I’m finally getting back to Christian Smith’s Soul Searching, and we discover some more things about teen belief. Most of it is not that surprising overall, but that these things attitudes apply to those teens that identify as “conservative Christian” is not what I would hope for.
What does Smith point to next? It seems that the irrational postmodern desire to consider all viewpoints as equally truthful has found its way into most of American teen life. Continue reading →
With all the talk lately about the SCOTUS decisions regarding Prop 8 and DOMA, it has me thinking about the Church’s relationship to the State in regard to weddings. When I perform a wedding ceremony in the state of Pennsylvania, I am acting in part as an agent for that state. I am acting in some sense as a representative of the state as I formalize the marriage of these two people. This can be a complicated arrangement because it seems to me there are three things we’re looking at when we talk about marriage and the wedding ceremony.
A Theological Viewpoint:
A convincing historical argument can be made that it was Jewish and Christian morality, deriving from Old Testament law, that pushed society toward monogamy between one man and woman. From our perspective, marriage is ordained by God from the beginning, and human kind has always had a propensity to move toward sexual expressions that violate this principle. Marriage is not simply a right granted when people feel romantic love toward one another. It is a covenant promise made by a man and a woman before the Creator God, promising to live in union with one another, one man and one woman forever, emulating the oneness of the Triune God. Continue reading →
A couple of years ago I saw a story of brotherhood on ESPN that truly moved me. It’s the story of Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton. They two young men have had more than their fair share of troubles to over come. Dartanyon was born legally blind, and Leroy lost both of his lower legs when he slipped and fell underneath a moving train. The story of these two young men is moving in itself, but the story after and within the story is even more powerful. The reports producer, Lisa Fenn, found herself drawn to these two young men, and came to love them. She stayed with them, quitting her job at ESPN, to help these two young men from the wrong side of Cleveland to make it out of their tough situation. Watch this 12 minute clip of the original story. Have some tissues handy.
Lisa recently wrote a follow-up story for ESPN, with an accompanying video piece, and there is so much in here about grace and love that it is impossible to not be moved by it. She talks about how hard it was at first to understand the world of these two young African-American men. Continue reading →
Rabbit Trails is my chance, once a week, to highlight the stuff on the World Wide Rabbit Trail that I find interesting. It’s totally self-indulgent. This is the stuff that interests me. Hope you find it interesting too.
I’ve had a horrible time trying to blog this week. Between a funeral and VBS, and normal life happenings, I just haven’t had much to say, but I didn’t want to leave the week without saying something. Then, today unfolded and I got my post.
Actually this started a couple of days ago when the carbon monoxide detector in our basement starting beeping. Now, these things sometimes go bad, and batteries wear out, so I replaced the batteries and forgot about it. Two days pass, and it starts beeping again. At some point yesterday Bella the Schoodle was shut in the basement for about an hour, and came out puking. Today, I buy a new detector and put it and an older unit from another part of the house in the basement. Sure enough, I’ve got two CO detectors beeping.
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you before, but it can be a big deal. If you search the internet – always the smart thing to do if you want to know just how close you are to permanent brain damage or death – you’ll find that the best thing to is call the fire department. In our town, the only way to do that is to call 911. So, here I am on the phone with a 911 dispatcher explaining how I’ve got two CO detectors going off, and I was told we needed to call the fire department.
You want to know the funny part? The fire department is across the street from our church, and is thus across the street from our house, and the senior pastor of our church has served as chaplain of the fire department since – well – since time began. One of the former pastors of this church was once standing on the roof of a burning house when one of the firemen said, “Reverend, you need to get down off that roof. It’s about to get real hot up there.” To which the preacher said, “Not as hot as you’re going to be if you don’t turn to Jesus!” Never missed an opportunity, I suppose. Continue reading →
I’ve lived in several states in my life, and I can say that all of them have unique things about them that make them special, but the current region we call home has one of the most unique traditions. I admit to loving it. What am I talking about? The wedding cookie table. I’ve been to wedding receptions in grange halls and VFW halls, cathedrals and repurposed monasteries, hotels and bed and breakfasts, and there is always – always – a cookie table. I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the country. It’s a Pittsburgh thing.
I’ve been a fan of William Lane Craig for a few years now. I’ve listened to many of his debates. He basically crushes his opponents, and some of the most prominent atheists won’t debate him. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education explains why.
I’m just coming off one of the best weekend backpacking trips I’ve ever had. We put together a group of nine guys and headed off for the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. The Sods is one of those places that really is truly unique. It’s a bog and heath eco-system on a mountain plateau at about 4,000 feet of elevation. It isn’t like anywhere else I’ve been in the Appalachian Mountains. Actually, it isn’t like anywhere else I’ve been, and I’ve hiked all over the lower 48 except for New England.
The Sods are isolated, not in a New Mexico-no-people-for-miles-and-miles kind of way, but in a mountainous-takes-you-30 minutes-to-drive-10 miles kind of way. It’s a designated wilderness area. No roads, no power lines, no cell-phones. Just marked trails. There is nothing out there.
Around midnight on our second night, I walked off alone to stand by a creek. Yes, I went there just to stand and listen and think. I turned off my light, and tried to become as still as possible. I was thinking how alone and isolated we were. I was thinking that we were in the middle of nowhere.
But my perspective changed. As my eyes adjusted to the complete blackness, I began to see the shadows in the meadow around me. The hypnotic on and off of the lightening bugs was all around me. Soon the sound of the gurgling stream blended into the background, but spring peepers made themselves known. The bullfrog’s throaty croak becomes oddly soothing. The mouse running along the ground scavenging in a cold fire pit becomes my entertainment. The rustling around of the guys in the camp reminds me that I am really not alone. It occurs to me that I was not in the middle of nowhere, but I was in the middle of everything. I really was somewhere very important.