And She Smiled As She Died

(c) eyes of odysseus. Click for source.

(c) eyes of odysseus. Click for source.

This is a poetic response to the viral video of Emily Letts, who filmed her abortion and posted it online. The video can be found here. It is non-graphic. My overall impression was just pure sadness and I tried to convey that here. I’m not attacking Ms. Letts, I’m just letting my emotions run their course over her decision. 

Raw, cold emotion

Nothing, I feel

An image of “progress”

On a cold silver reel.

 

Words are not with me

As violence starts smiling

I struggle for breath

And am not smiling.

 

A picture plays on the screen

Of a woman sweetly

She says her name is Emily

And this is her story.

 

She just wants to talk

She just wants to speak

To tell her story

Of a life she wants not to keep.

 

So she tells me what she’s going to do

Of how she plans this mistake to undo

Her mind is set, it can’t be changed

The child inside must not be named.

 

Her eyes, they smile

But her words cut deep

She lays on the table

And hums to a beat.

 

While the whirring machines

Stills another heart’s beat.

 

She admits it’s a baby

But what does that mean?

She says she’s not ready

To bring a child on the scene.

 

So she hums while the doctor

With his cold, gloved hands

Snuffs out the warm life

That she’d carried, unplanned.

 

She says, “I’m empowered”

Because it’s her choice,

To silence a child

Who has not a voice.

 

So she hums on the table

As she undoes her “mistake”

With a smile in her eyes,

At the life that she takes.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why The Church Should Not Embrace Environmentalism

earthrise-wide This is a response to this article at Venn Magazine and this post has been submitted to the magazine for consideration. 

Words matter.

In our communications driven culture, it’s important to use the right language to convey our message. When we read certain words, we bring to the reading experience a host of associations, feelings, and memories. These are not easy things to ignore, and that makes the task of carefully choosing our words an important one.

Such is the case when we talk about the Church and environmentalism. The word “environmentalism” is fraught with political connotations, and is steeped in a long history of liberal progressivism. While the Church is given a charge to take care of our earthly home, the principles and language of this movement run contrary to God’s word.

In America, environmentalism began its political journey in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, which was a time of seeking spiritual fulfillment in anything but Christianity. In this atmosphere, environmentalism was infused with a spiritual quality of finding oneself through unity with nature, which has continued to this day. In this regard, environmentalism began as a movement that was about treating nature as deity, which flies in the face of a Christian ecology.

But in principle, shouldn’t at least some of the tenets of environmentalism appeal to Christians? After all, on the surface it’s about sustainability and making sure that the natural resources we have now are there for future generations. It’s about getting pollution out of our water and air so that we can breathe a little easier about the future of our world. Isn’t that something we should want? And on the surface, the answer is yes.

This is a world that we as Christians are absolutely called to preserve. There are hundreds of references throughout Scripture to Creation reflecting the glory of God (try Psalm 19 on for size). God created our world and took care to make it beautiful. He specifically told us to take care of the Earth, and to nurture it (Genesis 1:28). In fact, the first man Adam was primarily a gardener, whose task was to improve the Garden. Many of the patriarchs in the Old Testament were farmers and ranchers, who developed and cultivated the earth to bring forth abundance.

But the reason that Biblical Christianity stands in opposition to environmentalism is because a Biblical understanding of the world places the environment under the care and nurture of humankind, while still recognizing the inherent value of nature because God created it. Environmentalism in its widely understood form is practically a religion in of itself that places worship of nature above that of the Creator. In his book, Pollution and the Death of Man, Francis Schaeffer understood the modern environmentalist movement to be glorified pantheism (meaning it was an attempt to find salvation through a sense of oneness with nature). But Schaeffer also said that while man and nature are distinct, we have a responsibility to recognize that nature has value because God created it.

It is because of this spiritual ethos surrounding environmentalism that we should seek to stay away from aligning it with a Biblical view of ecology. Traditionally, Christians have used the terminology of “stewardship” to refer to our responsibility regarding nature. The terminology of “environmentalism” brings echoes of something very un-Christian with it and we should seek to avoid parading any “ism” around without investigating its roots. We want a Christ-centric view of the environment and because Christ has redeemed us in our entirety, including our speech, we should be careful to use words that reflect a Christ-centric ecology.

This is not just a matter of preference since the language of environmentalism is steeped in the counter-culture tradition of the 1960’s and a pantheistic view of the world. The associations, feelings, and historical meaning of “environmentalism” won’t go away simply because we start slapping a Christian label on it (just think of the debate among Christians about the pagan origins of our various holidays, a debate that has raged for many, many years). The language of stewardship rightly puts the emphasis on our God-given responsibility to care for what He has given us.

