links: this went thru my mind

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: Secret Drugs, Agonizing Deaths

“In the name of security, states are now withholding vital information about their death penalty procedures — from death row prisoners’ lawyers and from judges, whose stamp of approval they need to impose the ultimate sanction, as well as from the public, in whose name the sentence is carried out.”

Children, compassion, morality & parenting: Raising a Moral Child [essential reading]

“Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task.”

Church: * The Church as a Hospice for the Dying [essential reading]; * What the Church May Need is What the Church Does Not Want

* “It seems to me that it’s better to think of the Church as a hospice, rather than as a hospital. … The Church as hospice makes good, Gospel sense. And, there are very practical implications in this metaphor as well. When people tell the pastor that they are leaving the church because their ‘needs’ aren’t being met, all the pastor has to do is remind them of what the Church is, and point out that their ‘needs’ are indeed being met: They’re being given an opportunity to die to their ‘needs’ in order to experience more of the resurrection life of Christ. So, the church really is meeting their needs; they just don’t know it.”

* “… I wonder if the Christian element in America has grown fat and sassy.  Have we fallen into a dangerous religion of indifferent slumber? Persecution may not be at our doorstep; but I do think it is traipsing up the sidewalk. This will never be the thing we want.  Yet, it may be the very thing needed to move us from our glut of mediocre indifference.”

Crucifixion: Roman Crucifixion Methods Reveal the History of Crucifixion

“… Hershel Shanks looks at evidence of Roman crucifixion methods as analyzed from the remains found in Jerusalem of a young man crucified in the first century A.D.”

Faith & science: 9 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Happened to Be Christians

“There’s a general sense that science and religion are two camps, and the two can never meet without fighting or, at the very least, stepping mighty carefully around each other’s views. There might be a very little bit of truth to that—a few noisy emissaries from both sides have been known to go out of their way to discredit the other. However, what is frequently lost in all this is that the history of science is rich with believing Christians, for whom the process of discovery did not jeopardize their faith, but enforced it.”

Fear: Do Not Let Fear be the CEO of the Church

“How many times have we said or at least heard, I’m afraid of what this might lead to?”

Passover: Passover as Jesus Knew It

“It was a joyous, celebratory occasion: work was temporarily stopped, families were reunited, food and wine were plentiful, and hopes and dreams were in the air. At the heart of the festival was a story: an account of a chosen people liberated from slavery centuries before through God’s gracious deliverance. But there was also a tragic irony: Israel was no longer free. This time the oppressors were not the Egyptians, but Rome. Together, these ideas created a lethal cocktail of deep religious yearnings, nationalism and resentment. ‘It is on these festive occasions that sedition is most likely to break out’ noted the historian Josephus wryly (War 1.88), and most of the riots recorded in his works seem to have occurred at Passover in particular.”

Prayer: Did Jesus Send a Mixed Message About Repetition in His Teaching About Prayer?

“… Jesus is talking about different things in these two teachings.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Application & moralizing: Moralizing Scripture…the Rush to Application and Misappropriating the Text

“…  let us be careful when we moralize scripture and rush to application that we don’t, in the process, undermine the text and the power of God to do greater things than make us nicer people.”

Capital punishment & death penalty5 Death Penalty Myths Debunked

“In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.”

Children, church & parenting: Let the Children Come to Me…Unless They’re Too Loud, Distracting, or Difficult

“The church in America has raised a whole generation that has never really been spiritually formed by the larger church gathering.”

Cinema, film, movies & Noah: * To See or Not to See the Movie Noah? [required reading]; * What’s Really Behind Christians’ Rejection of Noah?

* “Art often needs to speak honestly about evil, and I hope we don’t sanitize the Bible to the point where we forget just how well it does that. I get the pushback about Noah going off script, and being concerned about disinformation. But I think our real problem is that, unlike Christians of earlier centuries, we no longer understand what art does or how it works.”

* “This week Christians will have the chance to see Noah. And in an ironic twist, Paramount Pictures and the director find themselves defending their film against strong criticism from Christians, the audience they assumed would be the first in line to see this biblically epic story. In what has become a reversal of roles, Hollywood has heard the cry of Christians for bible based films (and the allure of their money, no doubt) and produced an epic picture and now Christians are the ones rejecting it. And in this case, it’s Christians who may not be completely honest about their reasons for rejecting it as we’ve formerly accused Hollywood of being in rejecting bible based films in the past. And the only public leg we have to stand on is the presence of biblical errors in the movie.”

Friendship, Jesus & sinners: Setting the Record Straight on Jesus, ‘the Friend of Sinners’ [essential reading]

“… does it matter that we correctly understand Jesus’ social habits? It does actually. Because Christians believe they must “live as Jesus did.” If the faithful only build relational bridges with those who are open to converting, they will find it increasingly difficult to exist in a pluralistic, post-Christian culture.”

Ministry: * Dear Churchgoers …; * The Friendless Pastor

* “Now I understand you might think I should know all the things that are happening with you. I really do want to. Most of my fellow pastors would agree. We love to know the things that are going on in your life. We want to hear all about it. But there’s a good chance that we won’t know if you never tell us.”

