Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Apatheists

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Culture, faith, Ministry
Tags: ,

USA Today had an interesting article (you can find it here) at the end of last year that highlighted a growing trend in regards to the role of faith/religious belief in society that I’ve wondered about, and maybe even at some level, have sensed as a new reality.

In the article, the writer was sharing stories and statistics that revealed a growing trend in our culture to “care less” about the idea of God.

While many Christians are getting animated over what appears to be a much more bold fundamentalist form of atheism (ironic huh?) perpetuated by individuals like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, & Richard Hawkins, the truth is, the percentage of atheists in the United States isn’t really going up.

But what does seem to be rising, statistically, are those who Hemant Mehta of the blog Friendly Atheist calls the Apatheists.  These are individuals who don’t know whether God exists are not.  They are unattached and unaffiliated with any religious institution.  Not because they are atheists and don’t believe.  But because…they simply don’t care.  They never think about the possibility of God and don’t seem inclined to ever do so.  They are living their lives day-by-day without any existential thought of “greater purpose” or “meaning” or “life after death.”

In a recent survey the statistics revealed this:

•44% told the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time seeking “eternal wisdom,” and 19% said “it’s useless to search for meaning.”

•46% told a 2011 survey by Nashville-based evangelical research agency, LifeWay Research, they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.

•28% told LifeWay “it’s not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose.” And 18% scoffed at the idea that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.

Of course, this has radical implications for the church.  It seems the task is not to provide an apologetic for the existence of God; nor to show the “truths” of our faith claims; nor to convince someone they are a “sinner” in need of “salvation” so that they can go to “heaven;” nor even to demonstrate the “church in action” at its best.   Why?  They don’t care.  And they aren’t interested in those questions nor the resulting answers.  When a conversation about “religion” comes up, they mentally check out and politely change the topic.

The challenge seems to be to get people who could “care less” to “care.”

And that, to me, seems the most daunting task.  How do you help people move beyond steep spiritual apathy?

Advertisements

Christmas Culture Wars

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Christmas, Culture

Speaking of Christmas programs (see previous post), I do have a message to Christians I would like to share this time of year…chill out!  Quit beings so easily offended and allow people freedom to not celebrate Christmas if they aren’t Christians!

You do know we aren’t the only ones who have a holiday in December right?  The Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah; the African-American community celebrates Kwanzaa (at least that is what I’ve been told…but honestly, I’m a little skeptical); and some of us observe the holiday of Festivus (“it’s a holiday for the rest of us”).  So, if a company who hasn’t confessed the Lordship of Jesus (because it can’t…it is an economic institution) wishes to be inclusive and wish everyone a “Happy Holidays!” why are we so upset by that?  We aren’t the only ones celebrating.  And I think it is in the spirit of Christ to not insist that it is our way or we aren’t shopping in your store anymore!

In fact, I think the worst thing that can happen for the cause of Christ is for Christmas to end up being a battle in some larger cultural war.  Do you know why?  Because wars have casualties.  And if we get our way, at what cost?  Does anyone’s heart and mind actually become attracted to Jesus because we boycott stores for their holiday greeting verbiage?!  Come on!!  If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, then simply act like Christ at Christmas.  And avoid any effort to do this:

Is Lady Gaga Schooling the Church?

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Church, Culture

Richard Beck is an author, blogger, and professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University.  He posted a blog today about the Gospel According to Lady Gaga.  I thought it was brilliant and convicting.

I think it will be well worth your time to read.  And then I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections on it.

You can find it here.

Dealing with Hermeneutics

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Culture, Doctrine, faith

There are two great challenges in reading the Bible:  1) exegesis and 2) hermeneutics.

The task of exegesis is to uncover what the text meant to its original hearers (remember…the Bible was written over 2000 years ago to a different time, place, language, and culture).  It may take some work to uncover, but the assumption is that the text cannot mean to us today, something radically different from what it meant to its original readers.  Likewise, the original intent of the author is relevant to us today.

But perhaps the most difficult task of reading the Bible is in the task of hermeneutics.  Hermeneutics is dealing with how to actually interpret and apply the Bible to our current time and place.  And there is a lot of difficulty and at times controversy in that.  For example, 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 clearly (meaning no grey area) states that a woman should have her head covered.  Most faithful Christians no longer practice head coverings for women because we recognize that “head coverings” in the 1st century had significance in a way that it does not today.

Hermeneutics has a lot of challenges with it.  It has to ask questions of Scripture like:  What is concrete, forever, black and white, commands?  What is situationally-specific instructions?  What in the Bible is just coincidentally mentioned?

I think every Christian needs to think through and have an understanding and answer to some of the most relevant hermeneutical issues in our day.  Take for example the issue of homosexuality.  We often quote the Old Testament texts, but there is a rightful issue of hermeneutics.  I want you to hear some of the hermeneutical questions that are thrown out (albeit in a mocking tone…but they are still issues nonetheless) in the midst of the conversation.

The following is a letter sent to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, a radio host and observant orthodox Jew, who brought up Leviticus 18:22 and the issue of homosexuality.  She then received a letter (side note:  The letter was signed, but ultimately proved to be a false name, so its author is unknown) from a listener questioning her use of Leviticus and her hermeneutical methods.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle- room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

I have some answers to this letter.  🙂 But the questions themselves are a great challenge to the reality that we have to interpret the text for today.  And that process is called hermeneutics.  And hermeneutics is often a very difficult task.

The Royal Family

Posted: November 17, 2010 in Culture

Dear Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Congratulations on your engagement.  I wish you all the best.  May you have long life, health, and great joy.  Sam.

Dear American mediaMOVE ON!!!! Please tell me that the happenings of the royal family in England and an engagement that everyone suspected was coming isn’t the biggest news story of the year!  Sam.

Beatles Now on iTunes

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Culture
Tags: ,

Apple announced today that iTunes would now be selling the Beatles catalogue.

I can care less.

But I’m going to guess my son (and my dad) is going to be thrilled!

Did the Beatles thing skip a generation?