Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Just Say No To Sex

Yesterday I listened to a news report on WOSU radio.  Ohio universities are taking measures to stop campus rape.  All good, right?  "Consent is Sexy."  That's the slogan.  

I thought back to the stresses of my own college days.  The coursework was difficult--nothing like high school.  I had to navigate new methods of study.  I had to find my place in the campus social scene.  I had to discover where I belonged in that society and where my future was heading.  Tough stuff for an 18 year old.  And I--armed with close friends, good study habits, a knowledge that sex outside marriage was wrong, and a natural curiosity--did not always steer my course well.  

You'd think that my alma mater OSU (or is it THE OSU?) would try to make things easier, wouldn't you?  But this is how the coordinator of Ohio State's Sexual Violence Education program described the campaign.  
“Students really need to recognize and understand the different facets of consent, the different layers of consent, and how to properly look for consensual or nonconsensual situations they may see around them."
Sounds like a course description, doesn't it?   They have taken something so incredibly simple to express (Say no until you are married) and believing that if, and only if, students can  "recognize and understand the different facets of consent, the different layers of consent," then students will act with maturity and wisdom and stop cavorting like cats in heat.

Is OSU still an educational institution?  Traditionally such institutions, especially those with residence halls have stood in loco parentis, in the place of the parentsHow difficult would it be for OSU and other universities to say, "We stand in the place of good parents and as good parents we are telling you, "No sex.""  

But, that won't happen.  Why?  Not practicing sex before marriage is healthier, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  The students won't contract sexually transmitted diseases, saving heath care costs and future agony.  They will suffer after break-ups, but not to the extent as if they had sex.  Sex binds people in a dangerous manner unless a long term commitment (marriage) is involved.  And breaking up after a sexual encounter makes other romantic relationships more difficult.  Do these universities try to prevent these problems No. They are telling our young adults, get involved in pre-marital sex, practice same sex interaction, but by all means, make sure that that you recognize the layers and facets of consent.  

WOSU had their soap box; This is mine.  Let me know what you think.

Photo by Michael Barera (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ragamuffin Movie


Ragamuffin is a movie for everyone—for everyone that has felt a hunger for more. 1780160_758440657508100_2024441550_oThe film is based on the life of Rich Mullins a musician who died at a fairly young age.  I saw Rich in concert in the 1970’s or 80’s and he was one of the few musicians who moved me to the point where I purchased almost everything he produced.  The film’s writer, director, and actors ably aided me in identifying with places and situations in Rich’s life.  The lead actor impressed me with his ability to capture Rich's mannerisms and style of speech. As someone with a degree in film, I found it well directed and well edited. Some of the minor actors appeared wooden, but they did not detract from the overall feeling of the film. The theme of this sometimes coming-of-age film dealt with universal (and Rich's) issues of father hunger, hearing God, and growth. Interestingly, my husband, who likes only action movies, was as riveted as I was. The approximately 2.5 hours sped by. The cameos with Brennan Manning were an honor to his life and ministry. I have urged my friends to see this movie because it has something for the generations who never seen or heard Rich Mullins or Brennan Manning.

Note: for those with a sensitivity to swearing, there are a few well-placed and appropriate "damns", but no other words of that sort.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Food for Thought


Have we grown reluctant in the age of power to admit mystery and beauty into ourOperation_Castle_-_Romeo_001 thoughts, or to learn where power ceases? --Loren Eiseley "The Illusion of Two Cultures"

When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you've had your technical success. That's the way it was with the atomic bomb. --Robert Oppenheimer

Both quotes are from the current issue of Books & Culture

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Theology Made Crystal Clear


I was sent a copy of

Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times
to review. Having read other theology books I was prepared for slanted views, undefined terms, and assumptions. I was unprepared for how eminently readable these books are. Yes, “books” because they are two books in one. The first is “Created in Christ Jesus: Church, Churches, and the Christian Life”. The second is “When He Returns: Resurrection, Judgment, and the Restoration. While they are organized similarly, they are very different in tone and subject matter so I will examine them separately.

“Created in Christ Jesus” by Nathan D. Holsteen is like sitting at my friend’s dinner table. The dessert is digesting and we are sipping our glasses of wine or cups of coffee. Now that we are warm and comfortably well fed, I might ask “what do different churches believe about the church in history and what the Bible tells us?” My friend, an expert in theology and church history, would reply by conversing on a level I could understand, using analogies from film (The Bourne Identity) and books (The Cat in the Hat) to illustrate and firmly plant in my mind the current scholarship about the church and major differences. As he spoke, it would become clear to me what I believed and why, and why others might be persuaded to believe differently about these matters. My friend and now spiritual mentor would suggest some short Bible passages to learn and would make sure that I understood the both the dangers that threaten a church’s vitality and simple principals to remember so I could help my own church grow. Finally, if I was still interested, my friend would provide me with a few paragraphs pulled from some of the historical sources so I could read and think about them for myself and a reading list for further study. Yes, that’s all in the book

“When He Returns” by Michael J. Svigel is much more labor intensive. Now my friend has brought his friend along to study with me the sources and Bible passages affecting my beliefs about the End Times. Through Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, Mathew, Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 2nd Peter, and Revelation I am led through the quagmire of what the Bible teaches and what churches believe about resurrection and restoration. In a group setting, I would allow many weeks for discussion. My friend’s friend assigns Bible verses to learn as a bedrock for my belief and includes a brief historical overview of the subject. At the end of the evening (which has now stretched into the early morning hours) I am left with some simple facts to remember, common dangers to avoid, and that ubiquitous list of historical sources and future resource material.

