Thinking Out Loud

October 6, 2018

Bestselling Christian Books (at Least Where I Live)

Filed under: books, Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:38 pm

It’s much later in the day and we didn’t have a blog post today. So I thought I’d post this newly-released chart from the local Christian bookstore! Feel free to express your opinions on any of them; that’s what the internet is for, right?

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October 5, 2018

The Danger of an Inherited Faith

In the last several years, many of us have watched Franklin Graham make statements which grate against the Christianity many of us are practicing and what we know of the Jesus many of us are striving to follow.

His remarks and their underlying attitudes simply don’t pass the WWJD litmus test. The fruit of the indwelling of the Spirit has left the building.

There is a danger in an inherited faith. At least three decades ago, someone pointed out to me in my much younger days how they had observed people in the Christian publishing industry who were second generation owners, CEOs and managers. He noted that they lacked the fervor of their parents; they simply didn’t breathe the industry the same way; they didn’t have the same love for books.

As someone who grew up in a Christian home I certainly get this. Receiving it all second-hand isn’t the same as crashing and burning and having nothing to do but look up. I’ve often remarked that the people who find faith in Christ after their adolescent years seem to have a much greater appreciation for the grace offered to them. Like the woman at the feet of Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee, those who have been forgiven much will love much. Or more.  

It also stands in contrast with the stories of Christian refugees who have come to North America escaping persecution. They are head-over-heels in love with Jesus.

That doesn’t mean that everyone needs a “before and after” story. I can stand with everyone else giving a testimony; and while they testify to what they were saved out of, I can testify to what I was saved from doing. Furthermore, your testimony is what Jesus is doing in your life today. If your salvation story is entirely about something that happened 30 years ago, I’m not sure you have a story.

I would argue that if a person’s life doesn’t reflect the fruit of the Spirit, then we have to ask if they are a Christian. Simple as that.

I’m not exempting myself from that.

The things we post online — or if we have such a platform, say to the media — represent the fruit, or if you prefer the abundance of our hearts. If what I write or say doesn’t resemble Christianity or pass the WWJD litmus test, then I would expect you to ask the question, am I truly a Christian?

I’m saying that perhaps some of Ruth Graham’s and Billy Graham’s faith didn’t stick.

In other words, he needs to get reacquainted with the One he claims to serve.

October 4, 2018

A New Old Edition of Psalm 23

Filed under: bible, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 am

We had this article linked yesterday, but I wanted more of you to see it.

Alliterative 23rd Psalm

by Aaron Wilkinson

We tend to think narrowly about poetry. Open most anthologies of English poetry and you’ll find a ubiquitous feature – it rhymes. Specifically, it rhymes at the end of each line and in consecutive or alternating patterns (ie. AABB or ABAB.) You could also rhyme within the line, or rhyme the end of the line with the beginning of the next line, both of which I’ve seen done. But those don’t make it into the anthologies.

That is far from the only way to do poetry. You may have heard the simplified accounts of far-Eastern poetry being about syllable counts (eg. Haikus) and Hebrew poetry being about “rhyming ideas/images.” And you can do even more. Classical Greek and Latin poets seem to love their meter.

And, long ago, poets of old Germanic tongues mastered alliteration! I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with alliterative poetry, reading the Alliterative Morte Arthure and some of Tolkien’s modernizations of Middle English poetry. I’ve been trying to teach myself to write in this ancient English form and I figured I’d share one of my earliest attempts (I hope one of the first of many).

I’ll add a couple comments at the end, but first just one quick note. When reading conventional rhyming poetry, you anticipate the rhyme at the end of the line. So how does alliterative poetry work? What do we expect? What gives it its form? It’s quite simple.

You got two half-lines we call hemistichs (like Hemisphere and Stick). The first hemistich has two alliterating stressed syllables. They can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a word but they gotta be stressed. The second hemistich (separated by a little space called a caesura) gives you one more alliterating syllable to round it off. Once you know what to look for, it gives each line a nice sense of resolution. Like with rhyming poetry, the poet can then subvert those expectations for varying effects. So here’s what that looks like in action.

