Monthly Archives: November 2012

Taizé Returns to America in 2013: A Unique Event for Students and Millennial Leaders

I wrote a blog about the Taizé meeting held at DePaul University in Chicago last May. I also announced this unique event at our March 26 Conversation with Cardinal George. I devote a section of my book, Your Church Is Too Small, to Taizé. Taizé’s ministry in America has rightly been called a “pilgrimage of trust” in North America. This “pilgrimage” is continuing in the new year with another special gathering for young adults. This one is very unique and I expect some of my youngest readers will be deeply interested.

Over the past few years, a relationship has grown up between Taizé and some Native Americans who live in South Dakota. A large group from South Dakota, including many Native Americans, took part in the May 2012 meeting in Chicago. As a result of this relationship, the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) people, who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation, have welcomed Taizé to have an event on the reservation during Memorial Day weekend May 24-27, 2013. Here Taizé will stage a pilgrimage of trust in an entirely

More Whacky Eschatology Gone Bad?

A 15-year old high school student in the San Antonio (TX) has sued her school district for requiring her to wear “the mark of the beast.” I’m not making this up friends.

Andrea Hernandez believes a locating device, increasingly used inside various contexts as an ID, is a violation of her rights to freedom and more directly to her Christian confession. The school actually allowed Angela to remove the chip but she was still required to wear the badge anyway. In the suit filed against the San Antonio district the Hernandez family objected to Andrea wearing even the badge because it was tantamount to “submission to a false god.” Their reasoning is that the badge itself, even without the locator chip, indicates her participation.

A state judge will rule whether the school district can transfer Andrea Hernandez to another school district to end the problem, at least temporarily.

The wearing of micro-chips is becoming more and more common. I recently use a tracking device in my iPad to locate it when it had been taken. I then went to the home, with the police helping me, where my computer

Common Ground: God's Gift of a Restored Marriage

Common Ground: God’s Gift of a Restored Marriage, by Gordon Bals, is a book “God can use” according to best-selling author Larry Crabb. I agree and this is why I endorsed the book by writing:

Books on marriage are very numerous, but really good books on marriage are quite rare. This is a really good book! Couples will surely benefit by reading it. By practicing its truths they may enjoy much-needed growth and healing in their relationship. Highly recommended.

Dr. Gordon Bals is a professional Christian counselor who writes from the perspective of a flawed husband who is still trying to get it right. He doesn’t have all the answers but does offer a way to journey into wholeness that will lead married couples from entrenched places of battle to common ground.

Larry Crabb is right when he says a book cannot restore a marriage, only God can. But, says Crabb, “Common Ground is a book God can use. Gordon tackles tough issues with soundly biblical creativity, practical wisdom, personal integrity, and fresh insights that provide real

By |November 28th, 2012|Categories: Counseling, Marriage & Family|

The Spiritual State of the Nation (6)

I continue my series , now in six parts, on the recent federal election. I believe the election, and the exit polling results, reveals our current spiritual state quite starkly. I thus begin by making a suggestion that will likely offend some who do not grasp the nature of what I am really saying in this series of blogs.

Stop Worrying About the Decline of America

For fifty years I have heard wave after wave of preachers and politicians talk about the decline of America. Each election has become a referendum on whether we had a future or not. Again, we are a nation deeply in love with the idea of “the city set on a hill.” We believe we have a unique and special place in God’s plan. We promote this theory as if we have obvious biblical support for it. In one pre-election interview I saw Sarah Palin interviewed about this point. She spoke about us having enjoyed a “most favored nation” status because of our Christian values. She then recited 2 Chronicles 7:14. Besides misquoting she had no earthly idea what the biblical-theological context of

The Spiritual State of the Nation (5)

The recent federal election reveals that the social, religious and political landscape of America invites new coalitions that are broader than any one church, community or tribal faction. If only one party benefits, and that by the force of raw will, then large numbers of people in this increasingly diverse nation will continue to resist the ideas being proposed. The reason for this is quite simple–common purpose requires cooperation.

The Defeat of One Terrible Death Proposal

In the recent election a number of social and moral items were accepted by large numbers of voters, alarming many Christians. What might have been missed in this “new normal” context was a vote on legalizing euthanasia in Massachusetts. You would have thought that if any state (besides Oregon and Washington who have already passed such a law) adopted legal euthanasia it would have been Massachusetts, but such was not the case. Why?

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who did not know the church opposes assisted suicide, or legal euthanasia. But in Massachusetts something different happened that I think models the way forward in the public square. Instead

Acton University–June 18-21, 2013

The Acton Institute is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2013 Acton University (AU), which will take place on June 18-21 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For four days each June, the Acton Institute convenes an ecumenical conference of pastors, seminarians, educators, non-profit managers, business people and philanthropists from more than 50 countries in Grand Rapids. Here, 800 people of faith gather to integrate and better articulate faith and free enterprise, entrepreneurship, sound public policy, and effective leadership at the local church and community level. With this week of fellowship and discourse, participants build a theological and economic infrastructure for the work of restoring and defending hope and dignity to people around the world. This is Acton University.

This year’s distinguished international faculty will once again guide participants through an expanded curriculum, offering even greater depth of exploration into the intellectual foundations of a free society.

Space and scholarship funds are limited – so register or apply now! Please visit where you will find the online registration form along with complete conference information. If you have any questions,

How Shall We Remember our History This Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day remains my favorite U.S. holiday. It is so simple, so unencumbered by troublesome trappings. Though the infamous “Black Friday” specials begin almost before Thanksgiving Day is over this day essentially remains non-material in its orientation. It is also family-centered in most instances. Celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving has officially been an annual tradition in the U.S. since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” during the Civil War.

The event that so many of us call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, and was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings,” or days of prayer. (They also celebrated “fast days” to seek God for forgiveness and renewal.) These days of prayer were designed to thank God for blessings such as military victory or

By |November 22nd, 2012|Categories: America and Americanism, History|

"Skyfall"–The Best Bond Film of All?

“Skyfall,” the new James Bond film, is more realistic and believable than any Bond film I’ve seen. It is also much less cavalier in its attitude toward morality and womanizing than we have come to expect from the various Bond films. I actually liked it and recommend it, especially if you like action and espionage as much as I do.

I have not read the Ian Fleming novels, upon which the various Bond films are supposedly based, but those who have read the books assure me that this film is a lot closer to the true character of the books than the Roger Moore-era Bond films. Daniel Craig is superb and thus is clearly the most believable and likable of all Bond characterizations. And Judi Dench masterfully plays her role as the leader at MI5. In addition to these fine performances Academy Award winning actor Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”), is a superb villain named Silva. Silva is a former MI5 agent and becomes the ultimate tempter. He does a number on Bond’s weariness before

By |November 21st, 2012|Categories: Film|

The Spiritual State of the Nation (4)

Yesterday I continued my survey of what recent election exit polling told us about great divisions that are ever so apparent in America culture today. Our national election revealed some huge divides that are not likely to be resolved anytime soon. What does all of this mean for us spiritually as a nation of almost 315 million people?

Defining Ourselves By What We Are Against

Several Catholic responses to the election offered insights that I think are helpful and sound. These writers opined that we are in danger of defining the church by what we are against more than by the good news we preach.

Take same-sex marriage. For many in the church this is not a threat to the church but an issue in the civil realm. I share this view, as some of you already know. Same-sex marriage will not alter my moral bearings or change my view of marriage, based precisely on the teaching of Jesus in a text like this one in Matthew 19:1-12:

When Jesus finished teaching, he left Galilee and went to the part of Judea that is east of the Jordan

The Spiritual State of the Nation (3)

Last week I began a review of the exit-polling data from our recent national election that has been crunched an analyzed since November 7. It provides some intriguing story lines that are clearly emerging. It also reveals something to us about the spiritual state of our nation. For example, the National Catholic Reporter says, “We live in a new America.” It is an America in which a black man wins a second term as president, an America in which a large majority of white votes can no longer assure a victory and in which Latinos played the most crucial role of all. President Obama’s victory was accomplished by a broad coalition of minorities, including Hispanics, Asians, women and younger voters. Obama captured all but two of the states he won four years ago even though the total vote was much closer this time.

Christianity Today, the flagship publication of evangelical Christianity in America, notes that in defeat the evangelicals’ political unity was at an all time high. The so-called “born-again” vote went 4-1 to Romney. Though there


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