Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I have to post about this because it is so awesome. But yet not totally unexpected...
Via this post by Dawn Eden, I found out that the Raving Atheist has been reborn as the Raving Theist. Like I said, call it intuition, but I somehow knew this would happen eventually. This news has made me feel joyful all day, even though things are difficult for me right now.
Of course, his atheist readers are reacting with ridicule, outrage and incredulity. Jesus Himself has the appropriate response to that (Matthew 5:10-12):
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Posted by Susan B. at 3:10 PM
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Merry Christmas to All!
I just wanted to drop by and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to request a few prayers.
Without getting into a lot of details, the past few weeks have been difficult. First I would like to ask you to pray for my uncle who is in the hospital with kidney failure. (This uncle is my Mom's younger sister's husband.) He had dialysis yesterday and seems to be doing better, but the doctors do not understand what exactly caused his kidneys to stop functioning or how to get them started again.
My sister has been under a lot of stress and can use some prayers. My mother is also sick with a bad cold. This is probably my fault since I just got over a bout of bronchitis myself.
Without going into a long boring story about my clumsiness, I will just say I had a really bad fall the weekend before last and banged up my left leg pretty badly from the knee down. I had my doctor check it out since I'm diabetic. For that reason, the injuries are slow to heal. So I could use some prayers, too.
Maybe, if time permits, I will post some actual content in the next few days. We'll see. Meanwhile, my mother and I went together and bought my sister a new laptop for Christmas, since her current one is on its last legs. I'm setting things up for her -- I think she will really love it. It has Vista on it, so I have to learn my way around since Vista is pretty different from XP. I got it working on my wireless network pretty easily, so that's a good sign.
Anyway, have a Merry Christmas, everyone!
Posted by Susan B. at 10:50 AM
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Sunday, March 23, 2008
(Click for larger view.)
Carl Heinrich Bloch - The Resurrection (via ARC)
He is risen!
Posted by Susan B. at 1:00 AM
Monday, March 17, 2008
Is Lent Over Yet?
Seriously, I want to know. I thought it was over today, but then I read that Sundays don't count as part of the forty days. It seems that some do count the Sundays, whereas others don't. If I decide to count the Sundays, this means I can't discuss politics for another week. Actually, this is fine with me, although I have to admit that a couple of recent controversies made it hard for me to resist the temptation. But less politics means less stress in my life, which is always a good thing.
Posted by Susan B. at 3:35 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I've about had it with politics...
For real...I think I'm just going to avoid this subject for the time being, both online and in "real" life. It seems like everyone (or most everyone) has gone nuts. Like I said over at Pauli's, many conservatives are acting like a bratty kid who is sulking because he "only" got a pony when he really wanted a unicorn. Apparently, I've garnered some hostility because of my rather lukewarm support for McCain after Thompson dropped out. Or at least I feel like I have.
So, I think this will be my last political post on this blog -- at least for a while anyway. In fact, here's the deal -- I'm giving up politics for Lent. After today, there will be no more posts, comments or discussions in the "real" world about politics until Lent is over, at least.
Posted by Susan B. at 6:20 PM
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Monday, December 3, 2007
Another Prayer Request
Please pray for my Mom's oldest sister. She recently had a fall and had been complaining of headaches. Then she developed memory problems. Her daughter took her to the hospital and she has been hospitalized with bleeding on the brain. She has been stabilized. Please pray that the bleeding stops and that she recovers fully. She doesn't live in the same town as my Mom and me. She and her husband (who has also been ailing) live in a little farm community near Westville, Florida where my mother's family grew up.
Update (12/4/07): My Mom called my aunt today and spoke to her. She is still in the hospital, but she is doing much better and apparently the bleeding has stopped. She is still recovering from a concussion, though. Thank you for your prayers.
Update (12/6/04): My aunt is now home and appears to be completely recovered. Thank you again!
Posted by Susan B. at 8:25 AM
Monday, November 19, 2007
Urgent Prayer Request
This is a request for a member of my family. This family member has a situation going on right now where there is a good chance she is in physical danger. I cannot elaborate any more than that. Please pray for her safety and pray that the situation isn't as dangerous as it seems. Thank you.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:20 PM
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
For the orthodox Episcopalians still out there...
...all five of you. Just kidding...sort of.
This is too funny for words!
Christopher Johnson's blog is a regular stop because he channels his frustration at the liberal goofballism in his former(?) church into humor or into point-by-point smackdowns.
For you frustrated orthodox Episcopalians out there who don't wish to "swim the Tiber," there is always the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. We're orthodox and we'd be happy to have you. :-)
Posted by Susan B. at 9:45 AM
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Monday, July 2, 2007
A Prayer Request
This is not a request for myself but for someone else. It is what some call a "private intention" because I cannot elaborate at this time. I can only say that the one who needs prayer needs to be delivered from a miserable situation. For my Catholic readers, the appropriate saint for you to ask for intercession from is St. Rita of Cascia. The person this prayer is for is a fallen away Catholic and St. Rita was her confirmation saint.
Update: I just want to remind everyone that this person still needs lots of prayer. Please remember to pray for her. Thank you.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:30 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
No Greater Love
This world is full of sadness and ugliness. But then there are people who give you hope, because they make this world a better place. Liviu Librescu was one of those people.
As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 76-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded.
Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:35 PM
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Edifying Site of the Day
You don't have to be Catholic to find the late Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body to be deep, beautiful and enlightening. Are you sick of the "battle of the sexes"? Are you sick of the embittered radical feminist and libertine, heartless, pornography-influenced male views of sex? Then the Theology of the Body is a refuge, a remedy to the, "let's see how much we can use and manipulate each other" way most relationships these days (married or not) seem to be conducted. They have a forum, too. Lots of good stuff there, although there are a few trolls, unfortunately. Some people can't handle hearing that they are living a lie.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:55 PM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Dan at Necessary Roughness explains in an excellent post.
Dan mentions the Doctrine of Two Kingdoms, which is very important, I think.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:35 PM
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!
I'd like to wish everyone a happy, holy and safe Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!
Posted by Susan B. at 9:00 PM
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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Something I need to remember...
The Gates of Vienna has a very sensible post that is a must-read, particularly for Christians and Jews: The Ten Righteous.
I can certainly understand caution when it comes to individual Muslims. As Ronald Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." But there are Muslims who are "the good guys".
Posted by Susan B. at 7:10 AM
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Forgiveness Beyond Comprehension
I could understand the Amish reaching out to the family of Charles Carl Roberts, the man who slaughtered five Amish girls in a senseless rampage. After all, his family -- his wife and children -- were also victims. The man they knew as a loving husband and father turned out to be a monster.
I can almost understand the Amish forgiving Roberts himself. After all, that's what Christ tells us to do. But they seemed to forgive him immediately. If it were me, it would take years to get to that point. In fact, I might never be able to forgive something like that.
So, when I read this story, I have to admit the first thing that went through my mind was this: "Aren't they taking this forgiveness stuff a little too far?"
Of course I know that they aren't...they are doing exactly what Christ tells us to do. It is my own deficiencies that cause me to ask that question.
I don't see eye-to-eye with the Amish on a lot of things but I respect their choices and way of life. They are pacifists, but they are the kind that I can respect. They don't try to force their ways on others and they are not selective in how far their pacifism extends. (For example, some pacifists will condemn someone for defending themselves more than they will condemn the person attacking them -- this, to me, is deeply immoral.)
The forgiveness and courage shown by the Amish is an amazing and beautiful thing. It's more than I can comprehend.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:20 PM
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Monday, September 18, 2006
A Lutheran supports the Pope?
You bet I do!
I'm sure you have heard that Pope Benedict said some less-than-flattering things about Islam in a recent speech, which caused the Muslim world to go nuts as it always does at the slightest criticism. (If you are not familiar with all this, just visit Relapsed Catholic and start reading.)
One thing I'm very tired of is Muslim apologists saying stuff like, "But the Old Testament says..." or "But the Inquisition..." Please, just give it a rest. We Christians here in the modern world are insulted all the time. Yes, we complain about it, but basically we keep doing what Christ told us to do and turn the other cheek. We don't riot in the streets and kill people.
Another thing I'm tired of hearing from Muslim apologists is this: 99.99% of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world are just normal peace-loving folks -- only a tiny percentage of Muslims support and/or perpetrate terrorism and violence. However, a recent poll taken by Al Jazeera indicates that about half their Arab viewers support Osama bin Laden. This would indicate that the number of non-peaceful Muslims is much larger than Muslim apologists claim.
I don't think all this controversy about the Pope's statements on the heels of Oriana Fallaci's death is a coincidence. Also, from what I understand, Pope Benedict held an audience with Fallaci not long ago. No, I think that there are larger powers at work here.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:47 AM
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Great Quote on Tolerance
Found in this article, "The Tragedy of the Religious Left" by Chuck Colson, via Kathy Shaidle and Andrea Harris:
Dorothy Sayers, the great English writer, said it best: “In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”
It's been said that apathy, not hate, is the true opposite of love. Tolerance, as it is defined today, is the ultimate in apathy.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:50 AM
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Sunday, April 16, 2006
He is risen!
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:15 AM
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Friday, April 14, 2006
For Good Friday
(Click for larger view. Image of William Bouguereau - Compassion from The Art Renewal Center.)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” -- Luke 9:23-27
Posted by Susan B. at 12:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Another Prayer Request
Please pray for my uncle...the husband of my Mom's younger sister. He has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and is in the hospital. They are running tests. I'll update when we find out more.
Update (4/5/06): As it turns out, he does not have congestive heart failure. He actually has some pulmonary problems -- most likely stress-related asthma.
Update (4/6/06): They have found that my uncle has a blood clot in one of his lungs. He has to stay in the hospital a few more days until they can get it to dissolve.
Update (4/9/06): My uncle is doing much better and was released from the hospital today. Thank you for your prayers!
