When Starbucks Is Thought Provoking…

"my morning pick me up"

“my morning pick me up” via Instagram

Today I went out to run a couple of errands and more importantly to get a haircut. For the past few days I was starting to resemble Grizzly Adams or at least a distant cousin. After I dropped off my daughter at pre-school I made my way to get my hair cut at location near the church. I arrived at 9:30, but they did not open until 10am. Not a problem… why? Two stores down is a Starbucks.

I made my way into the establishment and purchased a Grande Tribute Blend and took a seat. I read emails and tweeted and like many High School girls I took a picture of my coffee and posted it to Instagram (see above). It was posted to Twitter and Facebook and I received a comment pretty quick on Facebook.

The comment was from a colleague in ministry in Indiana– Jay. He had an interesting experience at a Starbucks when he was getting his “morning pick me up.” He just recently started a blog and I thought his first post was quite thought provoking.

Here is a snippet of the post.

What I had just experienced is commonly called “Paying it Forward.”

It sounds like a really nice gesture, and it is. But as I was going through this experience, I was quickly thinking and processing my feelings. First was obvious, FREE COFFEE!!!! Then I thought, “How long has this been going on today?” I had seen a story on the local news about how one Starbucks in town had 50 some-odd people “paying it forward.” Then I thought, “I can’t be the guy who breaks this cycle and look like a total jerk. The social pressure to continue with this trend was very high. Then after I gave her my card, I thought, “Wait a minute, what if the person behind me just ordered a $10 coffee?!?!” I obviously did not have that kind of budget.

As I fell into the social pressure that was placed upon me by complete strangers, I pulled out of the parking lot, finally with my coffee, and I thought: ”WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT?!”

Jay took the experience of free coffee and the guilt associated with not “paying it forward” and views it in the lens of social justice and the Christian response.  This post is an excellent example of public theology and how Christians are called to be the light of Christ to all people at all times.  Good job Jay 🙂

I highly recommend that you read the entire blog post, click here to do so.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

6 Objections of the Church from “They Like Jesus But Not The Church”

I am currently reading “They Like Jesus But Not The Church” by Dan Kimball.  It is an interesting book on how the church is seen by those in the “emerging generations.”  The author does not hold back in calling out followers of Christ on both sides of the theological spectrum. In the book he list six objections people have to the church (they are listed below)

What do you think about these six?  Would you add or take any way?


Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

Russell Brand Interviews Members of Westboro Baptist Church

Russell Brand has a show on FX (not sure why but I thank him for this).  On a recent episode he interviewed two members of Westboro Baptist Church.  This is the first time I have seen an interview of members on national TV in which they articulate their stance on love and homosexuality.  While I complete disagree with them I applaud Brand for having them on.

Of course a 10 minute segment is too short to have a meaningful conversation about this issue, but maybe it will get the ball rolling.

Below is the video of the interview.
(Content Warning: There is some language and name calling, you have been warned.  Somewhat SFW)

 

And You Wonder Why People Arent Christians: Part IX

As the election looms in the distance, the internet is never too far away to provide us with reasons why people do not want to be a Christian.  Elections have the power to bring out in people their “true colors” but for Dr. Gary Cass he didn’t need the election, he just needed a microphone and an audience.

Cass is the CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) based in Vista, CA.

The Mission of the CADC is as follows:

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.

The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

In cooperation with friendly Christian grassroots organizations, in secular and Christian media outlets, the CADC will create a “rapid response” team and public relations campaigns to answer the egregious injustice and double standards used against Christians. The CADC will build its own grassroots network.

The CADC will develop strong partnerships with friendly Christian Legal ministries for the purpose of seeking and/or providing legal services on behalf of its constituents. The CADC will collect and forward bona-fide complaints of discrimination and bigotry aimed at Christians which warrant legal action up to and including litigation.

