The best of last week, today

A bit of an artsy theme for this week. Enjoy!

New Christ icon: “Neither”… neither male nor femaleDavid Hayward

This is the third Christ icon I’ve done so far.

My first one was “Includer”.

My second one was “Higher”.

This third one’s called “Neither”, because “in Christ there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28).

The Fiddler of AbileneBoze Herrington

There are tales they tell in Texas that’d make your blood run cold…

A spooky tale in a poem reminiscent of The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

I Know Satan When I See HimCaryn Rivadeneira (via @onfaith)

I suppose after all this, this is what my love of the dark, of ghost-stories and creepiness has taught me: Evil exists. Satan and his (or her) demons do not rest. They aim to destroy, to torment, to spread hate and doubt. But they are overcome-able. As Jesus promised.

Why Do Christian Artists Need To Lie?Mark Chappelle

Billboard reports that Timothy Lambesis, lead singer of Grammy-nominated Christian metal band As I Lay Dying, now admits his band faked Christianity to sell records. Lambesis, who became agnostic while in college, says the ruse is not uncommon. “In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands.”

How did no one notice?

On Dinah and the Nameless ConcubineCarmen Ibrahim

But then I read Genesis 34, titled The Defiling of Dinah, and that chapter wrecked me. It was painful to read.

I have to talk about it though. Because if I don’t, then that would be me taking the easy way out. Not questioning, not struggling in my faith, but rather coasting along, accepting the narratives that others feed me instead of thinking for myself.

Atonement, Christus Victor & AslanGreg Boyd (via @ReKnewOrg)

Lewis’ marvelous tale brilliantly illustrates how and why Jesus’ life, death and resurrection vanquished Satan and the other fallen gods who had seized God’s “Narnia.” It is based on the understanding that, while both self-sacrificial love and the law are good, they are not equally deep forms of magic. Self-sacrificial love is much older and much deeper. It is therefore the one thing that is able to set a treacherous covenant breaker free from the just condemnation of the law.

I just saw that Greg has posted a follow-up article that is well worth reading too: Who Demands a Sacrifice?

SushiCara Strickland

I allowed myself to slow down and enjoy the experience I had been craving. I let the fish linger for a moment on my tongue, savoring the flavors and the quenching of a hunger I had carried for so long.

As I feasted, I noticed a new flavor. It tasted a little like redemption.

Confessions of a Lighthouse Keeper

There are few places on God’s earth more desolate than Bedlam Reef. Two hundred miles off the Southeastern finger of Newfoundland, the Reef is the mainland’s last outpost, perched on the very edge of the Atlantic abyss. It is hardly a welcome mat for incoming sailors. Before my grandfather built the lighthouse, many a captain had torn out his keel before he even knew the Reef was there, just below the surface, waiting for him.

Lighthouse keepers are an odd breed to begin with, but offshore men like me make the coastal boys look like regular socialites. The supply boat shows up once a month, except in the winter storm season when it takes a three-month break, but the way I see it you have to travel two hundred miles to find a more happening place than the Bedlam Light. Nobody throws a more exclusive party than me.

The Reef is beautiful, in its own peculiar way. The interaction between the warm Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador currents turns the ocean into a giant mood ring. On calm days, the sea is such a rich blue that the fish are compelled to leap into the air as if they cannot afford the rent. I took a photograph of the lighthouse on such a day and sold it to a postcard company. It’s a best-seller. Other days, the thick Grand Banks mist hangs close to the surface and makes everything gray. Mother Nature lets you know she’s about to throw a tantrum when the water becomes oily green. On days like that, sailors abroad had best look out.

Only a few dozen square yards of rock actually rise above the surface. Folks said my grandfather was crazy to try taming it, but he had survived an encounter with Bedlam and knew that it would be more crazy not to. It took him three attempts to build a foundation that would still be there after the next storm. The Reef claimed two more ships before Grandad turned on the light for the first time. The Bedlam Light was haunted before it even opened for business. Grandad never had a chance.

I was not ten years old when they took him away. He didn’t last long in that lonely white room with no view of the sea. Before that, he took me one day to the very top of the lighthouse where the foghorn was mounted, just me and him, an old man and his grandson. Some day this will all be yours, he said, sweeping his arm expansively from horizon to horizon. One day it was.

My father took over the management of the lighthouse, but he did not have the stomach to live there himself. He hired men to operate the light. Few of them ever lasted more than one good storm. The Bedlam Light was mine for the taking, just as soon as I could finish school. I was a smart kid, I guess, but I didn’t make but a nominal effort. Book learning means nothing offshore. Two hundred miles out, you either have what it takes to keep it together or you don’t.

My first storm was a spectacular Arctic gale. The waves exploded on the Reef and the wind turned the spray into needles which attacked rock, lighthouse and any living creature with equal ferocity; to venture outside was to be instantly stabbed with a thousand knives before being carried away and buried at sea. My Bedlam Light burned brightly and my foghorn added its deep voice to the din. The fishing outfit must have seen me, just as I saw its navigation lights dancing faintly beyond the wall of white water on the reef. When the waves broke the glass in the light room and destroyed my lamp, the crew must have known they were dead, and so they were.

An experience like that would have broken anyone else, but to walk away would have been to give up my inheritance. I figured Grandad had his ghosts, and now I had mine. That fishing crew talked to me while I repaired the light, and I came to know them well. I was alone when I came to Bedlam, but now I have a family.

My family has grown over the years. I suppose restless spirits crave company, and I find myself in a position where I can give it to them. I felt a twinge of guilt the first time I shuttered the Bedlam Light during a storm, but they turned out to be such interesting people! These days, when the sea turns a greasy, envious green, I stand beside my darkened lamp and watch the show. Sailors abroad, beware.


Previously published at Worth1000.com.

Learning to spare the rod

Growing up, my parents were not above delivering the occasional spanking to keep me and my three brothers in line. It worked for us – I don’t remember any of us ever getting smacked more than a handful of times, and we’ve all become reasonably well-adjusted and respectable members of society. We all knew that spanking was at the top of the consequences table, and none of us was ever eager to do anything that would result in the dreaded sentence of waiting until Dad came home. Since it was such an effective tool for my folks, I assumed that it would work just as well for me.

I should have remembered what happens when you assume.

In fact neither of my boys has ever responded well to physical punishment. Unfortunately I’m a slow learner, so they’ve both had much more experience with the rod hand of correction applied to their seats of learning than I ever did. In hindsight, it seems obvious that if a certain punishment does not correct offensive behavior, then maybe a different strategy is needed. It’s not so clear in the moments when Gabriel talks back to me in a manner that I wouldn’t have dared use for my father, or when Rhys demonstrates an unlimited capacity for stubbornness (and over the stupidest little things, natch.)

Here’s the thing that I’ve recently realized. I am not my father, and neither of my boys is me. I am much more laid back and less authoritative than my dad, and both of my boys have a different way of responding to parental authority – and the threat of parental force – than me. It doesn’t follow that a tool that worked well for my parents and me should necessarily be appropriate for the situation with me and my sons, or that I should even be capable of using it.

So what am I doing instead?

From the moment they started talking, Q and I have encouraged our boys to use their words. Strangely enough, I’ve been getting better results lately when I use my words. Instead of angrily swatting someone’s backside, I’ve been working on calmly sitting down and talking with my boys when they misbehave. I get them to state whatever it was they did, and tell me why it was wrong. I’ve been taking a page from my friend Bethany’s playbook and ask them what they can do to make it right. Then I take away something that is special to them to point out that their actions have consequences but with the understanding that they can (usually) start over fresh the next day. Is there room here for me to mention how I’m also trying to demonstrate to them the concept of grace? Maybe that’s another article.

The “calmly sitting down and talking” part is easier said than done, of course, but I’m working on it. Also, it turns out that Gabriel & Rhys both hate losing a toy or a privilege much more than a momentarily sore bottom, or so the wails of anguish when I take away their daily ration of Minecraft lead me to believe.

