… have confidence in God, who raises the dead … (2 Cor. 1.9 CEB)
I consider all five of today’s links here to be “required reading” or “required watching.” Lots of good stuff!
Assumptions, nonviolence & violence: Does Nonviolence Work?
“We are blinded by the pervasive, long-standing assumption that violence is both ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ to promote good and minimize evil. … Kingdom people are called to walk in obedience to the example and teaching of Jesus even when it seems to make no sense to do so. We’re called to be faithful to Jesus, not effective at protecting our lives or ridding the world of evil.
“To the world’s ‘normal’ way of thinking, Jesus’ radical posture is indeed ludicrous, impractical, unpatriotic, irresponsible, and even immoral. And it may, in the short run, look like our refusal to participate in the merry-go-round of violence allows evil to win.
“We need to remember that this is exactly how matters looked on Good Friday, when the omnipotent God suffered at the hands of evil rather than use coercive force to extinguish it. But under the reign of the sovereign God, Good Friday never has the last word.”
Christianity, discipleship, faith, holiness & the status quo: The Gospel of Mark – Antonia Fortress – Am I Leading a Rebellion? [4 min. video]
“He’s leading a rebellion, it’s called the Kingdom of God and you can’t vote that in, but everyone can be a part of it.”
Death, euthanasia, judging, physician-assisted suicide & suicide: Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What We Can Learn From 9-11′s “Falling Man”)
“It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two ways of dying and then turn on them in judgment for picking the least painful of the two options.”
Giving thanks and gratitude: The World is Made Holy Through Thanks
“… when life is treated as a possession that can be taken from us, damaged or lost our lives become infused with fear causing us to cling, protect, hoard, defend and aggress. The antidote to this fear is gratitude, viewing life–the whole of life–not as a possession to be defended but as a gift to be shared.”
Parenting & teens: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents Make
“Expecting your teen to have a devotion to God that you are not cultivating within yourself. … Not expressing genuine love and like to your teen. … Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation. … Not prioritizing youth group/church involvement. … Holding low expectations for your teen. … Trying to be your teen’s best friend. … Permissive parenting. … Spoiling your teen. … Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family. … Not spending time with your teen.”
Art & happiness: Why You Need More Art in Your Life (and 5 Ways to Get It) [required reading]
“If you want to find more creativity, satisfaction, and happiness, the single best solution I know is adding more art to your life.”
Christian movies, end times, Left Behind, rapture & second coming: Why ‘Left Behind’ Should Be … Left Behind
“… while Left Behind may prove itself to be a mediocre box office success, it represents a severe misinterpretation of what the Bible actually says about the topic. To put it bluntly, and perhaps to the chagrin of some readers, the idea of a ‘rapture’ is simply not biblically based (and that’s where I’ve lost a third of you!) It represents, instead, a theology based on escapism and in the process does damage to what the Bible really does say about ‘the last days.'”
Death, euthanasia, hospice & quality of life: Doctors Wanted to Extend Life. Instead They Extended Death.
“If you look at people who want euthanasia it’s not who we think it is. It’s not people writhing in pain. It’s not people who can’t breathe because of emphysema. It’s people who are depressed and hopeless and don’t see meaning in life. I don’t think the right answer to that question is, ‘let’s give them some pills to knock them off.’ They need meaning back in their life. They need therapy or medication. Euthanasia, I think the research shows, is much more like suicide than it is like a medical treatment.”
Discernment, moral blindness & power: How Can It Happen? [essential reading]
“… ‘every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with’ moral blindness. That is, as power increases moral blindness increases. Without it the power could not increase; without it the moral blindness would not increase. Instead of acting, the morally blind person is filled with stupor and quiescence.”
Introverts, ministry, preaching & relationships: The Introvert Behind the Pulpit
“For these preachers, devotion to ministry requires balancing need for solitude with passion for sharing God’s word.”
Church, comfort, evangelism, familiarity, Millenials & outreach: Don’t Let Your Comfort Zone Kill Your Church
“… are you willfully blind toward the needs of the young people in your church or toward reaching young people in general?”
“Dying space is sacred space.”
Discussion, social media & the spiral of silence: How Social Media Silences Debate
“The researchers set out to investigate the effect of the Internet on the so-called spiral of silence, a theory that people are less likely to express their views if they believe they differ from those of their friends, family and colleagues. The Internet, many people thought, would do away with that notion because it connects more heterogeneous people and gives even minority voices a bullhorn.
“Instead, the researchers found, the Internet reflects the offline world, where people have always gravitated toward like-minded friends and shied away from expressing divergent opinions. (There is a reason for the old rule to avoid religion or politics at the dinner table.)
“And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves.”
Ecology, environment & pollution: Choking the Oceans With Plastic
“I have just returned with a team of scientists from six weeks at sea conducting research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans north and south of the Equator at the latitude of our great terrestrial deserts. Although it was my 10th voyage to the area, I was utterly shocked to see the enormous increase in the quantity of plastic waste since my last trip in 2009.”
Exodus & the movies: Exodus: Gods, Kings, and Evangelical Headcanon
“This Christmas we’re getting another Bible epic film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses.”
Modesty: To the Girls In the Pew Ahead of Me
“Thank you for reflecting Christ in the simplest of ways.”
This is a different kind of Memorial Day for me this year. For today, instead of commemorating the death of American soldiers who died in battle – a very humbling thought in itself and something for which I am deeply respectful! – I want to deliberately remember the civilians of all nations who have died due to war.
The memorial I have in mind is not wrapped beautifully in red, white, and blue – or the colors of any other nation’s flag – but, is draped only in the blackness of grief and death. It is not limited by boundaries established by men and their choices, but is limited only by the extent of humanity. It is not to glory in any one people’s way, but to glory in the Lord’s way alone.
A legion of memorials and monuments are to be found across the globe commemorating the death of soldiers from every nation. But where are the monuments, the days, the parades, etc. in remembrance of the civilians who died? They are not nearly so prevalent or prominent, are they? One can only wonder why. After all, civilian deaths typically far outnumber military deaths in any war.
Read that last sentence again and let the cold hard fact of it all soak deep into your spirit.
Take World War II as an example. Estimates of the total number of deaths in all countries affected by that war alone typically range somewhere between 60-80 million. How many of those were military personnel? 22-25 million. A horrific sum! And how many were the number of civilians who died? 38-55 million. Horror x 2. They were old men and women. They were infants and small children. They were the handicapped and the vulnerable. They were the marginalized and the forgotten.
They were victims of disease, dislocation, and deprivation. They experienced rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing/genocide. They succumbed to abandonment, imprisonment, and starvation. They were stripped of dignity, dehumanized, and altogether undone. Their deaths were accidental and deliberate, intentional and collateral, contrived and common. But all of them had this one thing in common: their deaths need not have been.
Truly, war is hell. But it is hell for all involved. May we never forget such or give such only passing remembrance. And so let us make all the more effort to remember quite clearly and more often that the greatest price paid in war is paid by those who never take up arms.
Pray with me, won’t you?
Father God, we long for the time when all wars will cease. Help our hatred for such be like your hatred of it. May we be so caught up in such that our distinctiveness to the ways of this world are obvious to all. And so, grow in us now such a spirit of peace that we run not to make war, but peace. To the end that the evil might have time to repent and so that all the more innocent might be spared. And so we ask: bring in your kingdom. Bring it in through us and bring it in now. In the name of the Prince of peace we pray. Amen.