Now you make me think of Seinfeld, the famous TV show about nothing (that I never could bear to watch, not even in syndication). They created their own holiday celebration, "Festivus."
The key question about culture here is--how do we fit in with it? Do we attend the company's 'holiday party' to show we are good sports, regular guys, and to build our relationships with non-believers there so that we can present the gospel to them or even to show mercy? Jesus told us a parable where the people did merciful things to others, but not in his name, not seeking any glory for him, yet they received a reward from him, and they were astonished--when did we see you hungry, dirty, etc? His words, when you did it for the least of these, you did it to me. Now I interpret those words to mean that not only should we show mercy to the 'least of these' but to all people. So, if we our coworker lost his wife to cancer a year ago, we should comfort him in these days in some way, even if by sitting with him at the company party. Even secular publications are full of guides on how to behave at these parties, so it can be a good time to show our character in how we behave.
Jim, I'm deeply disturbed---you included no links in your last message. If you keep this up, your nickname "Links-on" will be lost! Christmas is listed as a topic on the S.A. topics list, and there are many sermons on it, including one by C.H. Spurgeon. I think the cultural aspects are interesting, just as traveling to foreign lands or watching travel shows on TV shows us culture. The history of the celebration, even in the USA, is also interesting. Did you know the Puritans prohibited all celebration of it? All in all, the kind and good atheists of Nebraska could have as big a display as in any local mall, and still not have any religion mixed up in it. They could even get a statue that looks like Bing Crosby to sing White Christmas, and another one like Nat King Cole to sing "The Christmas Song,"
Good topic for discussion at S.A. Next thing will be--how long should a 'good' sermon last? I continue to believe that most people sitting in pews, taking communion weekly-monthly-quarterly-yearly, do not really know what their church teaches, if asked a day after the service, and then, if you ask them, what do you think? you will find many times a totally different answer. I attended a Baptist church that was very happy to receive my monetary donations but would not give me 'communion' because i had not been baptised like they were. I didn't stay too long there!
Parole's comments remind me that there are always 2 sides to any story.
Speaking on the issue of raising money for teachers by selling coffee, it reminds me of the books William Easterly and Hernando de Soto have written on the issues of economic development. The latter first pointed out that other countries do not have the complex legal system by which we in the USA sell real estate, establish commercial contracts, etc. Therefore, money invested in those places easily 'disappears' (frequently into overseas accounts, and Grand Cayman Island with its secret bank accounts is not far from Haiti). Easterly has found many other mistakes taken by development agencies. Chile had an earthquake when Haiti had one, and yet their buildings did not suffer the same result-why? It was from the lack of reliable building codes and their proper enforcement. Then, as to Haiti being "100% voodoo" and comparing that to the USA--just ask yourself--does your local newspaper have a horoscope column? I even heard the very late D. James Kennedy preach a sermon, "The Gospel in the Zodiac"
Does your pastor each Sunday address all the hot button issues of the day? It would take an hour to go through the days' news to talk about gay marriage, abortion, gun control, immigration, photo ID at elections, etc. At the end, some people in the congregation would be offended and never return.
Wouldn't it be better to preach on what your own church teaches? Or...about Jesus?
I heard a 7th-Day Adventist radio program today and at first they were bemoaning the lack of 'blue laws' so people don't get a day of rest, they don't have time to go to church since they are shopping and working. They even mentioned a Wall Street Journal article about it. But later one, they contradicted themselves by saying that if the Govt. forced people to be Christians (like using blue laws), then it would a Sign of the Beast!
Thanks for the mention of the baby graves in the Irish monastery. I saw it in my local newspaper last week but was not surprised at all--since Rev. Ralph Ovadal of the "Heart of the Matter" program had already discussed this with another minister from Ireland he interviews regularly. Check it out here at SA.
I figure Sharon died because he couldn't stand being around after Harold Camping had died last month. re: Belgic Confessions My wild guess is that fewer than one percent of members of 'churches' in the USA even know of it, and much less signed up for it.
I am imagining a whole black market operation to bring in the bulbs from Canada, and the creation of a "Multi-Agency Enforcement Task Force" by the EPA to crack down, just like the Untouchables with Elliott Ness! Instead of setting off fireworks we can light up our homes with the old bulbs--for old times sake! By the way, did anyone notice the standard toilet in the US has been changed by govt regulation to reduce water used? No one made any malodorous smells over that one, did they?
