New Church

Yesterday, Ron and I went to see Sherlock Holmes. (yes! it was another really good movie!)

We got there a little early when the adds were still on. There was one for New Church. It was a very clean ad with words along the lines of A New Church? In the Bible Belt? Really. And then just gave the url. So I went and found:

The New Church is a new Christianity

Oh really? Wondering what a *new* Christianity is. Of course I’ve got some suspicions

all people who live good lives, regardless of their religion, are welcomed into heaven.

Ahhh, didn’t take too long to find it.

This is an old church and based on the *theological* writings of the scientist Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 to 1772). Lots of items to read in a search of his name. Add the word cult to his and well, there’s just too much to dig through.

What I find interesting is that Jesus clearly said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And still, people who base their teaching on the Bible ignore this for something else.

Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist” – Desiring God

This is very good. Regardless which side of this fence each of us falls on, it would be so much more effective to say exactly what we believe and not just give the simplistic label that someone may or may not understand.

Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist” – Desiring God.

Views: No Christianity Please, We’re Academics

via Views: No Christianity Please, We’re Academics – Inside Higher Ed.

Very observant piece by Wheaton Prof, Timothy Larsen. He first discusses a potential grad student coming from a secular institution. Young man received an F on a paper in which he used the Bible as support of his opinion of traditional marriage. I want to be cautious here. I haven’t seen the paper. There are two thoughts that come to mind though:

1) I cannot leave who I am as a Christian at home. It permeates who I am. I have to be as consistent as possible with that philosophy, lifestyle, world view.

2) However, in an academic setting, sources abound. In a secular degree, care should be taken to exhibit a wide variety of sources.

I did not get the impression this was done with this young man. Larsen concedes the paper was weak, but not F weak.

In another case with this student:

When he asked for a reason why yet another grade was so poor he was told that it was inappropriate to quote C. S. Lewis in work for an English class because he was “a pastor.”

Excuse me? To say that C.S. Lewis is inappropriate to quote is bewildering. Now the quote he used may have been inappropriate for the context. That I could buy.

I will readily admit that living in the deep south (and having been in several grad programs here) skews what I know. While it is obvious that Christianity offends some greatly, there is perhaps more tolerance in this region. However, I have never written a paper for a secular institution with the Bible as my main (or only) source. And even at Christian institutions, should the Bible be used as the main/only source for an English paper (or science or math or . . . )? Again, I don’t know that is what happened, but while my faith may be strengthened getting a secular degree, that is not the purpose of the degree.

Larsen also talks about his own experience at Yale.

I submitted a proposal for a volume on The Idea of a Christian Society by T. S. Eliot (you remember Eliot — for much of the 20th century he was a prominent pastor).

Suggestion soundly defeated with some quite lengthy verbiage. Now this situation carries more weight for an anti-Christian bias. This was not a paper laced with Christian or biblical anecdotes. This was a suggestion involving a writer that is commonly published and read in English classes all over. In the responses, Christianity was lumped in with the Taliban and the Nicene Creed labeled “offensive nonsense.” Well, those are difficult platforms for further discussion.

Larsen asks these questions which I’ve removed from their paragraph form to highlight them:

Nevertheless, scholars ought to be concerned that Christians often report that the academy is a hostile environment.

  • Are academics generally glad that such a perception exists? If not, how might it be dispelled?
  • If it is based on genuine experiences, what can be done about a climate that tolerates religious discrimination?
  • If the two stories presented here are merely assailable, anecdotal evidence, then why not gather information on this issue more systematically?
  • Do academic institutions ever try to discover if their Christian students or scholars experience discrimination?

Good questions. Can we generalize the answers? I suspect that we will find people who are not thoughtful academics saying that they were discriminated against solely because of their Christianity. The questions must surround those that are quality students and researchers. If their work is being discarded because of their Christianity or Christian themes (as was apparently Larsen’s case with the T.S. Eliot suggestion), then that’s a real problem that we need to discuss and address.

Always Learning

Don’t you love it when you find you’ve been completely ignorant on a topic!

Well, that happened to me this morning. El Bryan Libre posted about consumerism. Now it is possible that I have been ignorant because I don’t fall into the consumerism category (at least not completely). We have been trying to disengage from materialistic values for years now. Downsizing, cleaning out possessions that aren’t necessary. And so I, in my narrow knowledge set, attached consumerism to materialism. I was glad to know that wasn’t a complete misinterpretation.

Here it is defined from Answers.com:

n.

  1. The movement seeking to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards.
  2. The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial.
  3. Attachment to materialistic values or possessions: deplored the rampant consumerism of contemporary society.

consumerist con·sum’er·ist n.
consumeristic con·sum’er·is’tic adj.

The articles attached to this deal mainly with definition 1. But right there in #3, materialism is mentioned, along with “rampant comsumerism.”

With Ron in sales, I’ve always thought of consumerism in a positive light. We do want you to build your house, garage, shed or patio with brick! (And thank you for doing so!)

From Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: con·sum·er·ism
Pronunciation: \kən-ˈsü-mə-ˌri-zəm, -mər-ˌi-\
Function: noun
Date: 1944
1 : the promotion of the consumer’s interests
2 : the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable;
also : a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods

Look at that date! 1944! Even then though in definition 2 – there is the key to this discussion:  a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods.”

Ouch. If that was part of the definition in 1944, how much greater is that preoccupation and inclination now with sales and outlet malls and walmarts?

On EBL’s post, Nathan suggests googling consumerism christianity. I did. I went to google scholar to find books and articles. Double ouch. There looks to be some informative reading out there. I’m sure I’ll be posting again.