Weekly Meanderings, 11 June 2016

Today is Graduation Day at Northern Seminary, and without Kris’s link-finder on high detection radar this week this post would be empty. Thank you Kris!

Trudy Smith, her journey out of church and then…

I continued to journey alongside other Christians, but I no longer understood the importance of attending church. It occurred to me that perhaps what was more important than how often I showed up for a Sunday service was how often I showed up for people who were in need: quietly listening, crying with them, sharing my food and time and space and joining my voice with theirs to demand justice.

The more I learned about poverty and systemic injustice, the more frustrated I became with churches whose weekly programming is disconnected from the world beyond their sanctuaries. I was tired of prayer without action; simplistic spiritual formulas without any mention of the Gospel Jesus preached: good news for the poor, freedom for the captives, sight for the blind. I lost hope that most of the Church would ever get its act together enough to closely resemble Jesus.

But then another strange thing happened. I kept following Jesus, and eventually, He led me right back into church. I was surprised. There were plenty of people there working toward justice, but I realized that church was not a place to go because everyone had their act together and was doing things right.

It was more like a refuge where all sorts of people could gather to remind each other of the story we were all in—the one about how God loves us, and is renewing our world and our souls in spite of all the damage that’s been done. It was more like a school for conversion where we were all stumbling through basic lessons on how to love.

We sang about this love and this mission to be part of it; we sang about our brokenness and our hope. We looked each other in the eye. We confessed our sins. We shared bread and juice and remembered that we are all tied together in this dysfunctional family that God has cobbled together. …

So I’ve slowly learned that going to church can be about something other than moral requirement, fear of punishment, social connection, getting spiritually fed, or even looking for likeminded people with whom to pursue justice in the world. Going to church can be about holding this space in which to experience the grace of God together, learn together, fail and forgive and stumble forward together.

He’s got it.

Jane E. Brody on moral wounds that don’t heal:

No doubt in the course of your life, you did something, or failed to do something, that left you feeling guilty or ashamed. What if that something was in such violation of your moral compass that you felt unable to forgive yourself, undeserving of happiness, perhaps even unfit to live?

That is the fate of an untold number of servicemen and women who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and other wars. Many participated in, witnessed or were unable to help in the face of atrocities, from failing to aid an injured person to killing a child, by accident or in self-defense.

For some veterans, this leaves emotional wounds that time refuses to heal. It radically changes them and how they deal with the world. It has a name: moral injury. Unlike a better known casualty of war, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, moral injury is not yet a recognized psychiatric diagnosis, although the harm it inflicts is as bad if not worse.

The problem is highlighted in a new documentary called “Almost Sunrise,” which will be shown next weekend at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York and on June 23 and 24 at AFI Docs in Washington, D.C. The film depicts the emotional agony and self-destructive aftermath of moral injury and follows two sufferers along a path that alleviates their psychic distress and offers hope for eventual recovery.

On improving your brain.

NPR and the National Cathedral and the Confederates:

The Washington National Cathedral says it will remove two images of the Confederate battle flag from the building’s stained glass windows. Then the church will hold a period of public discussion on issues of race, slavery and justice, and revisit the question of how to treat other depictions of the Civil War on the windows.

The windows in question memorialize Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; they were installed in 1953 after lobbying by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They feature images from the lives of the two generals, and include two Confederate battle flags.

A five-person task force that examined the windows’ symbolic power said the flags cannot remain on the cathedral as they have thus far in the building’s history. But instead of quietly taking down the windows, the task force recommended replacing just the flags — then using the windows as a starting point for a series of conversations.

“[T]he windows provide a catalyst for honest discussions about race and the legacy of slavery and for addressing the uncomfortable and too often avoided issues of race in America,” the task force found, according to a press release from the National Cathedral.

One member of the task force said the windows raise a question about race and slavery in America, “and instead of turning away from that question, the cathedral has decided to lean into it.”

A series of panel discussions and events exploring race and racism will kick off next month at the cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Good update on Rob Bell.

Jim Martin on responding to discouragement:

The following have been helpful to me:

  1. Use your greatest resource which is prayer.  Pray.  Pray.  You may be in a battle with the evil one for one of your children or for your marriage.  Pray.  Prayer is the greatest resource you have to deal with your problems.  Go to your war room and do battle!  Pray.
  2. Run from the devil and his schemes.  He is aiming for your defeat so that one less person on the earth gives glory to God.  In your discouragement, you may be tempted to make an unwise phone call, lose yourself in an erotic novel, or justify yielding to a temptation.  Know that yielding to temptation is the devil’s fraudulent promise.  Instead of life getting better, sin only digs a deeper hole.
  3. Make a short list of the encouraging people in your life and begin calling these people regularly.  Call several each week.  Developing this habit can be energizing over time.  Take the initiative to do this.
  4. Get a clean piece of paper and begin making a gratitude list.  Write down what you are thankful for and who you are thankful for.  Consider sending notes to some, thanking them for what they have meant to you.
  5. Read Scriptures that speak of God’s love, care, and power (Psalm 16:8; 27:1; 37:39; 46:1-3; 55:22; 138:3; Isaiah 41:10;  Matthew 19:26; 2 Corinthians 4:16; I Peter 5:7).  Remember that Paul in a moment that could have been so discouraging declared that, “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17-18).
  6. Choose to do good for others.  There is something about serving others that in some way can help to take our minds off ourselves.
  7. Don’t wait on things to get better before you take the positive, intentional steps you need to take.  Far too many people passively wait for something to happen.  We keep waiting for someone else to make a move.  Waiting on a child to do better.  Waiting on a spouse to change.  Waiting to see if the drug treatment words.  When one is discouraged, it is easy to become frozen, immobile, and passive.  This is a dead-end street.
  8. Put into your mind things that are encouraging and helpful, while avoiding unnecessary discouraging situations. For example: During times of discouragement, there are certain kinds of people I know that I don’t need to spend much time with.  Such people can suck the joy out of most any situation.  During such times, I don’t need to spend a lot of time with people who gripe and complain.  Instead, I need to put into my mind, things that are helpful and encouraging.  Read articles, listen to podcasts, and read books that in some way give you joy and encouragement.
  9. Talk to a godly counselor or a mature believer to whom you can confide.  It can be very hard to bear discouragement alone.  Pray about this and look for a way to make this happen.
  10. Keep your body fit.  The temptation, when discouraged, can be to let your body go. Consequently, you overeat, get no exercise, and spend too much time in front of the television.  Go for a walk or a bike ride.  Can’t leave the house?  Stretch.  Just do something besides sitting in a chair.

