Lord Break Our Hearts

I have been thinking a lot over the last few days about ways I should be engaged in helping to alleviate the world’s suffering in pain. I always feel so inadequate in this area and my heart aches for those who live in poverty. Wrote this prayer earlier in the week

God pierce our hearts with your love,
Break them open into greater capacity,
Break them open ,
That we might hold more of the world’s suffering and joy,
That we might share more of the world’s despair and hope.
Lord break our hearts,
As we stand in the gap between what is and what could be,
Break our hearts open to a largeness that holds the possibility of a better future for all the world’s people.

and just came across this TED talk (have not had time to listen yet but I thought some of you might be interested.

http://www.ted.com/playlists/67/the_quest_to_end_poverty.html

Have You Ever Thought Of Going Solar with your Cooking?

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Seattle which turned my thoughts to how we can harness the power of the sun for our daily lives. I itch to experiment with solar cookers and am looking forward to experiments in this and other energy efficient ways of preparing my food. Would love to hear from those who have experimented already. Here are some great videos I found on this topic.

I loved this one on using a parabolic mirror for cooking a turkey burger. There are similar videos available on how to cook ceese sandwiches and in fact anything else that you might want to grill.

And this one on how to build a solar generator is both intriguing and appealing to me.

The one that most touched me and in fact brought tears to my eyes is this one. It is amazing to think that rape and violence against women could be reduced by solar cooking. Solar cooking can bring peace and dignity to women’s lives. What impact I wonder could our own creativity provide for people at the margins?

even in the darkest days of winter, nature is still trying to tell us its secrets!

 icy blast unveils God's tree design

icy blast unveils God's tree design

The Pacific NW has experienced the coldest summer on record and the governor has asked that the whole state be determined a farm disaster area.  On the home front we are wondering what on earth we will do with green tomatoes this year as it looks as though we will have plenty.

To be honest I am looking towards winter with a great deal of trepidation.  However I realized as I read this article that even in the depths of winter we need to keep our eyes and ears open for what God may be saying to us. Perhaps in the midst of this cold season there are things we can learn about God and God’s world… and maybe they can lead to new inventions like this possibility  for new solar panel designs that can benefit not just us but our entire world.

People see winter as a cold and gloomy time in nature. The days are short. Snow blankets the ground. Lakes and ponds freeze, and animals scurry to burrows to wait for spring. The rainbow of red, yellow and orange autumn leaves has been blown away by the wind turning trees into black skeletons that stretch bony fingers of branches into the sky. It seems like nature has disappeared.

 

But when I went on a winter hiking trip in the Catskill Mountains in New York, I noticed something strange about the shape of the tree branches. I thought trees were a mess of tangled branches, but I saw a pattern in the way the tree branches grew. I took photos of the branches on different types of trees, and the pattern became clearer.  Read the entire article

Soft-wired for empathy – Rifkin on the Empathic Society

A couple of days ago Scott Hackman left a comment on my post On Line Community: Does It Work.  He included a link to this video by Rifkin on the Empathic Society.  Evidently we are all soft wired for sociability, attachment, affection and companionship.  This I thought was particularly encouraging though in some ways it just confirms what Jesus has always told us. Love God & love your neighbour, befriend them, care for them, respond to their needs, recognize you are all part of the same family.

On LIne Community – Does It Work?

Yesterday I posted statistics on how social media is shaping our lives .  It is interesting to see the response to this and recognize the different ways in which we grapple with deluge of social media in relation to our faith.  There are lots of resources emerging to help us maintain a strong and vibrant faith in the midst of this.  I wanted to highlight a couple that I have found very useful

This interview of Mennonite Pastor and author of “Flickering Pixels“, Shane Hipps by Rob Bell is a great place to start.

For a more in depth interview you may like to check out this post on the Mustard Seed Associates blog

Lynne Baab’s latest book Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World is another great resource

Of course virtual communities are springing up all over too.  In light of that I thought that this post by Neal Locke was another interesting twist on the conversation:

Technology changes things.  But technology is a part of God’s Creation, and a gift:  We can use it for good, twist it to evil, or ignore it.  The last option, while always popular, has rarely been successful.  Gutenberg’s printing press changed the world, paving the way for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. Because it made possible the Reformation, it also brought drastic changes to the church, changing almost every visible aspect of Christian worship and theology in just a few generations.   In our generation, the internet and digital communication have already brought about drastic changes, and will continue to transform the church in sweeping and dramatic ways in a short span of time.

In the past few decades, church participation in our culture has been in steep decline.  And yet, as millions of people leave behind behind their communities of faith, millions more are finding community online, in places that a few years ago wouldn’t have even qualified as places.  Worshiping communities of Christians are also beginning to appear online, especially taking root in 3-dimensional synthetic interfaces known as Virtual Realities, or Virtual Worlds.  The writers of this confession are among them.  Read the entire post

And my question once again – What do you think?  Does social media and our interaction on the internet strengthen or weaken faith?  Are we deluding ourselves by thinking this is a God given medium or are we appropriately taking advantage of the cultural tools God has made available?

 

Does Social Media Shape Our Lives More Than God Does?

I just found this video – latest in the series on Social Media Revolution thanks to Rev Gene .  Yes that’s right I used social media to find it!!! and it made me wonder how much of our lives now is shaped by social media that pulls away from God rather than towards God.  Now I use social media as much as anyone – start my day with looking at facebook and twitter.  post prayers & blog daily but I still wonder sometimes is this really helping me and others draw closer to God and to the purposes of God for my life?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

Solar City Tower for Rio Olympics is a Giant Waterfall

This is fascinating.

