Saturday, December 5, 2009

What keeps you faithful?

In the face of an opposing view, what keeps you faithful? There are many arguments for and against. Some are pointless. Some are persuasive. Toss out those that make purely emotional appeals and you're left with personal reasons for taking one side or the other.

So what keeps you faithful?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Comment moderation on...

You know what happens when you take an extended vacation from your blog? It becomes inundated with spam comments. So now we have comment moderation turned on to stem that ever-widening tide. Worry not! I will not censor comments beyond the elimination of junk and spam. Human beings making posts relevant to the discussions here that don't include links to irrelevant content will be let through without modification or delay.

Now I need to get posting again, eh? :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

In an effort to edumicate yerself...

They say it's a good idea to learn about other cultures. If for no other reason, you can then understand where other people are coming from. In the spirit of that effort, I present you an easily-digestible version of the Ramayana:

For those of you who prefer their religious information is musical & animated form, here's a wonderful modern interpretation of the same text (free to download):

Enjoy and respond,

- T.C.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Atheists, Fundamentalists, and Tolerance. Oh My!

This video contains dramatic readings of message-board posts about atheism from christian fundamentalist message boards. Before you watch it, I want to say a few things...

Firstly, this video is Not even remotely Safe For Work!!! (NSFW)

Secondly, I have to ask: Is this how atheists view all christians?

Thirdly, I have to ask: Is this how all fundamentalists think?

Fourthly, how often do people use the term "fourthly"?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

LOLcats for Christ

Who hasn't felt this way from time to time...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Whack a god

Okay. Stick with me here... In Japan, someone has set up a modest temple for the god of poverty. Why? So people can come by and.. well... see for yourself:

Japanese beat poverty Video - Yahoo! News UK

This would get so completely out of hand in the US. This is something that could probably only really work in Japan, but I have to wonder if everyone wouldn't benefit from a quick trip to this temple.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How techno-savvy is YOUR church?

We're not quite ready to embrace technology to this extent... yet.

'Twittering' encouraged at Seattle church

I'm not sure how reverent you can be while Twittering, but I'm sure someone will measure it someday.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Couldn't have said it better...

It seems to me that this sums up so much about the source of modern frustration in America:

Principles of the American Cargo Cult

What do you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

So wrong... but funny

Is it just a coincidence that the Pope has his tiara in a knot about false apparitions about the same time I run across this video?

I think not.

Monday, January 12, 2009

But, hanging on to anger is so much easier.

So think of one person who really yanked your chain since the beginning of 2009. You know, the person you shouted a few nasty things to in your car or grumbled at as you walked around your office/school/church or thought less-than-wonderful things about when you thought about them/talked to them on the phone. Yeah, that person.

Forgive that person.

He/she needs it and so do you. Yeah, I know he said that insensitive thing or she made that uncourteous move, or they disrespected you in front of your friends/co-workers. Let it go. Yeah, it's somewhat soothing to hold on to that upset, righteous feeling, but it just makes you look like a punk and doesn't really help anyone. What about that time you unintentionally (or intentionally) said the insensitive thing or made the uncourteous move or disrespected someone... even if they kinda deserved it? You would want to be cut some slack, right. Time to take the first step by being bigger than all the egos involved and forgive.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm writing this to myself. If it helps you, BONUS! Let me know.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Retro Christmas Music (Important Update)

The guy responsible for the amazingly free 8-Bit Jesus EP has expanded the release and kept the price the same (free). I mention this for two reasons:

1) It's awesome to get it free, but a $15 donation gets you a fully produced CD.

2) His puppy Ein had some medical problems that are making it tough to pay bills and he could really use the donations.

What better way to help someone who really needs the help? You also get some fun music and a CD for your donation! Everyone wins and the world is a better place. What more could anyone ask for these days?

8-Bit Jesus: Full Album

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old Testament Christmas

If this doesn't help us all figure out what Christmas is all about, I don't know what will:

An Old Testament Christmas

Why do we Christians seem fixated on the most gruesome stories of the Bible and worry constantly about salvation we're all promised?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Retro Christmas Music (Free)

Yes, this is free. Yes it's legal. Yes, it's cool. What are you waiting for?

8-Bit Jesus

Oh, and Merry Retro Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's New?

I've been so distracted with politics and living that I haven't posted here recently. So it's time to move forward, but maybe it would be good to bring up a few things that have happened since my last post:

1) The Catholic Church has decided to pronounce their public fear of technology again. Yeah. It's all the fault of technology. :/

2) During the recent election, three states decided to restrict freedoms for a portion of the populace for some unjustifiable and completely UN-Christlike reason. Interesting how so many of those promoting these new laws claim to be Christians and still have trouble embracing the call to treat others as they would like to be treated.

3) The economy of the United States and others worldwide have been experiencing what some refer to as a prolonged mental recession. It would be nice if we would take some of the energy spent worrying about the future and get busy feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. I suppose I'm just whining, though.

