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, January 14, 2014

Rebuilding the Faith - Dr. Carin Bondar Spoofs Miley's "Wrecking Ball" Torch Song


Carin Bondar tests out Face Recognition Binoculars


Rebuilding the Faith

Miley Cyrus move over. Yes, Dr. Carin Bondar’s remake of the infamous Wrecking Ball is "spoof + science" at its parody best. Wishing to "smash" creationist's notions the good scientist parodies popular shrift worthy of destruction. As the lyrics state,

Organisms do evolve
That giant mystery’s been (re)solved
Creationism’s proven false
Get familiar with our phylogeny.

Difficult words to sing for the Christian who believes in God and who seeks a deeper explanation for creation's existence beyond the mere rhyme of words stating there is none. When the great scientist Laplace was asked at the court of Napoleon where the Creator-God was in all his formulations, he was heard to famously quipped, "Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis." So too has the great physicist Stephen Hawking recently asked in his treatise entitled The Grand Design, three simple questions to the reader (10):

1) Why is there something rather than nothing?

2) Why do we exist?

3) Why this particular set of laws and not some other?

And based upon scientific determinism (sic, the key to Hawking's dilemma) God did not have any latitude in choosing the laws of the universe.(33) Hence, there are no miracles, nor any exceptions to the laws of nature.(34) Which are serious conclusions to make and must be grappled with by the serious believer wishing to understand his Creator.

To these questions Relevancy22 has been exploring these grand questions from an evolutionary, scientific, philosophic, and theologic viewpoint. Arguing for an Evolutionary Creationism as distinguished from the heartfelt creationist's non-evolutionary system that many believers continue to cling too. Here, at this site, we wish to reframe many of Christianity's more classically-derived church doctrines around the contemporary, postmodern doctrinal discussions that do now admit evolution into the bible without losing the God of creation either in its dogmas nor in its doctrinal formulations as they are perceived by pew and bible scholar.

So then, how should we listen to Dr. Carin Bondar, Laplace, or Hawking when arguing for an evolution perhaps devoid of any God but its own systems alone? We do so both soberly and mindfully. Not in denial, but in a fuller, more theologically-based approach, which admits and does not deny, the seriousness of these profound scientific observations, nor dismiss the existence of a Creator-God who is effectively unfalsifiable. Who has chosen to create through the process of evolution which we, as believers, must come to understand and accept, not fearing that the God of evolution will be misplaced or found absent in it all.

Yes, physical nature does do quite well. It was created that way! But not on its own... as a godless-based evolution might like to remind... but because of a wise and powerful Creator God who has affectively, and effectively, used this process to bring Hismself into a creative fellowship in an amazing way. To the questions of sin, free will, the first humans, how to read the Word, and many more, the reader may peruse the "chapters" or "posts" of this website (or web blog) and hopefully find capable direction leading to better questions and explorations. At no time is scholarly discussion closed down or stopped. For it is to this scholarship that we as Christians must both listen and discern. Hopefully you will find both in these digital pages placed at your disposal.


At the last, do not be offended by the good scientist's parody below. It is because of these concerns that I and others like Dr. Bondar have come along similar paths asking the same questions that the older system of creationism could not answer - no matter how it tried to reframe the philosophical and theological debates around classical concerns. In truth, evolution does run quite well on its "own." But for the believer we know who the real "Owner" is, and what makes it "tick" as the God of all creation.

And so, enjoy the parody, and do take seriously the science of evolution, especially as from a Christian perspective. And don't let it remain the bug-a-boo that so many would make it out to be based upon illegitimate agnostic or atheist charges to the contrary. There are many a good, thinking Christian scientist out there who can firmly attest to the God of the Bible within the ranks of their university, research lab, and field studies. Certainly they are evolutionists. But they are also godly believers who see the Creator's handiwork everywhere about when measure by time and space, process and curriculum.