They Tweeted, I Fav’d, Now You Read

The ripples from that Christianity Today/Leadership Journal article from two weeks ago are still washing up heartbreaking and vital stories.

#HowOldWereYou: Origins of a Heatbreaking HashtagKaren Swallow Prior

Perhaps if the church dealt more honestly with sexual temptation, temptation would lead less frequently to acting out on it. Keeping talk of such temptations taboo leads naturally to imagining that one’s temptations are somehow unique, which leads, in turn, to imagining oneself as somehow unique and, therefore, entitled in one’s status as “special” to act on one’s temptations.

To Publish a PredatorHalee Gray Scott

Last week, when I read the Leadership Journal article, “My Easy Trip From Youth Minister to Felon,” I had much the same reaction as when I first read Lolita. “This is a narrator who cannot be trusted. This is the voice of a sexual predator.” For many people, like me, it was all too familiar. We readily recognize the biased perspective of sexual predators because we’ve been on the other side, as victims.

The Case for ExcommunicationBronwyn Lea

I am reminded of this one incident, more than a dozen years ago, when I read of pastors committing sexual offenses against parishioners in their churches.

Yes, they should be prosecuted by law. Yes, they should be fired.

But for the health of our communities – they should also be excommunicated. There is healing in a hurting community standing together and saying “that is NOT right, and we will not have it here.” It is an extreme thing to do- but it occurs to me that in these extreme cases which cause extreme pain, it is appropriate. The hurting church is not without remedy to call out evil.

And more than that: I believe the Gospel demands it.

As I tweeted in response, I think Bronwyn hits on how to tell if excommunication is being applied appropriately with this implied question: is the action in response to a community as a whole being hurt by unrepentant sin, or is someone in charge attempting to remove a perceived threat that the body as a whole is unaware of?

Forever ForeignKathy Khang via Emily Maynard

She was told that she didn’t belong, that there was no f-ing way she was American. She was told she would be sent back to where she came from, where she belonged. She was told she would be dead and that her family would be dead, too. She didn’t belong because she didn’t sound like them or look like them. In the news she was labeled as a naturalized citizen from China, reminding everyone else, reminding me, of her “otherness”. People like me aren’t really people. We are illegal. We are naturalized. We are born here. We are labeled or we choose labels. We are “others” and others get what’s coming to them.

Immigration: The Unforgivable Sin?Bronwyn Lea

It strikes me as incongruous that the ‘crime’ of illegally immigrating has, in some ways, a more punitive dimension than some violent crimes. Under the current law there is no possibility of release. No way of making restitution.

Iraq’s implosion is another disaster for Christians in the Middle EastFr Alexander Lucie-Smith

Luigi was more cautious. He told me that he had no doubt that the US and their allies could easily overthrow Saddam (He did not seem to share the idea that the Republican Guard were a serious fighting force). But, he said, he was equally sure that if Saddam were overthrown, there would be a civil war in Iraq. I found this quite impossible to believe. We had several conversations on this topic, and he was adamant that this is what would happen. Moreover, he was sure that if Saddam fell, and civil war ensued, this would be utterly disastrous for the country’s Christian minority.

We spoke about these things before the US-led invasion in March 2003. Since that time some 12 years have passed, and everything Luigi has said has come to pass.

Unlearning the lies we learned from the theologians of slavery – Part 1 | Part 2Fred Clark via Boze Herrington

Whitefield’s slave-owning and his lobbying for the legalization of slavery in Georgia were, in fact, an integral part of his identity. They were an integral part of his theology — his piety, his revivalism, his hermeneutic, his doctrine.

And thus they have become an integral part of our theology, piety, revivalism, hermeneutic and doctrine. Whitefield’s theology shaped the American church. Whitefield’s theology was grossly and essentially misshapen by slavery.

American theology and the American church are grossly and essentially misshapen by slavery.

And finally, some awesome pictures of the blue dot that we live on from current ISS residents Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst:

You can follow me on Twitter @mrDuncalfe.

