Thinking Out Loud

November 16, 2018

“I Love You” in Various Life Stages

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:19 am

Yesterday we looked at “Lonely People,” originally recorded by the group America. If you’re old enough to remember that one, you might, especially if you lived in Canada, also remember this song by the secular rock group Mashmakhan.

Their Wikipedia entry says that the band “wrote the song as a novelty addition to their album, not expecting it to gain serious recognition.” Although I was quite young when it came out, I was struck by three things:

  1. The poetic form which was based on a repetition pattern more common in classical poetry
  2. The “catalog” form, chronicling various age-related perceptions of saying “I love you.”
  3. The resulting message, stated yet not stated.

Honestly, the song greatly impacted me and I thought in this site’s previous ten years I would have covered it here at least once, but apparently that was not the case. I believe the song speaks for itself, so I’ll leave you with the lyrics and a video, and you may derive your own personal understanding of the meaning from reading and listening once or twice; not to mention the meaning of “I Love You”…

A child asks his mother, “Do you love me?”
And it really means, “Will you protect me?”
His mother answers him, “I love you.”
And it really means, “You’ve been a good boy.”

And as the years go by
True love will never die

At seventeen a girl says, “Do you love me
And it really means, “Will you respect me?”
The teenage boy answers, “I love you.”
But it really means, “Can I make love to you?”

And as the years go by
True love will never die

I will love you forever
I will love you forever

At sixty-five his wife says, “Do you love me?”
And it means, “I’d like to hear it again.”
Her husband says to her, “I love you.”
But it really means, “I’ll love you till the end.”

And as the years go by
True love will never die

Now you’re asking me if I love you
And it really means, ‘Will I marry you?’
And I answer, “Yes I love you.”
But it really means that “I won’t be untrue.”

And as the years go by
True love will never die

I will love you forever
I will love you forever

 

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November 15, 2018

This is For All the Lonely People

Lorne Anderson is a Canadian living in Germany. This appeared on his blog earlier today.

Lonely People

Guest post by Lorne Anderson

As an introvert, I try my best not to overload on people contact. I need space and solitude.

I’ve come to the realization that is one of the reasons why learning German is difficult for me. It is not just that the language is hard, but I was also thrown into a classroom with a bunch of people I didn’t know and expected to interact. Tough to withdraw into your shell in a such a situation.

Despite my preferences, I understand the need for human contact. Living a solitary life isn’t healthy, no matter how appealing it is. When my wife wants to invite someone over, I usually agree. And enjoy myself.

I am introverted, but not shy. I have no difficulty standing on a platform speaking to thousands of people at a concert, as I have had to do from time to time in my radio career. But that is something that comes with the job, not out of my desires.

Most people, I think, crave human interaction far more than I do. And with the social changes of the past 50 years or so, people are getting far less of that interaction than they want or need. As a result, many people are lonely.

I suppose it was inevitable that government would step in to deal with the loneliness problem. The United Kingdom now has a Minister of Loneliness. I seem to recall hearing that other jurisdictions are introducing similar positions. To say I have mixed feelings about that is an understatement.

I applaud that the problem has been recognized, while at the same time decrying the solution. I don’t believe government has the answers to our problems; nor do I believe government is my friend. I’ve worked in politics; if I was lonely it wouldn’t be politicians I was turning to for companionship.

Dealing with loneliness may become one of the central issues of our time. We live in a world where it is increasing possible to be always connected to others through social media. In theory people should not feel lonely, surrounded as we are by so many others.

Yet social media does not bring with it intimacy. It may indeed discourage it. Your posts are there for the world to see. It makes sense therefore to hold back some of yourself rather than let your personality show, warts and all. After all, others may be judging you. Better to put your best face forward. But is your best face your real face? Do you trust people with the real you? And if not, does that holding back take a toll, isolating you and increasing the chances of being lonely. Just because there are always people around doesn’t mean that you have anything deeper than a superficial relationship.

Which is why I doubt that having a Minister of Loneliness can have positive effects, aside from providing jobs for some otherwise unemployable social science graduates (full disclosure – I am a social science graduate.).  Government no matter how well-meaning, isn’t going to find friends for me, or anyone else who needs them. If it tries, I suspect it would fail – despite data mining, it doesn’t know me that well.

