Posts

Wineskins old and new

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  Wild Rose: Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the [prairie] air. -Thomas Grey A few years ago, my son-in-law tried valiantly to explain Bitcoin to me. My failure to grasp the basic principles—I realized later—wasn’t because I am a poor learner or he a poor teacher. I’ve since read a great deal about Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and, most recently, NFTs (Non-fungible-tokens) and I think that the pathways in my brain that might allow me to grasp Bitcoin are beginning to form.                 And that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it? “New wine in old wineskins.” Perhaps that’s why we detest the music of the day; my favourite Playlist on Spotify is titled 70s Ballads. The popular music pathways in my brain were established back then; Avril Lavigne’s I Want to be your Girlfriend , ought to stay off my musical pathways! It grates like a mini-skirt in the church choir. “Money is about bills and change and deposits and bank statements and chequ

Money, period.

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  Our scriptures don’t give us a lot of helpful guidance on the use of money.                      We’re all over the place on the subjects of having/not having, of buying/selling, of hoarding/giving and that may be part of the reason for our desire to keep our personal finances a secret, even from brothers and sisters in the family, let alone our church community. We have the “love of money is the root of evil,” and “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” plus admonitions to tithe and the sharing of means in at least one early Christian church, but in general we love the security of a portfolio, avoid tax-paying in any way that will remain hidden and (I’m guessing here) the majority of Christians in North America consider economic sharing as diabolical, creeping socialism.                 At the same time, we’re super aware that there are fraudsters and tricksters out there plotting to relieve us of savings we’ve earned and stored, there are profit-driven corporations who a

On losing and finding balance

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  In Covid Times: If a pin should drop and no one to hear it, would it still make a sound? I serendipitously hit upon a sermon by the pastor (Tim Conway. No, not the one who did all those hilarious sketches on Carol Burnett) of a fellowship church in Manchester, England, and although I am seldom attracted to such YouTube videos, I decided to hear what he had to say. And although he made constant reference to “the devil” as the generator of whatever is foul among us and his repeated references to “knowing the truth” seemed a contradiction to his main point, he did make a point that rang true for me.                 It had to do with balance . He began with passages that seem to contradict each other and suggested that we tend to pick one and ignore the other, resulting in a “this and not that” preoccupation. He used baptism—child, youth or adult—as a relevant example. Believer’s baptism, child baptism, baptism at the age of accountability or baptism after strenuous instruction in chu

Anybody hankering after life, prosperity and honour?

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Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21, NIV) The collection of aphorisms (sayings) that make up the Old Testament book of Proverbs are seldom used as bases for sermons. Perhaps it’s because the conventions of these aphorisms—how they were used to teach and learn—are not as authoritative in our eyes as are direct admonitions, like Micah 6:8, “…and what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Righteousness and love are the prerequisites for life, prosperity and honour in Proverbs 21:21. It’s more than an admonition here; it’s phrased as a promise … but life has told us that nothing is that certain in reality. Our world has a tendency to distribute prosperity and honour to even the unrighteous and the misanthrope. In fact, in our time the proverb might well read, “Deceitfulness and insensitivity toward others are necessary if you’re to achieve prosperity and respect.”

Western Chauvanism and Democracy: Take your pick?!?

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110 years in Rosthern, Built of Rosthern Brick, no less. I’ve been reading websites dedicated to the conservative/anti-liberal cause, trying to understand the motivation behind their adamant stands.            A 2014 article by Randall Balmer in Politico traces the history of American evangelical churches’ current affinity with a right wing world view. Balmer shows how this Christian adherence to a rigid conservatism doesn’t have its roots in abortion or queer-equality issues, but in the reaction to civil rights. While America was desegregating on paper and on the ground in the second half of the 1900s, separate Christian whites-only schools were being set up, assuming that their income from tuition and their connection with the church would save them from government scrutiny. However, following an action brought by the Treasury Department charging that segregation in separate schools disqualified them from their tax-free status, the Supreme Court ruled in the Treasury Department’s f

Worshipping the Golden Calf

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  Rosthern Mennonite Church, 1916 “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the  dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his  hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he  took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then  he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the  Israelites drink it.” (Exodus 32: 19-20, NIV)                 The legend of the receipt of the Ten Commandments in Exodus illustrates in graphic imagery the perfidy of the people of that time and place. Some might argue that it also reveals Moses’ weak leadership skills; while he was conferring with God on Mount Horeb, the people feared he had gone and had left them leaderless. They talked Aaron—the deputy Moses—into presenting them a new God-leader to guide them on their journey. Aaron concocted a plan to create an idol to satisfy their thirst for such a god and crafted a statue of a calf from the gold people donated for that purpose.

Human Sacrifice Part 2

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  The Bringers of Christianity to Aztec country. - a display in Guadalajara (Note: Most of you will know this, but when a word or words are underlined or appear in colour, it’s because the author has put in a hyperlink , or link, a quick way to get to a source or supporting material. For instance, clicking on this phrase takes you to a webpage on hyperlinks . Try it. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to activate your Control Key (Ctrl) plus a tap to complete the link. In many cases, hyperlinks take the place of footnotes or endnotes.) My last post was probably more off-putting than up-lifting , having to do with human sacrifice and, more importantly, with reference to a core Christian understanding that Jesus’ crucifixion was the sacrifice of a human life, an offering that would reconcile people to a sin-hating God. We could argue that Jesus’ being the Son of God took the crucifixion out of the realm of human sacrifice, but his agony in Gethsemane and his “Why have you