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No Peace at Christmas for Iraqi Christians

No Peace at Christmas for Iraqi Christians

No Peace on Earth for Iraqi Christians

This just in from Iraq.
From: Middle East Concern
Date: December 22, 2010 6:39:59 PM EST
To: Len Rodgers
Subject: Iraq: Fears of attacks on Christians over Christmas period

CIRCULATION CODE 3. OPEN. May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing “Middle East Concern” as the source of the information.

Greetings in the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us

In Iraq, many church services over the Christmas period have been cancelled in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk after threats of attacks were posted on the websites of armed groups. The decision was taken after the threats were repeated on Tuesday 22nd. Churches in these cities have decided not to erect any Christmas decorations, and have cancelled all services during the hours of darkness. Christian communities have lived with intense fear since 58 people were killed during an attack on the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad on 31st October.

The UN estimates that 1,000 Christian families have fled from Baghdad and Mosul to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq since the attack on 31st October.

The authorities are endeavoring to provide what protection they can, including constructing tall concrete barriers around church buildings with airport-style security at the entrances.

One of the threats called for the release of two women whom extremists in Egypt claim are being held against their will by Egyptian church leaders. The extremists claim that the two ladies have converted to Islam. Egyptian church leaders have consistently denied the claims, as have Egyptian government officials. However, extremists in Iraq are using the claims as a justification for their planned attacks.

Iraqi Christian leaders request our prayers that:
a. All Iraqi Christians will know the peace of Jesus at this time
b. There will be no attacks on Christians or church buildings over the Christmas period
c. Church leaders will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom concerning all activities
d. Those seeking to harm Christians will be convicted by the Spirit, know the truth about the Son and be drawn to the Father’s forgiveness and love
e. The truth will become widely accepted concerning the claims against Egyptian Church leaders.

Open source used: Associated Press

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
OR
The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in December 22, 2010 by | No Comments »

    A Modest Christmas Proposal

    A Modest Christmas Proposal

    A Modest Christmas Proposal

    I am writing to those who share my interest in rekindling the spiritual, intellectual and creative legacy of Christians in culture.

    As you know, there was a time when Christians were known for their spiritual, intellectual and artistic contributions to society. Bach, Mendelssohn, Dante, Dostoevsky, Newton, Pascal, Rembrandt, TS Eliot, Flannery O’ Connor, CS Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are but a few who personified the rich tradition of faith.

    That was then and this is now. Sadly, much of our culture and many Christians in it are accepting, producing and profiting from today’s artistic, spiritual and intellectual impoverishment, but the good news is that thanks to the tireless efforts of some groups that take faith and the arts seriously, some progress is being made towards a brighter future.

    I’m writing you on behalf of these groups that for the most part fly under the radar.

    It is no secret that in today’s struggling economy, charitable giving is down. This is especially true for those brave organizations seeking a renewal of the arts.

    That’s where you can help.

    As we approach year’s end I ‘d like you to think of one faith and arts organization doing the kind of work that matters to you, locally or nationally. Then send them a special year-end donation of any size.

    If you need suggestions, I’m listing some national and local Seattle arts groups I partner with through The Kindlings.

    Any gift you can make, large or small will make a difference.

    Thanks for considering my modest proposal.

    National

    IMAGE Journal year-end letter. Gregory Wolfe.

    International Arts Movement year-end letter. Mako Fujimura.

    Seattle

    Taproot Theatre year-end letter. Scott Nolte.

    Karin Stevens Dance year-end letter. Karin Stevens.

    Two Others: Atlanta & Kansas City
    Theatrical Outfit Tom Keyes, Atlanta.
    Storling Dance Theatre. Jeremiah and Mona Enna, Kansas City.

    Final Thoughts
    As always, we at The Kindlings welcome your financial support at year’s end as well.Read The Kindlings year-end letter. Dick Staub.

    The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    On a personal note: If you have not yet ordered my newest book About You, there is no time like the present and it makes a great gift too! Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    May the generous spirit of Christmas infuse and empower us even in these difficult financial times.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends,

    Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in December 13, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Hostility at Huffington

    Hostility at Huffington

    Hostility at Huffington

    I think we can disagree without being dismissive. It appears the majority of those commenting on my recent column don’t think so.

