It means "writings." I write things.

11:56 AM

The Crystal Meth of Gaming

Posted by Brad Polley |

If you have 30 minutes (or more, depending on your skill), play this game.  This is about as addicting as a game gets.  It's called Totem Destroyer.  Prepare to have you time gloriously wasted.

10:05 AM

How much do you have to know? part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

So what makes someone a follower of Jesus?  Is it head-knowledge?  Is it a commitment in your heart?  What does that even mean?  I've really been mulling all of this over recently after some conversations with a pastor friend who is working with a student who is a professed atheist.  He recently attended a church camp of sorts in Colorado and he "found God" (I'm not 100% sure what that means other than to say that he now believes that there is a benevolent God out there somewhere).  He still isn't sure about Jesus.  He believes that there was a man named Jesus long ago, but he still isn't sure about the claims Christians make about him.  So is it possible for him to follow Jesus even is he doesn't necessarily believe all of the claims of Jesus?

If you look in the gospels, people stumbled into God's Kingdom in a million ways.  One of my favorite stories in the gospels is about a man who is paralyzed.  Jesus is sitting in a house teaching and healing people, and there is no room for anyone else to get in.  It then says that the friends made an opening in the roof (the original Greek actually reads "they un-roofed the roof" how awesome is that?) and lowered their paralyzed friend down on a mat.  The text then says something weird, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are forgiven."  He later heals the man of his paralysis.  I find Jesus' words very interesting. When he sees the faith of the guy's friends, he forgives his sins.  So in other words, this man found his way into God's Kingdom by having the right friends.  We never read anywhere that this guy even wanted his sins forgiven or wanted to be a part of what Jesus was doing.  All we can assume is that he just wanted to walk, so his friends ripped a freakin' roof off of a house in order to make that happen.  Because he had the right friends, he was saved.  

This obviously flies directly in the face of what churches teach.  Each church has their own "program" of being saved.  Bear in mind, hardly any churches agree on what someone needs to do in order to become a follower of Jesus.  The church where I work basically has this pattern: 1)Something happens in a person and they express interest in following Jesus. 2)Said person then talks to one of the pastors about all of this. 3)Said person generally comes forward during a church service to publicly profess their faith in Jesus as God, etc. 4)Person gets baptized.

It isn't that I have anything necessarily wrong with that series of events, I'm just wondering how much of it is necessary.  It's just that when I look at Jesus' life, I don't see any pattern develop of people following him.  You never even read of any of Jesus' disciples being baptized. Peter is the only one that makes any sort of a public statement of Jesus being the Messiah, and we've already seen that he obviously didn't fully grasp anything he said until much later.  

I understand that these patterns develop because humans naturally want things nice and formulated.  We always gravitate toward what is easiest to measure and calculate.  However, Jesus doesn't work that way.  There isn't a set pattern for people following him.  So, once again, I ask, how much do you have to know?

9:36 AM

How much do you have to know? part 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

Last night at the house church I belong to, we were discussing the book of Acts.  In chapter 2, we come across Peter, on of Jesus' closest followers giving a gigantic sermon to thousands of people. In his sermon, he details who Jesus is, what he did, what he's doing, and the roots of his existence in the Hebrew Scriptures.  It's an extremely theological sermon, meaning that it encompasses God's revelation through Jesus in a fairly complete way.  The interesting thing is that, just days before, Peter and the rest of Jesus followers had pretty much abandoned him as a fraud.  

At the end of John's gospel, we read of the disciples (including Peter) fishing.  This might sound insignificant, but it signaled the disciples' return to their normal everyday lives after Jesus' death. In most rabbi/disciple relationships, this signaled the breaking of the relationship.  The amazing thing is that the text tells us that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to them twice already.  So even after Jesus appears to them, thus saying that he's claimed the victory, and everything he taught had come to fruition, they decided to go back to fishing.  Also keep in mind that Jesus had named Peter "the rock upon which he would build his Church."  Some rock.  

Some will say that Peter's earlier confession of Jesus being the Messiah sent from God shows that he understood who Jesus was, but his later actions must be taken into account.  Not to mention, just because Peter made a verbal affirmation of Jesus' character, doesn't mean that he had internalized or fully understood the breadth of it.    

