It means "writings." I write things.

5:31 PM

I'm done

Posted by Brad Polley |

This is the last post on this blog.  I don't feel like blogging anymore.  Thanks to everyone who's read and commented. 

9:48 AM

Another great website

Posted by Brad Polley |

It's called Awkward Family Photos and it's amazing.  Here's the best picture I have ever seen.  It really screams, "My wife is pregnant and if you dispute my manhood, I'll shoot you in the face." I can't even fathom the thought process behind this photo.


7:44 AM

Salmonella and Jesus

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was flipping through my 15 channels this morning and idiotically stopped on a religious channel. Watching religious channels reminds me of walking through an amusement park, and you come across someone's pile of puke laying on the asphalt; it's sickening to look at, but, for some reason, you can't look away.  

This particular joke of a preacher was talking about the end times, because, hey, scaring the crap out of people really brings in the money.  He was going through a litany of things that are happening in the world and he spent a great deal of time talking about all of the salmonella cases in stuff like lettuce and peanut butter.  The best part of all this?  He was using these salmonella cases as proof that Jesus' return must be imminent.  He actually said, "Why is all this happening? Because it's biblical prophecy."  

That is some stunning biblical exegesis.  I was grateful for a good laugh this morning. 

5:51 PM

Oops...that backfired

Posted by Brad Polley |

Conservative radio host Erich Mancow got waterboarded today on his radio show.  He did it to definitively prove that it wasn't torture.  Well, here's the video of it.  

In case you don't feel like watching it, here's what happened.  He lasted about three seconds before giving up and then declared it "absolutely torture."  Keep in mind, this was in a controlled environment, and he had the option to give up whenever he felt like it, and his conclusion was still that it was torture.  

I don't understand the argument that protecting our country from terrorists is an either/or proposition where we either torture in order to keep us safe, or the terrorists show up by the thousands with nukes strapped to them.  I might be "liberal," but I still love this country, and I refuse to let the country I live in sell out its ethics and morals in the name of security.  I can't, as a follower of Jesus, condone stuff like waterboarding.   

7:59 AM

Amazing picture

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've always been vaguely interested in astronomy.  When I saw this picture this morning, it totally blew me away.  If you aren't sure what it is, it's the sun with the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Space Telescope silhouetted in it.  Amazing.  


11:15 AM

My favorite 3-letter word

Posted by Brad Polley |

Die.  Just kidding, that would be morbid.  Although die is a good word.  Maybe I'll write about that sometime too.  At least once a day (or never) someone asks me, "Brad, what is your favorite 3-letter word?"  My response?  Why.  

It's a word that is short on letters, and long on implication.  By adding a simple question mark to the end of this word, we stumble on, what may be, the key to following Jesus.  Seven years ago, I graduated from Bible College (read: fake college) and entered into the full time ministry.  This 3-letter word always seemed off limits to me, because, after all, the pastor or professor knew more than I did and I just assumed that everything they said was true.  Shortly after entering the ministry, I started using this 3-letter word, and my life hasn't been the same since.

Why do we ask why?  Have you ever thought about that?  My two year old is fluent in "why-ese."  It's totally annoying, but I started to think about why he questions everything.  He asks why all the time because he's trying to learn and grow.  It's part of the process of maturity and growth to ask the question, "Why?"  At some point in our development, it seems to me (and Christians seem to be worse at this than anyone) we stop asking why and start assuming we know it all.  This is the surest way to stunt growth.  

Asking why serves a couple of purposes.  One, it helps us to examine ourselves and our motives. Before we do anything, maybe we should ask ourselves why we are about to do said thing.  This checks our motives and should, hopefully, cause us to make fewer stupid decisions.  When someone wrongs us, instead of a knee-jerk reaction, maybe we should ask why we are reacting in the way we are.  This would show us that our response probably has something to do with pride and having our pride wounded, thus we blow up and make a bad situation worse.  By calling out our pride, we have a chance to check it at the door and shrink its influence on our life.  

Two, asking why causes us to question everything we read in the Bible or hear in church.  To some, that last sentence was akin to heresy, but hear me out.  The Church should be a place where people are free to question.  Just one time, when I preach, I would love to have someone stand up and ask why I said a certain thing.  Christianity grew out of the Jewish tradition (it was a totally Jewish sect until people thought it would be a good idea to hate Jewish people), which is a tradition that is founded in questions.  They question God, they question each other, and they question themselves.  They do this because they have a profound understanding that questions lead to growth, lack of questions leads to spiritual atrophy.  Christians need to regain this ability to question and they need to do it now.  

