According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Humans of New York

 
God-filled Stories
of Life and Light
 
 
 
 
Searching for the Soul of Man
 
 
 
 

Humans of New York street photography gains popularity, Univ. alumnus plans for future of blog After he lost his job, Brandon Stanton decided to take photos.
Now he has created thousands of photographs and found even more fans.
 
Stanton, a University alumnus, is the photographer behind the blog Humans of New York, or HONY for short. The project has over 64,000 fans on Facebook and includes almost 4,000 street portraits of people in New York.
 
Stanton began taking photos while he had a job trading bonds in Chicago. Stanton said at that time, he mainly took photos on the weekends, but after losing his job in Chicago, he decided to travel a bit and continue shooting. Though many of his photos started off as landscapes, by the time Stanton reached New York, he focused on street portraits.
 
“I determined that the photos I was getting that were most compelling came from taking portraits of people in the street,” Stanton said. “I got to New York and determined that if I was going to do street portraits, this would be the place to do it.”
 
While he began his project with the idea of taking pictures in many different cities, Stanton said he does not need to change location because of the diversity found in New York. Also, he said about 25 similar “Humans of…” projects have cropped up in cities around the world, thereby making travel not as necessary.
 
“New York is such a large city and such a diverse city that I can spend my whole life here and not exhaust all of the subject matter,” Stanton said. “As opposed to trying to start managing some sort of similar project for the rest of the world, I’m just content to inspire an example in others.”
 
Stanton said in addition to New York’s wide range of people, he maintains variety in the street portraits by not having set criteria for who he photographs. Sometimes he sees color which attracts him; other times it's eccentricity. But most of the time Stanton photographs everyday people.
 
Christina Cotsakis, a freshman romance languages and business major from Alpharetta, Ga. said she enjoys HONY because it allows her to see the daily lives of different people.
 
“I like Humans of New York because I feel like it appeals to people’s secret love of people watching without being creepy,” Cotsakis said.
 
Stanton said he takes photographs everyday for around three hours. During that time, he will normally cover about six or seven miles to find a variety of people. The rest of the day, Stanton works on administering the HONY blog, answering e-mails and doing interviews.
 
As for the future of HONY, Stanton said he has reached a point where he needs to modify the project in regard to funding and reaching the audience. But even as Stanton thinks about monetizing his project, he said he hopes to avoid making it too commercial while still allowing it to develop.
 
“At this point, I’ve got over 50,000 people looking at the photos every single day, so I could probably raise money pretty unobtrusively through a print sale or something like that,” Stanton said. “I’m currently weighing my options, and I’m optimistic that I can raise enough money to continue doing this without over-commercializing the project, which I’m really worried about doing.”
 
Commercialization of HONY worries Stanton because he believes it could negatively affect the energy of the project.
 
“[Humans of New York] has this energy behind it. People are very passionate about it,” Stanton said. “I think a lot of that passion stems from the idea of somebody stopping random people on the street and documenting them out of a respect for their humanity and an interest in them. When you bring money into anything, it dilutes that energy, and I want to be very careful.”
 
Dave Adams, a senior public relations major from Kennesaw, Ga., said he enjoys Humans of New York because of the emphasis on the person rather than artistic composition.
 
“I like the fact that it’s not so much focused on the composition of the photos as much as it is portraying the person raw,” Adams said. “It’s really about the person…that’s what I like about it, it kind of lives up to its name.”
 
Stanton said he does not see HONY as a stepping stone to any sort of larger plans, but he does believe there will be books and other extensions of it. He also hopes to continue growing his audience and improving his photography.
 
Even though Stanton lives cheaply now — mainly off of savings from his previous job — he said he does not look toward HONY as a significant source of income.
 
“I’ve found what I love to do. It would be hard for me to enjoy my life more than I do right now,” Stanton said. “I’ve always said I don’t want HONY to be a means for me to achieve a certain lifestyle. I want it to be lifestyle in itself.”
 