The Wool-Ward – by Aaron Wilkinson

He who all holds   in His hand is my herdsman.
I grasp not for gold,   my gullet to bloat with,
My needs are nothing,   I am never without.
I’ll want for no wealth,   never wish for more.

By freely flowing   waters refreshing,
And bath-worthy brooks,   bending rivers,
Clear courses bright,   falling through fields,
There I am found,   reclined by the banks.

I graze on green grasses,   enough on the ground,
In the Wool-Ward’s shade   through warmth of noon.
When my throat hisses   for thirst and hunger,
He finds where to feed   refreshing me fully.

When days grow dark   as though dawn was never
And hot sun is hid   by high mount peaks,
Down in the dark dale,   death’s dismal den,
I follow and fare well   knowing no fright.

My courage’s cause   is only your closeness.
I am rallied and righted   by your crook and rood.
In faces of foes   you fill up my table.
The froth of the mead   falls from my mug.

Fate has me followed   by favour and faith
All this loaned life   in the length of days.
The hall of the Holy   I will call home
And sit with the saints   in the seats of that hall.

A few end notes. Many will recognize this as the 23rd Psalm. Most of my experiments in alliterative poetry have been with biblical poems so far. It presents a series of interesting challenges and opportunities. What I’m trying to do is take a Hebrew text replete with Hebrew images and ideas and then describe it with language and images from the medieval English tradition. I’m not yet sure if the result is a funky fusion or a disharmonious mess.

In either case, what I think a new (or rather ‘forgotten’) genre of poetry allows us to do is innovate. Some of those innovations will be victories, others disasters.

A major occasion for such innovations is within the restrictions of the genre. You can’t just state something directly if the words don’t alliterate. I can’t use words like “Shepherd” or “Lord” if it doesn’t fit the context. So I have to invent new ways of describing things, sometimes speaking around or circumlocuting the subject of the line. This can give us all sorts of fun results like “Wool-Ward,” which is my favourite part of this little experiment.

And as a side note for those already in love with medieval English poetry, I do want to admit that I directly imported some language just for fun. Rood (a word related to “rod”) recalls The Dream of the Rood, the mead hall is a common setting especially in Beowulf, etc.

Okay, now go write your own. If you want a better feel for this love-lorn genre, read Tolkien’s modernization of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

October 3, 2018

Wednesday Connect

Last week’s Connect collection was a very busy place. This week, the algorithms brought us a much tighter list. I’m experimenting with embedding the videos again this week. Our opening graphic (above) is courtesy of Happy Monday.

♦ She was teaching Sunday School in my own church. And she believed in reincarnation. Fortunately one of the Grade Five boys told his mom and she was relieved of her duties. Monday, Pew Research reported “Most American adults self-identify as Christians. But many [American] Christians also hold what are sometimes characterized as “New Age” beliefs – including belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees.”

♦ The heart of The Wartburg Watch website: “Folks, hear me. The information on our blog is not only a critique of abuse in the church. It also exists to document the relationships and affiliations of certain groups that we have identified as worthy of watching. There is serious money involved in these enterprises and we intended to keep an eye on it.” A look at backscratching at Challies.com.

♦ Reconsidering one of Ireland’s unique laws:

The Constitution defines blasphemy as offensive comments or matter designed to offend any religious community: anything said or done deemed “gross abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage against a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”. Under the 1961 Defamation Act, a person could be fined and/or jailed for up to seven years for the crime of blasphemous libel, making blasphemy punishable by law.

That law’s continuance is now part of an end-of-the-month referendum

♦ Video of the Week (Teaching): The Meeting House in Canada produced this excellent 4-minute piece on giving. (Try to watch this full-screen.)

♦ How a graphic novel helped a Bible scholar better understand physical locations and perspective in the Gospel of Mark.

♦ Handicaps:

♦ Fighting the battle of losing: Catholic churches see declining numbers; “The prescription for combating the decline lies in large part not with Rome, but with local Catholic leaders inspiring young people individually.”

