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Author: Eddie (page 1 of 12)

Martin Luther King Jr., “The Drum Major Instinct”

May my living not be in vain.

A sermon so powerful and so relevant. How easy it would be to imagine listening to this sermon this coming Lord’s Day.

Martin Luther King Jr., “The Drum Major Instinct” Sermon – YouTube.

Mormonism, Racism and Romney: Part 4

Continued from part 3

LDS members today need to be honest about the racist history of the church. But who is responsible?

If it is God who is solely responsible for the prolonged suppression of blacks, and the superiority of whites, only ending when God decided it was time, then the LDS God himself and the LDS church itself is racist at its core. If God is the one responsible, then the teachings and history of how and why black people look the way they do and were inferior to whites, cannot be expunged and must be embraced by all Mormons, Mitt Romney included, like it or lump it.

If the LDS leadership is responsible then there needs to be more discussions on why and what next. Why didn’t they pray and urge God more to end the ban? Why did they merely leave it up to God? Why did they continue to suppress blacks even when they thought or knew it was wrong?

But what about LDS members who were not in the upper echelons of leadership? Are their hands washed clean of their church’s racist history? Of course not. They decided every day whether or not to stand up to the leaders, or even to God himself, and be a voice for their black brothers and sisters. The whites chose to either be superior, or fight for equality. Today Mormons need to decide how they will talk about the racist history. Will they embrace it in honesty and work through it, or will they cast it aside and say, “That was in the past. We are all equal?”

Today, during this last week of the Presidential election push, many Christians around the country will be voting for Gov. Mitt Romney. Obama is a Christian.7 Romney is a Mormon. And one of the biggest farces when it comes to politics is that religion doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. Consider how many people keep calling Obama a Muslim. If it didn’t matter, than why bring up the opinion, as ignorant as it may be? Are you not going to vote for a Muslim? Why not? Is it unconstitutional? If it doesn’t matter, then why was there all the hype about Jeremiah Wright’s church and black liberation theology?

Whether you’re okay with it or not, religion matters. For the most part, focus on Mormonism has been on polygamy. But all the while, and lasting much longer than the practice of polygamy ever did, the core of the religion has embraced racism, has taught racism, and there has been no repentance or repudiation of it. Even if Mitt Romney did not like or directly teach it, he has not stated that the suppression of black Americans in the LDS church was in any way wrong. And from his interview with Tim Russert, it’s obvious he is not willing to call his church wrong, to say a negative word against its history, or to even address the issue directly.

What will he do as President? How will he speak to issues of racism? Will he be a trailblazer and a leader, or another politician? Will he do what’s right for the country, or whatever isn’t negative toward his church? How can he be a champion for civil rights when he supported the suppression of black Americans within his own church? Is it difficult to see the hypocrisy when you say, “The color of your skin doesn’t matter when you’re trying to get a job,” but then say, “The color of your skin proves you are not worthy of blessings in our church?”

And Christians by the millions will go support him to be the face and voice of the country. I hope they do so being informed of the facts, and have come to terms with Romney’s response to the issue. I hope they approach their support with honest questions and expecting honest answers. May none of us ever be so tied to our partisan affiliation that we are able to make our decisions in good conscience.

The history and theology behind the LDS church and black Americans is complex. You read LDS writings on the issue and there is a lot going on. But what is clear is that they have not considered the suppression of blacks within the church as wrong, and likely never will. There is no apology. There is no repentance. And Mitt Romney is towing the line. He had a great chance to clear the air. He had a great opportunity to support all people above the evil of racism. He didn’t. Why not?

He had opportunities before the 1978 declaration to take a real stand for black Americans. He didn’t. Why not?

 

7Whether you agree with his particular choices of doctrine or practice is irrelevant to that issue. My guess is you don’t agree completely with everyone in your church, even the pastors, yet you still consider them Christians. Many will be even quick to judge the faith of someone based on their partisan political choices, without even knowing them personally, and that’s just sad.