    Two weeks ago I wrote a column titled “The Resurrection of Jesus: Believing the Impossible Is Possible.” I affirmed the simple assertion, believed by billions of people throughout the centuries, from the Apostles Creed: On the third day, Jesus rose again and ascended into heaven.

    The column generated more than 1,500 comments on the Huffington Post, the majority of them dismissing even the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection. Most objections were made by materialists who argue that if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist and isn’t real.

    “There is no `faith’ involved in science. A question is asked …either data supports a conclusion about the question, or it does not,” one commenter said. “If the data doesn’t support the conclusion then that data is discarded and more data is collected.”

    Many comments centered on the unreliability of the biblical texts.

    “I just find it hard to believe in something that offers no evidence
    besides from the one book which the story originated from,” read
    another.

    “I don’t see how Doubting Thomas is evidence of the resurrection when
    it is in the same questionable book that teaches about the
    resurrection.”

    “Outside of the Bible, there’s no credible evidence that Jesus, as
    portrayed, even existed.”

    But it was the hostile tone more than the content of the arguments
    that really caught my attention.

    “We have brains,” read one. “Sorry if that’s inconvenient for you.”

    Ouch.

    “Atheists see no credible evidence to believe in any gods or to
    subscribe to any religion or dogma. That’s it.”

    “Oh, puleeeeeez-e,” read another. “Resurrections, ascensions,
    transubstantiations, immaculate conceptions, etc., are nothing more than
    the coins of the realm of psychosis! Who cares?”

    Dismissive quips were more common than reasonable dialogue.

    “Talking logic and reason with a religious person is like talking
    about discrete mathematics to a poodle.”

    Double ouch.

    “More make-believe concepts. It’s just pixie dust and science
    fiction.”

    “When it comes to religious beliefs, we suffer a regression that
    turns us into children that still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth
    fairy.”

    “God IS impossible.”

    What can we learn from this thread of comments?

    First, the scientific method, which is useful for measuring the
    material, is being used to dismiss the spiritual — a radical position
    not historically taken by scientists.

    Even the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Gould said, “Science
    simply cannot adjudicate the issue of God’s possible superintendence of
    nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can’t comment on it as
    scientists.”

    Second, it appears the opinions of the Jesus Seminar and fictional
    books like “The Da Vinci Code” are trusted more than contemporary
    textual research about the New Testament.

    Most scholars now date the New Testament manuscripts earlier rather
    than later, making them, as even liberal scholar John A. T. Robinson
    agrees, “by far the best-attested text of any writing in the ancient
    world.”

    By comparison, the earliest extant copies of Julius Caesar’s works
    are dated 1,000 years after his death, those of Plato 1,200 years after
    his death and those of Aristotle 1,400 years after his death. Yet
    scholars universally accept the authenticity of these manuscripts.

    Third, as online commentary replaces in-person, interactive
    dialogue, civility and reason have given way to the kind of caustic,
    dismissive one-liners you might hear from Jon Stewart, “Saturday Night
    Live” or Bill Maher. People are entitled to their own opinions, and my
    column is an opinion editorial. All of us, however, could benefit from
    ratcheting down the one-liners and beefing up the substance and
    relevance of our comments.

    Actually caring about people we encounter online would be nice. I
    picked up that spirit from one post: “This has been an interesting
    thread. I have enjoyed the exchange and sincerely hope I have not
    offended any religious folks with my dogged skepticism.”

    Finally, there seems to be an almost irrational hostility toward
    belief on the part of unbelievers. I would simply urge unbelievers to
    consider the fact that throughout the centuries, many of the best and
    brightest thinkers — even in the sciences — have believed in the
    resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

    That’s not to say they are right, but it is to say that all
    believers can’t be dismissed as brainless, deluded psychotics.

    We can disagree without being dismissive.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
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    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
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    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in December 2, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Now Thank We All Our God

    Now Thank We All Our God

    Now Thank We All Our God

    This past week in New York I met with some very grateful friends. My friend Eric Metaxas book on Bonhoeffer is a bestseller, a young woman friend was giddy with the enthusiasm of an expected marriage proposal over the Thanksgiving holiday, and young Josh Church was excited to tell me about his first year of marriage.

