Friday, June 30, 2006

my experience with the charasmatic catholics

Tall, skinny, kiwi Andrew Jones discovers Charismatic Italy! For a wonderful article about his experience, click here: my experience with the charasmatic catholics.

Way to go Andrew!

<>< TM

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Anglican leader sees church split over gay bishops

Well, many of us saw this one coming...

This just in from Reuters: Anglican leader sees church split over gay bishops

Sexual immorality, including homosexuality, is blatantly condemned in the Bible...both in the Old and New Testaments...and it is also condemned by most of the people of the world outside of the USA and Western Europe (despite what gay political activitist will lead you to believe.)

The reason why sexual imorality of all types is widely condemned in the Bible, as well as by most cultures around the world, has to do with the incredible damage it can do, when not checked. Certainly, most of this damage is pychological and spiritual in nature, but can often ultimately lead to sexual violence like rape, incest, molestation, and pedophalia amongst other things, not to mention the spread of disease.

To most people, this is rather obvious. However, for the left-liberal culture in the Western world, they just don't get it--or, perhaps more accurately, they don't want anyone to impose any restrictions on their almighty quest for the perfect orgasim, whatever form that quest might take.

<>< TM

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why It's a BAD IDEA to reveal your identity on the Internet...

Well, his poor chap seems to have been looking for a "quickie", but got more than he bargained for: Teenage Girls Rob Man they Met on MySpace

Now there are many good and wonderful stories about people meeting their life-long love through the Internet, but then again you do need to be VERY careful about the people you meet in cyberspace.

And certainly don't post personal information for everyone else to see.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Changing fonts....

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for some time...change the font used to display the blog posts.

The blog was using "Trebuchet MS", which is a nice font, but can be difficult to read. So I switched to a more boring "Verdana" font, which I find to be much easier to read, I hope you do to!

For those who don't have the "Verdana" font on their PC, you will see either the same old "Trebuchet" font, or Arial.

Hope you like the improvement, I know I do!

<>< TM

Canceling AOL can be a tough call

Still on AOL? You'll be interested in this story: "How hard can it be to cancel an AOL account?"

Seems as if AOL doesnt' want anyone to cancel their account, no matter what. This isn't unusual, as call center customer service people are trained to make it difficult for you to cancel, and are PAID INCENTIVES to make sure you don't cancel! Call centers are all about making money for the company they work for, not customer service. I should know, having some experience in the customer "service" field...

AOL users, beware...

<>< TM

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No time for the Internet

I have no idea who Robert Ferguson is, nor what he has written. I've only read one article of his on the net, his LAST one: Goodbye Gather-- Thank You Friends [Sadly, that article has now been deleted off the server - TM 6/22/06]

I was nosing around a place called Gather --a HUGE online community that attempts to build community through the writing and photography of its members (why, it kinda sounds like BLOGGING!) In this short but sweet article, Mr. Ferguson decides it's time to stop monkeying around with the Internet, and get back to the Real World.

The reason I posted a link to his article, is because it illustrates a bizarre danger of the Internet--other than the danger of being addicted to porn sites: the Internet is often a much more interesting and satisfying "reality" than our regular lives. It's also very time consuming.

I do not watch television, EVER. My "leisure" activity is surfing the net and doing my little blog thing. I find that as long as I don't get carried away, and keep things relatively short, that surfing and blogging can be very fulfilling activities, and may even benefit someone.

The problem with a community like Gather--the one Mr. Ferguson belonged to--is that you develop regular groups of online friends and followers which unintentionally puts pressure upon you in regards to your comments and writings. To maintain your group standings and rankings, it becomes a very time consuming business, and instead of the community being a means to provide a creative outlet, it rather becomes a ball and chain that puts surprising pressure on you to keep writing and participating.

A bizarre aspect of Gather is that EVERYTHING is ranked (voted on) by the members: people, articles, photographs and so on. So the community can immediately judge your "popularity" by the ranking feature. Why yes--it does seem to be just one big popularity contest.

Thats why I prefer a boring old blog to a Gather or MySpace type of community, or even FreeRepublic or the Democratic Underground. (Sorry, but you're going to have to find your own links for these sites! I don't feel like playing with HTML right now...)

In a blog like the one you're reading, it really doesn't matter if anyone reads your posts or not, because it's not really about finding a place in a community. By blogging, I'm joining the community of bloggers, whether or not anyone reads my blog. There's no real ranking or popularity contests, though there are certainly some blogs that are more popular than others.

