Category Archives: Uncategorized

Part 2 of “Reach Out of Your Darkness”: No Divine Denomination

I was first baptized into the Catholic faith as an infant but later my parents converted to a protestant belief system as I was growing up. One thing that has stayed with me as an adult is the fact that so much of what the church we attended believed in was about the church leaders’ personal interpretations of  scriptures. In the church we attended, the use of instrumental music was strictly restricted. A Capella was said to be God’s preferred method of worship. This belief was linked to a specific scripture (one I do not recall) that obviously ignored the countless times in the Bible where musical instruments were used in worship to the Lord.

In addition to what this church believed, it also professed to know what other faiths believed. As an adult, most of what I was told about other faiths and beliefs has turned out not to be true. For this reason, I have always been skeptical of one faith professing to know what the intent and beliefs of another religion is. In particular, I have written several cautionary articles about Christian condemnation of Muslims. While I do not claim to understand the Muslim faith completely, I am always concerned when others villianize Muslims based on what they have heard from non-Muslims. None of us knows the depth of God’s divine grace and justification. Who is to say the Muslim, Mormon or Jew aren’t entitled to the same heaven Christians believe in? Only God makes that determination. 

In part 2 on my Examiner.com series of “Reach Out of Your Darkness”, I encourage every believer to practice the very Christian value of love toward others no matter what their beliefs are. No matter who we are – God loves everyone.  Click the link below to read my article on the subject. The article also has a link to a survey where you answer a series of questions that determinewhat Christian denomination you are most aligned with. You may be surprises at your results.

Click here to read \”No Divine Denomination: Reach Out of Your Darkness (Part 2)

Reach Out of the Darkness: New Examiner Series

With this week being the start of the Holy Week of Easter, I am relaunching a popular article series that ran locally on Examiner.com last year. This year the series is entitled “Reach Out of Your Darkness” and is about appreciating differences. The series first ran this time last year as “No Matter Our Differences: God Loves Us All” and was hugely popular. 

This year, I am using the old Friend & Lover song, “Reach Out of the Darkness” as my inspiration. It’s a great song about peace and learning to appreciate our differences. So much of what we focus on these days is what divides us (our religious differences, our political differences, our sexual orientation, our citizenship status, etc…). What the bible reminds us time and time again is that we are all God’s creation. All created for good. This needs to be our theme for this Easter season.

Who did Christ die for this Easter season? A select group? He died for the salvation of everyone. In the spirit of this, I launch this series this week.

Click here to read \”Reach Out of the Darkness: God Loves Everyone!\”

Obsession of the Week: ABC’s “Shark Tank”

Can’t say enough about how much I love the “Shark Tank”. I loved it last season and was bummed when it seemed to disappear. Well, it’s back and better than ever. This entrepreneurial show makes Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” look amateurish. The show has 5 multi-millionaires and billionaires (the sharks), including Mark Cuban and out-of-place Jeff Foxworthy, who invest their own money into the products and services being pitched to them from average Americans. Some ideas seem brilliant, others seem ridiculous.

What’s most engaging is when the sharks fight one another over the investment they want. It’s like a high stakes poker game to them where beating your “friends” is more important than just winning. It gets dirty between them as they posture and position themselves as the best investor for the idea, while mocking and putting down the other sharks. Other times they throw in together to put one over on another one of the sharks.

The twists and turns are plentiful. You may guess how you think it will turn out for each person coming into the shark tank but without any real rules – anything can happen and does. At times, I’m literally on the edge of my seat watching as dreams and lives change in an instant. Some get what they are looking for, others get more and then some go home with nothing but an insult from one of the sharks (typically billionaire Kevin O’Leary).

The show is based on the Japanese show called “Dragon Den” produced by Sony. This American version is produced both by Sony and reality-show mega-producer, Mark Burnett (“Survivor” and “The Apprentice”). It really is one of the best reality shows out there. Watch it! It’s on ABC Friday nights at 8 pm.

Here’s a trailer to introduce you to the show:

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“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

“Grilled Cheesus” Episode on “Glee” Still Stirs

Fox recently reran Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” episode and I received some new comments and e-mails about my article that came out on Examiner.com when the show originally aired. Click here to read the article.

I am not a fan of “Glee” and certainly think the show is overtly sexualized. Yet, the some have called my praise for the episode misguided. One comment on the article pointed to the fact that the episode makes fun of religion and portrayed religion in a negative light. I didn’t see it that way and responded to the comment. I am posting my response here because what I wrote pretty much sums up what the show was attempting and what I attempt with my Examiner column. Here’s my response:

Dennis,

I think you are too focused on what they didn’t say and less on what they did. This episode basically said that a non-belief in God comes from having been hurt by religion/God and that can be overcome. I also think you missed that they sang “What if God Was One of Us” at the end so God was definitely mentioned. I think that song summed up the intent of the episode that we need to live as if God was one of us.

