“I’m crazy, obsessed and slightly obnoxiously in love with the Church and her leaders.”

Whitney Capps has written a piece titled, “An Open Letter to All the People Writing (And Sharing) Open Letters About What’s Wrong with The Church.”

To be honest, I like her piece. Thinking of, “those sweet, saintly ladies who put on those events praying over those doily-laden tables for young women to fill those chairs,” gives me the warm-fuzzies. I remember preparing for events like this, praying for those who would come, seeking and following the wisdom of those mature women whose lives were full of beautiful stories of the love of God and His faithfulness, despite loss and tragedy. Those are sweet memories for me.

Whitney’s writing from a Millennials pov, a pov of which I don’t have much experience or knowledge, so I cannot speak to what she writes here specifically regarding Millennials: “If I can glean anything from these open letters, it’s this-maybe people (my people, Millennials) are leaving the Church because we are spoiled, selfish, uneasily satisfied, hypercritical, consumeristic and socially enlightened but biblically light-weight.”

I want her dad: “I fell in love with God because my earthly Dad is simply amazing. I can honestly say that my early inclinations towards God were that if He loves me like my Daddy does, I’ll love him forever.” And I would give just about anything to have my second husband be the one I married first, when I was young.

I want the church to still be to me what it was, or at least what I thought it was, before my trust was so severely betrayed … within the church, by the church, by those who lead within the church, by those who have openly measured my worth based on my attendance and activity within the church. I want that innocence back.

I still love her … the church. I just think of her differently. She’s those who love Christ. Those who love Christ, who are in my life, love me enough to pray with and for me, to hold me accountable, to walk with me, to do life with me. She’s no longer confined to a building, or a brand, or an attendance sheet.

I would guess there are some out there who are, “spoiled, selfish, uneasily satisfied, hypercritical, consumeristic and socially enlightened but biblically light-weight.” But I think we’d be a bit short-sighted to classify everyone, or even most people, who’ve been in the church and wounded by the church, as such.

I like this: “Reach out to those in your local body. And stay. Stay close. Stay connected. Stay hopeful.” I see it a bit differently than the local brick and mortor church, though … I see it more as reaching out to those in the body of Christ, staying with them, staying close to them, staying connected to them, and staying hopeful – knowing that Jesus Christ is hope.

Wasted Ranger School Slots?

It appears that Fort Benning is going to be seeing women in the next cycle of Ranger School.

Personally, I think the Army is wasting time here. While it is entirely possible that there may be a woman or two who are capable of handling the physical and psychological rigors of Ranger School, I find it highly improbable. Among the guys, getting into Ranger School is not easy, and–even then–a lot of folks get punched out in the FIRST DAY.

The endurance challenge alone causes many otherwise good men to drop. Others get bounced for performance: they weather the storm, but perhaps don’t show adequate leadership worthy of the Ranger Tab.

If the Marine Corps infantry courses–enlisted and officer–are any indication, the women are going to get dropped in droves out of Ranger School. To date, only four women have passed the Marine Corps Infantry basic course, and ZERO have passed the officer version.

And Ranger School is harder than that.

Maybe Professor Hale has other thoughts on this, but I just don’t see this working out well at all.

Yoga Pants

Daisy at Chicks on the Right has written a piece titled, Warning: This Post Is About Women Wearing Leggings And Yoga Pants, And I Can’t Believe I’m Writing A Post About That, Either.

Before it was 24 hours old, it had already hit my newsfeed twice on facebook. The comments on those threads are interesting, but the most intriguing comments are from the men who basically state that if you women are going to wear skin-tight clothing that makes your tush look great, we’re going to notice … and if you’re my wife, you’re probably not going right to sleep tonight.

I lean toward the conservative side of dress. If there’s a question, I err on being a bit more modest. I used to stress about it much more than I do now, but I still think it’s a relevant issue, regardless of what year it is.

Yes, men are responsible for their own thoughts and behaviors. And, yes, women are responsible for the way they present themselves. How that looks to different people obviously differs greatly. Swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other doesn’t usually get us very far. Ragging on each other because we don’t believe the same doesn’t, either. Neither does expecting everyone to believe exactly the same.

In the end I have to answer to God for my life choices, including the choices I make regarding what I wear in public.

 

 

Here’s Why People are REALLY Leaving The Church

John Pavlovitz has written a piece for Church Leaders titled, “Dear Church, Here’s Why People are REALLY Leaving You.”

This spoke to me: “In fact, most of your time, money and energy seems to be about luring people to where you are, instead of reaching people where they already are.”

I don’t know why reaching people where they are, letting them be where they are without demanding they come to the church, is so hard to get. The first year I was a single mom, two staff members in my Sunday School class (small group – or whatever it was called then – I can’t remember) wanted to give my young girls Christmas presents. They didn’t need Christmas presents – I’d already got them everything and more. But we did need somewhere to go on Christmas day. Not one family invited us to their home, and not one person brought us food … but they were very sad they couldn’t buy us gifts. It’s what they needed to do for the ‘needy,’ but it wasn’t what the ‘needy’ needed.

***

What do you think about what he’s written?

 

 

Which One Are You?!

