links: this went thru my mind

 

Age, Boomers, faith, mid-life, & generations: Aged Out of Church [required reading]

“… Boomers are leaving the church in numbers that we usually think of when we talk about the exodus of the Millennial generation: “‘…during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41 percent, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39 percent level among Busters.’”

Attitude, complaining & grumbling: Grumbling & Complaining

“My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling. People talk about it being necessary to say how we feel, but I usually think there is more merit to say less about how we feel, and more about who God is in spite of our feelings.”

Bible, literacy, Millenials & reading: American Bible Society Report: The Bible in America, 2014

“Now there are just as many Americans skeptical of the Bible as there are engaged with the Bible. According to the fourth annual State of the Bible survey, 19 percent said that they were skeptical of the Bible. This number is up from 10 percent in 2011. This trend is even more pronounced among the Millennial generation (who range in age from 18-29).”

Children, courtesy, manners & parenting: Ten Forgotten Ways to Teach Politeness to Children

“Not every day is going to be a rip roaring success when trying to teach our children politeness, but if we are consistent, we will eventually see them get it right more than they get it wrong.  And, when they have successful and pleasant encounters with others, we are setting them up to be more successful in life.  These ten skills will serve them well all through adulthood, too.”

Culture & sin: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church [essential reading]

“What if the biggest threats to the church weren’t the things we thought they were? What if the very foundation of our country’s culture actually resembles the culture of our churches? We may find that we’ve been blind to more subtle and subversive influences that are having a greater impact on the church than the issues that consume us. Here are just five overlooked cultural norms that are contrary to the Kingdom and are sinful within the Kingdom, unknowingly supported by many of us. …  Competition … Celebrity … Patriotism … Fear … Individuality.”

Gospel, moralism & preaching: Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it Is) [required reading]

“… one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Marriage, relationships, technology & Twitter: Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

“Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bias, criticism, open-mindedness & thinking: Why We Confuse The Onion for the News [essential reading]

“… we all have biases, and our efforts to rid ourselves of them through education and self-awareness don’t actually ‘fix’ the problem.”

Cell phones & etiquette: Cell Phone Funeral Etiquette

“Cell phones often go off when we least want them to. In church. In school. During sex. And at a funeral. As other funeral directors can attest, the oddest thing about a cell phone ringing during funerals is how many people will actually answer.”

Church attendance, faith, millennials, peace & unity: The Millennials Are Rejecting Fighting Churches and Christians [essential reading]

“… many of them are walking away from our churches, and more of them are not attending at all, when they witness or hear about negativity and divisiveness in those churches. They want to see unity among Christians, and they are often disappointed.”

Health: * Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory; * Depression: Could Be Almost Depressed?

* “… even modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have a negative influence on memory.”

* “Research suggests that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant clinical treatment. … In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. … There is also another more serious problem: Research indicates about 75% of cases of low-grade depression will devolve into full-blown major depression if they are not recognized and arrested.”

Grandparenting, parenting & prayer: How to Pray for Your Children & Grandchildren [required reading]

“Because there are 12 prayers in this list, you could concentrate on one prayer per month to concentrate on. Within a year you will have consistently prayed the entire list.”

Holy Spirit: The Kingdom’s Second Major Death

“Why has this gone on?  Why has the Holy Spirit been quenched in our circles? Control.  Man is obsessed with control; even in religion’s court. … The Kingdom’s second major death, after Jesus’ upon the cross, is that of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of men.  We have killed Him off and buried Him in our tombs of organization and control.”

Leisure, online & time management: What You Would Be Doing If You Spent Less Time Online

“More time online means less time socializing, studying, and sleeping.”

Faith & President Obama: * The President’s Devotional: What Obama ‘Did In Secret’ In Newtown; * The Man Behind the President’s Devotional

* “The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget. … It must have been one of the defining moments of his presidency, quiet hours in solemn classrooms, extending as much healing as was in his power to extend. But he kept it to himself—never seeking to teach a lesson based on those mournful conversations, or opening them up to public view.”

* “Dubois has been sending devotionals to Obama every morning since the 2008 presidential campaign. A collection of these spiritual messages to the president has now been published Dubois’ new book, The President’s Devotional. Dubois started working for Obama shortly after he became a senator. A public policy and economics student at Princeton University, he was also ordained at a small Pentecostal church where he served as an associate pastor. It was this combination of skills that led him to become Obama’s faith outreach coordinator during his first presidential campaign and, later, to be appointed as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the president’s first term.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Boys, children, introverts, masculinity, parenting, sexuality & socialization: * We’ve Preached Modesty to the Girls. Now, Let’s Talk to the Boys [required reading]; * In the Whirled: Socializing our Kids to Death

* “I think it’s high time — perhaps past time — that we talk to the boys. …  there are three myths of masculinity that permeate our society. I’ve been conditioned by them, and I’ve mistakenly conditioned you by some of them too.”

* “We live in a day and age when working with others has never been more valued. We send kids to school at younger and younger ages so they can properly socialize. We encourage involvement in activities, lots of activities, for the same reason. … And yet, for roughly one-third of the population, solitude is just what they need.”

Betting, casinos, gambling, lotteries & wagers: 9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

“This week the Council on Casinos, a group dedicated to fighting the spread of gambling in America, released a report on “Why Casinos Matter.” Here are nine things from the report on casinos and gambling that you should know.”

Church problems, leadership, ministry, power groups & relationships: Eight Types of Power Groups in Churches [required reading]

“The very thought of the presence of power groups seems contrary to the spirit and grace of the gospel. But power groups are very real in churches. … While a church may have more than one kind of group, only one of the groups will be the dominant power in the church.”