    In the words of scripture ~ the lines have fallen in pleasant places for them and they can say wholeheartedly, “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.”

    Not everyone is in that situation this Thanksgiving. For some of my friends, times are tough. One emailed me recently with this tragic news.

    “We lost our son Aaron to aplastic anemia. Aaron was an atheist but he was a sincere seeker after truth and we had some great discussions. At his request I read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion’ back in 2007 and I wrote him my response to Dawkins’ arguments. We disagreed but we were very close. He was far more intellectually gifted than I am.

    Our oldest son Brian flew from New Zealand to make a stem cell donation for Aaron, but he died the day he was to have received the cells. Fungal infection destroyed his lungs.

    I never prayed so hard for anything as I did for Aaron’s life. I have not felt close to God since.”

    What to say to a friend walking such a lonely, devastating journey that does not trivialize or sound glib in the face of real, unrelieved pain?

    I sometimes turn to hymns to guide me and the title of one, “Now Thank We All Our God,” makes three suggestions about the nature of our thanksgiving. 1) We should ALL give Thanks; 2) We should all give thanks TO GOD; 3) We should give thanks NOW regardless of our circumstances.

    But why and how can we give thanks when times are tough?

    Well, we can give thanks as an act of obedience. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

    Sometimes all we can manage is assenting to a simple children’s chorus. “Thank you Lord for saving my soul; Thank you Lord for making me whole; Thank you Lord for giving to me; Thy great salvation so rich and free.”

    We have the example of Jesus who on the night he was betrayed, while his disciples bickered over who was the greatest, gave thanks and broke bread.

    Giving thanks in tough circumstances is a way of affirming by faith that we believe God Is present in our joy and pain and is trustworthy in good times and bad.

    We know from historical records that the Pilgrims in America made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. WHY?

    I think it is because they believed that God would never leave them or forsake them, had led them to the new land, and that even their losses could be turned to gain in the divine economy.

    At the heart of our thanksgiving is the recognition that the Lord is good¢â‚¬¦ And despite difficult circumstances God can be trusted.

    Oscar Wilde joked, “The Irish have an abiding sense of anguish, which sustains them through temporary periods of joy.” But the Irish also contributed this haunting prayer: “I believe in the sun when it’s not shining, I believe in love even when I feel it not, I believe in God even when he is silent.”

    There is a practical reason for giving thanks regardless of circumstances, a somewhat selfish reason. It is my experience that an attitude of gratitude produces joy.

    JOY happens when we choose to look on the positive.

    An old poem reminds us: Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud ~ the other man stars.

    Put two people in identical situations and one will be cheerful and hopeful. The other pessimistic and hopeless ~ which of the two prisoners would you rather be?

    I am not saying we ignore the mud; our hope is not based on a delusional denial of painful realities on our life. I am saying in the midst of the worst of times there is almost always something for which we can be grateful and it is good for our health to focus on those things. Daily bread, shelter, a loving family, friends, answered prayers and the beauty of the earth are among our blessings.

    The Apostle Paul wrote from a prison cell, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

    I do not mean to imply that it is easy to be grateful when your world is crumbling around you. I am comforted to know that the man who wrote “Now Thank We All Our God” wrote it in his life’s darkest days.

    It was written by Pastor Martin Rinkart who served in Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648.) Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for fugitives who suffered from epidemic and famine.

    At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two.

    As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day some 4,480 in all.

    In May of that year, his own wife died. Yet, while living in a world dominated by death, Rinkart wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children:

    Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices;
    Who wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices.
    Who, from our mother’s arms, hath led us on our way,
    With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

    As we think about giving thanks remember these words: Whatever you do, whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. ALWAYS giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends for the benefit of the world,

    Dick Staub.

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in November 24, 2010 by | No Comments »

    The Resurrection of Jesus: Believing the Impossible Is Possible

    The Resurrection of Jesus: Believing the Impossible Is Possible

    The Resurrection of Jesus: Believing the Impossible Is Possible

    NEW YORK November 17, 2010. I’m in the Big Apple to film a bit for the History Channel on the period between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, which is a little spooky, very important and some would say very, very sketchy on details.

