Posts Tagged: church

Aug 10

Can Church Be Hip? Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

Dwight Ozard, one of my best friends (who has since died of cancer), wrote an article in 1997 when he was editor of Prism Magazine, "America's Alternative Evangelical Voice," that relates to this topic of Hipster Christianity. The piece was entitled "Rethinking Church To Rescue The Gospel," and I pass it along because I love this line:

For those of us who still believe in the church, our job is not its defense, but its reform…What will that mean? I’m not entirely sure, but here are a few ideas. First, the solution cannot be cosmetic. Simply updating or altering our aging hymnody, liturgies or idiosyncratic language will not make us relevant. (In fact, superficial attempts at relevancy only magnify our irrelevancy in our ever-changing culture – nothing is more annoying than an old guy trying to look young and hip.) No, reform must reach to the core of our vision of what it means to be a believer in America or it will fail. We will fool no one.

McCracken is correct to differentiate between "the authentic and the wannabe." The clearest example to me is the prevalence of "worship bands" at churches. Do they pass the sniff test? In other words, I've been to churches where the people of that church grew up listening to rock/pop/folk music or whatever and the people in the band are obviously talented musicians and have a sensitivity to how to create a worshipful atmosphere. This can feel authentic. But then you go to another church where they obviously have a "worship band" because they feel they should and its a shoe that doesn't fit … and it feels fake.

The YouTube video was made by a fan of Sufjan Stevens' "Abraham," from his Christian-themed album Seven Swans.  Sufjan is pretty much the king of Christian hipsterdom (and one of the great folk musicians of the millennials).  If anyone knows of other quality Christian music that passes the reader's "sniff test," please pass along.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Aug 10

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Obama Skips Church for Golf, Again


From the Boston Herald, the lede of the weekend:

EDGARTOWN – Another Sunday, another missed opportunity for President Obama to prove to America he’s not a Muslim.

But instead of attending church services at one of the dozens and dozens of quaint, island Christian churches yesterday morning, the commander in chief hit Our Lady of the Fairways, aka the Vineyard Golf Club, yet again, to play 18.

“Our Lady of the Fairways” — ouch:

Anyway, it was Obama’s second outing to the posh, private golf club since landing Thursday on The Rock. The prez teed off at 8:30 a.m. under cloudy, drizzly skies. A perfect day to be inside. Like, say, in church!

Now you’d think, with polls showing that one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim – and with the furor over the president’s flip-flops on the Ground Zero mosque – that his White House handlers might have orchestrated a nice little photo op of the first family doing a little vacation worshiping yesterday morning.

Because, despite the administration’s insistence that Barry is a Christian and that he prays daily, most Americans have noticed that Obama rarely attends church. That’s a noticeable departure from previous presidents, such as George W. Bush and Clinton, who were on their knees every Sunday.

Of course, the last time Obama had a regular church, it was Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright fame, and, well, we all know how that turned out.

The president’s handlers have said Obama doesn’t attend services regularly because he doesn’t want to be “hugely disruptive to congregations.” This is apparently not an issue on the golf course. Especially now that the Secret Service is following the boss in golf carts instead of those giant SUVs they drove down the fairways last year!

Following the golf game, the prez went back to Blue Heron Farm and spent the rest of the day in seclusion there.

Big Journalism

Aug 10

Jihadists take the bait, threaten Florida church with suicide bombings

“International Burn a Qur’an Day” does a grave disservice to our efforts. It is a gift to Islamic groups who would so dearly love to portray all of us who criticize and question Islamic teachings (and triumphalist mosques) as frothing reactionaries.

Of all imagery to appropriate from the past century, that of book-burning is utterly disastrous, inviting comparisons with the Nazis’ famous roundup of banned books, and creating an opening for Heinrich Heine’s famous response: “Where one burns books, one will soon burn people.”

The most substantive means of framing the conflict between Western values and Islamic law are productive, not destructive: Artwork, satire, commentary and criticism, to name a few.

Awareness is a mightier weapon than a bonfire.

As such, it would be better to read aloud from the Qur’an for all to hear of its hatred and subjugation of non-believers, the second-class status of women, cruel and unusual punishments, and open-ended calls to warfare in order to impose Islamic law.

