Too Much Bad Evangelism…

I find myself yet again using words from Stehpen Mattson over at Red Letter Christians as a source for one of my Sunday posts.  He just seems to say what needs to be said.  This time it is about how we Christians are becoming so tainted by bad evangelism. We let the crazies among us control the chicken house so to speak.

Crazed LunaticThe problem with many modern Christians is that we’ve seen and experienced too much bad evangelism: the crazy street preachers shouting at strangers, the late-night televangelists peddling for money, The Westboro Baptists picketing funerals, the corrupt pastors who eventually make the news for all the wrong reasons.

Christians are so tired of the harassment, manipulation, hidden agendas, lies, abuse, hate, bigotry, and downright sin that’s been associated with “spreading the gospel of Christ” that they’ve simply abandoned talking about Jesus altogether….

Telling anyone about Christ, the Bible, or even carefully inviting someone to church is a social faux pas. It’s becoming less culturally acceptable to evangelize. It’s understandable why many believers don’t want to. You don’t want to be seen as that person: The crazed lunatic who believes in a supernatural deity, the anti-science, anti-environment, homophobic, religious fundamentalist who believes in the existence of an afterlife.

SOURCE:  Christianity Is More Than Just Being A Good Person | Stephen Mattson.

Lets face it modern-day Christianity is too often seen by most outside the faith as being associated with hate, bigotry, and hidden political agendas instead of love, forgiveness, and mercy as our founder tried to teach us. Christians are seen as being anti-science and extremists in the political realm.  A big part of the problem is because most of the leaders of today’s churches are not courageous enough to distance themselves from this relatively recent toxic view.  They let others define how the world perceives what Christianity is. I might say one glaring exception to this seems to be the Catholic church and their latest pope. He gives me reason to be optimistic about the future of Christianity.

The little startup church that I joined more than a dozen years ago, and was asked to leave because of “doctrinal issues” more than four years ago, continues to struggle to increase its membership above a critical mass. They just can’t seem to get people in any numbers to even consider membership there.  A big part of that is probably that they are one of those who reject so much of what most of the world takes for granted in favor of a narrow biblical view.  They just can’t seem to see that the bible, which they even fail to accept was put together under a Roman king trying to shore up his failing kingdom, was not the last words God gave us or even all the words he gave us then. God continues to give us the knowledge to more fully love each other as each day passes. He did not leave us to stagnate with a fourth century mentality of the world. They just don’t seem to fathom that concept.

I am hopeful that the post-evangelical Christianity or whatever you want to call it which will surely follow these times will return to the basic teachings of Jesus Christ.  I am hopeful that someday being a Christian will not automatically label me as a radical-right, non-caring, crazed lunatic but instead as a person who lives out Christ’s command to love him and to love each other.

A Snippet….

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The one thing that will sink the GOP’s chances of taking the White House is their sense of priority.  Let’s face it most people just don’t give a hoot about what the GOP screams the loudest about… and of course Texas, as usual, is screaming the loudest of the loudest…

Winter on the Farm…

O-Bannon State Park IN – Winter on the farm

This picture was taken during a recent visit to an Indiana State Park near the Ohio River. It was a very interesting day and I will soon be putting up a Travelogue post about it.  This old guy was later hooked up to a press that was one of the first to compact hay into bails. It was nice to see the event so will attended even on a chilly February morning.

Boxes…

Pleasant Hill 2011-1

I have a separate category in my photo library for boxes, signs, and such. A box can tell you much about our history. Here is one of my favorite box pics. Shaker seeds were thought to be the best of the best in their day.

NYC… The Video

I must admit up front, before it becomes obvious, that I am a novice when it comes to YouTube. This is my first attempt at posting something there and also the first attempt at this new slideshow app.

I’m sure there are plenty of mistakes but that’s how we learn isn’t it?

