Colbert Can Talk Intelligently about Faith

I’ve always been intrigued by Stephen Colbert’s knowledge of Christianity. He gives glimpses of this between the punch lines, and he clearly knows how to defend biblical Christianity.

Yesterday the online Christian magazine, Relevant, published a piece called “Six Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious about Faith.” It’s quite revealing.

Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have been criticizing CBS’s decision to replace David Letterman with Colbert. “An “ideological fanatic,” says O’Reilly. “CBS has just declared are on the heartland of America,” declared Rush Limbaugh, describing Colbert’s hiring as an open “assault on traditional American values” (Rush and Bill, of course, are both known for their deep commitment to marriage).

Meanwhile, Colbert remains married to one woman, is a devout Catholic, teaches Sunday school, and can clearly defend his faith (as he showed this past week with liberal theologian Bart Ehrman). And have either O’Reilly or Limbaugh been to Iraq or Afghanistan to spend time with the troops? Colbert has.

But just because Colbert (like me) holds some views that fall in the “Democratic” camp–views on justice, the poor, immigrants, etc.–he gets lambasted as somehow morally corrupt by hypocrites like Limbaugh and O’Reilly.

I’m not aware of any other TV personality who can talk about my faith as well as Stephen Colbert can, even when cloaked in satire. So yeah, this guy in the heartland of America will watch him.

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This Piano and Me

steve-pianoThis piano, my favorite piano in the world, has really been around. My parents got it in 1965 when I was in third grade, living in Huntington, Ind. I began taking piano lessons on this piano from Mabel Meadows, wife of former bishop Clyde W. Meadows.

The piano moved with us to Pennsylvania in 1966, then was packed at the front of our little U-Haul when we moved to Arizona’s Mojave Desert in 1969. It sat in the back of a pickup truck on the beach there in Lake Havasu City for youth outings, and went with us to church retreats high in the mountains by Kingman.

This piano then moved with us to Pixley, Calif., and mostly left my life in 1975 when I went back to Indiana for college. Meanwhile, the piano returned to the arid desert when my parents accepted a pastorate in Fountain Hills, Ariz. Then, when they took a church in the South Bend area in 1989, the piano was with them…and very close to me, again. It spent some time with my brother Stu’s family. Then, finally, maybe 10 years ago, it arrived at our house.

This piano, at which I learned to play, has survived thousands of miles and extremes of weather. It has given me numerous hours of both frustration and joy. I still love the touch, such a familiar key action. And today, we got it tuned by Larry Merriman. It sounds great.

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Let the Crimeans Decide

I’m certainly no fan of Russia nor of Vlad the Beefcake Clown Putin. But as an American, part of a country which went to war over self-determination, I don’t see why we oppose the Crimeans choosing to leave the Ukraine and become part of Russia. If that’s what they want.

Why don’t we just say, “The people have spoken”? Do we require a war to make it official, because that’s the way we did it?

We tend to be highly selective with foreign policy issues of this nature. We applauded when all the Eastern block countries disconnected from the USSR. We support Taiwan. We were okay with dividing Yugoslavia into several countries. We supported all the countries of the British Empire becoming independent after World War 2. We supported East Germany merging into West Germany. We supported created two countries out of the Sudan. So, why not let Crimea decide their future?

On the other hand…we supported Texas when they didn’t want to be part of Mexico, but went to war to keep them from seceding from the USA. Like I said, we’re kinda selective.

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Book: A Climate for Change

climate-for-changeI’m encouraged by the number of evangelicals who have become engaged with climate change (though mostly off the media radar). A growing number of Christian books focus on the issues surrounding climate change. I just finished one of them.

“A Climate for Change” is a superb book by scientist Katharine Hayhoe and pastor/author/professor Andrew Farley. This short book gives a non-alarmist, non-partisan explanation of what is happening climate-wise, responds to the common objections, and provides ways Christians can respond. It’s a quick and easy read. For Christians sincerely interested in learning about this subject, I highly recommend “A Climate for Change.” (Buy on Amazon)

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Those Were the Days

Google has eliminated underlined links from its search pages. Years from now, I’ll be sitting around with other old codgers saying, “Remember when all links on the internet had blue underlines?” Then we’ll all thoughtfully chew our gums.

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Cracking Walnuts, Pakistan Style

In Pakistan, a man set a world record by smashing 155 walnuts with his head in one minute. Smashing walnuts with your head–that’s among the saner things that happen in Pakistan.

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The Making of a Folk Hero

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A mix of the disturbing and of the encouraging. George Zimmerman was to appear at the New Orlando Gun Show, but it was cancelled because of community backlash. (Cheer.) Instead, he appeared at what’s described as a “scaled down” version of the gun show at a local store. There, he signed autographs.

Seriously? People came to get George Zimmerman’s autograph? Some kind of folk hero?

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What We Did

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The deadliest air raid of World War 2 occurred on March 10, 1945, when 300 American B-29s fire-bombed Tokyo–three streams of bombers over a three-hour period, dropping bombs packed with phosphorous and napalm. Bomber crews toward the end said they could smell burnt flesh as they flew over Tokyo. The conflagration killed over 100,000 people, and destroyed nearly 270,000 buildings (most Japanese buildings were made of wood).

By the end of the war, over 60 Japanese cities received similar treatment.

The goal was to break the enemy’s morale, but as in Germany with the firebombing of such cities as Hamburg and Dresden, that didn’t happen. All it did was kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants–men, women, and children.

A Japanese photographer named Ishikawa Koyo captured the carnage in some stunning photographs which are just now coming to light. Three of them are above. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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The Lent Exemption

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Anchor Community Church hosted an ecumenical event on Sunday night. A United Methodist pastor, before getting dessert, said he had given up chocolate for Lent but, because Sundays are exempt, he was getting a chocolate dessert.

Huh? Sundays are exempt? This was new to the three United Brethren at the table.

He explained that Sundays are a biblical day of celebration. He said you don’t fast on Sunday, either. He was surprised that I hadn’t heard about this exemption.

Do we United Brethren just have a hole in our theology?

When Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, I’m wondering: did each Sabbath find him in Jerusalem at the Golden Corral? I’m thinking not.

My brother Rick pointed out that it reverses things. “Instead of being bad the rest of the week and being good on Sunday, you are good the rest of the week and bad on Sunday.”

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If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor

Aasif Mandvi has become my favorite correspondent on the Daily Show. On Thursday night, he did a segment on American healthcare. Throughout the report, he interviewed Fox Business commentator Todd Wilemon. Toward the end, Mandvi mentioned that a lot of Americans don’t have healthcare because they can’t afford it. Wilemon’s solution was brilliant: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”

It’s really that simple. If you’re cold, put on a jacket. If you’re thirsty, get a drink. And if you’re poor, stop being poor. Anybody who is poor can, if they would just stop being utterly lazy, just flip a switch and become not-poor. If you want to become a millionaire, then become one.

What’s so hard about that? This is America, after all. Just ask the business experts at Fox.

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