Archive for the ‘Religion Potpourri’ Category

An age-old question among Christ followers revolves around… the lottery.

I know, don’t you feel dirty reading that? And why? Because while you have been told gambling is a sin, you’re all ridden with angst that you can’t get some of that money.

No worries. I hate lotto players too.Vehemently.

In Mexico, visit this house of the... drug Lord?

This story from the USA Today creates a different conundrum: If a drug kingpin builds a church, will God inhabit the praises of those people?

“We know that the narcos … look for a way to redeem themselves in religious terms, by doing some good work. Obviously, sins cannot be washed away by a donation or a collection,” said the Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico, the country’s largest.

This is a legitimate house of worship in the village of Tezontle. A place for Mexicans to glorify the Lord. You think they know how this modern church was built?

Well, the story continues to tell us that on a wall of the nouveau riche chapel, a plaque says it was donated by the leader of the violent Zetas cartel.

“Donated by Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, Lord, hear my prayer,” reads the bronze-colored marker, which says the chapel was built in honor of Pope John Paul II. Lazcano, who is wanted in both Mexico and the U.S., has more than $7 million in reward money on his head.

I’m sure there are some who believe this was Lazcano’s (or Lazcano Lazcano’s) mea culpa. Others may say this was his opportunity to show goodwill to the country that wants him incarcerated… or worse.

Either way, how would you feel worshiping in this house? Better yet, going to confession?

You know, you’re sitting there reading the hymnal and these beautiful red and blue swirling lights are seen outside during mass. The priest breaks out an AK-47 from under his robe. And the altar boys dawn bandannas while shouting with clinched fists to the congregation.

Sounds like a quaint Sunday to me. Sweet. Only one thing, with the holidays looming, stay away from the mules in the Nativity scene. I’m sure they’re not what you think they are.

It’s been said, “There aren’t words large enough to describe Jesus.” Well, let’s make that real estate as well.

While Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, we have known our Savior also has a summer cottage in Rio de Janeiro. There he stands, high atop a mountain in a tropical climate becoming the centerpiece of postcards everywhere.

Giant Jesus in Poland

Jesus. Truly Above All Else!

Now, with real estate prices tanking, the time is ripe for the Lord to secure a winter home as well. And he found some prime real estate according to this story in USA Today.

Rev. Sylwester Zawadzki, the 78-year-old priest who created the statue said it rises 108 feet, or 33 meters — one meter for every year that Jesus lived. Other members of the construction team, however, gave differing figures. One said it rises 167 feet if you include a mound it sits on and the crown on the head. By comparison, the statue in Brazil’s Rio is 125 feet tall.

There’s some creative license, which is nice. Chiefly, Giant Jesus has a gold King’s crown fitting for a risen Savior versus the Crown of Thorns noted in every Catholic church across… well, Poland.

Apparently, the locals think Jesus making a home will be good for the local economy too:

They believe it will put their town of 22,000 on the map for tourists and Roman Catholic pilgrims and bring in needed money to renovate the historic buildings in the tiny town center.

“I am extremely proud,” said Danuta Gordzelewska, a 60-year-old who watched as the statue’s head was lowered into place.

Gordzelewska has donated money to the statue, which was funded by contributions from as far away as Canada. “It’s special to watch something being built that later generations will have.”

Yeah! Stimulate that, Congress. What! (Not a direct quote from the statue. Just sayin’.)

So, there he is.

In the humble Polish town of Swiebodzin stands the only begotten Son of God with arms open wide and becoming the bane of existence for all planes as the Lord refuses to leave the flight path for anyone.

Yes, Ghost Rider, the pattern is so righteous and full.

Druids get legal by establishing their own non profitFrom overweight 40-year-old men playing Dungeons & Dragons in Mommy’s garage to now, being an official tax bracket, it seems worshiping the sun, moon, stars and tree sap is finally paying off, according to The Telegraph (UK).

