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6 Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious About Faith

I don’t know if I could love this anymore than I do… I think that an article like this can serve as a good reminder that nobody deserves a claim to faith over anyone else, as Mr. Colbert would likely be assumed to be an enemy of the Christian population. I don’t think that he is, and I don’t think that he we find himself to be either.

 

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6 Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious About Faith

When Colbert dares to get real, he’s surprisingly passionate about his beliefs.

 

Next year, when David Letterman signs off as host of The Late Show for the last time, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert will take over, positioning himself as the new face of CBS late night.

Though he’s made a name for himself by creating an over-the-top persona satirizing the hyper-conservative on The Colbert Report, the real Stephen Colbert—the one headed to CBS—is very different from the character he’s created. When he’s not in front of the camera, Colbert is frequently teaching Sunday school, attending mass or spending time with his family, who are all devout Catholics. Here are six times the funnyman got serious about one of his favorite topics: faith.

The Time He Talked about Faith and Tragedy with The New York Times

Back in 2012, The New York Times profiled Colbert, who reveal details about the man behind the persona.

At one point in the interview, Colbert talked about the experience of losing both his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was just 8 years old. Colbert said it was the example of his mother’s faith that has helped him process the tragedy: “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the Cross and the example of sacrifice that He gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain—it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

 

The Time He Explained Hell on NPR

When Colbert was a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air, host Terry Gross asked how Stephen Colbert—the real, religious father, not the persona—explained complicated issues like God and hell to his own children. And though not all Christians may agree with his personal interpretation of what hell looks like, his thoughtful response is a reflection of someone who has genuinely wrestled with big ideas surrounding faith: “I think the answer, ‘God is love’ is pretty good for a child. Because children understand love … My son asked me one day, ‘Dad, what’s hell?’ … So, I said, ‘Well, if God is love, then hell is the absence of God’s love. And, can you imagine how great it is to be loved? Can you imagine how great it is to be loved fully? To be loved totally? To be loved, you know, beyond your ability to imagine? And imagine if you knew that was a possibility, and then that was taken from you, and you knew that you would never be loved. Well that’s hell—to be alone, and know what you’ve lost.’”

The Time He Embarrassed a Guy that Suggested God Caused Evil

Poor Philip Zimbardo. When the Stanford professor appeared on The Colbert Report in 2008 to promote his book The Lucifer Effect, he clearly didn’t know what he was in for. Despite a jab at Dr. Zimbardo’s villainous facial hair, the interview—which focused on a behavioral experiment that the book is based on—started out civil enough. Then at the 3:30 mark (warning, the video contains a bleeped-out explicit word), things take a dramatic turn when the discussion turns to the origins of evil in the Garden of Eden. When Zimbardo suggested that, “Had [God] not created hell, then evil would not exist,” Colbert broke character and snapped, breaking into an impromptu theology lesson. “Evil exists because of the disobedience of Satan. God gave Satan, and the angels, and man free will. Satan used his free will and abused it by not obeying authority. Hell was created by Satan’s disobedience to God, and his purposeful removal from God’s love—which is what hell is. Removing yourself from God’s love. You send yourself to hell. God does not send you there.”

The Time He Argued for Christ’s Divinity

Stephen Colbert is not a fan of Bart Ehrman. The religious scholar came on The Colbert Report to promote his book Jesus, Interrupted which questions the credibility of the Gospel and the divinity of Christ Himself. It got brutal. For nearly 7 minutes, Colbert deftly explained seeming contradictions in the New Testament, showed how Scripture supports Christ’s divinity and intellectually embarrassed the scholar in Zimbardo fashion. You can watch the entire exchange here.

The Time He Discussed the Importance of Humor in Faith

In 2012, Stephen Colbert took part in an event called “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy and the Spiritual Life” at Fordham University. Moderated by Rev. James Martin—Jesuit and priest and author—the event featured a light-hearted, but intelligent conversation about faith and humor between Colbert and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

“If Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor, I am in huge trouble,” Colbert joked at the event. Though the two discussed a variety of issues, the one thing Colbert made clear was the genuine love he has for the Body of Christ and being a part of the Church: “Are there flaws in the Church? Absolutely. But is there great beauty in the Church? Absolutely … The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the Church gives me, which is love.”

