A Man Named Moose

20 04 2008

He was a big lunk of a dude that I hired early in my days as a radio station programmer.  Though he could haveMoose Mason from the Archies a fiery temper, he was usually just a gentle giant.  A country boy through and through, he didn’t pass through life, he bulldozed through it.

I’m not sure how the moniker “Moose” became attached to him.  It seems to me that I recall mentioning in jest (what other way could you mention such a thing to a guy who could pound you into the ground like a tent spike?) that he reminded me of Moose from the Archie comics.  One thing lead to another, and for years after we all lovingly refered to him by the elkian emblem.

Click here to read this article at my blog, wherethefishhavenoname.com.


Who Would Jesus Vote For?

12 04 2008

Who would Jesus vote for?

That, or something closely approximating it, is the title of a book I saw on display the other day at a Christian bookstore.  I didn’t pick up the book at the time, but later I recalled the title and couldn’t help but laugh a bit.  I’m assuming the title was tongue-in-cheek.  But it did cause me to dwell upon the question and create my own answer.  And the anwer is this:

Click here to read this blog entry at Where The Fish Have No Name.

Elvis The Pelvis

27 03 2008

The controversies surrounding the seductive moves of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show predate me just a bit. In fact, I was still but a spry young pre-teen when The King kicked the bucket on the throne.

But lurking there in my knowledge of shag carpeted walls, TV screens with bullet holes, and fried ‘nanner and peanut butter sandwiches lies the recollection of a controversy that once threatened to split the nation.elvis the pelvis

For it was back in the day when everything was still in black and white that the snarly lipped one from Memphis created a stir by swayin’ to the music in a manner than many believed would eternally corrupt the souls of anyone who looked on. Elvis the Pelvis, they called him.

It’s hard to believe that “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” were ever controversial fare. I can’t imagine Elvis’ albums slapped with the warning sticker: “PARENTAL ADVISORY: ALBUM MAY CAUSE GYRATING”.

And yet as I look at the Elvis era with a wry smile and plate of biscuits and gravy, I can’t help but wonder what stuff that gets me all up in wads today will be looked upon as mild by generations to come. Frankly, Scarlett, I’ll admit that scares me just a bit. I’m convinced that we don’t take the lowering of the bar seriously enough.

Here’s how I think it works. Teens, by nature, need to shock their parents just a smidge. Or more. They need to establish their identity by doing something that sets the collective teeth of the previous generation on edge. So, they allow some new moral compromise into their midst. Adults are shocked. Teens have rebelled. End of story, right? Wrong. Here comes the next generation… the kids of the no longer teen-aged. In order to establish their rebel creds, they’ve gotta put something new into the face of their once hip parents. So they lower the bar just a bit more. More moral compromise. With fries on the side.

This theory explains how our society has edged into moral decay. European cultures have even taken this farther; they’ve had to dig great wells in order to lower their bar even farther. That’s why we’re considered prudish. But is responsible sexuality truly prudish? Is maintaining a sense of health and faithfulness in relationships truly a thing of the past? What’s the next level of so-called sexual freedom yet to come?

I’d contend that sexual freedom cannot be found in liberality. Sexual freedom has nothing to do with one’s ability to conquer all territory at will. True freedom comes without risk of shame, disease, brokenness or addiction. Freedom is only expressed when one is truly free from all forces negative. That’s why Christ-followers are truly free… it’s not a license to do as one pleases, it’s a sense of regarding yourself and others with true respect so that the outcome will always be on the positive side of the ledger.

I doubt that many will agree with these sentiments. These are not popular words to express these days. But even more shocking should be the fact that I don’t believe we should force such thinking down the throat of anyone. The only way to make a difference is to live the difference. The greatest way to teach is to lead by example. Zip the mouth, and zip the pants. Once Christians begin to get that right, we might have a chance to free one or two souls along the way.

The Face of Jesus

23 03 2008

I have often heard the criticism that Jesus is wrongly portrayed as blond haired and blue eyed. I have a problem with that; I have never seen such a picture. In all my studies, in all the churches I’ve been in, of all the portrayals in art I’ve been witness to, I have never beheld such a sight. And it points us to a larger truth.

Despite nattering to the contrary, Christian imagery of Jesus is understood to be art and not photographic evidence. Just as we realize that Charlie Brown, Homer Simpson and Regis Philbin are a cartoon characters drawn with artistic license, we also understand the concept of art as imagination.

