Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Message of the Blog

Seminary Professor, Dr Craig Blomberg asks if Blogs are good for the body (of Christ that is)...

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: The Blessing of Blogs: Is the New Media Good for the Church?: "I’m hardly an expert on blogging. My own ministry has been critiqued once or twice by bloggers, and my experiences with their postings have largely led me to ignore them. When Out of Ur ran a controversial story about a good friend of mine this fall, I read and contributed to the responses with interest for several weeks. That is the sum total of my experience with blogs. But it’s enough for me to raise some questions. If Marshall McLuhan was even partly right that “the medium is the message,” then what message does the medium of blogging send?"

To read more, click here...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Intelligent Design vs. Naturalism

Here's a commentary from the Church Times entitled "How to probe the science of creation" which I feel is helpful in teasing out the nuance of the Intelligent Design-Naturalism (which unfortunately has been wrongly labeled "Evolution") debate. I think that he has done a good job of clarifying the positions and philosophical presuppositions, and this deserves careful consideration!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question 2: A Blogger's Response

This is a response that really speaks directly to what I was uncomfortable with in McLaren's commentary...

"Since posting Brian McLaren’s commentary about homosexuality we’ve had difficulty keeping pace with the responses being written. Reading through the comments reveals why homosexuality is known as a “wedge issue” in our culture. Our readers appear divided between heralding McLaren as a prophet, and condemning him as a heretic. Below is one response we received by a blogger named Jeff who disagrees with McLaren’s suggested five year moratorium on making pronouncements about homosexuality. But unlike many other critics, Jeff also writes about his very personal engagement with this issue."

Read more here...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Pastoral Response to a Thorny Question

Came across this in Leadershipjournal.net and I must admit that it has me thinking hard about how I would respond to the same question. I greatly respect McLaren even though I don't always agree with all his views on Faith and life. What do you think?

Out of Ur: Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response:

"The couple approached me immediately after the service. This was their first time visiting, and they really enjoyed the service, they said, but they had one question. You can guess what the question was about: not transubstantiation, not speaking in tongues, not inerrancy or eschatology, but where our church stood on homosexuality.

That 'still, small voice' told me not to answer. Instead I asked, 'Can you tell me why that question is important to you?' 'It's a long story,' he said with a laugh."

Click here for more...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Believing in Ben

Here's a great SI article on the Steeler Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger...

"They're big and broad, with enough room for an entire football team to climb on them and get comfortable. No wonder the Pittsburgh Steelers put the AFC Championship Game on Ben Roethlisberger's shoulders and let it ride.

All the way to Detroit.

Historically speaking, home field is a great thing to have in the NFL playoffs. But I'll take a hot quarterback every time.

In truth, Roethlisberger isn't just hot these days. He's a river of molten lava (or steel, if you will), unstoppable and flowing in the direction of next month's Super Bowl, in the city they call Motown..."

Click here to read more.

Bitter Sweet Result

A weekend of contrasts for me in the sporting arena. Liverpool lost to Man U despite controlling the game for 90 minutes. A lapse of concentration in defending corner led to a goal in injury time and so ends the unbeaten run. (incidentally the guy (left) holding his head is Djibril Cisse, the Liverpool striker. When my 2 year old son, Dan saw him during the game started laughing and said, "He looks like a dinosaur." Click this link to see why...)

Closer to home, the Steelers won! I think that they have also just won another fan. I have read on some other blogs that it is quite common for some the seminarians at Trinity to pick up an affection for the hometown team and after watching them through this season, I must admit that I've fallen for them. I love the cohesiveness of the team and how they seem to be led by great, hardworking men. Also their loyalty to their head coach despite the fact that they had not done as well in the past tells me that it is a team that respects stability. Not the quick fix or immediate results. Kind of reminds me a little bit of the Liverpool way of doing things!

You can read all about the game here...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Bigger Big Weekend

I said last weekend was a big one for sport. Well... I was wrong. This weekend's is bigger.

Firstly, it is the Liverpool-Man U derby at Old Trafford. It is one of the largest rivalries in English football because Liverpool were the dominant team of the 80's and Man U of the 90's. It is a big game for bragging rights and should be a good fight. It is even more significant since they are currently 3rd and 2nd in the league table and the winner will gain a foothold on 2nd place and may continue to have a glimmer of hope of catching runaway leaders, Chelsea.

