Archive for October, 2010

I’m copying most of this post from Scot McKnight, because I think these issues are important enough to put down on a post here (see his post for links to this study and NYT essay discussing the same).  And I’ve seen what this study describes firsthand from private religious high school kids (to be fair, some were girls) in Memphis, so I’m not at all surprised by this study:

Private schools by their very nature discriminate. Their students are literally the chosen ones — special, better . . .

It is no wonder then that a recent study of more than 43,000 high school students (conducted by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics) found that:

• Boys who went to private religious schools were most likely to say that they had used racial slurs and insults in the past year as well as mistreated someone because he or she “belonged to a different group.”

• Boys at religious private schools were the most likely to say that they had bullied, teased or taunted someone in the past year.

• While boys at public schools were the most likely to say that it was O.K. to hit or threaten a person who makes them very angry, boys at private religious schools were just as likely to say that they had actually done it.

Some public schools have issues with academic attainment; it appears some private schools have issues with tolerance.

(This all assumes that these children told the truth. As it turns out, private school students were also the most likely to lie. According to the study, they were the least likely to say that they had answered all the questions “with complete honesty.”)


Read Full Post »

A Halloween Prayer

Once upon a time, Halloween (much like Christmas) was a day set aside by a pope in response to a popular existing pagan holiday on that day.  More specifically, the day was All Saints Day, which was moved from May 13 to November 1 in order to steer the celebration from a pagan emphasis to a Christian one.  All Saints’ Eve, or Halloween, was also set aside (“hallowed”) as a special day for remembrance and worship.

Most of us do not celebrate either a pagan holiday or a Christian one.  But for those interested, reflecting on God’s goodness to those who have gone before is not a bad idea on Nov 1, October 31, or any other day.

Here is a contemporary English version of a classic All Saints’ Day prayer (from the Church Society’s English Prayer Book):

And we bless your holy name for all your servants who have died in your faith and fear. Give us grace to follow their good examples so that with them we may inherit your eternal kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only mediator and advocate.

Read Full Post »

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s the “political season”.  (Is anyone else worried that the sign “Steve Cohen can whip Charlotte Bergman” might be inappropriate given that the latter is a black female?)  Anyone interested on the interface between politics and Christianity will probably be interested in the series of interviews I’m doing at the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology blog.  The introduction to the interview series contains links to the first four published interviews, and there are plenty more to come.

Read Full Post »

John 1:37-38, Hood’s unauthorized translation:

John saw Jesus as he walked by and said, “LOOK!  That’s the Lamb of God!” Two of John’s disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

May that pattern be duplicated by all of us.  We speak the gospel.  When people hear us, they follow Jesus rather than us.

Read Full Post »

Because my name is Mark!

A funny quote by Jim Gaffigan (a pretty good stand-up comedian) from his Twitter account:  “I’m writing a book all about the life and times of Jesus. I’m gonna name it “Mark”. Because my name is Mark.”

This quote also points up the importance of remembering Mark’s own title for his book, which had nothing to do with his name.  The title in a book, esp in Hebrew tradition, was often the opening phrase or line.  So, Mark 1:1 effectively titles the work, “[The beginning of] The Gospel of Jesus Christ”.  And when Mark does appear (I think), it’s an embarrassing moment with no mention of his name, 14:51-52.

So we’ve effectively named Mark after the author.  Compare it to calling Cat in the Hat “Insanity according to Dr. Seuss” 2000 years from now.

Read Full Post »

Do It Again

Grace and I drove to Asheville, NC last weekend to enjoy what RomanticAsheville.com told us was “peak color”. And they were right, it was beautiful. As we walked through the woods, I kept thinking of the quote below. We walked or drove past hundreds of thousands of trees and  probably billions of leaves, each one glorifying its Creator, changing color and falling  at His command.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”   G.K. Chesterton 

Psalm 96

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; [1]
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Read Full Post »

I recently spent time around a young couple on the cusp of marriage (not readers of this blog btw!).  It’s all bells and whistles, all icing and little cake, and a whole bunch of chaos is wrapped up in emotional “love” that seems to make things okay.

We can be grateful for the feelings that bring us together, and then back together time and time again.

But what a dangerous thing to rely on!  Feelings are not concrete, and storms are coming…

It’s all hard work–we all know that.

It’s learning to filter what comes into you head so that it’s not always said.

It’s learning to put someone on a bit of a pedestal–not our normal tendency, especially in this day and age of sarcasm and irony and leveling humor.  Marriage is the opposite of the democratizing impulse.

It’s learning to give others preference, and learning to do what they want to do or what they need you to do, and searching for joy in that place.

It’s learning to challenge people in a loving way.

It’s learning to remember what the other person cares about (what parts of the house especially need to be clean) and what they have trouble doing.

Nothing is more tedious than listening to someone play scales.  But it’s that discipline that is going to make a good piano player.  It’s the disciplines in marriage, and in any meaningful relationship, that ultimately make the real music that is worth hearing, that blesses both marriage partners and the world, that gives others something to which they can aspire.

In comparison, the emotional love we often feel (especially early on) is simply the start of a journey, not a destination.  It’s hearing that first Chopin piece and being in rapturous awe, neither realizing nor caring about the 100,000 scales you must play before you perform it.

Read Full Post »

One take on the age-old contemporary/traditional war:

“I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”
— G.K. Chesterton, writing in the Illustrated London News, June 3, 1922

HT:  the greatest living Memphis musician (white man category)

Read Full Post »

Last week I took Zach to visit Wheaton College in Chicago. Wheaton is a Christian liberal arts college. We called on Wednesday to try to set up meetings with a couple of faculty and staff on that Friday. We were amazed when they let us know that they were able to set up several meetings, including the campus Chaplain. One of the meetings was with the director of Urban Studies, Dr. Noah Toly. We both knew when we walked in his office that this was going to be a great visit. He was completely engaging and in Zach’s words was “so present in the moment”. Zach’s comment was accurate and really hit home with me. What a great description of Jesus as we see him in the gospels, that He was “present” with each person He encountered. Here we were, a high school junior and his dad. Dr. Toly had no idea whether we serious about Wheaton or Urban Studies, or even if Zach could get in the school. But there he was, fully giving us his attention and energy, when I’m sure there were a million other things he could be doing. I thought of how many times I have been in a similar circumstance but have not been “present”, of how often I am not faithful in the many small things God puts in my day because I’m trying to do something bigger or “more important”. I have no idea if Zach will get to go to Wheaton, or if he will ever study under Dr. Toly, but I do know that in his faithfulness in the way he received Zach and me he has already started teaching us.


Read Full Post »

The End is Near-ish

God Bless the Vols: Devotions for the Die-Hard Tennessee Fan

OK, since Jason brought up the Ole Miss Black Bears, here’s another sign of the SEC apocalypse, all in good fun. Here’s a devotional aimed at UT fans. They have these for other schools as well-Alabama, Georgia, LSU, UNC…even a NASCAR version. Here’s a word or two from the description on Amazon:

“This exciting collection of stories from the many sports played at the University of Tennessee is perfect for the Vols fan who is also a fan of God. Each story, while giving accurate information concerning a sporting event, will also lead you into a moment of reflection about God and his greatness. UT fans will have the best of both worlds.”

Really? I’m sure the author didn’t mean to, but do we really want to equate being a UT fan with being  “a fan of God”?!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »