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Old 05-01-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
SpeakersCorner
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Default Rants from Speakers Corner

I was born to rant. I had so many good diatribes at lunch during my 33 years of teaching that I started numbering them. "Wanna hear #623 today?" I'd ask and before anyone had the presence of mind to object, off we'd go.

Three years ago my wife and I visited London. Speakers Corner was on our list of things to do. It's at a corner of Hyde Park, a huge park in London, and it's open to all. People get out there soapboxes and stepstools, stand up and rant.

Hecklers abound. The Christian ranters (there were several that day) attract a lot of them. The Muslim ranters not so much ... mainly because nobody wants to get a Muslim ranter really riled up, I suppose.

One Christian was a former Texan who had emigrated to London to save the godless Brits. He wore a cowboy outfit with stars running down the sleeves and pantlegs. Embroidered on his sleeves were the words, "Jesus Is Lord."

This guy could've taught all of us a thing or two in how to take on opposition. It was a beautiful thing. A couple college age American tourists, females, were outraged by his statements that Jesus is the only way to God. They challenged him with their mush logic. Zip, zap, zing! ... they were drawn and quartered before their clacking tongues hit the pavement.

I yearned to climb up on one of the stools and have at it. But I was too chicken, even when invited. I have lived long enough to realize that this skill as any skill takes practice to master. And courage.

I doubt many lives are changed by Speakers Corner. But I know some are. To enter the arena of debate and have your words handed back to you like sliced cucumbers on a platter, well, that stings. And most people, after being stung, go back and think about the encounter. Of course, most of that thinking is rationalization and after-brilliance and self-justification, but sometimes a seed gets in.

Much as I love debate I have sadly come to realize it doesn't work in many settings. Feelings get hurt, tempers flare, words get said that cause lasting damage. I'll not soon forget the great Global Warming Debate that took place at around midnight in my family room a couple years ago. I was all "read up" on the subject and ready for bear. Unfortunately, my foe -- a couple in-laws -- were equally "read up" but on the other side. Nobody convinced anybody of anything that night but I fear I took the greater hit because I'm pretty sure we raised the earth's temperature a degree or two. (Though, it must be admitted, the next day there was a decided "cooling" in the air.)

I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to swear off debating in friendly settings simply because I want to keep my friends. But in places like Speakers Corner -- or here -- let the verbal epees flick. Though much of the jousting is pointless, self-justifying, and weak on logic, the back and forth does make a difference if for none other than you yourself. You learn the limits of your skill, logic, and position.

And a humbler man is a better man.
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Old 05-02-2009, 10:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

Thanks for the story. It is true that these debates are often too humbling. I look forward to more of your "just me in my private thread" thoughts.
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Old 05-02-2009, 12:15 PM   #3
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Default "Perez Hilton," Miss California, and Sodom

When that person known as "Perez Hilton" ambushed Miss California (Carrie Prejean) in the Miss USA pageant, my blood boiled. Here was this vile person, one whose web site has outrageously vulgar photos, attacking an accomplished young lady, a Christian, who answered his ambush with deference, decency, and honesty.

So what happens? She loses the title, he gets on all the news and talk shows, and the attack dogs take a break from Wasilla to start digging dirt on Miss Prejean.

I'm outraged, outraged I tell you. It was one of my "what's this world coming to" moments.

Well, I'll tell you what it's coming to and what it's been for a long, long time. It's coming back to a city called Sodom. Sodom was a city of great wickedness, so great reports were being delivered to God daily and finally prompted He Himself to come on down to earth to take a look. (This account gives a unique insight into how God runs things. He seems to depend on his scops, or in this case, angels, to keep Him abreast of earth’s happenings.)

The reports of Sodom’s evil were not exaggerated. When God saw the level of sin He gave the go-ahead to destroy the city. You know the story: Abraham pleads on behalf of his "brother" Lot who has set up residence there. God responds not by saving the city (as was Abraham's request) but to at least saving Lot and company.

Being “saved” in this case isn’t so pretty. Everybody in Lot's family comes off very poorly in this tale. Lot wanted to give his daughters to the homosexuals who were after Lot's angelic visitors. Lot's sons-in-law (to be) laughed the whole thing off. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. His daughters got him drunk and had sexual relations with him. Not a pretty story. But better, I would say, than what happened to the Sodomites.

