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[Cfamily]A Soul Check for White Christians
« Reply #1664 on: June 06, 2020, 01:00:27 AM »

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A Soul Check for White Christians

In the words of MLK, "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

If you are white, Christian, and American, and want your fellow citizens to flourish and prosper together, you should be deeply troubled right now. In fact, “troubled” is too soft a word.

2020 has brought an assault on our senses and a challenge to our very ability to live together as a people. It began with the rancor and strife of the impeachment process—which now seems like a lifetime ago. The coronavirus onslaught ravaged bodies and beat down our spirits. Then came the wave of economic devastation from the lockdown and 40 million Americans filing for unemployment. Now, in rapid-fire succession, the no-knock raid and death of Breonna Taylor, the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the execution of George Floyd, and the rioting and looting of America’s urban centers.

As Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times has pointed out, we have revisited some of the most traumatic experiences of the past century all in the space of five short months—from the Spanish flu in 1918 to the economic crash of 1929 to race-related killings and urban unrest in 1968 to impeachment in 1974. Throughout all this, our leadership, especially in the political and media worlds, has brought more heat than light. There are exceptions, but in general we don’t know whom to trust.

Given everything, we feel disoriented, and many may wonder whether we have lost our moorings about who we are as Christians and Americans. It’s not only natural but right, in response to the mistreatment of our brothers and sisters and fellow citizens, to feel angry. There is a time for righteous anger, and that time is when children of God are robbed of their humanity and denied the most basic of dignities (to freely walk or breathe). ...

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Race, Gospel, and Justice, Part 4: Esau McCaulley on Protests and Riots

There needs to be a public and robust statement that the followers of Jesus are on the side of those who are being unjustly treated.

Ed: My family is from New York City. My grandfather was the first battalion chief for lower Manhattan, and my uncle was a New York City cop. As the city deterioted in those bad times, my parents moved us to a place called Levittown. It was the 1970s, and Levittown was struggling (as was our family).

I would later learn that black people weren't allowed to live in Levittown, and then discouraged to do so after it was legal. It was one of the founding realities of the town. As I kid, I’d wonder why it was all Irish and Italians, but there were no African Americans.

The reason is that structurally it was created so they wouldn't live there. We learn these things, and they undermine the narrative we first understood.

You've helped us to understand these different narratives to gain a better perspective on life from the perspective of African Americans. Now, let's talk about a perspective on protests.

We both agree: Protests are good. Riots are not. Unpack that for us from your context.

Esau: There is a cycle of what happens. There's a racial incident. African Americans protest. Some of those protests from people inside and outside the community turn violent. People say, "Hey, look at this. Why aren't the Christians who are speaking out against the racial injustice equally strong speaking about the riots?"

There are couple of things that I want to say about that. First, there is no real question as to where Christians stand on riots. There isn't a kind of evangelical pro-riot, black riot faction. Therefore, on one level there is not a need to condemn rioting as a form of social protest, because everybody's clear about this.

The problem is that the very people who are mad at us for not ...

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Source: Race, Gospel, and Justice, Part 4: Esau McCaulley on Protests and Riots

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[Cfamily]The Masked Singers and BYO Communion?
« Reply #1666 on: June 08, 2020, 01:00:25 AM »
The Masked Singers and BYO Communion?

Wherever two or more gather, illness can spread. So as a biologist, I'm rethinking hygiene at church.

Even as a biologist who has studied viruses and immunology, it took a global pandemic for me to realize the true effectiveness of specific hygiene practices to lower illness spread. There is little doubt that church settings provide an almost ideal location for the spread of contagion of all kinds. Churches in ages past responded to changing public health needs, most notably during the 1918 flu pandemic; even the HIV/AIDS crisis spurred research on Communion practices. Churches can and will endure hardships of all kinds, and with COVID-19 still spreading around the world, many pastors are already figuring out ways to adapt.

Congregational singing is getting most of the attention today, but there are so many other opportunities to spread contagious illness at church. The moment you enter, a greeter offers a warm handshake; then church members enthusiastically exchange the passing of the peace with a touch, handshake, or hug. Next, an usher circulates the offering plate around, and then—everyone partakes in Communion.

Will the lessons we are learning now lead to permanent changes in church practices? It’s an interesting question, and only time will tell.

