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Five Links: January Edition

January 18, 2016 — 1 Comment

Five Links Jan Edition 2

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these lists. I don’t do enough of them. Starting here, I’m hoping to change that.

1. In what is the simplest explanation on how to pray that I’ve heard in a while, this week, Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis wrote a piece on prayer for the Orthodox Christian Network. Entitled, ‘How Often Should I Pray? Akrotirianakis writes:

“Prayer is not about following “rules” or “heaping up phrases” (even beautiful phrases) but speaking to God from our hearts.
When someone asks me “how often do you talk to your wife?” or “how often do you talk to your son?” the answer is “as often as I can. At a minimum, I talk to them in the morning before I leave and at night when I get home. And sometimes I call them during the day, not for long periods, a quick call or a text. I make special time to spend with each of them and for us to spend as a family—this is extended time, more than the good morning or good night words. Prayer works in the same way.”

2. Christina Grau, writer and homeschool mum extraordinaire, shared some general thoughts on God, popularity and motivation. In the context of Homeschooling, parents can at times feel overlooked, overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid. It’s worse in an environment where encouragement is so distant that homeschoolers are tempted to find encouragement solely in “likes, shares and comments.”

In response to When Your Audience Doesn’t Applaud, Christina notes:

”God isn’t looking for someone who has wonderful audiences and receives thunderous applause. He’s looking for someone willing to serve, even when no one appreciates them.”
“Sometimes doing the littlest thing IS doing a big thing. Are we willing to do the ‘big’ thing, when it means we may never get noticed?’’

3.  From August, 2015. Still, a good read:

Joe Hildebrand, ‘The Rise of Mob Rule In Australia’

‘This is the new mob: One that derives its power not by its size but by the volume and frequency with which it shouts.Unlike genuine people power, this is just pain-in-the-arse power. Instead of a matter of who’s got the most numbers it’s a matter of who’s got the most time on their hands. Once, if a government policy was considered abhorrent enough, it would be met by a cohesive organised campaign, such as the shearers’ strikes that established the ALP or the Vietnam moratoriums to the anti-WorkChoices campaign.
Now the most common method of protest is ferocious spontaneous uprisings which, instead of targeting a policy, tend to target individuals.’

4. Ronald Reagan, New Years Greeting to the Soviet People, 1st Jan. 1986:

‘Our democratic system is founded on the belief in the sanctity of human life and the rights of the individual — rights such as freedom of speech, of assembly of movement, and of worship. It is a sacred truth to us that every individual is a unique creation of God, with his or her own special talents, abilities, hopes, and dreams. Respect for all people is essential to peace, and as we agreed in Geneva, progress in resolving humanitarian issues in a spirit of cooperation would go a long way to making 1986 a better year for all of us.’

5. A copy of Martin Luther King Jnr’s, typed and archived sermon, ‘Tough Mind & Tender Heart; Matthew 10:16, 30th August 1959. Stand out quote:

‘Nothing pains some people more than having to think. This prevalent tendency toward softmindedness is found in the unbelievable gullibility of men and women. Take an attitude toward advertisements. We are so easily led to purchase a product because a television or radio ad pronounces it better than any other […] One of the great needs of humanity is to be lifted above the morass of false propaganda.’

Soli Deo Gloria.


 

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Scrolling the net landed some articles that hold their value long after reading them.

1. Since it’s Lent there is a great deal of material moving around about it. One of the stand-out, no frills, straight-up reflections I’ve read of late is ‘Spiritual Warfare For Christians’. Courtesy of the Benedictines via DigitialNun. My attraction to this is how it presents Lent as part of a ‘battleline of the community and in the spiritual combat of the desert where solitaries engage’.

The place that firmly directs us onto a journey of paradox, joy, and thanksgiving fused together with anticipation in spite of what appears hopeless and desolate; the giving and being given to. The giving up in order to be drawn nearer to the One who has shown that we are not given up on.

2. Rob Stroud has written an impressive piece about the competitive and ephemeral nature of popularity. What he brings here is perspective. Check it out: Fleeting Flame.

3. I was surprised to find that George Orwell’s political novel ‘1984’ was made into a radio play by NBC University Theatre in 1949, featuring one of Britain’s classiest actors of the time, David Niven. If you can tolerate the brief introduction the production can be accessed at on Spotify or archive.org for free or for a price from itunes.

4.  I don’t usually listen to podcasts. In truth, the only one I ever really tuned into was from Relevant Magazine, but that was sometime ago. This year I stumbled (metaphorically speaking) back into listening to Relevant and a few that differ significantly from each other, yet have worth on more than one level.

First, Nerd Machine’s ‘Picking Favourites’. It is edgy, informative, well-produced, but rough and contains a ton of quirky material. With special guests, some days are enough to make you walk away saying: “that was awesome”, others: “what-were-they-thinking?” Some episodes breach the language barrier. Some just give out way too much information. So, consider that me giving you a fair warning. Still, it has to be said, right now at least, that this is one of the best Podcasts available in it’s category.

Second,  ‘Mortification of Spin’.  There is a lot more they could do to improve on what is already a stand-out production. Full of theologically centred discussion, the content is consistent, conversational, easy to follow and not overly highbrow.