Let’s celebrate our Christian heritage and our charge from Jesus to take care of our home. Let’s recognize that nature has value because God created it. But let’s remember to use language that draws attention to the Creator over the creation.  

How Sick Is This World?

 

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

(c) pol ubeda on flickr. Click for source.

This world is sick.

We all know it. We all feel it. We all live it.

Sometimes being a Christian feels like a shadow walking through a party. You don’t really belong there, your presence is fleeting and you’re easy for the guests to ignore. C.S. Lewis once presented this metaphor in his book The Great Divorce where he alluded that this world is a world of shadow and illusionment, and the realness of the spiritual world is beyond our comprehension, so real that the blades of grass in heaven would pierce our feet; the feet of shadows. It’s an apt metaphor because in this dying world, we really are strangers. We are meant for another place and our time and mission here is fleeting.

Being a shadow  allows you to see the emptiness of those whom you flit between. Their drawn-out eyes, loud, empty laughs, pasty makeup clinging to dying faces; nothing but mascara on a corpse. It reveals a world of death and decay hidden beneath a facade of merriment and amusement. A viciously self-destructive whirlwind that claims equality and justice and truth yet cannibalizes itself in a never ending battle of competing equalities. A world that screams for egalitarianism and yet is hurriedly engaged in the business of undoing the foundations of justice.

It’s a world of fine contradictions, of carefully levied jabs at each other, of private distaste and public acceptance of various ideological threads. We fight each other with sharp words and take stands against perceived injustice and a great tragedy looms above us that so many do not realize; the tragic irony of no longer knowing what a true injustice looks like, for we have nothing solid to compare it to. We rail against threats to our comfort; against restrictions to our sexual freedom; against 140 character manifestos that cross our inner-moral compass of right and wrong. It is a compass that has changed with the times. North is south, east is west, but where shall we go? Our cultural compass points us to sex and drink and having fun and letting it be and standing aside while true injustice carries on under the lethal banner of “progress”.

And yet we continue on, moving along in our shadowy existence. And do we remember our God’s words, the God who made our world, the God who gave us life, the God who gave us a noble and true standard by which to measure injustice? Do we remember the words of the Lamb who was slain, of the Lion of Judah, who viciously and ruthlessly struck down true wickedness? Do we remember that He told us to love Him first, and everything else second? Do we fall to our knees because we are faced with a knowledge that is so deep, so profound, and so wretchedly uncomfortable that we cannot bear it? Do we believe Him when He says that He has a plan? Do we bow our bitterly prideful heads in submission to a true King? Or do we sit in our broken castles, lamenting the loss of “the good old days” when our problems were more carefully concealed?

We won’t always be shadows. We won’t always be unnoticed. But while we are, we have a profound and terrifying call upon us, to reach out to a broken, contradicting, disgusting, filth-ridden world and say, “There is justice. There is truth. There is love. And He has a name.”

May God give us the grace to see how we have failed Him, and to crawl back for the grace to stand up against true injustice. May He give us clarity to know the difference between the empty screams of the world against bloated insecurities that masquerade as deep issues, and the silent screams of the truly oppressed, of the broken human being made in the image of God who so desperately needs something real. May God help us to be shadows, so that others may look through us and see Him.

 

To Him be the glory.

 

3 Greatest April Fool’s Pranks of All Time

Historical depiction of April Fool's jokesters

Historical depiction of April Fool’s jokesters

Happy April Fool’s day, loyal readers! Today, I have successfully been duped at least three times, and due to my early-spring foolishness, I’ve decided to commemorate this occasion by bringing to you some of the best pranks in history that really duped a lot of people. That way, we can all laugh together at those silly historical fools. So without much further ado, I bring you…

#3. New planet discovered, named “Bob”

In the spring of 2002, NASA scientists pranked the general public by sending out a press release touting the discovery of a new planet in the space zone just beyond the Kuiper belt. The planet was presented as having “earth-like qualities, which could indicate habitability.” What really go the attention of the general public, however, was the apparent decision by the agency to name the planet, “Bob”, saying that the new name was reached at by “submitting a resolution to the US Congress to name the new planet after NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe’s dog. The resolution passed the House and Senate and was signed by President George W. Bush” The contact who was listed on the release was Jack Hudgins, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. NASA later reported that Hudgins’ office was inundated with calls from citizens expressing concern about the choice of name and process by which it was conceived.

