“A poem should not mean, but be.” So said one of the great poets of the twentieth century, Archibald MacLeish. Meaning is important – direction and description are crucially important to life, but few people are motivated by “meaning” alone. The cliché about actions speaking louder than words gets at the heart of it. Luke seemed to know that quite well and he applied that lesson in the Book of Acts. As we begin the Lenten season today, it seems an appropriate time to meditate on the growth of the Early Church.
The idea of faith is one that gets caricatured in the modern world. In part, that stems from misunderstanding. What happens behind that word “faith” is not easily explained to our liking. Ed Hurst writes on the starting point of faith, laying a foundation of understanding.
It’s enough to give you a headache.
A few years ago I was working on a book with Dr. Morris E. Chafetz, and in the course of conversation he said, “Maybe time doesn’t really exist. Maybe it’s just something we’ve created for our own convenience.” As a child of the space age, I’d heard speculations of all sorts and now, with a book to get out, I didn’t see where we had time to discuss it. “Yeah, maybe,” I replied.
There was no way to tell whether the old fellow thought he recognized me or would have begun the conversation with anyone who happened by. Nor, really, did it matter. Our meeting outside the store on one of the warm days week before last began with his question. “What do you think of that tomb of Jesus they say they found?”
I have written in the past about various challenges in evangelical Christianity centered around history and memory, or the lack thereof. We as Evangelicals have often slunk towards ahistorical views, and this is exactly the last thing people need today. Perhaps a turn back to traditional forms in worship can help the problem.
Few gestures can be as delightful as a hearty “Merry Christmas” this time of year. Yet the phrase has become embroiled in a “culture war,” the most recent salvo of which came from the pro-Christmas American Family Association, which sought to get its members to turn against retailer Costco, after Costco started favoring “holiday” over “Christmas.”
In a recent commentary at ZDNet, software developer Jeremy Allison considered one of the most problematic issues with adoption of the Linux operating system: even in cash strapped parts of the world, people don’t want it. I'm not too deeply disturbed those poor souls in Africa don't want Linux. What strikes me so deeply has to do with perception.
Churches are constantly trying to find ways to bring in people and convince them to come back each and every Sunday. Often the method of drawing people in has to do with offering a particular “style of worship” to get the people excited. OFB's Ed Hurst examines how we worship in an attempt to reach a “principle of worship.”
Churches have these huge expensive meetings in big expensive cities. Of course, huge expensive meetings require similarly huge advertising too. The only way to get advertising is buy it, and it's broadly more effective to go with the eager sponsors in the corporate setting. How much do we sacrifice spiritually? To what degree do we prostitute ourselves when we use the ways of the world because they are “smart” in the business sense? If, as Barna says, church and the gospel are merely a matter of marketing, then it's all good.
For centuries, the holy grail of a certain segment of the elite has been to boil down religion into something common to all faiths, thereby eliminating what is seen as one of the “major negatives” of religious belief – sectarianism and fighting between religious groups. Now, members of the TED Conference, at the behest of author Karen Armstrong, want to give it another go with the “Charter for Compassion.” Inevitably, it will fail.