Oct 25, 2015
A Cult?

So I was eating lunch at a local grocery store in Warsaw - as close as they are going to get to a Central Market in Warsaw.  They have free wifi.  As I was accepting the terms, I noticed they said "we will not tolerate the use of our internet to view sites related to sex, drugs or CULTS."  So what did I feel compelled to do? I Googled "cults". 

What came up was the Wikipedia entry on cults - which I don't think the store would actually object to - at least I hope not. It's actually a really interesting article which I recommend reading.  What caught my attention was a quote embedded in the article:

If you ask me: are all cults a terrorist organisation? My answer is no, as there are many peaceful cults at present around the world and in the history of mankind. But if you ask me are all terrorist organisations some sort of cult, my answer is yes. Even if they start as [an] ordinary modern political party or organisation, to prepare and force their members to act without asking any moral questions and act selflessly for the cause of the group and ignore all the ethical, cultural, moral or religious codes of the society and humanity, those organisations have to change into a cult.
What was so interesting to me is the comment that an organization that encourages - or forces - their members to "act without asking any moral questions" and "ignore all the ethical, cultural moral or religious codes of the society and humanity" the organization becomes a cult.

I had already been thinking about this very thing and have alluded to it in previous posts - the belief that each of us is ultimately responsible for the ethical and moral impact of our actions and decisions, regardless of our belief system.  To be specific, I see many Christians not stopping to think about how their words or actions are hurting people.  They are blindly following what they think their religion requires without stopping to ask "but is this RIGHT?"  I have heard Christians say that telling someone they are going to hell and burn forever is a form of love - is it really?  Their is lot of what sounds like hate coming out of the mouths of Christians. 

According to this author, such Christians could be considered cultic, since they are essentially ignoring the moral/social/cultural impact of their words and actions. 

I think this is a specific application of "God gave us brains and expects us to use them."  I hear in the words of Jesus that he wants us to struggle with the "rightness" and "wrongness" of what we do, not just blindly follow along - especially when it hurts people. 

Posted at 03:13 pm by DoubleHDog
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Sep 27, 2015
Viva Papa Francisco!

If I taught Sunday School this morning, I would have focused on the US visit of Pope Francis. In recent modern history, the Roman Catholic Church has not had a great reputation. They have been generally perceived as "irrelevant" and a barrier to progress on social issues. However, Pope Francis has been proclaiming a very prophetic Jesus-inspired message. This past week, he was way out in front on many moral and spiritual issues. Just a few examples: When invited to meet with leaders of the US Congress, he refused, and instead met with the homeless on the streets of DC. He INSISTED on personally visiting the 9/11 memorial, and only if he could share the podium with representives of at least 16 other religious groups. It was especially profound that he invited an Imam to pray in his original language. Francis addressed US Congress and implored them to care for the poor and immigrants, since we were all once immigrants. Jesus was a homeless immigrant. I think it was in Madison Square Garden where he preached Isaiah 40 - "the people who have lived in darkness have seen a great light". I have been choked up multiple times listening to his profound and visionary words. At a time when religion and politics is filled with so many who are essentially bullies, Francis is calling us all to act with compassion and unselfishness. And the key word is ACT. He backs up his words with decisive action. If you missed it, I am sure the 9/11 program is posted somewhere. You need to watch it. Viva Papa Franciso! - as you encourage me to be a better human being.

Posted at 06:42 pm by DoubleHDog
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Sep 19, 2015
Another Story for Sunday School...


Posted at 08:31 am by DoubleHDog
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Muslims Aren't Dangerous

What a week. The arrest of Ahmed in Irving and Donald Trump's apparent agreement that we need to get rid of Muslims. If I were teaching Sunday School this week, I would be showing Hank Green's YouTube video "Muslim's Aren't Dangerous" Search for it and watch it. There is a lot of fear out there. Love overcomes fear. There is even a verse - "Perfect love casts out fear," We are short on love and long on fear right now. There are those who say all Muslims need to be converted to Christianity. However, I think there are a lot of Christians that need to be converted to showing love and compassion to all people, regardless of who they are. I actually think Jesus was an example of the latter.

Posted at 08:04 am by DoubleHDog
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Sep 13, 2015
On the Other Hand...

The sermon this morning was part of a series. The approximate title was: Do I have a purpose in life? The bottom line of what I heard was the classic Presby answer from the Shorter Chatechism: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The conclusion was: that's our purpose. It a given, and we can't change it. It is a great truth. With every great truth, there is an - on the one hand - on the other hand. An "on the other hand" came to mind for me. On the other hand, I think we also play a very active part in how we live out our purpose. In many ways, we are defined by the choices we make. I also think we are responsible for the impact of the choices we make on other people. I think this is influenced by something I have been pondering lately - about how much each person is responsible for their decisions and actions. Specifially, I seem to be hearing a lot of people say "well, that's what my religion teaches, so that's what I believe." Most times, that is a really good thing. But what about the times when we come across something that does not make sense or hurts another person, and we think it's what our religious system of belief expects of us. Much more to come on this line of thinking....

Posted at 03:49 pm by DoubleHDog
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Sep 12, 2015
Whose lives matter??

Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “Slave lives matter. God says, ‘Let my people go!’” Pharaoh said, “All lives matter. Get back to work.” The prophets went to the rulers of Israel and said, “Poor lives, widowed lives, orphan lives matter.” The rulers of Israel said, “All lives matter. Shut up.” Jesus walked about the Roman occupied territory of Palestine and said, “Lepers’ lives matter. Blind peoples’ lives matter. The lives of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned matter.” The Roman occupiers and their collaborators said, “All lives matter. Enjoy your crucifixion.” From Patheos

Posted at 08:11 am by DoubleHDog
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Sep 9, 2015

Rachel Held Evans on Facebook. That is all.

Posted at 09:42 pm by DoubleHDog
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Sep 8, 2015
Malawi Wow

I had the opportunity to hear from 4 people from Canyon Creek Pres who went to Malawi in West Africa in August. They went as guests of an organization called Villages in Partnership. I know that our church contributes funds to this organization. I was really inspired by what I heard. VIP is working for long term change. From all that I know about "doing well without doing harm", they are doing it right. The local people provide leadership and plan together about their future without undue influence from "outsiders". I was also inspired by the spiritual aspect. Local villagers meet for study and worship, Kym Banks, who was there, said that these study and worship events actually included people from many faith backgrounds - Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Their faith unites instead of divides. Wow. Maybe we could learn from them. If you are looking for additional ways to spend some hard earned $$$ to decrease world suck in a way that you know will be well spent, check out www.vilagesingpartnership.org. I know I did :-) You can even apply to visit next year :-)

Posted at 06:42 pm by DoubleHDog
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Sep 7, 2015
Germany is an Inspiration


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Sep 6, 2015

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted at 09:22 pm by DoubleHDog
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