Friday, September 28, 2007

Letters to a Young Evangelical

Let me start by saying that Mr. Campolo (sorry, Rev. Dr. Campolo) lost all credibility with me halfway through the book when he discussed the fact that he and his wife belong to separate churches. She belongs to a church that affirms homosexuality, while he belongs to a nearby church that does not affirm homosexuality. It just goes to show that anyone can write a book and get it published, it just takes a sucker like me to read it. (At least I didn't pay for it, thank you public library.)

I'm sorry, but if you can't even manage to go to the same church as your wife, then you have no business teaching me anything about anything, let alone trying to give an overview of the current cultural, political, theological, and ecclesiastical landscape.

It's amazing to me that some of these authors (Leonard Sweet comes to mind) are encouraged to write at all, let alone paid for it.

The topics that Campolo discusses in this book are great topics that I am indeed interested in: fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, women's roles, homosexuality, abortion, conservative politics, southern baptists, Biblical inerrancy, etc. These are great topics, hot-buttons even; but their relevance is ruined by this man's stupidity. Here is a classic case of a man who needs to stop trying to inform others, and get a handle on his own life first.

Here's the deal:

I'll tell you when I read a book that is a really great book, but has some conclusions that I disagree with - "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell.

Likewise, I'll tell you when I read a book that is just a complete waste of time whether I agree with its premise or not - "Sex/God" by Rob Bell, just about anything by Leonard Sweet, as well as this book, by the Rev. Dr. Campolo.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

My wife would ask, "Don't you think it's hypocritical for you to accept into the church, and even ordain to the ministry, persons who have been divorced and remarried, but to turn around and forbid gay marriage? How can you accept marriages that Jesus specifically condemns, and then turn around and oppose marriages Jesus never even mentions?" My only response is that the prohibitions against homosexual eroticism were so prevalent in His time that Jesus saw no need to talk about the obvious. But my wife doesn't buy that argument.

Language of the Emerging Church

This would be the only book by Leonard Sweet that I've actually enjoyed, A is for Abductive - The Languag of the Emerging Church. It is actually co-authored by Brian McLaren, though I don't have much interest in reading any of McLaren's other books, popular as they may be.

This isn't so much a book as it is a dictionary of terms related to the "postmodern emerging church movement", and a useful one at that.

Much of this book is total crap, as Mr. Sweet has shown in his other works that he has a penchant for making up words and phrases and has a field day with a "dictionary of terms." You could go crazy trying to wrap your mind around these entries: Cyborg, Double Ring, Eschaton, Fractals, Helix, Holarchy, J-Factor, Matrix, Robitis, String Theory, Xenophilia, Zending.

Despite Sweet, this book was useful and will be helpful in the future also. Of particular note was the entry on Deconstruction. This entry pretty much sums up the entire book and the emergent church, at least from the viewpoint of McLaren and Sweet. I understand deconstruction/post-modernism, but I have a hard time buying it, because I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. I'm not very prone to thinking that I've been "duped" by everyone and everything around me. The major blunder of this book for me, was comparing the emerging church movement to "The Truman Show" and "The Matrix", thereby implying that everything around us is one big lie. Sorry, I may be a disgruntled child of the grunge era, circa 1993, but I'm not paranoid enough to go jumping down the rabbit hole.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

IQ Test

One of the most popular posts I've had, judging by the number of comments I received, was the Theological Worldview Test.

So without further ado, I present the brain-burning IQ Test:

IQ Test

Leave a comment and let me know how you scored.

Exodus 33 - 39

Synopsis of Sept. 16 Dinner & Discussion
Exodus 33-39

After the shameful golden calf incident, Moses intercedes for Israel. So rather than killing them all, God had a few thousand killed by the sword and a bunch more by a plague. Moses asks to see God's glory and things get a little trippy. Technically, Moses gets to see God in a roundabout way. Moses heads back up the mountain for another forty days while God writes the covenant down again, since Moses smashed the original tablets.

A notable verse from this section comes from chapter 34:6 - God passed in front of Moses and said, "I am the Lord, I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so, I do not leave sin unpunished..."

Chapters 35 through 39 recount the actual building of the tabernacle. The people are given a list of everything that is needed for the tabernacle and they proceed to bring those things joyfully. 35:21-22 "All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the Lord.... Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing." Eventually they are told to stop bringing gifts because there is more than enough for the project. One question that came up: When was the last time you heard a church or pastor say, "Stop giving because we've got more than enough"?

