January 29, 2005

SBC Bloggers UNITE!!

Well, unite as much as Southern Baptists ever do! (that was a joke folks!)

Seriously, in yesterday's Blogroll Cruise, I talked about denominational aggregators and how they can be useful. I've gone ahead and done it -- there is a Southern Baptist Blog Aggregator set up at Blogdigger.com (I actually set one up at server.com as well, but I think that the blogdigger site is where we're going to be for now). NOW all I need are some SBC bloggers to join.

If you are interested, email me at wkelly42 AT adelphia DOT com. I need to know your URL, your feed address, the title of your blog, and your email address. Pass this along to other SBC bloggers who may not read this blog, so that we can get this running ASAP. And if you have any questions, let me know.

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January 28, 2005

How Far is Too Far?

{That title should get me some unintended Google hits!}

I was planning on stopping tonight, then I read this.

I'm not a political blogger. And I think that the war in Iraq is justified, even as I fervently wish that other means could have been used, and I pray for peace there every day. But I think that this article shows exactly what lengths the military is willing to go to in order to get information and break prisoners.

I was sickened when I read this. I don't think Islam is true: they deny that Christ is the Messiah, and look to other means to get to heaven. But there are a LOT of Muslims who have distanced themselves from the radicals, and I think that it is incredibly unfair that their faith is under assault by our military. I don't have to approve of Islam; in America, they have the right to their faith as much as I do.

The worst thing is, it didn't have to be anything sexual. Pork products would have had the same reaction, and would have been less distasteful for many Americans who are still seeing images of Abu Grahib (I hope I spelled that right!). But even that would have offended me, and should have offended any person of faith.

We have said for years that faith is under assault in this country. Now we have an example of how faith is treated on the battlefield. If this had been a Christian soldier of the US Army in the hands of Iraqi captors, and his faith had been assaulted in this manner, our entire nation would be outraged. The Christian community would be up in arms. And rightly so.

We should express our outrage at this treatment as well. This religious exploitation must end. Assaulting faith is too far. This is NOT a religious war, after all.

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Blogroll Cruise: 1/28/05

First up, Jollyblogger. I haven't been linking to him much lately, and I am not sure exactly why. Today, he's tough to ignore, with not one but TWO great reads.

First, the McChurching of America talks about the franchising of the Megachurch. I'm torn here, because in a way, it seems that the megas are doing what I want them to be doing -- they are starting new churches rather than keeping a central church that requires its own ZIP code. But I'm not sure that these satelite churches are anything more than elaborate small groups, whose identity is still tied to the "mother church" -- it almost sounds like an Evangelical form of the Catholic parish church. Maybe that's not a bad thing, but THIS jury is still out.

Second, his post yesterday about Blogging and Walls. I have to salute someone who links to a post that criticizes him (although indirectly), and takes the time to respond to it. And I like what David has to say. I kinda like the idea of denominational blog aggregators -- simply because it would help network some of the bloggers out there. I know a few other Southern Baptist bloggers out there (one, Matt Hall, is also at Southern, and he's got links to a couple other SBTS bloggers), and it would be nice to cooperate, and possibly meet up (especially at the national convention) -- maybe even set up a blogging symposium or something to show the average church how a blog would compliment their ministry. There is a LOT we could do, but we don't know each other. For every SBC blogger I know, there are probably 10 that I don't. Denominational aggregators can build a community online, and help that community work together offline. If I had the tech know-how, I'd set up the SBC agg. myself. Maybe if I could get a lesson or two from someone with a few more skills.....?

Rebecca over at Rebecca Writes is one of my favorite bloggers. She was also pretty much my first regular reader, so not only is she a good blogger, but she has great taste! And she's got some great theological writing over at her blog. She's doing a semi-series about the anathemas of the Council of Constantinople which is great reading. She's done a series about the purpose of Christ's death that is outstanding. So I'm going to link to her post about haggis. Why? Because I have a warped sense of humor. Deal with it.