* “It’s ironic that pastors, who talk the most about the need for community, experience it the least. … We have too many relationships and too few friends.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Early Christian faith & violence: Were the Church Fathers Consistently Pro-Life? [essential reading]

“… the early Christian writers … are very clear. They explicitly say we don’t kill, and that means we don’t go to gladiatorial games, we’re opposed to abortion, capital punishment is not acceptable, and we don’t kill in war. … For early church fathers, a Christian could not have a political or judicial office where he would have the authority to pronounce a judgment of capital punishment. … The most frequently stated reason that Christians didn’t join the army and go to war is that they didn’t kill. … Every single text that we have on the topic says that Christians don’t kill. And it’s not ambiguous …”

Full contact sports: * When It Comes To Brain Injury, Authors Say NFL Is In A ‘League Of Denial’; * The Ethics of Football

* “‘Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.’ …  there’s a dialogue beginning about whether you want to let your kids play or not.”

* “Why raise questions about the ethics of football? I see a few reasons for it. … football has grown in importance out of all proportion in terms of the number of people who can actually play it. … football has become a sport ruled by money. … football is dangerous to players’ health and well-being. … in today’s social climate, anyway, football seems to arouse inordinate and even dangerous passions among fans. …

“So what is my solution to the football ethics dilemma? I don’t suggest dropping or banning the sport—except for children not yet old enough to make informed consent decisions about whether they want to risk the injury to their brains. I don’t think boys under, say, 16 should be allowed to play tackle football. For them it should be flag football. And they should be offered alternatives such as soccer.

“However, I think especially Christians should call for a ratcheting down of the intensity of the sport so that it is not so all-consuming in terms of finances, passions, favor (to players), etc. And I think every player should be fully informed about the likelihood of suffering long-term brain injury that is irreversible.

“I also think high school and college counselors should promote information about the dangers of football to their student populations. Many college and university freshmen, for example, dream of “walking on” and becoming a star or just being on the larger team. Even if they never play in an actual game, however, they can suffer brain injury just from practices.”

Responding to violence: 16-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Leaves Jon Stewart Speechless With Comment About Pacifism [6 min. video; essential viewing]

“… at just 14 years old, a Talib fighter boarded her bus, pointed a pistol at her head, and pulled the trigger. But she survived, made a full recovery in England, and has become and transformative figure in human rights. … ‘what would you do, Malala?”

WMD, the United States & chemical weapons: The United States is Still Getting Rid of its Chemical Weapons

“Syria has been given a year to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal, or face the threat of a U.S. military strike. Yet it may come as a surprise that the United States has still not destroyed all of its massive supply of deadly nerve agents. … The United States estimates it will be at least another decade before it completes destruction of the remaining 10% of its chemical weapons, estimated at more than 3,100 tons.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Capital punishment, death penalty & executions: * The 2% Death Penalty: How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases at Enormous Costs to All; * APNewsBreak: Texas Reveals Execution Drug’s Origin

* “Contrary to the assumption that the death penalty is widely practiced across the country, it is actually the domain of a small percentage of U.S. counties in a handful of states. The burdens created by this narrow but aggressive use, however, are shifted to the majority of counties that almost never use it.”

* “The nation’s most active death-penalty state has turned to a compounding pharmacy to replace its expired execution drugs, according to documents released Wednesday, weeks after Texas prison officials declined to say how they obtained the drugs amid a nationwide shortage. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, responding to a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press, released documents showing the purchase of eight vials of the drug pentobarbital last month from a compounding pharmacy in suburban Houston. Such pharmacies custom-make drugs but aren’t subject to federal scrutiny.”

Children, gun control & statistics: Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll

“… accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities … scores of accidental killings are not reflected in the official statistics that have framed the debate over how to protect children from guns.”

Christian faith, nonviolence & pacifism: Interview with Preston Sprinkle on His Book “Fight”

“I don’t think the New Testament ever encourages Christian to celebrate the death penalty, nor does it allow Christians to kill in self-defense.”

Forgiveness & murder: Daughter: Pastor Would Tell Killer Come to Church

“The daughter of a southwest Louisiana pastor who was killed at a revival service says that if her father could talk to his killer, he’d say, ‘I forgive you and I love you.’”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: “Is Capital Punishment in Harmony with Divine Law?”

“The children of God can take no part or lot in the work.”

Compulsory patriotism & nationalism: No, Thanks: Stop Saying “Support the Troops”

“I do not begrudge the troops for availing themselves of any benefits companies choose to offer, nor do I begrudge the companies for offering those benefits. Of greater interest is what the phenomenon of corporate charity for the troops tells us about commercial conduct in an era of compulsory patriotism.”

Full contact sports: N.F.L. Agrees to Settle Concussion Suit for $765 Million

“The settlement, announced Thursday, will be seen as a victory for the league, which has nearly $10 billion in annual revenue and faced the possibility of billions of dollars in liability payments and a discovery phase that could have proved damaging if the case had moved forward.”

