Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I have got to stop reading this stuff...

... but since I seem to have no self-control when it comes to clicking on links, let me share my learnings with you. 

Main points:

- Misogyny is 'fiercely biblical'.
- Being the 'weaker vessels', wives are prone to provoke their husbands.
- The wife was asking for it.

Dear well meaning Australian conservative Christians.

Before you quote someone on wifedom or motherhood or marriage or anything, do some research. Find out exactly which camp they speak for. See what else they are saying. Ask yourself whether their ideas on this issue comes bundled with crazy theological or political convictions. See if there are allegations against them for molestation or adultery or wife bashing or covering up abuses. You may think twice before posting.


Someone who has followed far too many links.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Church abuse checklist.

I've been reading stories about long term sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse in Christian organisations.  It feels like every month Christianity Today (or the like) is reporting the fall from grace of a high profile church leader. I read the article and follow a couple of links and I'm confronted with dozens of authentic sounding stories of people who were abused by this trusted leader. The articles are always followed by many commenters saying how they were blessed by such-and-such's ministry and how they are praying for the leader as he spends time with his family in this 'reflection period' and how we must assume him innocent until the charges are proven and how great King David fell and how we mustn't take things to the secular courts and blah blah blah.


We need sack cloth and ashes and mass repentance for our idolatry and wilful naivety that makes it so easy for this kind of thing to happen and keep on happening for so long.

Here is a little checklist of features common to organisations that seem to get caught up in abuse scandals. I'd be asking questions if a church or organisation ticked more than one of the boxes.

Does your church or ministry....

1. have a single leader at the top who is not able to be sacked without the organisation being significantly impacted?

2. strongly emphasise authority and remaining under particular authorities?

3. have a culture where those further down the food chain are asked to confess their sins to those further up the food chain?

4. experience an unusual or inadequately explained turnover of staff or lay leaders.

5. have a lead teaching pastor who has not been trained at a theological college but is self taught?

6. feature prescriptive teaching about details of family life (contraception, school choices, family roles, child discipline, women's dress etc.)?

7. demand that its workers work very long hours and not take holidays?

What do you think?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ten thoughts on doomsday preppers (as presented in National Geographic documentaries)

In the last couple of days I've been watching some 'prepper' documentaries on youtube. They're a fascinating mix of clever and stupid, inspiring and insane.

Here are some thoughts.

1. I think I'd prefer to spend my kitchen time doing prepper food prep than normal family meal prep. It would be cool to finish a session in the kitchen and have something to show for it ten minutes later - 20 large bottles of preserved beans or the like. Similarly with the grocery shopping. How good would it be to do your shopping, pack it away in crates in the well organised garage and say, "Well, that's 4 months supply of long life food." At the moment I pack my shopping away and hope it will last us for 2 days.

2. None of the preppers ever felt they had enough food. Those with 4 months supply really felt they needed to get to 6 months. Those who had 6 months supply thought they needed a year's supply. Those with one year supply aimed to double it. At what point would they be satisfied that they had enough?

3. Preppers have cool gear and make cool gadgets. Bug out bags, knives, weaponry, tools, dehydrated food, camouflaged tree houses, pimped up school buses, booby traps, solar power systems, self sustaining water purifying fish farms... Cross between MacGyver and boy scouts. It's must be a real buzz to make and have the gadgets and gear these guys have.

4. Preppers are afraid of many, many things. One guy thinks a lightening storm is going to bring down America. Another is afraid of foreign invasion, another of a solar somethingorother. A big theme is that when disaster comes, all hell will break loose, human decency will vanish and the government will not be able to help. All of the food hoarding and evacuation plans are expressions of this fear. Preppers want to be in control whatever happens.

5. The preppers on the TV documentaries have a very small circle of concern. They are concerned for their own families. Not for their neighbours or community. In the post apocalyptic world, they want to be full while everyone else is hungry. They want to be the one driving over everyone's collapsed houses in their tank-like buses. Makes me wonder if all this prepping is revenge for feelings of social inadequacy. Just wait till doomsday comes. Then you'll see how cool I am and you'll be sorry you didn't let me into the cool group in school... 

6. If you buy into the prepper world view, then (almost) everything they do makes sense. If a major disaster is coming, then preparing for it is a good use of your time and resources.

7. The prepper worldview is INSANE! A lightening storm is not going to bring down America! A hurricane isn't going to trigger doomsday! Weather events like storms and hurricanes can be bad but they are generally localised and as much as you hate Obama, the US government is competent enough to get the nation through these things. The chances of a cataclysmic event that wipes out 95% of the world's population happening in the next couple of years is slight. I'd imagine there's a much greater chance that a prepper would be killed in a prepping accident with a saw or gun than in an apocalyptic catastrophe.

8. With all this preparation, preppers have to be eagerly awaiting armageddon. Surely they want to see if all of their gadgets and plans succeed!

9. Christians need have no part in all this frantic 'prepping'. We have a heavenly Father who is in control of all things. We are not driven by fear. We are told to give not hoard.

10. We Christians know that there is a certain apocalypse approaching. We prepare for it not by accumulating stuff but by trusting in Jesus.