Posted by Susan B. at 7:45 PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Prayer Request for My Mother
My mother has been having an irregular heartbeat problem the past few days. Her doctor upped her medication and she will need to wear a heart monitor for a day or two. If you could pray for her, I would really appreciate it.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:00 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2006
A prayer request...
My mother has been having a lot of health problems lately. If you could say a little prayer for her, I would be most grateful. Thank you.
Update: Mom is doing much better now. Thank you for your prayers! Lately, she has been suffering from both a bladder infection and a sinus infection. However, the worst part is that she has also been suffering from attacks of very high blood pressure. She is on medication for that now. They checked her heart and it appears to be okay (we were afraid she had heart problems).
Posted by Susan B. at 12:05 AM
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Saturday, December 24, 2005
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
May His blessings be upon you.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." -- Luke 2:11
Posted by Susan B. at 9:45 PM
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Thursday, October 20, 2005
Love vs. Lust
Inspired by my prude post, reader Thomas Wyld sent me a link to this article on the Guardian website: Face to Faith. I think the writer here does an excellent job explaining why lust is a sin and why, when you come right down to it, people generally prefer love:
If lust is wrong, what is it that makes it so? For one thing, it represents the pursuit of instant gratification - "I want it, and I want it now ..." - which is always a perilous business. This is why the dictionary defines it as "libidinous desire, degrading animal passion"; to lust is to elevate the animal in us above the human. Worse, lust treats its object as precisely that - as an object, not a person. Amnon used Tamar; and once he had got what he wanted, he spat Tamar out.
But Christians - and, of course, others - insist that sex should primarily be the climactic expression of affection and tenderness: of love, indeed. Human beings (uniquely?) have sex face to face - a posture that symbolises relating to, rather than simply using, another person.
It is true that two people may happily agree to give their bodies to one another without any kind of mutual commitment, and that is a long way from the rape of Tamar. But offering one's body in this way is also a long way from offering one's self, a long way from saying: "I give myself to you because I love you exclusively; and there is no more intense and beautiful way of doing so than what we share together in this act."
This reminds me of what C.S. Lewis had to say on this subject in The Four Loves:
We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he "wants a woman." Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes). Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.
Eros is romantic love, which is one of the four types of love discussed in the book.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:55 AM
Monday, October 3, 2005
Intelligent Design and the Origins of Life
(I wasn't sure what category to put this in, but I think it should go under "Faith", because no matter what your beliefs on this debate are, you are taking some leap of faith.)
Steve H. has an excellent post addressing the whole evolution/intelligent design debate. He also has two follow-up posts here and here. His point is essentially this: how did life, and conscious life at that, get started. How did a stew of various chemicals turn into life? Here's an excerpt from the first post:
Now, let's say you create a planet. The planet has things like rocks and mud and water and air. How can evolution cause life to arise there? Common sense says it can't. There are no genes. There is no population of organisms. There is no reproduction. So if life arises spontaneously, it seems to me that the mechanism--whatever it is--can't be called "evolution."
If that's right, then anyone who says life first arose as the result of evolution must be totally wrong.
So I guess people who don't believe in a creator have two theories, not one. The theory of evolution, and the theory of magical animation of rocks and mud. [...]
So you have this mud and these rocks and all sorts of ultraviolet radiation. And somehow, these ingredients magically decide to go against the general rule in the universe and organize themselves into something that is either a life form or the precursor of a life form.
Does that make sense to you?
Then, in the second post, he asks this question:
So...let's assume organic molecules cooperate and turn themselves into living organisms without a God to tell them what to do. How does consciousness get into the organisms?
Finally, in the third post, he clarifies his point further:
I realize, though, that I should point something out. Yes, I am a creationist, but I don't claim evolution doesn't occur. I think it's pretty obvious that it occurs to one extent or another. Whether it accounts for all the species on earth, or some of them but not others, or what, is another question.
When I criticized the theory of evolution below, what I was really getting at was not so much that evolution is a crappy theory, but that when the theory of evolution has a weakness, evolutionists tend to conceal or ignore it, much as creationists conceal or ignore problems with creationism. I think that's a very fair criticism.
Now, the spontaneous generation of life from non-life...that, I do not believe in. I can see how a living species could be transformed by selection forces, and I know the problems with the fossil record aren't necessarily fatal to the theory. But order from disorder is completely different. As far as I know, the least complicated organism on earth is more complicated than the most complex lifeless object, by orders of magnitude.
If you are interested in what I think of this, you can read this post on my faith journal (which I have badly neglected) where I give my take on the creation account in Genesis. Here is my main point:
To me, the most important thing to get from these chapters is that the universe and everything in it is not some random occurrence. God created everything that exists. Personally, I believe a lot of this account is symbolic -- a way of explaining a very complex process so that people could understand. But nevertheless, God is the Creator, whether you choose to take these passages more literally or not.
Now, could God have created the Earth and all life in six days? Of course -- he could have created it all in a millisecond if He chose to do so.
Personally, I don't believe the six days are literal, and I don't believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Someone might ask, "If God is so all-powerful, why would He create the Earth over a process of millions of years?" But you could really ask the same question about six days. Why couldn't God have created everything in a millisecond?
My belief is that God created the way He did because He took pleasure in His creation, like an artist takes pleasure in creating a work of art. Notice that in each part of the creation account it says, "And God saw that it was good." I believe that on the day of rest, God stepped back and admired His handiwork, like an artist would admire a creation that he perfected. God is truly the first and greatest Artist!
Posted by Susan B. at 11:45 AM
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Quote of the Week
From the Curt Jester:
This is not to say that are Moslems are inheritantly terrorists. Just that Christians get into trouble when they don't act like Jesus and Moslems get into trouble when they act more like Mohammed.
(Via Relapsed Catholic.)
Posted by Susan B. at 10:06 AM
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Something I really need to remember today...
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:45 PM
Friday, July 8, 2005
Prayers Needed for Lee Anne
Lee Anne Millinger, who has had ongoing health problems and is in need of a kidney transplant, is very ill and has been hospitalized. Please pray for her.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:12 AM
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Sunday Thoughts and Prayers
Here are two posts that will give you a lot to think about today:
Posted by Susan B. at 3:05 PM
Saturday, June 18, 2005
My Theological Worldview
For what it's worth...
| You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.|
What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com
(Via Fructus Ventris.)
Posted by Susan B. at 9:55 PM
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Eschatology for Dummies
I wish somebody would write that kind of "for Dummies" book. Because the terminology surrounding this subject always confuses me and makes my eyes glaze over. So, via the Thinklings, here's an eschatology quiz to help shed some light on what I think on this subject:
| You scored as Amillenialist. Amillenialism believes that the 1000 year reign is not literal but figurative, and that Christ began to reign at his ascension. People take some prophetic scripture far too literally in your view.|
What's your eschatology?
created with QuizFarm.com
Update: Sven, who wrote the eschatology quiz, has a post that explains all of the terminology.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:07 AM
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Sunday, June 5, 2005
Why (Some of) My Fellow Protestants Sometimes Embarrass Me
Read this blog post linked by Alicia about a Catholic woman working at a very anti-Catholic non-denominational Christian school. The nastiness directed at this fellow Christian by other Christians is the type of thing that makes me deeply ashamed of some of my fellow Protestants.
For example, this woman got nasty looks for wearing a crucifix. You know what? This Lutheran wears a crucifix too, sometimes. (In fact, I'm wearing one right now.) The altar at my Lutheran church has a crucifix on a stand (along with a large, plain wooden cross high up on the wall above the altar). One time I mentioned this on a conservative forum I go to sometimes, and the people there seemed incredulous...they couldn't understand how a Protestant church -- especially a Lutheran church -- could have anything to do with a crucifix.
I know the objections some Protestants have to the crucifix. As my Pentecostal Grandma used to say: "Christ is no longer on the cross!" Well, frankly, their objections to the crucifix are wrongheaded. (Sorry Grandma.) I know Christ is risen. The crucifix simply portrays why Christ had to rise again in the first place -- He suffered and died for our sins first. I think that is just as important to remember as His resurrection.
Protestants need to quit reacting to a crucifix the same way a vampire would react to one. When they act like a crucifix is something shameful and bad, it seems like they are trying to sanitize what Jesus went through for us. I don't think that's a healthy thing to do -- I think it leads to a sort of "Fluffy Bunny" Christianity.
One more request I have of my fellow Protestants...would you please, please quit using terms like "Romanist"? It sounds very bigoted, like you've been reading way too many Jack Chick tracts. It's really embarrassing. Thanks in advance.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:52 PM
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Sunday, May 15, 2005
My New ESV Bible
A while back, the folks at the ESV Blog had a free Bible giveaway for bloggers and I got on their list. (Many thanks to Susanna Cornett at Cut on the Bias for her post on the giveaway, which is how I found out about it.) They were giving away Bibles to the first 100 bloggers to link their blog and email them. I got in there when it was down to the last 10 or 15.
Anyway, I received my Bible on Friday. I asked for the Cranberry Filigree style. It's a nice Bible -- the material it's made out of has a nice, soft feel. It's small enough for me to carry around in my purse if I want to take it with me. Now that I have the Bible, I can start on this project over at my faith journal very soon.
Judging by what I've read from the ESV so far, I really like this translation. While the NIV is readable, it's also rather bland. The ESV is readable and has more personality. Also, from what I understand, the ESV tried to preserve the meaning of the original words rather than paraphrasing them.
Just to show you the difference in the translations, take a look at Psalm 91 (one of my favorite Psalms) in the NIV. Then read it in the ESV:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge —
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Quite a difference, isn't it?
Update: Charles at Dustbury also believes the ESV looks very promising.
Posted by Susan B. at 5:25 PM
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Thursday, May 12, 2005
While I'm not Catholic...
...I have to agree with the various posts discussing the subject of the way some nuns dress. Call me old-fashioned, but nuns should wear habits -- they should look like nuns. I mean, isn't part of being a nun the fact that you are "set apart" from laypeople by special vows that you make? Shouldn't your clothing reflect that?