Providence Department

Sharon Williams, age 39 plus twin toddlers, was making a fresh start. At 8:24, Freddy was already 250 miles behind them and with any luck there would be at least a hundred more before he sobered up enough to notice they were gone. She was confident he would never think to look for them in Dallas; there was no way he could have found the letter from her old roommate that had offered a glimpse of a different future. If he bothered to look anywhere she figured he would go to their hometown, but she had lost all connection to Little Rock when her parents died. Dallas offered a new life. Who knew if she would get any more chances? Sharon stifled a yawn and drained the last of the convenience store coffee, and with her head tilted back she did not notice that the 18-wheeler ahead of her was rapidly turning its tires into smoke.

=====

“Hold it, Fate! You’re WAY out of line with this one. Are you kidding me? She is TOTALLY on my side of the board. Call off your goon right now, or every alcoholic this side of Vegas will experience such a moment of clarity that they will never even be TEMPTED to drink again!”

Fate sighed, let out a shrill whistle and carelessly waved his hand. Time turned off his treadmill and took a break. Death, who had been hiding inside the trailer, appeared on its roof with a disappointed look on his face. His expression contrasted with the pure terror currently etched into Sharon’s face, frozen in the moment where she saw her imminent doom. Fate smiled. Free Will had intervened just late enough that the outcome was no longer a sure thing, but even he had been caught napping when Fate scared a deer – a deer! – over the fence and onto the highway. A brilliant move if he did say so himself. It would be interesting to see how this one played out.

“Fine, Will. Have it your way. This one’s all yours, but oops! Looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you to get the lady and her kids out of this in one piece.”

Will stormed out of Sharon’s beat-up Chevy and glared at Fate with furious eyes. “Are you out of your mind? I’m going to have to get her Ladyship involved to fix this, and you KNOW how much paperwork that means. For both of us.”

Fate shrugged. “Less hassle if you just leave her to me.” Will’s scowl got even darker in response. “Whatever. Let’s go see Lady Luck, then.”

=====

In person, the Commissioner of Providence was not nearly as glamorous as her public persona. She was only of average height, with dirty blonde hair and a few suggestions of crows’ feet around her pale blue eyes. Her mouth, pursed tightly with disapproval any time Fate was nearby, belied her legendary smile. Frankly, Fate didn’t get her mystique at all, and often wondered what back-room deals she had made to get the job. His life had certainly been easier before she arrived on the scene.

Naturally Lady Luck’s office was in Las Vegas. Fate and Free Will found her drumming her fingers on the felt of a craps table, staring irritably at the dice that were suspended in midair before her.

“You certainly took your time getting here, gentlemen,” she said. “Who has Fate tried to kill now?”

Fate tried on an injured expression. “Why do you always assume it’s me? Just moments ago, Free Willie threatened to make a move on my drunkards!”

“Spare me. Need I remind you that the Providence Department was established because you blatantly and repeatedly made end-runs around Free Will by sending Death after anyone who refused to accept their Fate?”

Fate rolled his eyes. Maybe one day she might add some variation to the lecture.

“You-” Luck turned her attention to Will “-explain.”

When Will concluded with the hopeful turn in Sharon’s story, Luck shook her head. Fate was such a … oh, she could almost scream!

“Okay, you two. Will, have you already filled out a Luck Request Form on behalf of Sharon and her sons? You have? Excellent. Fate, I won’t even both asking. Just have a Censure Acknowledgment Affidavit on my desk by tomorrow. In triplicate.”

“Triplicate? What the-”

“Triplicate. Don’t make me censure you a second time. Now get Time back on his treadmill so I can watch Timmy’s face here when he rolls his third 12 in a row!”

“You know, there’s something …”

“Do it. Now,” said Lady Luck, with a hint of menace in her voice. Fate wasn’t convinced that she had anything to back it up, but then again, he hadn’t been able to prevent her from getting the job. He shrugged and waved his hand again. Time climbed back on the treadmill.

