Tag Archives: Culture

Holiday Intimidation: The Grinches v. the First Amendment

metaxas_w_label2An editorial by Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint.
December 20, 2012

For six years, the Moanalua High School orchestra in Hawaii has provided Christmas for poor African children. They hold a benefit concert that raises $30,000 each year for Mercy Ships, a fantastic Christian relief agency that provides life-saving, and life-enhancing surgery to the poor across the globe.

But this year, a local atheist attempted to steal Christmas for both the young musicians and African children by complaining to the state Department of Education. You see, volunteers from Hawaii’s New Hope Church worked on sets for the concert, and sold tickets, including, horrifyingly, at their Sunday church services. So of course there MUST be a constitutional violation somewhere, somehow.

Worst of all, the state Department of Education agreed. And so—four days before the concert—the high school was ordered to cancel it. No Christmas concert, no $30,000 for suffering African children. In the words of that famous song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”

Of course, the high school was not even close to violating the Constitution. The concert was a school event, not a church event, and it was being put on by high school students and staff. So why do these Grinches get away with canceling Christmas in Hawaii and in other states every year?

Well, as the Hawaii Reporter editorialized, this person “doesn’t win in court so much as he gets his way by getting people in government to simply bend to his wishes through bullying and threats.” And as Hawaii radio talk show host Michael Perry notes, “There are all kinds of organizations that would be happy to take [this guy] on and win. But he wins because they quickly capitulate.”

In addition, as the Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn points out, when it comes to church-state scrimmages, people in power seem unable “to distinguish between upholding religious pluralism and enforcing anti-religion.” Our country, he declares, is “ill-served by a government that reads ‘no establishment of religion’ as mandating official hostility toward even innocuous religious expressions of its citizenry.”

And McGurn points out that the Grinch who led another holiday fight—this one against nativity displays in Santa Monica—acknowledged that he did so, not because he and his cohorts wanted “an opportunity to express their own views but to ban those they disagreed with from expressing theirs.” Exactly!

When we see bullying tactics being employed during the holidays, we ought to direct the victims to religious rights groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, or the Alliance Defending Freedom. They take on religious hostility cases with great gusto and, I might add, with great success.

We also need to demonstrate Christian love to these Grinches—and no, not by sending them Aunt Eulalie’s fruitcake; we should also pray that their hearts—now two sizes too small—will expand to embrace those of different religious faiths, and that they’d stop their bullying ways.

By the way, you’ll be happy to learn that—thanks to the Christmas controversy—Mercy  Ships is going to receive even more money than usual. New Hope Church invited Christian musicians called the Katinas to perform at their church to benefit Mercy Ships. Those who’d purchased tickets for the original concert could use them to see the Katinas. Plus, the church sold 200 additional tickets—and accepted a $2,000 donation from a non-Christian woman—non-Christian—who gave simply because “this is the right thing to do,” as she put it.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Grinch.

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Filed under Children, Christmas, Compassion, Culture, influence with the world, Loving others

More conversation… less condemnation

From a blog post by Perry Noble who says it so well.
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Ben & Jerry’s, Chick-fil-A & Political Correctness

Let me begin by saying I absolutely LOVE Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. (Gonna go ahead and tell you that Oatmeal Cookie Chunk is THE BEST flavor I’ve EVER had!!)

A few years ago I went to Wal Mart (the closest thing to hell I can imagine…that and the DMV), found my favorite flavor and decided to tweet that I was purchasing some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream…and doing so “unleashed the hounds” in a sense. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it, “Christians” began @ replying me on twitter condemning me and scolding me for buying this product because apparently Ben & Jerry’s supported gay rights/same sex marriage.

Honestly, it bothered me. Because, first of all…I wasn’t trying to make a political statement I was simply trying to get some chunky monkey and some oatmeal cookie crunch. I like ice cream…I believe it will be served in heaven (with ZERO calories)! And second, it has broken my heart the way that many who claim to follow Christ have treated those who are homosexuals. We’ve yelled at them, ignored them and in some cases damned them to hell without EVER sitting down and actually having a conversation with someone who is gay.

“But Perry,” you say, “the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.” Let me put my cards on the table and say that I agree; however, for too long the church has seemed to be obsessed with the sins that we do not struggle with; after all, if I am pointing out the sins of others I don’t have to deal with my own.

People have taken me to I Corinthians 6:9-11 before and said, “look, the Bible says that homosexuals will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.” I always try my best to point out that also included in that list are…

  • The sexually immoral (anyone been watching porn?)
  • Idolaters (anyone love anyone or anything more than Jesus?)
  • Adulterers (see Matthew 5:27-28)
  • Thieves
  • The greedy (uh oh!)
  • Drunkards (tailgating season is quickly approaching)
  • Slanderers (uh oh, a lot of bloggers and women’s Bible studies are in trouble!)
  • After looking at this list I would say we are all pretty much screwed unless Jesus intervenes.

And…while I am at it why don’t I just go ahead and throw out that gluttony is way more of a problem in the church today than homosexuality!!! (Please see Proverbs 23:2…pretty intense!!! ONLY in the church can people that are huge condemn people who are homosexual and somehow feel like that they are spiritually superior!)

Do I hate homosexuals or have a “homophobia?” Absolutely not! (And, let me be VERY clear that as a child I was molested…TWICE…by men who were older than me. I have no idea if they were or are practicing homosexuals…but I can honestly say that I have forgiven them and do not think that because of what they did to me that homosexuals are bad people!)

So, if a company or an organization wants to support gay rights/same sex marriage I don’t believe that Christians should boycott and/or protest them (come on people, has that REALLY worked for us in the past?) Jesus went after the hearts of people far from Him through conversation, not condemnation. Yes, sin must be called what it is, even as the risk of offending people: however, when it is done so with a hateful spirit then Jesus is NOT exalted, thus making the confrontation of sin sinful!

