Posted by Christian Piatt 32 weeks 4 days ago
I was invited to appear on a Detroit radio show this past week called Christ and the City, hosted by Christopher Brooks. It’s a right-leaning talk show with an evangelical focus, but I was energized and encouraged by the conversation because it was respectful and substantive. We didn’t see eye to eye on much (as you’ll hear), but we made space for the differences, trusting that listeners would reflect on the broadened perspective, with the hope of being enriched in the process.The premise of the interview was a discussion of my book, Banned Questions About the Bible, but you’ll soon realize as you listen that we got into all sorts of other interesting topics, such as salvation, interpretation of scripture and the difference between “Truth” and “Fact” in the Bible.
Posted by Christian Piatt 33 weeks 11 hours ago
I’m a fan of TIME Magazine. It offers concise, intelligent summaries and opinions on the news that help keep me up with current events. They had an interesting article in the last few weeks about the factors that seem to affect a political party’s election results in the upcoming cycle. From their findings, it’s the party perceived to be most optimistic about the nation’s future that tends to come out on top. A fascinating bit of psychology, if not necessarily scientifically rigorous in its conclusions.And then, in the most recent issue, there’s a pages-long piece by Bill Clinton called “The Case for Optimism,” which outlined five reasons to look ahead with hope toward our collective future. Coincidence? Maybe. But the timing of the two pieces, particularly only weeks out from a presidential election, seems more than a little bit opportunistic.Call me cynical, but never let it be said that I’m above holding the Democrats’ feet to the fire when they pander. Yes, both parties do it, but it seems to me it’s most effective when it’s a little less in-your-face about it. President Obama rode a tide of optimism into the White House four years ago, only to watch his support erode after the reality didn’t live up to the speeches in many cases. But we wanted to hear it, and it worked. So it’s no surprise they’re giving it another go-round.But are there grounds for such high hopes?
Posted by Christian Piatt 33 weeks 2 days ago
I first heard about the movie “Hellbound?” (coming out this fall) at Wild Goose Festival. They were offering an advance screening of the movie, and although I was just passing by the tent at the time, the subject matter stopped me where I was. A thoughtful, well-researched, accessible discussion about the history, purpose, and prospects of hell in Christian theology?I’m in!The film opens with reflections on September 11th, including a 10-year anniversary memorial event at the site. And as would be expected, the infamous picketers from Westboro Baptist Church were there, complete with signs bearing slogans like “Thank God for 9/11″ and, of course, “God Hates Fags.” The movie progresses to, let’s say, more educated points of view, focusing more on the front end on those who advocate for a real hell that is populated with innumerable souls experiencing eternal conscious torment.But then the movie breaks off from the oft-quoted pro-hell camp and considers the social and historical backdrop for hell, as well as extensive screen time for the doubters and skeptics about the reality of such a place. Folks offering counters to the “traditional” evangelical view of hell include Brian McLaren, Frank Schaeffer, and an Eastern Orthodox priest, all offering fascinating tidbits meant to expand our understanding of where this modern-day understanding of hell even came from, let alone whether we claim a God who would send people there.
Posted by Christian Piatt 33 weeks 4 days ago
It’s amazing what a difference six words can make in our understanding of a figure as central as Jesus to the lives and faith of so many. Even historians and others who don’t claim Christianity personally are intrigued by the scrap of text recently discovered to contain, in Coptic, the sentence fragment: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”Was this Jesus of Nazareth? is it authentic? Did the author have an original source to pull from, or simply word-of-mouth legend? After all, this writing seems to be several hundred years newer than the synoptic gospels. Perhaps Jesus was speaking in parable, as he often did, or maybe the “wife” was the Church, which often is referred to as “the bride of Christ.” Who knows? It’s likely we never will, but the buzz that this find creates is more interesting to me than the source of the scripture itself.Why do we care so much if Jesus had a wife and kids or not? Why does it seem to matter if he died without ever having sex?
Posted by Christian Piatt 34 weeks 1 day ago
I’ve been reflecting on the recent events in Libya involving the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, and every time, I arrive at a different feeling about it all.There’s the obvious tragedy of a life unnecessarily lost. By all accounts, Stevens was a humble, passionate man who had invested his life in the betterment of the infrastructure for the Libyan people. He was not, as some dignitaries or diplomats tend to be, resting on his credentials in an easy gig, waiting for retirement. He was living out what he believed in a terribly volatile corner of the world.
