Sep. 20th, 2016 11:31 am
alpharaposa: (bedtime)
One of the hardest Christian skills to develop is to wait prayerfully.

This year, we are surrounded by worries. There is unrest in the Middle East. Ancient Christian communities are being driven out. There is unrest here at home, too. Our politics are a choice between bad and worse. Our culture is increasingly divided and antagonistic. And so are our churches.

The United Methodist Church has hit the point of no return. An openly practicing lesbian woman who is married to another woman has been made Bishop in one of the more progressive Conferences, and now we are all waiting to find out if it will stand. The action was taken in defiance of our own rules, but in some places those rules have gone unenforced in the past. There must be, finally, a clear statement of what the UMC as a whole believes and is willing to enforce. There's a council of UMC Bishops meeting next year, its stated purpose to resolve this issue.

I grew up in this denomination. I love its music. I love its people. I love the Bible studies and the potlucks and the Bazaars. I love the theology of sanctification, the process of all of us painfully, carefully, working out our salvation together.

I have given thought to where I might go, if the UMC fails. There are places I suppose I could flee to, but I would go as a refugee. It would hurt to have to give up my home.

I wonder. What will happen to the organizations that are outside the UMC, but affiliated? To NAUMS? To our little non-profit, the Indiana United Methodist Pathfinders? United Methodist is right there in the name.

There are people who are gathering, talking, trying to make plans, but I can't go join them. I have small kids and work to do here. All I can do is pray. Pray for those who go to fight. Pray for my church. Pray for my country. And continue to raise my children as best I can, to teach them right from wrong and to love God, even if our church home becomes a battlefield we must flee.

It's hard, but it's essential. A Christian's whole life is learning to wait prayerfully. For Jesus' return. For justice to be done at last. For the broken world to be made new again. None of us can actually make these things happen. We can only perform our duties, wait, and pray.

It's not a simple thing to learn.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I have always had an interest in politics. I largely understand how people relate to each other the way I understand everything else: by reading a lot of theories and then observing how well it fits what I see. (I am such an introvert at heart, and an analytical one, too.) So I studied political theories of how people organize themselves, and historical cases of how things fall apart. I still do this.

My dad has similar interests. Before he heard the Call to ministry, he studied to be a lawyer and took political science classes. We often talk politics together, comparing notes on what we see or discussing an article or book one or both of us have read.

When I was a teenager, grappling with the issues of being in the generation that comes after the Baby Boomers, he would tell me a story of when he was in high school, and blew up the world.

Read more... )

My fellow Christians, I implore you: do not vote for Trump. Do not fall into despair. If the world of politics leads you to that choice, turn your eyes away from it. Don't vote. Go to your community and build something. Build a Scout Troop. Start a Bible Study. Build a rehabilitation center for the addicts in our midst. Go on a food drive for the local pantry. If the building of this country is falling down, that is only because the foundation needs work. Go do the work. If the feet are set right, the rest of the body will follow.

Start small. Get a few people to bear each other up. It will grow. Believe in that, not in the promises of men.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
Just some musings..

We live in such a risk averse culture, don't we? Helmets, padded everything. Rules and regulations on how to wash hands or grow vegetables.

Capitalism may be shown to create improvements for everybody in an entire culture, but it's full of risks. Old industries and jobs and methods die, to be replaced by new ones. STarting a business is like jumping off a cliff and growing wings on the way down. Most end in a damp thud after a few months.

Our politics are full of safety, too. If only everybody could act this way, or agree, or do things the same way, then finally no crazies would hurt us. Let's exile those people far, far away so their unsafe ideas don't get in and break our perfect world we're building.

Our world is so full of comfort and technology, it's easy to fall into the idea that we can make a perfectly safe and comfortable world. A place where you need not suffer any threat to your body, or your emotions. So many battles are fought over control, so we can make that perfect world. If you stand on the other side, you're a threat. You're trying to control the thing I'm trying to control, and only one of us can win.

No wonder Christianity is so despised in such a world. To be Christian, first you have to understand that control is an illusion. That the World itself is unsafe. Building walls to keep out the chaos is like building sand castles in the rain.

If we lived in a time where disease was more rampant, or had wars in our backyard (instead of halfway around the world), it would be obvious that this is so. Life is unfair and unpredictable.

God is the only thing that endures, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And He doesn't promise safety. Indeed, if you want what He has to offer, you have to give up safety and control, and let Him do the work.

Imagine, to hand over your whole life to someone else! We have changed quite a lot from the days when knights pledged undying loyalty and obeyed their kings unto death. These days, such devotion is mostly found in salacious stories about dom/sub sex. It's kinky. Heaven forbid that a man and a woman might be so devoted to each other (or to God) without being into bondage or contracts or threesomes.

