The atheist bus ads come home.

You may have heard about the atheist bus ad campaign that happened in London just recently. Similar ads are now popping up in the U.S., according to Time.

The article, “Is God Dead? Or Has He Just Stopped Riding the Bus?”, states that ads have appeared in Chicago, and plans to place them in Bloomington, Ind., have stalled. (Bloomington is also the home of my buddy Hugh and his new wife Shannon. I say that in case you want to know why Bloomington is a big deal.) 

As for believers (and specifically Christians, since I can’t and won’t speak for anyone else), the best way to respond is the way Jesus called us to live: With love.

Instead of engaging in an ad war and spending enormous amounts of money for bus signs, our primary response should be to treat our critics with respect, kindness, and love, as well as familiarize ourselves with their questions/complaints so we can have something to talk about. We are a living advertisement to the gospel.

One more thing: God isn’t dead. At one point, yes. Not anymore.

Who would you cast in a new ‘Saved by the Bell’?

“Melrose Place” is about to pull a “90210” and come back on TV, continuing the cycle of  our entertainment experts just repeating everything that’s already done. But this post isn’t about that.

This news prompted a thought: “What if they resurrected ‘Saved by the Bell’?” And that, in turn, prompted the question I’m putting to you:

If they did that (and I have no reason to think that anyone will), who would you cast? Or am I committing some type of Bayside blasphemy by merely asking that question?

Here’s my immediate contribution with the blanks to be filled in:

Zach – 

Slater –

Screech –

Jessie –

Lisa –

Kelly – Megan Fox

Mr. Belding – 

Annnnnnnd … comment!

Whose ‘Return’ was better: Star Wars or LOTR?

A very short conversation occurred between me and a Twitter buddy last night (a quick shoutout to Samatha, aka @the_resolution):

Which movie series has the better “Return” movie: “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” or “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”?

Both our votes are for Lord of the Rings. I think the extended edition of that movie is the best four cinematic hours I’ve ever encountered.

So that’s 2-0, LOTR. What’s your vote, dear reader? Take the poll or leave a comment.

Religion vs. Relationship. Who cares?

Last night at Taproot, the Harmony men studied one of Jonathan Edward’s resolutions in which he resolved to grow in the exercise of religion and grace on a regular basis (that’s a paraphrase; it’s #30, if you want to check it out).

It seems peculiar that the words “religion” and “grace” should appear side-by-side in the same sentence without opposing each other. At least, it seems peculiar to us, because we’ve developed this nifty little saying in the Christian sphere:

“It’s not about religion; it’s about relationship.”

This phrase is really a reaction to a brand of Christianity that taught you were saved because you went to church, because your parents believed, etc. (As such, this “brand of Christianity” really ceased to be Christian at all.)

It’s a distinction that some people put a good amount of time and energy in making, and I can’t stand it. To me, it’s a superficial distinction, at best.

At Appalachian State, I attended Christian campus groups that used this phrase until they were blue in the face, but many of the people there were not welcoming to outsiders. Some of them were jerks. All the talk about “relationship vs. religion” often could be little more than that: Talk with no action.

(It’s also unfortunate that we’ve ceded the word “religion,” which, when broken down to its roots, is about reconnecting. Jesus is very much in the business of reconnecting humanity with God. My friend Brad also pointed out that, by acting like jerks while using the word “relationship,” we’re ruining that word for people as well.)

I sense I’m not the only one who views this as a superficial distinction.

Many of the complaints regarding Christians today is that we can be too political and too anti-science (those are just two of the many, many criticisms). There’s also the plethora of people who were burned by churches in the past and still have some affection for Jesus even as they can’t stand his wife.

These issues aren’t going to disappear because we ditched the word “religion.” Things will start to heal when we worship and follow the One who saved us.

If we love God and love our neighbors and enemies, people will see that.

If we’re involved in our city, fighting for justice in social issues and helping those in need, people will see that.

If we overcome our addictions, heal our marriages, and stop complaining about how much money we don’t have, people will see that.

The glory of God, the beauty of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit are most clearly seen in our actions, not our titles.

Let’s roll.

Mark Driscoll on the end of Christendom America.

Mark Driscoll (heard of him?) has a column on the end of “Christendom America”, which here refers to people “who have not had a truly transforming experience with Jesus Christ and are living lives virtually indistinguishable from those who are non-Christians.”

As Driscoll writes, these are the folks who identified themselves as Christians for social reasons but are no longer doing so.

With the social benefits of professing to be a Christian no longer in place and the social stigma of not professing to be a Christian now lifted, those who were part of Christendom America are simply no longer pretending to be part of Christian America.

Check out Driscoll’s article and sound out your responses.

Loved ‘Glee’? Get the music.

If you’re like me, then you thoroughly enjoyed Fox’s new show “Glee” last night. (Well, it’s not so much a show as it is a potential masterpiece in the making.)

Anyway, the music from last night’s episode is available on iTunes (and I came across this information courtesy of Entertainment Weekly).

Hopefully it’ll be enough to hold you over until the fall, when the show comes back with new episodes. Or you could just watch the pilot 10 more times.

Either option is worthwhile.

Another fine example of government budgeting.

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners is weighing whether to give themselves an allowance for cell phone bills.

From the Daily Reflector:

The allowance — ranging from $50 to $100 per month — is related to two previous agenda items that inquired about the possibility of obtaining BlackBerry devices and assistance in communicating with constituents.

According to the story, the possibility of a $45 allowance (for commissioners who use their existing cell phones) has also been raised.

*Sigh* In times of economic distress, it’s nice to know that our representatives are focusing on the important things, like fighting bed bugs.

First, $100 should be more than enough to cover a reasonable cell phone bill. If it’s not, you’re probably subscribing to services that you never really needed in the first place.

It’s also hard to justify paying for commissioners’ cell phone bills when the people they want to keep in contact with are the same county employees who could be furloughed or laid off because the county didn’t have enough money.