By not asking questions, we allow our faith to be hijacked by pastors who's message revolves around God making you rich and healthy.  By not asking why, we hold on to ridiculous theories about the origins of the universe, while ignoring science.  By not asking why, we become slaves to political ideologies that have nothing to do with following Jesus.  

Asking why always leads to more questions, thus a never-ending cycle of growth and change.  Don't be afraid to question.  But be careful, you may just find freedom.     

2:53 PM

This is timely

Posted by Brad Polley |

Per my last post, I submit to you Exhibit A on how the Church has missed the point on the torture issue.  A survey came out this week that showed definitively that American churchgoers are more likely to support the torture of suspected terrorists than people who don't go to church. The survey shows that 54% of American churchgoers support torturing prisoners.  

That means that 54% of the Church has little interest in following Jesus' way of life.  You may think that's a leap, but go ahead and try and convince me that Jesus would torture someone. Good luck with that one.

9:15 AM

Adventures in missing the real issue

Posted by Brad Polley |

So torture is in the news again.  Pundits and news anchors are continuously waxing idiotic on the subject and something is puzzling me.  The focus seems to be, not on whether torture is right or wrong, but whether the techniques America (or Amurca as our past leader would say) used on detainees were effective.  It doesn't bother me at all that news stations are having this debate, it bothers me that Christians are having this debate.  I'm sorry, but if you're a Christian, there is no debate about this.

From a Christian perspective (not an American perspective, there's a huge difference), we cannot even talk about torture techniques in terms of effectiveness.  Christians are to be people that respect every life and every person as an image bearer of God, even our enemies.  I seem to remember Jesus saying something along the lines of "love your enemies."  This isn't negotiable. you either love someone or you don't.  I love my children, even when they disobey me.  I'm not about to waterboard them for doing wrong or lock them in a cramped cell with a bug they think may hurt them.  I think it's interesting that if a parent in this country did this with their kids, they would be arrested, and the entire country would look on in disbelief and outrage.  When our country does it, we don't ask the question of whether it is right or wrong, we ask if it was effective.  As Christians, we're not supposed to differentiate between people we love who are close to us, and our enemies.  This is far from an easy thing, but it is something that Christ taught, and, more importantly, lived.  

I don't care about the effectiveness of these methods from an American perspective.  For Christians, the real issue is that people, even our enemies, bear the image of God.  When we talk about these guys as nothing more than a source of information, we strip them of their humanity, which, biblically speaking, is a dangerous thing to do.  It's time for Christians to stop arguing these issues from an American standpoint, and to start arguing them from a Christian one.

9:44 AM

This made me laugh

Posted by Brad Polley |

There's a great site called Indexed.  You should check it out.  This is a sample of what they do, and this one made me laugh out loud. 



8:04 AM

Small dogs

Posted by Brad Polley |

I went for a walk this morning and got chased by three or four small dogs.  Let me just say that I'm pretty sure I hate dogs.  Especially small ones.  Maybe it's because the first girl I ever loved had a stupid Yorkie yipper dog, and I'm projecting my still hurt feelings onto small defenseless animals (Oh 8th grade heartbreak, will you ever cease?).  Or maybe it's because they are small and annoying, and I want to place them on a football tee and place kick them into oblivion.  Probably both.  

Anyway, I was walking by a house this morning that has two Miniature Pinchers.  If you don't know what that is, think of a Doberman and divide by pi, that gives you a Miniature Pincher. These two came after me, snarling and growling the whole way.  My response was to take one step toward them and say, "You wanna go?" (only after typing that did I realize how funny/ridiculous that sounds) and they took off and never looked back.  Besides the fact that these dogs temporarily ruined my "listening to Sigur Ros and finding my chi" moment, they did cause me to ask a couple of questions.  Why is it always the smallest dogs that are, generally, the most aggressive and vicious acting?  What does this have to do with anything?

Here's the conclusion I came to (a conclusion that may very well be completely off); I think small dogs realize how weak and powerless they really are, so they overcompensate and try to make themselves seem bigger than they are.  They feel that if they do this, people, or bigger animals, will back off in fear.  I then realized that people are a lot like that too.  I think people who bark the loudest, who are aggressive and confrontational, realize how small they are, but they overcompensate, thus deluding themselves (and the people around them) that they are large and in charge.  

I did this in school.  I was a small dude.  Think "Steve Urkel," then, once again, divide by pi.  I was also incredibly insecure, as are most middle and high schoolers.  I remember one time picking on the fattest kid in our class.  The sheer mechanics of this exchange were laughable at best.  I remember picking on him for something (probably his weight, I was such a nice person) and the look on his face is something I will never forget.  Looking back, I realize that his face showed more than just anger, it was hurt, it was pain, it was embarrassment.  Why did I do it? Because I was a small, petty person, who realized very early on that the only way to make myself bigger was to try and make everyone else smaller.  

