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Showing posts from 2009

Whatever Happened to "Merry Christmas"?

As I grow older, I find myself sounding more and more like my parents and those of their generation. I catch myself saying things like, “When I was growing up…”, or “I remember when…”, or “It didn’t use to be this way, why in the old days…”

So, having admitted this, let me say, I can remember when you would go to the store during Christmas and, after finishing your shopping, the store clerk would wish you a Merry Christmas; which you joyfully returned. But, it wasn’t just in stores, practically everyone wished one another a Merry Christmas.

Not today, however. Today I am bombarded with, “Happy Holidays”. And whereas Christmas cards used to proclaim boldly, “Merry Christmas”, now they simply wish the recipient a “Happy Holiday”, or “Seasons Greetings”. Such a generic proclamation could refer to any holiday, or any season.

On this point, Christmas Eve 2002, the New York Times ran an article that included the following observation about this “holiday” season:

“Heaven forbid that anyone …

Compassion Found in Hell?

The other morning I drove past an art gallery a block from my office and saw a huge black sign draped in front of the building proclaiming:
“Even in Hell there is compassion.”
What!! I thought as I did a double-take. Who would proclaim such a message; and, right here in the heart of the Bible-Belt, no less?
Surely, this must be some kind of prank. But, of course it isn’t. The sign was placed there to promote a new exhibit by the Compassion Project. It is the work of two artists who have placed this same message on billboards in several other Southern cities.
Even for those who are not particularly religious this is probably a message that seems quite odd, initially. After all, whether you believe in it or not, everyone knows that hell is a place of pain and suffering. So, on what do these artists base such a positive spin on hell? The teachings of Buddhism; Surprise!
The art exhibitor says they are sponsoring the work in order to promote understanding of a more expansive view of esca…

Do What is Right, not What is Easy

Almost as soon as the tragic news broke of the events at Fort Hood last week the clamor began that it was an act of Islamic terrorism. Shortly after the killing spree, Muslims reported that some of their Mosques had received threatening telephone calls. Apparently, there was no time to take a wait-and-see approach – to get the facts – folks were already making up their minds on this one

Now the facts have come out and the killer was, in fact, Muslim and from the information being released, was acting based on his connection to a radical Islamic cleric. So, all those who first claimed it was an act of Islamic terrorism, can say a hearty, “I told you so.” However, does that justify some of the hostile reactions directed toward some of the Muslim people in our nation?

Without question, there have been tremendous atrocities carried out in the name of Islam; but do those who perpetrate such actions truly represent the Muslim religion? While the terrorist would say yes, most Muslims in the We…

"Lap Time"

Recently, as I sat in Church waiting for the service to start, I noticed a man seated a few rows ahead of me and to my right. He had left empty the two seats beside him and next to the aisle. As the service started these two seats remained unoccupied and I noticed that periodically he would look at them with consternation.

As you can tell, I was rather curious about all this and paying more attention – possibly too much – to what was going on to my right than what was occurring on the stage.

About ten minutes into the service a couple came down the aisle and stopped at the two empty seats and the man welcomed them to sit down. Accompanying them was a child who appeared to be about seven years-old. However, there was not a vacant seat for him. Then it suddenly all became clear.

As the man who had saved the seats pulled the child to him and the young boy climbed up on his lap it was obvious that this was the boy’s grandfather. Considering there was no shortage of seats in the Church, it wa…

The Shrinking Church

In recent years many Christian denominations have acknowledged slower growth rates while claiming an increase in the number of adherents. Certainly, it is good that the Church is experiencing growth and not stagnating, or is it? Do the numbers really tell the whole story?

The recently released American Religious Identification Survey 2008, issued out of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, tells a different story. The Survey does confirm that, from 1990 to 2008, those affiliated with the Christian Church increased some 13.5%, from 151.2 million to 173.4 million. However, during that same time the US population increased about 30% from 175.4 million to 228.2 million.

What this survey found is that those who identified themselves with the Christian Church now represent 76% of the population; whereas, in 1990 this group represented 86.2% of the population. So, compared to the population as a whole, the Christian Church is shrinking in size, and possibly influence.

When broken down into subcateg…

Bus Wars! Atheists and Christians Take to the Buses

Amazing as it may sound, during a time of such economic difficulty as we are currently experiencing, atheists and Christian groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise on buses, in what can only be called - the "Bus Wars". As we reported last November, it began when an atheist group in England raised funds to purchase advertising on London buses that proclaimed: ""There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Obviously, atheist groups around the world found this to be a brilliant strategy as several of them adopted the campaign in their own cities. In the November issue of Crossing Currents we reported an atheist group was also introducing an advertising campaign on metro-buses in Washington DC. They are now joined by groups in Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, and Italy.

Do not be misled into believing that their message is limited to the posters placed on the sides of buses; it has a much broader scope. As the med…

Becoming a Post-Racial America? Part 2

The day before President Obama took the oath of office I acknowledged in my blog the magnitude of the historical moment and that it was, truly, evidence we have made great advancement as a country when it comes to race. However, I also wrote, “The question remains as to how much farther we must yet travel to truly be “one people” and ‘one America’”.

At least some of the pundits would have us to think that the trip is not that far, proclaiming we are already in a “post-racial” America. Certainly the President did not say or do anything that might lead us to believe otherwise. Yet, the reminder of darker times was still there as evidenced in the Inaugural’s closing prayer by Rev Joseph Lowery, which he concluded with:

“Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, ma…

Becoming a Post-Racial America?

No matter what one’s political affiliation, as we again observe the transfer of the presidency, it would be difficult not to acknowledge the particular historical significance of this moment. Without question, President-elect Obama’s inauguration is evidence of the tremendous advances we have made, as a nation, in regards to race relations. Some have even begun to refer to this as a post-racial America.

However, this is still up in the air. The question remains as to how much farther we must yet travel to truly be “one people” and “one America”. Christians, in particular must be willing to address this question.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name" and "Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind," you stand in the most segregated h…