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Posts from January 2010

About that pact with the Debil in Haiti: Apparently we were DUPED!

Ahhhhh the internet! We seem to be so better informed than we were 20 years ago. Information is like soooo 5 seconds away. Us old farts who were alive and kicking in the 1980's feel like a bunch of stupid idiots. I found out recently that many of the stories i have been telling for 20 years were not actually true. That sucks. Examples:

1. Neither Jimi Hendrix nor Eric Clapton referred to Phil Keaggy as the best guitarist in the world. At least Phil Keaggy denies it and suggests it was just a crazy rumor. Shoot. I have carried that one around for two decades.

2. Stryper never ever ever never ever did a "Heaven and Hell Tour" with Motley Crue. The story sounded true when i heard it in the 80's but my teenage son, wiki-wonder-boy that he is, proved it wrong.

3. "God Gave Rock and Roll To You", performed so brilliantly by Petra was not originally a KISS song. Yes, KISS performed it, but it was actually written by a British band called Argent who recorded it in 1973. Another rumor that I have falsely spread and another bonus point to my son for his meticulous research skills. I feel like a bloody moron! Is nothing true anymore???

And now the big one that our dear friend Pat Robertson has brought to light this week.

4. There is no evidence that Haiti made a dark evil pact with the Debil. I visited Haiti a few times as a social-worker on a mission to Port-au-Prince and also to Cap Haitian where the alleged pact took place. I was in my early 20's and really didn't do much homework on the issue. The web was not around and where would i find a book on the subject?? The older mission folk briefed us on the state of the history of Haiti and gave us the well-told story of the sacrificed pig and voodoo and the deal with the devil etc. It all seemed reasonable and this was back in the 1980's when information was harder to find. So we believed it. And not only that, we have been passing that story on for 2 decades.

Until this week.

Bill Ross, a commenter on my blog post yesterday, pointed me to a well thought out and well researched article by a Christian Haitian man named Jean R. Gelin, Ph.D. His article is called God, Satan and Haiti and I wish he had been the one who oriented us poor green-horned missionaries when we came to Haiti and not some over-eager foreign missionaries who had probably not done their research.

Jean Gelin's conclusion?

"I have yet to find a good evidence of even the idea of Satan’s assistance in the Independence War, let alone a satanic pact." God, Satan and Haiti, 2005.

Right. So I am an egghead.

Anyway, speaking of the 1980's and Haiti. It was waaaaaaaay back in 1988 when i was a student at Multnomah School of the Flippin' Bible and I went to pick up Tony Campolo and his son Bart from PDX airport at Portland, Oregon. What a pair!!! My gosh!!! How embarrassing for me to even be in the same airport when those two get together!!!!!! But Bart and I hit it off and kept some email correspondence going over the next few years but we eventually lost contact. He started getting involved more and more with Haiti and was even there right before the earthquake. Bart Campolo, who has probably forgotten me by now, has set up a special earthquake fund to get money to where it is needed. If you dont know who to trust, Bart and his dad and have been involved with Haiti for a long time and have a proven track record.

Want to read more? Check out my friend James Denison's piece today.


NakedPastor's 10 Suggestions for Blogging Pastors

Naked Pastor has 10 excellent suggestions for blogging pastors. Apparently I owe him a beer for reposting it here.

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1. Anonymity: I don’t favor it except in extreme cases. If you are going to put yourself out there, then do it. Unless it’s extreme. The purpose of blogging, IMO, is to make formerly obscure information available to everyone. Obscurity defeats this purpose. Again, unless your situation is extreme, dangerous, sensitive or unusual.

2. Originality: There are tons of blogs out there all saying the same things, quoting the same scriptures, repeating the same clichés. Although you may wish to remain rooted in your tradition, be original and creative in your thoughts and your articulation of them.

3. Privacy: Do not disclose sensitive issues about your congregation or people in it, your friends or family… unless you have their expressed permission for certain stories. You might gain some readers, but you will definitely risk the alienation of your people. Avoid sensationalism for its own sake. Respect others always.

4. Employment: You may run the risk of losing your job as a pastor if you upset too many or the right people. You will be expected to be conventional and orthodox and to fall within the bounds of normality and acceptability. Don’t let the blog rob you of time. I spend at the most one hour on my blog per day, and that includes drawing the cartoon and writing the post. The weekends I keep very light. Perspective and priorities!

5. Care: Some of the readers you gather may become an online community that you might have opportunities to care for as a pastor. This includes moderation, which I find very difficult sometimes. I like diversity so I’m a very relaxed moderator. Once in a while I try to remind the nakedpastor community that we can challenge ideas, but not insult the person. Difficult to remember and do!

6. Blogging: One of the things I had to realize is that blogging every day prevents you from writing perfected and completed thoughts. But I see this as completely valid: you are allowing people to observe you process your theology and praxis and person. Books are concrete. Blogs are concrete before it hardens. So your ideas and writing will be imperfect and sometimes outright wrong. Get used to it.

7. Monetizing: If you are hoping to make big bucks from a religious blog, good luck! I tried and pennies trickled in. After a few years though, I have been approached by a few businesses offering bigger bucks. But it won’t make me a living. Yet. I talked with Problogger about this a couple of years ago and he agrees: religious sites will have difficulty making money.

8. Networking: If you want to build a readership, it is important to engage with other bloggers, especially those who seem to be on the same page as you. I have made wonderful friends online and value them in my life. Plus, I just think there is value in online relationships. I feel that my life is enriched by these real people in far away places.

9. Support: I have found it crucial to have some local moral support for what you are doing. I didn’t at first because I didn’t think nakedpastor would turn into anything. But it did, and now I couldn’t continue as easily without my support network locally and virtually. I might mention here the important task of critiquing the church. One of the church’s slogans, “Reformed and always reforming” means that, unlike a business who’s chief end is profit, the church is concerned with change and reform. So critique in helpful ways rather than sounding like you’re just trashing the church. This is one area where my supporters are especially helpful.

10. Honesty: You can be as honest as you feel you can. But remember that there are others who will be affected. Some people can handle only so much. You’ll need to decide how far you are willing to go. You don’t want to become divided: one person online and another in person. Fortunately, I pastor a congregation that is, for the most part, tolerant or even supportive of nakedpastor. However, it is a tricky path that must be negotiated wisely.

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Fantastic. If I could add one suggestion to Naked Pastor's list, it would be this:

11. Code. Buy a book on xml or xhtml or basic code so you can tweak your posts correctly and not end up with, as most blogging pastors tend to do, an image with text aligned properly on the side. Master it or at least become conversational enough not to get pushed around by your blogging platform.



How To Survive a Christian Bookstore: #1 EMBRACING THE FEAR

You need to buy a better Bible but you dont want to enter a Christian Bookstore to buy one. OK. I get that.

Actually, I have a phobia of Christian bookstores myself. Last year I managed to avoid them completely, except for one quick appearance to buy a Bible for one of my daughters. And that was not easy - I tell you! I had to psych myself into it . . . deep breaths and everything. But I did it and so can you! And if you want to buy a decent Bible then eventually you are going to have to make the leap. Here's some guidelines on surviving a Christian bookstore.

Step #1 is to EMBRACE THE FEAR

For me, it's more than an aversion - its a phobia - a nightmarish dream, a dreadful paralyzing fear that i will be sucked into the very bowels of a Christian book store, kicking and screaming, beyond my control, dragged passed the Joel Osteen books in the front and all the way over to the Dreaded Footprints Poster on the far wall.

footprints-poster-100.jpg

And then it hits me that I am actually INSIDE A FREAKIN' CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE and I start to perspire and cheese starts oozing from all of my orifices and forms a river and its caught me in its cheesy current and its sweeping me along and little precious moment figurines are jumping on me, biting my legs,

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and little old ladies are running at me to put Rob Bell dark-rimmed glasses on my face and saying, “Isn’t he a lovely man?” ...

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and then i am drowning, fighting for breath, going under and the last image in my mind before I pass into eternity is the gleaming smile from a hundred Joel Osteen book covers. I fight for breath but its no use.

Joel-Osteen-smile-100.jpg

And then Joel’s penetrating evil smile gets bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter and WHITER AND WHITER and then everything is FADE TO WHITE and i am suddenly in eternity . . . but I have entered through the wrong kind of pearly gates!

You know what I'm talkin' about???

