Apr 16 2010

Ecumenism Without the Church

[tab:Plugged In, Tuned Out]

Plugged In, Tuned Out

“He’s there every time the door is open.” This often serves as a passing grade for “faithful” in many of our congregations today. Americans are passionate about productivity and this bleeds over into the management of the local church. Weekly headcounts and participation levels become proxy measures for spiritual growth and maturity.

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Dec 15 2009

A Messy Business

Life is messy, like making sausages. When you think about it, a lot of food is like this. Pretty much everything from milk to steak to lettuce to mushrooms goes through at least one not-so-pretty stage as it passes from farm to fridge.

Most of us city folks are happy with the hosed-down, shrink-wrapped groceries to be found in the aisles of the nearest megamart. Even there, however, we dare not poke our noses behind the mysterious swinging doors. After several summers in a grocery warehouse, and cleaning up a bakery every night after school, I can personally attest to the principle that ignorance is bliss when it comes to store-bought food.

A little mess along the way is not always a bad thing, of course. A farmer, a mechanic, a construction worker will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that getting your hands dirty is part of the job. Indeed, an entire series on the Discovery Channel is predicated on this principle. Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, always begins with this word of explanation: “I explore the country looking for people who aren’t afraid to get dirty – hard-working men and women who earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.”

What about making eternal life possible for the rest of us? In one sense, the task of redemption was a very orderly business. God made a plan and stuck to it. But a lot of the people we encounter along the way are messy. There was nothing neat and tidy about David’s life. We can say the same thing about the lives of Solomon, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab… well, you get the picture.

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Jul 18 2009

Can Humanists Offer the Good Life?

[tab:Introduction]

Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Humanist Manifesto I, 1933 [1]

Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. Humanist Manifesto II, 1973 [2]

Remy, the star of Ratatouille, is in love with food. His rat family is in love with food, too, but in a very different sense. Remy loves food for its smell, texture, taste and color. He loves food as an end in itself. He loves food as a medium of art. He loves food for the experiences it creates in others. For his brother rats, food is nothing more than a means to an end. Food satisfies their basic needs. Food relieves the pain of an empty stomach. Clearly, Remy stands out from the pack. He is inspired by the great Chef Gusteau who is spreading a bold and surprising message: “Anyone can cook.” If ‘anyone’ includes rats, Remy reasons, then there is nothing to stop him becoming a cook as well, and so the adventure begins.

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Aug 15 2007

Parenting in a Postmodern World

[tab:Introduction]

Mimi Doe is in much demand as a parenting “guru” of sorts. On her web site she offers a definition of spirituality in general, and spiritual parenting in particular.[1] According to Doe,

Spirituality is the consciousness that relates us directly to God, or whatever we name as the source of our being. That consciousness can be activated when we are making a mud pie, singing a lullaby, observing a spider web, or deep in meditation.

and

Spiritual parenting occurs when we expand our awareness to include our children’s vivid inner lives. When we approach our kids as grand spiritual beings housed in little bodies we are parenting spiritually. Spiritual parenting is not limited to any one religion’s teachings but rather is an authentic, honest way of interacting with our children day to day.

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May 23 2004

Why We May Have Already Won the Music Wars

[tab:The CCM Bandwagon]

The CCM Bandwagon

Conservatism, by definition, is slow to change. In fact, conservatives are downright stick-in-the-muds when it comes to certain core beliefs and, in my view, rightly so. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to value change as the summum bonum—the Supreme Good. The change they seek rarely comes from a fresh, critical analysis of where the religious world might be going wrong with respect to God’s word. Instead, it’s all about keeping up with the Pastor Joneses. The latest fad down the road becomes the Next Big Thing, with the Community Church movement being but the latest example.

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