Saturday, March 31, 2012

 Have you checked your Facebook page today? Chances are you’ve been “Timelined.”  The space for that cute little profile picture has now been expanded to a huge headline-sized swath of your Facebook home page profile.  In newspaper terms, it’s almost half of what’s “above the fold.”  What might seem a mild inconvenience to some technophobes (many dragged kicking and screaming into using Facebook in the first place) may be, according to some prophecy experts, the first step in the not-so-long march toward the Apocalypse.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Very Bad Prank
Pennsylvania Youth Pastor Alarms Congregation with “Unconscionable Stunt”
Like many Evangelical youth pastors, Paul Craw thought his young charges needed a little shaking up.  So at a recent mid-week service at The Runway Christian Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the 27-year-old minister tried something a little off the beaten path.  But instead of shaking things up, he ended up with a group of hysterical teenagers.  And irate parents.

“He should be fired immediately,” said Tara Spivak of nearby Hummelstown, whose daughter, Justa, 15, has been attending Runway’s Youth Group for the past three years.   “How could he even think that something like this would be okay?”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pat Robertson Breaks His Silence

by  Leo Sánchez  

Televangelist Pat Robertson has been in overdrive of late.  A generous cluster of verbal gaffes has been keeping late-night comedians and the Huffington Post richly equipped with fodder for mockery and social commentary for some time now. From God’s judgment of the Denver Broncos by re-injuring newly-acquired quarterback Peyton Manning, to oral sex and legalizing marijuana, the hits just keep coming.

It now transpires that Robertson’s verbal effluvium is actually much more prolific and robust than was previously known. A CBN employee, speaking off the record, revealed that a recently-implemented production policy has actually prevented a number of Robertson’s colorful mispronouncements from reaching the public.  That’s right—there’s even more.  Much more.

Monday, March 19, 2012

“We are a simple people, don’t you know.”  

So says Amos Levengood as we zip along New Holland Pike in his horse-drawn buggy. He says it so sternly that putting a question mark after his words would seem impertinent. 

Actually “zipping” would not be an accurate description of the pace of this journey. Nonetheless, we are en route to the Shady Maple Smorgasbord, a local landmark with a buffet the size of a football field, located just east of Blue Ball on Route 23, about 12 miles from Levengood’s home in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  The trip should take about four hours. 

The buggy, a GNL-940, was custom-manufactured for Amos and his family by the Great Northern Livery Company, Inc., of Greenville, Wisconsin. This is about as far a trip as Amos Levengood ever makes.  He has never been more than 100 miles from the house in which he was born. I, by comparison, am a world travel.  But I might as well be a space alien as far as Amos is concerned.  Despite having parents born within the community and having a distinctly Pennsylvania German name, I’m still an “English” to the likes of Amos. My parents left the Amish community in the late 1960s after a botched attempt to establish a break-away community in Delaware.  Our family resettled in Birdsboro, a small, economically depressed “English” town in neighboring Berks County, where we started using electricity, driving automobiles, and shaving.  We also stopped constructing sentences such as “Throw your father down the stairs his hat” (indirect objects wreak havoc in the Pennsylvania German dialect). Amos reminds me of

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saddleback-Haters to Hold Conference

“You’re right, Rick,” say
conference organizers:
We just don’t like you.”

by Sergius Martin-George

The Ad Hominem Center, Buffalo's brand new
convention facility, will host Saddlebash I.

 Things are tough for Rick Warren.  These days, America’s pastor can’t seem to catch a break.  For years, a standing army of detractors has been on high alert, waiting to pounce on one doctrinal misstep after another, ultimately prompting the Southern California mega-pastor to quip about “Saddleback-haters,” a term he’s used several times in responding to the recent Kingsway controversy. 

Now a group has come forward to confirm that Warren is being neither hyperbolic nor paranoid in his reference to “Saddleback haters”:  They’re here. They’re angry.  And next month, they’re meeting in Buffalo.  However, unlike some groups who oppose Warren purely out of doctrinal concern, the PASS organization—Pastors Against Saddleback Shenanigans—freely admits that its primary motivation is jealousy and personal animus toward America’s pastor.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When you “spring ahead” tonight (in the United States—March 25 in the U.K.; April 1 in ANZ), will you be compromising your Christian faith?

Think carefully before answering. 

Many Christian believers bristle at the thought of changing their clocks twice a year, even if they can’t quite articulate why.  Perhaps its written on our hearts: If the God of the Universe created time, who are we to fiddle with it—if only semi-annually?  There’s just something....“unright” about the whole thing.

