I will stand and cheer. I will dance about wildly, flinging my arms and body in all sorts of direction in praise of a great accomplishment--greater than any touchdown, homerun, or pay raise. I will celebrate madly the final death of Death. I long for the day.

I know, I know, it's time to turn off the rant. Please pray for the Lakes and the others from UBC and the surrounding community who are hurting now.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 28, 2005

 

Some rambles about T Bone Burnett songs . . .

I'm kinda in a funk today, so instead of rambling aimlessly, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on the songwriting of one T Bone Burnett. Burnett is married to the former Leslie (now Sam) Phillips, and he is not only a prolific songwriter, he is quite a producer as well. At any rate, he put out an album in 1988 entitled "The Talking Animals." On this album are two songs I want to share with you. The first one (called "The Wild Truth") is about human need for truth. Here are the lyrics:


you never said it was a bed of roses
but you never said it was a bed of nails
you never told me 'bout the rubber hoses
or how unsteady were the justice scales

i need the wild truth

on the street there are a billion people
they got no love, they got no hope
they got no youth, they got no beauty
they're looking backwards through a telescope

they need the wild truth

whatever happened to the man walking down the street
with his hands in his pockets whistling a tune?
science fiction and nostalgia have become the same thing

i don't know how to make any choices anymore i mean,
who do i vote for? i get the feeling that as soon as
something appears in the paper it ceases to be true

i have to meet the man who can crack this world of justice
like a safe. someone with the courage to allow room for
good things to run wild

into the wild truth

we don't need no voodoo stories
from no magic president
who tries to make a dream a fait accompli
by using phantoms for his evidence

we need the wild truth

i tell a hundred thousand lies that twist me
into the noise where i hide my sin
my shame and scandal pull me down and kiss me
i can't live a life that might have been

i need the wild truth

are we supposed to take all this greed and fear and hatred
seriously? it's like watching dust settle it never changes
it's too consistent

mercy is not consistent it's like the wind
it goes where it will. mercy is comic, and its the only
thing worth taking seriously

i need the wild truth

This song strikes me as though the writer is seeking for something to make a difference in his life. Kind of like "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" by U2, this song says that we need something that will not only take us by surprise, but that will also make sense of the nonsense around us. We need "wild truth" that turns our evil into good and our anger to mercy. We need Mercy, we need Grace, we need the Wild Truth.

The second song is "Relentless" and is about love. You may want to debate with me regarding the origin of the love in the song, but I think the writer is talking about both the love of God and love between humans. Let me know what you think.

i stand and tremble in the driving rain
while your love rages like a hurricane

i can't break the silence as you still the wind
but i can hear you breathing underneath my skin

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless

i reel and stagger in the blinding light
while your love flashes like a lightening strike

so i find the darkness where i grow afraid
but i cannot shake you and the blackness fades

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless

you are relentless
this mercy convulses my pride
you are relentless
i find you wherever i hide
you are relentless
i have got nothing to win
and so i give in

i run and stumble as the mountains shake
while your love blazes like a world in flames

to shoot all fear into the desert sky
as stars fall like water through the dead of night

i am relentless almost senseless you are relentless

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

The human dilemma . . .

Today I wanted to offer you something to think about that comes from Francis A. Schaeffer. I've been perusing his The God Who Is There lately, and I came across the following material that I found both shocking and culturally relevant to post-modern Christians in a twenty-first century world. Let me know what you think. The quotes below come from pages 193ff of Schaeffer's book.
The historic Christian position is that man's dilemma has a moral cause. God, being non-determined, created man as a non-determined person. this is a difficult idea to anyone thinking in twentieth-century terms because most twentieth-century thinking sees man as determined. He is determined either by chemical factors, . . . or by psychological factors . . . . In either case, or as a result of the fusion of these two, man is considered to be programmed. If this is the case, then man is not the tremendous thing the Bible says he is, made in the image of God as a personality who could make a free first choice. Because God created a true universe outside of Himself (not as an extension of His essence), htere is a true history which exists. Man as created in God's image is therefore a significant man in a significant history, who could choose to obey the commandment of God and love Him, or revolt against Him. There is no reformed theologian, however strong his reformed theology might be, who would not say that Adam in this way was able fundamentally to change the course of history.

This is the wonder of man and the wonder of history. . . . Man can understand and respond to the One who, having made him and communicated with him, called upon him to show that he loved Him by simple command, 'Don't do this'. . . . This is the infinite-personal God calling on personal man to act by choice. . . . He could so act by choice because he was created to be different from the animal, the plant and the machine.

