Many people I meet naively believe that the media (TV, Newspapers, websites) is neutral in the stories it reports. But this is not the case. The media is made up of people like you and me - people with a particular worldview, that forms their values, morals, and opinions. And so it is natural that what they produce will have a bias. Even reporting on the weather, the reporter's views are often expressed in phrases like "Mother Nature turned on a great display today." Often their bias is subtle, creeping up on us.
I was reminded of this when I read the following quote by Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell, commenting on the shows theme this week of supporting same-sex marriage:
For a long time now they [presenters David Koch and Melissa Doyle] have both been behind the whole gay marriage issue. They understand everyone does not support it, but a show like Sunrise, we care. We are trying to make a difference, affect change rather than just comment on it. It's not an issue about sexuality, it's a human rights issue." (From The Herald Sun, reported in various places such as here, my emphasis).
The media is not neutral, it is not simply commenting on stories, it seeks to bring about change. It's a fact of life today. Live with it, critically watch it, discuss it, but don't be seduced by it.
Yes, there's lots of debate about same-sex marriages. Everyone has something to say, so it's hard sometimes to find the voices that say something worthwhile. Here's an article that is worth a read for 3 reasons:
Gambling is an ingrained part of our culture. Think of the Melbourne Cup office sweep, the 10 cent pokies, the multi-million dollar lotteries, scratchies, and all the games at casinos.
Here's 2 great (& short!) articles on kids and church. Although they both speak about the difficulties of coming to church with little kids, the feelings they describe we've all probably felt at some time. But they also describe a change in attitude that we could all hear again.
Article 2 - Church in the Creche
There's stuff to read, under each ofthe points. Don't forget to check out the video too.
Here is another video that represents one of the points in a very dramatic fashion. And it should be dramatic, for this is life and death stuff:
Last night in church, a question was asked about why the Samaritans and the Jews didn't get along (to put it mildly). Here is some info about the Samaritans (from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897):
The name given to the new and mixed inhabitants whom Esarhaddon (B.C. 677), the king of Assyria, brought from Babylon and other places and settled in the cities of Samaria, instead of the original inhabitants whom Sargon (B.C. 721) had removed into captivity (2 Kings 17:24; comp. Ezra 4:2, 9, 10). These strangers (comp. Luke 17:18) amalgamated with the Jews still remaining in the land, and gradually abandoned their old idolatry and adopted partly the Jewish religion.
After the return from the Captivity, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to allow them to take part with them in rebuilding the temple, and hence sprang up an open enmity between them. They erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, which was, however, destroyed by a Jewish king (B.C. 130). They then built another at Shechem. The bitter enmity between the Jews and Samaritans continued in the time of our Lord: the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9; comp. Luke 9:52, 53). Our Lord was in contempt called "a Samaritan" (John 8:48). Many of the Samaritans early embraced the gospel (John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3). Of these Samaritans there still remains a small population of about one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the "smallest and oldest sect in the world."
If you want to know more, check out 2 Kings 17.
Here's an interesting campaign from Energizer Batteries in conjunction with Mission Australia: it's the Energizer Toy Rescue where people donate their old battery-powered toys which are then "repowered" for kids in need.
I've been chatting with a guy called Russ recently, and he's worked on this campaign. The video for it has a 'Toy Story' feel to it. The video, like the Toy Story movies, has a sadness to it, where there is purposelessness and neglect, yet hope shines through when toys are brought back to what they were designed for - play.
It also reminds me of the gospel story - without Jesus, we are like a discarded toy, languishing at the back of the cupboard. We are not participating in the life for which we were created. But in Jesus we have purpose, we are wanted, loved, fulfilled.
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10 )
And as he was there when we were created, he knows what he's talking about.
Typology is one of those fancy words that you can use in theological discussions to
impress alienate people. Fancy word, but important concept. Typology is:
a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament.
That is, some person, event or thing in the Old Testament is seen as prefiguring something in the New Testament, usually Christ. Sometimes it is also described as promise-fulfilment.
Here's a great summary:
Thanks David Ould for the link.
It's a common enough question: Do I need to go to church to be a Christian?
And there's plenty to say on the topic. The Kiwi Fruit Blog (here) makes a good point:
The research shows that the longer a person separates themselves from church the less orthodox their beliefs become. The longer a person is away from church the less they look and sound like a real Christian.
Read the article here ....
Joined-Up Life is a book written by Andrew Cameron, Moore College lecturer, ethicist, and all-round godly man. It is "a Christian account of how ethics works." It's also the title of his occasional blog where he writes to further help people understand how knowing Jesus "joins up" our messed up lives.
Did you read in the Good Weekend last week the article by Fenella Souter entitled “Truth, Lies and Santa Claus: Exploding the Myths of Christmas” (not available online)?
It's the usual attempt to discredit the historical reality of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. However the article suffers from the same problems that the gospel writers are accused of falling into. Problems of source, consistency and more.
Check out these helpful responses:
From Dr Paul Barnett, here.
From Sandy Grant via Matthias Media, here.
Halloween is here again. Big in America, getting bigger in Australia, on October 31st you can expect to see kids dressed up in scary outfits, wandering the streets and asking strangers for lollies, behaviour that is generally discouraged throughout the rest of the year.
Halloween has its roots in an ancient Celtic festival around 2,000 years ago called Samhain. Celebrated at the turn of the seasons between summer (characterised by warmth and life) and winter (cold and death), the Celts believed that on this night (31st October), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth to cause trouble and damage crops. It was also easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future on this night.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain: Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead; and a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees (probably seen today in the ‘bobbing for apples’).
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. Popes tried to replace these pagan festivals with a church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was on November 1st and called All Saints' Day, a time to honour saints and martyrs. The night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Together these three traditions based on superstition, uncertainty and the worship of the dead have melded into today’s Halloween.
Christians and Halloween
Is Halloween something Christians should concern themselves with? Simply put, yes. Most people live much of their lives without considering what they are actually doing, how it agrees with their beliefs and the consequences of their actions. They simply follow the media and culture blindly, without questioning it. But can Halloween fit into the Christian worldview?
· The themes of Halloween are at odds with the grace of the Christian life:
o There is no place for superstition and uncertainty when we can have an intimate relationship with the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;
o We know that the dead must give account for their lives before their Creator and Judge, just as we must too. Only one deserves our worship, the Lamb that was slain;
· The practices of Halloween are at odds with the wisdom of the Christian life:
o We don’t normally encourage our kids to wander the streets in the evenings or to speak to strangers, let alone accept food from them – why on this night?
o I don’t want the minds of my kinds filled with untruths and images to scare them – my role is to teach them God’s truth and protect and comfort them.
Some Suggested Responses
We could have nothing to do with it, but that would not help our neighbours and their kids as they continue to be seduced by its evil. Participating in it fully would condone its activities, activities that are totally at odds with the ways of our heavenly Father. But there are other ways to participate but also display Christian grace and assurance. Here are some examples:
· Rather than sending your kids out to get stuff, keep them at home and focus on the giving. Simple lollies with a message like “Jesus loves you” can be bought from shops like Koorong. Include an Essential Jesus, Colin DVD or something similar to give context to your actions.
· You can promise most of the fun for your kid at home – have your own dress up time (but it doesn’t have to be ghosts and witches) and lolly hunt at home.
October 31st is also the date of a very significant moment in history. It was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 disagreements with the Roman Catholic Church on the door at Wittenburg Castle. In this way he signalled the start of debate that had been building for some time and which became known as the Reformation.The gospel was ‘rediscovered’ – the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – and was preached with new vigour and fervour. The churches that were established during this protest were thus known as Protestant, of which we are a part (and we still protest!). October 31st has thus become known as Reformation Day, and when we consider the impact of that event and that period on human history, we see its importance is far greater than anything Halloween has to offer.
When the world wants to teach evil, use the opportunity to teach grace. What other ideas can you come up with to help us display our message of grace and assurance in Jesus during this dark evening?
For 31 issues, Kategoria provided a probing critique of the secular world and offered a reminder that Christianity holds the answers that so many are searching for. Although the journal has finished, Kategoria lives on in these resources of every issue of this acclaimed journal in Adobe PDF format. With articles covering science, ethics, law, philosophy, history and more, these resources are an indispensable tool for research and critical thinking.
A wonderful video showing the joy of receiving the Word of God in your own language.
