Thinking Out Loud

January 14, 2019

Toilet Seat Covers with Scripture Texts: Bad Taste or Worse?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:05 pm

I’ve been sitting with this Religion News Service story by Aysha Khan in my files for several days not sure whether to save it for Wednesday’s roundup, or it deserves greater consideration.

It’s just not a story involving Christianity. Click the title below to read the story in full:

Amazon pulls offensive bathmats with Quranic text

(RNS) — After complaints from Muslim advocates, the online retailer Amazon has removed more than 20 product listings that included doormats, bathmats and toilet covers featuring verses from the Quran in Arabic calligraphy.

The products, many of which included the name of God and of the Prophet Muhammad, were not produced or stocked directly by Amazon, but carried by independent retailers selling on Amazon’s platform…

…Muslims treat the Quran with great respect, performing ritual ablution before touching it and often avoiding putting it on the ground or in impure areas — including near feet or below the level of feet. Many will burn any materials containing the Quran or God’s name rather than allowing it to sit in the garbage…

…[The Council on American-Islamic Relations] CAIR has previously campaigned for recalls of other products that would be offensive to Muslim consumers. Back in 1997, Nike recalled a basketball shoe with a design — intended to depict the word “air” written in flaming letters — resembling the Arabic word “Allah.”

Last month, the nonprofit group United Sikhs successfully pushed Amazon to remove toilet covers and bathmats featuring Sikh religious symbols…

I know there are Christian retailers reading this who might, self-righteously say, ‘Yes, but we would never sell bathmats and toilet seat covers;’ but I think this story is a cautionary tale that sometimes what passes for Christian giftware can run the risk of crossing a line.

For example: A welcome mat with a scripture sentiment like “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord,” may seem appropriate, but someone might argue you’re inviting people to wipe their feet on the words of Joshua in the Hebrew scriptures.

Or a store or church might place some extra Bibles in a stack on the floor; whereas the practitioners of other religions would be greatly offended by that.

I think this story is an applicable lesson for us all.

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September 17, 2018

Irresistible — Andy Stanley’s New Take on New Testament Faith

By his own admission, publishing this book is a career-risking move.

Furthermore, the criticism that Andy Stanley has already endured over statements which are contained in Irresistible would cause some to lay low for several months until the storm passes.

But that’s not Andy Stanley. Instead, he takes nearly 300 pages to fully flesh out his reasons for saying that Christianity needs to “unhitch” itself from the Hebrew scriptures, or what we call The Old Testament. Yes, that. For some those were fightin’ words. For others, the implication was that those writings weren’t inspired or aren’t relevant to knowing the backdrop from which events kickstarted in Bethlehem 2,000-plus years ago. That’s called putting words in someone else’s mouth

…It’s hard to review a book when, for many weeks, you were tracking with the sermon series on which the book is based. There are usually few surprises. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Zondervan) is based on a sermon series called Aftermath which the North Point pastor preached after Easter this year. The church website sums it up this way: “Jesus’ resurrection launched a series of events that introduced the world to his new covenant and new hope. But old ways don’t easily give way. Not then. Not now.” That could also well serve as a summary of the book.

The book is divided into four sections and like a good British mystery, each section is building toward the concluding chapters. I said, “few surprises,” above but unless I missed something in the teaching series, Andy pushes beyond the original conclusion and suggests something even more radical in the way we format our copies of the texts. (I’ve decided to avoid the spoiler.)

I was also struck by the humorous tone used to convey a rather serious subject. It creates a reading environment in which even a new believer — struck by the differences between the First and Second Testament and wondering aloud, “What’s up with that?” — can have a complete understanding of the world in which the news of the resurrection was first preached, and how the two parts connect.

In many respects, the book is personal. His motivation for writing begins with a 2007 trip to China in which he was asked a poignant question about the church in America. In the book (and elsewhere as well) Andy mentions a verse displayed in his office, Acts 15:19: “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (NLT) He’s committed to removing any barriers to faith which might be hampering someone who would otherwise want to be part of Christ’s family.

As he has stated many times, one of those barriers is the material found in the Old Testament (or if you prefer, First Covenant). The violence. The scientific questions. The seemingly arbitrary rules for conduct. The supernatural occurrences. Instead, he believes (as the book’s subtitle affirms) that we need to be focusing on “the new” and in so doing, focus on what the first generations of believers had in a world before church buildings, a world before printed copies of the scriptures, and a world where the resurrection was everything.

It was a faith to die for.


Release Date: September 18, 2018 | 9780310536970 USA | 9780310536987 UK, Aust/NZ, Canada


Thanks to Dave K. at HarperCollins Christian Publishing Canada for a review copy.

 

 

January 22, 2017

How We Treat Our Physical Copies of the Bible

water-damaged-bible

I want to ask for your help with something I’m working on for a future article; and this possibly applies more to those of you who have been a Christian for a longer period of your life, or even grew up in the church.

I want you think about a Bible in physical (print) form that you once owned, or that you own now, and ask if you have any reservations or feelings about one or all of the following questions.  (i.e. pick one and focus on it, or attempt to answer a few…)

  1. Is it okay to leave a copy of the Bible lying on the floor? (Either flat or upright.)
  2. Is it okay to have your Bible in a stack of other books with other books piled on top of it?
  3. Is it okay for stores to sell Bibles in damaged condition? (Especially if pages are slightly torn?)
  4. If a Bible becomes damaged, what is the proper method of disposing of a Bible? (Regular garbage / recycling / never dispose of … Consider the possibility of water damage if your home is flooded, for example.)
  5. Parents: Do you lean toward letting your kids use their Bible at whatever cost to its physical condition, or do you encourage greater reverence for the physical copy? (Keeping it in a special place, etc.)
  6. Finally (here’s a tricky one) what about underlining, circling, highlighting or the current fad of coloring in Bibles; is that appropriate? *

I don’t get a lot of feedback here despite the number of readers, but I really need your help on this one. Please use the comments, not the contact page, so everyone can see your response. And feel free to share the short-link for this article http://wp.me/pfdhA-8HS on social media. (Tell your friends it’s an open-ended survey about the care and feeding of Bibles.)

Bible Journaling 2

Bible Journaling 1

Bible Journaling 4

* The coloring Bible samples were already in my picture file; please don’t focus entirely on that particular question.

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