Posted by Bryan L on November 30, 2009
Today I went to a large, hip, local church run by a nationally known author. It was modern looking, like a college campus, it had movie seating with cup holders for people to put their coffee in while they listen to the sermon, good music and videos, funny but relevant preaching that actually went deep at points, beautiful people as well as normal looking people, a coffee shop and places to hang out, a great children and youth area with security for the children’s area, and all other kinds of extra ammeneties.
I gotta say it was one of the best times I’ve had at church in a long time and I actually looked forward to going back when I left. A year or so ago I would have looked down on that church and criticized it for what they’re doing (actually I did do that with this church), but not today. My view of church isn’t so black and white anymore and I don’t automatically look at churches like these as the bad guys or what’s wrong with Christianity. Things aren’t that simple and I can appreciate the different types of churches God is present and working in whether they be big or small, hip or uncool.
Crazy how things change when you stop paying attention to the cranky theological critics and instead prayerfully look at things with an open mind and heart to try and discern what God may be doing.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 26, 2009
Dang I love Radiohead’s How to Disappear Completely. That song gets me every single time, especially the end where Thom Yorke starts singing and then you realize that was his voice not an instrument.
I just had to get that out. It was playing in the background and it just hit me.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 25, 2009
My wife and I were watching MSNBC and the host of the show was interviewing a Republican and after a while I turned to my wife and said, “This channel will make you hate Republicans,” and she quickly responded, “What’s funny is that if you watch Fox News it’ll do the same.”
I got a good laugh out of that.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 25, 2009
I got two new games for my XBox 360 the other day that I’ve been spending a bunch of time on.
The first one was Guitar Hero World Tour. This one has been out for a while but I’ve been hesitating to get it because the last time I played it I didn’t care for it much. We’ve been having a blast with it. We hook the game up to a stereo and jam out as loud as we can. I went and bought a mic stand to help add to the game experience, but I broke it during the 2nd Guitar Hero session we had when I was singing You Know You’re Right by Nirvana. I like to get into it, what can I say?! I actually now think Guitar Hero is a bit more fun than Rock Band. Now I only need to get a better drum set to play on since I’ve been using the first Rock Band drum set which isn’t all that great. I have my eye on the Rock Band 2 drum set which is only about $50.
The second game I got was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Let me just say this game is amazing!! It is so freaking awesome and crazy! I’ve never played a more immersive game. The levels are so detailed and realistic and the fighting is nuts. It is so hectic, unpredictable, and intense. That enough adjectives for you? I’m just awed by this game. I don’t know what the first Modern Warfare was like but this one is on a whole other level compared to other first person shooters I’ve played. You are playing in cities most of the time so it feels really realistic. I was impressed with the level design and complexity when playing in a poor neighborhood in Rio De Janeiro, running through houses and back alleys trying to track down someone on the run while battling the militia who pop out of doors and run around on the roof tops. Then I was even more impressed when the next level had me in an average American town running through back yards and hiding behind cars while we were being invaded by the Russians. Then you’re batting in the streets and in restaurants trying to hold off the enemy that keeps being dropped in from planes and coming out of nowhere like roaches. It was so eerie. Very unsettling to say the east. A bit too close to home.
What is particular difficult about the game is that the enemies are often hard to distinguish from your fellow soldiers and you are capable of friendly fire so you are constantly second guessing whether to shoot at someone and they end up shooting at you and then it’s too late. Also whenever you start getting shot blood clouds your vision and it becomes hard to see until you recover. The enemy is also good at hiding and not letting you get easy kills. I do like how you have so much freedom to play each of the levels however you want. I was playing the level where America is being invaded and I was down in the street shooting at incoming enemies with my automatic weapon and then I decided to get on a roof top and snipe incoming enemies with my heat vision rifle. It leaves you with a lot of choice in how you beat the level. And since it’s gives you so much free reign you end up wanting to come back later and play the level again just to see what new experience you have.
I’ve decided to take a break for right now and do some reading. I’m trying to finish up Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide by Lois Tyson (a fantastic book, btw) and I want to start Hermeneutics: An Introduction by Anthony Thiselton. I might first go get something to eat, though.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 14, 2009
So I’ve been checking out churches lately for about the last 3-6 months. I live in a big city so there are a lot of choices. I’ve been trying to stick with United Methodist Churches for the most part. However, sometimes I like to check out the nondenominational churches or growing churches that look like there is something going on there.
I’ve noticed something about a lot of the independent/nondenominational churches that I’ve checked out that are young, hip, and growing: the lead pastors of the churches always seem to be graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Every single time when I check out the pastor’s info on the church website they end up being graduates of that school. And when I look at the statement of belief they are what you would expect from graduates of that school. Now this brings a couple of things to mind:
1.) That place, SWBTS, must really be training it’s people to go start new independent/nondenominational churches. In fact, given that these churches are often young, hip, and growing, it seems like that might be a good place to go if you are wanting to start a thriving church in a big city. They must be good at that sort of training.
2.) The churches tend to be conservative along the lines of SWBTS. This actually bums me out quite a bit. Honestly I don’t want to go to an overly conservative church. I prefer a more mainline type of church that doesn’t focus on things like inerrancy, predestination, conservative politics, judging who’s in and who’s out, end times, culture wars, or complementarianism. Even if some of that stuff isn’t preached all the time, if I know it’s somewhere there in the background it will bug the heck out of me.
