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)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Scriptures and Prayer for the Second Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament: 1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39

Psalter: Psalm 96

Epistle: Galatians 1:1-12

Gospel: Luke 7:1-10
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O God, living Lord, you are the author of faith. engrave on our hearts the gospel revealed in Jesus Christ and brought near to us by your Holy Spirit, that we may attest to this faith in lives that are pleasing to you. Amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Just What Makes for Vital Church Unity?

Good words from Kevin M. Watson:
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I've been following the conversations about unity during and since The United Methodist Church’s General Conference. The appeal to unity is powerful and appealing. And it is at one level effective because calling for unity is, well, unifying. I am in favor of unity. I want United Methodism to be unified, desperately. I also have a growing concern that appeals to unity in our current moment are often superficial and act as a kind of opiate to numb us to reality. We should be actively working toward unity. But we should not do so in ways that are vague, distract us from reality, and fail to either bring about meaningful unity or address the reasons we are currently divided.

Saturday at the Cinema: The Psychology of Self-Motivation

Friday, May 27, 2016

God Does Not Play By Our Rules

Jesus understood that God does not play by our rules. His God is a generous God, who not only allows the sun to shine on both the just and the unjust, but also gives us the ability to live into what should be rather than what is. The parables help us with their lessons about generosity: sharing joy, providing for others, recognizing the potential of small investments. His God wants us to be better than we are, because we have the potential to be. We are made but a little lower than the divine (Ps. 8.6; see Heb. 2.7); we should start acting in a more heavenly matter. Those who pray, “Your kingdom come,” might want to take some responsibility in the process, and so work in partnership with God. We too are to seek the lost and make every effort to find them. Indeed, we are not only to seek; we are to take notice of who might be lost, even when immediately present. The rich man ignores Lazarus at his gate, and the father of the prodigal ignored the elder son in the field. For the former, it is too late; for the latter, whether it is too late or not we do not know. But we learn from their stories. Don’t wait. Look now. Look hard. Count.

Are We Overscreening for Cancer?

Joel M. Zinberg, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a practicing surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital, and an associate clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine, thinks so.
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The Stanford Prevention Research Center, in a comprehensive review of 39 screening tests for 19 diseases, found that reductions in death due to screening are rare. Nevertheless, patients routinely undergo overly intensive, low-value tests. About half of women who had a hysterectomy and no longer have a cervix, for example, are still getting PAP tests for cervical cancer screening. Despite the absence of evidence supporting screening in these older populations, cervical and breast cancer screenings are performed in 38 percent and 50 percent, respectively, of women over 80; and more than 50 percent of men over 75 report that their physicians continue to recommend PSA screening. It is nearly certain that these older men and women will die of some cause other than occult breast, cervical, or prostate cancer. One study found that significant numbers of Medicare patients with a known advanced cancer and a short life expectancy were still being screened for other cancers.
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His entire article can be read here.

A Photo in Need of a Caption

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Goodness Does Not Require Joy, But It Helps

Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If,on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.
--John Chrysostom

Human Perfection and the Nature of the Universe: Wisdom from Irenaeus

Many thanks to the Energion Discussion Network (EDN) for publishing my latest post.

Bishop Irenaeus suggests that God did not create humanity in a state of perfection because perfection requires a maturing process. Irenaeus states that by necessity human beings have a beginning in time and, therefore, must be “inferior” to the one who created them. Humanity is not simply able to receive such perfection; it is something attained over time as one grows in love and grace. Such a lack of perfection is suggested in the Garden of Eden story where Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fact that they lacked such knowledge prior to their disobedience meant they lacked perfection. As is clear from the narrative, the problem with the first couple was not their humanity, it was their disobedience. There is an immaturity, writes Irenaeus, that goes hand in hand with a lack of perfection. In the same way maturity and perfection are indispensably connected. Since maturity cannot be had instantaneously, neither can perfection. One moves toward it.

The entire post can be read here.

Power, Privilege, Heresy, and Playing Poker: Some Thoughts Post #UMCGC

We United Methodists of late don't appear to be united on many things, but for the most part we are opposed to gambling. Our Social Principles state,
Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual's energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends. The church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling-including public lotteries-as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government (¶ 163G).