A few weeks back, influential New York minister Tim Keller spoke at a forum run by the US Ethics and Public Policy Centre, during which he made some comments on the issue of gay marriage. What he said attracted a lot of discussion, but was apparently misunderstood by some, and he subsequently issued an explanation.
His comments merit further thought.
This morning I attended the local Anzac Day dawn service, which commemorates the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have died in battle. For many Aussies, this is the most sacred day of the year. I don’t feel that way, and I don’t usually attend, and it was a time of conflicting emotions and thoughts.
In October 2012, 14 eminent scientists, philosophers and other thinkers met for 3 days in a workshop entitled Moving Naturalism Forwards. What should we learn from this meeting?
Recently I’ve discussed some stories of atheists who once were christians and christians who once were unbelievers. Here’s some statistics on how religious belief is changing in various countries.
Regular readers will know that one of my ’causes’ is ethical chocolate – chocolate that is grown by free farmers who are paid a fair wage, and not by trafficked children working more or less as slaves. (For background, see Ethical chocolate update.)
So it was with great delight that I received a weighty package in the mail recently and discovered a story of dark criminality and desperate legal actions.
Many people have commented these past few weeks on gun ownership in the US. As an Australian, I hesitate to enter into the debate, so I won’t discuss either of the key questions – whether a high level of gun ownership reduces or increases gun deaths, and whether the laws in the US should be changed.
But I think there are other questions that christians, at least, should ponder.
I saw this story a while back but only got around to posting about it now – a study has shown how abortion rates can apparently be more than halved.
Or, to be more accurate, I soon will be.
It is a phenomenon reported by pollster George Barna, observed by many of us and experienced by some – feeling dissatisfied with church. Not just complaining that something isn’t perfectly the way we like it, or disliking the people, but feeling deeply alienated from the church system and knowing deep down that Jesus never meant it to be like this.
The question is, what to do about it? Tell yourself everyone else can’t be wrong so it must be you, and just grin and bear it? Quit church altogether? Join another church (often only to find it’s different, but still the same)? Give all your energies to making change? Or start a new church?
So Obama has won, more convincingly than many expected. Many christians will be worried by this, yet there seems to be a number of christians taking a different line.
I am looking at some of the core convictions of the Anabaptists, not because I am an Anabaptist, but because I think we learn from them. Today: the relationship of the church and the world.
When countries are in turmoil or their people are impoverished, many choose, or are forced, to look for a better life, and so become refugees. Australia is an attractive place to seek refuge. Because we are an island nation, many refugees make the often dangerous journey by boat, and increasingly, many perish in the attempt. When they arrive, they can spend years in detention before being allowed to stay or being sent back.
I have blogged before about the political and social issues (Politicisation of asylum-seekers and Illegal immigration?). This post, I want to reflect on how christians are approaching this matter.
Mike has questioned the point of my last post (Christians and Chick-fil-a), about when and how christians should speak out in the public arena, and when and how we shouldn’t. So I thought I would clarify in a new post.
Chick-fil-a is apparently a chain of about 1600 chicken fast food stores in the US. Being an Aussie, I wouldn’t know. But apparently the chain has been in the news recently because of an allegedly anti-gay stance, mainly, as far as I can tell, seen through large donations to christian anti-gay causes. Recently protests by gays were answered with a “Chick-fil-a appreciation day”. I’m not really concerned about the details, just setting the scene.
I mention all this simply to link to this post, The morning after Chick-fil-A day. The author, Mike Patz, is a pastor, and offers some very sensible thoughts about how christians relate to non-believers. It is probably most relevant in the US, but I think we all need to learn.
Worth a look I reckon.
With the London Olympic Games about to begin, now is a good time to remember one of my ‘heroes’.
He was probably Australia’s greatest male sprint athlete, a silver medallist at the 1968 Games in Mexico City. This is the best an Australian male sprinter has ever finished, and in a time that, amazingly, is still the Australian record. He is almost forgotten in his own country, yet famous in the US for something more important than running fast.
This is the story of Peter Norman – a story that deserves to be remembered.
There has been a long campaign for chocolate companies to only source their cocoa from farms that don’t use trafficked child labour, and who pay the workers a fair wage. And progress has been slow.
I have previously reported how I have joined many others in writing to chocolate companies here in Australia asking them to adopt Fairtrade or other certification that guarantees ethical practices.
So it is always good to celebrate encouraging news.
“Make your life extraordinary” is the advice school teacher John Keating gives his class in Dead Poets Society.
Otis Clark seemed to achieve this without really trying.
Otis died recently at the age of 109. He had a long and eventful life.
What is the future of the church as we know it in the western world?
I have written about this many times (see The future for the church), believing that much needs to change. It is like the tide is coming in, the island the churches are sitting on is shrinking, our feet are wet, yet things are just going on as normal.
But bit by bit, the evidence keeps coming in (just like the tide), that one way or another, things will indeed change.
Almost one billion people, an eighth of the world’s population, are hungry as you read this. Why?
Alice Cooper used to be considered as evil personified, but now he is a christian believer, some don’t know how to take him.
So I enjoyed this interview with him, especially these comments by the reporter:
“In the same week, it’s possible that Cooper may be on stage fake-executing himself with a guillotine and helping to watch the children in his church’s nursery in Phoenix.”
Forget asking questions about would you buy a used car from this man! Would you be happy to have him as your child’s Sunday School teacher?
I wonder if he puts on a show for the kiddies??? : )
I have previously reported on the ethical dilemmas posed by eating chocolate, due to the trafficking and exploitation of children in growing cocoa in West Africa (see My pleasure, their misery? and Easter eggs and slavery), and on the responses to my letters to chocolate manufacturers (see Fair Trade chocolate – report 1).
I have received some more replies, and have researched some more information, all of which is very revealing.