Monday, January 31, 2005


Frosty Threatens Suit

Animated movie actor Frosty the Snowman announced on Tuesday that he has placed Attorney Johnnie Cochran on retainer and is considering a civil suit against the Church of the Brethren, an Elgin, Illinois, based denomination. Frosty alleges that he suffered irreparable harm to his reputation from the comments made during the Church of the Brethren Christmas Eve Service broadcast on CBS. During that service Oakton, Virginia, pastor Christopher Bowman criticized the cartoon character’s appearance and suggested that he was not fit to be present in a nativity display.

At a hastily called press conference, an obviously distraught Frosty said the nationally broadcast criticism was interfering with his ability to make a living. “My agent says that all interest in me has evaporated. I was hoping for a guest shot on The Simpsons, but after Christmas Eve they called and said they were going in another direction. Everyone in the industry is freezing me out.”

Religious scholars are at a loss to explain why the Church of the Brethren harbors such animosity towards Frosty. According to Marin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, the Brethren are known as a peaceable people. “It just doesn’t make sense. Frosty is a lot like the Brethren – he’s non-violent and appears to live simply. I have no explanation,” Marty said. “I just hope this is an isolated event and not the beginning of a trend for the Brethren.”

Frosty has the same concern and says it is part of the reason he is considering legal action. “At first thought, ‘Why me?’” he said. “Then I began to think, if I don’t stand up against this, who will be next? Rudolph? Santa?”

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Frosty Damned
Church of the Brethren Leader Declares Famed Snowman Will Spend Eternity In Hell

Apparently, being a "jolly, happy soul" isn't enough to get you through the pearly gates - at least according to the Church of the Brethren. The small denomination, known for its commitments to peace, service and ecumenical cooperation, shocked millions of viewers of the nationally broadcast Christmas Eve service on CBS by announcing that Frosty the Snowman is destined to spend eternity in steam. Thousands flooded CBS with phone calls and emails complaining about the vicious attack on the beloved cartoon character in the midst of an otherwise pleasant and upbeat program.

Mention of Frosty and his fate came midway through the brief sermon given by Christopher Bowman, former moderator of the denomination and current Oakton, Virginia, pastor. Bowman began by insulting the snowman's appearance, saying Frosty has "a face that looks like a botox treatment gone bad." Bowman went on to describe the character who has brought joy to millions of children as "cold" and "hard." A few moments later, Bowman drove home his argument that Frosty doesn't belong among the redeemed by stating plainly, "He'll never get it. He can't help himself. He'll never change".

Asked after the service for an explanation, Gene Roop, president of the denomination's seminary said, "It may have sounded like a personal attack, but Chris is just too nice to do such a thing. I'm sure he simply meant that Frosty is not among the elect." Roop added, "I'm sorry if people were offended, but the Brethren have always been willing to take controversial positions. If necessary, we will gladly suffer for our beliefs."

A representative for the Brethren Revival Fellowship, a conservative advocacy group within the Church of the Brethren, was supportive of Bowman. According to a member of their governing board, "It was great to hear someone from our denomination preach the truth - and the truth is, some people are going to hell, whether they like it or not, Personally, I always suspected that Frosty was engaged in an unacceptable lifestyle."

Ecumenical reaction was mixed. The United Church of Christ headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, indirectly criticized the Brethren by issuing a statement that said, in part, "while some churches may use bouncers to keep cartoon characters out of their churches, we do not. Jesus wouldn't have turned Frosty away, and neither will we." The Vatican put out a press release that claimed Frosty was actually headed for purgatory and recommended that concerned fans sponsor masses in Frosty's memory. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, were generally supportive of Bowman's claim, noting that the reference to "magic in that old silk hat they found" suggested the snowman was involved with occult practices and belonged in hell, suffering forever along with pagans, free-thinkers and liberals of all stripes.

Some offended cartoon fans have begun to picket Church of the Brethren offices in Elgin, Illinois, but so far no apology has been forthcoming. Wendy McFadden, publisher of the denominational magazine, Messenger, has responded, "Chris said it. We believe it. That settles it."

