21 December, 2007

Christmas Wishes

Dear TBNN readers,

Well, it's been an exciting first year here at TBNN. (Technically we're not a year old. We'll have a special celebration for that in January.) We've enjoyed bringing you our stories six days a week, and watching interest in the site grow. But it's time to close down shop until after the first of the year. So today is the last post until Wednesday, January 2, 2008. We here at TBNN want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Also, some of our regulars here would like to take a moment and share with you their Christmas wishes.

"Christmas is a special time where we as believers in the one true and living God set aside a specific season to ponder the great mystery of the Logos being made flesh. What a tremendous and weighty theological subject matter. It's depths cannot be fully fathomed! That the Almighty left his home in glory to redeem his elect. What majesty, what wisdom, what glory worthy of all praise and honor." - Joel Osteen

"I just hope that when you get together with family and friends this holiday season, and your sipping that warm hot chocolate, or eating on that big turkey, or when you finally get that new iPod you've been wanting, that you remember that Christmas is about love, and our lives are to be about loving others and being good people. Look inside yourself and find the Christmas in you!" - John MacArthur

"May peace, joy and happiness be upon you all, and may you find joy this Christmas like you've never found before!" - Fred Phelps

"Remember as you celebrate Christmas, that there are others who are celebrating their special festive times. Don't forget our Muslim brothers, many of whom make their annual pilgrimage to Mecca this time of year. Or there's that wonderful holiday of Kwanzaa that we really don't know much about, but it's important! And let's not neglect Hanukkah. Respect those Menorah's when you see them. And last but not least, there's our pagan brothers and sisters who use this time to worship nature. So, Christmas is about tolerance and respect. May you find that this Holiday Season." - Albert Mohler

"Oh what depths and what riches may be found in the passages of God's Word that take us to the manger. Oh what joys may be reaped from those words of the incarnation. That we should not be left to die and perish in our sins. Oh what mercy!" - Brian McLaren

"You know Christmas is more than about a manger. It's about a mission, a mindset, a meaning, that goes beyond people being saved. Christmas is about a life of just trying to figure things out. It shows us that there's so much we can't know, and we just can go around pushing what we believe on other people." - John Piper

So there you have it folks. I hope I didn't mix any of those comments up. Hmm, maybe I better proofread it again, but I don't really have time right now. Oh well. Merry Christmas.


19 December, 2007

Advertisement: The Nokia 1611, The Only Phone You'll Ever Need

With all of the different mobile phone choices out there, things can become confusing. There's phones out there that play music, send email, recognize handwriting, and even have GPS functions. But all of those different phones out there are nothing but plots to confuse and deceive people into getting a phone that's not really a phone at all.

So why spend all that money on some new fancy phone, when the perfect phone was already built. Ten years ago Nokia invented the 1611 model, and it has proved to be the most faithful and most reliable mobile phone ever built. While other phones had preceded it, the Nokia 1611 was the seventh stylistic attempt at a mobile phone of it's kind, like silver refined in a furnace. It has also been the most used and most successful phone ever in the entire world, giving more credence to the fact that this phone has been specially designed and blessed.

"I have no need for any other phone" said Paul Hudson a Nokia 1611 owner. "When you've found what is perfect, why would you go back to something less perfect?"

So this Christmas check eBay, visit local garage sales, dig through garbage cans, but do all you can to find yourself a Nokia 1611. Your very phone service depends on it.

"I trust my husband's opinion very much" said Wanda Hudson, wife of Paul. "All I can say is that if the Nokia 1611 is good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me."

17 December, 2007

Old Emergent Straight Postmodern Whiseguys

"Don't be fooled by imitations." Good words that good people try to live by. When it comes to the finest quality Whiseguys out there accept no substitutes for Old Emergent Straight Postmodern Whiseguys.

