Archive for November, 2006

op-ed

OK, so we have this free daily paper that comes out in Boston called the Boston Metro. Its primary readership is the young (18-34), urban students and professionals, and its staff reflects that demographic as well. As you might imagine in a city like Boston, some of the opinions expressed on the opinion page are, well, interesting. For the most part, I dismiss the “interesting” ones and move on with my life.

But this one really got to me for some reason, likely because of my own experience and the experiences of many friends through the years. Below is a letter I wrote to the Metro in response, printed a few days after the column appeared.

A healthy dialogue about sexuality is needed in our country, but I vehemently disagree with Suzanne Reisman’s stance that pornography is what will get us there (“Porn: It Just Might Cure What Ails Us,” Nov. 16). My reasons are manifold, but I’ll list three here for the sake of time and space.

First, porn is a counterfeit. It’s a stage show. It is to sex what O’Doul’s is to beer. It’s scripted. Every sound is exaggerated and magnified, every angle perfected, every curve airbrushed. One minute a guy is cleaning a woman’s air ducts, the next they are showering together. This is never how it happens. It looks and sounds like sex, but it’s not sex &emdash; at least not the sex I want to be promoted in our society (for reasons I’ll address in my third point). Pornography is and will continue to be a means to quick sexual release &emdash; not to mention a $10 billion-plus dollar industry &emdash; not an advocacy campaign for positive sexual dialogue. To argue for such a thing is simply ludicrous.

My second reason is connected to the first: It creates unrealistic expectations. Men who view porn enter long-term relationships (including marriage) with expectations that their significant other simply cannot meet. Ninety-nine percent of women simply are not Jenna Jameson, will not do the things she does in the bedroom, and should not be expected to do so. If anything objectifies women (which I also oppose vehemently), it’s the expectations that porn-saturated partners bring into a relationship.

My final &emdash; and most important &emdash; point about why porn is destructive is this: It treats sex as if it means nothing. Contrary to Reisman’s opinion, it actually devalues sex rather than elevating it in society. It doesn’t create healthy dialogue at all, but instead establishes distorted social norms. Porn declares that any person with whom you come in contact at any point of the day or night is a potential sexual partner. Porn declares that people can have sex and then walk away as if no connection occurred &emdash; “casual sex.” Porn declares that sexual chemistry &emdash; not unconditional love &emdash; is the real meaning of human interaction. These assumptions are not only dead wrong, they are potentially fatal if taken to heart. Porn is sexuality’s “lowest common denominator” &emdash; does a concept’s lowest manifestation need to be its shining model?

Advertisements

gobble gobble

Well, we’re about done for the day stuffing our faces. A few reflections on Thanksgiving 2006:

&emdash; Both sides of the family ate around the same table (well, one full-sized dining room table and a card table…Chrissy’s got a big family!). I was reminded again how blessed we are to have families that not only get along, but actually enjoy spending time together! After talking to other married couples, we consider this to be a luxury.

&emdash; My dad had some great words before we ate this afternoon. He said that most everyone is keen on the concept of “thanksgiving” around this time of year, but few actually mention whom we are thanking. You hear people mentioning what they are thankful for, but don’t “thanks” necessitate a receiver of those thanks? To whom (or what) are people thankful, if not God?

&emdash; I go into the Thanksgiving meal with a plan, which is simple: Eat at least two full plates of food before my body realizes it’s full and can relay that message to my brain. Food is indeed a joyous part of life. We could have been created to refuel in some mundane manner, like soaking up sunlight or injecting liquids. But instead, God created such a diverse cornucopia of foods, that — combined with God-given human ingenuity — come out tasting incredible. So on this “food day” of all food days, here’s to God for creating food!

&emdash; And finally, Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate that first Thanksgiving, and specifically those exciting and perfect early days of the “New World,” America. A land begun in a spirit of peace, cooperation, and a truly humble frontier spirit. Where Indians welcomed Pilgrims with open arms, sharing farming and hunting secrets, willingly giving them some of their land, and soaking up the Pilgrims’ Christian faith to become a more civilized people. It certainly was a peaceful, storybook beginning, worthy of a huge Indian-Pilgrim pot-luck meal. At least that’s what I was taught. 🙂

That’s all on this Thanksgiving, Americans’ favorite holiday. Up next is Americans’ next favorite holiday, Black Friday.

View the continued conversation with Drunkentune and Soulster (two of the posters in this dialogue a few months ago) at the site philaletheia.com. The blog is an Atheist/Christian dialogue, but admittedly not for the timid, or stock answers.

