Category Archives: Randomness

Goodbye

facebook-bullet-holeIt’s over.  We are THROUGH!  It’s been fun, but it really isn’t working out anymore.  Yes, it is true – I’m breaking it off.

No, I’m not breaking up with a high school sweetheart.  I’m not severing a troubled friendship.  I’m saying goodbye to something that I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with: Facebook.  This is a personal decision, not one that I encourage others to make without careful and prayerful consideration.  But it is my decision nonetheless.  Over the last few weeks, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the global social empire and its intrusion into my life.

There are both spiritual and nonspiritual reasons for this decision. First, the nonspiritual.  Facebook is greedy for my information.  They want to use my information so that advertisers are able to target me with incredible specificity.  Recently, Facebook asked for permission to use the contact database in my phone and to have unparalleled access to the functions of my phone.  Facebook wanted to be in every aspect of my life.  No. Thank. You.

But there are spiritual reasons as well.  My prayer is that my struggles can encourage you, or at least give you something to think about in terms of your social media use.

I have noticed in my life a dangerous propensity toward pride.  The Lord used Facebook to truly shine a light on it.  I found myself posting and participating in an attempt to make more of myself while I should be making more of Christ.  Pride is when I magnify myself instead of magnifying Jesus.  When the ice bucket challenge was going on.  I found myself motivated to participate, not by compassion, but by pride.  I appears that I wasn’t the only one.  It seems frequently, many people kept trying to use colder water, bigger buckets, more dangerous stunts to “outdo” the person who nominated them.  One guy even posted a video of himself dumping liquid nitrogen over his head!  Keep in mind, I can only judge my own heart and motives, not the motives of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads.  However, in my judgment, I found pride lurking dangerously in the recesses of my heart.

I have also noticed a very critical spirit in my life.  If you know me, you know that our government, politicians, and culture frustrate me greatly.  I have found that social media provides a public forum for me to be super critical with people who are like-minded.  Instead of praying for those in authority over us, we blast them on Facebook and cheer one another on while doing it.  That doesn’t mean that I have become a fan of our politicians, but it does mean that I am trying to learn to pray for them before I level criticism against them.

I have also noticed that Facebook is becoming a place for argumentative people to argue without discernment or discretion.  Keyboards and LCD screens give us a troubling sense of security and invincibility.  Somebody posted publicly on Facebook a few weeks ago a rant against another driver who cut them off on Hwy. 154.  They listed the vehicle description and the tag number in the rant.  Did the poor driver make a mistake? Certainly. But I have a feeling that the complainer wouldn’t have had the same tone in a face-to-face conversation.  I miss the good ol’ days – when you actually had to deal with real people to settle disputes rather than their electronic avatars.

I won’t be deleting my account as it is tied to our church’s Facebook page.  That is still a meaningful way of engaging folks.  But if you need me, feel free to email me, text me, call me, OR actually speak to me in person.  I’m unplugging just a little bit.  It may not work for you, but it is certainly the direction I need to go!

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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The Books I’ve Read

For the last two years, I have been working through the seminar phase of my doctoral program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I am happy to report that I am #ABD (All But Dissertation – not sure the hashtag means anything other than that’s what you do when you use abbreviations and want to be socially acceptable on social media).  This morning, I submitted my last assignments prior to beginning work on my dissertation.  I’ve thought a lot about these last two years.    I am thankful that the seminars have challenged me to read books that I likely wouldn’t have read otherwise.  Though not all of them have been enjoyable, they have all provided much insight into many of the cultural issues we’re facing in our country.  I thought I would share my reading list for the last two years.  Please remember, however, listing them here is not an endorsement of their content.  Proceed at your own risk, particularly with some of the books on the environmental movement.  They come out of “left” field if you know what I mean!  Thanks for all the prayers and support over the last two years!

Jim Ball, Global Warming and the Risen Lord

http://www.amazon.com/Global-Warming-Risen-LORD-Discipleship/dp/B00CP6MPLO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454525&sr=8-2&keywords=global+warming+and+the+risen+lord

Calvin Beisner, Where Garden Meets Wilderness

http://www.amazon.com/Where-Garden-Meets-Wilderness-Environmental/dp/0802844340/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454392&sr=8-4&keywords=calvin+beisner

 

Hendrik Berkhof, Christ and the Powers

http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Powers-Hendrik-Berkhof/dp/0836118200/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453806&sr=8-1&keywords=christ+and+the+powers

 

Robert Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah

http://www.amazon.com/Slouching-Towards-Gomorrah-Liberalism-American/dp/0060573112/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453504&sr=8-1&keywords=robert+bork

 

Edward Brown, Our Father’s World

http://www.amazon.com/Our-Fathers-World-Mobilizing-Creation/dp/0830834842/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454572&sr=8-1&keywords=edward+brown+our+father%27s+world

 

Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class

http://www.amazon.com/The-Ruling-Class-Corrupted-America/dp/0825305586/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453464&sr=8-2&keywords=the+ruling+class

 

John Dickerson, The Great Evangelical Recession

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Evangelical-Recession-The-American/dp/0801014832/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453353&sr=8-1&keywords=great+evangelical+recession

 

Mary Eberstadt, How the West Really Lost God

http://www.amazon.com/How-West-Really-Lost-Secularization/dp/1599473798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453560&sr=8-1&keywords=how+the+west+lost+god

 

Niall Ferguson, The Great Degeneration

http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Degeneration-Institutions-Economies/dp/1594205450/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453413&sr=8-1&keywords=the+great+degeneration

 

Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity

http://www.amazon.com/Politics-American-Religious-Identity-Kathleen/dp/0807855014/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454298&sr=8-1&keywords=kathleen+flake

 

Greg Forster, The Contested Public Square

http://www.amazon.com/The-Contested-Public-Square-Christianity/dp/083082880X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454101&sr=8-1&keywords=the+contested+public+square

 

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible

http://www.amazon.com/Politics-According-Comprehensive-Understanding-Political/dp/0310330297/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454162&sr=8-1&keywords=politics+according+to+the+bible

 

Steven Hayward, Mere Environmentalism

http://www.amazon.com/Mere-Environmentalism-Biblical-Perspective-Capitalism/dp/0844743747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454610&sr=8-1&keywords=steven+hayward+environmentalism

 

Ian Hore-Lacy, Responsible Dominion

http://www.amazon.com/Responsible-Dominion-Christian-Sustainable-Development/dp/1573833428/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454672&sr=8-3&keywords=ian+hore-lacy

 

Jonathan Merritt, Green Like God

http://www.amazon.com/Green-Like-God-Unlocking-Divine-ebook/dp/B00351DSFA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454700&sr=8-1&keywords=green+like+god

 

James Hunter, To Change the World

http://www.amazon.com/To-Change-World-Possibility-Christianity/dp/0199730806/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453661&sr=8-1&keywords=to+change+the+world

 

Charles Murray, Coming Apart

http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Apart-State-America-1960-2010/dp/030745343X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453627&sr=8-1&keywords=coming+apart

 

Robert Nelson, The New Holy Wars

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Holy-Wars-Environmental/dp/027103582X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454435&sr=8-1&keywords=the+new+holy+wars

 

Scott Sabin, Tending to Eden

http://www.amazon.com/Tending-Environmental-Stewardship-People-Paperback/dp/B00DWYT2KA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454747&sr=8-2&keywords=tending+to+eden

 

Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto

http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Manifesto-Francis-A-Schaeffer/dp/1581346921/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453726&sr=8-1&keywords=a+christian+manifesto

 

Matthew Sleeth, The Gospel According to the Earth

http://www.amazon.com/The-Gospel-According-Earth-Green-ebook/dp/B003C2SP4G/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1401455181&sr=8-3&keywords=matthew+sleeth

 

Roy Spencer, The Great Global Warming Blunder

http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Global-Warming-Blunder/dp/1594036020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454482&sr=8-1&keywords=roy+spencer

 

Brendan Sweetman, Why Politics Needs Religion

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Politics-Needs-Religion-Religious/dp/0830828427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454209&sr=8-1&keywords=why+politics+needs+religion

 

Stephen Vantassel, Dominion over Wildlife

http://www.amazon.com/Dominion-over-Wildlife-Environmental-Human-Wildlife/dp/1606083430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454837&sr=8-1&keywords=vantassel+dominion

 

James Wanliss, Resisting the Green Dragon

http://www.amazon.com/Resisting-Green-Dragon-Dominion-Death-ebook/dp/B00A6Z5AWW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454869&sr=8-1&keywords=james+wanliss

 

David Wells, Above All Earthly Powers

http://www.amazon.com/Above-All-Earthly-Powrs-Postmodern/dp/0802824552/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401453695&sr=8-1&keywords=above+all+earthly+powers

 

John Wilsey, One Nation Under God?

http://www.amazon.com/One-Nation-Under-God-Evangelical/dp/1608997928/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401454250&sr=8-1&keywords=john+wilsey

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Frozen Solid – My Critique of Disney’s Smash Hit

Christians are the most outraged people on the face of the planet.  But I’m not completely sure what it means to be outraged anymore.  The latest “outrage” from certain voices in the evangelical community has stemmed from Disney’s hit move, Frozen.   The movie has been accused of being a pro-gay, pro-zoophile, anti-Christian film.  To be fair, Disney has not exactly been openly hostile to the homosexual movement.  And we’ve all seen the “hidden” messages in previous animated Disney films.  But I began to wonder if these criticisms were fair – if indeed our outrage was justified.  So, I entered the realm of Arendelle prepared to join the community of the outraged.

There’s only one problem.  I enjoyed the movie.  I actually enjoyed a Disney princess movie.  You can decide if I need to turn my man card in once you finish reading.

First, answering the criticisms.  Some have accused Frozen of endorsing beastiality.  There is a line in the song Fixer Upper that says:

Sensitive and sweet!

So he’s a bit of a fixer-upper,

So he’s got a few flaws.

Like his peculiar reindeer,

His thing with the reindeer.

That’s a little outside of nature’s laws!