Old Emergent is finest of the finest. Our disturbing philosophy is simple. We don't arrogantly try to bottle a product that forces one flavor on people. Instead we fill each bottle with the finest quality absolutely nothing that is available. Just open a bottle and fill it with whatever you like, adjusted perfectly to your preferences. No one can tell you what to put in your bottle because no one knows exactly what should go in there, even we don't!

Not sure what to put in yours? Don't worry, just keep it empty for as long as you like, and each day pop off the top, and pour yourself up a shot of nothing. Sip slowly and enjoy the fact that there's no right or wrong way to drink up Old Emergent Straight Postmodern Whiseguys.


14 December, 2007

Happerry Holihanukkwanzamas!

It's a very special time of year, and we here at TBNN want to stop and take a moment to wish everyone a very Happerry Holihanukkwanzamas! "What is Holihanukkwanzamas?" you ask. It's simple. We recognize that not everyone believes in Jesus Christ, and so we feel it is important to accommodate those people, so that they don't feel left out of the celebrations. Therefore we've invented a holiday for everyone.

The concept behind Holihannukkwanzamas is simple. We begin with combining the words "happy" and "merry" to produce "happerry." Now we know that's not a word, but hey when it comes to modifying a centuries-old celebration, we think of it as baking. Sometimes you have to substitute ingredients to get something to turn out better. No one says "Merry Hanukkah" so we couldn't say "Merry Holihanukkwanzamas" now could we? So we combined the two words.

Then we took the four main celebrations that usually go on this time of year and just combined them into one big celebration! First, there's non-religious people who simply refer to this time of year as the "holidays." Next are our Jewish friends who celebrate Hanukkah (or Chanukah if
you can get the little gutteral thing going in the back of your throat just right.) After that comes the newest biggest politically-correct holiday on the market, Kwanzaa. Dating all the way back to the year 1966 and invented by a political activist, Kwanzaa is more and more taking America by storm with its rich, moving time-honored traditions. And finally, there's Christmas. While probably the best-known of the bunch, it now no longer stands as the leader of the pack, but rather takes its place amongst equals.

Over the next few weeks we invite you to share this amazing new celebration with us here at TBNN as we teach you about the practices and traditions associated with this rich holiday. So keep checking back frequently, and in the meantime, Happerry Holihanukkwanzamas to you and your family, friends, live-in partners and anyone you've married in the state of Massachusetts or California.

12 December, 2007

Vegan Missionaries Find Certain Fields "Tough"

Dallas, Texas - Dellia Love is a vegan, a "raw vegan" to be precise. The word "vegan", which is taken from from the first and last syllables of the word "vegetarian" is a form of vegetarianism but differs in that vegans eat no animal by-products whatsoever. So as a vegan, Love not only refrains from eating any form of meat, but also from eating anything that comes from any living creature including milk and eggs. Furthermore as a "raw vegan" Love also does not eat any food that has been cooked above a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. So with such a strict diet, Love decided that the perfect way to spend her summer was on a missions trip to "the middle of nowhere."

After examining a number of different summer trips with different organizations, Love chose Mongolia for its "exotic flair."

"I was looking around on the internet at 3 in the morning and got really interested in Mongolia" said Love. "I thought, 'yeah Mongolia, it's so weird.' I just knew that's where I was like being called and stuff, yeah Mongolia, it's so exotic."

So Love proceeded to contact the mission agency offering the trip, filled out the required paperwork and raised her support to go. All seemed to be going well until, though, she arrived in Mongolia.

The team flew into the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and from there drove three hours to the remote village of Baala where the group stayed at the house of a small family of Christian believers.

"We were all starving when we arrived" said Love. "We hadn't eaten since the plane ride. The lady and the man whose names I can't remember, immediately started fixing us some food for dinner."