The Time He Used the Bible to Advocate for Immigration Reform at Congress

Though much of his testimony before Congress—advocating for immigration reform and farm workers—was played for poignant laughs (“Like most members of Congress, I haven’t read [the bill]”), Colbert also used a another strategy to get his message across—quoting Scripture.

After talking about how he spent one day as a farm worker (making him an expert, of course), Colbert got serious about his motivations. “I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and this seems like [some] of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me. And, you know, ‘whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers,’ and these seem like the least of our brothers right now …. Migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/6-times-stephen-colbert-got-serious-about-faith#ubP5caTTYJi58Bgc.99

Tim Keller Speaking at Google About His Book “The Reason for God”

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Tim Keller is one of my super heroes. If you’ve got time you should watch as much as possible.

Debate – William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?

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I love a good debate, and I love the topic of faith in a higher being. This is a long one, but enjoyable. I tend to find myself enjoying my ideas and faith more when I actually have to question them – therefore I can become more certain in what I find myself willing to defend. Have fun 🙂

Blessed Are the Broke (Tim Keller) – God, Faith, and The Broken

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Originally posted on September 26, 2010, Revised June 2, 2013:

I haven’t posted about religion very much, and I don’t entirely know why as I love talking about faith. I just haven’t wanted to quite as much as I’ve wanted to post about other topics that are more universal in some ways.

I think that this talk provides a very strong case social justice from a Christian perspective. I know that some people don’t like to hear that, but if you claim to be a Christian I challenge you to listen to this. This is being written and posted for anyone who finds them self curious about what this might have to say, but in particular this is being posted to proclaimed Christians of the middle and upper classes of society (I’m sorry if this hurts anybody’s feelings, but I’m not sorry that I’m saying it).

Proverbs 14: 20-21
20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,
but the rich have many friends.

21 He who despises his neighbor sins,
but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Having grown up in a society that is undoubtably wealthy, and having also been taught to practice a religious lifestyle/belief in a spiritual decree which says the words “blessed are the poor” it is often very funny to watch some people scramble to reconcile the difference between being financially poor, and being spiritually poor (or humbled). I think that for many people (including myself) to distinguish these definitions of poor makes it much more comfortable to live the lifestyles that we do, and to continue to make separations between ourselves and those who are “broke”. Being able to realize others missfortunes so that we might be more willing to bless their lives, and allowing our pride to subside so that we might also see ourselves as the same (in need of salvation) then not only will their lives be more blessed but so will ours.

If you are intellectual curious about the Christian faith, as a Christian or not, I recommend listening to pretty much any talk by Tim Keller. I think that this talk is absolutely perfect for explaining how I feel about wealth, as someone who finds himself seeking the great mover. This doesn’t mean that I think that everything that he says is flawless, but I find his words very compelling, and I can empathize with them. If you’d like to listen to or download the sermon I’m talking about just Click Here 🙂

OR Just Click Play Here:

Cult Leader Thinks He’s Jesus – VICE / “Kumare” Trailer

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As someone who is fascinated by religion I think that this video is worth watching. I don’t think this man is the second coming of Jesus, and I have trouble believing that he really believes that he is (although he really might), but I do believe that most of these people really believe him… For this reason I’m going to post a trailer to a documentary that I recently watched (with a really cute girl) called “Kumare” about a man of Indian descent who disguised himself as a native Indian religious leader (a Guru) to see if he could get a following. I dont want to spoil anything for you, but if you are like me you’ll probably find that the people who seek him out a goodhearted, and simply seeking truth. I feel much the same about the people in this video. I hope that you enjoy it.

 

“Kumar” is on Netflix right now, so if you are interested in watching it you really have no excuse not to, someone you know has Netflix… I’m sure of it. And feel free to let me know what you think.

“And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak” – Does Rejection Change Your Ideology?

