links: this went thru my mind

 

Adultery: The United States of Adultery

[This is an interactive map. Houston is #2 in the country, beat out only by three-time winner Washington D.C.]

Birth of Jesus & Christmas: * Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, Overthrew an Empire – Wild!; * Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?

* “May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ‘empires.’ Merry Christmas.”

* “Every nativity set needs a red dragon. If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation.”

China, Christianity & persecution: China’s Hardship-Hardened Church

“Vibrant amid persecution, it seeks faithfulness over freedom.”

Contribution, generosity, giving, possessions, sacrifice, stewardship & wealth: The Scary Truth About Christian Giving

“Over the past 40 years, self-identified evangelicals have given between 2 and 3 percent of their incomes to churches and Christian organizations. Stewardship is a crucial part of the Christian life, and according to these figures, it is sadly lacking.”

Criticism, hatred & humility: Haters

“Never criticize what God is blessing.”

Firearms & guns: Gun Country

“They bring families together and they tear them apart. They kill innocent people and protect them. The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated  relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans.”

Insurance & the uninsured: Mapping Uninsured Americans

“Census data released Dec. 17 show where the uninsured live.”

Love & truth: 3 John: When Love is Abused

“He abused his power; he abused the love entrusted to him.”

Poor & poverty: In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary [required reading]

“Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.”

Warfare: The Great War’s Ominous Echoes

“… the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far-off, it is similar to ours — often unsettlingly so — in many ways.”

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)

 

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?”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceApologies, reconciliation & torture: Britain Apologizes For Colonial-Era Torture Of Kenyan Rebels

“A 60-year-old wound in Kenya has finally found its recompense. Last week, the British government finalized an out-of-court settlement with thousands of Kenyans who were tortured in detention camps during the end of the British colonial reign. The historic apology — and the unprecedented settlement — has been years in the making.”

Bible, children & violence: Is the Bible Too Violent for Kids?

“How did you balance the need to convey the Biblical message and keep it age appropriate? How do you respond to the modern desire to keep children from being exposed to the violence in the Bible?”

Christians, hypocrisy, prayer & the military: The Hypocrisy of a Warring Christian

“Just stop and think about it for a minute. Every Sunday, if not every single day, thousands, if not millions, of prayers are offered up in the name of the Prince of Peace begging the God of all reconciliation to please end all wars and ‘bring the boys home safely.’ We pray for our leaders to make wise decisions about the use of our tax dollars. We pray for love and charity to overwhelm the powers of hate and evil.

“And we scream like a bunch of scalded dogs when the military suggests that we no longer need the base down the street. …

“Christian brothers and sisters – can we not stop and think about this for a moment? Of what earthly or heavenly good does it do to pray for peace, of what earthly or heavenly good does it do for us to pray that God end all wars if we proudly and stubbornly refuse to turn our swords into plows? And why, among all peoples, are disciples of Christ among the most vociferous defenders of our killing machines?”

Drones: “I felt like a sociopath” – Drone Operator Says He Is Haunted By The 1,600 He Killed

“[Brandon] Bryant, now 27, served as a drone sensor operator from 2006 to 2011, at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and in Iraq, guiding unmanned drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he didn’t fire missiles himself he took part in missions that he was told led to the deaths of an estimated 1,626 individuals. In an interview with NBC News, he provided a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to control the controversial machines that have become central to the U.S. effort to kill terrorists.”

Gun control: Democrats Quietly Renew Push for Gun Measures

“Americans remain broadly supportive of legislation that expands background checks on gun purchases but are skeptical that such a bill will pass.”

Gun sales: Smith & Wesson Booked Record Sales as Gun Debate Raged

“The past 12 months have been bad for gun violence, but good for Smith & Wesson. The gun maker reported preliminary results Thursday showing that sales for the fiscal year ended April 30 hit a record $588 million, a 43% increase versus the year prior.”

Military expenditures: F-35 Fighter Jet Struggles to Take Off

“After a decade of administrative problems, cost overruns and technical glitches, the F-35 is still not ready for action. … The GAO estimated the program would cost an unprecedented $12.6 billion a year on average through 2037 — that’s an average of about $1.4 million an hour for the next two and a half decades. The per-plane cost estimates have climbed to $161 million today from $81 million in 2001, the GAO said.”

this went thru my mind: on violence

 

V-for-violenceAmerican Civil War: The Great Civil War Lie

“Civil War buffs have long speculated about how different the war might have been if only the Confederacy had won formal recognition from Britain. But few recognize how close that came to happening — and how much pro-Southern sympathy in Britain was built on a lie.”