While bloggers are certainly a type of community, there is a lot more freedom when writing and updating independent blogs then when you are tied into a purpose-driven community like Gather. So if you think posting things on the internet is your way of contributing to the welfare of planet earth, get a blog. Don't worry if someone reads it or not, just do it for the fun of it! Who knows? Maybe some lonely person out there in cyberspace will be blessed by what you write.


One things Mr. Ferguson discusses in his article--and I think it's very wise--is the idea of coming back to Gather, but not as Mr. Ferguson. Rather he would post his artciles under some anonymous pseudonym.

Believe it or not, Thomas Merton is not updating this site from his hermitage in Heaven--I'm just using his identity as a means to honor him and his memory. I really don't want anyone but a few people to know the actual identity of the person behind Theodicy. The reason is simple: using your real identity on the Internet is almost always a BAD IDEA. Of course there are exceptions to this, but for a majority of us, anonyminity is a good thing!

I think Mr. Ferguson would find the Internet a more enjoyable and interesting place if he were to use a pseudonym. Is it dishonest and fraudulent as some people suggest? No, I don't believe so; rather, it's the better part of wisdom to keep your real identity as hidden as possible while on the web. There are numerous practical and security related reasons for doing this.

Personally, I don't discount anyone just because they post under a pseudonym.

<>< TM

Monday, June 19, 2006

The winning Hitler Cat

The "Rantings of a Sandmonkey" blog has found the re-incarnated Adolf've got to see this for yourselves...The winning Hitler Cat

<>< TM

WSJ: At a U.S. Mosque, Path of Tolerance Leads to Tumult

Personally, I think everyone should subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It is, by far, the best run and best written newspaper in the English language. Sadly, non-subscribers are not allowed access to it's excellent website, but the subscription fee is well worth the price, especially if you can qualify for the student rate.

Most people think the WSJ is all about stocks, bonds and business...and it is...but there's a lot more to the paper that non-subscribers realize.

For example, in today's edition there is an excellent article about the power struggle between Muslims here in the USA, and as you can imagine, the voices of moderation are losing out to the voices of extremism.

In one particular mosque in San Francisco, a rather extreme iman sued a mosque known for it's moderate stance, after the mosque fired him. As you might guess, the extremist iman won the case...(after all, it was tried in San Francisco...)

Here's an interestsing excerpts from the article:
Sheik Safwat filed suit against the Islamic Society in April 2003, accusing the mosque of illegally firing him in retaliation for exposing corruption. At the time, U.S. forces were invading Iraq and emotions among Muslims everywhere were raw. "They have declared religious war against Islam," Sheik Safwat told followers at his new mosque, Noor Al-Islam, according to a San Francisco Chronicle account. "It is a new Crusade." He said he blamed the U.S. government, not the American people.

Mr. Ghali, although he is not a professional imam, gave a sermon that same day at the Islamic Society. He urged restraint, the newspaper reported. "We are misunderstood," he said. "Allah demands that we be patient and wise. Let not the hatred of others allow you to swerve to wrong and depart from justice."

A few weeks later, as Baghdad itself was falling, Sheik Safwat delivered a tirade against infidel invaders and called for holy war to redeem Muslim lands. This sermon, captured in a cassette recording, was professionally translated and submitted as evidence in the court case.

Sheik Safwat, invoking familiar extremist rhetoric for his Sunni listeners, blamed the fall of Iraq on connivance by the "traitor" Shiites and Arab heads of states, whom he branded "agents of treason." The sheik also said he saw the hand of the "sons of Zion," the Jews. With the fall of Baghdad, he said, Israel had "realized" its dominion "from the Nile to the Euphrates."

He praised martyrdom. While the Muslim dead of Jerusalem, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Sudan were in paradise, he said, the infidel dead were burning in hell. "The beacon of the jihad will not be extinguished by the tank and will not be extinguished by the airplanes," he said. "The clash of civilizations and the combat of cultures and the recapture of the land and honor, this is what believers are waiting for."

In another sermon, the sheik adopted the slogan used by the Palestinian political party Hamas to reject Israel's right to exist: "Palestine, from the sea to the river."

Mr. Allababidi, who serves as the Noor Al-Islam mosque's general secretary, says the sheik won't elaborate on the 2003 sermons because they're a "distraction" from "the corruption" at the Islamic Society mosque.