Witness Lee’s view of defeated Christians gets a lot of traction in this scriptural episode. And, while I have no desire to judge Miss California’s state of faith (hey, judging Miss California was what stirred up this whole ugly mess in the first place), certain elements of the event certainly have given me pause from my initial one-sided condemnation of Perez Hilton and his ilk.

For instance, did Miss Prejean really have to wear such a skimpy bikini for the world to gawk at? Probably. It was a beauty contest. And did she have to get breast implants? Again, probably. It was a beauty contest.

But that begs the big question: did she really need to be in this beauty contest? Should Christians, strong ones like Miss Prejean who has the courage of conviction to state her beliefs on same sex marriage at great personal cost, declare any areas of the world off limits simply because of the sinfulness therein?

I think so. But that's not my argument here. (You may do so, in the comments if you wish, declare what areas of the world should be off limits to the Christian.)

My argument is that we Christians need to be clear: If we live in Sodom, we're going to be rubbing shoulders with Sodomites. And at some point some of our dealings with them – especially our compromised dealings with them – are going to put us into a situation where we’re forced to choose between our true convictions and the politically – or rather, Sodomically – correct “values.” This is as sure as rain and, with many Christians today living in Sodom, it's going to be a cold, hard rain when it falls. Or maybe or fiery one.

A better way would be to live as Abraham, communing with God and with Sodom way off in the distance. We may be physically living within Sodom's society, but actually be living in an entirely different sphere altogether. If we truly do live like that, rather than ranting at the evil Sodomites or the defeated Christians living amongst them, we will actually have a heart to pray for all of them.

(All that said, I still don’t like that Perez Hilton character.)
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Old 05-02-2009, 02:44 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

Hello dear brother SpeakersCorner,

Thank you for sharing your reflections and ruminations with us.

Time is very short for me, but I have just a few thoughts to share in return:

1) At first, the whole beauty contest thing sounds like it is 100% worldly; but, then again, just think what would have happened if a beautiful young Jewish girl named Esther had not particpated in king Ahasuerus's beauty contest? Without Esther in the palace, how would Haman's evil plot to exterminate all the Jews have been thwarted? How strange that God would use something like a beauty contest to help preserve His people . . .

2) I really appreciate your comments regarding Abraham at the end of your post. I have been spending a lot of time lately considering the encounter between Abraham and king Abimelech recorded in Genesis chapter 20. This episode occurred right after God's judgement on Sodom and the other sinful cities for their sexual perverseness. Despite what Abraham had just seen God do to Sodom, Abraham was such a coward that in order to save his own skin he was willing for Sarah to engage in adultery with king Abimelech! Praise the Lord for His timely intervention in this matter!

The fact that Abraham readily confessed and admitted his mistake when he was quite soundly rebuked by Abimelech touches me very deeply. After receiving such a sharp (and well-deserved) rebuke, consider what Abraham did not do: No declaring of Abimelech to be a "rebel", "an opposer", "a leper", etc. No pamphlets denouncing Abimelech. No quarantine. On the contrary, Abraham confessed his mistake and a sweet fellowship between Abraham and Abimelech was established. Look at everything Abimelech gave to Abraham in Genesis 20, and look at how generously Abraham gave to Abimelech in Genesis 21! Look at how sweetly the two of them worked out the problem of the disputed wells in Genesis 21. All this sweet fellowshp arose because Abraham humbly and meekly received Abimelech's rebuke.

When Abraham was confessing his cowardice to Abimelech, he said something very interesting: "Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place; and they will kill me because of my wife." Abraham was surprised that there was indeed a fear of God amongst Abimelech and his people. Yes, Sodom and the surrounding cities had no fear of God, but over in Abimelech's lands, there was a fear of God. Abraham had too quickly judged all the peoples of Canaan. This is quite sobering and really helps me to not "paint with too broad a brush". How can we be so proud when others who truly love the Lord, perhaps more than we do, can be found in even the unlikeliest of places? There are lots of Abimelechs and Melchisedecs out there! May we be willing to receive them according to Christ and according to God.
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Old 05-02-2009, 06:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

KisstheSon,

What a thoughtful, insightful post! I enjoyed it very much and read it to my wife. Yes, Abraham was a flawed person and yes, he did try to paint the whole Canaan world with the same brush and yes, he was wrong. Your point here is very well taken.

Isn't the Bible wonderful?


