Washed in the Blood

Washed

In the 1970s and 1980s, nearly every movie that was set in New York City begins with an establishing shot of a graffiti-covered subway. In an article and podcast episode that describes this and the New York Transit authorities attempts at cleaning up the subway it writes:

That graffiti was like illegible technicolor hieroglyphics—a language that even most New Yorkers couldn’t read. It gave you a sense that the subways controlled by wild gangs of teenagers. And they kind of were. – 99% Invisible

The sense in these scenes is that the city officials had lost control of the subway. And they had.

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Why Christian T-Shirts, Movies, & Music Aren’t Very Good

christian-t-shirts

Christian t-shirts, mediocre films about the rapture, and Christian music that is a copycat of the Top 40 are proof that Christians largely misunderstand the doctrine of vocation. To be fair, this isn’t completely caused by Christian t-shirts and movies, and there certainly are some who do well within those spheres. But largely, within evangelical Christianity, the word Christian has been routinely used as an adjective that allows people to give uncritical approval to music, books, clothing, and movies.

Check out this incredible description of evangelical culture from Redemptorama:

“In Orange county, one of the chosen places of evangelicalism, it was possible to dwell in a total Christian environment. Letting their fingers do the walking through the Christian Yellow Pages evangelicals could buy a car from a born-again dealer, get their taxes prepared by a devout CPA, get their necks unchecked by Christian chiropractors, consult Christian lawyers for Christian divorces, purchase their fashion from a Revelation outlet, get their carpets cleaned by a Christian-operated hydro steam unit, have their coiffures trimmed at Hair After, have their pools cleaned by New Life Pool Maintenance, have their drains unclogged by Agape Plumbing, and get their pests fumigated by Golden Exterminators, Inc.” – Flake, Redemptorama, (HT: Harold Senkbeil)

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Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Repetition

There’s a retired lab technician called EP, who in the book Moonwalking with Einstein, is referred to as “the most forgetful man in the world.”  EP suffered from one of the most sever cases of amnesia ever documented; his memory extended back only as far as his most recent thought.

The book records his amnesia in a dialogue:

“What is the thing to do if you find an envelope in the street that is sealed, addressed, and has a stamp on it?” Frascino asks.

“Well, you’d put it in the mailbox. What else?” He chuckles and shoots me a knowing, sidelong glance, as if to say, “Do these people think I’m an idiot?” But sensing that the situation calls for politeness, he turns back to Frascino and adds, “But that’s a really interesting question you’ve got there. Really interesting.” He has no idea he’s heard it many times before.

“Why do we cook food?”

“Because it’s raw?” The word raw carries his voice clear across the tonal register, his bemusement giving way to incredulity.

I ask EP if he knows the name of the last president.

“I’m afraid it’s slipped my mind. How strange.”

“Does the name Bill Clinton sound familiar?”

“Of course I know Clinton! He’s an old friend of mine, a scientist, a good guy. I worked with him, you know.”He sees my eyes widen in disbelief and stops himself.

“Unless, that is, there’s another Clinton around that you’re thinking of—”

“Well, you know, the last president was named Bill Clinton also.”

“He was? I’ll be—!” He slaps his thigh and chuckles, but doesn’t seem all that embarrassed.”

In a recent post on Liberate, I described his amnesia when he responds to his own reflection by saying:

“An old man… that is all.”

There is something interesting about this story, however.  EP regularly would go on walks around his neighborhood, despite not being able to remember what his own house looks like and having no idea the directions around his neighborhood.

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Because the Internet

Because the internet

This post is a guest post by my friend Jacob Goff. Jacob and I make sure to hang out whenever I’m in St. Louis. He rambles about theology occasionally on SimulBlog and also is a co-host for the Theology After Dark podcast.

The rise of Luther’s revolutionary influence coincided with the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg.

Why was this revolutionary? How does dispersing better information more efficiently to a greater number of people have such a huge impact on the thrust of Church history?

Before the printing press, it was way easier to hide knowledge.

If your business model is built on hiding knowledge from people, then you would have been really frustrated by this new threat which democratizes knowledge.

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Freedom of Work

Freedom of work

Freedom is not a word I would typically use to describe work. Even in good jobs, there is a weight and pressure that makes work much closer to slavery than freedom. There demands of the difficult days, the painful conversations, and the stressors of the job make work feel like being in chains. There’s a burden that comes in the tension as you anxiously wait to see if today will be a good day and your boss will be care-free or if today will be a day with the micro-managing boss who checks in on every single detail.

