Sunday, July 30, 2006

Three Blind Men and an Elephant

More thoughts on the definition of Christianity from Kevin C.:

I think Brooke's definition = Holly's definition, plus time.

I believe that Brooke writes from the perspective of someone who, like me, grew up in the church, has lived with it their whole life, and feels constantly challenged to keep their faith vibrant and invigorated. For many longtime Christians, no less a definition of faith than Brooke's is necessary, or it wouldn't be authentic faith at all.

But I think it is important to introduce the notion of humility and God-dependence to the definition of what it is to be a Christian. I think of those vineyard workers who got in at the very last hour, and I feel that what all authentic Christians must have in common is a belief that they are not capable of pleasing God on their own merits. All Christians, whether recent converts or lifelong servants, must believe that they are completely dependent on God's provision and not their own works if they are to be in fellowship with God. I believe this is the quality that God has looked for in humanity throughout history, whether Old Testament saint, New Testament apostle, American philanthropist, or animistic tribesman. For each and every one of us, the question is, have we looked at the glory of the God who created us, and the shortcomings within our own hearts and then thrown ourselves on God's mercy and declared like Job, "There must be a mediator who can make peace between God and me, someone outside myself who can bridge the gap between God's righteousness and my own weakness."

This whole discussion demonstrates that a relationship with God is somewhat
like a prism--we're all examining the same gem, but it reflects back different
things depending on our perspective.

That to me is the bare minimum definition of what it means to be a Christian--to believe that Jesus Christ was that mediator and God's provision when we could do nothing redeeming for ourselves. For those who have never heard of Jesus, I believe that the stirrings of such a natural theology are what God responds to, and that He will move heaven and earth to introduce His Son to such a humbled heart.

And once we have become a Christian, the challenge is to keep humility and thankfulness at the forefront of our attention, motivating our actions, and that authenticates the reality of our faith.

This whole discussion demonstrates that a relationship with God is somewhat like a prism--we're all examining the same gem, but it reflects back different things depending on our perspective. That is why the Bible chronicles God's workings in the lives of hundreds of vastly different people--because it is possible to have vastly different experiences of the same God.

Liberal theologians use that as a stumbling block, and try to say that God is whatever you want him to be; I think what we are saying is that God is one clear thing--immutable--revealed perfectly in Jesus Christ--but once Jesus takes up residence in a human heart, He expresses himself in a thousand surprising and beautiful ways.


Holly says: The best part of this discussion is we're thinking and talking about what it means to be a Christian. The more often I discuss this topic with other Christians, the more comfortable I become talking about it with friends who aren't Christians.

Thinking about it also gives me a greater confidence in what I believe, and what's important to my faith. It's easy to get caught up in the worldview of Christians: as crazed, hypocritical Bible thumpers, religious snobs who wear gold crosses around their necks and thumb their noses at the rest of the "lost sinners" of the world. Whenever I see someone with a "Jesus Loves You" bumper sticker who drives like a maniac and flips other drivers the bird, I think, "Boy, I gotta prove Christians aren't like that. I gotta counter those stereotypes." And I put my energy into trying to compensate, telling others, "Not all Christians are like that."

Rather, my focus should be on Jesus: who he is, how he's made a difference in my life, why I'm so affected by the things he said and did. When others hear about Jesus and see his effect on me, it will move them so much more than me constantly repeating, "Not all Christians are like that. Not all Christians are like that. Not all ... " (I know, you get the point.)

To close, here's a verse that popped into my head when I read Kevin's comment:

Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.
--1 Corinthians 13:12, CEV

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Following Christ Goes Beyond Mental Belief

More interesting thoughts from my friend, Brooke:

It is interesting that you say your definition is for non-Christians and mine is more for Christians. I don’t see it that way. When Jesus called his disciples, he said, “Follow me.” At what point did they become Christians? When I converse with unbelievers about Christianity, I don’t reduce it to mere mental belief and spoken profession. I don’t lay out the four spiritual laws and try to save them. I always frame it in terms of following Christ.

