CategoryTheology

How Pop Culture Makes the Church Stupid

It’s that time of year again. Summer is in full swing, the sun is blazing in all its effulgent glory, and churches turn to Hollywood to supply the spiritual content for their dwindling summer contingent. That’s right, it’s time for the dreaded At The Movies series that will be performed in some fashion or another at an ungodly number of churches at some point during the dog days of summer. The...

How Creativity Murders Worship in the Face

In his remarkable book The Spirit of the Liturgy, Benedict XVI draws out a fascinating insight from the story of the Exodus. Generally we tend to perceive Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh as entirely concomitant with the ultimate result of the Exodus, which is the Hebrews’ freedom from Egypt and the eventual goal of the Promised Land. But in looking carefully at Moses’ encounter with Egypt’s...

The Noise Outside

Nearly every time I listen to Spotify, I am assaulted with the same internal ad. I’m not a premium subscriber, so Spotify is constantly trying to get me to upgrade- for a low monthly fee, of course. But I’ve found it interesting how they set the bait. Many of the ads deal with someone in various situations trying to find the “perfect song.” Whether at work, working out, on the road, at a party;...

Against Enthusiasm

In his Gospel, St. John reveals on several occasions just how fickle the adulation of the crowd could be for Jesus. A prominent example exists following the feeding of the five thousand, in which Jesus steals away to the other side of the lake, only to find that the crowd has enthusiastically followed him, enough to bother with the hassle of getting in their own boats and searching for him. They...

Before the Busy-ness

I’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in my own life. In the far too infrequent times when I’m able to get together with family or friends, there’s always the obligatory question of “how have you been?” or “what have you been up to? And while obligatory pleasantries perhaps merit only obligatory responses, too often I find myself resorting to saying “I’ve just been really busy.” I’ve said it...

Experience and the Tourist-i-fication of Worship

If you drive across I-90 in South Dakota from East to West, you will notice a curious phenomenon. All along your route you will be bombarded with signs pointing you to something called Wall Drug. Now Wall Drug is a tourist trap of sorts, although not an incredibly interesting one. There are some decent run-of-the-mill donuts to be purchased, a few dinosaur sculptures, and… well, that’s about it...

Worship is a Duty

One of my favorite Advent songs is also one of the most ancient: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. Its composition and use dates from at least AD 275, although the most commonly used melodic setting is the well-known Picardy. Be sure to listen to one of the following renditions: As I was pondering the lyrics, I noticed that they seemed to form a conjunction with other thoughts I had been having...

Against Being Nice

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16) “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?Therefore I am sending...

When Worship Gives You Pneumonia

A metaphor that is often used of the church is that of a hospital. The idea as I understand it (and as it’s usually presented) basically comes down to this: the church is meant to be a place where broken people come to find healing, which means of course that the church is going to be full of broken people. As a metaphor there is certainly nothing objectionable about any of that, as such a...

Count to Infinity

Perhaps the most famous of the many variegated proofs for God’s existence is St. Anselm’s so-called Ontological Argument. The gist of it is as follows: God is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. In other words, if in one’s mind one attempted to contemplate something greater than God, the very definition of what the word “God” entails means that one has not yet come to an...

Church Marketing Doesn’t Suck (And That’s Probably a Bad Thing)

Having worked in church marketing for much of my career, it can be without a doubt a very mixed bag as far as the quality of the marketing is concerned. From complete misunderstandings of one’s market to the downright cringe-worthy, it’s effortless to multiply examples of just how bad church marketing can be. (The actual reality is that secular marketing is just as prone to being awful, but when...

Pharisaic Sexual Iconoclasm

This past week I saw this opinion piece making its rounds on social media, with a fine click-baity headline: Sex and the single Christian: Why celibacy isn’t the only option. I found some of the premises interesting, albeit not in the slightest bit convincing, with the argument ultimately logically ending in the reduction of human beings and their sexual relationships to that of bodily pleasure...

Telling the Truth

In today’s Old Testament reading, we read about Jeremiah being thrown into the cistern after prophesying the doom of Jerusalem. Most of the times I have read this story my focus has been on Jeremiah. But in the reading I took note of the other characters: a Cushite named Ebed-Melek, who saved Jeremiah’s life, and Zedekiah, a cowardly king who came to a bitter end. The situation was this:...

The No

There is a scene in the fine movie Becket where the newly ascended archbishop is made aware of how one of the barons has taken one of his priests into custody, the latter accused of debauching a girl in his parish. As the scene progresses, messengers arrive to inform Becket that the priest had tried to escape but was captured and put to death, when the law of the land was that ecclesial crimes...

Jesus Didn’t Hang Out With Anyone

There’s an interesting idea that has the flavor of pop theology which I often see used in the context of whatever moral topic du jour is being discussed. This notion usually runs along these lines: Well, Jesus hung out with sinners, so X… Now, “X” can be any number of different things, and while Jesus gets recruited for lots of different things, he seems especially prone to be pressed into...

Jason Watson

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