Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Climate Change...

...skeptics and responses.

As I've said before, climate change is a pro-life issue; a pro-life-on-this-planet issue.


Mainline Decline!

Mainline decline! Sounds catchy, don’t ya think? Slogan-like. Something you might see on the side of a bus. It even rhymes.

On my shelf I have two kinds of books. 1) those that proclaim mainline decline as divine tough love. 2) those who say the death of mainline churches is greatly exaggerated.

I think they’re both right.

I used to be all about the numbers. Actually, I still am. Sort of. I’ve been suspicious of convenient - Righteous Remnant – theology that lets Christians off the evangelistic hook. In fact, I’ve heard one person say, “If your church is growing then you need to ask yourself what you’re doing wrong.”

I wonder what mistake the Apostles were making in the Book of Acts.

However, I’m equally suspicious of growth-at-any-cost evangelism. I’ve read 30 or 40 church growth books (really!) and some are better than others. But none of them ask important questions. Well, questions I ask.

Most say that the church needs to engage culture, to use the tools of the culture to make the gospel “relevant” (a buzzword that just won’t die). We need to speak the culture’s language, they say. Otherwise the uninitiated won’t understand Jesus’ message.

But I wonder, at what point do we go from using culture as a tool, to changing culture, transforming the world. To being swallowed whole by it. Is culture sinful? If so, how? If not, then how far does sin extend into the world.

I’ve always felt queasy about too many trappings of culture in churches. Multi-media, theatre lighting, cool websites, Passion of the Christ showings. Does the medium commandeer the message? Do cultural trappings merely say to the world: see, we’re not so different? Come and join us and you won’t be asked to change. Except for your sex life. Maybe.

Or are we simply baptizing consumer culture, and Christianity becomes just another commodity, an accessory, an add-on, one more thing to do?

I lie awake worrying about this. If we truly follow the poor, homeless rabbi from the sticks, then shouldn’t our lives reflect the one whose name we bear? Maybe we should be meeting in parks instead of palaces, homes instead of holy-mansions. In the backrooms of bars. At Starbucks.

(I write this just as my church will looking to raise a million dollars for a new building. This makes me a first-class hypocrite. So, what else is new?)

If mainline Protestantism is in decline, then maybe God is culling the herd, clearing the deadwood, knocking us down a couple pegs. Maybe God is asking us to do more with less. The whole loaves and fishes thing.

After all, look what the disciples were able to do without cathedrals or PowerPoint. Look what Jesus was able to do with only his message - and the gift of himself.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jesus wept

Looks like literally nothing is sacred. A new report by the National Labor Committee reveals that crucifixes for sale at major religious institutions such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity Church in New York City were made in Chinese sweatshops.

Distributed by the Association for Christian Retail, the items are not labeled “Made in China.” In fact, they sometimes seems to be labeled “Made in Italy,” according to National Labor Committee Director Charles Kernaghan. Following a National Labor Committee press conference yesterday outside St. Patrick’s announcing the report, Kernaghan said both St. Patrick’s and Trinity pulled the items from their store shelves…

The report, “Today Workers Bear the Cross: Crucifixes Made Under Horrific Sweatshop Conditions in China,” notes that the workers who make the crucifixes are paid just 26½ cents an hour, less than half China’s legal minimum wage of 55 cents, which is itself set at below subsistence levels. read more…

I can't help but think of this:

I can't stand your religious meetings, [says the Lord]

I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.

I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making.

I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice - oceans of it.

I want fairness - rivers of it. That's what I want. That's all I want.
(Amos 5:21-24, The Message)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

When you believe...

Wonderful. A GREAT movie. The book is even better. A story of hope for the whole world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm back...

...with lots on my desk and on my mind. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Freudian typo fixed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Vacation Blahs

Technically, I’m on vacation until Sunday. But I do have to prepare a Sunday sermon and catch up with other work. So, I’m here in the office – for one hour only. Otherwise, my wife will cut me down at the knees and staple my butt to a chair in our livingroom.

November is the WORST time to take a vacation. But then, again, is there ever a good time?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mysterious tales & other…

Welcome everyone who saw my Godblog article in the Canada Lutheran. I’m glad you figured out that I’m not this guy (thanks to Pr. Tim Graff for alerting me to the “other” Kevin Powell blog).

Take a look around. Bookmark my humble blog. Send it to your friends. Make it your homepage.


Just when you thought Dan Brown was a wingnut...

...this turns up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Control? Planning? Ha! I LAUGH at Your Control and Planning!" - God

I haven’t been posting regularly over the past month because, well, I haven’t had any time. Parish life is busier than usual. Home life is disastrously hectic. I haven’t lost any weight. I've been pulling sermons out of my ears. And I feel like I’m two steps behind everything I’m supposed to do.

But I’m trying to become more disciplined. One barometer of life’s disarray is my desk. When it’s clean I’m in control. When it’s messy, I’m heading off a bridge, snout first.

Now, my desk is semi-clean.

So, I’m putting my life back in order. I’m devising a plan which will include all facets of my life: work, home, study, exercise, nutrition.

I’ll keep you updated.