Posted by Christian Piatt 35 weeks 1 day ago
My friend, Doug, is not what I’d call a religious person. He grew up in church but has since taken to a combination of practicing martial arts, yoga, and independent study, primarily of Buddhist philosophy. In a lot of ways, his journey is a familiar one for younger adults today (he and I are both 40 so we don’t really qualify as “young” adults anymore).Doug is, like I am, an intellectually curious guy. He follows my work pretty closely, and he is certainly open to other points of view, even if they’re not ones he embraces for his own life. Sometime we share ideas back and forth, but this quote from the Dalai Lama that he sent me recently really got my attention:"All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether."
Posted by Christian Piatt 35 weeks 1 day ago
I finally sat down and watched the entire 11-plus minute video, Innocence of Muslims, which is at the heart of the recent outrage in Islamic countries in Yemen and north Africa. Suffice it to say, I lost a healthy share of brain cells in the process. The narrative – if you can call it that – is incoherent throughout, the sound is barely audible in places and the overall production values make the Annoying Orange series look like Scorsese.That said, there’s plenty to anger Muslims in this clip, or anyone who values religious tolerance, plural coexistence, or even basic respect for human nature.
Posted by Christian Piatt 35 weeks 3 days ago
I was home sick on Sept. 11, 2001. Amy had left for her grad school classes, so I was a little bit annoyed when she burst back in and woke me up.“Turn on the TV,” she said. “Something bad is happening. Really bad.”While watching the replayed video of the plane colliding with the first tower, the second tower attack came. And then there were the reports of similar attacks at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. At that moment, we had no idea when the bad news would stop coming. My first thought was for those loved ones I have in bigger cities, praying that they would not find themselves in harm’s way.We watched the reports in silence for a few hours, trying to sort out what had just happened. Of course, there were no certainties about the attacks being over, but by now all planes had been grounded, and the American military was on high alert.“I’m not sure how much more of this I can watch,” I told Amy, realizing it was nearly noon, and I was still sitting on the couch in my underwear. “We should try and do something.”“Everything is closed,” she said. “Churches will probably have prayer services later, but not until tonight.” The zoo was the only thing we could find that was still operating, so we decided to go spend some time among some less self-destructive animal species. We settled by the gorilla habitat, where one lazy silverback leaned against the other side of the glass, just inches away from us. Though they usually tend to turn their backs to human observers, he was staring right at us. He seemed to be just on the verge of speaking:What the hell is the matter with you people?
Posted by Christian Piatt 35 weeks 4 days ago
Gotta say I’m a big fan of this church sign at my father-in-law’s church.It’s time to STOP:Using faith, Jesus, and the Bible as a political platform;Cherry-picking from the Gospel based on what polls well;Claiming Jesus would be so myopic to identify with either of our major political parties;...
Posted by Christian Piatt 36 weeks 2 days ago
A few examples of how clueless I am about male identity, and how mixed-up the gender roles are becoming, just in my own family:I’ve never killed anything, at least on purpose. The only time I ever shot a gun was when my dad took me to the range and handed over his Ruger for a few rounds. I hated it. The noise was deafening, and the recoil scared the shit out of me.I own a pathetic amount of tools for a man in his late thirties who has owned two homes. By my age, my dad and grandparents had staked their claim on the garage as exclusively male territory by covering every wall and bit of floor space with table saws, drills, vices and every wrench – standard and metric – anyone could ever need. I have more guitars than screwdrivers, and it was only a few years ago that I finally got straight in my head what the difference between channel locks and regular pliers is.I like potpourri; my wife digs the nickel defense.I changed more diapers in the first month of my son’s life than my dad ever did on me. I take care of the kids when Amy goes to meetings in the evenings, and I work from home every day.I cry every time I watch Extreme Home Makeover. Amy records every episode of Real Sports on HBO. Oh, and I always cry when I watch that, too.Damn you, Bryant Gumbel.
