A friend emailed me yesterday asking if I had ever written a post on Halloween and how Christians should relate to it. This was my reply to him. Also, in honor of Halloween, I’m posting this picture of the best Halloween costume I ever had. Can’t figure it out? The answer is at the bottom of the post:
Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I don’t really have any strong opinions on the matter either way. I’ll probably stay home Halloween, work on school work, and hand out candy to kids.
I really think it’s up to the individual Christian’s conscience, though there are obvious things that might be “unwise”. For one, don’t get wrapped in the sexuality that seems to have pervaded Halloween. Second, if you do a costume, try not to be exploitative (grown-ups dressing like little kid-sort of things and sexualizing them, acting gay as a joke, mocking others, or I heard of one couple of white friends who went as a dead Trayvon Martin and a George Zimmermamn, with the Trayvon guy wearing black-face).
Importantly, though, I don’t encourage myself or other Christians to be “weird” about it.
In my research for this on-going series on Women and the Church, I ran across this picture above. And for this Friday, I wanted to throw it out there to get people’s reactions.
If you agree with the overall point, do you appreciate the representation? Do you think this is a helpful representation? How would you present your perspective differently, in visual form?
If you don’t agree with it, what would you say to the designers of this picture? How would you counter this use of this verse? What bothers you the most about the picture? Is there any core of truth to this picture?
I’m writing this long paper on the ancient Christian Practice of Discernment. In my research, I pulled out some Karl Barth, my favorite theologian (hands down), and got to soak in the beauty of these words, and I wanted to share them. Now, for people that don’t read “real” and “proper” theology, this is it. It’s circular, it repeats itself, and it’s unnecessarily complicated and unclear. I know. I get that. But I promise, if you can spend a few minutes, quiet yourself, and focus, I promise the pay-off is huge. This guy stands as a tower over all of modern theology and deserves more attention than he gets. I’ve done slight edits to some of the wording and paragraph breaks for clarity. Enjoy.
* * * * * * * *
God’s direction is an all-powerful decision, His own divine act of lordship. By this means, too, God vindicates His honor and maintains His glory. By this means, too, He exercises authority….
God’s direction is the directing of humans into the freedom of His children. It is this which has taken place in Jesus Christ no less uniquely than the once-for-all fulfillment of the divine sentence on all humanity. In suffering in our stead the death of the old nature, and bringing in by His resurrection the life of the new, He has made room for the being of all humanity to be at peace with God.
On the basis of what we are and is not by virtue of the divine sentence passed and revealed in Jesus Christ… we have no other place but this—the kingdom in which God can be at peace with us and us at peace with God. Jesus Christ…is the all-powerful direction of God to us to occupy this place, to live in this kingdom. If we are told in Him who we are and are not, we are also told in Him where we belong, where we have to be and live.
Crescent ring under porcelain smooth
___stain the wood-stained finish.
______(It is finished.)
___Marked with muddy water;
___mark the merry day; to
___marry the murdered man.
Floral notes in blackened waves
___crash the shore of trembled lips.
Choral bright, in darkest night,
___wake the tone of trebled kiss.
Younger tastes left open-wide; older eyes made
Mark the wood: complex simplicity.
Pierce my heart: storied infinity.
[read my other Holy Week poetry here]
“Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage.”
–Pope Clement VIII upon tasting coffee for the first time. I’m happy to say the Church has heeded his call.
A couple of days ago, I dropped my phone twice in one day. Now, I’ve dropped my phone before, and there have been no problems, save for a scratch here or there. But this time, something happened, and I couldn’t click the power button in. I spent hours Googling solutions. I ended up being able to download apps to let me put the phone to sleep, and even use my volume buttons to wake the phone. But, if my phone ever died or otherwise turned off, there was absolutely no way to turn it back on.
I checked into getting it repaired professionally, but between price and time, that wasn’t a realistic option. I slowly began to realize I only had two options: start looking for a new phone (when this one still isn’t paid off), or take it apart myself and see if I could fix it.
I’ll admit it: I really like my phone. It’s a (take a deep breath) Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. (What a terrible name.) I got it off Ebay for full price so I could keep my unlimited data. It has a great screen, amazing battery life, and it still running smoothly after a year or so of pretty intense usage.
Last week, I put up a post asking for some help. For the past few years, I’ve had a terrible Twitter user name. I told the story of this previous name, and asked for some feedback on getting a new one. Well, that was a real help, because most people confirmed that using my full name (or some mixture thereof) was certainly the best, and I had totally forgotten than Twitter accepts underscores (“_”) (thanks, Jake Belder). So here is my new Twitter handle:
Profound, I know.
Anyway, for some reason, i end up posting more on Twitter than I do other places (and being a little bit more honest and blunt than in other venues). So let’s follow each other and become best friends, 160 characters at a time.
Oh, and if you notice any of my other sites that I haven’t updated to this new user name, please let me know. Thanks!
The other night, my church small group held our second annual Wine Tasting party. It was such a beautiful evening of great wine and great food (there was even Chardonnay paired with Chicken and Waffles–and it worked really well!).