Did it work?  Nope.  All it led to was a life of regret, just like that Miniature Pincher would have regretted it had it wandered within range of my right boot. 

7:55 AM

New website

Posted by Brad Polley |

I found an interesting new website called Devotional Christian.  They're having a contest right now where you can win $400 of free books.  Check out the site.  

12:09 PM

The open table

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've celebrated the Eucharist (or communion) almost every week for most of my life.  Maybe "celebrated" isn't the right word.  I've participated in it, but I'm not sure I've really celebrated much of anything; at least until recently.  

For those of you who don't have much or any church background, the Eucharist is a time where we remember Jesus and try, in our own way, to recreate his last meal with his disciples by breaking bread together and sharing wine (read: eating a fraction of a cracker and a mini-shot of watered down Welch's grape juice because, hey, Jesus didn't drink real wine right?).  These elements, depending on your religious background or denomination can either be seen as merely symbolic elements of Jesus' body and blood, or as actually taking on the form of Jesus' body and blood (after all, the earliest followers of Jesus were accused of cannibalism for this very reason).  Different churches celebrate this beautiful act in different ways and with varying frequency, but almost every Christian tradition celebrates it at some point.  

I remember sitting in a College theology class ("Come to Bible College, it's like a four year church camp, but, you know, more expensive.")  where the professor spent two weeks explaining the various nuances and meanings behind the Eucharist.  It's at that time that I started to feel like there might be more to this act than just downing a microscopic symbolic meal every week.  That class opened up a whole new world of thought to me concerning the Eucharist, that, to this day, continues to unfold.  

I was doing some studying today and I came across a guy who was talking about how Jesus spent a great deal of his life destroying the social norms and purity laws of his day.  Jesus was constantly belittled by the religious elite of his day for touching lepers (a big no-no), talking with women (also a no-no) in public, allowing them to follow him as disciples (you get the point), and eating meals with tax collectors and "sinners."  The term "sinner" in those days didn't refer to someone who told a lie or had sex with a goat (although a sin that would be).  It referred to someone who was "unclean" or had a physical deformity.  Israel, like all ancient cultures had a caste system that revolved around Mosaic law.  If someone was considered unclean, they were banished from society for a given amount of time and were then considered "untouchable."  The label of "sinner" was put on them, thus warning people not to get close.  These people were, by and large, the poorest of society.  Jesus eats with them, which to eat at someone's table was the ultimate sign of acceptance and equality in Jewish culture.  Jesus' table was, therefore, open to everyone, not just the elite, not just the most religious people.  

I started thinking about my Eucharist experience growing up, and even now.  Every church that I have attended in my life has said this in one form or another: "We open the table to all believers."  "Believing" in churches takes on different forms, but this usually means someone who has professed that Jesus is Lord and/or been baptized.  For the last few years, this statement has bothered me, and now it bothers me even more.  Jesus had an open table and we, as his followers do not.  He shattered social norms and laws of his day because they were unjust.  These norms said that there were some who were worthy and some weren't.  Jesus' actions were a giant middle-finger to this line of thinking.  Why, then, do we close the table of the Lord's Supper to so many?  

The reality is that no one is unworthy of partaking in this "meal."  I don't care who you are, what age, what belief system, you're invited.  It's time for churches to start following Christ's example by opening up the table to everyone, not just those who are "worthy" to take it.

9:05 AM

Irony makes me laugh ironically

Posted by Brad Polley |

Or something like that.  I was thinking this morning about the fact that people traditionally eat ham on Easter.  Does anyone else find it ironic that we celebrate the life of a Jewish man by eating ham?

10:14 AM

Adventures in being out of touch with reality

Posted by Brad Polley |

So a bunch of priests are ticked about Notre Dame inviting Obama to speak at their graduation ceremony.  Their concern is that Notre Dame is distancing itself from the Roman Catholic Church because Obama is pro-choice and the Catholic Church obviously isn't.  The irony of the whole thing is that a recent poll showed that more than 60% of Roman Catholics are pro-choice.  They are so concerned about Obama speaking, that they totally miss the fact that more than half of the people who align themselves with their Church don't even hold the same beliefs about abortion.  

I honestly have no problem with your everyday Catholic.  I know quite a few of them, and they are wonderful people.  My problem is with the leadership of the Catholic Church who sit in their ivory towers and pass down judgments on things without thinking through them, all the while ignoring other glaring problems in their Church.  What do they expect Obama to do?  Do they think he's going to give a dissertation on why people should be pro-choice in the midst of his commencement address?  The reality is that his address will not affect anything along the lines of pro-choice or pro-life positions.    

