links: this went thru my mind

 

Animals & creation care: * Animal Welfare [17 min. video; essential viewing]; * Should Christians Care about Animal Welfare?

* “Should cruelty to animals matter to the church? … Animals live not for us alone.”

* “… my daughter Jaclyn says I need to think more on this. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 12:10, ‘A righteous man cares about his animal’s health.’”

Bible reading & verse-sharing: Sorry, John 3:16: The Top 10 Bible Verses YouVersion Shared Most in 2013

“The Bible verse that was ‘bookmarked, highlighted, and shared … more than any other verse” in 2013′ Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Rounding out the top five: Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:13, Joshua 1:9, and Philippians 4:6. By comparison, the Bible’s most-read chapter was Romans 8—’read 4 times per second in 2013,’ notes YouVersion. The other top chapters were Romans 12, Matthew 5, 1 John 4, and Hebrews 12.”

Brains, birds & memory: What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

“They grow more brain when they need to remember things; then shrink that brain when the ‘remembering’ season ends. … ‘If you count the cells in a chickadee brain before the fall, and then count them after … the number of neurons definitely goes up in the hippocampus, and a number of us have confirmed that (including my lab).’”

Bullying, children & parenting: Responding to Bullies [7 1/2 min. video]

“Greg [Boyd] answers a question from parents as to how their child should respond to a bully.”

Conservation, creation care, environment & pollution: Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year

“I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. … I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceC.S. Lewis, military, United States & war: The Lion, the Witch and the War

“‘Nothing clears a room faster than questioning the righteousness of our military.’ … One of the biggest stumbling blocks in following the teachings of Jesus is our tendency to do whatever we want, and to then convince ourselves that Jesus supports our agenda. This is especially true when it comes to His peace teachings.”

Loving your enemies: Is It Harmful to Tell People to Love Their Enemies If You Never Teach Them How?

“While the commandment to love is often proclaimed from Christian pulpits, seldom is it explained how we might cultivate such genuine compassion. With the absence of practical guidance we hear this commandment as a near impossible ideal and become burdened with shame and guilt at our inevitable failures. Our angers and fears, drives and repulsions erupt with primal power; we feel grossly unchristian for having these feelings in the first place, yet inadequate in our incapacity to free ourselves from their grip.”

Martyrdom: Perpetua’s Father

“… Vibius, the father of the martyr Perpetua of Carthage. Perpetua is perhaps the most endearing and disturbing of all the early Christian saints, a young mother who kept a prison diary while being held before her execution in the Roman arena in AD 203. (The charge against her seems to have been her refusal to sacrifice to the gods of Rome, which was a form of treason.).”

Perception & violence: Turns Out Cities are Safest Places to Live

“The risk of injury death is more than 20% higher in the country than it is in urban areas. … Most Americans believe that the nation’s crime rate is getting worse. … You’re much less likely to die from a gunshot wound than you are in a simple accident.”

Self-defense, stand your ground laws & statistics: Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? [a 43 page Texas A & M study]

“Results … indicate that expansions to castle doctrine do not deter crime. … More significantly, results indicate that castle doctrine laws increase total homicides by around 8 percent.”

Violence in the OT: Violence in the OT (parts 1 & 2) [two video clips, 8 min. & 10 min. respectively; essential viewing; simply outstanding!]

“My colleague Lawson Stone has two excellent posts on violence in the OT. See what you think.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceBackground checks, gun control, & legislation: President Obama: We Have Not Forgotten What Happened in Newtown

“Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks that will keep criminals and people who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others from buying a gun. More than 80 percent of Republicans agree. More than 80 percent of gun owners agree.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, Restoration Movement & war: Alexander Campbell, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb: A Nineteenth-Century Anti-War Triumvirate [required reading]

“Alexander Campbell, Tolbert Fanning, and David Lipscomb had three things in common. They all lived during the nineteenth century. They were all ministers in the Church of Christ … And they were all vehemently anti-war. … All wrote well before the horrors of World War I, with Campbell and Fanning writing their anti-war works even before the carnage of the so-called Civil War. … I shall present Campbell’s anti-war views from his famous ‘Address on War’ that was originally delivered in May, 1848, in Wheeling, Virginia, published in the Millennial Harbinger in July the same year … I shall present Fanning’s anti-war views from his March 1847 article in the Christian Review titled simply ‘War.’ … I shall present Lipscomb’s anti-war views from his 1889 book, Civil Government: Its Origin, Mission, and Destiny, and the Christian’s Relation to It, which was originally published as a series of articles in the Gospel Advocate from 1866 to 1867.”

