UPDATE: Descriptions Added
The finalists will compete for two awards (most creative and best tasting) on September 3 (Labor day).
Lee C. Camp:
...everything is so very polarized that it seems, at worst, that there are only two possible positions, or at best, that there is only a single continuum between two possible positions. If the daughter comes home talking about non-violence, and the mother is a supporter of her government's wars, then the daughter must be a damn communist, too. ... ...as the theologians have increasingly explicated, "the powers" get made manifest in a variety of institutions, -isms, systems, and structures. "The powers" are created for good (per the letter to the Colossians) but overstep their bounds, and rather than serving humankind, get "hell-bent on their own survival" (per Walter Wink) and thence begin to enslave and oppress. ... ...to those who foolishly idealize "the free market," we insist that the powers of darkness are cunning, baffling, and powerful, and that they do in fact co-opt the supposedly free market for purposes of greed and grasping which corrupts and controls as much as any tyrannical dictator. Or to those who foolishly idealize "the welfare state," we insist that the powers of darkness are cunning, baffling, and powerful, and that the over-weening bureaucratic mechanisms of control do in fact limit creative human creativity, and create dependence. ... The centralization enacted by Joseph for the good of the starving Hebrews provided the very bureaucratic tyranny that served to enslave those same Hebrews. History never sits still. Thus neither can our politics. If we find ourselves lumping together into one mass group of political enemies anyone who disagrees with us (as in the irrational conclusion that a pacifist must be a communist), the perhaps we have become enslaved to the powers which use a binary, polarizing view of the world to create enemies, stratify communities, and breed hostility, precisely for the good of the corrupt powers, but never for the true good of humankind.
I'm a mess when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance. ... So I'm trying to walk this line between being socially appropriate, respectful to others (particularly to those who have lost loved ones in war), deeply grateful, and yet holding onto the belief that the Pledge of Allegiance is inherently idolatrous. ... The problem is that it's a pledge of allegiance. If it were a pledge of respect, love, or gratitude there wouldn't be a problem. ... Can't I just say Love and Thank You without pledging allegiance?
But he’s not really talking about the pledge, he’s talking about the Christian response to war. Within Christianity, you find two opinions of war. One believes that some wars are just, the other that no war is just. Logically, if some wars are just then some wars are also unjust, therefore the “just war” Christians and the “pacifist” Christians should find themselves united in their oppositions to some wars.
But the trouble isn't with the theory. The trouble is in the practice and implementation. ... Just war Christians and pacifist Christians rarely move in concert, despite everyone recognizing that this should happen from time to time. And it might ought to happen most of the time. So what's the problem? ... First, it could be the case that every war declared (and undeclared) by the American government has been a just war. ... The second possibility is that American Christians aren't spiritually capable of resisting the patriotic call in a time of war. That is, when the patriotic call comes it is so powerful that Christians will make any rationalization necessary to fit the current conflict into the mold of just war criteria. At the end of the day, all wars are just wars because they are American wars. ...I think even the most politically conservative Christian would have to admit that this could be a real temptation. And if that is so, then we finally get to the point of this post and back to the Pledge of Allegiance. My question is this: What skills do we need to practice--today--if we are to be ready to face this temptation? And to clarify once again. This isn't about saying there are no just wars. I've granted that part of the argument. This is about something different. It's about creating the ability to notice the unjust one.
All this happened despite the fact that the language of "salvation issue" and "go to heaven" does not even appear in scripture. These matters are never the concern of Jesus or the apostles. Jesus was concerned about God reigning on earth as in heaven, or to put it another way, the Kingdom of God.
Without long-standing relationships, divided by race and socioeconomics and even age, it's very difficult for a short-term mission trip to avoid the trap of poverty tourism. The point should not, should never be, enlightenment for the privileged on the backs of the poor they came to serve. ... Difficult, but not impossible.
This is a very thoughtful post backed by personal experience. I do think that short-term mission trips can be a very good thing, but those embarking on such trips should be mindful of these thoughts.
This real alternative is not the result of a grand strategy to reform our nation's broken health care system. It was the fruit of a community trying to be faithful to Jesus. It started with a pastor praying in his hospital bed and some regular church folks talking about how they could share their money.
I love this. The government is going to do what it will do, and we can exert whatever influence we have over it, but we should not rely on them to do the right thing. We should be like Jesus and love our neighbors, poor and rich alike.
