Archives For July 2015

Advocating Christian Unity

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college level essay.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different.  Continue Reading…

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Advocating Christian Unity

Advocating Christian Principles in Accord

“If you want to know, I felt as if I hadn’t got nothing on, and I didn’t like it.  She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance of flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole–with a bit of garden of my own.”

Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring

One of the most beautiful attributes of our great God is His understanding of us. He understands us better than we understand ourselves. He knows when we are behaving in love, in pride, or in a strange combination of both. What may look to the rest of you like my generosity may just be my own desire that you see me as generous. I am a complex jumble of motives. Sorting them out would be like trying to put a plate of spaghetti in order. God sees me clearly. Continue Reading…

Advocating Christian Unity

Advocating Christian Unity

One evening during the mid-1970s, I was a young homemaker cleaning the kitchen in my mobile home as the television buzzed along airing Soylent Green (1973). The movie, set in 2022 in New York City, is a dystopia (a tale of futuristic nastiness). Charlton Heston plays Detective Thorn. Crime and unemployment are rampant. Apartments come with ‘furniture’ (a woman) if you think she goes with your decor. In this society, women serve no other function but providing pleasure for men. In the 1970s, women were protesting their objectified status as housewives and sexual subservients. And what is Soylent Green? The starving masses riot in the streets to get their share of it–a form of food.

That evening, the movie was background noise–a sense of company in the otherwise quiet trailer with my child sleeping and her father at work. Then Thorn began to yell. The volume came up on the background noise.

“It’s people!  Soylent Green is made of people!” Continue Reading…

When we think of religious freedom lately, we tend to think of the florists, bakers, and wedding planners who refuse, on religious grounds, to participate in gay weddings.  But even before the Supreme Court redefined marriage, a different battle ground was forming.

To provide the homeless with food is now a crime in many cities in America.

It doesn’t take much to become homeless today.  A lost job, an illness, a divorce.  And it’s tough to find work today.  It’s nearly impossible after you’ve lived outside for a couple days.  With more people living in cars and on heating grates, programs to feed and shelter the homeless are straining to meet needs.  If established programs are struggling, there will be hunger in the streets.

Many people are reluctant to hand cash to the homeless.  You don’t want to help feed an addiction.  That’s why my husband and I try to have gift cards on hand when we might encounter those in need.  With a gift card for fast food, you really can’t do much else but get food.

There is also the argument that feeding people on the streets enables them to continue in this homeless lifestyle. Continue Reading…

I once had a conversation with a Chinese dissident, a man who had been a leader at the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, who was arrested and imprisoned, and who later made a dramatic escape to America.  In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was a Buddhist, nominally, and that Christianity, “because there are so many kinds,” was confusing.

That is a difficult criticism to answer.  There are real differences among our traditions.  Take, for example, communion, confession of sins, and the role of Mary and other saints in our lives. Christians from different traditions view these issues differently.  Many of us have some view of why other traditions teach what they do.  Sometimes, these views are accurate; many times, what we think we know about each other’s beliefs is actually a distortion, an out of focus picture that keeps us from understanding where we might actually agree.

It’s ironic that our confusion began with actual confusion. Continue Reading…