First Culture

The first and foremost culture in anyone’s life is that of the home. Pascal said “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” This makes it sound like we’re supposed to be able to stare contentedly at the white wall of our basement.

Perhaps he is right in the sense that we should be able to sit alone and think about what we’ve learned rather than needing the boob tube to keep us occupied, but we ought to be far more interested in making home a place of wisdom, laughter and life.

Many parents regret the fact that their teenage (or soon to be teenage) kids are never at home. But rarely do they regret the type of place the home has become–one that the kids don’t want to be in. Home is the place where kids are taught and shaped, and the father as the head of the home has the responsibility to make that culture what it ought to be.

Reactionary parents will tend to ban all kinds of stuff from the home. If their kids’ friends are all reading 50 Shades of Garbage, they’ll be sure that it never gets mentioned at the dinner table, and thereby cement everyone’s ignorance. The only place the kids will learn to think about it is in the gossip of their peers at school.

Parents who instead build a culture at home will be glad to talk about it, understand why people are attracted to it, and come to wise and settled conclusions. This will require the attention and investment of parents who will need to learn about things their kids are encountering. If they’re lazy and simply dismiss whatever is out there, the kids will eventually explore it anyway and either lack the ability to discern good and evil, beauty and schlock, or will imitate the parents in proud dismissal, not of the world or even in it–above the whole thing.

Building a culture at home means parents are presenting something, playing offense and not just defense. Yes, turn the TV and lame music off. But then read good stories, watch good movies, listen to good and fun music. A vibrant life at home flows from the gospel like water running downhill. When sin is repented of and confessed, people live, and are glad to live together. This is why Paul can say “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil 4:8).


Not Jesus’ Tat

Revelation 19:16, speaking of Jesus, says “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Recently some have asserted that we are looking at Jesus’ tattoo. See there, right next to that robe, the Lord’s ink? Well, no. Jesus is on his white horse, his eyes like a flame of fire, ready to do battle, and under his robe are, well, his trousers–not his bare legs and a long stretch of thigh it would take to write “King of kings and Lord of lords”.

There may be better arguments for the lawfulness of tattoos (like a great removal service in the heavens that leaves no scars), but Jesus is not hitching up his robe to give John that revelation.



Faux Tolerance & What It Means for You

It’s time for everyone to get out their copy of 1984 and read it. That CEO Brendan Eich treated everyone at Mozilla equally and still was forced out in the name of tolerance because he gave $1000 to a Prop 8 Campaign six years ago is official Newspeak, where a thoughtcrime is defined as the “act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party.” The fact that at that time Eich simply agreed with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who said “Marriage has a historic, religious and moral context that goes back to the beginning of time. And I think a marriage has always been between a man and a woman”,  is simply material for the memory hole. Clinton only came out last year in favor of homo marriage with no apologies for her past crimes against human rights.

It’s not accurate to identify the ruling party as homosexuals because they aren’t ruling and they are only 2-3% of the population. The president of the old homosexual movement was Andrew Sullivan who said the firing of Eich disgusts him as it should anyone who wants a tolerant and diverse society. Sullivan is what used to be known as a liberal, that is, someone who can actually stomach the views of those who disagree with them without calling for their careers and heads. He also continues to admirably stand against the defenders of Gaystapo coercion. 

Some will think that this heresy hunting is limited to the upper echelons, CEOs and lawmakers and such, but it’s not. People in the grip of this myopia are willing to go after florists and photographers, and most recently a local grocer in Sellwood, OR–what were they thinking trying to move into an “open-minded” neighborhood with all that dissent and diverse thought? Irony is lost on these people.

Mainstream news networks didn’t mention the Eich story last week, and this tell us the shaming of faux tolerance is working. Cowards fear shame and will ignore injustice, shouting down voices who stand for it, even when the voice in Andrew Sullivan’s. Anyone who believes in freedom of speech, much less freedom of religion, has no option but speak up when they have opportunity. They must speak first to their own children and not refrain due to the idea that “this is just politics.” No, this is the freedom for your neighbor to own or work at a grocery store while holding the opinion that sodomy isn’t a good idea. This is the smallest example of live and let live. So first, you must speak . Second, you should know what’s coming when you do, when you profess to agree with Hillary in early 2013. You’ll be labeled by Newspeak with all of your hate speech and unevolved opinion. But that’s okay. The opinions of those quashing diversity in the name of it are hilarious and need to be laughed at and pitied, but not taken seriously as every insecure bully demands.


Happy, Happy, Happy

As Duck Dynasty forges into it’s fourth season opening with nearly 12 million viewers, many are weighing in on the show and what is called its “cultural Christianity.” I think I started tuning in during season two and really enjoyed it. I like rednecks and redneck humor, and with family from the south, I find it easy to laugh with and at these people. But there is more going on here, and we ought to be encouraged.

The show is entertaining, and that is its primary function: to humorously entertain. How does it do so? By following the hilarious life of the Robertson family, their business and family antics. This is how it should be evaluated. It is good entertainment? When we evaluate our entertainment, and we must, we don’t use the same criteria we use for evaluating, say, a sermon. At least we shouldn’t, for that would make sermons into primarily forms of entertainment, which contra your wanna be stand-up comedian pastor, they aren’t.

God is the ultimate Comedian, telling jokes all the time. When we imitate Him well, the humor can be clever, delightful, slapstick, layered, ironic, satiric, involve plays on words, etc. It’s not cheap like a standup comic using vulgarities and obscenities for the shock value. The comedy of Duck Dynasty is consistently funny and happens in an environment where life is enjoyed as a gift and brothers can make fun of each other because they love one another. I would not put Duck Dynasty on the level of Wodehouse, but the two inhabit the same moral universe.  Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

Here is a great post on the history of Halloween over at Mablog. Many Christian holidays have pagan names like Easter. You know, that Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, Eostre, who was worshipped in the month of April by my ancestors. We kept the name but changed the feast to worship the creator instead of the creation. Worked out really well. No one today, except a tiny band neopagans playing dress-up, thinks they are worshipping Eostre on Easter. No one thinks the bunnies and eggs have any spiritual significance other than giving kids a good time doing stuff as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. So Easter is a Christian holiday with a pagan name, although the name has been effectively co-opted and presents no problem. Speaking of her is like mentioning Epaphroditus in the Bible–the guy whose name indicates he used to worship the goddess Aphrodite via prostitute at the temple in Corinth. His name is a sign of gospel conquest, and surely Eostre is free to worship Jesus as well.

Other holidays like Halloween actually have Christian names but have come to be thought of as pagan festivals. As the article cited mentions, All Saints’ Day is November 1st, the day when the church remembers all those who gave their lives in service of the gospel. In Britain this day is called All Hallows’. All Hallows’ Eve, from which we get Halloween, has become for some the equivalent of Mardis Gras before Lent, a day of dissipation in preparation for self control, however much sense that makes. For Halloween, the idea is to let the devils run wild before the saints arrive. The corruptions of Mardis Gras and Halloween are similar in this respect. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but when I was a kid I don’t remember Halloween costume shops displaying kinky underwear in the front window.

But however that is the case now, we shouldn’t let the abuse of the thing take away its good use anymore than frat boys drowned in Pabst Blue Ribbon should discourage tossing a good pint. Clearly it’s a good idea to avoid the macabre and perverse on Halloween. My wife pointed out to me a fake corpse hanging by a rope from the side of a house in our neighborhood. Why do people otherwise not nastily morbid do this stuff for “fun” once a year? Yay death! Obviously we want no part of that, but we do want to celebrate what we believe, namely, that God has poured out his Spirit on billions of Christians, past and present, who are given the righteousness of Christ and therefore made saints. The defiled woman has become the purified bride of Christ, and leave it to the kids to really get into it.

October 31st is also Reformation Day, the day Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg. The Reformation was as much a reformation of church culture as it was of church doctrine, so it’s fitting that we make this day a celebration that spills out to our neighbors and friends. Marriage (and its bed), food, drink and fellowship fell out of the Reformation. I would argue for fun costumes, loud and interesting, and better candy at your house than your neighbor’s. I love greeting people at the door, taking the kids around, and celebrating. It’s like saying Merry Christmas to people. some who don’t know what they’re celebrating or intentionally aren’t. I still want them to have a merry one whether they do or not. Same here. Happy All Hallow’s Eve, Merry Reformation Day, and Happy Halloween!



the Christianization of all of life

Challenges from Bojidar Marinov on being Piecemeal Reformed:

We can’t even find one single Reformer whose work was limited to the Church only. In many respects, the Reformers were not only theological but social reformers as well, spending much of their time and effort building communities, cities, and nations in obedience to the Gospel. Geneva, Zurich, Strasbourg, the Netherlands, Scotland, Puritan England, the American colonies, were not known for their “religiously neutral” culture. To the contrary, much of the work of the church leaders at the time was building the legal, economic, and political structure of their communities and societies in accordance with the Biblical principles. In the words ascribed to Bucer, “Reformation is nothing less than the Christianization of all of life.” Far from limiting their Reformation to personal salvation and the church, these men wanted to see the whole world submit to God, in its politics, economics, science, business, cultural relations, international relations, etc. “City on a Hill” was what they were out to build, not a Reformed church preaching “grace” to a limited choice of religious topics.

On Oprah, that’s where

“On the other hand, those who have a less masculine outlook (low M), be they men or women, tend to flock to the church. This may explain why so many gay men are drawn to church, while lesbians avoid it. A study published in the Jorunal for the Scientific Study of Religion found that “gay men were significantly more active in religious organizations [as a percentage] when compared to heterosexual men.” The author notes that gay men are similar to female heterosexuals in their religiosity and attend church”‘without having to be dragged to services by female partners–as is the case for heterosexual men.” Yet “lesbians and female bisexuals have very low rates of religious activity.”

Why do so many effeminate and gay men attend church? Maybe becuase the church is one of the few institutions in society where there’s no pressure to act like a man. In fact, men are encoruaged not to. Where else in our society can a man express his feminine side and be applauded for it?”

–David Morrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church, p. 73

Porn for Women

From an excellent article by Betsy Hart at the Gospel Coalition:

“That’s where the pornography comes in. Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women, which tends to amount to, well, behaving like a woman. I have a dear friend who once didn’t like a fellow I was dating. Among other shortcomings, he didn’t arrange spa treatments for me, she explained. Seriously. No more chick flicks for that girl.

The notion that the ideal fellow is sensitive and devoted to his woman didn’t start with Nora Ephron or even Jane Austin, of course. Our true husband, Christ himself, “wept.” And Scripture is clear that the ultimate bridegroom jealously pursues his bride, the church. In fact romantic pornography has a ring of truth to it, which is one reason it is powerful. A man in love with a woman is stubborn in his pursuit. Hence I’ve passed down to my children the maxim my mother shared with me: “Girls don’t want a boy they have to call themselves.”

But both kinds of pornography go wrong by portraying genders as unidimensional. And the unidimension of men in romantic porn gets magnified because our mainstream culture has a “man bad, woman good” view that opposes traditionally male qualities (unless they turn up in women, but that’s another column). In a symptom of what’s going on in the culture at large, “rom coms” and many television sitcoms denigrate such traits such as aggression, competitiveness, a certain amount of stoicism, and even the desire to protect and care for a woman.”

When the Tolerant Aren’t

From a great post at Blog & Mablog:

A staple argument of homosex apologetics is that when the Bible condemns the vile behavior of the residents of Sodom, it was addressing the violent side of it — the attempted rape of Lot’s visitors. It does not address at all, so the argument goes, the kind of loving, caring, mutually affirming same sex relationships that we are are talking about today. You have to take context into account, you see, and there have been those who bought this argument. Simple Simon, after all, did go to the fair.

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Gen. 19:4-5).

But let us pretend to accept this for a moment, for the sake of argument. Let us pretend that mutually affirming is the way to go, so long as you avoid that kind of violent hate sex that so unfortunately characterized the men who surrounded Lot’s house.

Comes now Bill Maher, who struts like a crow in a gutter, and is considered to be a leading humorist by the other crows. On a recent show, he had on comedian Marc Maron, who said that he thinks about “angrily f**king” Michele Bachman. He said this, not wanting “to be crass.” Oh, good. For a minute there, we were worried. And then, just to cover their stunted little tails, another guest said, to deflect accusations of sexism, that he would like to do the same to Rick Santorum. So fine then. You guys are willing to engage in hate sex, violent rape, against members of both sexes? And this makes it good, how exactly?