Archive for the ‘culture’ Category


Here’s a quick quote from a recent sermon called “Joseph: Man of Quiet Nobility” by Bryan Loritts of Fellowship Memphis Church. I think he is quoting someone else, but I can’t remember who. It’s a terrific sermon on what we can learn from Joseph about what it means to be a Godly man.

Adolescence is desiring all of the benefits of adulthood without embracing the responsibilities of adulthood.


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I just read a column by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) called “This Is What Luck Smells Like“. Foreman talks about how being next to a guy who smells bad on a transAtlantic flight leads him to meditating on how thankful he should be that he can smell. And how we choose to see our lives,

“Maybe luck is a choice. Yeah, maybe luck is a choice. A choice to be thankful for the myriad blessings that you have rather than complain about the few smells that are unpleasant. Seems like luck doesn’t pour out like it does on the beer commercials: the young, rich, good looking, famously lucky few turn out to complain more often than their “unlucky” contemporaries. Maybe luck is a choice chosen by those whose roots sink deep into the grounds of community, sacrifice, family, worship and service. Yes, maybe luck is a choice.”

He was getting personal with me, I know what he’s talking about. I mean, I’m not a pessimist, but it doesn’t take much to set me grumbling. Then he ends it with this, which finished me off:

“But I’d like turn in my grumbling rights. I’d like to burn the authorization that I was born with, the authorization to complain, moan, and sigh heavily. I’d like to surrender my weapons of privilege. Here and now, I lay them down.”

This is something to think on, maybe a great New Year’s Resolution: to surrender my weapons of privilege.

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I watched a video today by Tim Keller called “Grace and the City”. It is a really interesting discussion of what a City is and what that means for us as Christians. He covers alot of ground in 40 minutes, from how Christians engage the culture to the basic characteristics of a City to a Biblical view of work. It’s a thoughtful look at how we as Christians relate to the City, and how we should relate to the City. At one point he points out that the population density in Manhattan is higher than almost anywhere in North America, and that therefore it has the highest concentration of the image of God! Funny, interesting, and the more you think about it the more challenging a comment it is. Here’s the link to the video:


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Guilty Pleasures

Here’s a quote from an article by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) called “Outside the Fences” .

“Only in humility can we begin to find the beauty in everything. Do you have the
barefaced wonder to drift outside the lines? If you dare, you could rise up to be
the shameless architect of the unknown, charting new ground that the critics will
never know. For the rest of the crowd, there’s safety in numbers. But for you- you
and your brave soul, there are no guilty pleasures. Just pleasures.”

Jon Foreman

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Brave New World

Jason e-mailed this to me earlier in the week, and I thought it was well worth passing along. It’s important to note that this book was written in 1986 (!), long before DirecTV, reality shows, etc. and the explosion of cell phones and the internet. His comment about the truth drowning in a sea of irrelevance is frighteningly timely.

In the foreword to the book (Amusing Ourselves To Death) Postman contrasts the visions offered in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949):

Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing.

Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

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 Here’s an e-mail I received from a friend about a news service being offered by Ravi Zacharias ministries. Their website and daily podcasts are goldmines.  

RZIM Zacharias Trust and the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics are launching a ‘breaking news’ service aimed at providing up to the minute Christian responses to public challenges to the faith. Our speaking team includes John Lennox, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, Amy Orr-Ewing, Michael Ramsden and Os Guinness. We hope that their responses will benefit you in your conversations with others.

A good example of what we would include is last month’s full-page article written by Oxford Professor John Lennox in The Daily Mail responding to Stephen Hawking’s new book The Grand Design. The article entitled ‘As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God’ can be viewed at http://www.rzim.eu/stephen-hawking-and-god <http://www.rzim.eu/stephen-hawking-and-god>

I thought you would be interested in this service. If so, all you need to do is go to this link http://www.rzim.eu/breaking-news-signup <http://www.rzim.eu/breaking-news-signup> <http://www.rzim.eu/breaking-news-signup <http://www.rzim.eu/breaking-news-signup> > and register. We only anticipate sending these emails from time to time as challenges arise.

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Couldn’t Be Happier

We went to see “Wicked” at the Orpheum last week. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a musical that tells the “untold story of the witches of Oz”. I won’t try to explain the whole story, but there is a song towards the end of the show called “Thank Goodness” sung by Glinda, the “good” witch, that is pretty poignant: 

That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
 Well – not “simply”:
‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?

Glinda finds herself being celebrated by all of Oz and seemingly about to marry the man of her dreams. But in the midst of it all, she begins to realize what she has given up to get “what she wants”, the compromises that she has made. It is an all too familiar picture of our culture. We are promised “happiness” just right around the corner, in a bigger house, a sexual encounter, winning the big game, … only to find that it all ultimately leaves us wanting just a little bit more. As Paul told the Philippians let us “lay hold” of the “prize” that will give us true joy.

12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”     Philippians 3:12-21


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A Halloween Prayer

Once upon a time, Halloween (much like Christmas) was a day set aside by a pope in response to a popular existing pagan holiday on that day.  More specifically, the day was All Saints Day, which was moved from May 13 to November 1 in order to steer the celebration from a pagan emphasis to a Christian one.  All Saints’ Eve, or Halloween, was also set aside (“hallowed”) as a special day for remembrance and worship.

Most of us do not celebrate either a pagan holiday or a Christian one.  But for those interested, reflecting on God’s goodness to those who have gone before is not a bad idea on Nov 1, October 31, or any other day.

Here is a contemporary English version of a classic All Saints’ Day prayer (from the Church Society’s English Prayer Book):

And we bless your holy name for all your servants who have died in your faith and fear. Give us grace to follow their good examples so that with them we may inherit your eternal kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only mediator and advocate.

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One take on the age-old contemporary/traditional war:

“I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”
— G.K. Chesterton, writing in the Illustrated London News, June 3, 1922

HT:  the greatest living Memphis musician (white man category)

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The number of the beast (or really, “the number of a man” associated with the beast) is, rather strangely, one of the most famous items in the NT–many people who could not name the four gospels know about 666.

There are some good comic riffs on this number floating around the web; I’ve taken some, and come up with a few of my own.  But first let me point out that I think it’s important to joke about this.  One of my recent bank account numbers had 666 in the middle of it, and some folks I know would flip about this.  But as far as the original author of Revelation was concerned, the point of the number is not the number itself.  Christians who take the Bible literally must account for symbolism.  John never intended for people to get worked up over a number–he had something far more important to say, to which that number was a mere pointer.

Here we go then.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.  To borrow from JFK (and Brian Regan), “Ask not what the number of the Beast is, ask what you can do with the number of the Beast.”

668   The neighbor of the beast

666%  What the beast gives at work and at play

2/3    The fraction of the beast

111   Payment plan of the beast

666F    Temperature for cooking roast beast

999    Number of the beast in Australia, South Africa, etc.

66,666    Number of the Costco version of the Beast

NT 666     New Testament course on the beast (and the rest of Revelation…there is a real course on Revelation numbered NT 666 at Asbury Seminary; you can download the course at ITunesU)

222    Number of the beast on the moon

Fe666     Ironman version of the Beast

H2O2 666    Blonde Beast

Ag 666       Al Davis

665.95   Retail price of the Beast

29A    Hexidecimal number of the beast

1010011010   The binary Beast

Belle+666     Beauty and the Beast

666i   The BMW model driven by the beast

00666     Beast. James Beast.

616     The beast in witness protection (also based on real life; one of the earliest available texts of this passage in Revelation cites 616 as the beast’s number rather than 666; see the third line of the fragment below, XIC with line over it).

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