Friday, January 28, 2005

NYC Theme

Artists Sought

The National Youth Cabinet and the Youth and Young Adult Office invite Brethren artists to submit ideas for a logo representing the theme for next summer's National Youth Conference. It is the desire of the cabinet to have both a static and dynamic version of the logo, but they are not expecting artists to submit dynamic versions at this time.

The theme, just announced by the committee is "For such a time as this, come to the edge with eyes of faith and see!" Please ponder the theme as you design a logo possibility.

Drawings and explanations of logo entries must be received by the Youth and Young Adult Office no later than July 15, 2005. Submissions must be on paper size 8 1/2" x 11" or smaller. If you choose to submit a color entry, we also request one in black and white. The Church of the Brethren logo may not be used as part of the design. All entries should include the artist's name, address, and phone number on a separate sheet of paper. The National Youth Cabinet intends to select a logo at its fall meeting. The artist whose design is selected should be prepared to consult with our graphic designer for final adjustments, to participate in developing a dynamic version of the design, and to participate in production of any large scale versions (i.e. banners, worship center, etc.)

The mailing address is Youth and Young Adult Office, Attention: NYC Theme Logo, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Way and Means

Madness To Our Methods

It has been said that Christians have been adapting their means on a continual basis. Who first used the printing press? Christians. Who first used tracts? Christians. Who first used radio? Christians. Who got on to the Internet? Christians.

However, one of the primary drivers behind these very means is the adult entertainment industry. As goes pornography, so goes technology. This concept may seem odd, but history has proven the adult entertainment industry to be one of the key drivers of any new technology. Pornography customers have been some of the first to buy home video machines, DVD players and subscribe to high-speed Internet.

Does the end justify the means?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

One leg at a time.

One Leg At A Time

Contrary to any rumors you've heard, you don’t need square pants to visit this summer’s VOS booth at Annual Conference and you’re more than welcome to visit the BRF booth regardless of the shape of your jeans.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Could it be satan?

The Great American Satan?

President Bush's "Hook 'em, 'horns" salute got lost in translation, when shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.

That's what it means when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Death Spiral

Effort to Save Brethren Medical Plan from the Death Spiral

A financial crisis in the Brethren Medical Plan has prompted Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) to initiate a new requirement for the denomination's 23 districts. BBT has instituted "The Force", a requirement that each district must have at least 75 percent of its congregations committed to participating in the plan by Aug. 31, 2006. The requirement makes church employees in each district eligible as a group. A district that does not meet the requirement, and its pastors and church employees, will not be eligible for the plan after Dec. 31, 2006.

The Brethren Medical Plan is in a "Death Spiral" created by greater numbers of high-risk participants, BBT president Wil "Skywalker" Nolen said in October when he updated the General Board about the status of the plan. Pastors and other church employees have not been signing on in great enough numbers to maintain a good spread of risk, he said. A high number of pastors in the plan are considered high risk and "aren't insurable anywhere else," Nolen added.

BBT hopes that The Force will revitalize the Brethren Medical Plan, as pastors and church employees and their families return to the plan and help stabilize risk. Mennonite Church USA stabilized its denominational medical plan through a similar 75-percent participation requirement for districts, BBT reported. Benefits of the Brethren Medical Plan emphasized by BBT hinge on key components of mutuality and "guaranteed issue": employees of Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, and agencies, and their spouses and children, are automatically eligible for coverage without having to pass risk assessment or screening for pre-existing medical conditions.

"I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home," Nolen told the General Board, emphasizing that he was confident that districts will be able to meet the requirement even as he faced sharp questions about the move. He expressed understanding for small congregations that feel unable to pay for health insurance for pastors, as well as pastors in districts that are not well represented and therefore in danger of losing insurance. Defending the requirement as "not an unrealistic objective," he reported that three districts already have met it and several others are close. "This is the church plan," Nolen said. "Each district has to own it as its plan. All the entities of the church have to use The Force to make it successful."

Monday, January 10, 2005


COB Crystal Cathedral

Reports remain unconfirmed that the Stewardship of Property Committee will be meeting this month somewhere north of Tucson Arizona. Rumors have begun circualting that a capital campaign is in the early stages of being formed. Monies raised would be used to finance a relocation of the Brethren nation headquarters as will as for the creation of a COB version of the Crystal Cathedral.