Every Friday I’m posting links to things I’ve read this week that I think you might find interesting too, next week I want to start sharing some links readers of the site are finding interesting…If you read something you think should be featured here submit it here, starting your message LINK LIST SUGGESTION.
We enjoyed our yearly christmas tradition (apart from when we are away from Cape Town), of singing Carol’s at kirstenbosch botanical gardens last night, amazing how carols singing remains one of the most culturally celebrated forms of publicly proclaiming the Gospel.
Well this year we have engaged the rhythms of expectation that advent invite more than ever before. Mostly due to facilitating some gatherings in our church community around this season of the church calendar. In putting it together I came across lots of useful resources that I found (although too late for you this year). One of the finds of my research into advent was this song, written by Dustin Kensrue and sung to the tune of auld lang syne. It was the perfect combination of a tune everyone could sing to and new words which captured the season, we sung it to end each of the three 1 advent services we gathered for.
Drawing insights from psychology, sociology, biology, and (mainly Jewish) theology, Sacks– himself a deeply religious man–understands well the maxim made famous by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that the line dividing good and evil does not run between groups but through every human heart. Still, the tendency to hive off into groups and define one’s group against others constitutes the heart of the matter and disposes us not only to great evil but to great good. And this is the rub. Or, as Sacks puts it: “what is best in us and what is worst both come from the same source: our tendency to form ourselves into groups [and] to think highly of our own and negatively of others.”
Most would recognize this as all-too-human tendency but know, too, that groups can inspire and enable our better angels. The path to violence takes shape when three additional items are added. First, group formation must occur around our deepest convictions, which are often religious or metaphysical in nature; Sacks employs a line from Pascal to underscore this point: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do so from religious conviction.” Second, one has to experience or at least be persuaded that the “other group” has committed grave wrongdoing against your group—your family, your clan, your religion. Finally, you need unscrupulous leaders to enflame a pervasive, righteous feeling of victimhood, enabling one to see the “other group” as utterly despicable, subhuman, malevolent.
Lasting glory cannot be gotten, but it can be gazed upon in God’s Story. The Story of the Tree, which began as a Twig, and became a Roman Cross, to save us from ourselves. This Story is invisible to the proud, to the faithless, Who this small Bethlehem Babe really is; God in the flesh, Immanuel, God with us.
A recently made friend Steve Cochrane, both a pioneer missionary to india and a early church of the east scholar has been writing excellent things recently, none more than this post on meeting Mother Teresa here
“In these times when so many seek attention and promote themselves or their own agendas , Mother Teresa’s desire to be a “pencil in God’s hands” rings out so powerfully.”
I read a listened to a couple of things about racial diversity in the church this week which are worth your time;
The personal and political shenanigans behind the Galileo affair are far more interesting, and indeed amusing, than the traditional Science vs Religion narrative would have us believe. It certainly was not a matter of “ecclesiastical cover-up” against “intellectual freedom” (as fancifully narrated in one of the most garish abuses of history ever seen in The West Wing); it was actually Pope Urban who had asked for openness to the evidence, and Galileo who had refused to provide it.
Flickr Blog posted the top photos by country in 2015, fascinating to see which photos are liked across cultures and nations like this.