Stories I’ve Found, 1/11/2013

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Pope Benedict tells gathered diplomats that peace requires openness to God. There’s a distinction he made that caught my eye: “The Pope pointedly distinguished true religion, which he said aims at ‘reconciling men and women with God’ and hence with each other, from a ‘baneful religious fanaticism which, again in 2012, reaped victims in some countries represented here.'” May the work of peace and reconciliation be the top priority for all of us in 2013.

I saw the movie/musical Les Miserables recently. This article by Mark Roberts fills in the backstory of the Bishop, who’s seen mostly in the beginning of the movie.  An excellent example of how undeserved mercy can give us a chance to embrace grace and goodness. Morgan Guyton unpacks two Christian mindsets present in this story. There’s a lot I agree with in this piece although I think it oversimplifies Javert.  We definitely need more Valjeans in the world than Jarverts, however, and many more bishops like the one in Les Miserables. This movie is worth watching, the story is well worth pondering, but musicians be warned: the singing quality isn’t bad but it’s not professional. Go see it, but be ready for a long story; your patience will be rewarded.

The concept of Jihad is misunderstood in our society. This is a story about a true jihadist: Malala Yousufzai, the young woman from Pakistan who was shot in the head by Taliban for seeking an education. May her jihad to oppose prejudice and patriarchy, and get an education triumph.

This story about comfort dogs helping Sandy Hook students return to school is marvelous. I’ve seen dogs like this at work in nursing homes as well and appreciate their service even though I’m not a dog person, but I’m wondering how a dog becomes a Lutheran.

Legal, institutionalized segregation is history in this country (as far as I know) and was abolished in my lifetime in South Africa. It still happens today, in a westernized country, and it’s almost never reported in the U.S. press.  Jeffrey Schwartz comments on policies that enable this reality, and questions the lack of response from a segment of America. The quote from Rabbi Hillel he uses deserves more reflection: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?”

Who Trusts the Pastor?  This article speaks of a long term trend, and comes to important point at the end. Being a pastor is a very difficult thing, and all the relationships around this role aren’t usual.

Charles J. Reid Jr.  writes Against Apocalypticism, and unpacks how “End of the World” attitudes penetrate our society right now. I’m weighing some of this although his argument has a lot of merit. If the Apocalypse many people fear happens, I plan to wander up aggressively to isolated houses of Ozark Rednecks, because that world will not be worth living in and I will have no place in it.

Professor Karen King’s article about the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife has been postponed, pending more testing on the original document. Better to know if it’s legit before weighing in on it; it’s gotten way too much publicity anyway.

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