SuperBowl had most TV viewers in history

There was a time when there were only four networks and the whole country came together to watch programs, like the last episode of MASH, in a vast communal experience.  Now with cable, satellite, and scores of narrowcasting networks, that time is over.  Except that the nation DID come together to watch the Super Bowl.  These two small market teams attracted the most viewers ever to a TV show:

History was made last night on FOX when Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched U.S. television program ever, and FOX became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time, according to fast-national ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research. The game, the outcome of which was in doubt until the final seconds, saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to capture the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl Championship.

FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLV averaged 111 million viewers and is the most-watched television program in U.S. history, obliterating the prior record of 106.5 set last year during Super Bowl XLIV by 4.5 million viewers and the 106.0 million for the series finale of M*A*S*H, which held the viewership record from 1983 to 2010.

via Super Bowl XLV Breaks Viewing Record, Averages 111 Million Viewers.

Why do you think the game scored such huge numbers?

You (already) are the salt of the earth

In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Douthwaite made an important grammatical point.  You know in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” and “you are the light of the world”?  The verb is an indicative:

It’s not an imperative, a command. Jesus is not saying you have to, must be, or should be this – it is what you ARE.

It is what your Saviour has worked in you and made you by His grace.The challenge is to BE who you ARE. To live as a spiritual being and not just an animal who lives and eats and procreates. To live in the image of God and not try to be the image of others in the world – sports stars or celebrities or others we think successful. To live as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. That is a challenge because satan is constantly tempting you to BE something else, something less than you are, and making that less look like more.

But do not be fooled. You are more than all that. You are a child of God who has been illuminated in Holy Baptism. You are a child of God who has been salted by the Holy Spirit. That is who you ARE.

And so you are that which salts the earth.You are that which gives light to the world.That is your identity – and, your calling. It is part and parcel of your life in Christ. No one else has this calling. Only children of God in Christ Jesus.

And so enlightened by Him, Jesus says, BE who you ARE. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

These words of Jesus today reveal that God has vested you with an incredible honor and purpose in life. That your life is not pointless or useless. That to be a child of God is not like standing on the corner waiting for the bus to heaven, but to be living, breathing Gospel.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church.

How do we salt the earth?  How are we already serving and having an influence by “being” rather than “doing”?  Similarly, Christians often talk about winning the world for Christ and that sort of thing.  But if He is Lord, isn’t He already reigning over the world?

Betraying Great Britain

A bombshell comes out of Wikileaks.  The Obama administration turned over secrets about England’s nuclear arsenal to the Russians:

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website. . . .

A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.

Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

via WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain’s nuclear secrets – Telegraph.

One might say, but these are our missiles we are giving to the Brits.  No, when we give them to the Brits, they belong to them.  And, at any rate, if our allies don’t want the Russians knowing something and have directly refused our request for permission to disclose it, sheer respect for the other nation would mean we should act accordingly.  How can this be anything but betrayal?

This is only the most serious example of a long list of diplomatic disrespect of Great Britain ever since the Obama administration took office.  Why are we doing such things to  our closest and strongest ally?

Green Bay’s strange way of celebrating

By all accounts, the citizens of Green Bay, Wisconsin, celebrated the Packers’ Super Bowl victory by flooding out of their houses to embrace each other in jubilation.  Also by honking their horns.  And by flocking to Lambeau Field with snow shovels to dig out the stadium in preparation for a big welcome home to the team.

But the fans didn’t overturn cars, set fires, fight each other, or smash store windows.  What’s with that?  Don’t they know how cities are supposed to celebrate?

Packers rule!

It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was exciting.  The Packers won the Super Bowl, beating the Steelrs 31-25.

That means Rich Shipe won our contest with an amazing prediction of 31-24.  (Who could have guessed that the Steelers would go for two?)  He has a great future in Vegas, if the church he is pastoring will give him a leave of absence.  (Rich, how did you get so close?  What was your reasoning?)

So Rich wins 15 minutes of fame.  Think about him today for 15 minutes.  No more than that!

Dennis Peskey was close too, 38-24, but I think Cindy R. would come in second with her guess of 27-24.  (Cindy Ramos is always winning or coming close in my prediction contests!  She’s a former student, so I must have taught her well.  You other former students must not have paid attention.)

Use this space for post-game analysis, commercial critiques, and half-time show complaints.