♦ In many ways, the sermon preached this weekend is an encapsulation of the past decade of his preaching, and a response to those who don’t understand the purpose behind the new book, Irresistible. (Message starts at 18:30) He didn’t directly address the “unhitching” controversy, but comes directly at “the Bible says” discussion with great passion

♦ …Related headline: Has Irresistible Cracked the Code to Reach the Nones? Review sample: “For Christians that don’t see the big deal, it’s because we grew up on the inside. But think about the confusion that it would create if Americans put the Articles of Confederation (the binding document that preceded the Constitution) together with the Constitution and said they are both authoritative, even though we only live under the Constitution. It could get confusing to those on the outside. Or it would be like being married to your current spouse but still maintaining an intimate relationship with your ex-spouse or your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. Things probably wouldn’t work out so well.”…

♦ …and then this article, which also looks at “Stanleyism” at its conclusion foreshadows another look at the issue forthcoming in February, The Lost World of the Torah.

…This book is written by the certifiably evangelical John H. Walton, Old Testament professor at Wheaton College in Illinois and formerly at the Moody Bible Institute, and his son J. Harvey Walton, a graduate student at St. Andrews University. The publisher is the certifiably evangelical InterVarsity Press…We can anticipate more lively Christian debate ahead regarding the Old Testament.

♦ Video of the Week (Music): Is this song, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Mack Brock at tribute to the Jim Cymbala book of the same name?

♦ Calling Good Evil and Calling Evil Good: Though written last Friday in a rapidly shifting news cycle, this is a devotional for such a time as this

♦ A new (or should that be old?) translation of Psalm 23 in Middle English

♦ Quotation of the Week: “The New Testament writers and apostles were far from naïve or prudish. They lived with TMI – too much information about the violence, excessive behaviour and destructive tendencies of the human heart.”

♦ Children’s Bible-related books tend to focus on the First Testament stories or the Gospels, but rarely on anything in the Epistles. So this book (pictured at right on desktop, or above on mobile) Paul Writes (a Letter) by Chris Raschka is a refreshing change.

♦ Counting the Costco: A study shows the more religious you are, the more you will value frugality, which means the less likely you are to make impulse purchases.

♦ I’m not sure how necessary this would be in groups I’ve belonged to, but this short piece did get me thinking about other similar things. The author thinks that just as there is a greeter or two at church services, there should be a greeter at small group meetings. (However, if your small group still needs name tags, either it’s a large group, or you’re failing at community.) …

♦ …on the other hand, here’s an article from the same site about the importance of confidentiality in small groups. Five ways to ensure confidentiality in your meetings.

♦ Lauren Daigle’s album Look Up Child is rockin’ the mainstream pop charts with the song You Say.

♦ The Latter Day Saints (Mormons) have launched an updated website to help people struggling with pornography. It makes four significant changes to the earlier site.

♦ Losing Her Religion: A review of Lisa Gungor’s new book, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen (Zondervan). 

Describing faith like a sweater, she says: “…over the years, a thread comes loose and you try to just tuck it in” but eventually you decide you don’t need it anymore – the thread comes out easily and the sweater stays together. But over time “you pull another, and another, and soon you find all the yarn is gone. You have deconstructed the entire thing.” This is what Lisa says happened to her.

♦ Reddit of the Week: “Can I be Christian and transgender?” If you’re not familiar with the internet genre known as ‘forums,’ this is as good a place as any to begin

♦ If you saw my piece on Monday about the CBS-TV show God Friended Me, here’s more about the lead actor, who really is the son of a minister.

♦ Finally, this lesson in how not to engage in inter-faith dialog is also a good lesson in how a certain name for God came to be:

 


Tweet of the Week:

October 2, 2018

Parallel Trends in Other Faiths

Not realizing the direction my life would take, I regret to say that I only took one Religious Studies course at the University of Toronto. It was a rather broad survey course, probably used as an elective for Nursing students or Engineering students who needed a “soft” course to round out their program.

The professor said something that has continued to captivate me to this day. In the previous decade, a hot topic in Christianity had been The Charismatic Movement, a movement marked by instances whereby the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ were turning up in places not normally considered Pentecostal in theology; not the least of which was the gift of speaking in tongues, or what is known as glossolalia. The teacher said that this was not exclusive to Christianity but that glossolalia was turning up in other faith streams as well, and had longstanding expressions in religions not at all affiliated with Christianity.

