Does modern worship fail by trashing the line between the sacred and secular?

A few years ago, a young adult very openly expressed his frustration with worship at church. “Rich, why is it that I feel closer to God at a Coldplay concert than I do at church?” This was a stunning admission, because it represented not just his experience but that of many and perhaps spoke to some doubts in my own mind. However, what came from this conversation changed how I viewed worship in church. Worship at church should either be made more like the secular music out there, if that is truly more spiritual. Or, there is something missing in the worship at church that needed to be changed. I tried the first, making relevancy a goal, but I think that hand has been overplayed. So, I am left with the second idea. What is missing?

People NOT like us: Fighting the demon of differences

With hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees flooding Europe, our response as a nation has at best been tepid. We have 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but many would rather build walls than talk about how humanely to deal with the small children caught in the political crossfire. This week a 14-year-old geeky student brought a homemade clock to school and was arrested for making a “fake bomb”—four policeman surrounded and handcuffed the confused, slightly built young man. He happened to be Muslim and “looked” the part. Why is it that people not like us bring out our dark side? I believe that fear for our safety seems to trump human dignity. But, should it? Would we put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps if we had it to do all over again?

FEAR: Media’s Motivator, Our Trap

Old stories such as “Hansel and Gretel”  and “Little Red Riding Hood” were meant to put fear into children. Lessons such as Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” were likely to prevent a child from basically ringing the fire alarm for fun. Fear is a motivator. It works. Fear of losing your job can be leveraged to keep you and your coworkers from offering legitimate grievances and used in turn to add hours and workload without additional compensation. From TV news to Facebook posts about the ending of the world, fear sells and gets our attention. Our fight or flight chemistry is amped to the max. It’s a science and it works.

Has Christmas Become a War on Advent?

There has been a lot of dialog in the Evangelical world in recent years about a war on Christmas. The cry was to say “Merry Christmas” in defiance to something like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Regardless of the words we use, the war on Christmas is fed from law suits to remove civic-sponsored Nativity Scenes and school prohibitions about mentioning the Jesus of Christmas. However problematic the external forces of our society press against a Christ-centered Christmas it may be our in-house disregard of Advent that sets us back. Could our fight for Christmas be a fight against Advent?

Silencing the modern prophets: Discourse between Christians is not something to be proud of these days.

In the news recently, Michael Gungor made some remarks that caused a backlash and disparaging of his character and even his intent. He said that Adam and Eve were not literal people we all came from, and basically that to think so is like believing in Santa Claus. Yes, I strongly do not agree with that part of what he claims. Even some scientists appear to disagree with him when you consider genetic studies that propose a “Mitochondrial Eve” existed–albeit not one they would claim is the Eve of Genesis. Yes, Gungor’s tone admittedly was defensive. But, why would Gungor not be defensive? Are we able to even talk about our differences without that being the case?

A VIRTUAL MONASTERY: The Poison of the “Us and Them” Christian subculture

The ascetics of the early church lived in caves, whipped themselves, and made vows of celibacy or silence. Monasteries were founded. Many of these did some amazing work, from copying by hand the scripture to creating beer for the masses to make something useful and drinkable during the unsanitary Middle Ages. The dark side of monastic life is the whole idea of living in a conclave, removed from the world. To be “holy” literally means to be “set apart” for God. So, why not focus on the “ apart” part of it while living for God? Some brilliant things happen when sequestered to study and learn. University time does this. But, when and how do we forge a path in the secular as we grow in the sacred? And, our times these days are filled with technology that allows us a separate life. Do you live in a virtual monastery?