To Beard or Not to Beard
The good folks over at Christianity Today have put together an interesting and often funny timeline on Christian beliefs concerning facial hair. It is amazing, and sometimes sad, that this is all true. It is hard to believe that throughout the years of Christian history church has sometimes taken a position on something as frivolous as beards and mustaches. We ought to learn from history and hope we are not still making similar silly decisions today. If you don’t take it too seriously this is a fun and entertaining read. Check out The War Over Christian Beards
In the World, but Not of the World
How do we live as a Christian in an immoral world? Should our focus be on passing laws that attempt to regulate immorality? Paul Smith addresses these questions and more in an outstanding post on homosexuality and what it means to be a Christian. He writes,
God’s plan, quite simply, is for His people, His chosen and redeemed sheep, to start living like they actually believe the words they have been mouthing for centuries.
I want disciples of Christ to actually start acting like they believe marriage is a holy and inviable commitment between a man and a woman. I want disciples of Christ to start raising their children instead of turning them over to the state to raise. I want disciples of Christ to start treating all men and women as if they are created in the image of God and to stop using derogatory terms of hate and ignorance. I want disciples of Christ to start actually worshiping God instead of creating more hedonistic practices to soothe guilty consciences. I want disciples of Christ to start honoring and praising the differences between the genders instead of working with the prince of this world to blur the distinctions between male and female. I want disciples of Christ to repudiate and work against the destructive powers of pornography and the sex trade. I want disciples of Christ to actually stand up and be counted as advocates for the preservation of life – all life- instead of just mouthing a few mantras concerning being against abortion. I want disciples of Christ to acknowledge that it is theologically impossible to be pro-life and to advocate a military complex that is designed to obliterate entire nations and not simply for the defense of one’s homeland.
In other and far more simple words, I want disciples of Christ to start living the Sermon on the Mount. All of it, and not just the parts we like.
Go read the whole article. It is well worth your time. Check out Can Christians Force Homosexuals to Change Their Behavior?
Theology and the March
David Brooks wrote a great op-ed piece in the New York Times this week on the theological underpinnings of the march in Washington. He writes,
The idea was to reduce ugliness in the world by reducing ugliness in yourself. King argued that “unearned suffering is redemptive.” It would uplift people involved in this kind of action. It would impose self-restraint. At their best, the leaders understood that even people in the middle of just causes can be corrupted. They can become self-righteous, knowing their cause is right. They can become smug as they move forward, cruel as they organize into groups, simplistic as they rely on propaganda to mobilize the masses. Their hearts can harden as their enemies become more vicious. The strategy of renunciation and the absorbing of suffering was meant to guard against all that.
Check out The Ideas Behind the March
A Simple Act of Kindness
We all have to fight against judging others. When we see that man or woman on the street corner thoughts begin to rush through our mind. We think they look perfectly healthy. Why don’t they go out and get a job? We may think they are somehow trying to scam people by standing out in the 100 degree heat collecting change. We tend to hold a certain view of homeless people and it is often negative. To put it plainly, we judge them. I was reminded this week how our first impressions our often wrong. I came across a great story of a homeless man performing a simple act of kindness expecting nothing in return. Check out Homeless Man’s Random Act of Kindness is Too Sweet For Words
What’s Fear and Love Got to Do With It?
Terry Briley has written a very helpful piece on what it means to fear and love God and how we should understand these commands. He writes,
Our first reaction to words like “fear” and “love” is to think of them as emotions. We struggle, therefore, when we are called to “fear” God or to “love” our enemies. Those feelings may seem inappropriate (especially the latter). Furthermore, how can we feel something as a result of a command?
I continue to be amazed by Bob Dylan. I know this is not a new revelation and many people have come to this same conclusion long before I have. This week I have been listening to Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10. This is considered by some to be a low point in Dylan’s career, but maybe only because it is different from what he was doing before. What is so eye-opening about the bootleg series is that not only is Dylan a great songwriter, but he is also a musical genius. He knows how to craft a song. Often he recorded two or three distinct versions of a song and they are all equally good. Here is a live version of I Threw It All Away from that time period.