The Silent Resurrection

easter celebration white house_0.mediumOnce again it is that time of the year when all the world is a buzz concerning Easter. It is a word that mean different things to different people. For some, it may simply be about bunnies, eggs, and a spectacular meal with family and friends. For others it is described as “the most important festival in the Christian calendar” (BBC). The latter view is held by Christians who accept this time of the year as a celebration period marking the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Its association with the resurrection seems to make it an untouchable topic. To engage in analytical conversations concerning Easter with Christians is to, in a sense, disrupt the rapture-like mood of the season. In fact, this is true of anyone who celebrates something during this time. It seems that the intellect is placed to the side when celebration comes. This author dares to venture in anyway.

There has been many commentaries and discussions on the usage of the word “Easter.” Connections to paganism has been made, especially to Eastre, a saxon goddess associated with spring, and the Zidonian goddess Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:5; 11:33; 2 Kings 23:13). Candida Moss,   Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, not only argues that similarity in pronunciation of words from one language to another and “dying and rising gods” in a variety of religions is insufficient to say that there was borrowing, but that the argument about borrowing shouldn’t be the focus of Christianity (CNN).

The origin of the word is not an issue to me. However, I understand and accept why it can be an issue for others. There is a case to be made for not using words that have historic associations with things that do not represent, or are at odds with, Christianity. This argument is often brushed aside as an ultra-conservative concern. This concern merits considerable attention on the part of those involved in how matters of faith are communicated. Ignoring this concern builds a foundation which will quickly allow usage of words that are more recent and troubling.

The meaning and usage of some words do change over time. The current season is a great example of how true this is. I’ve never heard any celebrant of Easter make a claim of praising a futility goddess. To say they are doing so sub-consciously, in my humble opinion, is also not a credible argument. Oftentimes, in order to prove a point, an argument will be advanced and supported by cliché like statements with no credible analysis to support the claims made. These and tactics such as intentional misrepresentations serve no purpose and should never be use in discussions of such magnitude in Christian circles.

If Easter is the celebration of the bodily resurrection of Christ by those who believe that there was such a thing then why is there not much talk on the resurrection? Sure many will flock to the churches during holy week–Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday–to hear meditations and sermons concerning what took place before and as a result of the crucifixion, but  why is it so quiet outside? Why hasn’t this bold belief concerning the coming to life of a crucified and buried savior not cause believers to spread the message like wildfire?

It seems that the Easter celebration period is not a time for evangelization. Rather, it is a time of reflection for those who are already believers. In other words the way Easter is currently celebrated is deprived of missionary expectations. Christians spend the time thinking and talking about the resurrection with each other. The outside world knows of the celebration but it’s not because Christians are going out to tell them. (This is not to say that there are no Christians talking about the resurrection. If this was the case the rocks would have cried out.) They know it because the media speaks on it. Thus, the resurrection, an event that caused the grieving disciples of Jesus to be strengthen and press on with the mission given, doesn’t seem to be motivational enough to get cultural Christianity–Christians that simply uphold ecclesiastical traditions–up off the couch and out of the pews to explain the story to the outside world.

Perhaps one of the hindrances to this missionary approach is lack of knowledge concerning the resurrection. How can Christians be expected to tell of a story they don’t know much about? This is an opinion and has no tangible support. But, I suspect that if churches were to assign a 100 word essay to their members to describe what happened before and after the crucifixion, they would be surprised. Assuming to know because we have heard it from the lips of another before is not proof that we know. The only way to know if what was heard was accurate is to investigate it from the primary source.

The lack of a major missional buzz from believers is proof that most are not reading and thinking of the resurrection. It is impossible to believe that all of that is being done and it only produce a few passionate souls. Christianity is prayerfully reading and thinking about the resurrection and only a handful feel moved to speak to the world? I think not. What’s likely is that most of us are not praying and reading, and as a result, no fire burns to share what is learned.

As an Adventist, I’m aware that there has always been major conflicts within our ranks concerning what to do with Easter. Where we have found common ground is not in a festival that incorporates imagery from all sorts of origins, but in reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, we don’t seem to be different from the rest of Christendom when it comes to sharing during this time. We are plagued with the same issue: a resurrection spoken of only at home and the church.

