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December 29, 2006

Getting Out of the Wild and Into a Mission

Christian men need all of the help they can get staying true to the high calling of the Gospel and staying faithful. Just as important, says Matt Lobel of Out of the Wild, is for men to find the mission God has for them. It's a message profound in its simplicity.

out of the wild.jpg

As Jake and Elwood famously said: "We're on a mission from God."

Posted by Jim at 04:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2006

Top Religion Stories of 2006 Include the Evangelical Climate Initiative

Observing the news of faith and values—what some call religion news—as a professional discipline for more than 28 years, perhaps the most enduring truth is that in the spiritual realm, very little is truly breaking news.

Matters of the spirit--coming to faith, spiritual conversion and formation, and the movement of God in the lives of his people—are rarely headline news. Although matters of faith can at times be personally dramatic, and there are certainly moments of change and first steps in spiritual journeys, these journeys are usually slow and sure. The most important matters of the heart are quiet, personal, and usually quite deliberate.

Which makes our job in the Christian communications business challenging. Most of the really important stuff isn’t news at all. It is God quietly at work in the hearts and minds of people.

But from time to time, God’s people make a difference in a notable way, stand against the culture in bold ways, and—yes—mess up in embarrassing ways.

These are all reflected in Christianity Today ‘s top religion stories of 2006. They include the sad Haggard free fall, the evangelical response to The DaVinci Code, and the story that our firm helped bring to the world—the Evangelical Climate Initiative. (ECI also made Grist’s list of top ten green stories).

CT on ECI:

“Observers say global warming debate signifies broadening political agenda.”

Grist on ECI:

“It was the most public episode in what's been a building drama among evangelicals, pitting the old guard, which plans to keep flogging gay marriage until the checks stop coming, against the new guard, which is pushing to broaden the agenda to issues that involve fewer clear villains but actual, widespread suffering: global warming, poverty, and AIDS.”

Posted by Jim at 01:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2006

The True Lord of the Dance

I must admit that this song by Sydney Carter, although perhaps not theologically pure, does appeal to me:

I danced in the morning When the world was begun, And I danced in the moon And the stars and the sun, And I came down from heaven And I danced on the earth, At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he

The full lyrics are at the website linked above. To hear the song, you can do a Google search. The John Langstaff version is the one that I like best. You can buy the CD, or subscribe to Rhapsody and hear it. I like Michael Flatley, but he ain't the true Lord of the Dance.

I first heard this on Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Program this past Thursday. I then promptly locked myself out of the car at the gas station because I was in such a buzz from the song. The Spirit of Christmas can really sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Posted by Mark at 01:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 18, 2006

Weblog Awards Voting is Closed

The voting is over, and SCO placed 5th in its field of 10. Congratulations to Blogs of War, the (so far unofficial) winner of our bracket, with almost double the votes of the second place contender.

Posted by Doug at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2006

Weblog Awards Voting is Open

The 10-day voting period for the 2006 Weblog Awards is open (through the time of this post-dated blog entry). You can vote once each of the 10 days. Click here or on the graphics to the right to get to the voting page where you'll find the category with Stones Cry Out in it. If you think we're the best of that group, we'd appreciate your vote. Thanks so much.

Note: In order to vote, you need to have Macromedia Flash 7 installed and JavaScript enabled. If you don't, you'll be prompted to install the latest version. This may be to facilitate detecting cheaters.

Posted by Doug at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

God's Gift

Christ came as a propitiation for our sins. He was the sacrificial lamb that suffered in lieu of our suffering. This was necessary to demonstrate God’s justice and mercy. Justice, because the sins of mankind made punishment necessary, and God is not a liar. Mercy, because instead of making us suffer the consequences of our sin, he bore them himself.

Sometimes I wonder if this central doctrine of Christian theology opens the question as to whether there is an assumption that there is a moral law to which God is subject. In other words, why was punishment required for the sins of man? What if God would simply have let the punishment go? For example, what if he would have forgiven man just by sending Jesus and making him flesh and having Jesus act as a good example on how to live and behave? What would have happened had there been no punishment that Jesus suffered? Certainly Christian theology would not allow that there is some power above and beyond God that would require the imposition of the punishment.

I think the answer lies with God alone. It is his nature to tell the truth. He stated that mankind would suffer punishment for sin. Mankind sinned. There must be punishment. Although there is nothing that could force God to fulfill what he promised—that is there is no force that could have prevented God from saying, in essence, “oh well, I tried and they sinned anyway; so I’ll let them off the hook.” However, God is subject to his own nature--if that can be said to be a form of subjection. His word is essential a law. When he said the word of punishment, he then necessitated the consequences. To have done otherwise would have been apart from his nature as a God who fulfills his promises and keeps his word.

Then to demonstrate his own mercy, he sent his Son into the world to suffer the very punishment that his own word ordained.

The question remains though, could God have changed his mind and said, “oh well, they sinned but I’ll let them off the hook?”

That is an impossible question to answer for a human I believe. I suppose the best answer is “yes” that he could have. However, that would have been a contradiction. And, in God there are no contradictions.