A stumbling block to the Greeks, indeed.
alpharaposa: (god)
There was a story I read a while back that just about sums it up.

A fellow stopped going to church. He said he didn't need it, could worship on his own just fine. His friends and family all tried to get him to come back.

Finally, the pastor went to visit him. The fellow had a fire going in the fireplace. The pastor didn't say much, just went to the fire and used the tongs to pull out a single coal and place it on its own away from the rest.

The coal cooled and died.

The pastor returned it to the rest of the coals, where it brightened and caught fire once again.

The fellow thanked the pastor for his fiery sermon and promised to come to church again the next Sunday.

Who you spend time with affects who you become.
alpharaposa: (Default)
The Atlantic ran an article asking if Christianity caused the economic crash we've going through. Their treatment was, well, about as you might expect.

However, it elicited this response, which is worth reading and thinking over.
alpharaposa: (god)

A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world.
alpharaposa: (Default)
I Corinthians 12: 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Mark 9: 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Perhaps the problem is that the foot is not a worthy judge to cut off a hand.
alpharaposa: (Default)
A state judge in Virginia has ruled that conservative congregations that broke away in 2006 from the Episcopal Church and affiliated with the Anglican Church of Nigeria may keep their church properties.

This is a wonderful thing for those congregations, who will continue to have a place to meet and worship. However, I can't help feel sad that things reached a point where a secular judge had to be called in to adjudicate. Schism is ugly and sad, even when it's necessary.
alpharaposa: (kinkyturtle)
A, er, leader in the United Church of Canada wishes to stop being known as a Christian.

Well, if you don't believe in Jesus' divinity, or the virgin birth, or the Resurrection, or any of that, then you shouldn't go around calling yourself Christian. Now, if only they were doing it out of a sense of honesty, and not because they didn't think it was good marketing.
alpharaposa: (god)
Some advice on how to deal with controversy.

Excellent advice. Like [livejournal.com profile] prester_scott, who linked it previously, I am not a Calvinist, but that does not tarnish the good in this letter.
alpharaposa: (Default)
Well, the Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door again a few days ago. I continue to be a bit saddened that they're the only church that really seems to want me around here.

The nice man who spoke to me asked whether or not I believed that God permitted wickedness. I responded with an of course. In order to choose God, we have to have an alternative, otherwise it's not a choice at all. I didn't say it that neatly... there was some stumbling. I wasn't ready for the question, really.

But it's an axiom to me, which makes it all the harder to explain on demand.

God loves us, but He didn't want us to just be the fish He keeps in His cosmic aquarium. He wanted us to be able to respond to His love. And to really respond to His love, we had to be given the option to not respond. If we didn't have a choice, then choosing to love Him is meaningless.

And a stray comment on a political blog sparked the realization that this attitude also carries over to politics. If the government mandates that I eat healthy foods, then when do I learn to take care of myself?

If we don't have a choice, then any virtues practiced aren't really virtues. We don't learn anything from them. We don't develop them and exercise them. They're mandated and we're just following the rules.
alpharaposa: (god)
Last night, [livejournal.com profile] collinsmom called me because she was working on a paper and needed to talk to somebody. Not necessarily to get help, though I was happy to offer what I could.

She was working on something for a class on the New Testament, and was telling me about this theory that was being debated in class. This theory stated that three of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were all written off of one big document, and that's why some passages are so similar.

She said, and I agreed, that when different people see the same events and get a chance to talk about it with each other afterwards, the accounts are going to have similarities. There will also be differences- after all, they came from different backgrounds. There's at least one person in my friends list who works in insurance, and she sees car accidents far differently than most of us who haven't.

Cut for those who aren't interested in long posts )

[livejournal.com profile] collinsmom, if you want to quote any bit of this for your paper, you've got permission.
alpharaposa: (Default)
A lot of people have pointed out that America Alone is fairly doomsdayish. I mean, if your subtitle is "The End of the World As We Know It", then it's a given you're going to freak some people out, even if you're upbeat about it all.

Still, it's all familiar ground to me by now.

But reading The Cube and the Cathedral is worrying me. Reading through just the first few chapters caused me to connect up some things I hadn't, before.

Read more... )
alpharaposa: (kinkyturtle)
A Presbyterian church building was sold to a local Islamic Association, turning down offers from two Christian churches.

Co-pastor J. Daniel Hignight was asked "if he would ever seek to lead a member of the Islamic Society to Jesus Christ." He replied, "I don't feel a particular need to convert them to Christianity."

I suppose he probably doesn't feel any need to convert anybody to Christianity.

It's a sad story. The leadership was likely lost long before the building was.

Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] prester_scott.


alpharaposa: (Default)

May 2017

28 293031   


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 07:53 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios