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How to Save Money on Church Renovations

Check out this Lego Church. I humbly submit Legos as the building material of choice.

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The Old Orchard Confession

Ok here is an idea.

Over the years, I have always thought that there needs to be a new confession of faith. In particular, one that spoke to the modern situation. This is not to say that current confessions like Westminster are inadequate, they are not. It is to say, that there is always room to reword, reorganize, rethink things afresh.

But maybe this time around things could be accomplished in a different manner. Enter (no, no website yet exists). A wiki that is set up offer collaborative accomplishment of the task. Instead of hundreds of pastors crowding church halls, what about mutiple lay people from around the world, all with some level of access to the wiki? Or maybe just from our own midwestern region? A regional confession could definitely be of value.

Such confession would provide the answers of Christianity to modern questions. Plus, using the wiki format it is not a document that has to be finished “now”. It could take years (decades?) to complete, and that would be ok. And maybe it would address more than the usual topics. Maybe it would address marriage, children, family, work, play, etc.

I realize it is a proposal that would take a lot of work. In particular, a lot of organization at first.

Maybe confession is the wrong word for what I propose. Anyway, it is just a thought.

Who’s interested?

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The Rise of the Infoglutarian and the Future

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
I’ve seen the whole world six times over
Sea of Japan to the Cliffs of Dover
I’ve seen the whole world six times over
Sea of Japan to the Cliffs of Dover
Over my dead body
Over me
Over you
Over everybody

This song, Too Much Information, by the Police, was written 24 years ago. What could Mr. Sting now say with the revolution of the Internet and the rise of the Infoglutarian? The lyrics should probably be sung at the speed of an old 78rpm record if not faster.

Like it or not, most of us who write or read blogs are infoglutarians. We “eat” information on a regular basis and our appetites are insatiable.

There is a lot to say about the Infoglutarian. We can talk about the accelerating growth of information over the last two hundred years. We can talk about the burn out professional bloggers, TV anchors, and radio personalities have faced. Many have succumbed to info depression. Some have left their respective fields all together because they could not “keep up” with the daily information stress. We can talk about how to practically handle, aggregate, dispense, and consume information.

There is so much here, that a book could be written. Speaking of books, does anyone know if Dr. Winter’s book on boredom makes a connection between the information glut and personal boredom? Anyone know of other books that address this topic?

What does the future hold for the Infoglutarian? I recently read an article about the participatory Panopticon. In brief, with the emergence of mobile camera phones and imminent emergence of such cameras in glasses or embedded in our skin, everything can and will be recorded. I’m overwhelemed thinking about the idea.

Your thoughts? And does anyone want to help write a book? 🙂

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Own A Piece of The World

Off the coast of Dubai, a new development is being started. 300 mini-islands arranged in the shape of the seven continents.

I just made a posting faux pas. I forgot the source which pointed me to this link.


Further Thoughts on the PCA Public School Resolution

As I continued to think about this resolution, the more certain things bothered me. Though this resolution was more about the state of public schools than advocating Christian schools, it is a near cousin to the “only” kind of thinking that tends to dominate some non-essential issues within Christiandom. It is this “only” kind of thinking about non-essential issues that worries me more than this resolution.

In the case of schooling, “only” kind of thinking perpetuates itself in a few forms. Here I want to address “Christian Schools Only”, or “Homeschool Only”, kind of thinking. Keep in mind the issue is not with these forms of education in general. I have no problem with Christian schools or home schoolers. My problem is with those who hold them as “only” kind of options.

There are three additional arguments that could be made against this “only” kind of thinking.

The economic argument

The Gospel and the ability to live a Christian life is free. Every man and woman, no matter their life circumstances or financial ability can live the Christian life. Making the argument that Christian schools are the only legitimate form of education a Christian should consider for their children is contrary to this notion. It attaches a fixed financial cost to Christian discipleship.

Does not Christ ask us to sometimes/often give up certain financial means for His sake? Absolutely. The young rich ruler is a prime example. The biblical tithe is another. These costs are relative however. Giving up all your possessions is relative to your life situation. Bill Gates giving up everything is a multi-billion dollar cost. Wheras if I gave up everything I owned when I graduated college, we are just talking about a big pile of books, a few tools, a pillow and a comforter. The cost is relative. The biblical tithe is relative (if indeed one holds to a biblical tithe). 10% to me, is not the same as 10% for Mr. Gates. The cost for a Christian school though is fixed. If I walk into a popular Christian school here in town, the cost for me and for everyone is $5000.00. Yes there are scholarships, but there are not scholarships for everyone.

Given that no matter our life situation or finanicial ability, we can still follow Christ, requiring, even recommending that Christians should “only” consider Christian schools is contrary to the very nature of following Christ. Unless then, I am of certain financial means, I will not be able to meet that principle of Christian discipleship.

Homeschool “only” kind of thinking runs into a similar problem. Though it is not an economic one. Yes there is a cost involved in purchasing materials, but it is not as much as a private or christian school. The problem here is the education of the parents. It does take a certain level of education on the part of parents in order to undertake educating your own children. When I think of all the people I know who homeschool, they are all college educated. I would love to find a survey or study that discussed this.

I spent 5 years working for a ministry that served the poor. Some of the women we served barely knew how to cook. Those who knew how to cook were just beginning to grasp the concept of serving healthy meals to their children. I can’t imagine these women embarking on homeschooling. The people I know who homeschool, even the most savvy and talented of them, talk of the immense amount of energy it takes. These women I am talking about are far away from developing that kind of perseverance and fortitude. The homeschool “only” argument can not be held for all people, in all circumstances.

This leads me to the second argument. The classist one.

The Christian School “only” and Homeschool “only” positions are classit. That is, they are guily of classcism. They are born, more or less, out of some form of a upper middle class suburban (possibly even isolationist) worldview. It would behoove people holding such positions to spend time with people of all classes and see if their positions still hold.

All educational systems by their very nature are a respecter of men. The Christian School “only” postion is a respecter of men by their financial ability. The Homeschool “only” position is a respecter of men by their ability to teach/facilitate and/or educational level. The public and private school system is a respecter of men as well. Private schools, again, because of one’s finanical ability. Public schools because they reveal one’s socio-economic status. We didn’t live long in Saint Louis before someone came along and asked “What high school did you go too?” The answer to the question could reveal one’s religion, financial ability and socio-economic status.

God, however, is no respecter of men. Holding a Christian School “only” or Homeschool “only” position, puts one in a tenuous position with the Creator.

Is there a way around this? First, I suppose, is a change of attitude. Second, would be relinguishing “only” type of positions in regards to schooling. Thirdly, offer Christian education for free or minimal cost (as in only pay for books).

The resolution made before the PCA General Assembly would have had more power, more substance, if in fact Christian education were free. How could one then argue with it? Comparing a free dysfunctional secular system to a free Christian based system (given it was not dysfunctional either) is a no brainer.

How could Christian Education be offered for free? It would take a large shift in attitude both within churches and in general the culture at large. We are in many ways bound by the economic model of our country and world. We “sell” services. In this case, Christian education is the service being sold. For Christian Education to be free, would require the pooling of church economic resources in such a way that really has not been practiced often. It would have to be a
model very similar to communal living, such as represented in the Book of Acts, or lived out in communities such as Jesus People USA . The problem is, I don’t see mainly suburban people, choosing to live in close proximity to each other, if not, with each other, pooling resources such as money, food, and shelter, and providing a free Christian education to the children of the members of their church. In this model, teachers, if they were part of the community, would not have to be paid much. Formal teachers would not be necessary even, it could function as a group home school. However, the next step for such a model, would not only be offering this education for free to church members, but free to all members of the community where the church was located. If Christian education is going to compete directly with the public schools, and for it to be truly equitable, it has to be free. Radical indeed. Given the economic model of our culture, this would be difficult for most people. THIS would be sacrifice indeed.

The third argument is the one of conscience.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has a motto: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” The issue of schooling falls into the non-essentials category. Christian School “only” and Homeschool “only” positions bind people’s consciences beyond that which is permissible by Scripture.

I will leave this third point as it is, since fleshing it out requires more time than I have at the moment.

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PCA General Assembly: Pull Kids from Public School?

Well, this should rankle a few feathers. It rankles mine. A resolution is being brought before the PCA General Assembly that “encourages all her officers and members to remove their children from the public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God and the good of Christ’s church.” The resolution is sponsored by Rev. Warhurst and has support from Dr. D. James Kennedy and elder Joel Belz (founder of World Magazine).

I am not a pro-public school kind of person. I am not a pro-anyschool kind of person. I believe there are serious problems with the public schools. However, I have serious problems with this resolution. It is shortsighted and displays the worst of so-called Christian conservatism.

I am a pro-parent kind of person, as you will see.

Taking the resolution paragraph by paragraph:

“Whereas, The Bible commands fathers to bring up their children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), and all parents who have had a child baptized in the Presbyterian Church in America have taken a vow to strive by all the means of God’s appointment to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (BCO 56-5), and”

It is true, that as parents, we are responsible for our child’s education. In particular, a child’s spiritual education. Rather then ultimately encouraging parents to withdraw their children from public schools, this resolution should encourage parents to, well, be parents. No matter where I send my child for formal education (homeschool, private, Christian, or public), it is ME that is responsible for the education of the child. If sending a child to school outside the home, how involved are you in their schoolwork? It has been shown that no matter what KIND of school it is, the key to success of the individual child and the school as a whole, is a parent’s involvement. In fact, what it comes down to is how you as a parent live, work, play, and teach. Your children are watching YOU. Who are YOU? What do YOU do? More on this later.

For all the problems that public schools have, I have seen children from Christian schools who truly are little materialists. Whose fault is that? Don’t blame the school. Look at mom and dad.

“A truly Christian education begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10), and teaches children to think biblically about all of life (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2; Deuteronomy 6:6-9), and”

What is a truly Christian education? Has anyone ever defined that? I am positive that you would get multiple responses to that question. I am also sure that if you studied the curriculum and the perspective of the Christian schools in our area they will all be different. Yes I agree that a Christian education begins with the fear of the Lord and teaches children to think biblically about all of life. However, that, it seems, is my responsibility as a parent to teach that, encourage that and reinforce that. Again, my children are watching me.

“Whereas, The public school system does not offer a Christian education, but officially claims to be “neutral” with regard to Christ, a position that Christ Himself said was impossible (Luke 11:23), and”

Yes, public schools don’t offer a Christian education. I would not expect them to. I think the PCA should then also admonish Christian schools, who thinking they are Christian, are not (Matt 7:21-23).

“Whereas, The public schools are by law humanistic and secular in their instruction, and as a result the attending children receive an education without positive reference to the Triune God, and”

Again, I wouldn’t expect them to do so. It is expected of me as a parent to do so, however. Do I teach my children with a positive reference to the Triune God?

“Whereas, Some courageous teachers in our congregations disregard this law. Obeying God rather than men, they try to give their students a truly Christian education (Acts 4:18-20). This resolution should not be construed to discourage these adult believers who faithfully labor as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues and students. However, these rare exceptions should not lead anyone to believe the public schools are regularly giving children a truly Christian education.”

First, those “exceptions” are not rare. There are quite a few Christians who teach in the public schools. Granted, simply because there are Christians who teach in a public school does not mean a child is receiving a Christian education. Again, I would not expect the public school to do so. Again, how are you as a parent providing that in your home?

“Whereas, Sending thousands of PCA children as “missionaries” to their unbelieving teachers and classmates has failed to contribute to increasing holiness in the public schools. On the contrary, the Nehemiah Institute documents growing evidence that the public schools are successfully converting covenant children to secular humanism,”

It is misguided to send a child to a public school as a missionary, especially when talking about elementary school, granted. The question is how are you as a parent teaching your child to live? Is your child learning to love his neighbor? He/she will only learn that IF you are doing it. Is your child loving his/her enemy? She/he will only do so if you love your enemy too. Is your child learning to love God? He/she will only do so if he/she sees you doing so. I do not care what school you send your child too, if you are not faithfully following Christ and loving God, how can you expect your child to? I would surmise that “schools are successfully converting covenant children to secular humanism” because of the lack of parental involvement in those children’s lives. It is the same reason why children who go to Christian schools, reject the whole nine yards later in life. They see the big disconnect between what they were taught and what they saw at home.

