Of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and Matthew 6

icebucketbreeBy now everyone knows and many have participated in the so called “Ice Bucket Challenge” with the intent to help charity.

It is absolutely wonderful that someone helps charities and, often, the motivations and ulterior motives for one doing so, are ignored on behalf of the end result of an act of charity, regardless as to whether such act is sincere or just a stunt.

One of the greatest marketing campaign in my opinion, in the field of charity as a skillful way to make people publicly demonstrate their charity by using the proverbial “blowing the trumpet” through getting an icy self inflicted shower, this cleverly planned campaign made people who otherwise are not attracted to charitable giving finally show some interest in altruism.

Now, even if one for the gift sake, or the cause it benefits, may ignore the fact that self-serving, opportunistic giving is not “real” giving, I really can’t say that the benefits of genuine Christian charity can be ascribed, to those who participated in such a public manner. Jesus told us to practice our charity in private. As God privately rewards those who pray in private, He will reward those who give in private; as men reward with accolades and recognition those who do it all in public, no reward will be left to those who find public approval and acceptance.

I know that, for many the Bible is a book to be questioned, ant it is only a part of other sources of religious authority, but, if these apologists of plurality of Christian authoritarian teaching could tell me, I would like to see any of their own para-sources of authority that teaches that our charitable acts should be practiced in public… Oh, but it is all for fun, intended to combine charity with fun… I’d say that I own a company, inactive at this moment, called “FunRaisers” whose slogan is “We put the FUN on FUND RAISING”, so, I am for having fun in giving, but, when the fun of giving becomes a buffoonish way of being ostentatious about your giving and attracting the attention to you more than to the cause you’re giving, then, YES, giving can become and exercise in the futile violation of Matthew 6.

Am I splitting hairs? Am I being demanding and legalistic? Well, saints, the little foxes spoil the vines, and often the things that we consider to be unimportant, and faddish, perhaps even innocent, but massively practiced, are the ones that will ultimately water down and dissolve good and traditional Christian teaching and trivialize the cause of those who truly depend on charitable donations. It will be not so far fetched for me to say that henceforth it will be very hard to motivate people to give to a great cause without somehow affording them some type of public recognition even if it includes something as innocent and clownish as wasting cold water! It is already happening! People get naked in the streets for the protection of animals, radio stations offer donations for each cockroach one can eat (as it happened in So. America) etc. So, where is the good old secret and worshipful giving?

I congratulate all of those who risked so much with a bucked of iced water being poured over their bodies, specially in summer, who sacrificed so much for the cause of charity. I give you my recognition and so do many Facebook and Tweet readers and the overwhelming majority of the population. Now with mine and the world’s recognition, plus the thrill of the cold water suddenly changing your body temperature, “you have received your reward”; expect none other!

My Faith

The question was asked of me recently when it was that I actually realized I had faith…I decided to answer in this way.

My faith was born in blood. Not the blood of Christ as you probably would expect, but the blood of a young lady when I was a young boy. We were walking back to her grandparents after watching a movie. She was shot and died on the street. She noticed the car and the gun men, I was to busy noticing her to see it. She died that I might live. She had “no greater love”. That is the day my faith was really born. My faith is in Christ and Him crucified as is my hope, but it didn’t start there. It started with one of His servants not with him.  Maybe I am odd, but I don’t think that my faith could have started any other way.

My faith grew as as a young adult in the blood of friends gone off to save the world. Friends who died that the Word of God might be spread to places like Afghanistan, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and the Sudan. Friends that believed that they not only could be a vehicle to change the world, but that they actually would be. With news of each death, the importance of the Word became stronger, not diminished. The need to share The Story became greater, not lesser. With each tear of sadness over lost friends came the blessed hope of Christ, and the joy of those who now believed. Eventually I would  go to similar places myself. Maybe I am odd, but I don’t think my faith could have grown any other way.

My faith became solidified in the death of my grandfather. Watching him suffer for numerous years with illness and helping to care for the one who had taught me nearly all that was important. The one who taught me the importance of prayer and the comfort that God can bring. In the hospital, around his bed with those grieving as he was nearing the end, my faith became solid when I realized what must be done. I grabbed his hands, and we prayed. Somewhere in that prayer he finally found peace. Interestingly enough, so did I. Maybe I am odd, but I don’t think that my faith could have been solidified any other way.

We need to understand that we should not be passing out pamphlets about God but rather be passing ourselves out as people of God. We need to realize that we don’t need to hand out bibles until we have lived the bible for those who would receive. We need to understand that before inviting people to church we should be inviting them to dinner, and lunch, and into our lives. I love the scriptures, study and read them often. Try to live them as well. That was not where my faith started. I love The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost, but that is not where my faith started. I love the churches I have helped in and the churches I only attended but they are not where my faith started. These things have refined my faith and helped it grow. They provided an incredibly useful base of knowledge of scriptures. My faith did not start there though.

