Monday, July 21, 2014

Do smartphones change Christians?

I was really getting into the article about 6 ways smartphones and social media are changing Christians, and then read the final paragraph, "To listen to my entire 34-minute conversation with Wells and Groothius on the pros and cons of personal communications technology, subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes, download the recording (MP3), or stream the conversation." The irony. . .

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Google and the Ghetto

Yesterday we had two fascinating lectures at Lakeside.  First a neighbor who got her first work experience waiting tables at The Abigail (local restaurant, now closed) explained the Google culture where she now works in California.  It was unbelievable.  They can bring their dogs to work; they can get the oil changed in their car; they can bring their laundry and dry cleaning; no desk/cubicle is more than 150 ft from food or a restroom. And she added, the food is delicious and new employees usually gain the Google ten or fifteen.  Workers have social clubs—gays, veterans, hobbies, work out gyms, etc.  Everything is for the team, and the intention is to get more production from the employees. And if employees get burnout from spending too much time at work, a supervisor will add a night out with spouse or partner to their work schedule.

Then at 3:30 p.m. an American embassy employee (Pakistan) who is also a Lakesider and a Christian, talked about the Christians in Pakistan, a tiny persecuted minority.  These people also live and work in a closed environment and rarely go beyond the borders of their ghetto.  They are a persecuted minority and recently we’ve seen stories on TV about the church burning and killing.  The police do nothing. When Pakistan became a country 65 years ago, Christians and the few remaining Hindus were promised religious freedom.  But that began to disappear in the 70s and now there is Sharia Law.  The photos I saw (of their ghetto in Islamabad) are worse than the poverty of Haiti.  These people are descendants of the mid-18th century converts by the missionaries the Europeans sent.  Christians are only welcome if they bring alcohol—Muslims are not allowed to buy it.  Everyone has an ID card that identifies the religion.

It’s very difficult to evangelize for the Christian faith in Pakistan, as you can imagine.  But it must be even harder at Google in California, where every need is met and you must be on the team or be out the door.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity


The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.


"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.

Friday, May 30, 2014

From Latin to Dhimba in just a few centuries


By the fourth century AD the Roman Empire had moved from the Greek language to Latin for the ordinary folk which created a problem for Christians reading scripture in their own language. The Pope chose Jerome (now St. Jerome) to translate the Bible into Latin. He was a good choice. He knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew, had studied Aramaic, and could speak Syriac and knew some Arabic. He spent 20 years at his task, and we should all be grateful. When we were in Bethlehem a few years ago our Palestinian guide (a Christian) showed us his cell/cave.


This week I received an announcement from Lutheran Bible Translators Messenger, Spring 2014, that the Dhimba people have received the New Testamewnt in their language for the first time and had a big celebration. The Dhimba are an estimated 30,000 people living along the Namibia/Angola border. They are anxious to start on the Old Testament as it is more understandable culturally for the Dhimba. LBT in the footsteps of Jerome.

http://us.lbt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/news-jstrasen.pdf

"Ondaka ya ninga omuntu ngwaa kala mokati ketu." Johannes 1:14 Etestamende Epe

"The word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ." John 1:14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

American Jesus

Today I'm previewing a DVD, "American Jesus, " which shows the response of many Christian groups to the culture--from rodeo pastors, to surfers, to bikers, former porn stars, reaction to materialism, yoga, snake handlers and athletes. Some I knew about, but most I didn't. There’s no mention of gay churches, or mainline churches that raise funds for “social justice” causes, or those who pray to mother/father gods. 

It's pretty good and fair with just straight filming of many groups allowing them to explain why the traditional organized church doesn't work for them--up to about 50 minutes in, and then Franky Schaeffer (son of L'abri founder) takes over the narration. And since he's moved from right wing evangelical, pro-lifer, over to the dark side, it takes a hard left turn--anti-Bush, anti-Israel and pro-Obama. Says he doesn't trust the Bible, and his Christianity isn't based on the Bible (no shock there). The film morphs to a PBS interpretation of Christianity.

The culture, particularly the media, love nothing more than a famous turn coat--unless the celebrity/author/movie star are left wing humanists and have moved right. It's almost as if a curtain was pulled back and you see the point of the film when Schaeffer begins. It is, however, very well done and eerily convincing. The literature says "street date May 13, 2014, price $19.98. I have no idea if this means theaters or store. But don't be fooled. It is what it is.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Listen, learn, exercise

I’m not really an exercise enthusiast, but since developing bursitis in December, I can’t do much walking, so I’m using my Gold’s Gym Power Spin 210 U—or an exercycle.  It keeps track of heart activity, speed, distance and calories.  I’ve figured out if I ride my power spin for 10 minutes at 3 levels of difficulty I burn about 40 calories; 4 times a day would be 160 calories, or one cookie with no chocolate chips. Sigh.

                         

              Photo predates our new carpet and flat screen TV.

Since exercising this way is boring, I’m trying to finish the audio of Jesus of Nazareth, the infancy narratives by Pope Benedict XVI, and have learned a lot, although I could probably learn more if I were reading.  For instance, today I learned that “King of the Jews” which is the title the Magi used, was not known to the Jews, and wasn’t used again in scripture until Pilot said it.  So it is a prefiguring in the infancy stories of the crucifixion.  Also the Magi brought myrrh, an expensive spice used for perfume, spice and anointing the dead. Because of the coming holy day, the women were not able to use myrrh on the body of Jesus and by they time they got to the tomb after the crucifixion, he was already gone, so the myrrh was not used—he was alive, not dead. Benedict uses a lot of Old Testament background and early church fathers.  Very interesting comments about the star made by believers even in the first and second century. It is not at all dogmatic—just provides the research and teaching over the years, even that which isn’t popular today.

“While he was interrogating Jesus, Pilate unexpectedly put this question to the accused: "Where are you from?" Jesus' accusers had called for him to receive the death penalty by dramatically declaring that this Jesus had made himself the Son of God-a capital offense under the law. The "enlight­ened" Roman judge, who had already expressed skepticism regarding the question of truth (cf. Jn 18:38), could easily have found this claim by the accused laughable. And yet he was frightened. The accused had indicated that he was a king, but that his kingdom was "not of this world" ( Jn 18:36).

And then he had alluded to a mysterious origin and purpose, say­ing: "For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" ( Jn 18:37).All this must have seemed like madness to the Roman judge. And yet he could not shake off the mysterious impres­sion left by this man, so different from those he had met before who resisted Roman domination and fought for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. The Roman judge asks where Jesus is from in order to understand who he really is and what he wants.

The question about Jesus' provenance, as an inquiry after his deeper origin and hence his true being, is also found in other key passages of Saint John's Gospel, and it plays an equally important role in the Synoptic Gospels. For John, as for the Synoptics, it raises a singular paradox. On the one hand, counting against Jesus and his claim to a divine mission, is the fact that people knew exactly where he was from: he does not come from heaven, from "the Father," from "above," as he purports to ( Jn 8:23). No: "Is not this Jesus, whose fa­ther and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" ( Jn 6:42). “

- See more at: http://www.imagecatholicbooks.com/book/226834/jesus-of-nazareth/#sthash.u4PCTbzR.dpuf