————————————————

Here’s a question that has [not really] kept me up at night:

Was Jesus rich?

Using this theology, Kelly can now buy the Bentley she’s always wanted.

——————————-

We watched a great movie Sunday night called Akeelah and the Bee. It was kind of Rudy meets Karate Kid meets Spellbound. It’s one of those films you would likely walk past in Blockbuster, but don’t. It’s inspirational, meaningful, triumphant, and funny in so many ways.

———————————————

One more thing … yesterday, Chrissy and I were walking downtown and wandered upon a political rally at the State House. We certainly weren’t there on purpose, but we found ourselves standing with a crowd of homosexual activists. Across from us were a bunch of proponents of “traditional marriage” yelling things like “Wait till you face God!” over our way. I definitely felt more comfortable standing where we were. I snapped quite a few photos, which you can see here.

(this rally was case-in-point why Houston was exactly right in the comments of the last post: Our democracy often awards those who yell the loudest.)

biblical government

flag on stage.jpgThe <a href = “http://www.sojo.net&#8221;sojourners post-midterm election e-mail alert subject lines read as follows:

“A Defeat for Religious Right and Secular Left”
“A Time for Change!”
“This was a Moral Values Election”

For a “non-partisan” Christian organization, these statements certainly appear to be on the celebratory side…

Ahhh, politics. I must say, despite my exploration of non-participation movements within Christianity, I did vote on November 7 and I did watch about 7 hours of MSNBC election coverage that night (Chris Mathews should run for office, no?). The circus of politics intrigues me. Sue me.

But like I have said in past posts and in other circles, I am moving more and more from the left side (or even the “Christian left” that sojourners has popularized) of the political spectrum out of the spectrum completely. We have quite a precedent in Christianity for believers submitting to their political authorities, but abstaining the rest of the way from involvement in the political process or in the military. The point being, of course, that God is our king, and we are citizens of a different kingdom (and kingdoms of this world are not the kingdom of God, and may even be corrupt systems).

Wolfgang Simson, author of Houses that Change the World, would agree, I think. He categorized the four main forms of government acknowledged by the Bible:

The Bible knows four different forms of government. In order of their preference they are

1. God is King. Before this ever happened, the idea is democratically rejected by the people of Israel in favor of a King “like all nations around us”.

2. A good King (like David)

3. A bad King (like Ahab or Nebuchadnezzar)

4. Democracy, possibly the worst form of governement according to the Bible. This is where no one really rules; the people are in control of themselves &emdash; for an extremely high price: inbuilt mediocracy, constant compromise and enslaved to one’s own strong opinions and ever opinionated leaders. This ushers in the empire of ever changing political opinions, opportunists and their esoteric political concepts, and the constant discussing, fighting and polite bickering that some call “the political process” ultimately leads to a preprogrammed ungoverneability. And this, in turn, makes room for a mammon and media-driven climate that “makes the world go round”. Does this sound like freedom to you?

We put so much stock in our government, and specifically in our liberal democracy, that we are bent on spreading around the world. When we as followers of Jesus begin to put our hope in the political structures of this Earth, we would do well to remember that the biblical (and historical) precedent for governments “of, by, and for the people” doesn’t usually end up too well.

(Thanks to Taylor and Miller for getting my wheels turning for this post)

scripture

bible.jpg

I wonder if scripture is most formative when a community — not individuals in their “quiet times” — chew on and wrestle with the stories of God together? I dunno … sitting down alone with my Bible trying to hear from the Lord often seems so counter-intuitive to me, but sitting down with a group of trusted brothers and sisters with a passage and the Holy Spirit among us — now that’s powerful.

Am I correct in thinking that the “personal Bible study” idea would have been foreign to the ancient church? Wouldn’t most of the scriptural studies have been done in the larger community (with a formal reader, etc.)? How has the over-production and distribution of the Bible affected — positively/negatively — our view, absorption, and following of God’s word? Has it?

12 of 14 – Chrissy Style

Steve is tied-up and gagged in the bathroom. I’ve taken over his computer and our website. Things have gotten so serious here lately! 🙂

So, this is a great opportunity for me to share my day through 12 of 14. In the following 12 pictures you will experience my 14th day of November. Thanks for the idea Kelly!

Oh, and this is my first time posting, so hopefully everything will come out okay. Here goes…

Chrissy Day 1.jpg

6:45 a.m. – Every morning I begin my day taking Damon to the park to “go potty.”

Chrissy Day 2.jpg

7:25 a.m. – Breakfast with Steve courtesy of Trader Joe’s, a low-cost health food store.

