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Archive for January, 2005

3 Questions for Liberals

(via Le Sabot Post-Moderne)

1. Is it impossible for you to separate your feelings about democratization in Iraq from your opposition to the war against Saddam?

2. However flawed you believe the decision to enter Iraq, isn’t the goal for which American soldiers and millions of Iraqis are currently striving a noble one?

3. Is your hatred of George Bush stronger than your concern for the rights and future of 26 million people?

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Christian Fiction (pt 1)

I’m back from Memphis, safe and sound and missing everyone already. Had a blast teaching and running a “live” election campaign broadcast.

My thoughts recently have been directed towards typical Christian fiction. Let me explain what i mean with the phrase “typical Christian fiction.” There is fiction written by Christians, and there is Christian fiction. The former can choose any subject with any purpose, the latter always contains an overwhelming desire to include an explicit Christian message, the Gospel, or a salvation experience. I find that the majority of stories like this also enclude a fairy tale happy ending – because everyone knows that accepting Jesus means ending your problems.

I want to take some time in this entry and a few more, to examine why Christians feel the need to do this in their fiction – be it literature, short stories, or movies. This is something that interests me first because I hope one day to get into the movie making arena, but also because I am a Christian and typically find myself laughing (out of shame) at the fiction Christians put out.

I would open all commenting and input, I don’t claim to know anything special, but this is something that’s of interest to me, and hopefully to the Christian community on a whole.

Why DO Christians write like they do

The answer to this as far as I can see it is simple, well intentioned, but horribly naive. Christians write fiction that includes a salvation experience or an explicit Gospel message because they want to win people to Christ. This is arguably a primary purpose in everything a Christian does (although I’m going to argue there is an even higher purpose). Fictioneers (can I make up a term to make this more interesting to read? Thanks) also have the intentions of making Christianity itself seem appealing, and attempt to do so by showing a before and after that is measurable in physical gain as well as Spiritual/mental gain. They want to paint a rosy picture so that the reader will be enticed to accept Christ.

Like I said, these are great intentions, but from the beginning are pretty much doomed to fail in having any sort of wide reaching effect. Let’s look at the distribution channels and typical audiences.

Christian Fiction’s main channels of distribution are through Christian bookstores. Sure, they get some exposure in Wal-mart, and there are Christian sections in Borders, B&N, and Books-a-Million, but we have to admit that the majority of sales come from Christian bookstores. Who then shops at Christian bookstores? Well I worked 2 years at a Christian bookstore and I’ll tell you that the majority of customers in a Christian Bookstore are Christians. I could have told you that without work experience, but it added some credibility to my statement. And if you want to point out there are still “mainstream” channels, I counter with the truth that Christian fiction is still labeled as such in a “secular” bookstore, and set off from the rest of the fiction section.

Just by labeling something “Christian”, we already set ourselves apart from the rest of the world – in a detrimental way. Attaching “Christian” to anything nearly immediately limits any potential audience to those who already agree with you.

If a Christian’s goal in writing fiction is sharing the gospel or a Christian message with those who need to hear it, then with the distribution channels in place today, we are failing miserably.

Next, if i get any positive feedback, how are we limiting our subject material by being Typical Christian Fiction?

Ann Althouse has some interesting observations that might get you thinking along the same lines as I’m rambling towards.

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Top Ten and I’m safe

I made it safely to Memphis. I thought it would be a 5 hour drive, but it was actually only 4. That’s cool 🙂

On the way up I listened to Cutting the Dash, the BBC radio broadcasts that inspired the best selling book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. I forgot who it’s by, and I can’t link much because the internet is very slooooow. The radio broadcasts were highly entertaining and a good refresher course for the English courses that I’ve forgotten in two years.

I also started listening to the audiobook version of The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas L. Friedman. I think it’ll be good, I’ve got 20 hours to go.

The top ten I referred to in the title is the Diplomad’s latest post: Ten Lies that the World Still Believes. It’s very entertaining and enlightening.

Oh and thanks to TulipGirl for your comment last night. It was nice to know that someone reads and I had some other stuff going on that it distracted me from 🙂

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On Christian Merchandise

Tony Woodlief writes on his blog Sand in the Gears about the depressing state of modern Christian art:

Case in point — I was flipping through radio stations during the commute that I just love, and hit what I thought was a secular radio station. The trite, overly exuberant tune that assualted me generated this immediate thought: since when did they become a Christian station?

Then I realized I was listening to a commercial for a local car dealership. That is, sadly, the quality of much of what passes for popular Christian music. At least the godless heathen, with no hang-ups about hip gyration, can turn out something with a beat.

Full post here. I second his thoughts.

