Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jesus and the "Social Justice" League




















I was reading a friend's blog over a week ago, and I ran across something from the Bible that I had no clue about. My friend was writing about how Believers in society are to be "Salt & Light" to that society, and one of the verses he referenced was Ezekiel 16:49.

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor or the needy."

Most folks feel that the reason that God wiped out Sodom & Gomorrah was because of sexual perversion. As bad as that was, that was apparently NOT the final straw for God. Apparently what finally made God angry enough to bring the heat was their attitudes & actions towards those who were most vulnerable. (That brings whole new life to the telling of that story from Genesis.)

So anyway, a few days later I was poking around the net, and I came across this video. Take a look...



Now obviously this whole thing is a spoof. But there were quite a few truths in it that are not only relative to the church in America, but also sadly lacking in much of the church in America.


Joe's Thoughts & Observations on the Video:

#1. Glen Beck's understanding of historic, orthodox Christianity could fill a thimble. (Remember folks, he's an "Entertainer." He will say whatever gets the ratings and his listeners all worked up...even though it is highly doubtful that he actually believes half of what comes flying out of his mouth.)

#2. Steven Colbert is also an entertainer, but at least he admits that he is mocking his own show as he does his shtick. That having been said, much of what he stated is actually frighteningly embraced by much of the church in America. Maybe not so much in words, but certainly in behavior. (I love the idea that the cross is a plus symbol which means that Jesus wants us to acquire more "Stuff.")

#3. Father Jim misspoke when he answered Colbert that one of the rewards for serving the poor was eternal salvation. Sorry folks, that's called "Works," and it's pretty clear from the Bible that no one can work their way into heaven. Scripture is clear that salvation is from Christ alone, and it comes through "Grace." By the very definition of the word, you can't earn Grace.

Joe's Thoughts & Observations on Social Justice:

#1. YES, people who advocate Social Justice can go way to far. And as a matter of fact, some who advocate Social Justice have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. At other times, some use the Bible to justify all kinds of weird stuff in the name of Social Justice. Anyone who reads up on "Liberation Theology" can find people who use the Bible to justify taking up their AK47s to join Marxist guerrillas in the jungles of the Philippines.

#2. YES, there are plenty of lazy poor people out there. I see them every week at the store. I know they are out there. I'm not denying it.

All of that having been said...

#3. Throw all of the silly politics out of the mix. Colbert was correct in saying that at it's core, Social Justice really is about helping poor people...and marginalized/oppressed people too. It's as simple as that.

#4. One reason that some Christians resist getting involved in Social Justice issues is because of the whole idea of "Works." The worry is that if the church or Believers start working on a given issue, pretty soon that is all the church will do. The Bible will get tossed out, or biblical truth will be watered down. All that will be left is a "Social Gospel."

My response to that is to point out that if the church does NOT get involved in Social Justice issues, then Believers are leaving those issues to those who really & truly ONLY have a Social Gospel, with no biblical orthodoxy behind it.

#5. Another reason some Christians resist is because of the idolatry of politics. For some, certain Social Justice issues have such political overtones to them, that to be involved with that issue is to be branded with a political lable.

Unfortunately, a huge chunk of the church has been seduced by secular politics into thinking that the "Kingdom of Man" and the "Kingdom of God" are one and the same. (Because as we all know, America is God's chosen land. And if we go away, Christianity will no longer exist.)

So many Christians I know will pay more attention to what they hear some loudmouth on the radio saying, then they will to their own Bible. It happens on both extremes of the political spectrum, but for some reason it is more common on the Right.

My response to that is to point out the irony that Believers have been active in Social Justice issues since the beginning...they just never used that term for it. (They most likely would have used some crazy phrases like "Following Jesus," or "Living out my faith in fear and trembling," or "What would Jesus do?")

An Extremely Brief History:
- In Acts 4 we see that the early church shared everything they had so that there were no needy people among them. (Obviously, the Apostles were Communists.)