Eventually NASA revealed the story as a hoax, to the great disappointment of all the fans of “Bob”.

Source

#2. Town to be demolished for experimental “forest” resort

In 1988, Westward Television of Oregon announced that the small town of Snowhill, Oregon (population 1,472) had just lost a settlement with the state’s Supreme Court that would now allow for the small town to be demolished and for a multi-million dollar “forest” resort to be built in its place. The TV station reported that the residents would be relocated and compensated for their property, but also criticized the court’s decision, saying that observers said the judge may have been bribed.

Naturally, Oregonians were horrified and the TV station received thousands of letters and phone calls expressing outrage at the decision and support for the residents of Snowhill. The problem? The TV station made the whole thing up, including the name of the town. Even after the admission was made on air, the station still continued to receive letters from unconvinced Oregonians about the planned demolition of “Snowhill”.

Source

#1. Evidence found of a saber-toothed flamingo, scientists in disbelief

This is clearly the most ridiculous of the April Fool’s pranks that I found, and it’s amazing that people actually believed it, but they did. This one was from 1974, which was the same year the famous skeleton “Lucy” was discovered, which was seen as a big boost for evolutionary science. Perhaps that helped people swallow this big whopper.

BBC News reported that scientists had discovered a new species of bird in the Cirta archaeological site in Algeria, thought to be an ancient relative of the flamingo. The report went on to say that scientists had to completely rethink their history of how birds evolved, as this discovery seemed to indicate that birds once had teeth. And not just teeth, but this particular species was thought to have had large frontal tusks, much like the saber-toothed tiger. Appropriately, the bird was nicknamed “the saber-toothed flamingo”.

The report cited the famous British archaeologist Mary Leakey as saying, “I’m absolutely speechless. Something like this is just completely outside the realm of possibility, but here it is, and with this evidence, the only choice we have is just to completely rethink the evolution of avian species  in Northern Africa and beyond. I’m just speechless;  it’s dumbfounding.”

The news service received hundreds of incredulous readers calling and writing in to express their astonishment. BBC kept up the ruse for a solid day before revealing it all as a hoax. Mary Leakey, when she discovered that she had been quoted in the fake article, jokingly said, “Well, I should certainly hope people realize I would never really anything ridiculous like that. Bravo, BBC News.”

Source

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all folks! If you figured out that I made up every single one of those stories, good job! Let me know when you figured it out, because indeed, not a single one of these is true. 🙂 Happy April Fool’s Day!

 

 

3 Ultra-Stupid Pieces of Marriage Advice The World Gives You

ultra stupid

Before we got married, my wife and I got a lot of really good advice from a lot of different people. Much of it boiled down to, “Make sure you communicate with each other and keep God at the center.” That’s good advice that we have tried to implement in our marriage.

But some advice is not so happily accurate. There was some advice that was so beyond stupid that it became ultra-stupid. Here’s a look into the world of marriage advice.

#3. Test drive the car before you buy it

We probably heard this the most. It’s so ridiculous because the whole idea is that you don’t know if you’ll “enjoy sex” with that person and thus your marriage might be horrible! Of course, this assertion is completely and rightly idiotic to anyone who has more than a “marriage is just for sex” mentality. Marriage is a whole heck of a lot more than sex. Besides, God strictly forbids test driving cars before you buy them. (For the sarcasm impaired, that’s a metaphor. Ask your mom.)

Fact: Maybe comparing your future spouse to a car purchase is actually a really horrible analogy.

#2. Life your live before you get married

This is similar to the “test drive your car before you buy it” advice, and it basically implies that marriage is long stretch of dusty boredom, complete with heartache and an early, stressful death. People especially freak out when they learn you’re getting married under the age of 25. “Live your life” in this context often means having lots of sex with random strangers, visiting strip clubs, partying it up, and generally being a debacherous hedonist. Um…no, thanks. Marriage presents a ton of opportunities like getting ahead financially such as an early start on saving for a home/retirement, hanging out with your soul mate all the time, and tons of kids immediately (scared you there, didn’t I!).

Fact: Maybe getting married is part of “living your life”. Mind blown.

#1. Don’t do it!

Finally, the worst piece of advice about marriage is a culmination of the previous two, and that is: don’t get married. This isn’t a, “You should wait until you’re older/more experienced/more mature/whatever.” This is a mindset that marriage is legalized slavery, and getting married is like selling your soul to the devil because it restricts your freedom, blah blah blah. Listen…marriage is great. If you’re not ready for it, then, of course, you should put things on hold until you’re ready. Unless you can’t control your “test driving”. Then get married. Immediately.

