Monday, October 30, 2006

Christ Follower Vs. Christian

Can you tell the difference?

Hat tip to Don't Call Me Veronica for this one.

And just because he's too darn cute, my youth pastor shows off his son in his first costume.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 1:43 PM | 5 comments

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What do Joyce Carol Oates and Salman Rushdie Have in Common? Nothing

Joyce Carol Oates has an impressive resume: Princeton University Professor, prolific author, winner of numerous awards including being short listed for the Nobel Prize. I have read a bunch of her stories in the past usually taking an extended break because they tend to be so dark I can get berried in the story. Recently her reputation has taken on a more notorious side when she based a story off of the local murder of a college student. It isn't uncommon for writers to draw off of news events or another persons life story. Truth is stranger than fiction and life can have a stronger dramatic impact than anything a person can make up. Joyce capitalized on that fact by writing a particularly harsh story based on recent events surrounding the death of a local college student. The story is well written and can be used as a cautionary tale warning of the dangers of binge drinking on college campuses. What many people will find disturbing is how you are never left with a clear resolution. If it's done well you can get a sense of closure even if you never know what really happens. In this case it leaves you feeling cold. The story is nothing but drama for the characters come off as honest to a fault as people distraught over the death begin to let their more selfish side come through. More often than not when a young person dies everyone tells the world how tragic it is and the world is a worse off place because the person is no longer in it. Not this time. The characters paint a more fleshed out characterizationi of the deceased that is less than an idealization. It is no wonder this story upset a lot of people who knew the young student. I do not blame them for the student in the story comes off as very immature and self-centered. They have given Oates a lot of heat over the story. And I was ready to defender her until she made this comment:

In an e-mail sent Wednesday to The Associated Press, she likened the school's criticism to the reaction of Muslim fundamentalists who issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against Salman Rushdie for his "The Satanic Verses." (read the full article here)

Why did she have to say that? Any legitimate argument she may have had is now out the window. It only makes her look more ridiculous. I wanted to be on her side. How can she possibly make the same comparrison between her and Rushdie? She doesn't have to watch her back. Her life isn't in danger. People will probably be a tad ticked with her for a bit then forget all about it. Have we gotten such an inflated sense of self that we think every little thing we do will make the world stop?

In spite of it all, if you want to read the story and find out what the big deal is I'd still recommend it.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 5:37 PM | 7 comments

Friday, October 20, 2006

One Line, A Church Gets Cheeky, Is Darfur the New Ethiopia?, and Vonnegut

Wes has a neat post about finding a line in a book. It's interesting to see what you come up with. Give it a shot, see what you find.

The blog Slice of Laodicea isn't known for hit's sense of humour. And they keep the trend going. I'm sorry, they are stilly and stupid and I wouldn't necessarily show them to my church. But dag it's nice to see the church showing their silly side.

I first heard about Darfur from Reno. I'm going to plead ignorance. I admit, until he blogged about it I couldn't point out where Darfur is. To put it plainly: Modern Genocide. It's sickening what is going on there. And the never ending conversation has now turned their sights to the problems there. You know how I feel about this. Conversation good, action better. At least this time they are doing something. Not a lot, but it's a start. One thing I have noticed is that people never think about Africa except once every 10 years or so. First it was Ethiopia, then Somalia, now it's Darfur. People get angry. Send a little money their way. Heck, maybe even a concert or two. Hopefully this time around we'll actually remember. Sorry for the snarkiness. I can't help wondering how long it'll be before we forget these people too.

And for no reason at all, here's Kurt Vonnegut on The Daily Show. After all these years, and with age still catching up with him, he's still the man.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 3:59 PM | 3 comments

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Too Much Conversation, Too Little Action?

