A theocentric conservation effort looks out for both man and nature.
We sat in the slivered shade of the acacia tree outside of Serengeti National Park. Deus, a 30-something Lutheran pastor, used a stick in the sand to tally the income he generated per month from poaching. He paused after drawing an equal sign. “I preach in church every week,” he said, smiling. “Except when I’m hunting, of course.”
“Church?” I asked. “Doesn’t your denomination see poaching as sin?”
“Oh no,” he replied. “God gives us every animal.”
I stared at him, and he sensed my unease at his benediction of an illegal activity. “Don’t worry,” he said, patting my knee reassuringly. “I pray over every animal I kill. I thank God for each and every one.”
Of course, I knew that God loved the world, but it dawned on me then that Deus’s comment exemplified Thomas Moore’s simple idea in Care of the Soul. “If you don’t love things in particular, you cannot love the world,” Moore wrote, “because the world doesn’t exist except in individual things.”
I was idealistic when I met Deus during my research on human-wildlife interactions in 2007, and the particular thing I loved was wilderness—one unencroached on by poachers. John Muir and Henry David Thoreau’s wilderness: large landscapes unspoiled by human habitation and development. Places to escape to, to unclutter the mind and rejuvenate. Jesus valued wilderness, I reasoned, seeking it out on several occasions. So as a grad student in my mid-20s, I sought it out myself in Tanzania, embarking on a research expedition in the unspoiled wilderness of sub-Saharan Africa.
Amid societal polarization, American churches are dedicated July 7th to pray for the country.
Polarization has been trending for a long time. Especially in politics, but also in education, religion, economics, race, and more.
Even suggesting a place in the lonely middle-of-the-road can spark accusations of compromise and capitulation. Like the North Pole and the South Pole, polarization is about opposites that never meet and can’t even see each other. When it’s summer in the northern Arctic, it’s winter in the southern Antarctic.
Introduce a big What If.
What if Christians could set aside the cultural categories and extremes of our generation to center on the faith we all share in Jesus Christ? What if we could do something that demonstrated our Christian hope more than popular despair? What if together we made Jesus the winner rather than seeking victories for our sides of the lines that are dividing so many?
The proposal straight out of Washington, D.C.: Pray Together Sunday. It wasn’t my idea, but I was there when a staff member of the National Association of Evangelicals who is trained as a lawyer proposed a very Christian and biblical antidote to divisive polarization. She suggested choosing a summer Sunday for churches across our nation to pray together for God’s blessing in America.
Good idea with lots of reasons to say no. Of course it’s a good idea for churches to pray. No true Christian should object, but it’s easy to come up with a quick list of why it won’t work:
The idea is already taken. We already have a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.
Prayer is already part of every weekend church service. Asking churches to pray is like asking dogs to bark — it’s what they already do.
Getting lots of churches to do anything together is tough to coordinate. Most churches like to make their own decisions, do what they are already doing and value independence over cooperation.
For the world’s largest Christian publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP), more than three quarters of its production costs are incurred in China. Its portfolio includes bestselling authors such as Rick Warren, as well as the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The two popular translations give HCCP 38 percent of America’s Bible market, which sees about 20 million Bibles sold annually.
“We believe the Administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on the publishing industry, and never intended to impose a ‘Bible tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” Doug Lockhart, HCCP’s senior vice president of marketing and Bible outreach, told CT by email.
In a hearing before the trade commission on Tuesday, CEO Mark Schoenwald argued the proposed tariffs will force HCCP to increase its prices, reduce its sales volume, and discontinue some Bible editions.
With more than 800,000 words that can extend to 2,000 thin pages, special bindings, maps, ribbons, and four-color ...
“The issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love.”
Ed: People may not know about you and your church, so please tell us a little about it.
Tim: Parkview was a 40-year-old church when I got here 29 years ago. We are located in the south suburbs of Chicago. We had to go through a relatively long season of transition to get to the point where we were focusing on the goal of reaching those outside the kingdom, which is where we are, and the point of this book.
In 2002, we were able to relocate and get some property, and we’ve been on a pretty wild ride since then. We added a second campus in Homer Glen and then a third in New Lenox. Eighty percent of our people grew up in a Catholic background, which is indicative of the south suburbs.
