Archive for the 'news' Category

16
Apr
13

Evil in Boston

The tragedy in Boston reminds me of the downside to true freedom — as a human being it cannot fully guarantee my safety.  With freedom comes risk and at times sad consequences.  As author C.S.Lewis aptly pointed out, “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

boston bombA world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.  Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will – that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings – then we may take it it is worth paying.”   Today I’m praying for those victims who have suffered the tragedy of freedom.

04
Apr
13

Credibility

With the Supreme Court sharing arguments on gay marriage, it’s no secret. Traditional marriage is an issue most conservative minded Christians embrace. Yet given the current track record of those within the church community, the long held opinion on the matter holds less weight than it once did. For Christians who favor and champion the sanctity of marriage, it doesn’t help that so many in the camp are poor examples of what biblical marriage is purported to be – a lifetime union between a man and women through good times and bad “until death parts us.” Recent surveys indicate that Christians are found to be divorced at a percentage rate “statistically identical” to the rest of the culture. One might then argue, on what moral grounds do we stand as advocates to the sanctity of something we ourselves seem to violate and disregard? In many respects, we’ve lost credibility to speak into the topic. Perhaps before Christians begin lecturing others on the value God places on the union of a man and woman and casting a vision for what is right, we should take a hard honest look at our own practices and remove the plank of rebellion from our eyes and lives.usa-supreme-gay-marriage

13
Feb
13

upside down behavior

Last Sunday I shared this amazing and moving news story. As a former high school coach and extremely competitive person, the out of the box thinking of one Texas football coach along with his players and fans — was humbling to me.  It’s a beautiful illustration of how the Christian church should be – always seeking to love, encourage, help and serve people in outrageous upside down ways – especially the discouraged, lonely, imprisoned, poor, marginalized and forgotten.   If you missed it – here it is….

08
Jan
13

shootings and morality

After a few weeks of grieving the tragic slaughter of innocent children, teachers and administrators in a Newton Connecticut school, I find myself finally moving on to deeper questions of morality. From the committed Christian to the nominally religious to the staunchest atheist, people readily agree on the evil nature of Adam Lanza’s violent rampage and condemn it. The event has prompted universal moral outrage. But were his actions truly evil? When asked, my answer is “yes.” Whether driven by mental illness, some unknown motivation or a combination of the two, I assert that Lanza’s killing of 27 people was an immoral and evil act. It was a violation of the biblical prohibition, “You shall not kill.”

Dec 2012 Connecticut Shooting

Dec 2012 Connecticut Shooting

In the wake of such violence and suffering, many in our culture turn to pastors, priests and moral philosophers for answers. Understandably, we all want to know “why?” As a pastor I long to offer a brilliant and comprehensive response that might make sense of all the insanity … but ultimately my attempts at explanation fall short. I just do not have sufficient answers. For some, the lack of clarity as to why such evil exists leads to frustration and a condemnation of God and religion. One gentleman confronted me demanding an explanation. My best attempt was cut short by an abrupt, “Given the evil in this world, God can’t exist.” For him, if Christianity can’t adequately answer his questions about evil then religion is false and God is a sham.

In fairness, I understand the frustration of having to live with unanswered questions. But I wonder if the same man who approached me questioned an atheist and similarly dissed them for their inability to answer the question? Interestingly, few people turn to atheism in the wake of such senseless violence and pain. And except to share their genuine sympathy and outrage, atheists are mostly silent on such matters of evil.

Unlike Christianity, atheism can offer little to ease our pain in the face of suffering. For them there is no explanation except to say it’s just the brutal reality of a meaningless existence. In the words of well known atheist Richard Dawkins, “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe has exactly those properties we should expect if there is at the bottom no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is and we dance to its music.”

As a Christian, like the atheist, when seemingly senseless acts of violence occur I cannot offer a comprehensive explanation of “why?” But for me, it’s not that there’s no answer to “why” but that in my limited human capacity I simply cannot grasp the reason. I rest in the hope that some day goodness and justice will prevail. But even here atheism fails to offer any hope for justice. According to Dawkins, there is “no evil and no good…nor any justice.”