Even in my Lutheran church, the Pastor, when he is doing his ministerial duties, wears a pastor's collar. Those serving at the altar during services wear vestments.
I would say that God believes that this "setting apart" is important. After all, in the Bible, the Levite priests had very special clothing that they had to wear when serving in the temple.
I think the importance of this "setting apart" is pretty starkly illustrated by this post pointed out by Kathy Shaidle. All the nuns I've seen "in person" look like those in the top pictures. I would have never known they were nuns had someone not told me. (Or if I had not overheard a conversation mentioning it, as I did one time.) When I see nuns in regular clothes, I can't help but find it disappointing and a little sad. I think the reason why the orders that still dress in the traditional habits are younger and more vibrant is that the habits reflect being set apart for God, which I think is what would inspire someone to become a nun in the first place.
And as an aside, since I was on hiatus when this was in the news...I was very pleased and excited that Ratzinger was chosen as the new Pope. I remember hearing from work that morning that the smoke was black and I thought, "Well, I guess it won't be today." Then I came home for lunch and turned on the TV just as Pope Benedict XVI was being introduced to the world. When I saw him throw up his arms to greet the crowds, I couldn't help but smile!
Posted by Susan B. at 10:05 PM
Monday, March 28, 2005
Mark Shea on Entering into Joy
I feel ashamed to admit this, but I felt absolutely no joy on Easter. Although Jesus' resurrection shows His victory over Satan, all I could do was look around and see evil winning. I saw malevolent glee from those who wished for Terri's death. I saw dismissive apathy and rationalizations from Christians I used to respect. (If the Christians in question ever want to regain my respect, they need to do something about the moral blind spot they have in regards to situations like Terri's. Sorry, but like C.S. Lewis said, wearing a long face isn't a moral disinfectant.)
But after reading this post by Mark Shea, I saw that I was wrong to despair:
So I'm hopeful. And the oddity is that this too is offensive to some Christians. Just as the defenders of Terri are counter-cultural, so Easter is even more counter cultural. God seems to checkmate us at every turn. The world tells us to be buoyant with bubbly and perky pseudo-fun when we should be wearing sackcloth and ashes. It chatters on about how Terri is "full of peace and euphoria" when it knows that a damned dirty and protracted murder full of torture is being done.
But there is another reality as well: God commands us to enter into the Joy when we are tempted to despair. Angry Conservative Catholicism is particularly prone to ignoring this command by labeling every command to be joyful as "kumbayah Catholicism". It's not. Joy is, as C.S. Lewis say, the serious business of Heaven. There is such a thing as the sinful will to resist Joy. It the sort of will that says, "How can you be joyful when Robert Lynch is bishop of St. Petersburg?" The answer is, "I can be joyful because Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord of Universe." We are called to be angry, yet sin not. It is perfectly right to be angry at this murder, at the abandonment of Terri by people who should have undertaken her care, at the cruelty, spite, and gloating of the enemies of Life.
But it is a sin to place anger at the core of our being, to relentlessly practice cynicism, to focus ever and always on what is wrong, to overlook what is white in favor of what is gray, and see gray as black as possible. Such adamant insistence on being angry, defeated, bitter, and hopeless when God is telling us, on the Highest Authority, that Joy is the deepest truth, is to allow Hell a completely needless victory.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:15 PM
Monday, January 17, 2005
Until I feel up to posting again, I would like to pass along a couple of prayer requests:
Posted by Susan B. at 9:14 PM
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Reformation Day Thoughts
Both Bunnie Diehl (a fellow LCMS Lutheran) and Discoshaman have posts about Reformation Day. I also have some thoughts about this day. I've been thinking about what it means to say I am saved by faith alone and grace alone.
For every good thing I think of that I do, I can think of probably ten or more bad things I do. I'm far more impatient than patient. I get angry, lose my temper and sometimes even slip into despair. I can be very unforgiving, and even when I think I've forgiven someone, I find there is still that urge to throw their wrongs back up in their face again. (So, have I really forgiven them?) I can be selfish and self-absorbed, getting irritated when people make demands on my time. (Knowing, of course, that this time isn't really mine to being with.)
I'm repentant of my sinful ways, and I pray that I can become godlier. But I find every day a struggle against my sinful nature.
So, if I were saved by works, I'd be in real trouble. My faith is very often weak. Perhaps if it were stronger, it would reflect in my works, and I'd be a godlier, less sinful person. But I do have faith, and whatever good I do comes from this faith.
By God's grace I have come into faith, and it is this faith in what Christ has done for me that saves me. By God's grace, my faith can become stronger, and I can get ever closer to being what He wants me to be.
Posted by Susan B. at 4:09 PM
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Thursday, October 28, 2004
Pagan Rites in (Supposedly) Christian Churches
This story has been all over the place today, but I think I first saw it on Relapsed Catholic. The ever-apostate Episcopal Church USA is promoting a "women's Eucharist" that is actually a pagan rite. I read about something similar to this being promoted in some mainline churches many years ago. In fact, I think I read about it in First Things...yes, here it is, second item down.
I remember being completely outraged at this. What really got me was this quote:
"I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff. . . . We just need to listen to the god within."
The First Things piece is over ten years old. So this sort of nonsense is nothing new and is now actually being promoted by the ECUSA.
Update: CT Weblog has more on this today. It looks like the ECUSA is engaging in some CYA.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:55 AM
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
An Anniversary of Faith
Via Dawn Eden I found out this interesting item -- that today is the 73rd anniversary of C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity. That simple motorbike ride to the zoo has certainly had far-reaching influence.
Speaking of anniversaries, I just remembered that the anniversary of my baptism was this month. I was baptized on September 19, 1993.
Posted by Susan B. at 7:41 PM
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Monday, August 16, 2004
"My Truth" and "My God"
Peppermint Patty uses this column by Mark Steyn as a jumping off point for a fine rant about a phrase that I too find really irritating -- "My Truth":
Neat trick, but in the end, my truth/your truth is just nothing by words. The objective truth is we are what we are -- liars, cheats, corrupt, fallen people. Painting it as MyTruth® just lets you ignore what a selfish, morally repugnant person you are for a little while longer.
Another related phrase I hate is "My God". I'm sorry, but if you say that phrase in any kind of serious way, you are referring to an idol of your own making, not the One True God. For example, someone once said to me, "Abortion is between a woman, her doctor and her God...it's nobody else's business." That makes resolving moral issues very easy, doesn't it? If you don't like what God has to say, if you don't like what He demands of you, just create a god in your head ("Your God") who will tell you what you want to hear. Problem solved -- or so you think.
"My God" is such an arrogant phrase, when you think about it. When you say that, it sounds like you think God belongs to you. Actually, it's the other way around.
I'll conclude with what C.S. Lewis has to say about this topic in The Screwtape Letters:
We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun -- the finely graded differences that run from "my boots" through "my dog," "my servant," "my wife," "my father," "my master," and "my country," to "my God." They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of "my boots," the "my" of ownership...[W]e have taught men to say "my God" in a sense not really very different from "my boots," meaning "the God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and whom I exploit from the pulpit -- the God I have done a corner in."
And all the time the joke is that the word "mine" in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father or the Enemy will say "mine" of each thing that exists, and specially of each man.
Update: A comment by "pt" brings up a very good point -- there are Scriptural and appropriate ways to say, "My God". My apologies for overstating the case...perhaps I have fallen for Uncle Screwtape's tricks myself. ;-)
Posted by Susan B. at 9:05 PM
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Is Gladys Kravitz coming to your church?
Sure looks like it! Does anyone else think the very idea of this group calling themselves "The Mainstream Coalition" is completely laughable?
BTW, here's a link to the original article.
Update: MCJ has more on this same subject.
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
This Doug Giles column should raise some hackles:
Given the soft-focused, effeminate condition of evangelicalism, I’ll bet the great majority of Christians have never even heard of an imprecatory prayer, much less prayed one. More than likely, the above God-inspired texts aren’t on their refrigerator scripture magnets either. I’ll go a step further and venture to guess that the majority of evangelical and Catholic clergy don’t even know what an imprecatory prayer is and have probably never taught on them or prayed them from the pulpit (Please investigate and report back to me.)
If my assumption regarding your typical congregation and clergy is true, then this is sad, unbiblical and a prime reason why militant Islam continues to march on. We are not using the spiritual big guns of imprecatory prayer against the beast of militant Islam.
Do you pray imprecatory prayers? I know I have. While they may be un-PC these days, they are certainly Biblical and necessary.
(Via Relapsed Catholic.)
Posted by Susan B. at 12:29 AM
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Christianity and Culture Stuff
Here's a couple of interesting items on the above topic:
Via Thunderstruck: Washington Times - Art, Christianity reunited
Craig Detweiler is hoping for a modern-day renaissance of the arts. He dreams of the day when members of the Christian church will again be the primary patrons of respected artistic endeavors, as in the era of Michelangelo. [...]
"Those artists who are Christians that come to Fuller Seminary tend to want to inform their art by studying faith," he says. "They tend to be people who do not want to be known as Christian artists, but Christians who are thoughtful artists whose faith informs their work."[...]
"When God asked the Israelites to create the Tabernacle, there were things in the Tabernacle that didn't have any function, but to be beautiful," Mr. Davison says. "We know from the Bible that God appreciates beauty. We can see that all around us. It's a way we communicate as human beings."
Instead of focusing on evangelism, Mr. Davison would rather have artists who are Christians correctly represent the worldview they attest to believe. Further, since he says only a person can be a Christian, he doesn't use the word "Christian" as an adjective. He tries to discourage his students from becoming involved in subcultures, such as "Christian music" or "Christian dance."
"In an effort to engage in popular culture, we get 'love songs for Jesus,' " he says. "They think the text of the songs are conveying a biblical truth, but it's not a biblical truth. These songs may be fun to sing, but what does the song really say? Does it say a truth we believe about God?"
