quote: on gratitude & memory

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives – the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections – that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.

Henri Nouwen

links to 5 helpful posts

1. Miracles as Experienced Reality

“If we want to understand and appreciate discourse concerning miracles in the pages of the New Testament, then from the start we must grasp that the miraculous is not an incidental or disposable component of the Christian religion; it is rather the heart and the entire point of the Christian religion.”

2. You Can’t Love God Directly by Richard Beck

“Given, then, that God is a spirit, we can’t love God directly. Oh, we can try, but we’ll find that our ‘love’ struggles to find traction and purchase in this unseen ‘spiritual’ space. Trying to love God directly Gnosticizes our love, shifts love away from tangible, physical expressions toward something vague and abstract. A ‘spiritual’ love that doesn’t have a material object or outlet tends to reduce to mere sentiment.”

3. You came to mind again today; I prayed for you by Joe McKeever

“Is that good or not good? I cannot imagine there being anything wrong with it, and we will not know until we get to Heaven if God heard and answered. But that’s pretty much the case with all the rest of my prayers too, so I’m good with that.”

4. Ein Keshatot, the Golan Heights’ Hidden Archaeological Gem Opens to Public

“The synagogue, with its ornately carved basalt Torah ark, was built in the 1st century but extensively renovated some 500 years later. … The building, which collapsed in the catastrophic earthquake of 749 CE, measured 18 meters long by 13 meters wide, and is calculated to have been 12 meters high. That impressive size made it one of the biggest of the 30 ancient synagogues discovered in the Golan Heights.”

5. Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99

“‘There is a lot of talk about ‘never again,’ but this is impossible if we don’t remember what happened back then,’ Mr. Ronneberg said.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles I consider interesting and helpful for thought.

American history, memory, myth & religion: Why 1940s America Wasn’t as Religious as You Think — the Rise and Fall of American Religion

“It’s common for people to believe that religion was always more vibrant in the past. Earlier generations were always more religious than we are, right? Not always. Religiosity can rise and fall just like other things do over time. In fact, America of the 1940s was about as religious as America today.”

Bethlehem, nativity scenes & the birth of Jesus: Bethlehem – the Manger and the Inn

“What actually did a stable look like in the time of Christ?”

Church shopping: ‘It Meets My Needs’ and Other Bad Reasons for Choosing a Church

“If you’re like most, a day is coming when you too will be on the search for a new church to call home. When that day comes, you may want to think twice before using these all-too-common reasons for making your choice.”

God, love, punishment & suffering: Did God Love the Egyptians?

“Did God love the Egyptians when he struck Egypt with plagues? In the larger biblical narrative, the answer is obviously yes. The prophet Isaiah later prophesies about judgments on Egypt (Isa 19:1-17, 22; akin to judgments he also prophesies against Israel); as a result, Egyptians will turn to God and they will become part of God’s people alongside Israel (19:18-25). In the law of Moses, Israelites are forbidden to despise Egyptians, because Israel’s ancestors found refuge in Egypt (Deut 23:7).”

Judging: Fellowship & Judgment

“‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’ (Luke 6:37) These instructions are more specific iterations of the golden rule (Matthew 7:12), if you think about it.”

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.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Books & reading: Books to Have and to Hold

“This may seem like a trivial difference, but that’s not how it feels.”

Brokenness, healing, trauma & understanding: Understanding Trauma – How We Treat the Broken Among Us

“To be broken means that we lack the strength or capacity to manage our circumstances. It means we are truly helpless in the light of the challenges we face. All of us experience this state at one time or another, but the traumatized and mentally ill face it every day.”

Empathy, leadership & power: When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart [required reading]

“Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.”

End of an era: A Farewell, and Thanks

“It gives me no pleasure to write this, but I am no longer going to be publishing the e-zine New Wineskins. As both a print magazine and later an online e-zine, New Wineskins has had a colorful history over the last 20+ years, but I can no longer continue to publish it.”

Expectations & people: You Get What You Expect [essential reading]

“If we expect something good, it has a way of showing up. If we expect something bad, it too has a way of showing up.”

Grammar & writing: En Dash, Em Dash: What Are They and How To Use Them [really?; we need three different kinds of dashes?]

“What are these dashes you speak of?”

Preaching & sermons: * Sermons are Not for Liking [essential reading]; * Clarification on My Comments About Preaching and Change

* “Sermons are not for liking. There are at least two reasons for this: it dishonors preaching and it dishonors the preacher.”

* “… change in shared practices, involves more than changing our minds about things. This requires deeper, cultural change.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Connoisseurs Of Fine Churches by Brian Jones [required reading]

“In the New Testament there are dozens and dozens of things Christians are told to do. Leaving one another is not one of them. In fact, we’re told to do the exact opposite.

“Is there someone at your church you can’t stand? First John 3:11 tells us to ‘Love one another.’ Did the pastor at your fellowship hurt your feelings? Colossians 3:13 says, ‘Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.’  Do the attitudes of the people in your church family need to change? James 5:16 says, ‘Pray for each other.’

“In other words, roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of building community where you are. Don’t go spiritually AWOL. Stick it out, through exciting times and boring times. Pray, serve, love, forgive, sacrifice, and resolve like authentic followers of Jesus. Christian community isn’t something that happens instantaneously. Real community is forged on the anvils of time and struggle. If you jump ship when things get tough, you’ll condemn yourself to one long journey of spiritual superficiality.”

Computing & smartphones: Evernote Hello 2.0 for iPhone is Here: Remember Everything About the People You Meet

“We’ve all felt that twinge of envy towards people with the uncanny ability to remember people. They’re the ones that can instantly recall a name or an event years after it’s happened. Most of us simply aren’t wired to be able to do this. That’s why we created Evernote Hello, our app that’s designed to give you that same supernatural ability to easily remember everything about the people that you meet.”

Encouragement, ministry & support: 7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday by Ron Edmonson

“I … know most people who love their church…and love their pastor…want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. That’s what this post is about. Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday.”

Homelessness: The Catholic Agitator [I like it!]

“… the City of LA was cracking down on the homeless by confiscating the shopping carts they used to hold and transport their belongings. The City found these carts to be an eyesore so, to preserve appearances, they started taking the carts away. How could they legally do this? The City claimed that the shopping carts were stolen property, taken from local grocery stores.

“Of course that wasn’t the real reason for taking the carts away. The real reason had to do with the fact that the shopping carts made the homeless visible. That was the real crime of the homeless. Being seen. And taking away the carts would help vanish the poor on the streets of LA. Without shopping carts people could drive around the city and not see poor people. Shopping carts broke the illusion by making the homeless visible.

“Knowing what was going on the LACW decided to help their friends. They bought their friends their own personal shopping carts. No longer stolen property the City couldn’t take the carts away. But that didn’t stop them from trying. What ensued was The Shopping Cart War between the City of LA and the LA Catholic Worker.”

Parenting: Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail

“The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.”