In his book Priceless, William Poundstone explains what happened when Williams-Sonoma added a $429 breadmaker next to their $279 model: Sales of the cheaper model doubled even though practically nobody bought the $429 machine. Lesson: if you can't sell a product, try putting something nearly identical, but twice as expensive, next to it. It'll make the first product look like a gotta-have-it bargain. One explanation for why this tactic works is that people like stories or justifications. Since it's terribly hard to know the true value of things, we need narratives to explain our decisions to ourselves. Price differences give us a story and a motive: The $279 breadmaker was, like, 40 percent cheaper than the other model -- we got a great deal! Good story.
The rest of this list is great too. There are so many ways that we as consumers are being duped. Derek Thompson puts it this way: “We’re not stupid. Just susceptible.”
The idol of technology and the marvels it could yield towers over us, wearing a computer on its face, letting a phone predict its lunch, and sitting in the corner of a party looking at pictures of other people having fun. Google's making plenty of impressive things--but are they impressive things that anyone actually wants?
Great article that gets to the heart of my feelings on Google: with every new cool thing they do, they seem just a little creepier.
I was walking along near these parts in early evening, and a very tall very thin very young black woman suddenly materialized at my elbow: "Excuse me, hey!" I averted my face reflexively and stepped out a bit and she said "Oh my god no I don't want anything, just do you know the nearest BART?" and then I actually looked at her and she was just this ordinary girl in a hurry but lost. I told her the way and managed a smile, even though I hated myself.
Reading this upset me because I could see myself doing the exact same thing. I attribute this to fear. Fear of what, I’m not sure, but fear keeps me from looking at people, helps me keep my distance, prevents me from getting involved.
I’m reminded of these words from 1 John 4.18:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear
My experience suggests that the opposite is also true: fear can keep love out. Why am I afraid? What am I afraid of? I don’t know, but I do know that it is my fear that causes me to judge.
I wonder if that was true of Simon, the Pharisee that Jesus visited in Luke 7.36-50. A woman shows up at the meal and begins crying and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. Simon is quick to note that the woman is a sinner and is offended that Jesus is allowing this action to take place. Jesus takes the opportunity to tell Simon a story, but what gets me the most is the comment Jesus makes after he concludes his story.
Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman?"
Simon ‘saw’ the woman the same way Tim Bray first ‘saw’ the lost girl in San Francisco and the same way I ‘see’ most strangers on the street.
Yet again, I find I have more in common with the Pharisees than Jesus. What am I so afraid of? What will happen if I actually look at the people I pass? How much love am I keeping out as I cling to my fear?
I guess everything changes when you let love override your theology. I experienced what that looks like in terms of prayer and healing yesterday. I wonder what it would look like if the same happened to all other areas of life and theology too. Things would change, I bet. They would change a lot.
So Dallasites can enjoy having walkable neighborhoods, microbreweries, bike lanes and whatever else to their heart's content, but those things aren't making North Texans stop moving to McKinney. Not yet, anyway. That won't happen until those people die off and their children join the creative class. Or maybe until the coming of the environmental apocalypse. Or we run out of oil? All good options.
If you want to be a different sort of person, you've got to remove some of those structures that have made you comfortable being what you are now. So buildings and programs and paid staff and all those sort of things, they create a crucible in which we don't need to change or move. So, I would say, some sort of liminal experience that shatters that, like selling your building or stop paying your ministers or something that forces disequilibrium into which then one must imagine and one must rethink.
We’re currently going through a process of dreaming about the future of our church. I haven’t heard any suggestions as drastic as this, but it makes me wonder if this is the path we should be considering. Maybe not selling our building or firing our staff, but focusing less on programs that make us comfortable and more on things that upset us.
The conventional wisdom is that you "move up" into management long before you've been coding for 37 years. Only thing is I don't see programming as a job, I see it as a creative act.
...hospitality in the USA is a dying virtue. Sadly this is true even in the church. When we have people from other countries visit the US through MRN, these foreigners often express surprise that American Christians will take them out to eat but not invite them into their homes. Our houses have become refuges from the world instead of portals for the world into the Kingdom of God.
[Matthew 18.15-17] is one of those passages that has been use to support practices of exclusion and excommunication within the church. Specifically, if a fellow brother or sister is in sin and fails to repent at the encouragement of the church we are to "treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." That is, we are to shun them. ... The key ... is found in how Jesus interacted with "tax collectors and sinners." That is, it makes no sense to read Jesus as telling his followers to treat tax collectors and sinners like the Pharisees were treating tax collectors and sinners. (see Matthew 9.10-13a)
In a 2007 interview with Arthur Boers, the philosopher Albert Borgmann makes the case that television is of moral importance. Borgmann says: "When I teach my ethics course I tell these relatively young people that the most important decision that they'll make about their household is first whether they're going to get a television and then second where they're going to put it." I think for my generation and for the generation coming after mine, the questions could probably be amended to (a) "Are you going to get a smartphone?" and (b) "If so, what limits are you going to place on its use?"