Meeting outdoors

Like all of us, pastors hope to open their churches this summer, but many I’ve met in my work with the science-faith organization BioLogos are taking a cautious attitude and plan to follow official government guidelines, which continue to evolve, before deciding on a precise course of action. Andrew Smith, a pastor in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, mentioned the likelihood of not holding a separate children’s ministry and said, “we’ll probably look at two services instead of one to allow for social distancing.” Alex Burgess ...

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[Cfamily]What You Never Expect When You’re Expecting? Another Outbreak
« Reply #1667 on: June 09, 2020, 01:00:26 AM »
What You Never Expect When You’re Expecting? Another Outbreak

While pregnant during Zika and the coronavirus, God disrupted my plans, changed my life, and rebuilt my faith.

For many women, being pregnant during an outbreak of a serious virus that health experts know little about feels utterly unprecedented. For me, the dilemma feels like déjà vu.

After six years of infertility, I became pregnant with our long-awaited first child while living in Honduras during the Zika virus epidemic in 2015. Health officials had linked the virus to a birth defect called microcephaly and were advising expectant moms to be on alert and, if possible, avoid traveling to the very area where I lived. As committed as we were to the mission God had called us to in Honduras, we made the difficult decision to temporarily leave during my third trimester so I could give birth back in the States.

I’m now pregnant with our third child, and God has once again led us to uproot our lives from Honduras in the midst of a major health crisis. If I didn’t learn my lesson then, God is continuing to teach us what it means to surrender and obey.

The coronavirus doesn’t pose as severe a risk to pregnant women as Zika did, and so far, studies have found that mothers with the virus don’t pass it on in utero or through breast milk. But while we have such limited data about the new disease, there’s plenty for expectant mothers to worry about. Researchers are still studying whether the changes in hospital protocols have resulted in more complications in labor and delivery.

Like many pregnant moms, I thought about what would happen if my husband weren’t allowed in the hospital with me and I had to face another traumatic c-section alone. But before that I had to worry about if he’d even make it out of Honduras to be in the US in the first place.

Giving birth during a pandemic is not what ...

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Source: What You Never Expect When You’re Expecting? Another Outbreak

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[Cfamily]Singing the Songs of Injustice
« Reply #1668 on: June 10, 2020, 01:00:26 AM »
Singing the Songs of Injustice

Biblical, angry, congregational worship can help transform our hearts and churches.

While many nonviolent protests and some destructive riots took place over the past week in reaction to George Floyd’s death, churches have responded in various ways—marching peacefully, holding prayer vigils, and addressing racial injustice from their pulpits. David Bailey, director of the reconciliation ministry Arrabon and founder of Urban Doxology, and David Taylor, associate professor of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, believe there is another way churches can respond: in worship. But not just any kind of congregational singing. Bailey and Taylor dialogue about their passion for the biblical outlet for anger in singing the psalms.

David Taylor (DT): How do you feel about what has happened over the past couple of weeks?

David Bailey (DB): Former pastor and Native American activist Mark Charles says, “the temperature of race relations in America is always at a simmer and every so often there is an event that turns it to a boiling point.” As a black man living in America, so many decisions in my life are influenced by fear. When I jog, I go to a gym, so I don’t end up like Ahmaud Arbery. I never put myself in a position where it could be one white woman’s word against mine so that I don’t end up in a situation like Emmett Till or Amy Cooper in Central Park. This reality is often a private matter, but when racial disparity is in the news it causes a mixed feeling of vulnerability, relief that more people are aware, embarrassment that you don’t have as much control over your life as white Americans do, and anger that it is this way.

James Baldwin said that “to be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all of the time.” ...

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Burl Cain Promises ‘Good Praying’ for Mississippi Prisons. It’s Not Enough.

For too long, evangelicals have compromised with the punitive politics of law and order.

Mississippi prisons are in crisis, and the governor’s new pick to lead the state’s Department of Corrections has an answer: “good food, good praying, good playing, and good medicine.” Burl Cain announced his fourfold plan with his trademark Louisiana twang, making a direct reference to his previous work as warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as “Angola.” Under Cain’s leadership, that prison went “from beatings to Bible studies,” as Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves described it when he appointed Cain.