The thing I find interesting is that in the midst of all of this, the Pope recently reinstated a priest who doesn't believe that the Holocaust happened.  Where's the outrage from all of these bishops and priests concerning this?   

By the way, I have no desire to turn this post into a debate about pro-life vs. pro-choice, so save your comments along those lines because I won't respond to them.  

4:06 PM

This about sums it up for me

Posted by Brad Polley |

From ASBO Jesus blog.  


11:54 AM

New wine...continued

Posted by Brad Polley |

So we've looked at what, I believe, is wrong with the American Church, a rampant consumer-driven Christianity; a Christianity that is about showing up to church and having church done to you.  This approach doesn't look a whole lot different than going to a variety show in Branson or Pigeon Forge; you pay your money for the show, you sit and are entertained, you leave the exact same person you were when you went in.  

There's a story in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus is questioned about the idea of fasting.  The religious leaders had many traditions concerning fasting, and much was written in the Oral Law (though nothing was written in the Torah concerning fasting) concerning regular times of fasting. One of the religious leaders basically says to Jesus, "We're fasting all the time, how come your disciples aren't?"  Jesus tells them that they have no reason to mourn right now, but later they will and then they will fast.  Then he says something interesting:

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.  Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour the new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

You may not see where this has any relevance to my argument, but let me explain.  The religious leaders were basically asking why he was rejecting tradition.  He was announcing that he was bringing a new approach to life.  One where you only do things like fasting when you feel led to do it.  He was telling them that they would never understand this, because they were functioning like old wineskins.  Their thinking, their approach to life, their approach to God was all based around following their traditions, even if they didn't mean it or understand why they were doing it.  

I see the American Church doing this.  I see the Church trying a lot of new things (or new wine), but they're pouring it into an old wineskin.  They're making a lot of good cosmetic changes to how they "do" church, but underneath, they are ignoring the real problem.  The biggest problem with the Church, in my opinion, is that it's consumeristic.  It's all about what we want and what makes us feel good.  It's about saving our eternal butts, while ignoring the real problems in the world.  Even when we say it isn't, it really is.  Look at how many people church-hop in America.  When we don't like something that happens at church, we leave and find another one.  When we don't "feel the Spirit" anymore (this is a fancy way of saying that we're not getting a spiritual high like we used to), we go and find a church that gives us our spiritual drug.  Well, this church doesn't have enough stuff for my kids to do, I'll go find a church that does, even though I'm supposed to be the one in charge of their spiritual development.  These are all symptoms of a Church that has sold out to the consumer, but as no idea why that might be a problem.  

So churches find snazzy things to get people to show up, to give them the drug they need, but they ignore the real issue.  They continue to make new wine (some of which is very good), but they're putting it into an old consumerist wineskin.  What the Church needs is a new wineskin, not just more new wine.  We need a whole new understanding of why the Church exists in the first place.  Why did God give the Church to the world (he didn't give it to us)?  Maybe he gave the world the Church so that the Church could help repair this worn-out, broken, crap-hole world that we find ourselves in the midst of.  Maybe he gave the world the Church because he knew that what people really needed wasn't more services to help them, but a group of people to show the world what his love looks like.  Maybe he gave the Church to the world because what this world desperately needed was a new wineskin.  

12:27 PM

New wine

Posted by Brad Polley |

I read a great post on Mark Riddle's blog today that got me thinking.  Read it now.  




Alright.  I agree with his sentiment.  In fact, I was just telling someone the other day that I think in the next 20 years, you'll see mega-churches collapsing in on themselves.  I don't wish that to happen because it means a lot of people out of work, but I will say that it might be for the best when it actually comes to the health of the American Church. You see, the American Church is nothing more than a vaguely Jesus-y copy of American culture.  American culture is based on consumerism, so is American Christianity.  The vast majority of Americans who attend church want the same thing that they want out of a restaurant or one of their favorite stores.  They want an experience, and they want services that are catered to their unique needs. The church is all-too-happy to oblige them by offering sports programs, coffee shops in their foyer, classes, music that fits their desires, etc., then attaching a Jesus stamp on it, thus making it "Christian."  To be fair, I don't think the American Church's motives are bad, I think (at least I hope) they generally want to help people and meet them where they are.  But what if they weren't actually helping people by doing all of this?  What if they were actually crippling them spiritually by catering to their every need?  