 
 

Open Theism for Dummies, Parts 1-2

 
 

Guest Post: Open Theism for Dummies – Part One – What is the Open View of God?

 
by Tom Belt, guest post
August 29, 2012
 
I’m going to risk a very brief explanation of open theism in laymen’s terms. The advantage of a brief explanation is that it requires us to find the core, defining claim of the open view in contrast to positions that often get attributed to it but which aren’t essential per se. In this post I’d like to focus on the core, defining claim of open theism and in the next discuss three supporting convictions that all open theists hold to. Now, the disadvantage of using popular lay terms is that they tend to be imprecise while philosophical terms can be extremely precise, and with brief explanations we need precision. So we’ll have to make use of just a couple technical terms, but they’re easily understood along the way.

PART 1
 
The defining claim of open theism states that the future is epistemically open for God so far as it is in fact causally open; and epistemically closed for God so far as it is in fact causally closed. Now, that’s a mouthful, so let’s take it a step at a time. Some things about the future are presently ‘settled’. That is, given everything at present that has anything to do with influencing or bringing about the future, some things about the future are presently determined to be. You might say they’re inevitable given the present moment. That’s what’s meant by saying the future is causally closed. The causes and influences that presently exist limit future to a single possibility.
 
 
To say the future is causally open on the other hand is to deny that what occurs is inevitable or in some way determined by the past. That is, it’s to say that some event “might” happen and that it “might not” happen. A good way to think of this is to imagine the future in terms of a tree that branches out as you move up the trunk. We’re essentially saying there are a number of ways the future could turn out given the present moment. With a closed future we face a single branch or path that the future can take whereas with an open future we face a branching of possibilities. Lastly, it’s important to remember that open theists think the future is partly open and partly closed, not entirely one or the other.
 
Saying the future is partly (causally) open and partly (causally) closed isn’t very controversial. In fact, many non-open theists would thus far agree with me. The controversial, defining claim that open theists make is to say God’s knowledge of the future reflects the truth of the future’s being closed or open, whatever the case might be. So when we (and the Bible) describe the open future in terms of what “might” and “might not” be, our language doesn’t just describe what we don’t know about the future, as if we have to say it “might” turn out this way or that way because we don’t know the truth about the one path it will in fact take. Open theists attribute this “might” and “might not” to the way the world really is and how God knows it.
 
So to say the future is epistemically closed for God in some respect is to say God’s knowledge of how the future will turn out is also ‘settled’. For some (e.g., Calvinists), the future is exhaustively closed, so there’s only one determined route the future takes because God determines all things and determined that one route our world is to take. In this case God knows the future exclusively in terms of what “will” or “will not” occur. There aren’t any “might’s” and “might not’s” so far as the future is concerned. But for open theists who don’t think God determines everything and who think human beings exercise a certain freedom to choose (a freedom that’s incompatible with its determined by God), the question is: How does God know the open future? And here is where open theists make their unique claim mentioned above—where the future is in fact open, God knows it as open, and where the future is in fact closed (or settled), God knows it as closed. It’s really that simple. So for open theists the established belief that God eternally has a snap-shot or a single blueprint of exactly how the world’s history unfolds is false.
 
Is what we’re calling God’s epistemic openness (his knowledge of the open future in terms of what “might” and “might not” be) incompatible with divine omniscience? No, not if omniscience means God knows all truths, which is the established understanding of omniscience. The question is: What is the truth about an open future? Open theists differ on which theory of truth and semantics (which can be mind-numbing to study) they think best answers this question. One popular view (the one I hold to) claims that statements of what “will” occur where the future is in fact open are all false, for it is false to say of what “might not” occur that it “will” occur and equally false to say of what “might” occur that it “will not” occur. So on this view “might and might not” expresses the truth about the open future, the truth that an omniscient God would know. The thing to remember is that for non-open theist believers, God’s knowledge of the truth is expressed exclusively in terms of what “will” and “will not” occur. That’s the settled view that open theists challenge by arguing that God’s knowledge of the future should also include statements of the “might and might not” sort if in fact the future is open. For us, open theism is the only way to maintain that the future is in fact open and God is in fact omniscient.
 
In my first post I focused open theism’s defining claim: the future is both “partly closed” and “partly open” and God’s knowledge of it is accordingly closed or open. And I suggested that to say God knows what is closed about the future is to say God knows what “will” or “will not” occur while to say that God knows what is open about the future is to say he knows what “might and might not” occur. Both types of statement express the truth about the way the world is. In the end, God isn’t presiding over the unfolding of a blueprint eternally known to him and whose contents contain the world’s one pathway from creation to consummation.

