December 1, 2013, 1st Sunday of Advent
Ps 122, Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
Writer: Bruce McQueen
No Extra Material
December 8, 2013, 2nd Sunday of Advent
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19, Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12
Writer: Bruce McQueen
No Extra Material
December 15, 2013, 3rd Sunday of Advent
Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:47-55, Isaiah 35:1-10, James 5:7-10
Writer: Stan Adamson
No Extra Material
December 22, 2013 4th Sunday of Advent
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, Isaiah 7:10-16, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25
Writer: Stan Adamson
No Extra Material
December 29, 2013, 1st Sunday after Christmas
Psalm 148, Isaiah 63:7-9, Hebrews 2:10-18, Matthew 2:13-23
Writer: J Nichols Adams
“I believe there are angels among us,” sang the pop-country group Alabama to the accompaniment of a children’s choir. And most Americans agree. According to a 2005 Fox News poll, 79 percent of Americans believe in angels. This belief is apparently on the rise, up from 72 percent a decade earlier.
Albert Winseman, the religion and values editor with the Gallup pollsters, has noted the paradox that as secularism in America increases belief in “entities from the beyond” is also increasing. The new popularity of angels not only crosses religious lines, it crosses religious and non-religious lines. New Age devotees are doing a lot with angels. So are the growing number of people who say, “I am not religious, but I am very spiritual.” Some scholars are directly linking the new angelology to the new dichotomy between “religion,” understood as adherence to a traditional body of belief and practice, to “spirituality,” understood as a privately-devised personal mysticism.
The angels people believe in, however, are not necessarily the cherubim and the seraphim of the Bible, the messengers of God and hosts of His army, which sometimes appear in dazzling, light-filled humanoid form and sometimes as incomprehensible beings with multiple eyes and wheels within wheels. In the Alabama song, the angel is “a kind old man” who brings home a lost boy. Many of today’s angel sightings involve someone who helped a stranded motorist change a tire.
Some say angels are people, either dead or, as in someone who helps others, living. Others do believe angels are supernatural beings who, however, are like people, travelling around doing good, like Della Reese in the hit TV show Touched by an Angel. For others, angels are the equivalent of the “spirit guides” in animistic religions, your own personal deity who leads you on life’s pathway.
Interestingly, teenagers have a different view. In a poll taken just a year ago, George Barna found that 89 percent of teenagers believe in angels, which is significantly more than their parents’ generation. Their specific beliefs about such things remain vague and uncertain. But their beliefs are not just abstract theorizing. According to Barna, seven million teenagers (35 percent) claim to actually have encountered an angel, a demon, or some other supernatural being.
The angelology of today’s culture has the hallmarks of a domesticated religiosity. Spiritual beings “are there for us.” Nice ones exist; mean ones do not. Unlike God, angels are on our level. They take care of us, but they are “non-judgmental.” This new “spirituality,” unlike traditional “religion,” makes no demands, has no moral restrictions, and helps us feel good about ourselves. We get the good parts of religion — a sense of meaning, mystical experience, and life after death — without what Flannery O’Connor called “the sweat and stink of the cross.”
This sometimes manifests itself in a strange inversion. In Phillip Pullman’s series of fantasy novels His Dark Materials, which are very popular among teenagers, Satan is the good guy and God is the villain. This is an old Gnostic conceit, popularized among critics who misread Paradise Lost, and it is also prevalent in atheist propaganda, in which Satan is hailed as a hero of freedom, pleasure, and passion against the killjoy who created the universe and enforces all of those moral rules.
These anti-Christian inversions are popular among juvenile rebels of all ages. The irony is that they miss the mark of what Christianity even is, since they fail to address and are apparently not even aware of the most salient teachings of that religion: the incarnation, the redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Today’s cultural cosmology is filled with sentimental angels and cynical demons, both of whom are assumed to exist on their own without the Lord of Hosts. This, of course, is how real evil wants it. His angels — whether in the guise of occult monsters, cute babies with wings, of angels of light bringing new revelations — seem to have free reign. And yet, one little Word will fell them.
(Angels and Demons Go Pop Culture by Gene Edward Veith http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/angels-and-demons-go-pop-culture/)
An angel is a pure spirit created by God. The Old Testament theology included the belief in angels: the name applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence, employed by God as the ministers of His will.
The English word "angel" comes from the Greek angelos, which means 'messenger'. In the Old Testament, with two exceptions, the Hebrew word for "angel" is malak, also meaning 'messenger'. The prophet Malachi took his name from this word. He was himself a messenger, and he prophesied about the coming of "the messenger of the covenant", Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1).
Although the word "angel" in the Bible, meaning a messenger, nearly always applies to heavenly beings, it can occasionally apply to human messengers. Malachi himself said a priest was a messenger (malak) of the LORD of hosts (Malachi 2:7), and in the Book of Revelation the elders of the seven churches of Asia were called angels (1:20; 2:1 etc.). But when we meet messengers doing supernatural things, there is no doubt they are heavenly beings - God's messengers, working for Him and for the ultimate benefit of mankind. (http://www.catholic.org/saints/angel.php)
January 5, 2nd Sunday after Christmas
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
Writer: J Nichols Adams
Jenny LeRoy who at just 22 she became heir to her family's fortune and took control of the family business as CEO of LeRoy Adventures after her father, Warner LeRoy, passed away in 2001. A few years before his death, she had begun to learn the business from the ground up and was quick to demonstrate her business acumen with her father's restaurant "Tavern on the Green Café", a refurbished up-scale restaurant and catering operation that appeals to celebrities. She soon started her own business "Jenny Oz" which offers a boutique line of equestrian apparel and personalized accessories that reflect her unique style.
Children of parents rich enough to create trust funds for them experience the benefits of wealth from an early age. A trust fund baby will attend excellent private schools and may also have the benefit of a nanny and household staff.
There is a downside to being born into extreme wealth, though. The "I want my child to have the best of everything" mentality often has little to do with hugs and kisses, and more to do with boarding school, expensive toys, and other material things that take the place of parental involvement. This is when a trust fund baby can start to develop the idea that anything can be bought for a price, including affection.
Because a trust fund baby has well-connected parents (who can afford to make lavish donations) and an already impressive education, she can usually slide right in to an Ivy League or top-tiered university. While in college, a trust fund baby may major in something like business or international trade to prepare for taking over the family business she is sure to inherit one day. Or, she may focus on subjects that have nothing to do with the real world, like Dance Traditions of the 1700s or Beginning Pottery Wheel Techniques. Really, it probably doesn't matter what she majors in, because the trust fund baby is essentially killing time until the payoff date.
The typical trust fund baby might become popular very quickly, as she always has cash on hand for pizza and anything else a group of 18-22 year olds would want on a Friday night. If this is the first time she has been away from her parents for an extended period of time, she may experiment with reckless behavior. When mom or dad is always there with a wad of cash and a heap of influence, a trust fund baby does not always learn until later in life that certain behaviors have consequences. Friends may also back away if she begins to treat them as if they owe her friendship in exchange for gifts.
When a trust fund baby takes possession of her trust fund, she is essentially set for life. She may go to work in the family business, her well-connected family might get her a high-profile job with another company, or she may become a socialite or philanthropist. Either way, she will most likely marry rich and set up a trust fund for her own children to continue the cycle.
A trust fund baby may also develop substance abuse problems or compulsive spending habits. When no one says ever says no, it can be difficult for a trust fund baby to learn how to regulate her own actions later in life.
While trust fund babies experience a way of life most of us can only fantasize about while scratching off our lottery tickets, we tend to resent trust fund babies. Is it envy or greed that makes us distrust those who are born into wealth? Does the behavior exhibited by celebrity socialites like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie give trust fund babies a bad reputation?
While the answer to both of those questions is most likely yes, I think the resentment of trust fund babies goes deeper than that. The idea of inheriting not only wealth, but also a life of comfort, goes against the Puritan work ethic this country was built upon. Americans still have a strong residual belief that wealth should be earned though hard work or genius, and no one deserves to get something for nothing.
