Worst movie ever made! (See previous post!
Since half my youth group has linked to the “Why I hate Religion but Love Jesus” YouTube video, I feel compelled to share my two cents:
1) He does a terrible job defining his terms. Based on a dictionary definition of religion, there is nothing for Christians to run from. I know he does not have a dictionary definition of religion in mind, or else he could not possibly say the things he says about religion in this video. Christianity does include a set of beliefs about the nature of the universe, it does include rituals and devotional observances, and it does contain a moral code. What’s wrong with that?
I think the speaker’s problem is with corrupted religion. Yes, Jesus got after religious people in his time, but mostly for corrupting their religion. The Jewish faith was always about just that, faith in God, and acceptance by God has is chosen, covenant people. In Jesus’ time, many people were taking religion to legalistic or nationalistic extremes, and it was those people that Jesus opposed.
He says Jesus came to abolish religion. In the words of the old Covenanters: “where is THAT written?”
It’s not religion in and of itself that is the problem; it is religion without a proper orientation on God’s grace and the work of Jesus Christ that’s the problem.
2) Twice he goes after Republicans. Twice. In, like, a second and a half. Yes, I know he’s going after people who equate voting for a certain political party with following Jesus. That is wrong, but he is painting with a very broad brush with no effort for fairness. There are many Christians who assume that all Christians should vote Democrat. Why is there no criticism of them, too?
I will be the first to tell you Christians are too political and, often, far too partisan. But this seems to be an unfair drive-by.
3) He asks why religion has started so many wars. I was not aware that a religion was capable of starting wars. People and tribes and nations start wars. They may have some religious motivation, but pinning war on religion is lazy scholarship and bad history. It is, quite simply, a straw man argument.
Look at the history of war. Religion cannot be held responsible for the Iraq Wars, or the Vietnam War, or the Korean War, or the World Wars, or the Civil War, or the American or French Revolutions. There are many wars with seemingly clear religious motivations, such as the Crusades, that were, in reality, far more complex.
To be fair, religiously-motivated people have caused much conflict. The religious battles in Ireland, the unrest in the Middle East, and Inquisition, all had or have religious motivations causing them. But to ask why religion has caused so many wars? When it actually hasn’t? Frustrating.
4) He asks why churches can build such big buildings and not feed the poor. Again, a straw man. Yes, there are some churches in various times and places in history that have forsaken the poor while living in incredible opulence. I would not argue that this is normative, however. I have no facts to back this up, but my hunch is the church has been the most positive force for humanitarian and charitable efforts in the history of Western Civilization AND continues to be so today. Yes, the Church has not been perfect at it, but it has done far more than most.
5) Jesus was religious. Jesus was exceptionally religious. Jesus was an observant Jew; he paid his Temple tax, he went to synagogue, he observed the Sabbath (the way it was meant to be observed). He celebrated Passover and other high holy days. To say that one can hate religion but love Jesus is to hate something that Jesus himself did not hate.
6) The problem with religion is when it becomes man-centered and effort-centered. When we use religion to make ourselves feel better about our lives. When we attempt to earn salvation or earn our way back into good standing with God. When religion becomes nothing more than do-goodery. That is when we have a problem with religion. When we care more about “the way it’s always been done,” or dressing a certain way to church or making more rules about living life than can be supported by Scripture. When we get so hung up on being correct about minor points of doctrine that we forget to focus on Christ. That’s the kind of religion Jesus hated.
Christianity is about a relationship that God enters into with us. Christianity is about God choosing us to have a relationship with him as his chosen, covenant people. Christianity is about God’s grace in choosing us, and about our God-enabled faith in accepting this gift. . And when our religious practices and beliefs foster and enhance this central premise, then religion is a good thing. But when our religion becomes more about us than about God, or when our religion distracts from this central premise, then it becomes a dangerous thing. When our religion becomes more important than Jesus, it is a horribly grievous thing.