Beside their basic layout what is common to both books? Both authors urge us to hold Jesus central and remember the basic beliefs which all believers share even while we discuss the diversity in the details. Both give us hope that we can learn and share our beliefs in a cogent manner and provide us with renewed confidence for the church’s future and our own future with Christ.

What is wrong with this book? There is no perfect book but the issue I take with this (or these) is in only one minor detail. Each book includes a reading list with a brief synopsis and an indication of the difficulty level for each book on the list. The lists are too short and missing some authors. Where is

Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ
Dallas Willard  His book, “Renovation of the Heart” is a careful explanation of spiritual growth. I found only one book each by N.T. Wright and Phillip Yancey. I am not aware of any other highly respected authors that may have been omitted because these are not my areas of expertise, but how about Gerhard von Rad’s “
The Message of the Prophets
” or even C. S. Lewis’ “
The Last Battle

All in all, my quibble with the authors is of lesser importance than some of the potentially divisive details they warn of. This is a fabulous book for your own study or to study with a group. Or why not study it for yourself, and then start a group to study the church and end times. What a great gift for a new believer! The two of you could study it together. Or purchase multiples then give them away to others for their own study. If the other books in this series prove to be as strong, I’ll want all of them to read, study, and give away. This is the best non-fiction book I have read in a long time and it’s one you’ll want to pick up right away whether you are a new Christian or a long-time believer, a pastor or a member of the church, a student or a teacher. Suitable for middle school ages and higher.

NOTE: This book was provided to me for review purposes by Bethany House. I was not required to provide a positive review, but with this book I was compelled to do no less.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Enthusiasm: Possessed by God


Do you want people to hear what you say?  Write and 1024px-thumbnailspeak with enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm comes from the Greek, meaning inspired by God, motivated by God, possessed by God.  And how exactly do you get inspired?  For me the inspiration comes in two ways:  from spending time with God and from words I read or hear spoken or sung. 

Lately I have pursued a subject for which I had no enthusiasm.  A friend brought it up at dinner with no resolution between two sides.  And it’s not something I can satisfactorily resolve in a short essay.  But here’s the crux:  one friend believes most sincerely and literally in a six-day creation about 6000 years ago.  She believes this based on Genesis 1:1-2:4. She asked me to admit that Genesis is a book of history, which I did, hesitantly, in order to give a fuller explanation at a later time.

Sometimes answers are too complex and sometimes the questions asked are the wrong questions. 

History as we know it is a linear recitation of dates and events.  Then there is Genesis.  Few modern historians would call it a book of history.  It begins with a sort of prose poem or recitation containing repetitive phrases and introduced with words of beauty. 

In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth --  the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness [is] on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters, and God saith, `Let light be;' and light is.  (Genesis 1:1-3, YLT)

The remainder of the book of Genesis contains cosmogony, genealogies, ancestor’s narratives, formal blessings and curses (destiny proclamations), conflict tales, 1 chapter of a battle account (chapter 14), and a narrative about the rise of a courtier to a position of power.  I have a problem calling it a history at all, unless you very loosely describe history as a group of writings about what happened in the past. History as a genre of writing did not exist until the Greeks.

What questions did the ancients ask? They believed that the sky was hard and held back water.  Why?  How else to explain it leaking rain drops?  Did the ancients ask the questions about the origin of the cosmos--a question  20 and 21st Century scientists strive to discover?  Did they act as scientists before science existed?  Or did they observe the light and give thanks that it lit the day for productive endeavors?  Did they use light and darkness and moon and stars to create a calendar—something useful?  (Yes, around 3500 B.C.)

The ancient Sumerians posited in their writings that the gods were the water and the earth.  The ancient Semitic peoples, the Jews, put one God at the forefront as producer and director of the cosmos.  And God called these Semitic people to Himself and made them the callers of the others.  But in neither case can 21st Century scientists use any of these writings in their investigation because the writings are not scientific and do not describe scientific processes.

Is the Bible therefore useless to science?  What do you think?  Science springs from observation, data collection, and organization, and positing theories until they are proved or dismissed.  The Bible speaks of God and his people and faith, which is the evidence of things that are not observed. 

And yet, science cannot be performed in a vacuum.  The Bible can be useful to scientists as they work with enthusiasm motivated by God exploring, investigating, and crediting God for the beauty of the discovery.  And the Bible answers the “why” questions while science answers the “how.”

So, whether you are a scientist, a manager, a chef, a warehouse worker, a painter, a mechanic, a poet, a data-entry operator, a firefighter, a doctor, or a teacher, do it all with the knowledge that God provides the beauty, the structure, and the function of your vocation.  Exercise your calling well, with grace, gratitude, and of course, enthusiasm.


Where do you find enthusiasm?