She Loves You Ya, Ya, Ya

Paul McCartney Paul McCartney flashed his hip bona fides last week when he took a cheap shot at the intelligence of former president Bush, igniting peels of laughter throughout the White House and those in attendance. An immediate demand for an apology was made but the silence of the has-been bassist is loud and clear. What do you suppose Sir Paul would say if Screeching Weasel were playing a show at Buckingham Palace and Ben referred to the Queen as a ‘tossing Limey’? Probably nothing, right?

Aside from his arrogant boorishness, do we really care what wisdom Sir Paul has to offer?

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad…

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Who Gets a Pass?

Not too long ago, the Seattle Pastor and his cohort successfully lobbied to have a book withdrawn from the marketplace because the authors had committed the crime of utilizing the Ninja paradigm to title the book and organize their leadership ideas. This application was deemed offensive because it made use of racial stereotypes and the kerfuffle that arose became quite the cause-celebre’. Since then I’ve noticed that numerous far more blatant Asian stereotypes have made appearances without notice by this group. Now I’m puzzled by what earns a pass and what does not?

Miley Cyrus Slant Eyes

Never a group to miss instances of Caucasians making ‘asian eyes’, I’d like for someone of this lobby to explain why Challies’ mocking of the Thai server’s language pattern in this tweet gets a pass:

http://twitter.com/challies/statuses/13737260432

Anyone? (insert crickets chirping) Anyone?

The Parable of the Community Organizer

imageTheologian Susan Sarandon trotted out her tired proverb once again (hopefully for the last time) on inauguration day. In her latest attempt to equate President Obama with Jesus Christ, she said “He is a community organizer like Jesus was.” Continuing her vacuous line of reasoning, she verbally prostrated herself before him saying, “And now, we’re a community and he can organize us.” Civic and national pride is a good thing, but I’ve got to ask Miss Sarandon, where was this pride during the past eight years? Were you among the Diaspora of yearning souls who just couldn’t connect with one another? Ever hear of Facebook?

As I pored over the pages of my Bible I grow concerned that I am unable to find the stories of the Lord’s community organizing. The principle of community agitation is centered on creating a critical mass of humanity to address a problem that they are facing. Kind of like the Boy Scouts, seeing trash in their neighborhood and picking it up. Later, they build a trash bin so that the problem doesn’t reoccur. The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, did not come to organize humanity to address the problem that they had. There was no possible way for them to do so since propitiation required a perfect sacrifice. He was to become that sacrifice, something we would never be able to do on our own. His shepherding consisted of a single message, believe in this grace and put aside your personal god to worship the One who offers it.

I can’t begin to address the small, confined world in which celebrities exist and form their philosophy. Alfre Woodard voiced her tempered opinion of those outside of her bubble, “I think we might finally grow up as a nation.” Fact, Ms. Woodard, most of us grew up years ago.

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The Blue Parakeet Flies ~ Women in Ministry 5

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Loving the Bible means letting the blue parakeets that we encounter to fly free. It means learning, knowing, and loving all of the Bible rather than a few select passages. If we apply this notion to our final topic, we must bring the entire bible to bear on our process of discernment and the method that we use to decide our position on women serving in church leadership. For example, we improperly apply 1 Cor 14:34-35 and 1 Tim 2:8-15 without also adding Acts 2:16-18:

No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Prophecy points to women being gifted and called, the Bible tells of women serving the Lord in leadership and teaching, and the fact that we selectively read the commands of the Bible all must lead us to question the manner in which we develop our position on this or any other tradition and command that we practice in our modern age. In this matter, our discernment is going to rest on whether or not we see the crimson thread of Oneness at creation, Otherness after the Fall, and the restoration of Oneness in the Messianic era.

So, what about Paul. Why did he write these passages that have caused so much confusion and consternation within the Church? We can apply historical research to the period in which Paul writes these letters and come to the conclusion that these commands were special and temporal to be applied to a specific situation but not intended to be applied through all of history. Paul himself gives us an insight into his personal process of discernment in 1 Cor 9:19-23 in which he explains that he will go to every end for the sake of the gospel:

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Would Paul put women in the pulpit if it had been advantageous for the gospel? I believe he would. In this same fashion, we must consider what we do today in the context of the good of gospel. It’s all in how we understand the Bible and learn to address the Blue Parakeet’s as they appear.

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Last Train to Clueville – The Failure of the Newspaper

imageOnce again I return in the darkness of the early morning in tow behind the dogs and reach down to pick up the newspaper on the driveway. When I lift the blue plastic bag and feel the lack of heft, I immediately begin to scan the ground for the rest of the paper. Nothing around so I slide the plastic back to reveal…what a pitiful end the Rocky Mountain News has come to. A daily newspaper in a major American city is reduced to 32 pages, front to back. What are they going to do when the Broncos find a coach and they can’t devote ten pages each day to that story?

