Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Stuff I Have Liked Lately

I am working on some actual posts but due to some circumstances I am having a hard time completing them but I did want to pass along some posts/articles from others than I have found interesting.

Our Shaken Faith in Football

There is not much that is more American than going to church on Sunday and then rushing home to watch the NFL all afternoon. I remain convinced that a large part of the reason church meets mostly before noon on Sunday is that no men would show up at all if it met in the afternoon. That is what makes Owen Strachan's essay so jarring. The idea that perhaps the values of football, my favorite sport bar none, is not a particularly healthy obsession for Christians borders on heresy. High school, college, pro, we love our football but Strachan asks some important questions about a game that revels in violence and leads to many injuries (how many of us talk about nagging injuries from high school football as a badge of honor?). Is it possible that our cherished national obsession is unhealthy for the church?

Food (Stamps) For Thought

Food assistance for the needy, commonly called "food stamps" even though they are not really stamps anymore, is a huge and growing program designed to meet the most basic need of the poor and/or needy among us on a temporary basis, namely feeding their family. It is also an easy target for conservatives because it is a growing program and feeds (pun intended) into the image of the "welfare queen" living off the government dime. National Review is an unlikely venue to read someone who thinks that conservatives should lay off food stamps but that is kind of what Henry Olsen is suggesting. His most salient point is that it is disingenuous to complain about food stamps in the "ag bill" and ignore farm subsidies. I am not a huge fan of food stamps as a program and it needs serious reform but there are much bigger fish to fry in the Federal budget (um, "defense" spending perhaps?!).

It's (Too) Easy for me to say I'm a pacifist

I don't like the term pacifist, preferring non-resistant because pacifism implies I am against war and that is it but this brief essay raises a troubling issue. It sure is easy to be non-resistant when I don't have much to resist in the first place. We are not persecuted in any sense of the word in America. I am not forced to fight in wars. I am in little personal danger. So it is mostly academic for me to say I am non-resistant. I trust that God would give me wisdom and strength should I ever find myself in a situation where being non-resistant had a real cost but until that happens I recognize that it is awfully easy for American Christians to claim to be pacifists.

Is Public School An Option?

I don't write much about homeschooling these days because it is hard for me to not be self-righteous about it. It is a hot button issue that causes battle lines to be drawn and it often divides the church. Nevertheless I think Al Mohler makes some important points in his essay and concludes, as I have, that public school is by and large not an option for Christian families. It is one of those issues that I think people need to address but I don't think I am the right person for the job, at least not these days!

Evangelical Adoption Movement Attacked..Again

We have seen a number of assaults on the burgeoning movement toward adoption in the church and the attacks are relentless. Jonathan Merritt points us to another public attack, this time on the elite pages of the New York Times. I will admit that there are issues in this movement, as there are any time fallen humans attempt something, but the attacks take the exception and the anecdote and apply it to all. Most Christians I know are very sincere in their desire to help those without families. It is unhelpful to orphans and those in the system to attack the people trying to help them out of some misplaced fear and outright bigotry. There seem to be some who prefer children be trapped in the government system rather than be exposed to those awful Christians in a loving home. I think I know what their motivation might really be...

And then there was this...

Evangelical Sex Abuse Record 'Worse' Than Catholic, Says Billy Graham's Grandson Boz Tchividijian

This one got play all over the media. I read it and alarm bells went off all over the place. I am in no way discounting the problems being alleged. What I an concerned about is four fold. First, Mr. Tchividijian is apparently (although not uniquely) playing on his famous grandfather's name to gain credibility (almost every article I saw on this referenced 'Billy Graham's grandson). Second, the articles are all pretty vague and mostly anecdotal. There are lots of problems but they are unreported. Well isn't that convenient! You can make a claim of a huge problem that is unreported so you are not burdened with providing statistics/facts and if questioned just blame a culture of silence. Notice that the title is inflammatory but then he is quoted saying "I think we are worse" (emphasis mine). Pretty major accusation to make based on something he thinks might be true. Third, Mr. Tchividijian is all over the secular media to drum up attention rather than dealing with this in the church. When you seek attention from unbelievers and those with an ax to grind (i.e. an interview with Rachel Held Evans who of course brings up Sovereign Grace Ministries who also happen to be complementarian) it makes you seem more interested in drumming up business than dealing with an issue. Fourth, follow the money. Mr. Tchividijian works for an organization that also employs another relative and seems a little shady to me. When it is in your financial interest to blow a problem out of proportion I am always suspicious. Notice the praise for Bob Jones University for hiring his organization.

Child abuse is real, it is a problem and when it happens in the church it is a major issue but I am not sure if this is a real attempt to solve a problem or a cash cow for people to provide "consulting" and "investigative" services. As always when money is involved your discernment radar should go up. No one is more critical of organized religion than I am but sometimes it seems as if the "solution" is less a solution for a problem and more a way to cash in on sin.

Anyway, that is a little of what I have been reading for the last week or so. Give them a look!


dle said...

I'd like to reverse the question on the football issue: "Is a national obsession with personal safety unhealthy for the Church?" I think that's a better question and also explains much.


Living in an area with many people on "food stamps," I am perpetually stunned as to what qualifies as "food." So yes, reform is needed. Badly.


I continually struggle with the pacifist issue. Ask me tomorrow.

I think you're overlooking how persecution is slowly creeping into everyday living. In fact, you mention discrimination against Evangelicals in adoption later on. Discrimination is the tip of the larger persecution iceberg. If this increased vilification of Christians who believe the Bible is true and abortion and homosexuality are still sins is NOT the beginning of flat-out persecution, I don't know what is. "Conform or be punished" is pretty much the mantra of persecution.


Public school became our only option after sickness struck. Homeschoolers never want to talk about that issue.

Arthur Sido said...

Dan I think actual persecution is indeed coming, but not here in any form yet. I would dare say that the persecution we will experience will come largely from the religious establishment, that has been the pattern throughout history. What that looks like is a little troubling if you think about it.

Arthur Sido said...

Also, on the football question. I am a critic of the obsession with personal safety (i.e. the incessant slathering of hand sanitizer on kids lest they get exposed to a germ or three) but there is a difference between that and an activity which intentionally seeks to harm one another.

dle said...

A football player can make $10 million or more over the course of a career.

The question is whether that balances on life's balance sheet.

As a culture, we have traditionally rewarded more difficult or more demanding jobs with higher pay as compensation.

The risks of football are well known. If people choose to take those risks for the rewards, who are we to say no?

No one out there is saying we should stop making action movies because stuntpeople get hurt badly or killed. Why single out football? The number of pro players who have died during a game of baseball and of football is the same: one. Ironically, it was the baseballer who died from actual play, while the footballer had a known heart condition.

The ultimate point of that article is whether football is the modern equivalent of Rome's gladiatorial combat. One could argue that our entire culture is "bread and circuses," with folks hoping to see a wreck at a NASCAR race or witness a skier wipe out during ski jumping. Why single-out football? Maybe our entire culture needs to withdraw from the voyeurism.

Not trying to be a pain. Just offering another view. In truth, I watch no sports anymore.

Arthur Sido said...

I agree in principle but football holds a special obsession in our lives in America, especially in the church. I would never tell anyone we should ban football (or boxing or ultimate fighting or whatever) but I think that the culture and underlying philosophy of football is less than healthy for believers.

I think of guys like Barry Sanders who quit early and seems to be in great physical shape compared to Earl Campbell who is a physical wreck. I think of Peyton Manning who could be paralyzed because of that odd neck condition he has but choose to play, risking a life in a wheelchair when he already has more money than he could ever spend.

I love football and that is what scares me about it.