“We are squandering a great opportunity to instruct these children in the truth of God’s word and its application to all of life;”

Yes we are. But not because we are sending our children to public schools. But because we have not been faithful as a PARENT to be 1) creating an atmosphere in the home that encourage spiritual growth 2) live as Christ has called us to live 3) create a growing and loving marriage which is very much an encouragement to children

“Therefore, be it resolved that the 33rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America encourages all her officers and members to remove their children from the public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God and the good of Christ’s church.”

Misguided to say the least.

I do not say all this to bash Christian schools. No, it is because I believe the responsibility is to be laid at the feet of parents. And THAT is what the resolution (if any) should be about.

The ultimate responsibility to give a child a Christian education lies with the parent. It is not the responsibility of any school to do that. I can fail at this whether I homeschool, or send them to private, Christian or public school. I can succeed at this whether I homeschool, or send them to private, Christian, or public school.

I went to a parochial elementary school. It was a Catholic school. Some will say that a Catholic school is different than a Christian school. Maybe. The point I want to make is that at my school by the time 8th grade rolled around, there were kids who were getting involved in drugs, who came from extremely broken homes, who were extreme troublemakers, who were beginning to engage in sexual activity. I know as well, things are not different at any other school. Christian or otherwise.

Who are YOU at home? How do you talk to your children? Do you seek to understand them? Do you listen to them? Do you try to recall what life was like as a child so you can relate to them better? When you read your Bible Study and you get to the page that says “application”, is your first thought your home? Do you love your closest neighbors (spouse and children)? Do you seek forgiveness from your children?
What do your children see you DO? How much TV do you watch? Do they see you shop a lot? Do they see you aloof and distant sitting in a corner reading the newspaper? What do your children hear you talking about? The need for that new car? Or concern for a friend? Do you have devotional time with your children? Do your children think you care? Do you care?

Here is the resolution I would write:

Whereas, The Bible commands fathers and mothers to love God with all their, heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-30), to love their neighbor (Mark 12:31), to know Christ (John 17:3), to go and make disciples (Matt 28-18-20), to faithfully examine the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and to impress these things upon our children (Deut 6:4-9), and

Whereas the decision to formally educate your child is a difficult one, given one’s talents, community, school district, and financial ability, and

Whereas, a child’s education and the success thereof is dependant in large part on the involvement of that parent in the child’s life, no matter whether the child is homeschooled, private schooled, Christian schooled or public schooled,

Whereas, parents need to take hold of their relationship with Christ and live it according to the work of the Holy Spirit within them (Eph 3:20),

Therefore, be it resolved that the 33rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America encourages all her officers to the following:

to live according to the standards set in Scripture for elders and deacons,

to preach faithfully about living the Christian life and applying it to member’s lives as fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, etc.

to offer curriculum whether in Sunday School or additional Bible Studies that disciples the members of your church and helps them to teach their children and other children in the knowledge of Christ,

to encourage fathers to meet with one another and discuss issues, problems, etc.

to encourage mothers to meet with one another and discuss issues, problems, etc.

to be an advocate, not for a particular type of schooling, but for parents, encouraging them to live according to God’s Word and encouraging them to teach their children the same,

encourages all her members:

to live as a Body, supporting one another in their individual decisions about their child’s education, offering encouragement to one another.

To faithfully participate in the life of one’s church.

To faithfully dialogue with other parents about educational issues from a Christian worldview.

To faithfully participate in the school of your own choosing.

To be salt and light in the school of your own choosing.

To be faithful to your calling as parents and take responsibility for the oversight of your child’s education.

To be faithful as non-parents to the child around you, who are watching you too.

that all the above would have the effect of discipling parents to be solidly grounded in God’s Word so that they may pass that on to their children, no matter the circumstances of life, for the glory of God and the good of Christ’s church.