Despite the Loud Minority…

2015-02-05_08-24-50Despite a loud minority, most of the U.S. has moved on. Last year, seven states accounted for 80 percent of all executions. And it is even more evident when you look at counties. More than half of death penalty convictions originate in 2 percent of the counties in the U.S. More and more Christians are troubled that 85 percent of executions take place in the Bible Belt. A 2014 poll showed that millennial Christians are overwhelmingly against the death penalty, and only 5 percent of Americans think Jesus would favor it….. It feels like we have death-fatigue. Perhaps it is no surprise that alongside constant stories of death from Paris and Nigeria to Ferguson and NY, there is a surge of opposition to the death penalty in the U.S. It just feels strange to protest another ISIS beheading and then watch another botched execution in the U.S  Revolution is in the air — and the revolution is about how life matters. Let’s say no to death —  from ISIS to Texas. SOURCE:  Checking Pulse on the Death Penalty | Shane Claiborne | Red Letter Christians.

It never fails to amaze me that so much that I think is wrong with our country is because of small minorities. Democracy is supposed to be about majority rule, or at least a form of it. How can we let 2 percent of the counties in the U.S. hand out over 50 percent of our execution orders. I am even more ashamed that 85 percent of execution are in the so-called Christian Bible Belt, that is primarily the southern states.  This seems totally without any sense when only 5 percent of us think that Jesus would favor executions. Aren’t we Christians supposed to look to Jesus on how to be in our lives?

It is heartening to see though that Christian millennials are overwhelmingly against the death penalty. That says that soon, maybe within a generation, this execution trend will finally end. It seems strange that the United State is in an alliance with China, and the Middle East in allowing the state to execute its citizens. Everyone else in the world has abolished it.  Being pro-life is about being for life and against human generated death in all it forms.

Small minorities that are primarily due to the very low population northern desert states along with their bible belt co-conspirators are responsible for holding up all forms of gun control. It seems they would rather see a “Newton” occur weekly rather than giving up their guns in any way shape or form.

But as Shane Claiborne says in his article above we should all rejoice that the death penalty is perhaps in its last stages. I can only pray that everyone who calls themselves Christian take up the Bible once in a while and concentrate on the words of Jesus found in it. He brought us the new covenant from God and showed us how to implement it by his personal life practices. When we listen to those words we can in no way be anything but pro-life in all regards and that certainly includes murders caused by our love of guns and the death penalty.

Travels with Charley

By adding this book to my right side blog page I think I have made it abundantly clear how it has influenced me during my life. I read this book soon after it was published in 1962 and have re-read it about a half-dozen times since then. In 1962 I was in the middle of my high school years . That was the time when I was devouring books by Steinbeck, London, and few others. This book started me one a life long journey of my fascination of just what makes America what it is.

Here is a little of what Wikipedia says about this award winning book:

Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue written by American author John Steinbeck. It depicts a 1960 road trip around the United States made by Steinbeck, in the company of his standard poodle, Charley. Steinbeck wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he made his living writing about it. He wrote of having many questions going into his journey, the main one being, “What are Americans like today?” However, he found that he had concerns about much of the “new America” he witnessed.

Steinbeck tells of traveling throughout the United States in a specially made camper he named Rocinante, named after Don Quixote’s horse. His travels start in Long Island, New York, and roughly follow the outer border of the United States, from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, down into his native Salinas Valley in California, across to Texas, up through the Deep South, and then back to New York. Such a trip encompasses nearly 10,000 miles.

SOURCE: Travels with Charley – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Steinbeck’s most famous books were probably “Grapes of Wrath” or “Of Mice and Men” both of which I have read several time also. Steinbeck had a gutsy way of describing events in his novels. A very American way in my mind.

For the last forty plus years whenever I hit the road on a vacation trip I always think of how Steinbeck described his 10,000 mile journey across America and I try to see America with his visions in mind.

Doing Something About It….

2015-01-15_11-41-11Why is one bandwidth-hungry town building its own 1Gbps fiber network for its citizens when AT&T already offers them 6Mbps DSL? That’s the question AT&T would like to ask city leaders in Chanute, Kansas, a small town of roughly 9,000 people that is petitioning the state to allow it to offer greater access to the high-speed fiber network that it built to support town utility operations.

SOURCE:  AT&T wants to know why a town is building a 1Gbps network when it already offers 6Mbps DSL.

