Sad for Alberta

 

Alberta

 

Tar Sands

 

Alberta is just one of Canada’s ten provinces, but it has always held a special place in the national mythology. I am grateful that I was among the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who escaped from drab Toronto, and eventually found my way to this great province. That’s why I’m so sad about what’s happening there today. I am speaking, of course, of the moral and environmental disaster of the Alberta tar sands.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Why the Keystone Pipeline Is a Bad Idea

pipeline.jpg

The Keystone XL Pipeline is part of an ambitious plan to bring down from Alberta, Canada massive amounts of liquified tar to be refined into fuel to supply America’s appetite for energy. Like many Americans and Canadians, I am opposed to the Keystone Pipeline project. Like brushing your teeth with bleach, it is a bad idea.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Rehabilitating Jacob Arminius

Arminius

Recently Point Loma Nazarene University (or more precisely, its Wesleyan Center) hosted an academic conference entitled “Rethinking Arminius.” That would be Jacob Arminius (1559-1609), a Dutch theologian who is widely regarded today as the quintessential anti-Calvinist champion of human free will. Arminius is dear to Wesleyan and Nazarene folk, but the man himself was long ago replaced by a caricature, and the folks at Point Loma were out to set the record straight. The conference might just as well have been called “The Quest of the Historical Arminius.” To help with the quest, Point Loma called in some big academic guns from Princeton and Leiden (Netherlands) and elsewhere. The result was a high-caliber academic treat, and some surprising revelations.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Fixing the Moral Deficit

 Fixing Deficit

America has a serious budget deficit. But at its root it is a moral deficit. Ron Sider, the gracious provocateur, has done it again. His Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (IVP, 1977) challenged the complacency of affluent North American Christians concerning the plight of the poor in America and overseas. The prolific president of Evangelicals for Social Action has just published Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget (2012). It’s a timely and prophetic proposal to a nation paralyzed by its politicians and a potentially fatal inertia. America’s root problem, argues  Sider, is a moral one. And the really disturbing thing is that most of us are part of it.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Can Institutional Cultures Change?

 change3.jpg

There’s a provocative article in the latest Atlantic (March 2012) on “Why Companies Fail.” The reason why corporate turnarounds are so difficult and rare, according to author Megan McArdle, is the stubborn persistence of dysfunctional corporate cultures. These cultures are the hardest things of all to change. She cites Detroit automaker GM as a case in point. It was bailed out by the government less than two years ago, and freed from most of its excessive overhead and liabilities. But its stock value has fallen by a third since then. The reason? GM still thinks and acts like GM. It is still the same old culture on the inside.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Mixed Messages about Disability

 China Boy

I have been trying recently to make sense out of three isolated incidents related to persons with disability. One is a shocking denial of services to a child in desperate need of a kidney—because she was disabled—right here in the USA. Another is the blatant declaration by a Christian university that no one with serious physical disabilities need apply for their posted position in theology. And the third, which gives me hope, comes from someone serving cast-off boys and girls (especially girls) with disability in China in the name of Jesus.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Debt, Ethics and a Seminary Education

debt.jpg

I am pleased to offer this provocative “guest column” by Bethel San Diego seminarian Matt Jeffreys. It is an abridgment of a research paper Matt recently wrote for a seminary ethics course.

 matt-592-crop.jpg

A recent New York Times article described a successful financial advisor who was losing his home due to excessive debt.   He said that processing what had happened raised profound ethical questions.  Americans have slowly come to accept debt, even extreme debt, as a normal way of life.  And Christians appear to be the same.  Believers seem to borrow just as much, and just as fast for everything from cars and houses, to furniture and vacations.  Churches are now filled with, and led by, people who are often drowning in debt and struggling to think about much else.  Even closer to home, debt has reached crisis proportions for those of us who venture to study at America’s expensive seminaries on our own dime. Maybe this is just wrong.

 

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

An Open Letter to Women in Seminary

 dscn3991.jpg

This is a “guest post” by Dr. Kyle Roberts, one of my theology colleagues in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s too encouraging not to share. Take it away, Kyle . . .

kyle.jpg

Dear Friends

I know that seminary can be a mixed bag for women studying and training for vocational ministry. You likely encounter a confusing blend of support, apathy, and even downright hostility—perhaps all in a single day. I can’t imagine what it would be like to dedicate oneself to God and to devote oneself to the ministry, while sorting through such a mixed reception from fellow students, professors and church leaders.

I will never forget a female student who, after a class discussion on the theology of gender and ministry, shared—with tears in her eyes—her struggle with this confusing reception. She was about to complete her Masters of Divinity, with the goal of following her passion toward God’s leading in a church. But a troubling reality was settling in: the vast majority of the jobs posted by churches in her conservative denomination were explicitly designated “for men only.” No mixed message there.

Continue Reading →

Comments are closed

Chinese Missions Conference Workshops

MOVIE THEOLOGY WORKSHOP

Movies today powerfully reflect and shape beliefs, attitudes and values on a global scale. By cultivating the art of watching and listening perceptively, Christians can better understand what people today are thinking and feeling. Contemporary movies also provide important evangelistic “points of contact”–non-threatening opportunities for stimulating conversations on matters of faith.

Movie Theology Workshop Handout

IS THE SAVIOR GREEN? EVANGELISM AND CREATION CARE WORKSHOP

Environmental destruction is perhaps the greatest contemporary threat to human civilization. Historically Christians have been among the worst polluters. This presentation highlights the internal resources that Christianity can draw on to become a global force for the preservation and healing of nature, rather than an ideological foundation for its continued abuse. Christian commitment to creation care need not siphon energy away from evangelism. It can actually increase the credibility of the Gospel and also provide opportunities for building partnerships and personal relationships with environmentally concerned unbelievers.

Evangelism and Creation Care Workshop Handout

Comments are closed

John Stott Is Dead but Not Forgotten

John Stott (1921-2011) has died. Like countless other Christians I mourn his passing. An internationally-respected British Anglican, he was a gifted Christian statesman, and a man of humble integrity, warm grace and prodigious gifts. Perhaps best of all, he finished well. We will miss him, and pray that others of comparable (or at least approximate) quality will emerge to take his place. One cause of the disillusionment of our times is the declining number of people who truly deserve respect. We are becoming, in the words of a twentieth-century history of Scotland, a society with No Gods and Precious Few Heroes. But John Stott has been a happy exception.
Continue Reading →

Comments are closed