Saints and Fatheads:  The Genius of the Church

Saints and Fatheads: The Genius of the Church

In a fictional letter to a young Pastor, Ian Stackhouse (a non-fictional minister in Guildford, age unknown/irrelevant 😉 contributing to the Baptist Journal Ministry Today UK, February 2018 Edition, writes:

“Dear Timothy,

As always, I feel very honoured that you should write to me so candidly about the things you are dealing with, but I am a bit worried, I must admit, by your growing criticisms of the congregation.  You may not like me saying this, but I put it down to these conferences your denomination insists on sending you to.  Conferences about growing your church are all very well, but if you are not careful you will end up despising the congregation you are serving.  The truth is, Timothy, we all feel disappointed from time to time by the place we have been assigned to, and it is very tempting to fantasise about being somewhere else that is more congenial to our personality, more alive in the Spirit, and – let’s face it – bigger.  But the tragedy of it is that all the while we are ministering to the people who are not there, planning for the people who we have yet to engage with, we are missing out on the wonders of the people who are there, the treasures that are sitting right under our noses had we but the generosity to notice . . . . .

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Interpreting Sleeping Beauty

Telling our cultural stories is one thing; interpreting them is quite another.  In the highly acclaimed ‘12 Rules for Life’ by Jordan Peterson, in the chapter (or ‘Rule 5’) entitled ‘Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them’ (ahem – note to self), Peterson offers a compelling hermeneutic for the classic Fairy Tale

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How the Liturgy makes us into living works of art before God and others

How the Liturgy makes us into living works of art before God and others

Beautiful comment on the liturgy by Romano Guardini in The Spirit of the Liturgy:

“The practice of the liturgy means that by the help of grace, under the guidance of the Church, we grow into living works of art before God, with no other aim or purpose than that of living and existing in his sight. . . . .

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A Mission Memory

Nineteen years ago I was in Zimbabwe on a two-month Youth With A Mission (YWAM) outreach, out of The King’s Lodge training base in Nuneaton.  This was with my wife and three young children (6, 5, 2), and nineteen other people (adults and children).

This was my first experience of cross-cultural mission and ministry outside the UK and my first experience of the incredible Continent of Africa.  I was not even thirty years old and despite all my senses being assaulted for good or ill, God was calling me and my family into mission.

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Note Taking on Julian of Norwich pt4

Marjorie Kempe was a contemporary of Julian and visited her and wrote to her.

In one letter Marjorie laments at the end of a thought about sin:  “Alas that I ever did sin. It is full merry in heaven.”

This is insightful because of the way this perspective compares with Julian.

Julian said there are Three Knowledges:

  1. To know God
  2. To know ourselves (that we are through Him in nature and grace).
  3. To know our sin and weakness

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Praying for Palestinian Justice

The Wave of Prayer ministry enables local and international friends of Sabeel to pray over regional concerns on a weekly basis. Sent to Sabeel’s network of supporters, the prayer is used in services around the world and during Sabeel’s Thursday Communion service; as each community in its respective time zone lifts these concerns in prayer at noon every Thursday, this ‘wave of prayer’ washes over the world.
 