Fact: Marriage is awesome. You get to promise your best friend that you’ll always be there and have your best friend in the whole wide world promise you the same thing. So do it!

A Journey Well-Ended

This is a true story. It’s a story about friendship and saying goodbye, and the songs and meanings that connect us. In this case, it’s “It Is Well With My Soul”. This is from my mom’s blog at PraiseNotes.com. She’s a piano teacher that specializes in teaching students over Skype and she loves the hymns. Enjoy!

Header_feather

My neighborhood is prone to adventures. I do not mean the stuff of storybooks, of exotic locales, of great deeds and daring, all with happy endings. No, not those kind of adventures, but the kind that a mind-your-own-business, busy-at-work, up-to-my-eyeballs-in-projects person would rather avoid. Adventures like the next door neighbor pounding on the door at two in the morning pleading for help because her boyfriend was threatening her life; an adventure like coming home to the street blocked off, SWAT teams patrolling around our home and neighborhood and the police helicopter circling overhead; an adventure like discovering the gate busted open by policemen chasing a fugitive who decided to make a quick escape through the backyard. Mind you, thanks be to the Lord, this did not all happen in one week, or month, or even year, but nevertheless, they are the kind of adventures that can unnerve and drive one to prayer.

And to prayer I did go. It was a simple prayer, but, believe me, very heartfelt: “Lord, please send me Christian neighbors.” God answered that prayer in an unforgettable way.

It began with a phone call from my former roommate from Bible college. “Kim, I just moved my parents to your city, and I think it might even be in your neighborhood. Where do you live?” I told her my street address. I was shocked to hear her say that she had moved her parents across the street two houses away from my home!

Jane N.

Jane

From that day on, a precious friendship began to grow with my new neighbor, Jane. Over the next short years we enjoyed: “tea time” (that always included prayer); sharing our concerns and hopes; playing the piano; sharing our favorite hymns. Her husband was also a dear friend. There were times I would look out my front window and see Rod working unbidden in our front yard, helping us in our feeble attempts at gardening. Jane and her husband eventually moved out of our neighborhood and relocated to a different state. We continued to stay in contact with one another and maintained a close friendship.

A few years later, I received another phone call; this time it was from Jane. “Hi, Kim, my husband and I flew in this morning, and we are here to visit family and friends to say good-bye. I have pancreatic cancer and the doctors have given me only a few weeks to live. Can I come over in an hour to see you?” As she spoke these words, my heart dropped with sorrow as I contemplated this coming loss. I was also anxious and feeling overwhelmed to see her on such short notice, not knowing what I should say or do when she arrived. I wanted to comfort them, but I was not sure how. When Jane and her husband arrived it was obvious what I needed to do. I asked what hymns were their favorites. As I played my piano, we sang the hymns that had inspired, comforted and taught them so much of the Savior’s love. We then prayed together for the last time. Singing the hymns filled our hearts with gratitude towards God, and we found relief for our suffering souls. When Jane left that day, she said good-bye and said that she would see me in heaven. We hugged and both shed tears as we knew we were ending a journey here on earth.
A few weeks later I played the piano at her memorial service. Though I didn’t know most of the people at her memorial service, we were one in Christ and sang together the hymn “It is Well with my Soul”.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

(Refrain)
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

For thousands of years, the saints have passed from the church militant to the church triumphant surrounded by family, friends and pastors, who offer the comfort, first and foremost, of the Word of God, but also of singing the hymns of the faith—those songs that are so infused with poetry and doctrine that they, by the work of the Holy Spirit, give comfort and life, even to a dying soul. May the Lord in his mercy preserve these songs for the generations to come who will one day sing with my dear friend Jane, “It is well with my soul!”

A beginner piano arrangement of “It Is Well” is available in our online store.

 

Please visit Praisenotes.com to learn more about my mom and her music.

Why I’m Not A Heterosexual Anymore

funny wedding pic

Marriage!

I’m not a heterosexual anymore. That may seem strange coming from someone like me, but hear me out.

Let’s talk about what it means to “not be heterosexual.”

You’re probably thinking, “Oh boy…he’s gay.” But that’s not the case. I’m not gay, I’m very happily married to a woman. But I’m also not a heterosexual anymore…and neither is my wife, for that matter.

