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Monthly Archives: September 2008

I am a born-again, Bible-believing, evangelical Christian man from the midwestern United States.  Tonight, before turning out my bedsight light, I was reading a book called The Heavenly Man.  The Heavenly Man is an autobiographical account of the life of a Chinese Christian known as Brother Yun.  Brother Yun is fond of quoting a scripture for every situation he encounters, and while reading his book tonight I happened upon a passage of scripture that intrigued me.  Wanting to read more of it, I looked it up and read some of the surrounding text as well.  I should say right up front that despite my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I don’t read my Bible as much as I should, so what I share with you here, I share as a layman and as a fellow believer, not as a teacher or a preacher.

The Biblical book of Revelation is perhaps the most misunderstood (or misinterpreted) of the books of the Christian Bible.  I can say this despite my own limited and imperfect understanding, because anyone who will look can see the conflicting understandings and interpretations of its text which exist in the modern church; it just can’t mean everything that people think it means.  It’s doubtful that any of the other Biblical texts have been interpreted in so many conflicting fashions.

But one of the beautiful aspects of the book of Revelation is the messages to the seven churches of Asia, which are present in chapters 2 and 3.  At the time of its writing, the so-called seven churches of Asia were the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

These messages were written specifically to each church: a unique message for each of the seven churches named, each message tailored to the character of each church, its strengths and weaknesses.  For instance, the first message in the series was written to the church in Ephesus and acknowledges first the virtues of that church: hard work and perseverance, a refusal to tolerate wicked men, and discernment of which apostles were true and which were not.  And yet there is also a shortcoming in this church: it had lost the fervor with which it had originally embraced the Gospel.  “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love…Repent and do the things you did at first.”

To each church an edifying word was sent, first praising the virtues and then pointing out the particularly grievous sin or shortcoming of that particular group of believers.

The reason I got out of bed to write this message to you tonight is found in the message to the church in Sardis.  When I happened upon this passage tonight I was struck by its perfection in describing the evangelical Christian community in North America.

“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Revelation 3:1-3)

I won’t waste your time by attempting to interpret this passage for you.  Its potential application to the complacent and self-satisfied modern evangelical church in North America seems so obvious to me, I’m going to trust that upon meditation you will also find it speaks to you.

Wake up, Christians!  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

Sarah Palin, human being

Sarah Palin, human being

Feminists ought to thank Sarah Palin.

She’s going to win the vice presidency, and in doing so she’s going to break the glass ceiling.

The feminists’ favored candidate (Hillary You-Know-Who) has personally kept the glass ceiling intact for years with her obnoxious and condescending attitude, her sense of entitlement, and her smugness, her reputation for calculation…so many people find her so repellent that she could never succeed.  And yet all of America has been watching and waiting for her to achieve the ultimate success, and she’s been sucking up all the oxygen in the upper atmosphere of female politics.

Ironically, their worst nightmare is the woman who is going to succeed where they have failed.  They’re probably feeling that success is a litle bit overrated these days.

It must be disheartening for Democrats to see how well Sarah Palin has been received as John McCain’s running mate.  Women love her, men love to look at her, working class people and outdoorsmen identify with her, and her popularity is (at least for now) greater than that of anyone else that either party has to offer.  All this, and most people still really don’t know much about her.

Sounds familiar to Republicans.  For the last year and a half we’ve been hearing praise and adoration for Obama based on little more than his ability to read a speech and his skin color, from people who really didn’t know anything about him.

What does it all mean?

It means that people still vote for superficials.  People are still essentially the same today as they were twenty years ago, fifty years ago, and one hundred years ago.  People know that they can’t learn everything about a candidate, so they’re looking for someone who they identify with; we look for external markers that tell us this person is genuinely what they appear to be.  When mothers and grandmothers look at Palin they see a mother of five with a daughter who is pregnant and a son who has a developmental disability.  When evangelicals look at Palin they see a mom who could have aborted her imperfectly conceived child, but chose life instead.  When outdoorsmen look at Palin they see someone who genuinely likes to hunt and fish (not one who, like Bill Clinton, sits in a duck blind for an hour, fires a round into an empty sky, and then walks out of the blind with a duck that someone else shot).  When high-achieving, competitive people look at Palin they see Sarah Barracuda, state basketball champion and mother of a hockey player.  When frustrated idealists look at Palin they see a self-sacrificing whistleblower who took on her own party and won.

That’s why the Republican base isn’t even paying much attention to what Sarah Palin says.  It’s the same thing when Obama speaks – democrats hear some indistinct mix of nouns and verbs and adverbs and pronouns and beatiful, glittering, quavering adjectives.  “Elbow, snowflake, green grass, macaroni, you and I, best friends forever,” he says.  And their eyes fill with tears because he’s tall and handsome and black and he has a deep voice and he might actually win.

Yep, they’re a different color, a different gender, and a different party, but it’s pretty much the same thing going on.  That’s politics.  Welcome to campaign 2008.

From my beautiful wife, on the subject of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and Sarah Palin’s candidacy: “Who cares?  It’s not like Sarah Palin got her daughter pregnant!”

From Peggy Noonan, on why Evangelical Christians aren’t judging the Palin family harshly: “…Modern American evangelicals are among the last people who’d judge her harshly. It is the left that is about to go crazy with Puritan judgments; it is the right that is about to show what mellow looks like. Religious conservatives know something’s wrong with us, that man’s a mess. They are not left dazed by the latest applications of this fact. ‘This just in – there’s a lot of sinning going on out there’ is not a headline they’d understand to be news.”