Your fear of Christian bookstores might be different than mine - perhaps a phobia of 80s retro burgundy leather Bibles or maybe, like mine, its some footprints in the sand that chase you down the beach, appearing and disappearing in a way that would freak anyone out. But whatever your fear is, you need to embrace it, suck it in, and get over it. Because we are going to get through this thing together and get you into a Christian Bookstore where you can buy a Bible.

Next - How To Survive a Christian Bookstore #2 FINDING YOUR HAPPY PLACE

Previously on TSK: The Prayer of Jael


Haiti's earthquake and Pat Robertson's theology

Pat Robertson has made the news again this time being accused of blaming Haiti's earthquake on the pact the country made with the devil". Christianity Today covered it well but Salon claims the "televangelist believes momentous earthquake is epic revenge."

The skinny is, IMHO, that people are linking Pat Roberston's comments with his unfortunate 9/11 statements and have come up with something more controversial than it should be. CBN released a press statement making it clear that "Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath." as well as adding some more historical footage: "His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French."

When I was in Haiti, I heard the same story and also saw a lot of voodoo and heard drums at night, etc. But that doesn't mean the earthquake is their fault. Earthquakes happen everywhere, even in places where people have made a pact with God and not the devil.

I have also been in Dominican Republic many times and yes, its the nicer half of the island but in no way is it "prosperous", unless you only see the tourist resorts. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Haiti cut down all their trees and fished out their oceans while Dominican Republic had a better ecological strategy.

Is the earthquake anyone's fault? I dont think so. "God . . . sends rain on the just and the unjust" Matthew 5:45

Previously: Help Towards the Haiti Earthquake

Related and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Haiti and that Pact with the Debil


What to call those new fandanged churches?

New churches are popping up everywhere and have been ever since the church planting movement began to take shape two decades ago. If you are looking for a good phrase that describes then, sorry, you are out of luck. Stuart Murray Williams gives a little historical perspective of these new fandangled churches and lists 8 phrases we have used to describe them:

- Missionary congregations
- Church planting

- Missional church

- New ways of being church

- Emerging church

- Emergent church

- Mission-shaped church

- Fresh Expressions


Help Towards the Haiti Earthquake

Just reading about the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti yesterday. Awful blow to the country and we pray for the families involved. Its the largest earthquake there since 1770. Possibly thousands killed and the presidential palace flattened. I remember that palace from my last visit there. This is how I remember it, before it collapsed yesterday.

haiti presidential palace

Be careful who you give your money to. There is a lot of corruption in Haiti. I was shocked at all the huge mansions I saw on the hillsides, especially when they told me that many of them were owned by charity workers. If you give money to help Haiti, give to the larger groups with good accountability. World Vision is a good one and Haitian hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean has his own organization called Yele Haiti. In fact, you might have noticed @wyclef on Twitter this morning where it seems that thousands of twitterers are sending $5 donations to Haiti by textingYELE to 501 501

In case you are interested, as I am, Wyclef Jean is the son of a Nazarene pastor and briefly attended Eastern Nazarene College. Does anyone have some good stories or experiences about Yele that you could tell me about?

Related and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Haiti and that Pact with the Debil


Coptic Orthodox Shooting: 7 Dead

The funeral for the six Coptic Orthodox Christians who were shot last week was attended by 5000 people. The shooting happened in a Coptic Orthodox church in Egypt on Jan 6 which is Christmas Eve according to their calender. A Muslim security guard also died in the shooting. We grieve for the senseless loss of both Christians and Muslims in this tragedy and pray peace on Egypt.

UPDATE: Demonstrations in USA

The Egyptian (Coptic means Egyptian) Orthodox Church is one of the oldest streams of Christianity in the world and the church in Egypt represents the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Between 10% and 20% of Egypt's 80 million people are Christians, the vast majority (95%) belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. I met with some Coptic Orthodox believers last year at Freakstock Festival, including Bishop Damien who explained the Coptic cross to my daughters. Lovely people, the Copts.

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DID U KNOW? Many Copts have their cross tattooed on the inside of their right arm. And no, I didn't ask Bishop Damien to roll up his sleeve.

RELATED: China's underground Bishop Leon Yao Liang died on Dec 30, 2009, in at the age of 87. He spent 28 years in prison. Story at Christianity Today and the Cardinal Kung Foundation.