Bobby Griffith is an internet friend of mine -- he posts over at the PCCBoard Forums, and is most likely doing his PhD work at Southern -- in Church History, no less. He's like me, but more Reformed! And he's posted the Christianity Today list of Ten Reasons to Study Church History -- which should be required reading for everyone, IMnsHO.

Adrian Warnock has been accused of being too close to the Jollyblogger -- in fact, he was accused of BEING JB by one blogger (whose link I cannot find right now, unfortunately). So he's decided to disagree with Jollyblogger ... or at least, try to. Careful Adrian -- David's in Baltimore, and probably could get to Fort McHenry before you could get to him -- and you remember what happened the last time the Brits tried to take that Fort.

Now I'm closing. I just found out that I am pulpit supply on Sunday for a small Baptist church, and I have a sermon to write AND a Sunday School lesson for my own church to get ready. And maybe another post or two -- I can always prepare tomorrow .....

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January 26, 2005

Takin' the Day Off ...

... to celebrate my birthday. Yep, it's that time of the year, and I'm another year smarter.

Hey, I'm 37, I'm not old!

So I'm just going to put my feet up and play on the internet this evening, and post something intelligent later, maybe (why start now, right?).

And if you feel so inclinde, my Amazon wish list is right here -- newly updated and everything.

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January 25, 2005

Political Silliness


This piece from the New York Times just cruised through the RSS reader, and I'm more than a little disappointed.

Never mind the fact that I don't like using politics to effect a change that can really only come through Christ. Never mind the fact that I think that Social Security is in need of an overhaul. Using SS reform to get what you want socially is not a good plan.

Let's say that Bush, for whatever reason, decides not to push for the marriage ammendment. Maybe he's decided that he resents the Religious Right(tm) thinking they own him because they voted for him. Maybe he never really wanted to do it to begin with -- it was just campaign rhetoric to get our votes. Whatever the reason, he decides not to do it after all. So the Social Security reform doesn't get passed because of a lack of support.

Now, in thirty years or however long SS has left in it's current state, the whole thing tanks. People are upset: "Why wasn't something done about this?" And the answer? "We tried, but the Christians fought us, so it didn't get done. Blame them, not the GOP."

Don't think it will happen? Ha. The GOP will turn on us so fast it will make EVERYONE'S head spin, if it means staying in charge and in power. They don't owe us a thing.

The gay marriage issue won't go away because we legislate it away. The solution is changing hearts, minds, and lifestyles with the message of the Gospel of Christ. Let's be about our Father's business.

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Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival is at Digitus, Finger & Co. http://www.neiluchitel.com/

To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:
email me at (email deleted per request)
Please put Christian Carnival Entry in the Subject
Provide the following:
Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post
Cutt off date is midnight Tuesday EST
INVITE A FRIEND TO CONTRIBUTE THIS WEEK!

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January 24, 2005

Blogroll Cruise: 1/24/05

A brief note: I'm not linking to posts on the whole SpongeBob thing. NOT because it isn't an important issue, but because if I did that, I wouldn't have room for anything else on the cruise. Google SpongeBob and Dobson if you want a rundown of those posts.

Allthings2all has an account of a Christian doing what Christians are supposed to be doing -- meeting people where they are. This is something we forget way too easily, and far too often. We are all ministers of the Gospel, after all.

For the Joy is doing a running series on The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience -- about emphasizing living lives that are consistant with our beliefs as Christians. We can never hope to show the world how Christ can change lives if our own lives remain unchanged.

Rolling Stone won't take religious ads. GetReligion exposes their hypocracy. I love it when the intolerant get caught with their pants around their ankles.

More tomorrow, promise!

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Best of Me Symphony

Head over to The Owner's Manual for this installment of the Bets of Me Symphony. This week's conductor is George Bernard Shaw, and he's got some great comments for all the entries this week.

Next week's installment is hosted at the same place. Send Gary an email at gcruse AT netscape dot com and submit your entry. Only requirement is that it's good (duh), and it's two months old. Get some new traffic to your site, and recycle one of those great old posts!!