This post is a topic that I will have to write more on later, I have plenty that I’d like to say, but for now I’m going to let Jen’s post do the talking for me because I feel so similarly. Having spent a lot of my life working in Christian organizations I have to say that I don’t take this conversation lightly. The question of where we all come from excites me, and if that’s not the case for you maybe you should poke that limp limb. Ask questions, and be patient when people lose their minds because they are scared of thoughts about where we come from, and where we’re going. If people having a sincere faith in something offends you on a personal level you might want to reconsider the whole thing… Just keep asking questions. This post is about interfaith community riffs, but this could be applied across organizational a interpersonal boundaries. Jen challenged me to think twice about my own comfort in rejection. Are you ok with rejection for the things that you believe? I hope you are.

 

And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak

by Jen Hatmaker on March 18th, 2013
Like most graduating high school classes, mine rewarded our parents and educators by perpetuating Senior Skip Day right before finals. I can only imagine these satisfying gestures are why secondary teachers are able to get out of bed in the morning.In a slightly innocent twist, my class of clowns decided on the Wichita Zoo for our naughty excursion, so off we went in our scrunched socks and Keds, Z Cavaricci jorts, and oversized striped rugbies.

Note my cool shades on the front row that are so dated, they are now “ironic.”
My seventh grade daughter has a pair. Hold me.

I begged my mom to call in a feigned illness for me, and when she refused, I tracked the soft target, because Dad would’ve assuredly provided an alibi, but he was missing in my hour of need, so I…simply skipped. The only attendance bail in my high school history, and despite the breezy, cool aura I’m clearly projecting, I spent the day with my stomach in knots. (When I received the subsequent day of in-school suspension, I cried silent, hot tears the second I entered the ISS room, and the monitor found me pitiful and let me sit in her office playing solitaire all day.)

For such a prim rule-follower, it was surprising when they started strangling me.

I grew up immersed in typical Christian subculture: heavy emphasis on morality, fairly dogmatic, linear and authoritative. Because my experience was so homogenous and my skill set included Flying Right, I found wild success in the paradigm. My interpretations were rarely challenged by diversity, suffering, or disparity. Since the bulls-eye was behaving (we called it “holiness”), I earned an A.

But careening into adulthood, my firm foundation endured some havoc. I noticed very few of my Third Day Acquire The Fire Disciple Now Weekend Mercy Me compatriots stuck with church after high school. Evidently, that is absolutely the trend: According to Rainer Research, approximately 70 percent of American youth drop out of church between the age of 18 and 22. The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29.

80 percent. Gone.

A recent nationwide poll on religious identification noted that respondents citing “no religion” (The Nones) made up the only group that grew in every state, most numerous among the young: a whopping 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds claimed no religion, up from 11 percent in 1990. Worse yet: the study also found that 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes; 66 percent were described by the study as ‘de-converts.’

This gave me pause, because the mechanism was not holding. More precisely, the church I grew up in was not making disciples. The religion I knew was leaving young adults disinterested at best, hostile at worst. It failed to capture their loyalty. Dechurched adults cited grievances that gave definition to my own inner struggles:

  • Emphasis on morality and voting records to the exclusion of weightier matters like justice and transformation
  • A suspicious amalgamation of the American Dream and Armed Forces
  • A me-and-mine stance as opposed to you-and-yours
  • Persistent defensive posture, treating unchurched or dechurched people like enemies instead of future brothers and sisters in Christ
  • Narrow talking points that slice and wound and slash; principles over people
  • A boring religion of behaving instead of an adventurous life of true discipleship
  • An unreasonable opposition to science
  • Arrogance over humility, using the Bible as a bludgeon instead of a balm

But here was the Good News: upon heavy scrutiny, none of this remotely sounded like Jesus, so He wasn’t the problem, which was a relief because when having a faith crisis, you don’t want to discover your Main Character is a fraud. As far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don’t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don’t know Him.

Jesus remained politically neutral, unswervingly, despite the teeny tiny fact that the Savior was expected to engineer freedom through political upheaval. He never once pandered to the powerful and prominent. He was called a drunkard and a fool for the company He kept. Jesus committed His kingdom to the most unlikely: the sick, children, women, the poor, the marginalized. Everyone else? Blind, deaf, according to Jesus.