And add to the external burdens, the internal, self-created burden that comes in our work. For many of us, we use our job as a means of validation. Our careers, our success, and our job satisfaction become the measuring stick for our worth.  Because of this, I am a slave.

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Disciple-Making in the Living Room

Disciple making

When Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” it starts in the living room. For most of us, the primary callings that we have take place in our home. We are called to be husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister.  As parents, the calling to be a father or mother is not only a call for physical provision and protection, but it is a call to make disciples. The most important goal that I have as a dad is to raise my kids to believe the Gospel. As a dad, before I can ever worry about preaching the Gospel in my church or neighborhood, I need to preach the Gospel under my own roof.

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Minding Your Own Business

Minding

It’s easy to dream about the living the life of somebody else. We can look at the allure of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has endless amounts of money that most of us couldn’t even imagine. Or we look at the excitement of the entrepreneur, who might not be wealthy but clearly loves what she does. Or we look to the popular speakers and writers who share their stories in front of thousands and have best-selling books with people hanging onto every single word. Or even amongst our own friends and family, we can do the same thing with the house we own, the family we are a part of, and the types of vacations that we go on.

As a culture, we make it our business to envy the lives of the people around us.

We are experts at knowing what type of life would make us happier than the life we are in right now. We are prodigies at dreaming about the life we don’t have. We sit at our desks and daydream about what our work will be like someday. We contemplate the future dreams of our family and imagine what our family life would be like when we finally get that promotion.

But what about right now?

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How God Cures My Daily Amnesia

amnesia

In The Journal of Neuroscience, there was a man referred to as E.P. He was an 84-year-old retired lab technician. E.P. suffered from one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever documented. In his case, his amnesia was so bad he could only recall his most recent thought. So questions like, “Who is the President?” or “What did you have for dinner?” would be completely unknown to him. In the book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes his encounter with E.P. and the amnesia he suffered.

When Joshua met with E.P. they decided to go on a walk. As they went on the walk the author observed several different things that were interesting about him. E.P. would go on the same route every time he went on a walk, yet if you were to ask E.P. to draw the map of where he would walk, he had no idea the route he went on. Often when he would walk, he found something. By the time he got home, as he was holding the object, he had no idea how he got what he had in his hand. As he passed by his neighbors, he would reintroduce himself to his them every single time as though they were complete strangers. As E.P. and Joshua concluded their walk, E.P. returns home to a place he doesn’t even recall is his own, walks down a street he doesn’t know the name of, and past neighbors he just met but doesn’t remember.

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Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther

Cover 1

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of a new eBook that I’ve been designing and editing in order to share for free with the world – Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther.

Martin Luther is a theologian whose writing has changed my life. Luther, in a day when the Church hijacked the message of the Gospel, stood boldly for the proclamation of Christ alone. In a world that literally sold people forgiveness for a few bucks, Martin Luther came onto the scene recovering the message of the scriptures that said, “The price has already been paid.”

But here’s the thing about Luther. He’s intimidating. He wrote a ton and now that we are about 500 years removed from the date of his writing (not to mention it was written in a different language), it can be a bit tough to dive into the works of Luther.

I want to change that.

I want more and more Christians to dive into the depths of the theology of Martin Luther. I have no doubt that many of the distinctions that are found in his writings are needed in today’s churches and in our conversations about the scriptures. And one of the best places to be introduced to Luther is in his commentary on Galatians.

This commentary on Galatians is truly the work of Martin Luther… but for the everyday person.

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“I Commit My Spirit”

Spirit

When Jesus died, his life was not taken… it was given.

Even in the last statement Jesus makes on the cross, we can see this. Jesus calls out in a loud voice… which doesn’t sound like the way one responds after being beaten, being exhausted, and on the verge of death.  And in his own words he says, “I commit my spirit.”

Jesus isn’t saying, I’ve lost.  He isn’t saying I can’t make it anymore.  He’s giving up his life.  The irony is that in the events of the day, in the suffering, in the rejection, in the hurt and the pain – it was never ultimately up to any of the people who hurt Jesus – it was up to him.

Even in the statements about Jesus mocking him by saying, “Come down from the cross.”

He could.

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