At the trial, the jury had to decide how much credence to give Mr. Ghali's claim that the mosque had properly fired the sheik for his extremist rhetoric. Jurors never heard the sheik's later sermons because the judge ruled that evidence from after the sheik's 2002 firing was irrelevant to the case. Mr. Ghali testified that the sheik told him twice that the best way to deal with Jews was to "slaughter" them. Mr. Memon, the lawyer and former mosque worshiper, testified that the sheik told followers to "emulate" suicide bombers. Another attorney testified she'd heard Sheik Safwat preach hate at the Islamic Society's regular Friday services.

The sheik and his lawyer maintained that Mr. Ghali and his allies had capitalized for years on their positions at the mosque for financial gain. They showed the jury blowups of canceled checks written to "cash" and donation receipts allegedly inflated for tax purposes. They cast doubt on the two attorneys' testimony about hateful preaching, noting that neither spoke Arabic and both relied on simultaneous translations of the sheik's sermons. Some Muslim scholars testified that they knew the sheik to be a peace-loving man.

<>< TM

The Boat In The Backyard

One of the most incredible essays I've ever read in regards to the often testy relationship between fathers and sons appears on the Internet Monk's blog.

Mark Spencer honestly reveals the relationship he had with his dad, and how it was continuously strained by his Father's horrible depression. For anyone who's had to deal with that monster, you will find a lot in common with Mark's dad; I know I sure did.

Here's the first few lines of the essay:
When I was twelve years old, my father bought a small aluminum boat, just enough for two people to use for fishing in the local lakes. He put it in our backyard. It had a tiny motor that sat in our shed. He bought the boat so we could go fishing together, father and son. It was his dream, a father's dream that I can now relate to as I share ball games and movies with my own son.

The boat never took us fishing. In fact, it never got in the water. It remains there in the back yard, photographed by my memory, waiting for a fishing trip that would never happen. In my tendency to personify objects in my world, I picture that boat as eager and expectant, then confused, and eventually depressed. Its purpose- its joy?- was not to be fulfilled.
For the rest, please click here: The Boat In the Backyard

<>< TM

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Brian McLaren: Emergent Reactions

I've added a new section to my blogroll: emerging chruch blogs. Also added the "friend of emergent" banner on the side column.

Here's a sample from one of the blogs, Brian McLaren. This is an excellent bit of wisdom in terms of avoiding extremes:
A lot of folks have gotten ground up or run over by churches or ministries that are run like well-oiled machines. They want something more organic, human, relational, and authentic. The problem is, some people may over-react against excessive or inhuman organization and leadership, and then find themselves suffering from the downsides of disorganization and leaderlessness. An above-the-line solution realizes that organization is not the enemy, nor is leadership the problem. It�s bad, unwise, inhuman, excessive, insufficient, unthinking, inflexible, overflexible, dominating, passive or otherwise ineffective organization and leadership that we need better alternatives to, and of course, finding those better alternatives isn't easy.

I guess my point is that we can react so strongly to inflexible and overt organizational structures that we become equally inflexible in an opposite form of covert or unrecognized organization (or disorganization). Top-down, dominant, non-listening, autocratic or unaccountable and unapproachable leadership has been a problem in many quarters in recent years, but being anti-leadership will create equal and opposite problems. Mechanistic organization (whether well-oiled or rusty) has been a real problem, but developing an allergy to needed structure will create new problems of its own.

There are a number of related issues in this regard. Some groups are dropping terms like pastor or senior pastor to help avoid a clergy-laity distinction. Some are avoiding any salaries and working with completely unremunerated teams of leaders. Many are choosing to meet in rented or multi-use facilities rather than single-use facilities. Again, all of these approaches can be celebrated, but none should be seen as being itself a final and trouble-free solution. Today’s solutions to yesterday’s problems often will cause tomorrow’s problems, which may then call for very different kinds of solutions from the solutions that are being celebrated today. We’ll be wise, over the long run, if we focus on what we’re for without painting ourselves in a corner regarding what we’re against – whether in terms of structures or leadership.
Read more at:Brian McLaren: Emergent Reactions, Spring 2006

<>< TM

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie: chant of change at Microsoft

Most of you already know that Bill Gates is handing over the reigns at Microsoft so that he can pursue his charity work. However, you may not know much about the guy who will be taking his place as "chief architect." The new chief architect is a very interesting man by the name of Ray Ozzie, a native of Chicago and a graduate of the University of Illinois. The Austrailan has a very interesting article about him: Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie: chant of change at Microsoft, and here's a very interesting quote from the article:
"Mr Gates himself was once moved to declare Mr Ozzie 'one of the top five programmers in the universe' and revealed that he and Mr Ballmer had wanted for more than a decade to persuade him to join Microsoft. To the outside world, Mr Ozzie's programming prowess is known mainly through Lotus Notes, the e-mail and collaboration software that he masterminded, which was acquired by IBM in 1995."
The reason this quote grabbed my attention was the reference to Lotus Notes, an amazing e-mail, document management system that I used to create applications for. It truly was an amazing piece of software, and I still have not found anything close to it in terms of document handling capabilities and ease of use.