Nonetheless, while Islamic advocacy groups are likely squealing with glee at such a free shot at playing the victim, at least one set of jihadists couldn’t contain themselves: “Islamic Radicals Threaten Suicide Bombings Against Gainesville Church,” by Adam Kirk for WOKV, August 23:

[…] One jihadist website vowed to conduct suicide bombings in Florida to avenge the Koran burning, while others predicted an increase in terrorist recruits as a result of such actions.

“By Allah, the wars are heated and you Americans are the ones who…enflamed it,” says one such posting. “By Allah you will be the first to taste its flames.” …

Jihad Watch

Aug 10

Can Church Be Hip?


by Chris Bodenner

Nicole Greenfield reviews Hipster Christianity:

For [author Brett] McCracken, there are two types of hip churches, two types of
hipster Christians: the natural and the marketed, the authentic and the
wannabe. Both Resurrection and its leader fall squarely into the former
categories. And after presenting a brief history of the evolution of
cool and proffering definitions of key terms—the hipster, for example,
is defined in a remarkably vague way as “fashionable, young,
independent-minded contrarian”—McCracken explores both sides,
glorifying the likes of [pastor Vito] Aiuto and Resurrection and criticizing the
wannabes, somewhat playfully, for trying too hard, for “bending over
backward to meet the culture where it’s at,” for being too high-tech,
too shocking, too “rebellious.”

But in part three of Hipster
, McCracken, a self-described “hipster Christian,” adopts a
different tone altogether, a tone decidedly more Christian than
hipster, lashing out at culture, at “the outside,” at cool itself, for
thrusting Christianity into “an identity crisis unrivaled in the
history of the faith.” Christianity and cool are at odds, he argues,
irreconcilable forces that, when engaged with each other, breed
narcissism, incite recklessness, and encourage deviation from faith.

In my experience, especially living in Brooklyn, hipsters can be just as conformist and fundamentalist as Christians. Illustrative guide here. And of course this.

(Photo: Guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy makes his mark in Salt Lake City.)

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Aug 10

Question Amidst Anti-Mosque Flair-Up: What’s The Deal With That Church?

The controversy over the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan has brought up questions about the fate of a church that was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a small building that was crushed by the collapse of the South Tower when the World Trade Center was attacked. Then-Governor George Pataki committed in 2001 to making sure that a rebuilt church was part of the planning, and Mayor Bloomberg agreed after he took office. With the state committed to help rebuild the church, a new building six times the size of the original location was proposed nearby. In March 2009, the offer on the table was that the church would directly receive $ 20-million in public funds, and, since the church would be built above a bomb screening area of the parking structure for the rebuilt towers, the New York-New Jersey Port Authority agreed to pay for a $ 40-million blast proof platform and foundation for the church.

Specific agreements for the state to help rebuild the church date back to 2004 and former Gov. George Pataki, who told Fox News this week that he doesn’t understand why the Port Authority “put roadblocks” in the way of the church’s reconstruction. “It’s not the right thing to do,” he said.

The church lost out on its $ 60 million deal when both sides failed to come to final terms and the Port Authority ended its talks in March 2009, as the New York Times reported at the time.

But Father Mark Arey of the Greek Archdiocese of America told a news station that the they haven’t heard anything since the Port Authority took the deal off the table in August 2009. That was after the church didn’t accept the deal because it wanted to negotiate terms of domain and other issues.

“It’s a little cynical, after 8 years of negotiations and promises from political leaders to say: go back to where you were,” Father Arey said. “We thought we were a partner down there with everyone else… St Nicholas is more than a church. Rebuilding it is important for the soul of our city and soul of our country.”

The proposed new address of 130 Liberty St. would be just 144 feet away from the old location of 155 Cedar St., according to Google maps and a New York Times graphic of the location.

The man in charge of the church, Father John Romas, was temporarily assigned to St. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral. A woman there said he was in Greece until early next month.

Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Port Authority, sent TPMMuckraker this statement:

“St. Nicholas Orthodox Church has always had and will continue to have the right to rebuild on its original location. The question was whether public money would be spent to build a much larger church at a separate location on the site and ensuring that construction wouldn’t delay the World Trade Center further.