I wish I could find one of these young, thriving, nondenominational churches that are more like mainline churches in their beliefs and focuses, but I guess a lot of people tend to respond more to conservative religion. I wonder why that is?
Either way, I have been attending a really great UMC church that is thriving and has both young and old members. They also do both the traditional liturgical service and the contemporary laid back service at the same time, although I’ve only been to the traditional service. I really like it and am considering joining it and the UMC, although I’m still checking out other churches before I decide if that’s where I want to be and I also have questions about the viability of mainline churches in the future. I also miss the vibe and atmosphere of nondenominational churches from time to time. We’ll see.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 14, 2009
I’m considering starting back up in my attempt to learn Greek. I’m torn though between trying to learn Koine Greek focused on the New Testament or Ancient Greek that focuses on all the Ancient Greek literature including the New Testament.
For the Koine Greek route I’m considering picking up James Voelz Fundamental Greek Grammar since I can get it for $15 and use it with the course videos available on iTunes.
For the Ancient Greek route I have Athenaze, which I was going through at one time, but no additional help like video.
I think Ancient Greek would be more beneficial if I’m wanting to read more than just the New Testament but I also know how important having extra help in the form of video instruction is.
I was wanting to hold out for a language learning method like Randall Buth’s that actually teaches you the language in the way that someone naturally learns a language and which focuses on learning to actually speak biblical Greek. But then I thought that realistically that ability may be nothing more than a cool trick or something to brag about since mostly I’ll be reading and writing about it and won’t really know anyone else who I can speak biblical Greek with. So I think I’ll just go with one of the more traditional methods.
I’m kind of torn right now and can’t decide which to do.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 10, 2009
Do you ever feel guilty skipping chapters in a book (specifically books that aren’t a collection of essays)? I do. I don’t mind quitting a book before I finish it but I can never bring myself to just skip chapters. The problem is that so many books have chapters at the beginning that are uninterested to me which causes me to get bored while I read them and I end up not finishing the book because I never get past those early chapters.
I’m having this problem right now. I was on break at work and I picked up a book on language that I left here just in case I needed something to read. But before I got to the chapters On topics I’m interested in like words and word-formation process, morphology, grammar, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and chapters related to the brain and learning, I have to get through chapters on the properties of language, animals and human languages, the sounds of language, and the sound patterns of language.
So I’m conflicted. I want to read the later chapters but I don’t think I can get through the earlier chapters because they put me to sleep.
Do any of you ever have this problem? What do you do? How do I get past the guilt? ; )
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Posted by Bryan L on November 8, 2009
When it comes to the academic study of the Bible in secular universities, I think it’s perfectly fine to approach that study from a critical standpoint that is free of religious commitments and requirements. I don’t think there is anything wrong with people studying the Bible and believing that it’s no more special than any other ancient documents or religious books and that it therefor shouldn’t be treated any different (not elevated or insulated), but instead studied according to the same rules and methods. It seems pretty sensible to to me to study the Bible like this in a secular university.
What I can’t figure out, and I’m hoping someone might help me out here, is why you would want to have a separate department specifically dedicated to the study of the Bible in a secular university? Wouldn’t it be better to just include it as one of the subjects studied in a religion department or a classics department? I get why faith based colleges have separate departments for the study of the Bible, after all, they believe it is special in a way that other books aren’t. It is crucial to their faith and therefore must be elevated to a higher degree of importance. But I can’t figure out why you would do that in a secular university where the Bible isn’t seen as any more special or important than other books, ancient or modern.
Maybe someone can enlighten me.
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Posted by Bryan L on November 6, 2009
Just listened to the whole Silversun Pickups’ album Swoon and I really liked it. One of the better albums I’ve heard in a while. There wasn’t one song I didn’t like. Even though the lead singer’s voice is kind of unique it didn’t end up bothering me after a while, which I thought might happen (and actually did happen when I was listening to one of Band of Horses’ albums recently). In fact it grew on me even more. The music is actually really good which I think made a big difference. If it was just singing with average music I probably wouldn’t have cared for the album much but that wasn’t the case.
I wouldn’t mind seeing them in concert. If they come to my city I’d probably try to check them out.
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Posted by Bryan L on October 27, 2009
Yesterday I was listening to Monday night’s episode of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and he was doing the usual blasting of his conservative opponents/competition where he tries to make them look silly and foolish. Rush Limbaugh happened to be his target at one point in the night because of a rant Limbaugh went on against Obama for some things he supposedly said about the constitution and economics in his college thesis at Columbia University. Limbaugh had ranted for a while on what Obama supposedly said until it was eventually brought to his attention that the story that he was getting his information from was actually a fake story posted on a spoof blog, and in fact Obama hadn’t said any of the stuff Limbaugh was attacking him for. It must have been priceless seeing the look on Limbaugh’s face when he realized he was punked. : )
Still, despite finding out the story was a fake Limbaugh countered that everyone knew Obama actually believed those things that the spoof was saying so the story was true anyway and Limbaugh was standing by it.
Anyway, why am I bringing this up? Well I thought it was funny because Limbaugh’s attempt at saving face reminded me of those who try and say that accounts in the Bible are true even if they didn’t actually happen. I’m sure you’ve seen what I’m talking about. Its claimed that even though historical events narrated in the Bible may not be historically true, they are still true in some deeper theological way. I guess it’s an attempt at saving the Bible’s inspiration and authority in the wake of challenges to it from biblical criticism, but does that strategy really work? Is it basically the same as what Limbaugh tried to do when he found out the story he was getting his information from was a fake? Is there a better option?
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