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The Uselessness of Labels

Christian Right. Conservative. Liberal. Closed Minded. Open Minded. All are terms used in newspaper articles referenced in a few of the posts below. We all get upset at the labels, either because they are unfair or most commonly because they are a sign of intellectual laziness.

Labels are used from professors to common folk to sterotype a group of people. Often they are used pejoratively. “That lousy liberal neighbor of mine!” or “She is soooooooo closed minded.”

Labels are used in order to easily and simply describe whatever group of people one decides to label. Using a single word is of course the easiet way to place a label. However, it often misses the mark.

Most people would say I am a conservative. I am a Christian, I tend to vote Republican, I am pro life, etc. Oh wait, those three add up to being…part of the Christian Right! Which I suppose is a subset of the conservative label. But what about the following: Except on the essentials of the Christian Faith, I do not associate myself with either Robertson or Falwell and actually cringe when I hear them speak; I can be constructively critical of President Bush; I listen to The Clash and some of that other very very bad anti-establishment music; I believe its ok to dance though I myself should not actually enter the dance floor; I believe it is ok to drink alcohol, though I myself have never had the penchant for it cept for the occasional glass of wine.

So. What am I?

No labels gets my dander up like Closed Minded/Open Minded though. A close examination reveals that really what is being labled is not how people use their minds but labeling a certain set of convictions. If you smoke pot, your open minded. If you dont, your closed minded. Correct me if I am wrong, but what if I decided to seriously look at the issue of pot smoking. I went to the library and checked out several books. I even looked at the last few months of Pot Smokers Weekly. In my intellectual pursuit and sound use of my mind, I concluded that pot smoking was wrong. Not just wrong for me (gag at the relativism), but wrong period. So does my conclusion mean I am Closed Minded simply because I came to a different conviction then pot smoking people? I believe my intellectual exercise shows that I used my mind openly.

What gets me is that “Open Minded” people criticize “Closed Minded” people for being superior, etc. But are they not saying that “Open Mindedness” (remember, its real the convictions being the label here) is far better than “Closed Mindedness”? Who has the superiority complex here?

People who are “Open Minded” have just as strong CONVICTIONS as people who are supposedly “Closed Minded”. Why arent they open minded enough to consider changing their convictions?

I can say more, but I need to rest my “closed minded” mind from engaging in the open minded task of loving God with all my intellect (i.e. mind).

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Helpful site on the Schiavo Case

This blog, Abstract Appeal has been following the Schiavo case a long time. For a non-emotional look at the legal issues involved, this site is very helpful. Most helpful for those like myself who have not been following the case closely is the
overview page

One practical implication for all us is the suggestion the author makes in his Q&A section:

Did she have a living will?

No. If she had, this case would probably never have generated much controversy. The one sure lesson to be taken from all of this is that each of us should have a living will. Florida law permits living wills and defines how and when they may be effective.


Medical Ethics Resources

In a posted comment on the Schiavo case I referred to an interview with Nigel Cameron. I wasn’t sure if I was correct or where I even heard the interview. It was a >Mars Hill Audio Interview a few years back.

Theologian Nigel Cameron states that the biggest issue facing the Church and society today concerns how people use their bio- and medical-technologies on themselves and the concomitant consequences for human nature and well-being, subjects richly addressed in a recent report from the President’s Council on Bioethics. The report, titled Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness, is part of a cultural discussion about bioethics in which the Church has thus far been surprisingly and regretfully silent, says Cameron. Instead of rigorously taking up the issues facing humanity in conjunction with biotechnology, Christian pastors and theologians have been content to let non-Christians do the thinking—from their various points of view outside the Church—for the Church. Cameron explains that the Church has neglected fully engaging this issue and others like it in part because it has been focusing on adding numbers “to the colors” instead of “adding disciples to the kingdom of God.” He distinguishes between the emphasis required for teaching non-believers about the gospel and that required for teaching believers to discern God’s will for the Church in the current era.

If you follow the link above, you can find the titles of the books that he has written plus links to other websites that deal with medical ethics from a Christian perspective.


Blogging Laws

Isnt it illegal to blog before 6 AM?

Will someone please check that for me…thanks. 🙂

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