This renewable energy generating tower located on the coast of Rio is one of the first buildings we’ve seen designed for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and boy, is it crazy! (In case you didn’t notice, it’s also a waterfall.) The Solar City Tower is designed by Zurich-based RAFAA Architecture & Design, and features a large solar system to generate power during the day and a pumped water storage system to generate power at night. RAFAA’s goal is that a symbolic tower such as this can serve as a starting point for a global green movement and help make the 2016 Olympic Games more sustainable.

Read the entire article on inhabit.com which is a great site to visit.  It always has fascinating articles on green architectural design.

And if you want a little inspiration this morning look at these images of what isaac Salazar does with used books

Internet Community – Is It Possible? post by Lynne Baab

This morning’s post comes from Lynne M. Baab. She is the author of numerous books, most recently Reaching Out in a Networked World, which considers the ways congregations can express their identity and values in an online world. She has also written several books and Bible study guides on spiritual disciplines, including Sabbath Keeping and Fasting, and lots of articles that are posted on her website, http://www.lynnebaab.com. She is a Presbyterian minister with a PhD in communication, and she teaches pastoral theology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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I’m writing a chapter for an edited book, and my writing this past week has focused on the ways human sin is manifested on the internet. I wrote about different theologies of sin that help us understand the nasty things that can happen online: broken relationships, predation, exploitation, and aggressive and fradulent self promotion. The internet can nurture destructive practices like addiction to pornography and gambling. The internet can encourage us to objectify others and view precious human beings as commodities. My writing this week was not pleasant or encouraging.

Then yesterday I conducted an interview, for my upcoming book on friendship, with a man who has left Facebook. He talked about finding Facebook to be a time waster that promotes pseudo- community. He finds most Facebook status updates to be banal and uninteresting. He also has concerns about privacy and power. He was scathing in his expression of distaste for this medium.

I’ve had a busy week, so I’ve spent less time than usual on Facebook. I finally had time to log on last night. One of the first posts I saw was by a friend who had spent last week at the Special Olympics, where her son won two medals. She had written briefly about the profound challenge she experienced from meeting the athletes at the Special Olympics. Several people had commented warmly on her post, asking her to express their congratulations to her son and thanking her for her comments about the humility and perseverance she witnessed in the athletes.

Then I saw a post by a friend who just received her nursing certification. That would be a significant achievement for anyone, but for her it has special meaning. She had spent several years in Calcutta, living in a poor neighborhood with a team, trying to help their neighbors. She decided a specific skill like nursing would help her make a greater impact, so she returned to the United States to get training. Her graduation last month, and her certification this month, are steps toward her return to India to serve the poor.

Another friend had posted a photo of herself holding her tiny granddaughter for the first time since the baby’s birth almost three months ago. The baby was born many months premature and spent about 2 months in intensive care, with her grandmother looking on but unable to hold her. This landmark event, being held by her grandmother, signaled a level of weight gain and health that followed many weeks of intense prayer for my friend, her daughter, and the tiny baby. Many affirmations of that prayer support have been posted on Facebook over the past three months.

Last night, as I looked at Facebook, I also saw photos of kids and mountains, an invitation to sign a petition urging the development of sustainable energy sources, a link to an interview with the Dalai Lama about interfaith relationships, and updates about a missing child. I saw comments expressing support and care for people facing all sorts of challenges. I saw a couple of scripture verses, and I enjoyed pondering why each person had posted that particular verse. I saw love. I saw love for God and for God’s beautiful creation, and love for people.

I know the ways the internet can be destructive and addictive. I just spent a week writing about them. One of the things I’m arguing in the book chapter I’m writing is that the internet now functions like a place. And, like any place, it can be the locus of loving interaction or terrible exploitation, and everything in between.

Last night, reading those Facebook posts, I saw the Kingdom of God. I believe the Kingdom is present wherever people support and pray for each other, wherever people learn from God, wherever people show their commitment to serve and obey Jesus. Interactions facilitated by the internet cannot replace face-to-face interactions, but electronic forms of communication can help us to stay connected to people we love. They can provide a way for us to express care for them. They can help us show love, and anywhere that love is, God is (1 John 4:7, 8).

We Have Met the Enemy and He is Powerpoint

In the last week I have spent a lot of time preparing powerpoint presentations for my time here at Overseas Ministry Study Centre here in New Haven CT.  So as you can imagine I was very interested to discover this New York times article about how much time officers in Afghanistan spend preparing powerpoints.

Complexity in Afghanistan

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.  Read the entire article

What is Emerging in our Culture?

Yesterday I participated in a synchroblog on What is Emerging? referring to the emerging church movement and the changes we see happening in our churches and faith communities.  It was obvious that many of us continue to grapple with these issues.  For some they are never far from our thoughts.

This discussion raised other questions for me that I think most of us spend less time thinking about.  They are questions that are central to who we are and what we do at MSA – How is our culture is changing and how we as God’s people will continue to need to change in the future to be more effective followers of Christ.

Some of the changes coming at us are scary – especially the rapid changes in social media that we talked about in the last MSA Seed Sampler on technology and social media and its implications for the future.  And in light of that I wanted to share a recent MSA blog post by Matt Stone in Australia.  He blogs at Glocal Christianity

…do we as Christians see a role for ourselves in the emerging ethical conversations prompted by these new technologies and cultural shifts? Do we seek to have a leading role or a lagging role? Can we imagine some constructive applications, particularly with respect to this social networking technology? Or do we just follow the ways of the world? If we are as into relational community as we say, can we envisage how social networking technologies could be used for good? And can we anticipate some of the pitfalls before we fall into them? 2020 isn’t that far off.  Read the entire article

Matt is one of the most thoughtful and challenging bloggers I follow regularly.  He has also just posted another thought provoking article entitled What Can Google Trends Tell Us About Ourselves

I was scanning Google trends this week and I was noticing a curious trend across many keywords associated with religion.  Read the entire article