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)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why the Nones and the Dones are Not in Church

Mike Glenn is spot on:
I have a theory. Yes, I know. Everyone has a theory. Church is out of touch. Church is too this or too that, but I think all of these other theories are wrong. Here’' my theory.

I think a lot of people stop coming to church because we never ask them to do anything great. We never call them to a vision that will demand everything from them. We never tell them to sell everything they have and go follow Jesus. We never tell them to head to the far reaches of the world and carry their casket with them because we don’t expect them to come back. We never tell them to leave everything and everyone they love to go start a church in some third world inner city slum.

We simply ask them to come to church and sit quietly. We ask them to give their money, sing reverently, but sit quietly.

Most of us want more, not less, from our faith, and if church can' help us get there, we'll get that "more we need" from somewhere else.

No one wants to come to church and sit.

Why would they? It's just more comfortable sitting at home.
Mike's entire post can be read here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

When God Hates Our Worship: A Lectionary Reflection on Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Some people really hate contemporary music in worship. Others are bored by the organ and the singing of hymns. Everyone, I suppose has her or his own idea as to what style of music makes for good worship. We tend to judge worship services on the style of music we prefer and other things as well (e.g. liturgy or free-wheeling). We all have our preferences. But God could care less whether we sing our songs accompanied by a pipe organ or to an electric guitar and drums. God is not interested in our worship style. God hates our worship when it is hypocritical, when we use worship to pass ourselves off as a people we are not. God despises our assemblies when we use our songs and prayers and preaching as a way to cover up our disobedience and pretend our worship in and of itself demonstrates our devotion to God.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Scriptures and Prayer for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: Joel 2:23-32 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

Psalter: Psalm 65 or Psalm 84:1-7

Epistle: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
O God, the strength of those who humbly confess their sin and place their hope in you, save us from vain displays of righteousness, and give us grace to keep faith with the true humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Capuchins Make Monkeys Out of Archaeologists

Monkey 'tools' raise questions over human archaeological record: Capuchin monkeys in Brazil unintentionally produce rock fragments that resemble ancient stone tools.

Ewen Callaway
19 October 2016

In January, archaeologist Tomos Proffitt was examining a set of stone artefacts brought to him by his colleague Michael Haslam. Some of the quartz pieces looked like sharpened stone tools made by human relatives in eastern Africa, some 2–3 million years ago.

But Haslam told Proffitt that the artefacts had been made in the previous two years by capuchin monkeys in Brazil. "I was pretty gobsmacked," Proffitt says. "I did my PhD looking at hominin stone tools. I've learnt how to make these things. I was looking at this material, and it looked like it had been made by humans."

A team led by Proffitt and Haslam, both at the University of Oxford, UK, now describes the artefacts in a paper published in Nature on 19 October1.

The capuchins make the fragments unintentionally while bashing rocks into dust, the researchers find. Some scientists say that the results call into question whether some stone tools have been incorrectly attributed to hominins-- including 3.3-million-year-old artefacts from Kenya that are the oldest on record.

"This is a landmark paper," says Susana Carvalho, a primate archaeologist also at Oxford. "These capuchins are, in fact, producing without intention something that has to be labelled as a stone tool."

Continue Reading-->

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Nitty Gritty of the Saintly Life

Some personal ponderments as we approach All Saints Day:

Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker, a movement committed to providing a place for the homeless to sleep, to feeding the hungry, and to ending war, when told some were planning a campaign to have her made a saint is said to have responded, "You are not going to get rid of me that easily." Day's response, a quite understandable response, reflects the widespread assumption that saints are very, very holy people. That they are very, very, holy people suggests, moreover, that saints rise above all conflict and controversy. (Stanley Hauerwas, Without Apology: Sermon's for Christ's Church, p. 23.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Apologists #7 (Heresy, Part 2)

Gnosticism, Part 2

Since Gnostics believed that the physical world was evil, they had to explain its origins. They believed that, originally all reality was spiritual. The supreme being had no intention of creating the physical world. He created a spiritual one in which several beings were created. These spiritual beings were called "eons." One of the eons fell into error and created the material world Fortunately, since the material world was created by a spiritual being, it still contained "sparks" of the spiritual world. These sparks had been imprisoned in human bodies and needed to be liberated through knowledge. In order to gain this knowledge, a spiritual messenger needed to come and awaken the human person from "sleep." For Christian Gnostics, it was Christ who brought that knowledge. Christ had come to earth to remind humanity of its spiritual origins and given it the secret knowledge necessary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scripture, Constitution, and Even Art... On Why There's No Such Thing as an Objective Reading of Anything

I love the Cleveland Museum of Art. If you love art museums and find yourself in Cleveland, Ohio you need to put its art museum on your itinerary. It is one of the best art museums in the country and, except for special exhibits, it is always free.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Confession Competition: A Lectionary Reflection on Luke 18:9-14

Luke 18:9-14

Devout Jews prayed three times daily-- at 9:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 3:00 p.m. Some believed that prayers offered at the Temple were more efficacious. So, it is not surprising to see a Pharisee and a tax collector at the Temple to offer their prayers.

But the Pharisee really does not offer a prayer to God as much as a personal testimonial of his own righteousness. Of course, the Pharisee is righteous. Everything he says about himself is true. The Pharisee is a good man. He is the kind of person anyone would want for a next door neighbor. If we cast all the Pharisees as unrighteous hypocrites, we will miss the punch of this parable. The Pharisee is righteous. The problem, as Luke tells us, is his trust in that righteousness as somehow significant in his standing before God.