PART 2

In this post I’d like to share three core convictions which open theists share. These convictions express what open theists believe about God’s purpose in creating, how God acts in the world providentially, why there is evil, how biblical prophecies are understood, what prayer is and how it works, and what trusting God looks like in a risk-filled world.
 
Love with respect to divine purpose
 
First, it’s no exaggeration to say that at the heart of open theists’ understanding of God is the belief that he is love. We might say that all the distinct attributes of God we discuss (truthfulness, justice, holiness, etc.) are just the ‘differentiated truth of love’. Like the colors of light that are split into an observable order when dispersed through a prism, so the attributes of God are essentially just the observable acts of a single reality at work in the world and that reality is ‘love’. The triune God is essentially (and apart from any created order whatsoever) the eternal act of self-giving-and-receiving love the fullness of which is the fullness of God’s own necessary being and existence, and it’s this God who has purposed us to know and reflect his love in the fullness of all our created capacities.
 
Freedom with respect to creation
 
Secondly, our "being persons who love unfailingly" is not something that even God could have created—poof—from the get-go. As created beings, we have to ‘become’ loving, and we become so through the free and responsible exercise of our will. So with a view to our becoming persons who love unfailingly, God endowed us with the capacity to determine ourselves through responsible choice. And not only must we be free in this required sense, but many of us argue that the material, created order must also be in some sense free and self-determining to be an appropriate stage upon which our choices play themselves out.
 
Risk with respect to providence
 
By “providence” we mean God’s administration and maintenance of the universe in the achieving of his purposes. And this is where things get complicated because many will agree that God is love and that because God has purposed us for loving relations he gave us the capacity to decide whether or not we will enter into such relations. But open theists embrace a third conviction they believe follows from these first two, namely, that in endowing us with this freedom God takes a certain ‘risk’, namely, that we would misuse our freedom and corrupt ourselves in ways God neither intended nor decreed. Traditional views of providence are ‘risk-free’ in the sense that whatever evils occur they are precisely what God decided must occur in order to bring about the good God is after.
 
It is reimagining the world to be in some respects a ‘risky’ venture (risky even for God in terms of his always getting the outcomes he wants) which is perhaps the thing that makes open theism most unlike the traditional understanding of God we Protestants grew up with. It means essentially that God doesn’t always get what God wants and that it’s not the case that every particular evil represents the ‘necessary means’ to some specific good that God is after.
 
Once we accept that our universe is a sometimes risky place of intersecting and often competing divine, angelic, and human wills where much of the good God desires to achieve is by God’s own loving plans is conditional upon our partnering with God, we gain a new and sobering appreciation of all those acts of devotion and obedience that we are called by God to engage in—prayer, missions, counseling, etc.
 
We can never comprehend how all these relevant factors combine on each occasion to determine outcomes. But we can enjoy profound assurances.
 
First, we may know that God always does all God can do given his purposes and the context in which the world finds itself to maximize good and minimize evil. A second assurance is knowing that however grave may be our suffering, God is resourceful enough to redeem our circumstances when we cooperate with him (Rm. 8.28-29). A third assurance we possess is knowing that those who trust God with the well-being of their souls cannot possibly be disappointed whatever else may occur in this life, and in the end no present evil will be worth comparing to our final state.
 
Let me end with a few suggestions. There’s no better way to study open theism than along the lines of three sorts of evidence: (i) biblical/theological, (ii) philosophical, and (iii) existential/practical:
 
_____________________________________________________
 
Tom Belt and his wife Anita live in Minneapolis, MN where he is Spiritual Life Pastor at Emmanuel Christian Center. Among other things he directs their Recovery Ministries. They were Assemblies of God missionaries in the Middle East for over 20 years. Tom has also been a frequent adjunct instructor in Bible/Theology and has his MTh from the University of Wales.
 
 
 

Derek Minor - "I'm Focused" (on Jesus)

 
"Welcome to our newest brother in the Lord"
- R. E. Slater
 
"May God be Glorified by all we do and say"
- Derek Minor

 
 
 
 
Derek Minor - I'm Focused
(Formerly Known as PRo)
 
 
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bSrVD3RwScA#!