The Druid Network has been given charitable status by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the quango that decides what counts as a genuine faith as well as regulating fundraising bodies.

It guarantees the modern group, set up in 2003, valuable tax breaks but also grants the ancient religion equal status to more mainstream denominations.

This could mean that Druids, the priestly caste in Celtic societies across Europe, are categorised separately in official surveys of religious believers.

“The Druid Network”?! Seriously?

Are we about to watch a gaggle of hooded trollish women about to instruct us on today’s top headlines? Now that these wanna-be Jawas from the set of “Star Wars” are too legit to quit, what’s next? Ask the lead Hobbitt from Tattooine:

Emma Restall Orr, founder of The Druid Network, added: “The Charity Commission now has a much greater understanding of Pagan, animist, and polytheist religions, so other groups from these minority religions – provided they meet the financial and public benefit criteria for registration as charities – should find registering a much shorter process than the pioneering one we have been through.”

See there? That’s what this is really about, folks. The Boys under the Hood want some kickbacks because all that traveling to Stonehenge can be costly. Air fare. Cab ride. And all that cheap fast food.

I know the robes are one size fits all, but even all those cheeseburgers and dancing under the stars really add the pounds. Good thing the ‘Network’ is banking. Maybe know they can join a gym. You know, with the Benedictine Monks.

TV is changing the world, but is it changing the Church?

If you’re a football fan, you may have seen the megalopolis Jerry Jones erected in Arlington, Texas (outside of Dallas).

Some say it’s because God deserves a sanctuary that large to watch his favorite team. Others believe it’s some sort of obfuscated version of overcompensation. And then there’s that amazing video screen. Lord have mercy, it’s huge. And unfortunate.

Imagine sitting anywhere facing the sideline. Of course, you pay $400 for a glorified nosebleed seat and you are faced with two choices – watch a bunch of guys who look like ants on the field of green below or gaze upon the wonderment of a 159′ x 71′ TV screen. In HD, no less.

You bet you are watching the TV screen. Who wouldn’t?

You get back to your car and feel like you have lost five pounds. Your pants fit the same. You still look a little bloated in the cheek. And those $18 nachos you threw down your gullet didn’t help your GI tract. Then it dawns on you, with parking, eating and the seat costs, you are out close to $600… for watching TV. Think you’re going back after that epiphany? Me neither.

Considering that realization, I was reading the greatness of CNN Belief’s blog and found a nice opinion piece on a horse of a different color; yet, with the same flashy saddle - TV watching in church.

People listening to their pastor preach on Sunday morning may now ask a question that no one has ever asked before: Is this live or is this on tape delay? They are pastors like Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. Young broadcast videos of his sermons from his “mother” church to other congregations in Texas and even one in Florida.

Beam me up, Scotty. With the rapid growth of churches these days, the need for TV screens is a must because there is always that one seat in the back behind a structure beam. Well that, or some oblivious woman with her “crown of glory.”

However the issue is with the satellite congregation. Ostensibly, they are watching church on TV. Sure, there’s a live worship team and the occasional assistant pastor edifying folk and making announcements but when the senior chieftain takes the stage, it’s showtime. The lights dim, the crowd quiets and on goes… the TV?

Has this become the pseudo-church? We all experience fellowship of a different ilk watching a game and grubbing down on BBQ fresh off the grill at a friend’s house. So why can’t this be the same? Simple – it’s not.

That power you experience from above is not the satellite

Church is not meant to be entertainment. It’s a hospital for the hurting, a refuge for those reduced to tears. Church can be a fun, a blast even, but when the saints go into screensaver mode instead of the monitor they are watching, we have an issue.

Geoff Surratt, author of “The Multi-site Church Revolution,” said at least 3,000 churches nationwide use some variation of high-def video to spread their pastor’s Sunday morning sermons. Some broadcast hologram images of pastors that float suspended in the air behind the pulpit, while others project images of ministers on large video screens. Some sermons are broadcast live, while others are pre-recorded.

