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Twitter and Worship

As the popularity of Twitter explodes, people are using it everywhere — including during worship, often with the encouragement of their pastors.

While Twitter is cool (you can follow me here) when used correctly, that doesn’t include during worship. I can’t explain it any better than Josh Harris did, with agreement and expansion from John Piper. From Piper:

… we think you should use Twitter before and after corporate worship to say what you take in and take out. But when you are in corporate worship, Worship! There is a difference between communion with God and commenting on communion with God.

Don’t tweet while having sex. Don’t tweet while praying with the dying. Don’t tweet when your wife is telling you about the kids. There’s a season for everything. Multitasking only makes sense when none of the tasks requires heart-engaged, loving attention.

… let’s pursue God with all our might and focus during corporate worship. Then tell the world what God did. If it’s God’s power, it can wait an hour.



Jesus According to Dan Brown

Angels and Demons, in movie theaters now, is the latest movie based on Dan Brown’s books. The first, of course, was The DaVinci Code, which was, to put it mildly, fairly popular.

Angels and Demons is in the same vein as the first book, focusing on a dark secret within the Catholic church that symbologist Robert Langdon desperately tries to uncover as he races through a series of thrilling events. It’s captivating reading, sweeping you up into fascinating history and hidden conspiracies.

It’s also seductively wrong, as Ross Douthat writes in today’s New York Times. He nails the problem with the book and with religion today:

In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized “religiousness” detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition.

Yep. Religion is great, as long as it doesn’t have to do with sin and blood and righteousness. The same do-it-yourself mentality that works well on home repairs isn’t so effective when it comes to your eternal fate:

polls … reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married.

Here’s the crux of the issue — a 21st century Jesus who fits neatly into your life, or the Jesus portrayed in the Gospel accounts:

These are Dan Brown’s kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.

But the success of this message — which also shows up in the work of Brown’s many thriller-writing imitators — can’t be separated from its dishonesty. The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they’re far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account.

Money quote:

The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.

For millions of readers, Brown’s novels have helped smooth over the tension between ancient Christianity and modern American faith. But the tension endures. You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.

Moral Hazard

Malcom Gladwell, relating sports, the economy and health insurance:

I think, for example, that the idea of ranking draft picks in reverse order of finish — as much as it sounds “fair” — does untold damage to the game. You simply cannot have a system that rewards anyone, ever, for losing. Economists worry about this all the time, when they talk about “moral hazard.” Moral hazard is the idea that if you insure someone against risk, you will make risky behavior more likely. So if you always bail out the banks when they take absurd risks and do stupid things, they are going to keep on taking absurd risks and doing stupid things. Bailouts create moral hazard. Moral hazard is also why your health insurance has a co-pay. If your insurer paid for everything, the theory goes, it would encourage you to go to the doctor when you really don’t need to. No economist in his right mind would ever endorse the football and basketball drafts the way they are structured now. They are a moral hazard in spades.


Fun With Ping Pong Balls

Outstanding use of a college education:

Their parents must be so proud.

Stand by Me

A little fun on Friday — an around-the-world version of Stand by Me, done by street performers and musicians adding their parts as it travels across several continents. Part of the “Playing for Change: Peace Through Music” project. Good stuff. Enjoy.

(It’s cooler if you go full-screen. Click on the little box next to the bottom right corner.)

(You can watch more songs here.)