Posted by Christian Piatt 36 weeks 3 days ago
[Note from the author: Yesterday I wrote about part of the discussion that took place around our Wild Goose Festival panel on masculinity and male identity. A few folks asked about the story I told during the panel, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s a bit long, so I’ll offer it in two parts, with part two coming tomorrow.]Every guy has that one car they either always wanted or got and for which they will always have an irrational love. Mine was a 1966 Mustang.I first saw it sitting with the “for sale” sign in the parking lot of the apartment complex where I had a summer job, cleaning out trashed, vacant units. They wanted $3,200 for it, but they took $2,700, which was almost every penny I’d earned for a whole summer’s work. The guy who sold it to me, a bartender with a mullet and a fine collection of sleeveless T-shirts, assured me that I would love that car more than life itself.He was right, but as I mentioned, it was a completely irrational love. I spent more time underneath that car than I did in it for more than a year, replacing seals, radiators, starters, alternators and a host of other barely-functioning parts I only learned existed as they broke. But when it worked, man, I was transported, both literally and figuratively.The mustang gave me more confidence too. I asked a girl out I had wanted to hook up with for some months, and after checking out the ride, she readily agreed. I took her to a concert, and on the way home, her smile broadened as she ran her hand seductively across the burgundy interior.“This is a really sweet car,” she cast a feline glance my way. Every manly fiber in my being puffed up, taking in the intoxicating elixir of car exhaust and her perfume. Life was good.Five minutes later, while cruising down the highway, I threw a rod. We sat in the parking lot of a gas station for about forty-five minutes until my mom got there to take us both home.I said the love was irrational.
Posted by Christian Piatt 36 weeks 4 days ago
The Wild Goose Festival was awesome as expected this weekend in Corvalis, Ore. About 1,000 folks gathered for the first-ever west coast version of the event started in North Carolina. There were artists, theologians, pastors, hippies, activists, poets, and any number of other curious observers, navigating the landscape to better understand where this movement might be headed.I offered a workshop on Saturday with Brian Ammons and Bruce Reyes Chow on masculinity and male identity. Folks gathered in the small animal arena on the fairgrounds where the event was held to hear about, and respond to, male identity from three fairly distinct perspectives. It was a rich conversation and pretty fun, at least until one question came toward the end, from a guy in the back row.I suppose we should have seen it coming, but we had gotten a little too comfortable. The following is a paraphrase of what he said, but the essence is the same.
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 12 hours ago
The Lance Armstrong news is still fresh on people’s minds, but based on the news and Internet chatter I’ve seen, this is being met with a more somber response than, say, Barry Bonds or Mack Mcgwire. In the case of the latter two athletes (along with many others), it seems that the public has revelled in some degree of Schadenfreude as they witness someone being pulled from their high pedestal, back down to dwell among us common folk.Yes, we have a strange bloodlust for tearing down those we’ve chosen previously to build up as icons or role models, and Armstrong’s grave-dancers surely will come out of the shadows in time, but is there something different about him? Do we have more of a reason to mourn his precipitous decline, as opposed to others who have preceded him?
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 1 day ago
I don’t mind failing as much as I do admitting I’ve failed. And technically, we haven’t blown the SNAP Challenge just yet, but I know for a fact we will by the end of the week.I went to the store last night for another loaf of bread and a frozen pizza for dinner, which I had promised my kids if they’d make it to mid-week without freaking out. This brought us down to eighteen bucks and change left in the till, which theoretically was going to be enough to fill in the gaps for other items we’d need to do our meals through the weekend.And then reality hit.
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 1 day ago
Maybe the serpent in the Garden of Eden story actually was a cute little girl in pigtails. Sure would have been more persuasive than some stupid talking snake.Explaining to kids who have grown up their entire lives with such privilege is almost like trying to translate a foreign language for them. No, not everyone just goes in and grabs whatever they feel like from the fridge or the shelves. They don’t order in when they’re too tired or lazy to cook, and they don’t mark every mundane occurrence in their lives with a celebratory dinner out. It’s normal to them, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 3 days ago
I’m not making friends among my family members with this challenge.Because it was my idea to do this for a week (living on the equivalent budget of food stamps for seven days), everyone ends up coming to me to “check on the rules.” Basically, this means they ask me about ways they might work around the limitations of the challenge, and then get mad at me when I don’t give them a way out.Yesterday ended up being a mixed bag. My wife, Amy, and I had to go to the other side of town for some errands, and it didn’t occur to either of us that we’d be gone over lunch time. Fortunately, one of the errands was at an Ikea, a giant housewares store that’s known for it’s affordable cafeteria-style meals, so we made it work. But even with their reduced-rate prices, we spent more than $9 for both of us and little Zoe to eat.“Man,” I said, looking at my empty bowl, previously filled with pasta and Swedish meatballs, “that was way less than we usually spend going out, but it was still almost double what we have in the budget for one meal.”
