Monday, August 31, 2009

Should the President Die?

I'm still putting the finishing touches on the YA novel I spoke of in my last post sometime ago, but I am stopping in because of a story currently in the news that is more than worthy of a disturbed post.

The story I'm speaking of is the one about the pastor in Arizona who is asking members of his church to pray for the death of President Obama.

What's worse is that he says he doesn't want him to get murdered. Murdered is wrong--God don't support that. He wants him to get something like "brain cancer" which somehow would be okay. His exact words, "I hope that God strikes Barrack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy." In other words, he doesn't want him to have a nice swift death to get him out of office quickly so we can have that genius of a VP President--he wants him to suffer a long and painful death.

What I've always found ironic about pastors like this is their big hang-up is abortion, because God hates you if you kill the little babies. That's a sweet sentiment and all, but why doesn't God hate you if you kill innocent people in the name of war? Or if you kill someone because they killed someone. Last I heard Jesus was neither a supporter of war or eye for eye. President Obama is a sinner because he elected a supreme court justice who won't overturn a court ruling imposed over twenty years around--a law that probably wouldn't get reversed even if the majority of justices were conservative; President Bush is a saint because he sent soldiers by the thousands to a country that should have never been invaded in the first place; his entire Presidency can really be summed up in one word: revenge. But revenge is okay as long as you talk to Jesus.

What's sad is there are a lot of churches out there doing good things, but this is the one who gets attention. The church doesn't even have a big following. The so-called pastor (his name is Steven Anderson) is 28, and has absolutely no degree, but says he's qualified because he can remember over 100 chapters of the Bible to memory (FYI, you know who else did that? Joseph Stalin). This pastor is a media whore who is saying statements contradictorily to the real word of God just to get a reaction and attention.

Join me in praying that this guy discover the errors of his way (before Fox News signs him with Joe the Plumber for their own news show).

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's in a Name?

Today's post is brought to you by Tone Hoeft. As he writes in his bio, "Tone Hoeft is pursuing his Master’s degree in communications from Eastern Washington University. To find out more about him or his thoughts, visit www.inproximity.org."

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Sure, you may think that Juliet but don’t tell that to Ludwig Wittgenstein.

There’s no better way to start off a guest post then to alienate your audience, and what better way than by making a Shakespeare reference and linguistic philosophy reference in the first two lines? If you’ve already had the gall to keep reading, then I thank you for not tuning me out already. I promise this post won’t be riddled with content this esoteric, but they happened to be the two things that came to mind when I thought about the topic at hand.

Naming a child can be a taxing process. You want to pick a name that has meaning, that is powerful, but yet at the same time is unique and interesting. It seems everyone is trying to jump onto this bandwagon. The top baby names in 2008 for boys were Aiden, Jayden, and Caden (seriously, is this some type of nursery rhyme?). The top names for girls were Sophia, Addison, and Haley. Everyone wants to be unique.

I whole heartedly support unique and interesting names for kids. Not only does it always make for good small talk, but it also helps add to the unique personality of the child. For instance, my name is Tone (pronounced like the musical tone). My whole life I’ve had people comment on how unique and interesting my name is. It also means that I never have to worry about people butchering my last name, because let’s be honest, how many other people named Tone will be in the same place?

I understand then the need for Christians who want to name their children strong biblical names. Not only does it have spiritual reverence, but it contributes to the unique factor as well. However, there comes to be a point where it crosses the line. I recently met a couple who decided to name their child Kohath. Why Kohath? Because it was a unique Bible name. Honestly people, if we are going to choose names from the Bible for our children, then at least let’s make them names we can say. Is it Ko-hath, Koh-ath, K-oh-ath, or Ko-ha-th? The possibilities are unless.

What’s wrong with Josiah? Josiah is a name that is unique, but also has fantastic biblical meaning. You might as well name your kid Nebuchadnezzar. Not only will it guarantee that your child will have no friends, but that he will also get beat up every day at school. Plus what are you going to call the kid for a nickname? Koh? Hathy?

So I must ask, why do people do this? Your child is not the only person affected here. When you do something like that, you make the rest of the Christians in the world look like backwater hicks. It also makes us sound like we have completely lost our minds, which to be honest, if you are naming your kid Kohath, you have no sense of sanity to begin with.

Look, I’ll even leave the Wikipedia link to a full list of names in the Bible here for you. If you insist on naming your kid a biblical name, at least do yourself a favor and look through the list and find one that doesn’t make you sound nuts. I guess this means I can never name my child Obed-edom Upharsin Hoeft. Dang, and it had such a nice ring to it.

I leave you with a limerick based on the top boy names of 2008:

She asked, what kind of name is Jayden?
Why not something more common like Aiden?
You’ll either be lame
Or have massive fame
At least you can make pals with Caden.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Church Divided

Recently during its Churchwide Assembly, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a statement on human sexuality that includes an endorsement of “chaste, monogamous and lifelong" same-sex relationships. While many more conservative Lutherans are disappointed by this decision, John Piper took an extra step and said that the tornado that hit Minneapolis around the same time of the Assembly was "a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin."

