23 October 2006 

Vespers Vending

In response to the question that Tim posed in a previous comment thread, I have finally gotten around to typing up a response: should churches sell coffeer (or anything else) at a service? When I first thought about it there was some sort of instant feeling that it was wrong, that turning a church into a Starbucks to Go was just something that was inherently, well, not so good. The more I thought about it though, the less convinced I became. There are few biblical texts to go on, the most prominent being Jesus' clearing of the temple in Matthew's gospel. Starting from there you may wonder how then I might approve of commercial enterprise in churches, but there are important differences to be made. Firstly, the temple in Jerusalem is not a church, the buildings themselves are not even analogues aside from their place in culture. The temple was the dwelling of God, the place where people came to worship and make atonement for their sins. The things being sold there, the practices that occured, were defiling to the place and God cannot be defiled. Churches today, however, are not the dwelling of God. Today God dwells in heaven and in the hearts of his followers through the Holy Ghost while the atoning sinless life, death, and ressurection of Christ ensure that he is not defiled there.

So then, what is the chruch building? It's just a building. A structure. Churches often sell books and recordings of sermons or events and various other items without giving us pause. Why then should we condemn the selling of coffee by a corporate chain? Perhaps because in those other circumstances it is the church organization selling the items itself, and there is no danger of distraction or who is working there. Having an outside organization selling raises other concerns, such as who is in control and who are the people working there, will they respect the congregation? But if not, then why would the church allow such people in its building? Theologically though, there is nothing that I can find that prohibits such. I mean, I know of churches that have met in coffee shops in their early days simply for lack of space. The church goes with God's people and is therefore no more or less holy than anywhere else God's people may be found. Parts of creation are not made sacrosanct, unable to be touched and holier than others. Creation itself is beautifully inert, and we should care and protect it, but only when necessary.

So, to conclude, I believe that churches are no more or less sacred than other places. Business practices are not evil, and are not defiling to the church building. Christ ensures the holiness of his followers and therefore the temple of God (which makes his cleansing of the physical temple much more symbolic, don't you think?). At the same time, wisdom must be consulted if this sort of thing is being considered. While I don't think there's anything sinful about it, I think it could be a detractor from a worship service. If outsiders are given control over part of the church at worship (which indirectly could be happening) the church much weigh the cost of such ammenities against the control and freedom to worship as commanded. That said, I think it's okay if caution is exercised.

The end.

19 October 2006 

in special recognition...

in special recognition of the st. louis cardinals' world series berth agains the detroit tigers, i just wanted to say....


02 October 2006 

By Special Request

So at the behest of Ms. Mary Horning, I'm going to try to write something. Try is probably the key operative here, since at the moment I'm not feeling especially profound, thoughtful, or even contemplative. My lifestyle at the moment is a fairly happy, if somewhat routine, existance. Cedar Campus is a very quiet place in the wintertime. And yes, it is very nearly winter here. I've been wearing my winter coat about a week now and I've scraped ice off my windshield twice already. I've moved into the McClure Center apartment, which is quite a long haul from the point cabins. Having my own indoor bathroom is a blessing that I had very nearly forgotten about. Still, the quiet solitude here is less oppressive than I thought it might be. I find myself enjoying long stretches of time alone, with a chance to read or think, study and pray. I've got a small porch now, and despite the cold, I've been smoking my pipe out there at every chance with my friend Matt who is one of the cooks here.

The job part of living here is going well also. I work 4-5 days a week in the office as the tech dude. Sometimes on busy weeks I also spend a day or two in the kitchen helping prepare food for the campers, though right now there are few of those also. There is a lot of work involved in closing the camp down. Moving boats, cleaning buildings, making small repairs/improvements, moving services, inventory. I think I've done a little bit of all of that in the last two weeks, mainly taking down and inventorying the camp store then moving it from the rec hall to the lodge. That process took three of us nearly a week, and this week I'm going to spend most of my free time entering the data from the inventory into our database so we can start ordering on Nov 1. The tech part of my job mainly involves fixing problems, though we are continuing to reorganize and streamline the network infrastructure. I'm still working at typing up documentation from the upgrade we did over a month ago, and over the last weekend I used some free time to implement an upgrade of my own.

It's an interesting job field for me. I have no formal training in networking technology or solutions, but I am finding myself very engaged by it, and I seem to be pretty good at it. The camp has a lot of cool equiptment that is not being utilized, and its fun to see what sort of solutions I can come up with. For instance, the far side of the camp, Mariner's Cove, doesn't have a wireless internet solution aside from one room in the 1st floor of the lodge. One goal for the camp is to have the lodge and the smaller rec building on this side covered by the network. To accomplish that we had been looking into installing some DSL converter boxes to run across the bay, a very troublesome and expensive task. Seeing as how I just moved to one of the buildings not yet covered, I decided to take it up to see what I could do. By using some existing APs the camp had lying around and a very nice external antennae that they were contemplating selling, I was able to establish that with the right configuration the antennae and AP could be used to cover the area they wanted, however, hooking it back into the network from the point where it would yield that coverage was something not obvious. I figured out that by modifying the existing AP on this side, I could extend its range and use the external antennae and AP as a repeater for the original AP, covering the entire area with one useable wireless signal. Now, maybe if you know anything about networking you are thinking, well, duh. But, no one here seemed to know that stuff was available, or that it could be used as a solution of the problem. And for me, to figure it out on my own was probably the best way to learn it that I could have come upon. I had forgotten how much I missed problem solving in that way.

Anyway, that was a long story about work, and my lifestyle here, so maybe that will help me get back in the writer's mindset. In one sense there just isn't enough happening around here to stimulate interesting stories or ideas that I would want to share with you. My own personal study and growth recently has all been pretty dry and academic in the areas of Old Testament Theology, though I have come up with some interesting arguements to finally convince Erik that Intervarsity is not a church ;-). Other than that I've spent a lot of time musing over the innane number of seemingly unneeded box that we have for sale here. Books on all sorts of things that people really just don't need. I wonder if its worth pointing out that too many Christians seem to turn to self help books and authors to solve problems that a good understanding of the bible would quash in a second. Hmmm. That said, there are some very interesting titles that I think I'd enjoy reading just to see what they are about. Two of my favorites? The Unneccesary Pastor and I Gave Dating A Chance (the antithesis to the silly yet popular I Kissed Dating Goodbye written by the otherwise doctrinely sound Josh Harris).

The audio from the past weekend's Desiring God Conference should be online very soon, I can't wait to hear it, or to hear how it went from my buddy Blake who was in attendance. That's it for me now, I am finally starting to miss television, as I've recently been rehooked watching 24 season four, and knowing that the Lost season priemer is this week also, but such is the price of my unplugged life. Aside from the fact that I'll just download them on BitTorrent of course :-). Okay, goodnight everybody!