In other words, I don’t just accept Him as someone who has the power to save me, but also as the smartest teacher who ever walked the face of this earth. Therefore, to be a Christ-one (Christian) is to demonstrate belief in all of what he said and did by striving to live according to his teachings. It is a belief that Jesus actually knew what He was talking about.

I have often found that non-Christians find this type of faith more interesting and attractive than a faith that is professed but not lived. You know the whole hypocrisy thing. Unfortunately many unbelievers see no need to believe in Christ because they see very little positive effect on His so-called followers. I think many non-Christians feel that it is the Christians who need to be saved.
Many unbelievers see no need to believe in Christ because they see very little
positive effect on His so-called followers.
Christianity seems detached from the earthly demonstration of its founder. If evangelicals talk so much about salvation by grace alone through faith, why then are we often so critical of those who fail to live up to being “Christian?” Why is it that we can tend to be so judgmental? We often sound more like Pharisees, who by the way, definitely did not believe in salvation by grace.

If a person merely needs to believe, why is it that when someone “believes” we tack on all kinds of other requirements later on? I guess we fail to inform people of the fine print. It seems sort of like a bait and switch. I tend to think the gospel is more attractive to people when they see it in action. That is why God invented the Church. It is so that when we proclaim the good news we can point to something and say, “Look there it is.”

Can we point to our churches and say that? In the early church, there was a definite display of good works and God added to their number DAILY those who believed. So faith without works truly is dead and I might add, like dead things, stiff, stinky, and very repulsive to non-Christians.

Think I'm starting to come around to what Brooke's saying when he explains, "I always frame it in terms of following Christ."

I don't want to discount the importance of emphasizing the deity of Christ. Without this, it makes following Christ no different than following any other human teacher.

By the same token, who he is makes what he said just as important. Jesus could have come to earth, said, "I'm the Son of God," and then never uttered another word. There must have been a reason he spoke and taught and acted so.

Thanks, Brooke, for offering some good food for thought.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Faith Vs. Works: Let's Rumble!

At last! A little healthy debate, courtesy of my friend, Brooke. In response to my blog entry "Mainstream Media Offers Definition of Christianity," Brooke writes:

Being a Christian is more than saying, "Jesus I believe You." I don't think the whole of scripture nor a wider than evangelical Christian orthodoxy supports that statement. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Read the book of James. What about this scripture? James 2:14-19 says, 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.

If a person's life does not demonstrate their belief in Christ, perhaps there is no real belief to begin with. James is not preaching salvation by works. Jesus is not giving us a new law in the Sermon on the Mount. What they are talking about is a true righteousness of the heart that comes from a real acceptance of Christ and ALL that He did and said. Unfortunately Evangelicalism often has reduced salvation and Christianity to an "in" "out" status based on mental agreement and verbal profession. I think Christians need not be apologetic about following Christ by strictly adhering to the Bible and to His teachings. So in this case I don't think the reporter was that far off. She was perhaps off in her definition of American Evangelicalism which does not always insist on such.

Brooke is referring to my definition of Christianity in "Mainstream Media Offers Definition of Christianity." (I was hoping it might cause some commotion!)

Our opinions often are shaped by personal experiences. I think Brooke and I represent an important concept: We interact with people who are on various points of their spiritual journey. When I think about discussing faith, I first think about my friends and family who are not Christians. I think about the words I'd use for seekers, and those who are just curious or even hostile about religion. Since Brooke is a church leader, I imagine his discussions are often with new Christians and those growing (or stagnating) in their faith.

I won't debate Brooke's point because I agree with his statements about faith and works. In John 14, Jesus says, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. ... These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." But I'm sticking with my definition of Christianity because it works in my conversations with friends who aren't Christians. And that's who I'm most interesting in defining Christianity for: non-Christians.

Granted, most non-Christians I encounter are a certain type of people: well-educated 30- and 40-somethings who believe Christianity is about completing certain tasks in order to earn a spot in heaven. One friend, I'll call him Thomas, candidly told me, "I'm a good person. I give to charities. I volunteer in my community. I do whatever I can to help the poor. I just don't want to go to church." Thomas believes there are requirements for Christianity, such as regular church attendance, studying the Bible, and devoting hours to prayer. So if Thomas were to read that Reuters reporter's definition of Christianity--"... a strict adherence to the Bible and personal commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ will bring salvation"--his theory would be confirmed. He'd say, "I knew it all along. Those Christians think they're better than everyone else just because they go to church and read the Bible."

