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Showing posts from September, 2015

Why Amazon is my favorite Christian bookstore.

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My hometown has one bookstore—only one—which specializes in new books. [Update, 2018: Not anyore.] Although specialize isn’t the proper word. That’d be Family Christian Stores, which isn’t so much a bookstore as your one-stop shop for all things Christian. It sells tchotchkes about as much as books: CDs, shirts, toys, art for the walls… you know, “Jesus junk.” ’Twasn’t always thus. We used to have a Borders. It closed when Borders went bankrupt in 2001. In the ’90s we had a Crown Books, and that closed too. All that’s left are the used-book stores which sometimes carry a new book or two. And the book sections of Walmart, Costco, Target, and other department stores. And the local library’s monthly book sale. There’s the odd church bookshop, but they’re not open unless the church is, and not even then. Why can’t a town of 90,000 sustain a new-books bookstore? Because those stores, for the most part, don’t know what they’re doing. They didn’t realize, till it was too late, their

Gospel, gospel music, and the gospels.

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Sometimes we use a word so much, its meaning gets a little fuzzy. GOSPEL 'ɡɑs.pəl noun. Good news. Specifically the good news of God’s kingdom; or the revelation, teaching, and saving work of Christ Jesus. 2. A record of a great person’s life, teachings, and works. (Specifically a record of Jesus, namely the four included in the New Testament.) 3. adjective. Something meant to share good news, such as a book, tract, or song. GOSPEL MUSIC 'ɡɑs.pəl 'mju.zɪk noun. Black contemporary Christian music. The gospel , the good news of Christ Jesus, you know already. Or at least I hope you do. If not, I wrote all about it. Give it a read. Gospel music used to refer to Christian music performed by church choirs. Nowadays in the United States, it just refers to Christian music performed by African Americans. Might be R&B, hip-hop, rap, or rock; but if it’s Christian and the artists are black, it’s gonna be lumped under the category “gospel,” and you’re as likel

Getting Christian capitalization right.

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Y’know, we Christians have invented a lot of little (and stupid) ways to gauge how devout our fellow Christians are—how closely we follow Jesus, how much we respect and honor God, how saved we are. How many Christianese words and terms can we slip into our conversation? How likely are we to pray at the slightest provocation? Are we willing to mar the bumpers of our cars with Jesus fish and pro-God stickers? Can we quote bible verses casually, and post ’em on Twitter? One of those little litmus tests is how we do on Christian capitalization. Do we capitalize all the appropriate titles and names and holy things and their pronouns when we’re writing about God and Christianity? Fr’instance when we’re writing about God, we’d better darned well have capitalized the title “God.” I know; some Christians call it the name of God, but Y HWH ’s his name; God’s his title. Technically his species. Still: Capitalize it! It’s not lowercase-G “god,” like we use for other religions’ gods, espe

How I got mixed up with the Assemblies of God.

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Gonna talk about my church background a little. (Assuming you care.) The quick ’n dirty way to size up a Christian is to ask them their church. “What church do you go to?” Then you compare them with all the nutjobs in their church. Never the sane people who go to their church; never the sober-minded, thoughtful, kind, friendly types. (Assuming you know of any.) Just the crazies. So when people ask my church, I know that’s what they’re up to. I’ll tell ’em anyway: I’m a member of an Assemblies of God church. And off they dig through their memories. If I’m lucky they know a nice person who happened to go to such a church; if I’m not they know some cranks. (Worse, some of our cranks.) Or of various televangelist scandals. Or they know some different kind of crank: The sort who’s anti -Assemblies, who tell anyone who’ll listen, “Do you know what those people teach?” and make us sound like raging heretics. More often, people don’t know anything about Christian denominations. The

Must we read the bible every day?

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’Cause some of us just aren’t into reading. Just about every Christian teacher—myself included—tell Christians they gotta read the bible. ’Cause they gotta. We all do. We live in a biblically-illiterate culture, folks. Bible references are like that old children’s game of “telephone”: One kid whispers a message to another kid, who whispers it to a second, who whispers it to a third, and so on round the room… till it gets back to the first kid, who discovers the message changed an awful lot in transmission. Our culture has done the very same thing with bible quotes. “Loving money is the root of all sorts of evil” 1Ti 6.10 became “Money is the root of all evil.” “Don’t judge lest you be judged with the measure you measure others” Mt 7.1-3 got shortened to “Don’t judge,” and drops the real lesson, about inconsistency. “The lion will lie down with the lamb” is the over-shortened version of Isaiah 11.6 , where a wolf and lamb, leopard and goat, and lion and calf respectively l

Son of God and cheesy Jesus movies.

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Why is it the label “Christian” on movies, music, and fiction is so often synonymous with “junk”? When Son of God hit the theaters February 2014, various people at my church were talking about it like it was the Second Coming of Christ. In fact, I got in some minor trouble ’cause I joked about this when I was presenting our church’s weekly announcements. Humor-deprived Christians merit a whole other rant. But not today. From their website. Sorta. A Jesus movie! In the theaters! In wide release!—not just playing in the hard-to-find specialty theaters in major cities and college towns. Produced by Hollywood producers! (Well, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, anyway; she got to play Jesus’s mom.) Public vindication of everything we Christians hold dear! Meh. I’m not one of those Christians who are just thrilled to pieces every time Hollywood decides to pander to my demographic with a bible movie. Largely because they get so much wrong. And y’know, they get it wrong even when they

So… what does Jesus really teach?

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Makes no sense to “follow” Jesus, yet know neither what he said nor meant. Ask anybody what Christ Jesus did for a living, and nearly all of us will say, “He was a carpenter.” Yeah, he did do that for a living. Mk 6.3 Family business, apparently. Mt 13.55 More accurately Jesus was a tékton /“artisan”—what nowadays we’d call a contractor. Just to digress into history just a tad: Téktons didn’t just work with wood. Nowadays Israel has a lot of trees, but that’s because of a serious reforestation campaign the nation started decades ago. Thousands of years before that, the trees had been cleared to turn most of the land into farmland. By Jesus’s day, not a lot of wood. Lots of stones, though. (Good thing for archaeologists.) So Jesus worked with wood, stone, whatever—he made stuff , period. Makes sense; he’s the Creator y’know. My point is construction was Jesus’s previous job. By the time we read of him in the gospels, he left that job and took up a new one: Jesus was a rabbi.

Wait, a new blog? What’s it about?

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Introducing Christ Almighty! , your new favorite blog. Well, maybe in the top 10. Top 1,000 at least. Yep, it’s a new blog. In full, it’s called The Christ Almighty Blog . In short, Christ Almighty! In even shorter, TXAB , or “T-Xab,” as the kids might call it, if kids ever got around to reading it, and of course we all know kids don’t read. Really, neither do adults. Not even sure what you’re doing here. Oh right; curiosity. The purpose of Christ Almighty! is to talk about Christ Jesus. Or as Americans call him, Jesus Christ. In medieval times Europeans put titles after names, which evolved into last names, like Tom Butcher and Dick Baker and Harry Candlestickmaker. It’s why too many folks still think Jesus is Mr. and Mrs. Christ’s boy. We forget Christ means “anointed one,” an ancient Hebrew euphemism for king . Jesus is our king. He’s almighty. “Christ Almighty!” isn’t just a clever name based on a popular exclamation. It’s this blog’s point. Authentic Christ-following is