{edit: fixed the email!}

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January 23, 2005

Study of Mark: Mark 7:1-13


Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
" 'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God) -- then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do."
(Mark 7:1-13 ESV)

Confrontation by the Pharisees. They've been out to get Jesus for some time (since Mark 3:6, when He challenged their Sabbath laws in a way that they could not refute) and now they've decided the disciples were unclean because they didn't wash their hands before they ate. Verse 3 tells us whose law that was -- and it wasn't God's. There was a LOT of washing going on -- ritual cleansing was a rule of the day.

And Jesus points out the hypocracy of the Pharisees. They follow their own laws and regulations, but in doing so break the Law of God. People were to honor their parents. But when someone's parents were old, and needed help, the money they should have received from their children was already promised to the priests for "God's use." He also says that this is only one of many ways they honor themselves over God.

I see a lot of parallels with today. We work so hard, trying to make sure that God is happy with us, that we forget what our priorities should be. We spend so much time running our ministries that we don't help the needy. We spend so much time in study that we ignore our families. We get so wrapped up in what we're doing for God that we forget to worship and praise Him.

We also tend to exult our own rules and legalities over what God says to do. We've decided women shouldn't wear pants, that men should have short hair, that music with a beat is sinful, that movies are evil, etc., and we forget that God is no repector of persons -- He wants us to talk to people who aren't our idea of "good Christian folks" so that we can be a witness to them; but our legalism gets in the way. We can't walk up to a group of skater punks and share the Gospel with them, because they are different. They need to get a haircut and buy some decent clothes before they can get saved. And that's just wrong. We need to get over ourselves and our legalities, and be faithful witnesses for Christ.

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Bloggers, $$, and Ethics

{Edit: I fixed the link to the DHMO site.}

I've just finished reading this at USA Today. I have a few questions about the article, and the idea of a Blogger Code of Ethics.

First, why? The Blogosphere is self-policing. I can guarentee that if I write something stupid (as I have done in the past), or blatently wrong, someone will let me know about it (whether I actually admit I was wrong is another thing). Accuracy isn't really that big an issue, is it?

Second, is anyone really reading blogs looking for objectivity? Does anyone approach the news looking for objectivity? I would hope that we're intelligent enough to realize that we all bring bias into whatever we write, in varying degrees. Readers need to be made aware of what our biases could potentially be -- which is something the blogosphere is pretty good at uncovering and letting people know about.

The very definition of a weblog seems to include the idea that the author is writing about things he/she enjoys, or opinions that they hold, or things they do for a living. I think the problem is that many people don't want to have to think, or examine things they read. We just want to take things at face value, and that's what we do. The problem isn't blogger ethics -- the problem is general gullibility and a lack of critical thinking skills.

Third: HOW did those people get the gig with Marqui? $800 a month to talk about their products? I'd do that in a heartbeat -- but you all would know they were paying me (mainly because of the post that would say "I AM GETTING PAID $800 A MONTH TO BLOG!!!!! WHOOOO HOOOO ME!!!!!!!!!!!"). In fact, if Dell, HP, Sony, Titelist, Taylor Made, or anyone like that would like to drop some $$ or free products on me to post reviews of them at my other blog, I won't complain at all. I promise to be fair and impartial.

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January 22, 2005

Intolerant Tolerance

When I get a blog host that allows it, I think one of my blog categories is going to be Intolerant Tolerance. I've done several posts on this subject, and yet it just gets worse, and more obvious. The theme seems to be, "Why don't those silly Christians get over their ignorance and realize they should all be just like us?" Sounds like tolerance for a conflicting worldview to me, doesn't it to you?

Or maybe an award. The View From the Pew Award for Incredible Intolerance. You could call it a Pewie for short. And I know who'd get one this week, thanks to Sarcasmagorical.


Michael Ventre, YOU are this weeks Pewie Award Winner!!

