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Woman wears pasta strainer for driver's license photo

Asia Lemmon, whose legal name is Jessica Steinhauser, 41, of St. George, Utah, who had her Utah driver's license photo taken wearing a colander, the official headgear of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, poses for a photo with her children wear pots and pans on their heads (Credit: KUTV/Jessica Steinhauser)Asia Lemmon recently had her Utah driver's license photo taken while wearing a colander on her head.  Why is this news?  Because she successfully claimed a religious exemption to Utah's requirement that all such photos be taken without headgear.

Lemmon is a member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster movement also known as Pastafarianism.  The group was started in 2005 as a protest against teaching intelligent design in Kansas schools.  Lemmon is an unusual spokesperson for them: her legal name is Jessica Steinhauser, but she performed as a porn star under the name Asia Carrera.  When she appeared for her driver's license photo, her protest was already old hat, so to speak.  About a dozen Pastafarians have done the same thing in recent years.

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How should the church do politics?

Countries of the cross outside the entrance to the Gateway Sanctuary on the north campus of The Church on the Way in Santa Clarita, California , June 15, 2008 (Credit: Konrad Summers via Flickr) Brittany Maynard ended her life last Saturday.  The 29-year-old was terminally ill with brain cancer.  She famously declared earlier this year that she and her family had moved to Oregon so she could take advantage of that state's right-to-die law.  

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced last Thursday, "I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."  In the U.S., 32 states have now legalized same-sex marriage (though only three have done so by popular vote).  The other 29 legalized same-sex marriage by court decision or action by the state legislature.

On Tuesday the nation heads to the voting booth.  Some Christians and churches have been endorsing candidates and working hard for political agendas.  Others have ignored the election entirely.

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Reflections from Movement Day in New York City

A view from Hudson River Park of One World Trade Center at night, New York City, September 6, 2014 (Credit: gigi_nyc via Flickr)New York City is one of my favorite places in the world.  The energy never stops.  The growth is amazing—the city will add another million residents by 2040.  Ten million immigrants came through Ellis Island before it was closed in 1954; today 100 million Americans, nearly one in three of us, trace our descent to one of them.  I love visiting the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park.

Yet the immorality of the city is as obvious as its vitality.  When my wife and I came out of a NYC restaurant recently we were confronted by a group of actors in cartoon costumes asking for money; one of them was a woman wearing body paint and nothing else.  We had to divert our eyes from men and women in underwear on street corners.  We attended the most family-friendly Broadway play we could find, but the obscenities that riddled its dialogue were shocking.  The world in all its beauty and tragedy is on display in New York City.

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'It's hard to be hungry when you're full'

Movement Day is catalyzing leadership teams from America’s largest cities to serve their cities more effectively by advancing high-level, city-changing collaborative partnerships. (Credit: Movement Day via Facebook)"It's hard to be hungry when you're full." I read that statement today, and it resonated with me.  I am writing this essay from New York City, where our ministry is participating with Movement Day, a five-year-old catalytic strategy to bring Christians and ministries together for collaborative work on specific social issues.  The goal is to demonstrate the relevance of our faith, thus earning the right to preach the gospel as a catalyst for spiritual awakening.

We are where the Third Great Awakening began in 1857, the result of a prayer meeting initiated by a Presbyterian layman named Jeremiah Lamphier.  Six people came the first week, 14 the second, 23 the third, and then the participants began meeting daily.  Others joined their "businessman's prayer meeting movement," and it swept the coast and into the frontier.  The next year, out of a population of 30 million Americans, one million came to faith in Christ.

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Woman believes in 'secular heaven'

A non-operational, empty escalator at King's Cross underground railway station on the northern edge of London at the junction of Euston Road and York Way, in the London Borough of Camden on the boundary with the London Borough of Islington (Credit: Chris Jones via Flickr) I read yesterday a terrific essay titled, "No One Ever Loses to Cancer."  The author tells of a man she loves who is fighting terminal malignancy.  When she heard someone say that a person had "lost the battle" against cancer," she realized:

"Our vernacular is all wrong.  I resent how cancer is represented.  Just because something kills you cannot possibly mean it defeats you.  If that were true, we would all—masters and poets and liars and sinners and dancers and writers and heroes—be destined in the end to be losers."

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