CCblogs Network Posts

Recent content from around the network. See featured posts.

The CCblogs network is a community of independent bloggers exploring the Christian faith. The Christian Century facilitates the network but does not edit posts or take responsibility for them.

__________________________________________________________

  • Allan R. Bevere


    ______________________


  • Geert was a prodigious talent of considerable note among his peers and teachers. He received a highly regarded and expensive education that made him a person of status and envy. His primary areas of study were medicine, theology, and canon law. As a student of these disciplines, he received a well-rounded and enviable education that prepared him for an enjoyable life. Further, Geert was gifted in these disciplines and received numerous honors for his work. He had found that success in the world could be gained with consistent and concerted effort and a little bit of talent. Geert was appointed as a professor of theology and philosophy. Further, he received a portion of the cathedral's revenues and was very wealthy. So much of Geert's life was enviable for those who might look upon it--he had wealth, honors, respect, and influence. But, Geert was called to something greater and better.Some of his dear friends contacted him and warned him about the seductions of...

    ______________________


  • First, let me acknowledge that I realize that many Christians take quite seriously the Biblical prohibitions against tattoos on the body, so what I'm about to write might seem heretical.  When we were in the water park on Thursday, I noticed several people with Bible verses tattooed on their bodies--usually not the whole chunk of text, but just the book, chapter, and verse.  That got me to wondering:  if you could choose only one text to tattoo on your body, which one would it be?And would the text you choose today be different than the one you would have chosen when you were younger?I have loved the Micah 6:8 text since I first heard it during a Lutheran Student Movement national event:  the Lord requires of us justice, mercy, and walking humbly with our God.  But would I want that in a tattoo?  I've long loved the verses that admonish us to beat our swords into ploughshares--but is that the most important text?Lately I've ...

    ______________________


  • The Invasion of Time is a true classic of the Tom Baker era. It is one of many episodes in which the Doctor seems to be behaving erratically, and we the viewer are made to wonder how he can be doing some of the things that we see him doing. At the beginning, we see the [Read More...]

    ______________________


  • O Jesus Christ, you are called the Light of the World, but I cannot see the way--you have fenced me in. How can anyone say you have come down from heaven--aren't you born of Mary? Must I suffer for the sake of your name? Lord, open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give you thanks. Lectionary Readings Ps. 56; 149; 118; 111 Job 3:1-26 Acts 9:10-19a John 6:41-51             Selected Verses Ps. 118:19  Open to me the gates of righteousness,          that I may enter through them          and give thanks to the LORD. Job 3:23 "…Why is light given to one who cannot see the way, whom God has fenced in? …" [Job] Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to [Ananias], "Go, for [Saul] is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will...

    ______________________


  • As you might guess with a blog title inspired by a George Herbert poem, I’m a huge fan of Herbert. So I was delighted when the publisher asked me if they could send along a review copy of George Herbert: 100 Poems (Cambridge University Press, 2016. 174 pages, $20). While I’m hardly an expert on metaphysical poets, perhaps they imagined me to be qualified for having this blog title. Or maybe it was my dog, named for the same poet (and Lent Madness 2010 Golden Halo winner, by the way). Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled to say a few words about a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Herbert’s English poetry was published only after his death, with instructions having been sent to close friend Nicholas Ferrar saying, “if he can think it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made public; if not let him burn it; for I and it are less than the least of God’s mercies.” Thanks be to God, Ferrar found Herbert’s poetry worth preserving....

    ______________________

  • Country Parson

    I have a favorite bike route.  It’s about ten miles round trip, with two thirds of it along Mill Creek to Rooks Park and back.  The rest is on city streets through neighborhoods and past schools.  Most of the walkers, skate boarders, runners, and bikers I’ve seen this summer have been wearing earphones, not hearing anything that doesn’t come through them.  Some walkers not only wear earphones, but are glued to their smart phones, no doubt in pursuit of you know what, and utterly oblivious to anything else.Behold, says the nature guide, here is an example of an ambulatory life-form, unrelated to others in our area, and of unknown origin.  We’ve been observing it for some time now, and while it does move, it does not appear to be aware of its surroundings, or participate in the life of other flora and fauna.  We think it’s sensate, and we’ve tried to make contact.  With enough stimulation it appears to awaken to our presence for a brief moment, usually...

    ______________________


  • Luke 10:13-17The woman set free from being bent over praises God while the synagogue ruler standing up straight remains bent over by the rules and regulations he is so keen on keeping. This daughter of Abraham knew her need and for eighteen years had endured the stares and whispers of those whose religious perspective placed the blame squarely on her bowed shoulders. Bad things happen to bad people. The synagogue ruler, a son of Abraham in a position of prestige and power, had no idea that the very things he held as holy prevented him from being holy. God said it this way more than once, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” If the Sabbath is meant to return one to the place of rest, modeled by the Creator on the seventh day, then the Sabbath was always meant to reconnect the created to the God who commanded that rest be observed. Jesus said it this way more than once, “The Sabbath was meant for you. Not you for the Sabbath.” So the Sabbath that reconnects us to the One who commanded it...

