Thinking Out Loud

May 22, 2019

Wednesday Connect

Another collection of links to stories and opinion pieces you might not have seen elsewhere this week. Subscribers should hang on to last week’s email, since the picture which led the list was ultimately deleted — see the comments — though some were disappointed that we removed it.

■ You have to worry when the latest article about James MacDonald ends with this sentence: “Under Illinois law, a person who requests or encourages someone to murder another person is guilty of solicitation of murder which is a Class X felony which comes with a 15-30 years prison sentence.”

■ Is it time for Roman Catholics to completely rethink the office of priest? The problem is the sexual abuse scandals: “The celibacy of priests, which grew out of the practice of ascetic monks and hermits, may have been put forward, early on, as a mode of intimacy with God, appropriate for a few. But over time the cult of celibacy and virginity developed an inhuman aspect—a broader devaluation and suspicion of bodily experience. It also had a pragmatic rationale. In the Middle Ages, as vast land holdings and treasure came under Church control, priestly celibacy was made mandatory in order to thwart inheritance claims by the offspring of prelates. Seen this way, celibacy was less a matter of spirituality than of power.”

■ Christian television network destroyed by firebombing: “The Jerusalem studio of Daystar, one of the largest Christian networks in the world, was firebombed over the weekend. The attack destroyed Daystar’s new studio but the network plans to rebuild. The fire began early Saturday morning when an arsonist threw a firebomb into the facility. Daystar was in the midst of a major renovation and upgrade of its studio in Jerusalem overlooking Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives. The fire destroyed the new work and much of the existing facility.”

■ Being a Good Samaritan will cost you: “As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants — “good Samaritan” aid that is often intended to save lives along a border that runs through hundreds of miles of remote terrain that can be brutally unforgiving.” Teresa Todd didn’t feel she was doing anything wrong. She is both the city attorney of Marfa, Texas., and the county attorney of Jeff Davis County, an elected position. She told The New York Times, “It’s been pretty transformative for me, to be perfectly honest. To have devoted my life to public service, and then to be… detained and investigated as if I’m a human smuggler.” 

■ An outstanding Australian Rugby player has had his $4 million dollar contract ripped up because he tweeted some Bible verses. “The words he cited are from 1 Corinthians 6:9-14 which are about sin and repentance and who will be admitted to the Kingdom of God.” (Yes, it’s about that issue. Again.)

■ New Music: Normally I position the music videos further down the list, but over the years my wife and I have come to really appreciate the music of Josh Garrels, and I hope you`ll enjoy this new song: Closer Than a Brother.  (The song that got us hooked was Farther Along.)

■ Old Music: You really feel you`re getting old when you read that Steven Curtis Chapman`s latest album was released under the Gaither Gospel Series banner. “The CD showcases live, acoustic performances of Chapman’s most popular hits and gospel classics, which capture the heart of the man behind countless inspiring lyrics and career masterpieces…” There’s also a DVD version with additional documentary material. 

■ China Watch: “A pastor in Shangqiu city in Henan province told Bitter Winter that local communist officials told him to delete a theological statement from his sermon – “God made heaven and earth, and created everything” – and to include more Chinese traditions and beliefs. The pastor leads a government-registered Three-Self Protestant church and had sent his sermon to local authorities for approval.”

■ Abortion: The issue isn’t black and white. The author sees herself as both pro-life and pro-choice. ” I seemed convinced that abortion supporters didn’t appreciate the gravity of later-term abortion. But the opposite is true. Nobody understands this issue better than women who have actually had a late-term abortion. By listening to their stories, I’ve come to see that the tragedy of this procedure, sought in desperation, is well understood by the women receiving it.” “…What I do know for sure is that I care about all lives, and that includes the lives of women contemplating abortion…”

■ Bible Translations: You can always use one more. “…Still, it’s because we’re so rich with Bible translations that we ought to take advantage of our wealth. There’s much to be gained from reading the Bible in more than one translation.”

■ Evangelical Christian publishing in perspective: Literary Hub looks at women authors in particular. As to the whole industry it notes: “It’s an industry whose target consumers make up a percentage of annual book sales ($600 million) that’s smaller than annual worldwide sales of Garfield merchandise, but still occupies a powerful place in its target demo’s consciousness.”

■ Although the same percentage of people in the U.S. and Canada claim no religious affiliation — referred to as ‘the nones’ — it’s easier to be unaffiliated in Canada. “With religion playing a less important role in Canadian public life, Canadians don’t view their country as a “Christian nation.” That also makes it increasingly easier for Canadians to say they don’t belong to any religious group.” The difference is the subject of a forthcoming book.

■ Opinion piece at Baptist News: “Could the Constitutional right to own guns be in direct conflict with the Christian responsibility to love one’s neighbor, protect human life and prioritize the vulnerable?” The author writes, “There are now more guns than people in the United States. I wonder if we don’t love guns more than we love God or other people.”

■ Less than seven months after the passing of her husband, Janice Peterson, wife of author Eugene Peterson has died.

■ Best Tweet of the Week: This church actually did this, and one comment suggested they do it ever year. (Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.)

■ On the big screen, but not where you live: The story of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was murdered in India in 1999 is Opening this week in cinemas across Australia. The Least of These is a major new movie revolving around the killing — they were burned alive — of Gladys’ Staines’ husband and two sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6), when the Staines worked with people affected by leprosy. Stephen Baldwin plays the role of Graham Staines. Read the story of this remarkable woman and the media onslaught with the resurrection of the story through the film’s release. Also, watch the 2½ minute trailer.

■ ‘Sozo Prayer’ – Ever heard of it? Just when I thought we’d covered all the ‘uniqueness’ (he said politely) of all the teachings at Bethel Church, we hear about another one. “Sozo is not counseling, it is not a prayer ministry, it is a team of people going in helping you make that connection with the Godhead and thus have a place to go to deal with all the issues and crises that will happen with you…” The sessions typically run one to three hours. [Note to readers: There is a second page to this; equally informative.]

■ Georgia’s new abortion law: The governor fights back: “Over the weekend, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, mocked the ‘C-list celebrities’ vowing to boycott the Peach State after he signed into law a bill banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy.” Yeah, that was the right response.

■ Cheery Video of the Week: Momento Mori (Remember That You Will Die). (It’s a 2 minute apologetic for apologetics, among other things.)

■ Touching: A death row inmate asks for the cost of his last meal to be given to the homeless.

■ For those who arrive at church and wonder why they’re not having the same jumping-up-and-down experience as the people all around them, or the people on the platform: God may have wired you differently.

■ In the UK things just keep getting increasingly more liberal. Now this: “The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has voted to campaign for the decriminalization of prostitution.”

■ New Music: Crowder joins Social Club Misfits for the song Testify.

■ Christian celebrity hot gossip: After not dating for ten years, comedian John Christ is in a relationship with country singer Lauren Alaina.

■ Finally if you missed our “Christian Captcha” earlier this week; here’s another look.


She notes, “To be clear, I do not plan to have children and Jubal and I are not married. It was a nice dress, but I hope that people focus on things other than my clothing when I preach.


After the Rapture: He was taking advantage of the first really warm Spring day to hang some laundry outside when it happened.

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1 Comment »

  1. Your music recommendations are remarkably crazy good. Folks that don’t take a minute and explore them are missing something. I never heard of Tina Boonstra and now Gosh Garrells. Those two are worth the price of admission by themselves. Big thanks!

    Comment by m.ski — May 23, 2019 @ 10:14 pm


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