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God-talk Miscellany X

A few God-talk tidbits out there—from football to pirates to innovative evangelicals to Africa and Katrina—to read with your Saturday morning coffee:

1. For you football fans out there, check out Fans Put Faith in a New Saint, a Washington Post article posted earlier this week that is chock-full of some of the most creative God-talk language. Reminds of the paragraph nestled in the Get Religion piece Kicking the bucket through those great goal posts in the sky. Truthfully, I hadn’t really had a true glimpse of the religious sports experience until I came to the South. Yowzers.

2. Out of Ur comes Dave Terpstra, pastor of The Next Level Church in Denver, who wonders why Christians loudly protest Harry Potter but are relatively quiet when it comes to Captain Jack Sparrow—who, says Terpstra, “when asked about his plans by two bumbling members of the British Navy he confessed it is his intention to ‘raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out.’ Not exactly Christian virtues.” But then, muses Terpstra, perhaps Potter and Sparrow aren’t as dark as we think. Potter and his friends—wizards that they are—come out heroes in a world with real evil. And Sparrow “stopped other pirates who where doing all of the terrible things that pirates typically do. He helped people who were in real need. Even though he said he was going to act like a pirate, he really didn’t. Ultimately, greater good was done.” Bottom line? “The issue is whether the phenomenon of heroes emerging among pirates and wizards is truly corrupting and dangerous to our youth, or if it’s simply good storytelling. I suppose each parent needs to make up their mind on that issue. Nevertheless, in my mind, if we are going to pick on Potter, we must pick on Pirates. Otherwise, perhaps Christians should keep their mouth shut about both.” Here, here.

3. Check out the NY Times piece on Mars Hill Bible Church’s Rob Bell and his month long tour of 21 cities (complete with beer, at least in Chicago). Who is Bell? A somewhat controversial though highly innovative and creative figure in the evangelical world. According to the Times, “Though Mr. Bell does not preach on Christian television and radio, his innovative series of short films called Nooma (a phonetic spelling of the Greek ‘pneuma,’ or ‘spirit’) has sold more than 500,000 DVD's in four years, and podcasts of his sermons are downloaded by 30,000 to 56,000 people a week. His book, Velvet Elvis, which combines memoir with an exploration of the Jewish traditions in the New Testament, has sold 116,000 copies in hardcover since last July.” Read the rest here.

4. A great piece over at Crosswalk entitled The Challenge of Africa, which examines the church’s role there—as well as closer to home. Here’s a taste:
Months after the Katrina disaster, U.K. Guardian columnist Roy Hattersley observed that nearly all of the unpleasant work in alleviating the continued suffering of victims was being performed by groups having a religious association. Hattersley commented, "Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs and atheists' associations--the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil."

After wondering why his non-Christian comrades did not respond more christianly, Hattersley went on to say, "The only possible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me."
Read the rest here.

(Image: by Mike D on flickr.com)

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