Posted by Mark at 12:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 14, 2006

The Ship Pounding

Donald Hall, the current Poet Laureate, is a very talented poet. He was, of course, married to the very talented poet Jane Kenyon. How do you know when a poet is talented? He (or she) can write about cancer treatment in a hospital and you are moved by it. The first few lines of The Ship Pounding (from Poetry Foundation.org):

Each morning I made my way
among gangways, elevators,
and nurses’ pods to Jane’s room
to interrogate the grave helpers
who tended her through the night
while the ship’s massive engines
kept its propellers turning.

Poetry is one of my antidotes to the crazy speed and materialism of the modern (or is it post-modern?) world--a way to slow down the day, and to reflect on greater things.

Posted by Mark at 10:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

Iranian President: World is Flat!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking at the "international conference questioning the Holocaust," declared today:

The earth is flat. Every nation knows this and believes it to be true. That anybody believes the world to be round is simply a plot by Zionist forces to control our thoughts. If, like me, all citizens of the world were to wear tinfoil on their heads regularly, they would realize quickly the truth of this.

In extended comments that were not widely reported, the Iranian leader dispelled a variety of other myths:

It is true that no human has ever landed on the moon. The entirety of the space program was filmed on a ranch near Crawford, Texas through funding provided by Howard Hughes. I can personally verify this because Elvis told me last week when we were hunting snipe near Atlantis.

Posted by Mark at 01:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

Faith Blogging

The blog Weblog Tools Collection is running an essay contest on any topic related to blogging. A couple days ago, Rev. Deacon Jim Konicki from Deacon’s Blog had his entry posted entitled "Discernment in the Blogdom of God", in which he discusses blogging about matters of faith. In it, he discusses the benefits and pitfalls of blogging about your beliefs.

Posted by Doug at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 11, 2006

"The God Delusion"

John Bambenek, writing at Blogger News Network, has a devastating review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. What some are hailing as a defense of reason, Bambenek shows to be what he calls, "a rehash of pop philosophy and loosely strung together anecdotes, half-truths, and outright falsehoods". Well worth reading.

Posted by Doug at 09:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 08, 2006

The Ingenuity of the American Soldier

Although our soldiers have some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons at their disposal, a low-tech piece of equipment is becoming a valuable resource in Iraq (hat tip: Mary Katherine Ham):

In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.

American troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

While the company that makes Silly String probably never envisioned this particular use for the product, they've agreed to contribute to Ms. Shriver's campaign.

Even though politicians may be looking for all sorts of new ways to lose this war, our soldiers are still doing everything they can to win.

Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2006

2006 Weblog Awards Finalist

"Stones Cry Out" is honored to be one of the finalists in the 2006 Weblog Awards. The category we're in is "Best of the Top 501 - 1000 Blogs". Voting starts tomorrow.

Posted by Doug at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Nanny City Watching Your Diet

Welcome to New York City, where we watch your diet, even if you won't. Jenny Craig, mayor.

NYC's effort to ban trans fat has been in the works for a while, but it's hard to believe that anyone believes it is the job of government to determine what we eat. I love that Wendy's and others are taking corporate responsibility and removing trans fats from their products. That makes it far easier for consumers to make wise decisions. But how does anyone find a role for government in these personal decisions?

Posted by Jim at 09:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 04, 2006

Take a Look at Mitt Romney for President

The last midterm vote was still being counted when the nascent 2008 presidential candidates put their exploratory committees into action. So here we go. I want to reiterate (from this summer) my early interest in Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

I’ve liked his creativity and dexterity in acting on his conservatism in the alligator pond of Massachusetts. He elevated life over self-interest, and I liked his formulation on the standards for the death penalty. And he’s tried to roll back the advances of the same-sex marriages folks in his state.

Would Republican evangelicals support Romney? More than Guiliani or McCain, I think.

Some think they wouldn’t.

Evangelical Republicans out there: How about a conservative who has learned how to get things done in the midst of liberalism? How about Romney?

Posted by Jim at 01:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 01, 2006

Conservatives and Christians Give More to Charities, ABC says

As Doug explores in his post below, people of faith give far more to charities than non-religious people, and conservatives give more to the poor than do liberals. That’s the finding of a study by author Arthur Brooks and the conclusion trumpeted by a John Stossel report on ABC this week.

The report says:

“The single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is his or her religious participation. Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. And Arthur Brooks told me that giving goes beyond their own religious organization: "Actually, the truth is that they're giving to more than their churches," he says. "The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly non-religious charities."

Christian conviction and conservative ideology increases the likelihood that an individual will give to charities—and not just to their churches, but to a variety of religious and secular causes.

As Christians, we give out of obligation—Scripture tells us to help the poor—but even more out of gratitude to God for his goodness.

Liberals who see care for the poor as a government responsibility, give far less as individuals. At the same time, they describe conservatives as non-caring, and Christians as exclusionary and hypocritical. This could not be further from the truth, and these findings document it.

Posted by Jim at 08:26 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack