Archive for January, 2009

The Coming Collapse in Evangelicalism

Imonk has some provocative posts about the imminent collapse of of evangelicalism.  You can read his thoughts here at post 1, post 2 and post 3.

He makes some interesting predictions about an influx of evangelicals in to Catholic and Orthodox churches.  The eventual demise of the emerging church (although he is positive about house churches so he probably meant more progressive side/Emergent).  He believes the seminary system will collapse, some denominations will disappear and evangelicalism will be reduced to about 50% of what it was before.

My initial take on his predictions?  I think he is an American writing from his perspective.  He is writing about American evangelicalism as if it was all there was to evangelicalism.

The truth is evangelicalism in places like Canada and Australia are already well ahead of the Americans on this journey.  American evangelicals outnumber their Canadian cousins by a ratio of more than 2:1 and for the Aussies that number is even higher.  Not a lot of denominations have disappeared but some bible colleges have.  One might think we might be a little more alarmed by our situation but we are comfortably insulated in our little silos.  We are so completely enamoured with ourselves, our worries and our problems.  We are ruled by the tyranny of the urgent and unimportant.

I think evangelicalism is in decline in Canada as well.  I think in many ways it is a leadership problem.  We have very few people who ensure the church is doing what it is called to do: make disciples.  We run a lot of programs and ministries that are supposed to make disciples, but we don’t make very many and we don’t seem to care.

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On deficits and disappointments

Andrew Coyne is a good conservative and a real conservative.  Many conservatives I know are adherents to a brand name.  Liberals = Bad, NDP = Lunatics, and Conservatives = Good.  It doesn’t matter if the Conservatives spend like drunken socialists and the Liberals cut spending or lower taxes.  Andrew Coyne is not like this.  He will actually stick up for conservative principles when the Conservatives betray them.  I’ve always appreciated that about him because he is consistent.  We need fiscal conservatives to add their voice in the governance of our country because sometimes they are right.  It is good and healthy to have a real debate.

Aside from their lack lustre environmental and energy policy the biggest beef I have with the Harper conservatives is that they are pretending to be Liberals and they don’t do it well.  If our government is going to spend like Liberals anyway why not let the party with a deeper talent pool manage all that money. 

I know that a great many economists are recommending these “stimulus packages” but I remain very sceptical.  In classic keynsian economics the problem of recessions is due in part to an oversupply of goods and services.   Lower interest rates and taxes combined with government spending stimulates the economy to pick up the slack and “jump start” the economy.  The slack is removed everything returns to a nice cozy balance.  We tried this a lot in the 70’s and 80’s and all it got us was a big fat debt we are still paying off.

At the heart of this recession is the consumer.  The average US consumer has borrowed so much money they can’t keep spending like they used to.  They maxed out their credit cards, then flipped that in to a home equity loan and went back and maxed their cards out again.  Now their home is worth 25% less than it did a few years ago.  Obama can throw another 815 billion dollars at this problem but he has to borrow money to do it.  This may pick up the slack and prop up housing and asset prices for a little while but if the root problem is debt, it will still be there after the 815 billion is spent and gone.  At the end people will still be in debt and the government will be in more debt. 

Debt is booze, and picking up another 40 of whiskey at the store might make an alcoholic feel a little better for a while, but when the booze is gone reality hits again.  The only way out of this recession is to default on debt or pay it off.  No one wants to start that process because it would mean deep cuts in spending and serious drop in everyone’s standard of living.  America would need to learn how to produce as many goods and services as it consumes. 

In Canada we are in better shape because we have much less debt however we are far too closely tied with the American economy to avoid the pain.  Our government can borrow money and spend it like drunken sailors but that isn’t going to change the reality that our biggest trading partner is going down the drain. No amount of Canadian “stimulus” can pick up that amount of slack.  If we spent money on anything it should be to build towards the next economy, not staving off the death of the old economy.

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Check out the TheGreyGamers.com

An old friend of mine has started a great new blog for “mature” gamers.  If you got some Grey and like to game check it out.

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It is hard to find a political home

I’m so confused.

1) I care deeply about the environment so I’m Green.

2) I care deeply about deficits and debt repayment so I’m fiscally Conservative.

3) I think George Bush was a disaster but I’m deeply torn on Obama (see points 1 and 2, especially 2).

4) I’m pragmatic so I’m a centrist “Liberal”, but I have principles that go beyond winning elections.

5) I believe in the free market but see too many things overvalued and other things undervalued.

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Gigapixel photo of Obama’s swearing in

Check out this 1.5 gigapixel photo.  At first you see this huge crowd but you can zoom in super close all over the picture.  This picture is crazy!  You can zoom in an see people snoozing, gawking, goofy hats, snacking. 

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What should go in the thought bubble?

image

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Recent conversation on prayer

Here is a good representation of a conversation I had today

Third Party: The youth conference is happening this weekend.  We need to setup an all night prayer vigil so God’s will is done!

Me: Does God do more or act more if we are constantly reminding him all day long?

Friend:  I don’t know why God would need this kinds of prayers.  Maybe it is to do spiritual warfare.  You are the charismatic, you tell me.

Me: I’m POST-charismatic…

Friend: [Laughing]

Me: I’ve got no answers.  I know God changes me when I pray, but I don’t know how getting a group of people together to badger God gives him more leverage to invade the free will of others.

Friend: Prayer is a mystery to me.

Me: Me too

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Servant leadership according to Jesus : Luke 22:21-27

Luk 22:21  "But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table.
Luk 22:22  For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!"
Luk 22:23  So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this.
Luk 22:24  A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Luk 22:25  So Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’
Luk 22:26  Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.
Luk 22:27  For who is greater, the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

A friend highlighted this passage for me recently.  At first glance it seems to parallel Mat 20:23-27 and Mark 10:41-45 but the chronology is off, as is some aspects of the story.  This snippet from Luke happens right after the last supper whereas Mark and Matthew’s account is much sooner.  It looks like Jesus made this point about leadership twice.

One unique aspect of this encounter is that Jesus talks about those in authority being regarded as benefactors, they are those that do good work and benefit society.  Have we fallen in to the same fault by redefining authoritarian leadership as servant leadership?

Jesus describes servant leadership as becoming like the youngest, like one who serves at a table.

I don’t think we get Jesus.  His idea of leadership, taken at face value,  runs counter to what I observe and have been taught.

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I have a meeting with the Bobs

If they really like Michael Bolton I might lose it.

[Update] No Bolton praise, and only one person I worked with got the joke.  

ooooooooooooh, Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah…..ummmmm

..mmmmmn…ndnnd…stapler.

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Negative inflation rate

Check out this post at the Globe’s Market Watch blog.  The US is expecting a “negative inflation rate.”  Curious why he didn’t use the more thunderous “deflation” to describe the situation.  Deflation is very very bad for a nation in debt up to its eye balls (and about to spend a trillion more dollars to jump start a car with four flat tires).   It means the price of everything goes down and eventually your wage but debt stays the same.  Same loan, less money to pay it.  This  means more bankruptcies and unemployment.  Those that keep their jobs spend more of what would be discretionary income making their loan payments.  It is a negative downward spiral.

What about Obama’s plan?  While I like all that green spending, he is just moving the country towards bankruptcy.  Just like Canada and my home province of Saskatchewan learned you eventually have to pay that debt and when you do it hurts for a long time.  America will have more debt per capita than we ever had here in Canada and America exported their productive capacity to the rest of the world. 

Despite my liberal tendencies on this issue I don’t think you can spend your way out of recession.  Obama is just going to make this situation worse.

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