5. From my reading notes:Albert Camus quote on Intellectuals

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I’ve come across some outstanding inspirational reading over the past two weeks.

Here are a few of them.

1. Iraqi Christians Weigh Taking Up Arms Against the Islamic State

This is long. However, it is well worth the time you’ll spend reading through it. I was surprised to find this attached to National Geographic.

2. “Archaeologists in Jerusalem have identified the remains of the Siloam Pool, where the Bible says Jesus miraculously cured a man’s blindness, researchers said Thursday — underlining a stirring link between the works of Jesus and ancient Jewish rituals….” (Via NBCnews)

3. Kevin from dogmatics.wordpress.com (After Existentialism, Light) pointed out the blog Just Genesis yesterday.  Although I only had a very brief read of it I like the content. It may not be your cup of tea. Then again if you’re interested in the historicity of Genesis 1-11 from an anthropological perspective this might just be the place for you. An added bonus is that it may offset those neo-atheist reductio meme-by-degree graduates running the S.M news circuit.

4. Aim to bless, rather than impress – I’m big on this topic: ‘The Fine Line Between Gracious Hospitality and Entertaining to Impress’  – People pleasing is an issue for the church. Paul addressed it and I think we do well to discourage it as lovingly as possible. For me that makes Mrs.C’s rundown on the topic a welcome one.

5. Respecting Women The issues concerning gender roles in identity politics or women in leadership can be a tough one for theologians. I think that Jenny’s article is a fair response in two ways – First, freedom to lead and second, freedom to respect (very close to Barth’s man for the woman, woman for the man, God for both):

‘As a musician, I understand this leadership idea well. When you play music in a group, there has to be one leader. One person who says when to start, who sets the tempo, who decides the song and we all listen carefully throughout the song to follow along. If there are two leaders, things get confusing quickly, there is fighting with the tempo and the chords aren’t strummed at the same time, and the singing isn’t together anymore. It quickly ruins a song when there isn’t one leader.
God didn’t set up this leadership idea because women were inferior to men, He set it up to establish order and harmony….I used to think respecting women was a way to keep women safe, that it was a hope we could hold onto in a dark world. But slowly, I’ve figured out our hope is not in ourselves, it’s not in fighting for respect or equality, it’s not in our beauty, it’s not in our ability to be strong like men, it’s not in being a perfect wife, or making enough money, or in how much we don’t need men. Our only hope is in Christ…’

Considering the latest icloud hacking scandal involving celebrities, most of whom are women, Jenny’s piece is well timed. The scandal presents itself as a practical example of where Jenny’s main argument goes. Men cannot perfectly protect or respect women. But, in Christ men can, and some of us try, to do our best to raise women up by setting the example set for us. In the case of the icloud scandal the best way to actualise this would be to refuse to view any posts claiming to host the images or anything like them. Irrespective of whether women chose to make themselves vulnerable by having those photos taken or not.

CIVA facebook post and quote_grace

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  1. The Left Blind to The Slaughter of Christians.

Columnist, Miranda Divine presents nothing short of an all out assault on Leftism. Her article clasps a firm hold on the contradiction of ‘selective outrage’ evident in the deafening silence of the Left when it comes to the persecution of Christians.

One only has to imagine the outcry, should the eviction and extermination of Christians from Mosul, have been the eviction and extermination of a homosexual community from the same town.

I doubt that Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, or his team would be given much room to offer refuge to Christians caught up in this crisis. That is without having to fend off, with taxpayer’s money, a plethora of allegations from a large portion of his rather raucous and crude detractors about selective treatment and hypocrisy in regards to the immigration and refugee debates.

  1. My Stint as a Political Cartoonist.

In recent months Scott Freeman has written some very sound articles on the relationship between conservatives and (little ‘l’) liberals. In my opinion, Scott presents a fair and balanced perspective, with a ton of grace packed in between the lines. From an American point of view he unpacks some of the issues being faced by most Liberal (capital ‘L’) democratic societies.

This is not definitive, but here are a few more that stand out:

  1. Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential.

A while back I encountered a video which showed some African children in a whole new light. It was viewed through the eyes of dignity, not pity. This article from wanderingandlost.wordpress.com summarises a real and practical approach to raising others up, instead of staring back in horror.

  1. Duck Dynasty Revisited: Phil Robertson

If you have twenty-five minutes, this sermon from Phil Robertson, of ‘Duck Dynasty’ fame, is worth listening to. For context: he is in California talking about reconciliation, resurrection, Jesus Christ and past mistakes.

  5. Fake Beeps and the Name of Jesus.

Following on from number four, both Phil and Willie Robertson discuss their disagreement with the A & E producers for using “fake beeps” in order to make ‘Duck Dynasty’ more appealing.  In addition to this the producers desired a limit on any sincere mention of Jesus Christ in the prayers which feature at the close of each episode.[i]

‘Be patient with us. It’s not the Pat Robinson show…this is Hollywood hitting the Kingdom of God.’

[i] Source: http://www.thewrap.com/duck-dynasty-star-dishes-on-confronting-producers-over-fake-bleeps-cutting-jesus-video/