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)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ten Alternative Uses for Fruitcake (Because Who Would Want to Eat One?)

from thedailymeal.com:
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Saturday at the Cinema: One Day, God Will Get What God Wants

Holiness of Heart and Life: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself (2 of 6)


Today's post is the second installment by Steve Manskar, the Director of Wesleyan Leadership at the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church. Steve is posting this series on his blog, Wesleyan Leadership. He has given me permission to post his series in full on my blog.
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Holiness of Heart and Life: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself – Part 2 of 6
by Steve Manskar

Genuine communication requires self-knowledge

  Genuine communication begins when participants know themselves. Self-knowledge enables people to know their abilities, weaknesses, and limitations. When self-knowledge is lacking self-deception is likely to take over. Any subsequent efforts at communication will then be shaded by pride. Pride leads inevitably to self-righteousness, defensiveness, grandiosity, patronizing, proselytizing, or worse. These behaviors seldom contribute to honest, fruitful dialog. They are much more likely to result in monolog that leaves the participants feeling defensive and angry.

Friday, December 19, 2014

No Kingdom Outside the Church: Social Activism Is Much Easier than Building the Church

...all true kingdom mission is church mission. For many today it is far easier to be committed to social justice in South Africa, to the restoration of communities on the Gulf Shore following Katrina, to cleaning up from the devastating tornadoes of the Plains or to fighting sexual trafficking in any country than it is to be committed to building community and establishing fellowship in one's local church. I hate to put it this way, but I must: it is easier to do the former because it feels good, it resolves some social shame for all that we have, it creates a bonded and encapsulated experience, it is a momentary and at times condescending invasion of resources and energy, and it is all ramped up into ultimate legitimation by calling it kingdom work. Not only that, it is good and right and noble and loving and compassionate and just. It is more glamorous to do social activism because building a local church is hard. It involves people who struggle with one another, it involves persuading others of the desires of your heart to help the homeless, it means caring for people where they are and not where you want them to be, it involves daily routines, and it only rarely leads to the highs of "short-term mission" experiences. But local church is what Jesus came to build, so the local church's mission shapes kingdom mission.
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from Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church, pp. 96-97.

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: College Students Get April Fools in December

Johns Hopkins Mistakenly Welcomes Wrong Students

BALTIMORE — Dec 17, 2014, 1:14 PM ET

Johns Hopkins University mistakenly sent nearly 300 applicants welcome messages when they were actually rejected or deferred, and now the school has issued an apology.

University officials told The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/1vYGr7q) it was a mistake of human error. Vice Provost David Phillips said a contractor who works with Johns Hopkins on electronic communications pulled a wrong list of emails.

Advent: The Reality of Realities Amidst Quiet Desperation

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of reality TV. When that particular genre of television craft first appeared on the screen, it revolved around people having to survive together on a desert island or in some such inhospitable place. It has now morphed into all sorts of different venues and challenges. The popularity of reality television obviously reveals that most Americans do not share my disinterest.

When it comes to the popularity of reality TV, it has been my hunch that reality television can only be successful in a society made up of people who lack a great adventure in life; indeed such a phenomenon can only exist in a society itself that lacks a great adventure. I think that Henry David Thoreau was not too far off the mark when he suggested that many human beings lead lives of quiet desperation. In leading such a life we attempt to give our lives meaning by living vicariously through the lives of those we see immersed in a challenge on the television. The couch in the living room becomes more than the place where we sit to watch the adventure unfold; it becomes the indispensable platform by which we, in our imagination, involve ourselves in the actual adventure of someone else. Their reality becomes our fantasy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Always Give Thanks


Resident Aliens-- Or When Did Southern Baptist Pastors Become Politicians, and the UMC Book of Discipline Become an Employee Handbook?

"...[W]e believe that it is time for the church to recognize that it is in a missionary situation in the very culture it helped to create. Of course,... the church ought to be in a missionary situation at any time and in any culture. However, it happens that we have lived during a time when Christians thought that they had made themselves a home from which they could become missionaries to others. Because we Western, Northern-European Christians had succeeded in fashioning a 'Christian' culture, we could now speak to everyone else's culture. That was a tragic mistake."

Holiness of Heart and Life: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself (1 of 6)

Today's post is by Steve Manskar, the Director of Wesleyan Leadership at the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church. Steve is posting this series on his blog, Wesleyan Leadership. He has given me permission to post his series in full on my blog.
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Love Your Neighbor As Yourself – Part 1 of 6
by Steve Manskar

This is the first of a six-part series of posts based upon a paper I presented at the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies in August 2013. The theme of the Institute was to reflect upon how Christians in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition relate to people and communities of other historic faith traditions, or no faith at all.

The Wesleyan emphasis on doctrine and discipline under the guidance of the Holy Spirit equips Christians for genuine interfaith conversation and witness. The paper argues that when congregations expect, encourage, and equip members to grow in holiness of heart and life they prepare them for Christ-like encounters with their neighbors who practice other religions, or no religion.

Part 1 of 6:

The 21st century is a post-modern, multi-cultural, multi-religious world. It is a world characterized by globalization and diversity. The global economy is a world marked by migration in which people leave home and travel around the world in the hope of making a better life for themselves. This is a world foreign to the one I was born into.

I was born in the middle of the 20th century into an American culture that was assumed to be "Christian." And to be Christian was essential to being American. The Church held a place of prominence and honor in daily life and popular culture. Everyone spoke English and saw little reason to learn a second language. Born into a Methodist family, I was baptized as an infant. The church I grew up in saw little need for intentional Christian formation because it was assumed the culture in which we lived would work in concert with the church to form good citizens who, as a matter of course, would be Christians.