Thursday, April 16, 2009


The following video has had extensive play before on YouTube (and probably other sources). But to some of you (and to me), this is new. Please watch this before reading my comments.

I am not a fan of musicals. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of musicals I actually enjoy. Perhaps I should say that I enjoy the music of some musicals, but not neccesarily the story line. I'm too "stuck in the mud" to comprehend characters suddenly breaking into song and dance.

Having said that, I was completely fascinated by this video. Imagine being at that train station and seeing some guy suddenly start dancing? You would think it was odd. And then one more starts dancing. And another, then another. Two more, three more, and then flocks of people descend upon the middle and perform a synchronized routine (I understand there were two hundred dancers).

But the best part was watching the reactions of the crowd. Shock, amazement, and unabashed joy could be seen on the faces of the bystanders. Something big and amazing was happening right before their eyes. And the pains and the delays and the frustrations and the multitude of other "bad day scenarios" that the individuals at that station might have been feeling were suddenly set aside by a pocket of sheer happiness.

Can I live my life in such a way as to bring those pockets of happiness to those I meet? I'm not talking about singing and dancing (both of which I love to do, but neither of which would get me on American Idol), but by my word and actions do people see a bubbling over joy? Can I exude the peace and happiness that comes from a close relationship with God? Can folks see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven?

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


The furor over President's remarks in Turkey has once again raised questions about our identity as a Christian nation. Even granting our President the benefit of the doubt and figuring he meant to say that we have all kinds of religions in the U.S., the simple declaration that America is not a Christian nation has incited the fundamentalist right and inspired the fundamentalist left in our country. Blogs, opinion pieces, and talk radio and tv have been flooded with comments. Some of the debate has been very reasonable and well thought-out, a testimony to our capacity to agree to disagree agreeably. But sadly, most of the "stuff" I've read from both sides has been reactionary, vicious, and mean-spirited.

So in my own humble attempt to insert my own two cents, I offer the following thoughts in order to set the stage for better, more constructive dialogue:

First of all, President Obama's views, policies, and so on do not change anything about Christianity. Christianity has survived and thrived under governments of deep oppression and persecution for over 2000 years. To my brothers and sisters who are tempted to cast worried glances and bemoan the doom of the church as we know it, all I can say is: the church as we know it may be modified, but the church itself is built on the ROCK and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.

Second, with all due respect, President Obama's opinion is not the first or the final word on the subject of Christianity in the U.S. As my old aunt used to say, "Just 'cuz he said it, don't make it so!" The sentiment that "America is not a Christian nation" is an old and oft-repeated one that has been proclaimed long before the President was even born. My liberal friends have expressed their extreme pleasure that someone has come forward to clear up the question, as if my President's words magically settled a long standing controversy. They haven't…all they did was once again stir up the proverbial pot..

Third, those of us who proclaim faith in Christ should try to define our terms. When I am asked if America is a Christian nation, I usually say, "yes and no." Yes, because we can build a pretty good case for the Judeo-Christian consensus in the founding of our country. Yes, because we can document a stream of statements and quotes that demonstrate that. But no, because our country is not a branch of Christianity, it does not send out national missionaries, and, quite frankly, we allow a lot of things that are decidedly un-Christian. So perhaps as we start this debate, we need to take a moment and discuss exactly what we mean by "Christian nation", so at least we are all on the same page.

Fourth, many posters have used the President's words to launch into a diatribe against the Bible. Aside from the fact that most of the attacks are the same tired old stanzas that Christian apologists have addressed years ago, it still doesn't change the original question of whether America is a Christian nation. Your agreement or disagreement with the source material does not change the founding of the country on this source material.

Fifth—and I might add, the most incredible, amazing thing of all—in many parts of the world, we would not even be discussing this at all! The grand and glorious irony of our country is that her core belief system even allows beliefs that stand in opposition to her. And to that I say, "God bless America."