Around this time of year, that documentary always seems to resurface about what Jesus truly looked like. I’ve included a picture of a man’s face derived from the common traits of the times and region of Christ. I find it wonderfully interesting tothe face of jesus? view this molded visage and imagine all the what-ifs that go along with such a work. Of course we’re also all grown up enough to know that this scientist never suggests that this is exactly what Jesus looked like. It’s merely an archetype.

Some have suggested that Jesus was black. Some say that there is good reason why we don’t know what he looked like (so we wouldn’t worship an icon – good reasoning, no doubt). Some have suggested that Jesus looks like whatever we want Him to look like (rather post-modern in its absurdity).

Since you’ve stuck with me this far, I’ll tell you what I think. I don’t care. I really don’t. I never have needed an image of Christ to help me worship. I find the crucifix to be a penetrating icon that confronts my pride from time to time, but overall I prefer the protestant empty cross signifying resurrection. Both are just fine, mind you. I simply go with what I know.

Which reminds me of the story (I have no idea of its veracity) of the woman looking at jewelry. She mentioned to the young lady helping her that she was looking for a cross. The erudite clerk asked, “Do you want a regular cross, or one with a little man on it?”

What Jesus looked like really doesn’t concern me as much as what He looks like. Make sense? I want to know what He looks like today. We are His ambassadors, we are His living legacy. Christ-followers are the ones who portray Jesus to the world for good or bad. Too often the latter. Has anyone in your neighborhood seen Jesus today? Has anyone at your place of business or school? How ’bout your own family? Your dog is pretty astute at measuring character… has the pooch seen Christ lately? Those who say they follow are those who are given the task of showing Christ to the world. Has anyone in your world seen Him lately?

When Fred Flintstone Cussed

15 03 2008

I don’t remember the exact words, but they were something to the order of, “Rattle, frattle, ricken, schmicken”.  As a child those words always mystified me.  Why did Fred Flintstone grit his teeth and utter unfathomable incomprehensible verbiage whenever he got hurt or upset?

To a child, cursing is something of a novelty that could make us feel like adults, or get us slapped upside the head.  Growing up in a Christian family, potty mouths were not tolerated.  Except on rare occasions when I would be flabbergasted to hear mom throw out that short little utterance associated with excrement.  That was a rarity, but it could happen.  I did learn at a young age that there are certain fingers one does not extend to their mother, even if they don’t know what it means.  And the day that I decided to try out the new word I’d learned at school in front of dad became a very painful experience.

Maybe that’s why us boys in fifth grade tittered about the fact that certain verboten syntax could be found in the old Merriam Webster.

The problem with swearing is not so much the word as it is the intention behind the word.  It seems to be a rite of passage that makes us feel like we’re big boys or girls.  We go for the potties when we want to demonstrate to the world that yes, “I’m an adult now!”.  Big whoop.

McKay HutchA young man named McKay Hutch, a junior high student from South Pasadena, California, has had it with fellow students who constantly let cuss words rip.  So, he formed the No Cussing Club.  As a result, he’s been featured on every major network as well as Dr. Phil (not one known to be of the most saintly tongue).  Also as a result, he’s received death threats, angry emails, and other forms of intimidation.  It’s interesting that people who want to exercise their presumed freedom of speech don’t want to extend it to poor McKay.

That happens often in the world of the Christ-follower.  Most folks want us to shut up and do it there way.  “Don’t tell me how to live…  let me tell you how to live!”

But back to the issue of cursing.  We often forget that our freedoms have limits and restrictions.  We are NOT free to do or say as we please at all times.  Want proof?  Try making a threat to the president.  Try yelling “movie” at a fire station.  Or something like that.  And see what happens if you drop the big-bomb word on a live telecast.no cussing club  Oops.  We also realize that there are restrictions that we ourselves place on our own language use.  I’ve been there when someone lets a blue word slip out in my presence, then says, “Sorry pastor, pardon my French”.  I find myself wanting to point out that it isn’t French.  Besides, why should they try to paint a different picture of themselves for me than for others?  Could it be there is guilt attached to certain words?

In most cases, it’s isn’t the word, it’s the intention.  Good behavior is never out of style.  As a Christ-follower, I find swearing to be morally offensive.  After all, it’s far to easy to go to Hell without someone encouraging you to do so.  And why is it a society that gets all up in wads about not offending Muslims by profaning Mohamed find it easy to use the name of God as a curse?  I’ve never heard someone offer as an expletive, “Mohandis H. Gandhi on a Popsicle stick!”  When someone desires to “damn” something (place a curse of eternal damnation upon…), you don’t here them use the name “Buddha” as a pre-cursor so to speak.