At this point I could make some theological observations about human nature and being created in God’s image, which would be relevant but would also make this post longer than it should be. So, I’ll hold back on that thought, maybe for another day.

One basic observation though. I wonder if the cure for loneliness starts with cutting back on or even eliminating electronic communications? Maybe we would be less lonely as a society if we spent more time fact to face and less time face to screen.

It couldn’t be that easy, could it?

 

November 14, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Weekly introduction which is skipped over completely by people reading this on the blog or as email subscribers, but turns out to be a vitally important paragraph for people linking to the list from Twitter. Blah, Blah, Blah.

♦ Not-the-Quotation of the Week: “In place of academic excellence for all, the district’s primary mission is now to ensure that students think correctly on social and political issues.” Furthermore, you need to send your kids to school so they will learn how to become a nice person.

🇨🇦 A complete upset in Canada’s top faith-related story of the week: Atheist pastor Gretta Vosper gets to keep her job. The United Church of Canada “settled ahead of what some had dubbed a ‘heresy trial,’ leaving her free to minister to her east-end Toronto congregation

♦ …At least one Toronto columnist sees the ridiculousness of the situation:

…Carry on deleting all reference to God or a supernatural being in all sermons and rewritten hymns. Carry on expunging the Lord’s Prayer. Carry on with a fundamentally humanist dogma. Carry on conducting services as a community-centred attestation where everybody gets a shot at the microphone.

But what a cross to bear that gigantic wooden crucifix at the front of the Church of the Master must be, constant reminder of everything this parish rejects…

I would characterize their embrace of Vosper as idolatrous.

♦ It’s a loss for privacy but a win for security. Once again the debate has arisen over putting microchips in humans.

♦♦♦ More concerns at Harvest Bible Chapel: $270K (US) stolen from the church and a youth director released from staff for impropriety affecting three families. See a copy of the letter emailed to church members. (Link here for the youth pastor report in the Chicago Tribune.)

♦ Jordan Peterson is a name which comes up in many conversations with people of faith. But as Terry Mattingly notes, “Peterson is a ‘depth psychologist,’ not a theologian… and he has sent complex, mixed signals about the Bible and Christianity. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to avoid the moral content of his work.”

🇨🇦 You’ll remember a few months ago I linked you to a series of interviews between Paul Carter of The Gospel Coalition Canada and Bruxy Cavey of The Meeting House. Now, TGC Canada has released a statement, the gist of which is, ‘We can’t be in full fellowship if you won’t use our terminology.’ Or something like that.

♦ Essay of the Week (1): Changing faith traditions can be filled from trauma, but some of that may be due to family concerns, not the religions themselves.

♦ Essay of the Week (2): An American living in Hondouras offers her unique perspective on the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. border. More than half of the students in the school she helps operate “have walked out because they admittedly had no interest in studying or preparing for the future.”

♦ Parenting (1): Now that many of our churches have observed the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, here are four reasons why your kids need know all that’s taking place.

🎄Parenting (2): Everything you need to get ready to have a focused Advent countdown in your home.

Yet another Bible translation.

♦ A day before Veteran’s Day, while World War II didn’t take his life, he didn’t survive a home invasion in his Georgia Home. John and Virginia Dawson had been married 72 years.

♦ A man comes into a church dressed in drag. The pastor asks him to leave. Watch the video. What do you think? Did the pastor do the right thing?

♦ Returning from the mission field is like stepping back through the wardrobe from Narnia. “It is difficult and frustrating sometimes feeling like we don’t actually fit anywhere, that no place feels quite right. But it’s a gift too, I’ve found. It’s sharpened my gaze to those who are a bit other where they are too.

📖 A different look at the popular book, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

Can you tell a woman who has lost her hoped-for child as a result of state officials turning a blind eye to a water-poisoning crisis in a predominantly black area, or a mother seeking asylum whose child was taken away from her at the border, that “you are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are”? You can, but you would be wrong. And cruel. Hollis doesn’t address the possibility that for some people, obstacles to happiness are outside their control. And it is proof of her hard-earned privilege that she doesn’t have to.

♦ This one breaks our rule about not sending you to sites with OBNOXIOUS pop-ups, however… There’s an interesting insight how the text in the Book of James sounds so much like Jesus speaking. Quoting Scot McKnight: “James sounds like Jesus in every paragraph without quoting him. And you can only do this if you follow Jesus so deeply that every time you talk, you sound like him.”