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 4 days ago
“So what are food stamps anyway?” my 8-year-old son, Mattias, asked as I drove him to his summer camp this morning. “Are they, like, stamps that you eat that taste like different foods?”“Not exactly,” I said. My family was less than thrilled when I presented the idea of living on the equivalent of what a family of four would receive on food stamps for a week. Actually, the program is now called “SNAP,” which stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” and involves government-issued vouchers or debit cards, rather than the antiquated stamp method. But the result is the same; we have a lot less to spend on food this week than usual.“But I don’t want to be poor,” Mattias moaned as I explained the challenge to him.“We’re not poor,” I said, “but it’s important for us to know what it’s like to struggle to feed our family.”“Why?”“Because,” I paused, trying to figure out a way to explain privilege and compassion to a third-grader who was quite content to have all he has, and then some, “Jesus tells us to have a heart for the poor, but how can we really do that if we don’t know anything about what it’s like to live with less?”“Hmm,” he wrinkled his brow, “I guess we can do it for a few days.”
Posted by Christian Piatt 38 weeks 4 days ago
Perhaps I’ve missed something about Russian law, but it seems to me that it’s a conveniently trumped up charge to keep the women sequestered until (hopefully for the Putin Administration, at least) the attention blows over and the perpetually-distracted news cycle moves on. In short, I can’t imagine, at least from my cultural context, that such a sentence could be justified as anything less than government bullying.As for the location of their “Punk Prayer” at the altar of a Russian Orthodox church, this state church has been in the pocket of the government for quite a long time, it turns out. In reading up a little more, the choice of such a church for their protest seems less shocking and more concertedly poignant, given the church’s complicity in promoting the agenda of the Powers that Be. Rather than standing up in the face of authority as an advocate for the poor and oppressed (arguably one of the principal responsibilities of a church), they have joined in the subjugation of human rights in Russia.
Posted by Christian Piatt 39 weeks 15 hours ago
The all-female Russian punk band whose name shall not be mentioned (kind of like Voldemort in Harry Potter) was arrested following an uninvited “punk prayer” of protest against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his iron-fisted grip on the forthcoming election. Their boisterous prayer-performance was offered to the Virgin Mary at the altar of a Russian Orthodox church. They’ve been serving five months in jail since the event, and on Friday were sentenced to two years — time served credited against the sentence.On the surface, I appreciate the demonstration. One could argue that even Jesus engaged in rather shocking prophetic displays inside temple walls to make a powerful point. And I appreciate that the band members were willing to go to jail (not a surprise they got arrested, really) for what they believe. On one level, it’s exactly the kind of thing that the punk ethos is all about: shocking people into awareness about the injustices around them, stirring people to action.
Posted by Christian Piatt 39 weeks 2 days ago
After putting out there that we’re going to do the SNAP Challenge August 20-26th (living on the budgeted equivalent of food stamps for a week for meals), some folks came forward with some really helpful resources. Even if you’re not on public assistance and not planning to take part in the challenge, these are useful tools to help anyone on a budget plan for some good, nutritious meals.Here’s a video clip on meal prep with only food bought on the food stamp budget, along with the list of groceries the chef bought on the budget: Mario’s Food Stamp Challenge Grocery ListHere are dozens of recipes from Harvesters Food Network you can do on a food-stamp-equivalent budget, complete with nutrition information for each meal: Harvesters Food Network SNAP Recipes
Posted by Christian Piatt 39 weeks 2 days ago
I’ve said before that privilege often is invisible until you don’t have it. So in that light, I’m doing a little experiment in a few days with our family, and I encourage you to join in.A lot of us never know what it’s like to try and live below the poverty line, and I tend to think the statements we hear about the poor that lack sensitivity for their situation point to this. It’s easy to say things like, “people on public assistance are lazy” (in fact, 47 percent of SNAP recipients are under 18; a majority of the remaining recipients have other income from work, and this doesn’t account for seniors and those who are disabled) and that food stamps are a “free ride” that are so attractive, it keeps people from wanting to work and get off of the assistance.So let’s find out just how easy it is.“SNAP” stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” which is the new name for food stamps. Basically, families receive $4 a day per family member to cover food costs, so the SNAP challenge is pretty simple (in theory, at least): Live on the same amount with your family for a week.
Posted by Christian Piatt 39 weeks 3 days ago
I’m not going to have time to post this tomorrow, so enjoy your Church Sign Epic Fails a little early this week! Today, we have a face-off between faith and reason, as some seem to feel like having both coexist is a physical impossibility. So with a few others thrown in for a little spice, enjoy this cage match between faith and reason.Let’s get ready to grumble!!!!!
Posted by Christian Piatt 40 weeks 2 days ago
Right there, in the middle of piles of fried chicken and biscuits, campers broke out in song, complete with choreography. Suffice it to say it’s simple enough and cumulative in its themes so that pretty much anyone can get the idea within a verse or two.We keep talking about the changing face of church and how ministry is going to look different going forward; what if this is it? Not that I expect this is “the” model for how to do church from here forward, but there’s something to this “flash mob” concept, breaking out spontaneously into something that draws others in, right here, right now, where we are.But we might get weird looks. We might even get in trouble.