Is it the resurrection that produces silence? No. It’s our lack of understand of and appreciation for the significance of that resurrection. Somehow we have grown cold and are in dire need of a resurrection ourselves. At this time the best way to go about initiating this is to go back to the most important resurrection: that of Jesus Christ. May we study and experience a personal spiritual resurrection so we can talk about the risen one.

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The Allure of a Foul Mouth: Curse Words and the Church

imgres-3These days it seems like everybody uses curse words. Although those that monitor the usage of these words in the media call for censorship, they allow just the right amount of letters to slip out of the bleep so that the intended audience can have some idea what the word is supposed to be. This type of censorship reflects the attitude of the culture that it’s in. If a large amount of those that live within the culture were bothered by the usage of these words then the censorship committees would be hard-press not to bleep them completely, or better yet, rework the dialogue so that there wouldn’t be a need for bleeping.

The existence of a censoring committee is evidence that a large part of the audience is concerned about words. The committee would not have existed and any attempts to create one would have been strongly protested if a large majority of the audience was fiercely against it. The majority of the audience is not anticensorship and if they are, they are not passionate in their conviction. However, over time it seems that the committee has become more lenient in what it allows. The partial bleeping of certain words and the removal of some from the bleeping list–that is to say they are not curse words, or that they are acceptable curse words–are indications of the progressive leniency of the committee. It is only able to do so because a lenient audience allows it.

In its day to day interactions the audience uses a vast array of curse words. A curse word is used when one wants to degrade another, to express anger when something goes awry, or as an adjective in a sentence. It seems like there is no end to the type of ways curse words can be use. It has gotten to the point that if you don’t curse you stand out as an anomaly. The reason that this is possible is because the underlying drive that pushed not only the explosion of curse word usage, but nudity and the telling of what use to be classified as “private business,” is the self-expression mentality.

The mentality goes beyond simply being yourself. It’s about allowing the world to see who you are without care for what is considered right and wrong, no sense of morality. Everyone reveals things about themselves to some degree. It’s natural. However, this mentality allows for the extreme: the revealing of everything without care for the opinions of anybody else. It allows for rebellion to be glorified and to be viewed as how things ought to be.

What happened over time is that the mentality has also grabbed hold of most of those that it initially was reacting against. So now it’s not really a reaction, its a norm. Part of the norm is the constant use of curse words. It is in this environment that the Christian is found. Lo and behold curse words are heard more than ever on the lips of Jesus’ followers. Is it for the better or the worst? It’s easy to get an answer within the confines of a faith community. But how do young Christians sort their way through this complex environment?

The existence of a faith community entails not only that those within hold to the same beliefs but that those beliefs are reflected in their lifestyles. There are Christians that don’t curse. This does not mean that they’ve never said a curse word. It means that they rarely curse. They hold to the view that using foul language is wrong so they don’t use it. They tend to be more cautious with what they say and therefore choose their words carefully. They are viewed as anomalies for their rejection of the everything goes communication system.

There are Christians that curse. Some of these don’t want to do it and are struggling. Others are not really concern with stopping and feel that it’s completely acceptable if they use some choice words here and there to get their point across. Making the distinction between those that are struggling and those that don’t care is important because Christianity recognizes the inward struggle of the believer between what is right and wrong. Whereas foul language may be an issue for one, it’s not necessarily an issue for another. The one that it is not an issue for shouldn’t feel superior.

The Christian can’t allow cultural environment to alter classification on what is right and wrong without significant thought. Whereas on one hand the culture applauds those that mingle Christian views with itself, it is quick to identify certain behaviors as unfitting for those who profess Christianity. One of those behaviors is cursing. If you were to ask non-Christians: do Christians curse? They would say yes. If you were to ask them: should they be cursing? They would probably answer no.

The reason that a Christian should not curse can’t be base on wether or not the culture thinks so. It should be base on the meaning, the impact, and the intent behind the usage of the word. If this concept is difficult to understand it is because there exist a lack of exposure to biblical teachings on speaking. The teachings speak against the anything goes approach. Perhaps this is the reason why they do not receive sufficient attention. This automatically puts Christians at odds with their surroundings. They are then face with conforming to the biblical stance or going the way of all the earth.