R.E. Slater
January 14, 2013

Organisms Do Evolve




Published on Jan 12, 2014


"I am always troubled by the lack of awareness surrounding the process of evolution by natural selection. Also, I am a crazy dorky scientist who enjoys many aspects of pop culture. I'm a Miley fan, and when I first saw 'Wrecking Ball' it was just irresistible for me to parody it! Here are the full lyrics." - Carin


They fought, they strained, their lives in vain,
They thought, always asking why,
Not blessed but shunned, the world was stunned,
But facts, no one could deny.

You might think you know, only just suppose,
What you're told isn't true,
Facts you can't deny, science doesn't lie,
There is actual proof.

That organisms do evolve,
That giant mystery's been solved,
Creationism's proven false,
Get familiar with our phylogeny.

Yes, our phylogeny.

There's A, there's C, there's T, there's G,
They're called nucleotides,
The helix turns with no concern,
For Gods, or religious lives.

Gene diversity, stochasticity,
Just the fittest survive,
Then they procreate, and some genes mutate,
Varied forms are derived.

Yes organisms do evolve,
The experts have worked hard to solve,
The complex processes involved,
In the earth's history.

Yes organisms do evolve,
There's no more mystery to solve,
Fundamental to life overall,
Get familiar with our biology.

Scholarship and science answer for,
Absolute complexities within,
Both extant and extinct creature forms,
Understanding that is not a sin.

Scholarship and science answer for,
Incidents where divergence begins,
Understanding that is not a sin,
You might think you know, only just suppose.

What you're told isn't true.
Cuz' organisms do evolve,
There's no more mystery to solve,
Creationism's proven false.

Get familiar with our phylogeny,
Yes organisms do evolve,
Such complex processes resolved,
Fundamental to life overall,
Aim to understand our biology.

It's our biology.





(click to enlarge)






Confessions of an Evolving Baptist



Confessions of an Evolving Baptist

by Nathan Hale
November 27, 2013

I will never forget the shock and confusion in my wife’s voice when I told her that I believed in evolution. I wasn’t ready to come out of the closet quite yet, but secret conversations about my belief in evolution were on the verge of being exposed and I knew I had to confess before she found out from someone else.

I could tell implications of such a statement passed like a whirlwind through her mind. She knew I had been struggling with the church and my faith for quite some time – but this?

I had not talked to her about it before. I was embarrassed and scared. How did I explain that it took embracing evolution before I found a faith that was real and meaningful?

* * *

I’m not interested in debating the specifics on why I’ve come to believe in evolution. I’m happy to talk about it, but it’s really not that important actually. The more important question is how I found my footing in the aftermath.

A year of honest inquiry left me with an overwhelming certainty about evolution and an overwhelming uncertainty about my faith. I was miserable. Everything I thought I knew was turned upside down.

I suddenly found myself dangling on the edge of the cliff holding on with one hand that was slipping. I could feel the crossroad quickly approaching – do I choose science or my faith?

Many Christians would point to my example as evidence of the damaging influence of secular science on the faith of believers. I don’t think so – at all.

In the midst of the chaos I stopped and asked myself a simple question – who said I had to choose and why?

That simple question sent me on a quest to understand the relationships between science and religion. I found myself wandering around in this magical place full of undiscovered treasures – the library. Four racks of books all devoted to various aspects of the larger dialogue between science and religion. Treasures left sitting on the racks untouched for 30-40 years.

I was surprised at some things I learned but it didn’t take long to uncover one truth – I do not have to choose.

I’ve been presented with (or perhaps internalized) a false dichotomy.

There has always been some level of tension. In the past however, this tension served to advance dialogue and promote thinking among both scientists and theologians.

What surprised me the most was learning the conflict between these seemingly opposing worldviews is a relatively recent one – the unholy progeny of the more recent culture war between Atheists and Christians.

Evolution has become a philosophical sword wielded by Atheists to strike at the heart of Christian truth claims. Christians on the other hand, have launched a counter offensive by emphasizing a literal reading of the scripture and developing their own scientific explanations for the biblical accounts of creation.

A long, complex, and mutually beneficial dialogue between science and religion reduced to an overly simplistic philosophical choice – a false dichotomy perpetuated.