That rocked my world. To my mind at the time, anyone not following Jesus was pagan, so how could pagans speak in tongues? Or did this confirm the suspicions of conservative cessationists (though I didn’t know that word then) that all of this was of Satan, not of God?

The idea of elements of movement having parallels in other faiths brings me to today’s topic…

…We had walked down Toronto’s Brunswick Avenue following a sign for a yard sale, that turned out to be rather misleading. She had things on sale. And they were in her front yard. But not enough to warrant the block we had walked. As we were about to take a shortcut through a small park, a small building, not much more than the size of one housing lot, caught my eye.

As it turned out it was the First Narayever Synagogue. I peered through the window, and someone inside saw me and opened the door. A few minutes later, we were standing in the lobby looking at the inside. It was Sukkot and downstairs there was a crowd of people sharing a meal together in celebration of the high holy day.

It was then that the person who had opened the door told us that it was “an egalitarian Orthodox synagogue.”  Wait, what? You can do that? It was confirmed that the women — at least the two we saw — were wearing a head covering, one of which was the familiar kippah (or what we sometimes call a yarmulke) normally worn by men.

Again, my world rocked. My brain is still trying to wrap itself on the idea of being egalitarian and being Orthodox at the same time.

Critics of egalitarianism in Protestant circles argue that this is simply the church capitulating to the broader culture. An echo of the feminist movement of decades gone by, perhaps. But it does mean that the same cultural pressures apply equally in other faiths.

The website states, “Our shul follows the traditional Hebrew liturgy, with changes made for the purposes of gender egalitarianism.” That would seem to imply inclusive language. And yet, in matters of theology and practice, still Orthodox. The page also states clearly that their services are what Evangelicals would term “seeker friendly,” and again with no hint of theological compromise; the charge often levied at Christian groups who structure their service to welcome guests.

…In another way what we saw reminded me of Next a church in downtown Kingston, Ontario which is characterized by its lack of parking. This is a neighborhood congregation, though again, being Orthodox, many would live within walking distance of the synagogue, since driving a car would constitute doing work on Shabbat.

As is taking pictures. We were told that wasn’t possible. The one above is from their Facebook page. The one below we took outside after leaving. I’ve always wanted to sit through an entire service in a synagogue, but assumed that if I did, it would be one of the major ones in Toronto’s large Jewish community.

Now I think I’d rather it were this one!

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2018

Review: God Friended Me

Back on August 27th, I told you about a new series beginning this fall on CBS-TV, and last night, after a 13-minute delay due to NFL Football — you’d think God would have that game under control — the series God Friended Me launched.  Miles Finer, the main character is the son of a minister turned atheist following the death of his mother, and is now an aspiring podcaster hoping to have his faith-focused program picked up by Sirius Radio.

The producers had said that “When we say ‘god,’ it’s the general — we’re not focusing on one religious figure or portrayal;” yet what was shown last night leaned more toward a Judeo-Christian God, probably due to the need to solidly introduce the main character, well-played by Brandon Michael Hall.  

So while the premise is multi-faith — “In the cast, Violett [Beane]’s character is Jewish, Miles (Hall) is an atheist, Suraj [Sharma] is Hindu.” — the execution of the pilot episode was more one-sided by necessity. That will may shift in future scripts.

If I have any takeaway from the show, it’s the extent to which individuals at large have their God-picture shaped by circumstances. One of the many comments on Twitter compared the show to Early Edition, and there are certainly a number of story vignettes involving characters in the right place at the right time, except that here the characters are connected, their stories are intertwined well beyond the realm of coincidence.

For some reason, I was reminded of Lost in the sense there is probably more backstory to the characters than we’ve seen — plus new ones which can be introduced at any time in future episodes through friend requests — and due to the story’s quest; in the case, the Holy Grail being finding out who is behind the “God” social media account.

All that to say that our view of God — even among those of us Evangelicals who contend that the object truth about God is clearly stated in the scriptures — is often subjective.

The pilot’s treatment of both belief and skepticism is respectful. Though the tension is certain there in the father-son dynamic, both viewpoints are given equal credibility.

And for all the Calvinist/Reformed people in the audience, Miles doesn’t confirm the friend request the first time around; God has to keep pursuing him. (But for all the Wesleyan/Arminian viewers, Miles can also unfriend God.)