- In the Roman plague that ran from 165-180 AD, the church in Rome stuck around the city to aid those dying, and to bury the dead. Historians estimate that up to 2000 people were dying every day. These Believers put their lives on the line as a witness to the Pagans. They knew full well that they could die from doing this...and they were still officially being persecuted.

- Fast forward to 1780 in the U.K. and you will find Robert Raikes creating the first Sunday Schools. He did this NOT for explicit religious instruction, but to teach underclass children the basics of education.

- Jump ahead only a couple of years and you will find folks like William Wilberforce and John Wesley standing up against the institution of slavery. It wasn't long before Evangelicals in the U.S. were taking up the cause of the Abolition of Slavery.

- In 1878, William & Catherine Booth established the Salvation Army. They do more then ring bells outside stores. I've been privileged to see their work with the poor first hand. It's amazing what they can do in the name of Jesus.

- I think you get the idea...

Why is this relevant to the church today?

It is very clear from any of the Gospels that Jesus identified himself with the poor and vulnerable. In fact, in Matthew 25, when Jesus talks about Judgement Day, it's fairly clear that he expects his followers to have been a people of action, and not just words. Giving aid and comfort to those in need is a way of identifying with Christ.

I want to point out again that this is NOT a way to earn your salvation. But my contention is that belief will ALWAYS result in action. If it does not, then I really have to question wether or not you actually DO believe.

Example: That coffee cup you are sipping from right now. If you really believed that it was a bomb that would go off in 30 seconds, would you keep drinking out of it, or would you toss it out the window? True belief ALWAYS results in actions.

Believers should be hip deep in Social Justice issues as a witness to the whole world. Our actions are the most powerful testimony that we have. If following Jesus is nothing more than a "Get out of Hell, Free" ticket, and "Pie in the Sky when you Die," then it will have no relevant impact on the here & now. But if we take the words of the Bible seriously when it says things like...
"But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds,
and I will show you my faith by what I do."
James 2:18

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourself.
Each of you should look out not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others."
Phil. 2: 18 & 19

...think how we would change the world.

We get involved out of a thankful heart because of what Jesus has done for us. We are to roll up our sleeves and be a people of action because that is how we demonstrate Christ's love to a broken world. Believers ought to do Good Works as a testimony and witness to the truth of Christ. Actions will always speak louder than words. We should shine.

Shine!
Make 'em wonder what you've got.
Make 'em wish that they were not
on the outside looking bored

Shine!
Let it shine before all men.
Let 'em see good works and then,
Let 'em Glorify the Lord
.


Peace

Joe

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday mornings with Dad.

(Yes, that's me at the ripe age of 4. Yes, I am probably letting out a very large & inappropriate belch at the dinner table. Hhmmm, some things never change.)


Tonight I read something on FaceBook from a former student about cartoons that he had posted. He was complaining that they simply do not make any good ones anymore for Saturday mornings.

It's true that the art of a decent cartoon has gone out the window, unless they are cartoons of a more adult-friendly nature like Family Guy, or the Simpsons. All that is really made for kids anymore seem to be products to be bought in stores, with a cartoon to follow that will then sell that product. I mean, look at Pokemon as an example.

So anyway, what does any of that have to do with following Jesus? Not much at first glance, but allow me to take a few steps into my back pages.

But first, the context:
At Living Waters this morning, and friend & I got into a discussion about how all truth comes from God...and I do mean ALL truth. (Even if the person speaking it doesn't acknowledge God.) In fact, I am convinced that all truth, beauty, creativity, loveliness, etc. comes from God. That's one of the reasons I am constantly amazed at some of the Outsiders I know who have rejected Christ, and yet they can be amazingly gifted and creative. I want to tell them, "How can you not see that God is blessing you right now with the beauty you are creating. That ability comes from GOD!"

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely
- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things..."
Phil. 4:8

I wrote about some of this before if you want more of my thoughts on God & human creativity.

