I Am at the Whim of the Forces Around Me


I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
~ Romans 12.1-3

Esther is no Sunday School role-model | Esther 2.8-9


So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in the citadel of Susa in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he quickly provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food, and with seven chosen maids from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her maids to the best place in the harem.

Esther 2.8-9

She “pleased him.”  You know what that means, right?

Here and throughout the book are instances where Esther shows herself time and time again to not be faithful to her people or her God in any way. She is selfish, power-hungry, narcissistic, unmerciful, and only helps her people once she is scared she will get killed with the rest of them. She’s kind of a terrible human being. No wonder this book wasn’t accepted as canonical by huge communities of Jews.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Male Headship & Societal Injustice | Esther 1:17-22


Queen_Vashti_Refuses_to_Obey_Ahasuerus_CommandToday’s post falls into both our new section of the site called Marginalia and our on-going series on Women in the Church.

For this deed of the queen will be made known to all women, causing them to look with contempt on their husbands, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the noble ladies of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will rebel against the king’s officials, and there will be no end of contempt and wrath! If it pleases the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be altered, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, vast as it is, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.”

This advice pleased the king and the officials, and the king did as Memucan proposed; he sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, declaring that every man should be master in his own house.
Esther 1.17–22

I can imagine a conservative evangelical looking at this and saying to themselves, “Now, the king’s court is recognizing a natural order in the way God has made a marital relationship to work, even though they go about reinforcing this biblically-supported picture in the wrong way–through force and not love”. I hope that’s a fair representation.

But either way, (1) they would not want us to pull from this text any lessons about how male headship itself is wrong, just how it’s done badly here, and (2) they would still think the concern of these males is justified (and perhaps even right), as we’ve seen similar dynamics play out in our culture in the aftermath of feminism.

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Weekly Must-Reads {06.20.11} | a New York Times Op-Ed miscellany


This week, as I compiled my favorite reads for the week, I realized nearly all of them were from the New York Times. I found these on different days, at different times, and had no idea that I kept bookmarking the same site over and over again. But still, all of them are very different and I encourage you to peruse, read, ponder, and post your thoughts!

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Instead of Student Loans, Investing in Futures | NYTimes.com

Ever since the financial crisis hit, I’ve been so intrigued by other economic models for getting things done. This article follows one idea when it comes to funding higher education. And it really seems to work. I also love that this particular idea was not dreamt up by nor financed by the government.

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Good News: Blogging is Dying!


According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, as discussed in The New York Times yesterday, blogging is declining among those age groups that originally led to its popularity.  Apparently, between 2006 to 2009 blogging activity among those between the ages of 12 and 17 feel by half.  Even among my own age group, the 18-to-33-year olds, blogging activity has dropped by 2% in the past couple of years.  Considering that almost 505,000 post were published just today and just on the WordPress blogging platform, 2% can add up to a lot of posts.

The article goes on to say that these younger bloggers have moved on to using Twitter to share things they find interesting and Facebook to share their “original” thoughts with the world.  Using a blog has just become “another step” in communicating ourselves that these kids find unnecessary and unappealing.
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Weekly Must-Reads {01.09.11}


Last week I experimented with a little feature on my new favorite bookmarking service, Diigo, where it would automatically write up a weekly blog post containing all my bookmarks for the week and the comments I posted and quotes I highlighted.  Well, I went in blind and the post last week was a little messy.  So, this week, I took some time to clean it up a bit.  This week’s articles range the gamut from abortion to blogging.  If you click the links, they will take you to a special annotated version of the page where you can even see the little sticky notes I left.  Please read any of these articles that interest you and please–if you could–let me know what you think down in the comments.  Thanks.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S. – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com

I really don’t think the Founders wanted us to be terrified of our government.  Just think of it: you as an American citizen–with no legal record of any kind–could be studying abroad and have this happen to you.  This guy had NO indication that he could end up here.  This is like some crazy movie.  I’m actually scared of my country.

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Mad Men: my new obsession…


More than any show in recent memory, Mad Men has captivated me in such a way that I cannot stop watching it.  I just started watching the show a couple of weeks ago and I’m on the last episode of Season 1.  Now, I’m usually wary of something that receives non-stop praise and adoration like Mad Men has.  I often wonder can a television show really be so good that it evokes responses like this? It’s hard for to imagine and hold in my mind the idea of something that can take hold of people so singularly and consistently that it leaves people in awe (I have a similar inability to imagine how a show like Dexter would fall in this category).

But I’m a believer now.
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REVIEW: “Outlive Your Life” by Max Lucado


Max Lucado-Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference
by Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson, 2010
My Rating: 3/5
Purchase at Amazon

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“Social Justice” is all the rage right now. The swaths of American twentysomethings serious about their faith who have found Evangelicalism to have a heart inflamed for the wrong things, a head stuck in the wrong places, and absolutely no legs at all have tried to wrestle with and take seriously the call for God’s people to be not simply his “ambassadors” or “proclaimers”, but rather his very Hands, Feet, and Presence. Movements like Shane Claibourne’s The Simple Way here in Philadelphia and New Monasticism have shaken many from the fog of an (ultimately inadequate) purely intellectual faith into a faith that is firmly rooted in life. As Calvin put it, “For we cannot with propriety say, there is any knowledge of God, where there is no religion or piety.” In other words, the truest knowledge of God and His Gospel is found in its practice just as much (if not more) than in its content.
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Somebody Redeem this NOW!