This isn’t my first blog on this topic, but it does continue to be a topic that presents itself to my attention.  So to McKay, I say, “Keep up the good work”.  Sure, it’s like throwing coins into a wishing well.  But when someone comes to the public realization that we don’t have to be childish to be an adult, it’s always a blessing to someone.  The larger lesson for us all, though, is even if we don’t swear, we can still speak with evil intention.  Good words used in anger can become just as evil.  Even if we’re just saying, “Rattle frattle schmattle schmicken…”

Circumcisions, Two For the Price of One

13 03 2008

So back in the first days of the New Testament church, the Jewish Christians wanted the new gentile converts to, uh, get snipped.  Gotta tell ya…  that might have been a serious hindrance to me converting.

Let me put it this way.  Let’s say there was this hedonistic custom in our culture that men get their ears pierced to represent their viral sexuality.  As the Gospel progresses through the community, many men hear the great calling of Christ circumcision, anyone?to discover  real life and real joy.  But there’s a caveat.  The stalwarts of the church say that these men must cut off their ears as new converts.  After all, all men born into the church had their ears removed to make sure they never had the irreligious marking.  Oh, and I forgot to add, insurance won’t cover the procedure so it’s done with a sharp knife and a bullet to bite, nothing more.  Not only would this put a crimp in the market for sunglasses…  it would be bad news for the church itself.

You see, the church has to confront the new controversy of tradition vs. culture.  I wonder what God would say about all this.

Well, we don’t have to wonder.  The controversy was solved in Paul’s day with the clarification that salvation was not a matter of the outward.  Redemption in Christ Jesus happens in the heart.  Therefore, the new converts did not have to be circumcised.  And many new Christ-followers breathed a sigh of relief.

You probably recognize that this has nothing to do with circumcision, and nothing to do with ear easter eggspiercings.  It does have everything to do with the culture and church controversy that menaces us still today.  Christ did not come to kill culture, rather to overtake evil.  Culture is not evil – but the spirit behind certain cultural things can be.  It’s kinda like the Easter egg question.  Since Easter eggs, and the name Easter itself, has roots in pagan ritual, does it mean it is evil for Christians to partake?  Interestingly enough, it all comes down to circumcision.  God thought of eggs long before any pagan did.  And if the name Easter can be redeemed from questionable roots, then that’s the kind of thing God loves to do.  After all, he’s in the transformation business.

Unless, of course, you want to be circumcised.


12 03 2008

It seems like I’ve been seeing Gene Simmons everywhere these days.

The erstwhile lead “singer” of the clown rock band, KISS, seems to have found a good agent. His aged, once painted face shrouded with long, black dyed hair has been popping up all over the tube. I see his name littered all over the TV listings. He’s on talk shows, reality shows, news mags and more.

His renewed celeb reminds me of my junior high years when KISS was the reigning rock phenom. I never cared for them, although I do look back with mild amusement at their notoriety. Made up as much for controversy as music, their’s was a Gene Simmons KISSlegacy of pot smoke filled concerts and wild romps with the young ladies. Religious leaders denounced them, saying that KISS was an anagram for “Kings in satan’s service”. More like Kooks in silly suits, if you ask me.

With time, as happens to all things, their infamous antics fizzled into kitsch. Much of their fan base now has respectable hair-dos, khakis and koulats, polo shirts and pant suits.

But Gene Simmons… what drug this guy out of the dust pile of rock hucksterdom?

It’s interesting how the stuff that gets certain “Christians” so up in arms will eventually fade away to minimal fanfare and effect. And on we go to the next big threat to our Judeo-Christian ethic.

Not to mock efforts for morality, mind you. I’m all for watching out for our kid’s minds and keeping the trash at the curb where it belongs. But it seems that we can all learn a lesson as to what really impacts society.

Picketing may make us feel good, but it’s relationship building and constant care and concern that really rocks our world. Too often we opt for the easy way out – slash and burn condemnation – rather then taking the time to toil over showing true love and concern for the individual. Anyone can print a sign or rail against corrupting forces. But it takes a true man or woman of God to get down to the real work of building a time-consuming repartee with those being swallowed up by evil’s lurking lure.

True change, the kind that is meaningful and transforming to society, takes place in one on one relationships. It’s slow to come, but rewarding nonetheless. It happens when we dare to love those hard to love, when we pay attention to what they’re saying, and when we show that we’re more than just a force of constant scorn.

Who influenced you the most? I suspect not the bands you listened to or the shows you watched. I’ll bet that when all is considered, it was those who took the time to know you and care about you that most changed you for the good.

These are the things that are truly kissed by grace and mercy. This takes grace out of the one dimensional grip that many hold it in and applies it to our lives and actions.