links: this went thru my mind

-

American exceptionalism: What “American Exceptionalism” Means to Me

“True American exceptionalism is saying ‘We did wrong; we apologize and promise never to do it again.’ Unfortunately, and very ironically, true American exceptionalism is becoming the exception.”

Assessment, bucks & butts, church & statistics: Counting Correctly: Create the Right Scorecard for Churches

“Fifty years ago, many churches had signs posted within the building showing weekly numbers on them: worship service attendance, Sunday School attendance, offering total, and even how many people brought their Bibles. We live in a different age now. … Among our churches, we need to ask if we are reaching people. We need to ask if we are discipling people. Are we reaching our goals or are we falling short? These are important questions to ask and important things to count. … What percentage of people in the church are serving? How many are serving inside and outside the church? How many are in small groups? How many are being trained into leadership in groups and in the church?”

Church giving, contribution, electronic giving, technology & the offering: Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is Not A Collection Plate

“Churches are no different than any other operation in that they need to be relevant and convenient …”

Depression, emotions & seasonal affective disorder (SAD): 9 Ways To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

“Roughly 10 to 20 percent of Americans report feeling tired or sad when there are fewer hours of daylight in the winter month. … While many people can still function even if they’re feeling a bit melancholy, for some, winter brings a clinical form of depression called seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.”

Senses, sense of smell & worship: The Aroma of the Knowledge of God: How the Sense of Smell Inspires Worship and Awe

“… despite its meager number of occurrences in Scripture, the way biblical authors employ the sense of smell is truly remarkable. Here are three broad patterns regarding the sense of smell in Scripture …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: Reading the Bible and the Bible Reading You

“At some point, being a Jesus person means you gotta read the Bible.”

Charities, giving & non-profit organizations: ALS, Navigating Charities, and Changing Lives

“Have you ever considered what an organization looks like where 100% of your money goes to the cause with nothing going to the organization? Have you ever wondered how the organization supports itself? How the leaders get paid? How the word even gets out that this organization exists and why its causes are worthy of your support? Most often we don’t because we are stuck with the ‘we want nonprofits with low overheads where all of our money goes to the cause’ with little thought to the capacity of the organization or its ability to actually solve problems, change lives, and make lasting change.”

Church, measurements & statistics: Nickels and Noses – What Do We Value and Measure in the Parish?

“… are the people growing? Isn’t that the real question?”

Violence: Violence in God’s Name: Our Greatest Sin

“Paul’s great sin, as he saw it, was the sin of violence committed in the name of God.”

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.”

this went thru my mind

 

Abortion: Does Life Begin at Creation? by James McGrath

“My point in this post is this: The issues related to embryology and abortion are complex and difficult. They are important, and there are good reasons why these topics provoke strong feelings. … When would you consider the point to be reached that a developing fertilized ovum, or embryo, or fetus, or baby, becomes a full-fledged human being? How do you explain and justify your view to others who disagree with you? How, if at all, can we improve the nature of the discussion?”

Computing & security: How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

“It is absurdly easy to get hacked. All it takes is clicking on one malicious link or attachment.”

Politics: * How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis; * Politics, Pollsters, and Fox News: Don’t Create a “Conservative” Set of Facts by Ed Stetzer

* “Vote choice by religion and race … vote choice by religious attendance … religious composition of the 2012 electorate.”

* “… the reality is that we WANT to believe the polls that agree with our own positions–and in a similar way, we tend to think that all others are biased, have the wrong sample, or are driven by an agenda.”

Millenials: The Millennial Consumer Debunking Stereotypes by Christine Barton, Jeff Fromm, and Chris Egan [required reading]

“Move aside, U.S. baby boomers. The Millennial generation is bigger than you and growing in influence.”

Prayer: * Prayer Continues With Worship by Bill Mounce; * Reconciling Pain and Prayer with God’s Love by Wayne Stiles

* “It is not clear from most translations, but the Lord’s Prayer is a series of imperatives. Remember those critters from English grammar classes? A verb in the imperative is a command. Do this! Don’t do that! Now, we don’t command God to do things, so we call them “entreaties.” But grammatically, the verbs in the Lord’s Prayer are imperatives; we are calling on God to act. And notice that we are not asking God to act primarily for us. We start prayer by calling on God, entreating him, to act in ways that will glorify him, not us, that he will be praised, not us. Prayer is radically God-centered.”

* “Because God can stop our pain, we think He should. So we pray. And pray. But nothing happens.”