Saturday, April 23, 2011

I hope I die before I get old

Interesting topic for a panel--since "old" is always about 10 years older than you are at the time. The topic seems to be about poverty, or government spending priorities--at least whenever there is the word "justice" in a title. We know they aren't talking about God's justice, rather some sort of redistributive method to even things out that happens in Washington, not in the church. Before discussing economic justice perhaps they should address some Biblical values like stewardship, servanthood, authority, etc.

I wasn't impressed by the speakers' list of Christians invited to respond--Jim Wallis (of recent fame for denying he's taken money from George Soros), Tony Campollo, Gideon Strauss (CEO of the Center for Public Justice), Ron Sider (Genesis House), Jordan Ballor (Acton Institute)--all quite to the left of me or at least not conservative in thought word and deed. I didn't recognize the conservatives. Considering how our government has all sorts of programs for the poor--all supported by both parties over the years, not to mention Medicaid, billions thrown helter skelter at the schools, and a housing crash run up based on the falty idea that even low income families "deserve" a mortgage they can't afford, not just the middle class.

I saw a statistic the other day that only 10% of the U.S. elderly today meet the government standard for poverty, compared to 30% about 40 years ago--now whether that has to do with the success of government programs, or a more successful market economy remains to be seen, because even much of higher education which leads to higher income is often government supported; many medical advances in public health have been pioneered by the government; safer environment in work and home and transportation have been regulated by government. All this leads to old age and less income (although income isn't wealth)--and probably to a more comfortable old age. I know many seniors (if married) who have 5 or 6 streams of income--2 pensions, 2 Social Security checks, personal IRAs and investment accounts. They live carefully, and well--they travel, enjoy an extended life through a variety of medications, and have lots of friends and family.

One panelist said he doesn't see solutions coming from the conservative churches--he might have added he doesn't see solutions or generous giving coming from the liberal churches--they have turned over that responsibility for the poor to the government.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

At Ghanaian Funerals, a Time to Dance and Celebrate

"The Irish may be known for their spirited wakes, but Ghanaians have perfected the over-the-top funeral. And in New York City, these parties anchor the social calendar of the fast-growing community of immigrants from that West African nation.

Held nearly every weekend in church auditoriums and social halls across the city, they are all-night affairs with open bars and window-rattling music. While the families are raising money to cover funeral expenses, teams of flourishing entrepreneurs — disc jockeys, photographers, videographers, bartenders and security guards — keep it all humming while turning a tidy profit.

There may or may not be a body present, or a clergyman. The beliefs expressed may be evangelical Christian, Roman Catholic or secular. The deceased may have died in New York or in Africa, a few days or a few months earlier. But the funerals all serve the same ends — as festive fund-raisers for bereaved families and as midnight reunions for Ghanaian nurses, students, scientists and cabdrivers looking to dance off the grind of immigrant life in New York."
At Ghanaian Funerals, a Time to Dance and Celebrate -

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

S.B. 72 Ohio Late Term Abortion

(COLUMBUS, OH) - Today, the Late-Term Abortion Ban was voted out of the Senate and moved one step closer to saving the lives of unborn children in Ohio. The Ohio Right to Life supported bill passed today by a 24 to 8 vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"Soon, abortionists will no longer be able to perform these brutal late-term abortions when the child can feel pain," said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director at Ohio Right to Life. "That will be a true victory for human rights."

The Late-Term Abortion Ban requires physicians to determine the viability of an unborn child if the mother sought an abortion at 20 weeks or later into her pregnancy. If the child is found to be able to live outside the mother's womb, the abortion cannot be performed.

S.B. 72, sponsored by Senator Peggy Lehner (R- Dayton) and 15 additional co-sponsors, would save countless lives every year in the state of Ohio, and would be the most important piece of pro-life legislation Ohio has passed in years.

"Abortions can currently be performed in Ohio up to the moment of birth, but many doctors agree that a child can live outside the womb after just 22-24 weeks," Senator Peggy Lehner said. "This bill will prevent late-term abortions...and help better protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens."

Copied from e-mail from Ohio Right to Life.

They'd better be looking for "strings" on this money

"Texas lawmakers passed a series of amendments to the biennial state budget that would move nearly $70 million in funding for family planning to organizations that provide alternatives to abortion and other health services." writes

Taking government money has not been good for faith-based organizations--at least not federal money. Go to any church supported food pantry or homeless shelter and you'll be hard pressed to find a prayer, a hymn or a scrap of paper that proclaims the gospel. Why should we hold all the riches and deny it to them?

Why is OSU hosting a "founder" of the Jesus Seminar?

Because many academics at state universities and colleges are confused about spiritual values to begin with, and they just love poking at Christians. And they are joined in their disbelief and mockery by other academics at private, and formerly Christian institutions.

It would be nice to say, just move along, nothing new here. The Jesus Seminar is the DaVinci Code for egg-heads. But having a department of comparative studies bring in an "authority" on Jesus I suppose gives it some credibility. (They will never try to discredit the Koran because they value their heads.) Trying to destroy Christianity by saying the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is fantasy, is nothing new, and actually Christians have done a pretty good job of that without outside help with their squabbling over details and minutiae.

What exactly is The Jesus Seminar? First you need some academic credentials, a gullible public, and cooperating media and venues. Like the Ohio State University Department of Comparative Studies.

    "The Department of Comparative Studies is presenting the 2011 Davis Lecture, featuring John Dominic Crossan on "Divine Violence and the Christian Bible," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (4/13) in the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater. Crossan is professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University and co–founder of the Jesus Seminar and the author of 25 books on the historical Jesus and early Christianity."
According to Mark D. Roberts, on the founder (died in 2005), founding and meaning of "the seminar:
    "Robert Funk managed to convince the mainstream media that he and his fellows were discovering once and for all what Jesus really said and did. For several years Funk was omnipresent in newspapers and on television programs, assuring us that Jesus never really said most of what is attributed to him in the gospels, and that he didn't rise from the dead, and that orthodox Christianity is completely wrong in almost everything it believes about Jesus. Funk explained all of this soberly, allowing the public to believe that the Jesus Seminar was a theologically-neutral effort of well-meaning scholars to discover the truth about Jesus. By perpetuating this image, quite in contrast to his more honest remarks in meetings of the Jesus Seminar, Funk was less than fully candid. But the secular media, predictably enough, swallowed Funk's bait, hook, line, and sinker. For years we saw stories about how the Jesus Seminar concluded that Jesus didn't say much of what is attributed to him in the gospels, and that He didn't actually rise from the dead. (Gasp! What a surprised conclusion!)
Roberts provides some extensive research on this anti-Jesus Christ movement.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Visiting churches in California

This week we're visiting family in California. On Thursday we attended a neighborhood Bible Study group at our brother-in-law's daughter's home (I think that makes her a shirt tail relative). This very vital group is part of a branch of the Vineyard. Before listening to a CD by a speaker (unknown to me but know to them), and after a dinner provided by the hosts, there was about 1/2 hour of praise songs. I knew most of the songs because they are used at either our Celebration service or X-Alt at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, OH. Then on Sunday we attended Sound Chapel, a Foursquare Gosple church in Santa Ana. We sang many of the songs we've heard at our services, too, and they had a lovely worship team, with the pastor on guitar and a woman lead singer whose voice could be professional. The congregation only has 45 members, but I expect them to grow. It was one of the friendliest and most welcoming congregations I've ever met.

This is just to say, that although this style of music [too loud] is not my favorite, it certainly brings Christians of all groups together.