Open Book
Light Bulb

crushing liberty

Thirty years ago millions of Chinese people dreaming of liberty occupied Tiananmen (Heavenly Peace) Square in Beijing. Protestors transformed that politically sacred space into a democratic zone, creating a heady—if naive—hope among protestors. Arts students erected a goddess of liberty statue, aligning its determined face opposite the huge portrait of Mao located atop the rostrum on the Tiananmen Gate.

Thirty years ago a father sat beside his hunger-striking daughter, daubing her brow with a cool cloth. “My generation never dared speak out, much less to act out what we believed,” he sobbed. “Now my daughter’s doing it for me.” A Peking University student claimed, “There’s no way the Party will ever get things back into the old bottle! Just look around us. History’s sweeping them away!”
Read More…

loneliness epidemic

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that our kids are on the precipice of a loneliness epidemic.” That’s what Sima Sistani said at the Future of Everything Festival about millennials and Generation Z.

Part of the problem stems from the way social-media channels communication. Instant-messaging services and social-media platforms allow us to delay responding to friends until convenient. For kids that convenience creates a time-lag—a void that feeds anxiety as they await a response. They may send digital-message threads to many sets of friends, and then spend time anxiously glued to their device waiting or perhaps dreading responses.
Read More…

human-capital value of moms

~ Adapted from an article by Elizabeth Shine, a Hong Kong-based writer and communications consultant ~

I’m not a mother, and at 48 I’m unlikely to become one. My whole professional life, I’ve been
leaning in. It wasn’t until things went badly wrong that I realized the human-capital value of a group of women modern society tends to ignore or dismiss—stay-at-home-moms.

As a global management professional, I’ve lived and traveled all over the world. In 2015 my life exploded. On a dark April afternoon in Dubai, I was swept up by a perfect storm of issues with my job, my investments, my health and an emotional entanglement. Something had to give. I resigned my job and entered a period of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual hell.
Read More…

Resurrection Inconsistencies

Critics of Jesus’ resurrection make much of inconsistencies in the New Testament accounts. While the four Gospels agree that women discovered the empty tomb, they record very different accounts of what women experienced at the tomb. However, most perceived inconsistencies fade when readers remember three facts. Precise time-keeping did not exist. Telecommunication did not exist. And we cannot know how many women went to the tomb.

What follows is my suggested sequence of events of Resurrection Sunday.
Read More…

declaration of faithful disobedience

2004 the Chinese periodical Southern People Weekly (南方人物周刊) compiled their “50 Most Influential Public Intellectuals of China.” Included was Wang Yi, a pioneering human-rights attorney. 2005 Wang Yi converted to Christianity and began serving in a house church. 2008 at the Conference for Global Christians in Law he was awarded the “Prize for the Contribution to Promoting Religious Freedom.” That same year in Chengdu he founded a house church, Early Rain Covenant Church.

12/9/2018 Wang Yi and 100 members of his church were arrested by Chinese authorities. The government simultaneously banned all reporting about these arrests. 3/25/2019 The NY Times reported Wang Yi and his wife remain in custody.

After he’d been detained for 48 hours, Early Rain Covenant Church released Wang Yi’s “Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.” The following is adapted from his declaration: Read More…

just do something

Jesus was once the guest at a dinner party hosted by Simon, a religious leader. Several of Simon’s friends were present, there to take the measure of this miracle-working rabbi. As was common in the 1stCentury diners did not sit on chairs but reclined on couches.

While Jesus dined, and was plied with questions, an uninvited woman snuck into the house. Under normal conditions such a woman would have been kept out. But so many people clamored for a look at the miracle worker—so many wanted to catch a few of His words—that this dinner resembled a public square more than a home.
Read More…

lies & fantasies

~ Adapted from a written opinion by Lance Morrow, senior fellow Ethics and Public Policy Center ~

As a teenager in the 1930s, my mother was an idealistic, card-carrying member of the Communist Party. When she quit the party, her Philadelphia cell declared her “an enemy of the people.” My father was an editor at the
Saturday Evening Post in the days after World War II, when America imagined itself as a Norman Rockwell painting.

Absorbing the points of view of both my parents, I became a journalist. When I started it wasn’t considered unprincipled for a journalist to be able to see both sides of an issue. My double-mindedness persists in the Age of Trump. And what I see are the passions of the 1930s replaying themselves in 21st-century variations.
Read More…

greatest sermon challenge

Early in his New Testament gospel, Matthew recounts Jesus’ invitation (actually it’s an expectation—even demand) for two fishermen to follow Him with the promise, “I will make you fish for people.” The question arises if all followers of Christ are to “fish for people.” Or is evangelism for only select Christians? After all, Jesus doesn’t promise to make the next two people He called, “fish for people.”

Matthew follows Jesus’ challenging four fishermen to follow Him with a brief transition paragraph that leads into His
sermon on the mount. Might fishing for people and the sermon on the mount be connected? Read More…

Iranians converting to Christianity

According to NPR, in Turkey and across the Middle East and Europe, Muslim refugees eager to emigrate to the West are converting to Christianity.

Sebnem Koser Akcapar, a sociology professor at Istanbul’s Koç University, reports, “The numbers of Iranian refugees converting have grown tremendously.” But the professor believes many are professing religious persecution as an angle to emigrate to the West. Read More…

slow mornings

According to CNN, Forbes, the New Yorker and other observers, the next new-big-thing comes to us from Norway: Slow Mornings. It’s a counter movement to our high-tech, hectic, 24/7 over-scheduled lives. Practitioners dedicate a chunk of time every morning for … nothing.

Rising early they begin their day with quiet solitude, free from interruptions and deadlines. Practitioners claim
Slow Mornings provide a foundation for productivity—a calm and focus that sticks with them throughout the day. The Institute of Slowness claims the fastest way to a good life is to slow down. “Don’t live as if you’re afraid to be late to your own funeral,” says founder Geir Berthelsen. Read More…

religious bigotry in the u.s. senate

Adapted from a 1/4/2019 Opinion published in The Wall Street Journal by Eugene F. Rivers III, a Pentecostal minister, director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies.

People assume prejudice against Catholic politicians ended with the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy. Yet anti-Catholic bigotry lives. When US Senators sent written questions to Brian Buescher, a lawyer nominated for the Federal Court, two Senators demanded answers about his membership in the
Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization. Read More…

re-inventing christmas

Perhaps Hollywood’s first “Christmas movie” was Meet Me in St. Louis released November 1944, a story developed from eight semi-autobiographical vignettes by Sally Venson, published 1941-1942 by The New Yorker magazine. It’s a Wonderful Life could be our most popular Christmas movie.

While the Christmas season has become a cash-cow for Hollywood, the movies have not been good to Christmas.
Read More…