Starting this post I will admit that I spent a very large chunk of my time in the corporate world with AT&T. They currently provide me with a pension that helps enable me to live happy, wild, and free in my retirement years. I certainly am thankful to them for that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize them where criticism is necessary.

AT&T, like most monolith corporations, is mainly about picking the lower hanging fruit to maximize their profits. If there ever was, and I think there was, a time when what is good for the public was any significant part of the decision making it has long passed. When AT&T was a regulated monopoly they lived the concept of “universal service” which meant that everyone has a right to the same quality of telecommunication service. So, even though it was not as profitable AT&T was obligated to provide service to smaller communities.  Of course when deregulation occurred during the Reagan years universal service fell by the wayside.

Getting back to the point here AT&T is introducing 1 Gps fiberoptic service in their most lucrative markets while at the same time doing very little to help other areas where improving the infrastructure might bite into profits.  This is probably the case for the particular quote above.

6 Mpbs was a few years ago considered a blazing speed but not so much today. Streaming video and other such services coming on line demand more and more speed and bandwidth. Without some government regulations we are quickly approaching a have/have not condition for access to information in the country.

I personally am stuck with a 1 – 2.5 Mpbs line that comes and goes several times on a daily basis. That means they are currently introducting speeds one-thousand time faster than they provide me. That is because I am near the limit on the distance from the AT&T central office for their copper wire network. Everyone north of me and in the rest of the county in general is limited to a 0.056 Mpbs speed and that is now unusable for almost any kind of internet action.

So, when I read the article above I thought “good for you Chanute, Kansas”. If the FCC won’t require AT&T and others like them to provide workable Internet connects then they should be able to bypass the current infrastructure and build their own. That idea doesn’t help me, or my neighbors to the north, much as we are the third poorest county in Indiana and barely have the money to patch any potholes let along string some fiberoptic lines in our area. Sadly this is just another case of the “have vs the have-not” which is quickly becoming the norm in the American Aristocracy…

Drowning

Drowning in Paperwork2

I think all of us who spent much time in the corporate world had a dream like this one of drowning in paperwork. It could become overwhelming at times.  The foundation of this rendering was taken at the Grounds For Sculpture in Northern New Jersey.  It is a fascinating place to visit.

Adam Smith… and the Death Tax…

With this post I am starting another series which will be cataloged as American Aristocracy. The basic foundation for this series is that if nothing in done to prevent it our nation will likely move from a democracy to an aristocracy in the coming decades, maybe even years.  The first installment in this new category is about the “Death Tax”

 

Adam Smith

 

The quote above came from Adam Smith. His book entitled “The Wealth of Nations” written in 1753 is considered the bedrock modern economics.  Here is a little of what Wikipedia says about him:

Smith laid the foundations of classical free market economic theory. The Wealth of Nations was a precursor to the modern academic discipline of economics. In this and other works, he expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity. Smith was controversial in his own day and his general approach and writing style were often satirised by Tory writers in the moralising tradition of William Hogarth and Jonathan Swift. In 2005, The Wealth of Nations was named among the 100 Best Scottish Books of all time. It is said former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher carried a copy of the book in her handbag… Smith is cited as the “father of modern economics” and is still among the most influential thinkers in the field of economics today… Alan Greenspan argues that, while Smith did not coin the term laissez-faire, “it was left to Adam Smith to identify the more-general set of principles that brought conceptual clarity to the seeming chaos of market transactions”. Greenspan continues that The Wealth of Nations was “one of the great achievements in human intellectual history”.

If we are a nation built on Smith’s principles, how did we get it so wrong on the idea of inherited wealth. Smith very plainly says here that wealth should not pass from one generation to another. Each generation must find its own way in the world. Wealth belongs to the people in general and the way it passes is by an inheritance tax. How did that tax become so viciously attacked by the Republican party?  The GOP proudly pronounce  that the free-market theories of  Adam Smiths are the bedrock of their party. Smith’s quote “a power to dispose of estates forever is manifestly absurd”. What is the answer to this dichotomy? Of course it is that the rich pretty much now control the GOP and even to a large extent the Democratic party. Money is becoming the epitome of power in our system of government, even above the individual vote. Sadly money buys votes often through untruthful advertisements in an uninformed democracy.

