Posted in Different Learning, Uncategorized

an illustration…

churchhistory(asked to write a short essay on why one might study “Church history”)

            Imagine you discover a new Kingdom, and the King invites you in to spend some time together.  In your conversation you learn about His heart, and the amazing power He has over an infinite number of things, and continue to be drawn in.  You decide there could be nothing quite better than serving Him and enjoying being a part of His Kingdom forever.  As you become a citizen, you receive a book that has all the ways of this new land written within, but some of them seem beyond reach, and others seem beautiful woven into stories that should be dwelt on, and talked about with others. The King also seemed to hint that this book is growing, and you’re now a part of the grand story.

Excited about this new opportunity you head into the local village.  You can’t wait to learn more about the ways of life in this new land and meet the people who’ve lived here a long time already.  You know already – your life will never be the same.

On your way toward the town square, you get pulled aside by a small group of people.  In this group, everyone seems to be holding their Kingdom book tightly across their chest, as if proving their love for it visually.  Their leader explains he wanted to connect with you while you were still pure. Before you were “influenced” by wrong thoughts or practices.  They invite you to their community, where you’ll have your own room to study the pages of the Kingdom book in private.

Over time and conversation, your frustration with this small community grows.  They won’t tell you anything about others, how they arrived, or what life so far has been like.  They say it would make you impure.  There are some questions you have about one story in particular that doesn’t seem to make sense, but they won’t let you ask others about it – because here only private study is allowed.    This small group of people also seems to have issues that could be resolved by going into the village and talking with others, but they don’t seem interested.  You’re not sure this is the Kingdom you were so excited to be a part of.

One morning you wake, and find a note left by the King himself next to a book on the chair in your room.  He has written, “This may help.”  As you flip through the pages, you find story after story of how others have arrived here, and it begins to remind you of your own journey here.  The ways others discovered this amazing King make you smile as you remember when you first met him.  Some of them wondered about the same mysterious story as you, and here are the thoughts of several who have spent time dwelling on it.   Their insights make your heart beat faster, and you breathe deeply as you continue to turn pages.  All of a sudden, you realize a story from this book is exactly the insight this small community could use to solve a current problem.  Excitedly, you run to the leaders to share with them what you’ve found.  Gasping, they try to take this new book from you.  They explain that the people who wrote and lived those stories did not agree with them 100%, and if you did not hand it over immediately, you would not be able to stay.

As you walked away with both books tucked under your arms, you took a long slow breath of fresh air.  The village stretched out in front of you, and you were filled with a new hope for life together with these Kingdom people.

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On the Cosmos…

“For God so loved the (kosmos) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This week, my family is diving into a unit on the Solar System & Space.  This past week, the Church began the season of “lent”, which recognizes our origins and size in this great and mysterious universe.  This past week, the popular scientific television show “Cosmos” returned to a giant set of ratings.  I’d heard it advertised, and knew people were looking forward to it, and after seeing the ratings I knew I should probably check it out.  I’m glad I did.cosmos

This post definitely will not serve as a “summary” of thoughts, as the show is best seen as a “conversation starter”.  Tons of statements/revelations throughout the show did a great job of revealing just how much of our universe is unknown/unexplored/mysterious.  Although I do think they treated as “solid fact”, things that it seems like they’re simply assuming based on scientific evidence available. Here’s just one example:

In the opening description of his “Spaceship of the Imagination“, where he points through the bottom hole at how “The earth looked 250-Million Years ago” (Pangea) stated definitively.   Then he points through the top viewing hole at how “The earth might look 250-Million Years from now”.  Even with all of the scientific data available, we don’t know “exactly” what the earth looked like from space precisely 250-Million years ago.  Their choice to not use conditional words like “probably”, or “could have”, shows they just might have an agenda that goes beyond the stated “Question Everything” motto mentioned in the introduction.  Especially since it’s a “Spaceship of the Imagination”, not an actual time-machine.

I’m not a professional scientist, nor was I there when I believe God created the universe….so my ability to speak on either is limited to my faith/belief system.  I do think it’s a show worth watching, simply because of it’s desire to reveal just how amazing our world/universe is.  As Christians, we would “high-five” that kind of revelation any day of the week.  Just understand, and explain to any kids watching, we probably have different beliefs about how it all started….and why it all started/continues.  That we’re more than just “space dust”. We are the living, breathing, images of a very complex and creative God.

The first episode begins with an awe-inspiring journey into the depths and reaches of our ability to see via telescopes.  To recognize just how vast the viewable universe is….it’s a bit ridiculous, really.  Our observable universe is so crazy big!!!  Awe-inspiring at very least.  Our God is an awesome God.  Unfortunately, going through the history of our understanding of the cosmos, the show spends quite a bit of time illustrating how ignorant and self-confident the early church was, punishing/torturing scientists who claimed the earth was not the center of the universe.  While the story might have been worth mentioning, I don’t think animations of priests lighting fire to scientists did any favors to the relationship/conversations between faith & science.

Also note, because it’s based on scientific observations, the show begins with the “best assumption” of a “Big Bang“.  This theory was proposed first by a Catholic priest who observed that the universe was constantly expanding.  If we were expanding, it only makes sense that if we go back far enough in time we must have originally been only a tiny speck.  But again, this theory is presented as fact and part of the pretty nifty “timeline” of humanity’s existence in the known universe as a calendar year.  (On their timeline of a calendar year with January 1st being the “Big Bang”, we began to exist close to midnight on December 31st.)

Obviously “Cosmos” and I have different opinions on how it all began, and how the development/creation of all things went about.  But I still think, for the actual current scientific observations being made, and getting glimpses of a universe that loudly proclaims a God that is larger than our imaginations…it’s a show very worth checking out.

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centenarians. (a book review)

My grandma lived to be over 100 years old.  She sang opera, planted canned pineapple, and always had a giant smile waiting for you.  There’s a woman from our church who’s well over 100, and until recently she drove herself to church every Sunday morning.  One day she called me up to help her stain a gazebo in her backyard, saying she was about to climb a ladder and do it, but “it’s getting too sultry outside”.

I’ve always been impressed by these centenarians (the official term for someone over 100 years old).  It often seems as if they’ve got a flicker of joy from having pulled one over on Mr.Life-Expectancy.  So when I saw a book titled “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared“, by Jonas Jonasson, I was intrigued.  I took a chance on a book and author I’d never heard before, 100yearoldmanand was pleasantly surprised.

History was never my forte in High School.  Sure I could tell you when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and the date of our nations’ independence, but that’s about it.  I’d cram just enough studying to pass a test, and not long after that most of what I’d learned would be forgotten.  The unfortunate thing about this, is that so much of the world we live in today comes from recent history.  Which sounds like a pretty ignorant thing to even say. 🙂

I say this, because I think this book could probably be used to trick high school students into learning more about modern history (the past 100 years or so primarily).  Without giving too much away, the book does a great job of introducing world leaders from many major countries, giving brief thoughts on “capitalism vs. socialism”, and even topics of national security and world wars.  Teachers could use this book as a launching point into quite a few important conversations.

Here’s just a brief moment in the hilarity of events that happen from this one man escaping the passive prison of his nursing home:  “And not only that, Mr Stalin. I have been in China for the purpose of making war against Mao Tse-tung, before I went to Iran and prevented an attempt to assassinate Churchill.’  ‘Churchill? That fat pig!’ Stalin shouted.  Stalin recovered for a moment before downing a whole glass of vodka. Allan watched enviously. He too would like to have his glass filled, but didn’t think it was the right moment for such a request.”

From the building of the atom bomb, to being a prisoner of war, to bonding with an elephant – the book goes back and forth between Allan’s life as he aged, and the current story.  It’s a great blend of humor, ridiculous historical moments that could never have happened, and crime drama.  It stands in pretty big contrast to another book I’ve just finished reading, “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” (a great resource for understanding the current racial tensions from the perspective of the aged, and a man you’d want to have as your grandpa)…but he’s a young 91 years old, and so doesn’t belong in this review.  Both great books that will make you want to drink in your abilities now, and live a life that offers your 100-year-old self a few things to smile about…