Archive for May, 2010

AOK Thursday: Kindness Programs

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by JEL

Ideally, acts of kindness would be entirely self-initiated. You see a need and act, selflessly, in order to help others. But maybe people, especially kids, need to be taught the importance of kindness. Maybe institutionalizing acts of kindness in the schools will lead to more spontaneous kindness down the road…

Churches and Immigration

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by JEL

The Arizona immigration law is an extremely sticky one. Those who support the law cite stressed state budgets and the need to stop home break-ins and drug/gun smuggling. Those who oppose the law point out that data show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than legal residents. They also lean on Jesus’ words to love your neighbor. I found this video to be an interesting presentation of both sides:

AOK Thursday: Restorative Justice

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by JEL

Wikipedia’s definition of restorative justice goes like this: “an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims and offenders, instead of the need to satisfy the abstract principles of law or the need of the community to exact punishment. Victims are given an active role in a dispute, and offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, ‘to repair the harm they’ve done- by apologizing, returning stolen money, or (for example) doing community service.’”

Kay Moore and Raymond Brown have volunteered their time for years at the Restorative Justice Program at Crossroads Correctional Center. For their endless act of kindness, the inmates have nominated Moore and Brown for a U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Click here for the full story and video.

Comfortable Christianity

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by JEL

Francis Chan has been the senior pastor at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA for 16 years and is the author of the best-selling Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. Speaking at a conference last week, he expressed his frustration over “comfortable” Christianity.

“You go to church these days and you stare forward and sing a couple of songs and listen to the message and go home,” he said.

He feels Christians should live according to the Gospels and like the Church’s early believers who “denied themselves, took up their crosses, sold their possessions to the poor, and shared everything they had.” Interestingly, Chan says he gets more resistance to his “radical” lifestyle from fellow Christians than from non-believers.

Last week, Chan announced he was stepping down from Cornerstone Church and that he and his family were moving to a developing country.

IPPY Winners Announced

Monday, May 17th, 2010 by JEL

Last Monday I wrote that What He Said had been named a finalist in the national/religion category of the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Judging apparently finished up on Friday. At the risk of “sounding a trumpet before” ourselves, I am very excited to announce that What He Said took the Gold medal!

The other two books on the podium are beautiful and powerful; check them out.

You can see the full list of IPPY winners here.

AOK Thursday: The Friendly Shank

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 by JEL

Acts of Kindness (AOKs) can come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t all have to involve giving away your last stitch of clothing or your last crust of bread. I found this story particularly appealing. While it happened in the realm of sport, it doesn’t exactly fit the dictionary definition of sportsmanship. More like a simple, good-hearted gesture. In today’s world of running up the score and recruiting ringers to win at all costs, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Backing Up for Mothers

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by JEL

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. This is probably obvious to all of you, but things whiz by at such a pace these days that I thought it worthwhile to slam on the brakes and back up a couple of days.

I had always thought of Mother’s Day as another Hallmark invention designed to sell greeting cards and chocolate treats. Not so. The original call for celebrating Mother’s Day in the United States came from Julia Ward Howe in 1870. She was an abolitionist, suffragette, poet and pacifist. She also wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

After the carnage of the Civil War, she wanted to get other Mothers to unite to protest the senselessness of their sons killing the sons of other mothers. One of the results of her efforts was the “Mother’s Day Proclamation.” Its overriding message, like that of Jesus, is simply, peace.

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

We’re Up for an IPPY!

Monday, May 10th, 2010 by JEL

Last fall we entered What He Said in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards. I just found out that our book has been named a finalist in the National – Religion category. “Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to each of these finalists and presented at a gala awards ceremony in New York on May 25th.”

I like a good “gala ceremony” as much as the next person, but I don’t think our schedules will allow us to attend. Our fingers are crossed nonetheless.

You can view the full list of finalists here.

AOK Thursday: Better Than Broccoli

Thursday, May 6th, 2010 by JEL

Ditch the stair-master, toss the wheat germ. Turns out that simply being kind to others is more beneficial for your health than exercise and healthy eating. It might even give you superpowers!

Scripting Jesus

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by JEL

In the foreword of our book we wrote, “One final point. No one really knows if the words you see in What He Said are what He actually said! We don’t have any voice recordings or transcripts from the Year 1, and Jesus didn’t keep a journal. Further, scholars have documented how the Bible changed over the years as generations of scribes laboriously made copies (from copies) for their particular Christian communities.”

Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in RewriteAlong these lines, L. Michael White, a professor of Classics and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin, recently published a new book called Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite. In the book, White:

“demonstrates that each of the four gospel writers had a specific audience in mind and a specific theological agenda to push, and consequently wrote and rewrote their lives of Jesus accordingly—in effect, scripting Jesus to get the desired audience reaction.”

Sounds like an interesting read.