It means "writings." I write things.

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.