Many hearts around the world, including mine, break and sigh under the cloud of violent news coming from Palestine/Israel. Interceding and beseeching God seems to be the only thing to do anymore. The supposed “neutral” arbiters seem more impotent than a dead weed. As a bystander, I’ll won’t offer much in the way of solutions either, but I would offer these thoughts and suggestions.
- I believe God’s heart is with those suffering on both sides of this conflict. Those who stand unscathed in the places of power and command and privilege are most likely far from His favor as they rain down death and destruction knowing they’ll continue to be “safe”.
- Please, please read and study the stories of both sides. But especially to us who have grown up in the american evangelical radio/bookstore bubble, please read the story of the Palestinians. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us have heard the Israeli side, many times and from many angles. That’s only half the story. Please know the other side too. (And that’s not a recommendation to read Hamas or some other terrorist group’s rhetoric. Read the Palestinian story – there is a difference)
- Try, even if it’s just for theoretical/thought-experiment purposes, to separate this conflict from the “biblical prophesy” stuff that’s energized us american evangelicals for so long. Look at the context and history through other glasses besides the “book-of-Revelations” one and see how that effects your perspective. Remember, the pre-millennial dispensationalist “Left Behind” eschatology is a very recent innovation/interpretation (early 1900’s). It is not the only logical, viable interpretation and therefore it (and its uniquely Western bias, and its emphasis on the modern state of Israel could be wrong; way wrong. I’m also pretty sure adherence to it (mainstream evangelical eschatology) is not necessary for the salvation of one’s soul… so take a second look at the situation, through some other glasses. Read some early church father’s or Reformers take on Revelations… God may show you something new.
- Tune out the partisan politicians and TV news and websites, especially those who dogmatically shout for only one side or the other. At the least, hold what they say lightly and don’t swallow it whole. Be a Berean and search them out a little. Vet their rhetoric. And hold it up to the Light of Jesus’ teaching and example. If your eschatology/end-times ideas make you sound/come across like a bloodthirsty heathen, then your eschatology/end-times ideas may be far from the way of Jesus.
Finally, pray and study and listen. May Jesus’ peace and hope come to Palestine/Israel sooner, rather than later. It will be a huge step towards God’s restoration of earth and humanity.
If you took note of the books I’m currently reading (Listed in the GoodReads widget to the right, under the header), one of those books was the Communist Manifesto. This may cause some consternation among some of you. If you stick with me past this paragraph, you may be surprised. Here’s a bit that came out of my reading of the Communist Manifesto.
First and foremost, it’s large on generalities and short on complex details or thoughtful solutions to complex problems. It tries to build a case for one simple solution to an incredibly complex situation. That situation was the industrial revolution that began rocking the West in the mid 1800’s and into the 1900’s. Continue reading
I love the circles of mainly christian/evangelical, middle to upper middle class friends, family, work and acquaintances in which God has placed me. These spheres have multiple up-sides. Familiarity, less relational stress, religious/spiritual rapport and encouragement are just a few. But there’s a downside…
Especially vexing at times is how we in this clique tend to talk about those who are outside of this comfy ghetto. In our conversations and by extension, in our attitude, people who are liberals/Democrats, gays, Muslims, atheists, urbanites, environmentalists, gun-control advocates, mainline christians, animal rightists, feminists, or secular academia are generally feared, reviled or dismissed. Our chit-chat often mocks these people. We love jokes that make fun of these kinds of people. We imagine their thoughts and actions are ever plotting to persecute and destroy us. We celebrate their downfalls. We talk as if we know and understand their minds and intentions very well, but we rarely actually quote them (let alone sit down with them and hear their side). We repeat what we’ve heard media/religious ‘experts’ write or say about them, which is always how awful they are. We easily slip into exaggerating their faults and beliefs. We make them into unreconcilable monsters who deserve our scorn and who deserve retaliations via media, preaching/teaching, education, lawsuits, politicking or other end-justifies-the-means worldly machinations short of real violence against them. Continue reading
I remember many years ago listening to Focus on the Family and a discussion of the 12 steps to intimacy. I’ve wondered about this process as it relates to the Church and its relationship with her suitor, Jesus Christ. Can a connection be made between the caution expressed in the 12 steps of intimacy and the feelings/emotionalism/romanticism emphasis of modern evangelical christianity? Could the caution to not get too deep, too quickly apply to our relationship with God too? (individually and corporately) I don’t want to suggest that ‘not seeking to draw nigh to God’ is the right path, but is there an emphasis in our evangelical christianity that might push people to jump over or rush through needed steps in our path towards ultimate fellowship with almighty God? Continue reading
Books: Lights of learning
One of the latest web things I’ve found and really like are online personal book catalogs. Recently I began using LibraryThing for our church library and I’ve started using a similar one called goodreads for my personal use. The great thing about both of these is the ability to link your book lists to widgets/code that shows and updates on your blogs or other social media. (An aside: In the little bit I’ve used them both, I’m leaning towards LibraryThing as the better of the two) So if you look at the top right of this page, you’ll see the goodreads box with the title “I am currently reading” on top, and there you’ll see book titles/covers I’m currently reading. Neat aye!
I’m grateful for the local church family that God has placed me in, and I believe God is using us together in some way despite our shortcomings. But there are times I feel an overwhelming sense of exasperation and disillusionment with the mainstream evangelical american stream of christianity in which we/I live and breath (church, work, facebook, basically everywhere) What follows is critique, but for me it’s also catharsis.
From left to right: Aaron, me, David, Nevin, and Jason
More than a week ago my uncle Aaron, the oldest in his family, went home to heaven May 31, 2013, after an extended illness. His family and friends gathered in Ohio June 3 to remember him and to lay his body to rest. Despite the bittersweet nature of our gathering, God’s grace to us was real. We were able to rejoice in the love and peace that God gave Aaron and his family. His passing brought to mind many memories for all of us. I have many as well, but there’s one that stuck with me for a long time after it occurred and will continue to impact my life into the future.
The picture at the top of this post was taken on the top of a slope in Calgary, Canada. The occasion was his son’s wedding to a lovely Canadian, Salina. Aaron, his other son Nevin, two cousins and I took the opportunity to try out some super Rocky Mt skiing. Aaron was really plowing into the physical activity craze that he’d been able to indulge in recently and I was impressed by his vigor and stamina. Ever since then I’ve made it a personnel goal, God-willing, to be as energetic and fit as he was at that age. But this is not the thing that will really stick with me.