When Jesus, the one we are supposed to follow, lived a life of total selflessness, I'm not sure how catering to everyone's needs leads anyone down Jesus' path.  Sure, you may get people to intellectually commit to who Jesus said he was, but as far as actually teaching them to live in his way, forget about it.  You can't teach selflessness by stroking people's naturally selfish tendencies.  I heard someone say once that, "What you convert people with is what you convert them to."  In other words, if you convert someone to Jesus by means of consumerism, you've done nothing but put a Jesus stamp on their consumerism.  

I think Jesus had a lot to say along these lines that can give us some clarity on this topic, but I've written too much already.  More coming tomorrow, and it has to do with wine.      

8:55 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Is it possible to completely divorce your emotions from the process of following Jesus?  

11:08 AM

No really, America is in great shape

Posted by Brad Polley |
9:18 AM

A couple of observations

Posted by Brad Polley |

It's not very often that I'm totally ticked off by 9:30 in the morning, especially on my days off...this would be one of those times.  I get approximately 10 channels on cable (two or three of which are home shopping channels, and two of which are religious channels...I would rather gouge my eyes out than watch that), and I was flipping through while eating my toast this morning and I came across the Today Show.  Seeing Matt Lauer on TV is enough to make me want to drive my fist through the screen, but he wasn't in this segment.  They were showing a segment on how to replicate the looks of celebrity Oscar dresses "on the cheap."  I only caught two dresses before I threw up all over the living room.  The lady who was presenting the dresses was raving that these two dresses are just under $350.  "How is that affordable or cheap!?" I screamed at the TV (I really did this; I'm a sad man).  These shows, and celebrities in general, could not be more out of touch with what is happening outside of New York or L.A.  The Today Show goes from a segment on how to save money on groceries, straight into this visual and auditory abortion of a segment.  Can someone explain this to me?

So I turned the TV off and got on the computer to check my email.  After checking my email, I saw a headline that a football player by the name of Albert Haynesworth (DT and free agent) signed a contract with the Washington Redskins for $100 million dollars.  "Well, he's earned it by playing well," I hear you say.  Let's look at some statistics concerning Mr. Hanyesworth:

- In seven years, because of injuries, he's never played an entire season.
- Of the games he's played, he's only played 2/3 of the defensive snaps, this means for 1/3 of the game, he's sitting on the sideline, presumably eating.
- He's been suspended twice for on and off the field incidents.
- In seven years, he only has 24 sacks (that's an average of just over three a year for those keeping score).  If you know nothing about football, that's pretty much awful numbers for a "star" such as Haynesworth.

That's ridiculous, and it's a huge reason why my interest in professional sports has dropped about 90% over the last five years.  I don't care who the player is, I don't know how they sleep at night knowing people in their own cities, the people who route for them, are being foreclosed on having trouble paying for basic services for their children.  They're making millions and millions of dollars to play a game.  You may argue that they've earned their money through hard work and whatnot, but you surely don't think that any of their lives can be considered tough.  You want to solve the Health Care disaster in America?  Raise the income tax on pro athletes by about 5% and put that money toward health care.  Problem solved.  I rule.  Polley in 2012. 

1:14 PM

It's fun to have an idea

Posted by Brad Polley |

There, wasn't that fun?  

I had an idea today.  When talking about the poor, Christians often use the old adage, "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."  I find this adage sensible enough, but I started wondering today if this saying applies to more than just the poor, and more than just financial matters.  To put it another way, I wonder how often the Church is guilty of giving its people fish, all the while missing the fact that they're, at best, enabling their congregants to cease pursuing true discipleship and, at worst, spiritually crippling them.  

I started thinking about this after a conversation I had this morning about the future of my student ministry.  I'm currently trying to figure out how youth ministry (not just mine, but youth ministry in general) needs to change, and what that's going to look like in my community. I was talking this morning about rejecting the old forms of youth ministry that center around entertainment and just getting students in the door, and how I want that to change.  It then popped into my head that youth ministry has been guilty of giving students fish, and forgetting to teach them how.  

It then occurred to me that this isn't simply a youth ministry issue, but an issue for the entire Church to address.  Jesus himself unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) started the whole fishing metaphor when he told his first followers, "Come, I'll make you fishers of men."  The Church has often interpreted that passage in such a way that the emphasis is on the number of fish you can cram into the boat (and when there are too many fish for the boat, build a bigger boat), but I don't think that's what Jesus was driving at.  If you look at his life with his followers, he was constantly teaching them to "fish for men."  He was showing them how to interact lovingly with a world that needed love.  He taught them through example that the best way to fish for men was to give your life up for them.  In other words, he taught them to fish, then handed them a pole (or net) and said, "Your turn."  