To ask that man should have been made so that he was not able to revolt is to ask that God's creation should have ceased after He created plants and animals. It is to ask that man should be reduced to machine programming. It is to ask that man should not exist.

If one begins to consider the Christian system as a total system, one must begin with the infinite-personal triune God who is there, and who was communicating and loving before anything else was.

That's a lot to take in for one day, but I wanted to add a postscript. This morning in philosophy class I acknowledge that the only true knowledge of God begins with God's initiation. That is, God is reaching out to me to communicate to and relate with me. That is the record of Scriptue, and, I argue, the record of human history and experience. I cannot come to God on my own abilities or knowledge, even though those things may be gifts from that same God. No, the only way to have a relationship with God is through the initiative he shows to us all in the grace of Jesus. Chew on these things for a while and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

T-Shirts . . .

Today I wanted to post the lyrics from a song by Derek Webb. The song is entitled "T-Shirts (what we should be known for)" and comes off of Derek's "I see things upside down" album. The song is a take off of John 13:34-35. Good stuff! Chew on this:

They'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
They'll know us by the way we point and stare
At anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
Who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare
They'll know us by our picket lines and signs
They'll know us by the pride we hide behind
Like anyone on earth is living right
And isn't that why Jesus died
Not to make us think we are right

Chorus:
When love, love, love
Is what we should be known for
Love, love, love
It's the how and it's the why
We live and breathe and we die

They'll know us by reasons we divide
And how we can't seem to unify
Because we've gotta sing songs a certain style
Or we'll walk right down that aisle
And just leave 'em all behind
They'll know us by the billboards that we make
Just turning God's words to cheap cliches
Says "What part of murder don't you understand?"
But we hate our fellow man
And point a finger at his grave

Chorus

They'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
They'll know us by the way we point and stare
Telling 'em their sins are worse than ours
Thinking we can hide our scars
Beneath these t-shirts we wear


So, what do you think?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

What is my problem? Some rambles . . .

I sit here listening to the greatest hits of DC Talk and grading Philosophy worldview papers, but my mind continues to wander to other things. What is my problem?

I have tried for almost 2 weeks to get through the worldview of Augustine. Heck, it took three classes to cover Plotinus, and only God knows how long I took on Aristotle. I certainly enjoy the discussions we have in class (if any of you are reading this post, thanks for asking questions, it makes my day!), but some days I get bogged down in (what seem to me) unnecessary details.

Ever have one of those days?

Like Wednesday, we had a great discussion of the old "free will" versus "sovereignty of God" debate. I don't know if we settled anything, but I think we as a class framed the argument well and asked the right questions. Maybe some of life is simply a mystery to which we can't always find specific answers. Heck, I'm a philosopher, I ought to know this stuff! What is my problem?

I understand that I am human, I am not perfect. I know that the search for Truth (with a capital "T") is a lifelong pursuit. Dang, if it was easy, then everyone would do it, right? I guess today I am just a bit anxious that I didn't offer help in pursuing the issues. My desire is to provide a place where questions can be considered with openness, honesty, and reason. I want to help others to think critically about the important things in life--especially the things of God.

Hey, don't we all want to be the hero? Right?

Is this thing on?

Is anyone out there?

Sometimes I think I hear God in the back of my mind whispering encouragement. He offers tantalizing evidence of his love and watchcare by quietly speaking in the darkest reaches of my heart. I hear it, but sometimes it is too faint. I run to look at it more closely, yet I often take a wrong turn. Anyone else ever feel that way?

What is my problem?

It is Friday, I want to go home and play with my kids, and I'm feeling too introspective.

God help us when we get too introspective.

A note of interest that relates to nothing above--on Monday a friend of mine will come by the house to build a sukkoth to celebrate the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. My family will join his family (hi Joe!) and others (Hi Wayne!) to offer thanks to God for his provision for us. I'm looking forward to it. Wednesday night I had the privilege of participating in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) services with the same folks. It was quite impressive.

To think that God cared enough for me to provide a covering for my relationship to him. He loved us in such a manner as to give us a relationship with him through the sacrifice of his own Son. When I get down or introspective (like today), it is good to remember this fact. God loves me! Yes, he loves you too!