♦ This again: On the one hand, some churches don’t have a problem with it. On the other hand, some believe Yoga is demonic.

♦ The Kentucky franchise of the SBC will no longer permit affiliation of churches which hold a dual affiliation with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship “that took steps earlier this year to allow the hiring of LGBT staff members.”

🎬 That’s the lead singer from Christian band Downhere that you’re hearing in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.

♦ NSFW (or home)(or anywhere someone might be watching): The website Christian Friendly Sex Positions. (When you’re compiling a weekly list like this, the internet is the gift that keeps on giving.)(Betcha this one is the top click this week.)

♫ I usually pick things eclectic and esoteric and [need another e-word] for these music links, but this new song from Casting Crowns is really growing on me. The Bridge from the new album Only Jesus.

♦ Finally, “Transagers” — “Allowing adults who self-identify as children to compete in junior sports events has been a controversial subject, as critics have argued that it puts their opponents at an inherent disadvantage. However… banning Transagers from competing with children would be discriminatory.


November 13, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:35 am

Today would have been a celebration my mother’s birthday, and a significant one at that. (Don’t try to do the math, it doesn’t work well in my case.) Instead, she left us just over two years ago.

My wife would have made a chocolate cake and we would visit her, if not on the day, on one at least close to it. There would be a singing of “Happy Birthday” over the telephone.

So can she see the words which form today’s headline? I almost hope not. If she can see that, she can see the mass shootings and the California fires. I don’t wish that on anyone.

Here’s what some say on the topic of whether or not people in eternity can see what’s happening here:

Billy Graham

…Do those in Heaven know what’s happening on earth? The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions about Heaven—but it does indicate that those who have already entered Heaven may be aware of events on earth. The book of Hebrews, for example, pictures life as a great arena, with those who have gone before us cheering us on in our daily spiritual struggles (see Hebrews 12:1). Once when Jesus’ appearance was changed and His heavenly glory shone through, Moses and Elijah spoke with Him about events on the earth (see Luke 9:30-31)…

Greg Laurie*

…There are two trains of thought on this topic. For some it would seem like that once we’re in heaven we will be so preoccupied with worshipping God that the last thing in our mind would be what’s happening on earth – besides, with all the tragedy and sadness in this world, heaven would just not be heaven if we were made aware of it.

Then, the other train of thought is pretty much the opposite of that. People would think that folks up in heaven are sitting and watching our every move almost like it’s their form of entertainment. They would even think that sometimes those in heaven might be intervening in our lives and directing our steps and helping us to know what to do.

You might be surprised to know that I believe both views are actually incorrect.

The question might be well, why would you even care about this? The answer is you will care if you have a loved one in heaven,

…Let me take it a step further. I think people in heaven know a lot more about earth than we may realize.

Randy Alcorn

The answer is yes, at least to some extent.

[He then lists twelve instances in scripture which point to this taking place in particular circumstances involving particular people. Also a different video answer here.]

A Catholic Answer

The living often say they feel the dead present and watching them. Is this illusion or fact?

It is fact. The Bible says we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses”. The context is speaking of the dead. They are alive. For God is “not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him”.

Reason confirms revelation here. Does their love for us cease? Does it not rather increase in purity and power? And do not their vision and understanding also increase?

“The Communion of Saints” means not only (1) love and understanding among the blessed in Heaven and (2) love and understanding among the redeemed on earth but also (3) love and understanding between those two groups, the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant, temporarily separated by death…

John Piper

[Part 2 of a 5-part answer to the question]

If the saints see, they see with new eyes.

I would say that if God grants saints in heaven to see the suffering and misery, as well as the good on the earth, we may be sure that they see it not with their old, imperfect eyes and that they understand it not with their old imperfect minds and that they assess it not with their old imperfect hearts. Rather, we may be sure because the Bible says that they have been perfected in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).

They will see and understand and assess all things in a perfectly spiritual way that takes into account everything they need to know in order to make sense of it and to keep from making any mistakes. And so, they will not in the least doubt the goodness of God in what they see or the wisdom of God in what they see. That may be as important as any surety of whether they can come and see.

So there you some dominant views.

And, for what it’s worth, Happy Birthday, Mom.

