Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jesus vs. The Beatles

In 1966, on the release of The Beatles' White Album, John Lennon remarked that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus."

Christians were miffed. Still are, sadly. I guess forgiveness is just an f-word, hey?

How dare a guru of hedonism, celebrity and moral relativisms compare a musical band to Jesus, right? I mean, is there any room for that kind of acrimony, and pomp? What gas was pressuring Lennon's head to such overexpansion?

On the other hand, what was so threatening about Lennon's remark? Would Jesus just 'poof' and disappear if Lennon was right? Were there no considerations for population density in the time of Jesus versus the world in 1966? That is, if The Beatles were utilizing much better technology to broadcast their catchy little songs to a much more populous world than the verbal ambulations of a single prophet, doesn't it stand to reason that The Beatles were quite probably more popular than Jesus? If world tours are pitted against littoral orations in Israel 2000+ years ago, wouldn't the likelihood of The Beatles winning a popularity contest start to unfold in their favour?

I would think so.

Nevertheless, 42 years have capered by, and now we're seeing experts deciding on the legitimacy and 'rightness' of Lennon's statement. Bit late isn't it? No matter, though.

Thankfully, the world's most popular Messiah is not only experiencing the passage of those 42 years, but is also outside them. Dialectically, He's already won the popularity contest before it started! But let's just let Jesus have His Christian-imposed handicap in an effort to pat ourselves on the back for a war well-waged against some upstart English rock-band, shall we? May as well enjoy making a collective ass out of ourselves while Lennon sets the record straight by what he meant:

"It's just an expression meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ," he explained.

And who can blame him for having this perception? Was youth attendance up in the churches in the 1960's such that youth groups could hope to match the fevered pitch, and bra-flinging hysteria of a Beatles concert? Were teenagers desperately and frantically traveling the world singing Psalms and hymns, and gathering in mega-church after mega-church to take in sermons from knarl-knuckled pastors? Or were they throwing themselves blindly at the next scalper, the next Greyhound, the next cheap plane ticket to the next city on the Beatles' map?

I think the answers are pretty plain. I think that 'experts' have been debating the proverbial angels on the heads of proverbial pins. It's a reality, folks: The Beatles had garnered more popularity than Jesus in 1966.

But so what? Who cares? Enjoy their music. Love Christ. Both are good to do. But only one will sing over you. The Beatles can't top that. They never tried to, either.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Talking Turkey

American Thanksgiving passed recently. Here's a reflection on the event from a cool cat at JesusManifesto.

To add to their reflection, lets invite the words of an incredible Canadian singer and songwriter, Bruce Cockburn.

"From Tierra del Fuego to Ungava Bay
the history of betrayal continues to today
the spirit of Almighty Voice,
the ghost of Anna Mae
call like thunder from the mountains -- you can hear them say

it's a stolen land

Apartheid in Arizona,
slaughter in Brazil
if bullets don't get good PR there's other ways to kill
kidnap all the children,
put 'em in a foreign system
bring them up in no-man's land where no one really wants them

it's a stolen land
Stolen land -- but it's all we've got
stolen land -- and there's no going back
stolen land -- and we'll never forget
stolen land -- and we're not through yet

In my mind I catch a picture --
big black raven in the sky
looking at the ocean --
sail reflected in black eye --
sail as white as heroin,
white like weathered bones --
rum and guns and smallpox gonna change the face of home

in this stolen land...

If you're like me you'd like to think we've learned from our mistakes
enough to know we can't play god with others' lives at stake
so now we've all discovered the world wasn't only made for whites
what step are you gonna take to try and set things right

in this stolen land
Stolen land -- but it's all we've got
stolen land -- and there's no going back
stolen land -- and we'll never forget
stolen land -- and we're not through yet"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Playtime for a Theist

Time to play.

This time we're going to play with atheism. 'Cause atheism is fun to play with.

Atheist,Voula Papas, has written a little ditty on atheism. Papas' basic thrust is that atheism is an agent of freedom that sets a person free and restores intellectual integrity. How quaint. But instead of needling, and harpooning Papas' logic, I'm going to take a different approach and re-write the article from the other edge of the sword; from the Christian theist edge, that is. Call it an extended reductio ad absurdum, or a whimsical scrap of satire. In any case, it should serve to illustrate some semantic futility. Which is always fun in the end.

Papas is red. I'm not.

"It has been said that atheists criticise religion while having nothing to offer as an alternative. The former is true, atheists DO criticise religion, and they speak out on the faults and falseness of religion. In other words we shout: THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES ON!!!"

It has been said that religion criticises atheism because it offers the noun nothing as an alternative. The former is true: religion does criticise atheism and speaks out on the absurdity and groundlessness of atheism. In other words, religion shouts, "The Emperor became a MAN!"

"The point is not whether atheists criticise religion but whether religion can stand up to criticism. So far no religion could stand up to criticism, that is why religion has had to resort to blasphemy laws and the might of the state to silence and crush opposition. In some Muslim countries, anyone who criticizes religion can be charged with blasphemy and sentenced to death."

The point is not whether religion criticises atheism but whether atheism can stand at all. So far atheism has failed to even grow legs. That is why atheism has had to resort to advertising itself on busses in an attempt to inculcate the masses, by way of a religious-style frenzy, that a logic-based approach to ultimate nothings is a healthier, more politically precise way of being a decent and well-manicured citizen. In some atheist countries (e.g., North Korea, or China) even hinting at a confidence in some form of the divine will sentence you, your household, and anyone else connected with you in any suspected religious fashion to prison or death.