Posted by Christian Piatt 40 weeks 3 days ago
Like most people, I was deeply troubled by news of another mass shooting, this time at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., not far from Milwaukee. On the heels of the tragic massacre in Aurora, Colo., this seemed all the more savage to me, given that it took place in a house of worship.Maybe it’s because my wife and I work in a church and are aware of such vulnerabilities every day, but my first reaction is defensiveness. I want to raise my guard, double-check the locks and do whatever I can to ensure our safety. It’s the response that makes the most sense, after all.Or is it?
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 14 hours ago
Michael Phelps was accomplishing things no one in recorded history has ever done before. I can’t explain or really comprehend how he can do it. And although he did them, I attribute his physiology and gifts to God. So is what he does in the Olympics a miracle?It almost seems that we worship him as if they were miraculous acts. We literally put him up on a pedestal and adore him, much like how people adored Jesus. And just like with Jesus, these amazing feats, whether or not they are literally miraculous acts, are simply not enough. The fall will inevitably come.If they were, Jesus wouldn’t have been abandoned at his most vulnerable moment. Some will argue that he saved the biggest and best for last, raising from the dead, which finally put all of his doubters in their place. Really? Then why are our numbers, at least in the Western World, in such precipitous decline?
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 1 day ago
Growing up, I heard things at camp and in youth group about how “the world” thought and acted one way, and how “we” were not like that. In fact the world, it seemed, was intent on unraveling everything I valued as good and true, leaving me with a smoldering pile of ideals and beliefs, all dead at the point of a secular sword. It was our job as Christians not only to defend against this frontal attack, but also to fight back in an effort to win souls for the Kingdom.It was an epic battle, now in its beginning stages, but that would play out as depicted in the fantastical, horrifically violent pages within the Book of Revelation. The end is near; which side will you be on?The Christianity of my youth was much like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem — a shining jewel high on a hill, beset on all sides by forces intent solely on its destruction. And our mission, as stewards of the faith, was to preserve and maintain the faith, protecting it at all costs. This, I would later learn, was the theological heart of what I now know as the Culture War. And some within the walls of the temple might argue I’ve abandoned the cause, or perhaps switched sides all together.
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 1 day ago
Of course, there’s a part of all of us that loves a winner. There’s a reason why so many people wear the jerseys of their favorite teams or players (way more when that person or team is on top than not, by the way), why we revert to a sort of tribal level of passion — painting our faces, screaming rabidly — and why we practically make a religion out of our sports. At one level, it’s inspiring to see someone achieve what appears to be unattainable. The idea of doing what most Olympians do — or all professional athletes, for that matter — is hard to comprehend. But when we get to witness it, it serves to embolden our faith in humanity a little bit.Yes, we screw up a lot, we fight each other, and we’re warming up the planet at an alarming rate. But once in a while, it’s transcendent to watch someone do something amazing, beautiful, a little bit closer to perfect.
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 4 days ago
The following is from a letter by Billy Graham posted recently on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website:"Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle."Yes, there are plenty of examples to support the case Graham is making, but is it fair or accurate to suggest that all points indicate a fundamental moral decay?
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 4 days ago
For all you Arabic number snobs, that’s volume 24 of your favorite cringeworthy church signs. Order up!!!Mom, mom, can I PLEEEEASE go to that church Sunday?Pretty sure folks needing a 5X T-shirt aren’t into plain toast.
Posted by Christian Piatt 41 weeks 4 days ago
Christians toss out blessings like beads at Mardi Gras. They get offered so often and in so many contexts that it’s hard to know what exactly it means. So I thought I’d break down at least some of the kinds of blessings floating around out there.The Post-Sneeze Blessing: This is a weird one, because we don’t bless people for coughing, yawning or any other bodily function. So why sneezing? No one is exactly sure, though some believe it dates back to Pope Gregory in the early first Century AD when the bubonic plague was everywhere in Europe. As the plague got closer to Rome, myth has it that the Pope ordered perpetual blessings around the city. So when someone sneezed, offering them a blessing was like a small insurance policy against the plague.I actually heard a different one growing up that I liked better. There was an old superstition that sneezes were a means the body used to expel evil spirits from within. So once the bad mojo was on the outside, it was incumbent upon others to bless the sneezer, in an effort to keep them from sucking the demons or whatever back in.The Backhanded Blessing: I grew up in Texas, and this was a real favorite in the south. It was generally offered in someone’s absence, and immediately following some kind of gossip or insult. An example might be, “Poor Mabel Jean’s husband has slept with everyone in town except for her, bless her heart.” Apparently the blessing neutralizes the damage of the bad stuff....