In my humble opinion, Jesus Christ was an important and influential figure in world history, and I respect that. Because he was a symbol of love and understanding, the term 'What Would Jesus Do?' resonates powerfully. If we all acted as Jesus would, I believe the world would be at peace, and love would wash over all of God's children.

But of course, not all Christians are alike. Many, if not most, Christians understand the true message of Jesus. But there is a frightening number of so-called Christians who can be best described as creepy, rigid, arrogant, cruel, know-it-all, pompous, obnoxious and treacherous - better known by the acronym C.R.A.C.K.P.O.T.
Now let's examine Ventre's article, because I'm concerned that HE may be exhibiting some of these symptoms -- he may be a C.R.A.C.K.P.O.T too!!

He's upset about the hoopla over the We Are Family foundation's video and tolerance pledge, and the use of popular cartoon characters in this video which is intended for use in classrooms throughout the country. He's REALLY upset about the criticism of Spongebob. I don't like Spongebob, never have -- but I do like some of the other characters, and my daughter watches some of the shows they're on. I don't like having these symbols appropriated by someone who is intent on teaching my kid that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle alternative.

The mere fact that Ventre glosses over what the real controversy is about, focusing instead on the protest over cartoon characters, is a bit creepy. It's as if he wants discussion of the issue to be deflected from where it really is -- the teaching of someone's morality to elementary school kids. If Christians were doing this, we'd be hauled into court. Because it's someone else, and someone else's morality, it's obviously OK.
The first step for the CRACKPOT Christians is to accept that they have a problem. I know programs exist that can reprogram the insufferably preachy and transform them back into normal people like the rest of us. They have to get the message that taking the Good Book, living by the parts they agree with and disregarding the parts they don?t, is a learned behavior and can be cured. They need to be taught that looking for secret messages where none exist is an urge that should be resisted.
There's the rigid part -- obviously, it's Ventre and folks like him who are right, so why should they change? WE are the ones with a problem.

For arrogant, well, just read what he has to say. He reminds us repeatedly of how tolerant he is normally, and how compassionate he is. Show, don't tell.

Anyone who is obviously as hung up on telling Christians they're sick is cruel -- religious faith is an important part of someone's life, and their psyche. Any abuse or misrepresentation of that belief is incredibly cruel.

Know-it-all, pompous -- just read the article. It's amazing that he knows so much better than someone who has actually studied the Bible what it's really all about.


Obnoxious --
I've only caught bits and pieces of SpongeBob, but I never noticed any Bette Midler playing in the background. Nor have I seen SpongeBob shopping for china at Williams Sonoma, or French-kissing another male sponge. He does, however, hold hands with his sidekick Patrick and enjoys watching the imaginary TV show, 'The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy,' so I can see why the CRACKPOT Christians might get their knickers in a knot believing that the moral foundation of our nation's schoolchildren is in grave peril because a couple of cartoon characters touched each other.
I rest my case on that one.

That leaves treacherous. This country was founded on the idea that people could hold their own religious beliefs, and were free to practice them, without interference from anyone. Ventre's belief that we should all go into a 12-step program to "cure" us of our faith is an attack on the Constitution itself! Treacherous doesn't begin to describe him!

Was that over the top? Yep. I look forward to a time when Michael Ventre decides to talk about the real issue -- that kids' cartoon characters are being used to teach them that their parents are intolerant idiots and that they should not listen to them OR their ministers about homosexuality and what the Bible teaches about it. That is what I find most offensive. I could care less about Spongebob. Discuss the facts, sir, and try to do it without the ad hominem attacks on people who actually believe in something.

{edit: Fixed a really bad sentence fragment in the last paragraph. Sorry.}
{UPDATE: Take a look at this over at Imago Dei if you want an even better treatment of the issue. Note that I'm not defending anything that Dr. Dobson may or may not have said, I'm trying to show that Christians are protesting the content of the video, not the alleged sexuality of the cartoon characters}

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January 19, 2005

The Blogroll Cruise: 1/19/05

JivinJehoshaphat (gotta LOVE that name) has a multi-part series about How Pro-Choicers Argue (the link is to part 5, but there are links in that post to the other parts as well). We should be knowledgeable about how our opponents think and debate, so that we can work more effectively against them. This is a great series -- read it from the beginning, and use it!