    ______________________


  • Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not the One who instructs your heartbeat by the pulsing dance of starlings. Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not the One who teaches your soul in the stillness of the great blue heron. Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not the One who calls you to rest with the summer whippoorwill. Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not the One who finds you hiding though you like the junco lay low. Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not the One who defends you as a cardinal against intruders. on Psalm 103:2-3

    ______________________


  • When I was a third grader at Gordon Grammar School in Barnesville, Georgia, I became interested in the Battle of the Alamo. I don’t remember why, but I did. I thought about Googling it, but then I remembered that the Internet hadn’t been invented yet. So I asked my mother to take me to the Carnegie Library to get a book about it. After checking to see if they had any new Hardy Boy

    ______________________


  • In a recent article at Quanta Magazine, entitled “What No New Particles Means for Physics” author Natalie Wolchover discusses what some in high energy physics view as a “nightmare scenario” – the disappearance of what was, in December 2015, touted as the long-awaited sign of Beyond-Standard-Model particles.   Elementary particle theorists, in order to preserve what is deemed “natural” in the understanding of the interactions of fundamental particles like quarks and leptons, have long posited the existence of other as-yet-unseen particles of an exotic nature.  So far at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), no such particles have been observed – and the hint of what seemed to be one of these particles which a partial data set, whose analysis was presented in December 2015, has since, in a more complete data sample, disappeared.  This has brought several cries of “woe are we” from some sectors of the high energy physics community,...

    ______________________


  • A new feature from the Book of Nature crew is coming, entitled “Booklets of Nature”. As the name implies, this will be a short-feature podcast, which enables the Book of Nature guys to briefly reflect on items in the news of scientific interest, issues of science pedagogy, philosophy, and history, and issues that involve the intersection of Christian faith and scientific ideas and practice. The introductory episode briefly describing the new program is now uploaded to the Book of Nature stream, as will be all future Booklet mini-podcasts. Download or stream this episode

    ______________________

  • Tamed Cynic

    I’ve been reading Roger Olson’s new book Counterfeit Christianity: The Persistence of Errors in the Church, a book about Christian heresies that is vastly superior to my own writing on them. Nonetheless, I thought this would be the perfect time to pull my ‘Top Ten Heresies‘ posts from 4 years ago out of the vault. Heresy = Beliefs considered anathema by the ecumenical councils of the Christian Church If Orthodoxy = ‘right praise’ then heresy = ‘wrong praise.’ *Leviticus 10: wrong praise = a very big deal If Stanley Hauerwas is correct to assert that most Christians in America today are ‘functional atheists;’ that is, most Christians live in such a way that it makes no difference that God raised Jesus from the dead, then surely even more Christians today are inadvertent heretics, trodding paths of belief the ancient Church long ago labeled dangerous detours. Today these ancient errors of the faith can be found wearing many different guises. For all you know, you might be wearing one...

    ______________________


  • We're approaching the confluence of seasons, much to my chagrin. I'd rather that it stayed summer for a while, although all that dank heat makes me weary these dog days, puts October's colorful winter prelude in mind in a way that doesn't seem all bad. But the skies tell the story. This time of year they're big and rambunctious and often strewn with the wreckage of overnight storms or the stirrings of the morning's to come. When that messiness breaks up in a dawn, I can hardly sit still here, just a window away. Here's a few shots I've taken lately when I stepped just outside the door.And there's this too:Out here in the country, it's not hard to remember that John Calvin used to say our perception of God's almighty-ness is created most powerfully in the awe we feel in the face of a world so beautiful and powerful and therefore so much unlike ourselves. Our depravity--our not being God--is never quite so profoundly revealed than we stand in the face of eternity of  God...

    ______________________


  • My sister and 10 year old nephew are visiting us this week, which means we are having a stay-cation.  My nephew wanted to go to a water park in the Bahamas, but decided he could be happy with the huge one in the neighboring county.  It was nothing like the waterslides of my youth, which usually consisted of a few concrete slides and mats for all.Yesterday we went to a water park that had over 20 slides.  You could ride in mats, innertubes, rafts, or just your back, depending on the ride.  There was a lazy river, a wave pool, and a place for very little kids.We spent the day surrounded by water, and I confess that at first I spent more time thinking about Physics than about water.  How could we be sure that we wouldn't get airborn and sail off the slide?  What actually happened in that vortex?  Could the raft really get that high?  How much did we all weigh and how should we space ourselves in the inner tube built for 4?Later in the day...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere

    Rescuers free squirrel with head stuck in cupFrom Associated PressAugust 14, 2016 1:11 PM ESTENFIELD, Conn. (AP)-- Emergency responders in Connecticut have come to the rescue of a squirrel that was caught in a nutty situation.Members of Enfield Emergency Medical Services responded Friday after the rodent got its head stuck in what appeared to be a plastic or paper cup.Video posted on the Enfield EMS Facebook page shows the critter wildly jumping and flipping into the air in an effort to dislodge the cup.Responders' first attempt to remove the cup was unsuccessful. The wily rodent hopped out of one officer's hands and through the legs of another.The second attempt proved more successful. An officer covered the animal with a blanket and held its body steady while another officer removed the cup before the critter scampered away into some nearby bushes.___Source: My Earthlink