I have few happy holiday memories, but one that I do have is that of my brother and me listening to the radio program of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve several years in a row. Over the years I’ve become a real holiday Grump, much to my family’s chagrin.

So, if you were to pick a character that most resembles you this Christmas season, who would you be?

Ebenezer Scrooge

The protagonist, Scrooge is a cold, miserly creditor whose redemption to kindness and selflessness forms the arc of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge represents the Victorian rich who neglect the poor and think only of their own well-being. The most motivation Dickens provides for Scrooge’s character is his depiction of him as a young boy; neglected by his peers and, it appears, by his father, the young Scrooge seemed determined to live only for himself as he aged.

 
Bob Cratchit

Cratchit is Scrooge’s overworked employee, a timid man afraid to stand up to his boss’s demanding ways. The patriarch of a family poor in wealth but rich in love, he cares especially dearly for his crippled son, Tiny Tim. Cratchit is a symbol for the Victorian poor, good-hearted and hard-working but unable to climb out the stiflingconditions of poverty.

 
Ghost of Christmas Past

The first ghost to visit Scrooge, the small, elderly figure represents memory.

 
Ghost of Christmas Present

A giant clad in robes, this ghost has 1800 brothers and a life span of one day. He represents celebration and charity.

 
Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

This solemn, silent phantom represents death, but also the presents the possibility that the future is not determined, but open to the free will of humans.

 
Fred

Scrooge’s nephew, Fred embodies the jollity and sharing of Christmas. He refuses to let Scrooge’s “Bah! Humbug!” attitude bring him down, and is overjoyed when his uncle converts and attends his party.

 
Tiny Tim

Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim represents the overwhelming goodness of the Christmas spirit.

 
Jacob Marley

Scrooge’s old partner, Marley appears to Scrooge as a ghost and warns him about the dangers of being obsessed with money.

 
Fezziwig

The young Scrooge’s jolly, selfless boss.

 
Belle

Scrooge’s former girlfriend, she breaks up with him because of his greed.

 
Fan

Scrooge’s younger sister.

Sovereign Denial: SGM Crumbles, Spin Control Continues

Sovereign Grace Ministries has been a lightning rod for many years. Not for their conservative theology, but for their authoritarian tactics and abusive treatment of members and even other leaders. C.J. Mahaney, the celebrated leader of SGM, was a celebrity pastor who sold many books, earned great fees for speaking engagements, and profited from SGM music which was actually pretty good.

Sadly, Mahaney has found out–the hard way–that you can never escape your character. This is because your sin eventually finds you out. Everyone, if he or we live long enough, will have times where our character issues will come to the forefront. Our responses to them will determine our direction in life.

Jim Bakker faced his reality in jail, eventually admitting to the tragedy of the prosperity gospel he preached for many years; Jimmy Swaggart refused to accept accountability; Robert Tilton unraveled quickly; Mike Warnke went from celebrity to disgrace.

On the positive end, Mars Hill Church has effectively dissolved. Many of the leaders have even reached out and apologized to the members and other staffers who were wronged by their tactics over the years. But none of those apologies have come from the prime culprit: Mark Driscoll! Like a coward–which is what most bullies are anyway–he has hidden behind his family and provided sob stories.

At SGM, the story is similar: C.J. Mahaney and SGM leadership, continue to engage in a campaign of denial. Their coverups of sexual abuses are obvious to anyone with at least a double-digit IQ who has had a chance to read the evidence.

A friend of MrsLarijani and mine recently argued that I was being too harsh on SGM, that most of the problem stemmed from the fact that none of the pastors really knew what to do about the case. I call BS. If you’re writing best-selling books and jet-setting the lecture circuit at Christian conferences, then you’re smart enough to know what your obligations are when you have a real situation in your church.

Worse yet, SGM leadership has launched an all-out campaign of character assassination against their victims. They accuse people who report the obvious coverups of slander and gossip and defamation.

Mahaney, like Driscoll, lacks the manhood to do the right thing and accept responsibility for the atrocities committed by his proteges, who committed their abuses on his watch, which were catalyzed by the dysfunctional, authoritarian culture that he created.

At least the remaining leaders at Mars Hill had the courage to do the right thing. Would that the SGM leaders show the same level of integrity.

My $0.02 on Ferguson (Quantifying Equity)

Note: for the sake of brevity, I refer to the collective white community as “Whitey”.

——

The St. Louis County grand jury decided, after careful deliberation, that there was not enough evidence to even put police officer Darren Wilson on trial.

If there’s no indictment, that means there was no case. Period. The prosecutor–Robert P. McCulloch–provided an excellent presentation of the facts, making a strong basis for why there were no charges, not even for the lowest-level felony considered. From the hard forensic evidence that we knew about, I figured that, unless the grand jury had a bombshell in their hands, there would likely be no indictment. I was correct.

The forensic evidence, from two different autopsies, did not jibe with the fantastic tall tales provided by “witnesses” who clearly didn’t see what really happened. Either they were intentionally lying or their recollections were lost in the “fog of war”; I would suspect that there are some of both here. At any rate, the grand jury made the correct decision.

The reaction of the black community, however, speaks volumes.

