Christmas reminds me of a sticky ball rolling down a hill, accumulating bits and pieces from everything it passes, until it’s one big adhesive mess and it’s hard to tell what the original ball looked like. We’ve gone from a simple explanation of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth to the huge holiday extravaganza we now experience. This is one holiday that needs to go on a diet.
Some of the traditions we associate with Christmas make sense—at least I can see the connection. Giving gifts is a reflection of the magi’s offering of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Advent calendars and wreaths help us focus on God’s purpose in sending His Son. Decorating with lights reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world. And of course, there are Christmas carols (which may or may not be relevant or accurate).
The news is everywhere—young adults are leaving the church! Survey after survey is finding that only a small percentage of kids raised in a Christian home continue on with church attendance as they grow up. It doesn’t matter if they’re on their own, or still living with their parents. Christian leaders are doing some serious soul searching, beating their breasts over what went wrong.
- The Barna Group has found that “nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.”
- A survey by LifeWay Research found that “seven in ten Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school quit attending by age 23. A third of those had not returned by age 30. That means about one-fourth of young Protestants have left the church.”
The bird was soaring far over our heads, so high that I could barely identify it, but its sturdy, broad wings and dark body sandwiched between a white head and tail gave it away. I watched the Bald Eagle as it moved effortlessly across the sky. I knew its “eagle eyes” were scanning the ground for prey—an unwary gopher perhaps, although it would prefer a fish. How could it stay up there so long? Didn’t it ever get tired?
The Bible talks about eagles—they’re mentioned 29 times. Of course, the eagles in the Bible aren’t Bald Eagles. Israel is currently home to nine species of birds in the “true eagles” genus Aquila, and two more hawks have “Eagle” in their common name. Who knows which bird the authors of the Bible had in mind?
Today I’m taking a break to share some things I’ve learned lately. I thought they were interesting. Perhaps you will too.
The World’s Population
We’ve all heard the statement, “Of all the people who ever lived, most are alive today.” It has just enough authority to it, just enough sense of “Huh, that’s interesting” that we all take it at face value. Well, I learned from a short article in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine that this is not true. As of this year, approximately 103 billion people have ever lived. And only 6.4% of them are alive today. Doesn’t that make more sense?
It’s almost September, National Chicken Month. I adore chickens. Put those two facts together, and I have the perfect opportunity to enlighten you with some chicken trivia.
- Chickens are the most numerous bird species on the planet.
- Wild chickens are still found in south Asia, where birders know them as Red Jungle Fowl. There is also a feral population in Hawaii and in other spots around the world. If you want to check “Jungle Fowl” off your life list, you must find one of these wild birds.
- According to Red Bird Farms, the average American eats 80 pounds of chicken every year. (We prefer the skinless, boneless breast, but other cultures prefer dark meat. Much of our domestically produced dark meat is shipped to other countries.)