this went thru my mind


American history & religion: The Faith (and Doubts) of Our Fathers

“Academic historians are bemused at times by the inquiries they get from people with no previous interest in the nation’s beginnings: what did America’s creators really believe? Jill Lepore, a Harvard professor who deconstructs the uses and abuses of the past, is wary of would-be historians with an agenda. For her, the founders’ genius lay in their willingness to cast doubt on fixed ways of thinking inherited from the past. So to make them final arbiters is to traduce their spirit. Nor, indeed, were the fathers of one mind. They did not spend their time producing pearls of unanimously agreed wisdom. They quarrelled bitterly. Indeed, if something about this period still resonates in modern politics, it may be the fathers’ disputes, and the subtle points each side brought to bear.”

Benevolence: How Charity Can Be Toxic, Just in Time for Christmas (how to avoid destroying dignity). This is required reading.

“Dignity is given to us by our creator. We hold a whole theology of community and mutual supportedness, bearing one another’s burdens and concerns. One-way giving creates toxic relationships where one has the resources, the other has the need. Do recipients at clothes closets and food pantries become a part of your church? Often, they’re not participants in our community. How do we create respectful, honest, caring, and mutually supportive relationships?”

Christmas season: The Immigrant Days of Christmas

“I noticed this Christmas season, for the first time, that not only were Mary and Joseph forced to migrate under Rome’s census; not only was the Incarnate God born into a humiliating space — but, as they fled to Egypt, they never registered in Bethlehem with the census. A dream, an angel, told the migrant father to gather his family and run from the authorities. Unaccounted for in the empire, baby Jesus’ first movement in this world was a government-evading trek through the desert by night.”

Church: Learning to Read the Gospel Again: How to address our anxiety about losing the next generation

“”So what do we do? Perhaps the answer is much simpler, and more ‘old-fashioned,’ than we think: Maybe we ought to be teaching churchgoers to read the gospel. The first thing Muslim children learn about Christians is one of the last things Christians learn about themselves: we are a ‘people of the Book.’ Perhaps we ought to ask how to make this observation from the Qur’an true, once more, among those who fellowship around the Bible. How can we form ourselves as a people of the Book?”

Coffee With Jesus: If you’re not reading Coffee With Jesus, you’re missing out.

Compassion: Why Christians Shoot Their Wounded

“You’d think our individual brokenness would cause us, especially those of us who call ourselves christians, to heed the question of Jesus when he asks, ‘Who among us can cast the first stone?’ or in the context of this post, ‘take the first shot.’ “But the desire to attribute people’s behavior to innate character rather than to local context runs deep. In fact, psychologists have a name for this behavior: It’s called ‘the fundamental attribution error.'”

Contribution: How to Fill the Offering Plate

“Nurturing cheerful givers is more challenging than ever during an economic downturn. New research provides important insights that could boost the financial and spiritual health of congregations. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of church giving trends.”

Facebook: Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook

“… expert analysis on the latest Facebook developments, helpful tips, tricks and how-tos, and the latest updates on privacy, Facebook apps and more.”

Gifts for children: Great Christmas Gifts For Your Kids

“Still trying to decide what to get your kids this year for Christmas? How about getting them something that will last a lifetime?”

Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

“The number of Christians around the world has more than tripled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).”

Iraq: In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends

“And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in.”

Leadership: How to Create the Kind of Team Unity That Drives Results

“… it is up to you, as the leader, to create this alignment. It doesn’t just happen.”

Peacemakers: 10 Things to Say to Keep the Peace

“The holidays, with all their extended-family gatherings, can be a verbal minefield. You’re either dodging nosy questions from some tactless relative over dinner (‘Still dieting then?’) or taking out the stress of all that extra cooking and shopping on those dearest to you (‘Do I have to do everything around here?’). It doesn’t have to be that bad. Use these 10 go-to phrases to defuse potentially volatile conversations and help you get through the coming weeks―and the months and years to follow―in harmony.”

Poverty: Map of the Day: America’s Poverty Belt

“Immediately apparent is a broad ‘Poverty Belt’ – states where more than three in ten people live in high poverty areas – stretching from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.”

Senior adults: A Senior Moment

“Contrary to rosy propaganda, 85 is not the new 65. The elder population boom will affect everyone, and the church has an important role to play. In understanding the situation and what areas need improvement, congregations learn that they too benefit when they are involved in supporting the frail elderly.”

Social networking: How to Think about Social Networking in Churches

“Social networking reminds us of our intrinsic sociality, but constantly moves us closer to the point where sociality no longer requires our bodies to be fully human.”

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