Fear & war: Threats of Annihilation Normal for South Koreans

“Nowhere is there the slightest inkling that anyone in this second largest metropolitan area in the world — is fearful or even anxious about the stream of threats emanating from North Korea.”

Guns & statistics: Children’s Defense Fund: Protect Children, Not Guns The Truth About Guns [essential reading]

“A gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher, and accidental death four times higher. For every time a gun in the home injures or kills in self-defense, there are 11 completed and attempted gun suicides, seven criminal assaults and homicides with a gun, and four unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.”

Holocaust: Explaining the Holocaust to Our Nine Year-Old Daughter

“This is part of the beauty and the tension we experience as an interfaith family. We have two beautiful traditions, with rich spiritual practices, that do much good in the world. At the same time, we share a tragic history, in which the Lutheran theology to which I’ve dedicated my life in ministry was twisted in order to justify killing my wife’s ancestors. I am constantly aware of it, especially when I preach and teach, and at times find it difficult to reconcile.”

Shootings: One Nation Under The Gun: Thousands Of Gun Deaths Since Newtown

“The Huffington Post has tracked gun-related deaths in the United States since Newtown. Click here for an interactive map of those who have died.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAustralia & gun control: I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too. by John Howard

“… nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.”

Children, culture, guns, heroes, power & violence: Giving Up Chuck and the Daisy Red Ryder [required reading]

“My heroes have always been powerful. Heroes are and should be powerful, but how you define power… that makes all the difference. … The American definition of “power that solves problems” is intertwined with the cultural mystique of guns and violence. Once my definition of power changed, a few years ago, my heroes did as well …”

Christ’s cross, discipleship & violence: A Meditation on the Cross by Paul Smith [required reading]

“I’ll say it again. If you are nailed to a cross you cannot hold a gun. If your hand is wrapped around an instrument of death you cannot grasp the hand that was pierced with an instrument of death.”

Deception, fake quotations, & lies: Did Jefferson Really Say That? Why Bogus Quotations Matter in Gun Debate

* “‘The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.’ … staff ‘have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote’ those words.”

Drone strikes: The Guilty Conscience of a Drone Pilot Who Killed a Child

“The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported last August that in Pakistan’s tribal areas alone, there are at least 168 credible reports of children being killed in drone strikes.”

Faith & guns: If I Can’t Take My Gun, I’m Not Going by Neal Whitlow

“Modern weapons and an individual’s right to possess them are not dealt with in scripture. All the texts dealing with warfare don’t seem to apply. However, there a few principles from the New Testament that inform my thinking on the subject.

“It is not the responsibility of God’s people to overwhelm the darkness by force of arms. We use other tools to fulfill our mission. Our weapons are truth, faith, patience, love, forgiveness, and hope. … God’s people defend the defenseless. …  Jesus calls us to abandon our compulsions of power and control. Let’s face it. A big part of the reason that Americans can’t let go of our guns is we are enamored with the feelings of power and invincibility they give us.”

Faith & nonviolence: Jesus’ Way Doesn’t Work by Tim Archer [required reading]

“The church heard Jesus’ message. They didn’t run away. They didn’t fight. They endured patiently. For more than two hundred years. They suffered. They died. They loved their enemies and prayed for them. They turned the other cheek. And they were killed for it.

“Because Jesus’ way doesn’t work. It doesn’t protect your from suffering. It doesn’t protect you from death. (well, not immediately) It doesn’t bring your enemies to their knees. It doesn’t protect the weak nor avenge the innocent. In the eyes of the world, Jesus’ way is a complete failure.

“If you’re looking for something that works, don’t look to Jesus’ teachings. But remember one thing: if you choose what makes sense to men, you’re choosing something that God despises.”

Gun control & President Obama’s plan: * The President’s Plan to Reduce Gun Violence [required reading; download the .pdf file]; * Joe Biden Addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 17 [55 min. video; skip to 10 min., 20 sec. to begin]

* “Download the full text of the President’s plan.”

* Scroll down to the Opening Plenary Luncheon to find this video.

