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Bowling for Conflict

Bowling for Conflict

When some people tell the story, following Jesus marks the end of all problems.

Birds sing, the sun comes out from behind the clouds, and you never have to eat leftovers again.

This has not been my experience.

Like every other facet of the human experience, conflict is not eliminated by the life of faith, just changed.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk a bit about this at Lifelink Memphis.

After the talk, my words were smuggled out, one syllable at a time, by audio ninjas and lovingly reassembled inside the button-thingy below.

You don’t have to click on it.

But the ninjas will be disappointed in you.

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Green Like God?

It’s a point of some irony that those who most loudly maintain that the Earth is a personal expression of God’s creativity and artistry are often the most silent when it comes to protecting that art from mistreatment and vandalism by humanity.

This disconnect is not lost on Jonathan Merritt.

His new book Green Like God gently takes this contradiction to one of the most conspicuous areas of environmental silence in American society, evangelical christians.

Being a bit outside of that target audience, I found the early chapters challenging to my patience. I kept asking myself, “How many Bible verses do you really need to justify doing the right thing?”

But over the course of the book I came to respect Merritt’s commitment to developing a solid framework for environmental concern, one grounded in the Biblical narrative and designed to outlast fads and shifts in public opinion.

You won’t find fancy or emotional language here, just patient teaching, sound theology, and the gentle encouragement to step outside political camps and view the earth from God’s perspective.

Merritt takes not just environmentalism, but consumerism and social justice as well, strips them of their divisive political trappings, and presents them as the spiritual questions that they are.

Green Like God invites evangelicals, in their own language, into a conversation for which they are long overdue.

The Assignment

One day some the members of Jesus’ inner circle came to him with a question about judgment.

Trying to get their theology straight, they pointed out a man blind from birth and asked where to pin the blame.

Was it this guy who did something wrong or was it his parents? What caused God to curse him like this?

And Jesus explained to them that it wasn’t the anger of God or the judgment of God on display in the man’s life, but rather the assignment of God. That his condition was not a curse, but instead a canvas for God’s work to be displayed. (ref)

And then he restored the man’s sight.


Strangely, it seems that every time disaster strikes these days, whether it be hurricanes in New Orleans or the recent earthquake in Haiti, there is no shortage of supposed followers of Jesus rushing to blame the victims and declare the “judgment” of God upon them.

The very ones who could rattle off from memory that,“…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” seem to spend these times of crisis concocting theories about how somehow the recipients of tragedy are especially sinful and deserving of divine destruction.

Enough already.

The assignment is clear, the canvas is prepared.

This is not a time for theories or excuses or recriminations. This is a time for action.

Let’s get to work.


For information on the situation in Haiti, places to contribute, and tips for avoiding scam charities see this post by Peter Greenberg.

You can also contribute through my friends at Help Heal Haiti.

Image credit

City on a Hill

Once upon a time there was this guy named Jesus, you might have heard of him or even read his book.

One time at a major public address, he said that the people that followed him would be like a city on a hill: unmistakable, un-missable, un-hideable. A prominent feature on the skyline of society.

Which sounded kind of strange…until he described what his followers would be about. They would feed the hungry, they would clothe the poor, they would visit prisoners.

Not as a way to score points or impress people, but as a way to worship God.

Instead of courting favor from the powerful, they would serve and protect the powerless. They would not strive for wealth or status, but instead their success would be defined by the degree with which they were able to serve others.

And the metaphor fit, for a group of people that genuinely loved others without condition or reciprocation would be hard to miss.

But they have been missed. Sorely missed.

Although today more people today claim the title of christian than ever before, as a group they…okay, we… have never been more unrecognized, undistinguished, insular, and well…flat.

So much so, that at least in America, many now resort to advertising how different they are on billboards, t-shirts, bumper stickers, or any available surface, often ironically declaring their uniqueness in the most unoriginal styles possible.

So Close And Yet Completely Wrong

Which leads me to wonder…perhaps what the world really needs is not more hype, but rather more height.

Is it possible?

Hit me with your best thought.

Don Lewis and the Pansy Absence of Doom – Video Included

Have you noticed how much time bloggers spend apologizing for not blogging?

How many times have you read something like this:

Sorry I haven’t posted in the last two days, my new job/unemployment/self-administered lobotomy has taken up a lot of my time lately. But to make it up to you, I promise to liveblog my entire upcoming root canal….

Well let me tell you that life happens. And when it does, sometimes what you really need is not approval-begging excuses, but a support group to fall back on.

You need people, good people. People you can count on, people who aren’t afraid to back you up or refer to themselves by cute animal nicknames, or even sell you wooden drinking cups.

That’s why when I took my blogging break a few months ago, I left with confidence knowing that the humor-blogging corner of the internet was safe in the capable hands1 of my friends Lobo and Don Lewis.

don lewison the toiletDon Lewis with time on his capable hands

So imagine my surprise when upon my return to active bloggery I discovered that although Lobo had held up his end of the humorisphere2, Olympic yak juggler, aftershave test pilot, and all around tough guy Don Lewis had fled the internet like a lisping tobogganeer, leaving nothing but tumbleweeds blowing at his humorium url.

Those of you who have been reading the Comma for a while may remember how this same Don Lewis, and his holding company Donco, once launched a hostile takeover of my blog. Back in those days Don seemed to think he could handle two high caliber humor blogs without breaking a sweat. Now somehow, the number of blogs Don is capable of handling seems to have dwindled to zero.

This is a mystery worthy of Leonard Nimoy and I have sworn to get to the bottom of it no matter how dark, smelly, or generally unwiped it may proved to be.

That’s why I am going to drive Don Lewis to the surface using the most dastardly means at my disposal…

This video:

The concept is simple one that I learned in my Marine Corps days, I will punish everyone, everywhere with these merciless videos until Don Lewis comes forward.

Anyone with information regarding Don’s whereabouts will be rewarded with earplugs.

Start talking.

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  1. Please don’t ask what those hands are capable of, it would only make you an accessory.
  2. For the more literal minded readers, who are no doubt wondering at this very moment how a sphere can have an end to uphold,  just wait until you try to figure out which corner Unfinished Rambler has peeing in.