So it comes down to this: I feel Brooke's points work well in defining Christianity for Christians. (The Scripture he references was James' instruction directly to the church; rather than saying "I'll be praying for you," and walking on, we're called to try to help the person in need.) My definition is for those who aren't Christians. Like I said, my friends who aren't Christians are highly ethical, moral pillars of society who feel it is their duty as human beings to do good. Essentially, they're already doing works. What they don't know/understand is: 1) Jesus said he was deity; and 2) Jesus provides a way to have a relationship with God. When I tell them this, it blows their minds. This is stuff they've never heard before, or at least, they never "got" it.

I was raised in the church, but didn't believe salvation was that simple. Believe in Jesus? Nah, there had to be more to it! I spent nearly a decade trying to figure out what I needed to do, what method I needed to follow, in order to have a relationship with God. My life was about works. I kept moving further and further away from Jesus until I was convinced he wasn't deity, that he was merely a wise teacher. Then, one day, I heard a Christian say, "Jesus is God." It was exactly what I needed to hear to realize, "Hey, Jesus is enough! Without Jesus, all my methods and to-do lists don't count for anything."

Now I know the statement "Jesus is God" isn't exactly theologically correct. We Christians immediately want to discuss the incarnation and the inner workings of the trinity. My Christian friend Mark pointed out we Christians like to be academic about our faith, to present logical--and often lengthy--arguments. He referred to a time in history when most Christians couldn't read the Bible for themselves because it wasn't available in their language. They had to take someone else's word for what it said. Once the Bible was translated, Christians jumped at the chance to study it, to think critically about Scripture and discuss faith in scholarly ways. We remain academically inclined to this day, Mark feels, but scholarly discussion doesn't win people over like it used to. People today want to know very simply, "Why are you a Christian? What does it do for you? How does one become a Christian?"

For that last question, I'm also sticking to my answer of saying, "Jesus, I believe you." Perhaps, to incorporate Brooke's idea, I'd add, "Jesus, I love you," for a Christian audience, with more of John 14 in mind, where Jesus says: "If you love me, you will obey what I command. ... Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." I understand that idea of loving (and obeying) Christ now because I'm a Christian, but wouldn't have comprehended it in the past.

My point, in case it wasn't clear, is we need to be able to communicate our faith to non-Christians. We use so much church language and assume it's understood. Even topics like "loving Jesus" or "Jesus loves you" can be quite complicated: "How can you love someone you've never met? Why would you love them?" an unchurched person might ask. So we first must explain: 1) Jesus said he was deity, and 2) Jesus let humans kill him. Then we must explain why Jesus let humans kill him.

As we grow close to God, the ideas of love and obedience become clearer. But relationships of any type don't begin with love. They begin with interest or attraction, maybe deep gratitude at best. To clarify my definition, becoming a Christian simply requires belief. And working off Brooke's ideas, being a Christian then requires love and obedience, as we are transformed by the Holy Spirit.

More thoughts, anyone?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Just One Way to Get to Heaven?

In a Q&A with Time magazine, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., was asked, "Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?" Her response:

"We who practice the Christian tradition understand [Jesus] as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box."

To ponder:
Do you agree or disagree with Schori's statement? Why? What Scripture backs up your thoughts on this?

2) How does her answer as a church leader make you feel? Do you think more church leaders should adopt this stance, or refute it?

3) Do you think most Christians share Schori's view?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mainstream Media Offers Definition of Christianity

Sometimes, a little assumption is a dangerous thing.

Reporters sometimes make assumptions based on stereotypes or misinformation. Perhaps that's what happened when Andrea Hopkins recently offered this definition for "evangelical Christian" in her Reuters newswire story that was published around the world:

"... [evangelicals believe] that a strict adherence to the Bible and personal commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ will bring salvation."

Whoa. What happened to the whole crucifixion event? It almost sounds like a definition for Judaism, with the words "Jesus Christ" substituting for "Jewish law."