Along the same lines, Proverbs Daily has a series about the sanctity of human life. He's up to part 3 right now, with four more parts to the series. This time of year, it seems that we focus on the abortion issue a lot. We all need to take advantage of those who are posting this material, and use it all year round.

The Grey Shadow blogs about bloggers, and being transparant. This has a lot to do with Christians especially, and how we blog -- with humility.

Matt Hall talks about unmortified sin -- and how as Christians we walk a fine line between our quest for a holy life and the pit of legalism. The Bible commands us to live holy lives, but we are so often worried about becoming legalistic that we don't live as we are commanded to. There's a happy medium, and that lies in obedience to God and His commands.

Head over to Bobby Griffith's blog, where he's talking about Christians and our need to use the Old Testament. We owe it to ourselves to read and study the OT -- if for no other reason than the fact that it was the Bible the disciples and Christ read from. The Old Testament is not the "lesser Testament" -- it is just as inspired as the New, and it containts treasure that Christians are forgetting to mine.

Echo Zoe is blogging Oswald Chambers. This is stuff that every Christian should be familiar with -- and even if you are, it never hurts to read it again. And again. Chambers doesn't get old to me.

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Feeds and Reads

Ok, this is going to be a little bit on the technical side. The other day, I was cruising through the Church Directory and I was amazed at how many blogs listed there don't have an RSS feed, or at least don't advertise it if they have one.

RSS feeds are simple to set up, and let a LOT more people have access to your content. I admit -- since I started using an RSS reader, I've gotten lazy. I don't visit as many sites as I used to (though I still run through my main blogroll once or twice a week). It's easier to fire up the reader (right now I'm using Blog Navigator, which is quite nice) and skim headlines, and read the selections I want to, rather than surfing around and wading through a lot of things I'm not interested in to get to the one that I want to read. It's actually cut my surfing time in half (which my family loves -- my wife can actually get on the computer herself now!), and it makes things more efficient.

If you have a Blogger blog, you have a feed, whether you know it or not. Just go to settings, site feed, and say "yes" to "Publish Site Feed" and you're set. I recommend setting the descriptions to 'short' but that's just me. Once you do that, you have an ATOM feed, which most RSS readers can read just fine. If you need something a little more detailed, check out Feedburner. They syndicate, AND provide stats on how many subscriptions you have, how many times your feed is accessed, etc. You get stats that your stat tracker won't give you, PLUS you get some great tools -- I love the animated headline feature like this:Latest Reviews

RSS is the wave of the future. Actually, it's the wave of the present. Get on board, if you want to increase readership really easily.

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January 18, 2005

The Blogroll Cruise: 1/18/05

First, I noticed that Evangelical Outpost was doing something called Outtakes -- Joe is basically going through his blogroll and commenting on noteworthy posts -- with links, of course.

Next, I saw that Rusty at New Covenant is doing something called Rusty Nails, where he goes through his blogroll and comments on noteworthy posts -- with links.

And now, I see that David at Jollyblogger has started his Jolly Digest, where he goes through his blogroll and ... well, you get the idea.

Far be it from me to ignore such a great idea, especially when it's being done by so many bloggers who I read and respect. So I would like to introduce the Blogroll Cruise, where I go through my blogroll and comment on noteworthy posts -- with links and trackbacks, of course. The idea is to do it daily, but I'm not going to promise that -- I will most likely miss Fridays and possibly Wednesdays. And I'll try to feature blogs that the others don't cover, especially blogs that I think are not getting the attention they deserve.

