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The God of the Cosmos

My affinity for The Amazing Race (the best reality T.V. in the history of T.V.) is the reason I missed the premier of the new Fox miniseries Cosmos. Fortunately, the absurd money I pay Time Warner Cable permits me access to the show after the fact, and I finally took the time to view it this evening. A few general thoughts about the program:

1. It was visually stunning. The live shots were beautiful but the computer animation work made it enjoyable to watch.

2. Neil deGrasse Tyson was a good choice to host. I've enjoyed watching/reading Tyson for years now. His camera presence is strong. Although I don't think his voiceovers were quite as effective, he's still an affiable personality. Unfortunately, his great sense of humor wasn't utilized in the episode.

3. Overall, it was a polite treatment of the subject. Or maybe I just have thick skin.

You see, even though I appreciated Cosmos as interesting television, there iss an agenda behind the series. Although the overt claim of the creators was that they made Cosmos to promote science, it's clear that the underlying goal was to debase religion, especially Christianity. This isn't an observation born from paranoia; if you know the backgrounds of Tyson and producer Seth McFarlane (a brilliant entertainer as well), you know it's part of their schtick. I don't slight this at all. Christians in this country have countless opportunities to proselytize and promote their views in public forums. And if Christianity can't withstand this sort of scrutiny, then it's not worth believing in anyway. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that this is a purely objective program.

Still, there were a couple of things from the opening episode I found peculiar:

1. Cosmos emulated Christianity in the promotion of Messiah(s).

Globally, people still resonate with the person of Jesus, even if they deny his divinity. But I believe that naysayers fill this void by creating their own Christs; it's innate to our humanity to develop contenders to Jesus, elevating replacements for him by which we establish our own life philosophy. Tonight's episode, while lauding the vastness of the universe, promoted the narratives of two saviors: Carl Sagan and Giordano Bruno.

Admittedly, I am not an expert in the work of either men. Yet the way that they were presented in Cosmos displayed them as selfless rebels who gave their lives to promote the ultimate truth (a scientific gospel, if you will). In the case of Sagan, the creator of the original Cosmos series, he has become the patron saint of modern science. I'd suggest that the homage to Sagan in the newest incarnation of Cosmos surpasses mere respect. But more on Sagan later.

The focus on 16th century priest and philosopher Giordano Bruno was most interesting. Again, I'm only vaguely familiar with him, mostly for his role as a heretic of the church. I'd suggest, however, that it was his story revealed the true propoganda of the episode. Notice that the lead-in to Bruno's story began with a shot of Vatican City and featured Tyson narrating from the streets of Rome. The church was painted as a massive, villanous institution and Bruno the lowly but brave contrarian. The animations of Christian authorities (the whole narrative segment was a cartoon) displayed them as evil looking men. Now stick with me: I have no intention of defending the Inquisition here . . . or anywhere for that matter. Yet it is fascinating that when Cosmos prominently engaged Christianity in its opening episode—a show created to promote scientific pursuit—just happened to feature the darkest period of church history. That's called low-hanging fruit, friends. No harm, no foul, but it was rather lazy.

The Bruno narrative focused on his progressive views on the universe—his adoption of a Copernican view of reality where the earth wasn't the center of the universe. After repeatedly showing him being persecuted for this view, he's arrested and condemned to death. In a subtle display of truth, when Cosmos displayed the verdict against Bruno, it quickly mentioned his more controversial views, the ones that the church in his days viewed as heretical—namely, his objection to the divinity of Christ and the virginity of Mary. Again, these beliefs were obviously not worthy of his martyrdom, but his "scientific views" (put in quotations as they are widely questioned as such) were nowhere near the top of the list of chief reasons for his death.

Additionally, before showing his death, the program went as far as to show Bruno flying through the air with his arms outstretched as if on a cross (then immediately followed this view by actually showing crosses). In the end, Cosmos declared Bruno one of the first scientific martyrs, persecuted by the church for his views. My contention is that it's just not that tidy of a story. I enjoyed this article summarizing the peculiarities of featuring Bruno in this episode. By the way, my favorite quote from the article: "Bruno was a talking s**t storm, with a black belt in burning bridges."

