Fun, Intellectually Stimulating Ways to put off work…

1. Read Ariah Fine’s blog.

2. Find some parallel thoughts to some disquieting thoughts you’ve had recently (that make friends shake their heads and tell you to shut it).

3. Share your own disquieting thoughts on your blog…

It is my contention that the American system of capitalism, while it is the most radically profitable system of economics this world carries at this present moment, it also is the most radically inequitable system of economics this world has ever seen, short of straight despotic tyranny. I’ll simplify it down to one thought, because any attempt to make a sweeping comment about this would drain too much brain energy from my sermon-writing right now and would probably ramble like…someone who rambles a lot.

Capitalism is driven primarily by the profit motive. Thus, companies are judged to be successful or unsuccessful ultimately by their ability to make lots of bucks. In the process of the pursuit of this profit, corporations act like greedy individuals in this profit maximization pursuit, not caring about the impact of their actions on the third-parties that aren’t directly involved in the company/client business.

As a result, we have situations like East St. Louis (drawn out most powerfully by Jonathan Kozol in his book Savage Inequalities…which I highly recommend despite some big-time biased investigation on Kozol’s part), and the mercury-infested waters of the South River in Waynesboro 15 minutes away from me thanks to DuPont, etc etc.

Basically, in a vacuum, companies don’t give a rip about the ripple-effect of their actions (called externalities) if their main pursuit is the profit motive. Even principled companies find themselves pushed into this rat race of pursuit of profit if they proceed uncritically. As a result, the people in the economic system apply the same thinking to their lifestyles (most food, staple items for the least money to maximize their money, etc etc). Hence, Wal-Mart.

And in all this process, we could assume that capitalism is the best we’ve got. I say the church is a model society that tells capitalism to take its pursuit of profit (and the earth it chews up and spits out when its done with it) and shove it where the sun don’t shine. I say the church is meant to be a socialist system where the lives of individuals are NOT forgotten for the sake of the affluence of the whole. But maybe I’m stupid. You read the first five chapters of Acts and tell me what YOU see. You know, I just don’t think it’s possible as a human in our limited vision to suggest we love the whole and act for the health of the whole by ignoring or sweeping under the rug those who the system leaves behind.

I’m tired of this thinking in my life, and I will fight it. And this is longer than a short statement, but oh well.

4. a link to Ariah’s disquieting thoughts.

p.s. I just saw Ariah’s widget that suggests Savage Inequalities on his sidebar. Cool coincidence…he didn’t have that book up last I looked.

Ariah’s good point…

“Missions Cruise an Oxymoron?”

“…It’s also disappointing to see all the musician’s and speakers willing to join in this disgusting display of privilege. Starting at $695 per person, I wonder if anyone is going to be raising support for this mission trip from their church.”

Rest of Ariah’s post here.

Thoughts from a big fan of the concept here.

The “Vision” of Praisefest Ministries for this idea:


The vision of PraiseFest Ministries is quite extensive. It all revolves around reaching people for Christ. We seek to bring Christians of all denominations, races, and various backgrounds with one purpose. That is to reach people for Christ. We plan to do this through outreach crusades all over the United States and abroad and through efforts like the Cruise with a Cause. This may even involve multiple mission cruises at some point.

We would like to be able to host 10 crusades per year plus the Mission Cruise. That would be one crusade per month, excluding December and the month of the cruise. To do this, we would need to operate by raising at least $2 million dollars per year. This would enable us to offer a mission cruise at reasonable prices and then to take 10 two night crusades to areas all over the United States . We actually go into a community and invest a minimum of $100,000 into a two night crusade outreach effort. For information, please click PRAISEFEST CRUSADES. It seems like a lot, but we are believing God for this. Again, all money donated goes straight to reaching people for Christ.”

My thoughts.

I have a major problem with this statement: “More than 1700 people saved through the efforts of the inaugural cruise with a cause.” And this one “Thousands of people saw God face-to-face as a result from the mission opportunity they provided. Many souls were won for Christ and those who already were part of the family of God grew closer to the Maker during the week.”

Why? One, for the reason Ariah mentions in his post. You’re paying $695 dollars to listen to Josh McDowell, Kutless, hand out some flyers about Jesus, and give toys to people that come to listen to a crusade…and you’re calling that mission!??!! This is a major problem on the scale of Bruce Wilkinson’s Dream for Africa that’s handled well here. One of my housemates was a missionary working with orphans in Swaziland who said Wilkinson’s “Dream” was putrid, culturally insensitive, and had the long-term effect of numbing citizens of Swaziland to Western missionary efforts.

My problem stated quite simply is this: Missions efforts that define their successes by sheer numbers of folks who “come forward” at an event to be “saved” are inadequate and ultimately skewing the message of the gospel. I like that Billy Graham integrated a strong local effort over time to connect those who came forward to “make a decision” with local churches…and this “PraiseFest” organization seems to be doing this in evangelistic efforts in the U.S. But if the gospel is narrowly defined as several verses from Romans and “souls saved” through said message, we are dealing with a terribly inadequate understanding of the gospel.

A simple suggestion for PraiseFest ministries for your whole “Cruise with a Cause” crusade. Link up with a cut-rate airline organization to shuttle your folks down to the Bahamas instead of a coddling cruise down and back. Link up with local Christian organizations working to solve the problems of homelessness and poverty on a grassroots level in the Bahamas, and organize and push seminars for your participants where they get a chance to hear the reality of missions on a daily basis there. Plug your people in with what these missions are doing. And maybe throw a concert or ten where you share what you see Christ doing in the world and celebrate. Do this for ten years. Gain the trust of the populace. And once you’ve gained their trust, work to spread the message of Christ through the local contacts who are there…listening to their input on what is most effective over the long-haul for the spread of the gospel in the Bahamas and trusting their judgment.

(Ex. of a lack of cultural sensitivity from the website: “My group was given the assignment of canvassing the lower income areas of Grand Island. We walked from house to house, inviting residents to the crusade, passing out flyers, and telling them about Jesus. Each Bahamian met us with a smile and a few even sang songs for us. We talked about where we were from and why we were there, all while being received with an incredible spirit of hospitality.”)

And keep this in mind:
The presentation of the gospel will deeply affect the concept of what means to be a Christian more than you will ever know.

Now think: how does a $700 cruise, listening to Sting, handing out flyers and talking about Jesus without taking time to understand what makes Bahamians tick, and pushing for “decisions” at a concert affect the concept of missions you build in the heads of those who participate?

This “missions” effort is typical these days of the perpetuation of the separation of the importance of the “soul” from the daily physical existence of humanity.

It is INCOHERENT (in my flawed opinion) to try to separate one’s soul from their embodied existence today. This ridiculous emphasis on “souls” comes almost directly from the apocalyptic evangelistic message of D.L. Moody, who said,

“I look on this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat, and said to me, “Moody, save all you can.” God will come in judgment and burn up this world, but the children of God don’t belong to this world; they are in it but not of it, like a ship on the water. This world is getting darker and darker; its ruin is getting nearer and nearer. If you have any friends on this wreck unsaved, you had better lose no time in getting them off.”

Essentially what Moody is doing is giving a giant “F you” to the world and making sure people are “saved” from this darkening, nasty, sinful world. So let’s all sit on our hands after we’re saved, because there’s no use in the gospel affecting anything else in this sinking ship. Let’s all wait for the sweet by and by.

Dead. Freaking. Wrong. Moody. Deal with all of what Jesus says.

Rant. Over.

Truth. Speaking. Is. Unpopular.

Excerpt from video below in this post, “One of the things that ‘s always perturbed me…as we come to celebrate the life and living of Martin Luther King Jr, one of the things we can say with alarm since the legalization of the holiday is that Dr King has been reduced to the syrupy sweet Hallmark Card where he is no longer prophetic and he no longer speaks to the nation and he no longer causes us to speak to the nation in ways that shake the foundation of this nation’s immorality…”

All my friends who are not Christfollowers do not need to listen to the following flash video. Feel free, but this message is mainly a convicting reminder that those of us who dare to claim that we are disciples of Jesus are expected to be peacemakers.


And that’s not peacemaking as defined by Nathan Myers, or Jane Doe, or whoever else. It’s peacemaking as defined by Jesus.

What was his example? What did his life scream to us about how to confront evil as a faithful disciple? How did his disciples live this out?

If you are a Christfollower, you and I don’t have a choice with whether we “want” to be a peacemakers or not. We don’t. Oh, we justify it…we say this and that….define peacemaking like this or that…in short, interpret peacemaking the way we do much of the Bible…seize onto the “For I know the plans I have for you” and “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “I call you my friends” passages while ignoring the “love your enemies” and “those who seek to protect their life will lose it” and “he was faithful to the point of the death, even death on a cross” and “for our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities” passages because they challenge us too much.

As I watched this simple little flash from a simple speech, I was deeply convicted and tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about how often I shrink back from clear statements on truth when I’m around my fellow Christfollowers in church because I’m afraid they’ll leave or reject me or hate me for that position. My friends that don’t know Christ are begging to see me live like I love them and will give my life, my finances, my energy, and my prayers for them no matter what…they’re CRYING out! And I’m often a shuddering, emasculated Christian who’s ok with false unity in church in the name of comfort and “family” and all the easy Scripture; and I say I don’t, but I really DO want you to look like me, dress like me, like the same things I like, hate the same things I hate…or at least PRETEND you do so our relationship doesn’t challenge me. I’d rather not be called to take most of what I’ve learned in my life and unlearn it through pain and struggle and cyclical addictions to various things. I’d rather be comfortably numb in my self-centeredness, thank you very much.

But, MLK, for all his struggles, was a man who spoke truth…he would not let us sit in our seats and just nod along and afterwards say, “Good speech. Good delivery. Your voice intonation was tremendous.” *pat on the back* “See you next week, Marty.” Wouldn’t let us do it. He chose to say what he said and live like he did and give himself like he did. He knew his life was in danger, and he wasn’t afraid to confront the status quo and whoever stood to continue reaping the rewards from it. And for that, I am grateful. Because the status quo was and is continuing to rip us apart as humanity.

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation…He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. ” -MLK Jr.

I’m tired of cooperating. I’m tired of my smarmy proof-text-quoting-Scripture-life that exists because I’m not disciplined enough to grow beyond it and don’t have the stones to challenge my friends and church family and neighbors to take that step with me. But still I settle for recycling the same verses, saying the same prayers, and talking about the same issues I did a week ago…all the while, I’m spinning my tires and going nowhere! I’m TIRED of that life. I want MORE. There has to be MORE than where I am now. And we are now. And I don’t really care that the beginning of this video has a strong message about Bush. Watch it all the way through. Give it a fair shake. Sit back and think a little about what it means to follow Jesus the way he told us to…no matter what.

And challenge me. Forgive me. Let me rant like this from time to time. Help me to love more, give more, forgive more, expect more, pursue more.

And if I’m going to hold the leaders of the United States to a high standard of truth-telling as I am by endorsing this flash video, I sure as heck better be pursuing it myself, or I’m a flat hypocrite.

Click on play, lower left corner.

ht on video: Ariah