Jimmy’s Table PodcastCuriously evangelical. Politically homeless. A dreamer of small things. On this podcast, I am having conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture.

*Hot Topics* Israel, The Apostle Paul, Summer Vacation, George Floyd, Guy Fieri…

Hot Topics

I’ve decided to experiment a little bit with my podcast this week by introducing a new format to the show, where once a month I briefly talk about whatever random topics that strike my fancy. I will take these from the news headlines, cultural happenings, shenanigans trending on Twitter, or random events happening in my life. Sometimes I see things happening that are worth talking about, but not something I feel I need to put an entire episode together on. This new format will allow me to explore these things.

So let’s get into it…

Israel and Palestine Exchange Fire

The ongoing feud between Israel and Palestine sparked up again this past week. And like most other times before it, things died down relatively quickly. But not before killing dozens of people, blowing things up, and causing people around the globe to dig their heels in on which side they wanted to defend. The details of the story are of little interest, and just as forgettable as the last dozen times such things happened. It’s like a re-run of a show we’ve seen before, and will see yet again.

Here’s my quick hot take on this issue: As Christians, while we recognize that God promises the land on the other side of the Jordan river to Abraham and his descendants forever, that doesn’t mean we are required to “stand with Israel” every time Israel engages in bad behavior. Nor does that mean we automatically defend the Palestinians, who are essentially living in an apartheid state, simply because Israel has been a violent oppressor. Palestinians, along with the terrorist organization of Hamas, often engage in bad behavior too. And such behavior is not justified just because they are oppressed.

The issue is a complicated issue, with no clear and easy answers. As Christians, we stand for justice, peace, and mercy. However the conflict in Israel and Palestine ultimately plays out in history is yet to be determined. But whatever happens, our ultimately goal must be reconciliation, not taking sides in this crazy tit-for-tat fight.

The Apostle Paul Was A Double Agent?

Some guy on Twitter managed to make a splash in Christian circles this past week. His suggestion? That the apostle Paul was really a religious double agent hell bent on destroying the Jesus movement from the inside out. It is said Paul co-opted the movement and paganized it, and is ultimately not to be trusted.

As it turns out, the guy who said this is just some huckster trying to sell a forthcoming book. The author of the tweet, whose name isn’t worth mentioning, is previously famous for an equally cringe worthy statement that went viral on TikTok for saying Jesus had to deal with racism in his own heart.

Um…. yeah… I’ll just leave that one right there.

I always find attacks on the apostle Paul interesting. For some, Paul is not woke enough. For others, he’s too Jewish. Yet for others, Pauls’ far too Platonic. Pauline critics and dissenters are rare, but they pop up from time to time. And I think they are a bit more fashionable in the current theological environment.

But, one thing is for sure, whether you like the apostle Paul or not, one thing is for sure, his efforts laid a foundation that we’ll never dig up. Some people might want to imagine a Christianity that’s a little less Pauline. But at this point, the toothpaste is out of the tube. There’s simply no going back. Try as some might, you simply will never be able to separate being a follower of Jesus from the massive influence that the apostle Paul has had on the gospel.

Summer Vacations Are Back!

50% of adults are now vaccinated against COVID-19. And with Memorial Day weekend upon us, this officially means summer vacations are now back! Not that we stopped going on vacation during the pandemic. I went on a couple little mini-vacations this past year with my wife. But, things were definitely scaled back.

I expect that this summer a lot of Americans are going to vacate as much possible. Which can only mean one thing: high priced hotels, expensive airfare, and long lines at whatever destination we set our mind on.

Maybe we need another year of stay-cation, just until things blow over?

It’s Been One Year Since George Floyd’s Murder

It seems just like yesterday that George Floyd was tragically murdered by police, and massive protests swept over the nation in response. It’s sad though, for all that happened last year, not much of anything meaningful has transpired to effect real change.

About the only thing we’ve seen is a bunch of major corporations have bought some political brownie points by running some ads, donating some money, and holding some diversity seminars at work. And maybe I’m just too cynical, but I feel corporations largely do these sort of things just to buy racism insurance from the powers that be. All of this is ultimately about reputational risk management, and helping create an image that insulates them from criticisms, shake downs, and targeted protests.

I think George Floyd’s tragic death created an environment ripe for real reform. But sadly, nothing of significance happened. There was a lot of emotion expressed, but not much in the way of substance that was accomplished. I would like to have seen some reforms regarding the demilitarization of the police, the end of the drug war, and the end of qualified immunity. And unfortunately since the moment has passed, apart from long and slow change that happens over 100 years, it’ll probably take something far worse happening to bring about dramatic reforms.

Guy Fieri Is Making Bank

The Mayor of Flavor Town, Guy Fieri, just announced a 3-year contract renewal with the Food Network for $80 million dollars! That’s a whole lot of cheddar! Apparently we just can’t get enough of Diners, Drive In’s, and Dives! I know I’ve definitely watched my share of episodes. And I’ve even managed to eat at a couple restaurants Guy Fieri has visited here in Charlotte! It’s a cool experience, especially when you go there and see his spikey hair and face painted on the wall. And needless to say, the joints I’ve been definitely did not disappoint!

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