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The curse of context

Who decides what offends God?

Nathan Gibbs has a sad story on his blog about the death of his childhood friend, Benson Krause, and a remembrance of the music they made together. Their band, "The Third Half," included many of the guys I grew up a few years behind, and Nathan's post recalls an infamous moment at our church, though I was too young to remember it as much more than folklore.

One Sunday morning, his father Jim was preaching. He spoke about being corrupted by the world and used his youngest son Timothy's innocence as an example. He said Tim was sitting in the pew making gestures with his hands and wound up being fascinated with his middle finger. Jim explained how it meant nothing outside the context of the world's negative influence. What he did next is something no one in the audience that day will forget. He rested both wrists on the pulpit with two middle fingers extended upward. "Does this offend you?" he asked.

My childhood church was part of the Church of Christ denomination, which is, coincidentally, ...

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