=====

Sharon stood on her brakes, too shocked to scream as the trailer jack-knifed and skidded out of her way. The big truck scraped to a stop against the crash barrier and Sharon cautiously drove past. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a deer running into the trees, away from danger. Just like me, she thought. I guess Lady Luck just smiled on us both.

“Dallas, here we come!”

=====

Timmy’s face did indeed register a happy expression when the dice landed. He was not so pleased when someone jostled him and he turned around to see Death’s broad grin.


 

Previously published at Worth1000.com. Happy Throwback Thursday!

The best of last week’s Twitter today

I read many words last week. Some were disturbing, some were infuriating, some were heartbreaking and some were uplifting. Check out this good stuff, in case you missed it.

Holy TableBethany Paget

This poem came out of my experience with leaving the evangelical church.

If Your Kid Comes Out To YouBen Moberg

First, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention who is not a family therapist, who has (to my knowledge) no gay kids of his own, wrote a blog post about how parents should react to a gay son or daughter coming out to them. It was, as expected, unhelpful. But his post is nothing compared to John MacArthur’s video, in which he said that the Christ-like response to a child coming out is too shun them. To disown them. To, in John’s words, “turn them over to Satan.”

So, I thought I’d pen my own advice, from experience. This is for all the parents with closeted gay kids. These are words you need to hear.

What If My Son is Gay?Aaron J. Smith

I will never treat LGBTQ and the church as a gospel issue. It’s not. The gospel is that God has reconciled all things to himself in Jesus who died for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised to life for our justification. This is the gospel: reconciliation. Sexual orientation is not the gospel. I don’t want to be flippant about it or dismissive, but it’s not an issue of life and death of my child comes out as gay. It’s serious and weighty, but it is something we can figure out.

The Ugly Way Evangelicals Love Gay PeopleMatthew Paul Turner

Because the only evangelicals challenging the messages of these voices are the progressive ones, a handful of liberal evangelical bloggers who have little influence on the likes of Franklin Graham, John MacArthur, and the SBC. If these people don’t speak for evangelicals, where are the non-progressive evangelicals who might challenge these messages? We need them to speak up, on behalf of the gospel, Jesus, and the evangelicals who really do love gay people.

When We Worship the God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)Benjamin L. Corey

Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns. Why? Because we’re scared. Because the way of Jesus seems too illogical to actually be true, and that’s frightening. Because we’re afraid of giving up our rights, afraid of being vulnerable, and afraid that putting our faith and trust in God might actually cost us something.

It’s Really Hard to be a Good Guy With a GunAdam Weinstein via Brett Thatcher

My wife and I got into an argument last night over a dead man. His name was Joseph Robert Wilcox. He was 31 on Sunday, the day he tried to stop cop-killer Jerad Miller in a Las Vegas Walmart and was shot by Miller’s wife Amanda. Wilcox was a good guy with a gun. It cost him his life.

The Way of the GunNish Weiseth

Let us be meek. Let us be peacemakers. Let us be followers of the way of Jesus, rather than the way of the gun.

If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, it’s time for us to hold the third and seventh Beatitudes as more precious than the Second Amendment.

The Gospel of the Freedom to be WrongMorgan Guyton

God wants us to be family. That is how I understand the purpose of Jesus’ cross and resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s mission to make us holy. I don’t believe that God is allergic to sin. I don’t believe that God has a “glory” he is obligated to worry about which is somehow at odds with his desire to bring every human being as deeply into his arms as we will allow. God’s glory is his family. I don’t believe that we need to be saved from God’s perfectionism or God’s wrath. What we need to be saved from is our sin, and most specifically our tendency to justify sin, which imprisons us and warps our ability to perceive reality correctly. It is this self-justification which makes us hate God and experience his intimate love as the wrathful torture of hell. The great gift that forms the foundation of Christian life is the freedom to be wrong, which we gain through accepting the mercy of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Without that freedom, no matter what prayer we’ve prayed or how perfectly our actions conform to the teachings of scripture, we remain unsaved.

