July 2010 Archives

Christ Our Lord Author, Anne Rice, Quits Christianity

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Anne Rice Last Wednesday Anne Rice announced that she has left Christianity. Rice is known for her Vampire Chronicles series including Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned. In 2005 she began publishing a series of books based on the life of Christ. Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt was published in 2005 and followed by Christ Our Lord: Road to Cana in 2008.

Via her Facebook page, Rice stated “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten…years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Would you stay a Christian if it conflicted with your conscience? Is is possible to advance Christ’s kingdom without bearing the title Christian?

Unusual Church Buildings

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Unusual Church in Iceland

I am fascinated by unusual church buildings. The above is a church in Iceland. Village of Joy has a list of twenty interesting churches.

Can architecture—just like singing—be a form of worship? How do your surroundings effect your worship? ThinkChristian asks: What role does the building play in worship?

Vampires, Werewolves, and Twilight, Oh My!

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Twilight Book Cover Vampires, werewolves, and Twilight, oh my! I first began my experience with the world of Twilight and all things magical to get in touch with the younger teenage girls. I found it to be a world that I knew little about and found it quite odd at first. I mean, who would want to read a weird love story about a teenage girl and a 107-year-old vampire? Like that could ever happen anyway!

I was having a hard time connecting with young teens being a young twenty-something and finding this whole Team Jacob/Team Edward thing a bit confusing. I caught myself making fun of all the other college students my age who were actually reading these books. I couldn’t believe that they would stay up late at night to read a book that was not for a Western Civilization class or their next Biology exam. Really? College girls were even getting sucked into the vampire world now? Even though I thought that the vampire craze was a little ridiculous, I found myself being sucked in pretty quickly myself.

New Moon Book Cover Once I started reading the books, I found them quite enjoyable and hard to put down. It really was not like me at all to read a book for enjoyment. Most books I read were mandatory, but yet I couldn’t put it down. I also found it helpful connecting with younger girls in my youth group back home. I was able to bond with young girls and instantly gained some coolness with them when I had said that I had read all of the Twilight books. For example, I was a sponsor for a weekend Christian retreat dedicated strictly to teenage girls. At first I found it difficult to have a conversation with them about anything because even though I was a teenage girl once, everything they thought was cool had totally changed in the past decade. Then I remembered Twilight. I know, I know, it sounds silly that a book would be an icebreaker with a group of girls, but it really was! We were able to discuss literally for an hour straight which book was the best, what would be better—to be a vampire or a werewolf—and did Bella choose the right guy.

In the Twilight Saga, Bella, the main character of the books, has a dilemma over which guy that is in love with her to choose. Doesn’t every seventeen year old have this problem? Two extremely wonderful guys fighting for her love. Ah, which one to pick? The werewolf, Jacob, is not immortal; he will eventually die. Bella could have a nice long life living with Jacob. However, the other guy she could choose is Edward, a vampire. He will live forever unless he gets decapitated or something like that. If she chooses the path with Edward, she could have the potential to become immortal too. Most people reading the book imagine being put in that same situation. Especially since the author, Stephanie Meyer, wrote the book in first person. And so, discussion with the teenage girls I was sponsoring led to what it would be like to live forever as the Cullen family was doing in the Twilight Saga.

Eclipse Book Cover Is living forever really all it is cracked up to be anyway? Edward and the rest of the Cullens didn’t have a choice in the matter; they were changed into vampires by someone else’s doing. However, Bella would have the choice. She could pick: live a normal mortal life or live forever.

As Christians we have a similar choice: We can live forever in eternity with Jesus Christ who died for our sins, or we could spend eternity in hell because we did not accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Hearing girls discuss eternal life really opened for discussion about Jesus telling people that he had come to give eternal life. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and you might have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV). I also talked to the girls about the Bible story of the woman at the well. Jesus Christ told her that he had something far greater than water. He had Living Water. Jesus said in John 4:14, “I offer water that will become a well spring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again” (The Voice).

On my journey of reading one of the most popular books of this generation, God made something extraordinary happen: I was able to share with teenage girls the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Boy, I didn’t see that coming from reading a book about vampires and werewolves! It just proves to me again how God can use anyone or anything to help people build relationships that matter for eternity—true eternity with Jesus Christ.

Christi Mitchell resides in the great metropolis of Oklahoma City. She likes Lisa Frank stationary, Rubik’s Cubes, robots, and zonkeys. When she grows up, she hopes to be like April O’Neil.