Mormonism, Racism, and Romney: Part 3

Continued from part 2

Mitt Romney, like so many other LDS members until 1978, supported the practices and teachings of the church–in particular the LDS leadership–over the people. He contributed to the suppression of equality for black Americans. Instead of critiquing LDS history, instead of repudiating the racism that was rampant in his faith, he essentially validated the racism by saying he was “proud of [his] faith, and the faith of [his] fathers.” He gave credence to the idea that it was the will of God, and the Mormon people, though unhappy with it (by virtue of their being pleased when the ban was lifted, even to the point of Romney weeping when he heard the announcement), could do nothing but wait on the Lord to make the change.

He must have been unhappy with his Prophets who either did not plead enough to the Lord to lift the ban,5 or perpetuated the racism by continuing to teach the same sort of ideas that, for example, Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantage. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less…. There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits.6

That is a racist teaching. Keep in mind, being racist has no bearing on whether it is true or not. That’s a separate theological discussion. But, the teaching gives superiority to whites over blacks, and all because of choices that were made during an existence that we cannot remember now. No black person, whether today or pre-1978 declaration, remembers taking Satan’s side during the war in heaven. The only reason they might even think that is if LDS leaders and teachers tell them that and they believe it. Romney and others, while unhappy with their leaders, did nothing about it.

Completed in part 4

 

5There is a great article available in PDF form: “Dispelling the Curse of Cain: Or, How to Explain the Old Priesthood Ban Without Looking Ridiculous” by Armand Mauss. Here’s the link to the PDF.

6Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, pages 66-67.

Mormonism, Racism, and Romney: Part 2

Continued from part 1

No religion should change it’s doctrines based on the movement of the culture it happens to be in. If you watch the video, linked to in the original article, of Tim Russert interviewing Mitt Romney, Russert was asking Romney if he ever questioned how he could be part of a religion that was considered racist. Beside Romney not answering the question, there seemed to be the expectation from Russert (as well as others) that the LDS church should have changed their stance on blacks long before, especially in light of how the country had progressed in the area of race. But that is not a reasonable request for any religion that takes itself seriously. You can’t go to Islam or Christianity and tell the people, “You know, society has changed. We’re in a pluralistic world now, and you need to stop believing your way is the way. You need to change your doctrine to respect that different roads lead to God, or to no God at all.”

The point I’m trying to make is that according to the LDS church, withholding the blessings from blacks was not an issue of the people being racist, or of the people being a product of the culture they grew up in, and if only they would have repented of their racism the LDS church would earlier have started to treat black Americans equally and they would have participated in the church just like any white American. According to the LDS church, the treatment of blacks was God’s will. Therefore it was a part of the religion itself, outside of the dictates of the members themselves. Mormons were simply being good Mormons.

Mitt Romney grew up in the LDS church. He still holds quite strongly to his LDS faith. He was a clear thinking adult before the church lifted the ban. By all accounts I’ve seen or heard, which aren’t many, he was a good Mormon. He even took the position of bishop, a leader of a local stake.

Now it’s time to get real with this discussion.

Andrew Sullivan, in his article for The Daily Beast, calls the LDS church a “white supremacist church.” If you step back from your (possible) knee-jerk reaction to that phrase, and look at what he’s saying, then you may have a difficult time arguing against it. Until the end of the ban in 1978, black American Mormon men were less worthy than white American Mormon men. If you had one black Mormon child and one white Mormon child, and even if it was the case that today that both might be considered worthy, before 1978 only the white child was actually considered worthy and could be ordained and receive certain blessings.

This practice went on from the time of Brigham Young until the 1978 revelation and declaration.4 In any other context, discussing any other topic, we would be talking about the racism going on here. We (who revile and rebuke racism anywhere it rears its evil presence) would be disgusted and wondering out loud where were the protestors. The structure of the LDS church is not that different from the Roman Catholic church. The history of the Catholic church reveals many instances of protest and dissent over doctrines and practices that created change or affected the future of the faith. Where were the John Wycliffes of the LDS church? Where were the Jan Huses? Where were the people who were going to stand up for black American Mormons and call for the church to finally recognize their equality as fellow brothers and sisters?

Well, it all comes back to this fact: God himself instituted this ban. God himself established this racist situation. The leadership of the LDS church (from the president and prophet to the Quorum) over the decades has guided the church and the people through the raging waters of this racist situation. They did their job to the best of their abilities.

Continued in part 3

 

4BlackLDS.org has a historical timeline that is fascinating and complex. There seems to be debate over whether or not a certain black American was ordained to the priesthood by Joseph Smith himself.

Mormonism, Racism, and Romney: Part 1

The scriptures in the LDS church are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants. There are 138 sections in The Doctrine and Covenants, along with two Official Declarations. The first Official Declaration has to do with the halting of polygamy.1 The second Official Declaration was issued in 1978 after President Kimball received a revelation from the Lord, wherein all worthy members of the church were now able to receive priesthood and temple blessings, regardless of race. The declaration was signed by the First Presidency. One of the members of that team happened to be Marion Romney, the cousin of George Romney, father of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The declaration made it very clear that blacks in the LDS church, who were considered worthy in the same vein as their white brothers and sisters, would be treated equally. Also quite clear was that no apology would ever be issued by the LDS church to blacks.

But, we have to recognize something: the LDS church ought to give no apology. As the Declaration says, it was “in God’s eternal plan” that at some time the blessings would not be withheld any longer. While the people of the church waited for that time, they

pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these [those excluded, e.g. blacks], our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.2

Ultimately God is the one responsible for the blessings and an equal status being withheld from blacks. In the past, God established the rule (for lack of a better term), and only God could change the rule according to his plan. The First Presidency in 1949 said quite clearly,

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.3

All the people of the LDS church could do was plead for God to give them guidance. They were living in obedience to the will of God. To have turned on God over this, to have allowed blacks to receive the blessings (assuming it would even be possible), would have been rebellious.

Continued in part 2

 

1If you take the time to read it you find it more makes the statement that polygamy is no longer practiced, that it is better to stop and adhere to national law than to have the temples essentially shut down; it’s pragmatism not revelation that caused the pause in the practice of polygamy.

2From the Second Official Declaration.

3From The First Presidency Statement on the Negro Question, August 17, 1949.

New Series Intro: Mormonism, Racism, and Romney

Today, a new four part series I was putting together will go up. 4 kind-of short posts focusing on the LDS church, its history with racism, and the connection to Mitt Romney. The point of it all is to both make sure my brothers and sisters who will be casting a supporting vote for Mitt Romney next week are aware of the issue, and to challenge all of us, myself included, to take extra time and consideration of the issue of racism and how it thrives today.

But, first, I feel I need to lay a little ground work. I wanted to give a bit of background into my relationship with the LDS church and that may help you see why this is an extraordinary issue for me.

I don’t mention it much but I spent a good two to three years in deep study of the LDS church. Yes…it was because of a girl. Not to the extent you’re thinking, though. She and I worked together, and she peaked my interest in wanting to find out more about the LDS church. She gave me a Book of Mormon, and off I went. I got a hold of a Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, and got to work. I focused on reading their stuff, listening to their arguments, and seeing things from their perspective. I remember writing a 20+ page letter to her, and another coworker who was also Mormon, talking about what I read and my responses to them. I never gave them that letter. It was more an exercise for me. Instead I gave them each a short 1 page summary of where I was at, and we had a nice little discussion from there. We were good friends, then we all ultimately went different ways because of school, work, moving, etc.

That didn’t stop my thirst for reading about the LDS and having discussions when I could. I did take a break for a couple years while life changed. I married Kimbrah, we started a family, and moved again. That’s when my wife and I spent about a year and a half sharing dinner and conversation with LDS missionaries in our little San Diego area apartment. Some LDS girls helped my wife bring groceries in one day. Then, a week or so later, a couple of missionaries came knocking at the door, apparently thinking that we’d asked to watch a movie on eternal marriage in the LDS church. I kind of think that was a ruse on their part, but that’s alright. We were more than happy to have them over. They were some of the most wonderful kids. Each so different. Each with so much ahead of them. And they were obviously confused by us and the love we showed them. We never once tried to “evangelize” them, or “convert” them. We fed them and had great conversations. We listened and asked questions and listened some more. They listened and asked questions. We knew them by their first names, and this was before the rules started to loosen up on missionaries.

They felt safe and loved in our home. Sometimes they’d be over twice a week. That one tall boy could eat. I don’t think they ever ate so well during their two year missions. And they helped us move

But we love LDS folks enough to be honest with them, and expect them to be honest with us as well as their own history. I hope my fellow brothers and sisters can show them courtesy and respect, and recognize how seriously they take their faith.

