Thursday, 28 January 2010

Church is for girls!

Reposted from The Times Online:

By Ruth Gledhill

"Real men don't like going to church because they don't want to "sing love songs to a man", because the "vicar wears a dress", because they feel like "mongrels on parade at Crufts" and because they want to be waited on by women rather than queue for coffee after the service.

A number of distinctly non-pc ways to get men back into church are among those being advocated by a charity, Christian Vision for Men, which has discovered that the Church has lost nearly half of its men aged under 30 because it has become too feminine.

The charity admits some of its ideas might not be seen as politically correct.

But on a questionnaire on its website aimed at finding out why so many men have left church, they suggest a number of ways of making men want to return to church again.

These include redesigning the interiors of church buildings to make men feel more at home.

Instead of the usual flowers and statues of the Virgin Mary, they suggest, "How would it go down to decorate with swords, or pictures of knights, or flaming torches?"

The charity continues: "Maybe it's not 'politically correct', but men quite like the attention of women! They also like to be waited on - so long as they are not made to feel guilty. Instead of having to queue for coffee, why not ask some of the women to go round with trays of coffee and biscuits or chocky bars? Coupled with a charming smile, many men would find that very attractive!"

Then there are the hymns, or modern worship songs, themselves.

Quite apart from the sheer embarrassment of having to sing out loud when the tune might go too high or be in an unfamiliar key, the charity advises clergy just to look at the words.

"Jesus, I am so in love with you," or "Beautiful one I love, beautiful one I adore," - many men wouldn't sing that to their wives, let alone another man, the charity advises.

It continues: "The image of church is 'women and children' - action songs or kid's plays just emphasise this. The decoration is often very feminine - flowers, embroidered banners. The vicar often wears a dress... It can be embarrassing to be next to someone in uninhibited delight of worship, or in tears."

Men don't want to feel brainwashed by reciting words that they don't believe: "The language can be offputting, even the word 'love' has undertones of the love of a man for his woman - they'd rather 'admire' or 'respect' another man. Think how they will respond if called to be Jesus's lover, or to be 'intimate' with him. Don't play into Satan's hands by using language that he has corrupted."

Among the changes recommended by Christian Vision for Men, a member of the Evangelical Alliance, is to use the World Cup to boost falling congregations. The charity wants vicars to erect big screens above the pulpit during this summer’s World Cup in South Africa and even serve beer during games.

Carl Beech, General Director of the CVM and Baptist Minister, said: “The World Cup is when pretty much every bloke in the country bonds over a common goal.

“Why can that not be done in a church? The decline has been steady for a while but has accelerated over recent years.

“The problem has become male culture versus church culture. Too many sermons talk about Jesus’ love, compassion and grace which are great but not male concepts. Men want to know about his great decision making and leadership. That is what they recognise. Churches are very pastorally driven whereas blokes are looking for decisions not discussions. The breakdown in most churches is now 70 per cent women to 30 per cent men.”

The charity, which also recommends subjects as "pornography" are discussed in church men's groups, has also launched two Christian-themed men’s magazines in a further bid to lock into male culture.

Bishop of Lewes Wallace Benn admitted there was a problem. “The relatively small number of men in our congregations is one of the pressing issues facing the church today.

“Within our Christian concern for all ages, both sexes and every ethnic group, we need to address reaching men with the good news of the Gospel as a key concern.”

The Church of England have tried to address the slump in the last five years by encouraging services to be held in alternative venues such as skate parks, coffee shops and pubs under their "Fresh Expressions" scheme.

A spokesman said: “It is of concern. We do know there appears to be a higher proportion of women to men in church.""

Till Next Time!

Monday, 25 January 2010

95 Theses Rap

Thanks to Per-crucem-ad-lucem for posting this. The 95 Theses Rap from Bulldog Productions, of Yale University:

If you havin’ Church problems then don’t blame God, son …
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.

Listen up, all my people, it’s a story for the telling
’bout the sin and injustice and corruption I been smelling:
I met that homie Tetzel, then I started rebelling
Once I seen the fat Indulgences that he been selling.
Now the Cath’lics of the world straight up disgracin’ me
Just because I waved my finger at the papacy.
My people got riled up over this Reformation …
That’s when Leo threatened me with Excommunication.
I warned y’all that Rome best agree to the terms.
If not, then you can eat my Diet of Worms!
You think you done something spectacular?
I wrote the Bible in the vernacular!
A heretic! [What?] Someone throw me a bone.
You forgot salvation comes through faith alone.
I’m on a mission from God. You think I do this for fun?
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.
Save me!

Ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.
If you havin’ Church problems then don’t blame God, son …
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.

