McLaren, Driscoll, Juno and Famous Black People

Vicky says it has been too long since I have blogged. Not believing her I decided to check and yeah, it’s been a while. So I thought I would catch up in 3’s:

3 Books I’m in right now

– Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren

– Introduction to Biblical Theology by Klein, Blomberg, etc.

– World Biblical Commentary – 44 – Colossians, Philemon by O’Brien

Mostly school and a little fun from BMac.

3 CD’s that are rocking my world right now

– Fort Nightly by White Rabbits

– In Rainbows by Radiohead

– Juno Soundtrack

3 Issues that have been on my mind

– Abortion

thanks to the following: NPR – possibly the worst thing I have ever heard on the subject, I had to turn it off before I completely lost it; Obama – the man and I have very different idea of what “justice” means; Juno – great, great, great movie. Unfortunately, what it does for pro-lifers it does the same for teenage fornicators. Adam Carola – he’s been especially preachy lately, great for perspective on commentary against the church)

– Politics

thanks to the following: Vicky – she’s a junkie for sure; Time Magazine; Jonathan’s blog; Matt Drudge

– 14 kinds of Grace

thanks to Mark “300 books” Driscoll. I mean really, was mentioning over and over again that you are going to write that many books necessary to helping me understanding grace? Really? Still great, but really?

3 Things That Might Change This Year

– The city I live in  (I know, when will it stop)

– The amount of people I live with

– The amount of healthy churches that meet it bars in Las Vegas

3 Things About This Blog

– We get roughly 25-30 hits a day for people searching for “famous black people” thanks to my post on The Bible Experience. And with Black History Month coming up I expect that number to increase. Sorry people searching for famous black people, you’re stuck with two white guys.

– Ryan’s in his last real semester of Seminary. Go ahead and send him some encouragement. I am really proud of him. Who would have though Dawson Leary in Seminary and Joey a manipulated Scientologist. Times have changed.

– Last year we had a little over 13,000 blog hits which was aided supremely by the Washington Post linking here. This month we had a little over 3,000. So expect a healthy dose of posts about more famous black people over the next few weeks. We’re shooting for 50,000 this year.

Peace Out – matt

Has Science Gone too Far? This is Just Weird.

If you do not want to see a bunch of old guys in bikini bottoms jumping in icy water skip to about 25 seconds in. Then you will see a man who lost his thumb and had it replaced with his big toe! And it works!!

Are There Any Common American Values?

I came across this quote yesterday by Alexis de Tocqueville on the importance of a society/nation having some common values in order to survive.

“For without ideas in common, no common action would be possible, and without common action, men might exist but there could be no body social. So for society to exist, and even more, for society to prosper, it is essential that all minds of the citizens should always be rallied and held together by some leading ideas.”

I found this quote to be quite timely, as many Americans wonder if our government is broken and paralyzed by partisanship. Watching the primaries one sees this cycle of division only increased, as the notion of working and cooperating with people in a different party is akin to making a deal with the devil. The quote caused me to pause and think for quite sometime and I still had trouble of thinking of common united values that Americans collectively hold…

Conversation I had at Starbucks today.

I was reading my Bible and the lady next to me decided to talk to me about it.

Lady:  Do you think the Bible is true?

Me: uhh… yeah.

Lady:  Really how can there be a God?

Me:  Uh,  I am not sure what you want me to say.

Lady: Well there are lots of people who are suffering.

Me: Are you suffering?

Lady: No but God should do something about all the people that are.

Me:  Well if there is no God why don’t you do something about all the people that are suffering?

We actually went on from here to have a pretty nice conversation about evil, and if God is real.  At the core of it though I think she just wanted someone to talk to about life’s big questions.  Maybe Starbucks has become a safe place for many people to meet others and have those conversations.  I am sure I am not alone, or the first Christian to be reading a Bible in Starbucks and have these kind of interactions.  This was not the first time, nor the last.


Jim Wallis and Morality

Jim Wallis has a new book out. I have read a little bit of it already and found much of it to be recycled rhetoric from his last couple books. He delves in on what it means for Christians to expand their political platform into areas that have just as much biblical merit as old conservative favorites (abortion, gay marriage). He preaches that it is the robust faith and morality of religion that has led to many of our great civic advances in the United States history. He cites the abolition and civil rights movement as examples of faith intersecting culture in a blessed way. Yet Wallis seems to contradict himself.

