A Shocking Discovery

January 13th, 2012 Comments Off on A Shocking Discovery

I was doing a little research into pop culture (one of my favorite things about my job), and I discovered something.  Have you ever heard of Katy Hudson?  She was a little known Christian singer from a few years ago.  Katy grew up the child of Keith and Mary Hudson, ministers who I might not have exact theological agreement with, but who nonetheless continue in their faithful service of helping people know the good news of the gospel.

Katy released the song below on her first album.  I really like the tune, its got a jazz element and soft melodic vocals that remind me a bit of Norah Jones.

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This song is not exactly a good representation of the musical stylings of the album (also named Katy Hudson), because the album is rather diverse and a good demonstration of her range of musical abilities.

Now if you know me, you know that I am ahuge fan of Christian singers that choose to not record on a Christian record label and either go independent or even mainstream.  Some good examples of artists like this would be U2 and the Fray.  The fray is one of my new favorites because I think their lyrics describe a depth of hurting and questioning in the world, yet a truly redemptive longing that I believe embodies the message of the gospel.

I have to say though, I cannot say the same for Katy Hudson, or as she is now known, Katy Perry.

Katy Perry. to her credit still writes most of her own songs and her musical talent is undeniable.  With 4 (or is it 5?) number one hits from her last album, there is really no arguing that the girl can sing.  I find myself in the car listening to her music sometimes and I have to say I enjoy her hooks, I love her style and her voice is still as fresh as it was on “When there’s nothing left.”

Her lyrics though, and frankly her character, deeply saddens me.

Her latest number one hit “Last Friday Night” is below.  She said she wrote this song celebrating Friday night after waking up Saturday morning having experienced much of what she sings about.   A word of caution, it is the censored version, but still could be offensive to some.

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Katy said in an interview with Vanity Fair in May that she had a strict upbringing where she was not allowed to say “deviled eggs” or “dirt devil.”  She says she has evolved from this into the person she is today.  Let me just say that I am not necessarily an advocate of that sort of child raising (whether or not it is actually the case – you can never really believe everything you read).

But I am not writing to take jabs at Katy for her own life choices or her parents for “failing” as they have no doubt been made to feel by some.

I am writing because I know that a good percentage of the teenagers in my church like her music.  I am writing because I know a good percentage of the adults in my church like her music, and I am writing because lyrics aside, frankly, I like her music.

As a church, as people being reshaped into the image of God, we need to know how to interact with this.  We cannot simply scoff and cast Katy off as some sort of evil person.  Katy is made in the image of God and her voice and her talent come from her creator.  We also cannot just enjoy the music and not talk about what it means.  More importantly, we need to understand how this tragedy can happen.

What’s the tragedy?  The tragedy is that a girl raised hearing the gospel, even singing about the gospel, would go out and have a Friday night like the one described and wake up in the morning without shame, guilt or most importantly repentance.  How she could wake up and celebrate what happened?

Jesus gives grace and mercy for every imaginable unimaginable thing we might do.  But in order to get that grace, we need to come to him and recognize that it’s him we need.  Not to do it all again next week.  There is only emptiness in these lyrics.

The emptiness of the song is believing that there is hope and joy and goodness in having this kind of night.  To wake up in the morning and not remember who you are with or how they got there might sound fun to some, but it absolutely leads to emptiness, despair and hopelessness.  This kind of tragedy happens to us when we start to believe that “Last Friday Night” is about anything other than a hopeless and empty life.  True Peace, or Shalom, is the opposite of emptiness.  This is what Jesus came to bring, Shalom.

It’s my hope that we remember this more than anything else if we enjoy Katy’s talent given to her by God, we continue to hope for her to find shalom in the faith she once sang about.

 

I loved the LOST finale

May 28th, 2010 Comments Off on I loved the LOST finale

Beware – if you are way behind but still watching LOST you may not want to read what follows….

I know there have been some murmurs about the LOST series finale, but I loved it! Absolutely loved it.

Before I get started just let me make certain that I say I am not suggesting that the complete story is a perfect example of Biblical Christianity.  Even though I said that, some people will still think that is what I said.  It is a hodgepodge of different spiritual beliefs.  You hear that?

Ok now to what was so excellent about the story.

First, this was a wonderful artistic portrayal of redemption.

Jack’s time on the island (and indeed all of the passengers who survived the crash) was full of pain and misery.  Many of the people we grew to love even lost their lives in that dreadful place, one in particular never holding his own daughter in his arms.

The pain they endured was a part of resolving some heart issue that each of them overcame along the way.  Jin and Sun overcame pride arrogance and rage to find true love.

Claire overcame the thousand heartaches of a young single mom, Hurley found meaning at purpose near the very end, Charlie, who was once selfish fulfilled the ultimate act of selflessness, Kate the murderer watched first hand as life entered into the world and it completely shaped the rest of her days, Sawyer who was on the plane because he killed a man in a failed attempt to find resolution finally found it on the island. This list could go on and on all day.

Jack who struggled his whole life with purpose, meaning, and hope finally found it all.

And in the very end all the troubles, all the pain they each faced was obliterated by the joy they found when they discovered each other and a life where the good remained and the evil was stripped away.

At its core, this is the hope of redemption that Christians have.  We hope that at the finale of this mortal coil, the good will remain and the evil and pain will be erased.  “every tear will be wiped away.”  In the final scene, there were many tears, but only tears of joy.

I also loved the finale because it was well done (the whole series was) and true to its hope.  Did you know that the final scene was filmed right after the pilot?  The writers managed to weave all the parts of that story together to come back around.  Think – the opening scene in the pilot was Jack’s eye opening with Vincent at his side.  The finale was a truly fitting conclusion.  Magnificent piece of art with great story telling throughout.

And to all you naysayers who wanted all your answers handed to you, let me say this.  A good story will make you think.  Rarely in a true piece of art are you just a spectator.  You need to be a participant.

Time for you to participate.  Please feel free to post your thoughts here, but remember, the answers are somewhat subjective, and unknown to us since the writers did not clearly communicate every to us.

What do you think of the unanswered questions?  What is the island?  Why did the light need protecting?

What is your favorite unanswered question and your theories about its answer?

Thoughts on the Exclusivity of Christ in a Relativistic Culture

April 30th, 2010 § 4

This is a hard topic.  One I have been thinking about quite a lot lately.  I wrote a book which will be forthcoming when I am good and ready.  The book deals with death and dying, but it also deals with liberty, freedom and true humanity.  I allowed a friend to read the proof copy recently.

Obviously, there is no way to address these topics without addressing them as they relate to the King.  I believe that true freedom and liberty can only be reached when we live out the humanity we were made to live out as loyal subjects in a kingdom.

My friend is a wonderful artist.  Made in the image of God, she reflects his glory in so many amazing ways.  Her daughter, whom I have gotten to know, is 23 and honestly a special person.  Well rounded and educated, she is a shining testament that my friend cares about good things.  She has raised at least one child so that I can personally see how her influence on this earth has been good.  It is not as if it is up to me to approve of her and her life, but in many ways I do.  She is a terrific individual worthy of great respect.

The thing is, she talks like a universalist.  She believes there is a “Christ in all of us”  and that all of creation is filled with God.  Personally I don’t exactly disagree.  I think that all of His creation echos his name and his glory.  So it is easy to see where she would say God is in the trees and the hills.

At any rate, she had some thoughts on my book which were well received and I am contemplating.  She basically said I might want to make it more accessible to readers who are not openly Christian.  Her words were not “tone down the exclusivity of Christ stuff.”  But I think it is fair to say that is what she was getting at.

Herein lies the tension.

We live in a relativistic culture where people are happy to accept my point of view if I don’t question theirs.  And I have no desire whatsoever to question their point of view.  I think each and every human being has something special to share with the world and their opinions and perspectives should be valued and listened to.  So I don’t want to challenge them, I want to listen respectfully to what they have to say.

The problem is that I live as a subject to a king.  If my neighbors were openly plotting rebellion to the US government and shipping secrets to the Islamic Fundamentalists, shouldn’t I in the very least challenge their thinking and remind them that they are subjects of the US and could be tried for treason and executed?

Since Voltaire, the French Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and a thousand other small events in human history, western individualists have lost an understanding of what it means to have a king.  We believe in personal sovereignty.  Our ancestors understood Monarchy in a much different way than we do.  Once upon a time, you had a King who fully controlled your life.  You could only hope that he was a good king and not a tyrant, because you were completely at his mercy.

This Jesus I am talking about, he is a good king.  But he is still a king.  Rebels to his authority will not be tolerated forever.  He will subdue his enemies just like any king would.  But he is good to his people.

This is a hard thing to understand and to teach in a relativistic world where everyone’s opinion should be valued.  I do however, think it is the only hope we have.  I cannot long tolerate a world where each individual is their own sovereign ruler.  I need a king, because frankly I am an idiot and so are you.

I believe that we were made to live in perfect harmony and beauty with each other and with the world (like the Navi on Avatar), but our ancestors made some decisions that screwed us over and now we have wars, death, poverty, oil spills and illegal immigration issues.  Honestly, just think about it.  Doesn’t that idea of harmony and perfection resonate with something inside you?  Doesn’t it make sense that we were made to enjoy that?  That our purpose is somehow not being fulfilled?  I think this king who leads us has the answers to the deepest longings of all our hearts.  The only way to live out true humanity is to recognize the king and bend the knee to him.

It is clear to me that I am not good enough to be my own king.  I need one more powerful.  Does that mean I am weak?  Yes it does.   But I am no weaker than anyone else.  So far in these thousands of years of history, no one else has solved these problems.  I don’t suspect that I will either.   I simply have come to the point where I have been forced to recognize my own weakness and inability to create much of anything pure around me.  Thankfully I have a king who does that.

Each one of us is a subject of the King from Nazareth.  Loyal or disloyal, we have a king.  What you do with the King is up to you, but it won’t keep him from being King.

I see my responsibility as a servant of that king to recognize the beautiful and unique way he has made every person on the planet.  I should honor them since they reflect the image of God, but I must also make sure I let them know that they live in a Kingdom.  And whether they know it or not, there is a King.

So the question is, where do I draw the line on how “accessible” my book is to those who do not recognize the authority of the king?

G*dda*ned Lyrics

February 17th, 2010 Comments Off on G*dda*ned Lyrics

Shock you?  I really didn’t mean to.  I was listening to LastFM today and this song caught me in the middle of work.

Usually I barely hear it.  I heard this!

Here are the lyrics to a song by Jay Brannan called Go*dam**d (and I put the asterick’s there if you are wondering…

I’m marching to Zion
A camera in my hand
I hear people cryin’
Dyin’ for this blood-stained land
The streets of old Jerusalem
Are lined with souvenirs and those buying them
It sounds cold, but I cannot see
How this theme park has shaped history

Cause virgins don’t have babies
And water isn’t wine
And there’s a holy spirit maybe
But she would never rent a room with walls built by mankind
Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground

Stand in line patiently
To supercharge your rosary
Or stuff your prayers inside this wall
We once had god trapped in this great hall
But we’ve been cast out from this place
They say a prophet floated from here to outer space
Am I crazy? maybe it’s me
But this all sounds like mythology

Cause virgins don’t have babies
And water isn’t wine
And there’s a holy spirit maybe
But she would never rent a room with walls built by mankind
Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground

Zeus was afraid of his girlfriend
So he swallowed her in bed
Then he bore forth Athena
When they cracked open his head
Her brother tried to rape her
Athena got away
And when his seed hit the ground
The grass gave birth that day
Now we all freely admit
This story’s clearly bullshit
No one would lay down their life
Or start a war for it
So throw your stones and pray
You’ll be rewarded someday
I hope it all goes your way
But something tells me
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
Save yourselves
From turning earth into hell

No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you

Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground


WOW.  These are certainly powerful lyrics.  Let’s evaluate this.

First of all – wow, what a great singer!  I really don’t know for sure what captured me faster the words in the background or the vocals.  I think I like Jay’s talent – and that needs to be said right away.

Second, this is a song about one of the most powerful things humanity must deal with, not only war which is powerful all by itself, but religious war.

Despite Brannan’s encouragement to stop the madness, I am convinced that religious war is something fallen humanity will never overcome.  Partly because our respective religions define us and shape us at our core, and also because whatever defines us is precious to us – precious to the point of dying over.  Some people are willing to die for their country, more for their families, but even more are willing to die for their religion.  For many people, religion is the most important part of life.

This battle that rages on over what Jay Brannan calls a “blood stained … theme park” has raged for thousands of years in one form or another.  The motivation of this war is led far more by human passions than divine interests.  This war is motivated by fear that if the warriors give up, they are admitting the weakness of their god(s).

Let me put this clearly.  A god who needs humans to fight his battles is already weak.  But many do don’t they?  It seems that most people think they’re god needs them to defend them, to feed them, to serve them.  A real God is one who serves and cares for his people – not the other way around.

Brannan says that people need to save themselves from turning earth into hell.  After all these years of human history, I am compelled to argue that this is a moot point.  People have clearly turned earth into hell over and over again without any sign of stopping.

But the story of the Bible reveals a God who promises to turn earth into heaven.  The God revealed in the Bible is not one who depends on us to fight his battles, but a God and King who leads the battle himself.  And Jay, this King, the one in the Bible, he makes us truly human.  Without that King, we will never understand true humanity.

Jay is right about a couple of things.  This war is terrible, and people should lay down their arms.  But he is wrong that no one is coming to save us.  He already has.  His name was Jesus.  And he is coming back to finish what he started.

Is Our Economy the Great Reorganization?

January 27th, 2009 Comments Off on Is Our Economy the Great Reorganization?

I was listening to NPR today and they were talking about our current global economic situation.  One of the big questions was “what should we call it?”

The Great Depression has a name, does this deserve a name?  If it does deserve a name what should that name be?

One of the guests spoke up and said that no name would really mean anything for at least a couple of generations.  What we call it is not nearly as meaningful or as accurate as what our grandchildren call it.  The example of World War I was given.  The Wilson administration actually tried to give it the name “the war to end all wars.”  It was only a few years before that became a joke.

So what will our grandchildren call this period that we are living through right now? I was giving that some thought and the one thing that occurred to me was (perhaps as hopeful as Wilson’s name for WWI) The Great Reorganization.

Yes, we are clearly in an economic downturn.  As I write this, the news tells me that 70,000 American’s lost their jobs today.  That can’t be good.  It is certainly not good for those families, and its not good for our economy.   But all hard times are actually periods of growth.

A great religious leader once said that we should consider it to be a good thing when we face trials because this develops our perseverance and makes us better.  (yes that is a paraphrase, but you get the point).   Another saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”    What I am trying to say is that some of the most outstanding accomplishments of mankind come at times of adversity.

Not only are we faced with a bad economy, but we have developed a lifestyle that destroys natural resources and pollutes our air.  Scientists tell us that we cannot continue at this pace for much longer without encountering devastating consequences.

We have a trial, but we also have a tremendous opportunity.  I really think that our grandchildren (if our civilization makes it that far) will look back on this period, not as a “depression” but as a reorganization.  Faced with our challenges we have an incredible opportunity to reorganize our economic, political, and cultural civilization.  This is an incredibly exciting time to be alive!

The real question for us is, where will the Church be in this historical moment? Will we rise to the challenge and lead in reorganizing this civilization?  Or will we let others lead the way while we follow in hopes of finding solice and comfort?

It’s the Night before Christmas

December 24th, 2008 § 1

so its Christmas eve. the house has finally quieted down. the visitors have gone home, the kids are in bed. my wife is on the couch playing with her new camera. I am enjoying the first few minutes of peace and silence I have experienced in several days. All is well in the world.

but there is a lingering longing in my soul. What is it? I haven’t done any real work in several days. I have been serving as hospitality director for my dad and sister. Well, to be honest i am really only the driver – Lyra is the director. She does so much better at finding fun things in town to do.

we took Tammy and dad to the science center, we ate out one night. We thought we would try a new place downtown. we won’t be going there again. it was ok, but frankly for the prices i felt like it could have been quite a bit better. the lobster was inedible and the atmosphere, well let’s just say 80’s art deco went out a few years back.

we hung out and visited for a bit. they brought presents for the boys, the volume levels and testosterone went up to a fever pitch as it can around here sometimes. but to the point – i didn’t get any real work done. yes i worked in my head as i often do at off moments. I mentally composed a couple blog posts that need to be typed out, I considered how to best promote an important launch in my industry happening soon (more on that soon at thebloggersdesktop), but i never really got anything done.

is this a longing to work since i have been off for a few days?

I don’t think so.

tonight after all the presents were stacked in the corner waiting for a cabinet or a drawer to live in for the next few months, we talked with the boys about what Christmas really is about.

I reminded them of the story of our faith. We turned off all the lights when i told them that Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit. I had a flashlight which i turned on when i told them how God had provided for them in their need and offered hope for the future. The lights got brighter as Abraham and then David were offered promises of a coming king and redeemer.

Of course there were problems even after these promises. The people were living under the rule of a foreign empire. They had been stripped of their national sovereignty, they had to wonder if all that God had promised them really meant anything at all.

Then, late one night, in a field outside the town of Bethlehem, some angels came to deliver another promise. A king had been born. A king who would bring peace. the lights brighter all of a sudden.

What could these poor shepherds have thought when they heard this news? what must it have been like to live in a generation when everything you had ever been taught was that you were a special people, destined for greatness, chosen by the creator of the earth to bring restoration, but somehow you are eeking out an existence under a foreign government, unable to do what you know you are called to. then all of a sudden, news of a king. No more would Cesar be Lord, they were told. Now instead, Christ was Lord. Who was this baby?

The baby would grow up to become a man who brought good into what was bad, he restored what was broken from the curse and he promised that he would finish the job one day.

I think the longing in my soul tonight is the hope that he would just finish the job. He isn’t done yet. There is still brokenness, though it is getting better. there is still fighting and death and disease and loneliness and heartache. But we have a greater hope even than our sheep herding ancestors on that ancient hill outside that village on the first Christmas night. We don’t wait for a baby to be born, we are waiting for the return of a king!

When I told the boys that this king would come back soon, we turned on the brightest ceiling lights. I wanted them to see that even though Jesus has come, and even though it is brighter that it used to be, it will be so much brighter still.

Even the corners of this world where darkness still reigns, light will shine and all pain will end. He will wipe away every tear. Not just the small tears we cry over a broken toy, but the big tears we cry over genocide and famine. All this evil will end and our king will make things the way they are supposed to be.

I think the longing i feel this Christmas is a longing that he will come and establish his reign forever.

Do you have a home?

November 10th, 2008 Comments Off on Do you have a home?

If you have a home, I want you to imagine that tonight as you and your family sleep, it is destroyed by two rival gangs who are at war on your street.  They burn cars and houses and then abduct the children of your neighbors for use as soldiers.

Is that a frightening idea?  Doesn’t sound very much like the sort of evening you or I would get over any time soon.  But it is a part of the story of nearly 5 million Sudanese people and at least 20 million people from other nations around the globe.

Today is bloggers unite day for refugees, and this is a topic that could stand some discussion. so I am contributing my voice (er… my blog) to this important issue.