So in the end, Cosmos lifted up these two heroes while minimizing the faith tradition of my hero. Still, Jesus got a shout-out near the end of the episode, but it was in reference to his miniscule role in the vast history of the universe. My second issue with Cosmos continued in this vein:

2. Cosmos presented faith as incompatible with science.

An interesting result from last month's Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate was the emergence of a large number of Bible-believing Christians who wanted nothing to do with young earth creationism. The view is that it's just not a biblical issue and it's not worth staking a claim on. Yet this more progressive view—one where Christians won't dismiss science—is a non-sequitur for the secular community. They don't appreciate a Christianity that responds well to science since it still establishes a Creator over the cosmos. And this polemic was visible throughout the episode as well.

The science presented in Cosmos was a winner-take-all proposition. To wit,

  • Science is Galileo developing an accurate view of the universe while peering through the telescope.
  • Science is the means by which man was able to travel to the moon.
  • And science is the Big Bang and a happenstance beginning to the universe.

And if you reject the cosmological view of science, then you reject all the other scientific discoveries and the advancement of humanity the accompanied it. It was capped at the end of the episode with the elevation of the accomplishments of Sagan. The viewer was urged to look at the brilliance of Sagan's accomplishments and then reminded that THIS is how HE viewed the universe.

There's no place for faith here.

And this is where Cosmos fails: it co-opts the question, developing an indivisible link between science and cosmology: the study of origins. The thing is, science isn't truly capable of grappling fully with the issue because it's a question of metaphysics. But inevitable, all questions lead back to cosmology: who did we get here and what does life mean? Everyone is forced to grapple with the question and there's no chance for science to opt out.

So theories/beliefs are established as fact and there is no room for doubt. And questioning scientific authority will out you as a heretic and there's a penalty.

It's a familar story, eh?

I'm not a scientist. I'm a theologian. But that doesn't disqualify me from discussing issues of cosmology. In fact, it probably gives me a better perspective from which to address this.

So even though I'm an orthodox Christian pastor, I'm still very interested in watching this program and will continue to do so in the future. And if you're a Christian who disagrees with the worldview, you should still watch the program as well. In the same way that agnostics deconstruct your faith (and you should listen to those objections and respond thoughtfully), you need to learn how to dissect they biases behind this kind of evangelicalism.

There's a way for believers to disagree respectfully while leaving room for further conversation. And maybe Cosmos is the perfect conversational starting point.

Flip that Blog

Three. Just three posts in 2013. Is this even worth the server space? I mean, look at the Flickr plugin on the right there. That thing's out of commission.

It's all the signs of an abandoned website.

Listen, you've heard it before. Life is hectic.

  • I've done a wedding and a funeral this year.
  • Training for marathon number seven.
  • Working on my thesis proposal.

And the nature of my job totally switched in the last month, with me getting a new boss. Of course, I never actually described what my old job (that I've held since the fall of 2011 here) so, does it really matter.

I haven't given up, though. At some point, I'm going to unleash all my writing fury on this baby.

And you're gonna want to see that.

EDIT: I fixed that Flickr pluggin. At least I have some nice Kaelyn pictures there.

The Worst

Ministers are wusses. That's my opinion.

Most of the time, we whine about the difficulties of our jobs with little thought for those whose jobs are just as difficult. I grow tired of hearing clergy discussing the huge burden and weight of ministry. When my father and brother are outside in sub-freezing weather on a ladder perched against a telephone pole, working on a live transformer that could kill them, I recognize that my life in a cushy-office is pretty great.

But there are days where it comes full circle; the kind of days when I truly feel a burden.

I'm conducting a funeral tomorrow afternoon for a young woman who took her own life. Her family and friends are devastated. It's been years since I've seen her and I'm grieved. I'm called to offer words of comfort to them (words they're likely not ready to hear), while focusing our thoughts towards the Creator of Life. I need to help them make sense of a senseless tragedy. Even though I want them to celebrate the beauty of her life, I need for them to see the Lord who weeps with them.

As much as I cherish the opportunity to help these people tomorrow, I'd rather be up on that ladder.

A Picture of My Philosophy

Recently a friend who teaches philosophy asked if I'd participate in a social experiment. He was trying to collect pictures from people across a wide spectrum that summarized their philosophy of life. Fascinating question. I thought about it for a couple of days.

