Posts filed under ‘Pop Culture Life’

Where Were You On May 22, 2011?

NOTE:  The following is a guest blog by Bob Waldrep, Executive Director of Crosswinds Foundation.  It appeared in the Crosswinds e-newsletter, CrossingCurrents. For more on Crosswinds, clickhttp://www.crosswindsfoundation.org.

After the attack on the World Trade Towers, country singer/songwriter Alan Jackson put his thoughts about that day in the song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning“. As this song depicts, that day surely seemed like the end of the world. All of us can remember where we were as that event unfolded.

This week the media has given much attention to a prophecy by Harold Camping that the world will come to an end on May 21, 2011; which is, as I am writing, tomorrow. I couldn’t help but think of the contrast of Camping’s prediction and the events of September 11.

September 11 really happened. It had all the feel of the end of the world as we knew it. The question Alan Jackson poses is one that still resonates with us today.

Camping’s prediction concerning May 21st, does not depict a real event for that day – it is a false prophecy. It has the media’s attention today but will quickly fade as the next day begins. Years from now no one will be asking, “Where were you during Armageddon on May 21, 2011?”

This begs the question, why is the secular media bringing such attention to it; especially, when they clearly do not believe it to be true? Some would say it is intended to ridicule or mock Christians; however, I don’t think that is the case. More likely it’s just economics. End of the world – apocalyptic – prophecies sell. People love a good “end of the world” story.

In other words, it simply boils down to plain old marketing. Don’t think Apocalyptic groups are unaware of this fact. Many of them have found that a well devised end-time prophecy actually helps with recruiting. Think about it.

How many people had actually heard of Camping prior to all the attention he is getting from this prophecy. Without question, it has helped him add new recruits, while strengthening the commitment of those who were already followers.

Part of the appeal is also due to these prophecies generally including some guarantee or hope of survival being found only through membership in, or association with, the group. Their leader is the only one who knows the “truth”.

While reason might indicate that making a false prophecy should disqualify the leader and be bad for business, that is not necessarily the case. Many groups making a false prediction concerning the end of the world will make subsequent false predictions. The masters at this are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Even Camping has found a false prophecy is not always “disastrous” and can be easily, even if not credibly, explained away to one’s followers. For, on May 22nd, this will not prove to be Camping’s first missed prophecy as he had once predicted Christ would return to earth on September 6, 1994.

How should such prophecies be regarded? After all, the Bible does teach that Christ will return. This is a belief that the Church has always held to and proclaimed to be true. In fact, Jesus was pretty clear about his return when he said:

“…about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.(Matt 24:36)

Seems to me that based on what Jesus said, the only day we can know with certainty is the day he will not return is any day proclaimed by a man as the one on which he will return.

I think it is safe to say we will have plenty of opportunities to ask, where were you on May 22, 2011? I plan on being in Church with my family and later watching an NBA playoff game. My guess is Mr. Camping will not have time for such as he will be busy working on a revision to this latest false prophecy.

My prediction, there is more to come…

 ______________________________


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May 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

You Can Have My Cowbell If You Can Pry It From My Cold Dead Hand!

There is nothing remotely spiritual about what I’m about to say; I just need to vent.  I admit that I’m prejudiced, biased, and non-objective about my alma mater. Both of my grandfathers went to Mississippi State University, both of our daughters went there (one graduated there), as did my brother and a sister.  It’s in the Kelly blood.

So when the SEC banned cowbells in 1974, a dearly held tradition died, and a little bit of us State fans died too.  I was at the Mississippi State/Auburn game in 1973 in Jackson (a home game for State) when the controversy began. The cowbells were deafening that night, but Auburn won the game.  Auburn’s head coach “Shug” Jordan made huge fuss about the cowbells after the game and got the press all hot and bothered. C’mon, Shug, you won the game!  For months following sportswriters were consumed with the story.  So it was no real surprise that at the next annual meeting of the SEC presidents and athletic directors the schools voted 9-1 (guess who was against) to ban cowbells as “artificial noisemakers” forever and ever amen.

Imagine my delight when I got news this past Friday, that the expanded SEC voted 12-0 to allow the legal (and I stress “legal” – they really hadn’t gone away) return of this hallowed symbol to Davis Wade Stadium. This is good news for the most part, but it came with a trial period of a year along with some conditions.  I’d like to address a few of the silly arguments against this sacred symbol.