Next time, we're going to pick up in Chapter 40. We're almost through with Exodus and then its on to Leviticus. Leviticus is where most people come to a grinding halt. Or they stop because of the amount of blood involved. Our next Dinner and Discussion will be on Sept. 30 at 6 pm.

Monday, September 24, 2007

God is not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything

Before I begin to review this best-selling book by Christopher Hitchens, I need to first explain to you Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor is a philosophical principle from the 14th century that is often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the right one."

There, I've saved you from having to go out and purchase this book by Mr. Hitchens. The author relies so heavily and references so often this 600 year old principle, put to paper by a monk, that his book really should be titled, Occam's Razor: Religion Poisons Everything. Ah, but that book just wouldn't sell now would it. I have to admit myself that the title "God is not Great" really did jump out at me from the shelf at Target.

There are glaring differences between this book and the last book I read, The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins fancies himself a scientist, while Hitchens fancies himself a journalist. Hitchens' book reads more like an editorial in the back of the paper. It is a 300 page rant, sometimes dipping down to a level of pure childishness. I guess it was just a little disappointing after having read Dawkins' book, which was simply a better piece of writing.

If you wanted to read both books, I'd say be my guest, though it might be a bit redundant. But if you were only going to read one, then I would definitely recommend The God Delusion.

I'm still waiting to receive Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris.

Back to Metal

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oasis Church

Church Field Trip #15
Oasis Church (Formerly Church of Pembroke Pines)

We visited this church for one reason. They are currently ranked #17 on the list of America's Most Innovative Churches. There are two other South Florida churches on that list: Flamingo Road Church (ranked #38), and (ranked #7). I'll be visiting the Wellington campus soon.

I can give you a couple guesses as to why these churches are on this list. Flamingo Road's two recent series, and were pretty innovative. Oasis Church began holding worship services 7 nights a week to help with their space issues on the weekends. And there were definitely parking issues at 10 am on Sunday morning. They have a total of 10 services on their main campus each week. That's actually daring and innovative. And is just plain innovative by their very nature, period.

I must admit that I was caught a little off guard by how well-dressed everyone seemed to be at this church. I usually have a good sense of what to expect before heading into these churches, but this church surprised me in a few different ways. For the record, I like to dress casual for church if I can help it. (I'll pop a picture of my "church garb" up here for you.)

Upon arrival, a greeter checked us in at a wall kiosk. That was a nice high tech touch. Unfortunately, the kiosk then proceeded to print out name tags. Sorry, but I'm not a fan of the name tag. They have a cafe that is very well appointed. Coffee, pastries, cookies, juice, water, etc. This included a small bookstore set-up as well as some tables and chairs. Notably, the tables and chairs were quite nice. Some were high-tops and others were long tables with benches - the type you'd see in a German Beer House. I think that I've grown so accustomed to the appointments in a church either being portable or cheap or both, that I was surprised to see such a permanent dedication of materials to this cafe.

The worship was well done. This was one of the most satisfying worship experiences that I have had in these four months. There were no distractions. There was about 80% participation from the audience (a big factor for me). And the worship band was both diverse and talented. The sanctuary had a flag hanging from every country that is represented by the members of their congregation. Diversity is definitely a priority for this church.

Prior to the teaching, they played two videos. These are typical videos that certain websites produce and then sell to churches for $10-$20 a pop. I've seen both videos before. One video, Christian vs. Christ-follower (a play on the p.c. vs. Mac commercials) seemed to go over the heads of most of the congregation. The church had just begun a series on this premise of being a Christian vs. being a Christ-follower. Pastor Pat Roberts did a fine job teaching, incorporating the Gospel into the end of the sermon. He used a plethora of scriptures throughout the sermon, so I'm not even going to bother to record them here, sorry. Here are a couple notable quotes:

"Many people confuse Biblical paradoxes with Biblical contradictions. A Biblical paradox is simply God's reality, which to us, sometimes looks like a contradiction."

"A Christian will follow Jesus part of the way, until it gets difficult. A Christ-follower will follow Jesus all the way to the cross."

"You have to constantly empty yourself out so that God can fill you up with His purposes."

"Stop trying to figure out the Kingdom of God if you haven't been born-again. You must be born-again before any of this will make sense."

