Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.
(HT: Pastor T)
So... there's a sizable kerfluffle in the blog world over the issue of whether or not Christians should celebrate a particular holiday with supposedly pagan roots. A holiday whose celebration, detractors claim, sends Christians inevitably down an idolatrous spiral of demon-worship. A holiday whose practices are outlawed by chapter and verse in Jeremiah. Pagan worship! Outright idolatry! Animism!
Well, good heavens, you might say! What is this pernicious, godless event that we've thoughtlessly allowed into our homes, welcoming with it the very blackest forms of paganism?
It's not Halloween. It's Christmas.
Apparently, Jeremiah 10:2-4 condemns the practice of putting up and decorating Christmas trees. Leaving aside the kinda comical levels of anachronism we've got here, let's not be hasty. Judge for yourself:
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
OK. So what we have here is... God telling the people not to put up Christmas trees? Huh. Weird.
Because it seems to me that what's actually happening is that Jeremiah the prophet is warning Judah that their sin is fixin' to bring down God's wrath and judgment, and this passage is part of God's case against them. It just so happens that last week's Bible lesson at school was "The Ministry of Jeremiah." So tell me, third and fourth graders, what was the main sin of Judah that caused God to send judgment on them?
And why is idolatry not only sinful but also stupid? Because, as Isaiah says, idolaters take a log, carve half of it into a statue they bow down to, and throw the other half onto the fire to make their dinner. Because, Jeremiah reminds them, the idols are mute, they're nothing, they can't even move from place to place but have to be carried (10:5). Condemnation of Christmas trees? Ummmm... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that's NOT a responsible exegesis of this passage.
There are more legs to their argument (the only birthdays mentioned in the Scriptures are those of pagans whom God struck down so we have no business celebrating Jesus' birthday, Yule celebrates demonic pagan deities and harkens back to weird druidy times, etc.), and I could pick each one apart, but I just can't... be bothered. It's all so silly! Surely there are other things we could focus on, right?
(Incidentally, this is a great example of what one blog I recently read called "The Arithmetic Method" of theology. Thought-provoking article. Check it out.)
So, here are a couple things you could focus on if you felt like it:
1. Listen up, Church. (I'm about to get fired up here, so watch out!) Stop letting Joel and Victoria Osteen off the hook. Stop justifying their heresy. Stop nurturing the notion that they're merely addled -- like that sweet but dim-witted cousin everybody loves while being slightly embarassed about -- and get it in your head that they are preaching a different Gospel. Go read Galatians 1:8. (Go ahead, I'll wait...) The Osteens are inviting a curse on themselves. Stay far, far away from their "ministry" and, if you love your brothers and sisters in Christ, warn them about it too.
2. Open iTunes (or the legal online music acquisition apparatus of your choice) and download the following albums immediately: Shai Linne's Storiez, Flame's Our World Redeemed, and LeCrae's Rebel. Then revel and rejoice in the work God is doing through these warriors of the faith and their bold Gospel preaching.
You ain't got no alibi--
You ugly! Yeah, yeah, you ugly!
I know how you got that way--
Yo' mama! Yeah, yeah, yo' mama!
Man. Last night's Davidson vs. West Virginia game, the first of the Jimmy V double-header, was the ugliest basketball game I think I've ever seen. The Cats made the Mountaineers look like the JV squad in the first half, ripping up the WVa defense and sending their coach's blood pressure (which seemed to be an issue anyway) through the vaulted ceiling of Madison Square Garden. The balance of the game tipped seriously in Davidson's favor when the Mountaineers' only remaining guard, who had been tiptoeing around the court trying not to re-injure the shoulder that kept him out of WV's last game, slumped off the court toward the locker room six minutes in, with another shoulder contusion.
Then Davidson spent the next twenty minutes trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as Curry went cold for more than a dozen field goal attempts and the team battled against a reinvigorated WVa defense.
The Wildcats (whose roster boasts players from five states plus Quebec, Sussex, Turkey, and Nigeria) seemed to be trying to give up a win to a team playing without their two starting guards, a team that missed 12 of their 29 free throws, and who never had more than a four point lead. But the Mountaineers snagged a massive 32 offensive rebounds to the Cats' 12, which kept them in the game -- though, as a Davidson fan, I'll of course chalk this up to the fact that West Virginia is a taller team at every position.
It was a weird game. Davidson's coach, Bob McKillop, who is a cool character in most situations, exploded at his team during a mid-second-half time out. Even the unflusterable Curry grimaced and shook his head after missed shots, while his cowed teammates tried to keep him fired up.
Finally, in the last five minutes, the Cats gelled, turning up their defense, using clever inbounding strategies, bouncing off screens, and feeding the ball to Curry, who at last sank three after glorious three. I ask you: can that kid cut, or can that kid cut? He's smart, he's fast, and he can stop on a dime; WVa's defenders didn't have a blessed chance against his quickness and shot selection once he remembered how to play basketball again late in the second half. A drive, some fancy ball handling, two steps back... and voila. A hard-fought win.
SojournKids blog, managed by the brilliant and illustrious Jared Kennedy, whose intelligence is exceeded only by... his wife's intelligence. I'm just sayin'. Sista is SMART. ;)
Contributors include a bunch of other be-smarty-pantsed Sojourners. Check it out.
If I may, I'd like to borrow one of Mike's stupid awards and pass it along to the geniuses who finally figured this out.
In a recent post, Bob discusses why theology matters to Christian musicians. I only wish every worship leader in every Christian church in America could read it! Check out an excerpt:
[W]hy theology should matter to Christian musicians.
1. You’re already a theologian.
Every Christian, musical or otherwise, is already a theologian. The question is, are you a good theologian or a bad one? We’re good theologians if what we say and think about God lines up with what Scripture says and affirms. We’re bad theologians if our view of God is vague, or if we think God doesn’t really mind sin, or is we see Jesus as a good example and not a Savior, or if we our god is too small to overcome evil or too big to care about us.
2. God reveals himself primarily through words, not music.
Because we’ve encountered God profoundly during times of musical worship, we can wrongly start assuming that words restrict the Spirit, while music enables us to experience God in fresh and powerful ways. If God had wanted us to know him primarily through music, the Bible would be a soundtrack, not a book. Music affects and helps us in many ways, but it doesn’t replace truth about God. By itself, music can never help us understand the meaning of God’s self-existence, the nature of the Incarnation, or Christ’s substitutionary atonement. Simply put, truth outlasts tunes.
3. Being good theologians makes us better musicians.
- Theology teaches us what music is meant to do.
- Theology teaches us that worship is more than music.
- Theology teaches us that Jesus is better than music.
Dude. Good stuff. Check it out.