The Church gives people fish in many ways.  The Church's current focus (I realize there are exceptions) is on giving people a "worship experience."  You may disagree with this, but look at the amount of time and money that goes into Sunday morning worship services and it's hard to argue.  Our entire Sunday morning worship time should be spent equipping people to go out and fish.  When our focus is on an experience, then we're just throwing fish at people.  I read an interview with Rob Bell where he was talking about a friend of his that stated this, "Everything about our worship service should say, 'Welcome to our church, now get the hell out of here.'" It's a good point, and I think the same thing holds true for youth ministries.  Welcome, now leave and go fish.

When preachers and teachers just spout out points and subpoints and then tell everyone how to behave and what to believe, they're throwing out fish.  A teaching should lead to a lot of questions.  After a good many of Jesus' teachings, his disciples were left scratching their heads and asking what the heck he was talking about.  The point of teaching isn't just spouting out information in the hopes that people suck it in, it's engaging people's minds and inviting them into a conversation.  That's how people learn to fish.  To summarize for any preacher or teachers reading this, leave them with questions.  Far from leaving, you'll probably notice that people are returning for more.  

So what are your thoughts?  What are some other ways that the Church lobs fish at people? Am I off base?      

9:56 AM

Tricycle backflip

Posted by Brad Polley |

It takes a certain kind of person to even think of trying this, let alone pull it off.  

ht to Marko

11:31 AM

Why I hate Twitter

Posted by Brad Polley |

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's basically a way to document your day for anyone who subscribes to your account, then you can respond to it.  As the title of this post suggests, I hate this.  Here's why:

1) It's voyeuristic.  Our culture is already obsessed with voyeurism.  Look at the proliferation of "reality" shows, where we watch people derail their lives, and we call it "entertainment."  We are obsessed with other people's lives, be it celebrities or the heroin addict on Oprah or Dr. Phil.  There are number of reasons for this, and I won't go into them here.  Here's the rub; I don't care that you just ate, I don't care that you just went to the bathroom, I don't need to know that.  Stop Twittering about it.  Who has the time to do this?  It especially ticks me off when pastors Twitter, because we're constantly talking to our people to slow down and whatnot, yet they spend half of their day Twittering.  Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

2) It shows deep insecurities in the one who is using it.  If I'm Twittering about things like eating, going to the bathroom, or "I just took a nap, man it was nice," then I'm basically screaming this message, "I want to be important, look at me, look at me!"  People Twitter in the hope that someone is listening or watching.  They do this because they are looking for people to validate their lives by taking the time to look into what they are doing.  

I realize that things like blogs and Facebook (things I engage in) have voyeuristic aspects to them, so let me respond to that as well by telling you why I do these things.  My blog is basically a way for me to brain barf and, occasionally to let family know how my kids are doing by putting up pictures of my boys.  I personally don't care who reads this blog, and I have no idea how many people do actually read it.  I blog simply to jot down my thoughts and put them into a coherent form.  I do this for the purposes of putting teachings together for church and in the hope that someone who comments has something to add to the conversation.  

I Facebook because it's nice to catch up with friends from high school and college, plus I can quickly communicate with some of my students who refuse to use email.  

Here's the thing about blogging and Facebook; I can keep as many parts of my life private as I choose to.  I can disconnect.  You can't do that and Twitter.  It isn't possible.  And that is why I hate Twitter.

1:18 PM

Unintended consequences of the economy

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've been thinking about this since the economic disaster began.  Is it possible that one of the unintended consequences of the horrible economic state we find ourselves in is that people will stop buying so much crap, and actually shun rampant materialism?  I remember after 9/11 when Wall Street tanked, President Bush got on national TV and urged Americans to go spend money.  I remember thinking at the time that that didn't sound like a very good long-term solution to economic issues, because people were just using credit cards to buy the stuff.  Well, here we are.  I've heard similar politicians recently stating that the key to rebuilding the economy is for people to spend.  Well, the problem this time is that hardly anyone has the money to spend.  Once again, horrible solution to the economic crisis. 

Let's face it, Americans (including myself, though I'm trying my best to remedy this) are materialistic.  We love our stuff and lots of it.  But when people are losing their jobs, and can't get credit for anything right now, people are being forced away from materialism out of necessity. The only problem is that they may be forced away from materialism because they're broke, but their hearts may remain unchanged.

I think it's a good time for the Church to step up with Jesus' admonition, "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."  