ANYWAY:
When I was a little kid growing up in Sacramento I had an ideal childhood. I mean it! For most of my days during those years, all I can remember are wonderful times. Now that I am older and have seen some other people's childhoods, I realize how truly fortunate I was.

At any rate, one of my favorite memories from childhood are Saturday mornings with my Dad watching cartoons. I think that this must have been the Golden Age of cartoons, because Saturday mornings were packed for hours with kid shows and such. There was a huge back-log of cartoons from Warner Bros., who had been making them since the late 20s. The Flinstones had been out for years at this point. Scooby Doo was at it's finest too. And let's not forget Disney. (Although, that was more of a Sunday night affair with the little sister, Mom & Dad, Molly the dog...and copious amounts of pop-corn)


Saturday morning was for me and my Dad...
and they are some of the best memories I have!


Of all the shows that were on during those years, one stood out as my favorite hands-down. I can't believe I actually found the original opening credits for it. Please take a watch. While viewing it, please try to imagine ME, as roughly from 4 years of age to around 10 or 11, prancing around the family room...in my awesomely cute jammies...re-enacting the same movements as Bugs & Daffy, and singing my heart out.




What was so great about these cartoons was that they were created for a multi-aged audience. You needed to have something to please every person in an audience because the original venues for these cartoons were movie theaters. Before the advent of television, the movies were where people went to see not just Humphrey Bogart & James Cagney, but also news reals of current events. Also tossed into the mix were long running short films set up as serials, and or course cartoons.

Well, Bugs and his pals had it all. Watching these cartoons on Saturday morning actually taught me a great deal about American popular culture from the 30s, 40s & 50s. With spoofs of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and the like, Warner Bros. were masters.

Oddly enough, one of the most important things that these cartoons did for me was to teach me to appreciate Classical music and Opera. (Seriously, they really did.) When you think about what goes into the music of most kiddie shows these days, it's either one guy with his computer, or some of that "Barney" stuff that makes you want to stab your ears with pliers.

Of these spoofs on classical music & opera, I now wish to present to you what is in my opinion, the greatest cartoon ever made...and yes, this is the specific cartoon that all these years later, is responsible for me enjoying a good opera aria.

The Rabbit of Seville



Well, since that particular cartoon taught me to appreciate Rossini, let's see what this next one can do for the appreciation of Wagner. Do feel free to sing along, because almost everyone knows the words.

What's Opera Doc

OK, one more. Seriously, pay attention to not only the various colors & styles of the cartooning, but also to the quality of music. Realize that Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny and the majority of the characters, is doing an amazing job bringing life to an animated rabbit. I don't know exactly what song Bugs is singing at the beginning of this one, but listen to the hysterical energy that Mel puts into that song. You can't tell me that this stuff isn't brilliant.

Long-Haired Hare




So, Saturday mornings with Dad. I would watch the cartoons. He would watch me. I was probably a bit more entertaining than the cartoons in some unusual ways I would guess. (I'm sure that my amazing dance steps were something to behold.) I know these things certainly had a major part in forming my sense of humor. I certainly started practicing my impressions & impersonations around this time. Dad encouraged all of it. I had a great father, and still do. He's an amazing guy...but not as good a fisherman as I am.

Finding these clips brought back a flood of memories. I sure had it good back then. I wish that most kids could have had a childhood as good as mine. Lots of love. Lots of caring. Lots of laughs. Lots of hugs. And a childhood imagination allowed and encouraged to run wild. Those were some mighty good times.

They were true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent & praiseworthy...and I still think about such things.

Thanks Dad. Save a spot of the couch for me.

Peace

Joe


P.S. OK, one more. Unfortunately, the video won't let me embed it here. However, just click on the link and watch it. This has to be the greatest Square Dance routine EVER!
"And thanks just all to pieces."


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cleansing the Temple Part 2...with Recipes.















"Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty not riches, but only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." Proverbs 30: 8-9

Well, it's nice and early in the first morning after colonoscopy, and I am getting ready to hit the gym. I thought that while the caffein kicks in I would offer a quick update as to how the whole cleansing of my physical temple is going. I also thought I would throw in some tasty & healthy recipes too. (I am the gift that keeps on giving.)

