January 31, 2008

Links for the weekend (a day early)

Posted in Points of Interest at 7:30 am by Matt Porter

Here are a couple of reads you might find interesting. The first is an ongoing blog by David Plotz, deputy editor of Slate Magazine. He is a mostly non-practicing Jew (he describes himself at one point as “pork-loving”) who recorded his first read through the Scriptures (at least the Old Testament). As a newcomer to the Bible, his perspective is fresh; as a Jew, his national (and to a lesser extent, religious) pride is evident. Watching Plotz make connections between what he reads and traditions he practices is fascinating; one begins to understand just how ancient Jewish tradition is. The writing is transparent in the extreme; when he disagrees with a section or doesn’t get it, he says so. (For instance, many chapters were summarized along the lines of, “Nothing interesting happened in this chapter.”) On the other hand, Plotz’s wonder and enjoyment of the narrative and poetry comes through equally well; his journalist’s nature seems at times enthralled with the poetic language in various passages. Most books receive their own page, or even several pages for the longer books. Although the blog started in 2006 and ended in 2007, I discovered just it this month. Blogging the Bible is an interesting read well worth your time, if only for the unique perspective on Scripture that it brings. More »

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January 30, 2008

Pictures of Emma’s first debate

Posted in Commentary, Family, Humor? at 6:41 pm by Matt Porter

BennyHinn.jpgPardon the interruption in blogging, if you will. We’ve been busy this week. As the church down the road from us would put it, we’ve been having a “Holy Ghost Revival.” I’m relatively certain that the Holy Ghost was there; as for revival, we’ll have to wait and see. Results from a meeting like this are probably best measured over lifetimes, not days or weeks.

[WARNING: the rest of the post is rather biting. If you don’t want to see me in rare cynical form but still want to see the Emma pictures, follow this link instead. If you want Emma pictures superimposed on sarcastic humor (at least I think it’s humorous), read on.] More »

January 25, 2008

Individualism vs. Unity for Baptists

Posted in Christian culture, Commentary at 3:53 pm by Matt Porter

(This is the final part of a four-part series. Part one dealt with the tragedy of the divided Church. Part two summarized the commonalities of all Christians in Christ. Part three discussed how to deal with real or perceived differences among Christians.)

Finally we come to the inspiration for this four-part screed. In a lunch conversation earlier this week, the question came up, “Why is independence among Baptists so often expressed as individualism?” Put another way, why are so many Baptists so determined not to be like any of those other churches? I see this as both a corporate and an individual tendency. More »

January 24, 2008

Dealing with Differences

Posted in Christian culture, Commentary at 12:56 pm by Matt Porter

(This is part three of a four-part series. Part one of this series dealt with the divisiveness present in the Body of Christ. Part two discussed the things all Christians have in common. Part four will discuss some issues specific to my Baptist background.)

Even with the unity we have in Christ, there will always be differences between churches, and even between individuals in the same church. We have different doctrines, come from different economic and social backgrounds, have different cultures, different liturgical styles, different ethnicities, and different experiences. God works differently in each of our lives. It is no wonder, then, that we are different. But how do we work with these differences, since they will always exist? More »

January 23, 2008

One body, one Lord, one faith…

Posted in Christian culture, Commentary at 10:11 pm by Matt Porter

In part one, I stated that Christians have needlessly divided the Church and have used Christ’s authority to support these divisions. In part two, I want to look at what all Christians have in common. Part three will deal with how to handle our differences, and part four will deal with issues specific to my Baptist background.

Things have gone pretty far when many churches would balk at the Apostles’ Creed: More »

January 22, 2008

Celebrating a fictional legacy

Posted in Christian culture, Commentary tagged , , at 4:32 pm by Matt Porter

This is part one of a four-part series:

Celebrating a Fictional Legacy
One Body, One Lord, One Faith
Dealing with Differences
Individualism vs. Unity for Baptists

It’s too bad the inspiration for this post came today instead of yesterday. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is traditionally a celebration of the life and work of the great civil rights advocate. King argued that blacks and whites should not be treated differently because of their color, but should be allowed the same opportunity to make of their life whatever they could. Unlike many modern activists, he was less interested in making up for the past than in fixing the future. His goal was equality, not retribution.

When I hear King quoted today, my reactions range from the ironic to the irate. It is confounding, though no longer shocking, to hear his legacy used to promote nearly any political agenda, regardless of its harmony with his message. More »

January 21, 2008

Fear and Me

Posted in Bad Christians, Working through Life tagged , at 8:23 pm by Matt Porter

Life is about to change–a lot. I’m about to leave my job, pack up my family and our belongings, move to another state, enroll in school again, learn a new career, find a new church, and find a new group of friends and acquaintances. And that’s just plain frightening.

What will I encounter? Will I be able to support my family? What will people here say about our leaving? Will I be able to handle the load of work plus school plus family? Will my family be able to handle it? On and on and on they come. As the sparks fly upward, surely man was born to doubt. (Apologies to Job.) More »

January 20, 2008

Emma’s hobby

Posted in Family tagged , at 8:20 pm by Matt Porter

It would seem that she’s picked up on some of her daddy’s hobbies, yes indeed! (Click for full size image.)

Emmablog

January 18, 2008

What are they seeing?

Posted in Commentary, Theology tagged at 7:27 pm by Matt Porter

I’ve been thinking about something since the Wednesday evening church service. There were three people in church who had, as far as I know, never attended our services before. From my vantage point on the platform, I often wonder what’s going on in the heads of the congregation as we sing, read, and pray. Wednesday, my thoughts were about our three visitors: “What are they seeing?”

What does the average unchurched person see when they walk into a church? We work hard on our first impressions. We maintain the grounds and the buildings. Helpful, friendly greeters stand at the doors to welcome everyone with a smile. The pastor makes a point to stop by and greet them, and may even welcome them from the pulpit. More »

January 11, 2008

So, why a blog?

Posted in The Basics, Working through Life tagged , , , at 5:28 pm by Matt Porter

Why bother? Who’s going to read this beyond family? What does this medium provide beyond what a phone call, e-mail, or letter could do?

Ah, the start of something new. A time of hope and fear and excitement and doubt all wrapped up in one squirming bundle inside my mind. Why bother, indeed? What do I hope to accomplish through this? More »