I settled in on one of my favorite pictures ever. Here it is:

Understand that I wrote this just past midnight (the day after Father's Day), so I'm not sure I buy into all of my description, but here's what I wrote to explain the picture:

Attached is a picture of my daughter Kaelyn on her first day of school. She's waiting in line to meet her teacher for the first time. You might observe the smile and assume that she was cool, but I know her better. She's scared to death. But when I ask her, "can you smile for me?" she gives it her best shot. And as her Father, I feel immensely proud. She trusts me. Even though it'll be rough, it's not that bad.

Even though the metaphor breaks apart when teased out fully, I see this in my philosophy of life. As a theist, I hold that a creator God who knows me intimately hovers over this life. He knows my fear. He knows that this journey might not end up like I want it to. But he asks for that smile. He just asks that I give it my best shot, knowing that he's looking down on me. He asks that I trust. So I look up at him, give a hesitant smile, and try to make him proud.

Our Finest Hour

At noon tomorrow the Cincinnati Bearcats will take the gridiron with a chance to claim their second consecutive Big East final and the possibility of playing in the National Championship. If Steve circa 2005 had the chance to see that previous sentence, he would have assumed that future Steve had become a drug addict prone to hallucinations.

It's amazing that the local college football program has come so far in such a short amount of time. Of course, much of the credit must go to head football coach Brian Kelly. Since he's arrived, the program has gone on a tear that has attracted national (also Notre Dame-onal) attention. But, honestly, some credit must be given to Bob Huggins as well, as his successful basketball program was the prime reason that the University of Cincinnati was invited into the Big East, setting the stage for tomorrow's opportunity.

I say opportunity while others claim catastrophe. As I've surveyed the media landscape, there is much skepticism surrounding the Bearcats; for some reason, people think they're 11-0 pretenders. The majority of football pundits I've seen are predicting a Pittsburgh victory which, if happens, could land the top-10 Bearcats in an obscure bowl game. Throw in the possibility that Brian Kelly could conceivably be on a plane to South Bend on Sunday, and it throws UC backers' stomachs into knots.

More than that, there's seems to be a Cincinnati inevitably, a black cloud that hovers over our city's sports teams. Since the Reds won the World Series in 1990, there have been some good sports teams here in town. Yet there's always been something happen to derail them from glory: UC basketball plays horrible against the Fab Five in 1992, the baseball strike when the Reds where good in 1994, Kenyon Martin breaks his leg killing UC basketball title hopes in 1998, a Reds dream season in 1999 is thwarted when the commissioner makes them play a late night game in Milwaukee only to come home and lose the play-in game to the Mets, Bob Huggins fired in the summer of 2005 when he had an amazing cast of recruits ready to come to Clifton, Carson Palmer's ACL demolished in the playoff game verses the Steelers in 2006.

Whew. Just typing that paragraph was depressing.

It would seem that tomorrow will be yet another addition to the list. I know a lot of people here in town are already buying into the storm cloud.

I, however, will not be discouraged.

WHEN the Bearcats win tomorrow, and we establish supreme dominance over the city of Pittsburgh this year by sweeping all their football teams, it will be our finest hour. And it will permeate the entire sports culture here in town. We will no longer expect the worst to happen. We will be able to speak confidently of our teams, trusting them to come through. We can speak of NCAA Championships, Super Bowls, and . . . yes, World Series and not be laughed at.

Look, I understand there's much to lose, but I am ready to move past the last two decades of darkness and enter into the era of unlimited possibilities.

It can happen . . . nay . . . it WILL happen.

Sleep well, Cincinnati. Tomorrow is day one of our sports dreams coming true.

27 May

'Bout time for an update. I thought I was up for some more frequent blogging, but a vacation got in the way.

Yeah, we were on vacation last week and didn't blog/Facebook/Twitter about it. I don't want people knowing what I'm doing all the time anyway. Kelly posted a synopsis of our getaway here. Much thanks to my in-laws who watched Kaelyn while we were gone so we could celebrate our 10th anniversary [um, one year late].