About three weeks ago I began to take my physical health seriously for the first time in at least 8 years. I began to discipline my diet...mostly just to see if I could. I gave up the regular eating of meat for the most part for at least until the end of this month. (I do eat fish though.) I also began to eat a great deal of high fiber foods and watch how much salt I was putting away. The best part is that I joined a gym once again.

Here is what has happened since all of this began.

#1. I have dropped at least 6lbs in these 3 weeks.

#2. I had forgotten how much fun I had at the gym. I LOVE IT!!!! I think I put it off for so long because I was afraid of the aches & pains you always get from having taken so much time away. (Sure enough, even though I took it easy for the first few days, I did get the muscle aches.) Still, I distinctly remember that the second day of working out on one of the machines, the muscles in my arms woke up and said to me, "Hey, I remember when we used to do this...and we LIKED it!"

God bless Planet Fitness. http://www.planetfitness.com/ They recently opened up a gym in the very shopping center where my store is. It was only $1 to join, and only $10 a month. It's a basic gym set up with out all of the fancy fru-fru stuff that I don't use anyway. So it was a steal for me.

I go in there and peddle for at least 20 minutes, hit the whole machine routine for an hour and then finish with another 20 on the bike. All the while I have my Ipod with my sermon podcasts to keep me company. By the time I am done, I am nice & stinky, and my endorphins have put a big smile on my face.

I had no idea how much I had missed doing this. More importantly, I had no idea how much it would improve my overall mood and attitude, not to mention simply feeling physically better. Thank you Jesus, for getting that gym in there.

#3. My diet has made a HUGE difference in multiple ways. Needless to say, what you put in your body will have a huge impact on you in many ways. But what's been interesting is how conscious I have grown of it.

Simply paying attention to the level of salt in the foods we eat is an eye-opener. Just take a look at any given can of basic vegetables on the grocery shelf. On average, those cans will have 15-20% sodium in them...and these veggies are not even cooked. Even the frozen stuff can have high levels. Never mind all of the extra chemicals in any given processed food in a box. Now take a look at what's in a loaf of bread. Your average white bread is so high in bleached-out carbs and preservatives, that any health benefits are negligible.

(For what it's worth, I have kind of slid into the whole Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern Diet thing. Once I'm down to the weight I'm shooting for, and the shape I desire, I'll still treat myself to pizza on the town once in a while and such like that. But it will a treat...not a daily occurrence.)

#4. Needless to say, I have pretty much stopped eating bread that is anything less than whole grain. (Still gotta take a good look at the labels, though.) If you can get a bread with whole grains...and especially FLAX in it (Cereals with flax in it are great too.), you will be in good shape. It honestly tastes better too.

#5. I have begun to prepare even more of my own food...but this time, even at the most basic levels of preparation. I have always liked to cook anyway, so it wasn't much of a challenge. It's just a bit more time consuming.

Any type of bean requires patience if you don't want a mouthful of salt. Instead of using the canned crap, you will have to cook them from their dried state in bags. This requires heating them until they boil, and then waiting probably until the next day for them to soften properly for use. I think it's worth it though. It's certainly much healthier this way.

#6. I never used much salt when I cooked to begin with. Mostly it was in all of the cans and processed foods I ate. Now, I use garlic (The wonder-food) almost exclusively. Garlic is the ideal salt substitute, and is incredible for your heart...plus it keeps Vampires at bay.

All of that having been said...

Some yummy & healthy recipes for you.

1) Hummus: This stuff is the bomb as far as health goes. I've always loved it since I lived in Israel. I had no idea that chick peas were around 50% of your daily fiber. Don't but the stuff in the store. Make your own. It is so freakin' easy. All you need is a decent blender or food processor. Once you have the basic recipe, you can add what ever other veggies & spices you want to play with the flavor.