  • Just what is an “artificial noisemaker?” Aren’t all noisemakers real? I’ve never seen an “artificial cowbell,” have you? Is a cowbell any less real a noisemaker than vocal cords? They both make noise, real noise, right? What about a band instrument? Or forty-eleven speakers blaring “Rocky Top” at Neyland Stadium? Or a spine-chilling elephant’s blare at Bryant Denny? Noise is noise.
  • And then there’s the issue of tradition. Florida has the chomp, LSU has the home white jerseys, Ole Miss had the Confederate flag – which the university, not the SEC retired. Shouldn’t schools have the right to value their own traditions without conference edict? One year the cowbell, the next year who knows? Will all helmets be required to have numerals on the side?
  • The silliest argument is the “unfair advantage” argument.  Give me a break. We’re talking about the perennial basement dweller here!  State needs all the advantage it can get, fair or unfair. We have the smallest athletic budget and the smallest stadium in the SEC, we’re located in smallest town in the least populace state in the SEC and are one of only six schools that have to recruit against another SEC school in state.
  • Finally, if noise is the issue, do ten or fifteen thousand cowbells in a 55,000 seat stadium really out-noise the ear-splitting yelling of 84,000 at Jordan Hare or 92,400 at Tiger Stadium or 102,000 at Neyland?  Why do they call it the “home field advantage?”  Such advantage is precisely why teams alternate home and away locations every year.

There’s a bit of poetic justice in all this.  State’s strongest advocate at

the meeting outside the university itself was Jay Jacobs athletic director at Auburn whose head coach started the controversy 36 years ago.  Thanks, Jay, and War Eagle!

Calvin Kelly

June 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm 1 comment

Twitter in worship?

Don’t know if you’ve heard yet or not, but there are some churches who are allowing (and even encouraging) the use of Twitter during their worship service. Now wait before you begin the sackcloth and ashes routine, bemoaning the breaking of the 7th seal in Revelation and the onrushing collapse of the world  (those Mayans are looking smarter about that 2012 stuff, huh?).

The goal of these churches (good, bad, or indifferent) is to have a service that is more of a worship “dialogue” than a diatribe. They want people engaging and responding with thoughts, insights, discussion, and even some humor. They want a community of people expressing in real time how God is moving in the body and what their heart and mind wants to say in response to that.

Complaints? Oh, there have been some (mainly from those whose objections are more philosophical than practical). Not all these complaints are illlegitimate, but neither are they all original. Here’s a couple of examples…

Someone Twittering may be distracting to someone else. True, especially if, as some churches have tried, the Twitters are displayed on the screen in real time. However, my own kids can be a distraction in worship. I would rather be distracted by someone picking up their iphone to engage the community with a thought, knowing that something has been said that moved them to speak as well. Worship is not about this false sense of “no distractions;” worship is heart response to God in real-time. Seeing someone else do that would make me curious as to what was being said and encourage me to pay closer attention to my heart’s response as well.

Twittering in that situation can lead to dangerous things. Someone might say something negative, etc. They might use it as a soapbox to complain about something they don’t like at the church, or how much they dislike the pastor or the music or the coffee. Yes, that’s true. But how is that different from any other conversation that takes place at the church in the lobby or in the classes or at lunch afterwards? Hopefully – and this would be true of non-Twittering conversations as well – the rest of the community would serve as a means of correction for that and not an encouragement for that response.

Ultimately, it’s about dialogue. Not so much between the pastor and Joe Layman in the pew, but between God and the community.

Anyway, we are considering Twittering on one Sunday during this series on networking and community. We want to know what you think. Would you be interested? Would you burn Calvin and me in effigy? Take the poll below and leave a comment on our strain. The dialogue begins now…

August 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm 4 comments

Beyond Social Networking

Our world is hungry for connection to other people. The strange thing is that we have allowed our daily lives to remove the connections that were once there. Does anybody else remember actually knowing all your neighbors? People on their front porch calling out to others walking by on the street – BY NAME? It’s amazing as I think about my own childhood in which I spent my afternoons and Saturdays with kids from all over my neighborhood playing football in someone’s yard or “kick the can” in the street or whatever else we could come up with. Having boys of my own, I am glad they have some friends across the street to play with; however, there is nowhere near the system of playmates that I had.

If I was honest, I would have to admit I know the names of very few of my neighbors. I also have to confess the number shrinks even more when you ask if I know anything beyond the name. I mean, who has time? Jobs and kids’ activities – which, incidentally are insanely out of hand – and a lot of “must see” high-definition TV all add up to a growing isolationism. Sure, we know and talk to people in our children’s sports leagues, we know and talk to people at work, we even have some people we like with seasons tickets next to ours at our university’s football games. But can we really say that we have deep, influential relationships that impact our lives?  Still, in the midst of our growing isolationism, we cling to these transitory and non-binding relationships as some last ditch effort to be connected to others.