    It’s always intriguing to see what a producer finds interesting. In this case, John Marks, a former 60 Minutes producer, is picking up two threads: What happened? And what does it mean? What he seems really interested in is what I would call the “possible impossible.”

    What happened between the Resurrection and Ascension is a whole lot of miraculous stuff. Jesus is crucified (think “Passion of the Christ”), raised from the dead (think zombie movies) and then ascends into heaven (Think “Star Trek” and “beam me up, Scotty”).

    Jesus walks through a locked door to meet with his fearful disciples, breaks bread with two guys on the road to Emmaus; when they recognize him, he disappears.

    After the Resurrection, a lot of people didn’t recognize Jesus at first glance. Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener and then hugs him when she recognizes him. “Do not hold on to me,” he tells her, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

    Doubting Thomas, ever the skeptic, is told, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas is convinced. “My Lord and my God,” he responds.

    Biblical scholars will talk about “what happened” in very different ways. Some will say these are fantastical tales useful as myth, but certainly not credible as history. On the other hand, others like me will conclude that these stories are fantastical tales that actually happened.

    For us, these are absolutely impossible events that are possible.

    When I was in seminary in the 1970s, there was an unbridgeable gap between science and faith. To take science seriously, scholars tended to lean toward dismissing miracles as fanciful myths. Those who believed in miracles — even the highly educated — were derided as delusional.

    Even the Virgin Mary didn’t believe the angel who told her she would bear a child; she had never been with a man, so it would, she said, “be impossible.” The angel chided her saying, “With God all things are possible.”

    What happened at the Resurrection, Ascension and everything in between seem simply impossible; on this point, believers and skeptics can agree. But the faith community would do well to drop its glibness about miracles, and the scientific community needs to drop its certitude about the impossibility of miracles.

    I’m reminded of what George Lucas said to Bill Moyers when “Star Wars” was first released. Moyers asked Lucas if he believed in God, and Lucas said yes. If the cavemen were at a one on their scale of understanding God, he said, modern humans are at a five. He then added
that our understanding of God is on scale of zero to 1 million.

    The same story can be applied to science. If the caveman’s understanding of the universe was a 1, we are at a 5, on a scale of zero to a million.

    Once we grasp the belief that what seems to us impossible may indeed be possible, then we can approach the more important questions of what the Resurrection and Ascension mean. Things like:

    Jesus is still alive; even the skeptic Thomas believed it based on physical evidence.

    Jesus promised to overcome death; when he did it, he became a pretty reliable guide to the eternal.

    Jesus promised that he was going to die, be raised from the dead and go to prepare a place for us. His promises about our future seem more credible because of his Ascension.

    His crucifixion is not a cruel disappointment of an underperforming God, but instead fulfills the messianic expectation of the suffering servant promised by Isaiah.

    Jesus forgives our disbelief (Thomas) and even our momentary denials (Peter). He loves us the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

    Jesus is willing to take on the impossible task of transforming us into new creatures; he can take on the world’s most impossible situations and accomplish the impossible by revealing what is possible.

    The power to do the impossible is the angle the producer seemed most interested in, and I wondered why. In this age that’s so in need of hope, when things seem impossible, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the impossible was possible?

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in November 23, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Our Other National Deficit

    Our Other National Deficit

    Our Other National Deficit

    November’s election campaigns were so negative and oppositional that it should be depressingly obvious to voters that almost all our candidates for office are bereft of ideas, or have decided the voter is disinterested in ideas.

    Our biggest national crisis is not our financial deficit; it is our ideational and spiritual deficit.

    This makes Pitirim Sorokin eerily relevant today. Sorokin was a Russian émigré, first head of Harvard’s sociology department and author in 1941 of The Crisis of Our Age. In his sweeping study of great civilizations he observed that each progressed from ideational (reality is transcendent or spiritual) to idealistic (a synthesis of spiritual and materialistic) to sensate (reality is material).

    These cycles are observable in American history whose Founders were obviously and passionately ideational. As America matured, her founding ideas and aspirations were retained, while increased attention was also paid to economic and technological advancement.

    Sorokin concluded that Western Civilization, including America, had degenerated from this healthy blend of ideational and sensate, into an unhealthy “sensate culture,” by deemphasizing her spiritual and ideational foundations choosing instead a culture based primarily on material concerns.