I’m not buying it.

Being confronted with evolution may have been the catalyst for asking the difficult questions, but the real problem for me was not evolution – it was biblical literalism.

It was the attempts to read science back into the Bible and the ultimatum of believing the Bible is either entirely true or entirely false. That’s a damaging position I contend and has created as many Atheists/Agnostics as it has converts.

I have hurt some feelings with this statement in the past but I think my comments are largely misunderstood.

I’m not attempting to cast doubt on the authority of scripture – it’s simply a plea to better understand the complexity and richness of the text.

I believe the Bible is truth in what is teaches and is the primary authority for guiding the Christian life. In that sense I believe scripture is inerrant.

At the same time I also appreciate the complexity and origins of the text. The Bible is a complex library of history, law, poetry, wisdom, gospel, epistles, and apocalyptic literature – but it was written in a time, place, culture, and language that is not ours.

Those realities should be considered when reading the text.

Does that make it less relevant? No.

To appreciate the complexities of the text is not an insult to God or the Bible – quite the contrary. For me it fosters a deeper desire to understand and appreciate both.

* * *

I’ve come to realize there is another path on the crossroads of having to choose between science and faith. The path is less traveled and overgrown. It’s a path full of briars and thistles growing outward from the two more clear paths. It’s a difficult path to pass but an important one. A path that attempts to reconcile these seemingly opposing worldviews – the path I had to travel.

Reconciling evolution with my faith and gaining a better understanding of the Bible allowed me to grab the cliff’s edge with my second hand and pull myself to the top.

For reasons most will never understand that’s what it took for me to find a real, meaningful faith.

For the most part I’ve been content to keep my journey to myself. However, I recently had a moment of clarity during a very spirit filled communion service.

Even by conservative standards – the issue is not central to salvation.

It certainly poses some challenges and requires a thorough reading of the scriptures and some deep thought. But shouldn’t we be doing that anyway?

Why then, are we continually perpetuating the notion of having to choose between science and religion? Why is the utterance of the “E” word in Christian circles immediately met with condemnation and judgment? Why am I scared and embarrassed to talk openly about it?

I’ve come to realize that if I’m not open about my journey then I’m perpetuating a problem that almost caused me to let go of the cliff’s edge – and for no good reason.


Nathan is the husband to a beautiful wife, father to three wonderful children, researcher, teacher, and occasional writer/blogger. He can be found on Twitter at @evolvingbaptist.


Malcolm Gladwell - "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" in the Power of the Spirit



Relevant Magazine
January/February 2014

When I was writing my book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, I went to see a woman in Winnipeg by the name of Wilma Derksen.

Thirty years before, her teenage daughter, Candace, had disappeared on her way home from school. The city had launched the largest manhunt in its history, and after a week, Candace’s body was found in a hut a quarter of a mile from the Derksen’s house. Her hands and feet had been bound.

Wilma and her husband Cliff were called in to the local police station and told the news. Candace’s funeral was the next day, followed by a news conference. Virtually every news outlet in the province was there because Candace’s disappearance had gripped the city.

“How do you feel about whoever did this to Candace?” a reporter asked the Derksens.

“We would like to know who the person or persons are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives,” Cliff said.

Wilma went next. “Our main concern was to find Candace. We’ve found her.” She went on: “I can’t say at this point I forgive this person,” but the stress was on the phrase at this point. “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.”

Vulnerability and Power

I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say those things. A sexual predator had kidnapped and murdered their daughter, and Cliff Derksen could talk about sharing his love with the killer and Wilma could stand up and say, “We have all done something dreadful in our lives, or have felt the urge to.” Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?

That seemed like a relevant question to ask in a book called David and Goliath. The moral of the Biblical account of the duel between David and Goliath, after all, is that our preconceptions about where power and strength reside are false.

