Cool Christianity

I recently read an article titled “Meet the Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” (I’m a bit confused by the “woke” in there, but whatever.) The article bemoaned the gap between public opinion and the opinions of evangelical Christians. To quote: “It doesn’t help that Christian communities can be out of step with the rest of the country when it comes to certain issues.” This assumes that being cool is a good thing.

Furthermore, the authors insist that Christians are the ones who need to change. In other words, we need to bring the ignorant, regressive Christians into line with the majority of Americans. In our efforts to be cool, we should embrace the world’s values. That would make Christianity “cool.” Continue reading

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Don’t Be Surprised

A friend emailed me this morning, distraught that he’d been unfriended on Facebook because of some comments he’d made defending Christianity. I didn’t find his remarks all that offensive—unfriending seems a rather extreme reaction!

Then there was this week’s news that North Korea has banned the import of any products with shapes or logos resembling a cross. It’s not just religious articles or symbols—the ban includes men’s neckties and women’s hair pins!

At first glance, these two events seem to have little in common. A closer look suggests that the same emotion underlies both—fear. Let me explain.

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Helping the Poor, Part 3

(This is the third article in a series on poverty. If you missed the previous two, please back up a few weeks and read those posts.)

What does poverty look like around the world?

Before we get any further, let me clarify some terminology. It turns out that sociologists use the terms absolute poverty and relative poverty, and it’s important to know the difference. According to the UNESCO website,

Absolute poverty measures poverty in relation to the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. The concept of absolute poverty is not concerned with broader quality of life issues or with the overall level of inequality in society. The concept therefore fails to recognise that individuals have important social and cultural needs. This, and similar criticisms, led to the development of the concept of relative poverty. Relative poverty defines poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society: people are poor if they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context.

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Helping the Poor, Part 2

Last week we learned that, while a lot of people fall below the poverty line, that situation is often temporary. Also, while the poor don’t earn much by US standards, it’s still over $10,000 a year—plus government and other benefits. What does that buy you? Today I want to address what life under the poverty line is like.

Granted, it’s not fun being poor. Having fewer resources means you have fewer options—and the answer too often is “no.” Opportunities may be limited. Sometimes, things cost more for those who can least afford it—prices at stores in poor neighborhoods tend to be higher than in middle class areas, and you can’t afford to take advantage of items on sale or discounted in bulk. Add to that frustration—being poor typically correlates with reduced influence, both socially and politically. I’ve always imagined desperate families in cars, skinny, hungry children in ragged clothing, and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

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Let There Be Light

Reading the news this morning, it would be easy to be depressed. Evil seems to be winning. I know the media tend to focus on bad news, but this latest set of headlines seemed worse than usual. As I prayed over some of the various issues, the word that kept coming to mind was “darkness.” We live in a world filled with deep darkness.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

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Mission Myths 9 & 10: The West vs. the Rest

I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.

In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:

I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”

If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.

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Mission Myth 8: It’s All Strategic

I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.

In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:

I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”

If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.

Continue reading