The show’s downside on broadcast television is that CBS consistently stacks the commercial breaks on all its programs with more clutter promoting other shows than any other network. –“Blip-verts, anyone? — so there is also wisdom in waiting for the Season 1 DVD, though the show needs viewers now for that DVD to happen. 

One review concluded: “Should You Accept a Friend Request From God? I guess that depends on whether you’re still even active on Facebook. If God were smart, he’d pivot to Instagram and connect with the teens via dank memes and absurdist humor. He’s already on Twitter, but that site’s a good approximation of hell.”  You decide. 

The show airs Sunday nights on CBS at 8:00 PM, or, with the football season in full swing, more accurately “After 60 Minutes.”

September 30, 2018

Church Cats

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:44 pm

For my last birthday, my wife purchased a copy of Church Cats by Richard Surman. It’s an interesting premise for a book to say the least, though I think it says more about the 18 UK churches covered than the 18+ cats.

Yesterday, we met a church cat for the first time. Meesha lives at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto and simply adds to the color of what is a very busy place!

I took the first two pictures, Ruth took the second two.

Do any of you know a church which has a four-legged resident?

So, the first problem was that Meesha was always on the move. There was a class going on in the gym and tech people arriving for a major concert that night. She was checking everybody out. Even with my better camera phone, I wasn’t getting anything in focus…

…except for this one. The one time Meesha slowed down enough to stay in focus, she had her back to me. At that point I gave up. However…

…After I’d given up, Mrs. W. scored this much more focused shot of the cat settling in on top of the printer. We actually didn’t know the cat’s name, and then…

…we learned her name and all about her weight problem. Which got me thinking, a fun poster in a church would be a picture of the pastor with the caption, “Rev. Brown’s doctor is concerned for his weight. If you would like to show him your love, you can give him hugs and exercise equipment.”

 

September 29, 2018

India’s Downtrodden, Broken, Crushed

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:47 am

Although it’s been only just over a year since we ran this the first time, yesterday morning I felt a strong urging that we need to run it again. Then, just to confirm that I wasn’t imagining this, the author of the piece showed up at my workplace, which doesn’t happen very often…

Who are the Dalits? What Does it Mean to be One?

A Thinking Out Loud Exclusive

Note: Today’s article is the product of two face-to-face meetings with the author, who is not being named for security reasons. It first appeared here on the date of the 20th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, which was not planned but is certainly an interesting coincidence. For more information visit the website under the title below.

(Image: J. Lee Grady for Charisma News)

Who are Dalits, and What Does it Mean to be One?

www.dalitfreedom.ca

www.dalitnetwork.org

Who Are The Dalits?

The Dalits are the most exploited people in the world and represent a people group in India formerly known as the “untouchables”. They are considered totally impure and unworthy to be considered a part of the caste system. The word “Dalit” means downtrodden, broken, or crushed.

Strictly speaking, they have been born outside the caste system and are considered soulless, outcast people with no connection to Brahma, the Hindu god who created the caste system from his body. One out of every four Indians is a Dalit.

They are considered so impure that their mere touch severely pollutes members of all other castes. According to Hindu belief, their sub-human position is the consequence of their karma and sinful behaviour in a previous life.

Caste System in India (sourced at Quora)

What Does Untouchability Mean?

Untouchability is a distinct Indian social institution. It legitimizes and enforces practices of discrimination against people born into particular castes, and legitimizes practices that are humiliating, exclusionary, and exploitive.

The Father of modern day Dalits, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stated in the New York Times on November 29, 1930, “Untouchability is far worse than slavery, for the latter may be abolished by statute. It will take more than a law to remove this stigma from the people of India. Nothing less than the aroused opinion of the world can do it.”

The institution of “untouchability” refers not just to the avoidance of physical contact but to a much broader set of social sanctions. Dalits have been deprived of all religious privileges such as temple worship, access to the Vedas (Scriptures), and the priesthood. They have also been denied participation in social ceremonies and festivals and denied access to public parks, services, and utilities, including water sources and wells.

The Dalits also have the least access to education and health care, and experience dehumanization at the hands of the “higher” castes.