Goliath seemed formidable. But there are all kinds of hints in the biblical text that he was, in fact, not everything he seemed. Why did he need to be escorted to the valley floor by an attendant? Why did it take him so long to clue into the fact that David was clearly not intending to fight him with swords? There is even speculation among medical experts that Goliath may have been suffering from a condition called acromegaly—a disease that causes abnormal growth but also often has the side effect of restricted sight.

What if Goliath had to be led to the valley floor and took so long to respond to David because he could only see a few feet in front of him? What if the very thing that made him appear so large and formidable, in other words, was also the cause of his greatest vulnerability?

For the first year of my research, I collected examples of these kinds of paradoxes—where our intuitions about what an advantage or a disadvantage are turn out to be upside down. Why are so many successful entrepreneurs dyslexic? Why did so many American presidents and British prime ministers lose a parent in childhood? Is it possible that some of the things we hold dear in education—like small classes and prestigious schools—can do as much harm as good? I read studies and talked to social scientists and buried myself in the library and thought I knew the kind of book I wanted to write.

Then I met Wilma Derksen.


Weapons of the Spirit

The Derksens live in a small bungalow in a modest neighborhood not far from downtown Winnipeg. Wilma Derksen and I sat in her backyard. I think some part of me expected her to be saintly or heroic. She was neither. She spoke simply and quietly. She was a Mennonite, she explained. Her family, like many Mennonites, had come from Russia, where those of their faith had suffered terrible persecution before fleeing to Canada. And the Mennonite response to persecution was to take Jesus’ instructions on forgiveness seriously.

“The whole Mennonite philosophy is that we forgive and we move on,” she said. It had not always been easy. It took more than 20 years for the police in Winnipeg to track down Candace’s killer. In the beginning, Wilma’s husband, Cliff, had been considered by some in the police force as a suspect. The weight of that suspicion fell heavily on the Derksens. Wilma told me she had wrestled with her anger and desire for retribution. They weren’t heroes or saints. But something in their tradition and faith made it possible for the Derksens to do something heroic and saintly.

I never plan out my books in advance. I start in the middle and try and muddle my way from there. When I met Wilma Derksen, I finally understood what I was really getting at, in all the social science I had been reading and in the stories I was telling of dyslexia and entrepreneurs and education. I was interested—to borrow that marvelous phrase from Pierre Sauvage—in the “weapons of the spirit”—the peculiar and inexplicable power that comes from within.

When I told a friend of mine about my visit to the Derksens, he sent me a quotation from 1 Samuel 16:7. It so perfectly captured what I realized David and Goliath was about that it is now on the first page of the book: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Le Chambon

The final chapter of David and Goliath is about what happened in the small town of Le Chambon during the Second World War. Final chapters are crucial: they frame the experience of reading the book. I put the Le Chambon story at the end because it deals with the great puzzle of the weapons of the spirit—which is why we find it so hard to see them.

I WAS INTERESTED IN THE “WEAPONS OF THE SPIRIT” - 

THE PECULIAR AND INEXPLICABLE POWER THAT COMES FROM WITHIN.

Le Chambon is in an area of France called the Vivarais Plateau—a remote and mountainous region near the Italian and Swiss borders. For many centuries, the area has been home to dissident Protestant groups, principally the Huguenots, and during the Nazi occupation of France, Le Chambon became a very open and central pocket of resistance.

The local Huguenot pastor was a man named André Trocmé. On the Sunday after France fell to the Germans, Trocmé preached a sermon in which he said that if the Germans made the townsfolk of Le Chambon do anything they considered contrary to the Gospel, the town wasn’t going to go along. So the schoolchildren of Le Chambon refused to give the fascist salute each morning, as the new government had decreed they must. The occupation rulers required teachers to sign an oath of loyalty to the state, but Trocmé ran the school in Le Chambon and instructed his staff not to do it.

Before long, Jewish refugees—on the run from the Nazis—heard of Le Chambon and began to show up looking for help. Trocmé and the townsfolk took them in, fed them, hid them and spirited them across borders—in open defiance of Nazi law. Once, when a high government official came to town, a group of students actually presented him with a letter that stated plainly and honestly the town’s opposition to the anti-Jewish policies of the occupation.