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About Me

Now that I have a reader or two outside of my friends, I figured it would be good to do an “About Me” post, to put over in the sidebar.

This picture is pretty much best picture I’ve ever had taken:

Hmm… How to make myself credible after that picture…

My name is Winston, I’m a 20 year old college wannabe. I have just applied to Bryan College (in Dayton, TN), so I don’t know if I’ll be attending college this fall or not. Here’s hoping.

If I do get accepted I’ll be majoring in Biblical Studies/Philosophy, I don’t know what my minor or emphasis will be yet. I may get away without having one… who knows!

Most of the time I can be found playing around on my computer, it’s my baby. When I’m not doing that, i like to jump a lot… I’ve been told I can jump pretty high and that’s cool.

Since I graduated college I have spent 3 months being a slacker, 4 months as an intern with Communicators for Christ (teaching public speaking and debating skills to homeschoolers and private schoolers), and more than a year as a professional videographer.

At work I use a Mac, at home I use a Mac, and I have an iPod. So yeah, I’m pretty much an Apple slut.

My e-mail is winstonisanidiot-AT-gmail-DOT-com and that pretty much sums up my ego problem.

I dabble in lots of things, and discover that I am an expert in none. Don’t worry though, I have plenty of Typical Life Span years ahead of me, so i plan on gaining piano skills, computer graphic skills, rock climbing skills, etc. etc.

And to top off this amazing list and my amazing good looks. I’m single.

Summary: I am a movie nut, a philosophy-nut-wannabe, I love people and I like clouds. that’s all.

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Randomnimity plus Bush’s Future

Before leading off this post (I got my access to the Economist back! yay!), Glenn Reynolds points to a guy who is fascinated with anagrams. That’s still kind of interesting though.

The Diplomad has a very good look at the latest Human Rights Watch report. The Diplomad is especially pissed at how the Report compares Darfur to Abu Ghraib, and rightfully so. Read the whole thing, it pulls from multiple sources.

As you will see reading the reports, there are plenty of calls for faith in the UN, in a variety of international tribunals, and for the issuing of arrest warrants. In the real world, of course, none of those works. How would you execute an arrest warrant on Saddam? Look at the absurdness of the ongoing Milosevic trial, and tell us that’s the model you want to follow.
HRW also shows the confusion that liberal advocates of multilateral military action have when it comes to the use of power by the USA. These advocates want the USA only to use its power in defense of the objectives that the advocates want. Any other use, is illegitimate.

……..

Here’s a news story that may be garnering more attention in the coming weeks.

Yesterday Instapundit linked to this article that claims
“The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile target”.
The claim was originally made in a New Yorker Magazine article yesterday. After Instapundit linked, Little Green Footballs picked up and gave us these thoughts to chew on.
I’m no longer surprised that journalists lack an internal regulatory mechanism (sometimes called “ethics” or another quaint old-fashioned term that no longer applies, “patriotism”) to prevent the release of information that could damage their own country. On the contrary, they actively search for that information and release it with great relish.
Today, the Pentagon denied the claims that they were spying on Iran.

Pentagon officials on Monday lashed out at a US magazine report which claimed they were preparing for possible strikes on Iran by carrying out secret reconnaissance missions inside the country, saying the article contained “fantastic claims” about programmes that do not exist.

Here’s betting we’ll hear more about this story in the weeks to come.
………..

The Economist has a new article regarding President Bush’s second term. A little while ago I was reading through some news reports and plenty of press conferences to see if I could figure out some of the President’s goals. Leave it to the Economist to handle everything for me.

If the first-term legacy is largely a deficit, the second term promises to shake some of the country’s economic pillars. At the Republican convention last September, Mr Bush spoke of transforming America’s fundamental economic institutions for the 21st century, and offered two broad organising themes. The first was to make the United States the best place in the world to do business. That covered changes from tort reform (fewer burdensome lawsuits) to a simpler tax code, spurring more economic growth. The second theme was to foster an “ownership society”, by giving individuals greater control over, and responsibility for, their own health care and pensions. In particular, it meant restructuring Social Security, America’s public pension system, by basing it partly on private accounts.

Since when is his first term economic legacy a deficit? If I remember correctly the most recent budget that was passed had a surplus of $1 billion. There’s still a deficit… but I wouldn’t state that as his legacy. No matter, we’re attempting to look to the future here. So how will President Bush go about making “the United States the best place in the world to do business?

Tort reform is top of the list of first-term left-overs. In early January Mr Bush gave three speeches pushing laws to curb frivolous lawsuits. Top of the new list of second-term priorities is Social Security reform. Tax reform has been put off until a bipartisan presidential commission under two ex-senators, John Breaux and Connie Mack, has studied the issue; they have been asked to report by the end of July. No one expects much action on tax until 2006. In contrast, the White House has hinted that it wants to move on pension reform within the next few months.

