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STRENGTH FOR TODAYDr. Harold J. Sala (The Philippine Star) – October 21, 2018

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23, nasb

It was Scotch-taped to the cash register, a light green check with a happy face smiling at you. On the check in bold letters was the catchy slogan, “Smile, God Loves You!” But in much larger red letters was the rubber-stamped message that had come from the local bank, marked, “Insufficient Funds.” It was one of a half-dozen bad checks taped to the register in a Christian bookstore, and what struck me as being so incongruous was that all bore Christian motifs – slogans, Icthus or fish symbols and catchy phrases.

How deep does Christian commitment go, anyway? According to the latest statistics, most people believe in God. Large numbers of them claim to have had a born-again experience. Yet families are in deep trouble today. In the past generation we have had a paradigm shift when it comes to cultural values. What was forbidden a generation ago is now tolerated, if not embraced. Sociologists are sitting with their stopwatches recording the disintegration of the family unit.

Lacking today is the clarion call to discipleship, to follow Christ no matter where He directs. “When Christ calls a man,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer a generation ago, “he calls him to come and die.” By contrast, largely the call heard today is to overcome your fears, conquer your guilt, become successful and enjoy life. The theme of putting self to the stake has never been popular, but never has it been more needed.

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The leaders of the transgender revolution revile the celebrated declaration, “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl,” when a baby is born. Transgender activists recognize that their revolution cannot succeed until doctors who deliver babies, or ultrasound technicians at women’s cliques, stop labeling babies as a specific gender. The announcement of a baby’s gender, however, still fills delivery rooms and doctor’s offices with excitement. I predict that this practice will continue.

Recently, an article ran in “The Ethicist” column of the New York Times Magazine. The ethicist in this case is Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah. The headline in the article asked, “Should I Go to a Gender-Reveal Party?” The questioner who wrote in for advice posed to “The Ethicist” the following scenario:

“A close relation is pregnant with her first child and is having a gender-reveal party. She is overjoyed with the addition to our family, as am I. However, I am adamantly opposed to attending the gender-reveal party because it violates my moral code. I have worked in activism for my entire professional life and, though I am cisgender, I have strong feelings about gender politics and equality. Gender-reveal parties, where parents and guests learn a baby’s gender together, violate my values because they reaffirm society’s gender binarism and inadvertently perpetuate the stigma against non-binary genders. I know I will never experience firsthand the challenges of being gender-nonconforming, but when I think about how I might feel, I would be very hurt knowing my parents had a gender-reveal party for me before I was born with my incorrect gender. I know the non-binary community faces much deeper, more urgent problems than this hypothetical situation, but even so, I have a moral aversion to helping affirm society’s gender binarism. Should I attend the party?”

This question represents just one more step towards cultural insanity. The questioner cannot fathom nor allow for a party where people celebrate politically incorrect labels like “boy” and “girl.” Such a party violates the moral code of the transgender movement.

Indeed, the moral unction behind this question is breathtaking. Scenarios like this come, not on the leading edge of a moral revolution. Rather, the moral revolution must have made significant gains before an ethics column in the New York Times Magazine begins to get letters with this kind of moral outrage at a gender-reveal party.

Christians thinking about this moral confusion must first stop at the vocabulary used in this article—particularly the word, “cisgender.” Using that term plays into the entire gender revolution. The term indicates that someone born a male is quite comfortable with being male. Even adopting the vocabulary, therefore, becomes an enormous problem because the vocabulary assumes that you accept the ideology of the transgender revolutionaries—that gender fluidity exists and that the gender assigned at one’s birth may or may not be factual. “Cisgender” signifies that you buy into the idea that all of humanity must be identified on a spectrum, with cisgender at one end and gender-nonconforming, or, transgender at the other end.

Secondly, Christians need to note the kind of moral outrage indicated in the question. The questioner, filled with indignation, lashes out at a set of parents who had the audacity to throw a gender-reveal party—a party that apparently does nothing more than perpetuate binary stereotypes. Indeed, according to this article in the New York Times Magazine, gender-reveal parties could damage relationships between parents and their transgender children who find out that mom and dad threw a party which revealed an “incorrect gender.” This argument asks the reader to make incredible leaps in logic and to possess an imaginative framework which obfuscates all reality.

But here’s the third thing we come to understand about this article: It tells us that the writers, editors, and publishers of the New York Times Magazine believe that these are the kinds of questions we should be concerned about and that we too should experience the confliction, indeed, the outrage present in the question posed to “The Ethicist.”

The question, by itself, poses enormous problems and reveals the erosion of any sane ethic.

