Saturday, November 28, 2015

Congratulations, It's a Girl!

Imagine this: one hundred million women missing from the earth because parents were taught that boys were more valuable than girls.  Actually, you don’t have to imagine it because it is fact.  In Asia, cultural and religious practices were so misguided that parents used gender selection, everything from abortion to infanticide, that males now out-number females by such a wide margin that the governments of these countries are implementing new strategies to put females on a more equal footing with males. One article refers to the current status of birth rates in Asia as “Not just a human-rights catastrophe, it is also a looming demographic disaster.” (G. Anand & J. Woo, WSJ, Nov. 27, 2015)

Fortunately, the tide is turning in South Korea, China and India.  South Korea, for example, in one generation “wiped out centuries-old practices in which a son was essential to inherit property, worship ancestors, care for parents and continue the family lineage.”  The challenge now moves to China and India, “one third of humanity that continues to give birth to significantly more males.” China started a “Care for Girls” campaign in 2000 to try to deal with the problems of too many men and not enough women, and it just recently abandoned the “one child policy” that likely contributed to the skewed census.

Why should we in the western world care?  For me, this problem of seeing females as inferior to males continues most in, of all places, religious institutions. Religious organizations are still “a man’s world.”  I can speak only to the Christian Church to which I profess allegiance. I know this: in Christ there is neither male or female. (Galatians 3:28)  So, if we are all equal in Christ why are we not all equal in Christ’s church?  When Christian parents today deliver a baby girl through the church’s door can they share a vision that one day their daughter would be preaching and baptizing in the church? In many expressions of the Christian Church the answer is “no.”

It is so easy for us in the west to shake our heads at the way Asian cultures and religions cause parents to cry when they bring a girl into the world.  But, we are so blinded by our own cultural interpretations of God’s Word that we cannot see the log in our own eye.  Let’s begin a new church year with a renewed commitment to being a Church that is a true expression of equality in Christ.  Let’s commit ourselves to being able to be able to say, “Congratulations, it’s a girl. She will be a fine minister one day!”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"A Time of Distress Such as Has Not Happened"

“There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” Daniel 12:1

The dead and the wounded cannot fade into the trash of yesterday’s news again. Not this time. Today it is Paris. Tomorrow? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.  If there is a cause to unite the sane people of the world it must be this: “eradicate jihadism in our lifetime.”  This is the least we can do for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

If you had asked me even two years ago, I would have denied that I would ever write a paragraph like the one you just read.  I hate the fact that we need to have wars. I was not a pacifist, but I had trouble believing that violence was the solution to violence. But this is different. Now it cannot be denied.  Evil has a name, and it is ISIS.  I cannot in good conscience sit here in my living room looking at a beautiful, sun-bathed frosted earth and ignore the truth that body parts are being cleaned up in Paris.  The French are not the enemy. I am the enemy of ISIS; everything I believe in; everything I preach; the God I worship; I am the enemy. ISIS wants to destroy me, my family; my grandsons, for God’s sake. They want to destroy my way of life and, most importantly, the foundations of my faith.  This is why I have today changed my mind.

John Robert Gallagher,  a Canadian volunteer fighting the Islamic State, wrote this:  “The terrorists’ own playbook sees the taking and holding of territory as a necessary step to discredit Western democracy and prove that the Caliphate is a real political possibility in the 21st century. We have to prove that it is not. And like we did with Nazi Germany, we must crush it with overwhelming, unrelenting force….while the graves are still fresh…while there are still survivors to give testimony to the atrocities… .”

Mr. Gallagher is dead now, a result he knowingly risked in the battle to destroy evil. It is a battle Christian martyrs like Dietrich Bonhoeffer fought as well.  The “great prince Michael” is looking for people willing to join him in the battle against evil.  The Word of God will overcome. But not without a battle that demands my unwavering support.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"...and there was light."

It took a genius to put us onto the fact that we could actually see the light.  I am not writing about the light on your computer screen or the reading lamp lighting your desk or favorite chair. I am writing about the light. You know, that light that lit up the universe for the first time; the “let there be light” light.  It is still visible, that very first light.

Don’t believe me? Turn on your television and leave the screen blank. Some of the static you seen on that screen is caused by the light particles dating back to the beginning of time. (source: R. Dijkgraaf, WSJ, Nov. 6, 2015)  The scientific minds that come to that conclusion, I am guessing, will not concede that the light which was created at the beginning of time came from the mind of God.  There is sometimes this disconnect between science and theology, a disconnect which goes both ways. That is, the scientists don’t agree with the theologians understanding of God and the theologians don’t agree with the scientists understanding of the world we all can see.  I wonder if just maybe they all think a little too hard about it for their own good. Still, I do not need to let their professional disagreements stop me from my simple conclusion: we can see God’s first light.

Here is what I know.  A Hebrew writer, a long time ago, was chosen by God to tell anyone who would listen that in the beginning God said there should be light to fill the darkness, and there was light.  One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein submitted the first in a series of physics papers which changed how we all look at the world.  Einstein’s general theory of relativity was, in my view, a gift from God. God wouldn’t let a mind Albert’s go to waste. God used the mind of a pure genius to reveal in a way that no one had before the way the universe is designed. From Einstein’s original work came the understanding of the big bang theory, the point in time when from darkness came light.

I am far from a genius in anything.  I am not a scientist in the least. But, I love the fact that scientists take work like Einstein’s and develop the GPS that guides me to my destinations.  I am not a theologian in the least. But, I love the fact that theologians take the work of the writer of Genesis to develop an understanding of God’s creative personality and power.  And perhaps because I am too ignorant to understand the details, I happily reach the conclusion that both the scientists and the theologians are right: God made light and it took an Einstein to figure out that we can still see God’s first light. Now, if only I could figure out how to get static to show up on my television.