Friday, June 5, 2015

[Link] What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear

by John Shore

Blog Editor's Note: Interesting article. And the kind of thing I think it would do us Christians good to just listen too without reacting to immediately to either defend ourselves or debate any theological clarifications. This is one of those "stop talking and just listen" moments that my wife tells me about.

By way of researching my book I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, I posted a notice on Craigslist sites all over the country asking non-Christians to send me any short, personal statement they would like Christians to read.

“Specifically,” I wrote, “I’d like to hear how you feel about being on the receiving end of the efforts of Christian evangelicals to convert you. I want to be very clear that this is not a Christian-bashing book; it’s coming from a place that only means well for everyone. Thanks.”

Within three days I had in my inbox over 300 emails from non-Christians across the country. Reading them was one of the more depressing experiences of my life. I had expected their cumulative sentiment to be one of mostly anger. But if you boiled down to a single feeling what was most often expressed in the nonbelievers’ statements, it would be Why do Christians hate us so much?

Read the full article:

Friday, April 10, 2015

40 Best Christian Rock Albums (that pushed the boundaries of CCM)

In alphabetical and chronological order, here are my picks for the 40 best albums that pushed the boundaries of what Christian rock could be. These by and large didn't get played on radio because they were either ahead of their time or said more than just the party line of mainline Christian evangelism. Several of these delved into philosophy, history, social justice issues, etc. before that was en vogue for Christian artists to do so. Those are my criteria for this list.

Many of these artists have lots of other deserving albums, but these are the ones that I believe propelled them past recycling the lowest common denominator CCM groupthought.

But they are all very excellent albums, a lot of fun to listen to, and are some of the things that helped to shape my faith and my understanding of Christianity.

Ping Pong Over the Abyss 77s 1982
The 77s 77s 1987
Sticks and Stones 77s 1990
Drowning with the Land in Sight 77s 1994
Art of the State AD 1985
Homeboys Adam Again 1990
International Anthems for the Human Race All-Star United 1999
Gut Level Music Altar Boys 1986
Lead Me On Amy Grant 1988
Exodus Andy Hunter 2002
Snakes in the Playground Bride 1992
The Secret of Time Charlie Peacock 1990
Love Life Charlie Peacock 1991
Alarma Daniel Amos 1981
Darn Floor, Big Bite Daniel Amos 1987
Delusions of Grandeur Fleming and John 1995
Flyleaf Flyleaf 2005
Miracle Mile Guardian 1993
Swing Swang Swung Guardian 1994
Tribal Opera Ideola 1987
The Book of Kells Iona 1992
Jars of Clay Jars of Clay 1995
Invisible Girl Julie Miller 1994
The Turning Leslie Phillips 1987
Soak Your Brain Lovewar 1993
Revolution Mind Magdalen 1993
The Big Picture Michael W. Smith 1986
Two Seventeen Pax217 2000
Sunday’s Child Phil Keaggy 1990
Freedom  Whiteheart  1989
Between Heaven and Hell Rez Band 1985
A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band Rich Mullins 1993
Rick Elias and the Confessions Rick Elias and the Confessions 1990
Spirit, Love, and Fire Southside Blades of Eden 1993
I Predict 1990 Steve Taylor 1987
Squint Steve Taylor 1993
Chase the Kangaroo The Choir 1988
Strength The Violet Burning 1992
Romeo Unchained Tonio K. 1989
Forum Undercover 1994

Over the next few weeks, I'll highlight each album and tell you why it deserves its spot on the list.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Existential Truth and the Eternal Jerkness of Being Right

Yes, I believe that what I believe about God is true at the expense of all other beliefs about God or Not-God being false. I own up to that cosmic bit of egoism in my chosen faith. However, I also believe that believing that does not now, nor has it ever given me the right to be an jerk about it or talk to other people without love and peacefulness in my attitude.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fight Like a...

In light of current events recently (many of which are circulating on FB and other social network sites with lots of anger and vehemence in the comments) I would like to say again --

Fight ideas. Fight them with passion. But fight people with gentleness and mercy because we're all made of the same water and blood and flesh and bone, and ultimately we still need each other.

This holds true, I believe, even, and perhaps especially, to those of us who think we don't need anyone and those who think there are those among us we can do without (particularly from among their opponents). It's important to remember what John Donne taught us: that if even a grain of sand is washed away from the beach, the country is the lesser for the missing grain.

When we adopt violence or hatred ourselves, we only become part of the problem. Being strong in the face of an enemy is effective. But spewing back hate is not.

Gentleness and mercy don't necessarily mean being peaceful. You can embrace gentleness and mercy even during a battle. It's an attitude you bring into the fight with you. It's the opposite of writing hateful slogans back again the people who hate you. It's the nature of not making the fight personal of not vilifying the enemy.

Peace wouldn't have stopped the Nazis. But neither did American soldiers have to embrace the "Kill the nasty Krauts" mentality to fight them.

Peace won't stop those who endorse terror. But neither do we have to embrace the cultural attitude to hate the terrorists.

It is enough to have to fight them. It is enough to have to resort to killing them in some cases to stop them. But there's no reason to hate them too.

It gets down to the reason we fight. Changing things because it is right to do so, not changing things because you hate those idiots who oppose you and your truth.

Becoming like the enemy always lessens us and our position. It never makes us better.

When I err, granted, I err to the side of the turn the other cheek, civil disobedience, Ghandi-Martin Luther King Jr. side of fighting. I will always promote patient, slow, steady change over violent, expedient upheaval.

I think too many people on both sides of most cultural arguments nowadays would prefer a Russian Revolution (1905)/French Revolution approach, come what may, as long as they get they way, rights, political power, cultural control, etc.

I indict all beliefs and lifestyles in that, Christians, Muslims, Gays, Anti-Gays, Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers, you name it.

What saddens me is that for the most part among those I've known in these groups, WHEN they feel that way (and most don't feel that way, but sadly, some do), they have little regard for the people involved on the other side. They become mere straw men that are little more than symbols for "What we fight against."

As a Christian I have a mandate to pursue truth, but also to love people and follow the example of Christ. This is the ONLY way I can figure out how to do both.