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Wednesday Links – 1/19/11 January 19, 2011

Posted by orualundone in Finances, Growth, Interfaith, Links, Politics, Salvation, Social Justice.
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At least, I think it’s Wednesday. Weeks that start with a holiday Monday always throw me into confusion about what day of the week it actually is. To me Mondays are days I have to go back towork. If I don’t have to work, then it’s not a Monday. Anyways….

Humbling: Following brutal attacks on a Christian church in Egypt on New Year’s Eve that killed 23 worshipers, moderate Muslims offered themselves as human shields to protect Coptic Christians at their Christmas Eve services. How many American Christians would do that for Muslims if roles were reversed, I wonder (Veterans Today)

Challenging: One pastor speaks up about how his church rejected the American dream and the trendy mega-church, bigger is better model to serve the poor in a radical way (CNN.com Belief Blog).

Convicting: The difference between an attempt at salvation through self-justification and God’s way of salvation where the only “self” is in “self-renunciation” (A Time to Think).

Inspiring: While not strictly a faith issue, I love Gretchen Rubin’s idea of choosing a word you want to define your year instead of traditional New Year’s resolutions. I think I’m going with “dare”, because fear keeps me from so many things and I want to dare to trust God completely, to share my faith, and to follow his dream for my life when it seems the most risky (The Happiness Project).

Advice I Wish We’d Had 7 Years Ago: Wise words on student loan debt and getting out of college with the minimum amount  possible. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil, but it’s still evil and important to gauge how much debt is really worth that degree (Christian Personal Finance).

Around the Internet: Links for 8/5/10 August 5, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Church, Compassion, Finances, Gay rights, Grace, Gratitude, Human rights, Immigration, Politics, Religious Freedom, Sectarianism, Social Justice.
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Grace-full: A passionate essay on the predicament of undocumented immigrants and a plea to come together as Christians to work for fair and compassionate immigration reform (God’s Politics).

Practical: Five steps for married couples to get out of debt together. Indy and I are working on this one – we just killed the last of our long-standing credit card debt, and only have student loans left. It feels good to make any kind of progress though! (Christian Personal Finance)

Wise: Op-ed about the current practice of political campaigning from the pulpit, and how the recent uproar over Islam is really about Christians, not Muslims (New York Times).

Revelatory: Steven Furtick writes about defining grace as not just what sins God has saved you from, but what sins he has prevented you from. As a life-long (relatively) “good-girl” I have a lot to be grateful for (Steven Furtick).

Clever: Legal blogger reveals how Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling on Prop. 8 was more than just a simple legal decision. His team meticulously researched scientific facts and historic precedents to write an opinion that is difficult to assail on reason and brilliantly prepares the case for the Supreme Court (Jake Bowman)

Around the Internet: Links 7/29/10 July 29, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Interfaith, Links, Prayer, Repentance, Sex, Sexism, Social Justice, Suffering, Women's Rights.
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Sorry, boys and girls, but this is a slightly cranky edition of  your links for today. There’s just so much stupid out there sometimes…

Rage-inducing: The Modesty Survey asks a bunch of teenage Christian boys how they think girls should dress to keep the boys from sinning when they look at them. It asks takers to rate their level of agreement on statements such as “It is a stumbling block to see a girl lying down, even if she’s just hanging out on the floor or on a couch with her friends” and “Wearing a very low shirt (e.g. a shirt with a neckline that reaches the belly button) is a stumbling block, even if a modest shirt is worn underneath.” Of course only girls need to worry about modesty, and it’s your responsibility to never do anything that might make a guy think about sex. The poor dears can’t control themselves and your body is just so very dangerous. Taking a survey that asks teenage boys if they sin when they see a girl’s belly or bra straps or thong is only going to ensure one thing – that they spend a lot of time thinking about girls bellies, bra straps, and thongs!

Convicting: Okay I’ll admit I’m not Mark Driscoll’s biggest fan, but this post on repentance and all things that look like repentance but aren’t really tells it like it is. (The Resurgence)

Sickening: Up to 2,000 schoolgirls living in the UK will undergo female genital mutilation over the summer break – some will be taken abroad and some will have it performed in the country. One girl literally went from reading Harry Potter to having her clitoris cut off with a razor blade in the space of an afternoon. Her mother paid extra for the woman who did it to use a clean one. Although the practice is illegal in Britain, there have been no prosecutions recorded. (Please note that while this practice has become associated with Islam in many places where it is practiced, it pre-dates Islam by many centuries and is not supported by any Islamic law)

Frustrating: A protest is being planned for September 11th to attempt to prevent the building of a mosque and Islamic community center 2 blocks from Ground Zero. Apparently we are unfamiliar with the First Amendment? At least one prominant Evangelical pastor is speaking some sense about the issue.  In addition, with the month of Ramadan drawing near, New York City is providing extra security for mosques for fear of attacks on them. Which is ironic and sad.

Profound: A reflection on the more-obscure, shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer found in Luke. I found this very thought-provoking and touchingly simple.

