In my previous blog post I shared a sentiment that there’s nothing inherently bad about Black Friday. And I stand by my conclusions for families that bond over shopping experiences, and are financially responsible in finding the best deals for which they can use to bless their loved ones with holiday gifts. However, for those of us who are grateful we don’t have to leave the comfort of our homes on Thanksgiving and bargain hunt until tomorrow, it’s the Puritans to which we should be thankful.
Maine is one of just 3 states that have preserved Thanksgiving Day from the onslaught of Black Friday consumerism. It’s no coincidence that the other 2 states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are both also New England states. “Why”, you ask? Because the reason major retail and grocery stores remain closed on Thanksgiving is a remnant from the New England-based Puritan-inspired “Blue Laws”.
Zombies are all the rage right now in entertainment. I am not immune to the draw of the zombie-pocalypse storylines as I count myself a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. But as I have been consumed by stories of human survival against impossible odds these past 3+ seasons now, there’s one thought I can’t get out of my head. Without God, we are “The Walking Dead” — allow me to explain.
I typically write about more general topics related to the Christian faith, and my personal faith journey. This time, though, I’d like to use this blog to discuss the passing of a man who changed the landscape of American church. And while he called California his home, his legacy is felt in Maine, and will continue to impact lives here for many years to come.
I sat down at my computer Thursday morning and was met with the news that Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel church movement in the mid-1960′s, had died. But Pastor Chuck Smith did not die, he moved. In 1994, those were his words…
As a Christian, when by God’s grace you have a successful business serving the public, I don’t know if it is wise to pick and choose who He places in your path to serve. Within reason, we are called to serve all people in love- especially those we may consider the “least of these”. Even those who we see as in opposition to us, we are told to “overcome them with good”.
I recently shared an article on my Facebook wall about Christian bakers in Oregon who “were forced to close their doors after not baking a cake for a lesbian couple.” This post created quite the debate on how a “true” Christian should respond.
I’m a tad late on the uptake of this one, but the following quote was uttered by Marcus Mumford- the 26-year-old lead singer of Mumford & Sons- in the April edition of Rolling Stone:
“I don’t really like that word. It comes with so much baggage. So, no, I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. … I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”
As a blogger who attempts to write about how Christianity can and should relate to culture, his final phrase caught my eye. Is it Jesus [and His claims] that Marcus has a problem with, or is his issue with what he perceives as the “culture of Christianity”?
Easter, the common name for the holiday marking Jesus Christ’s return from the dead, represents Christianity’s trump card- the unique claim to eternal life. All other world religions have had human founders that lived, then died. Their lives may have had meaning but ultimately their death meant nothing. In Christianity, Jesus Christ’s death meant EVERYTHING. It meant everything because by first-person historical accounts it was a death that lasted only a few days.
No other world religion has first-person historical accounts of their leader coming back to life. Why? For one simple reason- they all died and stayed dead and their bodies remain in the ground today. Jesus, on the other hand, left the tomb in which he was buried- and continues to live eternally today. This historical occurrence is what Easter Sunday, otherwise known as Resurrection Sunday, commemorates- not bunnies, baskets, or egg hunts.
I am a born-again Christian who attends a non-denominational Protestant church. At first thought you might think the election of a new Pope should not matter to me, or that I might even scoff at Catholic claims of papal authority and the whole black smoke/white smoke conclave theatrics. However, a major characteristic (and dare I say “admirable quality”) Catholics have in their ranks is organizational unity (for the most part) of their 1.2 billion adherents worldwide. In contrast, under the Protestant umbrella which approximately 840 million subscribe to some flavor or another, there are more denominations than you can shake a stick at.
At the top of this organizational unity within Roman Catholicism is of course the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. Since Pope Benedict announced his historic resignation, I have immersed myself in researching Catholic beliefs and theology out of mere curiosity and intrigue. As an adult convert to Christianity, everything is still relatively new to me so I just try to soak it all in with an open mind.
Recently I was perusing CNN.com when a certain article, linked only about half way down the front page, caught my eye. The article was a community-submitted blog post called “Why I Raise My Children Without God”, and as someone who blogs about Christian perspectives I could not resist reading this mother’s take on things. I must admit I immediately felt an inner grieving of the Holy Spirit for her and almost clicked away after the first paragraph. However, I forged ahead and read through the whole article wincing with every sentence.
After finishing the article I sat in utter disbelief of this mother’s utter disbelief, and pondered what to do next. Should I just put it out of my mind and let her charges against God go unanswered, joining the large chorus of atheism becoming ever more prevalent in our fallen society?
Then I read it again…
The year begins with big ideas and lofty goals. Then without notice hours turn to days, days to weeks, and weeks to months until suddenly we are back where we started- at January 1st again- with not much accomplished. Life seems so temporal- because it is.
So what can we do about the fact that life passes us by and we only seem to spin our wheels? The answer, though it doesn’t seem intuitive, is to slow down.
Unplug. Read. Reflect. Pray. Prioritize.
Late last month Angus T. Jones, the child star who plays the character “Jake” on the CBS “hit” show “Two and a Half Men”, became embroiled in a controversy when a YouTube video of him calling the show “filth” went viral. A large part of the attraction of this story is that these comments are a direct result of Jones’ recent conversion to the Christian faith. Despite this story’s convergence with two of this blog’s topics- entertainment and Christianity- I have initially refrained from writing about it.
The show’s co-star Ashton Kutcher has now weighed in, saying he wants Jones fired immediately, and calling him a “spoiled brat”- a rather ironic epithet coming from Kutcher for sure. As more time has passed to let the story play out, and in light of this recent criticism from Kutcher being made public, I feel the desire to opine why Jones’ comments were unavoidable given his recent life change.