On the other hand, we all know folks who have gotten quite a lot by mere accident of birth, and we wonder why it couldn't have been our good fortune instead. Certainly we wouldn't squander family wealth on yachts and mansions and trips to Europe if we were lucky enough to have trust funds, right? (http://voices.yahoo.com/what-trust-fund-baby-3290518.html?cat=7)
Many wealthy people worry about the potentially corrosive effect of making their children superrich. Not Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder and CEO, the third richest man in the United States — worth $43 billion, according to FORBES’ latest estimates — has never pretended that his son David, 30, and daughter Megan, 27, were anything but trust fund babies. Between their trusts and independent holdings, each is worth hundreds of millions.
The siblings, both USC film school dropouts, have to bankroll big-ticket Hollywood ventures, as well as being film producers themselves. In 2010, David’s company, Skydance Productions, raised $350 million to co-finance and co-produce movies with Paramount, including Mission Impossible: 4. More recently, he’s been executive producer of World Wars Z; Star Trek Into Darkness; and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Megan’s company, Annapurna Pictures, covered the whole budget—an estimated $45 million—for the critically-acclaimed film, Zero Dark Thirty, about torture and the search for Osama bin Laden. With a screenplay by Mark Boal, direction by Kathryn Bigelow, and production by Ellison, it was nominated this year for five Academy Awards.
Neither Ellison nor his kids would talk to FORBES for this story. But we gleaned insight into his view on kids and money from two of his biographers and uncovered details of his family wealth transfer buried in Securities & Exchange Commission filings. “The sooner my kids get experience dealing with the pluses and minuses of having a lot of money, the better,” Ellison told Matthew Symonds, author of “Softwar” (Simon & Shuster 2003). In the book, which includes commentary by Ellison, Symonds writes that Ellison hopes his kids “will get used to making the decisions that go with extreme wealth while they are still young enough to accept some parental guidance. He says it’s like taking a drink. He’d prefer his children to learn to drink at home rather than discover alcohol for the first time when they passed some arbitrary age qualification.”
While raised primarily by their mother (Barbara Boothe, the third of Ellison’s four ex-wives), the kids enjoyed the toys and pursuits wealth can buy—as their dad so conspicuously does. David starting taking aerobatics lessons as a teenager and is a stunt flyer. Megan’s first car was a Lexus 430SC convertible.
Mike Wilson, author of another biography, The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison (Harper Perennial 1997), told Forbes of a conversation he had with Ellison in 1996. David, then 13, already had his own plane and Wilson asked how Ellison planned to motivate him to do anything besides fly planes and play video games, if he would never have to work. “Maybe he won’t be challenged to make money’” Ellison replied, but he’ll still need to figure out what makes him happy.
Give Ellison and Boothe credit for this: They didn’t raise blasé rich kids, but two who seem determined to pursue their passions. Megan didn’t give up after bankrolling such critical and financial flops as Passion play—a serious movie she apparently believed in. “Quick decisions over a meal are Ellison’s way of doing business,” wrote Vanessa Grigoriadis in a March profile of Megan Ellison for Vanity Fair. “She sits down with a director, two rebels breaking bread, and says that she’s in town to save movies, not turn a buck.”
Wilson quotes Larry Ellison as making one other intriguing comment about the 13-year-old David.” ‘Maybe he can spend his life giving away money, rather than making it. That’s not a bad thing,’’’ he said. Indeed, in addition to their own personal wealth, David and Megan may well be in line to manage big charitable foundations. When Ellison signed the “Giving Pledge” in 2010, he wrote a letter saying he intended to give away at least 95% of his fortune.
By that point, however, he had already transferred considerable wealth to his children. That contrasts with the approach of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the nation’s two wealthiest men and the organizers of the pledge, which requires signers to give at least half their wealth to charity. Gates reportedly plans to give each of his three children only $10 million. Buffett has put each of his 50-something children in charge of a billion dollar foundation, but the $10 million each got from their mother’s estate will likely be their largest personal inheritance. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/06/05/larry-ellisons-trust-fund-babies/)
Have you ever thought about the beginning? What is that, you say? You know -- whatever it was that showed up first. Or whatever it was that was here first, at the earliest moment in time. Have you ever strained your brain to think about that?