Americans & the military: Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart

“… the greatest challenge to our military is not from a foreign enemy — it’s the widening gap between the American people and their armed forces. Three developments in recent decades have widened this chasm.”

Guns & suicide: Which Combination of God and Guns Produces the Fewest Suicides?

“Back-and-forth columns prompt one analyst to do the (hypothetical) math.”

Turkey: Turkey: What to Know and How to Pray

“I’m praying: * That the protests geared toward the government will lead the people away from increased Islamization and to greater religious freedom. * For the safety of ‘workers’ serving there right now. * For the safety of Turks and for a just end to the violence. * That Turks in Turkey (and the 75 million Turks around the world) will turn to Christ in the midst of the tumult.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceChristianity, guns, idolatry & power: * The Weakness of the Pentagon and the Power of the Cross; * A Meditation on the 10 Commandments (#3)

* “Christians are people who know that the Word is mightier than the sword. Our weapons are not worldly, but powerful: the preaching of the Word who has made peace and the celebrating of the Word embodied in broken flesh and poured-out blood.”

* “What are some of our graven images today? A gun is an idol. It is an idol of the false god of power. It can also be an idol of the false god of safety and security. If I trust in the killing power of cold steel and lifeless wood, I am rejecting the power of the life-giving and life protecting God.”

Gun control & the media: Gun Control and the Media

“In the four months since the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, the tone of the conversation about gun control on Twitter has shifted sharply several times in apparent response to ongoing events, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of nearly 21 million tweets from December 18 through April 21.”

Gun control & the public: Mixed Reactions to Senate Gun Vote

“Overall, 15% say they are angry this legislation was voted down and 32% say they are disappointed. On the other side, 20% say are very happy the legislation was blocked, while 19% say they are relieved. … States with two senators voting no: AL, AK, AR, GA, ID, KS, KY, MS, NE, ND, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WY.”

Violence: “God is pissed off and so am I”: Pastor Phil Jackson on Gun Violence

“If you have never held a mother, father, or crying child who has had to bury a family member because of gun violence, you might not understand the need to make the tough changes. If you have never seen the eyes of a student looking to you for hope as life seeps from their body or sat with a mother asking God why her child is gone — why her child had to die — I doubt you will understand the pain and the effect of what guns are doing on the streets of Chicago. If you have never had these experiences, you might not understand my sense of urgency when I say that I want to see the end of cheap and plentiful guns in my neighborhood. … My thoughts about the protection of constitutional rights are always accompanied by my thoughts of protecting the young people in my neighborhood.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: The Problem with “Safe, Legal” Abortion

“This absolutely horrifying story from The Atlantic about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now standing trial for murder in Philadelphia, gives the lie to the traditional argument that making and keeping abortion legal ensures that it will be done safely and with concern for the health and well being of the mother. … I encourage you to go and read the entire article, if you can stomach it. It is a true American horror story. It also reveals issues of racism, mistreatment of the poor, the exploitation of women, and the failures of government and journalistic institutions.”

Ancient warfare & horses: Iron Age Weapons—From Cold Metal to Warm-Blooded Animals

“Advanced ‘martial arts’ schools for horses and riders developed war horses trained in special athletic movements designed to inflict maximum damage with their hooves in battle. It has developed over the centuries into what we now refer to as modern dressage, a sport in the Olympics since 1900.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, prayer, & war: A Prayer by J.N. Armstrong

“J.N. Armstrong was the first president of Harding University and the son-in-law of James A. Harding. He believed that Christians were not to participate in war.”

Fear, hope, idolatry, power, & security: North Korea May Bomb the Hell Out of Us and Blow Us to Smithereens, Yet We Will Cling to the Instability of Hope by Kurt Willems

“‘Peace through strength’ is good for us all, or so many believe. … Too often, the Christian hope is co-opted by the hope of Caesar … We followers of Jesus in the empire of America have a choice. We can put our trust in empty sloganeering. We can trust in the horses and chariots of the military. Or, we can place our lives in the midst of reality, the unstable yet sure hope we have in Christ Jesus.”

Forgiveness & violence: Warren Forgives Seller of Gun in Son’s Suicide

“Pastor Rick Warren has shared some of his thoughts via Twitter during the past week as he and his wife Kay grieve the loss of their youngest son, tweeting Thursday (April 11) that he has forgiven the person who sold Matthew the gun used in his suicide.”

Gun control, gun lobby, NRA & politics: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip by Gabrielle Giffords [required reading; and I say, "Amen!"]

“On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies … Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.”