I do have some more posts in the queue but, because I'm catching up from the short week, it'll take me a couple of days to get them out. Until then, chew on this:

1. Want to learn a little something about my neighborhood? Join me this weekend for a preview tour of Architreks in Walnut Hills. I've been a tour guide for Architreks for three years now and was thrilled when they said they were interested in doing a tour here. Find out all the information over at Dan's blog.

2. My summer to-do list is growing. Unfortunately, I have a lot of computer work to do, including the design and redesign of four websites. Oddly enough, I'm sorta excited about it.

3. Jade Kendall preached for me this weekend, becoming the first person outside of Echo to speak at our church. I love Jade and his ministry, as they're dedicated to my dad's old neighborhood. He's also teaching an urban ministry class this week at CCU. I'm meeting them in Walnut Hills tomorrow so they can observe our neighborhood. The class is eating at the local soup kitchen and then walking over to the church building where I'll tell them about our ministry. I'm really looking forward to it.

4. A couple of Sundays ago, we said bye to Tye. Tye VonAllmen has led worship at Echo since a few months after we started up. He's now on staff [along with his wife] up the street at Crossroads Church in Oakley. Since his schedule is now so packed, he's stepped down as our regular guy. Fortunately, Tye'll be back every once in awhile to fill in for us. In addition to their weekend appearances at Crossroads, you can always catch Tye and Andrea playing around town.

5. Random thought: the movie Drag Me To Hell looks like the absolute dumbest plot for a horror movie ever. Loan officer who refuses mortgage extension is cursed by witch? Sadly, it will gross millions this weekend.

6. Picked up my diploma at Xavier yesterday. I'm now officially finished there. I'm still trying to figure out how to get those ridiculous parking passes of my windshield.

7. How 'bout those Reds? This could be a very fun summer. Even though I could tell you all about their play this year I have yet to see a game in person. Even though it's only a half-hour walk to the stadium, I enjoy being able to watch the game on TV while getting some work done.

8. Keeping with the sports theme, how hilarious will it be when Denver and Orlando play each other in the NBA Finals? Not exactly the Kobe-Lebron final that everyone wanted.

9. One last sports comment, I was thoroughly disappointed that Manchester United lost to Barcelona in the Champion's League Final this afternoon. Even when they were down two goals with ten minutes left I thought they could win it [they did it in '99].

10. Today was Kaelyn/Daddy day in the Carr house. It's usually a wonderful time of daddy and daughter bonding. Unfortunately, today Kaelyn cut her own hair with her new kiddie scissors, face planted into the sidewalk roughing up her chin, and fell getting out of the Explorer hitting face first into the grass. And somehow, she was absolutely wonderful all day. These are the days I'm glad that she won't remember anything that happens before her fifth birthday.

Fin.

One Week To Go

Can you feel it? We're almost at the finish line of this epic electoral journey. With this in mind, I'd like to offer up my last round of pre-Presidential election thoughts. Consume at will.

1. While the fat lady is warming up, her voice is iffy. Friends [how McCain is that?], this election is a lot closer than people think. Those expecting an Obama landslide will be surprised; I do not trust the huge gap these polls are projecting. As I looking to someone to summarize my argument, the case was made by . . . *gulp* . . . Ann Coulter. In short, her research concluded, "since 1976 . . . the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points." I'm not saying this means a McCain victory, but rumors of a landslide should not be believed. That said . . .

2. I think I'm now hoping for an Obama victory. Even though I'm still partisan, I'm afraid of the reaction should McCain "come from behind" to win. Now that the media has basically guarenteed an Obama victory, should he lose, there could be substantive rioting in urban areas. There will be feelings of disenfranchisement that will be perceived as another case of "the rich white man putting down blacks." This analysis may seem uncouth, but I really believe these feelings exist and would come to the forefront should McCain win now. The vibe in our neighborhood is that an Obama victory is validation for African Americans. I just hope that I am wrong about these polls. Otherwise we could be in store for even more turbulent times.

3. Voting irregularities will be massive. In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, ones that certain groups believe were stolen, there has been mass suspicion of people messing with votes. My take on this is: so what, it's happened for years and will likely continue. Before people wax on about the evils of a particular party, note that this happens on both sides of the issue and no party is totally blameless. In the end, I believe that the two equal each other out and that the electoral process works as it was intended. In the end, the winner will be selected according to the constitutional guidelines. Whether or not the electoral college should be abolished, that's a different story.