The return to fishing tells us something huge about the disciples; after three years of following in Jesus' dust trail, seeing miracles, hearing his teachings, etc., they were profoundly ignorant of who Jesus was.  In other words, they didn't get it at all.  We further see their ignorance at the beginning of the book of Acts when they ask Jesus, "So is now the time that you will restore the Kingdom to Israel?"  What they're really asking is if this is the time that Jesus is going to mount a military assault against the Romans, who controlled Israel.  Yet again, a profound misunderstanding of Jesus' mission, and a warping of the various teachings he taught confirming that he wasn't a military Messiah.  Once again, they didn't get it.  They still had no idea who Jesus was and what he was about.  

Here's the thing that I think Christians need to understand...they didn't get it, yet they were still followers of Jesus.  So the question is this: how much does a person have to know before they are considered a follower of Jesus?  Does a person have to know anything?  Is it possible that there are people following Jesus who have no idea that they are following Jesus?  

Tomorrow (or whenever I feel like posting again) I'll explain some background to why I'm thinking about all of this.  

8:45 AM

The Political Forum

Posted by Brad Polley |

There's been a lot of hype about the recent "political forum" at Saddleback Church in California. If you don't know what happened, Pastor Rick Warren sat down individually with both of the Presidential candidates and asked them fundie questions about religion and politics.  I have a few thoughts about this forum.  

First, it was a completely unbalanced atmosphere.  You're in a giant evangelical church, which candidate do you think has the advantage going in?  Obviously the Republican, because his ideals (which, incidentally, I don't think McCain has any to speak of) match up better with the audience. Obama didn't stand a chance of winning the audience over because the deck was stacked.

Second, I'm not your typical Christian who loves when political events take place in churches.  I hate (that may not be a strong enough word) when Christians try to exert influence in elections. It's happened too much in the past few years and it's happening again.  I keep hearing things on news channels like, "courting the evangelical vote" and "the power of the evangelical vote."  It makes me very uneasy because Jesus made it very clear that the key to living his way of life was not power, but powerlessness.  Not to mention that I wholeheartedly believe that Church and State should be separated.  Tony Campolo once said, "Mixing Church and State is like mixing ice cream and manure; it doesn't effect the manure, but it ruins the ice cream."  I think we're seeing that in the American Church right now.  It's deeply divided and the message of Jesus is continuously being compromised by a political agenda.  The manure of politics is ruining the Church.  When I see two presidential candidates sitting in a debate (it wasn't called a debate, but it pretty much was) in a church, it makes me want to puke.  

Third, the "highlights" that I watched reinforced my belief that all political candidates, regardless of party, are swindlers.  McCain was asked a question about how his faith affects his everyday life.  He says very briefly, "It means I'm saved and forgiven."  First of all, that isn't an answer to that question at all and it was equivalent to asking a group of middle school students a question about theology and they answer "Jesus."  It was a regimented answer that he thought people wanted to hear (and incidentally, the crowd ate it up and applauded it) and nothing more.  He then launched into a story about how he was tortured in Vietnam.  This part of the answer had even less to do with the question asked and people, once again, ate it up.  On a small tangent, McCain mentions his torture about once every three seconds.  Dude, I'm sorry you were tortured, I really am, but that in no way qualifies you as the best candidate for President so stop mentioning it please.  

In all fairness, I saw where Obama was asked about abortion and he did a pretty masterful job of not directly answering the question as well.  They're all swindlers, you don't get elected by telling the truth.  People in this country don't want to hear the truth, they want to hear answers that reinforce their own (often misguided) ideals, and politicians know it.  

I refuse to make a judgment call on which candidate has greater faith, because, in all honesty, I can't because I don't know their hearts.  I have my own suspicions about which candidate seems to be more sincere, but, once again, I don't trust politicians at all.  

9:27 AM

The Sports Machine

Posted by Brad Polley |

Let it be said from the get-go that I like sports.  I've grown up playing and watching sports, it's part of who I am.  I say all of that because this post might seem like I'm proposing a hatred for sports and other activities.  