Amy Welborn has some scathing commentary on this year's Christian Booksellers' Association exhibit:
But it's obvious something has gone haywire in the pop evangelical take on this. What it is, I think, is the failure to hold up what secular pop culture reveals about human needs to any kind of judgment. My sense is that this has happened because of the evangelical emphasis on church growth and the CBA concern for profit and sales. If self-help and personal happiness concerns have taken root in American culture, the pop evangelical response is to simply baptize those concerns without really questioning them. If Americans want to diet, we'll just give them Christian diet books.[...]
Last year, we had a lot of discussion about Thomas Nelson's magazine-style repackaging of the New Testament for teen girls called "Revolve." In the year since, they've come out with one for boys called "Refuel" and now one for women called Becoming.[...]
I picked one up and spent a lot of time looking through it on the trip back. I found it, on one level, incredibly insulting (as a woman), but that's par for the course for me. I tried to look at it objectively, discerning what it told me about what the Christian life is all about.
Answer: men, beauty, fitness and food!
Yeah, yeah, inner beauty and all that. But the fact is, you could take all of the inserted, extra material in the "zine" parts of this publication, take out the few references to Scripture verses, and come up with something virtually indistinguishable from any woman's magazine. No particular focus on Jesus or salvation, no real contemplation of what the Good News is all about, just a "positive" self-improvement text.
Filled with photos of beautiful women, not one of them over a size 6.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:05 AM
Sunday, April 11, 2004
He is risen! Have a blessed Easter!
1 Corinthians 15:20-22:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:31 AM
Friday, April 9, 2004
(Click for larger view. Image of William Bouguereau - Pietà from The Art Renewal Center.)
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory,
What bliss till now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call thee mine.
How art thou pale with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn;
How does that visage languish
Which once was bright as morn!
Thy grief and bitter Passion
Were all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But thine the deadly pain.
What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh, make me thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord let me never, never
Outlive my love for thee.
Lord, be my consolation;
Shield me when I must die;
Remind me of thy Passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From thee shall never move;
For he who dies believing
Dies safely in thy love.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:40 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
And one more thing...
...about this column...this guy couldn't be more wrong when he says this:
Even after the Christians stole Christmas, they were ambivalent about it. The holiday was inherently a pro-life festival of earthly renewal, but the Christians preached renunciation, sacrifice, and concern for the next world, not this one. As Cotton Mather, an 18th-century clergyman, put it: "Can you in your consciences think that our Holy Savior is honored by mirth? . . . Shall it be said that at the birth of our Savior . . . we take time . . . to do actions that have much more of hell than of heaven in them?"
Yes, that's why Christians sing joyless ditties like "Joy to the World" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". No, Christians don't believe in celebration or joy at Christmas (or any time). We're all about long faces at all times -- no fun allowed. One quote by an 18th-century Puritan minister proves that this is true. [/sarcasm]
Posted by Susan B. at 10:56 AM
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Wishing You a Blessed Christmas
I probably won't be posting again until after Christmas, so I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas with many blessings.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(Arthur Hughes - The Nativity from The Art Renewal Center.)
Posted by Susan B. at 12:05 AM
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Christians and Art (Again)
Are Christians being "left behind" when it comes to producing good art? Jared at Thinklings tackles that subject.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:36 PM
Monday, December 15, 2003
Am I EXTREEEEEME?
I've wanted to post about this, but a combination of absent-mindedness, a short attention span and being really busy kept me from doing so.
What first caught my attention was this: Boar's Head Tavern - The 'Are You Conservative or Stupid' Test. It's a satirical response to this questionnaire (Are You an Extreme or
Moderate Nice Christian), which, in turn, is a take-off of Daniel Pipes' questions for Muslims. Below are my own responses to the "Extreme or Nice" test. I'll leave it to you to decide whether I'm extreme or nice. (Actually, I don't wish to be either.)
Update: Edited for clarity.
1. Do you condone or condemn the Christians who end the lives of others, in the name of Christ?
2. Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such Christian individuals and organizations as Timothy McVeigh, the Army of God, Paul Hill, Christian Identity, John Salvi, the Ku Klux Klan, Clayton Lee Waagner, Aryan Nations, the National Alliance, John Noster, American Coalition of Life Activists, and Eric Rudolph?
2. Yes. And I don't see these groups and individuals as being legitimately Christian.
1. Should Christian women have equal rights with men?
2. Is the Christian concept of a just war acceptable in today's world?
3. Do you accept the validity of other religions?
4. Do Christians have anything to learn from those who reject the Gospel?
3. If "valid" means people are free to choose to worship (or not worship) as they please, then yes. If "valid" means that other religions are just as true as Christianity, then no.
4. Of course.
1. Should non-Christians enjoy completely equal civil rights with Christians?
2. May Christians convert to other religions?
3. May Christian women marry non-Christian men?
4. Do you accept the laws of a majority secular government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government?
5. Should the state impose religious observance, such as the posting of the Ten Commandments on public buildings?
6. When Christian customs conflict with secular laws, which should give way?
1. Yes, of course. (Duh!)
2. Yes, although I believe they're wrong to do so.
3. Yes, although I don't think it's a good idea.
4. I'll accept the laws, but that doesn't mean I approve of all of them. It doesn't mean I won't express my opinions about a law or vote in ways that will help to change a law. As for "unreservedly" pledging allegiance, I think that depends on the government.
5. No. And the state should not inhibit religious observance by individuals or a community.
6. For an individual Christian, Christian beliefs should come before secular law.
1. Are Catholics and Mormons fully legitimate Christians?
2. Do you see Christians who disagree with you (for example, Bishop Spong) as having fallen into unbelief?
3. Are accusations of apostasy or heresy acceptable practices?
1. Catholics, yes, of course. Mormons, no.
2. If you mean those with apostate, heterodox beliefs, yes.
1. Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the historical Jesus?
2. Who was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombings?
1. Sure, as long as it is truly scholarly and doesn't have some other agenda.
2. McVeigh and whoever else conspired with him. (What is the point of this question, anyway? My understanding is that McVeigh did not even consider himself a Christian.)
Defense against Militant Christianity
1. Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Christianity, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, FBI monitoring of churches)?
2. Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism (such as anti-abortion violence) should be shut down, or do you see this as a symptom of bias?
1. Yes. If there are legitimate reasons to believe that a church is involved in terrorism, then of course it should be monitored.
2. If the accusations can be proven, yes.
Goals in the World
1. Do you accept that the majority of the countries in the world are majority non-Christian and many goverments are secular or non-Christian, or do you seek to transform them into majority Christian countries ruled by Christian principles of morality?
2. Do you accept that the U.S. governmental system is secular, or do you seek to transform the U.S. into a Christian nation?
1. Yes to the first part. If a nation becomes majority Christian, it should be because people converted of their own free will, and not because they were forced.
2. Yes to the first part. No, I do not want a theocracy of any kind, Christian or otherwise.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:15 PM
Monday, November 17, 2003
Shaking Your Fist at God
I have done the same thing that Dean is doing in this post many times. No, I don't mean that I've renounced Christianity (or if I did, I didn't mean it). I mean that I've been so angry at God that I've thought that He must be evil. Full of pride and self-righteousness, I would wonder how a good and just God could, well, fill in the blank. Yes, I thought that I knew better than God how things ought to be. However, I would get over these foot-stamping, petulant fits of anger.
I'm not saying that Dean is being petulant, here. His differences with God seem to be far more serious. But the spirit of pride in many of his comments is one I'm familiar with, because I've said pretty much the same things myself. Here is what C.S. Lewis has to say about Pride:
There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians ever imagine that they are guilty themselves....The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind...As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
For more on this, Michael Williams does a much better job responding than I ever could.
Update (11/21/03): I neglected to note that the above C.S. Lewis quote is from Mere Christianity. I highly recommend this book to Dean or anyone else who struggles with understanding Christianity.
Sunday, November 9, 2003
Straining Out Gnats
Mac Swift takes exception to a piece written by the recently deceased Mike Yaconelli: Fundamentalism - A monumental waste of time. I remember seeing this article linked on another blog shortly after Yaconelli's death, and I mostly agreed with it and even considered blogging about it.
I don't think Yaconelli is making an argument for libertinism here. He is simply warning against the dangers of legalism. One thing that he pointed out is that fundamentalism emphasizes "don't" too much. Don't do this, don't do that...don't, don't, don't. While they are more than willing to say that you shouldn't drink a glass or wine or that you shouldn't watch a certain movie, they seem to ignore the important things. They have a tendency to "strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."
Fundamentalists, because of their obsession with things that don't matter, have, in effect, made the Gospel irrelevant.
How sad. Because if anyone should understand the Gospel, it should be fundamentalists. Soren Kierkegaard once told a story about some robbers who broke into a jewelry store and didn't steal anything...they simply rearranged the price tags.
It makes one wonder if the fundamentalists haven't done what they have accused the liberals of doing...eliminated the absolutes. Not deliberately, of course, but by rearranging the price tags they have put high price tags on the issues of no worth and made cheap and irrelevant the issues that really matter.
Let me try to give an example of what I think Yaconelli is getting at. Alcohol abuse is a terrible, destructive thing. But there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. If you lump both activities together as being sinful, then what you are saying is that binge-drinking is equivalent to having a glass of wine with dinner.
Mac believes that Yaconelli has a bigoted attitude towards fundamentalists. I just don't see it, myself. Strong disagreements do not equal bigotry. I disagree with Catholics on some things, but I'm not anti-Catholic. I have strong disagreements with Calvinism, but I don't hate Calvinists.
There are a lot of things going on that Christians should be concerned about: poverty, persecution, the devaluation of human life, the decline of sexual mores. Obsessing on people saying "damn" or seeing an R-rated movie seems silly when faced with the more important issues.
Monday, October 13, 2003
No Cheeks Left to Turn
Kevin McGehee at blogoSFERICS links to this provocative opinion piece by an Episcopal priest:
David Epps: Sometimes it's all right not to turn the other cheek
Go read the whole thing...I'll wait...
