A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Can a Scientist Pray?



The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer (Psalm 6:9)

Does God answer prayer? Why does it seem as if our prayers are not always answered? What do we pray for? Do we pray to get the job that fifty other people, also in need of employment, have applied for? Do we pray for sunny weather for the family reunion when farmers are praying for rain for their crops? Do we only pray for the big things like peace between warring nations or is it also OK to ask God  for the seemingly trivial matters like not having to wait for a table at the restaurant because we are hungry?

For Christianity, prayer is an essential activity. It is as necessary to the Christian life as blood is to the human body. But there are perplexing questions that surround the activity of prayer, and that is what I hope to poke at in this post.

Monday, July 04, 2022

Frederick Douglas' Descendants Read His Speech on the Fourth of July, 1852

Deconstructing Memes: The Soldier and the Cross


Today I begin a new series entitled "Deconstructing Memes." Memes can be funny, but they seldom make good arguments (though some of them do make a valid point in reference to a strictly particular assertion).

To recognize that most issues in life are complex requires intellectual humility and the ability to self-critique our assumptions and conclusions. It is much easier to live in a world of simplistic truth by memes. When problems are caused by more than one thing, it messes with the nice, little simplistic reality we have constructed for ourselves that gives order to our world. We often fail to think rigorously about the world around us because we don't want "our" truth confused by the facts; and such thinking is also hard work many would prefer to avoid.

Here at Faith Seeking Understanding we insist on doing the hard work of nuanced and careful reasoning. Without them what passes for the truth is often no more than wishful thinking.

I hope to deconstruct a meme every week or two.
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We are in the season of American Independence. July 4th is upon us and this year America will celebrate its 246th birthday with much fireworks and flag waving. On social media, we will also see the meme above and others like it. It reads, "Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom." Some other versions of the memes reverse the two putting the American soldier first, but essentially they are saying the same things. The question before us is whether this meme is completely accurate. Let's deconstruct it, shall we?

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Inflation and Oil Company Profits: The Inconvenient Truths

To recognize that most issues in life are complex requires intellectual humility and the ability to self-critique our assumptions and conclusions. It is much easier to live in a world of simplistic truth by memes. When problems are caused by more than one thing, it messes with the nice, little simplistic reality we have constructed for ourselves that gives order to our world. We often fail to think rigorously about the world around us because we don't want "our" truth confused by the facts; and such thinking is also hard work many would prefer to avoid.

Below is a conversation between two friends of mine: Michael Kruse and Tim Peverill over inflation and oil company profits. They are two real smart guys and whatever they write, I read. As you can see, their conversation cannot be reduced to a meme for good reason.

I invite you to read their words and add your own reflections that also cannot be reduced to a meme.

Friday, July 01, 2022

What Makes People Grateful?



We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints—and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking (2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. –Marcus Aurelius

I have this quote on a card in my office at home where I can see it from my desk. It is one of my favorites.

Why is it that some people live their lives in gratitude and generosity, while others are seemingly ungrateful and stingy? I think the critical element is to be found in this quote from Marcus Aurelius.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The God of No Account



Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.” Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.” He said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.” So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” But he said to her, “There are no more.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest” (2 Kings 4:1-7).

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).

Those who are poor in spirit comprise individuals who are utterly devoid of material benefits and who know their compete dependence upon God for their daily bread and their spiritual needs. The Greek word ptōchos for “poor” refers to the destitute, the homeless. How true it is that more than anyone, the truly needy know their need for God more than those who have plenty. God warns his people in the Old Testament not to forget God in times of prosperity...