"As a pastor, if I go out and do something unbecoming of a pastor, then, in that moment, I cease being the person that I claimed to be. If Jesus had walked away from the cross, He would have ceased to be the person that He claimed to be."

This church was a bit of a paradox itself. In some ways, it fit some stereotypes. But in other ways, it was indeed innnovative.

Follow - Up: Recieved a letter from the church which included a hand-written note from Pastor Guy Melton, "Thanks for the blog comments. God bless you. Sorry, no cookies or goodie bags."
Trust me, I'd rather hear the Gospel and experience real worship than get cookies, a candle, and a book I'll never read.

Four Recent Interviews on the Emerging Church

In reference to my recent review of the book Truth War, here are a few articles that were published this month.

Here's the John MacArthur interview in Answers Magazine.

Here's the Mark Driscoll interview in Christianity Today.

The Rob Bell Interview by Wittenburg Door.

The Brian McLaren interview by Wittenburg Door.

Good luck making sense of McLaren. Most of what comes out of his mouth is complete nonsense.

I love that Mark Driscoll takes criticism like it is a compliment. I can appreciate that. When someone tells me that I'm "flippant", it simply means that I am not a "people-pleaser."

Todd Rhoades, over at Monday Morning Insight, compared John MacArthur to the Soup Nazi. I think that that comparison is simply brilliant. He loves the soup (scripture). He is a master of making soup (exegeting scripture). But he has no love for people.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Satan's Sex Ed.

Here are two of the videos shown during the Satan's Sex Ed Series at I can imagine that there are a lot of churches where this just would not fly at all.

These are really funny.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I like Craig Groeschel. I like the concept upon which his multi-site church was built, though I'll acknowledge that it isn't for everyone. I also like his preaching, though I wasn't a fan of the money-back guarantee. I listen to him every week online. My favorite series so far was Satan's Sex Ed. One of the videos they ran for that series had me on the floor laughing. I'll post it for you. Which reminds me, makes all of their materials available FOR FREE. Eat that, Ed Young.

Now that I've shown that I'm a true fan of Groeschel and his ministry, I can freely say that I did not really enjoy his book, Chazown. I think it was better the first time I read it when it was called Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. There is nothing new in Chazown. Worse yet, it is filled with pastoral cliches that drive me up a wall.
First, he uses the graphic of three intersecting circles to illustrate his first three points - discovering your vision, your values, and your gifts. Ugh. Then he moves to a graphic of five spokes on a wheel to illustrate the next set of ideas that will "transform" your life. Gag. Typical of a pastor, he is in love with alliteration. He even encourages you to write a mission statement for your life. Yuck. That just makes me squirm.

This book isn't totally devoid of worth, I just know that Groeschel can do better. Maybe next time, he'll leave aside all that is "expected" of him as a pastor and really just write something real and from the heart. If his second book, Confessions of a Pastor: Dropping the Pose and Getting Real, is anything like this one, I may go postal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Man vs. Wild

When I was in Michigan this summer, my friends were arguing over who they liked better - Bear Grylls - Man vs. Wild or Lee Stroud - Survivorman. Hearing this conversation, I admitted that I had not seen either show, but had only seen the promos for each. Upon return to South Florida, I quickly sought out each show on the Discovery Channel. I've tried to watch Survivorman and I just can't bear it. I don't like the awkward camera angles and I'm actually kind of bored with Stroud. He just doesn't capture my attention.

Not so with Bear. In less than a month - a weekend marathon of episodes didn't hurt - I grew to love Man vs. Wild. I got a chance to watch about half of the existing episodes when they suddenly disappeared from the t.v. schedule. Then I heard about the news tidbits that fans in the U.K. were upset and disappointed that some of the portions of Man vs. Wild were allegedly staged, or assistance was given off-camera. I'm sorry, but I've seen Bear do some crazy, disgusting stuff with my own eyes and I'm quite satisfied with what I've seen. I could care less if he is staying in 4 star hotels when that camera gets turned off. (I've emailed the Discovery Channel those sentiments exactly.) At this point, there are only three shows on television that I truly enjoy - Lost, won't be back until January 2008; Entourage, I lost my free HBO and I'm now forced to download this show; and Man vs. Wild, so don't give me crap about how this show isn't "real enough." It's real enough for me. It's entertaining and I like Bear, so I want my show back!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The God Delusion Part 3

Finally, I want to tell you why I really liked this book, and Dawkins as well. Dawkins may spend time flirting with the outskirts of religious belief, but eventually, he makes to the very core of its being. I've said before, that I appreciate that Dawkins went right for the throat when he attacked Yahweh himself. That makes it a man v. God battle and leaves me out of it.

