Monthly Archives: August 2011

Imagination Over Politics

I remember the first time I met a Democrat. I mean a real live, bonafide Democrat, not just one of the scarecrows we had set up in the backyard.  I had met a friend at Harding, and everything seemed to be going fine, we had similar interests, had served in similar programs and after a few months of knowing him he dropped the D-bomb. But he wasn’t at all what I had grown up expecting, I couldn’t find the horns anywhere.

In his book, To Change the World, Robert Hunter makes a thousand profound observations, but his first one, the place he really starts his book from is that we have over politicized every aspect of our culture. Today when we meet someone, we almost always, in the back of our mind our trying to figure out where they fit on a political spectrum. And whether or not the relationship can progress depends, in large part, on whether we are in tune with one another political ideology.

And it’s not just which way a person votes. Almost every aspect of who we are and the choices we make have been politicized. Hunter points out, “Categories of identity that are not in themselves political have been suffused with political meaning. This is precisely what has happened to the categories of race, class, gender and sexual orientation.” In other words, you are what you vote, and you vote what you are.

It gets worse. Continue reading Imagination Over Politics

Strategy not Numbers

So bear with me on this one….

Some time in 1988, a group of about 200 people gathered in Warrenton, Virginia. They were an overwhelming minority in a world that had a very specific and negative opinion about them, and they were determined to do something about it. Each of these people were from different walks of society, but they all had a common goal. They were going to advance a cause strategically.

They were going to go into the five main areas of society: Government, Education, organized religion, media, and the workplace. And they were going to tell their side of the story.

And that’s exactly what they did. And 20 years later, the way people think about homosexuality has radically been changed. Now I’ve heard some Christians spit the words before “The Gay Agenda” but agenda just means leadership. And lead these people did. They were nothing short of brilliant in the way they leveraged their little resources and manpower to make a cultural impact that was impossible for anyone who lived during the 80’s to predict. They changed the world.

And they did it by a small group of people coming together to contribute to every part of society.

Now this isn’t a post on homosexuality or politics, or any of the other valid jumping off points we might find. It is a post about Christian cultural engagement.

Or the lack thereof. Continue reading Strategy not Numbers

My Friend Rodney

I gave this sermon, along with my friend Rodney McIntosh, at the Highland Church a couple of weeks ago. (Highland peeps if you want to know about stuff like this you can connect with through what is being posted on Highland’s Facebook or Twitter pages.)

This is a sermon that I had dreamed about for a few months. It’s with my good friend Rodney. He’s one of the greatest leaders I know, and already a very gifted speaker. I’ve written about Rodney before on this blog…For the first half of his life, He was a leader of the Bloods in an area of Arlington Texas called Stop 6, and now with the rest of his life he is a preacher. For the past couple of years, Rodney has been traveling around to different churches preaching, and for a while, was going to speak at different Boys and Girl clubs about his story, and how the Gospel changed him. His dream is to plant a church, and that’s a dream that is well on it’s way.

If you are a preacher and would like Rodney to fill in for you, or you’d like to ask him to speak at one of your events…you can email Rodney at RodneywMcintosh39@gmail.com

If you live in Abilene, you should know that Rodney will be one of the speakers at the Stop the Violence event, in the Abilene Civic Center August 26-28 Continue reading My Friend Rodney

Provoked, Not Offended

Gabe and Rebekah Lyons were just like any other young, expecting parents.They were excited about the potential about their new, little bundle of joy that they were planning on welcoming into the world. They walked into that doctor’s office that day expecting the news that a healthy baby boy was developing inside of her. But that’s not the news that they were given.

They were told that their unborn son, Cade, was in all likely-hood, going to have Down Syndrome, and their hearts sunk. Now in their own words, they’ve learned a lot about how great a life with a child with this particular syndrome can be. But on that day, they were devastated. And they were immediately presented with the option of terminating the pregnancy. Most babies with Down Syndrome aren’t born. The majority of parents (90%) when given this news, choose to end the pregnancy. Here’s how Gabe Lyons talks about this:

“No matter where you come down on the abortion issue, that number is staggering. Unfortunately, when parents are faced with this diagnosis, everything in the culture points them toward the baby’s extinction. Insurance companies don’t’ want to pay the long-term health care bills, the government ins’t eager to carry the weight of future expenses, and doctors want to avoid malpractice suits at all costs.”

Now the Lyon’s went on to have Cade, and he’s been a joy to their life ever since. They could’ve just ranted and raved about how their doctors tried hard to steer them toward terminating the pregnancy, but they chose another route. Instead of just protesting about how bad the current culture was, they decided to create some more of it. Continue reading Provoked, Not Offended

The Art of Lament

(or Why I don’t like Christian Fiction)

We live in a culture where to be unhappy is a thing of treason. After all, the pursuit of happiness is literally on our charter. And after a while that stopped just being a line on some document in a museum, and started to become our lives’ mission. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for happiness. I love to celebrate, and I think the Christian faith should be pioneering the way in showing the world pure joy. But….

I have talked a lot previously about how I tend to not like a lot of things that our Christian sub-culture produces. There are a lot of reasons for this, I think Christian is a good noun and a bad adjective (thank you Rob Bell). I think that creating Christian ghetto’s that avoid rubbing shoulders with the broader culture goes against the grain of the gospel. But my deepest reasoning is probably best summarized by Hank Hill (of King of the Hill).

His son Bobby had just joined a Christian Rock Band, and Hank tried to talk him out of it. This is what he said, “Bobby, can’t you see that you aren’t making Christianity any better? You’re only making Rock n’ Roll worse!”

My deepest reason for not liking most Christian sub-culture stuff is that a lot of the time it isn’t good.

Now, before I get into this, let me say…The other day I was riding with some friends who were playing a Christian radio station, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Several songs came on in a row that were artistically well-done, poetic, and had some good theology mixed in there. So maybe I just am overly-critical of this genre. But here is why I don’t think that’s the case. Continue reading The Art of Lament

Open Theologies (or My Apologies to Harry Potter)

When I was a kid my mom read a book on Hollywood and the Occult. That might sound like an interesting read, but If I could change one thing about my childhood it would be to rid that book from the pages of history. The author, whoever they were, had painstakingly gone through every single possible allusion to anything remotely associated with paganism and had given in detail why it was Satanic.

Almost overnight, I went from having a relatively normal childhood, to being cut off to anything on television that wasn’t the Buttercream gang. The Smurfs were forbidden because the author had seen a pentagram somewhere hidden in the background. The cartoonist Jon Davis was rumored to have some kind of weird opinions on religion.

Suddenly, to watch Garfield was to be in league with the Prince of Darkness.

Mom eventually got past that stage. But it kind of affected the way I thought for a while. If something was questionable, it was better to be safe than sorry. After all, no one wants to open themselves up to dark spiritual powers (and to be honest, I’m kind of glad I don’t’ have hours of Smurfs bouncing around in my memory banks).

But, this has been the default Christian social position for quite a long time now. And it has most recently and profoundly been expressed by our 13 year long feud with J.K. Rowling and her story about a boy named Potter.

When the Harry Potter franchise first started to come out, I was cautious. It was after all how I had been raised. And I wasn’t the only one, people in the Jesus movement as high up as the Pope had condemned the series. It was polarizing and everyone had an opinion. But then I started to watch the movies. I didn’t see anything Satanic in there, the theater didn’t make me pledge my allegiance to the underworld upon leaving, and so I kept watching them.

I just didn’t tell anyone. Leslie and I kept our dirty little secret to ourselves.  Continue reading Open Theologies (or My Apologies to Harry Potter)