Around the Internet: Links 6/16/10 June 16, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Education, Human rights, Humor, Links, Sacrifice, Social Justice, Women's Rights.
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Heartbreaking: Widespread sex-trafficking during the World Cup. South Africa is one of the worst nations for the trafficking of women and children in sexual slavery (Emerging Women).

Challenging: A call for Christians to be willing to die for Christ, literally and figuratively. Suffering doesn’t seem to be a popular topic these days – good to see someone talking about it (The Resurgence).

Funny But True: On having unrealistic expectations for your church’s technical crew. Who do you think they are? Steve Jobs? (Stuff Christians Like).

Instructive: How to listen to a sermon. Advice from 18th Century preacher George Whitefield (Mars Hill Blog).

I Have No Comment: A giant statue of Jesus in Ohio is struck by lightening and destroyed. All that is left is the internal frame, which now looks very much like a giant spider (CNN Religion Blog).

Around the Internet: Links of Interest June 14, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Gay rights, Human rights, Links, Questions, Social Justice.
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Appalling: Article on the surprisingly widespread practice of gay exorcism in pentecostal/evangelical churches. I’m not sure which is more frightening – the prospect of this being done to gay youth or the fact that several of the churches I attended as a child probably would have tried this on me had I turned out to be batting for the other team (Details magazine).

Debatable: The demise of the TNIV Bible translation and the kerfuffle over the use of gender neutral language (Tony Jones)

Thought-provoking: What do questions mean for faith? A topic I am extremely devoted to. (Randy Elrod)

Touching: How do we represent God? Can we ever get it right, and what does God think when we get it wrong? (Shaun Groves)

Tragic: Child-soldiers in Somalia, used not by terrorist but by the legitimate government the U.S. supports politically and financially. The worst part is that compared to the life they can expect as civilians, many of them are better off in the military (NY Times).

Christian music, female artists, and sex bombs June 8, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Music, Sex, Social Justice, Women's Rights.
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Let me start out by saying something: This is not a Christian culture blog. I have serious issues with the fact that there is a Christian “culture” at all, never mind that there is an industry based around it that pulls in literally billions of dollars every year. I do not want to review the newest Beth Moore Bible study, keep track of Chris Tomlin concert dates, or have long discussions about which movies are Christian enough to see (much less discuss ways to edit Get Him to the Greek so it is clean enough to pass). However, from time to time a book or song or album or speaker really moves me, in which case I will blog about it, whether it is the shining epitome of contemporary Christian culture or something my mother would faint to hear. Also, when the culture intersects with actual issues of substance for Christians and non-Christians alike, I feel it’s worth jumping in.

So it was with great interest that I read this article in Christianity Today chronicling the near complete lack of female artists in the upper echelons of contemporary Christian music. Not a single one of the top ten artists of the last decade were female, nor were any of the top ten songs of the last decade performed by a female. Only two of the top fifty songs of the last decade were by female artists, and those were pretty near the bottom of the list. What I found even more interesting was that in the article one of the female artists interviewed reported being told many times that having a woman on stage during a worship experience made them uncomfortable. In response to the article, Jennifer Knapp noted via twitter that not only had she never been on a Christian tour with another female artist until just this past year, but that she had at times been asked to change her clothes or not to speak between songs because it was somehow seen as being too sexual.

Randy Elrod addressed some of the issues surrounding the article in a well-thought out post on his website. Women in the church are often equated with sexuality, almost solely. As a young teen in the church I received any number of lessons and teachings about staying sexually pure, dressing modestly, being careful how I acted about boys, and just in general not doing anything to “tempt” the opposite sex. Because women have always been the temptresses, right?

It makes one feel a bit like some kind of nuclear bomb walking around – a sex bomb, but not the fun kind. Hug a guy the wrong way and you might make him sin. Wear a sleeveless blouse to church and well, obviously no men could ever think about the sermon with that around. And if you’re making out with your boyfriend and things get a little too hot and heavy, who’s fault is that? Why were you even making out with him in the first place? You should have set better boundaries for him. In the meantime, we prime men to think of women as dangerous sexual beings first before anything else, and to be so vigilant in guarding against impure thoughts that at the end of the day all any of us can think about is sex – and how we shouldn’t be thinking about it.

Obviously, not all churches are that bad. I’ve been to many where women participated in leading worship (although always in the minority and almost never playing an instrument). And there are plenty of incredible and popular female artists out there. But the dearth of women at the super popular level I feel reflects the underlying discomfort of the evangelical church with women and with sexuality and sensuality overall. And our inability to separate the sensual from the sexual, and the healthy sexual from the unhealthy sexual.

Making music, particularly playing an instrument and singing personal words that you have written (as opposed to simply singing a standard worship tune), is inherently sensual and intimate. It involves being vulnerable and exposing the deepest parts of yourself, while at the same time touching others deeply. The fact that many men and women alike are not comfortable with this kind of intimacy from a female, and cannot experience it without putting it in a sexual context sends a troubling message about how far the church has to go towards developing healthy attitudes about sex and equality.