Thursday, September 25, 2003

It's Probably Just the Autumnal Equinox

Have you noticed a chill in the air? Are we getting closer to a freezing over of Hell? The BRF and the VOS have found common ground at last!

But, then again, maybe it's that free ice cream that NYAC registrants are being offered in January.
Mixed-up Reviews
A story of a Very sick tree.

by Paul Bunyan

Recent discussions in the COB-L listserv have centered on the topic of favorite books. One favorite mentioned was described as "seeming to advocate an extremely unhealthy relationship, in which one entity is always 'giving' and the other always 'taking'". The following article is reprinted from the April 1, 1996 issue of our very own Gospel Messenger.

"Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

But on closer examination this story turns out to be more about a sick relationship rather then a tender story aglow with consolation.

"As the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave." This one-sided relationship is the very definition of codependency.

The selfish boy is bad enough. He crowns himself King of the forest and otherwise shows his selfish nature. There is no recognition that this tree is a part of God's holy creation. As an environmentalist, I was appalled by the boy's poor stewardship.

Starting off small as a boy with "give me your leaves" until, as an old man, he has taken everything from the tree. And what has the boy done in return? He did take his pocket knife and carve his initials into the tree not once but twice. Mostly it is a story of neglect; "the boy stayed away for a long time."

My major disappointment is with the tree. All this suffering and there is no sign of growth on the part of the tree. The tree is forever trying to recapture the time when the boy swung in her branches.

The boy grew older, but the tree stayed the same. Each time that the boy returned, the tree would ask the boy to swing from her branches. The tree never got past this point it their relationship.

What excuse does the tree have for this abuse? The book would have you believe that the tree loved the little boy. This is not a good model of love that we should be presenting to our impressionable children.

I was happy with this book… but not really.

Paul Bunyan is a lumberjack and he's okay. He sleeps all night and he works all day. He cuts down trees; he eats his lunch; he goes to the lavatory. On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea.

Mixed-up Reviews critiques books, films, and other products of the entertainment media that speak to Brethren, Sisters, or Orphans living out their faith. The reviews are not to be taken as the
Gospel Messenger's endorsement, necessarily. Rather, we present them as helpful information for readers who encounter the subjects they treat.


Addendum: Perhaps the giving tree was practicing nonresistance and it is the destination of trees to become stumps.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Life in Plastic, it's Fantastic

She's a barbie girl, in a barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
you can brush her hair, undress her everywhere.
Imagination, that is your creation.
- Aqua

The big topics for the evangelical sector are sexuality, women pastors, biblical authority, and modest dress.

The BRF has declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the toy are offensive.

The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice lists the dolls on a section of its Web site devoted to items deemed offensive.

"Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful," said a poster on the site.

The poster, plastered with pictures of Barbie in short dresses and tight pants, and with a few of her accessories, reads: "A strange request. A little girl asks her mother: Mother, I want jeans, a low-cut shirt, and a swimsuit like Barbie."

Such posters are distributed to schools and hung in the streets by the religious police. Vice police officials were not available for comment Monday.

"It is no problem that little girls play with dolls. But these dolls should not have the developed body of a woman, and wear revealing clothes," a spokesman said.

"These revealing clothes will be imprinted in their minds and they will refuse to wear the clothes we are used to," he said.

Other items listed as violations on the site included Valentine's Day gifts, perfume bottles in the shape of women's bodies, and decorative copies of religious items - offensive because they could be damaged and thus be an insult.

Come on Barbie, let's go party!
Comparative Religion

As a service to our readership, we provide this look into various religions' outlooks on life.
Agenda RIP

Next month marks the finale of a venerable Brethren institution as the October issue of the Agenda newsletter will be the final edition to be published. The newsletter serving 7,000 leaders of Church of the Brethren congregations has been in existence since October 1970. While its format has evolved over the years, its primary purpose has always been the same — to provide resources for local church leaders.

The church's financial struggles have claimed another victim but the silver lining to this cloud can be realized. A limited number of the October 2003 newsletter have been printed which means that they are bound to increase in value as collector items. Contact the Communications Office now to get your copies while they last. And be sure to store them in airtight containers to help them keep that hot off the presses look and feel.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


Where's Witness?

With the recent waning of the General Board Witness Office, many among the Brethren are wondering how David Radcliff's shoes will be filled. Much of the program which were established under Radcliff's tenure will remain in place. But not to worry, an independent organization has borrowed liberally from the COB Witness web site and will be picking up the slack.