We live in America…and people have the right to say what they want to say…

Which brings me to Chick-fil-A…

I love Chick-fil-A…I probably eat there no less than five times a week (no, I am not making that up!) The fact that Truett Cathy has built a business from the ground up and has sought to honor Jesus every step of the way is an inspiration to me. Every Chick-fil-A I’ve ever been in has excellent food and excellent customer service…and I believe I read the other day that they made 4.1 billion dollars last year (not bad!)

Recently Dan Cathy (the current CEO) was asked about his stance on same sex marriage. He did not issue any inflammatory remarks. He did not attempt to call anyone by any derogatory names. He was not hateful in his comments. He did not say that people who are gay would not be hired and/or served at Chick-Fil-A restaurants. He simply stated that he holds to the traditional/biblical view of marriage (which is his right as an American citizen.) And it seemed the world lost its mind.

It’s quite sad really that those who scream for tolerance seem to be intolerant of anyone who does not hold to their particular view.

No one in the media screamed “foul” when corporations came out in support of same sex marriage; however, when one company spoke out against it in a non condemning tone people were calling for a boycott…even provoking the mayor of the city of Boston to say that Chick-Fil-A was not welcome in the city. (Uh…wow, talk about tolerance! Honestly, I believe the city of Boston needs Chick-fil-A way more than Chick-fil-A needs the city of Boston!)

All I am saying is this…I believe as an American everyone has the right to free speech. I also believe as a Christian we have the right to speak the truth in love as it applies to the Scriptures and should not fear doing so because we may be perceived as politically incorrect. Biblical truth (IN LOVE) always trumps political correctness. Honestly, I respect and admire Mr. Cathy as he took a very unpopular stand on one of the most controversial matters of our day. AND…as I’ve stated before, he did it with a non-condemning attitude.

It simply needs to be pointed out that people on both sides of this argument have been way less than civil with each other…which does nothing more than proves the insecurity in us if we feel like we have to “lower the boom” on people who do not see exactly as we see.

Honestly, it is my prayer that people on both sides of the argument would stop yelling at each other and talking about one another and actually sit down and talk to one another understanding that just because two people do not agree on an issue does not mean they have the right to hate one another for it. Conversation is NOT compromise…it’s actually Christ like! And our world would be a MUCH better place if those who called themselves Christians would step up and lead the way in this, understanding John 3:17 is the attitude that we are called to have!

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Thanks Perry! May we give ourselves to more conversation and less condemnation.

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Filed under Christianity, Conflict, Culture, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Homosexuality, Marriage, Political Correctness, Truth

Punching holes in the darkness

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of classic books like Treasure Island, spent his childhood in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 19th century. As a boy, Robert was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighters who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night.

One evening, as young Robert stood watching with fascination, his parents asked him, “Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?” With great excitement he exclaimed, “Look at that man! He’s punching holes in the darkness!”

When we invite Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart we are giving ourselves to further God’s kingdom purposes, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we choose to forgive those who have hurt us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we sacrifice our comfort and resources to help others in need, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we honor God’s boundaries with our sexuality, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we pray for those who despise us or hate us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we take time to listen, really listen, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we let go of worry and instead praise God, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we offer kinds words in return for harsh words, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Culture, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Generosity, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Loving others, Praise

Zombies? Really?

This is reblogged from a fellow writer. I’ll leave a link at the bottom in case you want to check out her blog. (Highly recommended!)

If I were to compile a list of possible topics for this blog on connecting dots to God, zombies would never enter my mind.  Ever.  But, after reading an Associated Press news article yesterday about a recent internet interest in ”zombie apocalypse,” I’m going to connect some dots between zombies and God.  Work with me here…

Apparently, the phrase ”zombie apocalypse” is (or was) #2 among Google’s trending search terms

Why? 

Tamara Lush, in her AP article, suggests that recent bizarre and gruesome events have sparked a fascination with a scenario in which a mutant virus, on the loose from a government lab or introduced in an act of bioterrorism, turns people into zombies. It is preposterous of course, but we live in an age in which many absurdities have become reality.

So, whether Google searches for “zombie apocalypse” are done in comic book type fun or out of genuine fear, they reveal a sense of foreboding as described in Lush’s article:

“Symbolic of both infection and evil, zombies are terrifying in a way that other horror-movie iconography isn’t, says Elizabeth Bird, an anthropologist at the University of South Florida.

Zombies, after all, look like us. But they aren’t. They are some baser form of us — slowly rotting and shambling along, intent on “surviving” and creating more of their kind, but with no emotional core, no conscience, no limits.”

Creepy.

Lush goes on to write, “For some, the news stories fuel a lurking fear that, ultimately, humanity is doomed.” 

I find Lush’s article insightful, because there is some truth in the fears she describes. Humanity, in a self-gratifying sinful state, is in fact doomed.  Foreboding is justified.

Zombies are a fitting metaphor for the cultural rot, heartless self-gratification, and soul-less existences that are increasingly evident in this world.

It is creepy.

Thankfully, zombie fiction notwithstanding, sin will not devour humanity because  of the day that the Living God defeated death on a cross.  Jesus Christ offers eternal life in place of spiritually dead flesh and a loving heart instead of an empty emotional core.

Christians understand that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, the antidote for sin and the source of life, and we can share this hope in the face of foreboding.  Maybe zombie stories are an opportunity to do just that.

“‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  John 5:24

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My thanks to Judy for letting me share her insightful article. You can visit her blog here.

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Filed under Christianity, Culture, Death, End Times, Faith, Fear, Hope, Jesus, Sin, Truth