Elsewhere in the book, Dawkins gets right to the heart of the matter and attacks the idea of faith itself. Faith can easily be explained by simply looking to Hebrews 11, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see". By that definition, which Dawkins would surely agree with, he would call any person who has faith a total idiot. This is why I like Dawkins. Usually, we agree on the facts. The difference involves our response to those facts.

  • Fact: The world is wonderfully complex and creative: Dawkins' response - There is no god. My response - God is awesome.

  • Fact: The Bible was written by approximately 40 men over the course of 1500 years: Dawkins' response - a vast error-filled conspiracy to control people's minds and lives. My response - sorry, but I don't buy into vast conspiracy theories that involve 40 people and span 1500 years. You would require less imagination in just believing that God inspired it all.

  • Fact: Faith is assurance of what we hope for and certainty of what we don't see: Dawkins' response - faith is a delusional act of idiocy, ignorant of reality. My response - I am blissfully ignorant of Dawkins' reality and I will most happily live in God's reality. He's bigger and way cooler.

We all have pretty much the same stuff placed before us, it is just a question of how we respond to it. I believe that those who truly seek after God will find Him. I think I read that somewhere.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The God Delusion Part 2

The author of this book spends plenty of time picking at various targets that make up the whole of religious belief. He definitely enjoys picking apart the faulty doctrine of the Catholic Church, but that really isn't much of a challenge.

One particular argument that Dawkins kept pushing was the horror of childhood indoctrination into religious belief. In his view, if we simply stopped this form of psychological child abuse, religion would eventually slink off into nonexistence. I have a problem with this argument. It leaves no room for adult conversion, which I'm sure he would simply classify as another infringement upon the rights of humanity. In all, I find that his "child indoctrination" argument holds little water. Once again, I think he relies too heavily on his experience with the Catholic Church and its methods of propagating religion.

Also, too often Dawkins comes off as simply elitist. Not all of us received the fine upbringing that he had that brought with it a fine education as well. He believes, that through his disbelief, he has attained a higher level of consciousness - he has reached the next evolutionary step on the ladder. As far as he is concerned, anyone who is stupid enough to believe in God might as well be snorting crystal meth, beating his wife, and running around naked on the show Cops. I realize, too well, that the religious types can easily project the same elitism from their camp. But I am not willing to accept this "I've figured it out" attitude from either side. It's like a game of Na-Na-Na-Na Boo-Boo on the preschool playground.

Stay Tuned for the finale....


I had to pass along this post from shane:


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The God Delusion Part 1

I'm currently reading the popular trio of books by the "New Atheists" - Richard Dawkins' God Delusion, Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, and Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great. Actually, I've just finished Dawkins' book and I'm halfway through Hitchens.

You might be surprised to hear me say that this book was actually a pretty good read. I like his style and the format presented. Dawkins, despite his obvious dislike of religion and faith, does his best to convert the ill-informed with this book. You see, this book isn't just a diatribe against the evils of religion, it is actually a concerted effort to win over the religious with irresistible logic: "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down. What presumptuous optimism!" I've never seriously considered the tenets of atheism, so I believe I'm up for the challenge.

Dawkins does a fine job of using the shotgun approach to the logical argument. He devotes a small section to every-single-thing-that-he-can-come-up-with-that-is-wrong-with-religion. I like this approach, though. It is probably the same way that I would attempt to explain my own faith in God. There is not one single instance or evidence which led to my faith, but rather a conglomeration of divine coincidences in my life.

He attacks the usual suspects of the religious scene - crusades, jihad, chauvinism, priestly sexual abuse, slavery, bigotry, open hostility to science, conspiracy, Biblical error/inconsistency, etc. One of my favorite parts of the book was the author's loathing of the President of the National Association of Evangelicals - Ted Haggard, pre-scandal. I can only imagine the added comments that the next edition of this book will contain concerning the recent downfall Mr. Haggard.