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Old 05-02-2009, 06:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeakersCorner View Post
Much as I love debate I have sadly come to realize it doesn't work in many settings. Feelings get hurt, tempers flare, words get said that cause lasting damage.

I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to swear off debating in friendly settings simply because I want to keep my friends. But in places like Speakers Corner -- or here -- let the verbal epees flick. Though much of the jousting is pointless, self-justifying, and weak on logic, the back and forth does make a difference if for none other than you yourself. You learn the limits of your skill, logic, and position.
I myself love to rant, exposit, and pontificate. I am well read (relatively speaking) and opinionated. My saving grace is that I don't take myself too seriously. Remember that comedienne on tv 30-odd years ago, named Gilda Radner? She did a character that would be doing an "editorial" on the fake news show they were doing. The news anchor would roll his eyes and eventually lean over and correct her glaring errors, and she'd realize that maybe she was waaaay off, and she'd just shrug and go, "Never mind."

Well, that's me. I'm pretty well entrenched in my position, but I can be got to, with time, persistence, skill, and a little luck. PeterD's word on "elders who serve" really was an eye-0pener for me. Also YP's "ekklesia". Occasionally I do learn a thing or two. Possibly I do likewise to others. Often I merely opine. My friends all know that I have a speech ready at pretty much every occasion, and eventually I'll get tangled up in my own words or trail off, and go, "Never mind". We all chuckle and life goes on.

But it's fun when somebody says something and I go, "Hey, good point." And also occasionally when I get to do the same.

What's been a real God-send (pun intended) here for me is the "Preview Post" function. I get to pare my comments down, sometimes drastically.
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Old 05-03-2009, 05:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron View Post
What's been a real God-send (pun intended) here for me is the "Preview Post" function. I get to pare my comments down, sometimes drastically.
"Preview Post" should be renamed "Still Praying About It."

And I could use still another button - "What Was I Thinking?" - which just cancels the whole thing.
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Old 05-03-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rants from Speakers Corner

Quote:
Originally Posted by YP0534 View Post
And I could use still another button - "What Was I Thinking?" - which just cancels the whole thing.
I think that one's the "Back" button in your browser AKA the "Wow, that was a good rant, trash it now" button
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:34 PM   #9
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Default The Unlikely Disciple

Book report time.

You all have got to read "The Unlikely Disciple." It's by a young college student (at the time) who went undercover (sort of) at Liberty Baptist University -- Falwell's school -- to find out what makes fundamentalists tick.

I am only partway through it (started it last night) but having been in the LC and before that fundamental Baptist-ism, this baby is hilarious. And actually, insightful.

Kevin Roose, the author, spends a semester at Liberty away from his regular school, Brown University. He helped A. J. Jacobs with some research in his popular book "The Year of Living Biblically" and that is surely what inspired him to do this.

I started it worried that it would present Liberty through the liberal world-prism no matter how hard the author tried to be objective. And it does ... but to a much smaller degree than I feared. Roose is able to describe some of the insanity of the Young Earth "real scientist" professor's schtick with an honest consideration that maybe, just maybe, Noah's Ark could have been big enough to house all the earth's species. It was, as the professor described it, a "floating skyscraper" after all.

His take on the social side of Liberty -- from courtship to movie-watching to Bible study attendance -- is especially riveting. Read it and think FTTA. There are differences, of course, between young FTTA'ers and the Liberty crowd but really, if you probe deep enough, not that many.

Since I'm not finished yet, I'm wondering, will Roose "receive the Lord" before book's end? Please don't tell me if you already know. I'm really fascinated by this question because he has indicated that he has this secret fear that maybe this experience will affect him more than he wants it to. His parents, two extremely left-wing liberals, definitely are worried about this.

So far I would have to say that this book is step in the right direction for the secular world. They have cartoonized fundamentalism and evangeliscalism and Pentecostalism for far too long. The world from Latin America to Africa to China to Russia doesn't get the joke. They are converting in great numbers (read "God is Back" from the London Times online (link below) for proof) and Hollywood and the MSM (mainstream media) are in danger of really missing the story of the age by continuing to view us whacko Christians as, well, whackos.

I'll post more on this book as I work my way through it.


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Old 05-04-2009, 01:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Unlikely Disciple

Oops, forgot the link.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/044617842X/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=3005368371&ref=pd_sl_47r3cl82ep_e

A worthy article, definitely
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