Reeves’s hope is that Cain can do the same thing for Mississippi prisons. The state is a national leader in imprisonment rates, with a dramatic overrepresentation of people of color in its prisons. The prison system has a long history of corruption and underfunding and a record of horrific conditions. Recently, the state’s prisons have been wracked by violence. The Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman has had more than 30 deaths since late December.

The hope in Mississippi is that Cain is the answer. There are reasons for that. Cain comes highly recommended, has been widely lauded, and has a record of reforms that have made a real difference in the lives of many prisoners. But there are also reasons for concern, particularly if his appointment prevents a fuller reckoning with broader injustices in Mississippi and the nation more broadly.

During his two decades at Angola, Cain oversaw changes that were a mix of standard administrative reforms aimed at improving conditions with overtly religious programming aimed at “moral rehabilitation”—changing the hearts and minds of incarcerated people through spiritual ...

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Source: Burl Cain Promises ‘Good Praying’ for Mississippi Prisons. It’s Not Enough.

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Died: Francis I. Andersen, Scholar Who Used Computers to Study the Bible

He found ‘awesome reality of a living God’ in the grammar and syntax of Hebrew Scripture.

Francis I. Andersen, an Australian scholar who spent more than 35 years analyzing the syntax of the Hebrew Bible and created a powerful computer dictionary of the Scriptures’ clauses, phrases, and text segments, died last month at the age of 94.

Andersen started transcribing the oldest complete Hebrew text of the Bible into machine-readable form in 1971. It took him eight years to finish. Working with A. Dean Forbes, a seminary graduate who was researching a computer’s ability to recognize speech, Andersen developed a database of all the orthographic units of Hebrew Scripture, with seven different layers of syntactical information.

Today, the Andersen-Forbes database is used by Logos Bible Software, with a syntax search engine and phrase-marker graphs that open up the grammatical structures of ancient Hebrew. It is one of the research tools available in the “Clergy Starter” package, as well as other Logos software.

The database demonstrated the vast potential for digital Bible study just as the personal computer was being developed and made widely available. It was also a feat of Hebrew linguistics and Christian devotion.

Stuart Barton Babbage, an evangelical Anglican leader in Australia and one of Andersen’s spiritual mentors, said that Andersen “brought the machines of science into the service of the Church and the proclamation of the Word of her Lord.”

Andersen was also the author of the Anchor Bible commentary on Habakkuk, and co-author, with David Noel Freedman, of the series’ commentaries on Hosea, Amos, and Micah. Andersen loved the academic problems of understanding ancient Hebrew, but those who knew him said his deepest motivations were evangelical.

“Right to the end ...

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[Cfamily]Trapped in Lebanon, Sudanese Students Find Refuge at Seminary
« Reply #1671 on: June 13, 2020, 01:00:19 AM »
Trapped in Lebanon, Sudanese Students Find Refuge at Seminary

For international students, COVID-19 has created an educated, isolated, displaced community.

While Liberty University came under criticism for allowing students the option to stay on campus during the coronavirus outbreak, many other schools were also faced with a dilemma concerning the 1.1 million students who came from abroad.

According to a Quartz survey of 36 universities who host a third of the United States’ international students, 26 told those students to leave campus.

Penn State gave three days notice. Harvard gave five. Duke, among others, offered emergency financial aid to help international students return home. Princeton allowed their residency to continue—until the end of the semester.

But Sudanese students at Lebanon’s Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) did not have a choice—even with tickets in hand.

Lebanon was one of the first nations to implement COVID-19 restrictions. Its first case was recorded on February 21, and by March 9 schools were shut down.

Four days later, at a regularly scheduled seminary picnic, Bassem Melki prepared to break the news.

“It was a joyous atmosphere,” said the ABTS dean of students, “but I had sadness in my heart because I knew what I had to say.”

Founded in 1960 and located in the mountains overlooking Beirut, the seminary has a total enrollment of 160 students. Twenty-six are Lebanese, and the majority of ABTS students pursue distance learning in its online certificate program from as far afield as Iraq, Algeria, and Chad.

Campus dorms host only the school’s 34 international students pursuing bachelor of arts or master of arts degree programs in theology. Melki told these residential students that it was time to fly home.

Many cried.

“I felt my dream was canceled,” said Noha Kassa, a 28-year-old first-year ...

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Source: Trapped in Lebanon, Sudanese Students Find Refuge at Seminary

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