 

[*quotations from an article in The Christian Post]

November 10, 2018

Environmental Social Contract

Either my memory is fading, or the version of “social contract theory” that I was taught in university had less to do with the role government, and more to do with the individuals in a society — even a local neighborhood — acting in practical ways toward mutual deference to each other.

Dictionary.com offers this:

1. the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.

2. an agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community as a whole.

In my view, when I’m driving down an undivided highway I am trusting that the car coming the opposite way will stay in its lane, and he or she is trusting that I will do the same.

When the neighbor across the road is changing his oil, I’m trusting he won’t pour the old oil into the municipal sewer system which goes into the lake, from which we get our drinking water.

But I’ve seen that done, close up.

When the other neighbor, who runs the chemical pesticide lawn treatment business needs to empty the tank on his truck, I’m trusting he won’t just drive to the abandon lot and dump the contents onto the soil.

But I’ve seen that done, relatively close up.

On a macro scale, I’m also trusting that the industrial and commercial businesses in our region won’t release toxins into the air through their smokestacks and won’t discharge carcinogenic chemicals into our lakes and rivers.

But we know that happens.

This may be a bit biased, but in the case of those macro infractions, I think that factories and manufacturing plants in America are more likely to see their legislators avert their eyes than what we see in my country. In the U.S., profit is king. The rights of business take precedence.  Which is interesting because, nominally at least, Americans would claim a much higher percentage of people identifying as Christians, and one view of scripture teaches that we ought to be caring for (stewarding) the earth, while another (possibly overlapping) view teaches that while the earth as we know it may be destroyed, the planet itself won’t be and in fact becomes a “New Earth” that we will inhabit in eternity.

Realistically, there doesn’t seem to be a solid entrenchment of environmental social contract in place. While themes like water pollution and air pollution don’t dominate either our conversations or our pop songs like they once did, we still treat the earth with relative disdain.

 

 

November 9, 2018

God is Listening

112413We live in a world where everything we say has the potential to be recorded and analyzed by others. Since September 11th, 2001, technology is being employed which tracks both your online and verbal communication. Phone calls which use certain key words trigger further attention. We love the benefits of that technology offers, but we often forget the loss of freedom the constant monitoring creates.

For the Christ-follower, this isn’t a big deal, since we’ve always believed in a God who is omniscient and omnipresent, as we have equally believed in the possibility of a judgment where every idle word will be brought into account.

Still, it was arresting over the weekend to hear someone speak of “God listening in to our conversations.” The host of the talk show I was tuned into was equally surprised. The phrase is taken from Jeremiah 8:6 (NLT). Here is the full context:

4 “Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again?
When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?
5 Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?
Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back?
They cling tightly to their lies
and will not turn around.
6 I listen to their conversations
and don’t hear a word of truth.
Is anyone sorry for doing wrong?
Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done”?
No! All are running down the path of sin
as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
7 Even the stork that flies across the sky
knows the time of her migration,
as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane.
They all return at the proper time each year.
But not my people!
They do not know the Lord’s laws.

8 “‘How can you say, “We are wise because we have the word of the Lord,”
when your teachers have twisted it by writing lies?
9 These wise teachers will fall
into the trap of their own foolishness,
for they have rejected the word of the Lord.
Are they so wise after all?

The idea of God listening, in and of itself, is not a concern. When we pray, we want to think that God not only hears our prayers, but is positively disposed and favorable inclined to respond. But God listening in on our conversations? Why does that seem inappropriate, as though the person in the restaurant booth next to us is locked in on everything we’re saying?

The broader context here is Israel turning its back on God; a recurring theme among the prophets both major and minor. (We have to be careful that no one reading this tries to turn this passage — or thinks I am turning it — into something derived from a secondary or tertiary emphasis.)

The NLT is alone in using the word conversations in this verse, however. But try to remove the sense of God ‘eavesdropping’ or ‘listening in,’ on all we say, and you diminish both God’s all-knowingness (his omniscience) and his desire to commune with us and have us desire to commune with him.

The radio show guest went on to say that since God hears every word we speak, there is a sense in which every word of concern for a particular individual or situation, is in itself a form of prayer. I’ve heard this before; in fact, a long time ago, after a long time in which I was discussing a concern with a friend, he suggested that it would be good if we were to take some time to pray about it. Without thinking, I said, “I think we just did.” In the sense that God was with us and hearing our focused thoughts toward whatever it was we were discussing all those years ago, we were indeed bringing it before the throne of grace. (I think we ended with a brief, “God you’ve heard our thoughts on this and you know the need; please accept our prayer.”)