Gun control & public opinion: In Gun Control Debate, Several Options Draw Majority Support

“Fully 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. Similarly, 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines. But this bipartisan consensus breaks down when it comes to other proposals.”

Gun control & the states: * Gun Laws in the US, State by State – Interactive [very interesting & helpful]; * The Gun Challenge

* “… the majority of gun legislation in the US is enacted at the state level. That has brought broad variations across the country, with states taking different approaches to issues ranging from sales, permits, licensing, self-defence and carry laws.”

* “Inevitably, a bill like Wyoming’s has been filed in Texas.”

Guns & self-defense: * How Often Do We Use Guns in Self-Defense?

“We don’t know exactly how frequently defensive gun use occurs.”

Guns & the escalation of danger: Lessons From Guns and a Goose by Nicholas D. Kristof

“… that episode … underscores the role that guns too often play in our society: an instrument not of protection but of escalation. … One study, reported in Southern Medical Journal in 2010, found that a gun is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member or guest than in the death of an intruder. Another study in 1993 found that gun ownership creates nearly a threefold risk of a homicide in the owner’s household.”

Gun ownership: Why I Don’t Own a Gun by Brian Zahand

“I don’t own a gun because I don’t need one and I don’t want one. And that is perfectly acceptable. Please try to be at peace with this. As I said, I don’t own golf clubs either, and that’s bound to upset some people too.”

Gun violence & statistics:* Lack Of Up-To-Date Research Complicates Gun Debate by Carrie Johnson; * How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? [interactive map]

* “Public health research dried up more than a decade ago after Congress restricted the use of some federal money to pay for those studies.”

* “The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by. So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive. This data is necessarily incomplete. But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America. If you know about a gun death in your community that isn’t represented here, please tweet @GunDeaths with a citation. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can email slatedata@gmail.com.)”

Military & prayer: How Do We Pray for the Troops? by Craig M. Watts [required reading]

“The language of public prayer should express a reality shaped by the creative and redemptive activity of God, not simply one that can be read from the pages of the newspapers or heard from the mouths of either marketers or politicians. …

“So when I stand to pray in worship I never pray that God protect our troops for the simple fact that we don’t have any troops. We do not gather as Americans who plead on behalf of national interests or partisan favor before either God or the world. We are the church. Who we are has been determined by whose we are. We are people of God. We gather as the body of Christ united with Christ’s body throughout the world. Yet I do pray for the protection of soldiers and civilians alike. I pray indiscriminately, without regard to borders because all people are creatures made by the hand of God and are so loved by God that God sent God’s only begotten Son on their behalf. May they be preserved from danger and be restored to circumstances where they can live without the threat of violence either to them or from them.”

violence & my Lord: what did Jesus do?

 

V-for-violenceTwo thoughts. (1) Violence in our country. It’s the topic of the day these days. (2) Jesus Christ. My Lord and Savior, every day.

One question. How did Jesus respond to violence?

Let’s find out.

The government ordered his death and sent soldiers to kill him … so his parents, rather than standing their ground, fled the country with him.

Surrounded by men who wanted him dead … he stood his ground, and armed only with reason, he reasoned with them, and disarmed them.

On another occasion, they tried to lynch him … so instead of standing his ground, he eluded them.

When one of his disciples understood that his life was in jeopardy and displayed weapons with which to defend him … he chastised the disciple, turned, and walked away.

When as intruders in the night they came to haul him off to murder him and a friend drew his weapon and began to actively defend him … he rebuked his friend for doing so, powerfully attended to the needs of the wounded, and then went away willingly with his captors.

When his captors had him beaten and whipped … he remained silent and passive, not even uttering a single violent word.

And though he had access to unlimited power to have himself released from the post on which they had nailed him and had hoisted him up high from the ground … he did not exercise that power at all, choosing instead to voluntarily die with a prayer on his lips for his murders’ forgiveness.

And so, two questions now come to my mind:

(1) How did I miss all of this for most of my life as a Christian?

(2) Is the record of my Lord behaving so merely a record of his unique life and experience or was this record made for that purpose and intended to teach all who would follow Jesus as to how to follow him when they find themselves faced with violence?

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer’s by Nancy Shute

“The latest evidence from the bilingualism-is-good-for-you crew comes from Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington.”