One Five One Seven… that’s when it first went down.
Then the real test was when it started spreading around.
Sixty days to recant what I said? Father, please!
You’ve had, what? Goin’ on fifteen centuries?
“Oh snap, he’s messin’ with the holy communion.”
But I ain’t never dissed your precious hypostatic union!
“One place at one time.” Well, thank you Zwingli.
Yeah, way to disregard that whole “I’m God” thingy!
Getting’ all up in my rosary … you little punk.
Your momma shoulda told you not to mess with no monk.
What you bumpin’ me for? Suddenly you sore.
Keep that up, you’ll have yourself another Peasant War.
You blame common folk for the smack they talkin’ …
You ain’t even taught them proper Christian doctrine.
With my hat, my Bible, and my sexy little nun,
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain’t one.
Save me!

When I wrote the ninety-five, haters straight up assailed ‘em.
Now they only care whether or not I nailed ‘em or mailed ‘em.
They got psychoanalytic. Now everyone’s a critic,
And getting on my case just because I’m anti-Semitic.
I’ve come back from obscurity to teach y’all a lesson,
Cuz someone here still ain’t read their Augsburg Confession.
I said Catholicism brings a life of excess,
And we all remember what went down with Philip of Hesse!
But you forgot about me and my demonstration?
Like you can just create your own denomination?
“We don’t like this part, so we’ll just add a little twist.”
Now we Anglican, Amish, and even Calvinist.
I gave you the power, you gone and abused it.
I gave you God’s truth, you just confused it.
Don’t you never underestimate the s*** that I done …
I got 95 theses but the Pope ain’t one.
Save me!

Shout out to Johann Gutenberg … I see you baby.

Till Next Time!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Bible: A History

Make sure that you are in at 7pm this eve in front of the TV. Channel 4's new short series, "The Bible: A History" is beginning and looks like its one not to miss. 'Each film is written and presented by a prominent figure with a particular interest or experience relevant to the part of the Bible being examined. They offer a personal interpretation of some of the best-known aspects of this ancient book, which still guides the lives of millions of believers across the globe.' Mark Goodacre (NT Pod) has been a series consultant and although I can in no way can guarantee what will be said I'm sure that it will leave us with something to ponder!

Till Next Time!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

TV Evangelism

Sometimes these are too accurate!

Till Next Time!

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Internet Bible: Adam and Eve


Till Next Time!


"Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture." - Anthony Burgess, quoted in 'Found in Translation', The Times, 11/01/10

Read the whole article here

Till Next Time!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Tasty Testicles

I've been watching a BBC programme called 'Kill It, Cook It, Eat it'. The premise of the programme was to show the process of making various meats from the live animal to the cooked meat on your plate. It also shows you have the cheaper meats are made which was both interesting and disturbing. I strongly suggest you watch the episodes. They are available on the BBC iPlayer now, or visit here to see them all in one place. You must be quick thought as Ep 1 is only available for another 2 days. If you can't stomach the full lot I believe there is a best bits episode next week.

I particularly liked episode 5 'Offal Feast' where the usually wasted parts of the animals were made in to meals for the participants. These include, but no exhaustively: Ox tongue, pig tail, pig heart, pig head, lamb sweetbread (glands) and piglets testicles! Bon appetit.

I must say that I went onto the website after the episode to see if they had posted the recipes for the Offal Feasts but alas not. With that said I've decided that I'm going to attempt to cook with offal in the near future. I think it could be a penny saving and yet tasty experience.

Till Next Time.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

It's certainly an effective way


Not quite sure if his moral compass was working but you can't fault the results, if it were true that is.

Till Next Time!

Monday, 4 January 2010


Have you seen this? Words cannot even begin to explain my feelings towards this. Conservapedia, the self proclaimed "trustworthy encyclopedia" is an website much like Wikipedia but with a 'conservative Christian' bias. They set out to remove the liberal bias which they see as rampant in the mainstream media such as Wikipedia. They have gone so far the other side it's not funny. However they could be forgiven if it wasn't for this:

The Conservative Bible Project

It's awful. They have set out to re-write the Bible from a conservative point of view, or 'correctly' as they claim. Their site states:

"As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias

2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)

3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level

4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent; Defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".

5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots"; using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census

6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.

7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning

8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story

9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels

10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God.""

Honestly, it's enough to make one go crazy! How are we supposed to understand the Bible when people start with a bias and translate the Bible accordingly, or even in some cases leave out verses with a 'liberal bias' such as Lk 23:34; 'Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."' No, I'm not joking.

If you want to read some of what they have managed to abuse you can find the Conservative 'Bible' so far on their page (link above). I for one hope it dies a death, and quickly.

For further info BW3 has posted on this and even has videos!

Till Next Time!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Magi and the Continuity of Faiths

Recently I've been reading 'Seeking the Asian Face of Jesus' by Chris Sugden. It is a fantastic book and must be read by everyone, especially those who are looking at doing mission abroad. The only critiques that I can charge it with are that it is too short (at c.450 pages!) but then it was written as a PhD thesis so what could he do? And also there are so many typos, spelling mistakes and even occasionally missing words that I almost put it down.('Hypocrisy' they cry!) I'm glad I continued but I plead that it be edited by someone.

