After weeks of functioning beautifully, my blog disappeared from cyberspace last Friday. It was still there, but invisible, caught between servers in some sort of redirect loop that I (obviously) don’t fully understand.

Fortunately, my friend George Frink does understand these things: he’s been contributing to the Internet’s inner workings since it was in cyberdiapers, and is so fluent in Geekspeak that he sometimes has to translate himself before I can understand.

George developed the first website for the Biblical Recorder, getting it online at the very front edge of the curve, and he continues to develop and host the Recorder site through his consulting company, Southern Connections.

With his prodding a few years back, I became the second full-time editor in the nation to establish a regular blog: if I’d listened to him earlier, I would have been the first.

In any case, George was kind enough to reach into the netherworld of floating ones and zeros, ferret out some incorrect settings relative to my domain name, and get (a.k.a. back online by Sunday evening.

He did so out of friendship and an honest belief that what I have to say is worth reading, not for “filthy lucre,” and I am immensely grateful.

A number of readers had noticed that the blog had disappeared, and I wanted to post a word of thanks to George before going on to other things.

WMU-NC updates

An online brief on the Biblical Recorder website says that East Taylorsville Baptist Church will host a meeting on Tuesday night, Sept. 18, where “at least one representative of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) will explain the issues around Woman’s Missionary Union’s decision to relinquish its position as a BSC auxiliary.”

WMU-NC representatives were not invited to the meeting, which should say all you need to know about why WMU-NC has sought to re-establish its historic autonomy and right of self-determination.

The meeting was apparently sparked by Yadkin Baptist pastor Tim Rogers, who organized a smaller meeting at the Box Car Grill in Statesville Sept. 3, and who has criticized WMU-NC’s decision on his personal blog, “Southern Baptist in NC”.

“We want to hear from the Baptist State Convention what’s going on,” Rogers told the Recorder. “We have to be able to explain things to our own WMUs.”

Do you notice the disconnect in that statement? There are pastors who want the Baptist State Convention to explain what’s happening, so they can “explain things” to “our WMU’s.” In other words, they apparently believe WMU-NC is incapable of explaining its actions to its own members, and are interested only in the BSC’s perspective.

Although uninvited, it is my earnest hope that some WMU-NC representatives will attend the meeting, and that the hosts will be gracious enough to allow them equal time to speak for themselves.

Much of the conflict grows from a misunderstanding of Baptist polity and WMU history. WMU does not now, and has never belonged to the Baptist State Convention. WMU-NC was started by women who wanted to assist with the indivisible causes of missions and ministry. Many men felt threatened enough to oppose their involvement in the early days, and many men continue to feel threatened by the existence of an influential woman’s group that is free from denominational control.

A great deal of unfortunate information is being disseminated about WMU-NC. One erroneous statement, to which BSC officials have contributed, is the idea that WMU-NC is “leaving” or “resigning” from the BSC. WMU-NC has made it very clear that they do not wish to pull back in any way from the organization’s commitment to assisting BSC churches in doing missions and ministry. The felt need to re-assert the group’s historic autonomy in no way diminishes its desire to be a supportive partner.

Some have criticized WMU-NC for bringing pain and confusion into BSC life, questioning whether the action is worth the trouble it has caused. One cannot put all the “pain and confusion” on WMU-NC’s shoulders, however. There were and are good reasons for WMU-NC to push back from encroaching Convention control and to reaffirm its autonomy. The denominational strife that has afflicted Baptists for the past three decades contributes heavily to the situation, and certainly can’t be blamed on Woman’s Missionary Union.

Finally — and most disturbingly — some BSC Baptists are spreading vicious and unfounded rumors about WMU-NC’s “true” motives for wanting to have full control in the hiring of its own staff. The rumor does not bear repeating, but if you hear a slanderous remark directed toward WMU-NC, you can be assured that it’s completely bogus.

Paintballs for Jesus

A recent news article tells the tale of a church in Mariposa, California that wants to use some town-owned land for church-sponsored paintball games. Although Mariposa is highly Bible-friendly, the idea of giving both town and church sanction to a war game that involves shooting paintballs that “kill” enemies has not gone over well.

At first thought, the idea of church-sponsored shooting games doesn’t sit well with me, either. When we serve a Teacher who said “I say unto you, love your enemies,” it’s hard to endorse a game that appears to endorse violence.

On second thought, little is said about church-sponsored Super Bowl parties — except by the NFL, which declared them illegal (see an enlightening commentary on that super-bum decision at David’s Deliberations, a new blog by a Baptist pastor that is well worth reading).

Football is about choosing up sides and hitting each other, a violent sport that many of us have personally enjoyed, and one that provides observers with vicarious thrills long after our own playing days.

In my grown-up life I have a personal aversion to guns and war games, but I remember how much fun I had as a boy, when I would run alone through the woods with my BB gun, dropping into ditches or hiding behind trees and imagining that I was engaged in mortal combat with Hitler’s minions.

I’m not interested in playing paintball, but there are lots of other things church youth groups do that don’t interest me, either.

Church-sponsored paintball may send a mixed message, but if it attracts young people to hear the gospel and gives them a supervised outlet for burning off some of that omnipresent adolescent angst, I say “let ’em play.”

[Image from David R. Smith’s fascinating page on cloaking technology, here.]

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