Wait a minute, you say, isn't it possible that in the beginning there was nothing? Isn't it possible that kazillions of years ago, there wasn't anything at all? That's certainly a theory to consider. So let's consider it -- but first by way of analogy.
Let's say you have a large room. It's fully enclosed and is about the size of a football field. The room is locked, permanently, and has no doors or windows, and no holes in its walls.
Inside the room there is...nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a particle of anything. No air at all. No dust at all. No light at all. It's a sealed room that's pitch black inside. Then what happens?
Well, let's say your goal is to get something -- anything at all -- into the room. But the rules are: you can't use anything from outside the room to do that. So what do you do?
Well, you think, what if I try to create a spark inside the room? Then the room would have light in it, even for just a moment. That would qualify as something. Yes, but you are outside the room. So that's not allowed.
Now let's stretch our analogy further, literally. Let's take our large, pitch-black room and remove its walls. And let's extend the room so that it goes on infinitely in all directions. Now there is nothing outside the room, because the room is all there is. Period.
This black infinite room has no light, no dust, no particles of any kind, no air, no elements, no molecules. It's absolute nothingness. In fact, we can call it Absolutely Nothing.
So here's the question: if originally -- bazillions of years ago -- there was Absolutely Nothing, wouldn't there be Absolutely Nothing now?
Again, if Absolutely Nothing ever existed, there would still be Absolutely Nothing.
However, something exists. Actually, many things exist. You, for example, are something that exists, a very important something. Therefore, you are proof that Absolutely Nothing never existed. (http://www.everystudent.com/journeys/nothing.html) What a scary set of thoughts and a great example of temporary wisdom.
I am a trust fund baby. Ever since I can remember, I knew that there was an investment account with my name on it with enough money to buy a home, in cash.
Every month, money drops into my checking account. It’s a solid middle class salary, untaxed, and it’s contingent on nothing. I don’t have to work for it, nor can anyone take it away from me if I behave badly. I did nothing to earn it, unless you count growing up without a dad—it stemmed from a wrongful death lawsuit. Every year the annuity increases by 3%, and it will continue to show up, every month, until I die.
As far as trust funds go, it’s no Hilton fortune. My mom claims she could have negotiated for a much larger settlement, but she chose an amount that meant my sister and I could do what we love but still be motivated to earn money. (For the record, that was a really smart move.)
However, that was the extent of her financial education. In our household, budgets were not discussed: Money showed up, and we spent it. My mom seemed to take pleasure in cultivating two young women with a taste for fine dining and expensive clothes.
Then, when I turned 21, I was handed a ton of money. Here’s something to consider if you ever want to do the same for your kids. (When you’re done laughing, I’ll continue.) The prefrontal cortex, which helps you make responsible decisions, isn’t fully developed until you’re 25. So I wasn’t really capable of making the best decisions concerning my money. I didn’t even get a financial adviser to go along with it, just my mom’s advice to “Always pay off your credit card bill every month.” Well. That was easy. (http://www.learnvest.com/2013/05/confessions-of-a-trust-fund-baby/)
January 12, 2014, Baptism of the Lord, 1st Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 29, Isaiah 42:1-9, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17
Writer: Donald D Denton
No Extra Material
January 19, 2014, 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 40:1-11, Isaiah 49:1-7, 1Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42
Writer: Donald D Denton
No Extra Material
January 26, 2014, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 27:1, 4-9, Isaiah 9:1-4, 1Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23
Writer: Donald D Denton
No Extra Material
February 2, 2014, 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 15, Micah 6:1-8, 1Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12
Writer: J Nichols Adams
So what exactly is the concept of "the world turned upside down?" Here, the world upside down is captured by things that are inverted. We see a man with hands for feet and feet for hands; we see fish flying in the sky; we see a horse driving a cart and a man pulling a wheelbarrow; we see clothes that are put on the wrong way; we see a castle that is turned upside down. How then, does this bizarre picture relate to the issue of the Fair?