    When a culture reaches the sensate phase it either dies, rediscovers it’s own transcendent ideals and is reborn, or is displaced by a new ideational culture.

    Like ancient Rome, America is in the last gasp phase of the sensate culture. Our ideational strength has been supplanted by a reliance on our economic and military strength, neither of which is sustainable without transcendent ideals and both of which are struggling today.

    President Obama’s election revealed that the nation is hungry for ideals worth rallying around. His books and campaigns hinted at values deeper than the small minded, mean spirited partisan political world Americans have come to detest.

    But while “Yes we can” and “The audacity of Hope”” are catchy, reassuring slogans, they ring hollow unless accompanied by an underlying set of ideals, clearly articulated and then implemented through well-thought out policies consistent with and flowing from those ideals.

    After his election President Obama failed to rally the nation around the deeper ideals American longed for. Instead he assembled a team of partisan Washington infighters and promoted policies and passed laws through coercion and partisan power plays, He failed to articulate a compelling ideational rationale the public could understand and embrace.

    Even Chris Matthews says Obama comes cross as an elitist who talks down to the public and expects to be trusted because he is the smartest guy in the room. Gone is the candidate who promised to serve all the people and who passionately communicated the ideals they could unite around.

    The Tea Party movement on the other hand is passionate, but is largely oppositional. Whatever unity they possess consists of a cluster of policy positions they agree on. They are not articulating a cohesive underlying philosophical or spiritual rationale and it is fair to doubt whether they even have one.

    I recall back in the 1990’s when Newt Gingrich announced the contract with America. Soon thereafter Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition released the Christian Contract with America.

    In an interview with Ralph I pointed out that his Christian Contract looked like a simple “overlay” of the Republican Contract, and then asked him point blank, who is doing the theology that undergirds this Christian Contract With America?

    “I don’t just want to hear regurgitated policy positions,” I said. “I want to know the underlying philosophy, theology, ethic or morality that would lead me to support or oppose for example, a flat tax.”

    He didn’t know what to do with my question.

    Building policies based on carefully reasoned and articulated ideas and values is not easy today because in a sensate culture the appetite for power is ravenous and the hunger for ideas is minimal.

    The rebirth of an ideational culture requires leaders who know what they believe, why they believe it, have ordered their life around deeply held ideals and values, have lived them, can articulate them and understand how to develop policies around them. Only then can a leader unify the public and their elected representatives not just to support their policy position, but to engage and support the ideas that are the foundation on which the policy is built.

    We will never solve our political, economic, societal crisis, until we address the other deficit, the deficiency of ideals and values worth believing in.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

    Click here to listen to our latest daily podcast of “The Kindlings Muse”. “The Kindlings Muse” rekindling our spiritual, intellectual and creative potential.”

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

    PS 3. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

  • Register for CW
  • PS 3.

    If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  •  

    PS 4. This web site is supported solely by tax-deductible donations. Please mail your generous contributions to: The Kindlings/CFC (The Center for Faith and Culture), PO Box 729, Eastsound, Washington 98245

    ‚©CRS Communications 2010

    Posted in Staublog in November 3, 2010 by | No Comments »

    My Most Unforgettable Meal

    My Most Unforgettable Meal

    My Most Unforgettable Meal

    In preparation for speaking about the “Last Supper” (Luke 22: 14-20), I thought it would be fun to hear some “unforgettable meal” stories,” so I asked for them on Facebook and received some amazing ones! I posted them all below (or you can read them at my Facebook page and add your own.)

    The patterns I observed after reading all the stories were as follows: Meals were memorable because of 1) The Place; 2) The People (host and guests); 3) The Occasion; 4) The Food OR 5) a category I simply call: LOVE was the menu.

    See which of the following fit each category and think about how these categories fit the Last Supper, which I would argue is the most unforgettable meal in all of history!

    Sally Gaigalas Sushi in Tokyo (under the subway trains) in a small bustling commercial area. My friend ended up with food poisoning and was sick for 3 days at the Imperial Palace hotel.