So along comes technology and computer-driven “social networking,” which, according to those who do not participate or understand it, is a sign of the end times and will probably be the distribution network for the mark of the beast. It receives its obligatory criticism as a cheap substitute for the “real thing” of connecting with other people and the next step to a world of technologically isolated people living under the impression that they are somehow still connected to others (poor, deluded fools that they are).

I guess I look at it another way. I see it as an attempt by people in our world- inadequate, short-sighted, or whatever you want to call it – to adapt within our culture’s insanity to make some sort of connection to someone. That drive is in us and it will find a way to express itself even in counterfeit forms, be they “real world” or cyber-based. God Himself created us this way and declared that he knew it was not good that we should eb alone. We are hard-wired for connection and we will find a way to do it even if we have to create ways that are but glimpses of the real thing.

All that to say this, we’re starting a new message series in August on connecting. Yes, we’re playing off the social networking craze that is taking over our culture; but it is our hope that each of us will go beyond what Facebook, Twitter, myspace, and all the others have to offer. We need to get connected in real ways, and I’m not talking about the shallow ways of acquaintance we use to think ourselves superior to the computer people. I’m talking about finding people who are invested and involved in our lives, who give us encouragement and accountability and tough love and warm hugs.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the social networks in the cyber-world. There is nothing wrong with the passing acquaintances of work or little league or whatever other social situations we  find ourselves in. But I think we all instinctively know that these are hints of something deeper…something beyond. We want you to find that in the church, because it is among the people of God that we should share the deepest bonds. As we go through this series, each of us needs to ask where we are in regard to connecting with others. Are our connections surface-oriented and superficial or are they something more meaningful and fulfilling to our inherent longing for relationship and intimacy – to know and to be known.

Are we (are YOU) networking just socially, or eternally?

Kris

August 2, 2009 at 10:22 pm Leave a comment

“The Noticer” charming, but unsatisfying

_225_350_Book.50.coverThe Noticer, written by Andy Andrews, is inspirational tale of a man (“Jones”) who intervenes in the lives of people at just the right moment to bring “perspective” to their crises.  Through some down-home wisdom, Jones helps people find purpose, restoration, forgiveness, reconciliation, and meaning in the midst of life’s circumstances.

I couldn’t help but feel it was the anti-“Needful Things” (Stephen King), a small-town tale in which people are struggling with life, but where redemption is the goal and not the opposite as in King’s novel.  Still, I found myself less satisfied with the book than I really wanted to be. The chapters and episodes are brief and a bit underdeveloped, leaving me no opportunity to really care about the characters. I felt less like he was writing a story and allowing me to glean its inherent wisdom and more like he had a list of principles he wanted me to hear and just thinly disguised them in a story.

The book seems to be vaguely symbolic of God’s work in the lives of people, and there is good and bad with this. I am a bit uncomfortable with the idea that God helps us “fix” our lives simply through “perspective” without regard to our natures, but this may be pressing the author’s point farther than I should. The level at which the symbolism works is that God is in the business of redeeming lives, and He is interested in us getting beyond our own “perspective changes” to carrying on his ministry to others. The book does seem to understand this and so finally works on that general level.

I’m not sure this book offers us much on the surface level or in the symbolism that is a “eureka” moment; however, it is a refreshing – and sometimes even insightful – reminder of how we must think about our lives and how we must carry that perspective to a hurting world around us.

Kris

July 15, 2009 at 9:40 pm 2 comments

Whole or “Hole”? Tell The Gospel Truth

32663529Richard Stearns’  The Hole in Our Gospel is a response to the incredibly simple – but widely forgotten – question, “what does God expect of us?” As one might expect from the president of a compassion organization, his answer has to do with, well … compassion. Stearns sees this as an expression of the whole gospel of God’s kingdom, not the “hole-y” gospel so commonly proclaimed and practiced in the modern American evangelical church.

The strength of the book is its powerful plea to the church to do what God has called it to do in the world (yes, we’re supposed to be doing stuff). Stearns uses his own personal testimony, mind-blowing statistics, strong Biblical argument, and moving stories of tragedy and triumph from around the world to drive home the daunting task before us. In light of such immense need, he ably shows how important the smallest work is and how big the impact of the church could be if we were each simply faithful to do the most basic things of God’s call on us as His people – counter-cultural, revolutionary, and surprisingly simple acts of compassion, justice, mercy, and love to a world in need beyond our comprehension.

