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How Fiction Fueled Madeleine L’Engle’s Faith
« Reply #984 on: August 19, 2018, 01:00:16 AM »

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How Fiction Fueled Madeleine L’Engle’s Faith

How does a lonely kid understand that she’s loved by God? An author’s childhood holds the answer.


Story, at its heart, is one of the primary modes in which God speaks to us, which means it’s one of the main vehicles for God’s truth. It’s also formative truth: The best, most ennobling stories have the power to shape our actions and play a vital role in moral and spiritual formation. “Rather than taking the child away from the real world,” wrote Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, “such stories are preparation for living in the real world with courage and expectancy.”


In other words, our faith is formed not just by propositional truths but also by the narratives of Scripture, the tales of Christian history, the great works of fiction, and other art forms. L’Engle’s own childhood was steeped in story and offers us a model for the power of moral imagination on the life of faith.


In writing about her growing up years, L’Engle claimed that “the greatest gift my mother gave me, besides her love, was story. She was a wonderful storyteller, especially about her childhood in the South. . . . ‘Tell me a story,’ I would beg, and my mother would take me in imagination back to her world so different from mine.”


Before leaving for the opera, her mother would pause at bedtime and give L’Engle a bit of herself, a memory to treasure. Those stories significantly shaped her sense of family identity and sometimes later resurfaced, fictionalized, in her novels. As a child, they helped her feel less alone.


At boarding school she was miserable and even “psychologically abused” by inept and cruel teachers, which is why, “possibly as a defense against the troubled, everyday world of my childhood, for nourishment I learned ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/lglrUbz-0LU/madeleine-lengle-faith-fiction-spiritual-formation.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83126.jpg?w=460
https://www.amazon.com/Madeleine-LEngle-Herself-Reflections-Writing/dp/087788157X
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/july/why-evangelism-requires-both-logic-and-loveliness.html
https://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Daughters-Madeleine-LEngle/dp/1896836054/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534261831&sr=8-1&keywords=Mothers+and+Daughters+L%27Engle
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/august/madeleine-lengle-faith-fiction-spiritual-formation.html
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Where Church & Culture Collide—New Churches, Stories, and Many Forms of Gospel Witness

We should plant churches that plant churches, but also help these communities blossom into a life-giving presence in and for their cities.


What would it look like for a local church to contribute to the culture around it? We should proclaim the hope of Christ in sermons, Bible studies, and church meetings, naturally. But what about those beyond our walls? Are we telling the best story ever only to ourselves?


At Hopera Church in Rome, Italy, we’ve tried to nurture our congregation and plant new churches while seeking to understand and reach people that through story—helping people share their stories, compare stories, hear the story of the gospel creatively, and broadcast their stories to the world.


Share your story in seeker groups


Our attempts at cultural engagement started with what we call Gruppi Scoprire. These seeker groups consist of a series of dinners that evolve into discussions about spiritual matters. In our first meeting, we ask everyone to introduce themselves and narrate their spiritual journeys up to that point.


I stand amazed at these seekers’ stories. For many, it is the first time in years that they reflect about spiritual matters. They don’t know if they believe or not, or what do they believe in, or if they want to believe, or what exactly prompts them to keep coming.


Recently, a woman shared her doubts and her fear and fascination of the “energy” she encountered in our church services, not yet having words to name the presence of God. A young man told us that he was there just to please his mom–­–but came back this week and wants to meet for coffee. A couple explained that they had searched for God for years, but found only lifeless liturgy. Now they are happy of glimpsing him, even if they haven’t “arrived” yet.


The group evolves into discussions of faith, as we study episodes ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/amhViZc0DUo/places-where-church-culture-collide.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83170.jpg?w=460
http://www.hopera.co/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/august/places-where-church-culture-collide.html
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Cover Story: Fixing Our Privacy Settings
« Reply #986 on: August 21, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
Cover Story: Fixing Our Privacy Settings

Why Christians should worry less about protecting their information and think more about giving it away.


Alexa is my savior.


The digital voice assistant from Amazon hears me shoulder my way into the kitchen back door, arms loaded with bags and keys jangling from a pinkie. “Alexa, turn on the lights!” I command with a little desperation. Thanks, Alexa, I think as the lights blink on and I avoid a stumble with my gallon of milk. I don’t say it aloud—it’s a little crazy to thank your digital assistant, right? Plus there’s that little question of who might be listening.


I don’t actually picture a headphoned FBI operative in a van outside (and I don’t suppose he would care much about my groceries). Yet once the lights are on and our music is playing (“Alexa, play ’90s pop!”), I sometimes wonder. The new presence of digital microphones in our houses—over 20 million sold in 2017—has started a new wave of discomfort about what or who might hear what we say in our living room or kitchen. What more private moments are these microphones capturing?


The year 2013 was a wake-up call for digital privacy. Government surveillance concerns—previously the purview of spy movies and conspiracy theorists—went mainstream after Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency was collecting Americans’ data.