Okay, now I know what some of you are going to say. You're going to say, "The priest was wrong...he didn't show grace...what about [insert Bible verse here]."
Think about this...if this pastor would have turned the other cheek in this instance, the jerk in the elevator would have went his merry way, with his smug smile on his face, believing he really showed that priest. His mind would have remained closed; he would have remained comfortable in his prejudices.
But the smug guy was humbled when this priest stood up to him. Obviously, he felt ashamed. Perhaps his shame caused him to reconsider his prejudices. If he realizes that he's wrong, then maybe this new insight will make his heart more open to God and Christianity.
Maybe this confrontation was just the kind of ministry the smug guy in the elevator needed.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:04 PM
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Wednesday, October 8, 2003
The finger-waggers are right...
I've decided not to read the Bible anymore. There's so much sex and violence, I just don't think it's appropriate material for anyone. Can you believe some people encourage their children to read the Bible? For shame!
And look at this...nudity! In a chapel! I'm scandalized!
Okay, I'll quit being sarcastic and point you to this post about Christian liberty by Jared at Thinklings.
Posted by Susan B. at 2:55 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2003
On Being Relevant
While writing the previous post, I was reminded of this essay by Steve Taylor that Jared at Thinklings posted about the other day. Taylor points out how some Christians seem to think artistic expression is an unworthy endeavor, unless it's done for the sake of propaganda:
...We send out the not-so-subtle inference that if you have to be an artist, if you can't find a more worthy, spiritual profession, you can redeem yourself by way of a thoroughly unbiblical sub-hierarchy in the world of artistic expression. At the top of the truly Christian pursuits in the arts are all songs that mention Jesus by name, followed by end-times novels and movies, followed by the sequels to end-times novels and movies, and at the bottom of that list are any forms of artistic expression that allow room for imagination, nuance, and renewing of the mind.
Am I exaggerating? Not much.
Is it any wonder that we've got so few quality artists claiming Jesus as Lord? For better or worse, people tend to go where they're wanted. We've managed to tell a generation of artists, "Your work has no value to God unless you're willing to turn it into lowest common denominator propaganda. But if you are, we've got a system in place that can provide a pretty comfortable living for you."
Taylor then goes on to explain the importance of being "salt and light" in the culture, rather than hiding away in a little subculture:
If we're not actively engaging culture, if we're not showing our world the relevance of Jesus to all walks of life, we're being disobedient.
Taylor ends his essay with a warning that engaging the mainstream culture can be dangerous -- there's the risk of becoming a casualty. However, he says that this is a risk that must be taken.
As they say, RTWT.
And if I may add a couple of things...
Taylor mentions the Bob Briner book Roaring Lambs. I have the book, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet -- I've only skimmed it. If you've read the book and have any thoughts, feel free to post them in the comments.
Also, this essay must have been written a while back, because sadly, Taylor's Squint company is no more. In this recent interview, Taylor explains what happened. (Link first seen on JYB a couple of months ago.)
Posted by Susan B. at 9:25 PM
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Bible in Disguise
When I first heard about Revolve, the New Testament of the Bible in the form of a fashion magazine (like Cosmopolitan, Glamour or Seventeen), I decided to find out more before judging the whole project. You see, I hate, hate, HATE fashion mags! I hate the whole philosophy behind them. I think they pretty much sell the wrong values to women, especially young women. The values that say that you have to be junkie-thin, wear the latest, most trendy clothes, wear the right make-up and have the morals of a prostitute to live up to your full potential as a woman. As far as I'm concerned, fashion mags are vapid, destructive crap.
So here we have a Bible in that's in the same format as one of these magazines, in an attempt to appeal to the teenage girl demographic. Many other blogs have commented on Revolve. My first instinct was to find the whole idea silly and questionable -- especially considering my hatred for fashion mags. But then, some have made the argument that Christians need to engage the culture and not act like we're up on a cloud somewhere -- that we need to be relevant. I agree with this.
However, there are things about Revolve which disturb me. Many of those things are brought up in this Christianity Today article. Is it good to associate the word of God with the empty-headed shallowness of fashion magazines? As pointed out in the article and elsewhere, fashion mags are ephemeral -- people flip through them and then throw them away. Nobody keeps them. Should the Bible be presented in such a disposable format?
Then there's this from the CT article:
On page 186, the girls can find "Top Ten Great Christian Books." C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers haven't made the list. Top honors go to Witnessing 101 by Tim Baker and published by Transit Books. In fact, all of the top ten books have been recently published by Thomas Nelson, most of them through Transit Books.
Here's another curiosity: The eighth of the top ten great Christian books is titled Why So Many Gods? Its authors are Tim Baker and Kate Etue. Kate Etue is also the senior editor of Revolve. She was the one promoting the biblezine on CNN recently.
No C.S. Lewis, but instead, recommendations of books that just so happen to be published by Revolve's publisher. That tells me a lot about this project...
But on the other hand, perhaps Revolve could have some value. It could at least get teenage girls thinking about what the Bible says. Once they are through with the "milk" that Revolve offers, hopefully they will be ready for some real "meat".
Also, I figure if Revolve upsets San Francisco Chronicle columnist and anti-Christian whackjob Mark Morford this much, it must have some merit. (Apparently, the very idea that someone somewhere is dressing modestly or practicing abstinence really chaps Mr. Morford's butt.)
So, to sum up -- I have to go with my initial instincts about Revolve being silly and questionable. However, perhaps some good can come of it. Only time will tell if Revolve bears good fruit.
Update: Oh, now this is too funny! Thanks to Alicia for the link!
Posted by Susan B. at 7:30 PM
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Friday, September 12, 2003
A Twisted View of Justice and Forgiveness
Sharon at The Brazos de Dios Cantina had to sit through one sorry sermon...on 9/11 of all days. I don't blame her for being angry at this priest's drivel. Basically, this guy was saying that we should forgive 9/11 because, well, we had it coming:
I was angry, angry that little young heads had to hear that forgiveness viewing what happened as justice for not giving enough to people who needed it, and not being kind and forgiving enough. Angry that young heads full of mush would see 9-11 as justified action against a people who have a two-by-four in their eyes. Angry that no word of what good has come out of all of this. "A wake up call!" the priest said, as if we were still inured in our own arrogance when it happened, and now we need to forgive them, because after all, we deserved it.
(Strange how those who spout this garbage never call for those who are angry at America for whatever reason to forgive us. Why is the call for forgiveness a one-way street?)
Sharon then pretty much nails down the meaning of forgiveness:
Because *I* believe it means not letting hatred ruin the day or for your joy in God's love. Forgiveness means acknowledging what is right and wrong and responding correctly to it, but it also means not letting hatred keep you hostage.
Forgiveness does not negate the need for justice. This priest and many like him seem to think justice means vengeance, but that is not the case. I just think it's very telling that he thinks the terrorists' vengeance is justified, whereas America's alleged vengeance is not.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:01 AM
Tuesday, September 2, 2003
Dean's World has a really good discussion about forgiveness and what constitutes a sincere apology. I chimed in a couple of times, but the best comments (on mercy, justice and forgiveness) are by someone named Scott Harris.
I have posted about this subject before. Forgiveness is one of those things I struggle with.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:27 PM
Friday, August 15, 2003
The Church of Rainbows and Fluffy Bunnies
Prayer, some guy hanging on a cross, quotes from some old book, all that stuff about sin and salvation...who needs it? How depressing! Church is for socializing, seeing your friends, giving them a big hug, singing the "Hokey Pokey" song, hearing a funny and uplifting speech from the guy or gal up at the front, and then listening to pretty, new-agey music with your eyes closed. All this will lead to a vaguely spiritual feeling, that wonderful glow of caring and sharing...sort of like really good pain-killers for the soul.
Here ends the sarcasm. And the sad thing is, I've been to a churches similar to what is described above and in the linked article.
(Via Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog, who fisks the heck out of this nonsense.)
Posted by Susan B. at 2:48 PM
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Wednesday, August 6, 2003
About the Gay Episcopal Bishop
Everyone else seems to be blogging about this, so I guess I'll add my $0.02. My impression of the Episcopal Church is that, like so many mainline churches, it has been sliding toward liberalism and away from Christian orthodoxy for years. So the election of this bishop does not really surprise me. This incident is the last straw for many Episcopalians. As the theologically conservative members leave for more orthodox churches, the Episcopal Church just might find that it's becoming more and more irrelevant...and not even recognizably Christian anymore. The sad thing is the increasingly apostate leadership of this church probably won't care.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:37 PM
Monday, August 4, 2003
Chosen? Or Free to Choose?
Dean Esmay links to this post by Ben Kepple, where he takes on David Heddle's arguments in favor of Calvinism. Here are the comments I posted on Dean's thread:
I'm not a Calvinist because I don't believe that God only loves and saves certain people. I don't believe we are robots that have been programmed by God to either accept or reject Him. People have the free will to either accept Him or not. When people go to Hell, it is because they chose to separate themselves from God by rejecting Him.
And if I may add one more thing...Calvinists seem to believe that God operates in Time. That is, in order or Him to be all knowing and sovereign, He would have to have ordained from the outset that some would be saved and some would not. However, God is outside of Time and sees all moments -- past, present and future -- the way we see the present. Because He is outside of Time, He knows what choices we will make.
David Heddle then replied to my comments in Dean's post. Here are my replies to his points:
1) You ought to read how the theological titans handled this question.
You are right about that. I realize that I have a lot to learn. So far, I have not been able to accept Calvinism in the ways I’ve seen it explained. The biggest theological influence on me, outside Scripture, is C.S. Lewis. Lewis seems to reject Calvinism, and his reasoning makes sense to me.
2) You say that you don't believe that God only loves and saves certain people-- but what does the Bible say about it? We are not free to assume God is how we want him to be. We have to take him for they way He is described in scripture. If you feel that you are not bound by scripture, that is you do not believe it is inerrant, what makes you think he is "nicer" than the God described there? Maybe He is meaner. Maybe He is dead.