The drama of the Renaissance era gives us a look into how its citizens turned their worlds upside down. The event of the fair or carnival possessed an enormous power to turn numerous worlds upside down. We see the fair characterized in this exact way in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair. Events that could never transpire in reality were made fully viable within the liberating environment of the fair. Particularly worthy of note is the blurring and crossing of social boundaries--the world is disrupted. People from different classes spoke freely and interacted with one another. The stately magistrate, the common middle class, and the shady underworld mingled and conversed with one another without reproach. Furthermore, social positions are inverted. The elite become the low and the low become the elite. Also depicted in Jonson's Fair is the distortion of the legal realm--truly, lawlessness lost its severity? Criminals were dealt with mildly and illegal behavior was even tolerated. Furthermore, individuals were not averse to interacting with known or suspected criminals. Within Jonson's Fair, the gravity of lawlessness loses its potency: the need to prosecute and punish is little at best and the criminal does not suffer consequences for his actions. The fair, then, is a place where rules and regulations become increasingly nebulous. Individuals are given license to behave contrary to their normal selves, violating social boundaries and revolting against established law. (https://web.duke.edu/rpc/pasttimes/worldturnedupsidedown/upsidedownmain.html)
The old peripheries are now the center. The old centers are now on the periphery. Philip Jenkins brought this shift to popular attention in The Next Christendom. Yet many Christian leaders of the global South resent the implication in Jenkins's title. They have no desire to be another "Christendom"—wielding monolithic territorial and political power. Nor do they wish to be any kind of threat to the West, but rather to help Western Christians in the struggle to shift from survival mode to mission mode—in their own lands.
Can the West be re-evangelized? Only if we unlearn our default ethnocentric assumptions about "real" Christianity (our own) and unlearn our blindness to the ways Western Christianity is infected by cultural idolatry. It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but it is often harder to receive than to give. That reverses the polarity of patron and client and makes us uncomfortably aware that what Jesus said to the Laodicean church might apply to us in the West: "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Rev. 3:17). (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/january/30.42.html)
February 9, 2014, 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 5th Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 112:1-9 (10), Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12), 1Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16), Matthew 5:13-20
Writer: J Nichols Adams
The two quite famously did not get along well. Gilbert was prone to temper tantrums, and Sullivan would often be quite at a loss at what had offended his partner. Sullivan also chafed at the idea that his talent was being wasted on comedic works, while Gilbert wanted him to stop taking himself so seriously. Arguments over plots (Gilbert suggested a plot revolving around a magical lozenge many times, which Sullivan thought was ridiculous), and money soon took their toll, and the two were having a difficult time working together at all. The final confrontation finally occurred after The Gondoliers in 1889, over, of all things, payment that D’Oyly Carte demanded to replace carpets in the theater. Gilbert refused, but Sullivan took D’Oyly Carte’s side, and their relationship was forever damaged. (http://vox3collective.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/the-topsy-turvy-world-of-gilbert-and-sullivan/)
William Brighty Rands (1823–80) writes:
IF the butterfly courted the bee,
And the owl the porcupine;
If churches were built in the sea,
And three times one was nine;
If the pony rode his master,
If the buttercups ate the cows,
If the cats had the dire disaster
To be worried, sir, by the mouse;
If mamma, sir, sold the baby
To a gypsy for half a crown;
If a gentleman, sir, was a lady,—
The world would be Upside-down!
If any or all of these wonders
Should ever come about,
I should not consider them blunders,
For I should be Inside-out!
Henry Ford memorably said about his Model T car: "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black". But why particularly black? It is not a matter of style or taste, it is just that black paint dries fastest, so the cars came off the production line faster. A hugely practical man, Henry Ford. But let's begin close to the beginning, to the first signs that the 21st Century may be very different from what we got used to in the 20th.
Standing on a long quayside in the harbor of Qingdao on the Yellow Sea.
Ahead of me on my left, were mountains of iron ore just shipped in from abroad, lying rusting in the sun? And then, swiveling my gaze across this extraordinary panorama of emergent industrial might, I saw thousands of containers on the wharf side, piled up to the height of city blocks, full of manufactured exports awaiting shipping to the world.
