Saturday, November 29, 2008

Red Friday

Black Friday is normally a busy time of the year. Our consumeristic fever breaks 105° and in our delusion, we travel at ungodly hours to purchase obscene quantities of stuff -- that is, if we beat the crowds. So this year, I was contemplating faring the seas of disgruntled shoppers that light up the beginning of our Christmas season by going to Circuit City. Though filing for bankruptcy earlier this month, they still released an ad with some pretty good deals. Sadly, Jenn's brothers did not want to go Black Friday shopping at 5:00 am to cash in on the deals. So I went to bed and didn't get up until 8:00 am.

Around 9:00 am, Jenn and I decided to check out Circuit City anyway. I figured that there wouldn't be any deals left, given our nation's history of psychotic shoppers mowing one another over for pieces of metal and plastic (though that still happened this year). Alas! when we arrived at Circuit City, we were surprised to see a proportionately small number of shoppers -- and even managed to get all of the Black Friday sales we wanted.

This absurd phenomenon has become what I now coin "Red Friday." With our nation's economic crisis, there is no feasible way that most companies could recouperate their losses with the terrible shopper turnout. My hopes is that this will start becoming a trend; people purchasing fewer things that they don't need. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise, once we get past the "crisis" part and people start regaining their senses about their ill purchasing habits.

We all need a change in that arena, especially with the crazy levels of poverty in the world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Misogyny: Bond and Barbie Pop-Tarts

This past weekend, Jenn and I went to see Quantum of Solace at the Boyd Theatre. Reading from reviews that this movie was a bit less sensual than some of the prior movies, Jenn went with me to give Bond another shot. As in all Bond movies, we were greeted with a pleasurable movie with action, quick thinking, and lots of explosions. However, like all Bond movies before, we were also greeted in the intro with silhouettes of naked women appearing out of sand and dancing provocatively. Personally, I was surprised that the MPAA managed to stamp a PG-13 on that.

A couple of weeks prior, Jenn bought a pack of Printed Fun Barbie Pop-Tarts (Wildberry flavor) from Ollie's Bargain Outlet. She loves wildberry pop-tarts and Ollie's sells them cheap. One breakfast, Jenn and I were running late, so we decided to break out the pop-tarts. There's only so much a person can do with Red #40, Blue #1 and 2, and Yellow #5, but somehow Kellogg managed to turn a picture on a pop-tart into something that at first glance looks racy. For instance, Jenn's pop-tart had a picture of Barbie supposedly holding a bouquet of flowers; however, due to the lack of detail, it more looked like Barbie wearing lingerie with bling sparkles over her chest.

What can I say about this phenomenon? Should I be surprised? Not really. You hear all the time that our culture is super-saturated with sexual images, but it's not just the banter of conservative fundamentalists. Unfortunately, it's a reality that you can observe everywhere: from the streets of Allentown to the classroom, and even in the cartoons your children may watch. As I walk down the streets of Allentown on my way to my car from work, I've witnessed guys eying down girls as they walk home from school. Occasionally, I hear a cat call or two. And worst of all, I keep seeing 16 year old girls walking down the street with strollers or growing bellies.

Do you think that there will ever be a day where women aren't so objectified in society? I'm looking for the right answer, but I just don't know anymore.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I wrote an interesting post on my youth group's blog, but I thought it would be edifying to post it here as well.
During the presidential campaign season, many disagreements arise when discussing politics and how our country should be run. There is much debate, even among Christians. Why do you think this is the case?

The truth is that there is no political party that fully matches God's will, either in their philosophies or core issues - even in the actions they take. The reason for this is that political parties were created by people as a means for people with similar thoughts or beliefs to come together to be represented in the government. By the very nature that these parties were created by people, they are in effect, imperfect.

The challenge for Christians during an election is to try to elect in such a manner that is glorifying to God, keeping Jesus' life and purpose in mind. So does this mean that all Christians are to come to the same political decisions, given that we have God's word (the Bible)?

In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul calls God's people the "Body of Christ." Together, we are to represent Jesus in this world as a unified body. Paul points out that there are different parts of the body, for example, an eye and a hand. They serve different purposes, but without one another, the body is incomplete an unable to complete its task. Likewise, taking another spin on this "body" concept, similar to how there are different parts in the body with different purposes, God often places different burdens on the hearts of his people that, when combined with the rest of his people, make up the sum total of His will in this world. Like the hand and the eye analogy, God blesses some with a deep passion for unborn life (hence, the pro-life emphasis), while others He may bless with the deep burden for the needy - those who cannot help themselves and are abused by society. Still others may have a deep burden for the environment. Each of these burdens are burdens that God has for the world, and they break our hearts.

The problem is that when you put together all of these burdens, you come to realize that there isn't one party that covers all of them. Many Democrats place a high emphasis on building a government that can meet the needs of lower class families, from education to health care and other programs. The idea surrounds scripture passages, such as Deuteronomy 24:17-22 and Luke 14:12-14. Many Republicans place a high emphasis on family values, such as marriage, and sustaining unborn life. This idea comes from passages such as Psalm 139:13-16, Isaiah 46:3-4, and Genesis 2:19-24. As Christians engaged in politics, we often get stuck in the middle, trying to weigh in values in addition to the character of the political candidates.

Unfortunately, along the way, political parties typically lose the most important thing amidst the debates: love. The apostle John writes the following:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
The most important part about resolving these issues is to have love at the center. That can often be lost or missing.

Since we have been thinking about elections, I want to remind you that you have been elected (2 Timothy 1:8-12). God has elected us to be his representatives in this world and to make the kind of difference that a divided government cannot make. Governments are far from perfect, but can still be used by God. Additionally, God has elected us to be in the midst of this government and this country to make an impact on the issues that are important to him. Together, as Christians, we can break the dividing lines of partisanship and come together to address all of the issues that matter to God, regardless of which party emphasizes them more. With God's help, we can truly make a difference.

Don't forget that you have been elected.