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Jesus’ teachings challenge how we spend when money is tight.

In May, Italy’s government called an emergency meeting over the rising prices of pasta. Italians have also been hit in the pocketbook by high natural gas prices, an expense of boiling water for cooking. In 2022, the Italian government recommended reducing how long home cooks boil pasta water as a thrifty “virtuous action.”

This is just one symptom of the recent surge in prices that makes paying for our daily bread difficult. Inflation has hit around the world, and with it have come different pressures on households. In the United States, the average lifestyle costs more than twice as much as it did in 1990. In Ghana, where inflation may be the highest in Africa, food costs twice as much as it did one year ago. Its last annual inflation figure was over 50 percent per year. Moth and rust, of a sort, have destroyed.

But there are other pressures on consumers to be thrifty, including a sense of responsibility to slow our waste. For example, America tosses about 13 million tons of clothing a year. And although there are hungry people, almost a third of the cultivated land in the world grows crops that will benefit neither humans nor animals. After that, about 14 percent of food is discarded before it even reaches a shop.

In view of our consumption and its costs, slack can feel elusive, and extra can seem outrageous. One response to these tensions of wealth, waste, and need always seems to have the stamp of virtue: thrift.

Thrift is a response to tradeoffs—to the choices we often make between having and eating our cake. It means using less, buying less, or spending less in order to redirect resources. Thrift may be a way of managing a small budget or big expenses, such as making money saved on used clothing ...

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Harrowing journey with children and grandparents reunites family with husband. In lieu of peace, Palestinian Christians sheltering at Orthodox and Catholic churches grow increasingly desperate.

Janet Maher is out of Gaza.

The Palestinian wife of the Egyptian former pastor of Gaza Baptist Church had been sheltering in the Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church with her three children and 350 others—but not her husband. Two weeks before the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, Hanna Maher had traveled temporarily back to Egypt, where he had to remain after the war broke out.

Despite the horrors of suffering 43 days of bombardment by herself, as CT previously reported, the family separation is the reason why Janet and her children are now safely in Egypt, reunited with Hanna. But first they had to undergo a harrowing journey that began with tearful goodbyes to a hallowed community.

“I spent weeks with these people and am broken by the experience,” Janet said. “But everyone pleaded: If you get out, tell the world about our situation.”

The death toll in Gaza exceeds 11,000, including more than 5,000 children, according to statistics released by the ministry of health in the Hamas-run enclave and last updated November 10. But save for the shrapnel and scattered remains of human carcasses flying over the walls of the church compound, little of this was known to the Christians inside.

With no television or internet and only intermittent connection to the cell phone network, Janet and her fellow sheltering Gazans knew only the daily reality of war. Most of the day was spent trying to figure out how to procure food, with the young men tasked with trips outside to the local market.

Most often, the day would begin with bombing—sending the people scurrying away from windows and doors to the center of the room. Three times a week, the priest would lead morning prayers. Frequently, they would ...

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Gutted by Gaza, Holy Land Christians exchange holiday cheer for a hallowed Christmas Eve in solidarity with suffering neighbors.

There will be no Christmas lights in Bethlehem this year.

In solidarity with the suffering in Gaza due to the Israel-Hamas war, last week Christian leaders and municipal authorities in the West Bank city decided to cancel all public festivities. For the first time since modern celebrations began, the birthplace of Jesus will not decorate the Manger Square tree.

It is “not appropriate,” stated local authorities.

But the Bethlehem decision is only the most recent. One week earlier, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem asked Christians in the Holy Land to refrain from “unnecessarily festive” Christmas activities. Catholic churches in Galilee requested the same, as did the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land.

“Due to the thousands killed—and in prayer for peace,” said its president, pastor Munir Kakish, “we will only hold traditional services and devotionals on the meaning of Christmas.”

The initiative, however, came first from Jordan, home to the world’s largest concentration of Palestinian refugees—many of whom have become citizens. On November 2, the Jordan Council of Church Leaders (JCCL) announced the cancellation of Christmas celebrations.

Christmas is a public holiday in the Muslim-majority nation, with many city squares and shopping malls feted with seasonal decorations. But congregations throughout the country will now forgo the traditional festivities of public tree lighting, Christmas markets, scout parades, and distribution of gifts to children.

Religious services in all locations will continue.

“In our homes we can celebrate, but in our hearts we are suffering,” said Ibrahim Dabbour, JCCL general secretary and ...

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Archaeologists are using over a million amateur finds to study pilgrimage sites, the Black Death, and the Protestant Reformation.

Much has been written about religious life in the medieval era, but thanks to the British fancy for metal detectors, archaeologists are hopeful about gauging just how much more has gone unwritten.

Earlier this month, the University of Reading announced that it has been awarded a million pounds ($1,245,330) by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council to study the role of religion in medieval life, for which the university will employ a unique source of data: the findings of hobby metal detector users that have been logged in the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The museum’s scheme was founded more than 20 years ago, in part to quell archaeologists’ fears that hobby metal detector users were disturbing the historical record.