    Chris Bolinger Brazilian rotisserie in Sao Paolo in 1992…unbelievable food in a foreign country on a business trip with my wife in our first year of marriage

    Matthew Wikstrom My mother makes… this salmon. She broils it. Basting 3x with a worcester-lemon juice-butter sauce. She’d make it for my birthday along with sauteed mushrooms; sauteed in butter and garlic, and a pasta with her own home-made basil pesto.

    Laurel Pederson BABETTE’S FEAST.

    Liz Gordon Meade Make sure you watch Babette’s Feast (again) before speaking!

    Susan Osborn My most unforgettable meal was in Kyoto, Japan at a Global Forum Conference where I was singing. There were 15 artists invited to dinner with the Gorbechevs who were hosts of the conference. I was seated across from them, and between Thor Hyerdahl, of Kon Tiki fame, and Paul Winter, musician and former employer. It was so extraordinary to be in their presence that I cannot remember a single thing we ate in the many course meal, and forgot that I was giving a concert that evening and missed it!

    David Carlson Last Friday night… 3 hour dinner with paleoanthropologist/Nat Geo Explorer in Residence Meave Leakey, Space Tourism Pioneer Chirinjeev Kathuria and SVP Markets Transformation for World Wildlife Fund Jason Clay at McCormick and Schmick’s in Chicago. The conversation was fantastic. (like a Kindling’s Hearth conversation!)

    Chirinjeev was asking Meave about human evolution. Apparently humans have the “hibernation gene” in their DNA and he was wondering if she had an idea where that came into play in history. He is working with the DOD on trying to hibernate humans for space travel and the DOD has some kind of battlefield application for it.

    I was asking Meave what humans will look like in the future (identical, like other species, from interbreeding) and Jason was offering his insights on how we will feed 9 billion people in the future (if we have one).

    I also elicited her opinion on the origins of the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden… where it might have been… what was the transition like from hunter gatherer to an agricultural society… was “The Fall” or the “curse of having to work by the sweat of your brow” the summary mythology of the transition from hunter gatherer to farming which was necessary to feed the growing population…

    Chirinjeev (who bought the MIR space station in 1999 from the Russians to start a space tourism company) wondered how humans might evolve on another planet and projected that within 48 months, space flights for private citizens would be in the $40,000 range. He is currently building a plane that will travel from the US to India in 45 minutes. And on and on it went…

    I had steak and lobster.

    Bob Nutt Thanksgiving Feasts with the family and friends. Great food and conversations. Never a dull moment….from asking my future wife to marry me to making 50 pounds of mashed potatoes….

    Andrea Gladen I can think of two unforgettable meals. Both are memorable because the meal was part of a rare experience. One meal was in France. I ordered shrimp and was expecting the kind of shrimp we usually serve here. When the shrimp arrived it was whole, and I was so surprised that a laughed slipped out. Oops. The second meal was in a village in Africa. I was served to (pronounced ‘toe’) with a gummy sauce. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing in front of me. As per the Burkinabe way, I was eating with my hand. The setting was outside and the sky was so full of stars it looked like God took a bottle of glitter and dumped it out
    Jake Kyllo Having the Afgani National Army host a dinner. They brought about 30 platters of food out, all freshly made. Goat, lamb, naan (flat bread), all sorts of vegetables and fruits. Everyone sat in a big circle, still with all of our weapons. We finally starting taking off some gear, but not all. About halfway through the meal, we cleared room in the middle of the circle and everyone started to dance. I wasn’t one of them. All the music was in Pashto, so I didn’t understand a thing. I then got very sick afterward…the food is very good, but there is a price to pay for it

    Ariana Anderson A very long meal of great food and wine with a group of Spanish veterinarians and their wives, conversation all in Spanish and involving a game of Trivial Pursuit. Actually, I think the meal went on all weekend! Those Spaniards sure do know how to enjoy their food!

    Angela Grinnell Saxe Two words: fire alarm. Angela Grinnell Saxe Mom was never a good cook. I was only 14 and I don’t recall the specific meal (except for black-bottomed refrigerator biscuits) but I do remember her telling our guests (good friends to this day), “Dinner will be ready when the fire alarm goes off.” She was right. Over, the years, she had other episodes with cooking and the fire alarm (and once instance at Whitworth College involving pizza, a microwave, and the fire dept).

