August 2010 Archives

Great News!!!! I Hate You!!!!

Two recent news stories caught my eye and got me thinking.  The first was news that vampire novelist and Catholic-turned-atheist-turned-Catholic Anne Rice has announced that she is leaving Christianity.  Apparently, she was "tired of having to be anti-gay and anti-feminist" and can no longer be associated with "this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."  The second was about employees of an Ohio strip club protesting outside a church whose members had been protesting outside their club for four years.

anne rice.jpg

While I have never read any of Rice's books or seen "Interview With A Vampire", and I must also confess to never having been a stripper or having been inside a strip club, I can see where these people are coming from and why they'd want to turn the tables and do some picketing of their own.  To many in our society, Christians are just another group of angry people, shouting and waving their fingers in everybody's faces.

How did this come to be?

Roll back the clock two thousand years, to that first Easter Sunday.  There the Apostles were, gathered together to ponder and discuss what to do next.  Their spiritual mentor and leader whom they followed for three years was dead.  Everything they thought they knew to be true was taken from them and they were adrift in the world.  Jesus was not going to free Israel from Roman bondage, nor was he going to be healing any of the sick or challenging the Pharisees.

Jesus was dead.

But what happened next would cause all of them to leave that place and spread the story of Christ throughout the Roman Empire.  To a man, they would all give their lives in Christ's service and in the name of Christianity.  They fanned out across the known world, sharing the Gospel with others, who in turn shared it with their friends, spreading this new faith until it became the dominant religion of the West.

But what did happen next, to make these dejected young men go out and willingly lay down their lives for God?  Jesus appeared to them and spoke to them.  Did He say "Go out and confront some gays and strippers, get all up in their faces and tell them they are going straight to HELL!!!!  While you are at it, round up some feminists and liberals and roast them on a big fire."?

Not exactly.

Did He get the team into a huddle and tell Peter "You go here and preach that God hates those people, and Stephen can go over here and tell them how much our heavenly father just can't wait to smite them"?

Not hardly.

What fired these guys up so much and changed their lives (and the world) forever is the realization that God sent His Son to the earth to save it because....wait for it...He LOVES us and does not want us to be separated from Him any longer.  Through Jesus's resurrection, God showed that He can overcome anything, even death.

These guys got plugged into the greatest news ever in the history of the world: The Creator of the Universe loves each and every one of us and wants us to have a relationship with Him.

"But, Fat Kid," a good and honest Christian might protest, "surely God is not at all happy with what these young ladies and their gentleman clients do at these clubs.  They need to be shut down."

As a father of two precious daughters,  I can tell you with absolute certainty that little girls do not grow up dreaming of becoming strippers.  Or prostitutes.  Or heroin addicts.  Or drug mules.  They dream of becoming ballerinas and zoo keepers and musicians and princesses.  Unfortunately, this foul world we live in puts these ladies in circumstances such that they seek male attention and money in very, very wrong ways.  Most of them fall into that terrible life and cannot get out.  And they cannot get out because they never encounter people who tell them that they are better than that.  Nobody who works in or frequents the clubs can share with them that there is a powerful and loving God who can take them out of that life and turn them into something new.  That there is hope and life and redemption awaiting outside for them.

And why isn't there anybody telling them this?  Because the very people who should be sharing the Good News (it is, after all, what the word "Gospel" means) are condemning them and telling them that God hates them.  Protesting outside a strip club isn't any more likely to lead anybody who works there or seeks out their pleasures there to come to church and hear what God has to say than the strippers protesting outside the church will cause the pastor's wife to start pole dancing for money.


Churches and all their members should have a heart for the lost.  They should have a never-ending and burning passion to reach out to people who need to know that God loves them. Introduce someone who is lost to God, let Him turn their life around.  Call me simplistic, but if those churchgoers had been ministering to the people at the strip club and sharing God's divine and infinite love, they wouldn't have to protest to get it shut down because it would close on its own due to lack of business.

Perhaps Christians would be more effective if we followed Jesus's example.  He did not condemn the tax collector, the prostitute, or any other sinner.  Instead, He met them where they were (He even invited himself to dinner at the tax collector's house), showed them His divine mercy by healing their infirmities or forgiving their sins, and then instructed them to "Go, and sin no more."  He did, however, heap particular scorn on the Pharisees - religious people who allowed their own incorrect interpretation of God's will to entangle those seeking God and interfering in the relationship between God and the average person.  This is not to say that we should not hold true to our core values and stand up for what we believe is right.  We should, however, keep our eyes on the Great Commission that Jesus gave to all of us - spread the good news.

I fear that as Christianity moved from a religion of the oppressed into the religion of the ruling class, the focus shifted from individuals sharing God's love with their neighbor and toward finding fault with our neighbor and looking for ways to reject them.  We must take care to make sure we emulate Jesus and not the Pharisees as we reach out to the lost.

A Boy Named Goo

As both a native of Buffalo, NY and an avid student of history, I could fill you in on every good thing that has come out of Buffalo in the past 200 years.  There is (obviously) the chicken wing - what people outside of Western New York refer to as a "Buffalo wing."  That's an easy one.  The Erie Canal begins (or ends) in Buffalo, and its proximity to Niagara Falls causes many who would not otherwise visit the Queen City to do so.

The Buffalo Bills hold a singular (albeit dubious) distinction in accomplishing a feat that will never, ever be duplicated in losing four consecutive Super Bowls.  Buffalo has been host to a Pan_American Games, at which President William McKinley was assassinated, leading to the swearing in (in Buffalo) of Teddy Roosevelt as new the President.  Millard Fillmore called Buffalo home, as did Grover Cleveland, the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms (he won the popular vote in all three of his presidential contests).  Republican presidential contender and H.U.D. Secretary Jack Kemp was from Buffalo, even playing for a few years as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.  Newsmen Wolf Blitzer and the late Tim Russert hailed from my hometown.  Mark Twain also spent much time there, although he found San Francisco summers colder than Buffalo winters, so he must have been just a summer visiter.

Perhaps all these eclectic and esoteric offerings from Buffalo are inaccessible to the Average Joe and he may say "So, really, what has Buffalo ever done for me?"  To which, I would answer "Well, there's also the Goo Goo Dolls," leaving Average Joe to respond "Ah, you have saved the best for last because, quite frankly, aside from the Buffalo wing and Buffalo Bills, I had no idea what all that other stuff is."

Why my sudden interest in the Goo Goo Dolls?  My precious ten year old daughter loves the band Switchfoot.  Why?  Because like all ten year old girls who have an older brother, she looks up to him and likes what he likes.  And her fourteen year old brother's favorite band is Switchfoot.  And Switchfoot was the opening band for the Goo Goo Dolls here in Phoenix tonight, and Mrs. Fat Kid and I took them to the concert.  This was the third time we had taken our boy to see Switchfoot, but this was our little girl's first concert and I was unsure how she would do with all the noise and lights.  Fortunately, a great time was had by all, and my little princess got up and rocked to The Sound and Meant to Live, two simply awesome tunes.

What was even better was that after their set, they invited their fans to meet them in the lobby of the venue.  We took the kids to meet them and they were all great to talk to.  Their drummer even took a picture with my boy (who is quite an avid drummer himself).  Each member of the band shook all of our hands, gave every as many autographs as we wanted, and seemed genuinely interested in interacting with their fans.

Then the Goos came onstage.  All I can say is that it was the closest thing to having fun without actually having any fun that I have experienced.  Sure, they were OK and most of the songs they played you'd recognize if you listened to the  radio at all over the past ten years.  But the most common thought I had with each new song was "Didn't they just play that one?" because all their songs sound alike.

I suppose that I should have known from the first number that something foul was afoot.  The bass player was running around the stage, all excited, banging on his bass guitar like he was really working it.  Of course, he was not working it.  Unless your name is Flea or you play bass in Primus or some speed metal band, you could probably have your instrument unplugged and nobody would notice.  Sorry, bass players, but that's just the way it is.  If your band is boring (Goo Goo Dolls) and your instrument is boring (bass guitar) you have to overcompensate by running around the stage, jumping up and down and trying to convince all of us that you are working really hard and having loads of fun.

I don't even know if Switchfoot has a bass player, but if they do, he wasn't running around the stage trying to show people how much fun he was having, which means he was probably a pretty good bass player.  Or else he had a really, really short cord to his amp and has to stand in one place lest he accidently unplug his instrument.

Anyway, if you have a chance to see Switchfoot, I would recommend that you do so, even if it means having to buy a ticket to the Goo Goo Dolls.

Memories Light The Corners Of My Mind...Don't They?

The other day I was waiting for "The Simpsons" to load on Hulu and happened upon a news story .  It seems that 1 in 5 people has fond recollections of events that never happened.  As in false memories.  Like the kind that psychiatrists put into your brain when you lie down on their couch and ask you to tell them about your mother.  Like what aliens implant into rednecks' brains after abducting them and sticking probes up their Nether Regions.


That got me to thinking.  Could some of my fondest memories be implanted by aliens or unscrupulous therapists?  Could it really be that when I asked Becky Rhubabrb out in eighth grade that she didn't say "Yes!  Yes!  Of course!" and we dated throughout grade school and college and lived happily ever after?  Could it be that she really laughed until she wet herself and told me "Not if you were the last boy on earth and all the girls were busy that night"?

Or might it be possible that in high school I didn't come up with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in the playoffs and hit a home run, being mobbed by my adoring fans and ecstatic teammates, who then carried me off the field and starting chanting "Fat Kid! Fat Kid!" as I took my bow?  Might it be that I really struck out chasing a ball out of the strike zone, losing the game and causing my angry teammates to chase me around the field with bats and pitchforks?

Or when I went on "American Idol" and I got a "Dawg! You da BOMB!" from Randy, an "I am quitting the music business because you are setting the standard way too high now" from Paula and a "Cancel the rest of the auditions because we have a winner" from Simon? Could that be just a false memory?


Or when I went on "Hell's Kitchen" and convinced Chef Ramsay to  change the menu to hot dogs and Ding Dongs, and he called it "&!^#%$'ng brilliant!!!!" and I won in a landslide and he changed the name of the show to "Fat Kid's Kitchen"?  That really happened, didn't it?

I know that those things really happened, because I have vivid recall, just like I can see clearly how I won an Nobel Peace Prize for my work with my friends Shaggy and Scooby in tracking down the culprets who were dumping toxic waste into the swamp behind the school and then tricking people into thinking it was haunted so that nobody would come around and catch them in the act, but it turns out that the ghost was just a sheet on a wire accompanied by a creepy soundtrack, and we unmasked the bad guy and exposed the whole thing.

Now I know that really happened because they gave us an award and everything.

If I could just remember where I put the thing...

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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