Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Left Behind...again

Nicholas Cage, upon the urging of his pastor-brother, is starring in a remake of the Left Behind story, which returns to the screen this weekend. 

It seems the world is full of apocalyptic-themed entertainment offerings these days, from The Hunger Games to off-color comedy movies (Rapure-PaloozaThis is the EndThe World’s End) to TV series (LostJerichoThe LeftoversThe Walking Dead, and maybe even Breaking Bad) that reference biblical ideas that paint dystopian future visions. All these  are mere branches that grew out of the dystopian trunk of biblical apocalyptic literature. 

But such dystopian stories, though popular, are not new. I'm thinking of classics like Lord of the Flies and 1984. And often we in the church misunderstand the genre, decrying their negativity and seeming fixation with violence. The point of the genre is not to glorify violence (or not much), but ultimately to point to a better reality. Stories set in unideal worlds show the logical end if events continue as they are. The writers of such works intend to offer hope, actually, because their message suggests it’s not too late if only we will wake up. 

And that is the whole point of Left Behind, and its inspiration, the Book of Revelation. Whatever the Bible's complex imagery means with its trumpets and bowls and scrolls, all Christians can agree that God loves the world and has sent warnings so that those who hear might turn and find life. 


It's Adoption Awareness Month

Happy October 1! It's Adoption Awareness Month. So I want to introduce you to some folks working in the world of adoption—Show Hope:

SHOW HOPE
Show Hope is a movement to care for orphans, restoring the hope of a family to orphans in distress around the world.

Founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth, this nonprofit organization is helping to make a difference for the millions of orphans and waiting children around the world. Primarily they do this through Adoption Aid financial grants that help give orphans families and Special Care Centers in China that help orphans with special needs. Through programs like their Advocates, Student Initiatives, and Sponsorship, they are  mobilizing a movement of individuals and communities who show hope to children in need.

When the Chapman’s adopted their daughter Shaohannah Hope in 2000 from China, they wanted to do something about the millions of waiting children who still needed loving families. In February 2003, they started the organization Shaohannah’s Hope, now called Show Hope, as an official 501c3.

Since its inception, Show Hope has helped provide homes through Adoption Aid grants for more than
4,000 orphans from 50+ countries, including the U.S. In addition, more than 1,000 orphans with special needs have received critically needed medical care through Show Hope’s Special Care Centers located in China. 

ADOPTION AID

  •   Adoption Grants: Financial grants help provide waiting children with families through adoption
  •  Equipping Families: Conferences are held year round throughout the country, and resources are provided to help equip families to bring hope and healing to children

SPONSORSHIP

  • Show Hope Sponsors: Monthly sponsors help provide urgent medical care for children at Show Hope’s Special Care Centers in the Henan province of China, as well as help provide waiting children with families through Adoption Aid grants
  • Life Hope Sponsors: These sponsors annually fund an entire Adoption Aid grant while also helping children at the Special Care Centers

CARE CENTERS


  •  Special Care Centers: Care Centers such as Maria’s Big House of Hope in Luoyang, China, provide acute and urgent medical care for orphans with special needs. Show Hope has three additional Care Centers located in China’s Henan province, giving desperately needed medical care for 300 children when at full capacity
  • Corrective Surgeries: Life-giving surgeries provide hope and healing to orphans by addressing critical needs

Become A Show Hope Advocate
Thousands of generous people across the country have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to change their world for orphans. Today more than ever, advocates are making an impact on the orphan crisis by raising awareness and funds through projects like donating their birthday, hosting a bake sale, or sharing with their churches. To find out more, visit www.showhope.org/advocates.

The Student Initiatives Program

Show Hope’s Student Initiatives actively mobilizes students for a lifetime of orphan care. Through its programs, such as high school Movement Clubs and the college-based Red Bus Project, Show Hope elevates student leaders who will lead their peers in speaking up for the millions of orphans in the world. For more information, visit www.showhope.org/students or www.themovementclub.org and www.redbusproject.org.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Water: The Movie



I just watched Deepa Mehta's 2005 OSCAR-nominated film "Water." (Released nine years ago. I know. Don't judge. I was getting an advanced degree.)

After her husband dies of an illness, eight-year-old—yes, eight—Chuyia is forced to live out the rest of her days in a temple for Hindu widows, sharing life with fourteen other women and a cold-blooded headmistress. Through the trials of another widow, a prostitute named Kalyani (Lisa Ray) who's being courted chastely by a man from a higher caste (John Abraham), Chuyia learns the true restrictions of widowhood. The story of Ghandi is woven in, grounding this film in a historical setting. Those with special interest in women's advocacy will appreciate this story. Beautifully told and highly recommended. 117 minutes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Love Is Justice in Public"


One of my students told me her mentor taught her that "love is justice in public." And I think she's right. 

We speak of God as having the perfect balance of justice and love. But I’m not so sure the two—love and justice—are separate qualities that intersect. Because God’s justice is indeed God’s love demonstrated in public. 