They are referring to the relationship between Kristoff (the male lead) and his pet reindeer (that acts more like a dog than a deer).  Taken out of context, one could certainly understand that the “natural law” issue might communicate something less than wholesome about their relationship.  However, in the context of the movie, Kristoff frequently speaks to (and for) his pet and frequently shares food with the pet – not to mention that he treats the deer like a dog.  There’s never anything more than that.  The very idea of natural law is also a concept that cultural libertines avoid.  It is certainly something that advocates for homosexuality find abrasive.  I think we are probably being a bit too sensitive – and we may be just a tad guilty of ignoring context.  That’s something we get irritable about when the world does it with our message.

In another scene, the “pro-gay” criticism is brought out.  As Princess Anna interacts with a clerk at a general store (and sauna), the clerk points to the sauna and says “Hello family.”  Though the clip lasts for only a couple of seconds, it appears that there is a man with children through the glass.  Is this a gay family?  We actually don’t know because there is no context to the scene.  The only way to know is to ask the writers.  What I do know is that the clerk is portrayed as a highly effeminate man – at least in his vocalizations and mannerisms.  If anybody should be upset at Disney, perhaps it should be gay activists.  After all, IF Disney intended this to be a gay family, they portrayed a gay male in a very stereotypical light that is assuredly offensive to those who live in that lifestyle.

The bottom line for Disney is first and foremost the bottom line.  Disney wants to make money.  They’ve definitely accomplished that task with Frozen, taking more than a billion dollars to the bank.  Are they also in the business of influencing culture?  There is no denying that fact either.  However, Christians should be careful before they express their “outrage” too vocally.  Disney is not a Christian company.  They do not make films that express Christian theology.  Frozen makes no claim to be a movie about biblical principles.  Parents who are expecting biblical values from a children’s film produced by a secular company that has been known to buddy up to certain less-than-desirable cultural trends should not be outraged to find that the film teaches morality without theology.  What did you expect?

However, parents who wish to use the message from Frozen to teach their children biblical values will find plenty of fodder for good conversation.  Frozen certainly underscores the importance of family.  Frozen teaches about the seriousness of marriage.  As Princess Anna makes the decision to flippantly marry someone after a day-long courtship, she is chastised for it throughout the film.  The true villain in the film (spoiler alert) actually ends up being the object of Anna’s initial infatuation.  And unlike most Disney princess movies, the “true love” of the film is not the sappy, romantic kind.  It isn’t a kiss between starstruck lovers that breaks all the curses.  It is the self-sacrifice of Princess Anna that breaks the curse of Queen Elsa’s eternal winter.  While Disney doesn’t quote John 3:16 at the moment of sacrifice, a discerning Christian parent can certainly make the theological leap to talk about Jesus’ self-sacrifice that breaks the curse of sin.  While true love in many of Disney’s princess flicks is about eros, romantic love.  The love in Frozen is as close to unconditional agape love that you could find in a secular, animated film.

Some of the latest criticism of Frozen has been the meaning of Queen Elsa’s power ballad, Let It Go.  This song is everywhere.  There are dozens of different YouTube covers on the song.  Many have noted the song’s dark lyrics.  In the song, Elsa finally embraces her icy magic, creating for herself a wintery paradise free from the influence of others.  She’s free to be her own person and do her own thing.  Much of this seems to be in rebellion against her parents who inappropriately handle Elsa’s icy gift in childhood.  She proclaims, “No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!”  These are alarming words, but they’re also proven dead wrong in the film.  Not just misguided, but downright wrong.  At this point in the movie, Elsa is the antagonist.  And she sings the song of an antagonist.  But there is right and wrong.  Elsa does have responsibility and culpability.  The storm she sings about raging inside of her is the great conflict of the story.  Elsa has to deal with that storm.  And retreating into isolation – into perceived liberation – only exasperates the problem.  Again, Elsa’s liberation makes matters worse – it is Anna’s self-sacrifice that ultimately frees Elsa from her bondage.  Certainly, It is not bundled up in a neat theological package for parents, but we should not expect it from a secular film.

Again, Let it Go, out of context is about dangerous individualism.  But in context, it is the song of an antagonist.  It is no different than Gaston’s self-absorbed rant in Beauty and the Beast or Scar singing Be Prepared in the Lion King.  Again, by themselves, antagonists’ songs are dangerous.  In context, they are almost always proven to be wrong.  If Disney is guilty of anything, they are guilty of making a villain’s song with very beautiful melody and having a Broadway caliber vocalist perform it.  Parents who find their children singing Let it Go (or any other antagonist’s song) should be quick to point out the moral failures of the antagonist and draw in appropriate biblical teaching to correct false perceptions and instruct in the truth.  But it is the parent’s job to do that teaching, not Disney’s.

Parents should exercise discernment in any kind of entertainment choices they make for their children.  Instead of letting the screen babysit the kids, Christian parents can train children to engage their culture by engaging in real conversation about appropriate movies and television choices.  Instead of skewering Disney for what we perceive to be shortcomings in the film, we should thank them for releasing a film that is pro-family and demonstrates that love can be much more than just an epic kiss between the prince and the princess.

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