In 1997 I had the privilege of visiting another tribe for a similar event. A friend had been translating the Bible into the Tuma-Iramu language. 1,500 people spoke the language spread over three villages. He finished the NT and Psalms so we had a party. What joy! I was asked to hand out some of the Bibles, as well as teaching material for the Sunday School. Much emotion, and a very humbling experience.
If you're at my place I'd love to show you the photos and tell you more about it!
Here are some good quotes from last night's QandA show on the ABC:
John Lennox (Mathematician and Christian) on the News of the World: "... my impression is that when you engage in the kind of investigative journalism that the News of the World has gone in for, it seems to me to become a different matter when that kind of level of investigation is focussed at them and that, to me, is a good sign that the moral tolerance of people has limits."
John Lennox on the forgiveness in politics: " ...if we talk about forgiveness, I mean if I personify it, personalise it, I’m a man who needs forgiveness and I notice that in the Lord’s prayer, you know, there’s a prayer for give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses. We notice it when we miss our daily bread but we don’t notice it so much when we miss forgiveness."
Eva Cox (atheist) on “the Force”: “I think the idea of having some sort of supreme force makes me really uncomfortable because if there is one there they do a pretty lousy job of it.”
John Lennox on Proof and God: “I believe in God because I believe there’s evidence for God.”
Susan Carland (Muslim) on Proof and God: “In the end to only base religion on proof is a problem because you have to have faith. Obviously faith has to be an element and faith is evidence of things not seen.”
John Saffron on Proof and God: “Because, I mean, it’s like basically I’ve been to like a sceptics convention and I’ve been to an exorcism and the exorcism was way more fun and way more - I don’t think these things have to be absolutely true to sort of be invigorating.”
Jacqui Grey (Pentacostal Christian): “But I think that for a lot of people who have an interest in spirituality and particularly for Christians, the idea of the proof of God is actually in the demonstration of their lives. The idea that their behaviour, that their actions may actually reflect who God is from their understanding of the biblical text and to me that’s actually just as important as a proof of God as a mathematical equation. “
Virginia Trioli (host):“Eva Cox, is there any proof that would persuade you?”
Eva Cox: “No. Because, I mean, I’m a social scientist so I’m into probabilities, not into proofs, not a mathematician.”
Audience question: “Do you think it’s more important to have a belief in something or to be a good person and to help, realistically, humanity?”
Susan Carland:“Yeah, definitely. I think being a good person is definitely more important. You can have belief and be just an atrocious person who brings nothing but havoc to the world. So I think definitely being a good person is the ideal. If you can marry the two, then obviously I think that’s excellent as well. But belief without being a good person is - you’re essentially a dead person walking around, as far as I’m concerned.”
Jacqui Grey:“Everyone has a belief system and their belief system comes out in their actions. So what they do is a reflection of what they believe and I guess the challenge is if someone is acting inappropriately or acting in a way that is unhelpful for society, we need to look at what do they believe.”
God Gone Quiet:
John Lennox:“I’m not sure that God’s quiet. I think we’ve stopped listening ... it’s a very western remark. If you go to the eastern world, like China, where Christianity is thriving and people’s lives are being transformed, you would have a very different response and coming back to what has been previously said, in the end supreme test of any religion is does it work in life? Does it change people’s lives?”
Susan Carland:“So when you use your reason and think in a reasonable way, that in itself is the voice of God and so I believe that God talks to us all the time with our own reason and from the people that come into our lives. It might not be the burning bush, but I still believe that if we’re attuned to it, I believe the voice of God is everywhere.”
Question: “Whatever you believe, faith is, by definition, not fact. Yet religion is taught to young children, who can't possibly understand what it means, as fact. How can you justify brainwashing children?”
John Lennox:“I think one of the important things here is our concept of faith because what I would like to see happen in schools is children taught to think and taught to evaluate things because faith, what is it? It’s a commitment, as I see it based on evidence. It’s not a blind taking leave of your intelligence and jumping into the dark.”
If you’re watching the video, there’s a significant moment at 18:35.
Last night Nathan, Sandy, Kieron, Pete and Matt sat in the audience of the ABC's popular discussion show QandA. Thanks Peter Mc for the invite! It was a great night. Some highlights:
A great evening with much to think about.
Within tonight's sermon passage was the sometimes troubling Titus 1:6:
An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Titus 1:6 (NIV)