- 1lbs of dried chick peas. (Bring them to a boil and let them sit for a day in the water) I Guess you could use the canned stuff if you washed them real good to get rid of as much salt as possible.
- 2/3 cup of Tahini sauce. (That's a paste made out of sesame seeds)
- Olive Oil (NO other kind of oil, you big slacker)
- A couple of Garlic cloves
- A handful of Parsley or Spinach leaves.

- Put the Tahini & oil in the blender first, then the other stuff. Grind away. Yum. (Again, this is the basic recipe. You can add other spices and stuff as you go)

2) Hatzileem: That's as close as you will be able to pronounce it anyway...it's Israeli. Eggplant is extremely good for you, and this makes a super easy dip or salad dressing.

- 1 Eggplant, pealed & cut up like large french fries.
- Olive Oil
- a couple of Garlic cloves
- about 1/3rd t0 2/3rds cup of fat-free mayo.

- Saute the eggplant chunks in a pan or wok until it is warm and has absorbed the oil. Toss everything in a blender and mix. Boo-ya! (Yeah, you can add other spices to change the flavor.)

3) QUINOA: The Uber-Grain. I learned about this grain from of all people, David Lynch. The director of such weird films as Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Mulholland Drive. This grain is from South America and is amazing. It cooks up just like rice, but is jammed full of protein and VERY high in fiber...especially the red quinoa. (23%) Once it's cooked, you can mix it with anything you want. I use it to stuff my whole wheat pita bread.


Honestly, it feels so good to be getting healthy again. It tastes pretty darn good too. I also think that God is a bit more pleased that I am treating his gift to me with a bit more respect.

Peace

Joe

P.S. Here is the video of David Lynch cooking Quinoa that I watched that turned me on to the stuff. It was in the "Extras" section of his movie Inland Empire. If you know anything about David Lynch's directing style, you know that he is what can loosely be described as WEIRD! He can creep you out in ways that I never imagined.

At any rate, he is the only guy I know who can turn an episode of cooking into a creepy, suspenseful endeavor. Just listen to the music as he talks. He's a great story teller, and it gets quite hypnotic. (It's best to watch this video in the dark.) :) Enjoy!










Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fragile














I woke up rather early this morning because I had a doctors appointment at 7am. Before I got all showered up & ready, I sat down to read the Bible and try and meditate a little bit. (Not the easiest thing for me, because my prayer life seems to simply suck. It feels like I am talking to a wall most of the time. Never the less...)

I read and re-read Psalm 103 a bunch of time and just thought about the verses over & over again. (Pastor Scott preached through this Psalm last Sunday. He was speaking about God's "Promise of Satisfaction" for our lives.) One of the things this Psalm points out is the incredible difference between the God of the universe and the beings that he has created. A couple of the passages that stuck in my mind were quite relevant for what had been happening over this past 48 hours, and they go like this...

"As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and it's place remembers it no more."

So how was that relevant to me and my situation over the past 48 hours? Well, Monday morning, around 12:30AM, I got a call from my dad that he was taking mom to the hospital. Something goofy was going on with her heart...again. He called from the hospital a few hours later to tell me that there was nothing to worry about, (Just a routine emergency) and that she would be fine. They put a stint in her heart this morning. Now she's home and, trooper that she is, wants to go out to eat at the Olive Garden. (Still, something like this always makes your heart race a bit.)

As for myself, I had to be at the doctor's office bright & early this morning for my very first colonoscopy exam. WOOT! So I had spent the day of my mom's hospital run with my own RUN, so to speak...to the bathroom and back, after drinking 64oz's of Miralax to clean out my system in preparation for the doctor's garden hose with the camera attached. Needless to say, it gave me plenty to think about when it comes to the fragility of human beings. I found those verses to be almost ironic as I read them over and over.

I shall write my thoughts on them a bit later, but first...

IN, Through the Out Door.