Finally, there was a huge backlash to an article posted at Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal by a former youth pastor who is currently serving his sentence for the statutory rape of one of the girls in his youth group. The ill-conceived article was updated with an addendum from the author and an editorial note, but eventually the editors could not ignore the uproar and finally removed it and apologized. Read these powerful voices:

An Open Letter to Christianity Today and @Leadership_Jnl: TAKE DOWN THE RAPE POST. It’s not an “extramarital relationship.” It’s statutory rape.Elizabeth Esther

Can you imagine the OUTRAGE if a Catholic Priest was allowed to publish an article describing his “relationship” with an “adoring” altar server? And that outrage would be absolutely JUSTIFIED.

Why?

Because a predator loses the right to tell his side of the story right about the time he decides to PREY on a CHILD.

My Innocence Was Stolen – hosted by Micah J. Murray

A few days ago an essay was published titled “My Easy Trip from Youth Pastor to Felon.” The narrator relates his story of a “spiral into sin”, detailing how his sin destroyed his life and ministry. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that he noted that his “friend” with which he was having an “extramarital relationship” was in fact a student and that he was writing his cautionary tale from behind bars. Pointing out how the story is abuse apology and re-victimization, many readers are now asking the Leadership Journal / Christianity today to #TakeDownThatPost

Tonight a friend messaged me and asked me if she could share her story here. This is what was left out of the youth pastor’s story. Are you listening? This is why it matters.

Dear Man in PrisonMary DeMuth

Your words reflected little remorse other than getting caught and being prosecuted for a crime. Where is your anguish for the victim? For your wife? For your children? For the youth group you pastored? You have not only marred their souls, but warped their view of a loving God. They will struggle with your violation the rest of their lives. They may view God as capricious, unprotective, or non-existent. You cannot undo that kind of soul damage, no matter how many words you write, even if they are cloaked in biblical language.

No Really, #TakeDownThatPostBethany Suckrow

The concept of consent is Healthy Sexual Ethics 101. And if even our leaders in our churches, leading our kids, do not understand this, then no wonder sexual abuse is a rampant problem and no wonder people are leaving the pews. No one feels safe.

They Took It DownSamantha Field

It took the Leadership Journal five days to remove the post, and there were some significant bumps along the way, but they did, ultimately do the right thing and removed it. And not only did they take it down—the absolute best I was hoping for—they apologized. And it wasn’t a non-apology of “we’re sorry you all were stupid enough to be offended.” It was a real, legitimate apology.

And finally++ a bonus World Cup Jesus Juke from Micah J. Murray:

On Fatherliness

What do you want to do with your life?

Career-wise, I’ve always had trouble coming up with a satisfactory answer. The first vocation that I aspired to was Architect, on account of how much fun I had sketching out floor plans and elevations when I should have been paying attention in middle school math class. I gave that up when I found out how much work you had to do in order to become an architect, and how small your chances were of landing a job when you got there. Also, because math.

Throughout high school, my interests turned towards playing with words and I found that I liked writing well enough to go to university and study English with a view towards journalism. The journalism part didn’t stick, but I added a History/Political Science major to my degree, mostly because it shared a significant number of core courses with the English major but also because why not? Upon graduating I promptly ignored my freshly minted English/History/Poli-Sci credentials and embarked on a zig-zag career of web design, insurance sales and IT jobs. While my top-level plans for accumulating vast wealth making enough money to get by have never been in sharp focus, I have two corrective lenses for the way I look at the day-to-day business of living.

Their names are Gabriel and Rhys.

It’s such a cliché to say that parenthood changes your life, because of course it does. Even if you think you’re ready for the changes in lifestyle, sleep quality and disposable income, it’s still a shock when a brand new little human arrives. But I’ve been a father for almost seven years, so life before kids is in the realm of hazy memory. What is more profound is how fatherhood has changed me.

In my short tenure as an insurance salesman, I learned that the prospect of five-figure quarterly commission checks was not enough to get me through the soul-crushing tedium of cold-calling pages of old leads. I suppose it was useful to find out that I’m not well-motivated by money, so I don’t consider that year completely wasted. However, that was before my kids came along. If my circumstances should change, and calling people who may or may not have once expressed a passing interest in buying health insurance is the only way I can feed my children, then get ready to leave a message, because I’ll either be on the phone or working on my closing technique.