While much of the surveillance amounted to an anonymous database of call logs like the kind found on phone bills—not voice recordings—Americans started wondering what else they didn’t know about government eyes and ears.


That same Black Friday, millions stood in line to grab bargains from big-box retailers, unaware that hackers had infiltrated Target’s customer service system and were stealing credit card numbers and other data ...

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https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83139.gif?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september/theology-of-privacy-fixing-our-settings.html
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Have Mercy as God Has Mercy
« Reply #987 on: August 22, 2018, 01:00:13 AM »
Have Mercy as God Has Mercy

Mercy is what holiness looks like in the lives of God's children.


I hate to admit it, but vindictiveness comes easily to me. Recently, I was online for less than two minutes before I found myself relishing an opponent getting publicly mocked. He had said something particularly and typically foolish, so he surely deserved it. Right when I was going to pile on, Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Plain came to mind: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).


It’s often passed over, but it’s an arresting thought. In form, it appears as a gloss of one of the most important commands in the Old Testament: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). The Lord, the Holy One, had saved Israel and set them apart from the nations to be his holy people (Ex. 19:4–6). They had been sanctified to reflect God’s holiness to the nations in their holy worship, conduct, and character.


Jesus teaches his disciples that living as “children of the Most High” (Luke 6:35) means loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, lending without expectation of return, and blessing those who curse us; this will set us apart. Put another way, mercy is what holiness looks like in the lives of God’s children.


Many of us don’t associate God’s holiness with his mercy. Holiness as purity, judgment, and wrath? Sure. God’s holiness is the distinctive glory, power, and majesty of his incorruptible life. But witness God’s self-testimony to Israel in Hosea (11:9):


I will not carry out my fierce anger,

nor will I devastate Ephraim again.

For I am God, and not a man—

the Holy One among you.

I will not come against their cities.

The Lord reveals himself as the Holy One precisely in his compassion ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/XX0w7EbIDvM/have-mercy-as-god-has-mercy.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83229.jpg?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september/have-mercy-as-god-has-mercy.html
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Heaven Shines, But Who Cares?
« Reply #988 on: August 23, 2018, 01:00:14 AM »
Heaven Shines, But Who Cares?

The Bible's blueprint for paradise lowers the awe-inspiring to the everyday.


What does heaven look like? What are we meant to understand about this coming kingdom from the descriptions in the Bible?

Reading about heaven in the Bible can be confusing—so confusing that we are tempted to look elsewhere to firm up our ideas on the afterlife. The popularity of books like 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven Is for Real attest to our desire for reassurance that heaven is a reality since the accounts we read in Scripture seem so unreal. Will its building materials really be the stuff of our greediest imaginings—gold, silver, and precious stones?


It’s hard to determine what the human authors of Scripture want us to know is true about heaven. It’s an even bigger challenge to grasp what the mentions of mansions, multitudes, gates, and angels in the kingdom of heaven mean for us now.


I am a competitive game player. A few years ago at a party, the host brought out Pictionary for the evening’s entertainment. Ready to wow the room with my skills, I glanced at the word on my card: difficult. I had played Pictionary for years and had never had a word that hard. My mind went blank.


Nothing seemed to rhyme with it or illustrate it. The timer ran out, and in utter frustration I said, “How ironic that my word was difficult!” Holding up the card as proof, I realized I had accidentally drawn not a card for game play but the instruction card listing each of the categories for different words. Difficult, indeed. I spent 60 seconds trying to illustrate an abstract idea, trying to draw the undrawable.


My dilemma made me think of the Book of Revelation. John, in describing the new heaven and the new earth, is playing the hardest round of Pictionary known to man—he is called upon to describe ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/3HNLmVNfaVg/wilkin-heaven-shines-but-who-cares.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83225.jpg?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/september/wilkin-heaven-shines-but-who-cares.html
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Jonathan Merritt Wants to Reboot Religious Language for the 21st Century
« Reply #989 on: August 24, 2018, 01:00:17 AM »
Jonathan Merritt Wants to Reboot Religious Language for the 21st Century

But his method of restoring “sacred words” to our common vocabulary runs the risk of redefining them.


When was the last time you had a spiritual conversation?


If recent research is any indication, it’s been a while. Only seven percent of Americans report talking about spiritual matters weekly. One-fifth of respondents had not had a spiritual conversation all year. Surely, self-identified Christians regularly engage in spiritual discussions with friends, coworkers, and family. Right? Sadly, only 13 percent of “practicing” Christians talk about spirituality once a week. As a result, sacred conversations and words such as grace, gospel, God, salvation, faith, sin, and creed are much less common in our day-to-day experience.


Unnerving data like these form the backdrop for a new book from religion writer Jonathan Merritt, Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing—and How We can Revive Them, a blend of cultural analysis, linguistic inquiry, theology, church history, and autobiography.