Those are his priorities… what are his hindrances?

According to Gallup polls, Mr Bush has the weakest job-approval rating of any newly re-elected president since 1948. High casualties in Iraq are the main reason, but the public also seems uninspired by much of this reform agenda.

I hope our fascination with popularity polls subsides sometime soon. You would think that people would stop worrying about them in regards to Bush, hasn’t he shown he doesn’t care about them? But yet that’s always the first thing that news articles and pundits bring out.

The Democrats are also surprisingly united in their opposition, particularly to Social Security reform.

This subject will begin to heat up the blogosphere as SS reform grows ever closer.

That’s all I feel like talking about now. Continue reading the full article if this interests you.

For now I’m going to watch 13 Conversations about One Thing, this week’s netflix rental. Review forthcoming.

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What does being a Christian mean to you?

This is the first of 3 application essays I have for Bryan College, and the only one with importance outside myself. Any thoughts, critiques, grammar checks would be greatly appreciated.

The creativity of people is something that has always astounded me. Whether it is inventors ingenious methods for reaching goals, or artists ability to take a medium and create a beautiful masterpiece, I am always being amazed. I understand that man has this ability to create and invent because God gives us the ability when He created us. I’ve gained an appreciation for the fact that my existence as an image-bearer of God Himself means I have so many abilities that derive straight from His nature (my ability to love, my ability to feel, my ability to understand right from wrong, there are so many more) but the aspect I continually marvel at is my ability to create and imagine. In the same token, I have always loved to see what other people create. But none of this really tied into my walk with Christ. I remember hearing the song lyrics “To everything turn, turn, turn/ there is a season turn, turn, turn” and being confused when the song was quoted in church. Not that I thought the song was bad, but it seemed out of place for a song from the radio to be talked about in church. After learning the true origin of the lyrics and hearing many more songs I realized what was truly abnormal: non-Christian artists quoting scripture in a popular song. I’ve since discovered that the basis of my original observations was flawed – I was reflecting a belief that Christians should be separated from the culture at large. After questioning this belief I have stumbled upon the first aspect of Christianity that means so much to me.

The Bible reveals that God created this wonderful world, and then set us free so we would take dominion over His creation. He then gave us the capabilities to improve upon His creation (or at least attempt to) and encouraged us to use those gifts. Yet we have these abilities before we know the reason for them. The purpose for our abilities is found when we are redeemed in Christ and accept a Biblical understanding of life. Ask a Christian what the purpose of life is (and consequently the abilities we possess) and the typical answer is “To bring Glory to God.” I agree with that statement, but I think it is very abstract. There are a million ways to bring Glory to God, and each one that truly brings glory to Him is worth our pursuit. So I would like to focus on the most practical way I know of glorifying the God who deserves all – striving for excellence in all that I pursue. In everything I undertake that is worthy of my time, I should to do my absolute best. I ought to do this because if I’m doing anything, I’m doing it only because God is allowing me to do it. And while this applies to all activities in my life, I want to look specifically at how it impacts my dealings with the culture around me. Every gift in my life is from God. It is therefore my goal to become the best I can at exercising those gifts – so that I might honor God who deemed me worthy of such gifts.

Unfortunately many Christians today feel that instead of striving for excellence we should be satisfied with sanitization. This is the biggest flawed assumption I’ve seen in modern Christianity today – that we must detach from the culture at large. This is so ingrained into our thought that the idea of locations and products being Christian or Secular is completely normal to the modern Christian. We automatically separate music, books, and movies, even t-shirts into one of the two categories. Although I understand the original basis for these separations and their practicality to a degree, I do not agree with the idea that Christians must have a subculture to our own. We have the message of the Gospel and it is our number one priority on earth to spread that message to everyone. We will never succeed in doing this by hiding: we can only reach the world by engaging them. The world around us does not respect imitators of beauty; they respect innovators. For me to say I am a Christian is to say that I understand why I have the abilities I have and what I should use them for.

These two thoughts tie in together so I understand what I believe it means to be a Christian. I have been given such vast abilities by God, and then given a purpose to use those gifts. As I strive for excellence in God’s eyes, I will gain a respect in the world’s eyes that will help me show them why I live, and who I live for. As a Christian, it disturbs me how easy it is to hide in the Christian subculture and run from the people I am called to be a light to. God has given me gifts, I see my purpose in life as pursuing excellence in whatever career I am called to, in order to gain the respect and ears of the people around me, that they might see Christ living in me.

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