This kind of talk is usually reserved for fundamentalists who claim that gays and abortion were responsible for both 9/11 and Katrina. However, I think there might be a hint of truth to Piper's comment. I don't think that the storm was caused by the ELCA's decision, but if you look at this photo of the damage done to Central Lutheran's steeple, you have to admit that it is quite a coincidence:



Now please don't think that I'm suggesting that God's poured his wrath upon Central Lutheran as punishment for accepting homosexuality. That's not at all what I'm saying. But I am suggesting that this could be a warning for the Lutheran Church not to be divided against itself. Maybe God is saying, "Don't tear yourself apart over this issue."

Last night I found this video from Brian McLaren about "the pain of dealing with this issue." I think it's a great message for not just the Lutheran Church, but for the entire Body of Christ.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rev. X in Da House!!!!

I'm sure most of you have already seen this video. But for those who have not, this has got to be the weirdest televangelist in the world. The video contains lots and lots of profanity, so make sure the kids are out of the room.



"If you ain't down wit dat, shut yo g**d*** a** up!"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bearing False Witness Against the President

As I mentioned in a previous entry, politics and religion usually aren't very good together. When preachers try to sneak politics into sermons, they end up preaching the word of Sean Hannity more than the Word of God. One of the latest pundit preachers is Rev. James David Manning, who loves to refer to President Obama as "that long-legged mack daddy."

Here is just a sample of his craziness:



Apparently Rev. Manning has not read the FactCheck.org article debunking the whole "Obama is from Keya" crap. Also, apparently he didn't read the parts of the Bible about praying for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), submitting to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1), and neither spreading slander (Leviticus 19:16) nor bearing false testimony against our neighbors (Exodus 20:16).

Now don’t get me wrong and think that I’m a “brown shirt,” as Orly Taitz would say, who thinks that Obama is the Messiah. I have my disagreements with the president, especially about abortion. And as both Christians and Americans, we need to speak up when we disagree with our government. However, we need to do so in a civil manner, without resorting to lies and slanders. And it's pretty clear that the whole "birther" movement is based on nothing but lies and slanders.

(I should point out that not all conservatives are drinking the birther Kool-Aide.  Bill O’Reilly debunked it last year on his show, and Michelle Malkin compared the birther movement to the 9/11 “truther” movement. Shoot, even Ann Coulter thinks the birthers are crazy!)

Hopefully it will only a matter of time before all this will pass and we can go back to discussing important issues, like health care reform and the economy. In the meantime, at least Manning is giving us here at Disturbed Christians plenty to write about!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Scare Tactics of the Dental Office

Today's post is brought to you by David Halberstadt. If you enjoy his post, you can also follow his Twitter feeds at @thetrouseredape. Enjoy...

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Next to the office where I used to work before I was laid off, there is a dental office. Outside this dental office, they have a large marquee that they update every so often with pithy “Christianese” quotes. Stuff like, “Jesus died for YOU!” or “You've got to pray just to make it today.” Currently, their sign reads, “If you knew what Hell was like, you would accept Jesus.”

First of all, doesn't almost everybody already know what Hell is like? They may not believe in it but I'm sure that everyone knows that Hell is a place of burning flesh and suffering.

Secondly, I'm not going to say that the “turn or burn” approach to ministry has not had its converts but I've personally never seen it work. Let us step into the shoes of the average, non-religious man walking the street. What would be the reaction of the average man when he reads this sign? There are a few options.

One: he laughs at those silly Christians and their silly slogans.

Two: he shakes his head angrily at those idiot Christians and their idiot slogans.

Three: he falls to his knees and prays for God to save him from the fiery chasm of Hell.

Now, I can only see two of these reactions as being feasible. I really don't see this working for anybody. For crying out loud, my own reaction to seeing that sign was the second option. The only place you'd see option three happen is in the make-believe world of Christian film.

I believe that this method of “getting the message out” causes far more harm to Christianity than good. You need to build a relationship with people or they aren't going to give a damn about what you have to say. You aren't going to convert to Buddhism just because a Buddhist tells you that you that your karma will be bad if you don't.

Do we really need to resort to scare tactics in order to fill church seats? Does God really want followers because they're scared of what will happen if they don't, or does He want us to follow Him because we love Him? Any good Christian will tell you that we are supposed to imitate Jesus. So what does He have to say about this?

If you look in the gospels, you can find a number of passages where Jesus calls out the religious folk for their hypocrisy and sins [Matt. 23; Mark 11:15-17; John 8:7]. You'd be hard pressed to find Jesus telling the non-religious folk that they are going to burn in Hell if they don't abandon their sinful ways and follow Him. When He does interact with the so-called sinners (really, who isn't?) and hated groups He eats with them [Mark 3:15-17], He sits and talks with them [John 4:5-30], He stands up for them [John 8:1-11].

What were the results of this? Jesus had followers everywhere He went. He was practically swimming in them.

I wonder how many people have been turned off to Christianity because of a stupid sign.