Andrea's definition isn't attributed, so readers are left to guess how she came up with it. In her story, which appeared in the numerous newspapers including The Washington Post ("Megachurches Build a Republican Base"), she offers several ideas about evangelicals such as:

"... evangelical Christians have had a growing impact on the nation's political landscape, in part because adherents believe conservative Christian values should have a place in politics--and they support politicians who agree with them." (Emphasis mine.)

That idea isn't attributed, either. Oh, Andrea, where did you get the idea that all evangelicals are conservative? Or that evangelicals all support conservative politicians? Why was the word "conservative" needed at all? Wouldn't it be more accurate to simply say Christians are interested in infusing "Christian values" into politics?

Does it really matter whether the media is defining evangelicals as conservative Republicans? Let's put it this way: What they say doesn't change our vote, or our lives, in the least. But Andrea's definition of Christianity is quite alarming. We gotta speak up when the media suggests Christianity is about following rules and regulations that earn people a spot in heaven. Otherwise, more people might start believing that's true.

Sometimes Christians are afraid we'll sound mean or hostile if we contradict statements that are made about our faith and beliefs. So we just clam up--we're supposed to be peacemakers, right? Someone recently reminded me Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker, but he didn't clam up. There were moments he wouldn't merit ridiculous statements with a reply. But much of the time, he corrected falsities and defended the truth. It seems silence doesn't always lead to peace (consider the way much of the world initially responded to Hitler), but truth does.

For Andrea, and anyone else who might be wondering about Christian beliefs, here's a short breakdown of Christianity from Holly:

1) Nobody is good enough to have a relationship with God. We can't ever live up to God's standards, no matter how hard we try.

2) Yet there is a way we can have a relationship with God. The son of God, Jesus, came to earth and basically said, "I'm God. Some people aren't going to believe that, but I'll prove it. I'm going to let humans humiliate and torture me, then kill me. Then I'll come back to life. Anyone who recognizes I've told the truth and that I've done this because I love you will be able to have a relationship with God. Your simple belief is all it takes."

3) In sum, "Christian" (evangelical or otherwise) means: anyone who acknowledges Jesus was telling the truth--that he really was who he said and really did what he said. Christians have salvation, meaning they'll forever be with God, solely because of what Jesus did. Anyone and everyone can be a Christian simply by saying, "Jesus, I believe you."

The reasons for Jesus' actions require an extended discussion on Jewish culture during biblical times, which would be too long for a reporter like Andrea to print. So I'll make a briefer definition: "Christianity is the belief Jesus Christ's death and resurrection is historical fact, and that Christ's actions make salvation (union with God) readily available to anyone who desires it."

You can quote me on that.

To ponder:
1) A friend who isn't a Christian (I'll call him Jay) sent me a link to "
Megachurches Build a Republican Base." Read that story. If you were Jay, how would this story make you feel? What ideas would it give you about Christians?

2) When a reporter offers an idea or definition, does it seem more credible or less so? Why?

3) When
Pilate held Jesus' trial, the governor asked Jesus whether he was king of the Jews. Jesus acknowledged this was true. But then Jesus became silent when his accusers gave vicious testimony against him. Pilate asked Jesus why he didn't respond to those accusations, to defend himself. And Jesus remained silent.

Are there times when Christians should keep silent about their faith? When, and why?

4) If someone asked you to define Christianity, or to explain your beliefs, what would you say? Think about how you'd define words like "salvation" and "sin."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Your "Worst" Feature May Be God's Most Important Tool

Did you ever wonder why God gave you a pudgy stomach? A crooked smile? Ears that stick out?

When I was a freshman in high school, a kid named Quincy Jones made me wonder about my nose. He was our class clown, and he loved to mock-flirt with me to entertain our classmates. One day, he loudly announced, "Holly, you'd be really beautiful ... if it wasn't for your nose."

Huh? What was wrong with my nose? At 14, I had unusually good self-esteem--I believed I was downright cute--but Quincy's comment shook me. Was I, in reality, freakishly flawed?

By the following day, I'd decided Quincy was a goofball. I understood he'd picked something about me that wasn't up to par with American beauty standards. My nose is short and wide. (Perhaps not so ironically, Quincy's nose is very short and very wide.) And I decided to accept the funny little bump in the middle of my face. My Sunday school teacher had taught me I was "fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together by God inside my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13-15). I wasn't quite sure what all those fancy words meant, but I did understand the point: God made me this way for a specific purpose.

"Just accept your looks"--that sounds simple, doesn't it? I know it really isn't. For years, I grumbled at God for making me short. Back in my school days, I hated always being the smallest kid in class. As a pint-sized adult, I hated being treated like a child. I once was asked to show my hall pass at an elementary school--I was 22 at the time. I yelled at God, "I want to play basketball! I want to be a supermodel! I want to reach the top shelf at the supermarket! Why'd you give me these stupid, stubby legs?"

Years later, I met Teeriffic, a gal who's even shorter than me. We commiserated about our size, and I immediately realized she's been worse off than me. People still pat her on the head, touch her face, and call her "sweetie." She was riding in a car with a male buddy once, and when they stopped, he opened her door, picked her up into the air, then set her feet on the ground. (Apparently, he thought her legs were too small to reach from the car to the ground.)

But unlike me, Teeriffic's long seen how God uses her petite figure. As a writer, Teeriffic's childlike presence is an immeasurable help. Others perceive her as sweet and approachable. Interviewees open up to her quickly and share openly because she's not intimidating. She's also able to quickly bond with children, which is important when she volunteers as a tutor and youth worker. Kids seem to be quite comfortable with an adult who's close to their size, she says.

I often wonder how people must feel when their appearance suddenly changes due to illness or an accident. Jon Tester, a Montana farmer, lost the three middle fingers of his left hand in a meat grinder when he was 9. "I couldn't play the saxophone and had to learn the trumpet, and I took a lot of crap from my schoolmates," he told Time magazine. Jon became a public-school music teacher at one point, and currently serves as the president of Montana's state senate. Oddly enough, Jon's childhood accident gave him "the most distinctive hand wave in American politics, a thumb-and-pinkie hook-'em-horns waggle," says Time writer Joe Klein.

This reminded me of Hawaii surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack three years ago. Now 16, the Christian teen is still surfing. She's shared her story on MTV, Oprah, and 20/20, and has appeared in numerous magazines including Time, People, Teen Vogue, and YM. She shares the story of the attack and how her faith sustained her in the bestselling book, Soul Surfer.

These stories verify for me that God has his reasons for the way we look. Would Jon Tester still be a successful politician if he hadn't lost his fingers? Would Bethany Hamilton still be a teen role model if she hadn't been attacked by a shark? Sure. Yet seeing their tenacity inspires us and helps us persevere. "I can't change it," Bethany told the Detroit Free Press about the shark attack. "That was God's plan, and I'm going to go with it."

Honestly, I still wish I was a little bit taller. Yet I'm beginning to realize God really does use my "flaws." As a multi-ethnic kid growing up in the 70s, I hated looking different and feeling like I never fit in. But now, I know God has used my mixed ethnicity to help me understand multiple perspectives. He's used my ethnically blended looks to help me relate and talk to people of many different ethnicities. I believe God's used my small size--and even my stubby, childlike nose--to make me more approachable, and perhaps less threatening when I share my faith. I repeatedly hear others describe me as "diplomatic" and a "bridge-builder," and I know my appearance plays a big part.

Most of us wouldn't choose hammers, screwdrivers, saws, or drill bits to decorate the walls of our homes. But we need these seemingly unattractive tools to get work done. In God's hands, even the least favorite things about ourselves may be the most useful for building his kingdom. Maybe my stubby nose is just what he needs.

To ponder:
1) Which of your physical features do you dislike? Why? Why do you think God gave you that particular feature?

2) Think about a time a stranger approached you asking for help (eg. a child lost in a department store, a traveler asking for directions, a previously unknown neighbor asking for a cup of sugar). Why do you think you were approached?

3) Think about something you'd like to change about yourself. If it changed, how might it negatively impact your life? (For example, if Teeriffic suddenly grew a foot taller, perhaps children wouldn't approach her as easily as they do now.)

Aren't You Listening, God?

