Saturday’s Stray Thoughts

Another version of things running through my head from the past week and floating ideas for further exploration in the days and weeks to come.

The final post in the Bad News series (which did not appear) was going to concern gang activity and gang tactics. It’s something we assign to big cities and foreign countries, but should be seen as a growing problem with potential effects everywhere and anywhere. Yesterday a facebook status related the killing of Baptist missionaries in Mexico City, where transforming lives away from drugs does not go down well with those who provide them. Mexico will not be the only place where defeating heavily armed gangs will become a serious challenge for law enforcement. And it may be a real test for those who want to uphold the “power” of the gospel against all other powers. That will require faith, my friends.

I just (finally) read Scot McKnight’s short ebook, Junia Is Not Alone on the subject of women in ministry. A good read, and a powerful point or two is made. But I do wish it had been given in greater depth, including at least an acknowledgement of the troublesome Timothy passages. I suspect that many well intended folks continue to balk at full acceptance of women in ministry, not because of dislike for the idea itself as an outworking of Gal 3:28, but because they want to be faithful to all of the New Testament witness on the subject. There are treatments of Timothy that make this attempt, some of them weak, some of them stronger; but failure to acknowledge even the existence of this stumbling block weakens McKnight’s argument unnecessarily.

These weekly thoughts have generally included mention of the political scene; today is not going to be an exception. How can one ignore the flap over Mitt Romney’s comment concerning his concern or lack of concern for the very poor among us? On first hearing, my initial reaction was that the press and his opponents were indeed misconstruing the comment intentionally. But were they? His comments, on further reflection, very clearly betray the insensitivity Republicans are frequently charged with. The thought is this: as long as there is a safety net for poor people–very poor people–we need not concern ourselves with them. Just make sure the net will hold and everything is fine. If that is coupled with the earlier Romney comments about liking to fire people to make business more efficient, the Democrats have a waiting theme to present and exploit. Be sure that they will. Once again, stay tuned.

Tomorrow is the great American cultural event of the winter. Partying for the Super Bowl has itself grown into a big business, and we as good American consumers do our part, all in hopes of stimulating our economy (oh, that wasn’t what was on your mind?). Churches, of course, are quick to get in on the act by canceling evening services where they are held, or folding them into a viewing event with appropriate (?) inclusion of halftime “devotional” interludes, encouraging people to wear jerseys to worship, and a host of other innovative ways to “reach out” in a “relevant” way. Can’t we just say we want to watch the game and not try to spiritualize what has become a part of our culture? I do think it a good thing that Tim Tebow is not involved in this year’s game. Just sayin’.

We are in an age that has been described with a lot of different terms, many of them beginning with the prefix “post-“. In Christianity, it is among other things a post-denominational time. There are undoubtedly positive and negative effects of this trend. One aspect is that is demonstrates the triumph of pick-and-choose consumerism, applied to one’s spiritual life. It has little to do, that is, with what one has adopted as a mostly-true expression of the faith embodied by a particular denominational position than it does with what “feels” good in a given body of believers and seekers in terms of worship style, friendliness, preaching, or the kind of coffee kiosk found in the entry/lobby (I almost said “narthex”, which would certainly be a turn-off). Maybe, just maybe, it is time to return to a simple statement of faith as one that has defined Christian identity for nearly two millenia, something such as the Apostles’ Creed or (better imho) the Nicene Creed. Think of all the money needed to support denominational structures that could be better invested in gospel work directly on one hand; think of the loss of accountability that inevitably follows independence on the other. I sense the conversation is only going to intensify.

Done straying for the week. And, for the record, I just can’t cheer for a New York team. Convulsions set in when I even try to think of doing so. Happy viewing and safe partying to all.

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