So, keep an eye out for the upcoming posts. Read them over. Hopefully they’re not so jumbled it’s hard to understand.

Testing the RSS feed

Feel free to disregard. Having trouble with the RSS feed on here. Just trying to fix it.

Dick Cheney and Gitmo cartoon

Now this takes me back. Of course, it still hasn’t been dealt with, and there are Christians that still either support torture or redefine torture…but it still takes me back.

First get Married, then get married

Because of the great battles raging over “marriage” and the definition of “marriage,” I propose (pun intended) this: treat marriage as a holy, Godly institution in the eyes of God and the Church.

I know what you’re saying: “Umm…that’s what we’re doing, or what we’re trying to do.”

But take a better look at what I said: treat marriage as a holy, Godly institution in the eyes of God and the Church. I said nothing about a constitutional definition, state guidelines and regulations, benefits, and other state-related concepts. I am talking about marriage before God and the Church, not the state of California.

I’m talking about viewing and holding to marriage within the Church as something that God intended, and not bound to the whims of the secular, political realm.

What if we encouraged members of the body to get married without any care for the certificates, paperwork, timeframes, and other related issues the state asks for? Or the tax benefits? Or the financial and credit benefits? Without a care for how the state defines marriage or civil unions? Then, obviously distinct from the Church (so there is no confusion, no need for “By the power invested in me by the state of…”), if the couple chooses to partake of the state-dispensed benefits of how the state recognizes a marriage, the couple can go to the court house and be married.

But that marriage certificate my wife and I have in our stack of papers doesn’t define us. That piece of paper isn’t what seals us together. We were not married, bound together, because California said we were. Our marriage was bound by God, before God and the Church.

(I say this recognizing that there are cases where the state benefits that come with marriage are incredibly vital. But my hope would be that the local church community would be there to support everyone, and they would be the first responders when help is needed.)

Give the Word Bible Contest & Giveaway

Here’s a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in bibles, translation, and supporting global translation work.

The New Living Translation brings you Give the Word Bible Contest & Giveaway.

Enter the Sweepstakes. Simply select which ministry you want to vote for (Wycliffe, Oasis, Dream Center), and enter your information for a chance to win a trip to Orlando, Fl., resources, and more.

Check it out!

Also, check out the various opportunities via the Give the Word tab.

Plus, if you have a look around their Facebook page, you’ll likely find more wonderful treats.

Remember the Incarnation: the making of

I wanted to create a Christmas card this year. Homemade. Handmade. Something special and personal. I remembered our letterpress (a Showcard Machine, model 7-11; it’ll handle 7×11″ print work), and that I still had a couple 2×3″ linoleum blocks.

So, in my foolish spontaneity, I took on the task of creating a carved and pressed card to give out this year. (Keep in mind, a press project can often take just a little longer than freakish-long; enjoyable, but time consuming.)

The first step was to come up with the design and layout of the card. I wanted to focus on the message, then build the art from them. Leaving out a lot of details of my thought processes here, I tried to focus on an image of the birth of Jesus from an African perspective. I found such an image and sketched this out (see left; click for a larger view) based on a Kenyan representation of the nativity. I found it simple, focused, and impressive.

The next step was to take the image, draw it onto the linoleum block, and start carving away. The block came mounted onto the cork board; very convenient. Three days later (yeah! 3 days) I finished. Click here for the final product. If you’ve never tried doing a lino cut, it can be very fulfilling and challenging. Once you get the hang of the carving tool (in my case it’s the red Speedball in the picture), you’ll think you can carve Picassos out of those things.

With the carving done, I was ready to bring out the press (click for a pic). Just because it’s a table top doesn’t mean it’s not heavy. Make no mistake: that sucker will not ask your permission before amputating your foot if it slips out of your hands.

On to the typography. I knew what I wanted to say on the card. I grabbed up the letters I needed, arranged the words on a metal plate, and set them aside. And this is precisely what will happen when you set your type a little too close to a two-year-old cookie monster: doom and gloom. For some reason, he was all smiles.