The fact that people (not just characters on the show) think God and the “moral authority of the universe are bigoted homophobic idiots” is a sad commentary on what you and I are doing to bring those people into belief. Dennis, you are a sinner just like I am…just like the homosexual kid watching the show who feels shunned by religion. Are our sins less then his? Shouldn’t there be a place for him in God’s house every week? If we make room for the adulterous man, the divorced woman, the cheerful alcoholic, the married pedophile, the chronic tax cheater, the girl who aborted her baby and even a murderer every week – shouldn’t religion accept everyone? The fact that gays and others (who feel shamed by their choices in life) are kept away from the church is a saddest part of religion. Add in the fact that we don’t willingly accept believers of other faiths into ours as the greatest cause of war and misery in the world and that is what is wrong with religion today.

While you point out that a kid praying to a sandwich is a slap against belief in general, what about the fact that the two who don’t believe in God were shown what believing can do. Isn’t there hope in that? I think that was the point of the show and my article.

If you read my article, I did criticize the show for its sexual overtones. The show is in no way a religious show (just ask all the pre-teen kids who make up the largest demographic for the show…better yet ask their parents who allow them to watch it).

I simply choose to be more open-minded than others. Sometimes you need to look at the good that can come from a non-religious specific morality tale and see that there is some good there to be gained. Sure it’s not perfect but neither are we. I think (as a religious observer) more was achieved in the episode than wasn’t for believing in religion. Sorry you missed that.

 

Obsession of the Week: The Girls of “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS

“The Big Bang Theory” was already one of the funniest shows on television, but this season the producers, Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre (yes…of Charlie Sheen fame), added two female series regulars to their cast; Mayim Bialik (yes…“Blossom”) as the hilarious and Emmy-worthy “Amy Farrah Fowler” and the equally funny Melissa Rauch (think Georgette from “Mary Tyler Moore”) as “Bernadette Rostenkowski”. Pairing these two with the previous lone female regular, Kaley Cuoco, has been television gold this season and has launched the series into the classic sitcom stratosphere.

Cuoco, as the actress/waitress/girl-next-door, was the perfect “outsider” to the fantastic foursome of scientists/comic book reading/video-game loving nerds that lived and hung out across the hall. Cuoco was able to not only hold her own the first three seasons but managed to steal many of her scenes, particularly when paired with Emmy-winning Jim Parsons (Sheldon). With the addition of Bialik and Rauch this year, Cuoco has finally gotten her own posse and for the first time, the show has really struck a winning mix of both lovable male and female characters. The likes of which we haven’t seen since “Friends” went off the air. This is best evident in scenes where the entire regular cast is together and the chemistry among the actors comes alive.

The casting of Bialik in last season’s series finale and then this year really has been the catalyst for expanding the series into uncharted territory. Bailik’s character’s awkwardly inept social skills and sense of timing breathe new life in an already rock solid comic show. It is the one show that I laugh regularly out load at every week.

The show was already both a ratings and critical hit in its previous seasons. This led CBS  to move the show to the ever-popular Thursday night 8 pm slot (which was once the time slot of “Friends” on NBC – coincidence?). If you aren’t a fan yet, you really need to check it out. If you’re a fan already – you already know what I am talking about!

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“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: “Lemonade: The Movie”

 

“It’s not a pink skip, it’s a blank page.”

I watched this documentary a few months ago but ran across some quotes I had scribbled down from it just this morning that reminded me just how good it is. At a time when companies continue to do more with less and lay offs continue to plague our economy, this film offers an optimistic approach to getting that pink slip.

The film is about 16 creative professionals who used their layoff as an opportunity to launch into doing something they love. In today’s economy, there are hundreds of thousands unemployed who will for various reason (mostly related to age) not return into the traditional work force. Many will be forced to change careers and forge a new way of life and making a living.


“Lemonade” looks into the lives of these 16 professionals and how they found their way back to employment through untraditional means. I loved the optimism this film professes at a time when so many are discouraged. For all those people out there looking for a new job, a new opportunity, or something to change in your life, this film shows you how some people are cutting a new path in their careers and not waiting for the next job to fall in their lap.

Here is a quote I jotted down when first viewing it that I just love:

Don’t be a person out there looking for a job. Be a person who is out there doing something interesting. Put your energy into things you love. Put all the energy you can into those things and see what happens with them.

You can purchase the DVD of the film on the “Lemonade” website (http://www.lemonademovie.com/ ) and even watch other videos submitted to the site from those inspired by the film about their own lay off and redemption story. The film is also occasionally featured on The Documentary Channel (check their website for show times) which is where I first saw it. This film is a ray of sunshine in a world full of discouraging news. I urge you to check it out.

If you enjoyed this post…why not subscribe to this blog. It’s easy just look to the right and add your email address.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.