Posted by Christian Piatt 42 weeks 11 hours ago
I think we’re terrified of failures for the same reasons we’re scared of death, or any type of palpable ending, for that matter. Failure, at its heart, really is a small death. And who wants to go through that if they don’t have to? I’m not saying that we should set ourselves up intentionally to fail, but I get the sense that, more often than not, the fear of the possibility of failure keeps us from really living well. And really when you think about it, if you never fail, you may never figure out where your limits are. What a boring, uninspiring way to live.So here are some reasons I’ve decided that failure isn’t just inevitable or necessary, but that it’s actually kind of wonderful.
Posted by Christian Piatt 42 weeks 2 days ago
Bryan Fischer’s argument comes down to this. We teach kids in school that they’ve evolved from monkeys, and that survival of the fittest (or natural) celebrates the triumph of the strong over the weak. Combine this with loosened sexual teen morality and the public celebration of homosexuality, and you have fertile grounds for animal-like behavior, such as that involving shooter James Holmes.Oh yes, the gay part. Fischer commented about some website (which he does not name) that supposedly was set up in conjunction with the London Summer Olympics to allow gays to engage in “random, frequent, anonymous” sex, which he calls “one of the characteristics of the homosexual community. It always has been; it always will be.”So in his estimation, because of our sexual moral decay (as supported by the classroom and Olympic illustrations) and his consistent and ongoing attack on the virtues of evolution, James Holmes killed more than a dozen people in a suburban movie theater in Colorado.
Posted by Christian Piatt 42 weeks 3 days ago
Editor's Note: The following is a question from Christian Piatt's book Banned Questions About Jesus. It is on sale on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 through July 25. Jarrod McKenna: No.Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword. And we as disciples must wield the same sword Jesus brings, and no other.The question is, what is this sword?What is this sword that heals rather than harms enemies?What is this sword that never collaborates or mirrors the Powers, thereby exposing their addiction to violence?What is this sword that prophetically turns over tables of idolatry and injustice in a judgment that does not harm, hurt, coerce or kill anyone?What is this fire that is ablaze with the very presence of I AM in response to the cries of the oppressed, this fire that does not destroy the bush in which it burns?What is this power that is ablaze on the cross, sucking the oxygen of injustice and violence from creation then causes a cosmic backdraft in the resurrection, setting the world alight with the love that conquers death?
Posted by Christian Piatt 42 weeks 4 days ago
Thought I’d mix it up a little bit, especially since I’ve seen so many remarkable Christian themed T-shirts. And if you go out and buy one of these after seeing this, even as an ironic statement, so help me…
Posted by Christian Piatt 42 weeks 4 days ago
I’ve been a fan of Chick-fil-A for a long time. Their food is always great, their service is impeccable (almost to the point of being a little creepy), and the restaurants are squeaky clean.It’s not every day that you can enjoy a fast food restaurant where you actually feel like you’re putting something reasonably good for you in your body. Well, at least not as bad as some.But the point is, I have always liked them. And if I like them, my wife, Amy is practically a Chik-fil-A disciple.We’ve planned meals on the road around their locations. Sure, I’ve known Chik-fil-A was a Christian-based organization with some values that leaned farther right than my own, but I respected their business model and ethic. Plus, I’m used to having fellow Christians to my right.And then I saw this video:
Posted by Christian Piatt 43 weeks 11 hours ago
Like many others, I was shocked to hear this morning about the mass killing in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater at the hands of (according to law enforcement authorities) suspect James Eagan Holmes — a 24-year-old California native and neurosciences graduate student at the Univeristy of Colorado in Denver.Having recently moved from Colorado to Oregon, the Aurora shootings tapped into old feelings as I recalled the Columbine High School killings in 1999. My wife, Amy, was a youth minister at the time, and one of the girls who had previously been a part of her group had helped the Columbine killers buy their guns.Then there was the attack at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. And now this.It got me thinking about what all of the killers have in common, and for that matter, what they seem to have in common with many of the mass murderers at the focus of such tragic stories.