Polygamy Legal? Hooray for old-fashioned mormons Wasn't there a group of Mormons that had broken away from the main group so that they could continue practicing polygamy? I guess they will be 'coming out of the woodwork' with the judges' ruling.
After hearing rave reviews of the program, I went to the A-E website to watch it. I saw a couple shows, and one involved squirrel hunting, and making squirrel stew. When I went back to work to talk about it, I was nearly cast out of the lunchroom by women who were horrified at the thought of eating squirrels! My main concern was the poor image the show makes of Southerners. Why not do a reality show about Norwegian bachelor farmers in Minnesot-er? Or old hippies still living in the backwoods of Vermont and New Hampshire? But that would not make much ratings, right? Back to the show--when someone told me they were Christians, I said I don't remember them saying anything to that effect on the shows I watched. The adults acted like immature kids; building an office onto their factory bldg when the main boss was out, and him having it torn down when he returned. There was no spirit of hard work-'working for the Lord' 'not doing eye-service'
I wonder if the cathedrals in Europe also charge for admission; sounds logical to me since they are mostly museums anyway, as is the Washington Cathedral.
Confusing 'the church' with a building is a common error; worse yet are all the songs that try to make your local assembly place equivalent to the Temple in the Old Testament (eg. "We are standing on holy ground..."). Imagine singing them if your Christian worship service is held in a high school cafeteria or auditorium because it was just destroyed by a tornado/fire/lightning strike. For all budget keepers and job seekers, I would recommend Dave Ramsey's website, radio show and podcast, as well as Dan Miller's 48 Days website and podcast. They have many good ideas on saving money and improving your ability to make more money. Dan just cited an example of his Mexican landscaper who saved a bit of money to send to his father to buy 3 freezers to start a popsicle business. It has expanded and they have had to hire more people.
i wonder why they didn't turn off the microphone she was using. interesting comments about freemasonry; few people even know what it stands for, and it is dying out like other 'fraternal' organizations. maybe they need to get on facebook to recruit the youth but why would they bother to join? to go to weekly meetings to talk about doing good things, rather than just go out and do the thing. a look at the strange symbols on the dollar bill makes you wonder about the founding of the country on freemasonry roots. i saw in the basement of the US Capitol a drawing of what happened when George Washington presided over a Freemason ritual to lay the cornerstone of the building; yet David Barton of Wallbuilders group says that GW and others were not practicing freemasons. ask any freemason about GW and they will say he was the greatest! and Jose Marti of Cuba and Benito Juarez of Mexico were Freemasons.
Are SBC baptisms related to the general birth rate in the US population? Isn't there a new growth of babies going on, and with the influx of illegal immigrants, there are more people to pick from. SBC has long had branches in Latin America, so many of these will head to their local SBC branch (check in your area for SBC services in Spanish to see if this is also true for your area). Or, perhaps this is a 'leading indicator' for churches in general--they are dying, at least in America. Phillip Jenkins wrote a book about this--that there are more Christians in the 3rd world than in the developed world (e.g. more Episcopalians in Africa than in England).
I know a large SBC group here that years ago bought a large vacant property to move to, won lawsuits over neighbors' complaints, and years later have not even had a ground breaking ceremony. What happened? They didn't 'count the cost' as Jesus advised, so they didn't have the money to pay for the new bldg.
At the same time, I know of a small (less than 60 attending)SBC-sponsored group holding Sunday services (in Spanish) in the rec center of a public park, when less than a mile away, there are 2 established SBC branches (with services in Spanish)!
"church is relying on a consumer business model"---well, what do you think? the church is a business for many today. just walk into a 'christian book store' or search a website for christian books. listen to many christian radio programs or podcasts and many 'guests' will be authors discussing their latest book. see how many christian websites are promoting something for sale. it is a business!
Now, there is nothing wrong with business--it provides many people a way to live, feed their families, and even pay taxes to keep other people from having to work!
The "profe" is right on this one and it follows what the Russian writer Dostoyevsky said, that when people stop believing in God, they will believe in anything. Ecology is a religion for those who deny God's existence. Their theology is based on evolution, but they don't accept the concept of "survival of the fittest" that led to thinking like the National Socialist Party in Germany.