The saga of the News is being played out across the country as once important journals fade away in an environment of the Interwebs and 24/7 cable channels on the television. By the time I get to the newspaper, I’ve already been brought up to speed on the computer and may have listened to a little radio as well. What are they going to offer me any more?

The newspaper/journalism used to be different. I could turn page after page and find depth to a story. Now, I’m bombarded by opinion pieces that pretend to be news stories. When the Rocky Mountain News was put up for sale, the staff went into full salvation mode appearing on local talk radio. What astonished me (or didn’t, I suppose, which made it worse) was their utter state of denial of these men and women as to the decrepit state of journalism. They loudly proclaimed their lack of bias and the fairness of their reporting when just the opposite is on display in each morning’s dwindling pages. The ‘journalists’ patted one another on the back for their stories and series and denied every attempt to point out their lack of objectivity. Some went so far as to attempt to blame a lack of sophistication in the readers for the state of news reporting.

Isn’t the first step in AA admitting you have a problem?

I’ll be saddened the day the RMN shuts down because the alternative, the Denver Post, is much, much worse. Do Wuzzles come in book form?

A Bailout for Moral Bankruptcy?

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The depths of moral bankruptcy seem to know no bottom, do they? We are inundated with opinion pieces masquerading as news in which a victim is portrayed as the aggressor in the Israeli-Gazan conflict. The newsreaders display their lack of principles as they attempt to portray some measure of moral equivalence between the culture of death which rules in Gaza and the democratic, peace-seeking culture of Israel. Will we soon see sympathetic portraits of the Somali pirates?

Sarah Palin was savaged mercilessly during her ninety days in the public spotlight. Her rise through public service was belittled and searched for scandal. The Palin family was trashed and portrayed as ‘Deliverance’ extras, pregnant in their mukluks with questions about lineage paraded across the front page. All this because she proudly stands up for her conservative principles. While all this was happening, the media at large happily avoided any difficult questions of the principles or beliefs of the next president that they so gleefully carried into office. Obfuscations dismissed, questionable relationships ignored, morality murdered.

Perhaps the most disturbing trend that has been developing for some time but is now reaching its zenith is the ascendance of the ‘celebrity pastor.’ These men (and women) have become consumed with self-aggrandizement and promotion. It is especially apparent in the blogosphere where their posts are couched in introductions in which they are “humbled” to have preached at four distant churches on one Sunday as they remind us of how great they have become. Shouldn’t people who have been redeemed and gifted through no aspect of their own character seek out a true humility? True achievement is recognized by others, not ourselves.

Is there anything left in the till for a bailout here?

The Blue Parakeet ~ Women in Ministry 3

BPkeet In my previous post, we looked at what ministerial efforts women were involved in within the story of the Old Testament and today we turn our focus to the New Testament. Can you think of the names of any of the women involved in ministries in the gospels or epistles? How about Mary? Even the mention of Mary among protestants is likely to cause some measure of agitation but have we fully considered her ministry?

Mary was an enormously influential woman, called by God to be the mother of the Messiah. Not only does she bring Jesus into the world but she demonstrates in her Magnificat (Lk 1:46-56) a depth of spiritual maturity that certainly contributes to the development of her sons Jesus and James. Her parental role is largely hidden in the gospels but the men who developed under her tutelage reflect a deeply committed mother who placed God first in their lives.

Junia is another woman who stands out. We encounter her very briefly in Romans 16:7 where she is mentioned by Paul as one who is outstanding among the apostles. Though we are noting her gender it is more important to recognize her in the same way that the Apostle does. She is noted for the outstanding nature of her intelligence, giftedness, and her calling. Often, in our modern church, we are willing to allow the WKSPs to overwhelm what we can discern as a clear calling from God. Where does this doctrine come from?

In Acts we encounter a pair of of bible teachers named Priscilla and Aquila, husband and wife, as Paul meets them sojourning in Corinth after being driven from Rome (Acts 18:2). They are mentioned numerous times but  are noted as theology and scripture teachers of Apollos (18:26.) What is of note (aside from her calling to and mastery of the role of teacher) is her positional prominence in nearly every mention of the couple’s names. While it was not unheard of to mention a woman’s name first in the context of a couple, it was done in cases where there was a special recognition of the woman as is the case here.

Finally, let us not overlook Phoebe the Deacon we encounter in Romans 16:1. She is not belittled by the modern title deaconess as something less than practicing a fully recognized ministry within the church. She is active in ministry such that Paul recognizes the need to mention her in conjunction with her important contributions to the church. She is not mentioned as having been silent.

The New Testament (from which the WKSP passages derive) shows us women that were influential, that were the source for stories about Jesus, they were church planters, teachers, benefactors and interpreters of Paul’s letters. We have to ask then, why the WKSPs? How does the insistence on the silence of women fit into the theme of Oneness restored by Christ? We’ll broach this in the next post.