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Image result for dietrich bonhoeffer

“The Christian, however, must bear the burden of a brother. He must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. The burden of men was so heavy for God Himself that He had to endure the Cross. God verily bore the burden of men in the body of Jesus Christ.”

“Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quote

A Graphic Nonfiction Account of Hitler’s Would-Be Assassin

By M.T. Anderson; Oct. 5, 2018

 

 

For a man accursed by history, Adolf Hitler led a grimly charmed life. He survived several well-planned assassination attempts through sheer luck. The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a double agent claiming to spy for Hitler’s Reich, was actually involved in the resistance movement that planned a few of these plots. John Hendrix’s graphic biography, THE FAITHFUL SPY: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler (Amulet, 176 pp., $16.99; ages 10 and up), intertwines two stories: the insidious rise of Hitler with his creed of hatred and Bonhoeffer’s development as an ethical thinker who believed that radical action was necessary, but that killing was a sin. Hendrix writes, “the conspirators needed to find a place where God would forgive them for plotting an assassination.”

For young readers, one could easily play the near-miss attempts to kill Hitler as a straightforward thriller. The plots involve deception, gut-wrenching timing and concealed explosives: a bomb in a gift package, a rigged docent conducting a tour of captured Russian weaponry and an explosive briefcase spirited into the heart of Hitler’s fortress, the Wolfsschanze. But Hendrix makes the bold and surprising decision to tell it as a tale of faith. He records Bonhoeffer’s powerful experiences, for example, at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where the preacher Adam Clayton Powell fulminates: “Obeying God means challenging injustice! You don’t just think about God. … You act!” Some readers will be irked by the focus on God in historical nonfiction; others will be soothed by it. Certainly, Hendrix’s implication that at Bonhoeffer’s execution, he met his God is more emotionally powerful than strictly verifiable. In an author’s note, Hendrix offers a passionate defense of presenting the story through the lens of Bonhoeffer’s Christianity: “If we look for a motivation for his decisions outside his furious belief in God’s certainty, we will miss the very lesson he offers. ”

What will catch the reader’s eye immediately is Hendrix’s striking three-color art. The book is not a panel-by-panel graphic novel, but rather an inventive combination of text blocks and illustration. Each spread has its own ingenious design, shuttling between the literal and the allegorical: As the text talks about Hitler undermining the power of President Hindenburg and the Reichstag (“teetering like a German spruce”), the illustration shows the Führer literally hacking down the tree of state, a startled German imperial eagle taking flight.

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How the Laity Can Help Reform the Church

Pope Francis, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, as he speaks at a pre-synod gathering of youth delegates in Rome (CNS photo / Paul Haring)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said that God granted American Christianity no Reformation. It’s also true that God granted America no Counter-Reformation. But with the latest phase of the abuse crisis in this country, that might be changing. The depth and magnitude of this crisis—as well as its distinctive combination of clerical corruption and theological division— make it worse than any crisis since the one that rocked the church five centuries ago. The current crisis may not lead to a formal division of the Church the way the Reformation did, but it could well lead to a long period of undeclared schism.

As in the sixteenth century, the question is not whether the Catholic Church will survive this age of scandal, but what form the church will survive in. The abuse crisis is clearly no longer just a scandal, or even a series of scandals. It is, at least in the United States, a revolution in the church that could lead either to reform, or to the moral and cultural marginalization of Catholicism…

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th-century Christian martyr, said, “When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He bids us come and die.” Bonhoeffer termed this idea, “costly grace”: costly because it costs a person their life, and it is true grace, not cheap grace, because it gives a person the only true life there is.

In our Scripture, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Is Jesus just another man? Is He Elijah? Is He John the Baptist?

In your life, who is Jesus? Is He a good Bubba that we think of only as a friend in need? Or is He the Risen Lord, whose Holy Spirit lovingly washes away our sins?

Peter answers for the disciples, and us too, and says, “You are the Christ!”

This is a high-water mark in the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus receives Peter’s affirmation that He has been leading the disciples toward throughout his ministry. Moving into today’s Scripture, the disciples have gotten to a point where they can take the next step, which is the moment where Jesus begins to reveal to the disciples that He is going to be persecuted, suffer and die, and then rise again after three days.

As it can be with us, so it was for the disciples. The idea that Jesus would be persecuted and killed is so outrageous that they again, look to their spokesman, Peter, to say something about it to Jesus. I can just hear Peter saying to Jesus, “What are you talking about!? No way will you do that to us!”

At this point, I want us to become Peter for just a moment.

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