I may not know what is my problem today, but I know that God loves me. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

I appreciate you all.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

Problems with the media, reality TV . . . and more Muggeridge

Those who are familiar with Malcolm Muggeridge already know that he was a journalist. If you didn't know that, you may wonder how it is possible for a journalist to be a Christian (grin), but that's a discussion for another day. The fact is that Muggeridge was a journalist, and in his lectures that later became the little book, The End of Christendom, Muggeridge notes some problems with the media. Here is the quote from pages 38-39.

"A strange thing I have observed over many years in this business of news gathering and news presentation is that by some infallible process media people always manage to miss the most important thing. It's almost as though there were some built-in propensity to do this. In moments of humility, I realize that if I had been correspondent in the Holy Land at the time of our Lord's ministry, I should almost certainly have spent my time knocking about with the entourage of Pontius Pilate, finding out what the Sanhedrin was up to, and lurking around Herod's court with the hope of signing up Salome to write her memoirs exclusively. I regret that this is true. Ironically enough, as the dramatization of the public scene gains impetus, so we move farther and farther from the reality of things and become more and more preoccupied with fantasy."

That last line gave me pause. Here is Muggeridge, speaking in 1978, addressing the problem of news and reality. I understand this paragraph to be saying that even in '78, Muggeridge saw signs of the media's "dramatization of the public scene" as opposed to the straightforward reporting of "the reality of things." Is this some kind of reference to "making the news" versus "reporting the news"? Perhaps, but more to the point is the reference to the danger of becoming "more and more preoccupied with fantasy." This remark certainly sounds a lot like "reality" TV, doesn't it?

Think about it--we neglect our "real" lives to tune in to shows that purport to show us "reality" on TV. Yet these very shows are more interested in the dramatization of an "unrealistic" setting than in offering us "reality." We strand a bunch of people on an island, encourage them to stab each other in the back, film the results, edit that film, and then call it "reality!" Does anyone else appreciate the irony?

We take the desire among most humans for a loving relationship, find some single guy, set him up with a choice of several gorgeous women, and then film their responses as the fat hits the fan. Then we call it "reality" TV!

We put a bunch of has-been celebrities together in a house, encourage them to participate in shenanigans, then we call it "reality."

Why are we obsessed with this stuff? Could it be that our own "reality" is so mundane that we want a substitute reality for it?

We all know that (like TV wrestling) most of these "reality" shows follow a script and are edited to elicit a certain response, yet we persist in calling them "reality" TV!

Muggeridge was practically prophetic here. Look at the major cable "news" networks--don't you see basic "dramatization" of events instead of a reporting of "things"? Why does the coverage of MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox look the same? We are living in the age of reality dramatization predicted by Muggeride almost 30 years ago!

What do you think?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

More Muggeride to consider

Here are a couple more quotes from Malcolm Muggeridge for you all to chew on.

“Words can be polluted even more dramatically and drastically than rivers and land and sea. There has been a terrible destruction of words in our time.” The End of Christendom, p. 2

“As Pascal says, faith is a gift of God. It is different from the proof of it. It is the kind of faith God himself places in the heart, of which the proof is often the instrument. Faith that makes us think of credo (I believe), rather than of scio (I know). He says of it, too, that it is the heart which is aware of God, and not reason. That is what faith is: God perceived intuitively by the heart, not by reason. . . . Faith does indeed tell us what the senses do not tell, but does not contradict their findings. It transcends but does not contradict them. Pascal repeats, ‘Faith is the gift of God.’” The End of Christendom, p. 6

"Because (Pascal) understood how important humility is and because he could recognize the arrogance that was growing up among scholars and learned people, he foresaw the dangers that the Enlightenment would bring. He knew that as never before in history a choice was going to confront man between seeing the whole future of mankind in terms of man shut up in his physical being--as we say today, in his genes--and the alternative of accepting in humility and contrition a role in the purposes of a loving God." The End of Christendom, pp. 7-8

I look at the world some thirty years after this lecture and shudder to think that Muggeridge may be right. Like C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, Muggeridge almost speaks prophetically to us, warning us of the dangers of unrestrained and proud science. If the whole of human existence is wrapped up in our genes, and if we are able by science to alter that structure as we see fit, who then determines what is an improvement or a defect? Who gets to say what is the "ideal human" or the perfect man or woman? As Lewis notes, the only ones left to make this decision are also human, and as such, subject to the same potential "evolutionary" changes in their genes as the rest of us. What makes this "elite" group more capable to decide what is proper or not in human genetic development? Who gets to decide?

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

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