How do we help young Christians? We need to teach them what the Bible says about speaking. Adults need to be aware of their speech. There is a dual effect when teaching and living flow together, They shouldn’t only be told about it, but they should see it. Perhaps part of the failure may be that a large amount of Christian adults are now cursing and so those that come after are simply following in their footsteps. Sometimes what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

The allure of the foul mouth will keep calling. This contra-Christian, rebellious, mystical way of being will attempt to sink its teeth on any Christian who dare to stare longingly. It’s time to show the better way of communicating. One in which countless neglected words in our languages are use to communicate effectively.

 

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Unplugging DJ Cipha Sounds

unplugging the machine
Image by functoruser via Flickr

The Haitian community is in an uproar over a remark that Hot 97’s DJ Cipha Sounds made about Haitian women. In a moment of moronic jesting, Cipha Sounds presented the threat of acquiring HIV as his reason for not being with Haitian women. Some have asserted that Haitian sensitivity is high right now due to the earthquake and the cholera outbreak that followed. It is true that any event associated with ones’ country will generate increasing sensitivity. However, to state that this is the reason for the Haitian community’s abhorrence of such an atrocious statement is wrong. Even if the earthquake and the cholera outbreak did not happen, Haitians would have reacted in like fashion. Indeed, they must. Nothing short of firing Cipha Sounds will suffice.

In response to the call of listeners, Cipha Sounds issued an apology on the airwaves. This apology seems to serve a triple purpose: to apologize for what was said; to clarify that he was the one that said it; and to take a subliminal shot at those who are not regular listeners that called and complained. Apparently, he found time to reflect on those who don’t tune in — which are all the wiser for it – instead of fully focusing on the impact of his stupidity. In light of this apology, including Hot 97’s decision to suspend him and provide moral training, some have felt that this is all that is needed. Left out of these reflections is the reality that if that remark was made concerning other nationalities or religious groups that are, apparently, deemed more valuable, tougher actions would have resulted.

Inaction by Hot 97 would have been a display of their view on Haitians. It would also have shown their view of how they think the public feels about these types of remarks. Business wise, all these reflections are done by entertainment entities because of potential damages that may result. If nothing was done, that would have indicated that they didn’t see a significant risk. Whatever their true reasons for taking action – it may be that they truly disapproved, it is clear that they felt something needed to be done. However, they did not go far enough.

In punishment, consideration should be given to the impact of the action. Consider the young Haitian women who are now subject to verbal onslaughts from some students who don’t care about the significance of what comes out of their mouths. It is no secret that some youngsters don’t reflect much on what they say. Combine that reality with what Cipha Sounds have said and you’ll still be nowhere near the effects of his on air remark. The real impact of that remark, from a social standpoint, is nothing short of a degradation of Haitian women. The self-esteem of younger women, who are especially vulnerable, will be severely affected by the hearing of such a remark.

The myth of Haitians and HIV has been an issue that arose in the past. Apparently, it is still in the minds of some as something to laugh about. Cipha Sounds’ 15 minutes are up. It is time to unplug.

Is Facebook Problematic?

Image from http://cottagestyle.com.mt/public_html/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/facebook.jpgRev. Cedric A. Miller, senior pastor of Living Word Christian Fellowship, has given “his married church leaders until Sunday to get off [Facebook] or resign their posts.” Though Rev. Miller’s Facebook password is in the hands of his wife, and claims to only be interested in his children’s activities on the site, he has also vow to close his account. This story has left a lot of people asking questions concerning social networks and their impact on Christian communities.

In Rev. Miller’s case, the call for his leadership team to disassociate themselves with Facebook comes as a result of numerous marital problems, arising from social connections–such as befriending old flames, that he is counseling couples through. His leadership team and congregation doesn’t seem to be included in the list of those with these issues. The counselees are mostly from other congregations. His call for their disassociation seems to be geared towards role-modeling and prevention. It is easier for a pastor to make a point concerning something when him and his leadership team are in one accord.