4) All in all, things are about the same as they were before. The volume is turned up on some issues and down on others. People are suffering and people are getting relief. So far, however, it seems that the Large Hadron Collider hasn't destroyed the world yet.

There has been much more going on, but I'll stop now and ask what you think about these issues.

Oh, and thanks for popping in to see if I've died. ;)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Been a while...

I've not died. I'm just preoccupied with technology, work, and politics... things that I probably shouldn't be cluttering a religiously-focused blog with. So here's a funny "thanks for sticking around" post:

Conventional Logic Vs. Religious Logic
(found on The Best Article Every Day)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Faith-Based Initiatives

What exactly are "Faith-Based Initiatives"? I'm told that the US government office using that title has historically been a politically-focused office. I'm not sure it's the best representative of this concept. Lots of talk has been generated recently about Obama's resurrection of the idea, so I thought it might be a good thing to discuss.

Who should qualify for funds allocated by such a department? What should it strive to achieve? Is this a good idea? What about the separation of church and state?

Most importantly, what exactly is "Faith"?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

JWSTSOOY #007: Faith Healing Instead of Medicine

Prayer is wonderful. Faith is a good thing. I have it, but I don't impose it on others. It's a very personal thing. I wouldn't want someone to judge me on mine and I try my best not to judge others, but it's hard not to find fault on this kind of awful abuse of someone's own children:

Teen from faith healing family dies at Ore. home

This couple were members of the Followers of Christ group in Oregon, and this horrible, easily preventable outcome is consistent with previous deaths associated with members of this group.

Jesus was modern in his own time. So was every prophet who ticked off the authorities or said anything radical for his time. What's wrong with accepting the idea that modern medicine could be a gift from God too? The talents of scientists and doctors I see as such a gift. You shouldn't trust anything (including science or medicine) blindly. I would ask anyone who relies on prayer instead of medical care to read that last sentence again and then post a thoughtful response.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Marriage

Why do people get their proverbial panties in a wad when a homosexual couple gets married? I simply don't understand. Can someone please explain this to me?

If you have no idea why I mention this now, check this out.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Earth + Plastic + Plastic Eaters = :)

For everyone fretting over the future of the planet as we coat it in plastic, it seems Daniel Burd in Waterloo may have found at least the beginnings of a solution to our mess.

Let's hope this pans out!

You have to admire...

You may not be a fan of hip hop or scratch music, but given that this Japanese girl is only 9 and her brother (or friend?) is only 6, you have to admire the God-given talent apparent here:

If you believe (as I do) that Art can be the purest expression of faith, it's all relevant. Want more? Check out the SaraScratch YouTube Page.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sometimes Faith is Boring

Have you ever found yourself at the point where you're bored with faith? Not that you don't believe anything anymore (although I suppose that could be at play here too), but more along the lines of not feeling the spark of faith... like the honeymoon is over. I guess I shouldn't expect that I will always be a frenetic happy point in my experience of faith.

Usually when I find myself here it's because there's some "hard work" to be done. You know what I mean: The messy, scary stuff!

What do you do to put the romance back into your faith?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Break Time: Home Video

All music videos should be made at home if they come out this cool!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Living In Tolerance

What is intolerance? In the definition I find most useful for this discussion, says it is the incapacity or indisposition to bear or endure. That definition begs the question: Why are we intolerant? This is a much harder question to answer, but I think it typically boils down to four reasons that I will phrase from my own perspective:
  • I have experienced something irritating or offensive that I refuse to revisit.
  • I have a prejudice against something I refuse to tolerate.
  • Something I have never experienced before seems similar to something I can not tolerate.
  • Something frightens me and my reaction is to reject it.
Given the above, it seems that intolerance isn't always a bad thing. There are reasonable circumstances that would trigger the conditions above. Some of those you and I might not agree upon, but that doesn't make them any less valid. In other words, my reasonable intolerances may seem unreasonable to you. Hopefully they don't trigger your level of reasonable intolerance.


This can easily cause conflict even when everyone is reacting in a way that is reasonable for them. So where is the gold here? I think it's in giving people room to be who they are... to meet people where they are even when they seem irrational or unreasonable. I'm still working on this.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not sure what to say

So let's say you've done something wrong. (Of course, you and I are perfect, so this is strictly academic.) And let's say you've just recognized what you've done and are living in that moment between realization and resolution. You're not sure what to say or do to make things better... if that's even possible.

Does the Bible talk of this state of being? It's one we rarely talk about except quietly to ourselves. Many people I know (including me) are exceptionally talented at playing such scenes over and over in our heads, but to what advantage? If I'm able to come to a healthier conclusion about how to categorize my actions or react to them, it would seem this is a wonderful exercise, but so often that's not the case.

What do you do when you find yourself in this place? I suppose it depends on the circumstances, but maybe a little public discussion about this is in order. When this happens to me (all too often, it seems) lately I've been trying to find a balance - that delicate balance - trying not to feel awful and unforgivable without letting myself off "the hook" too easily. It's tough, but I have to wonder aloud if it's not a fairly universal experience. It seems easier for me to forgive others than to forgive myself. Even though sometimes I'm as hard on other people as I am myself, I'm able to let go of my judgement of others more easily.