On that question, we worked for many years to reach an agreement and offered up to 60 million dollars of public money to build that much larger new church.

After reaching what we believed was an agreement in 2008, representatives of the church wanted even more public commitments, including unacceptable approvals on the design of the Vehicle Security Center that threatened to further delay the construction on the World Trade Center and the potential for another $ 20 million of public funds.

In 2009, we made our final offer, which again included up to $ 60 million in public money and told St. Nicholas Orthodox Church that the World Trade Center could not be delayed over this issue. They rejected that offer.

St. Nicholas Church retains the right to build on its original location and work could begin in 2013 in sequence with the completion of the Vehicle Security Center, just as it would have on the larger site.”

World Trade CenterOrthodox ChurchGeorge PatakiPort AuthorityChurch


Aug 10

What about St Nicholas Church?

The only church destroyed on 9/11 is still not rebuilt – no thanks to Obama and other mosque supporters.
American Thinker Blog

Aug 10

Media: Maybe Obama Should Go To Church More Publicly So People Know He’s Christian

Today, Pew put out a poll showing that 18 percent of the American public believes President Obama is a Muslim. That number includes 31 percent of Republicans. Only 34 percent of the adult public says Obama is a Christian, down from 48 percent in 2009. When asked how they learned about Obama’s religion, 60 percent of the respondents cited the media, with tv mentioned the most frequently.

While journalists and pundits on cable news today did acknowledge the “media” have had a role to play, they also seemed to place some of the blame on Obama and his staff, saying that perhaps the President should go to church more frequently and more openly to show the public that he truly is Christian. Watch it:

First of all, Obama should not have to be bible-thumping on C-SPAN every Sunday in order to prove how Christian he is. Second of all, the poll leaves out a very important source of this misinformation: the irresponsible right wing. As Salon’s Alex Pareene notes:

But the fact that thinking-he’s-a-Muslim tracks so closely with disapproval of his presidency is perhaps a sign that the disappearance of the “responsible” wing of the GOP is helping to make outright bigotry totally acceptable.

Going to church isn’t likely to change the minds of the far right. After all, it was his attendance at church that got him in trouble to begin with.

There have been many news reports over the past few years debunking the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. Nevertheless, the right-wing media continues to push the myth. These fringe views aren’t rejected by influential conservatives, but often embraced, and therefore picked up in mainstream discourse and media. Saying that he needs to publicly change his habits of worship in order to appease people is like saying he needs to roll around in big piles of money to show he isn’t a socialist.

And in the end, there will always be people who can’t be convinced of mainstream positions. Twenty-one percent of the public believes in witches, 41 percent believe in ESP, and 34 percent are convinced that “houses can be haunted.”

Think Progress

Aug 10

Gainesville church planning ‘Burn the Quran Day’ is denied permit, but plans to do it anyway.

Dove2 The ironically named Dove World Church — whose pastor, Terry Jones, has written a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil,” which is also emblazoned on a sign outside the institution — is planning to host “International Burn A Quran Day” on September 11. But the radical church ran into a new roadblock yesterday as Gainesville city officials “denied a burn permit” for the church for the event, effectively telling them doing so would be illegal. The church, undeterred, sent out an e-mail to supporters promising to hold the burning event anyway:

Gainesville officials denied a burn permit for a church that plans to burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The Gainesville church, the Dove World Outreach Center, has a history of inflammatory comments and campaigns against Islam and remained defiant despite the burn permit denial.

In an e-mail sent out Wednesday, the church said, “City of Gainesville denies burn permit – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”

Under the city’s fire protection ordinances, the open burning of books is not allowed. The city’s fire chief, Gene Prince, told a local news station that the “church will be fined if it holds the book burning.” Mayor Craig Lowe, who has in the past referred to the church as a “tiny fringe group and an embarrassment to our community,” told The Gainesville Sun that he supports the officials’ in denying the book burning. “Based upon the law and the ordinances that have been set forward by the city of Gainesville, I support and respect the decision,” he said.