Is Facebook Problematic? Perhaps it is to some. However, that is not the issue. The issue is really about who we are as individuals. Facebook, as a social media, allows us to communicate through words and pictures, but it doesn’t tell us what we should communicate. The what is left up to us and therefore it is difficult to place blame on an inanimate tool with no innate disposition towards good or evil. It is man that chooses what to do with what they possess. These days it seems that the easy way out of things is to establish boundaries instead of dealing with core issues.

In the case of marital infidelities one must realize that flirtation, which is considered innocent by today’s standards, is rampant amongst the married. Whenever an attractive person walks into a room or is found in conversation with one that is in a relationship or is married the signals are often clearly communicated. The church has to deal with the flirtatious nature of many of its’ members. This flirtatious nature is usually evident prior to marriage and in someways reveals the disregard that the flirt has towards the respectability of their partner, and ultimately, of themselves.

Making assumptions concerning who in the local congregation is a flirt is a dangerous thing. We are not able to read the heart as God can. The best way to deal with the issue is to have round table discussions and sermons on the topic. Furthermore, self-assessment is a pivotal aspect of the process. Some flirts are not even conscious of the fact that they are flirting, but others are. The congregation may not be able to tell but God can.

When these individuals who were carrying on their flirtatious ways get married flirting may or may not be viewed by them as something harmful. After all, it was not condemned during the relationship so why should it be now? What ends up happening is that a need to have the one that is being flirted with develops. It is necessary to understand, for the most part, those who flirt are communicating their attraction to the one being flirted with. Thus, if one is in a relationship or is married, it is never harmless–in spite of the fact that the definition for the word flirt is, “To make playfully romantic or sexual overtures.” For the Christian there is no such thing as being playful concerning romance and sexual overtures outside of marriage. If the word playful is to be used within a marriage context there would need to be an understanding that it is not to be included with others beside the spouse.

Allow me to unpack the statement above. Being romantic prior to marriage is fine and dandy. On the other hand communicating sexual needs is not. What role does the word playful takes in these considerations? That all depends on how one defines it. If it is being defined as a lack of seriousness then it is essentially a lie. I must also add that being romantic is also subject to interpretation in order to determine whether it is appropriate for Christian behavior or not. People can use the same words to mean different things.

We need to start taking responsibility for what we do. There has always been and will always be things that will give us the opportunity to do something wrong. There is nothing new under the sun in terms of man’s desire for infidelity. We need the Holy Spirit to transform our beings so we can bear fruits of righteousness. Solving every single problem by setting up rules and regulations only makes us legalistic, in other words, prone to breaking them. because there is no change of heart.

Finally, if you feel that you can’t control yourself then stay off Facebook. However, you must recognize that you’ve only manage to disconnect one way of doing what you really want to do. Focus on dealing with the internal problem.

 

Works Cited:

Facebook Image from http://cottagestyle.com.mt/public_html/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/facebook.jpg

DailyRecord http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/BZ/20101117/NEWS02/101117028/N-J-pastor-to-church-leaders-Get-off-Facebook-or-get-out

The Free Dictionary – Flirt http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flirt

Relationship Talks: What Women Do Wrong

Image at: blackandmarriedwithkids.com

It’s suicide for any man that talks about what he thinks women do wrong. I’m fully aware of this and I accept the fact that I have now become a lightning rod (smile). I’m aware that some women would not even entertain the possibility of being wrong, let alone read about it. They would much prefer to talk about how much trouble that guys give. It is true that guys are part of the reason why they do some of the wrong things that they do. But that has become an excuse to continue doing the wrong things so I decided to approach this in a different manner.

In case you’ve never heard this before ladies, “you are not perfect.” I would like to invite you for a moment to put your ideas about what men do wrong and focus on what you do wrong. I will address the men in the following post, but right now let’s talk about you. Guys, feel free to express your grievances in a respectful manner. It is important to have dialogue on these issues instead of having two opposite sides sit in their corners and throw rocks at each other.

Before I begin I would like to bring some attention to a woman’s background. You see, to some extent we all are byproducts of our parents and our surroundings–past and present. However, we are not limited to these things. I brought up this point to bring focus to the fact that a woman might have been raised a certain way, or grew up in a certain place where the type of behavior that she is exhibiting is considered normal, or shall we say acceptable. Therefore the way she act is a manifestation of that upbringing and not entirely her fault. Does it mean that she can’t change? No, it just means that if she has identified this as being the cause of some of the stuff that she does wrong, she can make the decision to act in ways that are contrary to what is normal for her. Overtime the new way will become the permanent way.

So what exactly do women do wrong? Can they be corrected? The old saying says, “where there is a will, there is a way.” Things can’t change if no one is interested in a change.

Talking Bad About Guys

Sometimes when women get together, makeup and fashion are not the only things in the list for small talk. Women often time spend a long period of time doing what I call “Devaluing the Male,” talking bad about guys. These type of conversations can also be found in Christian circles. Gossiping is considered acceptable female behavior by society at large and so it seems that Christian women find nothing wrong with doing so. In fact if guys were to complain about it, they would be told to “man up,” as if there is something manly about sitting around being dissed.

This needs to change. You shouldn’t be talking bad about people whether they are males or females. There are more constructive things to do with the time and the ability to speak that God gave you. There has got to be something better out there then gathering together and bad mouthing people. If you’re in a relationship then there should be such a level of trust between you and that person where they don’t have to worry about going outside and hearing stories. If you broke up with somebody spreading stories about them won’t make you feel better, you are actually showing everyone what type of person you are.

Getting Angry and Picking Fights

Some women seem to think that the best way to contribute to the prosperity of a relationship is by picking fights. Sometimes they pick fights over the smallest issues. It’s as if they don’t feel comfortable unless an argument has taken place. Many a relationship is destroyed because of stupid arguments. Disagreements can be handled in a civilize manner, there is no need for all the anger and yelling that goes on. The real damage is being done to the ones who are always angry, slowing setting themselves up for future health problems.

There is nothing fascinating about a woman that is always angry. Eventually everyone will realize that the person has major psychological issues that were never treated. It’s best to seek ways to deal with those things instead of brushing them off as insignificant. Ladies, being constantly rude, aggressive, angry and arrogant is not a good thing.

Flirting with Other People

Women like to feel like they are the jewels in the eyes of the guy that they are with. There is nothing wrong with that. But some of them are not satisfied with the attention that they get from the guy that they are with and so they look for attention from other guys. They may not even be interested in being with the person, they just want the person to look their way to confirm their belief that they are attractive. They feel good about being wanted by others. Their boyfriend can be standing right next to them and they are locking eyes with a guy. For what? Attention.

When this happens the boyfriend looks like an idiot. He is dating a girl that has so little respect for him that she would flirt with someone right in front of him. There are some girls that won’t do it in front of you but behind your back. They are the biggest flirts in the world when the boyfriends aren’t around. Though many see flirting as harmless, it’s actually a signal to the person that they are flirting with that they are interested. We all know this, but we lie to make it seem as if that is not the case.

Everything is harmless till it happens to you.

Emphasis on Materialism

Some women may talk as if they have it all together but in reality they don’t. They may act like they know what they want but it’s a cover up. There is nothing more irritating then a woman that doesn’t know what she wants. She is interested in the guy one day and not the next. It seems that a guy’s clothing, car, or even haircut is so pivotal that their feelings for him can change with the disappearance of those things. It only means that they didn’t have any feelings for the guy in the first place.

It’s easy to spot. They will treat guys different base on what they are wearing or whether or not they have a haircut. The worst part is that some of them actually think that guys are so dumb that they don’t notice the change in treatment.

Conclusion

And that’s the conclusion of the matter for now. There is much more that I could of said but it’s best to stick with the fundamentals. Feel free leave comments about any other points that you think should be address. I do plan to do one for the guys, so don’t think that this is an attack on women.

Relationship Talks: Starting With Me

Image at: takingoverthaworld.ning.com/group/dating

Everywhere you go you hear people talking about relationships, especially young people. This is a positive thing because they are expressing their desire to be with and see others in serious and joyful partnerships–I’m not using that word in a business sense. However it can be negative if it becomes the sole focus at the expense of other important matters, such as one’s relationship with God, studying for school, etc.