Posted by Christian Piatt 43 weeks 17 hours ago
On the one hand, I’m encouraged when Christians can have more honest, open dialogue about sex and sexuality in the public forum.On the other, I’m more than a little distressed when the matter at hand is about “Biblically-based” sexual submission.For those unfamiliar, there are (at least) two camps in the Christian conversation about gender roles, one of which we can call “egalitarian,” and the other calls itself “complementarian.” The implication of the latter is that, though we are not the same, we males and females fit together in many ways like pieces of a puzzle, one complementing something the other lacks, and vice-versa.And if the definition of complementarianism stopped there, I would be on board; but in truth it’s a thinly veiled case for women submitting to men. Sorry, but this isn’t complementary; it’s authoritarian.In a recent post, Rachel Held Evans explained the troublesome issues with complementarianism well:…For modern-day Christian patriarchalists (sometimes called complementarians), hierarchal gender relationships are God-ordained, so the essence of masculinity is authority, and essence of femininity is submission. Men always lead and women always follow. There is no sphere unaffected by this hierarchy—not even, it seems, sex.
Posted by Christian Piatt 43 weeks 1 day ago
No, this is not some new Charlie Kauffman movie that folds in on itself, creating a perpetual feedback loop. I’m serious; Christians love Top 10 Lists. No wonder Moses did only 10 commandments. I noticed this recently when all of the top three most popular articles on the Sojo.net at the time were lists of this kind. So I went back and did a search of my own personal blog archive. Every one of the most popular pieces started with “10 Reasons,” or “Seven Things” or the like. Are Christians obsessed with lists? What’s the deal? I talked to a publisher years ago who told me that the key to a successful theology book was to include something akin to “six easy steps” in the title. I never took them up on that advice, but he knew what he was talking about. So after expending a little grey matter on the issue, I came up with this list of reasons why I think Christians love these kinds of lists: #1. We don’t want to have to think too hard: Now, before you fire up your keyboard and rattle off a protest email, this is a broader truism across our entire culture....
Posted by Christian Piatt 43 weeks 3 days ago
I was having lunch with another couple in ministry that shared a disturbing story with us. The problem isn’t so much in the uniqueness of the story they told, but rather in how incredibly common it is.The couple had connections to a congregations several hours away that is located in the heart of a thriving urban center. The aging congregation was down to only 40 regular attendees and had released all of their paid staff, opting instead for volunteers to lead worship for them when they could secure them.Meanwhile, they gathered in a building, valued at roughly $9 million, which they could not afford to maintain.This church, like so many others, seeks answers to questions about how to survive in an increasingly secular, disparate, and religiously wary culture. Their hope, like plenty of other churches, is that something or someone will come along to save them, keep the institution going and propel them into the future for another century.Oh, as long as they don’t have to change.
Posted by Christian Piatt 43 weeks 4 days ago
Thanks to Steve Knight for alerting me to this joke, which has become one of my instant favorites. After all, it combines two things I dig: nerd humor and theology (also nerdy).Yeah, yeah, you may be groaning, but you’re smiling while doing it. Admit it.There’s plenty of chatter lately about the so-called “God Particle,” recently discovered , with some in the scientific field actually calling it the “goddamn particle,” because (at least as I understand it) the discovery opens up the possibility of something without detectable mass actually giving mass to other particles.Kind of like: In the beginning there was nothing, and then…Sound familiar?
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 10 hours ago
There’s plenty of fodder for sub-par parenting in the Good Book if we want to find it. But based on the examples of Christian parenting I see in more contemporary culture, the things we’d be best to move beyond are a little subtler (sometimes anyway) than the examples above.Consider James Dobson’s (former head of Focus on the Family) writing on raising children. He advocates corporal punishment, placing the male as the “head of the household,” and other advice that makes a guy like me cringe. And interestingly, a lot of the differences I have with traditional (some might say “evangelical”) Christian parenting parallel my differences in how to approach Christian community all together.In that light, here are five habits, often attributed to “Christian parenting” values, that I’d just as soon replace with something new.
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 1 day ago
Rather than mine being a theology of “Jesus died for your sin,” mine is one of “Thy Kingdom come.” That is archaic language, and I find that a little off-putting, yes, but given that it’s from the Lord’s Prayer, attributed to Jesus, I think it’s worth wrestling with. Basically, I share the interpretation of this line of the prayer with many seekers of social justice, like MLK, Walter Rauschenbusch and the like, who believe that the line, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is an expression of longing, for God’s love to be fully realized, for our inequities and brokenness to be reconciled here on this earth, and not just some day after we die.This is not likely something at which we will entirely arrive in this life, but it is something toward which we should re-orient ourselves daily, in order to seek it out, actively and vocally, in all we do. This, I believe, is Christ’s call to the world.