The new Chinese industrial revolution was out there in front of me. In one glance, I saw the grip of China on the global economy - a huge rise in the price of vital raw materials such as iron and food, and at the same time, a great fall in the price of manufactured goods the world was rushing to buy from China.
It was an emblem of our developed world challenged to its core by a mighty upstart, then a series of Asian upstarts. The world was beginning to be turned upside down.
Here was the thesis of British economist Jim O'Neill asserting itself - the ascent to the world's economic top table of the "Brics" nations, Brazil, India, Russia and China.
O'Neill was the chief economist of the investment bank Goldman Sachs 12 years ago when he got an international reputation for some eye-catching predictions.
He argued that if the developing nations went on growing as they were, then China would in just a few decades have the largest economy in the world. And as China would still be much poorer per head than the UK or the US, the new number one would go on pulling away. New emerging economies coming out as global top dogs excited the investment world. But the people in charge of most companies seemed to feel (with one or two notable exceptions) that it would not happen on their watch, and so it did not really matter. But it did and it will, just as I saw in Qingdao.
Then I had another encounter on the way home from China to Britain via California. In Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, I went to revisit Joe Kraus. He had been one of five Stanford graduates who had gone straight out from the university to found a search engine called Excite in the middle of the 1990s. The company sold its shares to the public - at 26, Joe Kraus had just become a multi-millionaire when I first met him in 1996. Excite grew exponentially and merged to become Excite@Home. By 1999 it was a $6.7bn enterprise with hundreds of employees and what seemed to be an almost infinite future.
And yet, a year later the dotcom bubble burst, and before the end of 2000, Excite@Home was effectively defunct. At the same time, a few miles away, another little Stanford University graduate start-up - a rival search engine called Google - was turning itself into the largest media company in the world.
Reviewing this jolting experience a year or so later, Joe Kraus had by then acquired a significant insight into why Excite had failed and Google had triumphed. He talked about how Excite had been a 20th Century Company seeking all its revenue from the top 10 companies in America, as media businesses had been doing for decades. But - and this is the upside-down revolution - Google structured its business around attracting the top million, or ten million, advertisers in the US. He knew the world had turned upside down.
And that single phrase, "millions of markets of dozens of consumers", really does turn the conventional, mass production, 20th Century business world, upside down. The really revolutionary thing is what is happening to the notion of the "consumer", a term which seems first to have appeared in print in the Sears Roebuck catalogue at the very end of the 1800s, but which rose to prominence in the second half of our 20th Century.
In many societies, consumers are now beginning to challenge their passive role they are becoming much more like creators than they have ever been allowed to before. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23990211 By Peter Day)
What is so extraordinary is how this Fordist model of mass production and this mechanized quest for ever greater efficiency so quickly came to dominate not just car manufacturing but production in general, in nearly every industry.
The production-line big corporation became the absolute model for business everywhere in the industrialized world and the concept of work for millions of people. It brought huge prosperity and material goods to people who had never been able to have them before. It created the suburbs where people who made the cars and bought them could live.
Then, after 80 years of Fordist Western domination, the rich world manufacturing machine began to move away to other, far flung locations. But here too, in the mighty Chinese industrial revolution and when services were outsourced en masse to India, mass production prevailed.
Western companies simply cannot compete with the developing country producers who are using the mass production model faster and cheaper. This is Capitalism competing itself to death. To paraphrase Lenin, it is Capitalists selling the rope with which to hang them.
Eighteen months ago in San Francisco, I had another of those rather rare encounters that changes how I think about the world. In a lofty office in one of the old converted warehouses north of Market Street, I found myself looking at a plastic bolt in a plastic socket.
Strong, ready to use - nothing remarkable about it. Except that both the bolt and the socket it was tightly screwed in to were "printed". It was a revelatory moment. I began to understand how 3D printing. This was the upside-down world in action.
I was in the offices of a company called Bespoke Innovations, with a designer called Scott Summit. He had gone into partnership with a surgeon to make individualized artificial limbs, using a 3D fabricator. Bespoke can match an existing arm or leg, or design a prosthetic limb to be eye-catching in its own right.