I keep hearing about the Christian Conversation. New voices are now being heard in a wide range of mediums. Between talk radio, books,tv programs, and now the internet we are getting covered in words. Jim Wallis points out with no small amount of glee how the conversation is starting to spread and more people are talking about social justice. Even his new label of Red Letter Christians points to the fact that there is a lot of talk going around. I agree with him. The conversation does need to change, but what about action? Christ was more than just some words he spoke. He lived them out. Whether it's feeding the five thousand, healing the sick, and even dying on the cross. I am in a small group and we are trying to come up with a way to better serve our community. We've been talking about it. If we don't do something soon it may just die on the vine. Wes in his blog shares a recent experience at a pizzaria that is doing just that. Several years ago the church I was attending at the time found a homeless man sleeping on the lawn. The police were there to escort him off the property. He had no shirt or shoes. One of the other members standing near me commented, "Can't 'insert name of ministry here' help that man?"

Here's another example of a man of Action. Mr. T helps people to not be fools.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 11:30 AM | 5 comments

Saturday, October 14, 2006

In Case You Wondered

If you never were involved in youth ministry and have always wondered what it is we do. Here are some pics from the last few events we had.

EPC Youth Retreat

Pumpkin Fund Raiser

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 1:31 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Does God Want You To Be Rich?

Thanks again to Don't Call Me Veronica for this one. I have been a part of the prosperity Gospel in my younger days. All it did was leave me feeling that I was one of God's children and must be the worst of all sinners because I wasn't being blessed in this manner. The blessing that they offer only leads to bondage. Pray for the people who follow this teaching. Instead, pray we all have a healthier attitude about finances and learn that the greatest blessing we can ever receive is to be called his children.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 4:28 PM | 4 comments

Monday, October 09, 2006

Suprising Covers

Don't Call Me Veronica had a post to a pretty cool cover of a popular song. I tried to find a version of Richard Thompson covering Britney Spears song Ooops I Did It Again. No lie. I saw him do it at a concert a few years ago. He actually makes that crappy song sound good! Instead here he is doing his classic song 1952 Black Vincent Lightning. Watch his finger work! Clapton has nothing on this guy.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 9:02 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just Because We Can, Should We? Part II


Jesus drank wine - And don't tell me that it didn't contain any alcohol (like they told me in the CofC).

An occasional social drink never killed anyone (nor sent them to hell).

The problem is that this is such a downfall for so many these days...

After all Jesus might have drank wine but that doesn't mean He went on three-day benders either.

I think we must be very careful, as Christians, to avoid extremes. We shouldn't condemn those who drink responsibly nor those who abstain.

And it's not our business to condemn those who drink irresponsibly either - but we should try to help them and avoid tempting them.

There is a fine line here between trying to reach people through unconventional means and validating self-destructive behavior.

If you figure out where this line is please let me know!

The Southern Conservative
My response to this was shaped by C.S. Lewis. I think it's a sin to drink to excess... or to smoke to excess, eat to excess, etc. Doing anything is really turning something else into your god, a false idol. It messes up your priorities and gets your spiritually off track. I think that fanatical teetotalism can be a sin, too, if you turn that particular focus into a kind of false god. Anything that comes between us and God, be it drinking or even NOT drinking, can be really damaging.

But then again, I enjoy an occasional heavy stout, just as Lewis did, so maybe he (and me) came up with answers that suited. :)

Strange Culture
definitly not a sin to drink, otherwise jesus was a sinner...which he wasn't.

I personally have never even had a drop of alchol...namely because for me it is a matter of personal/private discipline, and it keeps me from falling into a temptation i can not get out of it.

Often, I feel uncomfortable when Christian's get together and are drinking, even moderatly...that, though, is my problem, and is me being judgemental.


... An interesting blog.


Do I even have to type a "Lutheran" response????

I think St. Paul had the right approach. While there may benothing wrong with something in general, if it is going to be a stumbling block, then maybe it isn't the best idea.

As far the guy drinking and smoking on his is his blog and people shouldn't freak out over it. Of course, he may not have wanted to post a pic of that. Regardless, it is his space to do what he wants with. I just quit smoking last year, after smoking since middle school. When we go out dinner, I'll have beer or wine. Even this year at synod assembly I walked into a bar in my collar and saw several other collared folks enjoying a nightcap after a long day. Sometimes a little scotch takes the edge off.