Though religion of any sort, and even faith in anything not evidenced scientifically, is the main object of this book's derision, Dawkins makes it clear that one enemy has done more damage than any other in the realm of religion. He specifically names Yahweh as the principle evil in the world, though admittedly an imaginary one by his own standards. He explains how Yahweh, the God of Abraham, is single-handedly responsible for the world's three major religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As such, Yahweh is also responsible for a millenia of brainwashing and destruction.
I must confess that hearing Dawkins call out God by name, by his real name even, makes me quite squeamish. I don't think I'd want to walk next to Dawkins during a thunderstorm, if you know what I mean. If this guy is looking to pick a fight, it sure isn't with me. Given the chance, Dawkins would go straight to the source, God himself. I think that is why our relationship is an enjoyable one as author and reader. I don't feel like Dawkins is attacking me. I feel like he is attacking God himself. Well, God doesn't need me to be his bodyguard. Good luck with that one, Richard.
To be continued..... This is a 3 part post, this book deserves it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Truth War

This is the latest book from John MacArthur, who has written more than 150 books. I think my dad owned most of them. I, myself, have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with MacArthur. I consistently use his study Bible and I listen to him almost every day on the radio, but I would also agree with those who sarcastically refer to his radio program as Grace to No One. MacArthur definitely loves the Bible, I'm just not so sure that he actually loves people.

This book has two angles:

1- attack the Emerging Church, specifically Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Mark Driscoll, Donald Miller, Rick McKinley, Rick Warren, and T.D. Jakes.

2 - recount the past occurrences of apostasy in the church.

MacArthur recounts the apostasies of the Judaizers, the Gnostics, Sabellianism, and the Arians, relying heavily upon the book of Jude for his scriptural references. He also spends a significant portion of the book responding to Brian McLaren's various theological viewpoints. He could very well have titled this book, The Book of Jude: Why Brian McLaren is Wrong.

Let me be clear that I agree with much of what MacAthur says in this book, but I think that he goes too far in his openly hostile attitude and broad strokes of the sword. Much like his attack on the seeker-sensitive movement, MacArthur just doesn't know when to quit. In his zeal for knowledge and truth, he is often blinded to his own haughtiness as the self-appointed defender of the faith. Granted MacArthur is getting old, 68, but I've been listening to him, courtesy of my dad, for the past two decades and he has always been like this.

If I said that Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, and Mark Driscoll's Radical Reformission have had more impact on my life than any other extra-Biblical book, then I've just thrown myself straight into a hand basket destined for hell according to MacArthur. Well, I'd rather spend that time with Rick and Mark, than with the humorless, stodgy, elitist John MacArthur.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Exodus 30 - 32

At our last Dinner & Discussion, we covered Exodus 30 -32. Specifically, we talked about the remaining building plans for the tabernacle - including the incense, anointing oil, washbasin, and the atonement ransom for each man. We read about the craftsmen who were to build everything, as well as some additional rules about the Sabbath - indicating it as a permanent sign even though Paul later nixed it.

We read the humorous story of the Golden Calf. This story could make a script for the television shows "Three's Company" and "Gilligan's Island". Everyone was trying to throw everyone else under the bus, including God himself. One of our group noticed the invention of Goldschlager in 32:20, nice one. We also discussed the unique relationship that Moses had with God. Listening in on their conversations is quite an eye-opener. We barely made it into the beginning of chapter 33, so we'll probably resume our study with the beginning of that chapter on Sept. 16 at 6 pm.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3 Types of Churches

Church Field Trip Summary Statement

After visiting more than a dozen local churches, I think I am ready to give a summary statement. There are basically two things on my radar when attending a church: 1- Presentation of the Gospel in a clear and complete fashion; 2- Whether a service is up-to-date and relevant in its presentation and appearance. (This is simply my own personal criteria.) So far, I have seen three different types of churches based on these two observations.

1. Churches that are at least somewhat relevant to our culture and time, but somehow either missed the Gospel entirely or presented it incompletely, theologically speaking.

2. Churches that managed to present the Gospel in a clear and complete fashion theologically, but were not able to exhibit some sense of cultural relevance and an up-to-date presentation.

3. Churches that were able to present the Gospel completely, while at the same time, presenting at least some semblance of cultural relevance.

  • So far we've been to 4 churches that nailed the Gospel, but were almost laughably irrelevant. Trust me, I don't use this term lightly. Sometimes, it can actually be hard to keep a straight face.