The 3D printer works like a scanner, spraying one layer of metal or plastic powder on a surface, fusing it with a laser, and then repeating the process - just like a computer printer, but piling up a 3D shape layer by layer. When the fabricator has finished making the device, and the plastic or metal has been fused into solidity, you blow out the dust that remains from the assembly and there is the bolt snugly fitting into its hole. So, sophisticated joints and flexible devices are now printable.
In fact, printing is not quite the right word for the process. Enthusiasts call it "additive manufacturing" because of the contrast with the time-honored way of making things - no more scraping away at metal to create shapes from it, or pouring plastic into expensive molds. That has changed now. The compelling proposition is, if you can draw it, you can print it. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23990211 By Peter Day)
February 16, 2014, 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 6th Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 119:1-8, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 or Sirach 15:15-20, 1Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37
Writer: J Nichols Adams
This is a true incident that happened to someone that most of us know and have heard of. She lives her life today serving God and His people even more fervently than when she first began in one of the most challenging environments in the continent of Africa. The ministry that God has blessed her with has changed the lives of thousands of people, worldwide.
But there were times when things were not as perfect as she would have wanted it to be. She learned many a lesson from various circumstances, but this revelation of love was one that did hurt a lot more than others.
When she was in her 20s and was preaching to thousands and thousands all over Canada and the United States, the Lord told her to stop. Her instant reaction to that was to rebuke that voice thinking it was Satan who was trying to get her to quit. But the voice came again, and once again, she rebuked it.
But the third time, she knew that it was God speaking to her, and He told her to stop and sit with the poor. The Lord revealed to her that she had to go and live with the poor.
She called her husband, who was in China at that time, and told him what God has spoken to her. They willingly obeyed and went to live in the worst slums in Hong Kong.
During that time, they were learning about the Kingdom of God breaking forth amongst the poor. She cancelled all her meetings for 6 months and just kept learning about God from among these people. Their desperation and lack of a backup plan made them so dependent on God. She saw that there was much to learn; much that she had never heard before.
God was using her life to reach out to people who were trapped in bondage and various addictions. She had opened up her home to them who were still struggling to come out of this slavery to substance abuse.
Among these people was a certain drug addict who had found refuge in her home. Then, one day, the unthinkable happened. He raped this woman’s 4-year-old daughter at knife-point. And she found herself at a junction where she had to make a decision that day. Unable to bear the hurt of what her little baby had been through, she knelt there before God and then threw herself prostrate in front of Him; crying tears riddled with pain and anguish. And there was one thing that God asked her: “Will you STILL love the poor?”
And she found herself saying, “Yes, Lord. Even though I don’t understand, I will still love them.” Shortly after that, she and her family went to the U.K. for further studies. While she was still in the U.K., she was given an invitation to come and preach in Hong Kong.
She spoke to God and said, “I have forgiven this man who raped my daughter, but I don’t want to meet him.” (After the unfortunate incident, her daughter would wake up every night, screaming, and had to be soothed back to sleep.)
And the Lord said to her, “If you love and have truly forgiven this man, you will see him. And when you see him, you will ask him to pray for you because he has asked Me for forgiveness and I have forgiven him.”
Horrified at the thought, she replied, “Surely You wouldn’t ask me to do that.”
“Surely, I would,” replied the Lord. In obedience, she went to Hong Kong, and the very first person she ran into was, of course, the man whom she did not want to meet. Yet, she looked at him and told him, “I need more love. I need more love. I know you have asked Jesus to forgive you and I need you to pray for me.”
The street where she met him was strewn with needles, and there was urine here and there, but she dropped down to her knees and asked him to pray for her. And he laid his hand on her head and prayed for her that God would give her more love.
And that night, for the first time since the incident, her daughter (who was in the U.K.) slept all through the night. She did not wake up screaming. This is a true story in the life of Heidi Baker whose daughter today is a powerful preacher. This experience, however tragic it was, could not stop the plan of God for her life. She is victorious in Christ!
