Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bayly on "Marriage, Student Debt, and Motherhood"

Click on the Baylyblog link to the right and read todays post, "Woman's Glorious Vulnerability". It is an excellent discussion of the vocation of motherhood and the conflicts this presents to Christian young women who are drawn by the world into graduate study (at significant cost) into the workforce (at an even more significant cost) and away from their children. Be sure to read his previous post, "Marriage, Student Debt, and Motherhood" which is linked for you.

I intend to post on this issue of 'motherhood' and working outside the home in the near future. Join the discussion.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Bazan at the Beta Bar

Pedro the Lion is one of my favorite indie rock bands. David Bazan, Pedro's frontman and creator/originator, is arguably the best songwriter at work in the alternative scene. Bazan has retired Pedro and is touring as himself with his new album (not that Bazan 'pushes' anything) 'Fewer Moving Parts'. Bazan will be here in Tally at the Beta Bar on Oct. 18th. I will try and be there- but I find it hard to stay up that late these days.

There is a lot of debate out there in scenester land as to what Bazan's spiritual commitments are. He most certainly despises any 'Christian' musician label. Go check him out at davidbazan.com or read this article at Cornerstone Magazine: http://www.cornerstonemag.com/pages/show_page.asp?46

This is what Bazan has to say about the 'Christian' music scene:

"I would really like for Christian rock music to kind of disappear completely . . . Not necessarily because it was Christian, but because a lot of it is in poor taste and appeals to the lowest common denominator. I would have similar critiques of mainstream culture."

I really must echo his sentiments as I listened to 'christian' or, rather, 'positive and encouraging' radio this morning. Indeed, we should not expect to hear Bazan's incredible, and anything but 'positive and encouraging' song (in that emotive, neo-pagan, quasi-gnostic, yet broadly evangelical sense), "Of Minor Prophets and their Prostitute Wives", or his excellent song about a man who loses his legs on the railroad track, 'Transcontinental'. It is hard for me to miss his commitment to Christ that seems to be drawn out in his concept album, "Whole".

The artistic and literary expression that is allowed to flow out of contemporary evangelical pop culture has become generic, trite, narrow, biblically superficial, and, well, boring. I guess its great for 13 year olds in love whose parents are afraid they'll put on black fingernail polish sneer at the neighbors, use cusswords, and write bad poetry- but frankly, I can't stomach most of it.

Oops. This post hasn't been positive and encouraging.

Have a Jesus filled day!

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Modesty, anyone? Please?

Well, I am not on campus all that often, but I have a board meeting that takes me down there at least monthly. I can also be found eating b'fast with some droopy eyed college student at Jim and Milts- or grabbing some study time at s'bux on Tennessee. Well, here's the deal - my meeting was down there on Pensacola, a one way street, so I inevitably get lost and disoriented and wind up driving around endlessly in circles with a dazed look on my face.

Adding to my disorientation is the reality that most of the young ladies on campus are wearing hardly any clothes.

Ok, now, I know you are falling over in your chair, reeling from the shock that this man of the cloth (he he, get it?) is aware of the profound lack of attire that seems to be epidemic on campus (and all over our community these days). And you are further shocked that I would admit such an awareness in a public forum. Look, I am not a lecherous perv, flustered at the mere sight of ankle flesh. Nor am I some prudish puritan who wants our young ladies going from class to class in a moo moo or a tater sack. But people, this was ridiculous. One young woman was walking along self consciously pulling her skirt (or half a dish towel, whatever you want to call it) down to keep from mooning all those waiting for the light to turn.

But, you're right, these are modern days and modern women. "And, Erik," you reply, "what do you expect? These aren't Christian women." I respond: is this the product of our three decades of feminist indoctrination? Thousands of young woman reduced to walk the campus with their bodies on display for frat boy joe- and some unsuspecting minister? Or, perhaps this is a bizarre Camille Pagliaesque feminine empowerment fantasy come true- the enslavement of the fleshly, lustful hoardes by scantily clad goddesses? Hmmm. Doubtful. But, whatever helps us sleep at night.

