It's no secret that I am a huge music buff. I don't care if it's alternative, rock, rap, folk, techno, or whatever--if I feel it, I feel it. So for fun I decided to make a list of my "desert island" picks. These are the albums that have in some way, shape, or form completely changed my life.
1. Nick Drake - Pink Moon. Probably the most painfully naked and most beautiful album ever made. Too bad it's only 28 minutes long.
2. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago. Another album whose beauty comes from its emotional vulnerability.
3. Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, a True Star. Most people would pick Something/Anything? as Todd's best album, but there's just something about A Wizard that makes me feel like I'm on a journey every time I listen to it.
4. Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans. Best gospel album ever, even if it's not technically "gospel music."
5. Nico - Chelsea Girl. Sadly Nico never got the recognition she deserved until after The Royal Tenenbaums came out.
6. Tyler, the Creator - Goblin. Despite its flaws (lyric subject matter, the occasional less-than-stellar flow, etc.) there's just something about this album that appeals to my inner goblin.
7. Big Star - Radio City. I never understood why this album wasn't a big commercial hit, because every song on this album is a power-pop masterpiece!
(I'm pretty sure I'm missing some others, but these are the few that pop out in my head right now.)
A few years ago I wrote a blog post about what Margaret Feinberg would call hearing the sacred echo. It's one of those moments when a certain Bible passage or a certain idea keeps popping up in your life, and you wonder if perhaps God is trying to tell you something. I think I'm having one of those sacred echo moments now.
Things have been weird for me mentally for the past couple of weeks. Time and time again my dark side comes around to bite me in the behind. It makes me wonder, "Isn't God supposed to heal my heart? Isn't the old me supposed to be dead? Then why do I still wrestle with all this anger and darkness in my heart? When is the whole 'restoreth my soul' thing going to kick in?" I feel like Jacob wrestling with the angel in the desert.
I feel like God is keeping quiet, but maybe He's actually trying to tell me something. For starters, my church is doing a summer sermons series on happiness. Don't worry, it's not the cheesy self-help-Joel-Osteen-pop-psychology crap. According to my pastor, the Bible says true happiness comes from focusing your thoughts on Jesus, regularly reading the Bible, and being in community . . . and I suck at all three!
Then this past Sunday I was at Amy's church and the pastor preached about being physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy, and how all three are connected. Again, something I totally suck at!
And then, yesterday I was reading my friend Renee's book Faithbook of Jesus when I came across a devotion based on Hebrews 12:1--"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Throw off everything that hinders.
Maybe I'm reading into things too much, but I wonder if God, in His often subtle way, is trying to tell me something.
Well, now that I think about it, they are both called "wizards." But I digress.
Apparently Mr. Friel hasn't figured out that the Harry Potter series is categorized as FANTASY. In other words, NONE OF IT IS REAL! As an ex-Wiccan, I can assure you that there is absolutely NOTHING in the Harry Potter series that even remotely resembles Wicca. There are no goddesses, no magic circle casting, no "Blessed be and merry meet," no "So mote it be," etc. If there was, I would have at least told you all to be discerning when reading the books. AND HERE'S THE PART WHERE I SPOIL THE NEW HARRY POTTER MOVIE, SO IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET, OR HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS, PLEASE SKIP OVER THIS PART!!!
The funny part about the whole controversy is that the last Harry Potter movie has a very strong allusion to the Gospel. In Deathly Hallows, Harry and his friends are looking for horcruxes, which are little trinkets that contain pieces of Voldemort's soul. Once the horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort becomes weak and vulnerable to defeat. Well, Harry finds that that he, himself, is a horcrux; there has been a piece of Voldemort's soul inside of Harry all this time. And so, Harry has no choice but to submit to Voldemort and be killed. (Of course Harry doesn't stay dead, and Voldemort is defeated during the final battle, and all that good stuff.)
