Discipleship: Bridge Between The Heart And The Hands

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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Discipleship, says Pastor Todd Wilson, is the bridge between the foundations of the Christian life and the external evidences of that walk.

Given the foundations of gospel rootedness and God centeredness and the outward actions of community engagement and missions mindedness, the connection is discipleship.

Too often we see conservative churches engaged in a narrow-minded navel-gazing piety. They know the truth and they hold to it with strength. They probe the depths of Christian ideas and unearth rare jewels understanding. They are rooted in the gospel and centered on God, but they are sitting in their chairs, hunched over their desks, nose in a book, ignoring the world falling in about their ears. So heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.

I’ve attended a couple churches growing up that were this way. One was stuck in the mire of a pastor filled with anger, and the church suffered horribly for it. The other was not enslaved so to a personality, but they were content to occupy a beautiful corner of the city lightly without changing that corner. Keeping their light so close about themselves there was no redemption occurring outside their walls.

And then too often we see churches engaged in their communities, with minds for mission and outreach, and yet they are unfilled cream puffs. There is not substance or reality girding their vaunted structures. They will as easily share their pulpits with wildly divergent and incorrect teachings as they will refrain from preaching the exclusivity of Christ. These churches occupy many prominent street corners and are pillars and bastions in their communities. But there is no real heart change occurring within their walls. The light they shine can only be their own for they can get it nowhere else. They are neither rooted in the gospel nor centered on God and are no more likely to bring one to true salvation than they are to hold to the truths in the Bibles they place alongside the plethora of other holy books they aspire to.

Discipleship, taught Pastor Todd Wilson, is the bridge that connects the foundations of what would otherwise be a pious but ineffective church with the actions of what would otherwise be an engaged but worldly church, and the result is a church both rooted and effective.

Discipleship requires a continual attentiveness to the voice of Christ and a shunning, a pruning, and possibly even a purging of those habits that distract from the Commission handed to us from Christ.

Discipleship is worked out both singly and in community. It is focused on preparing others for the active ministry as much as it is on preparing ourselves. It is an unselfish and unapologetic pursuit of God in the truest sense of the word.

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Media: Can’t Be Bothered By Facts

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When reporting a story, context is everything. When making a statement, context is everything. When communicating, it is important to include context in your communication if you really want to be understood.

There are two reasons context is left out of communication: ignorance or underhandedness.

Ignorant context-dropping results in faux paus and jokes we tell over a beer. Underhanded context-dropping is what we read in the media.

Come on, it’s not all that bad. They’re writing and writing and maybe they assume we know what they’re talking about, or maybe they are really that dumb. They can’t be doing it maliciously or for nefarious causes!

Judge for yourself.

If you’re talking about stem cells there are two very different forms with very different moral surroundings and very different legal arrangements. It is important to specify which type of stem cell is being discussed because that bit of information is necessary to an accurate understanding of the topic at hand.

I’ve been over the various types of stem cells here on I, Pandora before. The short version is that there are adult stem cells that usually come from adipose (fat) tissue of the person who will be receiving the tissue. No babies destroyed. And there are embryonic stem cells which are harvested from “unwanted” embryos and then applied to other people.

There are several different considerations regarding stem cells, but you can read up on them yourself.

In recent reporting on the stem cell issue, as the Obama Administration and this new government has tried to allow embryonic stem cell research, you would have been hard pressed to find, in reading headlines, any clarification as to which type of stem cells were being talked about. Nor would you have heard anything about President Bush not having prohibited embryonic stem cell research. Apparently the writers of the news didn’t think these facts was significant information or material to the discussion.

So there are the differences with where the stem cells come from, big deal, you may say. There are also significant differences between success rates with treatments using the various types of cells. Check around for yourself, but there have been zero successful treatments using embryonic stem cells, and that despite the fact that evil President Bush did not stop all embryonic stem cell research and that annoying detail that research using embryonic stem cells has attracted vastly more government money than treatment using adult stem cells. There have been thousands of successful treatments using adult stem cells for all types of conditions.

So I think it is important that we clarify which type of stem cells we’re talking about. It’s not until the end of the fourth paragraph in this story, after they’ve lost many of the readers who are now fuming at how anti-science and downright medieval that judge is. By George, he must be a Bush appointee!

The second issue is brought on by President Obama recognizing he is not making sense to enough people with all his efforts to create a command economy. So he’s trying to speak in a language more people understand: tax cuts.

