Well Urbanites, as another year draws to an end it's time to look back. Here are the most commented upon (a.k.a. the most argued about) post from the last 12 months. There plenty of politics in here covering the health care debate and Glenn Beck. Social justice continued to stir the passions, and it wouldn't be right to not have a bit of Mark Driscoll to add some spice to the list. Enjoy, and we'll see you on the flip side.
March 22, 2010 Jesus and the Health Care Bill
It may cost us a bit more, but our nation has taken a compassionate step in the right direction.
by Gordon MacDonald
Stuff these articles, videos, and stories in your stockings.
Urthlings, this is your leader. Here are videos, articles, and blog posts you should be reading this week. Live long and proselytize.
Peace on Urth,
Url Santa Executed
The war on Christmas just got ugly. The leaders at Repent Amarillo—a group describing themselves as “outside the box in terms of traditional American Christian practices”—have executed Santa Clause by firing squad. Despite his Christian roots, Santa was found guilty of idolatry, being a stumbling block, and inciting covetousness. My only question is, WWJD?
Save the Date
A woman in North Carolina believes Jesus will return on May 21, 2011 (which happens to also be Mr. T’s birthday). She’s even gone so far as to decorate her car to remind everyone to keep the day open.
"Over time, the experts have done for church what postcards and PBS specials have done for the Grand Canyon: they've made it difficult for us to appreciate our own experience apart from theirs. We have lost the ability to see and experience and appreciate ministry for ourselves. All we can see is the disparity between what our churches are and what they are 'supposed' to be."
Excerpted from "An Unspoiled View" in the Fall 2010 issue of Leadership Journal. To read the full quote IN context be sure to subscribe to Leadership today by clicking on the LJ cover in the left column.
Brandon O'Brien is associate editor of Leadership and the author of The Strategically Small Church (Bethany House, 2010).
In light of all the exciting movements addressing world hunger and peace, many with Christians in the forefront, I really believe Christian stores should be pioneers and innovators, rather than chameleons. Selling fair trade coffee is a good start. But we have a long way to go. I just saw an iPod shaped like a cross. Ugh.
Right after I left the bookstore with the military flags, I dropped by an old-school general store (I was in my Tennessee homeland). It was charming to see the vintage lunch-boxes and wooden games, but what struck me aside from the nostalgia was how relevant some of the item at the general store are today. There were books on sustainable living and permaculture, books on urban farming and guides for identifying edible plants. There were books and how-to kits on the Appalachian arts –woodcraft, beekeeping, canning, quilting and pottery – arts that are in danger of extinction. I’m not one to buy lots of stuff at Christmas, but man I was tempted.
I guess that’s also why it’s so fun to go to Amish country for gifts – they seem pure and innocent in contrast to the plastic clutter of the malls. No doubt there are great Christian stores like Ten Thousand Villages, committed to selling stuff that matters, and in ways that reflect the values of Jesus and the dignity of people. But we have a long way to go… and I say “we,” because most of these Christian bookstores sell my books, so my lament is not at them but with them. But I am convinced that if the Christian bookstores continue to go bankrupt, it will not be a matter of accounting but a matter of imagination.
Are Christian bookstores challenging the values of our culture or just copying them?
by Shane Claiborne
I went into a Christian bookstore the other day and was surprised to see some of the most prominent display space given over to military flags for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. These flags, and a vast assortment of Americana merchandise, were on sale for the holidays.
A part of me ached because I know how difficult it must be to run a little Christian bookstore these days. But I winced as I heard the manager fatalistically confess that he resorted to selling military merchandise to “make it.” It is a sad day when we sell our military banners next to Jesus’ enemy-loving cross to make it in a financial recession. (Before long we’ll be pushing posters of scantily-clad women accompanied by a verse from Song of Solomon).
It’s true that my Christian faith gives me a passion for peace and sets me at odds with militarism. But I think I’d feel a similar dissatisfaction if the last resort for economic survival at our bookstores was selling Home Depot or Wal-Mart gift cards. I just have higher hopes for a distinctive Christian witness in the world today, even in a recession… especially in a recession.
True love waits, but sex doesn't. Church-based abstinence programs are not working.
"Our collective efforts to deter premarital sex are not that successful: 41 percent of churchgoing, conservative Protestant men's relationships become sexual within one month, barely lower than the national average of 48 percent. We expend so much energy to generate so little difference."
