Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reno, the West, the PCA

I've lived a few places now, and it's shown me that Reno really is the modern day "Wild West," which is to be distinguished from the Left Coast of California. So by that, I mean that Reno really has a spirit of the frontier. And I love the open range feel of the place. People are largely allowed to make their own way and are given room to do it.

However, I've also seen that Reno lacks connections to some of the most beneficial cultural institutions, namely the university and the church. Although, Reno has a university, for some reason Reno is not a "college town." (Historical note: the Church invented the University). And it you've ever been to a college town, well, they've got not only charming coffee shops, but also music, drama, literature, stimulating dialogue, and lots of thinking people. I have no idea why the University of Nevada doesn't really have this effect on Reno.

But what I'm more interested in is the lack of a connection to the best Christian traditions (teachings, worship, and practice that are deep and vital), and the denomination that I think is currently best connected to these traditions this is the Presbyetrian Church in America (PCA). So, that's why I'm hoping to get a PCA congregation started in Reno one day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Content: religion vs. everything else

I try to stick to matters pertaining to the Christian faith on this blog basically because I want to focus on "what matters," and not clog the blogosphere with my personal frivolity. But I've also been wondering if that creates a false picture of my faith, as if all I do all the time is sit around frothing at the mouth over the glory of God. I don't; in fact, I spend most of my time obsessing about other topics.

So, I put it to you, readers, for whom I blog, what do you want? All religion, all the time? Or more of the real Zealous Convert, who unfortunately is not actually as zealous as he'd like to be? I'm never going to be the kind of blogger who puts up a bunch of YouTube clips, but I could make my content more representative of my actual life.

I put it to your vote: 'yay' if you'd like a broader range of topics; 'nay' if you'd rather I stick to talking that Old Time Religion.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Do not judge

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matt. 7:1-2)

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (Romans 2:1)

"Do not judge others and you will not be judged. Do not punish others, and you will not be punished. Let others go free and God will let you go free. Give to people and they will give to you. They will fill your cup, press it down, shake it, and let it run over. That is what they will give to you. How much you give to others is how much God will give to you.'" (Luke 6:37-38)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

God's grief

God was grieved that He had made man because of man’s pervasive wickedness. (Gen. 6:5-11). A couple of questions arise: did God make a mistake when He made man? That He is grieved by his own creation seems to suggest a flaw in the Creator: unless God intended to be grieved. And this should be intuitively understandable to all of us who like stories that make us sad. And many of us particularly like sad stories that turn out happy. Similarly, we like to see our sports teams in danger of losing, only to win. God also likes this kind of contrast, as Paul writes that God made some people for wrath so that he could off-set them against those people He showed mercy (Rom. 9:20-23).

This is a hard teaching, but not one beyond our intuitive understanding.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A call to politics?

James writes "Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you . . . Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you . . . You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence . . . You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you." (Jas 5:1-6).

Now, I haven't witheld anyone's wages and I certainly haven't murdered anyone . . . at least not with my own two hands. But I'm afraid I may be implicated in these things through my citizenship in the USA.

This isn't meant to be an anti-America jeremiad. But, the only way that I can see that I may have murdered or oppressed is through the efforts of my government, for which I have some responsibility since I can vote and participate in the political process, and since I reap the rewards of being a citizen.

For the last couple of years, I've said, somewhat cynically, 'politics doesn't have any of the answers.' But it may be that I'm responsible for attending to the polis because of the effects it has on others.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A experiment in revision

I've thought it would be interesting to post an early draft of a poem, and then revise it based on comments. So here's a first draft (now second or third) of a poem. Let me know how to improve it, and you may see your ideas incorporated into a updated post:

Late Night Agnostic (version 2)

Are you awake,
aching to fill your heart
with the perfect tv show?

Are you so hungry
you eat all the cookies
to see if God is in the chocolate chips?

Do you strike out
under frosty stars
and wonder at how beautiful they are
and how distant?

Do you return
from the cold search
to the warm silence
of your empty apartment?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"God is not angry at you."

To hear an amazing sermon on this wonderful topic, click the link for "Mike Hsu, Grace Chapel" to the right under "sermons" and listen to the September 16, 2007 sermon, 'The Lost Son.'

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Hellfire and Damnation Church: fact or fiction?

There’s a prevalent sense among Christians right now that one of the Church’s big problems is its judgmental tendencies, the preaching of ‘hellfire and damnation’ instead of ‘grace,’ so to speak.

But I think this is a boogeyman and a straw man. I haven’t seen this or experienced this. Of course there are outliers, people on the fringe like Fred Phelps (http://www.godhatesfags.com/) or the guy who drives around town with a bull horn yelling ‘Repent!’

But is this really representative of most Evangelical or Christian churches? I don’t think so; in fact, I believe we’re in a great phase of bending over backwards to not be this way (and, frankly, I’m somewhat suspicious of our motives).

But, maybe I’m wrong, and I’m inviting you to prove to me that the Church is currently so judgmental and hung up on others sins. Send me URLS and links to sources that prove that mainstream Evangelical or Christian groups are like this.

(cf. http://www.uglyevangelical.blogspot.com/)