Rabbit Trails (7/20/13)

All sorts of goodies going on this week on the old WWRT…

Here’s a take on the media reporting on the phenomenon of the Christian hipster pastor. If you know me in the flesh and blood world, you know that I am not a hipster. It’s hard to be cool if you look like some combination of an oversized Hobbit and Charles Ingles. Continue reading


Soul Searching 10: There is no right answer

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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

Should Churches Be In The Wedding Business?

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

She Stayed Because She Loved Them

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 (7/13/13)

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.

Hopping down the WWRT this week…

From last week, I found this article from Christianity Today discussing the morality and biblical justifications for the American Revolution very interesting. His remarks at the end of the article are something I’ve found to be true in my own reading: American Christians have always had a tendency to allow their political ideology to shape their theology instead of the other way around.

Continue reading

The Quirks Of Small Town Life

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

Rabbit Trails (7/6/13)

Hopping down the WWRT this week…

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.

While I’m on the topic of Pittsburgh, I read somewhere once that there are 32 distinct ethnic neighborhoods in the ‘Burgh. Here’s an old archived article from 2003 talking about the old immigrant, blue-collar neighborhoods, and how they are changing.

Given the SCOTUS rulings last week, I spent a little time listening to a really solid podcast from Dallas Theological Seminary called The Table. The discussion revolves around what the rulings in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases do and not do, and how we can respond. About an hour long, and very good.

Back in June, Christianity Today published a fascinating article about the Baptist Church of Georgia (the country, not the state) describing how they are a baptist church that worships in the historical and liturgical Orthodox tradition.

In the spirit of country and paddling, Canoe and Kayak magazine posted it’s top five fireworks floats. Pittsburgh made the list. I knew it would.

Did you see this? An Alaskan fisherman caught a 200 year old, 40 pound fish!

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.