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letter from jail

I prefer getting my history from original documents. Many people speak about the Constitution without bothering to read the Constitution. People often speak about Jesus without having read the Gospels. On Martin Luther King Day I like to read, and occasionally listen to, his words. (Hope Community keeps on our Podcasts / Classics page Dr King’s sermon, “Why Jesus Called a Man, a Fool.”)

In 1963 while jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, Rev. King wrote longhand his response to a letter of concern and caution he received from eight white religious leaders. Here are some excerpts:
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holy night on pbs

Before Christmas slips away a video recommendation. In 2015 PBS produced The First Silent Night, a documentary of the history of the “world’s most popular carol.” If like me, you suspect PBS is anti-Christian, prepare to be shocked.

The documentary historically and reverentially recounts how two impoverished young men, Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber, collaborated in a small village chapel. In one day they united Gruber’s music to a poem Mohr had been working on for two years, creating the classic carol describing the meaning of Jesus’ birth.
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holy days

The Holidays have become a celebration of materialism.

Think on it. The season begins with a feast, continues through a whirlwind of parties and events, then culminates with a gift extravaganza. The season concludes with a boozy farewell to the year accompanied by vague hopes for a better next year.

This is what the Holidays are. This is not what they were meant to be.
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gratitude nurtures thriving

Psychotherapist Amy Morin says mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude. She identifies seven reasons to be thankful.

1) Gratitude increases relationships. A 2014 study in
Emotion found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to pursue an ongoing relationship with you.

2) Gratitude improves physical health. A 2012 study published in
Personality & Individual Differences found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, and report feeling healthier than do others. Not surprisingly, they're also more likely to take care of their health. Read More…

questions and christianity

Nones, people who choose not to identify with any religion, are the fastest-growing group in America’s religious landscape. The American Family Survey reports their numbers increased from 16% in 2007 to 35% in 2018. According to Pew Research 44% of Americans aged 18 to 29 identify as Nones.

In post-Christian America, young adults are likely to feel social pressure to identify as a None. But Nones are not only driven by culture. Things about Christianity, as they perceive Christianity, drive them away. According to Pew Research they “question a lot of religious teachings” (60%) and, “don’t like positions churches take on political/social issues” (49%).
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four levels of love

During the Middle Ages the ideal of personal identity slowly, haltingly emerged. Historically individuals identified not as individuals but as part of a group—some tribe, clan, family, etc. This self-identification necessitated submission to the group’s will as determined by its leader(s). Such submission was commonly manifested via arranged marriages, unions arranged for the benefit of the group.

One way increasingly common individuality rejected group identification was the pursuit of romantic love. Love became identified with passion, and developed into the cult of courtly-love; pursued by knights and courtiers, and celebrated by troubadours. But passionate love was often manipulated for eroticized conquests. Love was popularly championed as relational and personal, but increasingly became about scoring; a perspective that continues today.
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doing the most good

During the past twelve months over 50,000 migrants have been apprehended on a 126-mile section of the Mexico-USA border called the Yuma Sector. After an apprehension, border agents collect biometric data, check for criminal histories, and provide a medical screening. After that, hundreds of migrants are freed each week with temporary legal status as they await their day in immigration court.

These releases are overwhelming border communities. Yuma, a city of 104,000 in southwest Arizona, is so flooded with migrants that Mayor Douglas Nicholls declared a state of emergency.
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giving up darwin

1991 Oxford University Press published Mirror Worlds by Yale computer science Professor David Gelernter, in which he accurately forecast the coming of the World Wide Web. 2019 the Claremont Review of Books published an essay by Prof Gelernter in which he bemoans the failure of Darwinian evolution.

“Darwinian evolution is a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory. Once it was a daring guess. Today it is basic to the credo that defines the modern worldview. Accepting the theory as settled truth—no more subject to debate than the earth being round or the sky blue or force being mass times acceleration—certifies that you are devoutly orthodox in your scientific views.”
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mass shooters & herod the tyrant

Herod the Great died a slow excruciating death. The first century historian Josephus claimed that as death drew near, that tyrant made cruel arrangements to insure his death would be a time of mourning. Herod had leading figures from throughout his realm arrested, ordering that when he died, they should be executed.

Herod wanted people to suffer when he died. He demanded mourning at his death. Herod craved attention and, like today’s mass shooters, was willing to use violence to gain it. Fortunately, his son Archelaus and sister Salome vetoed the tyrant’s last wish.
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hate enhances self-esteem

Professor Sartwell of Dickinson College opines that our culture is increasingly proficient at vilifying people who disagree with us. This PhD of philosophy claims the taste for hate is a perverse, intentional pursuit of pleasure.

There is pleasure in hating. In fact, it enhances self-esteem and is self-congratulatory. Hating accomplishes three things simultaneously: Hate pronounces its superiority over the hated person. Hate pats itself on the back, as well as those who smartly agree, for its proper thinking. And hate professes thanks for being unlike those who disagree.
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the idol of our age

The Christian ideals of love and charity are being distorted. Daniel Mahoney, author of The Idol of Our Age, writes, “There’s an increasing conflation of Christian teaching with a humanitarian political agenda,” that’s reducing Christianity into just another instrument in the social justice orchestra. This conflation depends upon a “deeply problematic interpretation of the Gospels.”

Mr Mahoney’s book is resonating with diverse Christ-followers—Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Charismatics and believers in-between.
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crushing liberty

Thirty years ago millions of Chinese people dreaming of liberty occupied Tiananmen (Heavenly Peace) Square in Beijing. Protestors transformed that politically sacred space into a democratic zone, creating a heady—if naive—hope among protestors. Arts students erected a goddess of liberty statue, aligning its determined face opposite the huge portrait of Mao located atop the rostrum on the Tiananmen Gate.

Thirty years ago a father sat beside his hunger-striking daughter, daubing her brow with a cool cloth. “My generation never dared speak out, much less to act out what we believed,” he sobbed. “Now my daughter’s doing it for me.” A Peking University student claimed, “There’s no way the Party will ever get things back into the old bottle! Just look around us. History’s sweeping them away!”
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