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Karen Swallow Prior: Good Books Make Better People
« Reply #1104 on: December 17, 2018, 12:00:12 AM »

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Karen Swallow Prior: Good Books Make Better People

Why history's wisest figures have seen a connection between reading well and living well.


When I was a young girl, I gathered up all my books from my bedroom, carried them downstairs into our finished basement, arranged them on a bookcase, and opened my own little library. I’d like to say I did this in order to let my friends check out the books to read, but I think it’s more accurate to say that I made them do it. Now as an English professor, I make my students read books, and it has been both my passion and my job to encourage people to read widely.


When I began teaching, I found I had to become a kind of apologist for literary reading. Some of my Christian students (along with their nervous parents) were wary of reading “worldly” literature by authors who, perhaps, were hostile to the Christian worldview. As a young professor at an evangelical university, I developed an approach to teaching my classes that began with a biblical basis for reading literature, including literature that is not necessarily “Christian.” I came to relish every opportunity to teach my students (and sometimes their parents) how such reading ultimately can strengthen one’s Christian faith and worldview. I became an evangelist for reading widely.


Then, over the past several years, something began to shift. Now nearly everyone seems to be reading more—and more widely. I seldom encounter students who have been sheltered from diverse points of view, transgressive ideas, or atheistic arguments. Or even Harry Potter. Between blog posts, Twitter feeds, listicles, and long-winded Facebook rants, everyone seems to be reading something most of the time—right from the palm of their hand. Yet we don’t seem to be better readers. In fact, we seem to be worse. (Just spend two minutes following ...

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We Were Women Comforted by Shared Pain
« Reply #1105 on: December 18, 2018, 12:00:15 AM »
We Were Women Comforted by Shared Pain

I never imagined my fibromyalgia would help me serve refugees. But chronic pain is something we both understand.


“It’s just the stress of being a college student,” the doctor assured me. “Try to get some more rest and you’ll feel better soon.”


“Your blood work came back completely normal,” another doctor said. “Have you considered going to therapy? Because to me, it sounds like you might just be depressed.”


I had been bouncing around from one doctor to another for two years, trying to find a medical explanation for the pain I felt in every joint and muscle of my body during every minute of every day. Sports medicine doctors told me I had overexerted myself as a dancer in high school. Chiropractors told me that regular adjustments would relieve my pain. Internists instructed me to try gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and processed-sugar-free diets. But none of them could find any abnormalities in my body to explain why I was in pain.


Finally, one doctor implied what the rest may have been thinking: that the pain was all in my head. I was devastated. Doctors—the people I most needed to help me cope with my very real pain—refused to believe me. I was studying to be a Bible translator, but I could barely make it through a day of classes before collapsing in my dorm room early each evening. Why? I asked God over and over. What was the point of this pain? And worse, why would no one believe it was real? Sometimes God’s purposes are not clear in the moment, and this was one of those moments, but over the next several years, I would begin to catch glimpses of how God could use my pain to comfort others.


During the years that my symptoms and concerns were being callously ignored by medical professionals, I had no idea that every day women across the US and around the ...

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Philippine Church Hasn’t Heard These Bells on Christmas Day for 117 Years
« Reply #1106 on: December 19, 2018, 12:00:14 AM »
Philippine Church Hasn’t Heard These Bells on Christmas Day for 117 Years

Catholics celebrate the return of religious artifacts? taken by US soldiers as? spoils of war.


After waiting more than a century for the United States to return a trio of church bells looted during the Philippine-American war, a Catholic parish on the Philippines island of Samar will finally be able to ring them again.


The Balangiga bells were handed over to officials this week and will spend a few days on display at a national museum before making their way home to the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir (St. Lawrence the Martyr), where they originally hung before US forces took them as spoils of war following a 1901 massacre.


The three metal bells, each between 23 inches and 30 inches tall, have taken on meaning as national symbols of freedom and resistance for Filipinos and Catholics, who have petitioned the government for their return since the 1950s.


According to accounts of the Balangiga massacre, Filipino fighters snuck into San Lorenzo in a plot against American troops occupying the small town. They tolled the church bells to signal their attack, which left 48 Americans dead. In a retaliatory strike on the small town, US soldiers killed thousands and claimed the bells from the ruins of the church building.


Those who defended US possession of the bells, including some descendents of servicemen who fought at Balangiga, saw them as instruments of war. They had been kept on military installations—two at a US Air Force base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and another at a US Army post in South Korea.


Their return, two years after the military gave back another Philippine church bell that used to be on display at West Point, represents the US finally righting a longtime rift with the southeast Asian nation.


“… Church bells belong in churches calling the faithful to worship. They don’t commemorate military deeds,” ...

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https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/05/11/after-100-plus-years-west-point-bell-headed-home-to-philippines/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIneBF2d064
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Egypt Approves 168 More Churches
« Reply #1107 on: December 20, 2018, 12:00:11 AM »
Egypt Approves 168 More Churches

With around 500 out of 3,700 Christian applications approved since 2016 law, is government’s progress on legalizing worship sites slow or steady?


Egyptian Christians now have an additional 168 legal church buildings.


On November 30, a cabinet committee approved the requests of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic churches to formally register facilities long functioning as centers of worship.


Prior to a new law passed in August 2016, churches faced an arduous task to secure recognition by the government. Local authorities could delay or deny paperwork for licenses, often on security grounds to placate objections by neighborhood Muslims.


CT previously reported how that law was not without controversy, but that it was designed to streamline the process, allow for judicial review, and transfer final approval from Egypt’s president to local governors.


The law also established a committee to review church requests to license existing church facilities. Consisting of the prime minister and the ministers of justice, housing, antiquities, and others, it officially convened in January 2017.


A total of 3,730 requests were submitted for approval, pending review of structural soundness and compliance with local regulations. The first batch of 53 church buildings was approved back in February.


According to the government, the current decree brings the total number of approvals by the committee to 508.


“I am pleased,” said Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. “The process has been slow in the beginning, but I think going forward it will be better.”


Zaki is optimistic, believing the government is gaining steam and taking seriously its obligations under the law. Churches also are becoming more familiar with the required procedures.


Egypt’s Protestants have submitted requests to license 1,070 church buildings, he ...

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http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/cabinet-legalises-status-of-166-churches-and-church-affiliated-buildings/23697/
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Mary, Mary, Not Quite So Contrary
« Reply #1108 on: December 21, 2018, 12:00:10 AM »
Mary, Mary, Not Quite So Contrary

Finding common ground so that the Virgin Mary becomes less of a battleground.


Many pastors feel nervous as the third Sunday in Advent, “Mary Sunday,” rolls around. What congregant will turn out to be suspicious of any unusual respect shown for her? What visiting Catholic will be mystified or put off by a cautious and understated Protestant treatment? Should a preacher reckon the service a success if both extremes come away disappointed? How can it be that Jesus’ own mother has become the church’s most polarizing figure? And more importantly, what can we do about that?


Mother of all stereotypes


Let’s begin with a sketch of two Marys.


“Mary A”

This is the Mary of modest Protestant tradition, a humble, nondescript young virgin from the tribe of Judah. One day she got an extraordinary visit from an angel who told her that she would bear the Son of God. This wouldn’t happen in the usual natural way but by the sheer creating work of the Holy Spirit. She put her trust in the angel’s good news. She became a faithful wife and mother who protected and raised her son in sometimes extreme circumstances. At times Jesus surprised and even shocked her. Occasionally their relationship even seemed strained. But she stayed with him, all the way to the cross. She was among his faithful disciples in the Book of Acts. We don’t hear nearly as much about her as the apostles, let alone her Son. Nevertheless, she is still a beloved character in his story, especially during the Christmas season when we remember his birth.


Mary A is sparsely and cautiously sketched out, with very little speculation. She is basically what’s in the Bible about Mary. Indeed, Mary A’s fans speculate less about her than other biblical figures. They don’t mind conjecturing about ...