In December 2006, the Prime Minister of India openly acknowledged the parallel between the practice of untouchability in India and Apartheid in South Africa. He described untouchability as “a blot on humanity.

English Education – the Pathway to Dalit Empowerment

For Dalits, an English education is the only way forward. Without it they cannot qualify for the benefits and privileges of government reservation and affirmative-action programs. Without an English-based education Dalit students can never advance to higher-level English schools or gain entrance to a Central Government university. All the Central Government-run higher educational institutions use English as their medium of instruction. Central universities and medical schools also instruct in English and only admit students through English language examination papers.

The dilemma facing the Dalit school children is the result of the government’s policy of requiring all educational curricula taught in primary and public schools to be taught in the regional languages. This makes it virtually impossible for Dalit children to advance in English education.

Dalits also need an English-based education so they can compete in a global economy. In the new Indian economy, globalization and information technology are communicated in English. Dalit leaders believe that knowledge creates all other avenues of freedom and that education is the primary key to any advancement the Dalits hope to have in this world. This is why Dalit Freedom Network Canada and partners in the USA, United Kingdom, and several other countries are committed to establishing English education centers for Dalit children in India.

Dalits See Religious Exodus as the Ultimate Solution

In 1956, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Moses of the Dalits, spearheaded the first major socio-spiritual movement of the Dalits. He concluded that if Hinduism was not able to reform itself and annihilate the caste system, then conversion was the ultimate solution for the Dalits.

Ambedkar championed religious freedom for the Dalits, thereby leading hundreds of thousands of Dalits into Buddhism. As a result of his courageous stand, Dalits have been embracing other faiths in various individual states of India. This ongoing exodus from Hinduism is because the Dalits continue to endure centuries-long oppression, struggling for human rights, equality, personal dignity, and spiritual freedom.

Now, more than sixty years later, these same spiritual aspirations have ignited a renewed “Freedom Movement” that has mobilized Dalits from every part of the country. On November 4, 2001, Ram Raj, chairman of All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, gave a national call to “quit Hinduism.”

Hundreds of thousands of Dalits throughout India responded and converged on the Capital in spite of government opposition and intervention. By mid-morning over 100,000 Dalits had gained access to New Delhi and were ready to begin the historic ceremony of conversion to Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.

One Dalit leader expressed the sentiments of them all when he quoted Dr. Ambedkar’s famous words: “I was born a Hindu, but I will not die a Hindu.”

State Governments Enact Anti-Conversion Laws

In view of the historic developments among the Dalits, it is not surprising that a number of State Governments enacted anti-conversion laws in an attempt to stop the exodus of Dalits from Hinduism to other religions. As of 2017, six states have passed “anti-conversion” laws and a seventh is in the process of passing legislation.

Upper caste Hindu leaders, together with right-wing fundamentalists known as Hindutva and other political factions, see the empowerment of the Dalits as a threat to their religious and political power base. They have portrayed religious conversions as illegitimate and subversive. Every attempt is made to maintain the power structure of the upper castes. Without the slavery of the caste system, the whole edifice of the upper caste power structure comes apart, religiously, socially, and politically.

The right-wing fundamentalist groups are determined to prevent any changes of the Dalit status by enacting these “anti-conversion” laws.

Languages with Official Status in India (Wikpedia)

Indian Christian Leaders Declare Support for the Dalit Struggle

When Dr. Ambedkar led the Dalit exodus from Hinduism in 1956, the Christian Church of India was unprepared for such a historic development. Having been influenced by British colonialism and riddled with caste-based politics, the Church had no appeal whatsoever to Dr. Ambedkar, who sought a religion that would unite his people and bring cohesion and equality to all the sub-castes and untouchables.

Fifty years later, Dr. Joseph D’Souza and leaders of All India Christian Council determined that they would never let this kind of lost opportunity happen again. In their historic meeting in Hyderabad in early 2001, Christian leaders representing over 5,000 church denominations and Christian organizations unanimously declared their solidarity for the Dalit people and committed to help free the Dalits and their children from centuries-old enslavement.

This action was followed by total support of the second Dalit exodus from Hinduism in New Delhi on November 4, 2001. On this historic occasion many hundreds of Christian leaders and observers from the West were present to witness and express solidarity for the Dalits as they sought liberation.