Yet when tragic killing takes place, the outrage of everyone, including atheists, cries for justice. The same person who says, “I can’t believe in a good God who judges people” in turn protests violence and moral evil saying, “Why doesn’t God do something?” Apparently, a good God of justice and judgment is acceptable as long as his divine justice is meted out on others and not applied to their own life. However, if there is a God who is good and just then his justice must be applied equally to all in order for it to be truly good and just.

C.S. Lewis offers this observation…

AA Mere Christianity“It is no use either saying that if there is a God of that sort—an impersonal absolute goodness—then you do not like Him and are not going to bother about Him. For the trouble is that one part of you is on His side and really agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation. You may want Him to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.”

21
Dec
12

The End of the world

If you’re reading this entry then obviously the Mayans were wrong. It’s December 21, 2012 and we’re all still here. But in honor of our ancient calendar making central american friends, here’s a tune that’s stuck in my head today!  According to my calendar, Life is good! 

01
Nov
12

The Avett Bros

Sadly, with the per capita murder rate in Chicago the highest in the country, I was wondering if the Avett Brothers are planning to move here?  If so, their song makes a lot of sense. “Murdered in the City”

18
Oct
12

controlling politics

In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render the most potent…Let us not be deceived by phrases about ‘Man taking charge of his own destiny.’ All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. . . . The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be. 

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

03
Oct
12

Good science

This may surprise some but not those of us who tote a smooth cranium.  New research done by the University of Pennsylvania finds men who choose full-on baldness by shaving their heads are perceived as being more masculine and dominant than other men, as well as taller, stronger and more powerful as leaders.   The   proof is published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.  The study shows that bald men have an edge as long as they are completely shorn… tonsures or comb-overs are out of luck.  Unfortunately, the study also indicates bald may not be perceived as beautiful and in fact less attractive.  My guess is that  will soon change!  I say –“go bald or go home.”

24
Aug
12

Some Hope

Last night 25 people, mostly teenagers, were shot and wounded in Chicago. How tragic. As violent crime escalates in parts of the city, there are some who are risking their own lives to help bring hope and change. They’re known by some as The Interrupters.  I just watched a film that chronicles their amazing and heroic efforts to make a difference in the lives of young people tempted by and drawn into violent lives.  The film is well done and moving but not for the faint of heart.  Perhaps it’s time for some of us to open our eyes to reality and try to understand what is going on and why.  The problem is not just “guns” but rests with the brokenness of human lives.  While the footage is raw, the work of The Interrupters is inspiring and worth knowing about. We need more people like this — men and women who care for their communities not just in the city but everywhere. I’m praying for these courageous men and women. 

16
Jun
12

Thinking well or not?

On trial for heresy, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What was his offense? He encouraged students to question the accepted beliefs of his time and culture and to think for themselves. Although sentenced to death, Socrates had the option of choosing exile or life in prison. But Socrates was convinced these alternatives would take from him the one thing that made life useful: examining the world around him, discerning its meaning and figuring out how to make it a better place.

Fortunately when it comes to examining life, we don’t have to choose between questioning it and things less appealing like exile, prison or death. Sadly, however, many of us refuse to think deeply and avoid questioning our existence and other existential questions. Why? It’s not for lack of time. Perhaps its laziness or a fear of what conclusions meaningful reflection might lead to.

So many people carry opinions about life, death, God, origin of existence, etc.  – most of which are superficial and have no basis in deep thinking.  They haven’t carefully examined the possibilities and or considered the philosophical arguments on both sides of the issues.  They simply go with the flow of popular opinion.

Dr. Daniel Kahneman is Nobel Prize winning psychologist with an expertise in behavioral economics. In his 2011 NY Times best-seller Thinking, Fast & Slow, Kahneman argues that people don’t think well. He writes, “We are normally blind about our own blindness. What psychology and behavioral economics have shown is that people don’t think very carefully. They are influenced by all sorts of superficial things in their decision-making, and they procrastinate and don’t read the small print.” If Kahneman is right, here’s my challenge – let’s not be like most people.

Fact is, those who do examine their lives, think about who they are, where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. No one’s life is free from pain and suffering. But those who gain some sense of their place in the universe also have a framework for interpreting and understanding how all it all fits together.

How deeply have you been thinking lately?

“No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking.” -Voltaire




re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
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"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire

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