Maybe it comes down to this: How easily should we forgive ourselves?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's Learn Together: Grand Mosque Seizure

I work with a wonderful Pakistani man and we both enjoy having regular spirited discussions about religion, politics, and world events. Being very ignorant about Islam, I take every opportunity to encourage him to elaborate on the subject when it comes up in conversation. Today, he began educating me on the Grand Mosque Seizure of 1979. It was quite the turning point in the history of Islam and I'm going to learn as much as I can.

Do you know anything about this event? Can you recommend any good books or anecdotes on the subject? I'll share what I learn along the way so we can all learn together.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Defending God (Please, Just Shut Up)

I had one discussion with my parents when I was a teen about the existence of God. It went something like this:
Me: I'm not sure... I mean... I don't know if... Sometimes I think God doesn't exist.

Father: YOU'RE WRONG! YOU'RE JUST WRONG! (repeat as needed)

Mother: (silence)
Let's just say it wasn't very helpful in my struggle with belief or the existence of God. Now comes Rep Monique Davis of Illinois. It seems that she and my Dad may have graduated from the same school of theological debate.

JWSTSOOY #006: Yearning for Zion Ranch (Polygamists)

WTF is up with Texas and weird, explosive/abusive religious cults? I mean, I live here and it's really puzzling me. I don't know. Here's the latest as of yesterday:

Authorities make another arrest in search of Texas polygamist compound

Friday, April 4, 2008

Race and Religion in America

So why is it that the last bastion of open separation between races and ethnicities is within our churches, synagogues, and temples? Is it because we feel compelled to separate by ethnicity for worship? Is the nature of worship itself inherently racist? Do we feel so battered by (un)spoken ethnic division in public that we need the shelter of segregated worship in order to recover? Or is it something else?

I think there must be something deep within us, either installed during our childhood or inherited, that makes us suspicious of things that are different. If you're not familiar with someone else's religion, skin color, or culture, it's easier to be wary of it. Prejudice (i.e. natural prejudgement to stimulus) is not necessarily a bad thing - it can be a helpful survival technique. How we react to it and what lessons we take away from that immediate judgement of the unfamiliar can be very problematic. When we use merely symbolic differences between people as justifications for paranoia (see my last post), that is a serious problem.

To think that the US is free of negative stereotypes and prejudices is ignorance. So what do we do about it? I've been trying to actively examine my reactions and prejudices and come to new conclusions. Only God knows if I'm making things better or just different. I know that staying complacent isn't a healthy option, so I'll keep going and let you know how it goes.

What are you doing and what do you think?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Michelle Obama's Thesis

There is a new viral e-mail floating around. It's not a virus hoax trying to convince you your keyboard will soon explode... although it's formatted almost that badly. This letter, which was just forwarded to me by a family member, is full of misquotes, pejorative speculation about Mrs Obama, and unverifiable accusations about her opinions and those of people around her. In other words, it's crap. After a quick search, I've just started to read her 1985 college thesis and I'll admit it's complex and as difficult to read at times as many other college thesis papers I've seen. It is not, however, what this awful, misleading e-mail makes it out to be. Unfortunately, the e-mail has the potential to rouse the irrational, race-paranoid side of American consciousness and that concerns me.

In it, she deals head-on with some of the heavy, heady issues associated with race and how Black people who integrate into larger (White) culture might run the risk of losing touch with Black culture. Lets face it, this is very dangerous territory. Taking lines of it out of context and slapping inflammatory accusations around them to rouse people's race fears is ludicrous and horrifyingly effective in getting many White people scared of her intentions. It would be sad if our knee-jerk reaction to this 22-year old paper causes a permanent shift in the nature of our political debate. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be a surprise if it did.

If you're curious about the document, feel free to read it (linked above) or check out the review of Michelle Obama's Thesis. I'm sure it will be coming to a radio, TV, or inbox of your's very soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today Should Be A Special Day!

Christians believe Christ died for our sins. He took our place - dying for us so we wouldn't have to die. Through this selfless act, He showed that death isn't the end. Didn't Judas' betrayal merely act as a catalyst bringing about the inevitable? So many people bemoan what Judas did, but wasn't it necessary? Wasn't he an important part of that critical reason Christ came to Earth?

March 31st should be "Give Judas a Freakin' Break" day.

Fellowship or Hollow-ship?

So what is the nature of fellowship in the modern church? It seems like a nice enough idea, but I've talked to some people who bristle at the idea. I think it must be that there is so much plastic emotion permeating our fellowship halls that spending time with those people outside of church services is not appealing to many.

I'm fortunate to have found a faith group that is so relaxed and easy to hang out with that I don't mind spending time with them throughout the week. But I've been a member of a few churches where the members were a bit overenthusiastic if you know what I mean. If the happiness is forced, I'm out the door.

Have you had an experience with false emotions at your church?