Suggested Revisions to Matthew 5

Suggested Revisions to Matthew 5

First of all, Jesus, no one knows what “beatitude” means. It’s unnecessarily confusing, and I’m just going to be honest, so is a lot of your material. Can you be less mysterious? You’ll sell more books that way.

Let’s just call them blessings, right? Everyone loves blessings! Blessings sell! People will definitely read a list of how to be blessed…which means we’ve just got to tweak the list itself. Just a little. Because the way it is, people will never believe it. Not really, you know. They’ll read it every once in a while and say they believe it, but they’ll have a hard time actually living it.

We have to make these a little more realistic. I’ve just made a couple of changes.

How about this?

Blessed are the poor rich in spirit, because if the kingdom of heaven belongs to anyone it should be us.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted by clichés and easy answers.

Blessed are the meeksounds too much like weak, let’s take it out.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are righteous, because if we believe we already are there’s no need to be hungry for it.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy…from God, maybe, but less so from us. I’m just being honest. Blessed are the honest!

Blessed are the pure in heart – but more importantly the pure in outward appearances and sound bites – for they will see God be sure everyone else knows it.

Blessed are the peacemakers peacekeepers, because making peace is too much to ask.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and let’s make sure we clarify our minor grievances and people being crucified for their faith are basically the same thing.

See? Much better.

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Fake News & Absolute Truth

Fake News & Absolute Truth

When it comes to news, information, and, you know, the state of the world in general, who do you listen to? Who do you trust?

When I was in high school, I trusted Mr. Fugate. He taught 11th grade American history, and my class was the last to go through before he retired. The class was legendary for its 30+ page written assignment on the 1960’s, which both prepared you for college and opened 1990’s eyes to a more turbulent time.

A year after graduation I started leading a bible study in my parents’ basement, and when the conversation turned to guest teachers Mr. Fugate was the first one nominated. He agreed, and doubled our attendance that night. I still remember him leaning forward – everyone in their seats leaning right back in anticipation – and saying, “Boys and girls, I want to ask you a question:  are you a thermostat, or a thermometer?”

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It’s dangerous to go alone.

It’s dangerous to go alone.

If I asked you who your heroes were growing up, chances are the answers would include some percentage of who you dressed up as for Halloween. They have a way of being colorful and memorable, but they’re usually not the most important characters in our stories.

When I was six, we got a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas. My grandparents wrapped the games in aluminum foil instead of wrapping paper (an option I still consider every December), but one game literally caught your eye above all others:  The Legend of Zelda, in a shiny gold box.

Zelda was (and is), above all else, a challenge. Unlike the repetition of Pac-Man or the linear progression of Super Mario Bros., Zelda immediately placed you in an open world with no directions or guidance:

LEGENDOFZELDA-07

The game begins by giving you choices and not telling you which is the “right” one. You can go east, west, or north. Or you can enter that black cave, where an old man will advise you to take a sword.

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In Brightest Day

In Brightest Day

Wonder Woman cracked $100 million at the box office this weekend while boasting a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the strongest superhero films on a pleasantly crowded list. Four of the five highest grossing movies this decade come from the canons of Star Wars, Marvel, and DC. The Skywalker saga is the youngest of those, and it just turned 40. Someone who saw A New Hope in theaters as a teenager could be buying their grandchildren a Wookiee onesie.

Heroes transcend generations better than just about anything else. It’s never just kids today:  when I was growing up in the 1980’s, four of the five highest grossing movies were Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Batman. We surveyed our congregation to ask about their heroes both as a child and now, and some of our members from older generations responded with The Lone Ranger, Tarzan, the Professor from Gilligan’s Island, and Steve Austin (clarified, sadly, as the Six Million Dollar Man and not the WWE Champion). Heroes are profitable in any age.

Have this conversation long enough with children of any age and it’ll eventually turn to who’s the best, who’s the strongest?

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All Who Love.

All Who Love.

Every Sunday morning I get to stand up in front of Democrats and Republicans, and we try to figure out how to follow Jesus together.

Diversity is not often the church’s strong suit. Sunday mornings are still among the most segregated hours of the week; we don’t always look very much like our local soup kitchens and homeless shelters and many other of the least segregated hours of the week, places our worship should be driving us to. But perhaps a few first steps on the long road of diversity might fall along ideological lines.

In June 2014 Pew Research Center released a study on Political Polarization in the American Public. Among its many findings were three key points:

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