So if it wasn’t Jesus making enemies out of the adopted, it had to be the structure in which we contained Him.

This was the point my ministry took a hard left.

If you’ve been around me at all in the last six years, you’ve heard me pushing for reform, asking the church to stretch, to become the new wineskins my generation is begging for. I’m hungry for a church less known for sanctimony and more for their shocking intervention for hungry babies and human trafficking and racism and injustice. Christianity is too thrilling to reduce to middle/upper-middle class First World Problems, encapsulated in issues and gauged by a nebulous moral compass that lost its bearing decades ago.

People are starving – spiritually and physically – and this world needs some Good News, but they can’t decode what is actually good about us. Good is finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard questions. Good is food when you’re hungry. Good is warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached. Good is clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education, family. Good is community, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight. Good is sustainable work, dignity. Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways.

I constantly ask these hard questions of the Bride, of myself, of my own little family.

Because of this, I was recently uninvited to speak by a large church. They cited my struggle with the church, concerned that “these disparaging glimpses at the church certainly can be helpful to a more mature follower but cause great confusion to those who are not quite so far along in their walk with the Lord.” In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is the young believers asking the questions and finding very few safe places to do so. Sanitized Christianity in which the church is propped up and healthy criticism is labeled as “spiritual attack” is the head-in-the-sand approach turning away the next generation.

Second, and not surprisingly, a blog was cited in which my hilarious friend jokingly brought a bottle of margarita mix to a Lifeway taping, hoping to cast us as boozers in front of my very conservative publisher. (To their credit, the filmmakers just laughed and carried on because, you know, it was a joke, and my LW peeps totally get me. We are guilty of many offenses, but taking ourselves too seriously is not one of them.) This satire pushed an envelope that is still licked shut, and the uninvitation was sent.

It doesn’t matter what church it was or where, but here is what I want to tell them:

I understand. I really, really do. Not only did I appreciate your gracious tone, but I genuinely know where you are coming from. I get the things that make you uncomfortable and why, and I realize we will likely never see eye to eye, and that is okay. Unquestioningly, you love Jesus and the church, and I have no doubt you are serving your community and each other. Within your tribe in your demographic in your city in your tradition, you are exactly how and where you should be. My feelings toward you are terribly warm, seasoned with familiar memories of the church that raised and loved me.

But what makes me unsafe to you is exactly what makes me safe to others.
The skeptic, the cynic, the doubter; my arms are wide open. Their questions and disbelief don’t scare me; I am unthreatened. The loosey-goosey, tambourine shaking, barefoot liberal who loves Jesus and the earth and votes straight-ticket Democrat? I love her. The young adult generation who is leaving the church but running to Jesus in unfamiliar, new ways – I gather them to me like a Mama because they are going to change the world.

I am not put off by creed or denomination or sexual orientation or terrifying doubt or outright anger or nationality or socioeconomic status or issues or weirdness or politics. I’m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation. I just can’t muster the energy. (And since Jesus’ first miracle was turning 150 gallons of water into wine at a wedding in Cana, I’m pretty sure He hedges left here.)

With nearly 8 million people leaving the American church a year, we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink.Plenty of churches exist to serve the 20 percent already connected. For them, I am grateful. Enough shepherds are on the ground for those sheep. They have a deep well of leadership, and my absence will not even be felt. They are brothers and sisters, and I’ll see them on the other side.

As for me, I’m throwing my lot in with the other 80 percent, the ones with their arms crossed, their hearts broken, their worth unrealized. The ones who shake their fists and shake their heads, but still crave hope and redemption, because we all do. Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every since of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.

Along the way, if I make some of my brothers and sisters uncomfortable and we must part, I hope we can throw our arms around each other and promise to write. I trust you will do your part over there, and I’ll do mine out here where life is sticky and faith is less a blueprint and more a compass, gently leading all us ragamuffins north. I’m willing to wrap us all in grace, because one day we’ll both discover we got some parts right and other parts wrong. Jesus’ mercy is going to be enough for us all.

