Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sermons and theologians

I believe Pat Robertson exists just to piss people off. I rarely listen to him, for about a zillion reasons. One being, his interpretation of the scriptures is way different from mine. Another, of the precious time on this planet I have, there are far more interesting and thoughtful ministers, pastors, theologians and religious writers than he, that I would rather spend time listening to and thinking about. The only time I encounter Robertson is when he has said, done, whatever to offend someone on the left. They drag him out as an example of Christianity, as if he were the American Pope of Protestants completely ignoring the diversity of American Christianity.
But anyway, in the past month or so, I've been listening to a new to me theologian and relistening to another theologian I quite enjoy. First is Ray Bakke a specialist on urban Christianity, who I find to be hard core on the idea of sacrifice, not of life (as in not dead) but lifestyle and comfort for the sake of bringing the Gospel to the inner city poor. The second is Os Guinness. I've very excited to find a new or old recording of his that I haven't heard before. He's got such a wonderful British (Irish) accent.
So throughout the day I will listen to a Lutheran sermon, a Catholic homily (maybe, depends on my mood), and an Eastern Orthodox writers' thoughts on Mary. It's mid-week so my listening options are fewer. Rest of the day is finance and only one of those guys mixes in a drop of Christianity. And almost none of them are fire and brimstoners. Sin, is not just something to make you feel bad but it something the separates us from the Father. We're all sinful and fall short of the glory. But good news, Jesus died for all mankind. That's the focus and not so much the sins of the secularists, or eternal damnation, or anything else we're accused obsessing about.

Pina Coladas and Presidental Speeches don't mix.

I made a drinking game of the State of the Union address. The drinking was to occur if he said the words, "let me be clear" or "fight" and when the Democrats gave a standing ovation. It was all the friggin standing oviations that did me in, and the fact he went past 10pm. I quit at about 10:10 as I had by then consumed a pina colada and a freshly squeezed greyhound. I have a two drink maximum.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pray for Haiti

At church they took up a collection for Catholic Relief Services. I put in $2, not much, because I didn't bring the checkbook and I'd like to take it off on the taxes. Haiti is mainly Catholic and so it is fitting in with my philosophy of giving, which is if you were in Haiti before the quake, I'd probably give you money.
I gave to the Salvation Army, since it was the sad report from a Salvation Army dude that was one of the early reports out of the country. I sent $25 to them. I'll probably give more next week to Catholic Relief Services.
People are taking money everywhere for the relief effort. The coffee shop down the street, my hairdresser, everyone. I'm going to try to stick with the people who were in Haiti before the disaster so that when the spotlight leaves, I know they will still be there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Avatar is no District 9

I like aliens.
For the most part I thought Avatar was okay. I knew the storyline was crap, stealing from 'Dances with Wolves' meets 'Pocohantas' meets a viewfinder. Storyline-wise District 9 kicked butt. It was original, it had mystery and was unpredictable. Oh and it was deep. I loved the comparisons between the Nigerian witchdoctor and the white scientists, neither knew what the F they were doing to the hero.
Unlike Avatar, the white guy becoming the alient wasn't the saviour. He was help. Chris, the alien trying to collect enough fuel to get back to the ship and get the heck out of there was the real hero. The South Afrikkaner white guy is just in the way, gets heroic and makes a nuisance of himself. No alien princesses to fall in love with. No superior white guy who will lead the Indians, opps I mean aliens to freedom.
Is Avatar racist? Racist in the way well meaning white folks who prop up a welfare state that undermines the Black family is racist. It is a different sort of racism that supports a white superiority, where the brown people are too stupid or childlike or whatever, and need the well meaning white leader to save them, typically from other white people.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Left & Right together

I keep a Wendell Berry poem at my desk with one particular line highlighted, "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." As far as I know Mr. Berry is on the Left politically, and a Christian.
I have also been obsessed with a neighbor's father, Raymond Bakke, from whose biography and lectures I have consumed started off Lutheran and became a Baptist minister. He also comes across as slightly politically liberal, in the demands of government money for the poor. But a lot of what he says about the urban church I agree with, for my own conservative reasons, such as programs and missions by the church should primarily be supported by the home church and not some outside entity.
There are hints that I do appriecate the political diversity of the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not all sunshine and roses. I find that the office of the Pope and the heiracrchy helpful in that the Church is not too apt to sway with the secular or other short term trends. So our sisters and brothers on the left do share communion with us and let their grievances be known, with out endangering the body of the Church. Unlike say, Protestant branches that break off and split, some easily, some with great and long pain and suffering, along secular party lines. There is a liberal strain of Catholic thought, pro-union and anti-loan (with calls to forgive national debit of 3rd world nations), that I don't agree with, but I see how a very liberal interpretation of the gospels can lead you that way.
Listening to some left leaning Christians, I do look for the centrality of Christ, and when finding him there, I'm set at ease and willing to hear the rest. Unfortnately, I've heard too many for whom the secular politics are a greater saviour. It is Christ who binds us, and as long as he is central left and right may come together.

Monday, January 04, 2010

PCA vs everyone else

Once again my beloved is getting circular again in worrying about the fact that I'm now catholic and he's presbyrterian, specifically PCA. He really focuses in on the Roman Catholic part, however I think we'd still have the same problem if I were still Episcopalian. I'm trying to be all Alfred Newmanish about it, "What me worry?" and all, and let him do all the fretting. The 'why' of all the different demonimations also confuses and flusters him. I, say no big deal. Mainly because I refuse to drive myself crazy about it. Hey, my parents are Baptist and just as much loved by G-d. He's bothered by the differences in our faith practices and the differences between the PCA and the PCUSA. I think his mom is PCUSA.
Protestant demonimations can break off into various little bits. I figure that's the nature of em. We had a talk about the PCA and how strict- orthodox- [insert preferred adjective here] it is.
I couldn't help to think of this joke:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.
"Well, there's so much to live for!"
"Like what?"
"Are you religious?"
He said: "Yes."
I said: "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
"Baptist Church of God."
"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"
He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."
I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

Cut the joke down a bit, and exchange Baptist Church of God for PCA and Baptist Church of the Lord for PCUSA, and have the PCUSA as the jumper and you can have a similar joke, in my eyes.
But my love's concerns are serious, and he needs answers. He has his fears and worries, which might not be so if he was raised actively in a church.