Monday, April 30, 2007

sometimes we wear pants

At Horizon Church of Towson, we are all going to the Towsontown Festival this weekend. It should be fun. We have a simple booth to set up on Saturday and the rest of the weekend will be mingling with friends and eating food.

Instead of having an involved booth this year, we opted to do t-shirts. A sign at the booth will say, "A church is not a building but a community of people who love Jesus and love people. Horizon Church is everywhere you see these t-shirts." That's it. We will hang a few of our t-shirts so people can identify us but most of the time we will be mingling among the rest of the folks at the festival. For us this is a way to show that the church should be present out in the world, rather than huddled back at our little space.

The t-shirts will say "Horizon Church of Towson" on the front with our logo. On the back they will say, "Sometimes we wear pants." This slogan will be sure to spark interest and conversation. It already has.

This slogan is our way of saying that we are a casual community that tries to love people where they are. Essentially we are saying, "Sometimes we wear pants. Sometimes we wear shorts. But at Horizon Church, we always come as we are." But its a whole lot more fun and will spark a whole lot more conversation by just leaving it at, "Sometimes we wear pants."

I am looking forward to this weekend. I am excited to be out among festival foods and music rather than stuck behind a booth. I am excited that we have a t-shirt that reveals the inclusive and good-humored nature of our community. I hope that people who are skeptical of Christianity will see those shirts all around the festival and see that they would feel at home in a community like ours.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

to war or not to war

It seems to me that there are some bad decisions being made on Capital Hill these days. Whether one agrees with going to war or not, the reality is that pulling out now would be a disaster. Democrats seem to ignore this fact and want to win some points with the American people.

The situation seems similar to the decision to have surgery on a brain tumor. Everyone admits that there is cancer. Everyone knows it's dangerous. But some people want to just use radiation to get rid of it and others want radiation and surgery to attack the tumor. Radiation is good, but offers no guarantees that you will kill the tumor. Surgery is dangerous and may kill the person, but it also might be the only thing that can save the person's life. One still needs radiation even after surgery just for caution, but it isn't as necessary.

This was the decision that President Bush faced years ago. Should we do surgery on Iraq and remove the cancer or should we just keep our distance and allow the radiation of political pressure to work its magic. The President knew political pressure was necessary, but believed only surgery would remove the cancer. If not dealt with soon enough, the cancer would spread to the U.S. as it did on 9/11.

But here is the deal with choosing surgery. If you decide to have it, you must stay under the knife until all of the cancer is gone. If you close up too early, the body is left in worse shape than it was before. The immune system is down. The body is all cut up and sewn back together. And the cancer is still there.

There is no halfway when it comes to surgery. If a surgeon goes in, he has to complete the surgery he set out to do. If he doesn't, he shouldn't have gone in at all. This is where the Democrats have lost their perspective when it comes to this war.

It's like all the people who wanted to just do radiation get together and right in the middle of the surgery decide that the surgery isn't going so well. So because the surgery isn't going so well, all the people who voted for the radiation option want the doctor to stop what he is doing and sew everything back up. And in order to insure the doctor stops, they want to cut his salary and stop supplying the much needed blood and anti-biotics needed to proceed in the surgery.

This may save the hospital money and resources and it will save the hours that the doctor would have spent on the rest of the surgery, but it won't save the life of the person on the table. You can't, as a nation, decide to do surgery on another nation and then decide to stop halfway through. It's unethical and immoral.

I have no problem with those who say that we should have never gone to Iraq in the first place. Just like I have no problem with the person who argues for radiation treatment instead of surgery. Both views have valid points. But once you cut open a body and start removing the tumor, you must finish the job. As a nation, to do otherwise is selfish and devastatingly harmful to the other nation.

Dems are so proud of themselves for finally "standing up to this President." They pat themselves on the back and whisper to each other about how many seats they will pick up in Congress because of this political move. All the while they demoralize the surgeon and the patient who is under the knife. I wish for once we Americans could get beyond ourselves. I wish the Dems in Congress would realize that if we go into another part of the world and cut open a country, we must be willing to stay and put it back together.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

imagination as spiritual discipline

"What I see behind my eyes changes what I see in front of them; my imagination shapes my perception so that I must look not once but twice at the world to see it whole."

From Barbara Brown Taylor's book The Preaching Life

Friday, April 20, 2007

families grieve

My friend Dan lost his brother-in-law, Jarrett Lane, in the Virginia Tech shooting. I am going to the funeral tomorrow with my wife and some friends. This tragedy is enormous. It is directly affecting lives all across the world. I grieve for Dan and Alicia's family.

After I read the statement from the Cho family, I grieved for them as well. Can you imagine losing a son or a brother in this massacre? Can you imagine if it was your brother or son who caused all of this pain? Below is the statement from the Cho family.

The statement by Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of Seung-Hui Cho, on behalf of herself and her family:

On behalf of our family, we are so deeply sorry for the devastation my brother has caused. No words can express our sadness that 32 innocent people lost their lives this week in such a terrible, senseless tragedy. We are heartbroken.We grieve alongside the families, the Virginia Tech community, our State of Virginia, and the rest of the nation. And, the world.

Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O'Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle, Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced. Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.

We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person. We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence. He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.

There is much justified anger and disbelief at what my brother did, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Our family will continue to cooperate fully and do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.

Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I mus-t confess

Don Imus opened his old mouth the other day and let out some offensive comments. He called the Rutgers University women's basketball team, "nappy-headed hos." With this racially charged slur, Imus unleashed a firestorm of media and NAACP backlash. He is reaping what he has sown. When you are in the public eye, choose your words wisely. If we do not keep ourselves in check, the racism or prejudice in all of us will come bubbling out eventually.

What bothers me about this whole thing is the apparent hypocracy in the black community. How many times a year do rap artist put out songs with these same kind of lyrics? But we never hear of the NAACP getting into an uproar about that. We never hear about protest rally's that demand the firing of black rap artists. Oh yeah...the last rapper that I remember getting really hammered by the media was Eminem. Hmmm, I wonder why he got so much attention while others did not? Maybe the NAACP believes these phrases are only offensive if white people say them. Imus' "nappy-headed hos" comment is rather mild compared to some of the language found in the "finest" of our rap songs written by black artists. Is there a double standard emerging here?

This kind of language is demeaning and belittling to women, specifically the African-American women to which they refer. But the truth that is being missed by the media and the black community is that this kind of language is always damaging. It doesn't matter who says it or sings it. It is offensive whether the person saying it is a 90 year old white man or a 21 year old black man. It is offensive if women say it about other women or if men say it about women. All of it demeans. All of it offends. All of it belittles the beautiful creation that is humanity. We are created in the image of God. This kind of language makes us out to be less than we are.

The source of this kind of language is not just found in the hate of white racists or the disrespect of black rappers. The source of any language that belittles God's good creation of humanity is the sinful heart. And this, by the way, can be found in all of us.