While some historically-minded readers will have immediately thought they have identified the culprit in the form of that saucy Enlightenment deist, Ben Franklin, the roots of the ungodly desire to manipulate time long predate our Philly-based founding father, who advocated as early as 1784 for a form of Daylight Savings Time.

First Easter, now this? Ancient pagan deity
Inana, a.k.a. Ishtar.  Most publicly-available
images of this figure cannot be shown on a
Christian-oriented web site
“If Adam and Eve had clocks in the Garden of Eden, they would have been scrambling to set them back within minutes of eating the forbidden fruit,” says Kent Hovind, a 59-year-old young-Earth creationist, King James–only activist, and entrepreneur-gone-wild, who has had a lot of time to think about time as he is currently doing time in a federal prison in Colorado for tax evasion. “It’s just unnatural, and it speaks to the depravity of man: the urge to change one’s clocks is essentially an idolatrous one.”

Though clocks were not to be found in Eden, it wasn’t long out of the box that conniving potentates were eyeing sun dials and other primitive time-keeping devices with nefarious purposes in mind.  In the Ancient Near East, King Nabunasir of Mesopotamia gained fame and power for solving a vexing problem: the sliding of the calendar due to inconsistencies between the solar year and the lunar calendar then in use.  Nabunasir’s brain child was the addition of seven “intercalary” months within every cycle of 19 years, thus rectifying the problem. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rick Warren Reaches Out to Extraterrestrials

“We all worship the same God,” says Purpose-Driven Pastor

by Pat Shanks

In what many are claiming is a transparent effort to deflect attention from a recent controversy over his cozying-up to the Muslim community, Purpose-Driven Pastor Rick Warren has come forward to announce that his ministry horizons are far wider than anyone could have ever imagined.

     “Psalm 8 says that the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” said Warren in a video message addressed to supporters. “I am here to proclaim to you today that the fullness spoken of in the Psalter is about to take on unprecedented meaning.”
     Unveiling an ambitious program to extend the hand of fellowship well beyond the Van Allen radiation belts, “America’s pastor” has revealed that he has been in contact with extraterrestrial intelligence in an effort to spread the Gospel. 
     “I think the big lesson here is: it’s not all about your galaxy,” said Warren.  Accordingly, the mega-pastor’s well-known Global Peace Plan, or “Peace Plan 3.0,”  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

    The second annual Justice Conference took place last weekend in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by World Relief and Kilns College. Speakers included Walter Brueggemann, Shane Claiborne, Miroslav Volf, John Perkins, Rachel Lloyd, and Francis Chan. More than four thousand individuals attended the conference, including blogger and activist Maven Crisp. She recently spoke with ST associate editor Kitty Carlisle-Sánchez via Skype™. 

Kitty Carlisle-Sánchez: Maven, you were live-blogging this event for your own web site,, and one of our readers tipped us off that you would be a good person to speak to about the conference, since we didn’t have sufficient funds to send one of our staff there.  Thanks for joining us today via Skype.
Maven Crisp: So, I’m delighted I could help out.  This is my contribution to social justice for the day (chuckle).        
Kitty Carlisle-Sánchez: As we are indeed delighted to have you. Well give us your overall impressions of the conference.
Maven Crisp: So, it was amazing.  All the speakers were excellent, both in the plenary sessions and in the break-outs.
Kitty: Break-outs, huh?  Well given the apparent left-leaning orientation of the conference, were there any Brechtian break-outs?
Maven: Excuse me?         
KCS: Like people breaking out into song? Spontaneously?
MC: Oh, totally.  Even some of the mimes.  They couldn’t resist.  The Spirit was really moving, I’ll tell you.   
KCS: They had mimes?
MC: Oh, mimes are very important in social justice circles.     
KCS: A lot of evangelical Christians—particularly the more conservative, traditional ones—don’t seem to get this concept of social justice.  Can you help us out, here?  What is social justice anyway?  

Theologian Walter Brueggemann (left) speaks passionately about
the injustice of having one's name constantly mispronounced.
MC: So, justice is a garment, a billion threads, interwoven, interlocked, knit together with strength and integrity. Pull one thread from the fabric and the garment begins to fray….
KCS: Wait, … “Pull ten million threads and justice unravels into injustice?“  Is that it?
MC: Exactly!  So you do get it, Kitty!  How did you know?       
KCS: Because I’m reading from the same pre-packaged conference material you seem to be reading from.  It’s right off the web site.
MC: Oh.  
KCS: Can we just, you know, put aside the talking points for