It’s also a blast for me because they have a love and respect for Jesus and the Word, but they aren’t mired down in a lot of evangelical traditions either. My favorite story is about the guy who bought a WWJD patch for his biker jacket, thinking it meant We Want Jack Daniels.
Ed: Your book is a pretty big slap at legalism. How do you define it, and why do you think it matters?
Tim: Yeah, I’m not a passive rule-following kind of guy. I’m a classic eight on the Enneagram. But the issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love. And legalism is an excellent way to do that. Matthew 23:4 says, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders…” And Matthew 23:13 says, “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…”
The problem is not the laws themselves; it’s when our interpretation of the laws or even our enforcement of those laws gets in the way of people making it home to the Father. That’s ...
Update: The memorial is a Christian symbol—but also more than that.
Update (June 20): On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of allowing a memorial cross to remain on a state-owned median in Bladensburg, Maryland, and declared that government efforts to maintain the landmark do not violate the religion clause of the Constitution.
“The fact that the cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol should not blind one to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent: a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home, a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for this Nation, and a historical landmark,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion.
“For many, destroying or defacing the Cross would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.”
Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel with the religious liberty firm Becket Law, said while this decision represents a victory for the Bladensberg cross, “it will take careful reading and digesting of the opinion to sort through exactly what it means for future cases.”
Original post (February 28):During yesterday’s oral arguments, the Supreme Court suggested it would allow a 40-foot memorial cross to stay on public land, despite a challenge from an atheist group concerned that the 83-year-old World War I monument represented a government endorsement of religion.
The hour-long debate in the case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association didn’t just raise the question of whether the “Peace Cross” memorial was constitutional, but also whether it was a secular symbol.
The lawyer for the Maryland parks agency that now maintains the cross—which ...
Demonic lies hide as truth. They also lurk close to home.
I stood before the dazed librarian as she scanned each questionable title: The Death of Satan, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, By Authors Possessed, the books about demons piling up before her. I remember my discomfort and lame apologies about what appeared to be a sinful attraction to evil. This was a Christian university library, after all, and I had a stack of demonic literature rising to evil proportions at the checkout counter.
A similar discomfort confronts me now when I sign the author’s page of my book Giving the Devil His Due—its cover depicting a half-naked demon donning a red cape. Or when a radio personality invites me on his show in the hopes that I will denounce America’s absorption with that “demonic” holiday Halloween. Extended family members often confess their demonic encounters to me, trying to convince me that The Screwtape Letters is no mere caricature but the accurate epistolary adventures of an ancient monster.
Most discomfiting of all, I have stood before an audience of nonbelievers numbering in the hundreds and begged, “Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not listen to any little voice inside you; it may be the devil’s.” I can hear everyone thinking, What’s a nice girl like you doing reading and writing books like this? Instead of comfort, I have chosen to prize truth, in imitation of the two writers I admire most—Fyodor Dostoevsky and Flannery O’Connor. Both of them give the devil his due in order to save us from losing our souls.
The demonic has been a literary trope for centuries—think Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, Mephistopheles from Faust, or somewhat recently I, Lucifer. So, when I began writing a book about ...
There are two methods I have found to be the most effective forms of leadership.
Being a leader is challenging—I think few would dispute that. Along the journey, all leaders will experience many great successes and failures; you can’t have one without the other.
As someone who’s had the privilege of watching many leaders grow over time, it’s been helpful to think through the support process.
Whenever I’ve had somebody working under me struggle or fail as a leader, I like to walk them through what might have gone wrong along the way. I might sit down with them and say, “Let’s talk about how I can help you succeed better.”
That might look like putting a new system around the individual to help him or her work more efficiently. It might look like giving the person more support. The solutions are likely to vary from person to person.
Having these conversations is important because most of the time, when new leaders fail early on, it’s not because they aren’t going to be great leaders one day. Most of the time, if you see potential in a person, there are other external factors that can be adjusted to help him or her succeed. I’d always say that when in doubt, you blame the system, not the person.
So, there are two ways I’ve found to be the most effective methods of leading. The first is engaging those I lead. The second is directing those I lead to engage with other resources.
At the moment, I’m gearing up some of these where I currently serve, hiring some staff to free up more time for leadership development. But, let me share my past practice and my future plan.
For starters, to engage those I lead would be to establish some sort of ongoing connection between the two of us. This could look like a weekly meeting. ...