    Lolo Septina Zenobiah Duni My Mom was a teacher so she have to leave the house very early in the morning every day and did not have the chance to prepare lunch but we always have lunch together at home ( school in Indonesia finish at 12.30 in the afternoon) even it was only a simple meal which she cooked it very fast but for me it is the most delicious and unforgettable food..

    Patricia Conneen Denny and I were at a roof-top restaurant in Rome. Two waiters worked together to bring us our main course at exactly the same time. Our plates were covered with silver dome thingys. After they put the dinner plates down in front of us, they each reached down in unison, pulled off the domes and shouted, “Voila!” I don’t even remember the food…but the deliverance was killer.

    Ronna Myles-Era Sushi at Whistler last year. The food was like small pieces of art delivered at just the right time. Service was great, you could tell the server loved the food also. It felt like you were in Japan, great decor. We had also walked for 3 1/2 hours, so we were actually hungry. Hunger is often the best sauce!

    Alvin Garcia I have had many great meals over the years From moms home cooking to my wife cooking me my favorite meal ( chicken enchiladas w rice and beans, oh yeah) but i honestly dont think i’ve had a most memorable one YET.
    There was this one night when i first met my wife and spent my first Christmas with her family. We had a big dinner and i got my first Christmas present since my parents didn’t celebrate Christmas. SOCKS ! Thats was all i got , but i loved those socks that my wifes mother gave me and the dinner she cooked

    Hilary Canty Dinners with my Dad were always memorable. Each dish was the “Best____he ever had” thanks to an aneurysm he experienced in his 40’s. No one loved food more. He shared the joy with all.

    Kari Ginter Schuh The Garlic Festival dinner at The Ark Restaurant in Nahcotta, Washington on the Long Beach Peninsula. First off we had to make reservations at midnight on Valentine’s eve for the June event. Once we arrived, they would not let you eat unless you “decorated” yourself using the “self adornment” bags handed out at the front door. The meal was about 9 courses spread over 4 hours with plenty of entertainment between each presentation. Our seats were placed next to several people we did not know but we managed to make quick friends by the end of the evening. According to the cooks, we each consumed roughly 4 heads of garlic that night. Believe me when I tell you the next day we remembered the meal all over again. They don’t call it the stinkin rose for nothing. 🙂

    Valerie Buxbaum after only one year together, my beloved took me to southern France. we began with a friend’s elaborate wedding on the Mediterranean (don’t remember a thing I ate), then started a backpacking trip. we anticipated, from looking at the map, that every few miles there would be a little village- we would stop, eat bread and cheese, drink wine. after hours of hiking through wilderness and finding nary a town from the map, we come across a single house. desperate for water, we knock on the door. we ask the man where the town of Sigarette is, to which he proclaims, “I AM Sigaratte, come in, come in!” He gives us water from his well, offers us a rusted home-canned something that Evan thinks is wild boar (translation issues) and we move on. we do NOT open aforementioned rusty can. (not to the meal part yet.) we hike for hours more, famished, thirsty and out of water again. we come into a cool, deep forest all of a sudden after cresting a little desertish mountain. there is a sign that tells a story of a little girl who watches over the forest, hangs with the elves and gnomes and such. we hope this means she will guide us. an hour later, we come to a “gite” a hundreds of years old farmhouse with walls 3 feet thick. a man greets us and tells us dinner is at 7. Evan explains in broken french that we have eaten nothing but a loaf of bread since 6am, and could we please have something now?

    he brings out a platter. one pitcher of fresh well water. on small loaf of bread. one pound of butter. a few apple slices from his trees. we devoured it all. it was the greatest meal of our lives.

    the dinner was great, too, and taught me how to make the greatest applesauce on the planet. we continued our trek the next day with clear instructions on how to find food… and a care package for lunch.

    the little girl who guided us- the gite was her home she was their daughter who had died of leukemia. we felt her everywhere.

    Evan proposed to me on that trip, on my birthday, under the full moon in an olive grove. and, the greatest, most simple meal of my life accompanies the story of the greatest, most simple love of my life.

    Anita Lamb Bailey My most unforgettable meal was in China over 20 years ago. There was a platter piled high with some kind of delicacy charred black birds with their feet up in the air and their heads and beaks hanging over the edge of the plate.

