What I'm Doing

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

In every age the Holy Spirit calls the church to examine its faithfulness to God's revelation in Jesus Christ, authoritatively recorded in Scripture and handed down through the church. Thus, while we affirm the global strength and vitality of worldwide evangelicalism in our day, we believe the North American expression of evangelicalism needs to be especially sensitive to the new external and internal challenges facing God's people.

These external challenges include the current cultural milieu and the resurgence of religious and political ideologies. The internal challenges include evangelical accommodation to civil religion, rationalism, privatism, and pragmatism. In light of these challenges, we call evangelicals to strengthen their witness through a recovery of the faith articulated by the consensus of the ancient church and its guardians in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation, and the evangelical awakenings. Ancient Christians faced a world of paganism, Gnosticism, and political domination. In the face of heresy and persecution, they understood history through Israel's story, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of God's kingdom.

Today, as in the ancient era, the church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: Who gets to narrate the world? "The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future" challenges evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God's acts in history. The narrative of God's kingdom holds eternal implications for the mission of the church, its theological reflection, its public ministries of worship and spirituality, and its life in the world. By engaging these themes, we believe the church will be strengthened to address the issues of our day.
The rest of the "Call" can be read here: A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future

In addition, an interview with Robert Webber, one of the "Conveners" of the Call is here: Together in the Jesus Story

One of my posts on the "backlog" is about the place of story in society. I suppose I'll reserve my own comments for that post. Now that Seth has linked to my blog, I've got a bit more motivation to actually get something worth reading up here...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Enormous Amounts of Material

Time is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of—eh, nevermind.

So, my posting has been sporadic lately—again. It's not that I don't have anything to post about. I've still got a draft of a post on Firefly and "missional Christianity" sitting around, unfinished, on Blogger's servers. And my mind keeps coming back to the post on tradition and Scripture interpretation that I've been meaning to do. Other ideas have floated through my head, generally finding their expressions in a greatly summarized form as comments on other blogs, rather than the posts that I felt they ought to be.

Thing is, I just haven't had the time to sit down and write anything. Between piano lessons/practice, roommates, friends dropping by, my girlfriend, work, and so on, I never seem to have time to just stop. And it's not that I don't enjoy those things; if I didn't, I wouldn't have such a hard time putting them aside for a while and "stopping."

Just about the only time I find that I can really "get away" is either taking a walk alone around Kennesaw Mountain, or going to a coffee shop by myself. Unfortunately, the coffeehouses I know of near me all close around 8 or 9pm on weekdays. That's not a problem, though, when I don't have something I have to do beforehand.

Perhaps I would post here more if 1) I could get into a more regular habit of "stopping and smelling the coffee", and 2) I got a laptop that I could take to the coffeehouse and use to get on the Internet. I'm realizing, though, that no matter how hard I look, I'm not going to "find the time" for this. I need to stop, take a look at my time, how it's being spent, and make the time.

Unfortunately, this will be an uphill battle. It will mean that I will have to say, "no" to hanging out with people sometimes. It will mean that I will have to deal with the fact that some people simply don't understand that taking time to do nothing is just as important to getting things done.

I heard a message on Sabbath rest recently by some guy named J.R. Woodward, in which he pointed out that we have come to a point where we often view a person's value (including our own) in terms of his or her productivity. While this is certainly not an explicit component of most modern attitudes (i.e., it's not obvious), I think we're all probably more guilty than we think. We feel bad if we're not obviously "contributing to society." We often tend to look down on those who are unemployed, because they're not being "productive." We feel guilty if we "didn't get anything useful done today," and we consider such activities as playing video games to be a "waste of time," because we're not "accomplishing anything." Woodward can explain this much better than I can, so, if you want to hear his message (and read some tips on how to make a "Sabbath rest"), check him out here.

And I wrote more than I meant to...there goes my lunch hour...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Circuit City invites wrath of the MPAA by copying DVDs

Fair Use advocates, take notice. Circuit City is apparently putting its neck on the line to provide customers with DVD transfer services. The company is offering a 'DVD video transfer service' that for all intents and purposes is illegal. The company will take commercial DVDs and rip them for use on portable devices for $10 for 1 DVD, $20 for 3 DVDs or $30 for 5 DVDs. That is, until their legal department hears what's happening.
Thus begins the article over at Ars Technica (Circuit City invites wrath of the MPAA by copying DVDs). It goes on to point out that the reason this may fall on the foul side of current copyright law is because of the much-cursed DMCA's prohibition against circumventing copy protection, which would be a necessary part of Circuit City's service.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure what to think of this. On the one hand, Romans 13, and some other passages in Scripture indicate that we ought to submit to the law of the land. Granted, there are some laws all but the most conscientious practically ignore (speed limits, for instance), and an argument could be made regarding enforced law vs. written law (for example, generally, you won't get pulled over for doing 10mph over the posted limit), I suppose. That sort of argument isn't very applicable here, however, since the MPAA and RIAA will take you to court on the slightest evidence that you may have broken the law (even if you're dead!).

So, on the one hand, I'm doubtful as to whether it is right for a Christian to support Circuit City's lawbreaking in this case.

On the other hand, I've developed a certain distaste for the RIAA and MPAA (to put it mildly), and there's a part of me who really wants to root for anyone with the guts to defy the RIAA and MPAA. Considering that these companies are currently abusing our nation's court system and laws, and using tactics one would normally associate with the mafia ("We've got some dirt on you, and we're willing to destroy you; however, for a certain amount of money, we can make this go away..."—see the first definition of shakedown), it's hard not to root for their enemies.

I suppose it's a sort of "Robin Hood" syndrome. Yes, Robin Hood was a thief. This is often overlooked, however, because he is more remembered for standing up to the "big guys," in defense of the oppressed poor. In this context, the RIAA and MPAA are Prince John, and those who have the ability—and guts—to stand up to Little John (by taking their lawsuits to court rather than paying the offered settlement, etc.) are Robin Hood and his merry men. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any King Richard out there right now, about to return from the Crusades and set everything right.