When a texting driver ran over my brother-in-law and robbed my sister of her husband, the judge in the case sentenced the young man—who scoffed about what he had done—to prison. And that sentencing, inadequate as it was, felt like love, because the crime was so unfair. Of course, nothing the court could do would bring Gordon back to us. And no sentence could bring an equal payment. Nevertheless, our family felt respected and heard and defended when the government said publicly that our loss was unconscionable, and justice stepped in on our behalf. Justice was love in public.  

Social justice at is best, then, is love lived out in public on behalf of others. Some call it restorative justice. Or just plain justice. Do you love justice? That is part of the call of the person who seeks to do right (see Micah 6:8).  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Do You Have a Sacred Story?

Today I want to introduce a site to you—created by my friend Laura Wilcox. Laura founded Sacred Story Ministries as a platform for women to share about God’s faithfulness. Her motto is: Live a Story. Give a Story. Love the Author. Laura’s work with an international mission organization for more than two decades laid the foundation for her story-gathering projects. She graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the author of the Bible study Capture My Heart, Lord, which explores attributes of the heart and highlights women in church history. Here's an excerpt from her site: 

Stacy’s* Story: When God Called Me to Stay
How often do we pray for God to change our situation? We land somewhere outside of our comfort zone and pray that God will take away our pain and that He will lead us down a better path. For me, it was 1986; I had been out of college for just under two years and was working in the technical recruiting industry in the Dallas area. The company that I was working for was expanding and I was offered a promotion to move to the Houston office. They had a Houston team in place but told me that there were a “few issues in the Houston office.”  
Immediately after arriving in Houston I began to see how difficult this situation was going to be. The first issue was that Houston was suffering very high unemployment of over 9%. This was of course more than a small problem in the recruiting business. My biggest struggle, though, was not the unemployment rate but the other employees in our Houston office. 

To learn the rest of Stacy's story, check out Laura's site. Maybe you have a story that could encourage others?

*Not her real name.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FREE Novel

Just found out one of my novels, Informed Consent, is available for free download. FREE? Yes, free.

Kiva!



Some years back, I provided a micro loan of $25 to someone willing to work hard. (I granted the loan through Kiva.) It cost me less than the price of dinner with my hubby when we go out to Chili's. The person to whom I loaned it paid it back. So I chose another person to lend money to. That loan got paid back. And again. And again. I just received my twelfth such re-loan of the original $25, paid in full.  So I found a new person in need to lend to. What a great investment!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Results from a Poll: Evangelical Leaders on Israel/Palestine

Have Your Views Shifted?

Forty percent of U.S. evangelical leaders indicate some change in their thinking about Israel and Palestine over the past 15 years, according to the July Evangelical Leaders Survey.  The most common change, mentioned by about a fourth of respondents, is a greater awareness of the struggles faced by the Palestinian people.

“U.S. evangelicals have been concerned with the conflict between Israel and Palestine from the beginning,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “We continue learning as we engage in mission work, humanitarian relief and advocacy.”

The NAE did not directly ask its leaders what their views on Israel and Palestine were in 2000 or are now. However, their comments expressed strong continuing support for Israel’s right to exist and appreciation for Israel as a democratic nation and U.S. ally. Many evangelicals also support Israel for biblical and theological reasons.

Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, said, “I still see the sovereignty and security of Israel as paramount, but since visiting the area I am much more sympathetic to the hardships of the Palestinians, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Steve Jones, President of The Missionary Church, said he has a greater appreciation for the complexity of the situation in the Middle East, and a greater compassion for the suffering of those trapped in the middle of the conflict. “But I have not changed my views as to who continues to instigate the troubles, and it is not the suffering populace,” he said.

Larry Hess’ opinions on the conflict have been shaped by his work as the Field Director of Europe (which includes Israel and Palestine) for the Church of God World Missions. “As long as the people in the Gaza Strip stay connected with the Hamas there will not be peace, and Israel must stand strong. The problem with Israel is that it often acts with violence in a vindictive way that goes beyond what I believe is acceptable before God,” he said.

Some leaders commented on their theological beliefs on Israel ranging from “I do not attribute as much spiritual significance to the present day nation of Israel as I did in the past” to “My views on the Israeli-Arab conflict have not changed since I began reading the Bible in 1968.”

Anderson said, “Though there are some theological and political differences among evangelicals regarding Israel and Palestine, evangelicals everywhere continue to pray for peace in the Middle East.”

The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nain: The Perfect Setting

The Tapestry blog at bible.org, to which I contribute, now has a new name: Engage. My latest post on Engage is about the widow of Nain and what the setting of her story reveals about a very important person.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bioethics in the News

Thanks to The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity for flagging these stories. 

