Monday, October 31, 2016

Cable News Wants Urgency More Than Importance

Do you?

Seth Godin asks some great questions:
What if the fear and malaise and anger isn't merely being reported by cable news...
What if it's being caused by cable news?
What if ubiquitous video accompanied by frightening and freaked out talking heads is actually, finally, changing our culture?
Which came first, the news or the news cycle?
We seem to accept the hegemony of bottom-feeding media as some natural outgrowth of the world we live in. In fact, it's more likely an artifact of the post-spectrum cable news complex in which bleeding and leading became business goals.
There's always front page news because there's always a front page.
The world is safer (per capita) than ever before in recorded history. And people are more frightened. The rise of the media matches the rise of our fear.
Cable news isn't shy about stating their goals. The real question is: what's our goal? Every time we hook ourselves up to a device that shocks us into a fear-based posture on a regular basis, we're making a choice about the world and how we experience it.
They want urgency more than importance. What do we want?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cynicism is Not the Measure of Maturity

We swim in a sea of cynicism. Listen to Josh Garrels' insightful song entitled, "Cynicism":
Cynicism is the sickness of my culture
We undress each other with an evil eye
Concentric circles we look like vultures
When we feast on the failures of the lives we criticize
Don't stand alone and cast your stones at her
Unless you think you're innocent yourself
The same measure that we use to condemn men
Will be the same that's poured out upon our heads
We've all gone astray
We kick against the pricks so convinced we know the way
But who can repay
The love we sacrificed for an empire made of clay
Self-promotion's how we function in this culture
We fight for the spotlight with a peacock's pride
And then condescend to all the lesser men
From thrones we make of paid accolades and a compromise
There is no power that a man can have
Unless it's given to him from above
Our ladders of success descend to hell
Don't sell your soul and lose your one true love
We've all gone astray
We kick against the pricks so convinced we know the way
But who can repay
The love we sacrificed to be kings for a day
We not only swim in this sea, we also contribute handsomely to the rising water levels.

Marilynne Robinson, from The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought,
When a good man or woman stumbles, we say, ‘I knew it all along,’ and when a bad one has a gracious moment, we sneer at the hypocrisy. It is as if there is nothing to mourn or to admire, only a hidden narrative now and then apparent through the false, surface narrative. And the hidden narrative, because it is ugly and sinister, is therefore true.
We believe and project this narrative because we fear, we know, its true...within. We're uncomfortable in our own soul and hate it whenever the florescent lights of our failures shine on the sickliness of our skin.

This disposition is not maturity. Cynicism is not a virtue. It is not the sign of health. Here is virtue and maturity and health (1 Corinthians 13:4-13):
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ...  
For we know in part ... but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
And this virtue flowers from the bloody soil at the foot of the cross. If anyone has the right to cynicism, it is God. Yet he is not petty and childish. He is magnanimously merciful and mature. He loved us all the way to the cross, to swallow up our dark narrative, and rewrite our story with light and hope. This new narrative of grace, when it becomes our truth, awakens love and hope and joy. And we leave childish ways behind and start to love.

Friday, October 28, 2016

10 Thoughts Toward Election Season Clarity

Kevin DeYoung offers some wise counsel as we march toward Election Day. Here are a few excerpts to encourage you to go and read the whole thing (emphasis added):
1. ...I’ll make clear from the outset: I will vote for President, but I will not vote for either of the major party candidates. I have been critical of both candidates—more so than in any previous presidential election—because I believe both fail to clear a basic threshold of personal integrity, sound judgment, and trustworthiness.
2. This does not mean I think every Christian must come to the same decision in order to be a good Christian. There are simply too many prudential matters in the mix for Christians to be adamant that you absolutely cannot vote for so and so. Someone may think Trump is a lecherous oaf, but still conclude that his policies and judicial appointments have a better chance of being good for the nation. ... Others may be convinced that an unpopular Clinton presidency may be better for conservative principles in the long run than a train wreck Trump administration would be. Some people may think voting third party is a waste. ...
5. Even if you are a hold-your-noser instead of a NeverTrumper, every Christian should agree that Trump’s comments about women and his actions toward women (not to mention the way he has spoken of minorities) have been horrid. We embarrass ourselves when we try to defend the indefensible. And to claim it was merely locker room talk (which it wasn’t), or that you’ve heard worse (sadly, many have), or all men have spoken like that before (they haven’t) only serves to excuse sins that need to be forgiven not minimized.
7. But we are not voting for Pastor-in-Chief! Agreed. I don’t insist that the President of the United States has to be qualified to be a leader in our churches or even a member in our churches. And yes, many presidents have been morally bankrupt. But... [t]he Bible does not...suggest that private character is an irrelevant consideration for public service. There is nothing about sitting in the Oval Office that magically transforms people into something other than what they have been. If anything, power tempts even good people to be bad and makes bad people even worse. Our candidates will always be imperfect. When and where that imperfection crosses the line into “morally unfit” may be a matter of discretion, but it must be a matter that matters.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Consequentialism or Compromise?

I've heard Christians explain their rationale for voting for Trump.
"We're not electing a Sunday School teacher."
"Not voting for Trump is a vote for Clinton." 
"If you can't vote for the man, vote the platform." 
"Lesser of two evils." 

I've heard Christians explain their rationale for voting for Clinton. 
"At least this unappealing choice is not the unconscionable choice of Trump and more of a known quantity." 
"Checking unprecedented evil with predictable evil."

My question (asked three different ways) is this: 
Is there a threshold after which a vote for one candidate or the other is morally repugnant? Is there a point where the ends don't justify the means? Is there a point where consequentialism is compromise?

And if there is, have we crossed it with these two candidates? If so, then consequentialism is compromise.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Bible Project Video on Heaven and Earth

Here's The Bible Project video we showed this past Sunday.

They have A BUNCH of helpful videos introducing you to the themes of individual books of the Bible and to important themes that run through the Bible.

You can find their videos HERE at their YouTube channel. You can also subscribe to their channel to have new content dropped right in your inbox.

HERE is the link to their website, where you can download videos and also get involved in helping to make new videos come to life!