I was watching the Olympics last night and I realized that, for all of the overly-poetic commentating saying otherwise, the Olympics are not about sports at all; they're about politics. It's about national pride, and one nation saying to the other nations, "I have the gold, thus making my country superior to yours."  This all hit me when I watched the men's gymnastics last night. China's men's team was performing (just as an aside, male gymnasts are absolutely enormous, seriously watch the Rings competition and have your mind blown) and what I saw was not a bunch of athletes who were happy to be there and have the opportunity to compete.  What I saw were machines who were bred and designed to win.  There wasn't a hint of happiness or joy on their faces, even when they performed well.  Even when they high-fived each other, they looked like they were getting into proper position first, and then robotically celebrating their actions.  After a performance, they would flash to the stands and show the Chinese coach, and his face was always stoic, bordering on angry, regardless of the performance.  

I saw a report the other day where the Chinese government hand selects the most nimble and flexible three year old girls to start training for the Olympic gymnastics.  Let that sink in for a moment.  It has nothing to do with whether the girls want to be gymnasts, they are told to be gymnasts.  This isn't sport, it's industrial breeding.  This is breeding for a political purpose.  China is trying to show the rest of the world that they are superior by winning more gold than everyone, most importantly the U.S. (this is actually a stated goal of the Chinese Olympic federation).  In my mind, this makes a great deal of the Olympics fraudulent.  Sports should be about fun.  Sports shouldn't be made into a political agenda.  

Lest we throw stones too quickly, let me say that I think we're headed the same direction.  Go to any Little League baseball tournament and you'll see what I mean.  The games aren't about fun anymore, they are about winning.  They are about winning, because they are about pride; pride in your town, state, league, etc.  If you don't believe me, listen to this.  A girl in my youth group who is a cheerleader (yes, I agree that cheerleading isn't a sport, but the same principle applies) told me about a girl on her squad that intentionally broke her ankle so that she wouldn't have to cheer.  After I picked my jaw up off the ground I asked the obvious question, "Um, why doesn't she just quit?"  Her answer said it all to me, "She didn't want to let her parents and coach down."  Wow.  She would rather find a way to break her ankle than to quit and "let her parents down."  

Sport should be fun, and sports should be enjoyable, but our culture is pushing all of the fun and enjoyment out of it.  I quit baseball when I was in fifth grade because I had one coach (not you dad) that sucked all of the fun out of it and was hell-bent on nothing but winning.  I'm not advocating getting rid of sports, I'm just asking for the fun to be brought back to it.  Let's lay down our stupid pride (pride of country, pride of our children being better than other children, pride of town or team) and just relax.  Let's also have a sense of perspective that, in the end, sports are completely meaningless and inconsequential when measured up to the world's bigger problems.  And stop freaking yelling at my dad for being a bad referee at basketball games, it hurts his fragile feelings.    

7:32 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

A Russian Billionaire just bought a house on the French Riviera for $752 million.  People in Haiti are starving because they can't afford rice.  Good purchase.

1:44 PM


Posted by Brad Polley |

I heard the other day that the American Family Association (read: fundie Christians who hate everything) is calling for a boycott of McDonald's because they gave a donation to a gay and lesbian organization.  Honestly, I just don't get it.  Can the Church in America get any less significant than it seems to be right now?  This is what we boil the message of Jesus down to; boycotting a fast-food restaurant.  

Honestly, McDonald's should be boycotted, but more on the grounds that their food is killing you by coating your arteries with layers of slick and slimy fat (mmmm fries).  The saddest thing to me isn't that they are calling for a boycott, it's that somewhere in this country today, a kid wanted to eat a Happy Meal and was told by his mom that they couldn't eat there anymore because McDonald's was a bunch of gay-loving liberals.  

Is this move by the AFA going to help anyone?  I don't even have to answer that, because we all know the answer to that.  All this boycott does is further damage the name of Christ because more of his followers ignore the call to love.  Go ahead and read the gospels and count number of times that Jesus boycotts something.  You can probably guess that the answer is none.  The only thing that Jesus was against were hard-hearted religious people who tried to manipulate and control people by shackling them with rules and regulations, all the while ignoring the greater law of love.  Hey AFA, sound familiar?