Sadly, the corporations I worked for did not understand the usefulness of Lotus Notes, and often it was used for e-mail, and little else. When I started showing the folks that amazing things Lotus Notes can do in order to help improve cooperation and communication, they were quite amazed.

The beauty of Lotus Notes is it's ability to handle documents. Of course I'm referring to electronic documents, not paper, but there are tremendous advantages to keeping documents electronic, and forgoing paper altogether. Though I really like paper based books and magazines, electronic documents can be far more useful in a business environment.

A simple application I built at one corporation was a "bug report" system, built using Lotus Notes, that simply kept track of any problems related to the various computer systems our little development team worked on. What was nice about the Lotus Notes bug report, is that everyone could view it...the user who had a problem, the manager of the user, the project manager of the development team, and the programmer responsible for fixing the bug. In other words, it was a simple, effective way of tracking a system problem from it's initial reporting until its resolution. And instead of constant e-mail and phone calls for status requests, one could simply view the Lotus Notes bug report to see what was being done.

All this is tremendously easy to do with Lotus Notes, as long as you have a person who knows how to develop applications for it. But once the applications were developed, they were incredibly easy to use, much, much easier than anything I've seen provided via the Internet. As a matter of fact, I don't find the net as effective a way to collaborate on projects or issues, simply due to the various hurdles and roadblocks one encounters to do even the most simple things. For instance, if you have a bunch of digital pictures that you want to share with the world, you need to find some sort of digital picture hosting mechanism, like Yahoo or Kodak. If you want to share your thoughts and writings, you need to sign up for a blog. If you want a calendar and e-mail, you need to find something like G-Mail or HotMail.

But how much better it would be if I had one little "slice" of the internet, where I could post my own pictures, my own documents, have my own e-mail, calendar and so on, and not have to worry about regeristing with yet another service to do all that for me. Sure, one could buy their own domain name, set up their own internet site; but for those of us who've done that, it becomes a HUGE and time consuming endeavor, no matter how simple the site is. Using the web is no where near as easy as it could be.

The problems I have with the Internet are somewhat related to the problems that I have with traditional Christian religious institutions--they make it very difficult for one to express themselves and use their God given talents in a way that both blesses the community and blesses ourselves! Perhaps we need a church model that is the equivalent of Lotus Notes: something easy to use that can allow various people access and the ability to contribute something meaningful.

The Internet, with all of it's headaches and difficulties, at least provides some sort of foundation for this type of expression and affirmation. And best of all, it's world-wide, so you can easily communicate with someone in Africa as you can with someone down the street.

It's strange that this sci-fi level of technology--the Internet--is doing more to foster community and cooperation amongst individuals than the traditional Christian religious institutions could ever hope to do.

Amazinging, it's the Internet that is giving us a glimpse of what a church can be and do.

<>< TM

Saturday, June 17, 2006

other blogs

This is a blog.

The title of one of Thomas Merton's books is No Man Is An Island; a phrase works equally well for blogs: they are best when interconnected with other blogs.

Here at Theodicy, you will see often find links to other people's blogs. Most blogs are the work of a single person, though there are some "team" blogs out there, like GetReligion Truly blogging, more so than any other activity, proves beyond a doubt that no man is an island.

I encourage readers of this blog to explore the many links I've provided to other blogs of interest. Listing links to other blogs you read is known as a blogroll, and is a common feature you will find on just about blog. My list of blogs appears on the right hand side of this screen, underneath the archives. Let me give a short explanation of the way I've grouped the blogs:

GOD BLOGS - Christians who blog about various aspects of Christianity, from Catholicism to Calvinism, with a bit of emerging church thrown in for good measure.

SILLY BLOGS - Blogs done with comedy in mind. The few I listed here are some of the most hilarious things you will ever read.