Think Progress

Aug 10

Ground Zero church will not be rebuilt, church officials shocked

Mosque yes, church no, say New York officials. “Decision Not to Rebuild Church Destroyed on 9/11 Surprises Greek Orthodox Leaders,” from, August 18 (thanks to all who sent this in):

Greek Orthodox leaders trying to rebuild the only church destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks expressed shock this week after learning, via Fox News, that government officials had killed a deal to relocate the church.

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, once a tiny, four-story building in the shadows of lower Manhattan, was destroyed in 2001 by one of the falling World Trade Center towers. Nobody from the church was hurt in the attack, but the congregation has, for the past eight years, been trying to rebuild its house of worship.

Though talks between the church and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stalled last year, church leaders say they’ve been trying to kick-start discussions ever since. But amid debate over whether a proposed Islamic community center should go forward near Ground Zero, government officials threw cold water on the prospect of any deal with the church — telling Fox News the deal is off the table.

Confronted with the Port Authority’s verdict, Father Mark Arey, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said it’s the first he’s heard that.

“Negotiations did break off last year. We were expecting to hear from their lawyers — we never did. We’re still expecting to hear from them,” he told Fox News. “We’re disappointed. … 130 Liberty Street was promised to us.”

Arey was referring to the address, about 100 yards away from the original site, where the government earlier proposed relocating the church. The Port Authority and the church announced a deal in July 2008 under which the Port Authority would grant land and up to $ 20 million to help rebuild the church — in addition, the authority was willing to pay up to $ 40 million to construct a bomb-proof platform underneath.

Within a year, the deal fell through and talks ended — apparently for good, according to the Port Authority. […]

George Demos, a Republican candidate for New York’s 1st Congressional District, also has drawn attention to the negotiations. He released an open letter to President Obama Tuesday urging him to, as he did with the mosque debate, weigh in on the church discussions.

“While we may disagree on the appropriateness of the mosque, we can surely agree that it is an issue of national importance that the only house of worship actually destroyed on September 11, 2001, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, be rebuilt,” Demos wrote. “Mr. President, please stand up and defend our Judeo-Christian values, express your public and unwavering support for St. Nicholas Church, and ensure that it is rebuilt.”

Father Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios, told that the Port Authority “simply forgot about the church” at Ground Zero.

Jihad Watch

Aug 10

Why Can A Mosque Get Built At Ground Zero, But A Christian Church Can’t Get Rebuilt?

Amidst all of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, people have forgotten how much has yet to be rebuilt at Ground Zero. Consider the case, for example, of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, crushed when the south tower fell.

It’s been almost nine years since 9-11, and the church still has not been rebuilt. Church leaders have the blueprints drawn and are ready to rebuild, but bureaucrats won’t cooperate, and the church can’t get rebuilt.

The church has for several years wanted to build the new St. Nicholas a block northeast of its original home on Cedar Street. But doing so would require trading land with the Port Authority, and an agreement has proven elusive. In the meantime, the church designed a domed marble complex that would be six times the size of its original home, and far more expensive.

Both St. Nicholas and the Port Authority are eager to resolve the issues quickly, especially since the authority plans to pick a contractor to build the southern perimeter wall for the entire site this summer, and it needs title to the church’s property to proceed. But officials involved in the talks say there remain substantial differences over the size of the church complex and the amount of money the Port Authority will contribute to building it.

“We understand the church’s mission,” said Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority. “It is part of the history of the site and we want to maintain that. We just need to put the project in the right context.”

So an expensive Christian church gets tied up in bureaucratic red tape, while a $ 100 million mosque super-center is waved right on through? Liberal politicians are lining up by the boatload to show their support for the Ground Zero mosque, but I don’t hear too many of them advocating for St. Nicholas to be rebuilt. Instead, the bureaucrats have gotten in the way of the rebuild. The mosque mysteriously doesn’t have that problem; in fact, it was fast-tracked. Mayor Bloomberg and members of his Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0 to allow construction of the Ground Zero mosque, but New York bureaucracy is standing in the way of letting a Christian church get rebuilt. What does it say about this country that we can build a mosque at Ground Zero, created by bloodthirsty Muslim extremists bent on violent jihad, but can’t rebuild a Christian church?


Follow Cassy on Twitter and read more of her work at and Hard Corps Wife.

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