4. The money made the difference. Say what you will about the mandate for change, it was Obama's decision to reject public financing that put him in the position to win. He's been able to outspend McCain three-to-one in many battleground states, and has enough left over to buy almost every major channel tomorrow night. I imagine if this was a Republican outspending a Democrat by the same percentage, the media would be ceaselessly criticizing. Since it's an upstart Democrat, I really do believe he's getting a pass. That said, Obama's campaign has revolutionized the way the funds are raised and political science professors will be studying this (and other campaigns emulating this) for years to come.

5. McCain's campaign cost him the election. People need to look at this campaign realistically. Despite the financial disparity, an embarrassing same-party administration, and the "sexiness" of the young newcomer, McCain very well could have won this thing easily. But McCain's handlers let him down at every turn. I'm of the opinion that the decision to add Sarah Palin to the ticket was actually a good decision; don't forget that McCain didn't even have his own party's support until he named her. No, the turning point of the campaign was the decision to "suspend it" because of the economic crisis. If McCain merely voiced opposition to the first bailout plan that failed, he would have retained his maverick status and, most likely, wins the White House. Additionally, the "I'm not George Bush" refrain McCain tried to introduce should've been a drum beat as soon as he won the nomination. In the end, McCain's campaign failed him. It goes to show you that, no matter how much he is hated, Karl Rove was a brilliant strategist.

6. It was disheartening to see how Sarah Palin was attacked. The jabs at Hillary Clinton were child's play compared to what was lobbed at Palin. The media was merciless towards her. While she was ill-prepared for the onslaught, I'm not sure any amount of preparation could have saved her. And I'm not saying that Palin was the most qualified person for the job, but if you know anything about American political history, you realize that qualification mean nothing. She opened herself up with some of her gaffs, but I would suggest that Joe Biden's gaffs were just as glaring. No, liberal feminists have showed that they are freely willing to swallow their values and sacrifice one of their own in order to get what they want. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of her political future.

7. In the end, our country will be just fine. Even though people are calling for gloom and doom, our nation will continue to exist. We are unique among the other countries in the world as we continue to assimilate the world's cultures into one. There have been even more devisive campaigns and there will be in the future. But on November 5th, people will wake up, throw away their campaign signs, and go back to normal living . . . for at least a couple of years before this whole process begins again.

When all is said and done, I'm still expecting an Obama presidency. It should be fascinating to say the least. Will hope transition into reality?

_______________

In the next day or so, I'll be outlining the local issues and my thoughts on them.

Things Seen [Part Three]

Last week I attended an urban church conference in St Louis. I drove out, listening to everything on my iPod, and was able to save some money by boarding with my friend Bala who now works in suburban STL. I must admit, I was very impressed with the city. Even though there are some areas in dire need of help, there are numerous diverse communities [both racially and economically] within the city. And it was must larger than I remembered.

During an extended lunch time, I made a trek downtown to snap some pics of the famous Arch. I've seen it before, been to the top even, but it still fascinates me. Over 600 feet tall. Absolutely amazing.

The old Jefferson Courthouse, just west of the Arch.

I also had to see the new Busch stadium. Still ticked that the county was cheap with G.A.B. This stadium is a Cadillac.

And a tribute to Stan The Man:

Steve Jobs Is Dead

. . . um, no he isn't. But he might have been.

For ages, the media has stored pre-written obituaries of celebrities to give them a head start on unexpected deaths [ask my wife: editorial deadlines suck]. The Bloomberg financial newswire had a 17-page obit written up about the Apple founder and decided to update it this week. But upon completion, someone inadvertently published the article. Of course, it was instantly pulled when they realized this, but the funny thing about the interwebs is that those kinds of mistakes can't be erased.

Still, like the bizarre thought of being able to attend your own funeral, how weird would it be to read how people will remember your passing? I've even attempted to do this to myself, but it probably needs some revision.

So how do you want to be remembered? I'd get to work on it, because apparently that will be determined long before you're actually gone.

