Archives For culture

The world today sure seems like a frightening place…

The very act of painting a sign and protesting would get these people killed in much of the world. My guess is these people are protesting on their own behalf, not for the tormented minorities of Iraq, persecuted by ISIS.

The very act of painting a sign and protesting would get these people killed in much of the world. My guess is these people are protesting on their own behalf, not for the tormented minorities of Iraq, persecuted by ISIS.

…especially if you consider yourself a Christian.

Everywhere I look, as I click through my news feed, it becomes apparent that Christians’ freedom of religion is under attack. If there is one subject that I can find constant anecdotal evidence, it is that Christians’ freedom of expression, conscience and speech is being halted left and right. There are protests and demonstrations everywhere, as a cultural majority feels itself becoming a minority. It makes the future a frightening prospect, as even Franklin Graham predicts that persecution against Christians will increase in America.

No doubt, American culture is more hostile toward Christianity than it used to be.

I have come to another conclusion, however.

Our love and passion for our freedom of religion will be our undoing.

It has become our sacred cow…

…our freedom is our idol.

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This summer, I’m going on a diet.

Wikipedia defines Superfoods as "a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits."

Wikipedia defines Superfoods as “a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits.”

I’ve tried for most of my adult life to eat reasonably well, but this is the first time I’m going to really try.

See, it’s not that I’ve become obese yet. But my famously skinny Appling genes just aren’t keeping up as well as they used to. It’s hard for genetics to keep up with my lifestyle of too much desk work, too many kids offering birthday treats and not enough opportunities for exercise.

It comes down to the fact that I just don’t like how I look. Cheri’s going to do it too because she doesn’t like how she looks after the pregnancy. So we are planning a sugar cleanse and then a month of paleo dieting.

As with everything, there are amateurs like us, people who are just dipping their toes in the water. And then there are the hard-bitten devotees. You find these kinds in the gym, but also Comic-Con, or museums or message boards or even church.

As I dip my toes in the water of trendy diets, though, what bugs me is just how obviously apparent it is that food has become a national religion.

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I used to think that self-righteousness was a Christian thing.

You know, it’s us Christians who are always pointing the finger, placing the blame on others, belittling and marginalizing. And really, that reputation is deserved to a degree.

Self-righteousness gets misdefined though.

It’s not just a holier than thou attitude. It’s not a belief that I’m right and you’re not. It’s much more than that.

Self-righteousness is the belief that I can do it myself. I don’t need other people. I am self-reliant.

Self-righteousness is the belief that I can do what I want. It does not matter that I am a created being with a purpose. I don’t have to be bound by those purposes. I can make myself whatever I want. Therefore, self-righteousness is a denial that we are creatures that are made to be a certain way.

And because self-righteousness is the belief that I can do it myself and I can do what I want, then self-righteousness is the belief that I can save myself. I don’t need a savior or a redeemer. I am good the way I am. I am perfect. I will save myself, either through religion or diet or sex or something else.

I started believing I could do it myself when I was two. And I’ve never quit since then. At times over the last four months of fatherhood, the only thing I could do was let go of my precious self-righteousness and say, “I’m really bad at this.” 

Self-righteousness is not a Christian thing or a atheist thing. It’s not a gay or straight thing. It doesn’t belong to a race or class. It’s a human thing. We are all doing it. We shallowly believe that self-righteousness is merely judging other people. In fact, it is the belief that we have no judge. 

self righteous

Perhaps that is the greatest threat to our culture today. And that’s where we can start. As Christians find themselves further away from the culture, relinquishing our self-righteousness might be the only thing we can do. We can’t act humble for a couple of weeks, though, expecting people to suddenly think we are great. That’s not how it works. It might take a generation, or two, or ten, of Christians actually relinquishing their self-righteousness, of actually preaching Jesus’ righteousness and not our own, before people will listen again.

memories-pizza-indiana

Memories Pizza. The name sounds like I’m going to get pizza, and maybe some glamor shots.

I was a huge Parks and Recreation fan.

And is it just me, or do the fictional citizens of Pawnee, Indiana seem a little bit less fictional and more drawn from life lately? Seriously, the fickle voters of Pawnee could always be counted on to harass Leslie with even the most inane of complaints. “I didn’t say I wanted all the slugs gone, just some of them!” is probably my favorite line of the entire series.

Lately, Indiana has been receiving plenty of completely deserved attention for finally making a stand for all of their persecuted Christians. Pizza shop owners seem to be especially grateful for their newly protected freedom to refuse service to LGBT customers.

Because serving someone pizza is obviously an endorsement of a customer’s lifestyle.

Can we all admit that Christianity, at least in America is getting worse?

This is what Christians do not understand about religious freedom.

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Yesterday was Easter, which is of course one of the biggest church attendance days of the year.

Many churches make a big push, perhaps second only to Christmas, to lure people through the doors. There are massive Easter egg hunts, parties, and everything else you can imagine, I suppose to disguise the fact that church is actually supposed to be worship. Kind of like putting a nasty tasting dog pill inside a treat so he’ll eat it.

Sunday got all the attention, but today is Monday, and I wonder what people will do. Will we sleep in because we have the day off? Will we groggily go to work and talk about what a great weekend we had?

The thing is, there is a disconnect between Sunday and Monday.

Sunday, many churches spent a lot of time and effort and money, trying to show everyone how great they are, how exciting their programs are, how “relevant” their worship is.

But what happens on Monday?

Monday is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Monday is where relevance really happens. Sunday is a day off. Nothing bad happens on Sunday (kind of.) Monday is generally decried as awful. And Monday is when people remember that there is a disconnect between what we say we are, and what we really are.

We have a lot of Christians in this country, trying to tell everyone how great we all are, and a bunch of non-Christians who say that, actually, we are awful.

We can go to church and feel great about ourselves on Sunday. And a few people may show up and agree. But on Monday, all bets are off.

D.L. Moody had this thought that we were told to let our light shine in the world, and if we are doing that, we won’t have to tell people it’s shining.

I think we’ve got much of that backward. We have very little light shining, and a whole lot of people talking about the light.

light

Sunday puts everyone in a good light. We were all wearing our best pastel colored clothes. We were all in a good mood.

But today is Monday. Time to get to work and let that light shine.

What makes someone an “expert?”15014282_s-200x137

When I was a very young man, graduating high school, I thought I was an expert on some things. At least, I spoke like I was an expert on some things.

Then I went to college, and I realized I didn’t know so many things. It took a while. And there were plenty of other students were who were struggling with the same realization. Many students, I don’t think ever made the realization. They never stopped believing they were experts about something.

I left college and with a degree under my belt, I felt like I had the right to consider myself a real expert. I was ready to take on the world and the world would benefit from my expertise.

I think you can see where this is going already, can’t you?

You know what we have a lot of today? What we have a real surplus of?

Self-appointed experts.

Let me explain.

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