"What does atheism offer? One may rightly ask!"

So, what does religion offer? Good question.

"Atheism offers intellectual integrity and freedom from religion. Atheists reject religious absolutes, primitive "revelations", superstition, blind obedience and self-effacing prostrations to a tyrannical deity whose existence cannot be proven."

Religion offers wholistic solidity. That is, a 3-dimensional grasp of personhood, not just the apotheosis of the intellect. Religion also offers freedom despite atheism, but also inclusive of the sensitivities of atheists. Christian theists generally reject philosophical relativities, shoddy scientific research, materialism, and facile and diffident concessions to a system of denial that cannot establish a logical link between its denial of deity and the actual lack of a deity.

"Atheists value reason, logic, knowledge, freedom, equality and social progress. Many atheists are highly ethical people who live by the golden rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you. A lot of them are involved with human rights organisations, environmental issues, animal rights and other social issues with the goal of making the world a better place."

Christian theists value reason, logic, knowledge, freedom, equality and social progress. Many theists are ethical people enjoined to the biblical injunction to "do as you would be done by." Historically, Christians were the creators of, and contributors to some of the worlds greatest, most successful human rights organisations, and social developments. And their goal? The dignity of the people, and the honour of God for the purpose of a more meaningful world.

"Ethics need not be entwined with religion and meaningful lives do not require fictitious deities. I hope that during the course of my life I would be able to make even a small contribution into a better future for all."

Religion and ethics are necessarily entwined as both serve to deepen and enrich peoples' lives as they enjoy life with God. Like some well-intentioned atheists, those of us who are religious hope to make even a small contribution to the betterment of peoples' lives around us, and ensure that the future is not without hope or substance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Peering Into the Obvious

Perhaps it's a bit of an intellectual smugness that pushes me to laugh when I see church factions concerned about divisions within the body. It's a bit of a global contradiction to lament divisions while holding on to titles like Reformed, or Catholic, etc. Still, that's just what's happening.

"The head of the world’s largest group of Reformed churches says that the body of Christ is rendering its own peace message ineffective because of internal divisions and strife at a time when persistent threats to global peace and security make the quest for Christian unity more urgent than ever."

I think those "internal divisions and strife" have been documented from time immemorial, actually. And any time those divisions exist they are an inconvenience to the Church's message, not just now when so many things are going belly up in the world. And since when did the Church hinge its desire for unity on the global events surrounding it? Perhaps such a misapprehension of the Christocentric ontology of the Church is one of the many things causing the divisions experienced in the world today.

Said Setri Nyomi, the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (*sigh...*) :

“Does the church have a moral voice or credibility when our divisions are so visible?”

Why, yes, actually. Is there even a need to ask that question? Questions like that simply smack of a false humility that doesn't actually connect with the issue it's trying to address. It's feely rhetoric tickling the ears of the undiscerning. And frankly, I find it insulting.

M. Nyomi, have you missed the basic point in your ascendency to the General Secretary's seat that the Church's moral voice is not posited on the perfection of our efforts to appear in any certain way to the world? The Church's moral voice and credibility is not based in our paltry and petty shortcomings. It is, in fact, a voice given from the holy, triune God who lived and died for His people in the person of Christ. That's where the moral voice and credibility of the Church comes from; not our efforts at maintaining a clean slate before the world. As if the world were in a rightful, authoritative, or even purer place to criticize, anyway!

Carrying on with his impassioned (?) plea, Nyomi foibles and fumbles into more of the same soft imperceptions:

“'How can churches and church bodies foster world peace, peace among nations and peace within nations, when there is no peace among themselves, or when injustices that are so much at the heart of conflicts in the world are also found among us?' Nyomi said that the church’s ability to speak credibly and prophetically on issues of peace and justice was at stake if it failed to reconcile its differences."

Well, Nyomi, as much as you might be adverse to thinking so, life is messy. There's a whole lot of 'stuff' the Church, despite its inter-belligerent faults, can do, and is currently doing. Let's not discount effort based on failure. That's just another failure, sir, and you're spearheading that shortsightedness right now.

But more, Nyomi, one of the credible and prophetic realities of the Church is that its failings do not equal an inability to address essential realities such as peace and justice. Or to put it more anecdotally, sir, when I lose my balance, I'm not then unable to address realities such as, say, gravity. Get the point? Good.

“'If we are not united, we are breaking with the Lord of the church, and we are making it difficult for the world to believe,' he said, reminding delegates of Christ’s prayer that his followers would become one."

Yes, you're right: we can't achieve the eschatological ends of the Church previous to God's timing. And I think the disbelief of the rest of the world is based simply on that -- disbelief -- moreso than a messy Church with messy people doing stupid things now-and-then.

Anyway, I can't say I'd like to continue deconstructing Ms. Gold's articles, and Nyomi's overarching and ill-considered comments. So I won't. It's not all bad. It's mostly just political naivety mixed with sophmoric theology rooted in worldly hopes. Poor form.

Friday, November 14, 2008


First, read this (scroll down to "A Rescuing Hug").

Then, read this.

Draw the only possible conclusion, and then fall to your knees in gratitude to God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The U.S. Has A New President

And in other news, some people are just plain stupid.