Since everybody has been sharing the positives and negatives of their experiences, I thought I would take a crack at it. Usually, only experts are invited to speak on a subject, but in the domain of relationships, there are no experts. There are only people who are doing better than others, and even they can’t claim to be doing it perfect 100% of the time. This is the beginning of my series on relationships. I will be speaking within a Christian frame of mind (worldview), seeing that I am one, however, this is not a biblical treatment of the issue so don’t expect to see biblical quotes.

Sometimes things are best understood when you start with personal experience. Lessons are not only learned from the right way of doing things, wrong ways are consistent reminders of our handicaps and that there is no such thing as a super human. A great fault of the human mind is the ever increasing danger of viewing some that we respect and look up to as super heroes, incapable of error, in fact, infallible. Then when things go wrong our world comes crashing down.

Courting, Dating, Oh My!

The best place to start is to tell you of the only reason that I think one should enter a relationship. The only reason that you should enter a relationship is if you intend to marry the person one day. Now there has been a lot of fuss made over the word dating and how courting should be used instead, and I agree. But my real concern is not with your vocabulary but with your understanding. You can call it dating, courting, or whatever you want. The essential is that once you enter into the domain of relationship with someone you should have marriage in mind.

Have I always thought like that? No. In fact, I don’t know of many that do. I came to that knowledge through bible study. Even with the best intentions I wasn’t perfect in the practical application of these studies, but the end of the matter still remains to be seen since I’m not married or in a relationship at this time. What was the result? Trouble, complaining, rivalries, bitterness, any word that you can think of that describes people at odds. So my current motto is, “if you won’t marry them, don’t bother.” I don’t know about you, but that is the way it will be with me.

Don’t Believe the Myths, Beauty Counts

In Christianity, especially, there is a devaluation of beauty. If you hear enough sermons on how to pick a mate you might draw the conclusion yourself that Adam and Eve were two very ugly people. In fact you might think that the Bible doesn’t talk about beauty at all. Often times, these speakers are married to or dating beautiful people. I’m not saying that beauty is the most important factor in your evaluation of potential mates, but I argue that it shouldn’t be too far from the top. Anyone that you will have to spend the rest of your life living with should be attractive to you.

It is important to also realize that the person you’re attracted to may not be attractive to your friends and family. This shouldn’t detour you, seeing that you’re the one who has to live with them. Not everyone is attracted to the same person. If we all looked the same then that would of been possible, but we don’t. So I don’t judge people’s decision, nor do I allow people to judge mine. You like what you like, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. This is not to say that a family’s counsel is not important.

I also can’t fail to mention that we have a variety, a range of people that we are attracted to. For example, I happen to think that Shakira is gorgeous, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think the same thing of Beyonce. Do they look the same? No, but I think that both of them are attractive. In the same way we may find several people attractive, but fortunately that is not the only criteria with which we make our choices.

Personality and Belief System

The first thing you see when you meet somebody is what they look like. However, this is not the only thing that you will notice, you will get a glimpse of their personality. As time goes by you will get to know them more and more and will be able to determine whether or not you are attracted to their personality. You may meet someone with a personality that you like but see them more as friends. Personality is one half of the most important factor in choosing someone. Of course from a Christian point of view, God’s counsel must be sought throughout all aspects of the process.

The other weighty factor to consider is the person’s belief system. Since I’m a Seventh-day Adventist, I believe that it is highly beneficial to find someone who has that same belief system. It’s not a matter of right and wrong, it’s a matter of compatibility. A union with no ideological foundations will either shatter or drag on with minimum proficiency. If I claim to be an Adventist but don’t live like one then someone who does live like an Adventist shouldn’t consider me because I don’t share their beliefs.

There was a point in my life when I didn’t care too much about being a Christian and so I dated people who weren’t Christians. I wasn’t uncomfortable in these relationships because we were in sync. To spend a long period of time hanging out and doing things with someone, there has to be more there below the surface. When I got serious, I didn’t see the same kind of people as relationship partners anymore because we were living different lifestyles.

After typing over a thousand words, I think I should take a break for now and allow you to give some feedback on the points presented. Don’t forget to sign my guest book.