Clash of the Titans LII: Profanity

09/28/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | 19 Comments

NOTE: This Clash contains certain words that might be offensive to some readers. Viewer discretion is advised.

In this corner, against profanity, is Connie!

And in this corner, supporting it, is Chloe!

I have to extol the virtues of not using profanity. I bet you think I’ll pull out Scripture like Col. 3:8 (“…put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language”). I bet you already voted for Chloe’s “swearing isn’t appropriate, but there are rare situations, extreme duress, etc.,” because no one can see you vote anyway… But I have a slightly different spin on this. I didn’t write it for everybody (actually, I wrote it for Job) — I wrote it for us, Christians. Let me tell you a story.

It’s Autumn 1999, and I’m a brand-new substitute teacher called in for the day, trying to wade through lesson plans, homework, assignments and unreadable notes from the ‘real’ teacher — not to mention a bad case of senioritis in one class. The day and period were nearly over and one group of guys were up front talking crude, making the rest of us uncomfortable, so I shut them down. Not to be dissuaded, they continued to discuss their favorite subjects in a disgusting way. Since I’d been interacting with them, I decided to weigh in on the conversation instead of verbally smacking them with my big ol’ Mrs. Maxon Ruler.

Boy: “I told him, you don’t have the b*lls!” (They weren’t talkin’ sports.)

Me: “Cheeeez (imagine the Dog Whisperer noise), stop! That’s not the word you need. What are you trying to say? He’s not BRAVE enough, COURAGEOUS enough, or STRONG enough, maybe? So say what you mean! You have a great brain, use it!” They acted like they’d just been taught something they’d never heard before.

Our language is a beautiful tool. What can beat the feeling of finding the perfect word when we’re trying to describe something? It’s extraordinary, really. The right tool can make all the difference — I was just thinking about that this morning while I was stirring creamer into my coffee with a pencil.

We need the right tools and we need to follow Paul’s instructions and put off the early signals of frustration (anger) that lead to other thoughts (wrath). If we don’t, soon we’ll be wondering where that word popped out from. We are called to be different from this world, and I submit WE ARE DIFFERENT. Look around, go check out those bios. Have you ever seen a more different group of people? When we follow Christ’s directives, that difference draws others, even foul-mouthed teenaged boys, and that makes a difference in the Kingdom.

Profanity in everyday conversations is not appropriate. However, there are times when swearing is necessary. For instance, when writing about difficult subjects, choosing against using profanity will occasionally cause the reader to distrust the author, especially when the reader is not the typical audience.

When writing about poverty, drugs, family abuse and incest, etc., I can’t write, “Sometimes you feel like no one’s there for you,” because it goes much deeper than that for the audience. They would tune me out unless I told it like it was: “You’ve decided no one gives a shit, so you have to take care of yourself.”

Similarly, when talking to someone from those types of situations, I cannot use common descriptions of feeling: “I know losing your baby brother in that drive-by made you upset and angry.” Rather, if I intend to get through to him and show him I understand him, I have to speak his language.

One pastor in LA discovered this while working in a deeply impoverished and drug-infested area. He abandoned Christianese, and now his kids connect with him, and no longer think of him as that rich, white Christian guy who thinks he can fix everything. To them, that kind of person is completely ineffective and doesn’t understand or offer the salvation they need.

In one-on-one conversations, it may also be necessary to speak the other person’s language. I have a dear friend who has gone through horrible things in her life, but if I were to say that to her, she would shut me out. To her, it’s not “horrible things,” but “shit.” Instead of being “angry,” she is “pissed off.” People aren’t jerks…you get the idea.

She doesn’t want an educated, well-spoken Christian to attempt to guide her through a healing path. That person doesn’t understand what she’s gone through, can’t connect with her, and surely will judge her. She wants a real person who’s been there and who can give her some guidance.

Granted, the situations in which profanity is necessary are very rare, but they do exist. Missing them could mean driving away someone you could potentially help, or worse, alienating someone from hearing the good news.