So he’s trying to pass tax cuts for the poor and let all those tax cuts the rich currently enjoy expire. A couple problems: the poor don’t currently pay much of anything in taxes, and the rich do.

I think it’s fair to draw the rich/poor line at half. Though I personally would say it’s probably nearer the bottom 10% that are really poor, and those of us in the middle class have just gotten too used to spending way too much.

But if you draw the line at half, you get just about the line at which people stop (or start) owing federal income tax. There are more taxes than federal income tax. Sales tax, investment tax, state taxes. Rich people own property, so they pay property tax. They buy more expensive things, so they pay more sales tax, and they probably pay luxury tax on some of what they buy. The rich have many and large investments, which means they pay investment taxes. They also can buy off politicians and get loopholes built into laws. That racket is one of the most significant blights on the current US government. Which shows more the differences between the parties, where McCain ran publicly supporting an extremely simplified tax code with a 1040 the size of a recipe card. Not a cure-all, but a step in the right direction.

But when the media talk about tax cuts, it’s all about how those nasty, rich-loving Republicans want to tax the little guy and let the rich keep beating the system, getting off scott-free. There is no scott-free for the rich. Corporations in the US are taxed at more than 30% of their net earnings. This is the highest corporate taxation rate in the industrialized world. This confiscatory and unbelievably high rate encourages companies to spend vast sums of money manipulating tax policy and government projects in their favor. The rich are taxed at similar rates and make similar efforts to avoid, by loophole and shelter, those insane rates.

Not that lowering or equalizing the tax rate will cure all these ills, but 10% or 15% is a much easier pill to swallow. For everybody.

It is important to have context, and to know that the media have some reason not to tell the whole truth in their stories. Objectivity is such an old ruse.

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Star Fleck

The USS Enterprise in the 2009 Star Trek film
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Apparently there are some people concerned that Star Trek isn’t truly “going where no man has gone before” by having openly homosexual (main) characters in the story line.

Set phasers to FABULOUS!

The above quote is not mine. It’s just funny.

My question is, and this seems to be a point of several people I found debating this, what would the story gain by having a character whose identity is based in their sexual preference?

First, campy feminine-male gayness will never, ever, fit in Star Trek amongst the main characters. The men on board the USS Enterprise are either cowboys, geeks, or logophiles, and Spock exclaiming “We’ve entered the Rainbow Nebula!” just isn’t Spock. (Again, that quote is not mine). Apparently there have been several lesbians throughout the series’ history. But for some reason our culture has generally been less repulsed by the idea of lesbianism than open gayness. I think it has to do, at least partially, with the difference in external aspects of male-male and female-female relationships. Women can hold hands without being necessary labeled homosexual. Men can’t.

Second, despite the protests otherwise by many people, a significant percentage of people will be upset by such a story arc, and will vote with their feet and their wallets. In the days of waning residual proceeds from films, the studios cannot risk such potential losses and will therefore not allow it.

Third, Star Trek is about so much more than sexuality. The people who make up the core of the homosexual movement are obsessed over sex. Theirs is a hyper-sexual existence in which every one and every thing has sexual connotations, overtones, and they project upon every body and every thing else their view of the world. This is where we get the spurious claims that because it was relatively common for men to share beds 200 years ago many of our founding fathers were homosexual. President Abraham Lincoln was no more homosexual than President Obama is pro-free-market. The sexuality in Star Trek serves to illuminate one aspect of the character, and, to put it crassly, to get the young degenerate males to come and cheer. To set a character such that a primary aspect of their being is their sexuality, regardless of whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, pan-sexual, whatever, is to artificially limit them to a mere foil, a depthless red-shirt best eliminated at the first planet-side encounter.

Oh, and apparently, because Proposition 8 was overturned by a questionable act of judicial fiat, that ruling will, of course, last for 300 years and inform the basis of the legal structure of the federation:

To boldly go where no man has gone before.” That was the mission the Enterprise set out on all those years ago, yet the show itself never went to one particular place – depicting gay characters on any of their television shows or films. With Proposition 8 having been overturned in California this week, one has to stop and think; if this is where we are in 2010, will Gene Roddenberry‘s near-Utopian future ever follow suit?

There is no chance the laws of the Federation preclude homosexuality? There is no possibility the utopia of the future doesn’t bear more resemblance to 1984 than the San Francisco that Star Fleet Academy is located in?

I don’t know what Star Trek universe some people live in, but didn’t Star Trek Generations prove mankind never really gets beyond it’s current problems?

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