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Treat for Your Ears: Angela Vicente

Haven't heard of Angela Vicente yet? You will. This singer extraordinaire (who also happens to be my sis) now has a CD available, and is appearing in hot spots throughout the Los Angeles area. Her website has more info about appearances.

You can hear some of her original music right now FOR FREE at:

and some covers at

and some Christian music with her band, Projekt Soul:

And my personal fav, "Seeing You," a song she recorded with her friend Ray Hah five years ago: (click on "Seeing You ft. Angela Vicente")

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

Separation of Church Skate and State

Apparently, it's not OK to rollerskate to tunes about Jesus Christ. Or at least, you can't advertise a rollerskating event in any way that alludes to his name.

Skate Time, a roller rink in upstate New York, was accused of discrimination last month for an advertisement run in a local newspaper promoting its upcoming "Christian Skate." The Skate Time owners received a letter from the state's Division of Human Rights noting the juxtaposition of the words "Christian" and "skate" in their advertisement could be construed as a Christians-only event, thus making their ad's wording discriminatory.

The Skate Time owners explained Christian-themed music would be played at the event, and the public--regardless of faith background--was welcome to come skate. To appease the state, Skate Time also changed its advertisement to read "spiritual skate."

If Skate Time held an event such as Latino Nite, Caribbean Skate, or Hawaiian Luau, no one would have blinked twice. We'd all recognize these as themed events, not efforts to discriminate against non-Latinos, non-Caribbean folks, or non-Hawaiians. (C'mon, everyone knows when dance clubs hold "Ladies Nite," it isn't about kicking out the men.) What about public parades or displays to celebrate Irish or German or Mexican heritage, or even Jewish or Hindu culture? Such city-sanctioned events take place all the time.

But there's something threatening about the word "Christian" that makes people do a double take. Some cities and businesses proactively squash Christian language and displays, hoping to avoid potential lawsuits. A Christian Bible study group recently was asked to stop meeting in the common area of their apartment complex (see Apartment Owner Boots Bible Study Group). The apartment's management company was afraid other residents would complain it was showing religious preference. Students no longer have "Christmas vacations"--they're "Winter breaks." In my hometown, one resident fought displays of nativity scenes at Christmas on city-owned property. To the dismay of thousands of residents, the city caved. The displays had brought residents together in the city's downtown business district and provided much needed revenue to the area. But hey, at least one guy was happy about the lack of holiday cheer.

Yet, in the name of religious tolerance, Christians are expected to suck it up when co-workers make derogatory statements about God and Christianity. (It's their right, right?) Students typically are discouraged from religious discourse at school. How is it the best-selling book of all time isn't included in public-school literature courses?

Apparently, it's OK to be a Christian these days, as long as you confine it to the privacy of your own home. To me, it seems America's got a bad case of minority tyranny on our hands. And unfortunately, Christians are perceived as the majority which needs to be toppled.

For kicks, let's read the First Amendment of our American Constitution together now:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

Yup, we get an ear-full of that part plenty often, but not so much the second half of this first sentence:

or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

That seems to mean it isn't a felony to carry a Bible down the street. Or to hold a Christian-themed skate event. And this next part, it's really good:

or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

Too bad the Skate Time owners weren't allowed to freely publicize their event with words of their choice. But thank goodness some members of the press still have common sense and are willing to speak up, as seen in The Times-Reporter editorial, "This is discrimination?"

Oooh, here's another good part:

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Hmm, perhaps I do have a grievance. It grieves me we have to worry about using the word "Christian." It grieves me we have to worry about our public expressions of faith. My church recently gathered at a public beach to barbecue hotdogs. We sang some worship songs. Nearby, a Christian youth group was holding a Bible study. Could the day come when we aren't allowed to sing or talk about Jesus in public places like this, since it just might offend passers-by?

That sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn't it? But I never would've imagined my hometown, under threat of a lawsuit from a single individual, would stop putting up those nativity scenes at Christmas, either.

Maybe, instead of just grieving when this stuff occurs, I ought to recognize this is a legitimate grievance. Maybe I ought to start speaking up.

I'll start with this blog post.

State lets roller-rink owners skate by with Christian night