These are good questions. One of the struggles I’m going to face is finding appropriate limits to set for my son and his interaction with technology. We have a good idea about limits on television because it’s been around longer than we have. Smartphones and the always-connected network we’ve build is still quite new.
This year, 496 homeless adults said they had children living with them. That's an 8 percent increase since 2011, and a 36 percent increase since 2010. MDHA estimates that nearly 3,000 Dallas Independent School District students are homeless. ... MDHA also reports that it found 190 homeless youths unaccompanied by parents, a 272 increase over last year.
This survey was done by MDHA, an organization whose goal is to end chronic homelessness in Dallas by 2015.
This is a nice follow up to Richard Beck’s post on John 8.1-11. He investigates the possibility that if John 8.1-11 were not in the Bible, could John 5.1-15 serve to reinforce Jesus’ hard stance on sin (“Go and sin no more.“)?
And now for something completely different…
…a guy on a buffalo:
Speaking of not fearing we are reading the Bible wrong, Richard Beck calls into question the moral standards of Jesus:
Let's say John 8.1-11 really isn't a part of the Bible as certain evidence might suggest. Let's say that Jesus never said "Go and sin no more." Imagine those words aren't in the Bible. Then ask yourself this: is there anywhere else in the gospels where Jesus says anything similar?
As a professor I teach my students at least two things about method: face the facts and do not fear the facts. I believe this means we have to face both what the New Testament teaches and what science teaches.
I appreciate how he opens up and shares his internal conflict about what do to when scientific discovery seems to contradict what we read in the Bible. It can be a scary process to really question things that sit at the cornerstone of your world view, but I think it is a necessary endeavor. At the end of the day, I don’t want to believe something because I always have, or because it’s comfortable. I want to believe something because it’s true.
That means I can’t be afraid to ask questions like this:
What if we are wrong in our interpretations of the Bible?
The megachurch culture, worship form, and values sets up an extroverted atmosphere. Leaders must be extroverts, there is little place for contemplation, conversation (not small talk - real conversation), and deep thinking. Everything is smiles and pleasantries and generalities with a vague avoidance of anything that may get too familiar.
Was is a moral necessity for America because it provides the experience of the "Unum" that makes the "pluribus" possible. Was is America's central liturgical act necessary to renew our sense that we are a nation unlike other nations.
Some of this debate swirls around how we render Paul's use of the phrase Pistis Christou. What we all agree on is that pistis means "faith" in Greek and that christou means "Christ." ... Martin Luther, and those who followed him, translated Pistis Christou as "faith in Christ." But a growing number of scholars (e.g., Richard Hays, N.T. Wright) have argued that the proper translation of Pistis Christou should be "faith of Christ."
It’s amazing how one little word can completely change the meaning of a phrase. It’s also amazing how one little phrase can completely shape an entire theology.
“Faith in Christ” implies that we have to do something to attain our salvation; we must have faith. “Faith of Christ” places the burden on Jesus. It is because of his faithfulness that we are saved. That’s a pretty significant difference.
Words matter, especially the little ones.
People are losing faith in religion; many are leaving their churches. I think the following quote captures the sentiment of our age:
We know from acquaintance that there is a goodly number of sensible and intelligent persons, at this day, entirely disgusted with many things called religious; and that, upon the whole, it is an age of inquiry.
The funny thing about this quote is that it was written on July 4, 1823 by a man named Alexander Campbell in the introduction to a new publication called The Christian Baptist. Campbell was frustrated by all the denominational bickering that was going on in his day. He called for a re-examining of all varieties of Christian religion and a return to primitive Christianity.
His solution was to cast aside all the religious cruft that had accumulated over the years, and turn to the Bible as the source of truth. He quickly discovered that when you make the pursuit of truth your primary goal, you must humble yourself and be willing to admit when you have been wrong about something.
He says it this way:
We have been taught that we are liable to err; we have found ourselves in many errors; we candidly acknowledge that we have changed our views on many subjects, and that our views have changed out practice. ... If it be a humiliating thing to say we have been wrong in our belief and practice, we must abase ourselves thus far.
His number one rule to follow in the pursuit of truth is worth our consideration today:
Never to hold any sentiment or proposition as more certain than the evidence on which it rests; or in other words that our assent to any proposition should be precisely proportioned to the evidence on which it rests.
Too often we turn to the Bible to prove what we already know to be true. I fear that the “evidence” we find may often prove to be too shaky to support the position that we take. Instead we should open our hearts and minds and seek the truth. We must prayerfully question everything we “know” to be true.1