Sunday, June 29, 2008

"You've Been Left Behind" and I'm at a Loss for Words

Well not really...I'm rarely at a loss for words, but I came pretty close.

A nifty little website,, is now making it possible to communicate from the grave. In a nutshell, the site was set for Christians to communicate to their loved ones who didn't make the final cut after they have been caught up in the rapture. This home page of the site states:

You've Been Left Behind gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends For Christ. Imagine being in the presence of the Lord and hearing all of heaven rejoice over the salvation of your loved ones. It is our prayer that this site makes it happen.
A subscriber to the site can edit and save up to 256MB of documents for up to 62 different email addresses. If the subscriber is at a loss for composing a loving message that says, "Sorry I was raptured into heaven and you are stuck in the middle of a tribulation, but I'd really love to see you here someday," the site even offers free document templates. Messages are programmed to be sent out 6 days after the rapture.

You might be wondering, "How will a computer know that the rapture has happened?" To answer your question, the site states:
We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the "Rapture" of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.
For forty bucks, this super tract is a steal! But, as you might have supposed, I have a few problems with
  • My views on the rapture relegates this site to a waste of $40
  • In deciding who is a recipient of a left behind email the sender is certifiably adjudicating that the recipient is not living a life worthy of rapture salvation (and we all know that is just intolerable in this post modern society!)
  • The send must place faith in the spiritual standing of team trigger members
  • If, having been left behind, I received a post rapture email I would be a bit ticked with the sender for not caring enough about me to send the email before the rapture and great tribulation, because, if they spent the time subscribing they most certainly saw this coming
What do you think? Anyone rushing off to get a subscription? Good idea? Bad idea?

*Image taken from

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Uh, Oh...Here We Go Again (Dobson, Evangelicals, and Party Alliances)

I grimaced a bit as the headline popped up in my news feed: "Evangelist Accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible." Across the blogosphere liberal secularists and theists alike were instantly all over Dr. James Dobson, head of focus on the family, citing this as another example of Right Wing Christianity.

Ironically, minutes before reading the article I had listened to radio broadcast in which Dobson expressed dismay for the Republican party, in that after Evangelicals threw their support behind the party, the party turned their backs on evangelical values. Dobson himself seemed to admit that Evangelicals had jumped in bed with Right Wing Conservatism.

In no way do my words here serve as a rebuke to Dobson. In fact, Focus on the Family passed an in depth IRS investigation after being accused of endorsing Republican candidates not too long ago. All I am saying is humans, politicians, and parties are quite fallible, as Dobson learned, and should not be thought of as the sole means to accomplishing an end, whether that end be spiritual, social, ethical, etc. Voting on issues, many of which may be intrinsically connected with the a moral principle, is quite acceptable. But voting strictly based on party is silly since parties are far from static and change over time (sometimes extremely small increments of time; i.e. the Bush administration).

While I would love to digress at this point and discuss, as I see it, blunders made by both Dobson and Obama, I would be straying from the purpose of this post, which is to serve as warning.

Young evangelicals, a group I personally find myself identifying with less and less (both the 'young' and the 'evangelical') are much more flexible when it comes to party lines, say statisticians such as the Barna Group. I don't need charts and figures to tell me this. Many friends who I sat next to at seminary have quickly covered up the Bush stickers on their bumpers with Obama.

Many, unfortunately, have done so based off reactionary emotions. Jaded by Evangelicals and Evangelicalism, they resond like a pendulum, rejecting anything remotely attached with their failing system besides Christ and the Bible, Republicanism being one of these things. Others are "social misfits," as Claiborne terms them. They are more socially liberal, yet maintain conservative evangelical morals and principals, the latter of which actually supports their social liberalism. They actually cannot identify with either party but may vote democratic based on social issues supported by a candidates platform.

No matter what the case, I fear that many of these individuals may make the same mistake Dobson and many of his peers made: hopping bed with a party in an attempt to leverage religious weight to affect or "own" the party. The ends to this means is the ownership of the religious institution by the party, as admitted by Dobson in the radio spot I listened to. It only causes division, both in the church and state, and warrants Christians being thought of as ignorant.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Marriage and the Church

Yesterday at 5:01 PM on the Western Coast of the U.S. lovers of the same sex became more than just lovers as they exchanged matrimonial vows under the loving (or politically acute?) eyes of San Fransisco mayor, Gavin Newsome. The first couple to participate comprised lesbian couple Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84. More homosexual exchanged vows today, most rushing to legalize their relationships before an inevitable upheaval by the Supreme Court.

Yes, this is quite the historical event, but the issue that divides so many is far from new, especially when it comes to the "church." As I mentioned in a recent post, the issue of whether homosexuality was compatible with Christianity or not was a recent point of contention in the United Methodist General Conference.

While all eyes tinted red, white, and blue were turned towards California and her rebellion against federal governance an equal historical event occurred on another continent.