A Brand New House

This is where things get confusing. Beit Carr is now more than a blog; it's a full website for the Carr household. For those of you getting my posts via RSS feed, you noticed nothing new. And if you access this blog via beitcarr.blogspot.com you missed it as well. But for those who type in houseofcarr.com, you've seen the changes. At houseofcarr.com you can get some extra info and pics of me, Kelly and Kaelyn. I'm also going to try to put up some short family video clips to keep people interested. It's a work in progress, but I'm excited about what we've got so far.

Thanks to Brian Coates for helping me get this up and running. The site design was all done in iWeb for Mac and was extremely simple. Not sure how it looks in other browsers, but let me know if you notice anything.

So from now on, if you just want the blog, go to beitcarr.blogspot.com [do yourself a favor and get an RSS reader like Google's]. If you want the full enchilada, go to houseofcarr.com.

Good night, now.

Ouch

Kelly's at the dentist so it's me trying to get Kaelyn to take her mid-day nap. I have the presidential news conference on in the background and I have to admit it's painful. I honestly believe that W is an intelligent man, but he comes off like a small-church deacon running a business meeting. No wonder The Daily Show has so much material.

Just an example: he referred to his office as the "o-VAL office," stressing the second syllable instead of the first. It was extremely southern, if not hick. He also continually called it the "Korean PeninSHula." I'm all for being personable, but it's not very comforting when discussing possible nuclear war.

It just reminds me of the whole Bill Clinton fiasco. You can get away with a lot if you can speak well in public.

Buy The Numbers

Because I'm all about this proposed gambling initiative, check this out from today's Enquirer:

"Ohio's Office of Budget Management issued a scathing report that estimated the take from the slots would be less than half what proponents think. The office estimated that the slots would reap $1.1 billion annually, with $486 million going back to Ohioans.

"While the lower projection would cut scholarship funding to $324 million - the office said the measure would severely under-fund treatment for addiction. It cited a Cleveland State University study that estimated new casinos would spawn 109,000 gambling addicts that would conservatively each need $3,500 worth of outpatient treatment - costing a total of $381.5 million."

9 Minus 9 = Dead Kitty

Ah, the weekend that was. So many good things happening but what to share today? How about the tail [pun intended] of the slain kitty? I will warn you that animals were harmed during the creation of this blog post, so some of you might want to skip this one altogether. But I must tell the story, nonetheless. Played a little flag football on Saturday morning with some people I met through our soccer league. After the game, I returned home and parked my car on the street. I walked around the back of the car, took some items from the passenger side, and went up to the condo. As I walked in, Kelly asked if I could hold Kaelyn so she could get something upstairs and I obliged. After a couple of minutes I stood up and peeked out the front windows to notice a dead feline laying in the grass area by my car door.

I knew I didn't run down Garfield, but I asked to Kelly to confirm my case; Kel is able to see me pull up and would've noticed if I had run over the cat. She said wasn't guilty. And I knew the cat wasn't there when I got out of the car because I would've remembered walking over a kitty corpse.

This left me in a bind: it was still morning but soon the sun would be shining on the cat; leaving it there wouldn't be a good idea. And I knew that calling the city wouldn't bring a response until Monday [if it all]. It was up to me to give the cat a proper burial.

Going outside I confirmed that the cat had been run down. And I could tell that the tire tracks didn't match my own, so again I would be innocent in a court of law. But the whole thing didn't make sense. How did the cat get there? I can't imagine someone would've run it down, get out of the car, picked it up, and threw it by my car door [although the North Koreans are doing crazier things now a days]. I would have to think that the cat was hit and managed to make it to the other side of the road before breathing its last. That's one determined cat.

Because of the cat's moxie, I decided to name it Gilbert, for the street it attempted to traverse before it died.

I won't divulge the specifics, but services were held this past Saturday with burial by the city of Cincinnati's Solid Waste Management Department.

We never knew you, Gilbert, but we're sure you were a swell cat. If only you knew how crosswalks worked, you might still be with us today.

You will be missed.