“At the time, there was this boom in metal detecting, with lots of archaeological findings being discovered, and not really any mechanism to record them at all,” Michael Lewis, the scheme’s director, told Religion News Service. “So the Portable Antiquities Scheme was set up to provide a mechanism, on a voluntary basis, to record all the other sorts of discoveries that have been found.”

Since then, metal-detecting hobbyists in Britain have had more than a few minutes of fame thanks to a BBC show, Detectorists, that debuted in 2014. Detectorists wasn’t their only time in the limelight; three shows about the hobby specifically in Britain made it onto Detect History’s list of its 10 “Best Metal Detecting TV Shows.”

Though archaeologists once worried that the fad would hamper their work, they are now seeing it as another way to further understand our past.

“The reason that we’re interested in this is that sources ...

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Despite our best intentions, the default practices of digital life can deform our souls.

No one with a good car needs to be justified,” declares Hazel Motes, the protagonist of Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood. If O’Connor were writing today, perhaps she’d have one of her characters proclaim, “No one with a good smartphone needs to be virtuous.”

Such blanket statements about a particular technology may seem unfounded. After all, you can use your car to drive to church or you can use it, as Motes does, to run over a rival preacher. You can use a smartphone to read the Bible, or you can use it to watch porn. The tool itself is neutral, right?

Wrong, argues Samuel James in his perceptive and pastoral book, Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age. The internet and the default practices it encourages can damage our souls despite our best intentions. Online, we reside at the center of a world designed to cater to our every wish.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the dangers of this position is by reference to C. S. Lewis’s observation in The Abolition of Man that “there is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique.”

The online ecosystem provides an incredible suite of tools to subdue reality—in apparently magical fashion—to our appetites and preferences. To the extent that, as James argues, the digital “cut[s] us off” from reality, it makes wisdom and virtue appear obsolete. ...

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Though Trump remains the frontrunner, poll-watchers say the South Carolina Methodist is having her moment.

Veteran Iowa GOP activist Marlys Popma has gotten a call from Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign every other week for months.

Popma’s is one of those coveted endorsements among the state’s conservative evangelicals. The 67-year-old served twice as the executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa and twice as president of Iowa Right to Life, and worked for the presidential campaigns of John McCain in 2008 and Ted Cruz in 2016.

But until a few days ago, she wasn’t ready to back a candidate. Then, at a town hall on Friday in Newton, Iowa, Popma stood up and made a surprise endorsement. “I was an undecided voter when I walked in here,” she told the room full of Iowans, who had just heard Haley’s stump speech. “I no longer am an undecided voter.”

Later, she told Christianity Today that “as a Christian, I just really felt the Spirit saying, ‘This is what you need to do, where you need to go.’ So I stood up and said, ‘You’ve got my endorsement.’”

The welcome endorsement came as Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump-era US ambassador to the United Nations, is having a moment in the polls and following up strong debate performances with more detail on her pro-life stances.

During the fall, she’s risen nearly ten points in Iowa—bringing her to trail Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. In New Hampshire, she’s risen 15 points in the polling, from 4 percent in August to 18 percent in November. She’s maintaining second place in her native state of South Carolina. Donors have started to flock to her campaign. Surveys show voters prefer her in a matchup with President Joe Biden.

The momentum comes with a big ...

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Elevation’s recent hit has stirred a broader discussion on how to incorporate imprecatory language in worship without being triumphalist.

“Spiritual Enemies to be Encountered,” one of the lesser-known texts written by Charles Wesley, urges the believer to persevere in the battle against “legions of dire malicious fiends” and “secret, sworn, eternal foes.”

There’s talk of spiritual enemies coupled with militarism that places Christ as captain and angels as the infantry in a cosmic war against “all hell’s host.” The figure of Christ is center, as conqueror and commander, but also as lamb and lion:

Jesus’ tremendous name, puts all our foes to flight:
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb, a Lion is in fight.
By all hell’s host withstood, we all hell’s host o’erthrow;
And conquering them, through Jesus’ blood, we still to conquer go.

There is a long history of militarism in Christian sacred song. From Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress” to Elevation’s recent hit, “Praise,” it’s easy to find examples of lyricists using violent language and imagery to convey the weight of Christ’s victory over sin and death.

But when it comes to songs that describe death and destruction, what framework should worshipers and worship leaders use to determine the difference between rejoicing in Jesus’ triumph and careless triumphalism?

Elevation’s “Praise” is an energetic anthem with an infectious chorus hook that has made it popular as a congregational song and as a sound clip on apps like TikTok and Instagram.

The song begins with the well-known line from Psalm 150, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” The song’s first verse confidently expresses a commitment to praise God in all things, in all circumstances: ...

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    Abounding Love Ministries
    7076 Hooper Road
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70811
    Office Telephone:  (225)  356-4441 • Fax:  (225) 356-4454
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