I know it is election season and the interest in the intersection of faith and politics seems to be at an all time high in our nation, but I wonder if some Christians are in an over reaction, pendulum swinging back in the other way, type mode to conservative religious politics. Let me explain.

I saw Jim Wallis being interviewed by Jon Stewart last night promoting his book and some of his comments were a bit troubling. He joyously and definitively declared that the “Religious Right” is dead. Of course this was met with roaring applause from the audience and nodding approval by Jon Stewart. The truth is the religious right is not dead, it is just less influential. Iowa showed us that this group can still make some noise when it feels motivated to. But in all likelihood this group will be less of a player in the upcoming election, as the group is now quite fractured with many of the big wigs endorsing all sorts of different Republican candidates. Plus I think many of these religious values voters feel disillusioned after this last Bush term. This group is far from dead but it is not what it was in 2004.

I think what Wallis was trying to say is that there is a new movement in younger Evangelicals to turn out and value such moral issues as poverty, the environment, and human rights. There seems to be a growing tension that has developed between my generation of Christians and the Baby Boomers. Both have locked into different paths of how our faith plays out in the political realm and what issues should compel them into action. I think this is a healthy change that will hopefully allow for some of the tired stereotypes that have long been attached to Evangelicals to fade away. If you would like to see some of these issues I would recommend Dan Kimball’s book, “They Like Jesus But Not The Church.”

But as the interview went on with Jon Stewart, Jim Wallis made a troubling statement that I thought gave ground that he did not have to and seemed to be more pandering than genuine. And may I remind you that I say all of this as someone who politically lines up pretty closely with Jim Wallis. He said that “religion does not have a monopoly on morality.” He followed this by saying that the religious views of a candidate do not matter and that we can all embrace a common societal good. These are bold assertions which I just do not think are accurate and are in contradiction to the thesis of his new book.  Because even if religion does not have a monopoly on morality, it is the only one with an explanation for morality.

First morality is fundamentally a question of what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong. In order to say something is good or evil, or right or wrong you must answer ready to explain the standard or authority you are using to make that judgment. Now one can invoke the “Golden Rule” here but if someone does not believe in a higher power that determines such actions as right and wrong, then the notion of treating people the way you want to be treated is just a pithy arbitrary statement, based on the preferences of that individual. In other words, if morality is arbitrary to personal preference, than there is no reason others ought to abide by it or act in accordance with it. So my question to Jim Wallis would be how does one feel morally compelled outside of a religious framework? They can have a preference for social justice or ending poverty but no objective standard that makes it binding for others to act in agreement.

These ideas can be clearly seen in the civil right movement and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It was his faith and religious convictions that built the moral framework that allowed him to call discrimination “unjust.” Without this Christian moral framework how would have MLK called for civil rights, and argue that all humans, regardless of race, deserve to be treated with dignity, value and respect? The answer is you cannot. That is because Morality is an “ought” and all oughts come with a why? And if the answer to the why must be based on more than a feeling to be authoritative for all. You see both the Christian and the Atheist can look at the world and tell you that things are not “right,” but only one can tell you what that means…


Back in School

Here’s an excerpt from a recent conversation I had with a good friend:

Good Friend: “Hey Matt, want to go to the Rebel game on Wednesday night?”

Me: “Um, I think I’ll pass. I need to study.”

And may I say for the record that I would have never said such a comment in undergrad. And the Rebels were TERRIBLE when I was attending. Maybe it’s the fact that I just shelled out over a thousand dollars of my own money for a class, or maybe it’s the fact that I absolutely love my class on Biblical Interpretation; I’m not sure.

What I do know is that I have a 4 page Historical Background Study due next week and I am totally geeked up about it. And for those of you thinking, “Aw, you’re so cute, tell me how excited you are when your in the middle of Hebrew”, you may be right, but don’t steal my joy.

It’s getting late though, time for a whiskey sour, a Colossians manuscript and some constant play of IN Rainbows by Radiohead.


Now playing: Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
via FoxyTunes

Jack Bauer is Free!

Baffled that a jail could even hold him for 48 days, all of us can rest comfortably knowing that he is now out of jail.     Of course most of you know I am talking about Kiefer Sutherland getting out of jail after a 48 day stint.  Now if someone can just free us from the tyranny of this damn writer’s strike, and horrible reality TV.