Breaking Down and Building Up


The first half of the book builds a comprehensive case for why we need to start over. Utilizing current data, Merritt asserts that for all our proclaimed religiosity, Americans in general—and self-identified Christians in particular—seldom engage in spiritual conversations. He identifies three reasons. First, many Christians are anxious not to give offense. For them, says Merritt, words like “sin and hell have become so negative they lodge in [their] throats.” Second, Christians who are in the regular habit of spiritual conversation develop a kind of insider shorthand bred of familiarity. Thus, certain words get “uttered so often we don’t know what they mean anymore,” and we forget how they sound to those outside of our religious circles. ...

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/O8-zNVtdDk4/jonathan-merritt-wants-to-reboot-religious-language-for-21s.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83226.jpg?w=460
https://www.barna.com/research/reasons-for-reluctance/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/august-web-only/jonathan-merritt-wants-to-reboot-religious-language-for-21s.html
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The Maker of the Maker of Middle-earth
« Reply #990 on: August 25, 2018, 01:00:15 AM »
The Maker of the Maker of Middle-earth

There’s something missing from Oxford’s splendid new Tolkien exhibit.


Who was J. R. R. Tolkien? Nearly everyone knows him as the author of two of the most beloved books of the 20th century: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Many also know him as a member of the Inklings and a close friend of fellow writer and scholar C. S. Lewis. Fewer know Tolkien’s work as a literary critic, a world-class academic in medieval literature, a linguist, an inventor of languages, and a visual artist or realize that he was also a devoted husband and father.


Much of this is captured this year in a nearly comprehensive exhibit at Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries on Tolkien’s life and legacy. “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” has been billed as the exhibit of a generation, and it is indeed that. But there’s a glaring omission: any mention of the author’s devout, lifelong Christian faith. Without that piece, we cannot have a true picture of Tolkien.


The Missing Piece

The exhibit is certainly the most well-rounded portrayal of Tolkien to date. We see his imaginative capacity expressed in nearly overwhelming abundance, and we see a tender glimpse of his childhood and of his family life with his wife, Edith, and their four children.


The aim of the exhibit, as expressed in the catalog book, is “bringing to the public’s attention the fullest picture possible not just of the life and work of a remarkable literary imagination, but of a son, husband, father, friend, scholar and artist.”


To that end, it comes very close but does not entirely succeed. The exhibit itself downplays Tolkien’s religious commitment so completely that it is well-nigh invisible. (The book that accompanies the exhibit is much better in this regard; it includes a number of significant ...

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Source: The Maker of the Maker of Middle-earth

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/lTOx_5SZuVE/tolkien-maker-of-middle-earth-bodleian-museum-oxford.html
https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83231.jpg?w=460
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/august-web-only/tolkien-maker-of-middle-earth-bodleian-museum-oxford.html
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=lTOx_5SZuVE:ro1BLHGajC8:yIl2AUoC8zA
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=lTOx_5SZuVE:ro1BLHGajC8:qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?d=qj6IDK7rITs
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=lTOx_5SZuVE:ro1BLHGajC8:gIN9vFwOqvQ
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/lTOx_5SZuVE
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Much Ado About Gender Roles
« Reply #991 on: August 26, 2018, 01:00:16 AM »
Much Ado About Gender Roles

Feeling lost in the discussions about biblical gender roles? Start here.


Recently, the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment in all areas of our society has become evident through movements like #MeToo, #ChurchToo, #TimesUp, and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, which have brought awareness to a previously hidden sad reality in our midst. In what ways have complementarian or egalitarian positions influenced this situation? Why is sexual harassment too common in churches and among Christians? Recently, stories from prominent complementarian and egalitarian contexts show neither position is completely safe from discriminating against women. We all can do better.


Regardless of our culture, background, and gender, all human beings are essentially and ontologically the same. We all are created in the image of God. As bearers of God’s image, we all share the same value and dignity. We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). The imago Dei defines our essence as human beings. Our gender and cultural, personal, and experiential variables are secondary and not essential. They are important, but not fundamental.


Nevertheless, our gender is foundational to our existence. God created human beings in his image as male and female, and they complement each other (Gen. 1:27). Both genders are called to rule the earth as God’s representatives and were created to be in relationship with each other and with all human beings. Each gender is fully human, but both genders are needed to represent the completeness of humanity.


Males and females are both the same in essence as fully human beings, but at the same time they are different. So, it becomes imperative to clarify if these gender differences have implications for church ministry. Intriguingly, the discussion tends to focus primarily ...

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Source: Much Ado About Gender Roles

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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/vPTyambW4Zc/complementarian-egalitarian-debate-gender-roles-explainer.html
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https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/october/unsettling-truth-behind-metoo-movement-harvey-weinstein.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/march/andy-savage-resigns-abuse-megachurch-standing-ovation.html
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https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/may/paige-patterson-fired-southwestern-baptist-seminary-sbc.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/august/willow-creek-bill-hybels-heather-larson-elders-resign-inves.html
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http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~ff/christianitytoday/ctmag?a=vPTyambW4Zc:6bcujFo6gEg:bcOpcFrp8Mo
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~4/vPTyambW4Zc
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