Here’s the thing: heterosexuality is a myth. By implication, this also means that homosexuality is a myth. In an article published in First Things magazine by future-monk Michael Hannon entitled, “Against Heterosexuality,” a case is clearly laid out against sexual orientation. Hannon writes:

First of all, within orientation essentialism, the distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality is a construct that is dishonest about its identity as a construct. These classifications masquerade as natural categories, applicable to all people in all times and places according to the typical objects of their sexual desires (albeit with perhaps a few more options on offer for the more politically correct categorizers). Claiming to be not simply an accidental nineteenth-century invention but a timeless truth about human sexual nature, this framework puts on airs, deceiving those who adopt its labels into believing that such distinctions are worth far more than they really are.

Basically, what he is saying is that the idea of a sexual orientation is deceptive in that a LOT of people believe that heterosexuality is the norm, the eternally changeless state of how people “should be” and homosexuality (and by implication, homosexuals) is a giant mistake. It’s deceptive because the concept of sexual orientation is less than 150 years old.

Hannon argues that sexual orientation is something we should dismiss from our minds and vocabulary precisely because it goes about defining people and sexuality entirely backwards. Sometime in the 19th century, scholars decided to start defining sexuality, not by it’s obvious natural function (aka, having kids), but by the object of sexual desire. This short circuit of the old view of sexuality removed the motivation for chastity by removing the common good from marriage: children. Sex became purely about passion and feelings, and without a concrete tie between it and nature/reality, the very idea of “heterosexuality” began to lose its meaning. (See Hannon’s article for a deeper analysis of this thought.)

Perhaps the most powerful truth that Hannon unlocks is that when we think about people in terms of heterosexuality (or “normal”) and homosexual (“abnormal”), the sexual orientation lens we are looking through colors our view of people’s actions. Suddenly, we aren’t seeing sexual sin the way the Bible describes it, as equally damning no matter the sin (by that I mean that any sin, no matter how small, is enough to incur God’s holy justice). We see “heterosexual” sin as one thing, and “homosexual” sin as another. Do we see what has happened here? In essence, we are using categories that classifies one group as socially normal (“heterosexual”), and thus free from moral judgement, and the other group as socially unacceptable and the target of all moral judgement. As Hannon so succinctly says:

The most pernicious aspect of the orientation-identity system is that it tends to exempt heterosexuals from moral evaluation… Nevertheless, as a general rule, identifying as a heterosexual person today amounts to declaring oneself a member of the “normal group,” against which all deviant sexual desires and attractions and temptations are to be measured… Of course, we do have a model norm for the evaluation of sexual deviancy. But that model is not heterosexuality. It is Christ Jesus himself, the God-man who both perfected human nature and perfectly exemplified its perfection, ‘one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ For the self-declared heterosexual to displace our Lord in this position is the height of folly.

By saying we are heterosexual, we are putting ourselves into a special category that has a different standard of judgement than the homosexual category. Not to mention that the very idea of sexual identity removes responsibility from one’s attractions. We’ve all heard the refrain, “I was born this way.” It’s offered up as an excuse for one’s actions, but as Christians, we know that we are born sinful, and yet are still responsible for our actions. The sexual orientation idea clouds this truth.

In accepting this paradox of heterosexual vs. homosexual, Christians have given up their greatest weapon in combating sin and immorality. For years, people have said that homosexuality is sinful, when such a thing is impossible for the Bible to condemn, simply because the idea of sexual identity and “homosexuality” is less than 200 years old! What the Bible has always condemned is sexual sin outside of marriage, same-gender sexual acts included. By putting these acts into their own category, then inextricably attaching them to the individual performing them, we have denied the power of the Gospel to free sinners by denying that they really are sinning.

In light of this,  the question, “What do you, as a Christian, think about homosexuality?” becomes meaningless because it’s the wrong question. The question is, “What do you, as a Christian, think about sexual sin?” We have had such difficulty answering questions about homosexuality, all while struggling to convey that the Bible has a message of love and redemption. We are seduced by the pridefulness of being “normal heterosexuals” because at least we aren’t “abnormal homosexuals”. It’s strongly implied that “homosexual” sin is worse than “heterosexual” sin. And that has been a fatal mistake.

We are all sinners. We need Jesus Christ and His redemptive blood covering our sins. It’s time to repent of being prideful because we’re “normal”. We’re not. We are broken and in need of healing, “heterosexual” and “homosexual” alike.

Because we’re all human.

I highly recommend reading Hannon’s article. It was incredibly enlightening for me and he covers a lot of ground that I didn’t. I hope I gave a good account of this subject; please let me know in the comments!