I thought I would explain a bit about the whole colonoscopy procedure, not to gross anyone out, but actually to encourage anyone else who may be facing one down the road. The fact is that it really is important as you get older to get these every few years...especially if you are a man. So I'll break it down for you:

#1. The first thing you should know is that this whole thing is extremely & brutally painful!!! The hose they use is only slightly smaller in diameter than a fire hose...with bits of tin-shards & chunks of brillo-pads glued to the sides for maximum discomfort, with it's length being somewhere from 10 to 15 feet. It doesn't help with privacy either that they tend to film the whole procedure live, and beam it directly to local comedy clubs...with your driver's license photo displayed in the upper-left corner.


OK, maybe not. That was for Tom, because he is slowly but surely closing in on this experience for himself.

#1. Actually, this was perhaps the easiest procedure I have ever been through. The whole thing lasts only about 20 minutes. I never felt a thing even though I was conscious the whole time. (It's kind of cool to watch the whole thing on the TV screen too.) The only pain I felt was when they took the I.V. off, because the medical tape kept yanking at the hair on my arm.

#2. The "Prep" the night before is not even close to being as bad as everyone jokes about. Yeah, you have to drink that whole concoction over the course of a few hours, and poop it all out for about 3 more. But so what? If you have ever had a flu with the "Hershey Squirts," I can assure you that that is much worse than the Miralax flood. About an hour after you start drinking it, you'll have to poop about every fifteen minutes or so, but there is no stomach discomfort at all. (I do recommend that you mix half of the mixture with cranberry, pomegranate, or cherry juice. It will hide the flavor, so that you won't taste it at all. No Orange juice or sugary flavored crap, though.)

#3. The aftermath of the whole procedure is fairly easy. After it's complete you just have to wait a while for the some mild anesthesia to wear off, and that's about it. The best part is that the evidence of it wearing off is that you have to fart...a lot! In the words of one of the nurses, "It's music to our ears." (They pump air mixed with some gassy stuff into you as the camera goes in, so you have to let it all out.) Well, how often to you get rewarded for beefing in public? Seriously, the nurses even cheered me on. You might as well have some fun with it. I myself played the old polka tune "In Heaven there is no Beer" in my head, and provided the tuba section. It was a beautiful thing, and a good time was had by all.


And now for a bit more serious stuff.


Fragile

"...for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor."
Psalm 8

So human beings are fragile indeed. When I was young, especially a teenager, I thought I was invincible & immortal. Now I know a little bit better.

The human condition in regards to the creator of the universe is a strange situation. We are finite. God is infinite. We live only a certain number of years. God is eternal. We are stuck in a half dimension of time, forever being trapped in only the ability to move forward. YHWH is outside the boundaries of time. We are dust. God knows it. And yet, God has blessed us with some amazing abilities, whether we recognize & acknowledge that they come from him or not.

God has created us in his image...everyone...even those who don't believe in God. Check this out; in the second creation story, the Man doesn't come to life until God breathes his breath into him. The same word for "Breath" in ancient Hebrew is the same for "Spirit" (Ruah). In other words, you don't come to life until God puts his spirit in you. And when you breath your last breath, you are breathing out the Ruah. (There are a couple of huge sermons in that whole idea, huh?)

(I'm always amazed at people who tell me that they don't believe in God, or that he is not relevant to them. I keep thinking to myself, "How can you miss the fact that he is breathing through you right now?")

So humans are fragile, and yet God pays attention to us even when we willfully ignore him. God blesses us, even when we rebel. He sends rain on the just and the unjust...whether we deserve it or not. We are made in his image, to act as his ambassadors on earth and to steward his creation. Yet, more often then not, we turn away from him to do our own thing.

Maybe that's why we need these physical inconveniences to give us a reality check from time to time.



I have always been a big fan of the old Progressive Rock group YES. They have a song that I have been listening to quite a bit over the last few days. It's titled "Turn of the Century." The song is about a sculptor and his wife. They deeply love each other, and she tends to be his muse. As he begins to work on his masterpiece, his wife falls ill and dies.

