Month: March 2014

School Spirit Week: Creativity and Self Esteem, Part Two

I did not have an excessive amount of school spirit in high school. In fact, I only participated once in Spirit Week that I can recall. Because it was Superhero Day and my senior year and why not?

That day, the halls of Warsaw Community High School were jammed with Batmen, Spidermen, and Supermen, and one each of Super Mario, Underdog, and Wonder Woman with a skirt that totally did not follow the dress code.

And also me.

I think we should pause to appreciate how very cool I think I am in this picture.

No, I was not wearing red contacts. Unfortunately, it was just the camera flash.

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Thoughts On the World Vision Controversy

Some days, I wake up and think, “I need to write something controversial.”

Just kidding. That’s not the motivation behind this post. But I have to wonder if that’s what World Vision president Richard Stearns was thinking on Monday.

Here’s a summary: World Vision U.S. made a decision on Monday to change the code of ethics employees are required to sign in a way that would allow them to hire people in a same-sex marriage. There was a huge outcry among evangelical Christianity. Then yesterday they reversed the decision.

World Vision's Facebook page. There are a lot of one-star reviews going up right now...

World Vision’s Facebook page. There are a lot of one-star reviews going up right now…

World Vision is now facing criticism from both sides because people are suspicious that the change was made simply because of public reaction and near-certain financial loss. Others are framing World Vision’s policy change in terms like “repentance,” and urging people to forgive the organization and continue their support.

The official letter of retraction described the motivation like this: “We failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, ‘We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.’ And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners.”

So, which was it? Genuine response to Biblical truth or a panicked money-driven move? (more…)

The Problem with Hipster Christianity

One day, I decided to call a guest speaker at my college a hypocrite.

He didn't have all of these things, in case you were wondering.

He didn’t have all of these things, in case you were wondering.

He was a very cool guy. Young. Super smart. Excellent speaker who told funny stories. His thesis was simple: Christians shouldn’t make fun of atheists. We shouldn’t assume that people who believe differently than we do are stupid or use cheesy church signs to ram anti-humanist clichés down everyone’s throat.

This is a good reminder, and something I care a lot about.

But afterward, in a small group Q&A time, I had a nagging question. So I blurted out, “You said that we should learn what we can from atheists, respect their intelligence, and not make fun of them.”

Cool Christian Guy nodded.

“So…several times in your talk, you made fun of fundamentalist Christian groups and the stupid things they say. Shouldn’t we extend the same respect to them? Shouldn’t we try to learn from them too?”

After a pause where I’m pretty sure my face lit on fire, Cool Christian Guy recovered admirably and said that he knew of someone who had written a book on just that subject, and it would probably be really interesting, and any other questions?

Which left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

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Why I Sometimes Don’t Sing in Church

I love worship time at church. Even when I’ve never heard the song before. Who cares? Just make it up. (Protip: If you sing harmony, it’s easier to get away with this, since you’re supposed to be singing different notes than everyone around you.)

"Wow, not only is she not raising her hands, but she's not even singing." (No actual person has probably thought this about me.)

“Wow, not only is she not raising her hands, but she’s not even singing.” (No actual person has probably thought this about me.)

So if I stop singing at some point, it’s probably for one of five reasons:

  • I want to stop and think about the words instead of just saying them.
  • I can’t honestly sing the words of the song at the moment. There was a month when I could not sing “It is Well With My Soul” and sincerely mean it. (And, in just five weeks, everyone decided to sing that song. It happened seven times. No joke. I felt like I was being stalked by a hymn.)
  • I’m starting to enjoy hearing my own voice so much that I’m not worshipping God anymore. I’m worshipping the sound of my own harmonies bouncing off the head of the person in front of me.
  • I can’t sing without laughing, because the song is just bad poetry. Mixed metaphors, phrases that don’t make any sense. Basically, this one is me being a snob, and I’m working on it, I promise.
  • I think the song has terrible theology. (more…)

Why I Wear Clothes to Church

I wore clothes to church yesterday.

This is not a particularly unusual statement. Unless you happen to attend the White Tail Chapel, a small congregation in a nudist community. Many members (and the pastor) embrace the “clothing-optional” philosophy and claim that it helps them be more open and unashamed with God and with others. (Read more about it here.)

I heard about this interesting case on the Phil Vischer podcast.

Because it seemed much safer to put in a picture of my favorite podcast crew than to Google search images for this topic.

Because it seemed much safer to put in a picture of my favorite podcast crew than to Google search images for this topic.

At one point, Phil asks “Could you point them to a passage of Scripture that says, ‘You shouldn’t be doing that’?” And I thought, in all my cocky 20-something-ness, “How hard could that be?”

Harder than I thought, that’s what.

Thankfully, I was helped out by Andy Crouch, one of those writers who I really just wish I was friends with. I’m reading Playing God right now (which, no, is not a book about nudity—it’s about power, and this section just happened to relate).

I mentioned Crouch's other book on my old blog regarding Communist Monopoly.

I mentioned Crouch’s other book on my old blog, the one where I talked about Communist versions of the board game Monopoly.

In it, Crouch points out that the early church would resonate with the language verses like 2 Corinthians 5:2-4 because converts were often baptized naked, then clothed in a white robe to symbolize their new life in Christ. (However great the symbolism, this is not something I think is going to catch on in evangelical Christianity.) (more…)

All Millennials (Except Me) Are Selfish

One day, someone said to himself, “You know what the Internet needs? Memes of strange, clever little compliments on a pastel template.” And so Daily Odd Compliment was born (at least, this is how it happened in my mind). Thousands of people like and share these memes Facebook, tagging various friends, significant others, and secret crushes to award the compliment to them.

I found a ton templates for these. Apparently it's a thing.

I found a ton templates for these. Apparently it’s a thing.

The idea is wonderful. Some of the compliments are quite funny. But I’ve noticed recently that they’ve gotten a bit…similar. As I was reading recently, I wondered who the speaker was complimenting: the other person . . . or himself?

I decided to do a little research. By which I mean I went through the 30 most recent Daily Odd Compliments and counted pronouns, comparing the occurrences of you/your/yours to I/me/mine/my.

Final Score: 49 “you”s to 80 “me”s.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that a little off-balance for a site that’s supposed to be about complimenting others. (more…)

When God Feels Distant

I don’t like calling a time of spiritual struggle a “desert.”

Why? Because I’m a hipster non-conformist who snobbishly hates clichés, that’s why.

(Kidding. Although I am sometimes that.)

Desert

It might be because I’m a Midwesterner, and the concept of a desert is not a familiar one for me. (If Jesus lived in Minnesota, you can bet your fleece-lined boots his temptation would have taken place outside in January. I swear the cold scrapes off a layer of your soul.)

It might be because heat reminds me of passion, which is usually what’s lacking in those dark nights of the soul.

But I think most of all, it’s because a trek through the desert calls to mind a dusty, sweaty traveler who desperately desires the refreshment he knows he needs to survive.

But what do you do when you aren’t even thirsty? When you say “Amen” to verses 3 and 9 of Psalm 42, but not verses 1-2? When you don’t desire God? (more…)