Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
I Never Knew It Was In
Chemists have long suffered from an inferiority complex, so stories like this emerge now and then:
2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, and in honor of the occasion, the journal Nature reflects deeply upon the field’s long-running image problem.Image problem? I honestly did not know we needed an "image." Consider the next paragraph of the piece:
Chemists often find them overshadowed by biologists on one side of the scientific spectrum, and by physicists on the other side. That brand confusion extends even to the event that provides the rationale for celebrating chemistry this year: The United Nations is turning its spotlight on chemists this year to mark the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering radium and polonium. But that was actually her second Nobel. Her role in unraveling the mystery of radioactivity won her a share of the prize in 1903 ... in the physics category.
The discipline is getting even more tangled up in the 21st century. "Chemistry is often central, with principles and discoveries that enable work in other subjects," Nature reports. "Its ability to react and rearrange matter for applications such as energy storage, new materials and more efficient industrial processes is vital for modern technology. Yet often, other disciplines such as materials science emerge as the public faces of such successes."So, chemistry is one of the most essential sciences, but under appreciated? By who? The general public? So what?
You know there is a spiritual lesson here. How often do we equate "success" in Christian service with well or widely known? Promisekeepers was successful, but the guy that hangs with the guy to help him overcome a porn problem is not successfully in ministry? Think about it - that is just warped.
I do not tend to worry about success because I am not at all sure what it actually is - I just work on trying to serve - sometimes that is in the spotlight and sometimes that is in a dark corner where no one should ever see.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
But Can There Be Truth Without Tradition?
Dorothy Sayers once stated that “if we really want a Christian society we must teach Christianity and that it is absolutely impossible to teach Christianity without teaching Christian dogma.” She goes on to say that the “validity of Christian principles depends on Christ’s authority.” That said, it isn’t any wonder that we see barely a remnant of Christian values present in today’s culture. Practices rooted merely in tradition have little or no validity and, therefore, no lasting power. Worldviews have been equalized by the view that morality and spiritual truth are subjective. This does beg the question as to how well the Church—as an institution and as individual believers—is teaching Christianity. Without a source for truth outside of ourselves, we are left to our own devices. Stigma had for a time been a useful common ground approach to moral issues, but the jig is up. People know the difference between tradition and truth, and because they reject the latter the former is meaningless.Now that is a heck of a point. It shows that in many senses the "old" church and society was not much better than the new. But it also seems to imply that we should not worry about the loss of the traditional since it is not what matters, really, anyway. Such raises an interesting question - can truth flourish in a traditionless culture.
Have we been a Church committed to decision-making based on Christ’s authority or because “that’s the way we’ve always done it?” Do we take positions on matters of morality based on the politics of the moment, or have we done the work in Scripture to know what God wants us to know and live out on a given matter?
The answer is, of course, Truth (Christ) emerged from a culture devoid of knowledge of Him or His gospel and it grew from there to a place of western cultural dominance so yes truth can flourish in a culture absent the traditions it established.
However, such happens at a very high cost to those few that hold the truth in such circumstances. When we rail against the decline of culture we fight not for truth, but for our ability to spread truth without persecution.
The question is are we strong enough to withstand the persecution? Our first response must be to dig more into the truth so that we can be strong enough.
Related Tags: Illuminated Meditation
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
How Does God Approach Money?
It's actually very hard to pin down if God is a socialist, a capitalist or just what. So any book that claims to have figured it out bothers me. The Pentateuch is chock full of private property rights and Acts 2 is pure socialism if I ever read it.
In the end, I am not sue God has an economic system in mind - I think he has us in mind. Good people in a capitalist society will work. Good people in a socialist society will work. Good people will combine the right amounts of charity and self-sufficiency - compassion and energy. In the end systems won't matter.
I am troubled by books like this becasue we allow them to divert us. When we should be asking how to be better people ourselves, we instead ask how to build a better system - we look to the speck in the other guy's eye when we should be looking at the plank in our own.
How does God approach money? He doesn't - God approaches us - we approach money.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I root the entire discussion in the context of the scriptures. While I believe tradition and experience are important-and I reference them in the book-I lean on scripture most heavily. The book begins with a rediscovery of God's word and then moves to reevaluating God's world. I believe a proper approach to creation care must go through these two steps in that order.First of all, really crappy interview - no follow up as to what scripture says about environmental stewardship, how it gets there, or frankly anything else. Just promotional tripe.
But that aside - I haven't read the book, not gonna, the title itself is offensive. God is not "green" - God is GOD. To place one of our agenda labels on God, conservative like mine or liberal like his is to co-opt God to our purposes rather than to be co-opted to God's purpose.
Secondly, scripture is indeed replete with admonishment to care for creation, but that is all the farther it goes. What precisely constitutes such is left entirely to our feeble little minds. But that said, we are also given other guidelines - like the priority of mankind over animal-kind.
Then there are questions about the role of government in such stewardship. As an environmental consultant I am often involved in enforcement actions for environmental violations. have repeatedly seen the government (I am not going to tell you which government) act in a manner very similar to organized crime - they seek to extort, through legal intimidation, the maximum possible fine out of the "violators." Fines far out of proportion to the violation cited - just to feed their own coffers. The break down in justice is extraordinary. Businesses that freely admit their mistake and seek diligently to correct because it originated not from willful misconduct, but ignorance are pushed to the verge of financial ruin.
Scripture has a lot to say about justice. How 'green' is that?
I tire of slogans and movements, I seek thought and concern, and wisdom.
Monday, May 16, 2011
One "Hell" Of A Question
Steven Furtick has a great piece today at his blog about who your REAL competition is.And yet, that is the way so many churches operate today - it's based on a marketing model. The presumption is that a given marketplace is saturated, so how do you grow? You grow by getting more and more and more from your existing market.
Is it the church down the street?
Is it the megachurch across town?
Is it the online church that the couple that just left your church say they are attending?
Pastor Steven says "One of the biggest dangers that any church faces when trying to reach people who are far from God is comparing itself to other churches...It’s dangerous because if you want to reach other people for Christ, your competition isn’t other churches. It isn’t a matter of if you have better music than other churches. Better videos than other churches. Even better community than other churches. That’s not your standard of comparison.
This works famously in media where everyone watches television - EVERYONE. Therefore the question really is how do you grow and hold audience - well the answer is web site, merchandising, other outlets - you reach into your core audience pockets over and over again.
Now here's the problem. Not everyone goes to church - in fact FAR from everyone goes to church. However, this marketing strategy, as adopted by the church relies on two presumptions. The first is that everybody that will go to church is going and that secondly, you cannot rely on the people you have to, via word of mouth and more, seek to expand your market. Those presumptions are huge problems.
The first presumption says that God just is not attractive enough and the second that the church is so uninspiring that no one wants to share. And yet, this strategy seems to work for churches, meaning the presumptions seem to be operative.
I respond my saying what I have said for a whole now - the church needs to work on itself in a serious way. It's time to stop seeking growth for growth's sake and start to seek the face of God. I cannot help but think that if we adequately reflect God's glory, growth will result, but not becasue we are focused on growth - BECAUSE WE ARE FOCUSED ON GOD.
Can I get an "Amen?"