Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween … Trick or Treat … or what?

In recent years, some Christians have expressed concerns about Halloween and possible connections to Satanism, etc..

Halloween has been around a long time in European culture and then to America.

The actual term comes from All Hallows’ Day or All Saints Day. The word “hallow” is used in the LORD's prayer, “hallowed be thy name” – or holy is your name.

Actual origins are not entirely clear … but it likely predates the Christianizing of Europe. Perhaps a Celtic festival of some sort, but having nothing to do with Satanic practices. In both pre-Christian and Christian Europe, dressing up was an attempt to scare away evil spirits, mostly in good fun – sort of catching them in their own game!

In America, Halloween was largely a night of pranks – tipping over outhouses, etc.. But in mid-20th century, costuming and begging for treats became the predominant practice.

Dressing up and going through the neighborhood begging for sweets is now a childhood ritual that’s perfectly harmless. Christians needn’t be afraid of such things.

Parents might monitor the costumes for the blood and gore effect, age-appropriate and just plain appropriate – there are plenty of costumes available for all ages that are fun and entertaining, even scary.

I think it’s a good idea for parents to accompany their children – make this a fun family night. Go out with the children, meet your neighbors, and invite grandparents or friends over for pumpkin pie or ice cream treats. Children quickly outgrow Halloween, but until they do, we can all have fun with them.

There are no monsters under the bed and no ghouls hiding in the closet.

The real monsters are poverty, war and environmental degradation.

By loving our children, and giving them a sense of confidence, we prepare them for adulthood where they will have to face difficult choices and serious challenges.

Until then, a part of successful growing-up is having fun, participating in holidays and other such national pastimes and learning to enjoy life.

As in all things, moderation … lots of parental involvement … and a home filled with love.

A child who goes to bed at night knowing they are loved will acquire the skills needed for life and the courage to face life’s challenges.

Until then, Boo!

My only consolation

My only consolation - Bush will go down in history as our worst president - having bankrupted our economy, destroyed our international credibility, sent several thousand soldiers to their death, and hitched his wagon to Christian whackos.

A ship of fools: Rove, Cheny, Rumsfeld and a host of lesser lights who polluted their office with shady deals, covert actions and blatant disregard for justice, all the while placating the far right with "faith talk."

Thankfully, Republicans around the nation are awakening to the reality - the party has been hijacked.

And millions of Christians are finding their voice - the far right is out of touch with reality and DOES NOT speak for the vast majority. The inane "last days scenario" of the far right, and its obsession with the American bedroom presents a view of faith so distorted that it bears no relationship to historic Christianity.

The media, now finally catching up, failed us - mongering headlines rather than investigative journalism, going with whatever ups the viewing audience, the media failed to provide discernment. Where's an Edward R. Murrow these days who can help us dig through the junk and find the treasure of truth?

I have always believed in the inherent sanity of America, and now having passed through a brief moment of insanity driven by 911 fears and finagled by the Machiavellian machinations of a Carl Rove, we are finally emerging from a very dark cave. God be praised.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Courage, the ability to keep doing what’s right in the face of terrible odds.

A man facing a painful death, yet refusing to give in to melancholy and self-pity, who remains upbeat with friends and family even as he’s thoroughly honest with them about the progress of his disease and it’s outcome.

A spouse caring for an ailing mate. Day-after-day, monitoring medications, making appointments, and offering love and kindness mostly unreturned. When the mate is in a nursing home – the faithful trip in the morning, the long hours at the bedside, and the lonely ride home in the evening.

A human resources manager ordered to terminate 300 employees from a profitable division, but just not profitable enough. So the man refuses to do so, and when upper management applies the heat, he resigns.

A pastor who challenged his southern congregation in the early sixties on race, bearing threats of harm to himself and his family, yet remaining steadfast until forced out of the pulpit by an amalgam of church politics and big money.

Parents caring for a challenged child … an inner-city teacher with a class too large and supplies too limited … and a thousand other tiny dramas wherein folks return kindness for rudeness, forgiveness rather than rebuttal and attack, faith when others are critical, and goodness when others only complain.

