The Next Great Catholic Sin: Hoverboards

father-873830_1920Father Albert San Jose seems like a pretty cool dude. While many clergy are stand-offish and difficult to approach, San Jose strikes me as the kind of priest that really connects with people where they are.

Of course, I only have one example to go on – his mad hoverboard skills! Check this out:

Right? MAD skillz, yo. Because it seems a lot of adults can’t pull off what this priest makes look easy, and videos of adults wiping out have taking the internet by storm.

But it’s not all fun ‘n games for the good Father. You see, his diocese disapproved of his behavior. Not only did the diocese disapprove, but they suspended the minister.

The diocese wrote:

The Eucharist demands utmost respect and reverence. It is the Memorial of the Lord’s Sacrifice. It is the source and summit of Christian life. It is the Church’s highest form of worship. Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people.

Okay, sure, I understand what they’re getting at. And, to be totally honest, as one who has been labeled blasphemer for some of my religious humor I’m not sure I’m unbiased in this case. I have a pretty fair streak of irreverence in me. Of course, Father San Jose played ball with the diocese, apologizing and promising that it won’t happen again.

But I think it SHOULD! Here’s why:

A Worldwide Church (that’s all of us who are followers of Jesus) that is earth-683436_1280willing to embrace culture (in this case a hoverboard craze) WITHOUT compromising its content will have a greater impact in people’s lives. This is the church that will set the world on fire.

This is exactly what the good padre did. Did he change the liturgy? Nope. Did he alter the meaning and significance of the sacrament? Nope. All he did was carry out his usual service in an unusual way. In fact, is it so far out of the realm of reason to imagine a priest walking among the people while singing, “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You”? If you can imagine him walking, why get upset when you add the tech? I applaud the priest for being creative in using elements from the world around him in a faith tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Even Jesus used the culture around him to make his points come alive. In the agricultural setting of the Ancient Near East, Jesus told stories of shepherds, farmers, and Samaritans. He used sticks, architecture, and the landscape to offer entryways to draw and keep people’s attention.

The Apostle Paul utilized the statue of a Pagan god to make a point about the one true God. Is singing God’s blessings on a hoverboard more outrageous than this?

Rather than shunning culture and trying to insulate the church, let us rather seek to engage culture in all of its insanity (yes, a hoverboard craze really is quite ridiculous). As long as we’re not changing the message of the cross, it shouldn’t matter what elements from the world around us we use.

The diocese talked about having the utmost respect and reverence for the Eucharist, but I’m not so sure Jesus himself was so full of reverence that he couldn’t appreciate the lighter side of faith.

While Father San Jose may never ride another hoverboard in church, I do hope that he continues to push the envelope and find ways to engage the people and culture around them – using their stuff to point to a timeless God.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the piece. If it resonated with you in any way, please share it on your own social media platforms. Blessings!

Subway, Jared Fogle, and Sex Trafficking

You have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard the news about Jared Fogle,Jared Fogle the formerly obese man who dropped a ton of weight by eating only Subway sandwiches who was then hired by Subway to be a spokesperson for the sandwich chain who was investigated for possession of child pornography who, it turns out, did a lot more than simply posses the material.

This whole case has brought two major thoughts to my mind.

1. He was a spokesman for a sandwich chain! I’m rather frustrated by the people who are treating this as a terrible fall from grace. Turns out the sandwich dude was a real scumbag. He was never hired to be a beacon of morality and virtue in a dark and dreary land. He was obese. He dropped a bunch of weight. I cannot believe the level of celebrity afforded this guy.

2. The REAL tragedy and story is revolves around human trafficking. If Jared’s case does anything, please let it point to the problems this world faces when it comes to human trafficking, Human Trafficking one of the fastest and most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world today.

Whether it be for sex or manual labor, human trafficking now generates over $32 billion a year.

$32.

Billion.

Let Jared point to this travesty. His trips to New York trying to find 14 year old prostitutes isn’t about his own issues. There’s a bigger problem – the 14 year old trapped in prostitution.

No 13 year old wakes up and says, “You know what I wanna do next year? I want to be a prostitute.”

There is no country in the world that isn’t touched by human trafficking in some way. This is not right. This must change. We cannot treat people like this.

This blog is about helping turn the Bible into behavior. So let’s be clear on this.

The Bible is quite clear that humanity, all humanity, bears the Imago Dei – the Image of God. This means that every single human being on earth has some intrinsic value that goes beyond what we say and do or even how we behave. While some of us behave poorly, we all bear the Image of God. We all have a measure of worth and can be redeemed.

When we abuse and mistreat others we are not simply treating people poorly – we are abusing the Image of God. The Bible makes clear that God created us and knew us from before our birth. Human trafficking messes with what God has designed, created, and has known before taking a single breath.

Okay, great. I think every decent person will agree that human trafficking violates God’s creation.

But let’s take it a step further.

The Bible also tells us to be people who love and pursue justice. JusticeWhen it comes to human trafficking, it’s not enough to read stories about people like Jared and simply shake our heads. We ought to be pursuing justice for the victims of human trafficking and seeking to put an end to future trafficking.

This is the only course of action Christians should find acceptable. We cannot be passive about it.

– You can support organizations that rescue people from slavery.
– You can keep your eyes open for possible situations around you and report it when you see it.
– You can educate others about the worldwide problem that is human trafficking.
– You can go to http://traffickingresourcecenter.org/ to get more info about this human travesty.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking you can call right now 1-888-373-7888 and get help.

So please – let’s take the focus off of Jared and put it on to a problem we can do something about.

For the victims’ sake.

For God’s sake, people.

You Tried to Tell Me Islam Meant Peace, But You Lied

persecution

I’m not dumb – I know that the translation of Islam actually means peace (or submission, but the root slm is the same as the Hebrew shalom). But the fa├žade of peace is wearing mighty thin.

While Christians in America cry persecution too easily, Christians in other areas of the world are highly persecuted. According to a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, Christianity is the religious group most likely to be persecuted worldwide. We’re seeing this horrible truth play out in the story of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim.

She’s a 27 year old mother of one and eight months pregnant with child number two. She and her child are in prison in Sudan.

Why?

Because she’s a Christian and refuses to recant. And conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death. Thank you, Sharia law, for your righteous judgment.

But Islam is the way of peace.

Uh-huh.

Eye roll

This whole situation is tragic. It’s the kind of thing that has me saying, “Let’s just send in Army Rangers and extract her and her family (her husband has U.S. citizenship) by force!”

Probably not gonna happen.

As Christians, stories such as this should not surprise us. Once upon a time they would have been the norm for all Christians. But we’ve grown soft in the last 1700 years. Many of us have had protection and shelter from real persecution.

But it seems as though we’re returning to a place where we can expect more and more of the world to turn against us. It’s in times such as these that the Bible speaks loudly about hope and perseverance. Though troubles like this come, we know that our God controls the big picture, and one day the struggles and trouble of this world will be behind us.

Until then, we can contact political leaders and make a push for intervention. We can share the story and get the word out to the world.

Most importantly, we can pray hard for Christians around the world who face these situations.

**Update**

Meriam has reportedly given birth to a baby girl. Now we wait and see what the Sudanese government does. Now we wait and see what the international community does…

*Related Post*
Persecuted Christianity