  • We've also been to 4 churches that were up-to-date in their presentation and experience, but glossed over the reason we were there in the first place - the Gospel.

  • We visited one church that didn't meet either criteria. This church is a large and growing church, which just goes to show that every study has to have its margin of error.

  • And we've been to 3 churches that were able to do both. It should be noted that these three churches in this category were three of the largest, fastest growing churches we've visited. I wouldn't take this fact and run with it, but I do think that it is at least worth noting.

Would you say that this is a representative sampling of churches in South Florida?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

First Church West

Church Field Trip #14

We visited First Church West in Plantation for two reasons: one, a member of our posse visited this church years ago and told us that the pastor opened the floor for questions at the end of the sermon - an intriguing approach. Two, the pastor, Dr. Norman Wise hosts a variety of groups, one of which is called Socrates Cafe - a place for thinkers/philosophers to share their ideas - another approach many pastors would do well to adopt.

Upon our arrival, we received about three genuine greetings, and we were guided to sign in at the guest book. At this point, I should clarify my definitions for genuine and standard greetings. A standard greeting is the typical handshake at the door with a "Hello, how are you?" thrown in for good measure. A genuine greeting is one that involves an introduction by name, and also includes that person asking me what my name is as well. I want the greeter to at least feign interest in who I am and what my name is. Genuine greetings are few and far between at our church visits and that is unfortunate.

The music was early 90's contemporary. There were about 50 people in the room, but I'd venture a guess that there were probably more at their early morning traditional service. I was impressed with the way that Dr. Wise was multi-tasking by running the power point presentation both during the worship and during his own sermon. Of course, the use of power point itself would be another hallmark of the 90's.

The sermon, "Falling into Insanity" was based on Romans 1:21. I must admit that, for the first time in 3 months, I did not take good notes during the sermon. Pastor Norm did a fine job conveying the complete Gospel in a clear manner. He also used Jeremiah 2:5 and Ecc. 10:2 (NLT). In an interesting twist, he used Psalm 14:1 to prove the existence of atheists, countering the argument that there are no atheists in foxholes.

Three things he said did stand out to me though:

"It does me no good to speak to the unchurched people, because they aren't here in church."

"I have to speak to the people who are here, the church folk."

"Christianity is being reduced to an experience. An experience without knowledge."

Upon our departure, we were greeted by Pastor Norm and given a gift basket that included a small booklet - "Why a Crown?", a copy of a recent sermon CD, the Book of John on CD (I thought this was a really cool idea until I noticed that it was King James Version. Bummer), a vanilla scented candle, and a leather bound journal.

Once again, if you've never heard of, I'd encourage you to check it out.

Follow - Up: Received a standard letter from the church.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fast Food Nation

The first half of the book, Fast Food Nation, was somewhat of a dry, slow read. I'll give the author credit for doing his research, but slogging through the entire history of the fast food/restaurant industry was daunting. It was interesting and I still enjoyed it and learned a lot, but it was kind of like watching the history channel when you know that you're missing Seinfeld and The Simpsons.
I imagine this is the reason that they fictionalized the movie version of the nonfiction book.

The second half of the book, was what I really came for: it was all about the production of the food itself. But here's the interesting thing - Schlosser didn't take the angle that I thought he would go for. Rather than dwell on the "plight of the animals" amid ever rampant industrial farming, he continued to build on the foundation that he had been laying throughout the book - that this was an economic, political, ethical, inhumane, poisonous, toxic, dangerous quagmire that involved much more than just the animals.

I would recommend this book to everyone. I think that this book should be taught in the classrooms. The author concludes the book with recent updates and changes in the industry since the first publication - most are not positive changes. He also has over a hundred pages devoted to notes, research, bibliography, and an index. Unlike Trudeau, who might as well be peddling fortunes alongside Dione Warwick, Schlosser really does his homework and then follows it up with more homework.

I suppose now I'll watch the movie.

Aimless: Beer & Christ

Aimless: Beer & Christ

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Show Me How to Live

When I visited Calvary Fellowship in Miami Lakes, I noted their "rockin edge" as well as the intro video they created. Bob has recently posted the video on his blog. Now you can see what I'm talking about:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Flamingo Road - Sawgrass Campus

Church Field Trip #13

You'll remember that Flamingo Road Church Cooper City was our very first church field trip. Their Sawgrass campus is a satellite campus - they meet in Regal Cinemas Sawgrass, they have their own campus pastor and their own live worship band, but the preaching is piped in via video onto the movie theater screen. I actually visited this church campus for their preview service on Christmas Eve 2006. There seemed to be less signage outside on this return visit. We arrived about 15 minutes early and we received 3 or 4 standard greetings on our way in. They had a merchandise booth set up near the entrance and a coffee bar further down the hall.

The worship was enjoyable, as a theater easily lends itself to a live worship experience. The worship leader, Brian Fuller, managed to touch upon the Gospel during the opening prayer. The campus pastor, Matt Miller, came out and spoke to us for a few minutes, and then the video presentation began.

On this particular Sunday, they decided to show us a taped sermon recently given by Pastor Troy while he was visiting Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. The influence of Fellowship Church upon Flamingo Road as well as a great many other churches is undeniable. Typically, Troy preaches at the Cooper City campus and they pipe the feed into the various satellite campuses. Maybe it's just me, but knowing that it was a sermon taped and given at another church just took something away from it. It also makes me wonder what they did at the main campus? Did they also watch a video of a taped sermon given at another church? I suppose I would have rather heard Matt drop a sermon than be served left-overs.

That said, let me be clear that it was a good sermon. It was a convicting sermon, and it really did speak to me. I don't think that too much is lost from watching a preacher on a screen, except possibly the level of audience participation. To his credit, Troy tries to involve the audience, but it sometimes falls flat in the darkened theater.

Pastor Troy is obviously adept at delivering the Gospel in a clear and convicting manner, so I'll give a couple notable excerpts from his sermon on "Getting Naked", referencing John 13:1-17 (TNIV):

"It's hard to admit: I am dirty. I screwed up. I am a sinner."

"We'll say: 'God, please forgive me for my sins'. But we don't want to name them specifically."

"We don't know how to handle real authenticity."

"Most people spend their entire life pretending to be someone they're not."

"God has called us to create environments where we can be real and authentic."

"You are afraid that if people really knew you, they would walk away."

Unfortunately, we didn't get to speak with Pastor Matt, as we didn't see him before or after the service. I suppose we've been fortunate that we've been able to speak to the pastors at 10 of the 13 churches we've visited.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Naked Pastor

They are conducting an interesting experiment/illustration over at Flamingo Road Church. I was a big fan of the campaign, so I'm waiting with baited breath for their next experiment.

If I'm understanding this correctly, their pastor, Troy Gramling, will be under constant surveillance for 5 weeks, call it TroyTV. The site for this experiment is If bloggers throw a fit over a church giving out an i-phone, I'm sure the uptight keyboard quarterbacks will have a field day with 24-hour pastoral surveillance.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Starting a Revolution in Your World

We received this book as a gift when we attended Calvary Fellowship in Miami Lakes, FL. Bob Franquiz is the author of the book and the pastor of the church. I must admit that I had low expectations of the book - seeing the church "give away" it's own pastor's book seemed suspect to me. But my suspicions were invalid, as this book was a quick, excellent read that spoke directly into my life and also played along well with the very sermon that he had preached during our visit.

Franquiz devotes the much of the first chapter to the idea/concept/word: REVOLUTION, as well as a great deal of the subsequent chapters. Ah, Bob, you had me at hello. You had me at hello. The subject of this book, as a prime example of revolutionary living, is none other than John the Baptist, the oft-overlooked cousin of Jesus.

Honestly, I do not even know where to start. I literally highlighted and marked up so much of this book, that I can only really recommend that you get a copy for yourself. If I start listing notable excerpts here, along with impressions that I've taken away from this book, this post will turn into a book itself. So I am going to limit myself to a couple excerpts:

"Too many times Christians try to wear humility like a hat, and it turns out to be a false humility."

"People left institutional religion and went out to the desert to see John because he was an example of the life that he offered. Too many times, we as Christians are offering something that we ourselves don't possess and then we wonder why those that don't follow Jesus won't respond."

"The church in America has totally missed the boat when it comes to what it means to follow Jesus. We have resolved that to be a follower of Jesus is to repeat a prayer, but neglect living a life to the glory of God. True Christian faith is an invitation to be part of a revolution... men and women who have decided that 'playing church' is not an acceptable way to live."

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