Happy Thanksgiving!

A Universal Thank You [Explored]

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

May we remember the blessings of God that have been poured out to us all not just today but each day.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo: “A Universal Thank You” by Apara B. All Rights Reserved. http://flic.kr/p/aJMuHB

Film Review: For The Bible Tells Me So

Film poster for For the Bible Tells Me So - Co...

Film poster for For the Bible Tells Me So – Copyright 2007, First Run Features (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most divisive topics that is dividing the Church today is the issue of homosexuality.  For decades (if not longer) this has been an issue (whether we like it or not) on the forefront of Church. Recently some denominations have had decisions and votes on whether or not to ordain open homosexuals; it has caused dissension, grief, hurt feelings and in some cases it has cost ministers their job. Many churches and even denominations have decided that in the interest of keeping everyone happy, they have not or will not broach the discussion at all.

In matters of church conflict or even church doctrine, the normal question to ask is “What does the Bible says regarding this issue?” It is a natural place to start.  However, there are varying ways on which the Bible can be interpreted and thus a problem can emerge.

The film, For The Bible Tells Me So, explores the issue of homosexuality as it relates to the Church and Christianity. This film tries to demystify the stigmas that have been placed on a certain group of people and tries to look at the issue from different angles.

Film Synopsis from forthebibletellsmeso.org:

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

This film dives into the Biblical text from a number of different perspectives trying to encapsulate the essence of the text as the original authors intended.  Scholars from many different denominations and faiths weigh in on this issue.

This film is presented in a way that brings in new ideas and understandings about homosexuality and how the Bible has been used and mis-used to subjugate a particular group of people. The interviewees do not hold back with their position and thought process when it comes to the controversial issue.  They are open about their feelings and in some cases have regret for the way that they treated their child when their child came out.

One of the positives of the film is that it does try to show different view points with regards to how different families  react to their children telling them they are homosexual– not all families reacted the same way then or even now.  For many it has been a journey that they have to take one day at a time.

I believe that this film is an excellent conversation starter no matter what side of the issue you are on; the key (as with many controversial topics) is that those watching must do so with open eyes, hearts and minds.  For many Christians this has become a hallmark issue; it has become the benchmark of righteousness and orthodoxy.  It is easy to hear something counter to your belief system and immediately get defensive and stop listening.  It is in those moments of struggle where we can learn and grow.  It is through difficult situations and conversations when we are able to open up to the possibilities of seeing a particular issue in a new light.

The website for the film also has two discussion guides (here and here) for further study and dialogue.

Overall, this film is well done and thought provoking.

I highly recommend it.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars
Film Website

Watch this film on Netflix

In Christ,

Rev. Evan
(Trailer Below)


Trailer

A Letter to Victoria’s Secret From a Father

An open letter to Victoria’s Secret regarding their choice to make an underwear line aimed at young teenagers. (Read about it here)


Dear Victoria’s Secret,

I am a father of a three year old girl. She loves princesses, Dora the Explorer, Doc McStuffins and drawing pictures for people. Her favorite foods are peanut butter and jelly, cheese and pistachios.

Even though she is only three, as a parent I have had those thoughts of my daughter growing up and not being the little girl she is now. It is true what they say about kids, they grow up fast. No matter how hard I try I know that she will not be the little ball of energy she is now; one day she will be a rebellious teenager that will more than likely think her dad is a total goof ball and would want to distance herself from my embarrassing presence.

I know that this is far down the line and I try to spend as much time as I can with her making memories of this special time.

But as I read an article today posted on The Black Sphere, it really got me thinking that maybe the culture that we currently find ourselves in is not helping the cause.

Recently I read an article that Victoria’s Secret is launching a line of underwear and bras aimed at middle school aged children. The line will be called “Bright Young Things” and will feature ” lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on them, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front.”

As a dad, this makes me sick.

I believe that this sends the wrong message to not only my daughter but to all young girls.
I don’t want my daughter to ever think that her self-worth and acceptance by others is based on the choice of her undergarments. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that to be popular or even attractive she has to have emblazon words on her bottom.

I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence. Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? Do I want to go to Texas A&M or University of Texas or some Ivy League School? Should I raise awareness for slave trafficking or lack of water in developing nations? There are many, many more questions that all young women should be asking themselves… not will a boy (or girl) like me if I wear a “call me” thong?

I want my daughter to know that she is perfect the way she is; I want my daughter to know that no matter what underwear she is wearing it does not define her.

I believe that this new line “Bright Young Things” thwarts the efforts of empowering young women in this country. “Bright Young Things” gives off the message that women are sex objects. This new line promotes it at a dangerously young age.

I implore you to reconsider your decision to start this line.

By doing so you will put young girl’s self-esteem, self-worth and pride above profits.

Sincerely,

Rev. Evan Dolive
Houston, TX


PLEASE REVIEW THE COMMENT POLICY

Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive.

Review of “They Like Jesus, But Not The Church”

It’s no secret, the church is in a decline.  Attendance and support for the Church has been in on a steady downturn for many, many years. A whole host of reasons have been given on why this is.  Some blame MTV and iPhones, others blame parents for not taking their children, while others blame extra-curricular activities and sports.  Whatever the problem might be, rarely does anyone blame the church itself and the people that are attending it.

Dan Kimball is a minister and author.  He noticed that when he met people and got to know them that there are a great number of people who like Jesus, but not the Church.