I rearranged the type and was ready for layout. As you can see in the image, I started by placing the type on the left and carving on the right. When printed, the image would be reversed. For now I wasn’t worried about word spacing or precise position. I needed to feel out the design, see if it’s what I wanted. It wasn’t, of course, so I did some rearranging. I ended up with the text on the right, image on the left…on the press that is. You can see that one here. If you want to see some closeups, have a look at these: a, b, c, and the important tiny tool in my arsenal: copper thin spaces.

Next up is locking in the layout. I grabbed my wood spacers and began the puzzle. If you’ve never done letterpress layouts, it’s like completing a puzzle that has no real end. There is no right answer, but there are innumerable wrong ones. You just have to keep putting in spacers, and moving things around, trial and error, until everything fits tightly. Have to keep checking the sorts (the individual letters) and the spacers to make sure nothing is wiggly. Here’s a couple shots of that: midway and finished.

When I was happy with the setup, I brought out the ink. I had two plates, two rollers, and my wife picked out purple and gold for the colors. Excellent choice. I ran a few test prints (click here for a look) to make sure everything was working: position, color, no movement of the type, no movement by the art, and proper impression of the art. I could tell the purple was going on too heavy, so I had to remedy that. I noticed the layout had to be moved about one inch to the right in the press. And it was obvious the linoleum block was not set tall enough; the paper was not able to reach the inked surface. So, when I moved the layout down (another pic), I took the chance to add some paper underneath the linoleum block, lifting it up. I ran some more trials, made a couple minor adjustments, and was finally happy. Here’s that pic.

Excellent! I printed up about 70, and called it a day.

What’s In the Bible? 4 contest: Win!

This is your chance to win!

If you’ve read over my review of What’s In the Bible? 4: Battle for the Promised Land and would love to get your hands on a copy, this is your chance.

I have a gift certificate for a copy of the DVD. To enter, simply leave a comment below responding to this question: which human in the Scriptures (not counting Jesus) would you like to sit and chat with for a couple of hours?

Place your answer in the comments, and I will use one of those random number generators to pick the winner.

Entries will be accepted through Friday. So, on Saturday, I will announce the winner. Make sure I have a way to contact you (email). I use Disqus for commenting. If you want to enter but do not want to sign up with Disqus, just shoot me an email.

Thanks, and best of luck to you.

What’s In the Bible? 4 DVD: a kid’s review

So I asked my 7 year old some questions about his viewing experience with What’s In the Bible? 4: Battle for the Promised Land. Here’s a review from a 7 year old male, caucasian-hispanic mix (for those of you interested in a more detailed demographic).

Question the first: What have you learned from watching this video?
Answer: I learned that Ruth made the family that would make the family of the Savior of the world.

Question the second: Was it entertaining?
Answer: (A vigorous head nod is all he gave)

Question number three: Do you want to watch the rest of the videos?
Answer: (Again, only a vigorous head nod. It was emphatic though.

Last question: Who is your favorite character and why?
Answer: Buck Denver. Because he’s funny, he says silly things, and acts crazy.

There you have it. My son. The reviewer.

Next up? It’s your chance to win your own copy of What’s In the Bible? 4.

DVD review: What’s In the Bible? 4

This is the first What’s In the Bible? DVD my family has watched, and it will not be the last.

Oh, wait. Am I supposed to give my conclusion at the beginning of the review?

Ah well.

If you’re not familiar with the What’s In the Bible series, the recent and masterful (at least if this edition was any indication of what the others are like) venture of Phil Vischer (yep, the Veggie Tales Phil Vischer), you will do yourself a favor by sliding over to whatsinthebible.com and educating yourself a little bit. While the Veggie Tales episodes and movies take Biblical stories (or Biblically based stories) and present a message, What’s In the Bible? walks through the Bible itself. It’s like a survey class for kids.

You can think about it this way: Veggie Tales entertains with the hopes of educating along the way, What’s In the Bible? educates with hopes of entertaining along the way.

In this particular DVD that I’m reviewing, the fourth in the series so far, the focus was the “Battle for the Promised Land,” and goes through the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. If you were to look at the back of the DVD case (which we all do when we first receive a new video), you find a couple questions at the top which the video was looking to answer for kids. These peeked my interest immediately: (1) Why is there so much fighting in the Old Testament? and (2) Did God want people to die?

