Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 

Things

The Anchoress quotes the Pope:
“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”
The key phrase in that, to my way of thinking, is, "Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades." Do we leave room for God's voice in our lives? The pope here is talking about rampant consumerism, an issue to be sure, but there is much more than merely things that can crowd our hearts. Sometimes our own emotional state is sufficient to do the job.

And a cautionary note. There seems to be a tendency these days to focus all mentions of "the other" on "the poor." I do not wish to take a single thing away from ministry to the poor, no I seek to add to it. But in doing so, we must remember that even those in material abundance have needs. We must also remember that it is easy to let our concern for the poor crowd God out of heart just like anything else.

To me, the real point of what the pope is saying here is that we must on occasion simply empty ourselves and make room for the Lord.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

 

What We Must Do

BAck in December, CNN about all of C.S. Lewis' weaknesses. There are the old, old accusations of an affairs, etc. Some of it is rumor, some of it is quite true. All I can say is, with the exception of Jesus, all great truth communicated by Christians has been communicated by a sinner.

This brings to mind to important points. The first is that if you intend to communicate Christian truth to the world, you need to always bear in mind that your life is the "truth test" that will be used to check the veracity of your statements. Without our lives, our words are empty. Now, the stuff they discuss about Lewis does nothing serious to void his great writings, it's more on the level of excuse to ignore than doing serious damage, but it is quite possible to do serious damage. Hence the second point.

We cannot, due to our sinful state, model perfection. Nor is it helpful to model reliance on cheap grace. Rather what we must seek to model most strongly is a cycle of humble, I repeat humble, confession and redemption. We must live in a submissive state. Against such things our lives can measure up.

Does your live add veracity to the gospel?


Monday, August 25, 2014

 

Understanding Tradition

Mark Daniels gives a good explanation of the tradition of "The Church Year." HIs says the role of this tradition is:
...to help people know the God we meet in Jesus and also to help believers to grow in their faith. Knowing Jesus as Savior and holding onto Him with sustained belief is how we are saved from sin and death and give us eternal life in Jesus' Name. When the Church Year does that, it's a tool in the hands of God, human invention or not!
I think a key question, when such traditions have been abandoned by large swathes of Evangelicalism and it that wake by mainlines struggling to survive, is "How does it accomplish this goal?"

Many such traditions have roots in a pre-literate age. The were intended, at least in part, has devices to help the illiterate retain the good news of Jesus when it was not possible for them to read the Bible on a routine basis. Just because reading is now widespread, it does not; however mean that these traditions have lost value. There are two reasons that I would cite.

For one, the latest generation is increasingly post-literate. That is to say they do not ingest information by reading so much as by video and other mediums other than the written word. They are quite capable of reading, but their preferred methods of information gathering come in much shorter bursts. It seems to me that things like the church calendar would find increasing use in such an environment.

Secondly, God seeks to reach us on all levels of our lives. The written word is the best means to reach our rational mind we have. But there are other levels to our existence. Many of the liturgical traditions of the church an reach us on those levels just as effectively, some even more so, than the videos of today.

The church must indeed change its means of communication with the times, but it should not necessarily reject older means simply because they are old. THos eolder means may meet modern needs more than we know.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

 

Comic Art

ARTIST RICK MAYS




Friday, August 22, 2014

 

Nurture

Betsy Childs:
I can identify with these PANKs. While I fall well below the income level of the women described in this article, I adore my sister’s children, and I take great delight in giving them gifts. Yet the PANK mentality is dangerous because it mistakenly equates buying things with nurturing.

In a consumerist culture, parents must continuously struggle against the lie that the best parents make sure their children have the best of everything. Good parents know that it is not good for their children to have all that they desire. Good aunts, uncles, and godparents know this too.

To nurture is to encourage growth. Those of us who are childless should be nurturing the children around us by encouraging the growth of their minds, bodies, and most importantly, their souls. We should reinforce godly parenting rather than undermining it. We can introduce them to books that will cultivate their imaginations and form their characters. We can teach them songs (both the silly and the sacred should be included). We can talk to them. We can look them in the eye. We must relate to them as image-bearers of God, not as little mannequins.
Being childless myself, this tugged at my heart, but more, that comment about nurture as promoting groeth in opposition to making sure kind have "the best of everything" is an extraordinary comment on ministry.

Does your ministry nurture or does it entertain? Are you more concerned that those that come to church have what they think they need or that they are called forward to a life of maturity in Christ?

The parenting analogy is a strong one. I can think of so many parents good with little kids, not so kid when they begin to think for themselves. The result is rather than promoting the growth of the child, they treat them in a fashion that encourages them to remain dependent and immature. From that comes the spoiled brat of adulthood.

I think the church has the same problem, how do we move from a culture of raising children to a culture of raising adults? One answer Iwould give is have a church that expects adults.


 

Friday Humor

Another great sitcom from the past.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

 

What Place Art?

Greg Forester:
Bill Gates says  art is evil. Terry Teachout says Bill Gates is a barbarian. Jay Greene agrees , and he has the data to prove it.

In support of his view that art is evil, Gates cites the utilitarian philosophy of Peter Singer, who openly favors infanticide. I believe it was Hans Urs von Balthasar who said that those who refuse to give the beautiful independent value alongside the true and the good lose, in the end, not only their capacity to appreciate beauty but even their capacity for truth and goodness.
I agree with Forester, but would say it a bit differently. Trained as a scientist, I had virtually no appreciation for art until I met my lovely wife. Unfortunate, my science training was never able to knock from me the knowledge that there was a supernatural, but it was entirely a mystery.

I have found in art and access to that mysterious realm. I will also say it has come from to important lessons. One, not everything that claims to be art really is. Secondly, the mysterious is very different from the emotional. That is to say, there are many things that are emotionally evocative and it is easy to confuse that with access to the supernatural - but just because some created thing evokes emotion, it does not necessarily give me access to the supernatural.

To art types what I am saying is probably cliche, but to a scientist its a big deal. This should have enormous ramifications to how we do Sunday services. Does it?


 

Illuminated Scripture


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

 

"Real" Pastors

Ron Edmondson discuss the "myths" that surround pastors. It's the typical stuff - "Superman" syndrome if you will. It dawns on me as I read this stuff that such expectations have developed because we treat church like a show, and pastors are characters in the show. We have confused ceremony with show business. We have confused leadership and pedagogy.

Some of this, no doubt, comes from a time when the local pastor was the most educated person in town. But we have been beyond that for a couple of centuries now. Yes we learn from pastors, but we are no longer children, we do not sit at their feet at we sat at the feet of our elementary school teachers. Some of it extends form the liturgical role of pastors. Yes, they don robes and preside at the most auspicious of occasions, but if we learn th purpose of the robes and the occasion, we learn that they service in such circumstances - they are not greater they are lesser.

No, we want to be spoon fed our faith like TV spoon feeds us entertainment. And so we put our pastors into boxes that read "Special."

What if we came to church not to be entertained, but as a seeker of actual spiritual growth?

Just askin'.


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