Even worse, “pre-recorded” church. What’s stopping people from mailing it in from Netflix or peeping TBN and DayStar for church? Who needs a church building anyway when you have DVDs and iSermons, right?

The Bible clearly shows that if we have fellowship with God, then we should have fellowship with his people. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Facebook is fun but a little disengaging with all that poking going on. Twitter is great to follow other people’s conversations (even though most well-known Christ followers don’t follow back). However, what is so social about social media is that it has limits in its socialism.

Can’t the same be said about satellite churches? You are together in the company of believers, but then again, not so much. Everyone is watching the TV, separate from any attachment and once the TV turns off, they all go home. Just as if they hit the remote control.

And if you don’t believe me… didn’t the Word become flesh and dwell among us? It wasn’t transmitted in HD. You know, like a football game.

There is a very important day coming at the end of this week, so I plan on rocking the light-hearted stuff now. And although the topic may be light, the calorie count probably is not.

In France, there is a rash of Islamophobia. And no, not for the reasons you may think. A while back, the country went all Arizona on Muslims and decided to ban the burqa – the face, body, ninja mask thing worn by only a few hundred women in the country. Relations have been tense since because of a dimwitted country president and now we have the fast food universe telling Muslims, “You can’t have it your way.”

The next step in racial profiling - Halal onlyIn an interesting article found in the Washington Times, we see a fast food empire in Europe called Quick that has rapidly found itself in the ire of non-Muslims across the continent for the food it serves, in particular, a Halal burger.

The No. 2 burger chain behind Mickey D’s has decided to market its product to more than just an aged demographic, but a religious one when it removed bacon burgers from its menu and replaced them with a version that is permissible under Islamic law – or Halal - using proper beef and a slice of smoked turkey.

Nice, right? Eh, depends on who you ask.

It’s discrimination” against non-Muslim customers, [Mayor of Roubaix, Rene] Vandierendonck said. The mayor has filed charges with justice authorities against Quick for what he says is prejudicial religious catering. He has also lodged a complaint with France’s main antidiscrimination authority on the matter. “Yes to diversity, no to exclusion,” Vandierendonck told Le Monde‘s website last week. “I congratulate Quick for adapting its offer to consumers by providing halal, but it goes too far when they propose only that.” (Taken from a similiar Time article).
Was this a savvy business decision or religious kowtowing? Whatever the reason, folk in France are looking to pork up anything they can in spite. It is a little of the opposite of pushing for equality, isn’t it? This is more of a case if the country is segregated, then we will give them a reason to stay that way.
I don’t know, kind of like creating highways for horse-drawn carriages in Amish country, sans the fears of extreme terrorism. Evidently, the company’s marketing strategy has a second strike against itself:
Perhaps a bit strangely, the chain launched its halal-only burger restaurants in the middle of Ramadan, a month when devout Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Quick says the date was purely a coincidence.
I believe Muhammad said it best, “Doh!”
The reason for the outrage over this burger ballyhoo is nothing more than fear – people are afraid this exclusive meal will force all other customers to leave the restaurant and only Muslims to visit it. And if I am a countryman in a country that apparently wants nothing to do with a Muslim man, I don’t think I would be too crazy about that scenario. Would you?

Stephane Gatignon, the mayor of the Paris suburb of Sevran and a member of the environmentalist party Europe Ecologie, says he is worried the Quick in his town will become a Muslims-only hangout, preventing ethnic groups from mingling. On top of that, “It’s stigmatizing,” he told the Associated Press. Quick is saying, “in these towns, there are only Muslims, but in a town like Sevran, there are not only Muslims, there are a lot of other religions here, too. Everyone has to find their place.”

Nice. By the looks of things, that place will be resting comfortably under the golden arches, or whatever geometric shape Quick has. Happy Kwanzaa everyone. Get your gift cards soon.