Central Texas Methobloggers

Here are the bloggers from the Central Texas Conference that I am aware of:
David Alexander;
Johnny Brower;
Rick Mang;
Alan McGrath;
John Nader;
Mark Winter;
and, of course, me. But then, if you are reading this, you already have mine. 🙂

If there are any others out there, please let me know!

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How old is old?

Did you catch the Rolling Stones’ halftime show? While I am impressed that Mick and the boys are still in shape to do what they do, watching the show with some of my youth brought it all into perspective for me.

Halfway through their opening “Start me up,” one of my junior high youth asked what the song was. I gave her the name of the song then started to ask if she didn’t remember all the commotion of the roll-out of Windows 95, which was tagged to this song.

“Start me up” was released on the Tattoo You album in 1981, but may be more famous lately for its link to the Windows revolution that was Windows 95.

This youth, though, was only 4 at the time of that Operating System’s release.

HOPELESS

I literally did a double take when I read it. I use the Bible Gateway all the time for research. For whatever reason yesterday I clicked on the button at the top of the page for “Daily Wisdom.” I found some, but not all of it was actually daily wisdom. Some of it reeked.

Sunday’s was good. Brief, insightful, and an interesting take on the relationship between faith and works. Then I read Saturday’s.

The title is “Is God All-Loving?” Not if you are the writer of this alleged wisdom. It claims, several paragraphs in, that “God’s love and forgiveness are not unconditional.”

The point is the old, hyper-Calvinist argument that God’s love and forgiveness are only offered to those whom God knows will accept them, and that, thus, they are offered conditionally.

For the writer of that unwise wisdom, “God loves those who obey Him” and only forgives those who repent.

Semantically I could find a point on which to agree. One cannot realize the love and forgiveness God offers to that famous “whosoever” unless one turns and accepts it. How that can reasonably be construed as conditional on God’s part is beyond me.

Join me in praying that Melanie Schurr, the author of this piece, finds the God of grace and God of glory who sent His son to die for everyone.

Conditional grace is not grace.

This week in history

This week marks the 33rd anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. This landmark decision legalized abortion on demand throughout the United States, though with some limits.

The subsequent 33 years have been filled with debate and frustration on all sides over this contentious issue. The Politics of Virtue, by Elizabeth Mensch and Alan Freeman, a book I read several years ago, contends that the Roe decision polarized the debate over abortion. So, while the Supreme Court supposedly settles matters, in this case, these writers argue, the high court only made matters worse.

That decision made matters worse, they say, but attempting to remove the matter from public debate. Though it seems amazing today, the years pre-Roe actually saw groups on opposite sides of the abortion issue working together to reach common goals.

What could have been the common goals, you ask? Both sides accepted that abortion as simply a matter of choice was not good for society. Both agreed that the number of abortions could be drastically reduced if certain steps were taken by communities. In some places, such steps were being taken.

Roe, though, made a debate out of an issue. As opposing political candidates and parties drew lines and caricatured their opponents, it became increasingly difficult to carry on a civil conversation from opposite side of the issue. Talking degenerated into name calling.

Now, 33 years later, this pattern of behavior has become the very stuff of all politics. It is rare that real, open discussion happens at a meaningful level on any big issues facing our society.

Perhaps it is time to set aside our penchant for villainizing the other side, whomever that may be, and listening long enough to find some common ground.

I will if you will. No, wait; that is the problem. I will, anyway.

The Tale of Two Books


It was the best of books, it was the worst of books.

Ok, So I’m overstating things. But not by much.

Last night I finally finished Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values. I only finished it because I wasn’t fair to stop halfway through a book by a former president.

Here is all you need to know about this book. Imagine an aging Old School Liberal Modernist Baptist former President thinking that the classy way to rip the sitting president is to shroud it in the garb of a concerned Sunday School Teacher who between Mondays and Saturdays criss-crosses the globe looking for people to help come to terms with a outdated understanding of human rights. Yeah, that’s this book.

I can’t help but wonder, though, whatever happened to that unwritten policy that former presidents do not comment on or detract from the work and direction of the current president? Carter apparently thinks that doing so as a concerned Christian makes it okay. I think that just makes it even less classy.

I do have to give Mr. Carter some credit, though. If his reporting of the current administrations actions and attitudes is at all accurate, the U.S. has a long uphill battle to gain any respect from most of the rest of the world.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I have also recently finished Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis.

Bell is the founding pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. He is also the anchor of the Nooma series of videos that both well produced and full of attention-grabbing content.

The subtitle of Velvet Elvis is “Repainting the Christian Faith.” Bell certainly does that in many different ways by honestly and openly looking all aspects of historic Christianity through the lens of a thirty-something Christian.

There are captivating studies of the cultures in which the scpritures were formed, and Bell fairly and cogently offers a fresh look at how we connect with them.

This isn’t your grandfather’s Elvis. But then, it isn’t your grandfather’s church, either.

In closing, there are likely many social positions on which Bell would side with Carter, proving there are some places one can arrive from different directions.

More on Race

I got a response to my previous post that lead me to believe that perhaps I hadn’t articulated things clearly enough. I hope this helps.

The point I hoped (and hope) to make is NOT that we cannot learn to treat others with respect and love regardless of skin color, but rather that even though we learn to so treat one another we do not actually and really not (physically) see skin color.

I read someplace, perhaps in Cornel West’s Race Matters, perhaps not, that a black person is reminded daily, somehow, that he/she is a black person. Not in a negative way, simply a matter of cultural fact (if there is such a thing). So, while you and I can (and I usually do) think of ourselves simply as people, not as “white” people, black folk in our society are not afforded the opportunity (by society) to see themselves simply as people.

So, ISTM, and this was the intent of the column, the best way for us white folk to really, honestly, approach color-blind living, is to admit to ourselves and to others where it might matter, that we are, indeed, white folk.

(I have found it interesting that it was the “liberals” in the 60s who spoke of a colorblind society, but now it is the “conservatives.” I dare say you will not find anyone recognized as being on the left who uses that kind of language.)

Some of this, I now believe, is that minorities have (justifiably in my book) gotten to the place that they interpret the call to leave cultural and racial identities aside and let’s all just be Americans as a call to give up any cultural heritage that is left and become just like the white folk.

The Roman Catholics felt this way in the latter half of the 19th century about the public school system. From the perspective of the Roman Catholics, the secular public school system was teaching their children to grow up and be like the Protestants. Was this a recognized goal of ANY of the public school leaders? I doubt it. I do believe, though, that it was entirely fair for the Catholics to view it that way.

Telling an old, old story

If someone would have told me, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I experienced it firsthand, so I assure you it happened.

Last night I was taking our youth through the story of David and Bathsheba. When we got through verse 5, with Bathsheba pregnant, the youth were overwhelmed with what Bathsheba had done.

It took me a few seconds to collect myself and respond. This story wasn’t ahead Bathsheba’s wrong. It was about David and his abuse of kingly power and his lust. It wasn’t Bathsheba’s fault. It took me some time to help the kids to see that!

We smoothly moved on into a discussion about how guys have these strong hormonal urges and they just can’t help themselves. So maybe it does all always fall on the woman’s shoulders.

I couldn’t help but observe what a sad, pathetic assessment of males that was. It is even sadder to me that our society seems to have bought it hook, line, and sinker.