Justice, restorative & retributive: A Better Story: How Our Understanding of Justice is Radically Re-defined by the Gospel [essential reading]

“Reflecting the assumptions of the surrounding culture, Christian theology has classically framed mercy as being in conflict with justice. This goes way beyond theology however, and can be found as the assumptions underlying any national debate over the use of state violence, whether in regards to crime or international conflict and war. To ‘bring about justice’ means punishing, it means violence, it means seeking to harm. Conversely, mercy means to refrain from violence. It is thus understood as an inaction. So in short: in this framework justice means inflicting harm, and mercy means doing nothing.

“Because these are our culture’s default understandings of both justice and mercy, it is common for people to think that the only way to address crime or conflict is by inflicting harm, by the use of violent force. It is either that or doing nothing, we think. … Because the options are framed in this way, many Christians reject the teaching of Jesus to love our enemies because they think it entails doing nothing in the face of evil, which would be unloving and morally irresponsible. We need to protect the vulnerable from harm, don’t we? We need to care for the wellbeing for ourselves and our loved ones. So while people may regret the need to respond with violence, they feel they have no alternative but to respond to violence with violence. It’s regrettable, but what choice do we have? How else can we stop violence?

“The tragic irony is that inflicting violence and harm in the name of justice does not in fact stop violence at all; it perpetuates it. … the fruit of this kind of ‘justice’ is that it makes things worse. …

“That’s where the gospel comes in.”

Lord Jesus, Obama, Syria & warfare: * War on Syria? No [required reading]; * How A Reluctant Obama Ended Up Preparing For War

*”We call ‘Lord’ a man who told us to love our enemies but in his name make enemies to promote our values. We call a peaceful man “Lord” and then favor those who divide in order to conquer. … Why do we call him ‘Lord’ and not do as he says?”

* “‘It seems to me that we are going to be engaged in a strike because he had a lack of wisdom to avoid laying down a red line,’ says Rajan Menon, a political scientist at City College of New York. ‘This is the second time the red line has been crossed, so now he’s boxed in.’”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAmerican public opinion, culture & military service: Public Esteem for Military Still High

“Americans continue to hold the military in high regard, with more than three-quarters of U.S. adults (78%) saying that members of the armed services contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. … the military still tops the list of 10 occupational groups, followed closely by teachers, medical doctors, scientists and engineers. A solid majority of the public says each of those occupations contributes a lot to society.

“By contrast, just 37% of Americans surveyed think the clergy make a big contribution to society, about the same as in 2009. … even among adults who say they attend religious services at least once a week, only about half (52%) rate clergy in general as contributing ‘a lot’ to society.”

Capital punishment, death penalty & executions: Will the Supreme Court Make an 11th-Hour Intervention in Georgia

“A mentally retarded man is scheduled to be executed next Monday, and he has an appeal pending to the Supreme Court.”

Drones: Who Would Jesus Drone?

“…  being a Christian inevitably means many things — it means being baptized, partaking of the Lord’s supper, and belonging to a community marked by the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Likewise, being a Christian means lamenting the violence carried out by those powers and principalities that coercively seek their own lordship over God’s good creation — powers and principalities like America.”

Jesus, non-violence, the Book of Revelation & violence: Book of Revelation: Friend or Foe to Nonviolence

“Revelation is a violent book, but the violence is not dished out as much as it is absorbed. And although there’s a lot of bloodshed, it often flows from the veins of Christ and His followers, not from His enemies. In fact, Revelation supports Christian nonviolence more aggressively than any other biblical book.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceCapital punishment & the death penalty: * The Heresy of Capital Punishment [required reading];  Some Responses to Critics Regarding Capital Punishment

* “”It is my considered opinion that belief that capital punishment, at least as it is known and practiced in the U.S. today, is a heresy when espoused by Christians. It manifests an embrace of the myth of redemptive violence by humans and flies in the face of the ethic of Jesus which forbids violent retribution. It is absolutely, incontrovertibly contrary to love. And it is, as practiced in the U.S. today, manifestly unjust.”

* “… if we’re going to appeal to the authority of the God of the Old Testament to support capital punishment, then … to those of you who use Romans 13 to argue that Christians should support capital punishment: Do you then … And, to those of you who demand proof texts before I oppose capital punishment (or call it a heresy): What do you say about … to those of you who refer to the OT’s commands to execute certain people: Do you then … And, finally, to those who like to think of Jesus as a warrior …”

Gun control: How Could We Blow This One?

“More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism. Twice as many Americans die of bee or wasp stings annually. And 15 times as many die by falling off ladders.

“Most striking, more than 30,000 people die annually from firearms injuries, including suicides, murders and accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American children are 13 times as likely to be killed by guns as in other industrialized countries.

“Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re willing to spend trillions of dollars, and intercept metadata from just about every phone call in the country, to deal with a threat that, for now, kills but a few Americans annually — while we’re too paralyzed to introduce a rudimentary step like universal background checks to reduce gun violence that kills tens of thousands?”

Military & special forces: The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces

“U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. They are now active in some seventy countries and, since 2001, have seen their combined budget nearly quintuple—a trend that seems likely to continue.”

Non-violence & pacifism: It’s Easy to be Pacifist in Indiana. Try Gaza! [essential reading]

“If the early church was pacifist, or close to it, would that impact your views for today?”