Monday, January 26, 2015

Who are the "Huthis" in Yemen

https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/helen-lackner/introduction-to-yemen%27s-emergency

Background to the rise of the Huthis and their overthrow of the Yemeni government.

Work and Rest in the Image of God

Sunergoi on the work-rest balance for image bearers.

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-right-balance/

On workaholism: "Rest for the land was so significant that the failure of the Israelites in this regard is the trigger that Moses (Lev. 26:34) and the Chronicler (2 Chron. 36:20-21) give for the exile—the land had not been allowed its proper Sabbaths. Such passages should sober us since they indicate that a personal rejection of rest may result in a divine imposition of it."

On a fruitful retirement: "To be sure, our day-to-day work can and should evolve as we grow older, but that does not mean that we lose our call to participate in the cultural mandate as God’s image-bearers." 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Big and Small Addictions

Healing from addiction for all of us

The author in the above-linked article describes something scientists have discovered that really explains why addiction is so...addicting.

According to scientists, addiction is essentially a stand-in or substitute for real human bonding.

This article starts with a big, buzzfeed-on-steroids-like teaser, but reveals something I think many Christians, psychologists, counselors, and certainly many AA members have experienced already -- that a central -- or the central -- part of healing from addiction takes place by strengthening human bonding and connection. Addiction is a misplaced bid or reach or grab for bonding. It's fascinating to read about just how healing and liberating it is to have a life rich in personal human connection and activity.

My dear friend, a long time member of the AA community, describes how AA fosters human connection. She explains that a new member is exhorted to attend an AA meeting every day or more at first (and once or twice a week as you grow in years free from alcohol). Aside from reviewing the 12 steps, she describes meetings as places individuals share their experiences rather than preach prescriptions. Even after many, many years clean and sober, she attends meetings at least once a week. It's a human connection that really serves as a sort of anti-addiction booster! (Based on her accounts, I sometimes wonder if perhaps attending a meeting is more important that the other 11 steps!)

[A little proviso: to read the article you have to put aside his broad generalizations about both the political left and the right. And why on earth bring Fox news into all of this? Odd strategy, almost as if he's trying to alienate rather than influence people he believes to be opposed to this idea.]

A few thoughts:

1. The author highlights that how addicts are healed may hold the key to helping re-habilitate incarcerated addicts otherwise trapped in the system and cycle of addiction and jail. He shares an example from Portugal that is striking.

2. Does our modern society, congealed in big-city masses of disconnected humanity -- islands of loneliness in teeming cities of opportunity, or sequestered in sprawling suburbs of disconnected, two-parent, commuter families -- naturally yield disconnected people and therefore higher addiction rates (and hence incarceration rates)? We have become disconnected not just from our family members but from our neighbors.

3. Is this one reason a strong and healthy family unit is a sort of vaccination against addiction, and also an antidote when the vaccination fails? Does human connection at home explain the lower drug addiction rates of people growing up in intact and healthy families (versus those growing up in divorced families)? 

Interesting political and cultural implications. This notion seems to make yet another case for strengthening the family unit in all ways possible and encouraging rather than discouraging one or both parents to be home as much as possible -- because of the human bonding and connection that fosters. Also here . Children who are less closely-monitored seem to also be connected with drug and alcohol use. And here

NOT supporting the central family unit and parental presence/engagement may well be expensive for our government and bad for our society.

4. Food, exercise, video games, diets, sweets, shopping. For those of us addicted to more socially acceptable things than heroin and crack, is a big part of our answer to embrace engaging with God and people more on a deeper level?

I'm raising the idea of spiritual connection, I realize. But might a big part of "rehab" for a shopping addict or a "gym rat" be joining a church or a small group Bible study along with a weekly dinner club or book group or a small business venture?

And might this be (partly) why prayer seems to work for so many -- does increased connection to God assist in establishing wholesome "bonding" as a replacement to unwholesome.

5. As a mom too-often fixed on tasks and checklists, I don't think I always internalize the truth of the value of human connection daily. This article strengthens my resolve 1. to make sure my kids are not islands, but in community, and strengthens 2. to give them the practical tools to connect with all kinds of people in healthy ways.

One of my kids naturally connects very well with people. One does not at all. One falls in the middle. Introvert or extrovert, all of them need to be encouraged and helped (given tools, encouragement) to connect meaningfully with God, each other, parents, and friends. It further increases my understanding of how important home relationships are, even on a casual level. And all of them need to be connecting in a variety of communities, most especially connecting at home, but also in co-op, church, sports, clubs, etc.

It seems that science shows that a rich and deep and wholesome connection with God and other people might be the biggest weapon in the war on drugs and addiction. In fact, it sounds to me like ancient biblical discussions and descriptions of the Body of Christ and Christian community presage something about human connections that scientists are discovering today.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Old Quotes for a New Year

Stumbled across a few good quotes, the kind that help bring perspective in a sentence or two.

"In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This pre-dates a piece of advice I've heard that Newt Gingrich gives about his approach to cocktail party conversation, and captures a notion that has gotten my introvert-ish self through 10 schools growing up, through 24 moves, and through numerous parties and meet-and-greets.

In social situations, you can retire from people and shrink away, you can buck up and suffer through, or you can enter conversation with a goal of figuring out what a person has to teach or share with you. People are brilliant--even (especially?) the boring- or different-seeming ones. Everyone has a speciality or experience to tell. Trying to figure it out acknowledges the image-bearer in each one of us and has a side benefit of making things more interesting for everyone. You can view casual conversation as a treasure hunt or a torture chamber. Humility helps you do the former.

"You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times that the beginner has even tried." Unknown [anyone?]

Echoes of T. Roosevelt's "person in the arena" quote. In our hyper-critical, hypocritical, knee jerk, tabloidesque, lack-of-context culture, you can plunge in a do-fail-learn-succeed approach -- and a try-sin-repent-grow spirituality -- or you can shrink back. Courage helps you do the former.

"What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and work flow." Martin Luther 

Good news for everyday people who are busy doing regular work for God and other people.

The guy administering vaccinations in Appalachia and the guy manufacturing the plastic for the syringes are both doing God's work, if they do it for him. Faithfulness in small, everyday things.

"In raising children, I have lost my mind but found my soul." Lisa Shepherd

The secular, and humorous, version of "Yet she will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith and love and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:15) Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Beginning and the End


Then He who sat on the throne of God said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' 

And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.' 

And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.' 

Revelation 21: 5,6 (ESV)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What Christians Can Learn from Veterans

Military people understand the intersection of Faith and Authority. The centurion understood Christ's sovereignty over nature, space, and time -- that all of nature was under the authority of it's Creator and would obey. He didn't need to see Jesus touch his servant to acknowledge Christ's Lordship over this illness. "All things were made through him" (John 1). 

Matthew 8: 5-13

When he [Jesus] had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant,[c] ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel[d] have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said,“Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Source: cut and pasted from Bible Gateway)