Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Worst Day of their Lives

Day 6575 is the worst day of their lives. It is the day the Church in America turns on them.

It's not intentional...the Church doesn't even know it's doing it...but it happens nonetheless.

It is the day where helpless children become villainous adults.

Day 6575...also known as the 18th birthday.

You see, the Church in America has a passion for helping kids in need...kids who experience poverty and all that goes with it. We hurt for the children whose parents don't care. We cry out for the abused, the rejected, the forgotten. As Christians, we develop programs to take them in and show them love.

When they misbehave--say something inappropriate, break something carelessly, disobey our requests...we understand, because after all, THEY'VE NEVER BEEN TAUGHT.

They're just poor children who can't help that they've been born to lazy, undisciplined, barbaric parents (or so the story goes...). Those poor, unfortunate children...

Until Day 6575.

At that point those children, whose vices were previously so understood and justified, become adults and, as such, the object of wrath for the Evangelical Right.

Far too often, I hear "Christians" spew political venom aimed at the adults in poverty who are a "drag on our precious economy." They are attacked for taking health care and taxpayer money all without contributing their fair share. They are accused of having the same opportunities as everyone else, but merely choosing not to take advantage of them...likely because they are selfish, lazy, and (of course) Democrats.

Day 6574: "You poor kids with no one to love and teach you!"
Day 6575: "You lazy adults need to get your act together or suffer the consequences!"

What a difference a day makes.

To all my neighbors about to turn 18... may we never forget who you are.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let's just call it "X-mas"

I'm preparing myself for the inevitable forthcoming "Christmas vs. X-mas vs. Happy Holidays" debates where Christians at large begin to hyperventilate over the fact that the pagan joystealers of the world are trying to take Christ out of Christmas.

Well, I've got news for you. He's been left behind long before now.

You see, as Christians we take up arms this time of the year with proclamations of "REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!!!" Which inevitably leads to the inclusion of manger scenes in our home decorating, perhaps a lack of the jolly guy in our montage, a Christmas Eve church service, and a not-to-be-forgotten reading of the Christmas story before we engage in our wild frenzy of present opening.

But the problem is that we are just adding a little bit of Jesus to a holiday that we have turned into something that mocks what Jesus stood for. Every year Americans spend $450 Billion dollars on Christmas shopping!!! All this while much of the world remains in poverty, fighting issues such as lack of sustainable food and water--issues that can be greatly impacted with just a fraction of the resources that we spend on Christmas presents.

I understand that the point of giving presents has been to remind ourselves that Jesus was the greatest gift--and we say things like, "It is better to give than receive." But if that's true, that giving is the enjoyable part, then it doesn't really matter who we give to. And if so, shouldn't we give to those that have the most need? Isn't that what Jesus would want us to do? Isn't that what Jesus DID?

For us, in our consumerism, to act in a way that so directly flies in the face of so much of Jesus' life and teachings, and yet complain that people are taking Christ out of Christmas merely by changing the name, or even insinuating that we are "REMEMBERING THE REASON FOR THE SEASON" by merely retelling the story, is laughable...like celebrating MLK day in segregated church services or commemorating Earth Day with a sale on Hummers.

This year, let's either change our habits and traditions to really reflect the priorities of Christ, or let's just go ahead and call it "X-mas".

P.S. Here is a video that my friend Lisa first posted that speaks well to this issue:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Facebook and Prayer

(a follow-up to my lesson from Sunday 11/1/09)

I've always struggled with prayer, not in a for or against type way, but in a "this-is-extremely-awkward-slash-boring-slash-I'm-gonna-go-crazy" type way.

But lately, I've been experiencing some refreshment in this area, largely thanks to Facebook.

Facebook - the spiritual development tool (sort of)

I remember the first time I opened Facebook after signing up...there was that intimidating box at the top asking, "What's on your mind" I sat, cracked my knuckles and began to type..."Ryan is..." Nothing. I had nothing! So I sat and thought. 5 minutes...10 minutes...What was on my mind, anyway?!

I think I probably came up with something lame like, "Ryan is wanting Taco Bell for dinner," but it was the beginning of something for me--actually figuring out what was on my mind and heart and expressing it.

You see I'm a guy, and I have trouble stepping back and even considering what might be going on inside of me, whether I'm being asked by the Facebook box, or by my wife. The truth is, for most of my life, I just didn't know what was on my mind until after it (often accidentally) came shooting out of my mouth.

But now, a year or two into this Facebook thing, I can more readily come up with status updates..."Ryan is pumped about the Fire game this weekend!", "Ryan is frustrated with my girls always being sick", "Ryan thinks he's too selfish most of the time"...

Granted, their mostly still simplistic and shallow, but I'm much more aware of who I am and what's on my mind.

And you know what, I enjoy sharing that with others. I love posting a status, or a note, or a comment and seeing that little red flag go up in the bottom corner notifying me that someone I care about has interacted with me. It's great knowing that I am going through life with friends--not alone.

Prayer is the next logical step. I used to think it only a religious ceremony between a myself and a distant God. What I have come to find out is that God was not the one that was distant, I was.

Now, my prayer is much more interactive with God, bite sized chunks...status updates, if you will. I almost pretend I that as I share what's on my mind with others, that I'm tagging God as well...waiting for his comment.

So, yeah, Facebook has refreshed my prayer life. Who knew?!