"We Are Strong and We Are Weak"

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One of Popsickle’s own writers, Emily Whelchel, posts original songs on YouTube.

We’ve all had times when we’ve felt inadequate or weak. In the comments, share how God has gotten you through those times.

Hating in the Name of Jesus

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Protestors Someone I respect once told me that every century or two a significant portion of the Christian community enthusiastically participates in at least one terrible injustice. I don’t know exactly why, but this observation has really effected me. Every time I see Christians on the news in mobs with signs yelling about people they hate I have to wonder if what I see is this generation’s version of Christian white supremacy. I want to know what causes us Jesus followers to undermine our identity as gracious, loving people. My best guess is insecurity. From white supremacy to the Inquisition, most of the blunders in which Christians have been involved seem to have at least this one thing in common. Sometimes it’s theological insecurity, sometimes it’s political insecurity, and other times racial insecurity; the ultimate end is that a particular group of people is identified as a threat to society and dealt with. During these times of injustice, Christians make enemies, and they believe that when he said things like “love even your enemies,” Jesus wasn’t talking about these enemies (see the Sermon on the Mount).

I’m supposed to be writing about worship. So how is injustice and insecurity even remotely related? They pertain to the disposition of the Christian community toward one of Christian music’s own worshipers. This particular worshiper has recently announced that she is a lesbian, she has been a lesbian for some time, and will continue to be both a worshiper of Christ and a lesbian. The Christian community which I am involved in responded, for the most part, with overwhelming insecurity. Jennifer Knapp—in case you haven’t heard the hubbub—is the worshiper that I am talking about. I have enjoyed her music for years and have worshiped God while singing songs she has written.

I must admit that I feel some theological insecurity myself when I think about the ramifications of her coming out. Can I listen to her music? Is it really worship? She always seemed to be a Christ-like woman. Is homosexuality compatible with the gospel? Wait, people genuinely worship with her songs all the time. Does that mean they weren’t really worshiping? If they were really worshiping, then her music must have been used by God. Does God like gay music? Wait, I like gay music—crap.

God Hates Shrimp So why does injustice fit in? It fits in because of the rising insecurity in Christian circles regarding homosexuality. Well, insecurity isn’t the best word; rage would be more appropriate. Disapproval and hatred toward homosexuals are both beginning to be treated as if they must come hand in hand. Can’t I disapprove without hating? In a century or two, will my descendants look back at the Christians of my generation with regret as does my generation now look back at Alabama lynchings done in Jesus’ name?

My mind is constantly haunted by the phrase “make a stand” regarding this topic, because another person who I respect has accused me of neglecting to do so. Even though I think homosexuality is wrong, I would much rather make a stand for grace and Christ-like love (the gospel) than rabid heterosexual totalitarianism (hatred towards other sinners justified by theological insecurity). There is no danger in showing grace towards someone who is wrong. In fact, it is what we are called to do. It’s what Jesus did. It’s our only hope. Grace is safe because grace and moral endorsement are not the same thing. Grace is loving acceptance despite rigid disapproval. Injustice happens when your disapproval lacks love.

If any of us wants the world to be better, God-fearing, or more righteous, it seems obvious that hatred and condemnation are the wrong tools. In other words, if I believe that homosexuality is wrong and I want to make sure wrongness is made right, then my most effective tool is not hatred but love. I cannot show this kind of love if I am trembling in fear and insecurity because the wrongness is icky and gross. God showed grace to whores even though they were icky. Jesus prescribed grace for the lowest of people. A large population of Christians think homosexuality is icky. Are we really going to let that keep us from carrying out God’s greatest commandment?

Jennifer Knapp So what about Jennifer Knapp? If you think she’s wrong, should you make sure not to sing her songs in church, delete her MP3s, and torch all of her CDs? Maybe the right response is neither “yes” or “no.” Maybe it’s “grace.” I’ve decided not to be discouraged from that grace by icky-ness and to remember how I want to be treated whenever my own filth is uncovered.

I can’t pretend that I don’t remember that Jesus also fiercely turned over tables at the temple, told early Christians to separate themselves from immorality, and warned us about “wolves.” I want to do that too, but I want to do it out of strong faith and steadfast love—not insecurity and hatred. I want to be a part of a generation of Jesus followers who understands love. Maybe my generation can be the loving generation without hallucinogenic drugs.

Steven Soward is an avid music listener and teaches guitar to youth and adults in his community. He enjoys religious and philosophical study and has a degree in Religion from Oklahoma Baptist University. He is a Jesus follower.
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