Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Share Your Faith (Evangelism Radiohead Style)

The music video to Radiohead's "Just" came out in 1995 and was directed by Jamie Thraves. It is one of the best music videos I've ever seen and I believe it has a lot to teach persons of faith about evangelism (the act of sharing your faith). If you haven't watched the video, you should do so before reading on.

In the video we encounter a middle-aged man who, for reasons unknown, lies down in the middle of a busy sidewalk. His strange behavior is immediately noticed by those used to the same old routine of walking to work, etc. In fact, his limp body literally gets in the way and trips a passerby. The tripped bloke is both upset and mystified by the man lying down and proceeds to ask him questions. Eventually, a crowd of people is intrigued by the man's peculiar behavior and are literally begging the man to explain his motive. When he finally shares the explanation for his behavior, the crowd is persuaded to join him. The last scene depicts all the people laying on the sidewalk together.

Is this not a perfect example of how to share your faith? Never mind that the man seems to be depressed, this is not what matters here (nor am I attempting to interpret the song or video). What matters is the relationship between his actions and his sharing. Namely, the man's actions precede his speaking. Moreover, the man's speaking is a response to the inquiries of others about his actions. 

What we see in this video is a man who does something out of the ordinary and sparks a host of responses including curiosity, concern, and disgust. I would argue that this is almost identical to the way we see Jesus operate in the Gospels. Jesus was constantly responding to questions and criticism because of his actions. Just to name a few... 
  • Matt. 9:10-11 - Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?
  • Matt. 9:14 - Why are you not fasting according to custom?
  • Matt. 12:1-3 - Why do you pick grain on the Sabbath?
  • Matt. 15:1-3 - Why don't you follow purity laws before you eat?
  • Matt. 21:23 - By what authority do you do these things?
  • Matt. 26:7-8 - Why did you let this woman waste her perfume?
  • Mark 11:5 - Why are you taking this colt?
  • John 4:9 - Why do you ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water?
  • John 9 - Who healed you? How is your eyes have been opened?
In addition to these specific instances, think about all the times that Jesus is doing things: baptism, healing, praying, sharing meals, and cleansing the Temple. Jesus did not go around handing out tracts about the kingdom of God, he lived it out in his actions and people could not help but respond.

Perhaps this is exactly how people of faith ought to "do" evangelism today. Perhaps we are called to do things that are so peculiar, out of the ordinary, and compelling, that others cannot help but inquire as to our motives. 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MELT: Bar & Grilled (Cleveland, OH)

Rule #1 for all road trips is Pack Your Toothbrush. Rule #2: Find Unique, Local Eateries. There's no reason you should ever stop at a fast food chain on your travels (save for bio-breaks, of course). There are too many culinary diamonds in the rough scattered across the U.S.A. to waste your time and money on that synthetic carbon copy of a sandwich. You've just got to do a little research before you go.

Before my recent road trip to Cleveland I checked out Guy Fieri's website for his TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The best way to search is through THIS site. Just search for the city closest to your destination and you'll find tons of results. This is how divine intervention brought me to one of the best sandwiches I've ever had at MELT: Bar & Grilled. MELT serves over 30 kinds of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Cue salivary glands.

The environment is fun and upbeat but not too loud that you can't hold a conversation. It is decorated floor to sealing with kitschy knick-knacks, signs, and graffiti. Instead of waiting 30 minutes for a table, we sat at the bar where food is also served. There is tons of space at the bar and we had our food in under 30 minutes.

I ordered "The Firecracker" grilled cheese which consisted of a blackened Cajun chicken breast topped with avocado and grilled pineapple between melted provolone and toast. It was so good that I texted "OMG" to myself. The french fries were among the best I've ever had as well. The plate also included a sweet cole slaw that was dry (not mayo based) and delicious. See photos below for more (click to enlarge).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Giving is the Means of Receiving

"Why must we give ourselves fully to God? Because God has given himself to us. If God who owes nothing to us is ready to impart to us no less than himself, shall we answer with just a fraction of ourselves? To give ourselves fully to God is a means of receiving God himself. I for God and God for me. I live for God and give up my own self, and in this way induce God to live for me. Therefore to posses God we must allow him to posses our soul." - Mother Teresa

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Why Health Reform is Good News for the U.S. Economy"

The following is taken from Diane Francis' National Post column. Read full essay here.

"It works this way: If a worker in Canada or Europe or Japan loses his or her job, it’s a psychological and income blow. But if an American worker loses his or her job, the family faces financial ruin if sickness strikes any member because they are without health care coverage. Worse yet, if a major illness is diagnosed during a period of unemployment, a worker becomes unemployable, bringing about a life sentence of poverty.

1. The U.S. spent 16.2% of its GDP on health care plus up to 3% more on litigation concerning medical bills while other countries spend 10% and nothing on litigation because bills are paid by everyone. Lawsuits to recoup medical costs will slow because of Obamacare.
2. People with serious illnesses are uninsurable and are stuck in jobs they cannot leave or remain unemployed because they are unemployable. This will end if everyone’s covered.
3. Tens of millions of uninsured people in the U.S. end up with health problems that become a drain on society and economy. Under this reform, the 50 million uninsured people, mostly young healthy people, will have to be insured or pay fines, which will reduce overall costs because the paying base will be spread over the entire population.
4. Doctor, nursing, hospital and drug costs are out of control in the U.S. because of litigation and greed. American doctors over-service those with health insurance and fear of litigation has led to over-prescribing, testing and excessive costs. That fear has been removed."
Read full essay here.