Monthly Archives: February 2008


Be Sure to Check Out My Newest Missional Blog

As regular readers know I began a second blog spot a little less than a month ago. It is found at Transformissional Church on the Web.Johns_casual_headshot_2006_2
This site is totally dedicated to writing and resources about missional theology and church themes. A great new resource is recommended, for example, on today’s blog (February 29). Be sure to check this site out and bookmark it.
I write less frequently on this new site but I try to put something new up at least three or four times a week. It will have a number of valuable resources, especially for pastors and church leaders who want to better understand the missional mandate and what those of us who use this term "missional" mean by this seemingly new word.

By |February 29th, 2008|Categories: Missional Church|

Angelina Jolie the Humanitarian

Hollywood personalities are know for promoting all kinds of causes, especially those that are often provocative and sensational. Sometimes, however, a person from Hollywood will surprise you. Such is the case with Angelina Jolie, the famous and hugely gifted actress.

Yesterday Jolie said that the reinforcement of troops in Iraq has created an opportunity for humanitarian programs to increase assistance for Iraqi refugees. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, titled "A Reason to Stay in Iraq," Jolie detailed the plight of refugees there and says that their conditions have improved since she last visited Iraq in August of 2007. Her first visit was meant to encourage governments to provide more support for the needs of suffering people.

Jolie has served as as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations since 2001. She was back in Baghdad earlier this month to once again underscore the refugee issue.

On this recent visit Jolie had the courage to actually talk with

By |February 29th, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|


Mental illness is rarely portrayed in film and when it is the subject is even more rarely done really well. One of the first films to deal with the subject directly was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Then the best big time film on the subject won the Academy Award for best film: A Beautiful Mind. With a star like Russell Crowe it was clearly destined to be a great movie.

The first film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was brave and good, at least for the time. The second was unique and had powerful acting to boot. It was, simply put, memorable. I own it and will go back to it now and then just because it is such a great movie, period

So, I was not prepared for the 2007 award-winning movie Canvas to be such a good film when I borrowed it this week. It is a heart-warming story rooted in real facts, not fiction. The

By |February 28th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Did Obama and the UCC Violate IRS Regulations on Non-Profits?

The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Barack Obama gave to its national meeting last year after he became a candidate for president. Obama is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ (UCC) in Chicago. AP reports that a spokesman for the denomination says it received notice of the inquiry on Monday.

The IRS says there is reason to believe the speech violated restrictions on political activity for nonprofit groups. The denomination denies any wrongdoing. News_2
UCC officials say they had consulted with lawyers before the Barack Obama’s June 2007 speech and made clear before Obama’s address that he was speaking as a church member, not as a political candidate.

I seem to recall this speech well and do not think it was a partisan political speech. I confess I am suspicious that this would become an issue at this precise moment (February 25) but then I do not know what is in the mind of

By |February 27th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Is John McCain too Old to Be President?

Hcgl291_mccain_20080109223036A common statement I have heard, begun first by Chuck Norris in his campaign endorsement for Mike Huckabee, is that John McCain is simply too old to become president. I have thought about this a lot since I am aging myself. I sure hope, if my health is as good as McCain’s at 71, that I can still produce good work and be a leader in my own context. Aging does slow one down, certainly, but experience and age both offer many positive benefits not respected enough in the West. History bears out the fact that some of our greatest leaders were beyond 70 years of age when they did their finest work.

Today a column in the Wall Street Journal  by Ryan Cole, a DC based writer, raised this question and answered it better than anything I have read to this point. Whether you like John McCain or not this kind of thinking should put to rest the age question

By |February 27th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

The New York Times was once the most respected newspaper in America. It still includes some excellent material–especially that written by some of its best columnists. But the word ‘once" sums it up in this case. The Times has become the place where "news" stories are too often fiction presented as fact.

One of the Times first hoax stories made Al Sharpton’s career as a public figure. Do you remember Tawana Brawley, who said she had been gang-raped by a bunch of white men? She was lying and the Times had not done its homework at all. Then a few years ago Al_sharptonlrs011580
the Duke University "rape" fiasco became a Times story as well. Now we know better. In both cases the TimesThe Star looked more like a newsstand gossip paper like  than a respectable mainstream paper.

Then there was the infamous

By |February 27th, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Parties of Man Are Not the Parties of God

Christians need a serious reminder eight months out from our national election, and still deep into the Democratic Primary season, that neither of our two major political parties are God’s political party. I write a great deal about political subjects but I wish to remind people, left and right and everywhere in between, that your political brand or ideology is not God’s party or brand. As Sojourners magazine said a few years ago: "God is not a Republican, and he is not a Democrat either." (The only problem with this slogan is the ideology behind it. The virtual endorsement of certain views and parties by Sojourners, especially by Jim Wallis, would lead one to conclude that they prefer the Democrats most of the time!)

There is a fine line here I suppose. I am an Independent who counts himself a moderate conservative on most issues and a moderate liberal on a few. I often vote Republican but then I have made some

By |February 26th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

Charles Barkley Should Stick to Basketball

Charles Barkley, the great basketball player who played at Auburn and had a storied NBA career, should definitely stick to commenting on sports. Recently Barkley endorsed pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and said he has problems with those who oppose abortion. Barkley endorsed Barack Obama, which in itself is his choice and I grant celebrities the right to make any statement that want for a candidate they believe in personally.

But Sir Charles, as he was often called, added, "Every time I hear the word ‘conservative,’ it makes me sick to my stomach, because they’re really just fake Christians, as I call them. That’s all they are." When Wolf Blitzer asked Barkley to explain the terms he was using Barkley condemned conservative Christians for wanting to be "judge and jury." He added, just for good measure: "I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians–first of all, they’re supposed to be–they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge

By |February 25th, 2008|Categories: Abortion|

Whatever Happened to True Ecumenism?

Ecumenism is a word that has great value but has lost much of its meaning due to the frequent misuse of the term over the course of the past eighty years or so. In the late 19th and early 20th century A2f5jw
the term arose in a missionary context, where Christians shared a common concern not to promote denominational distinctions so much as the gospel of Christ. As the liberal social agenda was joined to this movement the word began to loose its original meaning. Thus left-leaning pietism joined with a left-learning political and social agenda came to define liberalism by the 1960s. This kind of emphasis is what most conservative Christians think of when they hear the term “ecumenism” today. I find this response very sad since this is neither the true history of the ecumenical movement nor the meaning of the term itself. The movement owes much to Puritans like Richard Baxter than to more radical modern liberals. 

By |February 22nd, 2008|Categories: Unity of the Church|

Who is Really Hurt by Affirmative Action?

The controversial program, commonly called affirmative action, is a policy that encourages colleges and companies to enroll or hire African-Americans (and other ethnic minorities in general) with a policy commitment to leveling the playing field because of the historic problems created by racism in our society. There can be no serious doubt that racism, and its attendant and persistent problems has impacted education and educational opportunity on a significant scale. No one in their right mind should deny this fact.

In theory there is much to commend the idea of affirmative action and racially based admission to colleges and jobs, at least to my mind. The problems have always been two-fold: (1) Is it the right solution to the obvious problem? (2) Does it really work? And the common assumption of white people in America is that the practice of affirmative action in college admissions hurts white students the most, since more of them are left out while more less qualified

By |February 21st, 2008|Categories: Race and Racism|

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