This first edition will be brief, but here goes:

  • 21st Century Reformation has an inteesting piece about blogs and churches as "Power Networks" vs. "ghettos." There has been a lot of discussion about this throughout the evangelical blogs that I read (Razorskiss, Evangelical Outpost, for example). I've been doing some thinking about it as well. Our churches tend to minister to the same group of people, and when we get a couple new members, we are "really starting to grow!" We should be trying to broaden our influence. As bloggers, we get a LOT of inbound links, but they're from people within our community. All of my inbound links are from people who are Christians, and who consider themselves to be, at least part of the time, evangelical bloggers. I have linked back to the people who link to me, which perpetuates the "ghetto" that we blog in. I get hits from people outside the ghetto, but most are from Blog Explosion (and how many stay and read anything beyond the 30 second requirement, much less come back?) or from people hitting the "Next Blog" button in the Blogger bar at the top of the page. I get some interaction with people (though I'm waiting for one in particular to react to the Church/State post I made), but most of the interaction is from within the evangelical ghetto. We should strive to interact with people outside the community -- and there are bloggers who are doing a better job of that than I am right now.
  • Speaking of Razor'sKiss (and you REALLY need to check this blog out, it is outstanding!), there's a great post about a potential solution to the problem of the evangelical ghetto, and it sounds to mme like it bears more than a passing resemblance to the idea of the "Body of Christ" analogy in Scripture. Evangelical bloggers have different strengths, and different roles to play. By banding together in a community, we can use our individual strengths more effectively, and make our message clearer to the general population. All of us together can be more effective than each of us separately.
  • Blogcorner Preacher talks about the value of salt. Sometimes we forget how apt an anaolgy this really is for our role as Christians, and I can even relate it to the previous two posts! Salt is useless when it's still in the salt shaker, after all -- it has to be poured out onto something with no salt for it to be really noticed and appreciated.
  • Sarcasmagorical posts a prayer request -- another use for this community of bloggers. The best thing that we can do for each other is to uphold one another in prayer.

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What was that about a Social Mandate?

From the New York Times:

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has asked an Ohio Republican who supports some abortion rights to be his co-chairman, stirring the ire of social conservatives.

Mr. Mehlman's choice is Joann Davidson, who was chairwoman of the Bush campaign in the pivotal Ohio Valley region and a former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. In an interview on Thursday, Ms. Davidson declined to discuss her views on abortion. "My focus is on building a stronger party," she said.

Her nomination awaits approval by the Republican National Committee.
She has been a member of the advisory board of the abortion rights group Republicans for Choice since its founding in 1990, according to a statement posted on the group's Web site congratulating her.
So what was all that back in December about how the Republicans were going to govern according to the wishes of the Religious Right(tm)? And what was that from evangelical circles about how the GOP now "owes us one?"

Politicians aren't the answer, folks. And this shows what the GOP thinks of us, especially of the nomination passes. And from a political perspective, why wouldn't it pass? It's just what the "big tent" GOP needs. I'm just not sure that they need us anymore -- but there aren't many decent options out there.

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A Nation of Religious Illiterates

This is a soap-box issue for me, as an educator and a Christian. And there are no easy answers, and no really nice way to say it, so I'll just be blunt:

Americans -- both Christians and nonChristians -- are woefully ignorant of the Bible.

Non-Christians at least have an excuse -- it's not their holy book, after all. It's like asking Christians about something in the Koran or the Talmud. With the impact that religion has on our society, though, I think it would be a good idea for everyone to know what each religion teaches, and a little bit of the basics of each. Non-believers don't have that, and it causes a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings between people.

And the Supreme Court agrees with me.

In a majority opinion in a 1963 church-state case (Abington v. Schempp), Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark wrote, "It might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion ... and its relationship to the advance of civilization." If so, the education of nearly every public school student in the nation is woefully inadequate.
from the Tallahasee Democrat
In public education, the emphasis should be on comparing religions, and examining the contributions of each faith to American society. How many people are aware of the role that American Baptists played in the establishing of freedom of religion? They played a huge role, because in colonial America the Baptists were the ones being thrown in jail for their beliefs (including accusations of child abuse, for refusing to baptize infants). Not many know even the most basic facts of the influence of religion on our nation (both good AND bad), and we should not ignore these contributions because of a fear of lawsuits. Facts are facts, and should be taught.

