Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

BookPastor >> "Spiritual Friendship" (Wesley Hill)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian
AUTHOR: Wesley Hill
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2015, (160 pages).

Must all relationships be sexual in one way or another? Is there a place for celibacy in the modern debate over homosexuality? Can there be genuine friendships without any sexual connotations?More importantly, is there a place for friendship in spite of one's sexual orientation? According to Wesley Hill who is celibate and also gay, the answer is yes. In this book about spiritual friendship, Hill attempts to show us that friendship is "the freest, the least constrained, the least fixed and determined, of all human loves" and "entirely voluntary, uncoerced, and unencumbered by any sense of duty or debt."  He believes that friendship must stand alone and above all kinds of opinions or prejudices. He sees Simon bearing Jesus' cross as "an icon of friendship." He separates the idea of sexual attraction from the development of true spiritual friendship. Having done that, he moves toward distilling the essence of spiritual friendship based on acceptance, grace, and love. Hill believes that the gospel says "No" to same-sex relationships but "Yes" to spiritual friendship that is not necessarily sexual in any way. This sets him on a path to finding out love as a celibate and spiritual friendship without sexual implications.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Radical Hospitality" A Video

A friend of mine shared this powerful video done by a Regent Alum. It is a reminder once again that practicing radical hospitality is a very Christian thing. The Greek word for hospitality is "philoxenia" which is translated as "loving the stranger."


Monday, June 22, 2015

BookPastor >> "Let Your Life Speak"

TITLE: Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
AUTHOR: Parker J. Palmer
PUBLISHER: San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2000, (120 pages).

This book is one of those that deserves to be read over and over again. Some friends I know read it each year. It is a beautiful book written by an educator, a professor, a practitioner, a listener of hearts, and one that forces us to engage ourselves in the process of reading the life of the author. It comprises six essays about weaving one's personal search for meaning, calling, and significance.

Chapter 1 starts appropriately with listening. Against a silence-averse culture that takes comfort (even pride) in speaking first, Palmer helps us calibrate our inner lives with what is happening outside of us. Vocation comes from a Latin word for "voice" which gives us a clue that listening is key to understanding calling. Far too often, we go for conferences, seminars, and various teaching courses to try and learn something from external sources, without recognizing that we too can learn from within ourselves. The tragedy is that we listen so much to the outside that we fail to legitimately listen to what is inside us. We need to learn to listen. We need to discern. We need to respect the beauty of silence.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Midweek Meditation: "Desiring What God Wants"

This is a beautiful quote from St Anselm:

"My light, you see my conscience, because 'Lord, before you is all my desire', and if my soul wills any good, you gave it to me.

Lord, if what you inspire is good, or rather because it is good, that I should want to love you,
give me what you have made me want:
grant that I may attain to love you as much as you command...

Perfect what you have begun and
grant me what you have made me long for,
not according to my deserts, but out of your kindness that came first to me."

(Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109)

Scene from Rainbow Lake, AB

Monday, June 15, 2015

BookPastor >> "Prepare" (J. Paul Nyquist)

This review was first published on March 13th, 2015 at Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture
AUTHOR: J. Paul Nyquist
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014, (224 pages).

A couple of years ago at a national conference for Christian leaders, someone mentioned that the biggest challenge for churches in North America is the desire to remain in the comfort zone and the unwillingness to bear the cross of suffering. I concur with increasing alarm. Just like the Early Church in Acts 1:8 that was called to reach out in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outer parts of the region, it takes the Holy Spirit to scatter the people of God through persecution (Acts 8:1). People has said that Acts 8:1 happened because the disciples failed to obey Acts 1:8. It may take more research and study to prove that but the point is this: Persecution does enable witness. In modern day America and in many parts of the West, persecution and hostile forces are banging at the doors of churches, Christian communities, and anyone witnessing in the Name of Christ. How do everyday Christians respond to intimidation? How can believers live in an increasingly skeptical and hostile culture? What can we do to continue to be light in the darkness of worldly forces? Welcome to the new reality.

According to Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Bible Institute, persecution is not just physical. It includes anything that inflicts pain, mental pressure, or any measure of force to force Christians to retreat from their positions. The author defines it as: "persecution is the societal marginalization of believers with a view to eliminating their voice and influence." It attacks Christians in the five areas: private, family, community, national, and church. If their goal is to silence or to eliminate, what ought to be our response? Nyquist helps us along by studying persecution passages in the Bible, and how they can relate to our hostile environment.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Joke: "Why Men Can't Win"

Scene from "The Proposal"
If you work too hard, there is never any time for her.
      If you don't work enough, you're a good-for-nothing bum.
      If she has a boring repetitive job with low pay, it's exploitation.
      If you have a boring repetitive job with low pay, you should get off your butt and find something better.
      If you get a promotion ahead of her, it's favoritism.
      If she gets a job ahead of you, it's equal opportunity.
      If you mention how nice she looks, it's sexual harassment.
      If you keep quiet, it's male indifference.
      If you cry, you're a wimp.
      If you don't, you're insensitive.
      If you make a decision without consulting her, you're a chauvinist.
      If she makes a decision without consulting you, she's a liberated woman.
      If you ask her to do something she doesn't enjoy, that's domination.
      If she asks you, it's a favor.
      If you try to keep yourself in shape, you're vain.
      If you don't, you're a slob.
      If you buy her flowers, you're after something.
      If you don't, you're not thoughtful.



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