Similarly, this year, my inner nerd-dom drove me to come up with a whole presentation around my attempt at another odd pairing. I wrote up some notes to guide me, and I thought I’d post them here to guide you on your own wine experiments this weekend, especially if you want a great pairing on a budget.
This is a different kind of tasting. It’s not so much about bringing out certain flavors as it is experiencing an unexpected reaction between the two items. It’s going to take some focus, so prepare your taste buds. But first, a story.
Hey, if you don’t care about the rest of this post, feel free to skip it and just follow me and Twitter!
Yeah, I feel a little narcissistic writing this post (that’s why I save posts like this for Fridays!), but I’ve finally reached the point of annoyance that something has to happen.
When I first went to seminary, I went to Westminster Theological Seminary, which is a Presbyterian school. I had a really good (who is recently engaged) friend from Lancaster, Pennsylvania that I had met in Richmond. He moved back to Lancaster around the same time I came up to Pennsylvania myself to go to school. And so, naturally, I made some visits to Lancaster to see him and meet his friends.
And so naturally, he had to give his friends a heads up as to who I was, and naturally, he said I was going to a Presbyterian seminary. And so, they just started calling me “The Presbyterian”. And then it became “Presbyterian Paul”. And then “Presby”. And then “PresbyPaul”. There was just one problem:
I have never been, am not, and will never be a Presbyterian. And that’s what made this funny.
In 2008, I graduated from college and moved to Philadelphia to head to seminary. I ended up not returning to that seminary program when the year was out, primarily for money issues (and some others). Four years later, I’m now going back (to a different seminary). And again, I’m trying to be conscious of money.
I know this is weird, and maybe a little presumptive, but I’m asking blog readers for some help with my seminary textbooks. I have made an Amazon Wishlist with my Fall textbooks, and I’m just throwing it out there to see if anyone could help buy me some of these. They are mainly just “normal” books that are being used as textbooks for classes (nothing over $20), but put altogether, they can add up. I have specifically chosen the Kindle version for some books, and the physical for others, so whatever is on the list is what I need.
I’ve been running this blog for over 8 years, and have written over 800 posts so far. It has been named one of the Top 50 Divinity blogs, has sent me to Guatemala, given me the opportunity to write for several other sites, and has twice been featured on the WordPress homepage. My hope is that if I may have (accidentally, of course) said a thing or two that was helpful, challenging, or enjoyable to you, you might consider coming alongside me to help support and further the work for which this blog has been my primary outlet.
If money is more your preferred way of supporting those in need, you can also make donations through PayPal. And of course, if you can help in neither of those ways, I would appreciate all the prayer you can spare me. So if you read this post, and know you won’t be able to support monetarily, would you take a few moments and offer a brief prayer for me?
I know this is all weird. I’m not expecting much (if anything), but I’m interested to see what happens. So, I would appreciate if you can give as you are able, to show your support for what I do and what I want seminary to help equip me for. Thank you so much for any way you can help. Once more:
P.S. I’ve never used an Amazon Wishlist before, so if there are any problems, please let me know. Thanks again.
This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Fresh“. I’ve been spending a long four-day weekend at my girlfriend’s family dairy farm, where she grew up, for her birthday. We’ve had fresh raw milk (oh how I love thee!), fresh raspberry pies, fresh air, and enjoying these fresh blueberries we picked at her grandmother’s farm next door. It’s been an incredible weekend of love, celebration, and a good ol’ hymn sing (the highlight of my time).
It’s really amazing the difference that fresh can make in our lives.
We’ve had an intense week on the blog. It was my first week back to blogging each day. We talked about everything from engagements to suffering, from NSA surveillance to harshing everyone’s 4th of July buzz.
So let’s have some fun.
I fully believe that poetry is one of the most powerful forces in our world today. When engaged with fully, it can get around our normal defenses and speak to our souls like few other things can. (It could even convert you to Christianity.) I also try my hand at it time to time.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you all two unexpected places you can find amazing poetry to brighten up your Friday and send you into the weekend right.
That there is a picture of David and Elizabeth Jane. (They’re in the process of converting to the Orthodox family of the Church, where the ring is on the right hand.)
David here is my oldest friend. Being bad at keeping friends that don’t live near me, this means that our friendship is about five-and-a-half years old. Not a crazy long time, I know. But for what we lack on the front-end duration of our friendship, we definitely make up for it in our desire to stay friends for decades to come.
And he got engaged to an incredible woman this weekend.
I promised earlier this week to write up some of my own thoughts on the whole NSA Surveillance leaks. And of course, as usual, I started thinking through it and writing about it, and saw that I need to break it up into two or three posts. So that’s next week.
Earlier today, I posted the best things I’ve encountered on these leaks. I hope you were able to partake in any of those. But, until I can post some of my thoughts next week, I thought I’d do the first poll this blog has ever had and get your thoughts on this issue.
Yes, there are a lot of options below; you can pick more than one option. They range from most freaked out by this stuff to least worried. I’m really interested in where you all stand on this. If you feel like there are any answers I missed, or if you have any comments and what to add what and why you voted like you did, feel free to share in the comments below. Continue reading