The first thing we need to do is be aware of this.  25 million people who have lost everything because of war and violence.  The first act of violence happened a long time ago in a peaceful garden.  The second recorded act of violence was murder.  It has not stopped.

When Jesus came the first time he promised us that his kingdom was a kingdom of peace and then he called on his followers to extend the reach of his kingdom to the ends of the earth.  As we do that, peace will follow.  The reign of Christ makes silly land grabs and local power plays seem pointless.  Christians must act to extend the reach of the kingdom into the darkness of war to stop the senseless bloodshed.

We are also called to bring peace and healing into the lives of the people who are living in shanty towns on the borders of countries like Rwanda and Uganda.

So What can you do about it?

First, stop ignoring the problem! Watch this video, it will give you a tiny glimpse into what its like.  You might also want to take a look at Voices Of Sudan.  This book is about the tragedy over there, and 100 percent of the authors profits go to helping the refugees who are fighting for survival.

Second call some of the politicians we just elected and tell them you are sick and tired of this nonsense. We are in the middle of an 8 year war because of some bad intelligence and these people just need some defense against the gangs that are destroying their lives. If you need the numbers check this list, yours is on there.

Third, consider a donation. There are numerous Non Governmental Agencies trying to heal the wounds and put things right. Some of them are church sponsored some of them are not. Christians should be involved wherever redemption is taking place, so browse through this list and find some agencies you can relate to, and get involved.

Refugees International
World Vision
American Refugee Committee
And if you are in St Louis, take a look at the International Institute of St Louis

Please leave your own ideas for how we can make a difference. If you know a story that is relevant, we would love to see that as well.

Are You Writing for Refugees?

November 1st, 2008 Comments Off on Are You Writing for Refugees?

Just a note that I will be writing on November tenth about refugees.  I hope you will to.  That will be “blogger unite” day for refugees.  There are approximately 25 million people running from war, famine, and genocide on earth right now.

Will you join me and write a blog post to draw attention to the least of these?

Sign up and get more info at Bloggers Unite.

And Subscribe so you will be ready for that post.

Cryogenic Freezing – the answer to all our fears

April 1st, 2008 § 1

It was sad really. Last night, my lovely wife and I were watching 20/20, or dateline, or one of those other mindless shows. One of the stories was about people who had chosen to have themselves cryogenically frozen. The hope is that one day, whatever killed them, will be treatable. At that point they will be revived and healed.

There was a range of people being interviewed. We learned from one couple, that their desire was to be together forever, and this was the way they hoped to accomplish that. We discovered that these people had set up trust funds which if left for a hundred years could make them multi millionaires when they wake up. Which is probably a good thing considering inflation ad the cost of medical care.

We saw large stainless steel coffins which maintained a constant -325 degrees and housed the remains of four individuals.

Despite all this, the most disturbing image we saw was when a family was interviewed. The whole family was going to be frozen (at a rate of 75,000 per person) there were the parents and three children ranging from possibly 8 to 12. One girl was asked, “why do you want to be frozen?” her answer? “its better than having no hope at all.

No hope? What do you mean? The only hope in death that this young girl has is that one day she will be able to be thawed out and restored to life in a tragically diseased flesh in a suffering and hurting world??? That is her only hope.

We live in a society where people’s greatest hope is to be frozen so that one day they can live. Their greatest hope is to live. Wow! It happens that I have a greater hope. That I will live in the world the way it was always supposed to be, and then I will never die.

That’s my only hope.

Friendly Atheist on Ted Haggard

February 6th, 2008 Comments Off on Friendly Atheist on Ted Haggard

Not really of course.  But my friend Hemant not being a Christian quotes people who have a twisted view of what the Bible says about homosexuality.  Its sad really.  Ted is a sinner, like all of us.  His particular brand of of sexual sin happens to be homosexuality, and he is under the discipline of the church and seeking healing for this sin in his life.  » Read the rest of this entry «

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