The problem is that in our security-conscious world, we look at ‘listening in’ as invasive, or even creepy, or an affront to perceived rights of privacy. But if the high-tech monitoring of our online or verbal thoughts is for our good, we have to believe that a God who is taking the time to monitor those same communications is doing so for our good as well.

November 8, 2018

Preempting the Sunday Morning Service

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:03 am

Yesterday I heard about a third church in my area which is replacing the normal worship time and sermon with a concert. That’s right, a concert.

While this is nothing new, it certainly is becoming more prevalent. In the case of the one I just heard about, I know the band in question and have no doubt that some good ministry will take place that Sunday morning; and I recognize that the Sunday Evening service has become extinct, so realistically, only one opportunity is available to do this sort of thing on a day when the church family is guaranteed to be present.

Still, I wonder about this.

I’m trying to picture a Roman Catholic, or an Episcopalian showing up for church and instead of the familiar liturgical call to worship, a band starts playing a song. And then one more. And then another. They would probably feel their worship service had been hijacked. While one or two might like the creative change, I suspect that most simply value their order-of-service too much to see it removed; even for a single week. Those forms simply offer too much spiritual benefit to be sacrificed, even for a single week.

But Evangelicals don’t approach church that way. In the modern, megachurch-mimmicking church service there are three elements:

  1. Worship
  2. Announcements/Offering
  3. Teaching

Apparently, it’s okay to take a week off from the formal teaching time or the teaching plus the worship time. Hopefully the concert serves as a drawing card that is part of a coordinated evangelism effort to which people are inviting their friends and the pastor will indeed deliver a short challenge.

Often the concert is actually a set-up for a pitch from a relief and development organization.

My wife finds this a rather consumerist mentality. People will come to be entertained. She also wonders why the people in the band want to miss participating in their own church’s worship service that morning. Many of these same people, if asked to work at their job on Sunday morning, would tell their boss they cannot because they attend church.

It’s also worth noting that this year with November 11th falling on a Sunday, many churches in our area are rearranging their worship service time to accommodate attending the service at the local war memorial or cenotaph. In Canada, we don’t have both Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, so our Remembrance Day takes on greater importance.

One church, which normally has two services is only doing the early one. Another church has shifted their worship to a 12 noon “Café Service.”

I don’t recall any Evangelical church rearranging their schedule when this day was also a Sunday, but admittedly it takes anywhere between 5 and 13 years (because of Leap Years) for this type of thing to repeat, and by then the memory isn’t as accurate.

And don’t get me started about what happens when Christmas Day is a Sunday. (Relax, it’s a Tuesday this year.)

November 7, 2018

Wednesday Connect

A recent cartoon from Dave Walker at Church Times. Click the link to view larger.

Click the image to see past editions of Wednesday Connect.

I recognize that most of my U.S. readers are probably preoccupied with yesterday’s elections, but thanks to those of you who’ve dropped by for something non-political.

♦ Bound by grief: The pastor of the African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the Rabbi of Conservative Jewish synagogue had nothing in common until this past week. Now, Rev. Eric S.C. Manning and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers sadly share the pain of having a mass shooting in their respective houses of worship. The New York Times reports on the two men meeting each other.

🎬 Bias in movie ratings? The producers of The Reliant starring Kevin Sorbo, Brian Bosworth, Mollee Gray, Eric Roberts, and Julia Denton think it might be so.

Submission of the film to the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) for rating, produced an unexpected result. The MPAA rated it “R” for some violence. The producer reports that the film does not glamorize violence, and it was specifically and carefully designed to easily receive a more favorable rating. Dr. Johnston believes the MPAA is biased, and is, in effect, trying to prevent the film’s success because it is not only faith-based, but also pro-2nd Amendment.

Breaking — “Armed men kidnapped 79 children from a school in western Cameroon on Monday and a local pastor said separatist militias were responsible. The abduction happened before dawn in the city of Bamenda.”

♦ If you read (or will read) the Bible today; or if you asked for forgiveness; or if you dove into scripture  to fact-check something your pastor said; you owe all that to the day Martin Luther went viral.

♦ Warning! Don’t mess with James MacDonald. He’s having an especially litigious year-end. [Also, this.]