09/28/2007, 9:45 am -- by | 2 Comments

How so like warfare,
my life has now become,
We pause but to bury the dead,
and speak of peace to come.

Age of War, D. Sweet

I’m getting older. Among the myriad ways this creeping thought has insinuated itself into my mind is the fact that the only time I get together with my oldest friends here now is for funerals — to bury our dead. It’s a sad thought and it makes me pensive.

When I was young my mother sang:

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la la la la la la la la la
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days!

The song brings to mind the invincibility we felt when we were young, my friends and me. We really did think that we were the generation destined to change the world. We thought revival would spring forth from the fervent prayers and tears with which we carpeted the altar of our church on Sunday evenings; but the world, it would seem, has stayed the same, still awaiting that glorious appearing of the sons of God. We streamed forward at nearly every service singing…though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back…and yet so many have turned back. I remember their names, each one, and I lift them up before You, Lord.

Back then we thought that the strong young men who stood beside us, and the blazing hearts of the young handmaidens set for battle, would never know defeat. The world was ours, victory assured, yet where did they go? Perhaps, as Jeremiah says, “…those appointed to death, to death; those appointed to war, to war; those appointed to famine, to famine; those appointed to captivity, to captivity.”

Those appointed to jobs, to jobs; those appointed to heartbreak, to heartbreak; those appointed to divorce, to divorce; those appointed to the battle, perhaps to the battle still.

And so young man, young woman, we leave you the Kingdom. May your prayers be more fervent, your tears burn hotter, than ours ever did. May you never grow weary in well doing, knowing that in due time, we shall reap, if we faint not. May you always realize that unto you are given the keys of the Kingdom, and that which you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and that which you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Bind up the brokenhearted, loose the bands of affliction, and know that you are strong, for the word of God abides within you.

And know that it is your time.

Joke of the Day, 9/28/07

09/28/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

The Alabama Highway Patrol pulled a pickup truck over. The officer approached the driver.

“Son, you got any I.D.?”

” ‘Bout what?”

Back on Tract

09/27/2007, 1:15 pm -- by | 1 Comment

©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).


In Praise of Ethnocentrism

09/27/2007, 10:15 am -- by | 2 Comments

I’ve been thinking lately — all these people who tell me that diversity is the world’s greatest value, that all cultures are equally worthy of honor, that the West is ruining everything? Those folks are on to something.

I’ve always known and believed that all people are equally worthy of respect and life. But it’s only recently that I figured out that (1) we can’t judge between cultures, but (2) if we could, our culture is totally the worst!

Think about America. Is it really the land of the free, home of the brave, with democracy, liberty, apple pie and all that? I used to think so! Then I found out some Americans don’t have enough to eat, others are being oppressed, and some don’t even have jobs. Soon the whole ball of lies came unraveled.

Can a ball come unraveled? I guess a ball of lies could, if lies are like strings or rubber bands or something.

Anyway — America, freedom? Nonsense! If we were free, couldn’t everybody come to our nation, like the Statue of Liberty promises? And wouldn’t everything BE free? Obviously our central value is hypocrisy! How can speech be free here if everyone can just disagree with you in public?

I guess my real point isn’t that America’s bad — although it is. . . really bad . . . like, awful — what I’m telling you is that we can’t SAY any other cultures are bad, because that would be rude and mean and judgmental and petty.

We’re all the same, you see? It’s great to be the same! You’d know that if you understood diversity! All cultures are equally wonderful!


Don’t get me wrong — I’m not moving to Burkina Faso anytime soon. I take my cues from the experts, and they’ve taught me that understanding and solidarity have limits. It’s fine and dandy to express my beliefs right here, from the comfort of home — or better yet, my local coffee shop, with free wireless and expensive mochaccinos. See, the oppressed know that I’m with them, because I sign strongly worded petitions and wear hemp.

Don’t hassle me, pigs, I wear it, I don’t smoke it!