Those are excellent questions. And as you and the family go through the videos, those questions stay in the back of your mind. You wonder how the answers will come. What perspective will Vischer take here? Eventually you reach this:

Now, I’m not going to give out Vischer’s answer to the question. Hopefully you’ll be able to view it for yourself. But there is something I will say. Whether or not you agree with the answer isn’t exactly the point. I did not get the sense that solving all the dilemmas and major debates among theologians was the focus here. The point was about the dialogue, the conversation among the family members.

Yes, I do think Vischer answered from his own heart, and did so based on his studies and perspective on things; and I also think he would stand by his answer. (And, for the record, I was not satisfied with his answer. *drama building*) But the walk through of the Scriptural text and then presenting some questions in light of the text are intended to be a tool. Vischer’s response is meant to be a tool for parents to be able to engage better in the dialogue with their children about some of these difficult questions found in the Biblical narratives.

The humor is quality, for both kids and adults. Here’s a little sampling from the discussion of Ruth:

And if you haven’t been introduced to the Bentley Brothers, consider it you’re lucky day (specifically starting at about the 40 second mark):

Our kids paid keen attention, and actually learned. It was entertaining while giving families an opportunity to talk more about the Bible together. I think this DVD, as well as the rest of the series (again, if this is any indication of what the rest is like) will be a welcome edition to a young family. There are three prior editions already published, and looks to be 9 more to come (so, 13 when all’s said and done).

But we’re not done yet!

Watch the blog feed or Facebook or Twitter feeds later today. I’ll be posting a review from our oldest son, as well as an opportunity for one of you out there to win a gift certificate for your very own copy of this DVD. It’s well worth giving it a try.

Peace and blessings to all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this DVD free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book review: The Grace of God


The Grace of God is my first read of the oft heralded Andy Stanley. The book covers Scriptural examples of God’s grace, from the very beginning (i.e. Creation) on through the rest of the Biblical text. Not all instances, but the highlights. Each chapter brings up a new instance. They are presented to remind the reader of the wondrous, varied grace that God has been showing and giving.

The book is very easy to read, and for those who may be struggling with seeing God’s grace this can help them see the many instances and ways that grace has existed. But this book did not present anything new, revolutionary, or all that novel. I wasn’t challenged in any way (and this may be specifically impacted by my particular and current situation), and didn’t feel the text engaging me all that much. Also, I found myself wondering early on if we were spending too much time in Genesis, given the clear desire of the book to cover more examples throughout the Scriptures. But, showing the reader that God’s grace is bigger than what we read in Paul alone was a successful venture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book review: Transforming Church in Rural America

The book I’m touching on here is Shannon O’Dell’s Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking All the Rurals. Focusing on rural churches, O’Dell emphasized the struggles going on in rural Christianity, with churches being older, more so stuck in their old traditions, not impacting their community or evangelizing and growing. This is a key quote, fundamental to this book:

I personally believe that rural America is one of the most over-churched, unreached people groups in the world.

This is a book that I have to read over again. Not necessarily because I found it to be so powerful or life altering. There are a good many ideas and concepts to think about that would really fit for any church situation not just struggling or new rural churches. But I found myself looking at it critically through my ecclesiological lenses. I am pretty sure I view the Church and the role and activity of local churches differently than the author does. It’s not a dramatic, large difference, but it’s different nonetheless. For example, O’Dell seems to assume technological advances are part and parcel of getting a church to move forward and break through traditions. There was an example he gave at a church he was called to in South Lead Hill, Arkansas:

Then I started casting a vision for what I desired to see. I started introducing iworship once in a while, or I would flash a PowerPoint slide up on the screen.

I didn’t get the idea that these choices were made because of this specific body; that these changes were made because that’s what they needed. I got the idea that this sort of thing is a given.

I tend to stay away from the lifechurch.tv sort of “churchdom.” But that’s more along the lines of Shannon O’Dell and what happened with his experience. And while the presents the concepts as applicable to not just rural churches, but church sort of stuck in a rural mindset, I can’t help but come out with the perception that bigger really is better, that growth and success is measured in numbers. But, there are so many quality points presented throughout the text that I have to try going through it again.

It’s easy to read, mixed in with humor quite well. If you’ve been in different churches, you’ll likely understand all too well some of his experiences. Also, I haven’t been involved in church plants before, so I don’t know if I’m missing something valuable from that perspective.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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