The book discusses what the Church has done to foster these views, and how to address them. Kimball encourages Christians to leave the “Christian bubble” and listen to what non-Christians are saying.

Through a series of interview Kimball articulates six objections that people have with the church. At first glance a person is who in the church and has a connection with God because of it might be defense and even dismissive. Therein lies the problem. Kimball argues that Christian live in a “Christian bubble” and therefore think they know and understand those who do attend church or even believe in God.

Here are the six objections

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.

Kimball does a good job of showing both sides of the issues, expect for number four; on this particular issue he touches on the accepting side of the issue but still comes down (and pretty hard I might add) on the side of homosexuality is sin.

Selected quotes from the text:

“The more we focus on what we stand for instead of what we stand against, the more we will line up with Jesus and his teachings about the kingdom of God, and the more we will be seen as a people who will believe in truth and love.”

“We need to be open and honest about the difficult passages and odd stories in the Bible. It seems more people are doing their homework about the Bible outside the church than they are inside the church.”

“Our goal should not be to get people to ‘go to church.’ We should be inviting people to participate in the life of the church community and to participate in the activity of God, not merely inviting them to attend our worship services.”

Kimball’s book may not be the end all be all to Christian evangelism and prevalence  but I believe that this book is a good conversation starter. Kimball glosses over a few things here and there but for the most part drives home the point that the church has to do something to reach out to the emerging generations.

I think that this text would be good for the leaders of a church or even an evangelism committee. The point of reading this text is to start conversation, not to change minds… that takes time.

Link to Amazon

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Happy Reading!!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

New Project!

Christine de Pizan, Multi-TaskingWhen I was living and working in Orange, Texas I had a brief stint writing religion articles for the Orange County Record.  I really enjoyed it and I liked that people were thinking and contemplating what I was writing. (It was because of the paper that I had the idea for this blog.)  Not all of the responses were glowing but the majority of people like what they read.

Since I left Orange I have been keeping up this blog and starting a new job.  I currently live and serve a church in Houston.  A few weeks ago I emailed the Religion Editor of the Houston Chronicle, the 6th largest paper in the USA.  I knew it was a long shot but I inquired if they were in need of religion columnist.  The editor wrote me back and told me that she was not looking for columnist but they needed religion bloggers for their site, houstonbelief.com.

Houstonbelief.com is site dedicated to religious bloggers from a variety of faiths.  In total there are about thirty bloggers ranging from Christians, Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, and Jewish.   I was honored to be asked to do this and look forward to contributing.

You can find my Houston Belief blog at http://blog.chron.com/modernfaith/  There is nothing to see at this point.  I will keep up this blog as well and maybe have some cross over pieces.

Stay tuned for more to come!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit:“Christine de Pizan, Multi-Tasking” available under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 at http://flic.kr/p/7wjfaq

We Were Made For This… Advent 2012

A row of tea candlesAdvent has led us to this moment; we are expectantly waiting the coming of the Christ Child. Our hearts and souls are filled with hope, peace, love and joy. Advent sets us on a trajectory toward the moment when we will encounter Christ a new. May we continue this journey not only during the season of Advent, but for the rest of our lives. The story of Christmas can not be contained into four, one hour long church services. The message is greater than that.

Throughout our lives we seek something greater than ourselves.  We seek something that gives us completeness and wholeness.  The message of Advent is that there is something worth waiting for; not just during December but for the rest of our lives.  Darkness will be overcome, light will shine bright, hope will be restored, joy will fill our hearts, love will abound for all and peace will finally reign on Earth.

The Advent message is one that calls to wait and watch for the coming of Christ in our midst, for the coming of the Savior born to a unwed teenage mother 2000+ years ago.  Wrapped up in those bans of cloth was a promise of life a new.

May we remember the message of Advent and the call of Christ to remember and reflect the love of Christ.

The power of God is felt and known more deeply when we wait for the coming of Christ and the hope we have in his coming.   Darkness to light, chaos to peace, exclusivity to inclusivity, an outcast to the God bearer– All because of the indwelling of God; the movement of God, the incarnation in a baby born to a unwed teenage mother with zero status socially.

We were made for this… we were made for something greater than ourselves

“My soul magnifies the Lord My spirit rejoices in God my savior.”- Luke 1:46

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


(“A Row Of Tea Candles” available under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tschiae/8213244223/)

Newtown, CT

Newton, Connecticut.  Before today many of us had never heard of this little town.  But now, due to a senseless act this town is now on the front page of every major news site and newspaper.  In one senseless act, lives were ended, lives were cut short, peace was turned into chaos, stability turned into uncertainty.  In an instant the world of so many children and families were turned upside down.  It is a sad sad affair.

As I sit here, I type a sentence and then delete it, type a sentence and delete it… words can not express the sadness  the hurt, the pain and anguish that comes from a tragic event of this magnitude.

What are we to do?  Our hearts break and spirit cries out, but many of us are thousands of miles away…

I am reminded of a quote I heard once (not sure who or when):  “I am convinced more and more each day that we live in a world in desperate need of a Savior.”  In one act, the human condition showed its ugly head once more…

May we remember the words of Christ in Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those are mourn, for they will be comforted.”

May it be so.

Below are some touching and thoughtful tweets I saw today


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)

 

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Think about Christmas differently this year! Turn your Christmas upside down!