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 2 days ago
This is the final in a four-part series on the overused (and often insensitively employed) phrases that plague the Christian lexicon. Though I felt like I was offering some insight into what to do instead of offering these cliches, some asked for more specificity or clarity. So in that spirit, I thought I’d offer a final list of things to do rather than pop off with these phrases that may mean little or nothing to the recipient, or worse, may cause unintended – but lasting – harm.Read article one in the series here: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never UseRead article two in the series here: Ten More Cliches Christians Should AvoidRead article three in the series here: Nine (Final) Christian Cliches to AvoidNow, Ten Antidotes to Christian Cliches.
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 3 days ago
The response to this series of articles has been pretty overwhelming, and generally, very positive. For the handful of folks who label me an apostate, atheist, anti-Christian or what have you for stepping on some rhetorical toes, it’s fine if you feel the need to cast stones. But do bear in mind that, when you do, you are living into a stereotype of Christians as knee-jerk reactionary, judgmental people. Something to consider.And for the hundreds who have written with thanks for helping them feel their pain, alienation, confusion or resistance is heard and understood, thank you.In that spirit, I have compiled a third (and most likely, final) list of Cliches to avoid because, frankly, there were still so many worth noting that have yet to be addressed. Thanks to those who have submitted suggestions for additional lists. And because I’ve had some emails and comments asking for more clarity on what to do or say instead of leaning on these cliches, I’ll offer a closing piece for this series tomorrow about what I’d suggest Christians focus on instead of well-worn rhetorical scripts.Enough prologue. Here are the final nine cliches to strike from the Christian lexicon if we’re interested in reaching people on a deeper, more personal level.
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 4 days ago
After writing up my first list of Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use, some folks wrote me with other suggestions. After simmering on it for a while, I came up with a second list of ten to supplement the first.And as there was some confusions from a handful of fellow Christians about the intent of the articles: these are not intended to tell you to believe or not believe a certain set of things. Christians have a Public Relations problem; that much is self-evident. So in as much as I can respond to that, I want to offer these as advice on how to change the way we approach people about our faith.On to the next ten cliches for Christians to avoid …
Posted by Christian Piatt 44 weeks 4 days ago
This week, we have a special talk-back version. Several of these signs have responses that are particularly awesome. Check it out.Why come to our church? Because it's AWESOME, that's why!
Posted by Christian Piatt 45 weeks 18 hours ago
We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness.
Posted by Christian Piatt 45 weeks 2 days ago
Recently, someone asked me to respond (on video) to how I reconciled both love of God and love for country. I struggled with the question, mostly because of the typical baggage that comes along with Christian patriotism, much of which teeters on the verge of jingoism. So I didn’t respond at all.I’m really sensitive to what I call “Christian exceptionalism.” There are those within Christianity that honestly believe America is God’s second Zion, the new Israel, and that we Americans are God’s new chosen people. This, in turn, helps justify everything from flags in worship spaces to the Ten Commandments in the public square, and even pre-emptive acts of aggression against perceived threats around the world.Basically, when you hold yourself up as somehow favored in the eyes of God, it’s easy to hold those you deem as less favored to be somehow “less than,” and to dehumanize all who do not conform to your custom-built ideal of what it means to be “American.”For me, though, such sentiments not only are un-American in the sense that they don’t ascribe to the “liberty and justice for all” ethos; it’s also patently un-Christian.
Posted by Christian Piatt 45 weeks 5 days ago
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, but it’s true. We’re 20 weeks into the Church Sign Epic Fails series and going strong.Always good to pick fights on your church sign.
Posted by Christian Piatt 46 weeks 2 days ago
Two weeks after we arrived in Portland, Amy (my wife and new senior pastor at First Christian Church in downtown Portland) decided she needed to do something meaningful to express her voice as a person of faith in the community. There already were the folks handing out tracts down on the campus of Portland State University, which is definitely not us. There were plenty of community leaders to meet, hands to shake and even media outlets to connect with so we’d have a better handle on key circles of influence.But none of what was really what we had in mind.The annual Pride fest was taking place that weekend along the banks of the Willamette River, and we knew we should probably go. Folks in our new congregation are in various stages in their journey of discerning where they are with regard to sexual orientation, but overall, it’s an incredibly open and loving place for all people. There are gay singles and couples who attend regularly, and who participate in leadership and other ministries like everyone else. But the fact of the matter is that most people outside the walls of the church don’t know that. And honestly, how will they ever know if we’re not willing to tell them?Better yet, why not show them?