I think, though, that before we can expect the average man on the street to learn the basics of our faith, we need to learn them. I've quoted Barna surveys before, detailing how many Americans consider themselves Christians and how many of them believe things that are contrary to the Bible. Ask a group of high school students in your church if the book of Hezekiah is in the Old or New Testament (hint -- it's in neither. The "books" of Hosanna and Jubilations are also good ones to use). Discipleship is seriously lacking in many of our churches -- and yet we expect the world, and the mainstream media in particular, to get facts right about matters of religion and faith.

What is the answer? I think that, to start with, we need to return to teaching and preaching the Bible, rather than offering motivational speaches and calling them sermons. Many churches are doing this already, but many many more are not. Bible study used to be something that was enjoyed and encouraged -- now it's a duty that we "have to do" if we expect God to do anything for us. Read some of the writings of the early Puritans, and think about this: they were written to average people, with average educations. The difference is that these people studied the Bible, and discussed it daily, like we discuss sports or TV programs.

I think we'd be amazed at the change in our churches, and in our society, if we returned to sincere, devoted study of Scripture, both in church and at home.

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January 17, 2005

A New 'Meme'

LaShawn Barber has posted these questions for us all to post. They're pretty good questions, so I figured I'd answer here:

1) How long have you been blogging?
Started at the end of March, 2003.


2) Do you believe youÂ’re addicted to blogging? Please explain, and be honest. It is habit-forming, I must confess. (If I decide to use your response, I may have follow-up questions.)
Absolutely. I even feel guilty when I don't post -- even when I have a good reason for not posting.

3) Have you ever taken a hiatus? If so, for what reason and how long?
Nope. Might have to someday, but I'm not sure I could do it right now. (see question 2)

4) Have you ever thought of giving up your blog? Why or why not?
Once, for about five minutes. I had gone a few days without posting anything, and couldn't think of anything interesting to say. Then I found something to talk about.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 07:07 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Busy Week

Most blogs do a Week in Review every Friday or Saturday. I'm doing it the other way around. This is what the week looks like, and what my goals are. I'm hoping that by doing this, I'll have some direction to what I want to post, and I'll make sure I have something substantial every week.

This week I start classes back at Southern. Thursday evenings and Friday mornings will be taken up by classes, and I'll probably be spending Friday afternoons in the library working on papers and classwork. Don't know how much blogging time I'm going to have those two days, so I'm planning on doing more on Monday through Wednesday and on weekends.

I still have the Faith and Reason series I'm working on -- might have the next part of that this evening. TWiCH and the Mark Study will also be up this week. I'm also working on something history-related about the Ecumenical Councils, but I want to have all seven done before I start posting them. I'm going to take a look at the factors leading to the council being called (religious and political), the decisions, and the fallout from those decisions. Not sure if I'll be able to start those this week or next, but they're coming.

Also, be sure to cruise the new blog directory on the left side -- the Church Directory. There are a few repeats (and some that I've got listed three times!), but there are some great new blogs that you really should check out.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Another Week ...

... another Christian Carnival.

This week, it's over at Sidespot. All posts should, of course, be of a Christian nature. Politics and things that are NOT especially religion-oriented are welcome if written from a Christian perspective. If you take a look at this post, there are some good ideas for those who are totally stuck, but want in on the Carnival.

Then all you have to do is send:

Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the post

to sidesspot[at]comcast.net by Tuesday at 10PM Central Time. It's that easy.

I really recommend it. Last week's carnival was linked to by MSNBC (of course, I missed that one), so you can get some really good exposure for your blog.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:00 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 15, 2005

New Poll

There's a new poll over on the right side. Should I keep the links to the newspapers over there on the left, or should I get rid of them? I'm still working on the new site design, and I'm not sure I like having them over there, but I want to know what you all think! Let me know.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:57 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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