BLOG BLOGS - Blogs that don't easily fit into any one category, or are somewhat general in their content. Right now I only list the excellent Hud's Blog-O-Rama, but more will be added in the near future. As a mater of fact, more blogs will be added to all the categories listed here, and perhaps some new categories will be created...

MEGA BLOGS - These guys are the stars of the blog-o-sphere, and have literally thousands, if not millions of readers. Most provide very insightful commentary on current events.

So please enjoy exploring these other blogs, you'll be very glad you did!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

You can't believe your lyin' eyes

Mark Steyn on multi-culturalism from You can't believe your lyin' eyes
"The multicultural society posits that each of its citizens can hold a complementary portfolio of identities: one can simultaneously be Canadian and Jamaican and gay and Anglican and all these identities can exist within your corporeal form in perfect harmony. But, for most Western Muslims, Islam is their primary identity, and for a significant number thereof, it's a primary identity that exists in opposition to all others. That's merely stating the obvious. But, of course, to state the obvious is unacceptable these days, so our leaders prefer to state the absurd. "


A good summary of the state of journalism

Lately I've been reading Tony Hendra's debut novel "The Messiah of Morris Avenue", a left-liberal account of the Second Coming of Christ. You can throw out any ideas you had about the Second Coming as detailed in the book of Revelation, the OT, or even Matthew 25, for Jesus returns as an Irish-Mexican living in the South Bronx of New York. His name: Jose Francisco Kennedy (JFK, get it?), who goes by the name "Jay", and pretty much lives and moves the same way as he did 2,000 years ago, accept now he aspouses some of the talking points of left-wing idealogues.

While there are some HUGE problems with Hendra's theology, there's enough good stuff in this novel to make it worth reading, even by those on the far right--perhaps especially those on the far right.

Here's a small passage from the book that shows some of the genius of Tony Hendra. Here Johnny Greco, a jaded journalist and narrator of the story, as well as being the 'Judas' to Jay's 'Jesus' begins to wonder what attracts him to 'Jay' and also gives us a quick but accurate summary of the state of journalism:
Why am I here? What has brought me to this very odd moment in my life? Exposing Jose Francisco is not in the cards; he's nobody, it's pointless. The only reason can be that I want to find him convincing, that I want--though obviously not in a religious way--to believe in him and then express that belief. Can I rise to this occasion? I'm not sure I can. I can't remember the last time, if there ever was a time, I wrote anything positive about anybody. It's never occured to me in a lifetime of pursuing the banalities of greed and deception that I might need to. Journalists like to pretend that tearing down and ruthlessly exposing is hard work, gritty, and demanding, requiring tenaciousness and countless hours of shoe leather, but what makes the time fly is that tearing down is fun. It's real easy. Whereas, whatever the opposite is, is fucking difficult.
Amen to that, brother.

For more about this book, click on this link to read the reviews at


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Defend the Toronto 17!!!

Over at the Relapsed Catholic blog, Kathy has one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" postings that make one hope Jesus has his Second Coming near the top of his to-do list.

The posting: the Canadian left-wing politico's are complaining that the recent arrests of 17 TERRORISTS in Toronto is an example of Canada's own "combat mission against the democratic and human rights of oppressed people in Canada." You can't make this stuff up folks.

For more, click here: Idiot Watch: "Defend the Toronto 17!"


Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe

For those of you who have been in a state of fear and loathing because of Algore's dire predictions of (gasp!) GLOBAL WARMING...calm down, take some deep breaths and read this commentary that appears on the Canada Free Press web site: Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

JOLLYBLOGGER: Tim Bednar's Paper - "We Know More Than Our Pastors."

Here's an interesting article written last year by David Wayne (a.k.a. JollyBlogger) in response to Tim Bednar's very interesting paper: "We Know More Than Our Pastors."
"Awhile back I listened to a message by Tim Keller where he said that there are still enough traditional people in America that traditional methods of doing church and outreach can work to build a church. But those pools of traditionally minded people are shrinking more and more. Keller advocates listening to those who minister in places like New York City and LA and other major population centers where all of the postmodern, 'cutting edge' stuff is happening. He says that what you see in these places will begin to dominate more and more of the American cultural landscape and so, if we are to get ahead of the curve, we need to pay attention to how the church is ministering in those places."
I agree -- there is still a place for church as we know it, but that place is getting smaller and smaller...