As far as what the Bible says about who God loves, I think of John 3:16, where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” It doesn’t say that God loved and gave His Son for “the elect” or “the chosen”, but “the world”. And no, I do not believe in some sentimental, “nice” version of God. I do not believe in a namby-pamby, watered-down Christianity where there’s no such thing as sin, Satan or Hell. I do feel bound by Scripture and I believe in its inerrancy.
3) The Apostle Paul seems to be anticipating your criticism when discussing the sovereignty of God he writes in Romans 9:
One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--
Notice that Paul talks about vessels prepared *in advance* for destruction or mercy. That is predestination.
I don’t think that belief in people freely choosing or rejecting God contradicts His sovereignty. Perhaps allowing us free will is part of His will. I could just as well argue that some are prepared for destruction because they have chosen to reject God, a choice God knew they would make.
4) Everyone says God is outside of time, and I don't deny it, but where is that taught in the Bible? It is always said as if manifestly true.
I believe it to be true because it would explain God’s eternal presence, His omnipotence and His omniscience. One scriptural example is Psalm 139.
I'm not a theologian and I don't claim to know everything. I'm still growing in my faith. But like I said, I can't accept the Calvinist view as I understand it.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:10 PM
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Tuesday, July 8, 2003
A Chance Meeting
Joel Fuhrmann has an interesting story about making friends with an Iranian man during the height of the hostage crisis.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:23 PM
Sunday, July 6, 2003
Evangelicals Are Not Fundamentalists
It seems any theologically conservative Christian can get the "fundie" label slapped on them these days. Thinkling Jared makes it clear that there is a difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists.
I grew up going to a fundamentalist church, so a lot of the points Jared brings up ring true. I now go to a theologically conservative Lutheran church, which probably has more in common with evangelicals than some other mainline churches.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:21 PM
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Sunday, June 22, 2003
Dean Esmay has a couple of posts where he tackles the issue of anti-Christian bigotry. While Dean is not a Christian himself, he is sick of people thinking it is somehow enlightened to sneer at Christians:
There's also a certain type of person--some of them are friends of mine--who enjoys "baiting" Christians, just to provoke them into arguments and mock their faith. Alas, in my youth, I was sometimes one of those people. [...]
So let me be very clear: if you're one of my friends who enjoys baiting or mocking Christians, I hope you realize that I think you're being a titanic jackass when you do that, and that I wish you would stop it.
He also refers to a previous post where he says that the infamous Landover Baptist Church parody site is a hate site. Now, I've known Christians who thought that site was funny and weren't offended by it. However, I am offended by it and I do find it hateful. It seems that the site didn't used to be quite as harsh and mean-spirited as it is now. I think they have lost sight of being simply satire and have become a bitter diatribe instead.
Clarification: Acknowledging that a form of bigotry exists and not liking it does not mean that you intend to whine, play the victim or attempt to silence someone. If you don't like Christians, fine. If you think the Landover site is a hoot, fine. You have that right, just as I have the right to think that people who mindlessly bust on Christians all the time are jerks.
Posted by Susan B. at 7:51 PM
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Christians and Gays Revisited
Mark Byron has some thoughts on this earlier post of mine. He disagrees with my statement that homosexual orientation (as opposed to behavior) is not sinful. Mark's take on this is very interesting.
(Mark also does a great job rebutting some totally off-topic trolling that took place in the same post.)
Posted by Susan B. at 10:52 PM
Monday, June 2, 2003
Forgiveness or CYA?
I'm not Catholic, but a lot of the Catholic blogs I read have been following the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. I've been reluctant to comment on the scandal because I don't want my comments to be construed as Catholic-bashing. Also, I almost feel like it's not my place to say anything...like I'm an outsider butting in on a family problem.
But Maripat (who is Catholic) at Right We Are has basically summed up my own thoughts about the scandal in this post. Cutting deals with those who enabled the abusers is inexcusable.
It seems to me that the Catholic hierarchy was so anxious to practice Christian forgiveness (or, more likely, practice some CYA) that they ended up forgetting about justice. They have coddled and enabled child abusers, allowing them to claim more victims. The Vatican has been reluctant to hold those who covered for the abusers accountable.
Forgiveness is wonderful, but it doesn't mean you throw justice and common sense out the window. A murderer can be forgiven for his crime, but it doesn't mean you let him back on the streets to kill again. He still has to account for his crime, and society still needs to be protected from him. The same goes for the abusing priests and their enablers.
But I think that maybe I'm being too charitable in saying that all these cover-ups are the result of a wrongheaded idea of Christian forgiveness. It is far more likely that the hierarchy was just trying to keep up appearances and keep a lid on the situation. Either way, it's a disgusting betrayal.
Justice needs to be done. No more cover-ups, no more deals.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:55 PM
Friday, May 30, 2003
A Discussion Between Christians and Gays
Dean's World has invited Christians and homosexuals only to participate in this post. So far, it has been a civil discussion, which is pretty incredible considering the subject matter. Over the years, on various political boards, the ugliest flamewars I've seen have been on threads about homosexuality. That's why I have studiously avoided discussing this subject on my blog until now.
In case you're interested, here are the comments I added to that post. I was afraid that they would pretty much offend everybody, but I got some positive feedback on them, which was very encouraging:
My status: a heterosexual, orthodox (small “o”) Christian.
Here is what I believe on the whole homosexuality issue:
- I believe that homosexual behavior (but not orientation) is sinful.
- There’s a lot of heterosexual behavior that is sinful, too.
- I don’t believe that homosexual behavior is some “special” sin that’s somehow worse than all others.
- I think some Christians are way too fixated on homosexuality.
- I think heterosexual behavior that is sinful causes much more damage to society. Examples are abortion, illegitimacy, infidelity, divorce, broken families, etc.
- Because of this, I think Christians should pay more attention to heterosexual sins and quit obsessing on homosexuals.
- I don’t necessarily think that sex should only be procreative. But, I think that Catholics make a good point when they say that separating sex from its procreative potential is not a healthy thing.
I’ll probably regret posting this, but there is where I stand.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:36 PM
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Friday, May 23, 2003
Bearing False Witness
King's Kid posts about Christians emailing urban legends, chain letters and other junk. He makes a good point that when Christians spread these things, they are spreading lies, which is no small concern.
Of course, I've ranted before at my annoyance at receiving junk email from well-meaning folks.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:57 PM
Roy M. Jacobsen at Dispatches from Outland has a thoughtful post about tragedy and suffering. He begins his post with this thought: "Every day is, for someone, 9/11. It's just the scale that's different."
As Roy points out, our reaction to tragedy is "Why?" and "It's not fair!" I have said those things many times in my life: when my brother died of a brain tumor, when my Dad died of lung cancer, when a co-worker of mine was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, when a sweet elderly couple at my church were killed in a car accident one block from their house...these are just a few tragic events that have left me confused and angry at God.
Roy says that the most important thing is knowing God, rather than being happy and being free from suffering. It's true that there will always be suffering in this world. That's why saying to God, "Thy will be done," is one of the most difficult things for me. What if His will means more tragedy and suffering? I admit that this is one thing that stands in the way of me knowing God better. Roy says he's just starting to "get it." However, I'm still pretty far from "getting it" most of the time.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:21 PM
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Sunday, May 11, 2003
What Am I?
First of all let me say, I'm no theologian or intellectual. I don't seem to fit in with any group of Christians in blogdom or the "real world." Although I like a lot of Catholic blogs, I'm not Catholic and I have some serious disagreements with many Catholic teachings. I'm a conservative Lutheran, so you would think that I might be more comfortable with evangelicals. But I'm not. Nor do I have much in common with the mainliners. And I definitely don't fit in with the pacifist, liberal Christians. So here I am...a misfit.
Here are a few things about where I stand as a Christian:
- I believe the Bible is the word of God. I do not put tradition on equal footing with Scripture.
- I believe that God created the universe, this world and everything and everyone in it. I believe that the creation account in Genesis is largely a symbolic way of describing a complex process. I do not believe the earth is only 5,000 years old. I do not believe that life just randomly evolved.
- I am not a Calvinist. I do not think God only loves and saves certain people. People have free will to accept or reject God. God gives us this free will -- we are not robots programmed to be either saved or damned. Since God is outside of time and sees all moments in time like the present, He knows what choices we will make.
- I am not fixated on end-times stuff. I can't understand people who are. When Jesus comes, He'll come. Until then, I will just work on making it through each day.
- I am not a pacifist. I have no problem with pacifists as long as they keep it to themselves. (Update: For the sake of clarity, what I mean by that is they should not attempt to force their pacifism on the rest of us.)
- My church believes in the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion. This is a belief I share.
- I'm undecided about Purgatory. As a Protestant, I was always taught that it's a false teaching. Any Scriptural support for it seems to be rather flimsy. And it would seem that Christ's sacrificial work on the cross would make it unnecessary. But I find some of the arguments in favor of it compelling.
- I have no use for "health and wealth" theology.
- I think the "King James Only" people are very silly.
- There are a lot of things I don't understand. I get angry at God sometimes. I get angry at other people as well. I'm not perfect and I sin and fall short every day.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't have everything figured out. These are just some beliefs I have. If you agree, that's great. If not, that's fine too, unless you start attacking or talking down to me. If you do that, I'll either ignore you or tell you off (depending on my mood).
Posted by Susan B. at 6:05 PM
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Tuesday, April 29, 2003
What Is Peace?
Lee Anne at Such Small Hands has many edifying posts about faith on her blog. She has two posts today regarding peace. The first, Real Peace vs. False Peace, points out that the search for peace needs to begin in your soul, and isn't merely an absence of external conflict.
The second post, More from Schaeffer, examines the great theologian Francis Schaeffer's views on pacifism and military preparedness. While I've read a book by Schaeffer's son, I have yet to read any of the senior Schaeffer's books. My reading list keeps growing and growing...
Posted by Susan B. at 8:57 PM
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Sunday, April 20, 2003
He Is Risen!
Have a blessed Easter!