(1) While there could very well be a serious racism problem among the Ferguson police department–the Department of Justice is investigating that very possibility–Wilson was not up for indictment for that. Nor was he up for indictment for racist incidents in other cities. He was only being considered for felony charges related to his shooting of Michael Brown.

(2) Michael Brown was shot because he was a thug who fought with a police officer. While Wilson did not stop Brown as a suspect for the armed robbery in which he had just taken part, the fact that Brown had stolen from a store, just minutes earlier, would explain why he was being hostile toward Wilson. Having a large size advantage over Wilson, he fought over Wilson’s gun. Had he merely been polite with the officer–“I’m sorry, officer, I should have been walking on the sidewalk”–there would have been no altercation.

(3) If the black community wants to be angry, they should be angry that one of their own–Michael Brown–engaged in an armed robbery and then initiated a fight with a cop. If anyone devalued the life of Michael Brown, it was Brown himself.

(4) If the black community wants to be angry, they should be angry at their “leaders” who whipped up a frenzy because raciss! They can be angry with their “pastors” who are too busy sleeping with parishioners, and others who lack the balls to call out the sluts, and their sperm donors, who jack up the black illegitimacy above 70%. They can be angry with the thug culture that discourages education, achievement, innovation, and entrepreneurship. (A friend of mine–a gal from Nigeria who was in one of my classes at a local university–was excoriated by American blacks who hated her because she busted the curve in those hard classes.)

For the last 50 years, blacks have clicked their heels and voted Democrat, to the tune of 90%. They are disproportionate recipients (in percentage terms) of federal transfer payments; they get preferential treatment in hiring and college admission via Affirmative Action; their votes have elected the mayors of large cities such as Detroit and New Orleans and Atlanta.

But every time things go wrong, it’s Whitey’s fault.

Ergo, it wouldn’t have mattered if O.J. was caught on video slashing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, or if Darren Wilson had a bodycam that showed his innocence.

At the end of the day, I have some questions for the black community:

(1) What, in your estimation, would Whitey have to do in order to have equitable race relations?

(2) How many whites need to be hanged publicly for the blacks who were lynched? That number must account for all black-on-white (and white-on-black) murders over the past 50 years.

(3) How many whites need to be passed over for college admission and job selection? That number must account for the 40 years of Affirmative Action, from which blacks have already benefited.

(4) How many white women should blacks be allowed to rape for the blacks who were raped? That number must account for all black-on-white rapes over the past 50 years.

(5) How many whites should be designated as slaves, and for how long and in what regions?

(6) What dollar amount must be paid by whites for justice to be finally served? That dollar amount must account for tax monies paid by whites into federal welfare programs to the proportion that blacks have benefited from them.

(7) Let’s assume that we could quantify questions 1-6; how does that change your illegitimacy rate?

(8) Let’s assume that we could quantify questions 1-6; how does that change your illiteracy rate?

(9) If you would like to introduce other metrics by which we can quantify equity, please feel free to provide those.

I raise these questions because no amount of wrangling over these matters is worth much if we cannot quantify particular metrics that would serve as markers for justice.

I bring up (7) and (8) because those things are doing more to harm the black community than any sins of Whitey.

Check Your Thin Privilege

I don’t get out to Boundless much anymore due to my work schedule, but I’ve long thought that they should hire myself and Farmer Tom as guest columnists. We would be having a field day with this right now. I don’t know if it is satire or serious, but I had coffee coming out of my nose after reading it. There are some really screwed-up people in this world, so that story could very well be true.

Have We Tamed God?

Acts 29 shares that, “Ligonier Ministries partnered with Lifeway Research to survey a cross section of 3,000 Americans on 43 questions about God…”

Calvin said all knowledge comes down to two things: what we know of God and what we know of ourselves. Here’s what the survey shows on these two counts. We like God, even Christ for that matter, but we like Him on our own terms. We have tamed God. Of course this has a consequence for the other element of knowledge, the knowledge of ourselves. We’re by nature good, the survey says. As God comes down to size, we go up.

The State of Theology survey results are very interesting. My first husband excelled in statistics. He often said that one could determine the outcome by how they worded the question – basically, they’re not objective. And you can start backwards by determining what you want to prove and then wording the questions to prove your thesis (or disprove it, whichever you perfer). There are a few questions worded here that make me go, “Hummmm.”

Being that Lifeway is a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, and attendance is down, I think their questions and assumptions from the answers of the “Worshiping Alone” part of their survey are skewed.

However, based on other things I’ve read and heard, I would have to agree with this analysis from the survey: “We like God, even Christ for that matter, but we like Him on our own terms. We have tamed God. Of course this has a consequence for the other element of knowledge, the knowledge of ourselves. We’re by nature good, the survey says. As God comes down to size, we go up.”

I think the choice of the word, tamed, is an accurate one here. Sadly, many will learn the truth that God cannot be tamed a moment too late. Perhaps, though, it could be more accurately written that we have tamed what we perceive God to be, for God is GOD. He cannot be controlled, or manipulated, or tamed … not even through a survey.

It is worth reading God’s words to Job in Job 40:8 once again: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”