Pope Benedict XVI on Vigil of Pentecost

Many thanks to Oswald Sobrino for posting the entire address given by Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of Pentecost on his Catholic Analysis blog. Here is a small clip from that address:
"The Son who speaks to the Father exists and they are both one in the Spirit, who constitutes, so to speak, the atmosphere of giving and loving which makes them one God. This unity of love which is God, is a unity far more sublime than the unity of a last indivisible particle could be. The Triune God himself is the one and only God. Through Jesus let us as it were cast a glance at God in his intimacy. John, in his Gospel, expressed it like this: 'No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known' (Jn 1: 18).

Yet Jesus did not only let us see into God's intimacy; with him, God also emerged, as it were, from his intimacy and came to meet us. This happened especially in his life, passion, death and Resurrection; in his words.

Jesus, however is not content with coming to meet us. He wants more. He wants unification. This is the meaning of the images of the banquet and the wedding.

Not only must we know something about him, but through him we must be drawn to God. For this reason he had to die and be raised, since he is now no longer to be found in any specific place, but his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, emanates from him and enters our hearts, thereby uniting us with Jesus himself and with the Father, the Triune God. "
For the entire address, click here: Pope Benedict XVI on Vigil of Pentecost


Monday, June 12, 2006

Reluctant Pastor Describes 'Long Spiritual Struggle'

While checking out the North Park Theological Seminary web site, I found this really interesing article in their news section: "Reluctant Pastor Describes 'Long Spiritual Struggle.'"

Becky Erickson felt called to go to seminary, but didn't want to. After a long battle with God over the matter, she decides to go, and it turned out to be a blessing for all involved.

There's a couple of interesting points in this article:

1. A women pays attention to the call God has put on her life, and it turns out to be a great blessing.

2. Yes, God calls people to go to seminary, even (horror of horrors!) conservative, Bible-believing women.

In the emerging church movement, there is a luke-warm attitude towards seminaries, and I think for good reason. However, there are still some wonderful, conservative, Bible-believeing semenaries out there, like North Park, that take their training and equipping ministry very seriouisly.

A point that some in the emerging movement take great pains to mention is that the emerging church is not meant to take the place of previous movements, but compliment them, and expand upon them. There will always be a need for the traditional local church with pastor, choir, Sunday School and so forth, and there is a whole group of people who need that type of structure. Certainly the Catholic Church didn't fold-up and go out-of-business simply because Martin Luther & Co. had that little reformation thing back in the 16th century. Not only are the Catholics still around, amazingly it seems they are doing better than ever, while the Reformers are tyring to deal with diminished market share.

From my viewpoint, it seems that the emerging church has a very particular, yet very important niche to fill. It doesn't seem God is calling the emerging church to replace all that's gone before it, but to go to those for whom the more formal, traditional church is unable to reach or deal with.

In a way, the emerging church is called to be God's trash collectors. All those considered to be "trash" or "losers" by traditional religious institutions should be able to find a place in the more liquid, organic structure of the emerging church, and even prosper in that sort of environment. I know I'm certainly one of them.


From Speed to Thomas

In my quest to get a bit more serious about blogging, I've changed my blog avatar from the fictional Speed Racer to the actual Thomas Merton. I'm trading in my Mach-5 for the habbit and the solitude of a Trappist monk. Talk about transformation!

Now does Thomas Merton have anything to teach us about the emerging church? To be honest, I don't know, but his father was from New Zealand, so that must count for something...

One thing for sure, Merton does have a lot to teach us about prayer, work, and life in general through his numerous writings. He's not someone we can ignore, and I think that there are some lessons there about simplicity that can be most useful.

Perhaps the best five days of my life were spent on a spiritual retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani where Thomas Merton ("Father Louis") worked and prayed. Most of that retreat was spent in silence, which was exactly what I needed.

I had an interesting revelation about Christianity and 12-step groups (like Alcoholic's Anonymous) while I was there, a connection that never occured to me before. Someday I'll need to write a little blog about what I learned and the impact it had on me.

There's just not enough time in the day...


Iris Ministries -- an excellent guide for the emerging church

Hiedi Baker and her kids

Of all the ministries on earth, NONE have done more to challenge, insipire and delight me than Rolland and Hiedi Baker's Iris Ministries. For those interested in what the emergining church looks like, I encourage you to go to their web site, and read of all the incredible happenings that occur as long as you keep things simple and centered on Jesus.

The emerging church is often criticized for being overly concerned with "experiences." Why that's a bad thing in the eyes of the critics is difficult to explain, but a short, blunt answer is that they fear emotionalism. And "experiences" lead to emotionalism.