From Matthew 28:1-10
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
(Image of Rembrandt - The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene from The Art Renewal Center.)
Posted by Susan B. at 1:00 AM
Friday, April 18, 2003
From Luke 23:44-56
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
(Image of Rembrandt - Descent from the Cross from The Art Renewal Center.)
Posted by Susan B. at 9:28 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2003
On Mercy and Justice
Eve Tushnet has a great post about justice and mercy. (Blogspot permalinks are busted, of course...scroll down to the post entitled "JUSTICE, MERCY, AND THE FALL" from April 7.)
A few excerpts:
Have been thinking a lot recently about justice and mercy, especially about the famous Adam Smith tagline, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent." [...]
Smith's quote points out some of the ways that naive or misapplied mercy can become itself merciless, thoughtlessly cruel--an obvious example would be freeing a murderer who then kills more people. Many of the debates about how widespread welfare affects culture and creates perverse incentives revolve around more subtle examples of Smith's principle. Policing may seem like a "justice" act, but live in an unpoliced neighborhood for a while and you'll see that it can also be a great mercy to a populace terrorized by criminals.
But justice isn't just merciful to the innocent. It can also be a means of keeping the guilty from doing further harm--and thus a blessing in disguise to them. Chastisement can provoke repentance. Chastisement can force self-examination. [...]
But the justice-trumps-mercy stance is also flawed, because it divides the world into the Good Guys and the Bad Guys, and if you ever fall off the cliff into BadGuyLand, that's it for you--you'll get what you deserve. If you have a kid out of wedlock, don't expect my help--you should have kept your pants zipped. If you rob a store, don't expect me to visit you in prison, bring books to the prison library, or give you a second chance--I ought to ostracize you, both to maintain the disincentives to robbery and because you earned it. What have the sheep to do with the goats?
There are a lot of problems with this view, but perhaps the most obvious one is just that there is no one who does not need mercy.
Eve says that her thoughts on this subject are "unformed" and "scattered." I don't think they are at all...they're well worth reading.
Posted by Susan B. at 7:40 PM
Sunday, April 6, 2003
God and Guns
Here's an interesting article that's sure to raise some hackles:
The Washington Times: Preaching for God and guns
Black ministers practicing politics from the pulpit are nothing new. Since the genesis of the modern civil rights movement a half-century ago, no group has had more influence on the politics of rank-and-file black voters than their clergy.
But seldom have black preachers mixed Bible readings, political debate and target practice.
Meet Kenneth Blanchard, the "Pistol Packing Preacher." That is the title of a motivational compact disc aimed at black and Hispanic audiences, his chosen demographic for preaching about the "sacred right" to self-defense.
"Gun rights are civil rights," says Mr. Blanchard, who is licensed as an assistant minister by the Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Washington. "Self-defense is a divine right." [...]
Asked to reconcile his self-defense advocacy with the Christ's admonition to turn the other cheek, Mr. Blanchard said the two philosophies are compatible.
"Jesus was not some pacifist wimp, as many like to portray him, but a really tough guy," Mr. Blanchard said. "His advice to turn the other cheek did not mean to lie down and give up, but to be cool, careful and calculated. It means to control your emotions and actions through inner, spiritual strength, to not react in anger or rage, but carefully."
The article goes on to talk about how gun rights played a significant role in the early civil rights movement.
I have to say that Mr. Blanchard's interpretation of "turn the other cheek" is similar to mine. To me, it means that you should control your anger and not be vengeful. I don't think it is telling people not to defend themselves and others from harm, because defense and vengeance are two completely different things. Defense of self and others is motivated by love, whereas vengeance is motivated by hate.
(Hat tip: laughin.)
Posted by Susan B. at 1:35 PM
Thursday, March 27, 2003
This is interesting, and a little surprising:
The Irish Catholic: Liberation theology and the Iraq War
While liberation theology does not encourage violence, it acknowledges the right of people to defend themselves against murderous repression...Liberation theology would say that the Lord, who breaks the rod of the oppressor, was with them. But unaided rebellion would have no prospect of success, and our bystander sympathy, our distant indignation (if we even noticed) would not prevent it being crushed with great slaughter.
Yet amazingly, when their liberation rides on the probable success of US arms, much of the world is totally opposed. As the prophet Isaiah recognized in Cyrus the Persian '"Israel's hope of liberation from Babylon" so today Iraqi exiles cannot wait for the US to overthrow Saddam's regime. But, sadly, Christian solidarity with them is overwhelmed by pacifism, neutralism, and anti-Americanism.
Pacifism absolutises peace at the expense of justice, and neutralism turns fence-sitting into moral superiority. Anti-Americanism, like Saddam's torturers, drowns the cries of the victims and silences the tongues of the exiles.
(Via Relapsed Catholic.)
Posted by Susan B. at 6:05 PM
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Patty fisks this pompous, snotty BBC column by Justin Webb about faith in America. To sum up the column, Mr. Webb is amazed that there are people in America who take their faith seriously. Why, they actually pray, read the Bible and believe in things like good and evil! How simplistic! How gauche! Why can't they be more like the secular, enlightened Europeans? Or more like the "rational," non-religious British? (Guess he's never heard of C.S. Lewis.)
Of course, the main purpose of this column is to take a swipe at President Bush and his faith. Now, this is starting to get confusing. People like Mr. Webb feel threatened by Bush because of his faith. But yet there are liberal Christians who accuse Bush of not being a "real" Christian because he's not a pacifist. Go figure...
Posted by Susan B. at 10:08 AM
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Monday, March 10, 2003
Joel Fuhrmann at Religious Left Watch is doing some special blogging for Lent. He is posting a chapter by chapter review and meditation on John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read this book. Joel explains what he is doing in this post. The Lenten posts start here. This is good stuff -- do check it out.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:47 PM
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Wednesday, March 5, 2003
It's Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I'm giving up chocolate and other sweets for Lent. This will be a real challenge, because this is one of my weaknesses. I'm not an overeater, but I do love sweets -- especially chocolate!
I'm trying to ease myself into an Atkins-like diet anyway -- less carbs and more protein. Giving up sweets will help immensely.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:25 AM
Saturday, February 22, 2003
Jesus and War
Susanna Cornett has no use for those who use the name of Jesus to promote an anti-war position in regards to Iraq. Many of those who do this also imply that you're a bad Christian if you disagree with them on this issue. However, Susanna is not saying that Jesus is pro-war, either:
I just get physically sick about these people, most especially those like the pope and Talbert. They do more to torture and damage the word of God than any atheist could hope to do. I will tell you this: They do not have support for their opposition from anything Jesus says, or the apostles, or the Old Testament. And you know what? I don't have support for my position either, in the sense of an explicit guidance about the rightness of any war. It is an extrapolation. They can extrapolate all they want, but to claim that their reading is supported by Scripture, implicitly or explicitly, is just wrong and, in my view, using God to further earthly goals that have nothing to do with God's plan for earth. [...]
Those of us who are Christians have a responsibility to search God's word and live our lives in harmony with it. There are many shades of gray that leave us room to make our own decisions, with nothing explicit to guide us more in one way or the other. I will say this again, and bluntly: Religious leaders who use the Bible to condemn or support the war in Iraq are overstepping the bounds of the Bible's teaching, and run the risk of using God to support their earthly ambitions. And that is a great sin.
The main point of Susanna's post is that Jesus is neither a pacifist nor a warmonger, just as He is neither liberal nor conservative. Please take the time to read her whole post...lots of thought-provoking stuff there.
Friday, February 21, 2003
I Don't Get This...
The Pope says sarcasm is wrong. I don't agree, of course. I don't understand this reasoning at all:
Pope John Paul II described sarcasm as a modern form of martyrdom, suggesting a sarcastic person delights in "isolating the righteous with mockery and irony".
So? Sarcasm can be used in all kinds of ways, not just to mock the righteous. I remember Jesus using sarcasm several times. Also, the prophet Elijah got very sarcastic with some Baal worshippers.
Now, can sarcasm be used in a bad or hurtful way? Sure, but that doesn't mean it should never be used, or that it's evil.
(Found via Lynn Sislo.)
Posted by Susan B. at 10:49 PM
Sunday, February 16, 2003
The other day, Mark Shea posted about Purgatory. He included a link to an article that he wrote on the subject and a quote from C.S. Lewis, who also believed in Purgatory (although he wasn't Catholic).
I was raised to believe that Purgatory is a false teaching that promotes the idea that we need something else besides Christ's death on the cross to make us right in the eyes of God. I grew up going to a charismatic Pentecostal church and I now go to a conservative (Missouri Synod) Lutheran church. So you could say that I'm a pretty solid Protestant.
I have read several books by C.S. Lewis and respect him greatly as a thinker and a Christian. It is because of Lewis that I've actually considered that maybe the Catholics are right about Purgatory. Mark Shea also makes some very good arguments in his article. He backs up his arguments with Scripture, which makes them all the more compelling.
But I just can't quite shake the Protestant objections to the idea of Purgatory. When Christ said on the cross, "It is finished," why isn't it indeed finished? If He died on the cross for our sins, taking all of our sins and ugliness upon Himself and paying the price, why do we need Purgatory to cleanse us? Didn't Christ's blood wash us clean?
This whole Purgatory question is one that I've struggled with for some time. In some ways, it makes sense to me, but then I feel that it somehow diminishes what Christ did for us.
I invite anyone, whatever your views on this subject, to share them if you'd like. I'm pretty undecided (and therefore open-minded) on this issue.
Posted by Susan B. at 4:46 PM
Thursday, January 9, 2003
Jesus and Pot
I've seen this news story linked on various blogs over the past few days:
BBC: Cannabis linked to Biblical healing
Guardian: Jesus 'healed using cannabis'
Let's just say I'm more that a little skeptical about this. The article that supposedly proves this appears in a pro-drug magazine, so there's definitely an agenda.
Just to clarify, I don't have a problem with medicinal marijuana. And although I don't believe in drug use, I think marijuana should probably be legalized (although not "hard drugs").