A Christian, steady in prayer, faithful in worship, humble in service and selfless in praise, willing to go the extra mile, with an open Bible and an open mind, lifting up the name of Jesus with grace and gentleness.

Moments of courage.

~ Pastor Tom Eggebeen, October 22, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Remember Our Address


A simple word, a preposition. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LORD.

I live in SoCal … I live in a home on La Tijera Blvd … I believe in love, goodness and justice.

Do you catch the drift? “I believe in” points to values or ideas that I claim, but “I believe in,” like “I live in,” also points to a place where I live.

One of the great truths of the Bible, “we are in Christ” – a place, a destination, a location, our home – you and I are in Christ. He’s our address!

“I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:26).

Yesterday, I had lunch at In-N-Out Burger by LAX. When I left, I noticed some wall posters featuring scenes from the 60s – and a slogan … “Southern California.” I read it, and for a moment, read it as outsider, and than whammo, it hit me, “I live here. I live in SoCal.”

No longer an outsider.

Paul writes: “You are no longer foreigners, but fellow citizens, members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19

You are in Christ! That’s where you live.

Have a good and productive day … and remember your address!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Big Business Myths

The film, Michael Clayton, reminds us of a tragic myth spun out of control during the Reagan years: Government is bad, but business will save us. Business is efficient; government is wasteful. The men and women of business can do a better job than congress and government agencies.

No doubt, government is often unwieldy and cumbersome, but after living in a corporate city, Detroit, for 16 years, I learned quickly that big business is incredibly wasteful, self-serving, inefficient, more unwieldy and cumbersome than government, and often just plain stupid!

Business can build cars, albeit not always good ones, but don't ask business to provide moral leadership. Business experience translates poorly into the realm of government. Government needs women and men of vision, philosophers and dreamers, who construct a moral realm to challenge and guide business and the whole of the Republic. We need prophets, not profits.

Our love affair with corporate capitalism is waning, and not a moment too soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Old-line evangelicals

Had an interesting encounter with and old-line evangelical ... as for me, I'm sort of an evangelical when it comes to theology, but liberal on the social issues ... works for me.

Anyway, I'm convinced that the paradigm of evangelical vs. liberal is breaking down, at least for the liberals ... not so sure about the hard-line evangelicals: they've long enjoyed holding a gun to the liberals: "Do as I do, say what I say before I accept you," and when liberals actually begin moving toward a more spiritual take on things, the old-line evangelical hardly knows what to do.

They tend to sputter a lot.

Liberals can't brag a whole lot either, but perhaps it's the liberal who has the greater chance of actually moving to a new position. And, thank God, there are tons of soft-core evangelicals moving toward a more socially just take on things. And I've heard a few old-time liberals sputter, too!

We love our divisions.

Grapes of Wrath

Been reading Grapes of Wrath - have to admit, I've never read it before, and thanks to a friend, I now have a copy of it. Amazing how Steinbeck captured the dialect (I lived 12 years in Oklahoma) and the tragedy of losing everything.

Also reading, in preparation for Advent, Dickens' Christmas Carol, wherein Scrooge believes that the poor can have all the shelter they need - in prisons and workhouses.

Both Steinbeck and Dickens hold before the reader the hardship of poverty, yet never lose sight of the poor as real people, with hopes and fears, longings and loves, just like everyone else.

Heard a specialist in Middle East last night - a simple reminder that Americans rarely hear the whole story on the Palestinians and are poorly informed on history. Imagine that!

Unfortunately, much of our Middle East policy in the last ten years has been influenced by the far right, the religious kooks who can hardly wait for "the war" which will usher in the Golden Age of Jesus. They want to preserve the nation of Israel so that it will be the place of slaughter when the time comes. Does this make sense? Of course not.

By the way, I'm committed to Hillary ... can hardly wait to have a new president and a fresh voice of reason and social responsibility in the Oval Office - send its present occupant back to the bush country of Texas where he can whack weeds and spit. In two terms, he has bankrupted our economy, profoundly damaged our international reputation, told our allies to take a hike, presented a Scrooge-like philosophy on the poor, sent thousands of troops to their death or a life of suffering, catered to big oil interests, tried to take over the world while posturing behind spiritual subterfuge, and twisted patriotism into a hideous passion. My only comfort is that history will determine his presidency to be our worst.

Been reading a bit about Lincoln - now there was a great president.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Big Bear Lake

Went to Big Bear Lake today - 2 1/2 hrs - into the San Bernardino Mountains - beautiful.

Drove the 405, 105, 605 and the 10 - an amazing system that impresses me - folks have done a lot of thinking about how to move impossible levels of traffic.

Driving the 105 at night is neat - the Metro Link in the middle, planes heading to LAX and thousands of cars - where's everyone going?

A good day!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Foolish and Dangerous

I'm watching Bill Moyers review of John Hagee and other such mainframe nuts who can hardly wait until conflagration overwhelms the Middle East to usher in the last days and the second coming of Jesus.

In a vitriolic speach, Hagee calls for a preemptive strike against Iran, yet in the next breath, tells his audience that Iran will attack Israel, Russia will enter the fray, and then Jesus will come. In one moment, he's telling us to defend Israel, yet believes that only when Israel is attacked will the final age be ushered in. Sadly, such confused thinking is endangering Israel all the more, even as Hagee thrills to the idea of holy war, reminding his audience that we're reliving history - it's 1938 all over again, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Hitler. So what does Hagee want? Shall we defend Israel or welcome it's attack?

This is the worst kind of Dispensationalism and end-times thinking, both foolish and dangerous.

Foolish because it's an amalgam of contradictions, playing upon fears and a misconstrued view of Israel's place in the world, and end-time scenarios derived from a defective reading of Revelations. Dangerous, because it fires the convictions of a small and thoughtless group of Christians, Neo-cons, Theo-cons, Hyper-capitalists, militarists, American fascists and pro-Israel factions who currently hold the ear of certain elements in our government.

Fortunately, Hagee's place in the sun is being eclipsed by a more progressive, thoughtful and liberal Christianity which sees the world in the light of hope and faith, not warfare and violent end-times scenarios.

This form of Christianity has long been the silent majority, but not much longer. The sheer willfulness of folks like Hagee, claiming center stage in the last ten years, has awakened thoughtful Christians to get busy studying Scripture, reading widely and learning to articulate a more reasoned and reasonable message, joining together and reminding our government that the majority of Christians in this nation have a profoundly different take on things, a positive, humanitarian, progressive view that builds up rather than tears down.

The second part of Moyers' program - the Amish and the power of forgiveness - a reminder of another world for war mongering Christians like Hagee, a better world, a world where love governs the heart, forgiveness guides relationships and faith relies upon God more than upon fear and retaliatory strategies. Thank God for the Amish!


I’m having fun preparing this Sunday’s message. Who wouldn’t have fun with a message entitled, “Baloney”?

And that’s my interpretation of our LORD's response to the plea of the disciples: “Increase our faith.”


Because the plea for “more faith” arises out of the message of scarcity, a script from hell – a life of endless, competitive, joyless, questing for what is missing. It’s the original ploy of the snake in the grass – something is missing, God overlooked it, or worse, God cheated you, and it’s up to you to get it for yourself.

The message of scarcity“If only I had more …” (fill in the blank), “then I would …” (fill in the blank).

Jesus is clear: you can trust what resources you have, and you can trust who you are.

Start with the message of abundance: “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly,” says Jesus. Reminding us (with a paraphrase of something Joel Osteen says): “I am who God says I am, I have what God says I have, and I can do what God says I can do.”

Self- trust is the heart of praise. “LORD, thank you for me, for creating me the way you did, for giving me the talents and gifts I have, for shaping the character of my heart.”

Whatever comes your way, you’ll manage it. You have what you need, and you can do what’s needed.

And you’re not alone – maybe that’s the real piece of the puzzle: we have our community of faith, and with that, we have Jesus: “I am with you always!”

Trust yourself, and you will find yourself trusting God all the more!

Have a good day … take care, travel well and do good!