Shuck and Jive

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nominated as the world's best short joke of 2007

A nameless First Presby sent this. You guess the gender. I have no idea who inspires my congregation's juvenile behavior.

A 3-year-old boy examined his testicles while taking a bath.

"Mom," he asked. "Are these my brains?"

"Not yet," she replied.


  1. Lovely. The article about peace gets booted out of the top spot by a joke about testicles. Couldn't be more perfect!

  2. I must confess to having something of an identity crisis. When I became a Christian in my early teens it was through reading Hal Lindsey's "Late Great Planet Earth." And so my early spiritual nurturing came from Evangelical and Fundamentalist influences.

    This continued into my college career, as I attended a conservative, actually I would say quasi-fundamentalist, college in northern Georgia.

    It was there that I began to have my first real doubts regarding the version of Christianity I had been taught was the "correct" one. I eventually espoused positions that, to many of my fellow students, were intolerably liberal:

    1.) I came to believe that there was nothing wrong with women serving as ordained clergy.

    2.) I concluded that the earth is far older than 10,000 years and that the first chapter of Genesis should not be interpreted literally.

    3.)I rejected the whole pre-millennial eschatological scheme in favor of an amillennial
    approach that, as with Genesis, saw much of Revelation as symbolic.

    4.)I developed grave concerns about the growing alliance between conservative Christians and the Republican party. And while I remained pro-life, I stopped believing that the abortion issue is the sole topic worthy of consideration in deciding who to vote for.

    5.)I realized that gay people are not demon possessed sex perverts, and that homosexuals who demonstrate faith in and devotion to Christ are every bit as Christian as heterosexual believers.

    And so, over time, I distanced myself more and more from the highly conservative Christianity of my formative years.

    But, in evaluating the positions held by the good Pastor Shuck, as well as others who identify themselves as Progressive Christians, I find I have major differences with them:

    1.) I believe the the Nicene and Apostolic creeds, as historically understood, define what Christianity essentially is. I really do believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, really did rise bodily from the dead, and really will physically return to earth one day.

    This is not to say that those who profess Christ while denying these doctrines do not participate in the grace offered by God to all people.
    It is not to say that they are not Christians. I would say, however, that I would regard them as outside the stream of orthodox (small o) Christianity, and that this is a significant difference that should not be swept under the rug.

    2.) I believe that there is one path to God, namely Jesus Christ. However, I stand against any claims that non-Christians are denied salvation or fellowship with God.
    The best way I can express is to say that, while Christ is the only path to God, Christianity is not the only path to Christ.

    Just as I reject the fundamentalist notions of a "literal burning Hell" awaiting all who die as non-Christians, I also reject the idea that everyone has their own "truth" that works for them.

    In truth, I don't think anyone really believes that anyway. Imagine this: on a bright Sunday morning a dark haired young man with a brushy mustache and a swastika armband walks into a local Progressive Church.

    He announces "I am so glad to finally find a church that accepts my way of understanding God. For me, the character of the Almighty is best shown in the life, teachings and example of Adolf Hitler." So much for all paths being equally good!

    3.) As I rejected the tendency of evangelicals and fundamentalists to ally themselves with political conservatives, I am also concerned with tendencies I see in the Progressive community.

    There seems to be an eagerness to accept liberal causes without critical analysis. In the name of accepting science, I see a rush to embrace standard evolutionary teachings, global warming forecasts, and other positions which strike me as based on flimsy evidence. I get the impression that most Progressive Christians dread above all else that someone may think of them as unsophisticated.

    So, where do I stand in the wide spectrum of belief? The term I prefer for myself is simply moderate, or perhaps "progressively orthodox." The question is, is there room for such a creature as I in the Progressive Christian movement, or am I doomed to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole?

  3. Welcome Freethinker!

    Great! Sounds like you are thinking for yourself.

  4. Freethinker sounds like me! Keep making me think for myself John. Love the joke. I sent it to my husband a while back, he didn't get it!