Now, most of you folks reading this are believers in Christ Jesus. And the deal is, as in so many things, the church is really not all that different than the culture. In a church family with a ton of college kids, I must admit that I have regularly been pretty embarassed by the almost non-existent skirts, skin tight cleavage bearing tops, etc. and so forth. And the same goes for our daughters in high school. Sometimes I truly have to wonder where Dad is when little Sally walks out the door practically in stripper garb.

Here's the deal- we are created in God's image, for His glory. Our bodies are to be treated with modesty, with special care, as we would with any gift of such worth. It is the work of the world, the flesh, and the devil to crassly objectify these bodies intended for good and glory, turning them into pieces of flesh for our own selfish desires, lustful designs, or perverse drive for adulation and attention. You are bought at a price, so glorify God with your body. You were bought at a price, do not become the slaves of men. (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23) The apostle also says, "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." This means that the gift of sexual intimacy and the marital enjoyment of each other's body is threatened and weakened by "the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boastful pride of life" (1 John 2:16).

Sisters in Christ, when you parade your bodies for the sake of your own pride or the cravings of sinful men, you dishonor God who made you for Himself, not the vanity of the mirror, or the lustful gaze of men. You also cheapen the precious gift of your body to your husband alone for sexual joy in marriage.

Brothers, you bear a great burden in the destructive immodesty of the age with your lust for pornography and crass public objectification of women. So many of us are living without restraint and accountability in our relationships, and are badgering and objectifying our sisters in these relationships with unrealistic expectations of beauty and 'sexual' allure.

So, men turn your eyes away from that which is not yours. Turn your eyes toward your God, and his gift of marriage for the satisfaction of your sexual needs.

Women, adorn yourselves with "proper clothing, modestly and discreetly. . . by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness."

Can I get an 'Amen'?!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Style over Substance: Purpose Driven Church Splits

Somebody pointed me to an interesting front page article in the Wall Street Journal called 'Veneration Gap: A Popular Strategy for Church Growth Splits Congregants- Across U.S., members divide on making sermons, music more 'Purpose Driven' no more 'wrath of God'? {thanks, Burke!}

[find it at http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB115741786888753373-lMyQjAxMDE2NTA3NTQwMTU3Wj.html]

The article points to upheavals in various churches around the nation that have found strife in their ranks over whether they should be 'Purpose Driven' or not. It would not surprise me if, in most of these churches, the real issue is the age old struggle between old and new, young and old, traditionalism and contemporary approaches. In such cases, the struggle is inevitable if the church is an aging body, yet seeks to maintain vitality as they move from generation to generation. For the church to survive inevitable cultural pressures and shifts it must have a fundamental vitality that is drawn from the Word of God, breathed by the Spirit of God, and fostered by a submitted and unified spirit among all the members of that body- young and old.

Sadly, this vitality is missing from most churches. And so, the struggles we find (as reported in the WSJ article) in church after church are really just silly turf wars, battles over style (hymns or praise songs- as if the Apostle Peter sang 'And Can It Be' and Paul really dug 'Shout to the Lord; or John liked to crank up his stratocaster while James liked to drown out all sound with his 500 pipe organ), stuggles over strategies with no unifying gospel or doctrinal life.

Look, I really don't fundamentally disagree with a lot of what Warren has to say. I generally agree with his five purposes of the church (worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship). When I read his 'Purpose Driven Church' book I was a bit flabbergasted that this stuff was news to many pastors and evangelical christians. I feel the same way about the content of Warren's 'Purpose Driven Life' bestseller. I read it and wonder: are the Christians who are so spell bound with Warren's book at all acquainted with their Bibles? I am more dismayed that as believers we are so captivated by this strategy or that latest bestseller, rather than being in radical pursuit of the power of God's Spirit and surrendered to the total authority of God's Word. And yes, I agree that many who did not know Christ were given the book and introduced to Christianity. But, I sometimes wonder what we are winning them to- is it to the life transforming power of the Spirit that prevails in the body of Christ or is it to style driven hip churches led by guys with cool hair and bands that are color coordinated? But, we really can't naively ignore that the demographic captured by the master marketeer Warren was not the non-believing American Joe. It was the average middle class, and bored, American Christian. These current struggles over tradition and style, while provoked by the Warren 'strategies' for church growth, are really more about the prevailing lameness of evangelical churches overall.