So, overall, I think the guy makes some decent points. I wish he had been a little more careful though. I know he is speaking out against “religion” as it is often used in contemporary usage, but he painted with far too broad a brush.
Today I have the difficult task of selecting the worst shortstop the Cubs have employed in my lifetime. This proved to be quite difficult, as I had to weed through the muck and mire and cesspool that came awfully close to being as putrid as the one at 3rd base.
The first shortstop I remember was Shawon Dunston, he of the legendary “Shawon-o-Meter.” If Mark Grace wasn’t his first basemen, he would have set the modern record for errors. But he was a fun player to watch so he remains off this list. He is actually nowhere near this team.
I could have gone the high-priced free agent bust route and selected Jeff Blauser but ultimately decided against it.
There was Jose Hernandez, who struck out more at baseball than Homer Simpson did with get-quick rich schemes.
But ultimately, I decided to go with a player that I remember more for one awful, horrific moment in time than his total career. This man contributed more than anybody, yes, more than Steve Bartman, to the most painful moment of my sports-fan life.
After Bartman’s blunder, Gonzalez booted a double play ground ball that would have ended the inning with the Cubs still in the lead and just 3 outs from the World Series.
So there you have it. On the strength of one awful play, Alex Gonzalez has found himself on the all-awful Cubs team.
A couple weeks back, I talked about a man named John Daker. I talked about how he fought through failure to prove faithful to the task at hand, and how ministers need to do this as well. Today was one of those days. I had nothing today.
I woke up this morning and was confronted with pretty much all my insecurities all at once. I slept very little (thank you, first-born child!), and just about every time I turned around, something was going wrong at work. That, and I had a nasty headache all day.
It was one of those days where you just want to hole up in a box and drown out the world. Or curl up on the couch and watch a ball game (ohwaitI’maCubsfan). I didn’t want to do anything or speak to anyone.
But you know what. I still have a job to do. And thankfully, by the grace of God, I was able to be somewhat productive for His Kingdom today. Granted, I didn’t revolutionize youth ministry today, but I powered through my John Daker-ness and stayed faithful to the task at hand.
It’s hard, and exhausting. There are those days where it seems you were born for ministry, everything you touched turned to gold, and you can go home knowing you accomplished something. You go home with more energy than you went to work with. Those days are great, but we can’t live for those days, because they don’t always happen.
I have to be faithful to my calling no matter what, whether I’m having a good day or a John Daker day. Of course, now it’s easier now that I get to come home to the most beautiful little daughter anyone can ask for.
My wife, sister, and I watched a documentary of the “50 Worst Movies Ever Made.” The following movie was not included in this list, thus nullifying any of its credibility:
Hal Warren, and El Paso fertilizer salesman, made a bet with a screenwriter buddy of his that he could make a movie. I suggest this bet is still up in the air.
The movie, which went on to become the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder ever, is about a family that finds themselves lost in the desert while trying to arrive at their vacation destination. They end up outside a creepy lodge cared for by the even creepier Torgo, a satyr-like creature. Torgo has crazy-big knees because the actor wore the contraption meant to make his legs look more goat-like backwards. He would go on to shoot himself soon after production ended.
Torgo then tells them they can’t stay at the lodge. Then he tells them they can stay. Then he tells them they can’t stay because the Master wouldn’t like it. Then he tells them they have to go, but there is no way out of there. Then he tells them they can’t stay while he carries their luggage into the lodge.
There is a lot of standing around, awkward cuts, more standing around, dialogue every 35 seconds or so, a dead dog, a polygamous pagan cult run by some guy with a moustache, Torgo gets his hand chopped off (it was fate!) and a random couple makes out by the side of the road. The poster told me not to give the movie’s exciting twist ending away, so I won’t.
So any discussion of the worst movie ever made and given theatrical release should start and end with this one.
Theme song by the great Rockapella for the equally great PBS game show, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.” If this show were still on the air, the world would be a better place, in that people would actually know where places in the world are.
As for right now, we have our starting outfield. Candy Maldonado, Tuffy Rhodes, and Milton Bradley. One, a journeyman outfielder who really had no business holding down a MLB job. One, another in a long line of overhyped prospects who flamed out after a quick start. And another, a jerk. No, check that. An overpaid, underperforming jerk.
Now we come to the infield. We start with the black hole that is 3rd base. Since the late Ron Santo was traded to the White Sox(!), the Cubs have started over 100 different men at 3rd base. With the exception of Aramis Ramirez, none were able to hold the job for very long. Up and coming prospects like Kevin Orie and the infamous Gary Scott flamed out spectacularly. Journeymen like Steve Buechelle, Todd Zeile, or Leo Gomez have failed. They even tried a north-of-forty Gary Gaetti who was great for the second half of 1998, and then aged about 12 years the next. I even remember them trotting out AARP-eligible Dave Madigan and 300 lb. Lenny Harris at third base. Until Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs went through third basement like Spinal Tap went through drummers. So who is the worst of the worst?
In 67 career games, this “next Ron Santo” produced 3 HR, 16 RBI, and a robust .160 BA. His OPS was .490, and his WAR (wins above replacement player) was -1.6. He was so awful, 19 years after his dismal career, Cubs fans STILL remember him and is usually the first player a disappointing prospect will be compared to.
This takes some doing. You have to be really, really, really, really bad to be named the most awful Cubs third baseman of the past 25 years. So at least he’s got that going for him.
Singing songs in church is, for many people, the highlight of the Sunday morning experience. It is not for me; I was always much more interested in the sermon; even as a young boy I looked forward to the sermon because that was when I could sit down and start doodling in the bulletin. However, singing remains a vital tradition and experience in the life of the church and worshipping community.
However, the singing of praises to our God can be quite divisive. What songs shall we sing? What instruments shall we use? Should we use the hymnal or project the lyrics?
We argue, we snipe, we criticize, all over musical preference. You could not pay me enough money to be a worship pastor (assuming that I am at all qualified to be a worship pastor. Which I am not.) What should be the simple, beautiful act of praising our God often becomes ugly and complicated.
As I worshipped with my junior high students Friday night at youth group, we sang the song “Blessed Be Your Name.” Now, that song takes me back to a specific place, a specific time in my life, and a specific instance in which God moved in my life. Ever since that time, singing the song brings me back to that time, and reminds me of God’s movement in my life. The remembrances of the past enhance my worship in the present. It’s simply because I have a good story to go along with it.
Every time we sing “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” it takes me back to my youth and sitting in the 11th row of the left side of the sanctuary of my home church with my mom and dad. Every time we sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” I think of how we sung it on my wedding day and how God has proved his great faithfulness in my life over and over. Every time we sing “In Christ Alone,” it takes me back to college chapel sessions. I have stories to go along with these songs, and they enhance the worship experience for me as I sing.
Which led me to wonder: if we all took turns sharing our stories as they relate to particular songs, be they traditional, classic hymns or contemporary praise songs, would that help us worship better together? If the older folks explained to the younger folks why a certain hymn was meaningful to them and how God has used it over the years to draw them closer to him, would that help the younger folks engage in worship better? If the younger folks took the time to explain how a contemporary song has meaning to them because they sang it on the retreat where they first believed in Jesus or sang it on the bus back from a missions trip, would that help older folks have a better appreciation for those songs? Would it help us worship better together? Would it help us see that while a song may not be our preference or style, it is of great importance to someone else in our community and we can rejoice in that fact?
Maybe we need more time in our worship services to tell stories and connect what we sing on Sunday morning to what God has done in the lives of those in our faith communities. This could just be youthful naivete. I hope it’s not.
Personally, I would love to know the story of why someone is particularly affectionate toward a certain song. I would love to hear this from an 80 year old, an 18 year old, and an 8 year old. I think it would be a beautiful thing.
So what’s your story? What song has special meaning to you, and what’s the story behind it?