Archive | November, 2012

A Faith Mashup

30 Nov

A few years ago, USA Today reported that more and more Christians are creating faith mashups.  You can read the full article here.

It is an age-old practice, this faith blending, called syncretism.  Is it good or is it bad?  Are religious faiths really flexible enough to allow another faith to be mixed in?  How have you seen people attempt syncretism in their lives?  Of course, they aren’t thinking to themselves “Hmmm…I would like to practice syncretism…let’s see, what faiths or philosophies can I weave together?”   Instead people are just trying to make sense of the world.  In some cases they’re trying to understand why there is so much evil or how to get through hard times without a nervous breakdown.  There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Actually, in the article a number of people express their concern or disapproval for this blending of faiths.  Where do you stand?

I’d love to hear some examples of Christians practicing syncretism, as well as the reasons why.  Feel free to share.  Then on Sunday morning we’ll see what our next Minor Prophet, Zephaniah, had to say about syncretism in the nation of Israel.

 

Secession

16 Nov

Have you been hearing the talk about secession? Since President Obama won reelection people have been petitioning the White House to allow their states to secede from the Union. One report I heard said this is standard fare after just about every presidential election. Remember the last time we had secession? I mean real secession. I’m writing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a south-central neighbor to the little town of Gettysburg, about an hour’s drive to the west. Next year our nation will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, a three-day bloodbath, that, while not eclipsing the Civil War single-day loss-of-life mark, saw about 51,000 dead. All told the entire war accounted for about 620,000 dead. Let me ask again: secession?

Someone might respond, “Well, it would be a peaceful secession. No one would start a war. It would just be another country.” I’m not so sure about that, but for the sake of argument, I’ll grant it. In fact, I think it gets to the heart of the issue. Secessionist don’t want war. Who does? Secessionists want a better country. Now that is something we can all agree on. Even those from a variety of political parties could agree on that.

But that leads us to the problem: how do we achieve the goal of a better country? This Sunday we continue our series in the Minor Prophets, and we come to Nahum. I’m not particularly thrilled about Nahum, but it’s growing on me.

You think our nation needs a change?  Take a look at the people who Nahum had to preach too. The Ninevites. Yup, the same people Jonah was sent to. About 100 years later, the Ninevite Revival was a thing of history, and the city (capital of Assyria) was brutally wicked and tyrannical again.

The message God has for Nineveh is very interesting. Perhaps nations of the world, including secessionist Americans, can learn a thing or two about how to change a country by studying this ancient message.

I would be interested in your thoughts, after you read Nahum that is.

Micah and horror movies

9 Nov

I’ve just about completed preparing for my sermon on Sunday. I thought I was familiar with Micah because we’ve talked about Micah 6:8 a lot in recent years. I even have an International Justice Mission t-shirt that says “seek justice”, which is an integral component of that verse. “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.” It’s an amazing line, but it can lull you in believing that Micah is a gentle guy with a really happy message.

Wrong.

There were a couple times reading Micah that I felt like I was back watching Silence of the Lambs in high school. Right at one of the most intense moments, one of the older guys, at whose apartment we were watching the film, came up behind my chair quietly and shouted. I lifted off my chair like it was an ejection seat.

I clearly remember being freaked out by The Shining, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and The Sixth Sense.

Believe it or not, the prophet Micah brought all this back to mind. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, because it seems in one way or another, each one of these prophets have some wild and wooly stuff. Micah is no different, except that his prophecy might be the most graphic. Let’s just say that the movie version would likely need to be rated R.

But Micah is not gratuitously provocative. There’s a powerful message. Check it out for yourself, prepare to hear and discuss more on Sunday, by reading Micah!