It’s a Conspiracy

There’s a conspiracy afoot, an advent conspiracy My wife tipped me off to this video.  I think I’m buying into its ideas.

If Christians think there is too much materialism in Christmas, then it’s up to Christians to pull their own money out of their mouth.  Christmas currently is not what it was intended to be.  In fact the greatest irony is that this Christian holiday indulges one of American’s greatest sins.

At their website, they list ways in which you can subvert modern day Christmas.  My wife and I may put an empty manger outside our home.  When some one does something kind to us we’ll encourage them to put hay in the manger.  On Christmas we’ll place a baby Jesus in the manger.  It’s a way of building the anticipation of the coming Christ.  Also I’m strongly considering asking for gifts which can’t be handed over to me.  Things like, a lunch together, going to a movie, coming over and working on a house project, things that build relationships and don’t fill my home with “things”.

I hope you will join me.

Poverty Unlocked

Why is there so much poverty in the world? How can God let this happen and what does He plan to do about it? What is my role as a Christian in helping the poor? Should I give money to that guy on the street corner? What exactly can I do when the problem is so big? Is there any hope for the AIDS crisis in Africa?

I want to point you to an excellent resource. There is a new podcast called Poverty Unlocked. It contains some great information and some practical ways to think about poverty and what to do about it from a Biblical point of view. You’ll definitely feel better equipped to be a part of the solution. No more doubts about when to give and where to serve. You can know if your efforts are doing any good.

Catholic and Evangelical Conversations

My wife and I had some friends over last night that are very committed Catholics. We had some interesting discussions about how some things practically work in each of our churches. They felt slightly guilty for “parish shopping” when they recently moved and explained that some Catholics feel strongly that you should always support your local parish. Our friends, on the contrary felt that some parishes were of such a poor quality that they should be allowed to die. We then explained how Protestants go about choosing what church to attend (church shopping) and expressed our concern with how easy it is for a consumerist attitude to rise up in people. It’s definitely something that is a big problem for some Protestants.

Later on our friend said “Don’t you hate it when a pastor recycles his sermons? You get the point where you know everything he’s going to say. It makes it refreshing to move so that you can hear something new.” We had to confess that this doesn’t really happen all that often in Protestant churches. If a pastor starts mailing it in and giving the same sermons over and over again, he loses his congregation. In this way, “church capitalism” protects people.

I am just thinking about how this conversation relates to Mormonism, where nobody has any choice about what ward they attend. The LDS church has an inactivity rate of something like 70%. I think that number would be greatly improved if people were allowed to pick and choose a little bit more (that way people could avoid toxic collections of people). Increased attendance would be a worthy goal, but it would come with a price. Like Protestants, LDS would need to fight against the “it’s-all-about-me” attitude in church. It’s such prevalent message in our society, it’s hard not to be influenced by it.