I used to only look at finances when considering a large purchase or new hobby (and sometimes not even then—hello credit card!) These days, I look at the time cost as well. On one hand, it’s definitely good for my boys if I’m around to love them and take an interest in their lives instead of going off and doing my own thing. On the other, my own life would diminish if I made less time for them. Just this morning, Rhys told me to turn up the radio because “that’s my jam!” Who wants to go waste time on vain pursuits and miss gems like that moment?

Most of all, my boys make me want to be an example. I want to see them grow up and become righteous young men, and the only way I know to make that happen is to be so myself. I want them to treat others with respect and love, so I try to keep my words gentle and kind. I want them to value people over things, so I try to avoid frivolous spending. I want them to know Christ and see how a lively faith can change the world, so I examine myself and wrestle with the unbelief and apathy that I find there.

I fail in these endeavors every day, but therein lies the best lesson I can give them. It’s okay to stumble, to fall, to throw your hands up in the air and admit you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. But then by God’s grace you get back up and keep on going.

Last week’s Twitter favorites

For your edification, the pick of my favorites from my Twitter feed last week.

Four Modern Versions of the Bible that are Ruining the BibleBen Irwin

…the commercialization of scripture has also given us four iterations of the modern Bible — which I believe are causing us to value the Bible less and read it less.

What Both Sides Completely Miss In The Abortion DiscussionBenjamin L. Corey

The abortion discussion is one of the most polarizing discussions one can have. In fact, I usually avoid it for that reason– the conversations are often so filled with strife that they don’t accomplish anything or remotely move the conversation forward.

…In the end, I think this disconnect is because both sides are failing to realize or acknowledge some critical information.

How To Watch The World Cup Like A True Soccer Nerd – via Benjamin Howard

Because here’s the thing: The idea that the ineffable foreignness of soccer is best left to continents like Europe and South America — because all us Yanks will do is take away its beauty, what with our “stats” and “analysis” — is no more than a steaming pile of merde.

Too bad the World Cup is run by the corrupt clown show that is FIFA.

Teenagers, it’s OK not to have sex – via Bronwyn Lea

Phin Lyman made headlines with an article about being a virgin at 18. He tells Joanna Moorhead why he wanted to encourage younger people not to rush into a sex life and his plans to stay celibate when he goes to university

Pentecost: When God Rebels Against Her HandlersMorgon Guyton

Yes, I said her. But on Pentecost you can do that. Jesus calls the one who sent him Father. Obviously, Jesus was a dude himself. But the Holy Spirit is at most gender-neutral and at best gender-bending, because the Holy Spirit makes both men and women prophesy, as Peter controversially declares on Pentecost. – See more at: http://morganguyton.us/2014/06/07/pentecost-when-god-rebels-against-her-handlers/#sthash.PhjdR4bR.dpuf
Yes, I said her. But on Pentecost you can do that. Jesus calls the one who sent him Father. Obviously, Jesus was a dude himself. But the Holy Spirit is at most gender-neutral and at best gender-bending, because the Holy Spirit makes both men and women prophesy, as Peter controversially declares on Pentecost. – See more at: http://morganguyton.us/2014/06/07/pentecost-when-god-rebels-against-her-handlers/#sthash.PhjdR4bR.dpuf

Yes, I said her. But on Pentecost you can do that. Jesus calls the one who sent him Father. Obviously, Jesus was a dude himself. But the Holy Spirit is at most gender-neutral and at best gender-bending, because the Holy Spirit makes both men and women prophesy, as Peter controversially declares on Pentecost.

