Open Book
Light Bulb

why churches do what they do

To our culture church is now an alien thing. Nearly a majority of Americans report never attending church other than on special occasions, such as Easter or a wedding. While a large majority believes in God, the God in whom they believe is agreeable, validating, and non-threatening.

One reason people don’t attend is that churches do things that make little sense to those seeking personal experience. Our society claims to be all about us. In reality, most people float around aimlessly—their attention attracted to whatever BigTech is currently pushing.

The focus of authentic churches is something other-worldly and rather mysterious, un-nerving and even a little frightening: God, the divine Being revealed in the Bible.
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mis-treating mothers

Human history is littered with human sacrifice. Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection, documented that in 2010 there were 163 million missing females in Asia. This gender imbalance reaches around the globe, impacting US cities where there are significant immigrant populations.

Humanity has become overwhelmingly male. But how?

Western scientists introduced sex-selection technology to Asia. The result: millions of females were sacrificed in-utero to the idol of male preference. Any society with a dearth of females is doomed to become a sketchy society.
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christians gather

Most Americans no longer identify with a religion. Most still believe in God. Many acknowledge the power of prayer. It’s popular, even acceptable to be “spiritual”. But more and more people check “none” when asked about religion.

Easter Sunday people of wavering religious commitment will make an appearance in church. I’m always heartened to see them.

~ Adapted from a piece by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic archbishop of New York ~

Most who are distant from church hold a personal faith. Following Christ does require a personal commitment, but it cannot be private. Christianity is communal. A congregation is a spiritual family, members voluntarily obligate themselves to connect and remain. Read More…

take up your cross

February 16 it was announced that Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most prominent opponent, died in prison. He was an anti-corruption politician with millions of YouTube followers, who had organized anti-government protests.

2020 he miraculously survived being poisoned with Novichok—a Russian nerve agent. January 2021 in Berlin he boarded a flight to return to Russia knowing he would be arrested. He was. In his closing statement to the Russian court Navalny spoke of his own Christianity.
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girls I met in the tunnels

rape is not resistance … liberators do not hold hostages

I was in a dark and damp tunnel deep underground when, in hushed voices, I heard the stories from the young women. Not stories so much as bits and pieces of living nightmares.

Seventeen-year-old Agam Goldstein-Almog witnessed Hamas murder her father and sister. Then she was taken to Gaza.

I was with my mother, who did everything she could to keep me alive while in captivity. Together with my two young brothers, we had been taken from our home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, but not before Hamas terrorists shot my father, Nadav, point blank, and afterward my older sister, Yam, the bullet tearing through her face.
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the incarnation changes non-believers

GK Chesterton wrote that even those who don’t believe in the Incarnation are changed for having heard it. Christians celebrate this transformative revelation from Christmas Day through Epiphany, Jan. 6th. If you have taken in the story of the baby who is God, you simply are not the same person you were before.

Adapted from an opinion piece by Bishop Barron, Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester, MN; founder of Word on Fire.

First, your understanding of God is revolutionized. The God who can become a creature without ceasing to be God and without compromising the integrity of humanity stands in a noncompetitive relationship with the world.
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christmas in a time of war

Composed in the wake of 9/11, The Dream Isaiah Saw became a contemporary Christmas classic. The hymn’s powerful evocation of the peaceable kingdom, described by the prophet Isaiah (11:6–9), is wrenchingly difficult to hear at Christmas 2023. For once again, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Adapted from an opinion piece by George Weigel in “The Catholic Difference” the official publication of the Archdiocese of Denver.

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let's give it back

According to many Americans—including people of Native American ancestry—believe Thanksgiving celebrations mask the true history of oppression and bloodshed that underlies the relationship between European settlers and Native Americans.

Perhaps someone at your Thanksgiving dinner will solemnly express such a sentiment. A case can be made that we Americans live on stolen land.
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what to say about evil

My efforts to address the horror of October 7 seems hollow and shallow. Instead, I forward to you the letter written by the President of the University of Florida, Ben Sasse. The Wall Street Journal described his letter “as a model of moral clarity, compared with the mush from the Ivy League.” …

Dear Jewish Gator Alums,

The University of Florida is home to the largest number of Jewish students at any university in this country. We are honored by and committed to that legacy. Our Jewish students and alumni around the world have been devastated by Hamas’ terrorism.

I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard.
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treating fentanyl addiction

On a visit to California, Marvin Olasky—author of The Tragedy of American Compassion—spent four days and nights at the Orange County Rescue Mission, a Christian outfit serving the local homeless. He left with stories from 40 men and women about years of cycling through drug deals, arrests, jail, probation, parole violations, homelessness and prison.

Andrew, 36, dropped out of high school and once had a job, but studying and working shifts at Jiffy Lube was boring. Meth was exciting. He enjoyed planning robberies and didn’t mind a few months every couple of years in jail: “Better drugs there than on the street.”

First time he came to the Mission he left after three days. …
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what it looks like to rule and reign with Christ

I went to an all girls Catholic high school. As part of our graduation requirements, we had to participate in a service project from a list of places in our city. Dozens of girls selected the animal shelter and daycares. My eyes fell to the bottom of the list, with zero volunteers—our local Hospice.

Even at 17, I wasn’t deterred by death. I’d already lost my youngest brother. If anyone in my class had some skills to serve the dying, it was probably me. To my surprise, one other classmate signed up. Her name was Katy; we became known at school as “The Katies of Death.”

Condensed from “Life Lessons from the Death Bed” by Katie Zakrzewski, Insomnia Quarterly Read More…

influencers from the bible

The magazine rack at Sprouts Grocery store displayed National Geographic’s “50 Most Influential Figures of the Bible.” As Hope Community’s summer’s focus is Influencers from the Bible, I bought a copy—fantasizing National Geographic might be listening to my podcasts.

No, probably not. That issue, authored by Jean-Pierre Isbouts, was originally published 2020. Read More…