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Posted by on May 26, 2014 | 0 comments

Who am I? Henri Nouwen and Christian Identity

Who am I? Henri Nouwen and Christian Identity

Some of the most powerful words I have ever heard come from the lips of Henri Nouwen, the Catholic spiritual writer of the 20th century, in a recording of his lecture entitled “Who are We?: Exploring our Christian Identity.” This lecture is masterful in its simplicity. Nouwen begins by asking “Who is this person that lives this little life?” A person is born, lives and dies. In the broad scope of the all space and time, each of our lives really are little things. Within this little life, Nouwen identifies two of the most common responses to “who is this person…?” “I am what I have.” I am my education, stuff, relationships, social status, good looks, health, etc. If any of what I have is lost or cannot be achieved then who I am comes into question, my very sense of myself is threatened. “I am what other people say about me.” I am what other people say about me, think of me, respect in me, etc. If others say good things...

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Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 | 2 comments

Is the Internet Making us Ungodly?

Is the Internet Making us Ungodly?

This is Justin’s Final Post as a Regular Contributor to Many Horizons. We are grateful for the many insightful, stimulating and provocative posts he has written on this blog, and are pleased to share this last offering on thinking theologically about the internet.    What does God think about the internet? Is Google Making us Stupid? Is Facebook Making us Lonely? Is Your Brain on Mobile like your brain on drugs? Articles skeptical of new technologies are bound to be big hits because they speak to a natural uncertainty we all feel around new things. But they also elicit vigorous and passionate defenses of new technology. A recent comment on the article “This is your brain on Mobile” declares: “I feel like anyone who becomes more of something, given a particular tool that facilitates it, always kind of was… that thing. They just needed their moment to shine, as it were.” This comment illustrates a pervasive assumption our culture makes about technology: That tools serve as an extension of the...

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Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 | 1 comment

Does God Watch While You Have Sex?

Does God Watch While You Have Sex?

How do you imagine God engaging your world? Does he answer your prayers? Does he stand back and watch? Does he hide himself behind natural law and science? Does he perform miracles? Does he wait for the end times? What does he do? For centuries, God was imagined to be active in all the mundane aspects of life. He was there when we harvested and cooked and ate, he was there when we built our houses or forged our tools, and he was most certainly there when we had sex. Most of us don’t feel that way anymore. Most of us think that God stands at a distance looking down on the creation – that he rarely, if ever, intervenes – much like a Victorian English matron, certainly not interested in sex. Even those of us who don’t believe this at a cognitive level live as though it were gospel. For instance, where does your food come from? We all understand the life of the vegetable: there is a...

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Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 | 2 comments

Lenten Love

Lenten Love

Lent: forty days of fasting. Jesus’s forty days in the wilderness, Noah’s forty days of rain, Moses’s forty days on Sinai, Elijah’s forty day walk to Horeb, Goliath’s forty days of challenge before the nation of Israel: all of them are forty days of trial building up to an encounter with God’s grace. Yet, the greatest of these is Lent. Lent is the annual enactment of the cost of the love that lies at the foundation of all creation. These are some big claims. In a world where Lent is often no more than the “giving up” of chocolate, coffee, beer, meat, or the internet, it hardly seems fair to compare it to the forty days of rain that annihilated the entire population of the Earth or with Elijah’s forty days without food or water as he hiked through the desert. But, where Elijah ends his forty days with the still small voice, and Goliath’s forty days end with his being slain, and Jesus’s forty days end with his...

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Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 | 1 comment

Salvation: What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing?

Salvation: What is it Good for? Absolutely Nothing?

Why do you do what you do? How do you make a decision? If it is an important one perhaps you think it through, weigh the costs against the benefits. Do you try to forecast the outcomes and determine which course of action proves most useful, prudent, or profitable? Certainly this is the way we imagine we make decisions in the public sphere. In politics or corporate life the value of utility or profit defines the best course of action.  But how does one determine what is a cost and what is a benefit? Can you use the cost/benefit analysis to determine what you value? Emphatically- NO. At some point in the rational decision making process we all bump up against the irrational: is risk worth the profit? Is price worth the quality? Is pain worth the gain? No analysis can tell us the answer to these basic questions, because our actions and decisions are not rooted in rational reflection. Recent work in philosophy and (oddly enough) neuropsychology has...

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