Now let's think about that for a minute. The hero willfully submits himself to the evil forces in order to defeat the evil forces. Now what does that remind you of? Oh yeah, the cross! Now I'm not saying Harry is a direct symbol of Jesus (Jesus knew no sin, while Harry makes many mistakes in his journey), but how is Harry's death and resurrection that different from Aslan's?
OKAY, THE SPOILER IS OVER. PLEASE CONTINUE READING.
I know Friel is just another opinionated loudmouth with a microphone, and he doesn't have as large of an audience as Mark Driscoll (at least I hope he doesn't!), so I shouldn't worry about him. And maybe I'm being way too snarky with this blog post, especially by saying he "loves Voldemort." I just get frustrated when preachers and Christian radio personalities spend so much time nitpicking over tiny little things like Harry Potter, instead of serious problems like poverty and child trafficking.
Besides, who the heck would ever want to call their media empire Wretched? Aren't you basically already telling people that your show sucks?
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m currently having a bout of blogging constipation. After last week’s drama surrounding both Outlaw Preachers and Mark Driscoll, this week has been pretty boring by comparison. So I asked my Twitter followers what I should write about.
My Something Beautiful cohort Jonathan said I should write ten things I love about discernment ministries.
Now if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I am no fan of discernment bloggers! It’s not that I don’t believe we, as Christians, should be discerning. Far from it! Discernment bloggers, on the other hand, have this weird tendency to find fault with every single preacher/teacher/theologian of the past century. Not only that, but discernment bloggers tend to overdo it with the rhetoric. Sure, The Purpose Driven Life was kinda hokey, but from what I can tell Rick Warren ain’t the Antichrist.
Nevertheless, I accept Jonathan’s challenge, and will try to find ten nice things to say about discernment ministries.
1. They’re passionate about their beliefs. 2. They really take false teachings seriously. 3. Chris Rosebrough (a.k.a. Pirate Christian) did agree to sit down with me for an interview. 4. They can be pretty funny sometimes. Not always intentionally, though. 5. If they write about you, you are officially a Somebody on the Internet! 6. They’ve taught me what NOT to do. 7. They encourage me to read my Bible more. Mostly to see if anything has been quoted out of context, of course, but still. 8. I always have the option of not looking at their websites. 9. Technically they are part of this oddball family known as the Church, just like I am. 10. They don’t represent all of Christianity.
You've heard of the face that launched a thousand ships, right? Well, consider the image above the Facebook status that launched a thousand angry blog posts and letters.
If you're not familiar with Mark Driscoll, he has this weird way of making biblical manhood sound like you have to be a super-buff-Chuck-Norris-bad-ass-beer-guzzling-cage-fighting-macho-man in order to be a "real man." And as I mentioned a few months ago, from what I understand of the Bible, manhood is defined more by responsibility and humility that testosterone. So when Driscoll asked the above question on his Facebook wall, it made him sound like one of the macho jocks that used to call me 'faggot' in high school.
Today Driscoll finally addressed the controversy on his Resurgence blog. In it, he writes that gender identity is a complex issue, one that perhaps shouldn't be brought up in flippant Facebook statuses. Driscoll writes that the elders of Mars Hill sat him down, told him he should "do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context." Which is true; in this day and age anyone with a modem can be an instant pundit (and I'm just as guilty of this as the next guy). So in the future, Driscoll will set up a special blog where he will discuss issues like gender roles "in a fuller context."
I'm glad that Driscoll is humble enough to admit that he misspoke. However, there's one thing that he hasn't made clear: do you need to be super-macho in order to be a real man? Does he feel that the Bible says masculinity is defined by responsibility, testosterone, or both? I guess we'll find that out once the new website launches.
Last night as before bed I suddenly remembered Matthew chapter 23, which records Jesus' "seven woes" against the Pharisees. I got out my Bible, read the chapter, and noticed three things in particular:
1. Jesus was not afraid to call people out. I think all of us love to remember Jesus for extending His hand to the ragamuffins, but we often forget that sometimes Jesus had some pretty harsh words . . . especially for the religious establishment of His time!