Sabeel Wave of Prayer – Thursday 31st May 2018
During the ninth consecutive week of the ‘Great March of Return’ more than 100 Palestinians, including seven children were wounded by Israeli snipers along the border in Gaza. There is a desperate shortage of drugs and medication for the treatment of the wounded in Gaza as a result of the ten year Israeli blockade.
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Lord, we continue to pray for the safety of the Palestinian protesters and their commitment to non-violence. Dear God, we pray that those who have been injured in the protest may soon recover and that the families who are grieving for their loved ones may find solace.
Lord in your mercy . . . Hear our prayer.
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The Israeli Knesset has proposed a new bill which would make it a criminal act to film or photograph an Israeli soldier on active duty. The bill is supported by the right-wing Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and if passed, those found in violation of the law could face a prison sentence of up to five years. Palestinian journalists view the law as an attempt by the Israeli government to ‘escape punishment and international justice’.
Lord, we pray for the safety of all people who risk their lives to document the human rights violations of the powerful. We pray that journalists may still be able to report the truth of all they witness in the occupied territories.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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Last Friday, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition from six human rights groups to declare that ‘the Israeli military’s regulations that allow soldiers to open fire at unarmed civilians is unlawful’.
Lord, we continue to depend on your mercy and justice as Israel validates the use of violence against Palestinians through legislative means. We pray for the protection of those who exercise their right to protest against the occupation.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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On Thursday, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Defence Minister, said in a statement that he plans to seek approval for the construction of 2,500 Israeli settler homes in the occupied West Bank.
Lord, the Israeli government continues to demolish the homes of Palestinians and ruin their crops as well as appropriating their land to build illegal settlements for Israelis. We pray that the international community would undertake to hold the Israeli government to account for flouting international law. We ask that due process would be brought to bear on any attempts to colonize the West Bank.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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Last Sunday, May 20th, the Palestinian residents of the village of al-Aqaba received demolition orders from the Israeli forces. They were informed that twenty homes would be demolished within a period of sixty days as they were alleged to have been built without the requisite Israeli construction permits.
Over the weekend, Israeli settlers raided Palestinian vineyards in the Hebron area and used electric saws to cut down over 1700 vines. The settlers also spray-painted threats on the walls around the vineyards.
Lord, Palestinians continue to fall victim to the policies of the Israeli army and politicians. We pray for the safety of Palestinian villages and for renewed strength for the farmers who have lost their vines just months before the grape-harvest. Have mercy on the Palestinian people Lord, as they grow weary.
Lord in you mercy . . .
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Three toddlers were found dead in the Palestinian town of Bethany east of Jerusalem. Initial investigation by the police shows that the three children, two sisters and a friend, trapped themselves in an abandoned car while playing and died as a result of suffocation during a heat wave.
Lord, we pray for the families of Youssef, Raneem and Rahaf as they mourn the deaths of their beloved children and ask that they would find comfort in their grief.
Lord in your mercy . . .
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A Palestinian teenager died on Wednesday after succumbing to wounds sustained during protests in Ramallah.  Adi Abu Khalil was only fifteen years old when shot in the stomach by an Israeli soldier last week.
Lord, the Israeli occupation continues to target Palestinian children and teenagers. We pray for your spirit to comfort the family of Adi as they grieve for their loss. We pray that soldiers firing live ammunition at children would, one day, be held accountable for their action.
Lord in your mercy . . .
“Vague babblings about religion”

“Vague babblings about religion”

A few years ago, David Bentley Hart wrote a  review of a book called: 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, co-edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk. On Amazon the book is described thus:

“50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics who offer carefully considered statements of why they are atheists.”

Hart’s original article can be found at the First Things website, but here’s a snippet of his sigh-ings against what he delicately calls the “sheer banality of the New Atheists”:

 

“How long should we waste our time with the sheer banality of the New Atheists—with, that is, their childishly Manichean view of history, their lack of any tragic sense, their indifference to the cultural contingency of moral “truths,” their wanton incuriosity, their vague babblings about “religion” in the abstract, and their absurd optimism regarding the future they long for? . . .

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection. Among the New Atheists, there is no one of whom this can be said, and the movement as a whole has yet to produce a single book or essay that is anything more than an insipidly doctrinaire and appallingly ignorant diatribe.

If that seems a harsh judgment, I can only say that I have arrived at it honestly. In the course of writing a book published just this last year, I dutifully acquainted myself not only with all the recent New Atheist bestsellers, but also with a whole constellation of other texts in the same line, and I did so, I believe, without prejudice. No matter how patiently I read, though, and no matter how Herculean the efforts I made at sympathy, I simply could not find many intellectually serious arguments in their pages, and I came finally to believe that their authors were not much concerned to make any. . . .

I came to realize that the whole enterprise, when purged of its hugely preponderant alloy of sanctimonious bombast, is reducible to only a handful of arguments, most of which consist in simple category mistakes or the kind of historical oversimplifications that are either demonstrably false or irrelevantly true. And arguments of that sort are easily dismissed, if one is hardy enough to go on pointing out the obvious with sufficient indefatigability.”