Excerpted from "Match-Making Ministry?" in the Fall 2010 issue of Leadership Journal. To read the full quote IN context be sure to subscribe to Leadership today by clicking on the LJ cover in the left column.
Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford, 2007).
A holiday fruit basket of articles, videos, and blogs for Urbanitos to devour.
by Url Scaramanga
Urbanitos, this is your jefe. Here are videos, articles, and blog posts you should be reading this week. Live largo and proselytize.
New research from the Barna Group concludes that only 5 percent of Christians are held accountable by their church for integrating biblical beliefs into their life. It seems most churches are all bark and no bite.
C’mon, Get Happy!
The American Sociological Review (ASR) has published research this month that finds people who frequently attend church or other places of worship are happier than those who attend less often.
The Hanukkah Song (no not that one)
Don’t know much about the other holiday this season? Well, check out this video by The Maccabeats. (Get it? Maccabees?)
Mohler, Driscoll, and others weigh in on the controversy.
by Url Scaramanga
A few months ago, Al Mohler set off a firestorm when he pronounced yoga to be incompatible with Christian faith. The comments came in a review the Southern Baptist leader wrote about Stephanie Syman's book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America. Mohler said:
Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God -- an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation -- not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.
To his surprise, Mohler received a significant backlash from Christians who use yoga as part of their exercise routine as well as those who believe the practice can mesh with Christian forms of reflection and meditation. But Mohler would have none of it. He wrote, “Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions.” In other words, those who merely use yoga as a form of stretching and muscle strengthening are mistaken. He continued:
Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a 'post-Christian, spiritually polyglot' reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?
Not to be ignored amid a cultural controversy, Mark Driscoll added his $.02 into the discussion. In this video the pugnacious pastor calls yoga “absolute paganism” and says it opens the door to demonism. But he adds this caveat: “Is it possible for a Christian to do stretching and read scripture and pray and do so in a way that is exercise that is biblical? Yes, it is possible. But if you just sign up for a little yoga class you’re signing up for a little demon class.” (BTW, Driscoll also warns against watching Avatar…the “most demonic movie ever.”)
Urban monk and author of "Jesus for President" visits the White House.
bu Url Scaramanga
Consider this the Ur version of TMZ. Last week Shane Claiborne attended a meeting at the White House with other Christian leaders to discuss the administration's fatherhood initiatives. The urban monastic leader is usually seen in a t-shirt and baggy cotton (or are they hemp?) pants. But for this special occasion Claiborne added a navy blue blazer to the ensemble. Looking sharp, Shane!
Discovering the difference between “Look at me!” and “Listen to me!”
by Skye Jethani
In Part 1 I shared my reasons for embarking on a one month Twitter experiment, as well as the parameters I set up for myself to help my stay on my goal of “tweeting for the sake of others.” In response to my first post, as well as critique of my original piece “Why I Don’t Tweet…Not That There’s Anything Wrong With It,” I had a number of folks argue that Twitter is really no different than blogging. Therefore, why am I so critical of Twitter and not blogs?
Fair question. So let’s begin there.
In the primitive ages of social media (circa 2003), sites like Blogger were incredibly popular. But a blog is a medium that says “Listen to me!” and it assumes that the blogger has something to say (at least something more substantive than 140 characters). But what happens when you really don’t have that much to say? In truth many early bloggers were attracted to the medium not because they wanted an outlet for their ideas, but because they were looking for social connection or just raw attention. This is the brilliance behind “micro-blogging” (aka Facebook and Twitter). Twitter and Facebook are not designed to say “Listen to me!” but rather “Look at me!” And as I shared in “Why I Don’t Tweet,” I think the desire to be noticed is rooted in our deep human insecurity and search for significance.
Are blogs also about being noticed? Sure, to a degree. But the better blogs are hopefully attracting attention because of their thoughtful content and helpful ideas. Good blogs serve their readers and not simply their writers. That’s the difference between “Listen to me!” and “Look at me!” The question I wanted to answer with the 30-Day Twitter Experiment was could I tweet in a way that served others? Could it be more than a “Look at me!” medium?
My answer after a month of tweeting is, yes. Twitter can be used well, it can serve others, and it can be a helpful tool. Here are a few forms of tweeting I found beneficial: