Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

With different cultures and world-views come various traditions.  This week, families across the United States will join one another around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving.

As my family joins together there will be the singing of worship songs/hymns, a recitation of what we are each thankful for, and a blessing.  To round out the celebration there will be turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, rolls, corn, beans, cranberry salad, and maybe even a healthy dose of football.

Our celebration will be a mix of family, cultural, and religious traditions.

As you gather together: 1) How will you celebrate? 2) What traditions combine to make your Thanksgiving celebration uniquely yours?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Battle for the Ages: "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" XIII

Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching... The Christmas shopping season is about to be in full swing, as well.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the angst over store employees saying "Merry Christmas" and/or "Happy Holidays" is in full swing as well.  In recent weeks, I've begun to receive emails from Christians that contain lists of stores that we should not support since they are instructing their employees to say "Happy Holidays".  

I have also read some recent editorial pieces in local newspapers that suggest it is wrong and intolerant for stores to allow their employees to say "Merry Christmas".

Personally, I don't really care one way or another.  I won't be boycotting any stores just because they refrain from wishing shoppers a "Merry Christmas," nor will I be writing a letter to my editor explaining how I think the loss of this phrase signals the end of America as we know it.  In other words, I'm not offended about this shift.

Many, on either side of the debate, however, seem to be rather incensed- feeling like this is an issue of ultimate importance. 

My questions to you are: Where do you stand? Is it intolerant to wish someone "Merry Christmas"? Does it really signal the end of all that America has stood for, simply because someone will wish you a "Happy Holidays"?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Becoming an Atheist

The other day, as I was perusing the internet, I came across this draft of a chapter from an upcoming book.  The chapter is about a girl named Lily and her journey of faith, doubt, and an eventual break from the Christian faith.  I would encourage you to read the chapter and post your thoughts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Does It Make You Crazy?

I live in a rural community in the north-east.  The closest movie theatre is 20 minutes away.  By-and-large the people of this area are known for their conservative values.  President-elect Obama, although winning both the popular and electoral college votes in our state, lost the popular vote (by a landslide) in our county.

I bring this up, only to provide some context for the comments that I am about to make.  Although I'm a Christian, and a pastor at that, I think that is important for people to make informed decisions about things.  On election day, I encouraged the members of my congregation to make informed decisions about who to vote for.  I suggested that we should look at all of the issues, and not just whether someone was pro-life or pro-choice.  Moreover, we endeavored to provide voter's guides that came from non-partisan sources.

When it comes to literature, magazines, and movies- I have encouraged people to explore things for themselves, rather than simply relying on what "Focus on the Family," or other reviewers have had to say.

To that end, when I saw the trailer for Bill Mahr's movie, I REALLY wanted to see it.  I've been waiting around (for well over a month) for this movie to come to a theatre near where I live.  However, it does not appear that the movie plans on coming my way.  

It's a shame really.  I would really like to encourage our church people to go see it.  Unfortunately, it looks like I will have to wait until the film hits DVD.

Until then, I was wondering what your thoughts and impressions about the film were?  Would you recommend it? and, Why?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who Doesn't Love a Good GPS?

"Why are we here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come."   ~from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

As I sit down this morning to write this post, I think back over the years of my life.  I think back to two questions that have tortured me; two questions that I have desperately sought the answers to.  The first: Who am I?  The second: Why am I here?

Admittedly, my search for answers has led me down many paths and to many a bookshelf.  I've read books on evolutionary theory, creationism, intelligent design.  I've turned to authors such as: Beckett, Sartre, Heidegger, Neitzche, and Kierkegaard. 

My journey, and search, was not an emotional one.  I'm not an overly emotional human being.  In fact, I find empathy and sympathy to be incredibly difficult.  Emotional arguments do not appeal to me.  Neither do arguments that have no supporting facts.  Somewhere along the course of that journey, I began to find answers to my questions.  I began to understand who I was, and (at least to some degree) why I am here.

My questions for you are: 1) Have you undertaken a similar journey? 2) What persons/authors/philosophies did you encounter along the way? and, 3) Have you found satisfactory answers to those questions of identity and purpose?