Derek Minor (fka PRo) talks why the name change (@thederekminor @rapzilla)

 
 
Website
 
Biography
 
The appeal of southern Hip Hop has long been country vernacular over crunk beats that keep heads bangin’ and bodies movin’. While the head bangers and dance anthems haven’t ceased, in recent years, authentic Hip Hop and true lyricism have taken a back seat to commercial success. In steps Pro; while not on a mission to resurrect real southern Hip Hop--having been redeemed and commissioned to influence the culture--Pro certainly brings a nostalgia for what was and a hope for what is to come, as part of a greater movement infiltrating Hip Hop with a powerful message.
 
Born Derek Johnson Jr. in Pontiac, MI, Pro relocated to Tennessee with his mom at a young age, which meant more distance between him and an already detached father. After moving, Pro and his new stepfather’s relationship was plagued by an ever-growing tension, as he had grown accustomed to being the man of the house and helping to raise his younger sister. Beyond that, he knew his step-dad was consuming drugs while Pro’s strict, devoutly Christian mother was juggling a rigorous work schedule and life at home. As Pro watched her struggle, he decided that, once he could, he would save money and become rich through education or music.
 
Music had always been a part of his environment growing up, as Gospel songs flooded the house and his mom sung in the choir and around the city. But it was Pro’s dad, a jazz musician, who would supply him with the inspiration to actually pursue a career in music. When Pro was 12, on a summer visit to his dad’s house, he started rapping about God and adolescence over beats his dad produced with his new ASR-10. That summer, he was also introduced to DJ Quick and 2pac and headed home with a stack of tapes filled with different beats--the stage had been set.
 
After a visit to Middle Tennessee State University at 15, Pro was convinced that he wanted to enroll in the music program there and someday make his ambitions a reality. His mom joined the cause by buying him his own production equipment; by the time he entered college, he was in a rap duo and had gotten a job to pay for studio time. In relentless pursuit of his dream, Pro recalls using a bunk bed as a mic stand before turning 21 and signing a record deal with an independent label. While on the label, he released a mix tape, but the company folded and life began taking a morbid turn. Removed from the dos and don’ts of his strict home, Pro reveled in the forbidden. Music, women and money became idols in his life until “the season of death” woke him up.
 
Within a short time span, Pro loss his grandfather, grandmother and godmother. As a result, he began to understand that life was fleeting; growing weary, he cried out to God and surrendered his life and talents. Some time later, after forming Reflection Music Group with his friend Doc Watson, he released his debut album The Black Out, on which he wrestled with being East Coast or Southern; and cocky, yet still Christian. The album wasn’t received well within Christian circles, so Pro took a break from rapping long enough to be challenged and influenced by two guys he met at his new church. “Lecrae and BJ challenged me to let the Gospel truly affect my heart,” he recalls, and as he did, his perspectives and artistic style were completely changed.
 
Since then, Pro has collaborated on several noteworthy projects and released PSA, a mix tape he calls his first full-length installment of mature Christian music; Redemption; and PSA Vol. 2. His second album, Redemption, debuted at No. 3 on the iTunes Gospel chart and No.8 on Billboard Gospel, while also topping other mainstream and Gospel charts. With the success of his sophomore album and the growing popularity of tracks he has either produced or been featured on, Pro has established a unique presence in CHH. As the opening act for the “Unashamed Tour” in 2010, Pro won over audiences around the country with his amplifying performances and gritty lyrics. His latest release, PSA Vol. 2, is the second installment in an ongoing series of topically diverse, sonically evolving and authentically Hip Hop music that also introduces listeners to upcoming Reflection artists.
 
A self-described blue-collar artist, Pro embraces his ability to get listeners amped, but ultimately, he wants them to feel and be inspired to pursue something greater than themselves. He currently resides in Nashville, TN where he is an active member of Fellowship Bible Church along with his wife. And while his popularity grows with each release, past experiences have taught him that, “Peace is more important than anything,” so his enduring ambition and motivation to continue making quality music is simply to glorify God with his life.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unashamed Tour 2012 Chicago! Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Pro, Tedashii, Trip Lee, 116