Showing posts from October, 2010

Halloween--Yea or Nay?

Christianity Today has a Hermeneutics blog post by a woman who likes Halloween and defends it by saying that the Bible is as creepy in its narratives as the Halloween trappings. I am not sure if the Bible stories are creepy and spooky or just what they are, real; actually, I found the posters' comments more interesting.

It comes down to your understanding of Halloween's origins: was it a pagan feast that was brought over by the Irish, or was it a celebration before All Saints' Day, done by Christians in the Dark Ages, where they tried to scare away evil spirits with scary costumes? I have heard and read arguments on both sides.

I will invoke another controversial pop culture icon: Harry Potter. The evil character in the Harry Potter stories (I have only read the first one) is called "He who is not to be named." But in the stories it is pointed out that not calling him that gives him more power. One of the commentators on the blog states that we are givi…

Money and the Church

I find it easy to get a very bad attitude, very quickly, about how money is discussed in the church. Our church is having a second push this year about giving. I really don't see this in Scripture. Giving is an outgrowth of spiritual maturity, not a guilt trip. I am not saying my church is making it a guilt trip--I think the leadership's heart is in the right place, but I struggle with the following:
1. There are so many parachurch organizations doing great work, who need the money, and are doing what the church should be but isn't--Prison Fellowship, World Vision, Moody, Camps.
2. I don't see anything about storehouse tithing in the New Testament. At all.
3. I do read in Ephesians, "Work so you have something to give to those in need." Our giving is supposed to meet human need and the advance of the gospel, but not a big church staff.
4. Do we always know where the money goes in the church? I know that the biggest part of an organization's budg…

It's Saturday morning, so......

That means time for some blog posts.

1. I finished two novels this week: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was the first. Good read, ending a little creepy. I liked her epistolary technique (it's all written as letters). I may be the only one who thinks the ending is a little creepy or unbelievable.

2. Brava Valentine, an Adriana Trigiani novel; finished last night. It's ok, a beach read, tad trashy. She has a great eye for description, but the references to designers (furniture, clothing, handbags, etc.) and all the talk about shoes just gets to be too much. And in both her series (Big Stone Gap being the other), the main character is what my husband calls a "fag hag." Sorry--that's inappropriate, but the device is rather a cliche. The thirty-something character, unlucky in love, whose best friend is a flamboyant gay man who of course is sensitive, artistic, creative, etc., and also unlucky in love. (How many places have we seen this?) …


Today I signed the contracts for my new two novels! Finally! Yeah! Let's hope it won't take much longer to get them in print.

Word From the Pew

This is something I've wanted to do for a long time; a letter to preachers and pastors about what it's like to sit in the pew.

1. Study the concept of attention spans in the 21st century. If you can't say it in 20 or 25 minutes, don't say it. This is not the 18th century, and you are not Jonathan Edwards, and this is not New England. I wish we did have longer attention spans, but you are not going to increase them by preaching for 50 minutes. OK, I'll give you 30 minutes, but no more. Now, I will admit, for some people, 50 minute sermons are not too long. But for most people they just are.

2. We don't like interim pastors and looking for new pastors. Don't come to a church you aren't sincerely going to stay at and minister to for a reasonable amount of time. Please don't think of a church as a career move to something bigger. OK, interims can be good; we had two good ones last time around, but they have their limitations. Pastors change …

Mea Culpa

I regret that I have ever given money to NPR.

I won't listen to it any more. That is hard because I like their programs although I overlooked their ridiculous viewpoints and snide remarks about conservatives. I liked getting a different perspective. But they have proved that they disdain anyone who doesn't fit their little world view.

I am even more surprised that they fired a black man, the only black man on their programming. Not smart, people.

Antidote for All that Ails You: Study Ephesians

I am teaching Ephesians this quarter. Wow. Three times in the letter Paul prays. And what does he pray for? Spiritual knowledge, depth, Christlikeness, and unity for the Ephesians. That in itself stops me in my tracks, because we usually pray for others to be healed or get a job. Nothing wrong with that, but I am not sure we pray for others to be more like Jesus, no matter what it takes (that would seem like praying for them to have trials).

Secondly, over and over Paul emphasizes unity. And this is not your "why can't everybody just get along" unity, but true unity not based on internal realities, not external or superficial appearances. Christ has broken down the wall; Christ has put to death the enmity. There is one Lord, one hope, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one calling, one God and Father of all.

I had to go to diversity training last week. All of us did. It wasn't the worst thing I ever sat through, and the fellow running it was fair-mind…


Watching the miners emerge from their tomb reminds me of resurrection.

Let's Clear This Up

With the popularity of "autism" (I mean that ironically, of course; it is a good thing that the condition is being better diagnosed and more discussed) has come a realization that people don't understand it.

I like to think myself better informed on it than most, since my brother has autism. He is very low-functioning, unlike some of the high-functioning, very intelligent persons with autism disorders that we hear about in media, such as Temple Grandin.

But somewhere people have gotten the idea that autistic persons are jerks. Thus, we read of the founder of Facebook, who is portrayed in a recent movie about him as manipulative, mean, and insensitive, "he probably has Asperger's."

Folks, Asperger's is not a new way to excuse people of being inhuman or inhumane. Study what the disorder is about. It's not a choice, for one thing, and it's not defined by personality. It's a brain disorder that has to do with perception. The behavior of A…

Some Recent Movies

I had the house to myself last weekend and watched five DVDs.

1. Temple Grandin. Excellent view of how this brilliant woman who suffers from autism has experienced the world. But I confess I got tired of the cows in the second part.

2. That Evening Sun. Hard to watch--very Cormac McCarthy-ish--but well acted and thoughtful story of aging, revenge, hatred, and bitterness. At one point in the height of the conflict, the old man, played by Hal Holbrook, says, "Only Jesus Christ can fix this mess." As the movie progresses, we see how true that is and wish devoutly that the characters had let it be so.

3. Me and Orson Welles. Now, I am not a fan of Zac Efron, who is just too pretty. But this is an interesting look at a point in theatrical and movie history, when Orson Welles was gathering his groupies (actors) at the Mercury Theatre while he was doing radio and was preparing to go to Hollywood. They are all working on an avant garde production of Julius Caesar (short…