URINE TEST FOR CERVICAL CANCER VIRUS OFFERS ALTERNATIVE TO SMEAR
(Reuters) – A simple urine test for the virus that causes cervical cancer could offer a less invasive and more acceptable alternative to the conventional cervical smear test.  (Read More)

DOCTOR WHO RECOVERED FROM EBOLA CALLS OUTBREAK A ‘FIRE STRAIGHT FROM THE PIT OF HELL’
(ABC News) – The doctor who was the first American-treated Ebola patient testified before a congressional committee today recalling the horror and “humiliation” of a disease that has killed thousands. (Read More) [This is a chilling read.]
(New York Times) – Even as government’s role in health care remains deeply divisive in the United States, the National Health Service remains a beloved cornerstone of Britain’s welfare state.  (Read More)

FATE OF CHILDREN’S INSURANCE PROGRAM IS CALLED INTO QUESTION AT SENATE HEARING
(New York Times) – A Senate hearing on Tuesday set the stage for a coming debate over whether the federal government should continue financing a popular health insurance program for lower-income children  now eligible for other coverage options. (Read More)


MENTAL HEALTH: TAILOR INFORMED-CONSENT PROCESSES
(Nature) – Informed, reasoned and voluntary consent is core to the ethical conduct of research, but the norms vary across cultures. (Read More)

PAINKILLER OVERDOSE DEATHS STILL RISING, BUT MORE SLOWLY
(UPI) – Poisoning is the most common form of death by injury in the United States, and 90 percent of all poisoning deaths are caused by drug overdoses — via both prescription and illicit drugs. (Read More)

STUDY: SCHIZOPHRENIA IS 8 DISEASES
(CNN) – What we know —and psychiatrists have diagnosed for decades — as schizophrenia may really be eight separate diseases. (Read More)

MULTIPLE-BIRTH INFANTS USE MORE RESOURCES 
(Medical Xpress) – The greater morbidity and mortality associated with multiple births are reflected in the substantially higher inpatient hospital costs during the neonatal period and during the first year of life. (Read More)

IN WAKE OF UPROAR OVER FACEBOOK’S EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION STUDY, BIOETHICS SCHOLARS SAY NEW RULES ARE A “MORAL IMPERATIVE”
(Newswise) – “The emotive reaction to the Facebook experiment is proof of the public interest in this set of issues as well as an indication that best practices have yet to be identified.” (Read More)

Friday, September 19, 2014

"The Great Divorce" on Stage in Dallas

THE GREAT DIVORCE is coming to Dallas!


“WORLD CLASS THEATRE.”  World Magazine

“FASCINATING.” The Arizona Republic

“A JOY TO WATCH” Charleston City Paper

In C.S. Lewis’s THE GREAT DIVORCE, veteran Broadway actors bring some of Lewis’ quirkiest, hopelessly flawed but still worth redeeming characters to life on stage in ninety humorous, witty and enchanting minutes.

"The actors are working magic…a joy to watch,” declares the Charleston City Paper. "If art is meant to stimulate discussion, to make you think, to make you wonder and talk to your neighbor about your doubts and fears, then THE GREAT DIVORCE is certainly art.”

C.S. Lewis’s THE GREAT DIVORCE stars Tom Beckett (Bobby Boland, Epic Proportions and The Father on Broadway and “Elbridge Gerry” in HBO's John Adams), Joel Rainwater (The Lion King, National Tour) and Christa Scott-Reed (The Pitmen Painters on Broadway).

The tour is coming to two sites in the D/FW metroplex:

Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, November 1, Saturday 4 PM and 8 PM
Majestic Theater in Dallas November 7 and 8, with performances on Friday at 8 pm and on Saturday at 4 pm. 

For ticket information, go to TicketDFW.org or call 214-871-5000. Tickets range from $29 to $59. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Infertility: A Guy's Perspective

The bestselling author of Chasing the Dead tells of his and his wife's infertility and pregnancy loss experience. Thanks, Rhonda, for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dream, Girls!



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lyrics Matter: Mu(sick)



Thanks to my former student, Anya, for bringing this to my attention. Preach!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


1 2  3  4  5…. Most of us expect our chapters to fall in this order.

But Christopher John Francis Boone’s chapters are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29…. You got it—prime numbers. He thinks in prime. And he writes a story because someone murdered his neighbor’s dog, and he must—absolutely must—know who did it.

Through Christopher’s perspective, readers get a glimpse into why he understands animals (they have only four moods) but the task of deciphering human social interactions leaves him clueless.

A psychological/mystery tale, Christopher’s unlikely quest makes for a quirky, heartbreaking look both into the agony of someone “on the spectrum” and the challenges of his caretakers. The reader can see the grown-ups’ struggle to care for a child they love while he remains oblivious to their panic when he takes off, to their trauma as they try to help, and to the stress that having such a child puts on the adults’ emotional lives. They give to this family member who leaves their love completely unreciprocated. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time provides readers with a story told both by a completely honest narrator and one who is also totally unreliable. All in one mind. This work does to “point of view” what Star Wars did to time—“long ago in a galaxy far, far away” that happens to have light sabers and spaceships. Brilliant! Plus it's a good who-done-it.

If you liked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you’ll enjoy The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it's written for older teens, but adults will appreciate it too—two of my most intelligent grown-up friends recommended it.

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