The Surprising Depth of The Book of Mormon (the musical)

We went to see The Book of Mormon recently when it came to Kitchener. I was cautiously optimistic that it would be pretty funny. I’ve never liked South Park and it was the same creators behind them. It lived up to the hype for humour, though – obviously not safe for work, but I didn’t think it was simply settling for low hanging fruit of fart and sex jokes, either; they were actually clever.

The Book of Mormon: God's Favorite Musical
Source: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mormon_(musical)#mediaviewer/File:The_Book_of_Mormon.jpg

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Judgement in LGBT Debates

Westboro Hate Signs
Obviously this isn’t creating space to encounter Jesus, but there are many less dramatic ways churches do the same.
Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church

I am just concluding reading Generous Spaciousness by Wendy Gritter, Executive Director of New Direction ministries in Canada, which works on helping sexual minorities within the Church and who will be featured soon on a MennoNerds podcast. Over the next week or so leading up to that podcast, I’d like to give a few quotes that stood out to me as I read.

In this section, “The Journey of Discipleship,” she employs a common statement – what if the church talked about greed the way it did about same-sex marriage – but the way she fleshes out what that was more potent than any other I’ve read: (more…)

Introduction to New Direction Canada

Next Thursday, MennoNerds will be interviewing staff from New Direction Canada, a ministry that works to create safe space for sexual minorities in exploring and deepening faith in Jesus. They do a lot of awesome work and I definitely suggest checking them more out at newdirection.ca.

For a brief introduction, here’s from their YouTube channel, and in the next week I’ll share a few quotes from Generous Spaciousness written by Executive Director Wendy Gritter.

The Persistent Widow and Racial Injustice Fatigue

Ferguson Protest
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown

Occasionally we hear people – almost always but maybe not exclusively – complain that they are tired of hearing about race. What they mean by this is that racial injustice exists makes them uncomfortable. I understand why. When I first woke up to this reality it made me uncomfortable. I had been in my own blissful little world where everyone got what they deserved.

I’m tired of talking about it, too. The difference is that I won’t hide myself away pretending it isn’t happening. Fortunately, there’s another option: being a part of making the conversation no longer necessary. If you don’t like talking about racial injustice, you’re in good company with the people who don’t like experiencing it. Team up with them and do something about it so that nobody has to experience or talk about it again.

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An Eschatological Advent

Advent candles and wreath
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent

This Advent I’ve thought about the usual theme for Advent – the second coming of Jesus – more than usual. It’s probably because of the Daily Common Lectionary plan I’m subscribed to (shameless plug).

Growing up I was always told that Advent is about remembering Jesus’ incarnation but even more about about preparing for his second coming. In that church, we didn’t really talk much about Jesus’ second coming, or the parousia to use the biblical term. There were occasional hints that the pastor probably did believe in the Rapture, although I also remember some suggestions that it was not pre-tribulation so not escapist Left Behind theology. Even in seminary, when we had to drop a topic in systematic theology because of a snow day, we unanimously chose to drop eschatology. My general assessment was that it was not the most important topic.

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We Wrote a Book!

A Living Alternative - Sarah Bessey endorsement

Maybe the title for this post should be a bit more professional, but I’m excited so decided to let that out. About a year and a half ago, we MennoNerds got the opportunity to write an anthology. This is our result: A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World. The topic, as summarized in the subtitle, is a broad one. So are the styles: mine is much more of an essay, others more personal testimonies, etc. We have a lot of great writers in the MennoNerds network so there’s a lot here that I’m excited to read.

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Not Peace but a Sword

Medieval Sword
This is a medieval sword, not Ancient Roman, but I thought it looked cool.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/albioneurope/7312976032/

If you claim, as Anabaptists do, that Jesus taught nonviolence, somebody will inevitably point out that Jesus said this:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34 NIV)

Seems pretty clear-cut out of context, doesn’t it? The first question I would ask to anybody using this verse to defend violence is what they think Jesus meant by the “sword” here? Do you think he means a literal sword or something metaphorical? Presumably they think a literal sword – translatable to guns or bombs today – if they are using it to defend enacting violence. The second question would be who is it that is using the sword here, to which I imagine they would respond the disciples.
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The Women of Gone Girl

I was generally quite happy with the movie Gone Girl when we went to see it in theatre, which is now quite a while ago and I just haven’t gotten around to the final edits on this post. It’s that dark grittiness characteristic of David Fincher, very well acted and cut together, which is always interesting to me. You don’t really know where the story is going, unlike most movies when you know the ending 10 minutes into the movie.

Some have critiqued its portrayal of women, however, and that is probably worth discussing a little bit more.

(spoilers will follow)

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ISIS and Hitler

If you say you’re a pacifist, you’ll usually get two questions right away: “but what about Hitler?” and “you wouldn’t protect your family if somebody broke into your house to rape and kill them?” I’m going to ignore the second and focus on the first because there is a strong parallel to how people are responding to ISIS.

Love Your Enemy in style of ISIS flag
See http://theamericanjesus.net/2014/11/06/church-uses-isis-flag-great-tool-evangelism/ for the story on this flag

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