One look at the picture posted here, and you can certainly see the emotionalism displayed on the faces of Heidi and her kids! Why, it kind of looks like joy...

Looking at the different web sites of the various "leaders" of the emerging church, I sometimes notice a sort of elitiest, intellectual bent. There is a lot of concern about post-modernism, engaging the culture, networking, and all that sort of nonsense.

While all that is good and fine, and makes for interesting press copy, the simple truth is that the emerging church had best keep things very simple, and very authentic. Iris Ministires and their work in Africa is an excellent example of what I'm getting at.

When I first started reading the gospel for myself, I did not need a theological dictionary and a history of philosophy to know what Jesus was communicating. He used incredibly plain language, and used it very powerfully to create simple images that even people 2,000 years later can relate to in a very personal way. Not one iota of theological mumble-jumble in Jesus' approach....some riddles yes, but even those are not difficult to decipher as long as you have the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Again, the emerging church needs to learn the lessons that Iris Ministries demonstrates so well in their work in Africa: keep it simple, and keep it real. What more could you want?

(Check out the Iris Ministries BLOG!)


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Where did all the men go (again)?

Just found an excellent post on the GetReligion blog concerning the feminization of Christianity: Where did all the men go (again)?

A growing trend which more than just a few people have noticed is the disappearance of men from various Christian denominations. Not surprisingly, the very feminine left-liberal leaning churches have the greatest discrepancy between men and women attendees, while the more fundamentalist type churches are about 50/50.

However, even in the more fundamentalist leaning chruches, this ratio is not stable, and more and more men seem to be dropping out.

Being a man, and having been very disappointed by many churches in the little corner of the USA where I live, allow me to put my $0.02 in...

Most of the men I've met in leadership positions in their respective churches don't really have any idea as to what they are doing. Not all the men I've met, but quite a few. They don't seem to understand what Christianity is all about, nor do they really seem to care.

On the other hand, the women I've met in the various churches I've gone to are quite exceptional, and seem to really understand the "big picture" when it comes to the ministry and influence of Jesus.

Of course the unintended consequences is that you have women who are doing the real heavy lifting of spiritual formation and prayer, while the guys might do well to have an occasional "prayer" breakfast...where surprisingly little praying is done.

Yes, it's really just that simple, at least from my perspective...


TallSkinnyKiwi: Are We a Movement?

Last year, tall, skinny, kiwi Andrew Jones posted this interesting article on his blog: TallSkinnyKiwi: Are We a Movement?

Of course what he's referring to is the "emerging church" and the question "is the emerging church a movement?" To some of you this might seem like a silly question, but for me personally it is a very important one. It's important, because there is far too much Orwellian double-speak as it is in this horribly politically-correct world of ours, and I don't wish to dismiss a term simply because some theologian sitting in his cubicle at Righteous Almighty Seminary might take offense that the church is still in need of reform. (Probably more so now than ever before!)

One of the "leaders" of the emerging church what-ever decided that is should be labeled a "conversation" rather than a movement. To be honest, I think the word "conversation" is an excellent term for describing the emerging church what-ever, however I think it is a false dichotomy to have to put "conversation" up against "movement" Both are simply descriptive terms, and being one does not mean the other is negated.

For me personally, the emerging church what-ever is definitely, absolutely, no-doubt-about-it, a MOVEMENT. And what a movement it is! And it's also a conversation, one that is only just beginning.

While the THEODICY blog has always been rather general in terms of the articles posted, in the near future there will be a definite MOVEMENT towards emgering church content. Also, the sister site, will now focus mainly on articles about the emerging church/house church movement.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Test of the capabilities of Blogger

This posting was generated via e-mail.  Blogger gives one the ability to covert an e-mail into a blog posting by simply sending an e-mail to a special blogger address.   If this works, I might have to try this method more often.   It will be interesting to see if I can post pictures via e-mail as well!   Blogger is so cool....


The specter of command cowardice

The following is a commentary that appeared in the Chicago Tribune. There are some very important lessons hear for leaders of all type, not just those in the military...

The specter of command cowardice

By Gregory D. Foster, a West Point graduate, was a decorated infantry company commander in the Vietnam War, serving in the 11th Brigade of the Americal Division, the unit responsible for the My Lai massacre

June 9, 2006

As further details emerge about the alleged massacre by U.S. troops of some two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha, the largely unacknowledged crisis that afflicts U.S. civil-military relations today assumes growing proportions.