Where was I? Or rather, where wasn’t I? That’s Palestine or Tibet or Iran — basically anywhere trendy to talk about that doesn’t demand personal knowledge of the situation. That goes double if The Man thinks the country is dangerous or whatever. I mean, how ethnocentric is that, right? So a leader calls us the “Great Satan” or talks about wiping Israel completely off the map, right? Is it my place to judge? No! It’s my place to try to understand where he comes from! Culturally! And then he’ll do the same, I’m sure!

I’m sure China would be very understanding.

Wait, wait, I know what you’re thinking! You’re saying, Steve, don’t some people do bad things in their cultures? Don’t some subjugate, rape and oppress women as a matter of religious dogma? Don’t some of them actively seek our forced conversion to their beliefs at the price of our lives? Don’t some bind feet, mutilate genitalia, and marry pre-pubescent girls to the local equivalent of Phil Spector? Don’t they even torture political prisoners, kill babies as a national policy, and commit genocide against their own people?

Chill out, man, try the hemp! First of all, you’re forgetting that some Americans are homeless and that George Bush doesn’t care about black people. They stone homosexuals — we don’t let them marry each other. Same thing, dude!

And you’re thinking all Western again anyway! “Bad,” “good,” “right,” “wrong,” what does it all mean anyway? Why choose? We sort of do all that stuff too, or almost the same, like putting people in Guantanamo with just 1 copy of their holy book, limited access to exercise, and only 3 meals a day!

We’re talking cultures here, the way people live their lives! Who are we to judge???

I mean, we can’t look at cultures based on what they produce, or how they’ve improved the world, right? The United States has a GDP of $13.13 trillion (a measure of production), which is 28% of the whole world’s total (source: IMF). You might think, wow, America’s awesome. But wait! We also use a LOT of energy, like, way more than our fair share! 21.5 percent, according to international statistics!! Gotcha, USA!

Plus, some of that GDP is from McDonald’s, so it doesn’t count, okay? Fascists.

Could we possibly fairly judge a culture by the values it espouses? I already told you that we in the West are hypocrites — doesn’t honesty count? I’ll take a madman who’s clear about ruling me based on his interpretation of ancient scripture, including child abuse and chopping off hands, over a guy like our President, whom I just know wants us all under Methodist rule, with mandatory potlucks and baptisms and stuff.

My eyes have been opened and there’s no turning back. Rather than judging cultures based on objective criteria like their accomplishments, respect for life, or peaceful tolerance of dissent, I look at the world through innocent, unbiased eyes. People are basically good, right? So that means we can’t go wrong. I mean, if it was right to judge cultures — if there was an inherently superior way of living, of doing things, of treating people — well, that would mean that someone was wrong.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are a lot of people like me.

People who would rather die than point out what’s wrong.

It’s Just Gettin’ Started

09/27/2007, 9:30 am -- by | 2 Comments

What was ahead for the guy with the woman’s purse??

If you picked “He’ll go to prison, get out, then become a quadriplegic,” WHICH NO ONE DID, you’re a winner!!

©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Least Trusted Occupation

09/27/2007, 8:45 am -- by | No Comments

This edition of the Ask Bweinh! poll is sponsored by Air Transat — the worst airline in the world!

Just read the testimony of another thrilled guest: “Everything about Air Transat was third class. Their staff were . . . miserable, lack lustre, uncaring and appeared to want to be anywhere other than onboard the plane . . . One of our two new suitcases had somehow been ripped apart by the time it arrived at baggage collection at Toronto. . . we eventually gave up trying to deal with the unbelievably unhelpful Air Transat Staff . . . the only way we were able to identify our destroyed suitcase was by recognising a very classy pair of boxer shorts going round and round the carousal. The food was appalling and breakfast on the return flight consisted of a carrot muffin each. . . Air Transat have proved themselves to be far the worst airline we have ever come across.”

Air Transat! We pass the suffering on to you!

The least trusted occupations in the world appear below!