Three Christian leaders were given opportunity to speak and express public support of the Indian Christian Church. One speaker declared: “The whole Church of India is with you, we are your friends.” He declared that they were there because Jesus loved the Dalits and Christians were committed to bringing the love of Jesus to the Dalits in word and in deed.

The speakers assured the Dalits that the Christian Church of India supports the Dalits’ freedom of choice to choose their own destiny.

Dr. Joseph D’Souza believes that the Church’s open stand with the Dalits and their movement for liberation has put the Indian Church on the right side of history.

A New Day Dawns for the Dalits

Even though the attacks against the Indian Christian community and Dalits continue, the pursuit of freedom for Dalit families and their children also continues, unabated. Dalit leaders believe that with the support of Christians and compassionate people worldwide, a new day of hope has dawned for them and their children. They have asked that we help educate their children and give them dignity and hope for the future through a Christian worldview. We invite you to stand with the Dalits in their quest for freedom.

You Can Change Their Lives and Give Them Hope for the Future

  • Sponsor a Dalit child’s education
  • Contribute to the building of schools for Dalit children
  • Empower Dalit women through vocational training and small business grants
  • Pray for India
  • Share this ministry with friends

For more information on the Dalits, or to sponsor a Dalit child’s education, contact:

DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK (US)
1062 Laskin Road, #21A
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
dalitnetwork.org

DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK CANADA
P.O. Box 45645,
Surrey, BC V4A 9N3
Telephone: 604-535-4240
Toll Free: 1-888-592-2238
dalitfreedom.ca

September 28, 2018

Repeated by Request: My Procrastinated Potluck Pickle Salad

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:44 am

A Thinking Out Loud Recipe Exclusive

Church Picnic Potluck: If you don’t like salads, pasta or casseroles, there’s always desserts. (Yes, I know we just used this graphic image in June, but once I create these things, I like to get lots of mileage out of them.)

With four of us planning to attend the church potluck lunch, I knew we couldn’t come empty handed, but with my wife on crutches, I couldn’t really ask her to help, and my two twenty-something sons who have far more culinary skills than I could ever dream of just didn’t see anything wrong with showing up with nothing. With my wife injured and off work, someone in the church family was bound to make us a casserole, and by not bringing anything we could just call it even. But I wasn’t buying into that logic.

So I had to step up, for the first time at age ___, and make a salad, because I figured this was something I could basically not screw up. Also, it had to involve chopped up bread and butter pickles, because once I come up with an idea, I get really obsessed. Also, we had a huge surplus of these at the time and despite the fact they were, by definition, pickled, I thought they were starting to go rancid, but they’d be close enough to be edible for our church family.

Paul’s Pickle Salad

Ingredients:
Romaine Lettuce
Radishes
Celery
Pickled Turnip
Bread and Butter Pickles
Onion
Lemon Juice and Vegetable Oil

Directions:

  1. Emerge from shower only to find out that wife on crutches has already chopped the Romaine Lettuce for you.
  2. Vacillate between shredding the radishes or chopping them, and opt for a mixture of both techniques as a nod to fusion cooking.
  3. Shred some celery. Most people would chop, but I am not as other salad makers. Watch fingers as stalks get smaller or keep bandages close by. (Note: Shredded celery is sometimes referred to as “mostly water.”)
  4. Chop pickled turnip. The reason we have this is that we do some Middle Eastern cooking and it’s an ingredient in shawarma. We also make our own Tebouleh. (Google it.) And Falafel wraps. Not bad for white people, huh?
  5. Search refrigerator for some chopped onions. There are just about always leftovers of these in our fridge — probably not more than a week old — and the people at my church certainly deserve the best.
  6. Chop up some bread and butter pickles. This is the heart of the whole recipe. I wondered about actually revealing this today, but I feel I can trust you. If I had been born a girl, I might have come up with this idea for a Home Economics class in Grade 7, but as a guy, the process of getting to this point took several decades longer. Do they still teach Home Economics? (Note: Do not leave a comment that chopped up bread and butter pickles basically constitutes relish. You obviously don’t possess the esprit de salad needed for a project like this.)
  7. Pause to be thankful the church is providing hamburgers and hot dogs, as people could starve if they were depending on people like me to cook for them.
  8. Stir in ingredients and bake at 375° for one hour. But not the baking part. Don’t do that. And certainly not in a plastic bowl. That was a messy day.
  9. Ask Mrs. W. for an appropriate dressing idea, since I have not thought that far ahead. Collaboratively, we come up with the oil and lemon juice idea. Realizing I haven’t shaved and we need to leave for church in five minutes, she mixes these in proportion. (Yes, you ask, in proportion to what? Do you see any actual quantities in this recipe?)
  10. Director’s Cut; Behind the Scenes extra: I considered crunching some saltine crackers on top for that faux crouton vibe, but thought better of it. Also time was running out. 
  11. Presentation is everything. True, it’s the same type of bowl we used when we had a large dog, but Crusher used the yellow bowl, and I used the red one. Or was it the other way around? Anyway, it was in the basement and it looked clean and contrasted the salad greens nicely. The point is try to find a nice looking bowl. And a set of those large forks and spoons, or at least some household tongs that haven’t been used medically.