As it turns out the simple village family dutifully started preparing a small feast for their guests. The husband, whose name is Baat, began by slaughtering a goat and roasting it over a fire. He then proceeded to walk down to a small stream and catch five fish which he cleaned and cut into small raw pieces. In the meantime Oyon, his wife, went out to their chicken coop, killed three chickens, plucked them and began cooking them as she gathered several eggs to bake bread. Amazingly, within just about 1 hour the group sat down to a feast of goat, raw fish, chicken, bread, goat tongue, congealed and seasoned pig fat, boiled horse intestine and caviar. To wash it all down Oyon produced a Mongolian treat called Kymus, fermented mare's milk. While the other team members graciously began to eat what had been set before them, Love found herself in a bit of a dilemma.

"There wasn't a thing on the table that I could eat" said a frustrated Love. "They kept putting food in front of me, but I kept trying to tell them that I was a vegan. I pointed to the food and said it really loudly and slowly 'vegan, veee-gaaan' but they didn't seem to understand. They just kept encouraging me to eat."

Love's lack of Mongolian language skills coupled with the families lack of English language skills provided the perfect environment for a cultural misunderstanding to take place. And before long the Mongolian family had come to understand that "vegan" meant "sick" and quickly began to set out to find a remedy for their guest's illness.

Oyon left the table for a moment and returned with what appeared to be two recently severed chicken's feet. She then dipped the feet into some of the congealed pig's fat and took Love to a back room where she proceeded to try to spread the substance on her ears in an effort to remedy her sickness.

"I didn't know what this lady was doing" said Love. "She just kept trying to rub pig fat all over me with chicken feet."

Love resisted and "remedy" after "remedy" was presented to her. The family tried to get her to soak her feet in some of the kymus, all the while saying "vee-gaan, vee-gaan." They then attempted to get her to wrap up her throat with a rag soaked in a mixture of milk, egg and horse intestine oil.

As the evening wore on the situation became more and more frustrating for Love and her hosts. In the end, Love prevailed in resisting the "treatments" and dinner also. Still hungry, she managed to find a head of cabbage and finished it off before going to bed. Love spent the next two months in Mongolia living off of cabbage and raw potatoes.

"It was a miserable experience" said Love. "I'll never do it again. These people are barbaric. They don't eat any tofu or soy or anything. It's all just meat and dairy stuff."

Despite the bad experience, Love still has plans to keep trying at different mission fields.

"I'm not going back to Mongolia, I can tell you that for sure, but I'm seriously looking at some remote parts of Africa for next summer."

10 December, 2007

Church Begins Using O-Slashes and Umlauts to Attract Younger Crowds

Duluth, Minnesota - With churches struggling to attract new members these days, many denominations have begun trying new "creative" ways of recruiting visitors to their churches. Examples include various churches in one town offering "coupons" to church shoppers, a church holding a weekly "solid rock" concert to attract old rockers, and one church holding a "throwed communion" service. And recently the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Duluth joined the ranks of churches attracting new younger crowds through "creative outreach."

"We had been looking for ways to attract more youth" said pastor Røger Märrïs. "I began looking up things on the internet that kids were attracted to, and one thing in particular caught my eye - Scandinavian rock bands. It turns out lots of kids love these hard rock heavy metal bands. Well, all of them had one thing in common, they all had these awesome looking characters in their logos like slashed o's and umlauts. I saw that and I said, 'that's our answer right there.'"

Märrïs, immediately spoke with the church council about how the church could utilize this idea. The decision was made to start by changing the church sign.

"Changing the church sign was a good place to start because it was so easy" said council member Ëlïzäbëth Løwrëy. "We just added some dots here and there and a couple of slashes to make it look really serious."

The next decision that was made was that the pastor and other members of the church would alter their names to include the characters also.

"We felt to make things more genuine that some of us needed to change our names a little" said member Ålbërt Møønïë. "That way this new crowd would really be impressed with how hip we are here."

While many have been excited about the changes, the results have not been what they had hoped for.

"Unfortunately we really haven't attracted the young heavy metal crowd that we though we would get" said Märrïs. "What we have attracted is more Scandinavians, which we're really not equipped to minister to here since no one here speaks a Scandinavian language. Last week we had three couples show up from Finland, one from Sweden and a guy from Denmark, all thinking we were some kind of special Scandinavian church. When we told them what we were doing they didn't seem to understand."