9:42 AM

Why systematic theology is dead part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

A system of theology inevitably leads to painting yourself into a corner.  This happens because it is based on a completely faulty assumption that God works reasonably.  The only way you can have a completely rational system of thought pertaining to God is if God himself operates rationally.  Jesus himself, apparently, didn't see God in this way.  There's a story where he's meeting with a religious leader named Nicodemus and he equates the Spirit of God to the wind. He says, "The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."  This means that God's Spirit (his essence and power) is unpredictable and wild.  In my mind, this puts a nail in the coffin of systematic theology, and the person to nail the coffin shut is the very person whom so many people have devoted their lives to understanding systematically.  Irony is a lovely thing.  

As if that doesn't do it, just look at God's track record throughout the Bible.  He's erratic, working this way one time, then another way another time.  This is why reason alone is so dangerous when discussing God (If God worked this way in Genesis, then he works that way all the time...).  Systematic theology seeks to divorce God from human experience and emotion and stick solely to what we observe in Scripture.  The problem with that should be obvious. How can we confine an infinite God into our finite minds?  A finite being can't lock an infinitely creative Being into its mind.  It just doesn't work that way.  Do you see how I just used reason to show that reason doesn't always work when relating to God?  And here lies the paradox.

Reason is of some use, but it ultimately fails to do what it sets out to do in relation to God.  It seeks to pin down God and make him smaller.  This is like trying to harness the power of a hurricane in a small glass jar.  Sorry about your luck, but it just ain't happening.  There are things we can learn about the nature of God from Scripture and using our powers of reason. However, there is a great deal we can learn about him outside of Scripture as we listen to our hearts and observe all that he has created.  If I want to know the heart of an artist that I find captivating, just reading about him doesn't bring me all that close to knowing who that artist really is.  If I want to ultimately know more about that artist, and the true heart of the artist, I have to observe his art.  I have to spend time with it and figure out what the artist was trying to convey through his art.

I find the Artist captivating, but try as I might, I just can't fit all of who he is and what he means into my tiny mind.  

R.I.P. Systematic Theology "He tried to shrink God down to his size, but God would have none of it."    

9:05 AM

Why systematic theology is dead part 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

And any Bible College (former or current) will shout, "Hallelujah, it's about time!" to that.  I was thinking about this last night when I should have been sleeping after working 13 straight hours (I'm a near burned out minister, sleep doesn't happen much anymore).  

For those of you that don't know what systematic theology is, let me sum it up for you: it's a system of theology.  Thank you and good night.  Just kidding.  Basically, it is a system of figuring out who God is and how he works.  Systematic theology tries to have a coherent thought of God from Genesis through Revelation of the Bible.  I'm sure that explanation clears everything up for you.  Moving on.  

I remember my systematic theology class in college.  It was at 7:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I just threw up in my mouth as I typed that) and it was taught by an incredibly wonderful, but incredibly dry 75 year old man.  He basically started the semester in Genesis talking about the nature of God and then proceeded to work his way through the Bible toward Revelation.  I always hated that class, not because of the professor, not because it was boring or early in the morning (although I loathed getting up that early for it).  I hated it because it never seemed right to me.  It never seemed right that you could make God so neat and tidy and fit him into a system.  

Systematic theology grew out of the Enlightenment, the "Age of Reason."  Everyone started seeking to make everything rational and ordered.  This age was a great one for science, but it was devastating to theology.  In science, the more order and system, the better; science is designed to work that way.  In theology, however, the more systemic and ordered it becomes, the more problems you run into.  You run into problems because you can't fit an infinite, limitless Being into a mold based on reason.  

The end result of all of this is in 1920, you get someone (after 2500 years of biblical study where no one lent this view any credence at all) saying that the earth was created in six literal days, because reason says that if the Bible says six days, then it must be six literal days. (Editorial tangent: Quick, what do humans use to measure a 24 hour day?  The sun and moon you say?  Correct.  When was the sun and moon created according to Genesis?  The fourth day you say?  How was time kept on the first three days then?  Game over.)  The end result of that is an argument with a high school student about dinosaurs where he claims that Satan planted dinosaur bones in the ground to tempt Christians away from believing the Bible (I wish I was making that up).  Do you see where a purely rational system of theology results in a completely unreasonable thought?  

Continued tomorrow...

11:34 AM

Just a thought

Posted by Brad Polley |

We talk in churches all the time about people rejecting Jesus, but I'm not sure that that is what they're rejecting.  I wonder if what they are rejecting is actually the Church and Christians, not Christ himself.  It seems that even the most hardened atheists, in their defense of their views, bring up things like the Crusades or the Inquisition to show why Jesus is a fallacy and why they refuse to believe in God at all.  Those events, and others like them, have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus, but with his idiotic followers.  

I would venture to guess that a good deal of atheists have had some sort of a negative spiritual experience in their lives that lead to them rejecting the whole thing.  Maybe I'm over-simplifying all of this, but maybe I'm not.  