♦ Go Deeper! Take about 5 minutes to read this list of 5 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.

🇨🇦 Intervention: “YES-TV, Canada’s largest multifaith broadcaster, has sent a letter to the Canadian government offering to sponsor and settle Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman who was cleared of blasphemy charges last week.  Her death sentence was commuted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Oct. 31 following an appeal… Although cleared of the charges, Bibi has been living in a prison converted to a safe house since the decision, unable to leave for fear of her life.”

♦ Lauren Daigle responds to those who criticized her for doing the Ellen DeGeneres TV show. [8 Minute audio podcast.]

♦ Keeping Kosher: For Israel’s hospitality industry it comes at a very high price:

Several thousand inspectors – it is not clear exactly how many – make onsite visits daily to check things like food sanitation, the separation of dairy from meat products and that materials are bought from suppliers who are also approved. It even sends delegations abroad to inspect slaughterhouses that export beef to Israel…This has a created a situation where, according to one official, 17 inspectors every day descend upon a single food court in Jerusalem’s main mall, all at the expense of the business owners, who pass on costs to consumers.

♦ Opinion Piece of the Week: I Worship in a Television Studio. If the church you attend was constructed in the last couple of decades, you might relate to this. 

♦ Essay of the Week: “I want to ask my fellow professing Christians to do something downright shocking in today’s online environment: Be radically charitable to your Christian brothers and sisters. Be downright deferential. Consider them better than you. Demonstrate love in every interaction.” Brant Hansen plea for unity.

♦ Most provocative opening paragraph: “The Family Federation for a Heavenly USA (aka the Unification Church) has added worship artist Israel Houghton to the lineup of high profile Christians who will help evangelize New Yorkers for self-described True Mother and the only begotten daughter of God, Hak Ja Han Moon.” Did he know what he was signing up for when he agreed to perform at this?

♦ …Or maybe it’s this opening paragraph: “Washington state Rep. Matt Shea publishes manifesto calling for the execution of all males who refuse to follow ‘Biblical law.’ [Next paragraph] “…The document calls for ‘Biblical law’, and suggests that those men who support gay marriage and abortion rights should be executed.” [Thanks to Eric and Michael at Linkathon for this unusual story and source.]

♦ Provocative title of the week: Jerks for Jesus.

♦ A tragic headline: US Missionary Shot to Death in Front of His Wife, Son. “An American missionary was shot to death this week in Cameroon while riding in the car with his wife and son. Charles Wesco of Indiana was out to shop when two bullets struck him through the windshield, according to Dave Halyaman, assistant pastor at Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Indiana. The bullets knocked Wesco unconscious, and doctors were unable to revive him at the hospital.”

♦ Rethinking the doctrine of Original Sin. Peter Enns: “Whatever words we want to use to describe it, this self-evident reality of repeated, relentless sin remains a consistent fact of human existence…But all I’m asking here is whether the Old Testament says that Adam is the cause of it all. It doesn’t. Not at all. Not even a hint.”

The complete Memorial Service for Eugene Hoiland Peterson. [Transferred to YouTube from a live stream, the video indicates a running time of 3 hours 20 minutes, however it begins at the 1 hour 45 minute mark.] …

♦ …Text of the poem read by Peterson’s son

🇨🇦 News media in Toronto, Canada is all over a story about a woman who attended a Baptist Church east of the city who was informed by letter that she is not welcome because she is gay. She says, “Why didn’t somebody come to my home? Why didn’t they request to have this conversation in person? So yeah, I was a little hurt I received this in the mail.” The story possibly stands out more in pluralistic, tolerant Toronto than it might in the more conservative U.S. Read a copy of the letter she received.

♦ The one-hour documentary film about Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ is available to view online.

♦ After a woman faints at Monday night’s Republican rally, the crowd breaks into Amazing Grace. Trump stands in silence for 7-8 minutes.

♦ Dealing with Difficult Bible Passages: After a putdown of Study Bibles, Bible Software and the internet, this author suggests that, “Most difficult parts of the Bible are elucidated in other parts of the Bible. In that way, the Bible serves as a commentary on itself.”

Each of the writers represented above has a book (or two, or more) they wish they’d never written. See next item.

