Thursday, January 14, 2010

Death of an Officer and Lack of Gentle Men

"Speeding Driver Causes Officer’s Death"

By all accounts, Arlington (TX) police officer Craig Story was trying to apprehend a speeding motorist during yesterday morning’s rush hour on one of our city’s busiest streets, but Story died after his motorcycle clipped a school bus and exploded.

While I don’t normally like sensational headlines like the one above, I believe it is still technically correct. I mean, when our time comes, nothing can stop it, but the speeding driver served as the trigger.

None of the news accounts I’ve read mentions whether or not the speeder was ever caught. But as our society moves further and further away from the ethos of respecting law enforcement, I suppose these types of incidents will continue to claim fine officers. Story became the seventh officer to die in the line of duty in our fair city.

Did I mention that Story, who was white, also knew Spanish and was being tutored to better serve Arlington’s significant Vietnamese population? During his 7-year career, Story had received 19 commendations and a nomination for his precinct's “officer of the year”. And his wife recently discovered she is pregnant with their second child. About the only good news in all of this is that nobody on the bus was physically injured, although they witnessed it all.

No one can pretend police work isn’t dangerous. Story and his wife probably knew the risks. But obviously, the speeding driver didn’t care about anything except eluding that cop.

Either way, that driver will have to live with this for the rest of their life. You know, there are easier ways to learn a lesson… like just paying the speeding ticket.


Can't We Reason Together?

Have you ever heard of Tim Challies? I hadn’t until today, when I read his online review of the book, “Can We Rock the Gospel?” by John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini. You’ll recall that I included comments on that book in three posts about the church music wars that I wrote last week.

I didn’t think I would be returning to this subject for quite a while. Believe me, I’m well aware that the majority of evangelical Christians oppose my position on this issue, and I found it quite exhausting just to write those three posts and be as cheerful as I was about it.

However, this issue obviously hasn’t left my mind, otherwise I wouldn’t have found myself at Challies’ review, getting a deep, sinking feeling in my stomach as I read his blog,

Not that the deep, sinking feeling came from Challies’ relatively insubstantial review itself, because it didn't seem we had read the same book.

No, those awful, sinking feelings started when I perused the reader comments following the review. I probably shouldn’t have been caught off-guard, but I was. In their comments, many of the readers belittled and sneered at Blanchard and Lucarini (whom I refer to as B&L) in a brazen display of arrogance and condescension.

One person claimed the “lack of logic” by B&L was “pathetic”. Someone told B&L to “get over it”.

As the replies multiplied down the page, however, readers began to belittle not only B&L, but each other as well! Objectivity and sensitivity were lost on these people as they used the anonymity of the Internet to dwell on the very argument B&L were trying to avoid: personal preference. The discord, negative insinuations, and occasional blasphemy actually upset me.

What characteristics of this conflict elicit such malevolence? Has rock music become such a sacred cow in churches that now it's the "classicists" who must plead for their rights?

Most of the people who posted comments on Challies’ blog have not displayed the love, gentleness, and meekness that are part of the Fruits of the Spirit. In addition, it doesn't seem any of them have actually participated in a God-centered, Biblically-based classical worship service. I’m not talking just “traditional” with fluffy old Gospel songs like “I Come to the Garden”. Nor am I talking about high church services where the pomp and circumstance is all they've got.

I’m talking about a church service that strips away so much of what we see and hear every other moment of the week to help recalibrate one’s attention from self to God. I’m talking about music that provides a setting of exquisite exaltation, so that God can be worshipped “in the splendor of holiness”. Is classical worship the best there is? No, but I believe until we get to Heaven, it's the best we've got. And isn't the best we've got what God asks for?

“Can We Rock the Gospel?” serves as an invitation to consider one of the most prevalent fallacies in our day. Maybe it’s not going to win a Nobel Prize for literature. But that’s no reason to be so disdainful. Being disrespectful towards fellow believers is a sin that may even belie where one's true spirit rests – not with a sincere desire to proclaim God’s majesty, but with one's own narcissistic tastes.

Let's even step aside (not outside!) from B&L's book and Challies' review: not that it's likely, but how much better is it to be wrong on this topic even after earnestly seeking the truth, than to be right on points but blaspheming the Gospel in your treatment of others?

Oh, and one more thing: my Bible study group heard this week from a former member who is now working in a closed country. She related to us the story of a Christian church in her town allowing the indigenous tribe to use their ceremonial drums at the opening of a new building. When the beating of the drums began, evil spirits - true story! - began shrieking from the crowd, wanting to know why the ceremonial drumming had returned to rouse them.

I'm just sayin'...

1 comment:

  1. Hi recovering cynic,
    I'm the 'L' in B&L. Thanks for your fair treatment of Can We Rock the Gospel, and for eloquently describing the problem with Tim Challies review and his 'followers' comments. We don't read that stuff or participate in such blogs, but our readers tell us about it.

    Anyone who accuses Dr. Blanchard of 'a pathetic lack of logic' is accusing a renowned Christian logician known for precise and logical thinking.

    Dr. John Blanchard is a leading Christian apologetics teacher and author whose books have sold in the millions. His book 'Does God Believe in Atheists?' received several book awards in the UK and John is a very popular speaker on contemporary apologetics issues (atheism, evolution, euthanasia etc.) Next he is taking on Richard Dawkins!

    Perhaps the accusers themselves lack logic? Certainly as you well described, they lack decency, courtesy, civility, grace etc.

    Re: your comment 'it didn't seem we had read the same book.' Others have told me that about the review. Challies' charge that we did not use Scriptures to back our argument could only mean he read Chapters 1, 2 and then skipped to the end (as most reviewers do). Or, if he did read in between, then he willfully misrepresented the multitude of Scriptures we used.

    And to the charge that we did not adequately define rock music? We felt this charge was a bit of a red herring or straw man. Firstly - up front we pointed out that in the next several chapters it would become obvious to any reader what we meant to include, simply by all the examples. Second, then we had 6 chapters chock full of examples. Third, we used the encyclopedic All Music Guide as a source for our definitions; any reader could have followed the source to the website if he or she felt need of sharper definition.

    There's plenty enough 'rock music definition' in the book. Claiming otherwise is at best a lazy man's response, and at worst a calculated misrepresentation of the facts. Tim Challies seems to be a good man, so we believe his errors were not willful but the result of some sloppy reviewing!

    As to those who flippantly want us to ‘get over it’, I challenge them to read Chapter 1 and understand why so many Christians cannot ‘get over it’ and how it is wrong to force them to accept the worldly preferences of the popular worship crowd. We began the book by describing what the problem is and inviting those who would disagree on the face of it to at least hear the case.

    Sadly that is too much to ask from the Tweeting Christian mob whose main source of ‘truth’ is 140 characters or less.

    Apologies for the lengthy post but this is the first public statement we’ve made about Challies’ review. As always, anyone who wishes to inquire about the book or engage directly in a chat is invited to write me at my well-publicized email address:

    In closing, to paraphrase the great Puritan divine of the 17th century, Jeremiah Burroughs, from his must-read book ‘Gospel Worship’: rest assured God will always glorify His Holy Name, even if men fail to do so. But He will do it by consuming fire, as He did when the strange fire was offered!

    With Christian love and concern,
    Dan Lucarini

    Co-author, Can We Rock the Gospel?
    Author of the best-seller Why I Left CCM: Confessions of a former worship leader


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