  5. "The question is, is there room for such a creature as I in the Progressive Christian movement, or am I doomed to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole?"

    I'd call myself a progressive Christian, and I don't agree with all sorts of other progressive Christians on all sorts of topics. We Progressives aren't the ones metaphorically burning other Christians at the stake because they disagree with us, so yes, freethinker, I'd say there's plenty of room for you within "Progressive" Christianity.

  6. I don't buy the strawman built around an anonymous person (who from the description sounds like the late Groucho Marx) walking into a "Progressive Church" wanting to worship Hitler.

    Let me provide a counterexample (that's actually reasonably close to something that happened in my church recently):

    What if a man wearing a yarmulke, with long payot and bushy beard walked in and said "while I don't believe in Jesus as the Messiah or as God incarnate, I am glad to finally find a church that accepts my way of finding God. For me, the character of the Almighty is shown in these books, including the Talmud."? Should we be equally horrified? Or should we sit down with him and try to learn something from each other?

    As far as the tendency of religiously-progressive Christians to ally themselves with religiously-progressive politics, let's look at some of the issues:

    Stewardship of creation/advocating environmental justice...check

    Caring for "the least of these"/advocating social justice...check

    Nurturing the God-given gifts of intellect and curiosity through scholarship/advocating science and education...check

    I could go further, but frankly, a lot of these "political" issues are in fact religious ones as well. And frankly, almost all Presbyterians, conservative, liberal, and everything in between have always placed a very high priority on scholarship and intellectualism. We see our devotion to loving the Lord our God with all our mind as one of our particular contributions to Christendom.

  7. The hypothetical scenario about the young Nazi is hardly a "strawman." The straw man fallacy you refer to is when one creates a weakened version of an opponent's argument, then proceeds to tear that down.
    What I offered was not that at all, but rather an illustration.

    To reiterate, the point I was making is that no one really believes that all paths are equally good. The Jewish fellow you mention would certainly be welcome in my church, St. John's Episcopal, as I am sure he would no doubt be welcome in Pastor Shuck's fellowship. Conversely, I doubt that either church would be open to listening to the fascist expound on the timeless truths of Mein Kampf. So my point stands.

    In regards to the issues advocated by progressive christians, the concern is not so much with them as the ways they sometimes find expression in particular political stands.

    For example, try to question the idea that global warming is human caused and some people are ready to crucify you.

    Also, social justice and compassion are fine, but some on the left equate these things with advocating government regulation and welfare. Those who favor private charity and laissez-faire capitalism are often decried as heartless.

    Finally, in regards to advocating science and education...again, all well and good. But there are those who equate respect for scholarship with accepting the claims of naturalistic evolution, as well as approaches to biblical scholarship with seem driven by a revisionist agenda. Simply because a position is taken by a majority of scientists does not make it true, yet some seem to think it does.

    I would also take exception to your remark that "We see our devotion to loving the Lord our God with all our mind as one of our particular contributions to Christendom." Long before Calvin walked the earth Augustine, Anselm and countless others were not only brilliant thinkers but also champions of the life of the mind. There seems no basis for saying that "loving the Lord our God with all our mind as one of OUR PARTICULAR contributions to Christendom."

    I am also curious as to why you chose a confrontational approach as your way to welcome a new participant to this forum. Might you not have offered a few words of welcome at least? "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for in so doing some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2).

    Nevertheless, I would like to say that I appreciate being here. Thank you for your comments and have a good evening.

  8. "In regards to the issues advocated by progressive christians, the concern is not so much with them as the ways they sometimes find expression in particular political stands. ... [various examples follow].."

    I'm not sure I understand your point.

    Yes, some liberals are jerks. No surprise there. Yes, some conservatives are jerks. No surprise there either.


    You originally asked if there was room for someone with conservative beliefs in progressive Christianity. Surely there is if one is willing to get past sweeping generalizations about one side or the other, or the fact that there is always someone who is going to disagree with you, regardless of your ideology. I have found that often the difference between conservatives and liberals, in my experience, is that liberals are much less likely to call you a heretic and burn you at the stake if you don't literally believe in the Virgin Birth, for example.