The 2nd biggest denomination: Nondenominationalism

Russell D. Moore, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes in the Wall Street Journal about nondenominationalism:

Are we witnessing the death of America’s Christian denominations? Studies conducted by secular and Christian organizations indicate that we are. Fewer and fewer American Christians, especially Protestants, strongly identify with a particular religious communion—Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. According to the Baylor Survey on Religion, nondenominational churches now represent the second largest group of Protestant churches in America, and they are also the fastest growing.

More and more Christians choose a church not on the basis of its denomination, but on the basis of more practical matters. Is the nursery easy to find? Do I like the music? Are there support groups for those grappling with addiction?

This trend is a natural extension of the American evangelical experiment. After all, evangelicalism is about the fundamental message of Christianity—the evangel, the gospel, literally the “good news” of God’s kingdom arriving in Jesus Christ—not about denomination building.

The post-World War II generation of evangelicals was responding to congregations filled with what they considered spiritual deadness. People belonged to a church, but they seemed to have no emotional experience of Christianity inside the building. Revivalists watched as denominational bureaucracies grew larger, and churches shifted from sending missionaries to preach around the world to producing white papers on issues like energy policy.

The revivalists wanted to get back to basics, to recover the centrality of a personal relationship with Jesus. “Being a member of a church doesn’t make you a Christian,” the ubiquitous evangelical pulpit cliché went, “any more than living in a garage makes you a car.” Thus these evangelical ministries tended not to talk about those issues that might divide their congregants. They avoided questions like: Who should be baptized and when? What does the Lord’s Supper mean? Should women be ordained? And so on.

The movement exploded. Before 1955, there were virtually no megachurches (defined as 2,000 people per worship service) in the country. Now there are between 850 and 1,200 such churches and many are nondenominational, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Evangelicalism wanted to open its doors to all believers and it often lacked roots in the traditions of particular congregations. So many evangelical churches have a generic identity. This has changed the feel of local church life.

Where hymnody once came from the spontaneity of slave spirituals or camp meetings, worship songs are increasingly now focus-grouped by executives in Nashville. The evangelical “Veggie Tales” cartoons—animated Bible stories featuring talking cucumbers and tomatoes—probably shape more children in their view of scripture than any denominational catechism does these days. A church that requires immersion baptism before taking communion, as most Baptist traditions do, will likely get indignant complaints from evangelical visitors who feel like they’ve been denied service at a restaurant.

But there are some signs of a growing church-focused evangelicalism. Many young evangelicals may be poised to reconsider denominational doctrine, if for no other reason than they are showing signs of fatigue with typical evangelical consumerism.

via Russell D. Moore: Where Have All the Presbyterians Gone? – WSJ.com.

I would add to these statistics the churches that actually do belong to a denomination but act as if they didn’t.

Is it not true that a good number of these nondenominational congregations do have an implicit theology and follow an implicit–usually Baptist–tradition? For example, do they baptize infants or not?  Does anyone know of a nondenominational church that does?  Or will if a parent requests it?

What I’m asking–because I don’t know, so please enlighten me somebody–is if a non-denominational congregation still has a distinct theology or are all theologies or most theologies acceptable?  Are there non-denominational Calvinist churches, non-denominational Pentecostal churches, etc.?  Or do non-denominational churches allow members to hold to any of these theologies?  Or is there a distinct set of “non-denominational” teachings that everyone adheres to?

Protestantism tends to sort itself out either by doctrines or, perhaps more so, by polity.  Is today’s nondenominationalism also a matter of a seminary or Bible School graduate just going out and starting his own church?  Unfettered by denominational approval,  processes, and supervision?  Is that it?

Some of us are more interested in actual, worked-out, rich, theology.  Also meaningful, non-generic worship.  I guess that sends people to denominations.  For me, when I found Lutheranism, I did not just just find a “denomination,” I found the Church.  Not that Lutherans are the only one true church, but I found a sense of Church as existing through time and eternity that does includes non-Lutheran Christians but this universal but non-generic Church is manifested in our local congregation.

“Denomination” just means, literally, “name.”  Of course churches within a particular tradition need to have more in common than a name.  Unless it is the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Is nondenominationalism the new ecumenism, so that in generic Christianity we are seeing the fulfilment of the dream of Christian unity?  Or not?


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