Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was reading an article about how healthy baked bran is for us.  No, really - it was an article on a singles website, and I was trying to figure out what baked bran had to do with one's marital status.

What do I know?  Maybe dietary fiber and its benefits have more to do with finding the right spouse than I've otherwise given them credit.

At any rate, the author of this article advanced the unsubstantiated claim that sugar - and glucose in particular - causes cancer.  Just laid it out in a sentence like everybody knows that sugar consumption leads to cancer.  And this was on an evangelical Christian singles website.

So, being naturally suspicious, I Googled it, and learned that sure enough, sugar is not a determining factor for cancer, but obesity can be.  So in the sense that eating too much sugar can cause obesity, and obesity can contribute to one's chances of developing cancer, I can see the connection here.  But can we skip a step and say that because A is to B, and B is to C, that A is to C?

Besides, glucose is found in all of our healthy fruits, and is considered a vital nutrient.

This is why I take very little at face value.  Especially on evangelical websites.  Hey - I write for one!  So you can understand why I'm cautious.  Fortunately, at Crosswalk (which isn't the website containing the misleading article about bran) every writer has an editor who cross-checks statements like "sugar causes cancer," to avoid jeopardizing their journalistic and spiritual integrity.

So what?

Well, I've written before about caveat lector - "let the reader beware" - and this is further proof of its truth.  In that article, I criticized an evangelical writer's flippant description of the Gospel as "magic," but even I didn't estimate the damage comparing Scripture's truth to a C.S. Lewis allegory could create.  During a simple Google search to get the URL of that article for a hyperlink, I noticed that a website devoted to magic had found my article, and the article about which I was writing, and used both to point out that even some Christians say Christianity is magic.  I'm not going to give you the link that that website, because I don't want to endorse it.

Suffice it to say, "let the reader beware," because often, writer's aren't.
. . .

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it used to be that the crazy, weird news stories were coming out of places like New York City or Los Angeles.  Not any more.  A few days ago, a naked man dove head-first into the open sunroof of a passing Honda Accord coupe and assaulted its female driver, causing her to crash.  But this didn't happen in Brooklyn, or Santa Monica.  It happened in front of a Dallas Police squad car, in one of Big D's rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods.

Dallas has always wanted to be like the Big Apple.  Well, now, apparently, it's getting its chance.  Even if this isn't the way city leaders anticipated.
. . .

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a battle has been brewing between Gospel Coalition stalwarts and fans of Florida preacher Tullian Tchividjian, who used to have a popular blog on the Coalition's website.

If you're not a conservative Presbyterian, or a Reformed evangelical, you've probably never heard of either the Gospel Coalition (TGC) or Rev. Tchividjian, and frankly, that's probably OK.  Because it hasn't been pretty these past few weeks in the TGC website corral, with Tchividjian ultimately asked to mosey on outta there.  Much to the frustration of his ardent fans.

Tchividjian is a grandson of the famed Billy Graham, and a few years ago, he catapulted to fame within Reformed circles by winning the top job at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, the prestigious congregation built by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.  Tchividjian's hire, and some rapid-fire changes he made to the core of Coral Ridge's traditional ministry format, sparked a nasty church split, with a large number of disgruntled members forming their own church, and Tchividjian scrambling to justify his bull-in-a-China-shop method of church leadership.

But the recent spat that played out on TGC's website (and others) had nothing to do with the church split Tchividjian incited.  It had to do with differences Reformed adherents hold on grace, legalism, and the process of sanctification, with Tchividjian's blog, hosted by TGC, serving as the main battleground, and Coral Ridge's new pastor scrambling unsuccessfully to contain yet another public relations disaster.

Quite frankly, I tried reading his blog posts that were coming under fire by some TGC'ers, and at their face, I didn't think they merited the fierce criticisms they were receiving.  Then again, maybe I simply didn't grasp the gravity of the nuances Tchividjian and his opponents were debating.  I'm not crazy about Tchividjian's style of writing, which can teeter on patronizing, and I'm certainly not crazy about his own views of what went on at Coral Ridge, but I thought the spat unfolding on TGC's website was more tempest in a teapot than grounds for divorce.  Yet apparently, the imbroglio, fed in equal parts by pastors, TGC's lay readership, and Tchividjian himself, proved too much for TGC's leadership, and they severed their digital connection with him as a way of brokering some sort of truce.

Well, that truce hasn't materialized either, as Tchividjian's fans continue to pelt TGC's website with complaints about how this mess has been handled.  The whole thing is one unseemly, bitter spectacle.

If all of this is new to you, consider yourself fortunate.  And don't bother researching it, because you're not missing anything.  The only reason I bring it up is to prove, as I've written before, that celebrity worship and popularity contests do not represent appropriate ways to honor God, study His Word, apply His truth to our lives, and minister to our spheres of influence.  I believe there is way too much "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos" going on within our evangelical ghetto, and not enough "I am of Christ."

. . .

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm trying to be a little creative about the format in which I share with you my opinions.  I'm calling it "Meanwhile, back at the ranch" to convey a casual flavor, but also to (hopefully) frame my opinions with a bit of irony.  Irony in how the topics I write about may be somewhat important to you, and interesting to me, but probably not necessarily things our society on the whole will find particularly compelling.  Whether these topics really are compelling or not.

So, what do you think?  Can I go back to the ranch in the future, or should I go back to the drawing board?

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