I Am A Religious Fanatic!

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


Are you a fanatic?!

Of course not! Right? You aren’t obsessed. You live by the mantras, “Everything in moderation; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Fanaticism and extremism are bad words in your calm and cool vocabulary.  Fanatics belong on the news or an A&E show.

Frequently the news media calls Muslims, who are involved in terrorism, fanatics or extremists.  A fanatic is someone who takes very seriously the claims of their belief and acts them out to the extreme. When discussing the problems of the Middle East, every talking head quickly points out that Islam (or Judaism) is not the problem; fanaticism and extremism are the problem.

Is that really true? Are you afraid of fanatics and extremists no matter what they believe?

Are you a fanatical Christian?

We have been catechized to thoughtlessly respond, “No! Of course not!”


Ahh, but look at…

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Persecuted Whiners

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


Stop whining about persecution

Christians in America have it relatively easy compared to most other environments; therefore we draw our stories of faith under fire from other parts of the globe.  This call for awareness of persecution usually takes the form of not only a call to prayer but outrage and protests to our own government demanding that they do something about it!   The most recent campaign focuses on the Iraqi Christians being marked with the Arabic letter ‘n’ designating families as being followers of the Nazarene, which is supposed to be a Muslim insult to those who hold Jesus as being more than a Nazarene.

The Arabic letter replaces pastors’ facebook profile pics like that funny whistled tune in the hunger games. Calls are made to politicians, letters are written to officials; all are crying, “Protect the Christians, stop the persecution, how can you let…

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Mow, Pilgrim, Mow: a Lawn, by Definition, is Natural

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


“Pretty much by definition, a lawn is unnatural” writes Elizabeth Kolbert in her article Turf Wars in the New Yorker, July 2008.

I enjoy cutting my lawn. I enjoy landscaping; carefully arranging plants, flowers, rocks into pleasing patterns.  It deeply satisfies me.

When I was younger and of course more quick to blurt out seemingly brilliant yet later unwise accusations (see sophmorism, also see Calvinism) , I scoffed at the old man tending his lawn.  Why?  Let it grow.  Do not intrude. Fit in to your surroundings like a chameleon , like an animal, like you belong there.  Why ‘arrange’ anything.  Nature needs no help.


Andrew Jackson Downing brought the ‘lawn’ and landscaping into the American mainstream way back in the early 19th century.  He promoted it as an almost moral act of good citizenry.  But today many ‘progressives’ look down on the lawn.  In…

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


Last week we lost a great poet, Maya Angelou.  Well, not really.  She did live a fascinating life worth reading about.   However, she was a so so poet. Then again, I submit that every man, woman, and child who can write is a so so poet. I know that I am not alone regarding this opinion, but I’ll bear the cross while the rest of you scatter.

As I was frothing with anger over the sad state of affairs of literary criticism, I turned my attention to my scheduled search for signs of life in Christian music.  For some reason once in a while I dig through the global record store on my laptop hoping to find a great tune with great lyrics to add to my church’s canon of sacred music.  I suppose my search is akin to a NASA scientist searching for signs of…

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God’s Not Dead – But We Can’t Find Jesus!

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


Well I did it.  I paid good money to sit with strangers, eat overpriced junk food and watch an after school special film on a screen not much bigger than some self-indulgent American’s home theater.   I saw the movie ‘God is not dead.’  Ooops, I’m sorry. ‘God’s not dead.’

Just like Noah, the movie’s subject matter is definitely worthy fodder for a fantastic film.  The notes at the end of the film document the sundry cases of Christians being bullied by many almost fascist closed minded mid-level intellectuals populating our far too many colleges and universities.  If you were a fan of the inquisition (see Monty Python) then you will love its latest evolution taking place on a campus near you.

spanishinquisition (1)

As expected the characters were not given much depth, perhaps because there were so many subplots. The bad guys were too drastic and unbelievable; though…

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happy birthday from an evolutionist

happy birthday

well, I hope it is happy so that your smile and pleasant disposition might attract a mate so you can further your species.

on this day ___ years ago you were fortunate to have survived your mother’s birth canal.  perhaps you have a quality about you that will help you outlive your weaker siblings.  or maybe not.  doesn’t matter really.  at best you are a fortunate accident.

love (that is, my emotion that my brain produces to keep me from killing myself)


Americans Don’t Love Science. They Just Like the “Idea” of Science

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


No I have not seen ‘Noah’.  I really could care less.  I did enjoy some of Aronofsky’s past work however. Still, this could have been brilliant but seemed silly. I despise paying money for crappy movies and then receiving a strange stare from a pimpled face teenager when I ask for my money back.  I am not interested in supporting starving artists if they rot – and Hollywood is not starving.  Let them starve!  Still, I don’t know what’s worse -a poor Hollywood movie that ruins scripture or a cheesy Christian movie that ruins art.

Ok, instead of seeing a Hollywood assembly line piece of spam….

This past week I enjoyed a visit to one of my favorite cities, Chicago.  Besides digging great record shops, a good cup of coffee and diners, we visited the Adler planetarium.  I love astronomy, dark matter, and the cold mysterious…

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Elegy for Shelley: death of a blind romantic

The Jagged Word

By Joel Hess


They found him there

Upon the shore

Upon his back

Next to some fishbones

And kelp

Eaten by the sea

With a draft of Keats

And a note from Sophocles

And the people held their breath

When they learned of Shelley’s death

The bass floated by

His helpless eyes

So purposely it seemed

Into the black,

chased by little bubbles

that couldn’t help



But he descended

Not able to even cry

A poet’s cry

An accidental rhyme

A heroic refrain

But instead his amazed stare

Decorated the darkness there

As his buttocks slowly sank into the sand

Oh the irony

The perfect poem that he would not be able to immortalize

To give to that pretty red haired girl

Or make the widows cry

And the people held their breath

When they learned of Shelley’s death

Oh how he loved the water

When he…

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