ireneQ shares her struggles with what I think is one of the deepest problems within my generation of Christians, the tendency to think of worship as an experience rather than an action or attitude, to link it with particular times when those experiences happen ("worship times") rather than to one's life and actions. It's refreshing to see someone recognizing it and struggling with it.
Spiritual: May 2004 Archives
Many Christians treat smoking as one of the worst sins, something you can assume someone isn't a Christian if you see them doing. Tim Challies has a good post showing why such an attitude is Pharisaical.
Now I think a good argument can be made that smoking is morally wrong, even without the Bible, though it would be based on controversial ethical views that aren't common to all the main ethical theories. A virtue- or character-based ethic will have the easiest time showing this, I think, though other principles might count. Still, the other sorts of things that come out immoral on these grounds wouldn't compare too well with the Pharisaical people who place smoking on such a pedestal of evils. One consideration against smoking, that it pollutes, counts similarly against failing to recycle or driving an SUV. Another, the annoyance factor, counts just as much against mowing your lawn at 9am in a university area or playing loud music after 10pm in a neighborhood with kids. Pursuing the character trait of taking care of your body means avoiding sloth and gluttony as much as smoking, and those aren't on the list of total evils of most of the people I have in mind (though I'd say the same thing about someone who is overweight, whose spiritual level I have seen people wonder about). The second-hand smoke issue is stronger, but that depends on the context of the smoking, which can be controlled, and this reason also counts against people who have cars that pollute so badly as to harm people's health. Would most of these things be on the list of sins the observance of which should create the impression that someone probably isn't a Christian? Then neither should smoking.
From this week's Christian Carnival:
Bill Wallow gives a very balanced perspective on the rift developing over how kinds of music and other trivial issues people debate about with worship. I'd probably say stronger things against the side he didn't focus as much on, but he was specifically challenging only one side here and just giving caveats about the criticisms he gives in the other direction. It's worth reading in toto, even if it's a big totus. If you factor in Jollyblogger's comment as a minor corrective, I think I agree with pretty much everything. I would probably have commented myself had I not already seen him doing so.
I've never been a fan of Senator Joseph Biden, but I think this should make even those who like him cringe. He said that Bush should "demand the resignations for whoever is involved in this policy, and that includes Lord God Almighty himself. It includes anybody involved." I can read this in a few ways, none of them reflecting very well on his character.
It's not what you would expect. A pastor who has experienced serious divisiveness in his church (not to mention observing much more online) has devoted a website to offer some sanity in opposition to the nastiness of the growing legalism in American Christianity about such gospel-centric issues as how your children are schooled, whether it's ok to participate in a Sunday school program that segregates students based on age, whether a wife should be allowed to work outside the home and daughters allowed to go to college, what sorts of college majors are allowable for Christians, and various other issues your answer to which will determine whether you're "in error".
An example: There is no natural kind of those who homeschool their kids. In fact, there's a sharp natural division between those who prayerfully consider the options and decide that homeschooling is the best option for them at the time and in their circumstances and those we shall call Homers.
There's not much up so far, but it looks to be a good site.