In the same message where Heidi recounts this story, she would go on to say: There is power in love. There is power in love beyond what we can describe. God has called you and me to love without limit. The gospel is about love and we need more. (The Simplicity of Love Virginia Pereira http://shyjumathew.com/blog/2012/04/26/simplicity-love-heidi-baker/)
February 23, 2014, 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, 7th Sunday after Epiphany
Psalm 119:33-40, Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18, 1Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48
Writer: J Nichols Adams
In a commissioned sales environment, sales managers are trained to motivate their staff by appealing to their self-interest and greed. They have them develop vision boards – pictures of all the good things in life they want to have or experience. Looking at these every day motivates them to sell more. Since when would God have us motivate people by appealing to their greed or self-interest? What relationship does this build between the salesperson and the customer? Instead of truly helping customers, the salesperson has objectified them into a means to an end, an end in the best interest of the salesperson, not the client! Does the technique work? I guess so. Is it godly? No. This style of management cannot be introduced into a Christian workplace.
Traditional strategic planning is based on analyzing the past to predict the future. To ensure the plan is achieved, staff are evaluated based on achieving goals that support the plan. Where does this leave room for God to do something new? When God told Paul to go to Europe, Paul went. He didn’t say, “I’ll do it on to my next mission trip” or even worse, “I’ll have to work it into my next 5 year plan.” The Holy Spirit blows where he will, and we have to stay nimble and flexible to respond quickly to his leading. Traditional strategic plan also relies heavily on setting your strategy based on distinguishing yourself from a competitor, but God wants you focused on what he has called you to do. In traditional strategic planning, your strategic options are limited by your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. Since when has God been restrained by your weakness? God sees more that SWOT. (http://www.cccc.org/news_blogs/john/2012/01/12/from-worldly-wisdom-to-godly-wisdom/)
God's Wisdom; Man's Folly
We will never fully understand
No matter how much we try,
God's ways are outside our realm,
Along with the reasons 'why'
We analyze and intellectualize
What we do not understand,
We need God's wisdom in our hearts,
Not the intellect of man
I wonder how almighty God,
All knowing and divine,
How He could care about my world
And give undivided time
But this is the complexity
Of the holy, great 'I Am',
We often do not fully grasp
And we fail to understand
Just how much God really loves us,
Beyond what we can comprehend
For God is more than omnipotent,
He is our dearest friend.
His wasn't the only act of altruism to emerge from the wreckage of the partial shutdown.
People all around the world act more altruistically for the common good in times of emergency, says moral philosopher Peter Singer, in circumstances that range from something like this to war and famine. But philanthropy has a strong tradition in the US and there's something distinctly American about the idea that individuals can take over the functions of government. "Like the guy mowing the lawn in Washington, the idea that somehow people can step in and you don't really need government, you can do it by charity," he says. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24468340) Wordily wisdom sometimes gets in the way of people doing the right thing. After all he was told not to take care of the national monuments for free.
T. S. Eliot: “All our knowledge only brings us closer to our ignorance, And all our ignorance, closer to death. But closer to death, no closer to God. [And then he asks this haunting question:] Where is the life we have lost in living?”
A recent TIME magazine ran a feature article on anxiety, which came up with an AMAZING conclusion: that anxiety in itself is neither good nor bad, but the issue is how we respond to anxiety. Of course my use of the word “amazing” (in caps no less) is a dash of sarcasm. Duh! How many great human “brains” labored over the forming of that conclusion? Were the psychologists and doctors who probed the intricacies of anxiety to read and believe Scripture, they would have arrived at a truly AMAZING conclusion: that anxiety is a choice.
I tend to “crack up” with chuckles when I read about all the “syndromes” and “disorders” which are rampant and popular today. The human race seems to be getting stranger every day. The TIME article on anxiety is as laughable as another which appeared in that magazine a few years ago, publishing the astounding discovery that “boys and girls are different”! The scientists who came up with that one could have saved themselves a lot of time, money, and effort if they’d simply gone back to Genesis! (http://hiswordistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/gods-wisdom-and-mans-foolishness/)