Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obesity

Today I saw a woman of about 250 lbs wearing tight stretch pants and a tank top. The sight was not a pretty one, and all I could think was "Do women like that not look in the mirror? Or do they look and see something different than the rest of us? Or do they see what we see and just not care?"

One thing I have learned in 52 years of living is the human capacity for self-deception. I am not immune to it; believing I am would only be proof of it. I like to think that at least in my self-deception I do not inflict myself upon others, such as the scantily clad woman of the first paragraph.

Tonight I went to a local church's Halloweeen-based interactive drama with a very heavy-handed but somewhat effective message. We saw sin, judgment, hell, and heaven. Cynical me found fault; several young people made professions of faith, obviously quite moved by it. I wish I could see the world without irony sometimes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ridiculous, Extreme Media Bias

The only paper I really read is the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It's good enough. I do not watch the network news anymore; I don't have the time and it nauseates me for a number of reasons. But even the Chattanooga paper, since it takes stories from the AP, is guilty of unbelievably bad reporting. Three cases:

1. A story this morning that the majority of voters think Palin is a drag on the ticket. Then you read the article and find out the poll was done by James Carville, of democrats. Only 10% of Republicans think so. I really don't think there would be such vitriol against her if they saw her truly as a lightweight and unqualified. The fact that she is attacked so much proves they must go after her out of fear. Some of the Republicans who don't like her are entitled to their opinion (she's our nominee, not the Dems) but if it's because she's good-looking, as one conservative columnist has said, that's pretty silly. I think she wasn't given enough time to be ready by the McCain campaign.

2. A story last week with the headline, "Cindy McCain made 4.7 million dollars in 2007." OK, no one ever denied the McCains were wealthy. But the last paragraphs said the Obamas also made 4.7 million dollars last year. OK, why didn't the headline read, "Cindy McCain, Obamas both make $4.7 million in 2007"?

3. How much do other candidates spend on clothes? This is probably the most insulting issue of them all, considering Governor Palin was criticized for her less than stylish clothes in the beginning.

4. A further question. If the economy is so bad, and people are hurting so much, who is giving all this money to Obama? If they are so concerned about the poor, why aren't they giving it to the Salvation Army or World Vision or a secular humanitarian group? He got 150 million in September? From whom? This doesn't add up, people. Something is wrong.

II Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." This is an extremely important truth if we are going to survive. Conservatives will have to hold their ground until the Americans realize what a mistake they made.

Friday, October 24, 2008

UnChristian

I have just about finished reading the David Kinnamon book UnChristian. It was picked by a colleague for a reading group, and 20 profs have copies. Kinnamon works for Barna (or did) and used pretty extensive research to find out how "Busters" and "Mosaics" (young people about up the age of 30) think about religion, or really, Christianity. The three words that rise to the top in his group's evaluation of "us" is hypocritical, antihomosexual, and judgmental. A big section of the book is Kinnamon's (and his co-author, Gabe Lyons') prescription for improving our public image.

Well, there are a lot of ways I could critique this book, but one of them is not their sincerity. These men want young people to come to the Lord and feel their advice will help. And their advice is Biblical, for the most part. I do not know where they come down on the emergent church movement, which I am trying to understand and find a little confounding.

My negative view of UnChristian is first a gut one: you can lump me in with the hypocrites, but you don't know me and your lumping doesn't make me one. I am tired to being blamed for something Pope Urban did over 1000 years ago, or for slaveholders. If fear and guilt are used too much, people shut down, and I shut down in response to these criticisms. I cannot on my own turn the tide on the supposed decline in perceptions of the church. The problem is just too big for one reader.

My second view is to dismiss the views of people who themselves are hypocritical and judgmental. Who are they to judge me, whom they call judgmental? Aren't they hypocritical in their ways? The only way to be unhypocritical is to have to standards and to profess no standards; then you can't fall short of them, intentionally or unintentionally. Furthermore, I do live what I confess. I fail and am imperfect, but in the big picture I am very consistent and think most true Christians are, also.

As for the anti-homosexual part, that's touchy (sorry). Yes, the church is anti-homosexual. It's because we have to be anti-homosexual behavior, and we do not have either the nuance, good sense, or spiritual sensitivity to separate the two cleanly. But one-by-one, we try to love them; I really think most of us do, although probably not very well or at least not very convincingly.

But I am naive, of course.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Maybe Now

People will stop treating Sarah Palin like Adolf Hitler (because she shot some wildgame) since she went on Saturday Night Live and had to touch Alec Baldwin (I shudder at the thought). (she took his arm to walk around, that's what I mean by touch, people).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fireproof

I finally got around to seeing FireProof. It's amazingly good for being made by a church. I laughed, I cried. I recommend it, with the understanding it does get preachy. It's a message movie, but it's well done.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber and Stevie Ray Vaughn

I am amazed how a chance encounter and soundbite can turn into a mainstream media frenzy. I can't wait to see what SNL does with Joe the Plumber. Poor guy. I heard on NPR that he owes back taxes to the state of Ohio. Why can't the media leave the guy alone. Do you lose all your privacy rights because you happen to ask a presidential candidate a question? Good grief.

