Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Impossibly Optimistic Wish List For 2018

I loved so many things about my immediate surroundings in 2017: my family, friends, church, jobs, - and hey, no heart attack this year! - so in that sense I'm good with 2018 looking a lot like 2017, except the Buckeyes make it into the college football playoffs. However, I do have an Impossibly Optimistic Wish List For 2018 that involves the media, the President, political factions, we the people, and myself. Here they are, in no particular order.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The War (?) On Christmas

It's the time of year when we hear a lot about Jesus, Santa, holiday cheer, peace on earth, yuletide celebrations, free shipping for a limited time, and....war. War?

The sense that there is a war on Christmas is nothing new in the United States. The Puritans outlawed it for a time; Henry Ford was convinced a Jewish plot was overturning the Christian celebration; the John Birch Society thought the U.N. was the villain; current groups keep track of department stores that celebrate - or don't. The President himself has made the return of Christmas to the White House a significant issue in his campaign and his presidency.

Is there really a war? Should people be worried about Christmas being banned or otherwise taking a pummeling across culture? And what's a Christian to do in the midst of all this controversy? In this episode, I offer some (hopefully) helpful thoughts about the origins of Christmas, the history of the church's observance (or lack of it), the current state of the cultural clash, and some recommendations for Christians about how to honor what Christians believe to be the reason for season.

As always, I value interaction with you! You can listen to the Etcetera podcast on Soundcloud or on various apps (such as Podcast Addict or Stitcher Radio). Then, feel free to comment on this blog, the Etcetera blog, or on our Facebook page. Meanwhile, here are some recommended links that may be helpful in thinking carefully about this topic.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Does It Mean To Be A Science Denier?

I've been hearing the phrase "science denier" tossed around quite a bit lately. Frankly, it's usually a rhetorical bludgeoning tool to dismiss someone who disagree with someone else about how to properly use the scientific method or how to rightly understand information and conclusions. It's almost never actually about someone "denying science" - unless they are postmoderns. 
In all these cases, it doesn't mean that both sides are right because they don't agree. I'm also not making the claim that both sides are using the scientific method with equal vigor. I am just noting that almost no one denies that the scientific method is good for studying the natural world. There are remarkably few actual "science deniers" in the scenarios I just mentioned. A better term might be "science challengers" or "establishment skeptics," since a scientific argument is occurring between two sides who at least claim to value science but strongly disagree about the robustness in which the method is being employed.

My point here is limited: "science denier" is almost always an inaccurate term, and I see it everywhere. It annoys me. It's a conversation stopper meant to poison the well in any discussion. In a world where real news is called fake news and words seem to increasingly lose their meaning, even small victories count.

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(1) I think there is an argument to made that all statements about origins are unavoidably theological statements in that they will make a claim about the necessity or possibility of God in the process. Some start with or without God and then make claims about science; some start with science and then make claims about the existence and/or nature of God - or lack of it. Either way, the two topics become tightly intertwined. Let's not kid ourselves: both sides are trying to tell a story of everything that enables us to hold a belief (or non-belief) about God that meshes with what the scientific method reveals.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Moving Into The Neighborhood

When Christianity first started, the followers of Jesus lived in a world full of people in situations that were really at odds with Christ and his teaching.  What were they to do now that they were spiritually Christian while almost everybody around them was a culturally very Roman?
The early followers of Christ often took an approach to spreading the Good News of the gospel that was not only counter-cultural to the Roman and Greek way of life, but was countercultural to how the church today often handles the uneasy tension between the church and society. The early church wanted to reach their cities – they cared about them, after all -  but they lived in places where they were surrounded by a lot of really bad stuff.