Monday, November 25, 2013

The light of faith by Pope Francis

I was sent Pope Francis' "The light of faith" (Lumen Fidei) Ignatius Press, 2013, this summer to review. I pick it up occasionally and think, I really need to get into this. But I've found it not terribly readable--but then it's the first encyclical I've ever read. Beginning Oct. 2012, it was the year of faith for Roman Catholics. Pope Benedict had already written on charity and hope (Deus Caritas Est (2005) and Spe Salvi (2007) , and this was outlined as part of that trilogy, when he resigned in February. Francis calls it a work of 4 hands, and that it is, with Benedict's scholarly references to giants of the past, and Francis' sweetness in reaching out to the ordinary person in faith. I'll continue to dip in--and it's a small book about 5 x 7 with 110 pages. It still feels a little like an outline, but both of these great men know far more on the subject than I do, so it won't be wasted effort. I’ll keep working at it.

Pope Benedict “had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith” before his retirement in February 2013, Pope Francis writes, adding that “I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”

Commentators are likely to differ in attributing specific passages, but the document clearly recalls the writings of Benedict XVI in its extensive treatment of the dialogue between faith and reason and its many citations of St Augustine, not to mention references to Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

On other hand, warnings of the dangers of idolatry, Gnosticism and Pharisaism, a closing prayer to Mary as the “perfect icon of faith”, and an entire section on the relevance of faith to earthly justice and peace echo themes that Pope Francis has already made signatures of his young pontificate.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beth Moore, best-selling author, has a new book

Do you have some Beth Moore fans on your Christmas list? She's very popular at UALC in our Women of the Word groups. Her new title "Whispers of hope; 10 weeks of devotional prayer" (B&H Publishing Group, 2013, $14.99) might be a good choice. I just received my copy, and I really like the plan. You remember how Beth loves assignments and workbooks? With each of the 70 days, there are assigned scripture, Beth's personal and anecdotal musings, and then pages with 4 line...s each for your own thoughts on Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgment, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping. Whether you write something down isn't as important in my view as the nudge to include these areas in your prayer life.

"I'm certain of two things: prayerless lives are powerless lives, and prayerful lives are powerful lives." Beth Moore

                         Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer  -     By: Beth Moore

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amen to That!

Do you need a reasonably priced small gift for Christmas, a book maybe?  For someone who is a word nerd, and just a little bit religious?  I’m suggesting “Amen to that! The amazing way the Bible influences our everyday language,” by Ferdie Addis, Reader’s Digest, 2014. 165 pp. (5 x 7 inches, hard cover) $14.99.

I just received it today for review, and am having such fun browsing. Each familiar saying (that perhaps you didn't know came from the King James Bible) includes the appropriate verse reference and several paragraphs of explanation, history and how it is used today. There is also a nice bibliography and index, which are the heart's desire for most librarians (Romans 10:1), even those who are 3 score and 10 (Psalm 90:10).

So for that special someone who is “the apple of your eye,” or “the salt of the earth” for whom there’s “nothing new under the sun,” try this one.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Social justice?

"Jesus was an advocate for social justice." (Council of Churches website) Jesus never called on the Roman government to feed the hungry, take care of the sick, or visit the imprisoned. Nor did he suggest that the Jews break Roman laws to bring in God's justice, a.k.a. righteousness (the only kind of justice noted in Scripture). He never claimed that higher taxes were the solution to people's problems. He didn't suggest putting the government on a higher plane than religion. I can't imagine he would support the U.S. abortion laws putting the convenience of the adults ahead of the life of the child. When he fed the multitude with a few fish and pieces of bread it was a miracle to declare who he was--a few hours later they would be hungry again if it was about food and not the Bread of Life. "Social justice" as it is promoted or explained in many church publications, committees, boards, non-profits and pulpits is warmed over Marxism. In fact, Jesus may have been critical of this entrenched religious leadership that is so cozy with power in high places seeking handouts from the government to do "good works."