28 August 2012

“You know what you could write about?…”

There was a stretch there where I never read the op/ed page. Didn’t miss it either.

The opinions of my local newspaper’s editorial board were interesting, and well-informed, but they’d never seek any radical action—it was always about doing the prudent thing instead of the right or generous or inspiring thing. That’s always the catch with editorial boards: They want to reflect everybody’s point of view, so they get a bunch of people with diverse viewpoints. But the extremes balance one another out, so they wind up with the middle-of-the-road view. That’d be fine if it were a radical middle—but it’s not. It’s the milquetoast middle. It’s the “Here’s what we oughta do” that doesn’t make waves, instead of the “Here’s what we really oughta do” that wakes people up and makes ’em move.

The columnists… well, there are two kinds of columnists: Those who are clever, and those who aren’t. I like the clever ones; I don’t care what party they are. Make me think and I’ll like you. Most aren’t clever—or have far too many bad weeks in a row.

And then there are the letters to the editor. I lump them into two categories: Those with legitimate statements and questions; and the cranks.

24 August 2012

Naming names.

Back in 2005 Kyle Lake, a Texas emergent-church pastor, electrocuted himself. He was standing in a baptismal and grabbed a microphone and zzzzt, dead. On the one hand, I was sympathetic to the family, friends, church—namely the 800 people who watched him drop dead—but good Lord what a stupid thing to do.

Irony of ironies, when Christianity Today eulogized Lake, they included excerpts from his book on God’s will—namely that old myth about how “everything happens for a reason,” despite an entire book in the bible, Ecclesiastes, pointedly written to teach otherwise. I digress, but mostly ’cause I’ve had to correct a few people about that myth recently. If everything happens for a reason, then God had that pastor killed simply to remind us not to grab the mic when we’re hip-deep in water. Seems a bit extreme. Seems more likely the pastor lacked the proper respect for electricity.

I bring this up ’cause Brian Kelly, my then-boss (and then-pastor), read my blog and, some weeks later, expressed some concern that if he ever did anything so dumb, he’d get a write-up in my blog.

“But you don’t do anything so dumb,” I pointed out.

“But I might,” he said. So how free was he to act around me, when any ridiculous thing he said or did might wind up on the Internet, where all 27 of my readers could see it and mock him?

17 August 2012

Questioning authority.

I am a trained skeptic. Lots of Christians think skeptic is a bad word, ’cause we’re taught to have faith in God, and believe hard-to-grasp things when God wants us to, and to do so with as little doubt as possible. As we should. And I try.

But humans are not God. And humans have their own motivations for getting us to believe things. Some are nefarious or self-centered. Most, I think (either optimistically or naïvely; judge for yourself) are just misinformed or misguided. They heard something once, and unquestioningly believe it ’cause it suits their politics or theology or prejudices or tastes. They never bother to ask the basic question, “Is that really true?” In fact, sometimes they point to the fact the serpent asked that question of Eve in Eden, (Ge 3.1) and teach people will only ask that question for devilish reasons.

Well, I have degrees in both journalism and theology. In both fields, we’re taught to ask that question: “Is that really true?” Don’t believe what anyone tells you lest you’ve checked it out. In journalism, find facts; two sources when possible. In theology, find verses; one will do, but more is better.

Problem is, people are very, very used to having their every statements accepted without question. So when I ask “Is that really true?”—just doing my duty as both a journalist and theologian—they take offense.

10 August 2012

On literature and temptation.

Getting behind on my blogging here. I had posted something on More Christ about reading the entire New Testament in two weeks… and then I realized, “Aw nuts, I just committed myself to reading the entire New Testament in two weeks.” I mean, if I’m gonna preach it, I need to do it.

So I’m doing it. One week down: Matthew, John, Acts, Romans, Galatians through 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and 1 Peter through 3 John down with it. Mark, Luke, 1-2 Corinthians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, Jude, and Revelation to go. I’m not going in order, obviously.

Not that I’m against reading a lot of bible in a short period of time. I read the entire bible every January. It’s just… it’s August, and a leisurely pace is kinda nice sometimes.

In contrast, last week I also started reading The Stand, Steven King’s novel about the End Times. Okay, not really, but it’s way better written, and more biblical, than those stupid, stupid Left Behind novels.

Of course, whenever I say this, some folks think I’m being blasphemous, ’cause King is known as a horror writer who sometimes uses the F-word.

01 August 2012

Poking the conservatives.

For a while there I had a blind spot where I’d provoke conservatives. Not deliberately. Never meant to. I just seemed to do it a lot. Maybe it was ’cause I was swinging to the other extreme as a recovering conservative. I think we all tend to assume that just because we’ve grown past something, others have kept up. But every time I took a poke at some of my immature knee-jerk behavior, it poked other people who still practice this behavior. Only to them it wasn’t immature or knee-jerk: It was good, and right, and righteous, and God-fearing.

Yeah, I know, they’re sheep gone astray.

(See what I mean?)