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The Incarnation Is the Rule, Not the Exception
« Reply #1109 on: December 22, 2018, 12:00:12 AM »
The Incarnation Is the Rule, Not the Exception

How a theology of the ordinary informs Advent.


Last month, my husband Matt and I attended Eugene Peterson’s funeral in Montana. We studied under Peterson at Regent College and stayed in close touch over the years. For someone who sold millions of books, translated into multiple languages, his funeral was a wonderfully ordinary affair: a small, local church with fraying red carpet, a local slightly-wet-behind-the-ears pastor who gave the homily, stalwart hymns, and a casket made by his sons.


The simplicity of the event represented everything Peterson taught Matt and me (and many others): Press into what God has already given us in the ordinary people we love, the ordinary church we attend, and the ordinary sacraments we have been given. These unpromising things will keep us rooted in Jesus, despite the temptations around us.


In his books, talks, and sermons, Peterson railed not against the temptations in the world but rather the temptations within the church. And the temptations are plenty. But the way to avoid these temptations, he said, is not to leave the church and all the ugly things about it but instead to stay close and be transformed by it. “The antidote,” he once pointed out to us in a letter when we were knee-deep in solitary ministry in Scotland, “is near the poison.”


One of the key poisons in the American church is the temptation to be extraordinary and visibly radical in order to avoid being “lukewarm,” which more often than not means living a faster pace of life and becoming worn out to prove your authenticity to Jesus (or to yourself).


We find many antidotes within our own ecclesial treasury that counterbalance this tendency. The church over the centuries has made saints of certain individuals precisely because of their ...

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Offline John

Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #1110 on: December 22, 2018, 03:42:24 PM »
Good article.

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Mankind Was Scrooge’s Business (and George Bailey’s, Too)
« Reply #1111 on: December 23, 2018, 12:00:11 AM »
Mankind Was Scrooge’s Business (and George Bailey’s, Too)

Two of our favorite Christmas stories teach us that no one can be redeemed in isolation.


This year marks the 175th anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens’s “ghostly little book,” A Christmas Carol. Over the years, it has become so pervasive that even those who haven’t read this story of a miser’s redemption or caught one of the many film, stage, or television adaptations know what a “Scrooge” is, what Tiny Tim represents, and what’s so terrifying about the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.


Aside from being a groundbreaking and classic story in its own right, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol helped to create an entire genre: the secular Christmas story. (By “secular” I don’t mean “anti-religious” or even “non-religious” but simply a Christmas story where the focus is not directly on the birth of Christ.) Without the influence of Dickens’s powerful little tale, we might never have had Frank Capra’s beloved 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.


But there’s more than a genre linking the two stories together. In fact, as the National Post puts it, “one story is the inverse of the other.” Ebenezer Scrooge must journey through time and space to understand the impact of his bad deeds, George Bailey to understand the impact of his good ones. Each story ends in the saving of its protagonist—one from selfishness and greed, the other from suicidal despair—and his return to life with a transformed outlook.


Mixed Messages?


But that raises a question: Why would it be equally helpful for a person to look back on bad deeds and on good ones? Why are both Ebenezer and George so changed when the experiences they go through are practically the opposite of each other?


A Christian, in particular, ...

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Source: Mankind Was Scrooge’s Business (and George Bailey’s, Too)

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/r2w6kS14ito/scrooge-christmas-carol-george-bailey-wonderful-life.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/85690.jpg?w=460
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/books/charles-dickens-a-christmas-carol-archives.html
https://nationalpost.com/entertainment/theatre/would-its-a-wonderful-life-exist-without-a-christmas-carol
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/december-web-only/scrooge-christmas-carol-george-bailey-wonderful-life.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=yIl2AUoC8zA
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:F7zBnMyn0Lo
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:V_sGLiPBpWU
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:V_sGLiPBpWU
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?i=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:gIN9vFwOqvQ
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=r2w6kS14ito:Q806qvMBiEk:bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/r2w6kS14ito
http://www.1faith.co.uk/family-home-forum/?action=post

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