For part of the book Chris looks at the work of Wayan Mastra, a Minister in Bali, and particularly in relation to his critique of Hendrik Kraemer. Mastra was a native (although part of western education) and was brought up in the church initiated by Kraemer. Kraemer was a Dutch Theologian hired by the Bible society of Netherlands as the supervisor for Bible translation work in Java who concluded that since Bali was a intrinsically religious culture that it was incompatible with Christianity therefore when people converted they were kept out of their society. Mastra argued that this demeaned the Balinese Christians and the Gospel and therefore sought to integrate the two. He did so quite well in my opinion but I'll let you look closer as to his means yourself.

So what has this to do with the Magi? In Matt 2:1-2 we read that 'After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."' Has that ever struck you as odd that gentiles were practising Astrology and were lead to Jesus? Hadn't God forbidden the practice of Astrology? Why would he then use it to bring the Magi to Jesus? This was brought up at church today where we were lead to Matt 7:7-8; '"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.' Those who sincerely look will find.

It reminded me of what Mastra argues. He argues that the idea that God's grace isn't present in non-Christian religions (as Kraemer proposes) is to misunderstand grace. Mastra draws on the work of Karl Rahner and says, "Karl Rahner insists that is it quite wrong to consider the non-Christian as a man who has not been touched by the grace and truth of God.'[p. 91]. Mastra uses Acts 17 as an example of the continuity between Non-Christian religions and Christianity. Mastra notes that rather than criticising the Athenians beliefs he uses them to explain the Gospel through the means of the 'Unknown God' Statue, proof of their devotedness to religion and regard for God. It may also be noted that Paul quotes their philosophers who declare that 'We are his offspring'(V28).

This is not to say that other religions are to be celebrated, or that they are salvific but rather that they are a stepping stone to the true faith. In Acts 17 we see that Paul was 'greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.'(v16) Mastra notes that as well as a continuity between faiths there is also discontinuity, a process of growth where continuity leads to ultimate differences. Mastra uses the image of a bridge:

"We start off on one side of the bridge which is connected to the river-bank on which we are standing...We set off on the bridge because is stretched right to the other side of the river...When we reach the other side we find ourselves on a new riverbank in a different country we left. But as we look back over the bridge, we see that the same bridge brought us to this new country as took us from the old one." (p.93)

Perhaps then this is what we see in the Magi. Not that they were being encouraged in their Astrology, nor that they were being justified by God, but rather that He was using their earnest searching to lead them step-by-step to the other side of the river, to the new country, to a true faith in Christ.

I must say that this is a subject close to my heart as I am in love with Japan and feel called there. Japan is also a religious culture of sorts and therefore I seek to find a way to witness to them which is firstly faithful to God and his scriptures, and secondly which is effective to those I witness to. I pray that I will, by God's grace, be able to do this.

Picture by He Qi

Till Next Time.

Great song

A few years ago whilst at (New) Word Alive I was dragged along to a gig by some random guy called Andy Flannagan. Fortunately he was fantastic and I recently managed to procure his CD, 'Son', for 99p from Wesley Owen (along with Phil Joel's, of Newsboys fame,'The Deliberate People Album' and The O.C. Supertones 'faith of a child' for the same price!) . A highlight from his gig and the CD was the song 'See the Stars'. You can listen to a clip here. Here are the lyrics:

See the stars, hiding history
Feel the scars healing me
Your collage jolts my memory
Changing fast, yet at peace

The sky grabs for attention
Screaming on and on till

I hear the song you wrote
I see the stars
They've waited years to quote
Your words of power

See the stars, burning fiercely
Feel the fire from their core
God so far, yet so near me
Goes behind, and before

I fear there's mostly darkness
Black revealing white till

Now the words you speak will be my song
You have whispered quietly so long
Give me ears to hear what my eyes see
This God stretched out in front of me

I cannot help but wonder
How can I deserve this?

Till Next Time!

A great resource for the Creation/Evolution debate

Which ever side you fall on I strongly suggest that you have a look at this paper by Tim Keller,pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York: 'CREATION, EVOLUTION, AND CHRISTIAN LAYPEOPLE'

In it he argues that belief in the Bible and Evolution aren't mutually exclusive and looks briefly at 3 big questions which those who look to reconcile their faith and science will face:

1) If God used evolution to create, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t do that, why take any other part of the Bible literally?

2) If biological evolution is true—does that mean that we are just animals driven by our genes, and everything about us can be explained by natural selection?

3) If biological evolution is true and there was no historical Adam and Eve how can we know where sin and suffering came from?

It's very accessible and written with the layman in mind. I strongly suggest you all go there now and read it.

HT: who also provides a few excerpts and also a little constructive criticism.

Till Next Time!