The Church of England united two members of her clergy in marriage. Reverend Peter Cowell and Reverend Dr David Lord exchanged vows under the loving eyes of Reverend Martin Dudley in open defiance of the more conservative Bishop of London. The couple had been united in a civil union, which is allowed by the Church of England, so long as the members of the union remain celibate. (Remain celibate? Come on, that's like giving my five year old a bed made of chocolate and asking him not to take a bite once the door is closed at night. Unrealistic. Impossible?)

I would suggest there are four opinions when it comes to the issue of gay marriage:
1. Yes! (you closed minded fool!)
2. No! (you moral degenerate!)
3. Let them do what they want! (so long as it doesn't affect me!)
4. Sure, but not for clergy.

As an individual more inclined to absolutes, options 3 and 4 are a little blurry. I am interested in what my readership thinks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Alan Rabinowitz on the Colbert Report

Jon Stewart lost my attention a long time ago. While his humor never left me in stitches, it did capture my attention for a while when I would come home late after a long night of waiting tables back in college. But then the jokes became to predictable, as did his opinion, and I pretty much wrote of political comedy.

Recently, however, I have become quite a fan of the genre via Stephen Colbert and his witty report. His less-slapstick-avant-garde style coupled with his interesting choice of guests is enough to keep me coming back. Last week (June 10) Colbert hosted Zoologist Alan Rabinowitz, who recently published Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in a Land of Guns, Gold, and Greed. The book (which I have not yet read) apparently chronicles Rabinowitz's efforts in the Hukaung Valley of Myanmar, as he works to save tigers from extinction.

Under normal circumstances, you would have to pay me to read a book like this; however, I am considering paying to see the pages of this work. Don't get me wrong...I care for the earth and all of God's creatures, I don't litter, I would rather have a hybrid than a Hummer--I believe eco-conscientiousness is a divine mandate; but anyone who reads this blog knows I have never been seen lobbying the front steps of the Whitehouse for bigger cages at the zoo.

Rabinowitz's humility won me over. His motivation for spending his life defending a predatory creature is far from some trendy impulse or response to social guilt--it is sincere, it is natural. I lieu of the fact that Rabinowitz is afflicted with a speech disorder, appearing on what could be a high stress talk show is quite courageous and speaks volumes for his commitment.

Enjoy the clip below!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ten Ideas that are Changing the World

A recent Time cover article sports 10 ideas that are changing the world. I was pleasantly surprised at the singularity of each item, having expected to see the usual suspects; think green, socialism, the global market, etc. I was most intrigued with idea #1o: "Re-Judaizing Jesus." How did this ides blip across Time's radar?

The article, objectively well written and intelligent, states:
Ben Witherington is a Methodist New Testament scholar, and Rob Bell a rising Michigan megapastor. Yet each regards sources like the Mishnah and Rabbi Akiva as vital to understanding history's best-known Jew: Jesus.
This is seismic. For centuries, the discipline of Christian "Hebraics" consisted primarily of Christians cherry-picking Jewish texts to support the traditionally assumed contradiction between the Jews — whose alleged dry legalism contributed to their fumbling their ancient tribal covenant with God — and Jesus, who personally embodied God's new covenant of love. But today seminaries across the Christian spectrum teach, as Vanderbilt University New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine says, that "if you get the [Jewish] context wrong, you will certainly get Jesus wrong."
Personally, I do not view this as opinion, or even idea; rather as unassailable historical fact--a blatantly obvious fact. The story depicted in Luke 2:49 does not place Jesus as having been left behind in a cathedral or seeker sensitive mega church, but in his Father's house (1 Chrn 17:5ff), the temple. The apostle would not have considered themselves Christians (although they did accept the label--Acts 11:26), they considered themselves Jews who had seen and embraced the Messiah.

Americanizing Jesus just doesn't work. Modernizing him is futile. Recently I was asked, in reference to the up and coming election, "how do you think Jesus would have voted?" Sighhhhhh. Besides the fact that Jesus, devoid of citizenship would not have voted, this is like me attempting to decipher whether Abraham Lincoln would have been a better president had he been given the opportunity to sleep on a waterbed rather than a corncob mattress; it is irrelevant and indiscernible.

Anyhow, the entire story is worth reading and can be found here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Me, Angelina Jolie, and Darwin Fish

The Ivan household has been busy beyond belief as they are in the midst of a consuming and stressful transition. Prayers would be coveted! In times like these I become apathetic when it comes to this blog. To top things off, in the midst of such unpredictable times, we are taking the first steps at starting our own business, and I am working on launching a new blog, which may serve as the platform for a natural and harmonious segue into this endeavor.

Nonetheless, I would hate to have post a blog with no interesting content, so I leave you with these two gems:

The first is comes from the fantastic land of Hollywood, or Hollyweird, as my Hebrew teacher often called it. Angelina Jolie's approach to religion is quite chic; pragmatic, baseless, and comfortable. Read more here.

The second also hails from California, but is quite the antithesis of Jolie's outlook on matters concerning spirituality. Darwin Fish's approach to religion is subjectively abstruse and in my opinion, a reaction to some sort of criticism that he received at some point in his life. Apparently, Fish believes that all of mankind, besides himself, is doomed to hell. Read more here. (Thanks for introducing me to Mr. Fish, James).