Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Vote for Caesar!

This campaign season promises to be a lively one -- so remember:
  • As a pastor, you can talk about issues, but . . .
  • You cannot endorse candidates -- not unless you want to lose your church's tax-exempt status.
  • And yes, you can distribute "voter education guides" that endorse candidates . . .
  • But if you do so, then you must provide a variety of "voter education guides" that endorse a variety of candidates. If you distribute a pamphlet put out by your local ministerial alliance that endorses local Republican candidates, for instance, then you also need to provide material by other groups that endorse other candidates.

And if all this seems picky, then click on the title of this post for a link to an article in The Washington Post about churches that may lose their tax-exempt status because they were endorsing specific candidates.

Again, you can talk about issues all you want. But start endorsing candidates from the pulpit, and the IRS ain't gonna like that at all!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Jerusalem. Rome. Azusa Street?

The modern Pentecostal movement is just 100 years old. It has 500 million members. And if it keeps growing the way it has, it won't be too long before it's bigger than the Catholic Church. Click on the title of this post for a link to an article in the Christian Science Monitor about THE religious movement of the 20th-century . . . and maybe the 21st?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Revolution WILL be televised after all.

Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about "guerilla videos" -- short, punchy TV commercials that push an idea or philosophy (not a product). And thanks to the Web, they can reach millions in a week at no distribution cost. (Anybody tried something like this with their church? Just an idea.) Click on the title of this post for the link.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ttttalking 'bout my generation

Interesting article in the London Times about British youth who rebel against their parents by finding God. How widespread this might be, the article doesn't say -- it gives a figure of 150,000 annual conversions to Islam, but says little about Evangelical Christianity other than "it's growing." Click on the title for the link.

This isn't your parents' contemporary worship service.

There are days I wonder if the best preparation for preaching today would be to spend time as a stand-up comedian, or maybe a rap artist. And if that sounds crazy, click on the title of this post for an article in the Washington Post about an African-American Episcopal priest who's borrowed from both genres to reach the under-40 crowd.

Something to think about at the next church potluck

Maybe you remember seeing it in the news a couple of years back -- the church in Maine where somebody put arsenic in the coffee? It turns out to have been a disgruntled church member who was trying to "get even" for a bad cup of coffee he'd been given earlier. A sad story -- click on the title of this post for the latest details in the New York Times.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

We don't dance, but we sure can spin

What do Billy Graham Rick Warren, T. D. Jakes, Promise Keepers, and movies such as The Passion of the Christ and The Prince of Egypt all have in common?

Answer: Larry Ross handles their PR -- and if your reaction is "Larry who?" then click on the title of this post for a link to a nine-page article (!!!) in The New York Times magazine about the King of Christian Spin-doctors.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ask, and you shall receive

Click on the title of this post for an interesting article on tithing in (of all places) The Washington Post. Bottom line: you won't get if you don't ask -- but you won't keep getting if you don't spend it right.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We are His hands

Neat article in The Christian Science Monitor on an Episcopal priest who set up a residential program for recovering prostitutes -- click on the title of this post for the link.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rendering unto Caesar

With apologies to Heraclitus -- the philosopher who said that "you can't step into the same river twice" -- I'd have to say that "you can't step into the same election twice," i.e. the world of politics is changing fast.

Take the Christian Coalition -- long a favorite bugaboo of conspiracy theorists everywhere. But click on this article in The Washington Post, and you'll find that it ain't doing so well -- no leadership, no credibility, and (probably the most important of all,) no money. That doesn't mean the Christian Right is dead -- far from it! But the players have changed.

And believe it or not, the Christian Left may be showing signs of life. (Maybe.) For a sympathetic (if overly long and wordy) look at what's happening on that side of the aisle, try Dan Wakefield's article in The Nation. And if that article is just a little too long and wordy, there's a quick summary of who's who on the Christian Left on BeliefNet.

Finally, the noted classicist and Catholic writer Garry Wills takes a look at both Left and Right, only to declare "a plague on both your houses" in The New York Times.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas (updated April 16)

There's been a big to-do in the news lately about The Gospel of Judah -- a brand-new version of Christ's life that reveals the shocking fact that Judas was a hero!

You know -- just like in Jesus Christ, Superstar.

Actually, there's nothing new about the message of this particular "gospel" (even if this particular gospel is "new"). It's just one more example of "gnosticism" -- that old, old philosophy that says Jesus was a kind of "New Age" teacher who had nothing to do with the God of the Old Testament.

Want to know more? Click on this title of this post for a link to Collin Hansen's article in Christianity Today. And for another view, try this article in The New York Times: Document is genuine, but is its story true? Adam Gopnik has a good summary in The New Yorker. And if you'd like to read excerpts from the "gospel" itself, it's available in a PDF file from
National Geographic
.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's like a library without walls

Click on the title for a link to Bookcrossing -- a group that encourages you to read a book, then give it away. The incentive? They'll help you keep track of who reads your book next, and what they thought of it! (And somewhere, somehow, somebody's going to think of a way to use an idea like this for evangelism.)