Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama and the middle way

The Economist has been following Obama's acknowledgment of godless America with the giddiness of a LDS missionary finally allowed into a home. The latest installment followed Obama's inclusive language at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that is decidedly not inclusive:
There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.
And there are signs that he's putting our money where his mouth is with plans to widen the focus of the Faith-Based initiatives to include Muslim outreach and religious dialogue and emphasize initiatives aimed at reducing abortion.

The audacity of hope...

Friday, February 6, 2009

And it was good: Vanessa Davis

Venessa Davis, the comic artist who can draw adolescent awkwardness better than I actually did adolescent awkwardness, gets props tonight for her ode to growing up Jewish.

"Dyseptic Academic" is a brief bildungsroman packed with scenes of her encounters with Exodus and Hebrew hymns, boys, Baptists, Bibles and most laudably, her struggle with the politics of the Chosen People. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Yes, their shirts say "ex-mastorbator." And they come in other flavors as well: ex-fornicator, ex-diva, ex-atheist, ex-homosexual.

Why are these smiling teens advertising their ex status? Because that's where the Passion 4 Christ Movement is headed. And what lead them in that direction? A message from the Bible.

Says one young Passionate Person:
You walk into a 7-eleven and people are going to be joking and snickering and you almost want to direct it at those people and say: "You all laughing probably because y'all still masturbating. The reality is that 1 Corinthians 6:9 says that every person who is sexual amoral will not inherit his kingdom. [...] We are officially breaking the silence so that people can be set free.
Watch the full video here:

You don't have to be too far into this video before the snickers turn into a clenching wince. The way these young adults describe the experience of giving up masturbation ("it was like being freed from slavery") suggests that their pre-Vagina Monologues version of abstinence has given them a sense of power and a mandate to convert.

The end-game, it seems, is to cram the entire spectrum of human sexual energy into a marriage because marriage, according to Dr. Ty on, is the only divinely sanctified orgasm container:
Any other orgasm achieved outside of marriage couldn't handle its intense, explosive, addictive, domineering, gripping force without repercussions.
But I suspect there are other powers at work. The Passionate 4 Christ teens hudle together in a church office and tell their stories, building an "I overcame" story that makes them more powerful, more self-controlled then the rest of the big, wide, uninformed world.

No one can take an ax to a community of people who are proud of something they did in their own lives, but its sentiments like this one that concern me:
For me, when I was masturbating, it was a time when I didn't think masturbation was a sin. [...] I am greatful for the t-shirts because there are a lot of people, like me, who didn't know its sinful. [...] It's an opportunity to share the Gospel.
That's not creating a community. That's spreading a message of shame with a cloak of biblical faith.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hitchens: prejudice and paranoia under the cloak of faith is everyone's problem

Hitchens weighs in on the Catholicism's recent slide into pre-Vatican II practices and the messy attitudes that come with it. On the re-emergence of accussations of deicide, Hitchens responds:
The Christian consensus is that Jesus went to Jerusalem on that Passover in the full knowledge that he was going to his death. Ought this not to mean that the Jews and Romans did humanity a favor, by obediently fulfilling prophecy and by spilling the blood that ransomed the world? Evidently not. As a nonbeliever, this is not my problem. But the indulgence of prejudice and paranoia under the cloak of faith is my problem as a citizen.

Now you too can own your very own Cloak of Faith! Here's how:
Step one: Cut from the Bible your desired design. (Tip: Take care when selecting your pattern; many patterns are deceptively similar but clash when held side-by-side.)

Step two (optional): Soak your design in historical research. (Tip: Archaeology is the preferred treatment, but the social sciences will do in a pinch.)

Step three: Tie your material tightly under your chin. (Tip: The material is more likely to stay fastened if you have it secured with a rigid dogma.)

Step four: You may now roam about freely. Should anyone begin investigations into what you are concealing under the cloak, refer them to the makers of the design you wear. It is not the wearers of the cloak, after all, who are responsible for the design. They are merely its models.

And it was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and ruby peach and olive and violet and...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New leader of Africa Union not a Bible fan

According to reports from All Africa, the new chairman of the African Union, President Muammar Gaddafi, has publicly voiced his distaste for the Bible. Last year, on a visit to Uganda, a country with a large and active Christian population, Gaddafi commented:

The Bible we have now is not the one that was revealed to Issa [Jesus], and the Old Testament is not the one that was revealed to Musa. Mohammed is mentioned in both [original versions], but in the Torah and Bible we have now, there is no mention of him.

It means that it [Bible] has been forged. Prophet Mohammed was sent to mankind. Allah wanted mankind to have one religion. The Koran that we have is the only book that was sent by Allah.

On another occasion, Gaddafi, who apparently enjoys stirring things up (he reportedly travels with 30 virgin bodyguards), said, "Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Other people who are not sons of Israel have nothing to do with that religion."

For a man with ambitions to create the United States of Africa, Gaddafi has a lot of uniting to do.

Jesus Lovers love the Water Torture Cell

The existence of the escape artist Kristen Johnson has caught many people's attention today thanks to a video circulating from a January 16th "Water Torture Cell" escape attempt that went horribly wrong.

While the video has probably already reached its half-life (the rescue of an underwater lock-picker fails to capture my imagination), I am more interested in the existence of Living Illusions, the Christian touring production that Johnson headlines.

With "breath-taking illusions, incredible lighting and death-defying escapes" husband-wife team Kevin Ridgewood and Kristen Johnson have been inspiring Christian audiences at rallies across the country. Their clients include the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Youth Evangelism Conference, and Youth for Christ.

Here is one review of their show that beams with innovative, Christian promise:
“Kevin and Kristen have an incredible on and off stage impact on people. Because of their professionalism and the top notch quality of their show, they have been able to reach people with the Gospel who I have been working on for years. Thank you for your impact on my ministry.”
Mike Ivins Youth Pastor * Bayside Chapel * Barnegat, NJ

I have no doubt that the Illusions are entertaining. I am not clear on how the Masters of Illusion inspire Christians to grow in their faith, though I may have an idea as to how it helps them to better understand the Gospel stories.