Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random Thoughts on a Random Day

Well, folks, I've got nothing big enough to make an actual post, but I haven't done a "random" post for a while, so here goes...

Man, people get their knickers in a twist about worship music styles. The way folks got fired up about it on my blog last time, and the way they're going at it on IMonk's blog, you'd think somebody was insulting their mama! Maybe we ought to add "our tendency to be easily offended and self-righteous" to our list of confessions straight across Christendom for, oh say the next hundred years or so.

Speaking of people getting their knickers in a twist... Craig stirred up a bit of controversy over on his blog when he spoke out in critique of a woman preaching at the upcoming Anglican "Summer School" (remember, their seasons are opposite of ours). Well, really he didn't stir up controversy; he provoked a good discussion among a few of us, with some very rude anonymous commenters slinging mud and insults with both hands.

It's a small world. I just got a phone call from someone who saw my Staff Profile in the last Travelogue, and wondered if I knew his long-time friend who hails from my hometown of Sterling, Colorado. I do. (Dad, it's Arden Fennell -- I think that's spelled wrong, but I can't remember how to spell it.)

Timmy Brister is a smart dude. And this is turning into a Blog Roundup. Moving on... his series on "Blue-Collar Theology" should really be read by every small-town pastor or basically any pastor who desires to "raise the bottom shelf" for his congregation. But what really got me going this week was his explanation of Finney's "New Measures" as interpreted by modern "revivalists" (those are ironic quotes) and "evangelists" (also, ironic quotes). Boy, did it bring up some unpleasant memories! (Oh, and Wikipedia article on Finney if you're unfamiliar.)

I love my church. We had Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken at the 930 last night for a show, the first stop on their Ringing Bell Tour. Three things about the show. 1. Derek Webb has a strong prophetic voice, and it really showed last night: he's passionately critical of the American church's tendency to say that Christian=Evangelical=Conservative=Patriot=Republican . A few lines from one of his songs as an example:

Here are two great lies that I’ve heard:
“The day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die,”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class Republican,
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him.
My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man;
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood;
it's to a King & a Kingdom.

2. I don't think I ever saw a couple who were sweeter with each other on stage. That was refreshing. At one point, Derek said, "The best thing I get to do is to play in her band." 3. Sandra McCracken's contribution to modern hymn-singing = fantastic. She sang "Thy Mercy, My God," one of my favorite hymn arrangements in history, ever. Great Father of mercy, thy goodness I own, and the covenant love of thy crucified Son...

I'm baking two carrot cakes for the cakewalk on Saturday at our massive Fall Festival. For those of you who didn't grow up in the US, a cakewalk is a game (a bit like musical chairs) played at carnivals where contestants walk or dance around a numbered circle, accompanied by music, until the music stops. The number they're standing on corresponds to the cake they win! Anyway, my fridge is currently full of butter, carrots, and cream cheese. I'm pretty pumped to make the cakes... but I still need to get powdered sugar for the frosting and walnuts.

Funny story about walnuts. My dad is allergic to them (not deathly allergic, just enough to make his throat itch really badly and drive him crazy), so I grew up never eating them, except for the occasional black walnut from the tree in our front yard. It was such a habit for me to make quick-breads, cookies, etc., with only pecans even through college, and it wasn't until I moved into my first apartment when I came to Louisville that I started realizing -- hey, I'm not allergic to walnuts! I can actually eat them! And I like them! So walnuts became a much more common addition to my cooking.

Let's see... other random news. I'm getting my hair cut today, thanks in no small part to Mr. Jordan Buckley who graciously agreed to cover the phones (and work on sending out CD orders and press/blog releases) for me while I'm out. I'm thinking about this look. Or maybe this one? No, seriously, though, I'm actually thinking about getting it cut kinda like this.

Well, carry on, people. That's enough randomness for awhile.


Laura's mom said...

Can she get the body to look like that, too?

Laura said...

I literally cannot believe that you just said that.

Laura's Dad said...

This also is a lie:
Christian=Mainstream=Liberal=Real American=Democrat. It is the lie that will be touted and shouted at the "New Baptist Covenant" Celebration in Atlanta in early 2008, by guest speakers Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and other similarly deep and revered theological thinkers.

Both lies are equally insidious, and to do Jesus justice, I don't think we should EVER unveil one of these lies without also unveiling its opposite and equally false lie. To unveil either one while ignoring the other is to run the risk of being taken to believe the opposite lie.

Oh, and I can't believe she just said that either.

Laura's Dad

your mom said...

What? You don't want your hair to have body?

Jonny said...

Oh, the pain of not eating...

I'm glad we don't have the Patriot/Republican link to christianity in Australia. That sounds like a hole too deep to get out of.

The new haircut may mean a change of profile picture.

Laura said...

Dad, I do think it's fair to point out one side over the other if that's the tendency of your context. It wouldn't do much good to talk about the dangers of the whole Christian=Republican thing if you were ministering in a predominately African American context, for instance. Zo.

But white, conservative Americans do, I believe, need constant reminding that the values of conservative Republicans are no less contrary to the Gospel than the values of the "liberals" they claim are causing the downfall of our country. Just for the sake of being fair, two examples: individualism and the idea of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps; rewarding financial prosperity, regardless of how that wealth was attained.

What I'm NOT saying is that one side or the other is doing things right. What I AM saying is that we must not abdicate to any human government the task of accomplishing what only the breakthrough of God's Kingdom can effect: the transformation of human hearts. If we truly desire to see lives changed by the Gospel, by obedience to and conformity with Christ, we have to be wide awake to the dangers of making people "look" Christian while remaining eternally unchanged.

And not that we should have no voice in politics; far from it. But I think it's a tragedy that Christians are too often known for voicing their horror about only two issues: abortion and homosexuality.

Didn't God tell us to stand up for the poor and the widow and the alien? Didn't he forbid us from showing favoritism to the wealthy? Didn't he turn his culture's understanding of class and social status on its head? Those things do not encompass the Gospel, but neither do our "pet" causes. Still, we are to obey God's commands to be compassionate, even if through our ministry of mercy not a single "convert" is won. We show mercy because we've been shown mercy. We meet people's tangible needs because we must obey.

...Whew. Long, long tirade. Sorry about that. Maybe I just need to start a new post.

Craig said...

Are you going to go blonde as well?

Laura said...

Yes, done already. My natural color is blondish and I went back to it a while ago. That pic of me in my profile is pretty old...