In his grief & pain, the artist begins to reform his sculpture into the likeness of his wife. As he works on the statue, he can feel his wife's memory become clearer and clearer until it is as if she is there in the room again...but ultimately, it is only his memory. There is a line in the song that I think is superb, "Like leaves we touched." So fragile, so delicate, so temporary...so beautiful.

Here's the short version of the song.
"Like leaves we touched, we danced
We once knew the story
As Autumn calls we'll all remember
all those many years ago."

"But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lords love is with those who worship him,
and his righteousness with their children's children."

Peace

Joe

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Can Humor and Christianity Co-Exist?








I remember being in a worship service once...a long time ago. I overheard a mother tell her child "Stop laughing! You're in CHURCH!" It made me think.

Over the last few days I have been having a strong argument with God about some stuff. One thing that I am always grateful for is his patience. I've been rather angry about how I would like stuff to work out, and I have made it plain to him. He hasn't said much in return. Mostly, he just stands there and lets me vent.


SO ANYWAY, last night and today I started to come out of it. Extreme humor usually helps me in this attempt. I ran across a video on YouTube purely by accident, and it made me laugh so hard that I couldn't help but feel better.

Sometimes it seems that a "Person of Faith" has to be rather stoic & boring...almost Mr. Spock-like. I have been to a few churches where this has played out. I don't want to go back to them. I think that humor and faith go hand in hand. I don't really see how anyone can follow Jesus without having a sense of humor about themselves and life.

I won't go into detail now about all of the humor that is in the Bible, but there is A LOT! God the Father is incredibly funny at times in ways that most people would never expect. Jesus had a very dry sense of humor. Paul was very biting when he wanted to be. Even many of the Prophets had jokes at the ready, if you read their words in the cultural context.

Humor is the way that many, especially myself, deal with things when we are frustrated. With all of that in mind, I thought that I would just post a bunch of videos that I like to watch when I need a laugh. Some of these videos are a bit Strong, if you know what I mean, but I like them none the less. (I've found that when you have had a VERY bad day, you don't really want some cutesy-mushy joke. When it's been a tough day, you want a joke that hits you right in the face.) So...Enjoy!


This is the clip I ran across completely by accident this morning that had me laughing so hard. It sums up the original Disney cartoon of Bambi in 5 minutes in sort of the classic Ren & Stimpy drawing style.



What can I say other that "Burd!"



Eddie Izzard is a British comedian that I love. http://www.eddieizzard.com/ Here are a few of his clips. In this first one, he utters one of my favorite new pick-up lines. "I like my women the way I like my coffee...in a paper cup."



I think that in this next one, Izzard sums up American Foreign policy under the previous administration rather well.



Sometimes, people outside of the faith community can have a perspective on religion that people involved in it can easily miss. This is taken from his video "Dress to Kill." If you ever get the chance to see the entire video, do it. He explains all of European history in 30 minutes, and it is brilliant.





Naturally, you can't even claim to have a sense of humor if you do not like Monty Python. If you don't like their stuff, you are obviously a Communist. Much to my father's dismay, I started watching their show when I was in second grade, and it has warped my sense of humor ever since. That fact aside, here are some of my favorites.

I think this first one is just incredibly clever. It holds up well even though it is 40 years old.




I like this second one just because of John Cleese's reaction at the very end of this clip.



I would assume that almost everyone has seem Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you haven't, as I said before, you are a Communist. I'm not sure what version of the Bible they are using for this bit, but I want a copy.



Mel Brooke's Blazing Saddles, one of the greatest comedies of all time, is famous for a variety of reasons. Among it's many funny scenes is this one, which translates well into any language I do believe.



I don't care who you are. That's funny!!! (Don't get on your high-horse and pretend you are too mature to laugh at that. I know you did.)

Speaking of fart jokes.





Back to Mel Brookes, he hasn't made a very good movie in ages, but the same year that Blazing Saddles came out, so did Young Frankenstein. Nobody can sing "Puttin' on the Ritz" like Peter Boyle. Anyway, here are a couple of my favorite scenes.










Well, I hope you got a chuckle.

Peace

Joe