I knew these words long before a 12 year old girl lived them for a 12 year old boy “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his own life for the life of his friend”. They were words on a page. Beautiful, poetic and inspiring words, but still just words on a page. Then someone lived them, and they became so much more than words, they became a lifestyle. Maybe I am odd, but I don’t think a life based on any other words is worth living.

 

Call For Papers – Reformed Theology and the African-American Experience #CFP

The title is my own

Ettelloc Publishing seeks papers from students in the fields of theology, practical theology, ethics and church history on the detrimental effects Reformed theology and especially Calvinism in its various forms have had on Black people whether in the past or present. If chosen all essays will be collected in an anthology that will be published in the year 2015.

Proposals of no more than 350 words will be due by October 1, 2014 and should be sent to info@ettellocpublishing.com

Love them all let God sort them out

This will be short, not overly sweet and blunt. While so many of us are busy debating who will go to hell and who will not, a decision that is far above our pay grade incidentally, we all to often ignore the fact that across the world and in our own nation, there are so many who think they are already living there. In Ferguson, our religious leaders are all to often (not always and not mine thankfully) taking sides instead of healing wounds. In Iraq the calls for prayer are followed by calls for further violence. The uproar over bringing sick Americans home for treatment of a deadly disease. We ignore Sudan, Mexican drug cartel killings, rampant gang violence in Chicago and so much more…I have this really revolutionary idea…let’s forget trying to figure out who is on their way to hell (judgement is real and God  will see to it, not us) and start actually helping those already living there.

a new book series: “The History of Reception of Biblical Texts”

From the Jim West,

Peter Lang Verlag is launching a new series titled The History of Reception of Biblical Texts. Scholars working in the field of reception history are encouraged to send along their manuscripts to the series Editor, Jim West.

The Series is brand new and aims to

… include a broad range of topics within the category of biblical reception history. Utilizing cutting edge biblical scholarship, these books discover, explain, and examine how the Bible has functioned in a variety of contexts throughout history. These monographs cover a wide range of topics including religions, visual arts, literature, film, music, context and community.

The description is quite broad because it is our belief that the history of reception of Biblical texts is expansive and virtually all encompassing.

We would love to hear from you if you have any questions and if you have a proposal.  Just drop the series editor an email at drjewest@gmail.com.

my interview in the local paper…

You can find it here:

Former fundamentalist preacher Joel Watts, now an active member of Christ Church United Methodist, holds a book of essays he co-edited on the process of leaving fundamentalism. The book includes a chapter on his isolating, fear-based affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ. He left the church after 32 years and now speaks out on the dangers of repressive and rigid fundamentalist teachings

via The Charleston Gazette | Innerviews: Spiritual saga traces break from fundamentalist church.

To those discovering this site for the first time…thanks for stopping by.

“Long Black Veil” and (re)telling the Story from a different perspective

So I am ate up with this song at the moment. This is the original:

There are several editions of it, but I heard the one from Sammi Smith today…for the first time… and it was awesome. Sorta of that feeling when I hear the Creed recited by a large crowd.

It is…well… it is.

But, when Sammi’s version got to this verse, I nearly…

She walks these hills in a long black veil
She visits my grave where the night winds wail
Nobody knows, no, and nobody sees
Nobody knows but me

In her version, sang as the mistress, it goes like this:

I walk these hills in a long black veil
I visit my grave where the night winds wail
Nobody knows, no, and nobody sees
Nobody knows but me.

I can picture the two, if this was a real story, as I stood afar distance… both singing this verse… It is a matter of perspective, of the voice, that no one else knows what is happening. I think this happens in the Gospels as well. Perspectives change. Stories are told differently. Maybe not.

But it does happen in (re)reading prophecy where we read something clearly for someone else and we take for ourselves.

Also, because I know someone wants to hear it…

larger canvas…my wrist hurts…but another painting.

This is the largest canvas to date. 30 x 40. It may also explain why my right wrist is producing mind-numbing agony.

Tried the washes….the sun has a red/yellow/orange wash coming off of it while the rocks have a white wash acting as foam. There are red birds to the right.

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I’m learning a lot about patience from painting and a few other things. It is relaxing and more relaxing than drinking…. although I bet if I combined to the two… anyways…

 

My first abstract attempt #painting (is this really #art?)

No need to really give you all the lead up-to pictures.

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I admit, I like blue and red. It creates a 3-d image, at least on my phone. Funny thing… so I see two angels/birds in here. That means I see the red as hell. The “bird” on the left now has a trumpet. The yellow, I guess, could be the gospel? Abstract art is weird and makes me feel funny.