Churches, guests, greeting, hospitality & visitors: Welcome Visitors Tentatively Entering Your Church Doors

“Walking into a room where you know no one is not easy for many of us. … My hope is that the person, no matter the reason for coming, would find a gracious Christian community that is hospitable and lives and tells the story of God’s grace in Jesus Christ so people can experience the transformative story of the Gospel. Will you look for the unfamiliar person who is longing to be connected to our God?”

Funeral etiquette & manners: 10 Things You Should and Should Not Do at a Funeral

“…  some things should be non-negotiable when attending a funeral service …”

how to prevent rudeness

 

Let’s say your task is to try to convey to someone the essence of all that it means to practice civility. If it helps get you  into the frame of mind, by all means, imagine a specific scenario you could find yourself in.

It could be that you’re a parent and you’re teaching your child something of manners. Perhaps the “someone” is yourself and you’re trying to become far more deliberate in your habits of behavior toward others, perhaps even toward your aging parents. Or maybe you have a friend who has come to you for your counsel on how they can get along better with others with whom they have a difficult relationship at home or at work.

Now this is vital. You want to word your advice concisely and clearly so the person can grasp it and perhaps even remember it for a very long time to come. What all would you say, and how would you say it all in, let’s say, fifty words or less?

In a fine work entitled The Civility Solution, the author, P.M. Forni does something just like that as he offers us all “eight rules for a civil life” toward “preventing rudeness” (pp. 28-44) I reproduce them below for your careful reflection. I’ve taken the liberty of adding to them eight passages written by the apostle Paul, a man who, like the rest of us, had to learn what it meant to be civil. Each of these texts came to my mind as I read each of Forni’s rules.

May God lead me, and all of us, more and more toward a civil life, I pray.

1. Slow down and be present in your life.

“… be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly. Take advantage of every opportunity …” (Ephesians 5.15-16a)

2. Listen to the voice of empathy.

“… as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3.12)

3. Keep a positive attitude.

“… brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4.8)

4. Respect others and grant them plenty of validation.

“Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you …” (1 Thessalonians 5.12)

5. Disagree graciously and refrain from arguing.

“Avoid foolish and thoughtless discussions, since you know that they produce conflicts. God’s slave shouldn’t be argumentative but should be kind toward all people, able to teach, patient …” (2 Timothy 2.23-25a)

6. Get to know the people around you.

“We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much.” (1 Thessalonians 2.8)

7. Pay attention to the small things.

“Say hello to each other with a holy kiss.” (Romans 16.16)

8. Ask, don’t tell.

“… brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to … do better in how you live and please God …” (1 Thessalonians 4.1)

it’s time to be civil (34)

 

# 24. Don’t shift responsibility and blame. We are all familiar with the drill: Somebody at fault will try to minimise his or her responsibility by blaming someone else – quite often the wronged party. Thus the main characteristics of this exercise in rudeness are obfuscation and unfairness. …

… I simply cannot conceive of any circumstances in our own daily lives when it would be appropriate or advantageous to be rude or boorish. The powerful combination of self-respect and respect for others should make it almost impossible for us to choose incivility, if we manage to remain clearheaded even in challenging situations.

But what if we are dealing with somebody whom we don’t respect or who says or does something we believe to be wrong? The answer is simple: let’s not lose sight of our own standards of behavior, of our own rules of engagement. It is possible to be civil and true to one’s beliefs at the same time.

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 152,157

it’s time to be civil (33)

 

 # 23. Respect the environment and be gentle to animals. … When we speak of a decline in civility, we usually refer to a crisis regarding established forms of concern, respect, and deference. As we do so, we tend to ignore new forms that take the place of old ones. Maybe the number of youngsters holding onto their bus seats while pregnant women and elderly gentlemen are precariously swaying in the aisle is on the rise. But then so, I believe, is the number of those who treat members of racial minorities with genuine respect. I am not saying that the advances in new civility should make us forget what we are losing. … What I am suggesting is that we don’t forget that the decline is not cutting across-the-board. It may be hard to believe, but in certain areas of our everyday behavior we are becoming more civil rather than less. A shining example of new civility is the remarkably serious commitment to the cause of the environment on the part of an extraordinary number of people from all walks of life.

An age-old component of humanity’s relationship with nature is fear: nature is dangerous, so we must defend ourselves from it. Over the past several decades, this traditional attitude has been eclipsed, at least partially, by one of concern. The new attitude is: nature is in danger, so we must defend it from ourselves. … we think that we are much more of a threat to nature than nature is to us. Only two or three generations ago it was commonplace to describe progress as the subjugation of nature by man. Today we are more likely to think of progress as freeing nature from the lethal embrace of a recklessly wasteful and polluting humanity. …

In the wake of the ecological revolution, it is impossible to be civil without an active concern for the health of our badly wounded planet.

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp.146-147,148

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 # 22. Accept and give constructive criticism. A good friend will listen to us without judgment, accept the intensity of our feelings, respect our pain, and express concern. A really good friend will, in addition, help us to see our situation in a new way. …

To criticize is a serious business and sometimes an awesome responsibility. Before you speak make sure that your intention is to help with a problem and not to humiliate, manipulate, or exact revenge. Are you sure there is a problem and that you have a sound sense of what it is? Is this the right moment to address it? Are you so upset that it’s probably a good idea to wait? What is the emotional state of the other person? Are there other people around who shouldn’t be privy to the exchange? Finally, consider asking the other person’s permission to broach the delicate subject: ‘I’ve been wondering about something you did. Would you mind if I shared my thoughts with you?’ …

To make your criticism constructive and effective: *Identify an issue, rather than launching an attack on the person. … * Describe what you have observed rather than uttering accusations or engaging in name-calling. … * Show that understand how the other person may feel. … * Suggest a solution if you feel this is the right time to do so. … * Remain calm, kind, and empathic throughout the exchange.

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp.141,142,143