Yes, I said her. But on Pentecost you can do that. Jesus calls the one who sent him Father. Obviously, Jesus was a dude himself. But the Holy Spirit is at most gender-neutral and at best gender-bending, because the Holy Spirit makes both men and women prophesy, as Peter controversially declares on Pentecost. – See more at: http://morganguyton.us/2014/06/07/pentecost-when-god-rebels-against-her-handlers/#sthash.PhjdR4bR.dpuf

Throwback Thursday: Room With a View

While I’m working on getting my voice back, I’m going to occasionally share some stuff from my archive. Back in the day, I used to participate frequently at Worth1000. (The link may or may not work; the site has been flaky lately.) I submitted several pieces there that I am still very proud of years later. Here is one of them.


I opened my eyes and found myself seated in a completely dark room. All was silent, and as far as I could tell (inasmuch as I could not see, or hear, or smell anything) I was alone, yet the room seemed to vibrate with a great sense of anticipation, as if somewhere a maestro had just raised his baton, or a soprano was even now licking her lips and inhaling a preparatory breath.

Music rippled through the pregnant stillness, a melody so pure and sweet and insistent that I was compelled to look toward its source. Light was piercing the darkness, terrible light and beautiful, but distant so that all that fell on me was a gentle gray twilight.

Presently the song of the light was joined by a complementary voice which, though it sang softly, had a power that touched the core of my soul. The light around me had taken on a dreamy blue hue, and with the introduction of one color the room around me began to glow with its complements: flowers on a table beside me lit up in an explosion of oranges and yellows, the wall behind me was painted a vivid shade of salmon, and my chair was upholstered in the very creamiest of leather.

The second voice rose up in a powerful crescendo, and every fiber in my body tensed with the expectation of what was to come. With a crash of cymbals a wave rolled in below me and I looked back through the window upon a mighty sea. The waves were a playground of blue shadows, dark trenches and foaming peaks, and the music of the light met the song of the sea with a chord of such magnificent harmony that the world could not contain it. A curtain rolled back to unveil the sky, and the duet of light and water rushed out to fill the infinite space with a concerto of clouds and rainbows that met the sea at the distant horizon.

A new voice joined the chorus, deep and rich, and summoned a palette of new colors. A wall of brown rock rose from the sea, and I realized the baritone voice spoke to the earth. Trees and foliage spread hungrily across the barren rock, like a flame advancing across a sheet of paper, but even as I watched the green fire consume the earth the room in which I stood retreated from that place. The sea and the sky and the land and the music receded, and through the window I saw only a perfect blue globe suspended in space.

Then the entire orchestra roared out the glorious appearance of the sun and its brethren, and the room in which I sat was flooded with pure light of such brilliance that I could not bear the sight, yet neither could I look away. Before me lay the primal glory of a thousand thousand stars, and as those engines of creation danced to the music I watched the pristine cosmos unfold and rush out to meet the farthest heavens.

The music swelled around me once more, playing with ever-increasing insistence, sounding a call that must be answered. A bird feathered with all the colors of the rainbow burst into song from its perch across the room, and a huge dog came bounding in, barking with delight, jumping up and licking my face. Something stirred inside me and I felt such a longing to embrace the music that my heart almost burst with the sheer joy of being. I found myself standing up and stretching my arms, truly awake for the first time in my life. The memory of the darkness in which I opened my eyes receded like the tide running from the beach, as if everything I saw in front of me had always been there. The music called me again, and I was compelled to reply, singing my part in that first performance of the symphony of creation.

Somewhere, the maestro finally laid down his baton and the last notes of the symphony hung in the air, perfectly sustained and echoed by the things the music had called into being. I looked through the window upon the vast majesty of the universe, and I saw that it was good.

Andrew Lector

One of the traditions that I love about the Episcopal church is how much emphasis is given to the public reading of Scripture. In any given Sunday-morning service, we are treated to all of the following:

  • Old Testament reading
  • Psalm
  • New Testament reading
  • Gospel

The readings are prescribed according to the lectionary, which is “a table of readings from Scripture appointed to be read at public worship.” A number of bloggers and podcasts are in the habit of hosting a discussion of the upcoming Sunday’s readings. I thought I would contribute by recording the readings for anyone who cares to listen. Here is the story of Pentecost from Acts 2, and this week’s Gospel reading from John 20. Let me know if you find this useful!