Rank Occupation Points
1. Lawyer 23
2. Politician 20
3. Mechanic 14
4. Used Car Salesman 13
5-6 (tie) Stockbroker; Journalist 6
7-10 (tie) Accountant/Financial Advisor; Telemarketer; Prostitute; Pro Athlete 5
Other Fast Food Worker; Pawn Manager; Banker; Teacher; Tom from MySpace; Construction Worker; Roofer; TV Evangelist; Fortune Teller; Athlete; Pest Control Worker; Dishwasher; Iranian President; Lobbyist; Doctor; Taxi Driver; Movie Star; Priest; Bookie; Military Recruiter 1-4

Quote of the Day, 9/27/07

09/27/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” — E. Hubbard

Blue Rose Code

09/26/2007, 4:30 pm -- by | 5 Comments

There is no better concert than the one where you sit with the band when they aren’t performing. Last night I had the privilege of hanging out with Chris Smith and Blue Rose Code, thanks to my graphic designer friend Jesse. She had been to a Blue Rose Code concert the week before and ended up chatting with Chris, the band manager, about her work. He asked to see her portfolio, liked what he saw, and invited her back to chat with the band about the possibility of working together. I tagged along since Jesse didn’t know these people or where she was going, and ended up discovering a new favorite band.

The concert was at The Distillers, a classy pub in Hammersmith, and though the room where the event was held was more in the style of an open mic, the audience was completely focused on the performers. People who talked were shushed, and any mobiles that dared to ring were promptly tossed out the window. The program was called One Taste, and included a remarkable young man named Jamie Woon, who took a looping device and turned his voice into a full choir and band to accompany his rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger.” Also part of the show was PoeTree Man, a slam poet and tree surgeon who, as part of his performance, had the audience sing and scream like they’d been oppressed for two thousand years.

Blue Rose Code is an Islington band (Islington is a borough of London), although the lead singer, Ross, is from Scotland and Steve, the bass player, is from South Africa. They play relaxed folksy rock, bringing in instruments like the harmonica and fiddle to accent the acoustic guitar and bass. The band members themselves were personable, treating Jesse and me as little sisters, rather than a potential business partner and her random friend. Chris offered to buy us drinks, Steve’s sister told us stories from when she was a student at the London School of Theology, where we happen to be studying now, and Steve and Ross fell in love with the art samples Jesse brought along to show them.

Most important, however, was their music, which was so mellow and nostalgic that I became convinced I could listen to them forever and never grow tired of their style and sound. Blue Rose Code has real talent, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if, in a couple of years, we find their album in our music stores. I encourage you to check them out at MySpace, and if you like what you hear, you can purchase their CD here.

Battle of the Bands XXVIII

09/26/2007, 1:30 pm -- by | No Comments

Moving on is Against All Hope; here’s the next group!


Bible Discussion — Romans 5

09/26/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

This week, looks at the next chapter in the book of Romans, Romans 5.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

And the book of Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4

We’re through the tough sledding of the first few chapters and their focus on human depravity — now it’s time for the payoff, which starts right off with the good news — “therefore, having been justified by faith.” The rest is just icing.

Paul builds on his previous chapter to examine the results of our justification: we have peace with God, and our sufferings have new meaning as they eventually produce hope in us. He also compares Christ’s life-giving ministry to the death-giving “ministry” of Adam’s sin.

Paul explains our new position in Christ, and introduces the idea that the law came to show us our shortcomings, so that we might receive God’s grace.

Verses 13 through 17 are one long parenthetical statement in the NKJV…

God intentionally puts us into a process that includes tribulation so that it can produce patience, experience and hope in us. Too bad he didn’t just make those things “gifts.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read Romans very closely, but now that I’m carefully trudging through the cryptic sentence structure and overloaded nouns, I’m suddenly finding an astounding comfort in these chapters. God’s Son died for His enemies. I was God’s enemy. I am no longer. Praise the Lord!

How much the chapter stresses Jesus’ humanity — His ultimate sacrifice is death, yes, but being fully man for that to be possible was a huge sacrifice as well.

Verse 10 says we are “reconciled” to God through Jesus’ death, but “saved” by his life. Interesting distinction, though we shouldn’t push it too far, I suppose.