In a nut shell, the CADC promotes under the guise of freedom of religion, their brand of Christianity and everyone else, is just plain wrong.  They have the means, the resources and the guts to take on anti-Christian stances around the world.  (I hope I am not their next target.)  For example, on their website they have “Seven Reasons Why Barack Obama Is Not A Christian.”  Their seven points range from being pro-homosexual rights to he believes their are many paths to Heaven.  So if you believe one or all seven of these points, then you are in the same class as the President as someone who the CADC believes have wandered from the faith.

The leader of the CADC, this beacon of Christian truth and light and acceptance, recently told a captive audience that to be a true Christian means owning a fire arm… that’s right… to be the arbiter of love and justice means carrying a loaded Smith and Wesson emblazon with John 3:16 on the handle I am sure.  You can watch the video below or read the article here.

The CADC on many levels is troubling.  Sure I admire his gusto to be faithful to the commands to love your neighbor  but gun ownership?  I am fine with people owning guns as long as they are maintained, locked up from children and are registered with the state.  But did Christ really call for gun ownership?  I dont see that anywhere in the Bible.

The CADC once again gives all Christians a bad name; they get the most press and they get the attention.   Christianity is not about gun ownership or pointing out reasons why the President is not a Christian.  No Christianity is more than that… it has to be…

If those at the CADC want to ” advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God,” then we might want to include all views and understandings.  You might actually learn something new… then again maybe not.  But the fact remains that we are all in this together.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Not sure who or what “right wing watch” is I just thank them for finding and posting this video.

How We Having The Same Debate After All Of These Years

The Rev. Dr. Phil Snider has overnight become an internet celebrity.   A video of him giving a speech at the Springfield, Missouri City Council has gone viral on the internet.  The city was considering a motion that would have  added sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the areas of employment, public housing and accommodations.  As one would think it was a highly contested issue.  Many people took their turn on the microphone addressing the Council, but none stood out more than Snider’s.

I am glad to see a minister from the Disciples of Christ taking a stand in such a public venue.  His argument is not one that is bashes people over the head with the Bible, rather it makes the hearer recall previous ways the Bible was used for the segregation of people.  Too often the Bible is used as a weapon of separation and not unity.

Enjoy the video.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Football and the Bible

The tiny town of Kountze, Texas was placed on the national radar this past week.  After a series of court cases and injunctions, the Kountze High School Cheerleaders are allowed to continue to use Bible scriptures as part of their pre-game, run though banner.  (read here) Because of their actions it has caused a firestorm of press, debates and protests.  The central issue (as I understand it) is whether or not it is appropriate for the cheerleaders to use Bible scriptures at a school event.  The superintendent of Kountze ISD stated that he barred them because the banners violated school policy and so the debate started.  Do the banners that the players run through before kickoff amount to school sanctioning of religion?

I am not a lawyer by profession but I believe there is a different issue at the forefront here.   The cheerleaders in my opinion are walking a very fine line.  Yes they are student lead and under the letter of the law they should be “ok” to continue, but what about doing it in uniform on the field of school sponsored football game?  Does that change the context and thus change the nature of the event?  I believe it does.

What this boils down to is that in a predominately Christian area of the state, Christianity can not be professed everywhere and this upsets people and any push back is seen as an attack of freedoms.  The fact of the matter is that at Kountze ISD there is an amalgamation of people from various faith backgrounds, contexts and ideas.  By having the cheerleaders promoting their brand of religion is stating that their way is more correct than the others.  Since they have the platform to promote their voice to a wide audience, they have the opportunity to broadcast what ever they want.  This is not fair or correct.

People have been arguing that this issue is centered on the notion of freedom of speech.  While I agree with this, would the fine people of Kountze be ok with an uplifting passage from the Koran or from the Bhagavad Gita?  If you open the door under the notion of freedom of speech then you open it to all.  You have to give the same platform for Muslims, Jews, Atheist, Agnostics and even Satanist.  It has been reported that the cheerleaders take turns choosing the uplifting message; would the parents who fought so hard to get a Philippians 4:13 banner, fight just a hard for a Hindu cheerleader to promote her religion?  Maybe, but maybe not.