So what do you think?   

This was part of President Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, when he talked about his religious transformation.

 "I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose. "

10:18 AM

When nerds attack

Posted by Brad Polley |

This guy shouldn't be hard to capture.  Just look in his parent's basement.

10:13 AM

This about sums it up for me

Posted by Brad Polley |

"Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed." - Peter Rollins

10:19 AM

One of the coolest websites I've seen in a while

Posted by Brad Polley |

Thanks to Mark Riddle's website, I came across Black Cab Sessions.  It's a ton of videos of musicians playing their songs in the back of a black cab in London.  Brilliant concept and very entertaining.  The three best I've seen so far are:

Death Cab for Cutie
Fleet Foxes (the best I've seen)
The New Pornographers (this isn't what it sounds like)

11:26 AM

Jesus vs. Yoda...discuss

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm working my way through the Star Wars movies (at least the three good ones) and I was thinking, "Who would win in a fight between Jesus and Yoda?"  

At first blush, my gut reaction is Yoda, but Jesus offers some interesting angles as well.  I don't really have an answer.  They're both incredible in their own special ways, but I just don't know. Here are my thoughts in a pro-con format:

- He's the Son of God, that has to give you some sort of an advantage.
- After his resurrection, he could walk through walls, thus giving him the ability to escape if needed.
- He's much taller than Yoda.
- You apparently can't kill him, or at least, keep him dead.  

- He's a pacifist, that has to hurt you in a fight.
- He has no light saber, unless he can conjure one out of thin air.

- He's Yoda.
- He has wicked light saber skills.
- He has the force (one could argue that Jesus had this as well)
- He's a Jedi, so if you strike him down, he only becomes stronger.

- He's pretty stinkin' small.

So who wins?  Jesus?  Yoda?  Does the battle rage on for millenia until they both decide to call a truce?  

10:39 AM

I can see this coming in handy in the future

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm currently picking my way through the book of Deuteronomy.  To say that some of this book is funny is a gross understatement.  It contains some seriously amazing advancements in humanity, especially considering the time that it was written.  Some of it, I must admit, is a bit strange, and some of it is a bit disturbing.  

I was reading this morning this lovely gem:

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.  They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious.  He will not obey us.  He will not obey us.  He is a profligate and a drunkard."  Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death.

Ezra and yourselves.

10:55 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Remember Larry?  I mentioned him in a post about a month ago.  He's the guy who has cancer and our church has been helping him with food and gas money for the past few months.  He came to church yesterday and he looked pretty bad.  He was slumping over in his chair and couldn't keep his eyes open.  I went and sat by him and asked him if he was alright.  He barely had the energy to tell me that he needed to go home because he was so weak.  A couple of us helped him out to his car.  It seems that he had five chemo treatments last week.  That will zap anyone's energy, let alone an elderly man.  

I called him yesterday afternoon to see how he was doing and he sounded a little bit stronger.  Do you want to know what kind of person he is?  He kept apologizing that he had to leave church early.  That's what he was worried about.  I had a hard time convincing him that God didn't really care that he left early.  If you're one that is inclined to pray, please pray for him.  I'm not sure what to even pray.  Just pray as God leads you.   

9:46 AM

2 year olds are hilarious

Posted by Brad Polley |

When they aren't screaming, kicking, biting, hitting, and saying, "No Daddy, you leave now!" that is.  As kids grow up, it's incredibly fun to listen as they say different words.  It's also incredibly sad when they start pronouncing those words correctly.  

Our latest from our two year old is this gem: Chicken Nugwickets.  For those of you not fluent in toddler speak, that would be Chicken McNuggets from McDonald's.  Priceless.  

11:47 AM

Still think money buys happiness?

Posted by Brad Polley |
9:40 AM

I guess genocide is okay now

Posted by Brad Polley |

I know this is a politically divisive issue, but I really don't care.  What Israel is doing in Gaza is genocide.  The U.S. doesn't care because, well, it's Israel, and everything they do is fine because it is of God.  Killing is never of God.  Sorry.

For all Christians who think we should just blindly support Israel because 3000 years ago God chose them as a holy people need to remember this: there are about 40,000 Palestinian Christians.  What about them, your brothers and sisters?  Do they deserve this?  Are they just collateral damage?

Israel was chosen by God to be an example to the nations of what monotheists are supposed to look like.  Right now, they are showing the world that God is vindictive, violent and hateful.  If you want that message to be spread, then go ahead and continue to support Israel in this stuff.  If you want people to know that "God is love" then we have to stand up and say that what they are doing is wrong, regardless of our political agenda.

Update: Today they bombed a school.  Defend that move biblically.