No Spin Zone

Here's where we're at: Ron Luce of Teen Mania [if you've never heard of him, imagine Tony Little but hyped on Jesus instead of exercise] is sounding the alarm that we're in a post-Christian culture and that Christian teens are choosing the ills of society over Jesus. His claim: "we're losing" and need to get in gear or the future is lost. Ron, Ron, Ron. Where to begin? First, thanks Captain Obvious; we've only been in a post-Christian society since the 1980's. Second, of course teens are choosing the ills of society over Jesus; they always have and always will. That's what you do during your formative years: you do everything you're not supposed to do so you can tell the next generation what they're not supposed to do. And third, we're not going to lose. Read the Bible [and keep your dispensational bent* at home with your Jolt Cola] and you'll discover that Jesus will win regardless of how Chicken Little you want to get.

I know I'm supposed to be on the same team as this guy but I have a tough time accepting this warning from him. His whole ministry is based on drawing tens of thousands of teens to weekend experiences where he takes advantage of a spiritual high to get kids to commit to decisions that they aren't able to persist with. Of course he's going to be crying wolf here because it directly effects his success rate.

Perhaps the actual problem is that the type of crusades Teen Mania supports is dated and is no longer attractional to the average Christian teen. Luce's response to the crisis "is to replace MTV’s wares with those of an alternative Christian culture, so teenagers will link their identity to Christ and not to the latest flesh-baring pop star." But creating such a sub-culture doesn't solve the problem. It just links their identity to the latest flesh-baring CHRISTIAN pop star and still doesn't create the necessary link to Christ. I hate to echo what I just wrote about the local gambling initiative, but there is also gold in the hills of the Christian sub-culture and many stake their living on it.

Listen, it's not that I'm not concerned about our kids, but we have to stop these ridiculous means by which to reach them. The vast majority of Christian kids aren't going to abandon pop culture for CCM. And do they have to? Why can't we stop lecturing to them and teach them how to live as a Christian in this culture? Why can't we challenge teens to go deeper in their faith so they can own their faith?

Stop blaming the world and take responsibility for the ways we [the church] have failed our youth. Instead of giving them substantive spiritual formation we gave them cotton candy, a promise ring, and a pat on the butt as they enter the real world. For two-thousand years of history, Jesus has been enough. Why do we think we have to reinvent the wheel?

Newsflash to the alarmed: things are going to be OK. Jesus assured us, "from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" [Matthew 11:12]. So don't lose sleep over this. There are better days ahead.

*I'm pretty sure that Luce's ministry holds to dispensationalism which is interesting because this theology is centered on the idea that the world will get progressively worse, culminating in Jesus' return. So if this is your eschatology, shouldn't these stats be a cause for celebration rather than alarm?

Desperate

Money drives the world. And people will do whatever they can to get their hands on it. Case in point: I just had a person knock on my door [better than kicking it in] with a petition in hand. "How are you doing Mr. Carr," she began, entering into her spiel and I stopped her.

"How do you know my name?" I asked. "I have a list here," she showed me and I glanced down to see it was the Issue 3 petition; that's the gambling issue in Ohio.

Before she said another word I told her, "Sorry, I'm very angry about this issue and there's no way I'm signing your petition" [read my previous rant here]. She seemed a little surprise but I did tell her it was nothing personal as I know that this lady is just a hired petition collector; she's trying to make a living and doing the best that she can. Too bad she's being used by a group that cares nothing about her but is drooling over the millions they could rake in if this issue passed.

We're almost a month away from election day and these turds looking to profit from legalized gambling have pulled out all the stops. Do you realize the investment that it takes to send petitioners door-to-door? It's not cheap. And not to mention that they're doing it here in Walnut Hills which, overall, is an impoverished, undereducated part of town. That's tacky.

I think they're screwed. That's why it's come to this.

BTW, one of the more interesting things I've learned about this issue is while the proponents' website is www.ohiolearnandearn.com, the opposition was able to acquire www.ohiolearnandearn.org. Genius.

I Might Be A Jerk . . .

. . . but let's be truthful here. I laughed out-loud when I read the following on a church's website:

"We believe God sovereignly placed us inside the loop of I-275 in an area with wonderful racial and economic diversity."

The local area being discussed? Kenwood. If you're familiar with Kenwood, that's not quite how I would describe it's racial [white] and economic [affluent] diversity.

Whatever makes you feel better.

If you need me, I'm just slummin' in the belt-loop.