There is this idea that society is assaulting Christianity or that the world has some vendetta against Christianity.  I do not believe this is the case.  I believe that some people have an issue with religion being shoved down their throat.  This has been an issue with Christianity for centuries.  Some followers of Christ believe that they have a moral imperative to make sure that everyone believes their version of Christianity.  I believe that Christianity is multi-faceted and complex; it is rich and layered with multiple ways to interpret and act upon the scriptures.   Yes there will be those who will claim that their foundation is in the Bible and the Great Commission, but I think this is pushing it past the limits of its intent.  The Great Commission calls on all who follow Christ to spread the message of love, hope, peace, joy and reconciliation.  Christ had many enemies but it was his changing of social structures and acceptance of those who society had cast out that helped the movement to grow.  No where in the Bible does Christ ever command his followers to many banners and have padded football players run through it.

Don’t the scriptures deserve better respect than to have a team of players tear it to shreds?

Faith is something that is inherently personal and for some Christianity has left a bad taste in their mouth.  Maybe it was a bad experience with a minister or perhaps they were told that because of their life choices they were not accepted in the Kingdom of God.  How would it feel to then see a banner proclaiming the best virtues of Christianity when those were not shown to you?    Instead of making a situation worse, why not live your lives in a way that expresses the faith that you hold so dear?  This will be the biggest witness that you can ever have.  I understand that to many this is a ‘non-issue’ but for the church to be seen in a positive light, people must know that just because a banner is not raised does not mean that Christianity is dead.

I know that many of you do not share the same view as I do and that’s ok.  Its not about who is right and who is wrong, rather it is about the conversation and the examination of widely held beliefs.  Many people might consider me (like many do about the Superintendent of Kountze ISD) un-Christian or even anti-Christian, but that is off the mark.  I am just expressing a theological opinion, the right of every person.

This situation is far from over, but the fact remains that Christ’s central message was love.  Let’s remember that.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

What’s next? Chick-Fil-A Boycott Day?

Since my move and start of a new position in Houston,  I have been busy and have not updated as much as I had before. Thank you to you my faithful readers for sticking with me. Hopefully once things settle down I will get back in the grove. Below is a piece I wrote a while back about Chick-Fil-A ceasing their funding to organizations that are anti same sex marriage.

Thanks again for your support.


In a major announcement, months after the company was embroiled in a public debate, Chick-fil-a according to a LGBT support group has stopped making donations to organizations that are against same-sex marriages.  You can read the full article here.

Chick-fil-a in an internal memo stated that the company will treat every “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”  How about that… Chick-fil-a finding their Christian roots again.  So now what are the throngs of people to do that went out on August 1 to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to “free speech” (read: believe same-sex marriage is a sin.)?  Are these God-fearing Christians now going to boycott this institution because they have gone back on what they one stood for and claimed to be Christian?  I wonder if now the leaders of Chick-Fil-A will now be allowed to get divorces and have second and even third wives.

The fact of the matter is that this is a step in the right direction.  For me, Chick-Fil-A’s original comments and actions were against my understanding of what the gospel is calling the Church and followers of Christ to be and become.  In the entire Bible, there are about 6 verses that actually in some way talk about homosexuality… that’s it… six.  No long discourses from prophets or even Jesus or even one of the dedicated disciples.  These verses are found throughout the Bible in different testaments and writings.  There is no unified voice on this.  There are more verses about proper eating habits and dietary laws than verses about homosexuality.  Where are the protests of the McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants for making people fat and indulging them in guilty, which by the way it is a sin.  But no mention of that from people in society.  Sadly the some followers of Christ have made the singling out of this small segment of the population their sole focus.  No mention of unconditional love, no mention of free grace, nothing just righteous indignation and self-righteousness, the complete opposite of what the gospel calls us to be.

If Christ was of the radical embodiment of God and acted as such, then why aren’t all followers of Christ?  Today people focus too much on one particular issue that they believe is at the center and forefront of what is means to be a follower of Christ.  In the end, does is matter if someone loves someone else of the same gender?

Chick-Fil-A has the absolute right to run their company the way they want, but the problem that many people had is that they drug all Christians into the mix.  It made all Christians look bad and it gave Christianity a bad name.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan