Media and War.

The subject of the war in Iraq is intriguing for me because of personal relationships I have connecting my experiences to Iraq. While I’ve never been there, I have a good friend who was forced to leave Iraq about 5 years ago, fleeing with his family from Saddam Hussein’s regime, taking his life into his hands as they fled in the night. I talked with Sam just after our class discussion and he said the news has been so distressing to him that he quit watching it.

Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine from middle school was killed in Iraq (http://homepage.mac.com/joseph.tesauro/EYEWITNESS_NEWS/FileSharing13.html [Link Edited]. His unit was fighting a known terrorist cell and the leader of the cell was also killed in that fight. Karl was doing what he felt called to do, helping people he didn’t even know.

Another friend of mine is currently serving as a Chaplain to a National Guard unit, stationed at the moment in Iraq. Here’s what Ben said: “soldiers do seem to get excited about what they are doing here as they get out and meet people. Yea, there are all the political stuff back in the states, but it doesn’t really come through as much here. Here the bottom line is we are here with a poor people who have been oppressed, and they are seeking to rebuild a country while a few bad apples try to ruin things. It is exciting to be a part of something good, and that is how many soldiers begin to look at it, political stuff aside.”

While Ben’s stories and Sam’s life seem to conflict with each other, I’m sure that if those two were to talk about the situation, Sam’s mind would be put at ease. Right now all he’s heard are stories of despair and no hope. The media has portrayed a side to the war that silences whatever else is taking place, like the stories of hope that Ben has told, stories of rebuilding schools that UR grad Scott Irwin has told. I’m not a big fan of going over and killing people, and perhaps the wrong action was taken in starting the war. But hearing the true stories, not what the media tells us, gives a brighter picture. If more people heard these stories, instead of story after story of soldiers and innocent Iraqis being killed, would there be a different view on the war? a lot of people are taking action against a war that they’ve only heard about through the media—how can we possibly know what we’re moving for if the media’s portrayal is so skewed? Hopefully it will end soon and there won’t be any question about it.

As for these soldiers fighting for a victory that will never be theirs, I think that too is a bleak portrayal of the situation. Whether or not they ever put a name to a face, the soldiers are meeting the people of Iraq who are benefiting from this military action and are seeing the full effect of what they’re doing. That sure seems like the reward is becoming partly theirs as a piece of themselves connects with the people of Iraq.


the emerging church.

<>I just finished The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball, and wow! it was a great read. for the past two weeks I couldn’t put it down (often sacrificing reading for school to get through this book!). the whole time, I’m thinking through FCA and what we do in “worship” every Sunday night, and I hope that we can make some changes to how we do things to help foster a more sincere worship environment and guide people along their faith journeys more effectively. more than anything in the world, I want the people who walk through those doors on Sunday night to experience God, whether they’ve experienced God before or not. we’re a long way from that now, but i think that in a few weeks time, we can make significant changes.

Then last weekend, in the midst of reading this book, I visited Cedar Ridge Community Church in Maryland. Much of the service was the same as other Protestant Christian churches I’ve been to. But the two unique things I saw were:

  • the seats in the auditorium wrapped around three sides of the stage that Brian spoke from. it gave a much more intimate feeling.
  • the stations set up around the auditorium give a great interactive aspect to worship–no more of this sitting in a chair for an hour while somebody on a stage sings and somebody else on the stage talks.

I think when churches began to make church less consumeristic, less about people coming in to “get fed” and more about growing together in a journey to follow Christ, Christians everywhere will benefit. and I know for me, life is more about figuring how I can better follow Jesus' example and less about putting the “right pieces” of Christian faith together so i can get to heaven. heaven will be great, but for now I’m here and God has a whole lot left for us to do here before we get to heaven.


tough issues.

<>Earlier this week, I sat down with our campus minister (CM) and we were talking with another guy about this campus ministry and what it means to be a leader. Our CM played the word association game with this guy–Christians and homosexuality, Christians and drinking, Christians and dating relationships. Our CM tried to convey the idea that we’re a community of faith, and we’re not going to restrict someone’s ministry to a set of rules they have to live by. Ultimately everyone is responsible to God for him/herself, but this didn’t seem to be good enough.

I heard a pastor speak tonight and he said something that I thought was really good. His talked was based off a chapter in Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli. He had this simple quote, “Are you ‘making music,’ or only avoiding mistakes?” I got to thinking after these two conversations, what are we doing? Why are we spending so much time worrying about following a set of guidelines, principles and do’s and do not’s and not worrying about helping the people around us?

The second thought was this, “Spiritual growth is more than a system and more than following certain principles.” The church in Corinth had some pretty crazy stuff going on, but God still used them and Paul still spent time with them helping them to see their purpose.

I don’t know why we don’t spend more time looking for our purpose instead of worrying about following a bunch of rules.


baptists and the Bible.

Originally published The Religious Herald, March 3, 2005:

In a letter in the Religious Herald dated Feb. 3, Greene Hollowell condemned the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s stance on abortion, as published in Truthfully Speaking (available at http://www.vbmb.org/uploads/TruthfullySpeaking.pdf).

Mr. Hollowell disputes this statement:

“Be it further Resolved, that we also ... support the right of expectant mothers to the full range of medical services and personal counseling for the preservation of life and health.”

“Full range of medical services,” for Mr. Hollowell, “of course means abortion.”

Does it really, Mr. Hollowell? I understand it to mean we need to support mothers in their emotional well-being during a stressful and traumatic time in their lives.

The BGAV statement also resolved, “The messengers ... reaffirm the biblical sacredness and dignity of all human life, including fetal life.” How could a body of believers say this, yet continue to endorse the opposite? I don’t think they do.

Mr. Hollowell’s analysis troubles me, but this has nothing to do with abortion. His judgement on the BGAV is similar to the way many American evangelicals interpret the Bible. Mr. Hollowell disregards any original intentions of the statement and exercises his own interpretation of the BGAV’s statement, subjecting the statement to his own views and beliefs.

Other believers do the same with the Bible. We as Baptists believe in the priesthood of all believers, yet many “Baptist” organizations are informing us as to how we will believe.

Mr. Hollowell, if you took a moment to see lives changed through the work of the BGAV, I think you would see that God is not disintegrating the BGAV because they “support abortion,” as you write in your letter.

Would Jesus have been involved in any of these actions? Jesus calls us to love God and love others, Mr. Hollowell, not question others and create rifts within the Body of Christ. We have hurting people in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, people in our churches and women contemplating abortions. I challenge you, and all Virginia Baptists, to help someone in need. We need to be encouraging, uplifting and supportive and love our neighbors using Christ as an example. Tearing people down is a waste of our time, Mr. Hollowell.

I don’t think Jesus would have done that.

Oxymoron: Christian Worship Music Awards

My friend sent me this link today. what is the world coming to? Awards for best worship song/album of the year? my response...

"Here, I’ve got an idea...let’s get people to make a CD of themselves worshipping God. then we’ll open up a store, just for Christians, and we’ll sell those CD’s, and books like 'em. and after we make a lot of money, then we’ll make awards for the CD’s, to see who’s best at worshipping God. and after that, we’ll forget all about why we really want to worship God and kids will just buy the CD because it’s cool music that won an award. sweet!

Now I need to write this disclaimer:I am good friends with a Nashville-based, Christian worship artist and I fully support him and what he does. He will be one of the first to admit to you that there’s something wrong with the whole concept. Still, I felt a need to rant...but now I’ll go back to listening to David Crowder and Chris Tomlin. Chris won an award, by the way...