Chrissy Day 3.jpg

7:40 a.m. – Steve gives Damon kisses before leaving for work. Yes, we treat our dog like a child.

Chrissy Day 4.jpg

9:15 a.m. – Just before class outside my school. I was on my way to accounting.

Chrissy Day 5.jpg

1:00 p.m. – My Filipino classmate, Carla, and me at a business luncheon. The topic was selling yourself, but the speaker never came. Ha ha.

Chrissy Day 7.jpg

3:30 p.m. – Interesting read in Proverbs about poverty.

Chrissy Day Newspaper.jpg

5:20 p.m. – Great conversation in my Nonprofit Revenue Strategies class about philanthropic trends. I presented on Bono…come back to harvestboston in a few days for more from me about the conversation.

Chrissy Day 8.jpg

6:55 p.m. – My walk from class to the T. Not too shabby. Note: It’s not usually this blurry.

Chrissy Day 9.jpg

7:15 p.m. – Home sweet home. Nothing like Steve and Damon greeting me after a long day. Note: Damon not pictured.

Chrissy Day 10.jpg

7:30 p.m. – Steve and I cooking together…my favorite time of day!

Chrissy Day 11.jpg

7:45 p.m. – Tuna melts…one of my family’s favorite meals. Complete tonight with New England apple cider.

Chrissy Day Bonus.jpg

7:47 p.m. – The tuna melts were so yummy they got two pictures. Plus Steve went “journalist” and took an awesome shot.

Whew! I made in through. Hope you guys enjoyed 12 of 14 – Chrissy style. Steve has been wanting me to post for a long time now. I might suprise you and return every now and then to offer my thoughts on our journey in Boston.

Ciao!

various issues surrounding faith and justice

dsc_5012.jpgChrissy and I have been blessed (and honored!) to be a part of the core leadership team for the Boston Faith + Justice Network (we should have a new site up shortly … I’m redesigning using a wordpress format). Basically, the short story of how the BFJN came to be is this: Several area young Christians came together (rather organically, really) and agreed that “social justice” was not being addressed — let alone practiced — in many “evangelical” churches. So the last year and a half or so has been a time of discovery for that original group, which has grown to over 400 young Christians in the Boston area, and we are currently trying to figure out what our role is in the city.

The last two leadership meetings have been especially thought-provoking and challenging. Last Sunday, the thirteen on the leadership team came together for what we thought would be a “normal” business meeting. When it was over, however, many had shared their hearts in deep and profound ways, regarding their personal hopes and dreams for the church, their spiritual walk, and the BFJN. Toward the beginning of the meeting, I shared a part of Chapter 1 of N.T. Wright’s latest masterpiece, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, in which Wright makes the point that Christians are concerned about issues of justice because God is at work “setting the world to rights.”

We then went around and shared the name of our current church community (my favorite question…) and something we like about our church’s participation in issues of justice. That 45-minute activity genuinely surprised me: 6 of 13 were either not currently involved in a traditional church community or were strongly dissatisfied with their community. In fact, one couple said that they felt as if their big Sunday assemblies were becoming less and less relevant to their lives, and they felt the most profound life transformation was happening in their small group (a statement I’ve heard over and over and over again in recent years…). I thought that was quite a statement about what young, passionate Christians are interested in.

We then began to talk about who the BFJN needs to be in the Boston community. Several people mentioned that we need to be a prophetic voice to a church that has forgotten about living just lives. I and a few others raised the disturbing question, however, that we might never have a credible prophetic voice if we ourselves are not first broken and begin living lives centered on the ways of God and his work in the world. This sort of silenced the talk about political and religious activism, instead turning the microscope inward. We began to talk about how we might covenant with each other to live in a more just, more God-centered way, and I’m excited about continuing this exploration. I thought this was a positive direction.

The other night, I met with a few other BFJN leaders regarding “church education,” which is the term we are using to describe our discussions of justice in the area churches. We were trying to put our finger on exactly what our message to Christians needs to be. Again, a strong sentiment in the group was that a deep theology must undergird anything we hope to communicate or live out in Boston. I shared a definition of education that I heard recently: “to draw out of someone that which lies inactive or dormant.” In a way, I suggested, isn’t our job as the “church education” team of the BFJN to teach people to connect with their Creator, listening to His leading in areas of faith and justice (as opposed to current manifestations of education that see the “students” as blank slates, ready to catch an endless spewing of information from a “teacher”)?

I feel like the BFJN conversation is moving in a positive direction, from a political activism position to a posture where we seek for ourselves lives that are more centered on our Creator and his work in the world. What suggestions would you have for the BFJN?