2. The Pharisees had orthodoxy, but lacked orthopraxy. Jesus tells His disciples that what the Pharisees were teaching were true to the Law of Moses, but they didn't practiced what they preached. Instead, they were too busy with being seen as good people, rather than serving God and their neighbors.
3. Jesus calls the Pharisees a "brood of vipers." Now here's the tricky part, because we're taught that name-calling is wrong and is never a good way to talk to people. Yet here is Jesus, calling the Pharisees snakes?
Now, what does all of this mean for us? Well, I don't have all the answers, but from reading the passages I would like to suggest a few things:
1. When we meet some one whose teachings/words are harmful, or some one who isn't practicing what they preach, we should call them out. Out of love, of course, but still say what they are doing/saying is wrong.
2. I'm not sure of the original context of the "brood of vipers" comment, but I'm pretty sure Jesus doesn't want us to call some one a "f***ing a**hole." (That includes me and my potty mouth!)
So here's part two of my First Church of the Holy Rollers blog series. In this section, I learn how to speak Christianese, and then have my first encounter with speaking in tongues.
* * *
During those early months, the Holy Roller Church taught me everything I needed to know about speaking Christianese. For those who don’t know, Christianese is the special language that evangelical Christians speak to each other in to make everything in life sound so much more spiritual. For example, when someone says, “How are you?” you’re supposed to respond with, “Blessed!” You can’t say, “Oh, I’m doing alright” or else you’ll give people the impression that your cup’s not overflowing with God’s incredible blessings.
Another key word is “sow.” The Bible was written for an agrarian society, so farming metaphors are used a lot. Unfortunately most of us live in the suburbs, so it’s kind of funny to use the sowing metaphor constantly. But this didn’t stop the Holy Roller Church. No matter what you did in life, you were sowing some sort of seed that God was going to make grow. This was especially true with money. In fact, the Holy Roller Church was raising money to build a real church a few miles away, so they were always asking for tithes and the occasional “love offering.” Whenever they needed some extra cash, Pastor Dave would say, “Remember, ‘God shall not be mocked, for whatever a man shall reap he shall sow.’ In fact, once we get our building up I think we’re going to just have a big sign outside our door that says, ‘God shall not be mocked.’”
Years later I looked up the passage Pastor Dave was talking about. It didn’t mention anything about money.
* * *
The first time I heard anyone at the Holy Roller Church speak in tongues, I thought they were speaking Latin.
It happened one night during Wednesday night Bible study. Pastor Dave was out of town, so his wife Pastor Jenny led the night’s lesson in his place. She was the epitome of a Pentecostal wife: hair that was held together with half a can of hairspray, a woman’s suit jacket no matter how hot it was outside, and a voice that sounded like she was about to burst into tears at any moment.
And I guess there was something about that almost-in-tears voice that stirred up the Holy Spirit that night. When we started praying I heard Robert speak in another language. I figured maybe he used to be a Catholic and remembered some of those old Latin prayers. Then I heard Petey speak in the same language, then some one else, and finally Pastor Jenny. Do all of these people know Latin? Then I remembered something Pastor Dave said a few weeks ago about speaking in tongues, that it was supposedly the Holy Spirit speaking through you. Oh, so this is what speaking in tongues is all about. For a moment I was worried that I was going to start speaking in tongues, but even as everyone else was having orgasmic prayers I said nothing.
I could never get into the orgasmic praying and the tongue talking. When I felt the Holy Spirit, I never felt “on fire” like some of the others. Instead I felt this great sense of peace, like a cool breeze just brushed my face. Everything was okay, despite how messed up my circumstances were at the time. That’s how I knew it was God; it was the peace I wanted more than anything else in the world.
Of course, being the only non-tongue-talker at the Holy Roller Church, I felt out of place sometimes. To make sure I didn’t stand out to much, I sometimes blurted out “be-bop-a-lu-la” when everyone else was speaking in tongues.