Let’s bring in another source of economic theory and that is from the original natives of our country.  Native Americans did not believe in property ownership. The land and everything on it is only used while by us, never owned..  Inherited wealth is yet another example of where things have morphed absurdly beyond our original foundations. This is a prime example of  the coming American Aristocracy if we do nothing to prevent it.

Its All About Communications….

QE BannerJEFFREY BROWN: But couldn’t you make the argument that it would be better if we all spoke the same language, that we all understood each other? There would be — well, there would be more understanding in the world.

BOB HOLMAN: Well, I love that argument, and it makes so much sense, until you understand what understanding is.

Icon_apps_22 [Converted] [Converted]You know, language is much more than communication. When we talk about it on the surface, that’s what it is. But language is the way we think. And it’s the way it’s been handed down through generations. If you begin to think in another language, that’s fine.

But if you have to lose the way that your family has been speaking, that’s not so fine. That’s losing who you are. And when we lose who we are, that’s when we become this homogenized consumer of life, rather than a citizen who comes from a place and knows who you are.

SOURCE:  What does the world lose when a language dies?.

The above quotes came from a transcript of a recent PBS Newshour segment about languages that are being lost in recent years. I will tell you up front so there is no confusion that I simply don’t buy much of the reasons to lament this happening. To me less languages in the world is instead something to celebrate.

Being deaf and living fully in the hearing world I know that communications is vital to how we live our daily lives. Daily conversations, yes even chit-chat is important. When communications is broken for whatever reason conflict often arises, sometimes deadly conflict. I have often said that the times I feel the most lonely is when I am surrounded by people who I am unable to communicate with. Sitting with a group of people and not being able to join in on whatever the topic of conversation happens to be about is totally isolating to me.

Even communications between those of us who are deaf are often nearly impossible because of different languages. The 20% or so of the deaf are those who were born deaf and part of the Deaf culture. They use a sign language called ASL. For the other 80% of us who went deaf after learning how to speak we use Signed English if we use signing at all, and many don’t. While the two share some common signs they are very different in context and application.  I have great difficulty knowing what a person using ASL is saying.

If only we all could talk directly with each other without the social, political, or physical barriers of different languages much of the world’s current problems would cease to exist. Because I am not privy to many conversations around me I often come to very  wrong conclusions about what is being discussed.  Because, for the most part Christians and Muslims speak different languages communication at the grass-roots level are simply not possible.  Communications is everything in today’s world. Speaking  and writing different languages kills communications.  Languages are not to be confused with thoughts. They are not the same thing. Thoughts, philosophies, cultures and such promote different ways of thinking. We should never lose our ability to think differently than the crowd.

Oh Teddy, My Hero….

The people of NYC simple love everything about Teddy Roosevelt. He is truly one of their native-sons. He was the police commissioner there in the late 1800s. To me he is most famous for taking on the “robber barons” of his time. From currently reading is biography I know that Teddy never did anything half way.  Too bad President Obama couldn’t have used him as his way of doing government.

House On The Rock…

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House On The Rock in southern Wisconsin is a very unique and strange place to visit. There are rooms after rooms of things that spike the imagination. It is definitely an “out of the box”, “over the wall” or whatever you want to call it place… 🙂

10 Things Teens Really Need to Know Before They Leave Home


These won’t get teens into college, but will make them better people

Teen with cell phone1. Write a letter. An actual letter that does not begin with “Hey” and is written, in handwriting, on real paper.

2. Learn to cook a good meal that can feed the entire family, no matter what size family you have. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the average American household has 2.58 people. One nice chicken roasted on a bed of vegetables might even provide leftovers.

3. Hold down an unpleasant job that makes you hate your parents a little bit because they won’t let you quit. When I was your age, I worked as an intern on Capitol Hill and on an assembly line in a Westvaco paper-box factory. Guess which job taught me more about life. (Although I did find myself alone in the hall one afternoon with Senator Sam Nunn and he actually said hi to me, which was superthrilling.)

4. Go somewhere for the weekend without your phone, just so you know what it feels like to be in solitary confinement, or dying.

5. Every time you get a new toy or gadget, give an old toy or gadget away to someone who doesn’t get new things as often as you do.

6. Take care of someone or something other than yourself. A pet does nicely here. And if it’s a dog, learn to brush the dog far enough away from the back door that the hair does not all come whooshing back in when you are finished. Yes, I speak from experience.

7. Write a heartfelt thank-you note to someone over the age of 70. Even if this person hasn’t given you a holiday or birthday present, find something to thank them for.

8. Read a book for pleasure. If you start one and still hate it on page 50, find another one. Repeat as needed until you find a book you really love.

9. Do something nice for a neighbor without expecting any credit for it. Rake the leaves, shovel the walk, put the newspaper on the front step if it landed in the middle of the driveway. Keep your identity here secret.

10. Don’t race to the top. Never race to the top. If you want to aim for the top, good for you. But try to get there slowly, deliberately, without knocking everyone else out of the way. Or missing the beautiful view. SOURCE:10 Things Teens Really Need to Know Before They Leave Home | TIME.

I love this list whether it is reality or not. 🙂  There are words of wisdom here that all young people, and some not so young, need to learn. Number one is near and dear to me. I am a wordsmith and take great pride in being able to form intelligent complete sentences to relay my thought about all the issues I care about. I know I am going to sound like an old person here but tweeting and such is ruining the written word for too many of the latest generations. They need to sit down and write a letter once in a while.  No, fifty truncated words doesn’t make a letter.

I guess home economics is probably a thing of the past in today’s schools. In my day it was pretty much restricted to one gender. If a guy ever took the class he would be forever labeled.  I learned to cook when my mom left us for greener pastures. Better quit here as this post is beyond my self-imposed length already… (Ok, I know this kind of contradicts #1 but get used to irony in your life maybe should be #11)

I Celebrate Post-Evanglism…

But by the time I was in grade school, my parents [who were both pastors] were becoming increasingly convinced that Sunday-morning Evangelicalism just wasn’t enough. No matter how nice the community was, they yearned to be part of a radical fellowship of Christ-followers, learning how to be disciples in their everyday lives. They wanted to live in solidarity with those who are most marginalized in our society. With increasing urgency, they felt that God was calling them to be in relationship with those whom the mainstream culture had taught them to fear…. We’re in the midst of a tidal wave of change that is fundamentally re-shaping the character of the North American church. Millions of us are discovering the ideas of the radical discipleship movement, and a surprising number are embracing the call to abandon all – our comfort, our wealth, and even the Evangelical subculture – in order to follow Jesus. I share my story in part because I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a coherent life, community, and shared theology that is available when we come through the ferment of the great Evangelical break-up. The post-Evangelical experience isn’t simply about rejecting the unhealthy aspects of the Evangelical church; it can be a gateway into a much deeper engagement with the profoundly counter-cultural way of Jesus.  SOURCE:  Dear Post-Evangelicals | Micah Bales | Red Letter Christians.

Micah Bales is one of my favorite bloggers over at Red Letter Christians and now that I know his life story he moved up yet another notch. As the middle bolded quote says I too celebrate the Post-Evangelical movement that is re-shaping the North American church. Being an impatient person I wish the tidal wave would happen even faster. We need to get Jesus’ church back to doing what he intended it to be.

The source article is a fairly long one but worth a read if you are interested in this topic and I can’t see that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should not be interested in this topic. I hope all those like me who have grown away from traditional evangelical congregation sees that there is light at the end of the tunnel for followers of Jesus. Some of this trend is actually happening  within traditional evangelical circles. There are those brave clergy who are covertly leading their flock back to the messages of Jesus.  Some of these brave souls are being discovered and deemed heretics and thrown out but there are some who are simply under the radar or maybe being ignored by the denominational leadership in hopes that they will soon see the light come back to their narrow vision of faith.

For many simply hunkering down in a pew on Sunday lamenting evil in the world and being told they can do nothing about it is not enough.  They know in their hearts there is another path for their faith journey. I celebrate the Post-Evangelical age and pray that more of my previous friends in evangelical circles will eventually come to celebrate it too.