Heartbreaking. . . .

I was in college when one of my buddies said something to me that captured a universal truth in a way that I had never considered it before: “We’re all worshippers. We all worship something. We’ve been born to worship. . . and worship we will.” Some of us make a conscious choice of worship object, and we build our lives around that. Others wind up worshipping something without giving it all much thought. It just happens. In one way or another we all – as Dylan once sang – “got to serve somebody.”

Earlier this week, Tim Challies posted a little video that captures our worshipful nature and the strange twists and turns it can all take in our contemporary world. This one features a talk by Jim Gilliam entitled “The Internet is My Religion,” which Gilliam gave at the Personal Democracy Forum 2011. It is passionate, it is pointed, and it is heart-breaking.

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at livestream.com

This little clip packs a powerful punch with loads of thought catalysts and talking points. For me, Gilliam’s odyssey and honesty spark sadness, compassion, and loads of questions. Gilliam’s message is for the church. It should make us think deeply about how we do things and where we fall short. I would love to hear more from Gilliam about his upbringing, his church experience, and the things that left a sour taste in his mouth. Gilliam’s message offers insight into how people are thinking, living, and worshipping in this rapidly changing world of ours.

This is one worth talking about.

13 thoughts on “Heartbreaking. . . .

  1. I affirm the power of people working together for a positive change and the internet can be a tool for that change. But we must never think that in our communities, the internet, medical advancements, or any human accomplishment can make us a collective God. It seems like He blames God for his illness and finds humanity as the only cure. God doesn’t cause all tragedy in life; but God is the only physician that can being eternal hope. I am left like Walt with sadness and questions.

  2. I affirm the positive power behind people standing together for a common goal. I affirm the internet as a powerful tool to accomplish great things. I also affirm the incredible ability of modern medicine. However, none of these, even taken together, can make us “the creator” or God. I am sad that this man immediately blames God for his illness and walks away; and then believes the only cure is humanity. Only God can bring total healing that is eternal. I am left with a sadness at this mans misplaced worship, sad that the church wasn’t a more tangible reality for him, and left with questions.

  3. yea, i saw this over at Challies…I think he got the groundwork of faith from his upbringing, only to apply it to what he truly worships today. an honest appraisal of his life perhaps, and what the Bible would no doubt lable idolatry?

  4. “This is one worth talking about.” Okay Walt, you can’t say that you didn’t ask for it. 🙂
    I have been a fervid follower of Jim Gilliam (sensitivity and compassion exude from his every pore) since 2003 when he worked with filmmaker Robert Greenwald to create the documentary “Uncovered: The War On Iraq”. It tells the story of government insiders, CIA operatives, and weapon inspectors, who had knowledge of Iraq having no WMDs, but were silenced by the bush administration. Jim then went on to again work with Greenwald on “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism”, “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price”, and “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”. He then worked on the “McCain Mansions” inspired by the arrogant admittance of John McCain not knowing how many houses he owned.

    You wonder Walt; “I would love to hear more from Gilliam about his upbringing, his church experience …” It really is no different than yours or mine. All three of us were totally immersed (brainwashed?) in Reformed Theology from infancy; Liberty, Geneva, my Patrick Henry, no difference; white relatively affluent conservative Republican suburban neighborhoods. Etc.

    Jim Gilliam is the ultimate moral activist. The embodiment of WWJD. He does not do what he does believing that Jesus would do likewise, but rather as a conscience inner moral obligation that he feels for his fellow humans. Shortly after viewing this clip of Jim, I viewed a clip of Derek Melleby expounding on the fact that “there is nothing wrong with going to college to get a degree, to get a good job, to make a lot of money, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that…” There certainly is something “inherently” wrong with going to college “to make a lot of money”. Try Jesus’ teachings on acquiring wealth. I was absolutely appalled to hear Derek state that – such an incredibly superficial and biblically immoral reason for going to college – the epitomical aspiration of all my fellow white evangelical Republican conservative suburban young church members. What’s even more saddening is that upon you hearing that Walt, you probably never mentioned one word to him about it. It probably didn’t even register with you. It was statements such as Derek’s that initially started me on questioning my Reformed Theological roots. Yes, I am a proud and ardent Christian social activist now; operating on very frayed Reformed Theological roots.

