Thursday, October 30, 2008

Great Post on Church & Politics

I love this blog post by John Voelz on why his church doesn't get involved with politics. I couldn't make the case any better!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Give Me Your Eyes

Saw this video on Great song!

Brandon Heath - Give Me Your Eyes from Brandon Heath on Vimeo.

The End of the Culture War?

I was listening to my NPR Religion podcast (see my last post) and it included a story about a survey done by Faith in Public Life. The NPR story focused on the differences this study revealed between older Christians and younger Christians on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage in relation to the upcoming election. The study found that more than half of young evangelicals favored civil unions or marriages for same-sex couples, while most older evangelicals were opposed to such unions. 60% of young Catholics said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In describing these results, one researcher said of the younger Christian generation, "This is not the culture war generation."

Or perhaps what we are witnessing is a change in the battlefront. When asked to identify the most important issues of the 2008 election, evangelicals identified the economy (78%), terrorism (76%), energy/gas (74%), Iraq (67%), and health care (61%) as issues in this year's election. Abortion was identified as an issue by 57% of respondents, almost tied with poverty at 56%. Same-sex marriage (49%) finished ahead of only the environment (44%) at the bottom of the list. In younger respondents, abortion was an important for 62%, while same-sex unions were an important issue for only 44%.

Abortion and homosexuality have long been at the forefront of the "culture war". When I look at these survey results, I wonder if the "culture war" is moving to the battles that are being fought in our own backyard. There are probably a good number of evangelicals who do not confront issues involving homosexuality or abortion on a regular basis. However, many people are dealing with medical bills, putting gas in the car, and keeping their job everyday. Since 9/11, I think a lot more people have had their eyes opened to the "If if could happen there ..." type thoughts. Could it be that Christians in general, and younger Christians in particular, are becoming more concerned with the issues that they are more likely to face in the immediate today and tomorrow? Maybe it is not so much that this is not a "culture war generation"; instead, this is a generation redefining what the culture war is being fought over.

I have never been comfortable with the "culture war" concept, especially in connection with political elections. Do I believe that my faith impacts and guides how I vote? Certainly. However, I think the church made the mistake of giving up its own voice on societal issues by trying to get government to make changes it wanted made. Righteousness and holiness have never been issues that could be legislated; they are only brought about by changed hearts and spirit-filled minds. That is not the realm of politics and government; that is the realm of faith. I am sure that some folks are going to read these statistics and bemoan that Christians are compromising their values. I am more concerned that we too quickly compromised our identity and role as the body of Christ in order to become political action groups.

When I look at these statistics, what I see is a desire to change the world rather than fight a war. It is a shame that the word "change" has become so politicized. Because I think the only change that will last will come not from whoever is our next President but from Christians fulfilling their call as disciples and seeking the provision and grace of God for themselves and for our world. Perhaps the culture war is now moving from a war against the culture of the world to a resistance against what the culture of Christianity had been.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Podcasts I am Listening To

Thought I would take a selfish moment to share what podcasts I am currently subscribed to. Somebody else may enjoy listening to these as well. Feel free to post comments with other suggestions.

1) PTI - ESPN's Pardon the Interruption is the best sports news show, period. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon mix the right blend of humor and smarts to comment on the sports news of the day. I was bummed a couple of years ago when ESPN stopped reairing the show later at night when it was more convenient in my schedule to watch. That is why I was so pumped to be able to get it in podcast format.

2) ACC Nation - Check out It is a great blog about ACC sports. They record a radio broadcast twice a week, Monday nights and Wednesday nights, discussing all the different games and issues in the ACC. These guys can get a little sophomorish, but otherwise it is a great podcast with great interviews of ACC broadcasters, writers, announcers, coaches, and players.

3) The Dave Ramsey Show - I just got turned on to Dave Ramsey after one of my church members loaned me "The Total Money Makeover". I really appreciate the financial advice that Ramsey gives in the book, and his daily radio show builds on those same concepts. The podcast is not the whole radio show, but you get a good taste of the program in the 35-45 minute podcast.

4) Marketplace - This American Public Media financial program was one I subscribed to because (quite honestly) I liked the sound of the host. However, whenever I listen to, I always feel like I understand more about our nation's economy than I did before. That is important, especially in recent months.

5) NPR Religion & NPR Technology - these two podcasts are collections of stories from NPR's various shows. The technology one is OK, but the religion one is much more interesting.

6) Buzz Out Loud - This production of C/Net quickly became one of my favorites. The daily podcast is commentary on news in the world of technology. That may sound boring, but these guys (and gals) bring a whole lot of life and fun to it while also bringing some great commentary on issues like copyright law, fair use, and the role of technology in everyday life.

7) This Week in Tech - If you remember TechTV, you know who Leo Laporte. I used to love watching "The Screen Savers" and "Call for Help" with Leo. I have missed Leo ever since the demise of TechTV, but I am ecstatic to find him again at TWIT, the online broadcast network Laporte started. This podcast is recorded on Sundays and provides commentary on all the tech stories of the week. Is a little more hardcore tech that Buzz Out Loud at times, but enjoyable nonetheless.

8) The Bugle - If you watch "The Daily Show", you know who John Oliver is. The Bugle is The Daily Show made in Britain and without the pictures. It is definitely PG-13 in content, but always finds a way to produce a good laugh or two for me.

9) First Baptist Church of Elon - Some may say this is narcissistic. I say I am just making sure that the download works each week.

I am still looking for some good religion podcasts. I used to be subscribed to public radio's "Speaking of Faith", but they started doing a lot of rebroadcasts, and so I unsubscribed. Any suggestions would be appreciated!