Friday, January 12, 2007

Jesus Ball

They have Christian toys now. You can buy a scrunchie ball for the tyke in your life and have no guilt about it ... if you buy the Christian version of the ball - the "Jesus Ball". Yeah, my eyebrows are way up there too!

I don't know that there's much else to say about it. It's a new level of ... something. Not quite sleeze, but not quite hype either. It's hard enough to walk through a typical Christian book store without laughing these days. You've got all the fanchise book series' like the endless Left Behind saga. You've got the big hits like Jabez or PDL (and that's not a southern gospel 'praise da lowad!' but Purpose-Driven Life). You've got the murky pond of new books that bubbles up when the latest acceptable Hollywood blockbuster comes out (they're all the same book with a different cover!), like Narnia or The Passion. Yesterday I saw a book called 'Extreme Prayer Makeover' (I guess Jesus isn't the only one being hijacked). Let's not forget the other merchandise like jewellery (remember that WWJD band? I'm so proud I never got one!!), Jesus fishes, and bumper stickers proclaiming something to the effect of "see you in hell... from heaven!". And then there's the music, but let's just stop. It's getting to me...

The Jesus Ball!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I figured my last 2 posts were sort of negative, so I'd spice it up a bit with something nice...

From time to time I attend mass or Sunday vespers, and quite often I go to the Mission Abbey when I have a need to escape, or even retreat (they offer rooms if you want to spend a few days).

There is something awe-inspiring, I find, about the lineage of the priesthood, down which the torch has been passed on since Peter. And of course, Peter received the proverbial torch from Christ Himself. I find that incredible!

I also find it incredible that all these men (the monks) have vowed their lives away, have given up so much in the pursuit of salvation and wholeness. It's a very tangible expression of their devotion. Who in Evangelica can say that? We have nothing equivalent to monks.

I have actually pondered doing something similar to being a monk from time to time in my life. This should come as no surprise to those who know me. My blog is titled 'My Hermitage' after all. But that's another subject.

I love Catholics!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Reason To Believe

Marilyn Manson. Don't freak, that's not a swear! Though I'm sure for some the mention of that name evokes about the same shock to the system as hearing your mother use the f-word.

I was thinking about him recently after watching an interview. Nice guy, but hey, who isn't? And smart too. I thought, how did he arrive at this conclusion? He's a militant atheist who's vehemently opposed to Christianity in particular. From what I have heard/seen of him, his act is pretty much rooted in those two things, which, if you think about it, are the same.

Apparently, he went to a private Christian school growing up... who'd have thought?! I tend to understand his view. According to him, there is no God, so why not just do whatever you feel like doing (as long as it hurts no one else), because there is no reward for being good, no punishment for being bad, and no purpose to existence anyway. I don't oppose him at all. If atheism is true, his response is understandable.

[Sidenote: How free it would be to have no type of accountability! Yet I can't imagine the hell-existence of one who, without a creator, has absolutely no purpose or hope. I shudder every time I imagine godlessness. On the other hand, it's unwise to create faith, or a god for that matter, to fill that hole. I think a lot of faith out there is just that... forgetting. Faith must be based on truth. (And somehow, that statement seems impossible)]

Looking past all the lewd, the crude, and the rude, what is really there is an absense of belief (duh!). How sad. But, unfortunately, how expected. All things that were once believed spiritual are now explainable by science, there is no valid testimony of spiritual experience, people are only sympathetic of each other because it's good for them. It makes sense; I don't disagree.

Where is there a reason to believe? And if there's a reason, why believe in this God and not some other?

Read any chapter of any gospel and you will see a reason given to believe (for those present) with every path He crossed. Jesus never held back proof of divinity, of extra-terrestrial power; stuff that could be explained in no other way. If you saw one of His miracles you had to believe in a God, whether this was His son or not.

Well He's still alive, why isn't He proving it? Has He changed His mind on proving Himself? Or are we the ones who aren't creating the proof in His stead?

It makes sense, then, that the church in Marilyn's home country can accurately be described by 2 Timothy 3:5 "having a form of godliness, but denying its power."

Incidentally, it goes on to say, "have nothing to do with them".

At the end of the day, Marilyn may just be a product of those who protest his concerts. How ironic.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Are there any good?

I was thinking about people, and how strange it is that we develop sympathies and tolerance for traits in others that we can admit to ourselves. It seems that until we cross paths with a certain set of circumstances, our ignorance can make us insensitive.

Rare is it that a person is sympathetic to and accepting of every type of person. But one by one, as they encounter a different type, [the wiser of us] become more accepting.

I liken it to creating laws. It's not until there are too many incidents by a single cause that we outlaw the cause. Enron collapses, we create whistleblower-protection laws; 9/11, we install the Patriot Act; a child is run over, we set up a crosswalk.

Why? Why only develop sympathies and acceptance through either a struggle or an encounter with a struggle? Why not, by default, love everyone without knowing who they are or where they've come from? I think that is something only God is capable of.

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good - except God alone."

A lot of the time I think we run a 'guilty-until-proven-innocent' agenda with others (and by that I imply more people groups than to individuals). Quite frankly, sometimes we accept just because we can't get away with non-acceptance anymore. In other words, we don't sympathize out of our own goodness, but because it is to our own benefit. One may take a look at himself, and if he can muster up any admittance of flaw, may finally understand that they with sin can't [safely] throw stones. His sympathy is self-preservation. So I'm a cynic; so this is a 'glass-half-empty' analysis; I'm not saying it's universal. Heck, I am fully guilty!

In my view, our primary level of operation is the animal level. Paul calls it "the flesh", with its array of chemical reactions and its environment/experience-molded modus operandi, and it is a truth even Darwin would agree on. It's the inescapable self-prioritizing (while yet a beast), the survival syndrome, that is at the heart of every move. Must work for money for shelter for food for offspring. Must make wise-cracks to feel superior. Must create a flurry of busyness at church so I can please God. Must climb the corporate ladder. Must stay in a depressed state so people don't stop paying attention to me. Must tell at least 5 people how that girl wronged me so she pays for hurting me and I end up the "fittest"!

Even that which seems contrary to survival, things like suicide, can even be seen to be of a self-preservation method. People usually kill themselves to relieve themselves of pain. It's a twisted survival sister.

I think the Bible is true again when it says, "All a man's ways seem innocent to him". It goes on to say, "but motives are weighed by the Lord". Are there any good?

A solution seems impractical and far out of reach. One of my favourites, Jacob Boeme, puts it simply (yet so difficultly) : "our trance of selfishness must end".

Thank God for a new nature, one that goes against the grain of the old nature. One that brings to prominence our spirits as the heart of every action. And oh, what a fight the old nature puts up!
But no longer subject to the rule of flesh, we are like the One who brought us out of its slavery. We have the same heart of love, acceptance, and sympathy that produced such immense sacrifice. And over that creation, He can once again say "it is good!"