Kicking the cliches out of church.

The real.faith blog has a post on the Top 10 cliches that should be excommunicated from the church.

Of the 10, “quiet time” and “ask Jesus into your heart” are my top two. Here are two more I would add:

11. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” – I’ve elaborated my thoughts here.

12. “a high view of Scripture” – This one can be used against anyone who doesn’t share the same interpretation of a Bible passage as you. For example, I read an argument between a young-earth creationist and someone who doesn’t believe Genesis 1 was meant to be a literal process story of how God created the world with all its abundance. In the course of the argument, the young-earther said he held “a high view of Scripture,” which apparently is why he believed what he believed.

The dangerous result of having this in your arsenal: Aside from coming off as prideful and insulting, you never feel the need to question if you’re reading the Bible correctly. Why would you? You hold the “high view,” remember?

#13 is open for whoever wants to chime in.

Weigh on the Piper v. Wright brawl.

Ok, maybe it’s not so much of a brawl. Maybe it’s just a theological back-and-forth between two popular leaders in the church: John Piper (of his books, I’d recommend Desiring God first) and N.T. Wright, whose Christian Origins and the Question of God series, by the way, is excellent (especially volumes two and three: Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God).

If you’re interested in talking about it or just reading what other people have to say, Open Source Theology has started a discussion and can be a good place for exploring different views.

Enjoy.

Couldn’t say it in church? Try it here.

Think about the things you’ve always wanted to say in church but couldn’t.

Now, go to Anne Jackson’s Web site, submit them, and see if you get into her latest book.

Jackson, who wrote Mad Church Disease and runs the FlowerDust.net blog, is asking people to submit their thoughts for her forthcoming Permission to Speak Freely, which will collect and publish those entries in a creative way in print and on a Web site (similar to PostSecret).

(If you submit something, please note the legal copy toward the bottom of the link.)

Uncle Sam wants YOU … unless you smoke.

The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs had asked a panel for recommendations on reducing tobacco use in the U.S. military. The panel’s response: Ban smoking.

Raleigh’s News & Observer reports that the military could refuse to admit smokers into the Armed Forces, phasing out smoking within 20 years (which would also give time for our military men and women who smoke to retire from their posts).

From the N&O:

Tobacco-related health problems cut into combat readiness and cost the military $846 million annually in medical care and lost productivity, and cost the VA another $6 billion, the report said.

Clink on the link to read the full article (or support your local newspaper by buying a copy somewhere) and weigh in below.

A Facebook movie? Really?

When I go out to coffee shops, bookstores, and theaters, it’s partly to get me out of the house, off the computer, and (usually) off of Facebook. (Being sociable is another part, by the way.)

Hollywood is now ruining that.

The Facebook movie, officially called “The Social Network,” is starting production this year, according to Mashable. It’s supposed to follow real-life FB founder Mark Zuckerberg, and the script was written by Aaron Sorkin, who I admire for the first three seasons of amazingly witty dialogue on “The West Wing.”

Who knows, maybe this movie will actually be something worth tweeting about. But we’ve got a while to find out if that’s true, and so far, I’m skeptical.

Our Disturbing Scriptures: Bye bye, rebellious children.

A new post on the “Our Disturbing Scriptures” series is long overdue. Part of this was just due to a busy schedule; another part was (and this surprises even me) I couldn’t think of another good example to write about. Considering the contents of the Bible, which can range from dismembered concubines to the mass slaughter of an entire generation of Egyptian children, that’s saying something.

Anyway, during my vacation this past week, a new one came to mind:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Hear and fear, indeed.

I’ve been in churches most of my life, and I can’t recall when, if ever, I heard someone devote some serious time to unpacking this passage for an audience. Maybe that’s because, like me, they find it too harsh and unsettling to devote time to, and sometimes it’s easier to forget that passages like these even exist.

I understand the need for a child to be disciplined since it can ultimately breed maturity and character. But the death penalty seems to be too much, to say the least.

How were these parents, themselves flawed human beings, able to judge when their child had reached the point of no return?

Would the supposedly rebellious child have a chance to respond to and appeal the charges brought against him?

And if the death penalty had to be pursued, were there not faster ways of killing a person than throwing stones at them? Why drag out the punishment?

This seems like a brutal punishment, as if a crime deserving a spanking is instead being settled with a gun.

I can think of one possible explanation, though it’s not entirely satisfying:

If children didn’t honor their parents when they were young, those parents might not be taken care of when they’re older and in need their children’s support. God, by instituting this punishment, is trying to prevent an entire generation of elderly people from suffering neglect and abuse.

I leave other explanations open to the comments section below. (Also, I’ll try and do a better job of updating this blog.)