August 26, 2005

Lamb to the Slaughter

I was at the Minnesota state fair today and as we were leaving, we happened to walk by a booth where a tall strapping guy with a Brittany Spears headset microphone was engaging a slightly shorter slightly older guy holding an ordinary microphone in a debate. As we walked past, the first thing I heard was “well according to you, they don’t sound too different, I mean, one is with an ‘e’, the other is with an ‘I’, what’s so different?” As the debate progressed, it was fairly clear that “e” was for “evolution” and “I” was for “intelligent design”.

What turned my stomach was not the shorter guy’s explanations on evolution. Rather, it was the way the creationist treated said shorter guy: like a hostage. The poor evolutionist was clearly not entirely sure why he believed in evolution, only that it seemed to make sense when they explained it in biology all those years ago. The creationist, on the other hand, was adamant about his heavily-researched position, very sure that he’d gotten it right.

Lemme tell ya: lamb to the slaughter.

And as we left the fair (very full of corn dogs, caramel apples, lemonade, and the like), all I could do was shake my head and fantasize about running the creationist through the ringer, how I would’ve answered his questions, defending the evolutionist; a reaction which sorta took me by surprise. I’ve been a creationist since my freshman year of college, and, like the creationist at the fair, I’ve done a lot of research on the two positions (which really ends up being about ten positions, but that’s for another time). And so I’m pretty sure that I believe what I believe and there’s no turning my mind, save God’s own revelation.

And yet instead of saying “amen, brother”, I felt pity for the evolutionist. Not because I thought he was right to blindly believe something (though I also find myself an advocate for that sometimes), but because of the way the creationist was badgering him, needling him, provoking him, and generally making him look (and probably feel) like a fool.

It was humbling. I used to do that - I was the creationist, out to badger every heathen at my very liberal university about why they were wrong about evolution. I was going to single-handedly, in one short debate with each person, turn the campus around, win it for Jesus, all by proving them all wrong. Obviously, they'd see it my way if I proved them wrong, right?


As Christians, we are to defend the weak and oppressed, and that is exactly what came to mind today as I watched the helpless evolutionist succumb to the oppressive “Christian”. On our way home, my friend Kirsten and I talked over the subject of debate: is it worth debating? While I’m amused that we almost debated the idea of debate, we agreed in the end that it’s not really much of a debate. Translation: debate, as we know it, is not very helpful. Most of the time it turns out to be just what we watched on our way to the car: a lamb to the slaughter, some Christian itching to prove his faith superior who actively mangles some helpless bystander.

It wins nobody.

Just like the tract we received from some guy at the exit on the way out, “debating the issues” in this fashion wins nobody for Christ. For one, the evolutionist did not leave home that day seeking a debate over the issue. Second, the manner in which he was treated was down right rude and obnoxious. Third, while I didn’t see him leave, I can’t imagine he left feeling very good about himself or the guys that solicited his opinion. Kirsten said it best: debate only wins enemies.

[Stay tuned for part 2: a proposed solution to this problem]

August 23, 2005

Links for 8/23

I posted three times today, and they're all interesting (at least, I think so). Just in case you can't see the other two, here are links to all three:

A Persecuted People

Live Updates with Chris

One Year and Counting ...

A Persecuted People

So I just saw this on msn. Imagine my first reaction: appalled? frightened? worried? irritated? disgusted? horrified? all of the above?

oddly amused?

Truth be told, I'm never quite sure what to make of people who make it a career to talk about politics and religion on public-access broadcasting. In my family, we always avoid two subjects at family gatherings: you guessed it, politics and religion.

Now, this could be because my immediate family and my extended family have somewhat different ideas on the subjects in question. My immediate family is pretty center/conservative, while my extended family is (for the most part) pretty liberal. While nobody except me is officially registered for a particular political party [side note: I only registered republican so I could have more power - in NY you can only vote in primaries if you register with the party ... not that I ever use it], pretty much everyone tends towards certain party lines. It makes for a lot of fightin' words - so we avoid it.

The reason we avoid talking about religion is because - inevitably - it leads back to politics. This both confuses me and pisses me off. I want my family to know the joys of following God and serving Him and fellow man. I want my family to understand grace and - to be blunt - I want to see them in heaven.

And yet they want nothing to do with the kingdom of heaven.

Why? It's because of the people that make religion - especially Christians and Muslims, as of late - into a joke. They make religion into something political, something involving the state, instead of something involving other people.