“We feel obliged to tell you that there are among us a certain number of Jews,” the letter stated. “But, we make no distinction between Jews and non-Jews. It is contrary to the Gospel teaching. If our comrades, whose only fault is to be born in another religion, received the order to let themselves be deported or even examined, they would disobey the order received, and we would try to hide them as best we could.”


“Nobody Thought of That”

Where did the people of Le Chambon find the strength to defy the Nazis? The same place the Derksens found the strength to forgive. They were armed with the weapons of the spirit. For over 100 years, in the 17th and 18th centuries, they had been ruthlessly persecuted by the state. Huguenot pastors had been hanged and tortured, their wives sent to prison and their children taken from them. They had learned how to hide in the forests and escape to Switzerland and conduct their services in secrecy. They had learned how to stick together.

They saw just about the worst kind of persecution that anyone can see. And what did they discover? That the strength granted to them by their faith in God gave them the power to stand up to the soldiers and guns and laws of the state. In one of the many books written about Le Chambon, there is an extraordinary line from André Trocmé’s wife, Magda. When the first refugee appeared at her door, in the bleakest part of the war during the long winter of 1941, Magda Trocmé said it never occurred to her to say no: “I did not know that it would be dangerous. Nobody thought of that.”

Nobody thought of that. It never occurred to her or anyone else in Le Chambon that they were at any disadvantage in a battle with the Nazi Army.

But here is the puzzle: The Huguenots of Le Chambon were not the only committed Christians in France in 1941. There were millions of committed believers in France in those years. They believed in God just as the people of Le Chambon did. So why did so few Christians follow the lead of the people in Le Chambon? The way that story is often told, the people of Le Chambon are made out to be heroic figures. But they were no more heroic than the Derksens. They were simply people whose experience had taught them where true power lies.

The other Christians of France were not so fortunate. They made the mistake that so many of us make. They estimated the dangers of action by looking on outward appearances—when they needed to look on the heart. If they had, how many other French Jews might have been saved from the Holocaust?

Seeing God’s Power

I was raised in a Christian home in Southwestern Ontario. My parents took time each morning to read the Bible and pray. Both my brothers are devout. My sister-in-law is a Mennonite pastor. I have had a different experience from the rest of my family. I was the only one to move away from Canada. And I have been the only one to move away from the Church.

I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED IN GOD.

I HAVE GRASPED THE LOGIC OF CHRISTIAN FAITH.

WHAT I HAVE HAD A HARD TIME SEEING IS GOD’S POWER.

I attended Washington Community Fellowship when I lived in Washington D.C. But once I moved to New York, I stopped attending any kind of religious fellowship. I have often wondered why it happened that way: Why had I wandered off the path taken by the rest of my family?

What I understand now is that I was one of those people who did not appreciate the weapons of the spirit. I have always been someone attracted to the quantifiable and the physical. I hate to admit it. But I don’t think I would have been able to do what the Huguenots did in Le Chambon. I would have counted up the number of soldiers and guns on each side and concluded it was too dangerous. I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power.

I put that sentence in the past tense because something happened to me when I sat in Wilma Derksen’s garden. It is one thing to read in a history book about people empowered by their faith. But it is quite another to meet an otherwise very ordinary person, in the backyard of a very ordinary house, who has managed to do something utterly extraordinary.

Their daughter was murdered. And the first thing the Derksens did was to stand up at the press conference and talk about the path to forgiveness. “We would like to know who the person or persons are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives.”

Maybe we have difficulty seeing the weapons of the spirit because we don’t know where to look, or because we are distracted by the louder claims of material advantage. But I’ve seen them now, and I will never be the same.


---

Wikipedia Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Gladwell

Malcolm T. Gladwell, CM (born September 3, 1963) is an English-Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker.[1] He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013). All five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Gladwell's books and articles often deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences and make frequent and extended use of academic work, particularly in the areas of sociology,psychology, and social psychology. Gladwell was appointed to the Order of Canada on June 30, 2011.[2]