    Jim’s activism involves the weighty and world-affecting issues that Jesus would surely want us to address – NOT being hung-up on pictures of the human body, NOT promoting “Chastity Balls” for young girls (but not boys), NOT condemning unmarried couples for having consensual sex, NOT denying equal civil marriage rights for same genders, NOT teaching that self-gratification is self-debasement, NOT controlling and squelching the wonderfully inquisitive minds of college teens wanting to explore different beliefs, etc. These are but “red herrings” that our behind the scene power corporatists want us to be addressing so as not to be on their trail such as Jim Gilliam is.


  5. Jim would also like to radically change the White House to be democratically run by the input of millions via the Internet. My personal idea of dramatically transforming the White House is WWJD. I would designate each wing to a different cause – a wing for battered women, a wing for homeless vets, a wing for terminally ill children, a wing for drug addiction treatment, a wing for foreigners with illnesses that that only our country has the technology and open arms to treat, and so on and so on. Just think of the possibilities for so many rooms. Our most downtrodden would be treated in the most grandeur building with the utmost respect and dignity. Visiting dignitaries could meet with the president at inner-city community centers and country Grange Halls. The president and family would live in a modest, yet comfortable house, in an economically depressed area of Wash. DC. It also would no longer be called the “White” House, but rather “The Rainbow House”, painted with stark colors and a large constructed brilliantly glistening colored rainbow adorning its entrance, which everyone entering would walk through. Can you imagine the message this would send to the world? No longer would America be the example of military imperialism. Can you imagine Jesus doing anything different? I can’t.

    We must ask ourselves why our Jesus-oriented Church is not addressing issues that Jesus certainly would be –the obscene differences of wealth in this country, the denial of health care to those without (contrary to the obnoxious definition of “health care” of george bush – “Everyone can receive health care by entering an emergency room”), the ungodly Iraq war, the depraved exploitation of our environment, the unconstitutional and immoral torturing of our fellow human beings, etc. You do a tremendous amount of reading Walt, but it almost invariably fits into a very small concise mold of only reinforcing what you already believe, practice, and prioritize. I would ask you to break out of that mold only the slightest and read a little about the issues that so drive Jim Gilliam. May I suggest John Amato’s website “Crooks and Liars” and Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. ?

    On a personal note Walt, I sense from you that you need a new and higher called challenge. Twenty some years is a long time doing the same thing. I’ve taken notice of you trying to rewrap old initiatives in new packaging; symptoms of possible burnout; desperate advertising that smacks of crass commercialism. I think it’s time for you to move on to bigger issues – Jesus and Jim Gilliam issues. You are definitely qualified to do so. I implore you to check out Jim’s inspiring work. You possess tremendously admirable and influential qualities Walt – an unquenchable intellect, unquestionable sincere, sensitive and caring capabilities, prodigious communication skills, and a totally natural “leadership presence”. All of these attributes beg to be used in a Jesus centered movement to engage Christian youth AND adults to engage in the monumental issues that are detrimentally shaping the world that our youth are inheriting. Please pray on it.

  6. This is secular humanism at it’s core. “We can save ourselves”. It is a sad reminder of the strong roots it has taken, especially in the western church. And unfortunately technology is empowering it. Reminds me a bit of the tower of babel. Yes “man” can do amazing things but that is because we are created in God’s image and are covered by His grace. I believe that God’s word slams in the face of secular humanism and clearly states there is one God! And that is the only God that can truly save us.

  7. WOW TAMMY, what a post. I love it, and you are so right-on in your feelings about Walt. I must admit that a lot of the comments posted here over the last year have definitely taken me out of my comfort zone, but I find them extremely interesting and thought provoking. Trying to refute them is often difficult if not impossible, but I luv’em! Please keep them coming Tammy, Stephenie, Ralph, and Jim and Diane.

    JOHN 3:16 says it all.

    Also thanks to you Walt for allowing diverse opinions to be published.

  8. Tammy. . . thanks for your thoughtful comments and interaction. Your encouragement is appreciated as well. I’m always “praying ahead” and continually asking the Lord to lead me deeper into the things of Him and in my calling. I’ve never stopped wondering what I will be when I grow up! Fun, but sometimes frustrating.