Now, it used to be that this was how it was supposed to be. In ancient Israel, church and state were invariably tied together - the sovereign ruler was also supposed to be the mouthpiece of God to His people. As it turns out, that's not always what happened, so God had to appoint prophets to talk to the ruler when the ruler strayed away from God. Case in point: David and Nathan (check out 2 Samuel and 1 Kings for the stories). Anyway, things have changed a little. Jesus came and knocked the whole system onto its face and said that a new age had dawned. No longer did the priests intervene for the people; rather, the people had to work out their salvation with God on their own (to find that God made it quite simple, really).

With this transformation, the state and church were separated. And then Constantine had to go and mess it up - Christianity became Christendom. My opinion? The church functions best when being openly persecuted. If someone in power decides that Christians should fight lions for the entertainment of the pagan masses, then in that state you'll find that those that declare themselves Christians really mean it.

I'm not suggesting we elect officials who will take away our religious freedom, it's quite a gift. But with that gift comes responsibility, a responsibility that Pat Robertson and his kind seem to have forgotten about. We are responsible to - without condemnation or judgement - be Jesus to the world. I can't imagine that includes condemning an elected official to assasination.

I feel bad for people like George W. Bush - they have the horribly complicated job of separating politics from religion in their own personal life. I respect him for such a struggle, for struggle he must. I'm also glad to find out that the white house called Robertson's comments "inappropriate" - the understatement of the day, for sure.

The irony? We're still being persecuted. The problem is that it's so much more suble these days. As in the first century, when persecution-by-lions didn't work, evil turned to persecution-by-power. Offer them pain, and if their faith is strong, good will prevail. Offer them power, and their greed will consume them.

Live Updates with Chris

So I have a bit of updating to do. I am currently writing on my new laptop which came about three days after the post where I worried about getting it. Yes, patience is a fickle thing, but well worth it: especially if you think you're going to get something in three weeks and get it in three days. Word.

Also, yesterday (August 22) was our first anniversary. It was of the flavor only Chris and Liz could devise: errands all morning, but dinner Australian-style (chicken, avocado, butter, and fries on bread - tasty beyond all reckoning) on the site of our first date - a hike in the woods at Onanda park. A-freakin-mazing evening.

Moving right along, I am the proud ... um ... owner ... of a new job. I've left my job at Cole & Parks to pursue my coffee-creating career at a slightly more local dining venture: the Muar House Cafe. Some of you might be wondering, "how does one pronounce this 'muar house' anyway?" If anyone isn't wondering, they should be - nobody is quite sure how it's pronounced, including the owners (all three say something different, and each is quite sure they are right). And so I leave you to ponder while I continue my tale.

I took the new job because my old one was getting a bit stuffy - you can't advance too far in a coffee shop, especially if you want lots more hours (from 10 per week moving to 40 per week). I had put in an app. to Muar House (didja get it yet?) a few months before on a whim, and, just when I thought I'd have to get a second job, I got a call from Mary at Muar and she asked me to take 40 hours a week. Can you say "perfect timing?" Can you say "Muar House?" Anyway, after agonizing over the decision for like, a day (hey, gotta be sure of these things, especially over an offer so tempting), I took the job. The bonus: it's ten minutes from home, instead of 30. Save on gas, get more hours, see my wife more (I know, weird right?). The only downfall is that Muar's espresso isn't nearly as good, not to mention that they have no idea how to make espresso drinks. Really. Don't go there for a latte; it doesn't taste as good as at C&P and yet costs the same.

But come there to visit me, I'm there from 9am till like, 2-6 (depending on the day) from M-F.

And that concludes today's updates with Chris. Back to planning for the worship team.

One year and counting ...

August 22, 2004 - August 22, 2005 ... and counting!
Happy first anniversary to the love of my life: Elizabeth, I love you!

August 1, 2005

Rushing Patience

You may recall a week or two ago, I wrote a piece about being patient. I talked about waiting to order this new laptop I want so badly. At the time, I figured that once the time was right, I'd order it and the waiting would be over.

I was wrong.

I ordered the laptop last tuesday when I discovered a one-day deal where I could get it 40% off. It was a once-in-a-great-while opportunity, one that my wife and I discussed and finally agreed to take. So, at the end of volleyball when my wrist was killing me from one too many (albeit amazing) serves, I pulled out my current laptop (yes, soon to be my wife's) and did the deed.

And it's still not here.

I went on the website thinking "What's up? I was patient, I waited a few months, why isn't it here yet?" Turns out that it's not scheduled for delivery until roughly August 16. I mean, damn, what's a guy gotta do to get what he wants without waiting forever?

So I guess my lesson on patience has been postponed ... or perhaps extended is a better word ... for a few weeks. Apparently I didn't get it quite right the first time.