📖 Two publishing related items from across the pond at Premier Christianity:

📖 Also, Scot McKnight interviews Kellye Fabian about her new NavPress book Sacred Questions, noting that “…the devotional takes the reader on a formative journey. In other words, the book isn’t just 365 days of randomly selected Scripture passages, but rather has separate sections that move the reader from Jesus’ invitations to relationship with him through a process…”

📖 One last book-related item: Catching up with Todd and Colton Burpo 14 years after Heaven Is For Real.

♫ Sarah Reeves is part of the Big Church Night Out tour. Here’s a performance video for her song Angels.

🇨🇦 A Canadian TV sitcom with a Christian perspective has come to Netflix. Christianity Today introduces a U.S. audience to Kim’s Convenience.

♦ Finally, our Tweet of the Week:

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

 

November 6, 2018

The Fifth Friday in the Month

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:00 am

Just three short months before they asked him to consider being on the short list for appointment as a church deacon, Ray got into a habit of dropping into McGinn’s Wings — affectionately called ‘McGings’ — on the way home from work. Although he had a more liberal attitude toward drinking than some in the church, it wasn’t about the alcohol. On about half of the days he went with a bottled grapefruit drink they served that was non alcoholic. It was more about having a buffer zone between work and home, though during the process his Sunday morning church attendance was starting to wane.

McGinn’s customers tended to walk around more than sit. There were some novelty pool tables, one sized extra long and the other extra square; not to mention some vintage pinball machines, foozball, and a prototype of a Wii-type game that never made it to market. There was also a red-haired woman who said her name was Blaine.

“Isn’t that a man’s name?” Ray asked.

“I’m all girl;” she replied, “Want me to prove it?”

Ray made a fist with his left hand and aimed it toward her. “See that? That’s a wedding ring. Don’t forget that.”

And then, two days later they would repeat the same dialog, almost word-for-word.

Ray’s wife Kallie was aware of all this. What was obvious by the smell of his jacket when he came home after 30 minutes at McGinn’s — a mixture of the hot sauce served with the chicken wings and the smell of beer — was also confirmed by Ray. He made no attempt to hide what he called his “new hobby.”

“What happens,” asked Kallie, “If someone from North Hills Baptist sees you coming out of there?”

Ray didn’t care. The pastor arranged for a joint meeting of the current deacon’s board along with all six people on the short list for serving the following year. Only three of those would be chosen, but they got to see an actual functioning meeting which dealt with a couple of budget issues, a few room rental requests, and the issue of a member who had written a rather strange letter to the editor of the local newspaper which, while it was mostly political, had the potential to do some damage.

Ray enjoyed the meeting and even made what all considered some good suggestions during a time when the prospective members could make comments; but the next morning he called Pastor Clements to ask that his name be removed from the short list and curiously, the pastor didn’t ask for a reason.

Ray made some friends at McGinn’s. He helped one guy move on the condition that it not involve a piano, and another was a mechanic and did some electrical repairs to his passenger side car window for free. They told him that Blaine was harmless, she actually had a different birth name which she hated, and every few years she came up with a new identity that she field-tested on bar patrons. Still, her flirting messed with his head, and she wasn’t the only woman at the bar who enjoyed playing mind games.

But several months down the road, McGinn’s closed. They were facing three civil lawsuits, there was a threat of a sexual harassment charge by a former waitress, some health code issues, and the proprietor was dealing with charges of federal tax evasion; though it must be said that the last item — the tax dispute — got cleared up really quickly when the owner sold the property to a condo developer for what everyone felt was far above market value.

Ray spent a week visiting other bars in town, but found them “shallow” and decided to go back to driving straight home from work. He also resumed a more regular pattern of church attendance.

Ray’s employer had a deal where if there were five Fridays in a month, they got the last one as a day off. So he was enjoying an extra hour’s sleep when Kallie informed him that she needed him to drive Claire Gibbons from her house to a florist shop to order the decorations for the women’s fall banquet.

“Why can’t you do it?” Ray asked.

“I’m on a writing deadline for one of the magazines.”

“The fashion one or the cooking one?”

“The parenting one. And I have some bad news, you have to take my car.”

“I can’t drive your car, my knees start killing me after two minutes in that thing. Did you tell Scott he could take the SUV?”

“No, you did.”

“Your car is too low.