Discouragement can be difficult.  Which of these ten practices could you begin with?

Bill Gates would raise chickens:

If you were living on $2 a day, what would you do to improve your life?

That’s a real question for the nearly 1 billion people living in extreme poverty today. There’s no single right answer, of course, and poverty looks different in different places. But through my work with the foundation, I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and outs of owning these birds. (As a city boy from Seattle, I had a lot to learn!) It’s pretty clear to me that just about anyone who’s living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens.

In fact, if I were in their shoes, that’s what I would do—I would raise chickens.

Here’s why:

  • They are easy and inexpensive to take care of. Many breeds can eat whatever they find on the ground (although it’s better if you can feed them, because they’ll grow faster). Hens need some kind of shelter where they can nest, and as your flock grows, you might want some wood and wire to make a coop. Finally, chickens need a few vaccines. The one that prevents the deadly Newcastle disease costs less than 20 cents.
  • They’re a good investment. Suppose a new farmer starts with five hens. One of her neighbors owns a rooster to fertilize the hens’ eggs. After three months, she can have a flock of 40 chicks. Eventually, with a sale price of $5 per chicken—which is typical in West Africa—she can earn more than $1,000 a year, versus the extreme-poverty line of about $700 a year.
  • They help keep children healthy. Malnutrition kills more than 3.1 million children a year. Although eating more eggs—which are rich in protein and other nutrients—can help fight malnutrition, many farmers with small flocks find that it’s more economical to let the eggs hatch, sell the chicks, and use the money to buy nutritious food. But if a farmer’s flock is big enough to give her extra eggs, or if she ends up with a few broken ones, she may decide to cook them for her family.
  • They empower women. Because chickens are small and typically stay close to home, many cultures regard them as a woman’s animal, in contrast to larger livestock like goats or cows. Women who sell chickens are likely to reinvest the profits in their families. Read more about women and chickens in Melinda’s blog post.

KJ Dell’ Antonia;

WHAT are your kids up to this summer? Sounds like a casual question. But for working parents at this time of year, it’s loaded. What have you managed to pull together that will keep your kids engaged, healthy, happy and safe, while still allowing you to keep feeding and clothing them? For most parents, summer, that beloved institution, is a financial and logistical nightmare.

Tolanda Barnette is hoping for “a miracle” for her 6-year-old son: The 41-year-old day care worker can’t afford to enroll him at the center where she works, and she’s just saved enough to move her family out of the shelter where they’ve been living for the past year into an apartment in Durham, N.C. There’s no money for even the least expensive camp.

Her only option is to leave the boy at home with his 12-year-old sister. “My daughter’s not going to be happy,” Ms. Barnette said. “She doesn’t want to spend her summer babysitting.” Her daughter is also scheduled to stay with her father for part of the summer, an opportunity Ms. Barnette’s 6-year-old doesn’t have. “I’m really digging for something for him,” she said. But if she fails? “I don’t know. I just don’t know. I have to work. It’s not an option.”

Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive…

WOULD we be better off if we just got rid of summer?

Laura Paterson:

A jump in wind power led to turbines producing enough electricity to meet the needs of more than three-quarters of Scottish households in April, figures reveal.

Wind farms provided 699,684MWh (megawatt-hours) of electricity to the National Grid last month, enough to power 79 per cent of average Scottish households, equivalent to 1.9 million homes.

The energy output has increased by 15 per cent compared with the same time last year when wind energy provided 608,601MWh of electricity to the grid.

Figures released by WeatherEnergy show that high winds meant on eight days in April wind turbines generated enough electricity to supply 100 per cent or more of Scottish homes.

Despite the recent wintry weather the data shows that in homes fitted with solar panels, there was enough sunshine to generate an estimated 95 per cent of the electricity needs of an average household in Dundee, 87 per cent in Edinburgh, 86 per cent in Aberdeen, 84 per cent in Glasgow, and 83 per cent in Inverness.

For those homes fitted with solar hot water panels, there was enough sunshine to generate 82 per cent of an average household’s hot water needs in Inverness, 80 per cent in Dundee, 78 per cent in Aberdeen, 76 per cent in Glasgow, and 74 per cent in Edinburgh.

Read more: http://www.scotsman.com/news/wind-power-provides-electricity-for-75-per-cent-of-scots-homes-1-4116969#ixzz4B0EP4Fb8
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About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.