I really appreciated these articles from the Internet Monk blog on “Demythologizing ‘Radical’ Christianity”: part 1 and part 2. The two posts are actually comments on Skye Jethani’s posts “Redefining Radical” (part 1 and part 2).
Two especially good quotes, first from the second post on Internet Monk, quoting Lutheran Gene Edward Leith on vocation:
When I go into a restaurant, the waitress who brings me my meal, the cook in the back who prepared it, the delivery men, the wholesalers, the workers in the food-processing factories, the butchers, the farmers, the ranchers, and everyone else in the economic food chain are all being used by God to “give me this day my daily bread.”
This is the doctrine of vocation. God works through people, in their ordinary stations of life to which He has called them, to care for His creation. In this way, He cares for everyone—Christian and non-Christian—whom He has given life.
Luther puts it even more strongly: Vocations are “masks of God.” On the surface, we see an ordinary human face—our mother, the doctor, the teacher, the waitress, our pastor—but, beneath the appearances, God is ministering to us through them. God is hidden in human vocations.
The other side of the coin is that God is hidden in us. When we live out our callings—as spouses, parents, children, employers, employees, citizens, and the rest—God is working through us. Even when we do not realize it, when we fulfill our callings, we too are masks of God.
And second, from the first Internet Monk post:
Friends, it’s OK to just be a Christian. Receive God’s grace in Christ through Word and Sacrament. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Walk in the Spirit. That is truly radical. Not flashy. Not “extreme.” But fundamental. Solid. Grounded. Maturing.
Thought provoking analysis of “hell” in scripture. And then one on heaven.
On that same topic, sort of, Barna has released findings on what Americans believe about universalism and pluralism.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, pointed out that “the difference between the Christian community and the cultural norms is even more pronounced among the youngest generations than the older generations. In other words, younger born again Christians’ attitudes about religious inclusivity and exclusivity are more divergent from their peers than is currently true of their parents’ generation.
“This gap represents increasing pressure on young believers to understand those differences and to find meaning and confidence in their faith convictions. This may be part of the reason young people are hesitant to share their faith with others and why they have so many questions about the nature of heaven: they are less certain what they believe and crossing the divide to communicate with their peers on this issue is a big jump. Helping to prepare young people for this belief gap and enabling them to understand biblical teaching—while also encouraging healthy friendships with people who hold other spiritual views—are crucial challenges for today’s Christian leaders.”
I really enjoyed the book Three Cups of Tea, so it is disappointing to learn that major parts of the story did not really happen, or at least did not really happen the way Greg Mortenson says. 60 Minutes did a major story on this, uncovering both questions about his story and major issues with how funds are used by Mortenson’s non-profit. It is a shame, because it appears some schools really have been built and Mortenson has done some fantastic work, but he wants it to look like even more has been done. As Jon Krakaeur, author and former board member of Mortenson’s non-profit says near the end of the piece, “He’s not Bernie Madoff. I mean, let’s be clear. He has done a lot of good. He has helped thousands of school kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan….He has become perhaps the world’s most effective spokesperson for girls’ education in developing countries. And he deserves credit for that…Nevertheless, he is now threatening to bring it all down, to destroy all of it by this fraud and by these lies. ” This story by CBS has led to lots more news which you can read about by a simple Google search.