    ______________________


  • Blaise Pascal had a very keen mind and a tendency to apply it freely and easily to the thoughts and concerns of his day. He was born in provincial France but his mother died when he was only three years old. Consequently, his father raised him and his two sisters alone. They were taken care of but they lacked their mother and would spend many long hours yearning for her presence.Further, though they were Roman Catholic by birth and self-description their faith can best be described as nominal and insincere. Blaise found consolation, adventure, and release in mathematics. He was comfortable in the ivory tower of academia. He applied himself fully to his studies and was soon noted for his astounding brilliance and was acclaimed as a child prodigy.He was already publishing mathematical studies and proofs as a teenager. It cannot be denied, even for a second, that Blaise was a brilliant man with a mind fit for precise calculation and consideration. He expanded the disciplines of...

    ______________________

  • Journeys Home

    Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was canonized in 1174 and made a "Doctor of the Church" in 1830. He is honored on August 20 in the calendars of the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and ELCA Churches and on August 19 in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. So we can think about him on both days.Here is a site that gives some background on Bernard: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1113&calendar=1 and also  http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/moversandshakers/bernard-of-clairvaux.html That second author comments: "It's hard to know how to characterize Bernard of Clairvaux. On the one hand, he is called the 'honey-tongued doctor' for his eloquent writings on the love of God. On the other hand, he rallied soldiers to kill Muslims. He wrote eloquently on humility; then again, he loved being close to the seat of power and was an adviser to five popes." Bernard joined the new community, the Cistercians, and therein practiced very strict...

    ______________________


  • This image on the Pictoral Theology blog shows one of the more bizarre responses of some atheists to some theologians. If someone is talking about a different idea of God than the Biblical depiction, and knows it, then how is responding in terms of the Biblical (or other Abrahamic) depiction meaningful? Some atheists seem to [Read More...]

    ______________________


  • My son is a recent graduate of a private Christian college. Like most college students, except perhaps those able to get into a few elite schools with huge endowments, he had to take out student loans. He has amassed a significant debt (as is true of most recent graduates) and now must pay off the loan. Not only that, but he's already accrued significant interest debt. Back in the day, I too received student loans (mostly during seminary), but there was a major difference between the rules then, and the rules now, and that's the millstone I want to address. From the moment that Brett received his first loan, interest began to accrue. Interest continues to accrue, though he is not set to begin payments for several months.  If he goes to graduate school and defers the loan (as I deferred my college loans and then seminary loans during my two graduate stints) then he'll still be accruing interest.  I believe that this is not right or fair. During the primaries there...

    ______________________


  • There is no possible place we could go that your Spirit would not be, O God, nowhere to flee from your presence--and why would we want to find one? Even when our sight of you fails us, even when our suffering is great, teach us not to be concerned about the food that perishes, but about the food you will give us, the food that endures for eternal life. Lectionary Readings Ps. 130; 148; 32; 139 Job 2:1-13 Acts 9:1-9 John 6:27-40             Selected Verses Ps. 139:7 Where can I go from your spirit?          Or where can I flee from your presence? Job 2:13 [His three friends] sat with [Job] on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. Acts 9:9 For three days [Saul] was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. John 6:27a Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal...

    ______________________


  • The Presbyterian Church of Korea has a weekly newspaper and my recent 10 day visit to Korea has made “the Presbyterian news.” (Including a photo: I think I look tired, my family think I look lovely) I don’t speak Korean but I’m told the article speaks about - the multicultural context of NZ - the […]

    ______________________

  • Journeys Home

    Hans Fredrik Gude (1825-1903), "Under eketreet" (Under the Oak, 1858).  "Hardanger Fjord" (1847). 

    ______________________


  • Hebrews 12:18-29Accept the grace of God or else get burned. Not the best way to start a Wednesday afternoon but then this text is not about nice. It’s about the living God who is a consuming fire that shakes things up. I will admit I prefer the “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” image of God so of course I will try to paint the “our God is a consuming fire” warning from heaven in a friendlier light. It may not be that hard if the mediator of the new covenant, whose blood speaks a better word than Abel, speaks for us. Then maybe a consuming fire and a warning from heaven, from which we cannot escape, is good news even if we don’t heed the warning. For we do not come to a mountain of fire and smoke that makes one tremble and faint for fear but to a holy hill where the God who is a consuming fire was himself consumed by the cross. If Christ intercedes for all of creation maybe even those who do not heed warnings become the righteous made perfect. So what’s the point of a warning word if...

    ______________________

  • Emily C. Heath

    The following was initially delivered as a sermon on June 12, 2016 for Christian education recognition Sunday at the Congregational Church in Exeter, but it’s relevant for your church if you are starting a new year of Christian education soon! The Pew Research Center found in 2014 that only 14.7% of American adults are a … Continue reading →

    ______________________