Fact is, Christians have consumed alcohol throughout Christian history. I don't think we should throw that in the face of Christians who have an issue with it, but I also don't think they should be pushing their tee-totaling on those of us who do not see an issue with a cocktail.

This is a greatly interesting discussion. My thoughts mirror many of the ones mentioned so far.

I do not beleive drinking or smoking to be a sin unless you do it to excess or allow it to become an idol.

As for having prayer/Bible study meetings in bars, this seems like a bad idea to me. Alcohol is a problem for too many people and asking them to meet in a bar may be putting them in danger or making them feel uncomfortable. Of course, I guess even this could be overcome if the group is a small, intimate group and everyone feels comfortable talking about issues like this.

Good comments. I like the tone and the content thus far. The only thing that I want to add is that I feel like both choices--to drink or not to drink--is often worn as a badge of honor. In doing so it is used to put oneself over and above someone else. I have talked to Christians that are very proud that they don't drink and never have. And I have met equally proud Christians that would never take such a "legalistic" (in their mind) approach to drinking. Afterall, they better understand Christian "liberty." Why do we divide over these things? Both sides bring up valid points. But it's not worth dividing over. My fear is that the world doesn't care one way or the other whether we drink in "moderation" or we don't drink at all. But they do take note of how we treat each other when we differ in such things. Thanks for opening up the conversation.

Cube Rev
Two stories that may or may not help people understand where I am coming from:

1. I have the pleasure of going to see my friends band perform at a lot of pubs and bars across the Philly region. Many of which are near colleges. Rounding about 2 AM I stopped listening to the music and instead started to pay attention to the people around me. In every corner there were people hooking up, throwing their arms around each other, but too drunk to really notice what they were doing. I saw this as a need of intimacy, a need for connection, and love. A need not getting filled only numbed or temporarily filled. I found it rather disheartening. I never got into the bar scene when I was younger. I went to a club a handful of times in my life. The only bars I go to are for dinner (there are a few that have great wings). I can understand why they go there every week. To get what they aren't getting every day of their life. Something which we as Christians take for granted. Community. Here is a ministry opportunity and I do not know how to fulfil it.

2. When I turned 30 a friend of mine threw me a b-day bash. We invited all my friends and family as well as his parents and sisters. His parents are a lot more conservative than we are so we wondered if it's a good idea to have beer at the party. After some consideration we figured it wouldn't hurt since most people I know don't drink to excess. Fast forward a few years, I find out it upset my friends parents more than I realized, to the point they were brought to tears. They recognize they are the weaker brothers and sisters as a result of this. So I come full circle. There are plenty of Christians I know who feel that way. Just because I can drink, does it mean I should. And if I were to drink or smoke, am I causing my brother and sister in Christ to sin by throwing it in their face? I agree that he has the right to post whatever he'd like on his blog. Quite frankly I don't think he has much of a problem. No more than most people. Even I felt like he was flaunting the fact he likes to drink and smoke in my face. Are we showing grace to our weaker brothers when we do such things?

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 7:15 PM | 6 comments

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just Because We Can, Should We?

A few weeks ago Pomomusings posted a picture of himself smoking a hookah with a beer in his hand. This prompted a post on another blog which pomo has also made a response. Both make valid points and bring up the issue booze and Christianity. There are a few of you here who know my stance on drinking and smoking, but I am going to keep them to myself for the time being. Instead, I want to ask a few questions:

  • It seems to be the vogue right now for Christian groups to have meetings in bars, is this a good idea? Are we preaching to the lost or just using it as an excuse to get drunk?
  • There are a lot of people out there who think drinking is a sin, aren't we to help keep our weaker brothers and sisters from sinning? Because drinking has become more acceptable in the church are we now throwing in the face of those who still have a problem with it?
  • Just because you feel that scripture bears out that it is okay to drink does that mean we should?
  • Finally, do you think it's a sin to drink or not? Why?
If you want to respond to this you can either post it in the comments or send me an e-mail at

Depending on the response I get I might post them on the blog here.

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posted by Out Of Jersey | 2:58 PM | 8 comments