…And then, came the moment two hours later when my salad appeared on the table along with the handiwork of all the other ladies, and I slowly poured my dressing on top and joined the ranks of generations of potluck providers. I know pride is a sin, but inside I was glowing.

While this recipe may not impress some (or all) of you, I want you to know that for me, once described as culinarily impotent by a former roommate, it was a personal triumph.


…I’m combining this blog post with the one from earlier in the week on candle-making when I start my mommy blog.


We have not heard of any serious illnesses since the potluck, so I have to assume it was a success.


Nobody brought us a casserole.


We’re having another potluck next week, the instructions read “A-M bring desert, N-Z (but not W) bring a salad. W bring napkins.”  


For further reading: Where the above graphic image came from; another salad story.

September 27, 2018

A Worship Liturgy on Sin and Forgiveness

For the past few months, Ruth has increased her role as a contributor to Christianity 201. For last Sunday, she provided not only text, but two images and two song suggestions. After taking the time to format everything, I decided to share it here as well.

by Ruth Wilkinson

Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said,
“Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins…”
Matthew 26:27‭-‬28 HCSB

There are a number of words in the Bible that are translated to our English word “sin.”

Different words that paint different pictures of different behaviours, but that all have one thing in common — they describe things in our lives that come between us and the God who loves us.

Things like:

  • Missing the target (hamartano) – because sometimes we really do try our best, and still fail;
  • Wandering, going off the path (planay) – because sometimes we stop paying attention, and suddenly realize we’ve gone off course;
  • Defiance, Rebellion (parabaino) – because sometimes we just choose say no to God. Or to say yes to something that is not for our best.

As we take some time to pray through this prayer for forgiveness either out loud or silently,
listen for His still, small voice and what He might want you to see in yourself.

Then take a moment of silence and talk to Him about it.

Lord, forgive me.
For the things I’ve done impulsively, without thinking.
For the things I’ve done gradually, over time.
For the places I’ve gone that I had no business going.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the things I’ve held tightly that I should have dropped or given away,
For the things I’ve given away that I should have held sacred.
For the things I’ve let go that I should have fought to keep.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the things I’ve said or typed, the links I shouldn’t have clicked.
For the times I’ve kept silent or stood off to the side when I should have spoken up.
Forgive me, Lord.

For the ways I’ve used or put down other people, or held myself more highly than I ought.
For the things I’ve taken that were not mine to take.
Forgive me.
Forgive me.
Forgive me, Lord.

This leads to our second word…

There are a number of words in the Bible that are translated to our English word “forgive.”

Different words that paint different word pictures of how God responds when we ask what we have just asked.

Pictures like:

  • Drop, send away (aphiemi) – because He promises to send our sin to the bottom of the ocean, to the depths of the wilderness, never to be even remembered;
  • Cover, make peace (kaphar) – because He reaches his hand to shelter us from the justice we’ve earned and to reconcile us to himself;
  • Pick up and carry (nasa) – because he takes our burden, pays our debt and sets us free.

And says… “You are forgiven. Let’s start fresh.”

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