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
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)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost: The Untold Story

Scriptures and Prayer for Pentecost

First Reading: Acts 2:1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14

Epistle: Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21

Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4-15
Holy God, you spoke the world into being. Pour your Spirit to the ends of the earth, that your children may return from exile as citizens of your commonwealth, and our divisions may be healed by your word of love and righteousness. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Back to the Good Ol' Days of Baseball: Ten Bizarre Rules from the Past

from Chris Landers:
Baseball has been played roughly the same way for so long that its rules have become sacred institutions. The numbers are spoken of in hushed tones, and even thinking about touching them is akin to heresy: Of course there are 90 feet between bases, because it just feels right, and has for generations.

But the path the game took to get here was more trial and error than divine intervention, the game's founding fathers throwing all kinds of stuff against the wall to see what stuck. It was a long and winding road, full of detours and dead ends and pegging innocent baserunners (no, really). To appreciate just how far we've come, behold, we give you 10 incredibly weird rules that we swear actually existed:

On Fishing and Making Disciples

My uncle taught me to fish when I was twelve-years-old. I offer no pun intended, but the first time we went together I was hooked. Fishing has been a hobby of mine for the forty years since.

When I bought my first tackle box, I started buying tackle (necessary gear) and fishing lures. I bought all kinds of different lures recommended by "experts" in fishing magazines. I bought some simple lures, but the ones I concentrated on were the lures that offered all the "bells and whistles." There were lures that made sonic sounds underwater (never mind that "sonic" and "sound" were redundant terms); and then there were the bright lures to be used when skies were cloudy and the less colorful lures when the sun was shining brightly. The point from the experts was obvious-- if you want the fish to bite, dazzle them with the glimmer and the glitz.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the "Decline" of the Church in America: Devil Worship for the Sake of the Common Good

So much ado has been made about a recent Pew Research Center report on the decline of Christianity in America. Many have weighed in on what the results of the research mean. Many things I have read are insightful, such as United Methodist Bishop Ken Carter's post on the matter. I have found other analyses to be extremely wanting (I won't link to any of those posts). All I want to do here is throw out some random thoughts on this matter for your consideration. What I say is certainly not the last word (I am not smart enough to have the last word on anything.), neither are my musings beyond refutation (let the refuting begin). Rather, I am just posting some thoughts as a pastor of thirty years and a professor of twenty, who finds all this stuff of interest.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Social Media and Sadness

from the Discover blog:
Facebook. People either love it or hate it. But one thing we can all agree on is that it sucks up a lot of time for a lot of people. Sure, it can be an easy way to keep in touch with large number of friends and family members, but what effect does Facebook have on those who spend hours a day on the site? Well, according to the authors of this study, Facebook has real emotional effects on users…and they aren’t good. The researchers kept in touch with study participants, texting them 5 times per day (!) to find out how they felt, while also keeping track of their Facebook use. Turns out that the participants felt worse and had less life satisfaction after increases in Facebook use. Something to think about before sharing this on Facebook (although we hope you do anyway!).

Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy-- Right Belief and Right Behavior-- One Cannot Be Had Without the Other

None of it [the Bible's message] is esoteric. None of it is a specialized, compartmentalized thing. It's all lived... One of the wonderful things about being a pastor is that your whole work takes place in a 'storied' context. . . Nothing is mere doctrine. . . It's all embedded in this narrative way of living."-- Eugene Peterson

I truly resonate with this quote from Peterson. I have argued on this blog many times that the divide that many Christians draw between doctrine and living, belief and action, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, misunderstands the significant nature of both. As Methodist theologian, United Methodist theologian, Geoffrey Wainwright correctly states,
I see Christian worship, doctrine and life as conjoined in a common 'upwards' and 'forwards' direction towards God and the achievement of his purpose, which includes human salvation. They intend God's praise. His glory is that he is already present and within to enable our transformation into his likeness, which means participation in himself and his kingdom (Doxology, p. 10).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015