Archives For culture

What did you want to be when you grew up?sandlot-01

When I was in school, I was fascinated with outer space. I thought I wanted to be a scientist and work for NASA. Over time, I discovered more about my natural gifts and inclinations, not to mention limitations and so I quietly gave up this ambition without any real fanfare.

I was unusual in my boyhood ambitions. Many boys do not dream about going to work for NASA. On the contrary, it is no secret that many boys, a majority, harbor hopes and dreams of being professional athletes. I know this because I am a teacher and talk regularly to children about what they want to be when they grow up.

A teacher.

A veterinarian.

A doctor.

Those youthful ambitions are almost exclusively held by the female students. The boys on the other hand, by a wide margin, tell me that they want to play for a living. They want to be soccer players, baseball or basketball players. They want to be stars. They don’t dream of being writers or artists (though there are plenty of males in both of those fields.) The one widely acceptable career goal for boys is to throw, catch and hit a ball for a living.

I did not always think this was a big deal. Who cares, they are just silly childhood dreams, right? But the more I think about it, especially now that I’m going to be a dad, I have to wonder why so many boys dream of lives of athletic conquest, if we as adults are encouraging this fantasy, and if it is even a healthy dream to begin with.

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So, I was not very successful in avoiding the internet this week.hobby-lobby

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and other Christian companies has produced a veritable flood of contradictory comments in my social media feed. One person praises Jesus for a religious freedom “win.” The next person shakes his fist at the heavens. (I credit this to me, being very non-discriminatory with whom I associate with online, thank you very much.)

Still, it can make for a frustrating exercise to see so much anger on one side and so much righteous glee on the other, and everyone in favor of burning everyone else at the stake.

So I’ve sorted out the facts and the opinions.

And I’ve come to an inescapable conclusion.

I believe the Supreme Court had to rule the way it did. Evaluating religious beliefs in a court is a dangerous precedent.

But, the decision is by no means a “win.” It is bad…for everyone. We are all losers in this fight. We would still all lose if the court had gone the other way.

There is just no good outcome of any of this. Here’s why.

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We Americans enjoy celebrating a lot of stuff.

There are literally millions of images like this on a Google search.

There are literally millions of images like this on a Google search.

Those of us who consider ourselves Christians like to talk about and celebrate God. That goes without saying.

We like to celebrate family too.

Some of us like to celebrate freedom.

Or even America itself. Many of us will celebrate America in just a couple of weeks…on Flag Day, the most important and widely celebrated holiday of national patriotism. Well, maybe not. Most of us will celebrate a lot of “American” stuff a couple of weeks after that. I don’t really know what Flag Day is for.

Here’s what’s happening though, and it might be something to think about the next time we come to a holiday or other celebration.

People can celebrate anything they want. Americans celebrate a lot of diverse values. But those of us who celebrate God, had better be extra careful.

Because God is sharing space with a lot of other things that seem to get equal billing.

Here’s what I mean.

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You may have heard, because the internet lost its mind temporarily last week.Gift Catalogue - Kandia ADP - Animals

World Vision, known for sponsoring desperately poor children in dozens of countries revised its hiring policy, opening the door for employment to legally married homosexuals…

Then they revised their hiring policies again…back to their original status.

The entire process took about 48 hours, give or take.

And in between the beginning and end was a whole lot of yelling (virtually speaking). A lot of people lashing out at World Vision, heaping on condemnation, so much so that apparently World Vision could not ignore the protests.

This would probably have been an event that I would have been able to ignore entirely if it wasn’t for the collective outcry that drew so much attention to it.

And in retrospect, I have come to an inescapable conclusion, that this event says more about all of us than it does about World Vision.

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As WBC members protest in Kansas City, opponents meet them with condolences.

Of course you probably know that Fred Phelps died last week.

The event was a bit more significant here in my neck of the woods, with Westboro being just about 90 minutes away.  That’s close enough that there have been plenty of Westboro Baptist Church pickets here in Kansas City.

Just about anyone would consider Westboro Baptist Church a hate group. Just about anyone would consider the life of it’s founder, Fred Phelps, to have been wasted.  His legacy has been a waste.

He was a frustrated, angry man on the fringes, who as a lawyer used to work civil rights cases, then was defeated for political office seven times, and then built a church as a platform for his frustrations.

And even though he is gone, WBC lives on, with enough energy to even protest the Lourde concert here in town, for no apparent reason.

I have spent the last few days thinking about what the death of this man means, a man so famous for being so hateful.  

And the thing is, perhaps quite by accident, the life of Fred Phelps quite plainly confronts many of the truths that you and I hold to be absolute. Continue Reading…

Son of God…11174993_det

Noah…

Exodus…

Mary, Mother of Christ…

Resurrection…

It has been almost six decades since The Ten Commandments arrived in theaters.  Today, the film is considered to be one of Hollywood’s last great biblical epics.  In the history of Hollywood, The Passion of the Christ is exactly canon by most insiders’ standards.

Now, seemingly out of the blue, Hollywood is taking a page Passion’s script, and we are experiencing a rash…er…renaissance of biblical movies.  Son of God provides the theater counterpart to The Bible.  And along with the aforementioned films, there are others.  Will Smith is rumored to be making a movie based on the story of Cain and Abel.  Brad Pitt is said to be playing Pontius Pilate in another film.

All of these films promise that we will “believe,” that these will build our faith, et cetera, et cetera.  And you know that plenty of these films will have lots of support from the most influential pastors.

But I’m just going to say this.  I’m not judging anyone who wants to see these movies.  But I’m not going to see Son of God, Noah or any of the rest of these.  And I’m not holding my breath for a true Hollywood biblical renaissance.

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