"We're going to give it a little more time" said Møønïë. "What we might have to do is just better publish information about our Wørshïp Sërvïcë in the local newspaper or something.

07 December, 2007

Religion Spectator Magazine Special Column

Vineyard: Lakewood Vineyards
Type: Charlatan

Year: 2002

Overall Score: 50

They say in this business "Don't let the label fool you," and that has certainly proved to be true in this case.

Lakewood's Charlatan was recommended to me by a friend several years ago. I was always a little reluctant to try it, but I finally gave it a go, and I must say, I was very disappointed.

To be fair, Lakewood puts together a beautiful presentation, bottled and labeled all quite elegantly. From the beginning the taster is presented with a product that builds anticipation. One can quickly assume that he or she is dealing with a high quality item here. But unfortunately, the packaging is all that is desirable about Lakewood.

The minute I uncorked Lakewood's Charlatan I immediately noticed that what was inside did not match what was on the outside. I was expecting a deep dark and rich red color, which seemed only logical since the packaging was a deep dark red also. Instead what came out was clear, with a slightly foul odor.

I let it "breathe" for a minute or two before finally taking a taste. To give it the benefit of a doubt, I thought that perhaps my sense of smell might be off a bit, or perhaps the foul odor I smelled was coming from another source. And despite the clear color, I thought that there still might be something pleasing once I finally gave it a taste. So after several minutes I picked it up, swirled it around a bit, gave it another sniff (the odor was still there) and gave it a taste. It was worse than I thought. It was lukewarm, bland, and completely unsatisfying. There was no substance at all.

So my rating for Lakewood Charlatan is 50. "Why" one might ask, "would you still give even a score of 50?" Well, to be fair, I still thought it was well packaged and nicely presented. Also, whatever was in that stuff has made my teeth really sparkle. I suppose that counts for something.

05 December, 2007

Fred Phelps Accidentally Anathematizes Himself

Topeka, Kansas - The Reverend Fred Phelps in a recent televised exchange on Fox News' The O'Rilley Factor put himself in an awkward position of self-anathematazation.

Phelps, who is most well-known for his church's pickets of the funerals of fallen soldiers and his websites, godhatesfags.com, godhatesamerica.com, godhatessweeden.com and other like them, has often made statements in the past invoking God's wrath upon whole groups of people and/or nations. The current Phelps "Irreversibly Damned" list includes,

-All of congress
-All of the United States Military

...just to name a few.

While blanket statements of anathematization are not new to Phelps and his group of followers, he has often been careful to make an exception for himself and his congregation. But during the interview with host Bill O'Rilley Phelps became visibly annoyed when asked about his home state of Kansas and apparently spoke too hastily. The transcript is as follows.

[O'Rilley] "What about your home state of Kansas, I know your group has protested funerals there, what do the locals think of you?"

[Phelps] "Kansas is the seat of Satan! The entire state and all its citizens are under the wrath of God and are irreversibly damned."

[O'Rilley] "But you're a citizen of Kansas Mr. Phelps, so that includes you too, right?"

At this point in the interview Phelps looked shocked, and did not respond for several seconds. When questioned again by O'Rilley Phelps simply responded, "This interview is over!"

The statement by Phelps presents an interesting dilemma for the pastor. Phelps, a self-proclaimed "prophet like Elijah" has often professed to be the sole voice of truth in the entire world today. Thus, he believes his statements of anathema to be almost infallible, and irrefutable. Ero an admission of error by Phelps in such a statement would bring into question all of the other previous statements of anathema that he has made.

If indeed Phelps has truly anathematized himself it also presents an interesting paradox. The question arises that if the anathematizer is himself anathema then does that negate his previous anathematizations? Many fear an answer to the question could unravel the space-time continuum.

TBNN tried to reach Phelps for comment at his home in Topeka, Kansas, but a woman who answered the phone said that He was "unavailable" and to "call back later."