Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Performance Review Day at The Office

Thursday, May 25, 2006


What I'm Reading:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

I was thinking of writing an article in response to this book, but decided against it. I would not think to provide commentary on the literary acumen of Dan Brown. I do not know this genre and I am far from a literary critic. However, as to the religious claims of the book, I am an expert and would feel somewhat obligated to help the conversation, except for:

Breaking the Da Vinci Code, Darrell Bock
Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, Bart Ehrman
The Da Vinci Hoax, Carl Olson
The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction, Hank Hanegraaff
The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers, Josh McDowell
Exploring the Da Vinci Code, Garry Poole
Discussing the Da Vinci Code, Lee Strobel
The Gospel According to the Da Vinci Code, Kenneth Boa
Truth and Error in the Da Vinci Code, Mark Strauss
The Da Vinci Code:A Catholic Response, Amy Welborn
The Real History behind the Da Vinci Code, Sharan Newman
Cracking Da Vinci's Code, James Garlow
Fact and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, Steve Kellmeyer
The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code, Richard Abanes

This is a quick sampling of the books available that show that The Da Vinci Code's religious/historical/cultural claims have no basis in reality or truth. It's just so easy to write on this subject, everyone is getting in on it. Publishers (and authors) are trying to ride the easy wave of popularity generated by the media machine of this book/movie. Why? Why is it so popular if it is so wrong? Here are my thoughts.

In the American society (and most well-educated societies throughout the world), everyone agrees that Jesus was a great man, a great teacher and a great spiritual leader. True. However, when we examine the gospels, we see that he claimed divinity. No good man could do this unless it was true, and if it is true, we owe him our lives. So, we are all hoping that it is not true. We want a safe Jesus. Therefore, any theory that (1) helps explain that Jesus was not who he said he was, and (2) keeps him as a good person is going to be attractive. People are not decieved for lack of facts. People are deceived because they want to be deceived. Christian friends, let us not be quick to judge others, though. Instead, let us understand the fear of a divine Jesus, and proclaim the truth that he does not come to us in judgement, but in love. He is the Lord of the universe, and yet gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. He is the good King. Not safe, but good. Unpredictable, but trustworthy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Board Certified Chaplain

My professional name got 3 more letters last Friday. Now, I am "William Sofield, BCC." That is, "Board Certified Chaplain." This was a very long process with an enormous amount of work similar to the nursing boards, or the bar for attourneys. This certification is a requirement for chaplains at all hospitals. I could not keep my job without having it, or a reasonable plan to get it. So now I am a professional chaplain.

On a more reflective note -- I've been working toward an easily-defined, definate, educational/professional goal all my life. High school graduation, college graduation, seminary graduation, ordination, endorsement for hospital ministry, etc. But now, I'm done with official preparations. There is nothing to work toward. I'm in. I'm done. I got it. I'm approved.

I'm not sure what this means for me, but I think it probably means something.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Island Adventure

Our friends Woody and Shirley have a vacation home on the north side of Crooked Island in the South of the Bahamas. The island is very remote, only 400 people live on there. No real restaurants, stores, gas stations, etc. So, when they decide to do work on their home, they have to fly in supplies, workers, etc. My wife is a pilot and this weekend, things worked out for us to go to visit them on Crooked Island from Saturday morning until Monday afternoon. They paid for the flight because they needed a tile worker transported.

Pictures here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Great Joke

A man goes to a zoo.
When he gets there, the only animal they have is a dog.
It was a shitzu.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shall we continue in sin?

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Italian painter Pannini, 1744, Apostle Paul Preaching on the Ruins

When I teach and preach the Bible, I am commonly accused of emphasizing grace too much. People tell me, "If you speak about God's grace and freedom and liberty that much, sinnners will think that God will always forgive them, and they won't care about sinning."

I'm in good company. The Apostle Paul (and Jesus) ran into this issue quite a bit. People were always accusing him of preaching "too much grace." Many of his letters address this issue specifically. Romans 6. Galatians 3.

I'm teaching Galatians at my home to a group of University of Miami students and friends. They asked me the same question. And as often happens, I began to articulate a good response in a way that I never had before. The exchange goes something like this:

"Do you mean to tell me that God will forgive me no matter what?"

"That's right, he loves you unconditionally."

"Does that mean that he doesn't care what I do?

"No, he cares deeply what you do. He wants you to give to the poor, to keep the Sabbath holy, to honor your parents, to bear the burdens of your brothers and sisters."

"But what if I don't?"

"He still loves you."

"Whenever you tell me that God loves me unconditionally, it makes me think, 'Why should I do what he says? He'll love me the same whether I do it or not.'"

"In that case, I think I have not told you enough about God's love for you."

"That doesn't make sense. The more I'm convinced that God's love is unconditional, that means I can do whatever I want."

"Yes, you can do whatever you want, but why would you? If you were really convinced of God's love for you . . . you would trust that his commandments are for your good, and you would obey him because you trust that he knows what is best for you."

"What do you mean?"

"When I say that God loves you unconditionally, what I mean is that he is not trying to manipulate you. He is not trying to make you feel bad. He is not trying to punish you. He is not trying to withhold anything good from you. His motives are pure and clean. There is no reason to suspect him or his commandments of coming from alterior motives. He loves you unconditionally. The only reason that would would disobey him is because you think his laws are not good for you. You must think that God doesn't love you. You think you have a better way. You think you must take care of yourself."

"I think I understand."

"If you cheat on your test, you are proving that you do not think God loves you, so, as a pastor . . . no, as a brother in Christ, it is my obligation to tell you with my words, but more importantly with my actions, that God loves you so much more than you think. His love is unconditional, which means he has no alterior motives. When he says, "Be honest" it is because he knows that will bring you the most joy and happiness and freedom and peace. Maybe not in the short-term, but in the long term, God wants the best for you because he loves you so much."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Corporate Run 2006

Last Thursday was the Miami Corporate Run 5k. Katherine and I ran together. There were 21,162 runners from 588 companies. It's more for fun than fitness. I knew what to expect, and so it was much better this year than last year.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hank's Megachurch

Stolen from Mark Driscoll's blog, a recent episode of King of the Hill featured Hank, Peggy and Bobby searching for a new church. I loved it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Monte Carlo for Sale

Katherine is selling her car.