The church has been analyzed, scrutinized, and criticized for its negative image in our culture and its ever-decreasing influence. Perhaps we need to be reminded that we could repair both if the gospel we offered was once again the whole gospel that Jesus offered (“good news for the poor”) and Paul proclaimed (“salvation by grace through faith unto good works”).  The Hole in Our Gospel is that reminder.

July 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm Leave a comment

Movie review: Transformers

bildeSo the long-awaited Transformers sequel has erupted into theaters with a financial opening second only to “The Dark Knight.” I myself caved to the hype and attended the midnight showing on opening day, though I will deny it in public should you try to make me look foolish. Reviews have not been good, citing the 2.5 hour length and the lack of storyline and so one and so on. Of course, I am always quite intrigued by those who would attend a full-length feature movie based on a half hour cartoon (22 minutes minus commercials) about a race of alien robots and expect a plot that would require 2.5 hours to develop and that would not require an excessive amount of computer-generated fight scenes, explosions beyond number, drawn-out slow-motion action sequences, scantily-clad women in “adult situations,”obligatory attempts at making the robots “human” (which usually means profanity and sexual suggestiveness), and just a whole lot of summer movie formula nonsense to make sure it all adds up to the very brim of a PG-13 Rating.

Roger Ebert’s review (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090623/REVIEWS/906239997) was all up in arms that some parts of this movie seemed too unrealistic. Oh, really? Thanks, Robert, for that insight. Because if the “pyramid security” had been present at the end, it would have made the whole alien robot race fighting on earth to prevent the bad guys from extinguishing our sun a much more realistic experience for me.

Anyway, I’m not here to defend the movie and propose it for a number of Oscars. But I don’t go to summer movies about robots with very high expectations other than to be entertained in really the  basest form – cool effects, lots of explosions, bad guys lose, and the world is saved. If a director strives for much more, the effect is usually lost.

There are many moments of really crude and sexual innuendo and blatant reference. All of it was probably unnecessary, most of it was COMPLETELY unhelpful to the story. But that’s to be expected in today’s world.  However, in spite of their frequent appeals to humanity’s lower instincts, there are a few themes that one can find in these stories that speak  to our nobler qualities.

The theme of sacrifice of one’s self for another – maybe the most noble quality of all – may be the dominant idea of the film. In fact, the whole mission of the autobots is pretty selfless, as they are motivated by nothing other than protecting Earth from the fate of their own planet. Optimus Prime sacrifices himself for Sam. Sam sacrifices himself trying to save Optimus. All are willing – soldiers and robots alike – to give their lives for the sake of the world who goes on (often ignorantly) of their sacrifice.

There is also the idea that there is a call, a duty, a responsibility that is greater than us and our own agenda for our life. Sam is trying to get back to normal life (after the first movie), starting college, and wanting to begin the life that all young people dream of. Optimus Prime comes to find him and tell him he is needed for something that is a little bigger than that (good as that may seem to be). Sam walks away and Prime tells him something that is really profound and needed in today’s church as much as in today’s world, “Fate rarely calls on us at a moment of our choosing.” We may not use the word fate, but we could certainly say that God’s demands on us don’t always come at convenient times, and we are often faced with the choice to respond or to walk away.

Another theme that really stuck out to me was that the “politics of diplomacy” are sometimes just a lost cause. I was a bit taken aback by this because I don’t normally expect a more conservative political view from a Hollywood movie. However, this one was especially evident because of the use of President Obama’s name. Normally, movies use a random presidential name so as to either not date the movie too much or not directly associate their insinuations about the politics in the movie with any one person. The use of Obama’s name here seemed a direct statement about his perceived foreign policy. Without going into detail, the movie basically insinuates that the enemy (who everyone implicitly understands is not interested in diplomacy) will simply gain ground in the war while we exercise “diplomatic efforts.” In a world that is growing more and more volatile in many different corners each day, this theme sticks out as being especially relvant and, to be honest, pretty bold from a Hollywood mainstream production.

I don’t think any of those themes is unrelated to the others. Sometimes we must be committed to act. Diplomacy is both noble and what I’m sure we would all desire. However, it is not always the realistic answer. Sometimes, we must answer the call to inconvenient things at inconvenient times. Sometimes we must be willing to fight for the greater good at great sacrifice without gain for ourselves simply because it is right. Not only that, we’ve got to have the guts to stick it out, even when the costs begin to add up.

Transformers 2 did not receive very many good reviews. I myself wouldn’t recommend it if you are easily offended by the use of crude language and innuendo or if you are looking for a 5-star movie. However, I am not willing to say it has no redeeming messages for us – things we need to be reminded of in our world where the battles are much more real than those  in the movies.

Kris

June 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm 4 comments

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