So if anyone wants to venture out to the margins, past familiar boundaries, through sanctioned Christian staples, beyond guilt-by-association fears, outside traditional approval – I’ll be here with my people, with Jesus, making others crazy and getting uninvited from things…

…unless it is a wedding in Cana and the wine has run out.

Belief: Is John Mayer right, is fighting for belief “wrong”?

As I was listening to this song by John Mayer “Belief” and I decided to think really hard about the lyrics. They are as follows:
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Is there anyone who
Ever remembers changing their mind from
The paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time

Everyone believes
In how they think it ought to be
Everyone believes
And they’re not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching under water
You never can hit who you’re trying for

Some need the exhibition
And some have to know they tried
It’s the chemical weapon
For the war that’s raging on inside

Everyone believes
From emptiness to everything
Everyone believes
And no one’s going quietly

We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand
Belief can
Belief can
What puts the folded flag inside his mother’s hand
Belief can
Belief can

As a Christian I initially felt a little bit defensive about what he was saying, but then I realized that whether he was coming from an angle of actual belief or disbelief, and regardless of his motives I think that he has a rather amazing point to be made.

Having been a part of several evangelical things in my life, and enjoying them for the most part, and finding some very serious feelings of worth and purpose in a few of them I can say that I have come to believe that we need to simplify. Talking about Christianity (or pretty much any other creed for that matter, but for my own personal purposes I will discuss Christianity) it is absolutely vital/crucial that LOVE is the first and foremost of all emotions and that our actions are seeping with the remnants of a loving disposition. That can be found throughout the bible, and Jesus said that it was of the most central importance above all other things to first love the Lord, and then next to love your neighbor as yourself. I am not trying to put this all too much into a box that would indicate that I know all of the secrets of the world, but I am stating that this is what That Bible says, and I think that it is very crucial that Christians pay attention.

With this in mind about love I think that we must consider what it might mean to love our neighbor as our self… Does that count if they’re muslims, or if they’re atheists for crying out loud?!!..!!!?!….. Absolutely… Scripture actually calls us all to love our enemies… I realize that a lot of people don’t like scripture, and if that is the case feel free to ignore that, but I think that you will be missing out on a wonderful opportunity to watch people try and fail, which would just allow for a greater need for graciousness from others as well as an all powerful creator.

Oh, and another thing that I find very important to note about Jesus, and Christianity was the fact that Jesus would perform miracles and bless people’s lives and he would always ask them not to tell other people who did it… They pretty much all did tell, as I probably would have, but the point is that he was not necessarily as bent on the message all of the time as he was about spreading his example; just as Paul would later claim that he wasn’t always right, but that he often was and that Christians should follow his example. The message is very important, but it quickly loses it’s importance if people think that they are about to change the world with a hateful attitude, and if they are actually willing to kill and maim in the name of Jesus, who would have to some extent suggested turning the other cheek…

It might seem like I am getting off track, but my intention is to help create an understanding of the importance of accepting one another for who we are, and who we would like to be. And when I use the word accept I don’t just mean manage not to kill one another, but I actually mean love and accept…

I think that Mr. Mayer is really on to something… I don’t think that it is wrong to feel passionate about the things that you believe, but remember to believe is not the same as to know… For some that might sound like a fight starter, and I’m not trying to question anyone’s faith, but we must all realize that we must be firm in what is provable, and understanding if some people struggle to understand why we might believe something that we can’t absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. Once we begin to sympathize with those who might not yet understand what we Believe we might then learn to empathize, and show them the kind of grace/love that should be practiced by virtually all religions/ideologies.

I’m sorry that I keep talking about religion, but it really bothers me to watch people actually searching for the truth neglecting to recognize that there is very little truth that they can absolutely declared. The closest I’ve come on a personal level of being convinced that I have known an absolute truth was the emotion of Love, and I don’t mean a lustfully plagued love, but an accepting and caring love.

I must admit that I don’t know everything, and that I might be making people mad for no good reason, because I could absolutely be wrong about most or all of the stuff that I’m saying, but I’m putting it out there so that I might be given a chance to learn more. So, please feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Okay, it’s bedtime, but feel free to tell me your thoughts if you think this was or was not worth your time.

Thanks,

Grady

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