To anyone who rightly expects the military to be a model of propriety answerable to the public it serves, it would be a mistake to dismiss this episode as a mere aberration brought on by combat stress or to write it off as the fault of something so nebulous as the fog of war.

It would be no less a mistake to blame the press for unpatriotically reporting the story or "liberal" critics for blowing it out of proportion and overzealously rushing to judgment.

It would even be a mistake simply to blame the troops who perpetrated the massacre--if that is what it was--even though they clearly must be held accountable and brought to justice for their actions.

In the final analysis, blame ultimately belongs on the shoulders of those who wear stars: the generals who, consistent with the supreme canon of their profession, bear final responsibility for all that does or doesn't happen under their command.

Military officers crave command--especially combat command. It is the most deeply ingrained aspirational imperative of their culture. It is what gets them promoted, brings them rewards and decorations, affords them recognition and adulation, gives them tentative hope of someday entering the pantheon of Great Captains, empowers them to dispense unassailable orders to dutifully obedient subordinates, feeds their sense of self-importance and accomplishment, distinguishes successful from unsuccessful careers. But privilege, prestige and prerogative isn't what command is--or ought to be--about. Command is about what justifies conflating it with leadership in the first place: the willingness to assume responsibility.

Recall the movie depiction of Gen. George Patton's rousing World War II speech to his Third Army, when he says: "The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do."

That was then--when knowing what to do, even under extreme duress, was relatively straightforward; when enemies were whom they appeared to be; when Marquis of Queensberry rules tended to govern war's conduct.

This is now--when knowing what to do, even under routine conditions, isn't always obvious; when formally prescribed rules of engagement leave ample room for confusion and interpretation; when it is frequently unclear who is friend or foe, combatant or non-combatant. Yet mistaking the one for the other, under the microscope of media-age transparency, all too often produces instantaneous, strategically deleterious consequences. Precisely for this reason, military troops today must be more disciplined, mature, emotionally stable, morally sound and intellectually astute than ever before.

Unfortunately, these are traits the military fails to nurture or reward adequately. Instead, an unsettlingly pervasive drumbeat of Pattonesque, chest-thumping, rabble-rousing rhetoric about the virtues of "warfighting," "warfighters" and "warriors" fosters a climate far more conducive to intolerant aggression than to the stoic self-discipline that urban warfare in hostile foreign lands demands. This testosterone-laced climate provides tacit, subliminal license for troops to choose the undisciplined moral low road in the face of stress, fear and fatigue. For this, commanders who otherwise could claim to have neither ordered nor condoned heinous acts must assume responsibility.

It is long past time to test whether the military's self-image of the heroic commander is myth or reality.

First, we must confront our own sadly diminished standards of moral courage, exemplified by the half dozen retired generals who, their pensions secure, recently called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. While on active duty, they said nothing publicly, much less tendered their resignations, over the strategic and operational shortcomings of our Iraq folly.

More to the point in reflecting our diminished standards of moral courage is the military's long-standing practice of scapegoating--especially lower ranking enlisted personnel and junior officers--in response to all manner of transgressions and catastrophes. Consider My Lai and Abu Ghraib.

The American public is itself morally suspect if we continue such scapegoating in the Haditha case. What we must demand, and have a right to expect, is that senior general officers stand up to be counted. Here is their script: "I take full responsibility for this execrable act of indiscipline, illegality and immorality; for failing to ensure that the troops under my command were adequately prepared; for creating a climate that inadvertently encouraged such behavior. Accordingly, I hereby relinquish my command and stand ready to face the consequences for my subordinates' actions."

Nothing less should suffice if the military is to be worthy of the public trust reposed in it.

Click here to see the article at the Tribune web site. (login required)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In Memory of D-Day...

While the esoteric types were getting their knickers in a twist about the unfortunate date of 06/06/06 and the coming of the Anti-Christ, we here at Theodicy would like for people to remember the greater significance of the date of June 6th: the anniversary of the invasion of France during WW2, otherwise simply known as "D-Day."

In memory of all those who fought in the Great Second World War, I dedicate this posting of a famous poem originally written by a Candadian serving in France during the First World War:

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(Text of poem from

Domino's pizza vs armor plate

Which do you think would be more resistant to burn-through by an acetylene cutting torch:
A). 1/4" thick armor plate
B). A Domino's Pizza

Well, according to studies done by "Crash" -- the Domino's Pizza is far more difficult to cut through! It is far more heat resistant than standard 1/4" armor plate. Maybe this study needs to be forwarded to our troops in Iraq.