Steve: In Due Time
Erin: Received Reconciliation
Mike: Reconciled
Tom: Imputed
Chloe: Powerless; The Trespass
David: Adam’s Transgression

Continued here!

Joke of the Day, 9/26/07

09/26/2007, 7:00 am -- by | 3 Comments

A city boy from New York named Randy moved to the backwoods of Vermont, out in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from the nearest road. After a few months of solitude, he heard a knock at the door.

He opened it to find a giant bearded man in filthy overalls and bare feet. “Howdy!! My name’s John Paul and I’m here to welcome you to the neighborhood! I want to invite you to a party!”

“That sounds great,” Randy said. “I’d be delighted to come.”

“But I gotta warn ya,” John Paul said, “This is Vermont — so there’s usually a lot of drinkin’.”

Randy smiled. “Oh, I’ve been known to have a drink from time to time.”

John Paul scratched his head. “There’ll be dancin’ too — always dancin’.”

Randy nodded and said, “I’m pretty light on my feet; that’ll be fine!”

“There’ll be a fight — there’s always a fight or two.”

Randy nodded grimly. “I’m from New York; I can hold my own.”

John Paul started off, but then looked over his shoulder. “Well, th’ other thing is — at these parties, well, we get to drinkin’ and dancin’, and after the fight, one thing leads to another, and, uh, there’s always a little bit of carnal knowledge, if ya catch my drift.”

“I’ve been here for months and haven’t seen a soul — that wouldn’t be out of the question either! What should I wear?”

“Don’t much matter,” the Vermonter said, walking away.

“Just gonna be you and me.”

Chick Ain’t Over!

09/25/2007, 6:30 pm -- by | 1 Comment

©1984-2007 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).


A New Bweinh!tributor

09/25/2007, 6:23 pm -- by | No Comments

Please welcome our 11th and newest member, Erin, an excellent writer and fantastic dramatic actress — I do not lie when I tell you that her Lady Macbeth surpassed even my own.

She gives us an all-important Houghton College Council majority, and yet another descendant of the greatest of the British Isles.

You may read her biography and those of the other ten Bweinh!tributors (with pictures) here! She will grace us with an article soon.

Alexander the Tate

09/25/2007, 2:00 pm -- by | 1 Comment

Best of Job, April 2006.

Once during a class I was called on unexpectedly by the professor, and asked my opinion on something. Since all my focus had been trained on the parking lot below, I quickly rebooted my brain to retrieve whatever scraps of the question still lingered before they vaporized with the rest of his lecture. You know what I mean — that auditory echo left by the words last spoken. What I produced was nothing shy of amazing. If I were McGyver, I took a paperclip and some pencil shavings and saved the day.

Since I was obviously and painfully blind to the content of the lecture, I had to create my own reality by asking the good doctor a question instead — seemingly rhetorical, “getting at something,” but in all reality just a total snowstorm to buy some time. But somehow the question captured the rest of the period, impressing the teacher with its depth and ability to lasso everyone’s attention.

This same question has gone on to bail me out of several similar situations, CPR to many a failing conversation.

Here it is: if you had a time machine, 25 yards x 20 yards, could you fill it with enough stuff from today to go back to 1 AD and conquer the entire world?

The answer is, of course, YES.

I’m taking three friends and four Yamaha dirt bikes. Along the walls of the enclosure, I will stack a dazzling array of firepower and ammunition. I want lethality and imagery, explosion and precision.

People will simply have to die.

I will require some loudspeakers and a pretty good selection of music as well, but the rest of the time machine will be filled with crack cocaine.

My friends and I touch down somewhere outside a Mongol city. As the speakers blare Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” we’ll come running and gunning out of the time machine on our dirt bikes. Our mission is to tear through the city, capture their king, bring him back to the time machine, and get the lad hooked on drugs.

Then he will be my puppet.

From there, we’re taking our Mongols (and our crack house) to Rome — to bring the world to its knees.


And when professors say the paper is due on Friday, Monday will work out just fine.

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