    Regarding your comment. . . specifically regarding Derek and what he said. I would encourage you to take some time to read the things that Derek has written so that the words you cite would be understood in their full context. Sadly, I think you’ve drawn a conclusion that isn’t accurate. Your sense of Derek and what he is teaching and encouraging is far from, if not diametrically opposed to, the Derek and message that I know and have heard over and over again. You’ve also assumed that we’ve got some “NOTs” here at CPYU and in our lives that are not NOTs for us. I wonder whether you just haven’t given us a good and complete “read,” or if we’ve failed miserably at our communication. If you knew us, you’d know that you’ve misinterpreted Derek’s words by taking them out of context.

    In addition, you’ve made some assumptions about our upbringings that are not accurate either. I was not steeped in Reformed Theology since infancy, and neither was Derek. For me, it’s been like a curtain opening bit by bit that’s offered an amazing and surprising view of all things. I would, however, agree with you regarding the way that many express their Reformed leanings – makes me nauseous sometimes. In fact, I’ve sometimes done that to myself. Also, I don’t know that I would lump Liberty and Patrick Henry in with Geneva. . . some real differences there. . . especially with the Geneva that I attended.

    I would simply ask you to take all things into consideration so that you see and hear things in their context.

  9. Unbelievable! Someone just gets done watching Jim Gilliam opening his heart and soul, and their only comment is that he’s guilty of committing idolatry. Amazin’. Simply amazin’.

    And then we wonder why others see us [evangelicals] as too judgemental.

  10. Walt, thanks for your attempt to increase understanding. You succeeded. Perhaps I had given too much weight to the short clip chosen as representative of Derek’s full presentation. I deplore living life as if it were a game of Monopoly.

  11. WALT, an example of a major issue reprinted from “The Huffington Post”. The report is published by the most prestigious “International Programme on the State of the Ocean”(IPSO). Check out their website. Corporate powers of course want to paint them as “Chicken Littles”, but IPSO has nothing to gain by these findings, whereas the corporations have much to lose.

    It is causes such as this that I see you capable of harnessing a tremendous amount of positive Christian energy, and appropriately channeling it. I’m sure your followers agree. You are so self-deprecating that I fear you underestimate your potential.

    “ONE MUST BE ALL THAT THEY CAN BE”, Abraham Maslow – “Self-Actualization”

    State Of The Ocean: ‘Shocking’ Report Warns Of Mass Extinction From Current Rate Of Marine Distress

    If the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world’s oceans aren’t curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming, an expert panel of scientists warns in an alarming new report.
    The preliminary report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.
    “The findings are shocking,” Dr. Alex Rogers, IPSO’s scientific director, said in a statement released by the group. “This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”
    The scientific panel concluded that degeneration in the oceans is happening much faster than has been predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the precise conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth’s history.
    According to the report, three major factors have been present in the handful of mass extinctions that have occurred in the past: an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates “dead zones”) in the oceans, warming and acidification. The panel warns that the combination of these factors will inevitably cause a mass marine extinction if swift action isn’t taken to improve conditions.
    The report is the latest of several published in recent months examining the dire conditions of the oceans. A recent World Resources Institute report suggests that all coral reefs could be gone by 2050 if no action is taken to protect them. Just last week scientists forecasted that this year’s Gulf “dead zone” will be the largest in history due to increased runoff from the Mississippi River dragging in high levels of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers.
    A recent study in the journal Nature, meanwhile, suggests that not only will the next mass extinction be man-made, but that it could already be underway. Unless humans make significant changes to their behavior, that is.

    The IPSO report calls for such changes, recommending actions in key areas: immediate reduction of CO2 emissions, coordinated efforts to restore marine ecosystems, and universal implementation of the precautionary principle so “activities proceed only if they are shown not to harm the ocean singly or in combination with other activities.” The panel also calls for the UN to swiftly introduce an “effective governance of the High Seas.”
    “The challenges for the future of the ocean are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen,” Dan Laffoley of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and co-author of the report said in a press release for the new report. “The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent.”

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