But the assertion that "Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user" is just pure speculation. There's no real proof offered here. And there are no references that I can find to Jesus using potions or incense in the Bible. To me, this looks like another special interest group trying to use Jesus to promote their agenda, much like PETA claiming that Jesus was a vegetarian.
(First link via Mark Shea, second via Lynn Sislo.)
Posted by Susan B. at 8:25 PM
Sunday, January 5, 2003
Susanna Cornett links to this post on Beers Across America about TBN and Benny Hinn, and then tells her own story about a money-grubbing tent preacher. These oily charlatans really anger me for a variety of reasons. They take advantage of well-meaning or desperate people, they bring disrepute to Christianity and they preach just plain bad theology (the whole "health and wealth" thing).
I watched the Dateline NBC report about Benny Hinn that aired the week before last. I encouraged my mother to watch it too, because she likes Benny Hinn. (In fact, I'm sure she thinks I'm a jerk for saying he's a charlatan.) One of the most disgusting things I saw on the NBC report was how Hinn would tell people who were supposed to be healed, but actually weren't, that they lost their healing because of a lack of faith. What a horrible thing to do to suffering people!
After watching it, my mother said that Hinn was going to give his side of the story on TBN. I don't know if this ever happened or not. I hope my mother at least had some doubts planted about Hinn and his ilk. Thankfully, she doesn't send the guy money.
I've had a particular dislike for televangelists since watching how Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker operated back in the eighties (several years before the scandals that brought them down). They would beg for money, acting like they were just about to shut down PTL. But of course, the donations would roll in and PTL would survive to beg another day. I was just in my teens then but I could see these people for what they were. But then people like my grandmother would send them money.
The Bakkers' scamming finally caught up with them, and it will catch up with Hinn too. In fact, it looks like it already is.
Posted by Susan B. at 9:44 PM
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Friday, January 3, 2003
God and The Big Bang
David Heddle at He Lives has a fascinating post about The Big Bang. He concludes that science does not disprove that God is the creator of all things, but rather is evidence of it. His post sums up my own beliefs on the subject of creation. Sure, God could've created everything in a split second if He wanted to. But God is a creative God. He is the Great Artist, the Great Scientist. Creation of the universe and the earth did not just happen randomly. There is intelligence and creativity behind it.
Posted by Susan B. at 11:21 PM
Evangelicals and Art
Are Evangelical Christians clueless when it comes to art? Do they too often see art as just a mere tool with which to evangelize? I’m a conservative Lutheran, so I guess I would be considered an Evangelical. I have to agree that some Christians do seem to have a narrow view of art.
Mark Shea links to an essay on the Hollywood Jesus website: The Mythology of J. R. R. Tolkien. The essay is also given somewhat of a fisking by David Mills on Touchstone Magazine’s blog, Mere Comments*. That post and a follow up post also deal with how some Evangelicals view art. From the first Mills post:
I think this peculiar reading of Tolkien and his great book reflects what is, I am afraid, the traditional approach of American Evangelicals to these things: that stories are not really good or safe unless they are clearly propaganda in the old sense of the word, unless they are really illustrated sermons whose lessons can be put in propositions. This is the only sort of story they think “Christian.”
They are happy with The Narnia Chronicles because they can say “Aslan equals Jesus.” They are less happy with The Lord of the Rings because they cannot find nearly so obvious a Christ figure. You do find them saying “Frodo equals Jesus! Wait, I mean Gandalf equals Jesus! And Aragorn equals Jesus too!” but the range of possibilities usually defeats them. And Tolkien’s book does not give them any of the keys or hints that the book has an obvious and directly applicable Christian meaning they look for.
I have met intelligent Evangelicals, including some college professors, who distrusted all literature except Pilgrim’s Progress and its knock offs, because they could not easily find a “Christian” meaning in anything else. I have read and heard some tortured efforts by English profs at Evangelical colleges to prove that literature was good in itself, and they always wound up, in desperation perhaps, arguing for literature as an instrument, as a way of growing in knowledge in a fairly obvious way. This meant that if you had acquired the knowledge in another way, you did not need stories at all.
Is Mills being too harsh in his assessment? I don’t think he is. This same problem is the subject of the previously mentioned book Addicted to Mediocrity by Franky Schaeffer. Many Evangelical Christians do have a narrow, utilitarian view of art. If a work of art can’t be used as an evangelical tool, it isn’t considered useful. It may even be considered ungodly.
The point of Schaeffer’s book is that art glorifies God simply by expressing the beauty and truths of the world He created. It need not mention God directly or provide some neat allegory for Christian theology to be godly.
I think more Evangelicals are starting to understand this, but we still have a long way to go.
* The permalinks are not functioning on Mere Comments. The first post by Mills on this subject is entitled "THE EVIL TOLKIEN" and the second one is "ART AS INSTRUMENT."
Posted by Susan B. at 12:50 AM
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Sunday, December 22, 2002
Defending Mary’s Honor
I heard about this BBC program about the Virgin Mary a few days ago. Bene Diction posted about it today, which brought it to mind again. I’ve heard most of these attempts to refute the virgin birth before. Particularly this (from the BBC article):
Each [Gospel] was written to advance a particular theological understanding of Jesus. The virgin birth tradition derives at least partly from a passage in the book attributed to the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son... "
Other belief systems current in the Middle East at the time of Christ's birth also speak of a miraculous birth of a leader to a virgin.
And the word translated as "virgin" in our Bibles, scholars say, may well have meant no more in the original Aramaic than "young girl" or "maiden".
Today in church, the Gospel reading was from Luke 1:26-38. Here’s an excerpt of this reading:
"...You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
Now, I’m no theologian or scholar – I’m just a regular Christian who still has a lot to learn. But if the word “virgin” really meant “young girl” or “maiden,” wouldn’t that last question by Mary be kind of silly? Basically, she would be asking: “How can I have a baby? I’m a young woman.” For her question to make any sense, the word “virgin” would have to mean what we understand it to mean.
Posted by Susan B. at 11:48 PM
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Happy Reformation Day!
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door, starting the Protestant Reformation. If you would like to read more of Martin Luther's works or more about Lutheranism, check out Project Wittenberg.
Oh, yeah...tomorrow's Halloween too.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:32 PM
Thursday, September 19, 2002
About "Cheap Grace"
Regarding that Jacoby column...he mentioned what Dietrich Bonhoeffer (one of my heroes, by the way) called “cheap grace”. I could very well be wrong, but I think that “cheap grace” applies more to how an individual looks at his own sinfulness than how he looks at others’ sins. For example, someone who sins without any real repentance because he thinks, “well, God will forgive me,” believes in cheap grace.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:53 PM
Forgiveness and Mercy
I know I'm a little late with this subject, but so what.
The subject is the one brought up by this Jeff Jacoby column, which was linked by Rod Dreher on NRO's The Corner. I have to admit, I was offended at Pope John Paul II for praying for mercy and forgiveness for the 9/11 terrorists. I'll quote from Jacoby's column because it summed up my thoughts perfectly:
[F]orgiveness must be earned. It is no part of Christian compassion (or Jewish or Muslim compassion) that forgiveness be extended automatically, no strings attached, to someone who has committed a terrible sin. There is a term for the notion that forgiveness is a freebie that sinners are entitled to as a matter of right: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Protestant theologian killed by the Nazis, called it ''cheap grace.''
Yet countless Christians embrace cheap grace. They believe their religion requires them to forgive every offense and pray for every offender, no matter what the offender did or whether he wants to be forgiven. No crime is too heinous, no cruelty too monstrous, to qualify for this instant absolution.
I agreed with Jacoby that the prayer was an affront, because the Pope was asking God to forgive and have mercy on unrepentant people. That sounds very unjust. To me, it seems wimpy and weak to forgive people who are unrepentant. It seems to be a way of excusing their behavior and allowing them to continue in that behavior without making them accountable. It often seems like mercy is in conflict with justice.
But I'm wrong.
I refused to accept that at first. I read a lot of commentary disagreeing with Jacoby, but none of it was very convincing. And then this post by Mark Shea got through to me. He's right. And what he says about embittered people who never forgive rings true to me because I know people like that.
Understanding what forgiveness is has always been a difficulty for me. But I think I'm a little closer to understanding it now. I'm no longer offended by the Pope's prayer. However, I'm not able to pray the same thing myself. Not yet. Hopefully, someday I'll be able to.
Posted by Susan B. at 10:33 PM
Thursday, August 8, 2002
Anything But Prayer
Tony Woodlief wonders why the media is so afraid to mention that "P-word"...prayer:
Do they really not know that average people pray, or are they simply afraid to say so?
I think it's a little of both.
Posted by Susan B. at 12:22 AM
Sunday, August 4, 2002
Here's an excellent post by Ben Domenech: Pilate on the Beach.
Posted by Susan B. at 8:11 PM
Friday, June 28, 2002
Monday, June 24, 2002
Midwest Conservative Journal comments on this appalling item. I have often wondered where Palestinian Christians stand on the homicide bombings carried out against innocent Israeli citizens. If Father Attallah Hanna is representative of the views of Palestinian Christians, then it sounds like these "Christians" have joined the culture of death that has consumed the Palestinian Muslims.
What I would like to ask Father Attallah Hanna is this: How could you, as a Christian, support the murder of little Jewish girls and little Christian girls?
And how could you support teaching little Muslim girls to hate?
Posted by Susan B. at 12:49 AM
Thursday, May 30, 2002
I have this problem every once in a while. It's usually brought on by stress and worry. I'm passing the time doing some reading. Check out Frederica Mathewes-Green for some great essays on spiritual and social issues. I remember her writing from when I used to subscribe to Regeneration Quarterly (or First Things, or maybe both). I find reading her essays this evening somehow comforting, since I'm in one of those moods where I feel like there's hardly any sanity or decency left in the Universe. I found the link to her writings a while back on Eve Tushnet's blog.
Posted by Susan B. at 1:27 AM