I think the reason the media has gone after him is that he dared to question Barack Obama's ridiculous claims that a. only people making over 250,000 will pay more taxes, and b. he was going to reduce taxes for 95% of the American people, a pretty good trick when 30% of them do not even pay income taxes. Joe doesn't want to spread the wealth. Joe doesn't want to show his patriotism by paying more taxes.

So, driving home from work tonight, listening to NPR make fun of Joe the Plumber (I doubt anyone on NPR could fix a toilet, a truly practical ability, far more than snarky journalism), I turned them off and listened to a CD of Steve Ray Vaughn my husband just mixed for me. I fell in love. Clapton and King might be better, but maybe not. The first song on the CD was taxman:

let me tell you how it will be theres one for you nineteen for me cause im the taxman yeah im the taxman should five per cent appear too small be thankful i dont take it all cause im the taxman yeah im the taxman if you drive a car ill tax the street...

What gall for the government and those who run it to take my hard earned money (and I work hard for the money--I defy anyone to say I don't) for anything other than to build roads and bridges, run schools, and protect the country.

How we need fiscal responsibility from everyone in this country! Driving down I-75 today a Hummer passed me, a huge yellow tank, with a vanity tag reading "I Need." How symbolic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Being Outed and Guilted

Last week we had a lunch party for bosses' day. The department heads and the dean of the school were honored, and I was good with that, because my dean is phenomenal and I'm not afraid to say it. At one end of the table I sat with a young speech colleague who said something he'd heard on Bill O'Reilly, one of those words he uses at the end of the show, blooter, I think. We were laughing about watching Bill O'Reilly and I said, for the benefit of the person at the end of the table wearing an Obama button, "Clint, we've been outed." I've already been outed on campus of course; I call myself a conflicted conservative, but a conservative nonetheless. I've been asked to sponsor the College Republicans and the Pro-life group. Yes, I've been outed, and I'm proud of it.

What I'm not as proud, or happy about, is being guilted. And my church is just doing that too much, even if not intentional. The guest speaker tonight at prayer meeting asked us at the beginning, "If you knew in 31 days you would meet God, and only had a month to live, how would you change your life?" And we were supposed to write it down. I wrote, "Give a very clear testimony to everyone; make sure David and Paul were taken care of (and my mom); give away my books; be sure my classes were given to someone who knew what to do with them; and have fun!" I'd be ok with meeting God tomorrow. Why should I be? Jesus paid it all; it's not about me; I can't do anything to make myself more His child (or less, for that matter). I don't live in a way I'm ashamed of, and I don't appreciate people insinuating that I do and just don't realize it.

To those of you who preach, don't guilt people! It's short lived. Now, the alternative is not to be therapeutic and to build up self-esteem--that's not preaching. Lift up Christ. His glory is more important than momentary obligatory feelings.

Monday, October 13, 2008

God's Will

Most Christians concern themselves with "God's will" when they make a decision. It's a more complicated process if one brings God into it. Of course, that's the wrong way of thinking. God's not a consultant, an independent contractor there to give you advice. The whole decision-making process is supposed to be predicated on the belief that God wants you to make a decision and that He gets the controlling vote.

I have heard hundreds of sermons on God's will and finding it, but none of them makes finding and doing God's will easier. Some observations:

1. Don't ask for knowledge of God's will if you aren't going to follow through on it. That's a slap in God's face, a waste of time and breath, and self-deceiving.

2. Most of the time God's will is clear--the moral choice, the Biblically-mandated choice. That doesn't mean easy, just clear. It's not a question of whether God expects Christians in church. Which church may be a little harder to discern, but even still churches should hold to gospel standards.

3. It's easy to deceive oneself about God's will. Humans are masters of rationalization.

4. Do signs mean anything? Other people's voices? Or only the witness of the Holy Spirit within?

I ask these questions because I don't know if I should stop teaching my Sunday School class in order to focus on something else, but I love teaching and would like to accomplish something, but I'm not all that successful at it, to say the least--yesterday I had an attendance of one, other than me. Yet everyone tells me what a great teacher I am. Obviously I'm getting mixed signals! And I am so tired. For some reason, I'm just tired all the time, even now as I type this on a day off and having slept a good eight or more hours. The fatigue is leading to depression that I don't like, so I have to wonder if I should focus on self-care rather than ministry right now. (That was too personal, sorry, but I think it's something a lot of women like me face.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Great Idea

I voted today! Early voting really has to be the best idea since, well, democracy itself. I went to the Catoosa County Annex and did the deed in 15 minutes. No lines, no hassles. There is no excuse to not utilize early voting. I'm going to become an evangelist for it. The poll worker said about 200 people a day come by there, which would add up to a significant number.

Now you can vote early (but not often!) I'll refrain from any remarks about a certain candidate's connection to a certain group.

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 28:1-8, second pass

The passage is unclear as to whether the two women saw the resurrection here, but I don’t think so.   They would probab...