Monday I showed how someone could take some bad Christian culture and redeem it to truly honor God.  Well, thanks to Andrew Vogel, a good friend and former classmate, whose comment showed me another video that really needs to be redeemed, remixed, or just removed.  Here’s the video.  If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears.  Big.  Floppy.  Ears.  Somebody get some GaGa in this thing.

“Is Twitter Really Killing Us?” – Patrol Mag


Do we form Social Networks or do Social Networks form us?

That’s the fundamental question raised by Peggy Ornstein’s recent article “I Tweet, Therefore I Am” in The New York Times recently.  It’s also the question I want to address in my recent article in Patrol Magazine.  So, whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or no Social Network at all, I promise the article has something for you, our culture, and the world in which we find ourselves.  Leave comments!  Here’s the link:

“Is Twitter Really Killing Us?” – Patrol Mag

You can read all my articles for Patrol Magazine here.

“Information Overload, Social Darwinism, Linguistics, & Nuclear Forensics”-Patrol


Look at that picture above.  Click on it to make it bigger.  That’s my iTunes.  As you can see, I listen to a LOT of podcasts.  And no, this isn’t just a  narcissistic  moment  to seem smart.  You see all those blue numbers above each podcast?  Well, those are just the episodes I haven’t listened to.  Also notice the 320 iTunesU lectures that have also been neglected.

And so begins my newest article in Patrol Magazine.  It’s about our culture’s (and my own) addiction to information consumption, how we should think about it, and where our hope is that something good may come of it.  I know, it’s some light reading, right?  Here’s the link:

“Information Overload, Social Darwinism, Linguistics, & Nuclear Forensics”

For all my previous articles at Patrol, click here.

“Okay, So Jack Bauer Didn’t Die”-Patrol Mag


Another week, another article in Patrol Magazine. This week, I wrote a response to my article two weeks ago, “Jack Bauer Must Die“.  The response was needed because, as the title of my current article implies, the series finale of 24 happened and Jack did not indeed die.  Here’s the link:

“Okay, So Jack Bauer Didn’t Die”-Patrol Mag

Once again, just as the last article, this article isn’t even so much about the show itself as it is about what this show, and it’s ending says about our culture and what is profitable.  Please comment freely here and on Patrol.  I’d love your thoughts.  You can view all of my past articles for Patrol Magazine here. [p.s.-starting next week, I’m changing my blogging philosophy, which will result in a very different feel for this site.  More to come.]

On Poetry & Atheism (I’m Writing for Patrol Magazine)


Sorry things have been so slow this week on the blog.  I’m still trying to find my rhythm for writing while I have this new full-time job.

As of late last week, I am the newest writer for the blogs at Patrol Magazine. Patrol is a great site putting forward some of the best writing available on culture, the arts, and spirituality from the perspective of post-everything twenty-somethings. I am the Thursday contributor to “The Scanner” section of the site. The Scanner is the place for “daily culture, media, views, and blather.” Today, my first article went up. Here’s the link:

Poetry is the Only Thing That Can Save Atheists, Says Other Hitchens Brother

I’m really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to one of my favorite sites. Like I said, you can see my writing every Thursday there on Patrol Magazine. As I continue writing, you can see all of my articles here.

Does anyone have any ideas for future posts?

[Art above: “The Last Judgment” by Rogier van der Weyden. Just read the article. It’ll make sense.]

Absolutism vs. Relativism: Is there Another Way?


Sorry.  I know this is lame.  But, I was organizing some of the files on my computer and I ran across this proposal I wrote last year to the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture for an article.  It didn’t get accepted, so I never wrote the article.  I thought I’d go ahead and put it up though to see if you all have any thoughts on this topic, or if you’d like to see this article written anyway.  Feel free to leave some comments at the bottom of the post.

In the midst of the culture wars, deep philosophical shifts are challenging old ways of thinking. As a culture of post-modernity encroaches upon ground that was previously held by religion, the presuppositions of all faiths are being challenged by new, competing ideas. Religion charges post-modern culture with Relativism — a tenet that religion claims is unsustainable. This critique is not without validity: no philosophy can stand for long that admits its lack of foundation, and does not recognize a need for such epistemological certainty. The relativizing of post-modernity will surely collapse under a generation of those disillusioned by its inability to deliver that which it has no principle nor authority to deliver.

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Open Mic: The Question of Transgenderism (pt.i)


UPDATE: This series is finished. Part 2 can be found here and Part 3 is here

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine shot me a facebook message asking me for a Christian perspective on, of all things, transgenderism. For many reasons that will be explained later, this will be a topic of increasing pertinence that the Church will have to give a theologically-informed account for at some point. We need to have answers for questions like: “Did God make them that way?”, “Are they just confused?”, “Should we support many people’s desire for surgical alterations?”,”What hope for ‘healing’ can we expect in this life?”,”Is it something that needs to be ‘healed’ in the first place?”, “Is it a sin?”, “What does a Christian with transgender issues look like?”, “Is that even possible?”, among others.

To be honest, I don’t feel like I have a rock solid answer to any of these questions. Every time I feel like I do, I talk to someone and they show me a new dimension I hadn’t seen before. So, I’m very open to ideas, which is why I’m writing this on the blog. I would love everyone’s feedback and opinion as to how one should answer these questions.

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