Claire Gibbons was a weird blend of hipster and 1950s Baptist and you never knew which version of her you were getting at any given moment. Her contrasting themes ran through everything from her opinions on church matters to what she wore. Ray thought Kallie should be giving her some of the complimentary copies of the fashion magazine that were delivered each month, because her fashion style could best be described as contradictory.

The route to the florist shop from Claire’s house went by the former home of McGings. The windows were boarded up and there was a large ‘For Sale’ sign in the parking lot, even though the locals knew about the property selling to the condo company.

“Glad to see the end of that place;” Claire said.

Ray gulped. “How’s that?”

“Our Bible study group was praying that place would close.”

Ray took a slow, deep breath and asked, “Is that the group Kallie’s in?”

“No;” Claire offered, “She goes to Tuesday, I lead the one on Thursday.”

Ray kept his eyes on the road.

They were praying against the bar.

They were praying against the place where I spent my time.

A few minutes later the route took them by the home of a longtime member of North Hills Church.

“Look over there;” Claire said with much excitement, “Alan Richards got his car back.”

“I didn’t hear this story,” Ray responded, “What happened?”

“Alan got his license pulled when the eye doctor told him he couldn’t drive anymore until he got glasses, and the frames he wanted took six days to come in. In the meantime, his son borrowed the car and immediately heard and felt something not right. The mechanic found some kind of brake issue that could have been disastrous. I forget what they called it, something about –“

Ray had to slam on his own brakes when a dog ran out from nowhere, retrieved something from the road, and disappeared again.

Claire didn’t finish her sentence and Ray’s mind went back to Alan and his car.

His six day inconvenience prevented him from driving a broken car.

His inconvenience meant he was prevented from something worse.

Buds, Bulbs and Blooms, the florist shop was now in sight. Ray wasn’t sure where the women were getting the money to decorate the church multi-purpose room with expensive flowers, but the $28 they were charging the women for tickets offered a clue.

For her part, Claire noticed a silence had descended inside the car, and felt she should say something or do something, but she wasn’t sure what.

“Ray…” she began. But then she stopped unsure where she was going with this.

She started up again, “…We’ve been praying for you. Kallie told me about…” but then she suddenly seemed distracted as Ray pulled in the lot.

“Yeah;” Ray began, “I don’t know; I guess–“

Claire interrupted, “We’ve been praying since Kallie mentioned the thing about your knees. I really appreciate you doing this even though your son had your SUV. I don’t need a ride back, but you should park and walk around if they’re hurting.”

With that Claire hopped out and shut the car door.

They were praying for me.

They were praying for my healing.

Ray was deciding on where he could walk nearby while Claire was gone and was just getting ready to shut off the engine when he noticed something.

His knees weren’t hurting at all.

November 5, 2018

Where Does the Broader Society Get Its Standard for Correct Behavior?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:52 am

Megyn Kelly, Roseanne Barr, Matt Lauer, Brian Williams; the list goes on.

Why are the people on our television screens held to such a high standard of correctness, while politicians seem to get a free pass?

Rudi Guiliani famously told NBC’s Chuck Todd that “Truth isn’t truth.” The network loves playing the clip as a Meet the Press promotional teaser. It sounds like a license to say anything. It doesn’t have to be rooted in facts. Why not, ‘Facts aren’t facts.’

Yet somehow, words seem to matter if they’re the wrong words spoken by the wrong person at the wrong time.

It’s as though the phrase actions speak louder than words has been turned on its head and is now words speak louder than actions.

Cross the wrong special interest group, culturally appropriate the wrong group of people and it can cost you your high paying job in entertainment, information or news.

These are interesting times.

All this can creep into the church as well. In some respects, we have a longer tradition of false piety, in particular when it comes to speech. Eugene Peterson has rendered a familiar passage in Matthew 5:

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” 

So how did the people in the list of names at the top of this piece lose their jobs? You can decry a “Godless world,” and yet there are standards to which people are held. Where did the world at large get those? 

Apologists are quick to seize on this and rightly so. If there is no God, is morality derived entirely from logic, or from the social contract theory? Certainly those play a part, but there is evidence that even in these pluralistic times,  Judeo-Christian moral teaching is looked on as authoritative. 

At least for the time being. 


We leave you with a pop song from 1982 by The Thompson Twins. However, as you listen keep in mind:

  • no one in the band is named Thompson
  • no one in the band is twins
  • the song is called “Lies.”


 

 

 

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