Bible manuscripts: Cambridge Digital Library

Codex Bezae

Christians, guns, self defense & violence: * An Unexpected Topic–But Just In Case: How to Respond to an Active Shooter [required reading]; * Swords into Ploughshares: Voluntary Disarmament in the Kingdom by Caleb Coy [essential reading]; * Youth Fires Shotgun at 2 High School Students, Hits One; Suspect in Custody

* “An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. … If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a survival strategy.”

* “…  rather than being on the front lines of peace and laying down of earthly weapons, contemporary American Christians often put themselves on the front lines of stocking up on weapons in fear of the next big revolution.  Why do we do this?  I have no answer other than to point to our love for our nation and it’s 2nd amendment exceeding our love for the kingdom and it’s greatest commandment. If we look to the first century, we will find a different story.  We see a people willing to be martyred before their enemies as witnesses to their faith, a people with a tendency to refuse to become soldiers, or attend public executions (unless it was their own people). …

“As a Christian I will try to demonstrate how to treat potential threats and enemies as I believe Christ would have us do.  ”Do good to those who hate you”. “Pray for those who persecute you.” “Resist not the evil-doer.”  Jesus wasn’t just talking about the guy down the street that gets on our nerves, as if his kingdom were some kind of sitcom. He meant something very earth-shaking. He was preparing us to be ready for martyrdom in any generation, in any land.”

* “The gunman was in custody Thursday after he was talked into dropping the firearm by his teacher and another school staff member, said authorities …”

Fear: Fear: This is a Heart Issue [Part 2] by John T. Willis

“Fear is a powerful motivation in personal, church, and national life. Sometimes this is positive, sometimes this is negative. Here are some motivations which affect our lives.”

Life: * Take Back Your Life in Ten Steps by Tony Schwartz; * Moving Forward by Scott Elliott

* “You’re smart, hard-working and good at what you do, but the truth is you also too often feel your life is just a relentless set of demands you have to meet, and too rarely a source of satisfaction. You long to feel more in control of your days, but the reality is you’re frequently racing just to keep up. This is the story I hear over and over at every level in organizations, from first line managers all the way up to CEOs in large companies. I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be this way, and that the solution has to do with deeply embedding a series of simple practices into your life. … The suggestions are in order from the most basic and fundamental, to the highest level.”

* “… let me offer you several practical things you can do in 2013 to alter the direction of your life.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, parenting & smartphones: Mother Gives Son an iPhone for Christmas Along With 18-point Contract

“I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.”

Church & generations: The Church’s Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky by Keith Anderson [required reading]

“Church programming ministry tends to follow the traditional old three generation model. Our programs needs to be more tribal, offering learning, fellowship, and service opportunities to small, specific groups. We also need to bring these tribes together in inter-generational activities to build understanding and community.”

Guns & Texas: TX Representative Proposes Concealed Handgun License Changes

“Right now, to get a Texas concealed handgun license you must go through a ten hour class, that teaches things like gun safety and Texas law. To renew that license, you must go through a four hour class. State Representative Dan Flynn wants to change those requirements completely. House Bill 47 would cut the ten hour CHL class requirement down to four hours. If you want to renew your CHL, under House Bill 48 you would no longer need a four hour refresher course, you could just renew online.”

Homelessness: Hardest of the Hard! by Larry James

“‘Yeah, I know you’re tough … but on the outside only,’ I went on. ‘I bet you’re not hard on the inside where it really counts.’”

Negativity: The Trap of Negativity by Joseph Lalonde

“No one enjoys being around a negative person.”

Non-violence and self-defense: Non-Violence and Self-Defense by Nick Gill

“…  do you believe that Christians have the right of self-defense? The classic question is whether you have the right to defend your family from someone who breaks into your home?”

Self-denial & service: Becoming the Exploited Ones? by Christopher Smith

“I was struck by the painful and ugly truth of the theology of Berry’s point here, that it is us, as churches, that are called to bear the labor and the suffering of our places — not in some individualistic/heroic act of martyrdom, but as a vocation that we discern and enter into together. I have no delusions that we as white Westerners will be able to give up our privilege, but  we must move in this direction as “deny ourselves” and follow Christ. We cannot and should not be afraid of good hard work, of the risks we take upon our bodies and our souls, even upon our aspirations to success.  We must not be afraid to take on the work that no one else wants to do.”