Saturday, July 30, 2011

Make A Buck Off The Flock, Inc.

From an article on the Rapture industry, we read  "There’s even a new genre of chick lit called Rapture Erotica. Apocalypse Sex: Love at the End of the World ($4.99) focuses on characters who stare down the end of days by, according to its publisher, having “the best sex of their lives.” Read the entire article here.

Who even knew there could be such a thing as a Rapture industry? And what am I doing wasting my time trying to actually earn an honest living? Fortunes are being made selling fake history to Christians yearning for a fantasy version of how our country was born, theme parks are springing from the ground selling fiction to believers dying to know that dinosaurs walked with man, perhaps even Jesus. There's money to be made fleecing the flock and I'm doing time with actual labor? Shame on me.

Here's my plan, since the big market segments like prosperity ministries, creationism, fake history, and now the rapture are getting saturated with players I'm gonna focus on the niche market segments where the competition is scarce and there's still opportunity for someone with marginal ethics and a need to succeed. 

So welcome to Make a Buck off the Flock, Inc. Have you got a pet cause as a believer and you're looking for someone to support your crackpot ideas with books and DVD's? We're your guys. We don't have to believe what comes from underneath your tin foil hat to sell it, we just want to move product.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wall Building an Answer

Probably the two most successful Christian entrepreneurs of the last thirty years made a fortune by identifying what a well defined sub-group of Christians wanted to hear and then selling them books, DVD's, theme parks, T-shirts, and other trinkets that affirmed their beliefs.

Truth, accuracy, and integrity are no barriers to these guys, some Christians want to believe that this nation was founded as a Christian nation, we by God got a book for ya!!! Others demand proof that the world is 6,000 years old and if it takes a theory that proves dinosaurs walked with man then have we got a DVD for you. David Barton and Ken Ham are geniuses, they would have thrived in the hey days of the circus and the business empires they built, cleverly disguised as Christian education enterprises, are models of how to make a buck off the flock.

So let me know what you want to hear and how much you're willing to pay for it and I'll get right back to ya!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Should We Stop Inviting People To Church?

Should we keep inviting people to church? What has our almost maniacal emphasis on church growth and church plants gained us other than a steady decline in membership and worshipers? What if we stopped inviting people to church and just went into the community as a presence? What if we attended 5k's and passed out water to the runners courtesy of our church? Or helped with neighborhood cleanups? No conditions, no sermons, no manufactured events designed to lure people into the pews, just here, have some water on us, need help with painting your community center? I wonder how people would respond?

What if we were a constant presence at community events, we could wear T-shirts with our churches name, but other than that we'd just be there to support things they deem important to their community? Would they begin to view us differently, to accept us as friends without an agenda? There is an old theory that values attraction rather than promotion as a tool to effect change, if we were an attractive part of the community would our message be more attractive?

What we're doing now isn't working too well, maybe we should try just being in the neighborhood rather than lecturing the neighborhood.

She Was Not Good

I read a recent post by a clergywoman, another in a long line of stories that continue to romanticize the sordid life and banal death of Amy Winehouse.  It was titled, You Were Good, Amy Winehouse and I think a little clarification might be in order here. While there are a lot of words that accurately describe an active substance abuser, good is not one of them. Banal, deceitful, selfish in the extreme, abusive, useless, pretty much a plague on society, now those are words that apply.

What drives those of us who care deeply about helping dope fiends and drunks get sober is that we know the good that comes when a man or woman breaks the chains of addiction. But while they're IN their addictions they are loathsome creatures, and the way they die is ugly. Vomit covered convulsions, livers swollen with cirrhosis and the attendant stink that disease produces, children left parentless and permanently scarred by alcoholic behavior, brothers and sisters glad they're dead, it's tragic all right, romantic? Not so much.

I have a great deal of compassion for the Amy Winehouse that could have been, but she's just one of millions who wasted what might have been a rewarding life, and her very public self-demolition and all the ridiculous comments by pundits and even clergy who know nothing about the reality of addiction and it's often sordid end will not aid the cause of sobriety. She needs to be more of a "There but for the grace of God go I" story and less of a romantic-tragedy fairy tale.

In the meantime I think I'll just not drink and go to meetings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Bible Elf

I ran across a passage in John that I had read many times but this time it really wowed Chapter 6 it talks about many disciples leaving Jesus after he taught about eating His flesh and drinking his blood. A little too graphic for them I guess. And then it references that He was left with the twelve.....So, how many disciples did Jesus have before they deserted Him? And why did that just hit me? It's like I've totally ignored that passage as I've cheerfully read about the twelve disciples  as if that's all there ever were.

By disciples I'm referring to the passages in the gospels where at the start of His ministry Jesus collected twelve disciples who then dropped everything and followed Him around for three years after which he was crucified. Now it turns out He apparently collected a bunch more somewhere along the way who eventually deserted Him leaving Him with twelve. It's like there's a Bible elf that waits til I'm asleep to insert new stuff into passages I've been reading since I was a child, not counting a 21 year side trip into alcoholism during which the last thing you'd have caught me with was a Bible in my hands.

And that's just the start of my complaint. Turns out Jesus was a stealthy guy, constantly slipping away from mobs that wanted to kill Him, with no explanation about how he escaped other than it wasn't His time. Am I the only guy who thinks it would be interesting to know how He did it? He's there one minute and POOF, He's gone!! How cool is that? What were the miracles that John left out of His gospel because there were too many to list? 

Wouldn't it be cool to know that? The more I read the gospels the more I suspect that there was so much more in that three year ministry of the Lord than what got written down..... 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Was Hopelessly, Miserably Wrong

In a recent post I lampooned the Brocton Rocs for selling an $80 hot dog at their minor league baseball games. Turns out they were mere wannabee purveyors of overpriced fast food. I now present to you the $1000 bagel, a $4200 pizza, a burger selling for $5000, and the piece de resistance, a $25,000 ice cream sundae. VIEW HERE

Granted, several of the chef's cheat by offering things like diamond encrusted spoons you get to keep after eating. And that's just wrong, it's a cheap trick to drive up the costs of the dish to make it appear expensive. What's really impressive is the use of edible gold in several of the dishes, yes edible gold, which makes you think that we might be able to segue into a whole new category, the world's most expensive bowel movements.

At any rate, I hereby apologize to the Brocton Rocs, $80 hot dogs are so yesterday they seem cheap. I'll have mine with Grey Poupon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just Another Surrender

I've read a lot lately about movements that use catch phrases like "Sold out for Jesus" or "Radical Christianity". I guess they call it that to indicate a high level of enthusiasm, and while I'm all for enthusiasm, what's wrong with just being obedient? Does honoring the Great Commission require being "Sold Out For Jesus"? Just how "Radical" do you have to get to take care of widows and orphans or feed the poor?  
When I read the Sermon on the Mount I don't get the feeling that Jesus was whirling about, driving the assembled multitudes into a hand waving frenzy, shouting emotionally as he worked the crowd into a lather of supernatural meekness. In fact, the only scripture where Jesus seemed to get all fired up was when he cast the money changers out of the temple. His demeanor in the rest of the Gospels was calm, steady, inspiring yes, but not like so many preachers today, sweating their congregations into action.
Jesus was a sea of calm in a turbulent era, I suspect that was a large part of His appeal. Maybe our need to get "Sold Out and Radical", to gyrate and spin, shout words of praise, and experience miracles is a result of simple disobedience to the day to day slog required to translate noise into action, to fully surrender to simple commands. I know that for me the inspirational stuff wears off quick, and then I'm confronted by the apathy in me, not the resistance of the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Midas Dog

The Brockton Rox, a minor league baseball team, is introducing an $80 hot dog for their fans. The foot-long wiener will get the royal treatment. After deep frying, it will be rolled in truffle oil, then coated in porcini dust. The dog is to be topped with white truffle shavings and crème fraiche. If that doesn't gild the lily enough, the frank will be finished with caviar and fresh roe.

This is an outrage! Not the eighty dollars, professional sports teams have gotten so adept at ripping off their fans I can't get too worked up about overpriced stadium food, but putting porcini dust, truffle shavings, creme fraiche, caviar and fresh roe on a hot dog? Are you kidding me? Does anyone here know what a hot dog is? You're gonna put truffle shavings on the ground up remains of animals that would never sell on their own, anyone for a pig's nose smothered in entrails?

Now here's the deal and this matter is not open for debate, Stadium hot dogs should only be available with ketchup, mustard, relish and onions, all of which are to be served in tiny plastic packets with those fake tear here instructions, packets designed to leave emotional scars on kids and adults alike. In extreme circumstances they may be offered with chili as long as the chili is the consistency of water in order to speed the transfer of the chili from the dog to your clothing.

Now I'd pay $80 for that....

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Pledge

In a year when pledges have become all the rage for Republican presidential primary candidates, The Family Leader’s Marriage Vow seems to be falling flat.

It seems only two of the 641 Republican candidates for president have signed it, which means one of two things. Either the unsigned candidates are willing to go to the mat with evangelicals to defend their right to commit adultery, or they realize that the vow does not address the single most important threat to marriage as we know it, creamed corn.

Just kidding. While there's some debate about the effect of creamed corn on marriage, that's another post. Seriously, the pledge says absolutely nothing, zip, zero, nada, about how bad children are for marriages. That's right, children. For thousands of years we've been told without children the species will die out, disappear, become extinct. But has anyone ever tried it?

Now don't get me wrong, I have a daughter, and having her has  been far better than a 13 year long case of halitosis. But she's really time consuming, way more expensive than $4 gasoline, and now when she orders french fries she eats the whole bag. 10 years ago there were always fries left over that I got to eat.
And that's the dirty little secret why the candidates won't sign the pledge. Everyone knows how bad kids are for the world, they're just afraid to admit it. Trust me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Well This Is Awkward-Part Five

I wasn't going to do another of these topics for a while, but a recent post in Politico caught my eye and frankly, if there was ever a perfect "This Is Awkward" topic this is it. It seems there is some talk about disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner running in and winning the special election for the seat he just resigned from. He still holds a 60% approval rating in the district so if he promised to behave this time it's suggested he could win re-election.

After all, if a Republican senator (David Vitter) can win reelection after carousing with prostitutes, why not Weiner, he just thought about adultery. Sigh. Now I have a rather tawdry past, 21 years of drinking and drugging will put a few blank spots on your resume, so I'm in no position to play "holier than thou", but this is so brazen even I wouldn't have thought it possible. You gotta love this country, we certainly don't put a premium on good behavior.

Nonetheless, there's a reason millions of people risk their lives to get here. We got a great country, warts and all, and I wouldn't live anywhere else.

Web Sites I Enjoy

Here are some really cool websites(in no particular order). Enjoy!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Well This Is Awkward-Part Four

Church yesterday had me really conflicted. On the one hand we rightfully celebrated America, yet on the other hand we never got around to celebrating God. There was a great deal of triumphal exceptionalism and too little gratitude for my tastes. And little talk of God apart from the ridiculous assumption ....well I'll stop here with this thought.
Accepting that America is exceptional due to God's unmerited favor breeds the virtues of gratitude and humility. But a belief that America is the recipient of divine favoritism, on the other hand, breeds arrogance and triumphalism—an arrogance that robs one of any claims to being truly exceptional. ~Jonathan Merrit-Relevant magazine

As I was sitting here reflecting on my experience in the service yesterday I began to realize that my faith is an awkward mixture of fundamentalism and progressivism, I'm equally at home reading the Christian Post and Sojurners magazine. I think the idea that man and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time is as ridiculous as universalism. I believe that many on the Christian right have subcontracted their faith to a political party that treats them like Pavlovian Christians, every four years they spout family values, believers salivate donations and time, then as soon as they're elected they drop us like a hot potato. Yet I'm also convinced that as believers we need to have our faith inform our vote.

As a result of this curious mixture I've alienated folks with whom I otherwise hold much in common. So here's my deal. I believe that Jesus is "The truth, the light, and the way." I believe that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then to love one another. Mark 12: 30,31 And finally I believe we are to follow Jesus and become "fishers of men." Mathew 1:17 and His commands to feed the poor, heal the sick, and take care of widows and orphans should triumph over the unbridled pursuit of wealth, "unbridled" being the key word here.

If that bothers you feel free to stop hanging out with me, but I bid you go in peace.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Well This Is Awkward-Part Three

From an article in the New York Times.
In the aftermath of the 2008 Gay Softball World Series the second place team was stripped of it's ranking for an excess of non-gays on it's roster. Turns out only 20% of a teams roster can be non-gay. In the ensuing investigation it seems several heterosexuals had been slipped in as ringers, and of course they sued.

The disqualified players are suing to have the teams second place finish restored and to recover 75 grand each for, wait for it, emotional distress. Seriously? There's emotional stress in being outed as heterosexual? Apparently this has opened a can of worms for gay athletic leagues, what about bi-sexuals and trans-genders?
At this pace a team's roster might need to be the size of a small city in order to accommodate the demand from various sexual orientations clamoring for inclusion.

Call me naive but I was thinking, what if there was a softball league where all you had to do to qualify for the roster was pitch, bat, or catch? Nah.