  9. Freethinker, if your very first comment violates Godwin's Law, then brace yourself. Welcome, but be prepared for a raucous conversation. It's kind of refreshing actually, as it's usually us liberals who are accused of bringing up Hitler at the slightest provocation.

    I am still fuzzy on the definition of "progressive Christian" and whether I would define myself as one. One of the big problems is that "liberalism" in Christianity is a very distinct theological term that does not mean the same thing as "liberalism" as a political term. Likewise "progressive" as a religious term means something different from "progressive" as a political term. It doesn't help that not only are the theological and political terms used interchangeably when they should not be, but "liberalism" and "progressivism" are used interchangeably when they should not be.

    While "progressive" may be substituted for "liberal" (and the typical conservative response that it is just a euphemism after Reagan successfully demonized the term "liberal"), it is actually distinct. It is a merging of liberalism and economic & social populism. The first progressive movement brought us the right to vote for Senators, women's suffrage, child labor laws, antitrust laws, the right to organize and environmentalism.

    The original progressives often came from a religious standpoint. One of the most powerful progressive voices was William Jennings Bryan, a devout Presbyterian and proponent of the Social Gospel. Bryan's biggest objection to Darwinism was Social Darwinism (itself not something Darwin came up with), the idea of "survival of the fittest" and the idea that the poor are poor because they are inferior. He thought that was anti-Biblical. It's certainly contrary to what Jesus talked about. Bryan and the Progressives were by no means perfect (in their fervor they successfully enacted prohibition), but they were an important voice in the formation of modern America.

    Part of that was the acknowledgement that as citizens in a Constitutionally-limited, democratic republic, Christians are part of "We the People". As such, the Church should advocate helping the poor in the means that does the most amount of good for the greatest number of people. And yes, the fact remains that "private charity and laissez-faire capitalism" alone do not do this at all, and often contribute to the problem. See The Great Depression.

    Government is not the solution to all problems. However, it can be very effective at solving big ones, and in a government owned by We the People, we have an obligation to make it work. Ya know, the whole "promote the general welfare" thing.

    As far as the global warming issue goes, I have yet to see a Presbyterian church where anyone has been "crucified" because they "question the idea that global warming is human caused". It's a silly thing to question, but if you want to also question the heliocentric theory, please yourself. However, it's the argument that proceeds from this "question" which will stir up controversy: anti-environmentalism. Yes, we have a sacred duty to care for creation, and if you argue for less control of pollution and more wasteful burning of fossil fuels (and the environmental and human toll of getting them out of the ground), you're gonna find some resistance from people who find that behavior sinful. I think that's the point that Alan and John are making about progressive Christianity. It's far more tolerant of differing ideas, but much less of injustice.

    Seems logical to me. Certainly more logical than the idea that someone would walk into any mainline church preaching from Mein Kampf.

  10. "Seems logical to me. Certainly more logical than the idea that someone would walk into any mainline church preaching from Mein Kampf."

    Again, your posts come across in a "tit for tat" manner. I am beginning to wonder how the poor Jewish fellow you mentioned would fare in your presence after all.

    As far as your remark about Godwin's Law, I offer this:
    "The Lord's servant must never argue. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct..."(2 Timothy 2:25).

    When your remarks begin to reflect such a spirit then I will be more than happy to dialogue with you. Until and unless such a day emerges I shall exercise my prerogative to simply ignore your posts.

  11. Knock yourself out.

    As far as one person bringing up some points and others addressing those points, say in a "tit for tat manner", it's a technique called "conversation". It's really quite fun!

    And yes, the Rabbi and I had a fabulous conversation and we both look forward to future discussions.

    BTW, it helps, particularly when speaking with a Jew, not to make gratuitous Hitler references to score a cheap point.

  12. I'm not sure what this discussion about Hitler and progressive Christianity has to do with a boy's testicals (although there was a song that went around during World War II about Hitler having only one ball).