But in truth right now, context is king... Being in Pittsburgh it is hard not to catch the Black and Gold fever. We were in town yesterday and there were street vendors everywhere selling Steeler paraphernalia. Every other person were wearing Steeler colors. And today I saw many cars decorated with the now omnipresent cry "Here we go, Steelers."

Just a little background for my friends in non-American situations: this is playoff season for the American Football League. The Steelers meet the Denver Broncos tomorrow in Denver to decided the American Football Conference championship. It is the first time that a 6th seeded team (out of 6) has made it to the conference championships. The Steelers are the ones who are rated the underdogs for this game. The winner then proceeds to the Superbowl to meet the champions of the National Football Conference.

Anyways, being deep in Steeler country has made me discover how football (of the American variety) mad the people of this city and region are. There was a T-shirt that I saw on one of the vendor's tables that sums it up best. It said, "In Pittsburgh, Steeler football is a religion."

So I will be sacking out on the couch tomorrow, watching two massive games...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Great Story!

I just came across the trailer of a movie that really excites me! It's entitled "End of the Spear" and is scheduled for release nationwide this Friday (Jan 20th). The story was first told in a book, "Through the Gates of Splendor" which I read as a kid. In truth I read the graphic novel version but it really impacted my life.

I dare say that it was probably one of the influences that has caused me to pursue the path that I now tread.

NOTE: Christianity Today online has a great article ("The Rest of the Story") which tells a little of the backstory and also some of the fruit of martyrs' seed sown in the jungles decades ago!

Reconciling Wrath and Love

I've been reviewing my notes in preparation for an exam I need to take for a class I did last week. One of the things that our professor, Rod Whitacre said has really caused me to sit up and take notice. He was talking about the works of the apostle John who really focused on the love of God in the incarnation of Jesus. Touching on the wrath of God and how it relates to God's love (which many people continue to have difficulty reconciling), he said that “God’s wrath is His love exercised towards that which corrupts and destroys those whom He loves.”

What this essentially means is that the wrath of God is not something like the manifestation of a two-faced caricature that flips his personality in an arbitrary manner. Or worse still, a progression of development from the Old Testament God to the New Testament one. It is really all linked to the fact that “God is love.” What changed was the coming of Christ. As John said, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14)

So where does that leave us? What Rod said was this: “When we hold onto our sin (i.e. by not repenting), we are holding onto to something that experiences his wrath (and is targeted for destruction).” Generally not a good idea!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

300 years of Ben

Pennsylvania celebrated Ben Franklin's 300th birthday today. He was a true renaissance man who had a hand in the history of my host nation.

Only grouse I have about him is the now infamous quote which appeared in his Poor Richard's Almanac (1733-1758):
God helps those who help themselves
A more accurate way to look at it would have been: "God helps those who cannot help themselves," or better yet "God saves those who cannot save themselves!"

Update on the Big Weekend

For those in other lands not following the Sports news too closely, both of the teams I supported WON!

Liverpool beat Spurs 1-0 and that was expected.

What was not expected was the Steelers' victory over the No. 1 ranked team in the AFC (and probably the NFL), the Indianapolis Colts! It was a real roller-coaster ride, which had all the best drama you would expect of a playoff game! That coupled with truly appalling officiating made for a game that was incredibly satisfying to watch. On another note, it's interesting to see how the use of technology to aid referees never really eliminates human error. It is rare that a governing body of a sport overrules one of their own officials!

Anglican Satire?

I just came across this blog while surfing instead of studying. It's even won the prestigious (dubious)"Most Humourous Anglican Blog Award for 2006"


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Big Weekend

It's a big weekend for sports... The Steelers are in a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It is incredible to see the amount of passion that people here in Pittsburgh have for their (American) football team. Most of them were either wearing their team jerseys or at least black and gold in suppport of the Steelers.

It sort of reminds me of the passion of Liverpool fans. I was almost sure that I was going to root for the Steelers this weekend, but then came across this article about the Colts head coach Tony Dungee. He is such a class act. His wife and in-laws are from the church we have been attending here and I have heard from people who know him about his tremendous witness and character. I guess that I'll just have divided loyalties...

On the other hand, I have no such problems with the game later on between Liverpool and Spurs. There's no doubt in my mind who will win at Anfield (Sorry, Boon!)

They are still unbeaten, but are no longer on their winning streak having drawn their last game against Bolton. So they only managed to equal their record of 11 consecutive wins in top league in England!