    Nancy Adair Weatherspoon I took my 96 year old mother for her favorite meal: breakfast. I arrived at the care center and she was sitting there, waiting. I chose a beautiful red silk blouse and a black skirt for her to wear. She had her pearl necklace and her pearl earrings all laid out. Her hearing aids were in, her black stockings were on, her glasses cleaned, her rouge applied, and she was ready to go to breakfast. She ordered (and ate) a belgium waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, an egg (easy over), two strips of bacon, two sausage links, a cup of coffee weakened with a pot of hot water, and a bowl of cinammon apples. We had a wonderful time and discussed the current news and our family news. She was planning her lunch that week with her Sunday School Class. Two weeks later my mother went to heaven. It was my last breakfast with her. I will not forget the joy she brought to that breakfast crowd. It was an unforgettable meal…I don’t remember what I ordered and ate.

    Gene Allgaier Sri Lanka in Galle at a hotel I stayed at. we stayed for 4 nights and each night we didn’t make dinner till the last night when they begged us to eat there! biggest pile of prawns I ever saw! you just made me go back 30 years!

    Jay Weinland gosh that’s hard. As my wife will tell you I will wear threadbare clothes in order to leave enough money for fine dining!

    1. many years ago the first time I went to Rover’s as Thierry is SUCH a magician. The first course was Scrambled Organic Egg with Lime Crƒ¨me Fraƒ®che and White Sturgeon Caviar served in the eggshell..amazing. everything he makes is a work of art.

    2. 16 years ago my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Greece and we spent a gorgeous late afternoon/evening on the beach having fresh seafood (fish/shrimp/octupus etc) cooked up over the fire sipping wine. A simple but glorious meal that have led to 16 years of wonderful food memories.

    Francha Barker feeding lunch to severely disabled children in a thai orphanage.

    Carol Adair Hubbard Nancy, for me with Mother it was the chicken fried steak, mash potatoes and white gravy. Fried okra if in season and a piece of pie for dessert. Then stopping at the Dairy Queen for a root beer float to take back home.

    JoAnne EriksenDick Staub: Raclette (stinky cheese) parties with all you guys back in the day! Great food that I thought I would hate, great drink, even better conversation, kids on the outskirsts having fun and staying away from the edges of the fine aroma of warm cheese, the cooker in the middle of the table…. Let’s do it again!!!

    Christianne Petersen Erwin It was at our house in Reno and it was Thanksgiving, and a man who worked for my husband had no friends or family in Reno, so he was basically going to sit home drink beer, and watch football. Michael invited Gene to our house for Thanksgiving and I made the best turkey with all the fixins. He loved my “sweet potatoe surprise” cooked with a little bourbon, brown sugar and butter. I think the meal was all the better cause we shared, and made a Thanksgiving for Gene too.

    Kathleen Tudor
    Christmas 2008 when Orcas had loads of snow. We anticipated time w/family but the weather kept everyone away, but cleared briefly so Bill was able to pick up what was to be a tiny bird that turned out to be a 30 pounder. The house was warm …w/fire, music and thanksgiving, and it seemed I could do no wrong in the kitchen, making my best ever turkey, stuffing, stuffing, etc. We lamented the absence of family/friends, but there was beautiful joy as we savored our meal together in a cozy atmosphere, grateful of blessings and the sight of snow falling all around us outside; magical! Afterwards, we dined on turkey casseroles for months it seemed, and now I am praying I can replicate the creations that came out of our kitchen that day.

    Bruce Herman “Dick – too late for your request, but for me it was at Cento Poveri in Florence Italy…Bistecca Fiorentina, served at this tiny ma&pa trattoria…when the momma tells me in Italiano, “American’s don’t eat this. They send it back saying it is not cooked.” I insisted, ordered it, eat every bite (itself an almost religious experience — the perfect steak of perfect steaks — and then she came back out wearing over her elegant dress a tee-shirt with the Statue of Liberty, and waving an American flag! My compadres were all jubilant, as was I. Viva Italia — people who know how to cook, how to eat, and how to be friends. (The average Italian meal is 2.5 hours or more).”

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

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    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
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    Posted in Staublog in October 31, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Dance then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance,

    Dance then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance,

    Dance then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the dance,” said He.

    Jesus, being Jewish, danced ~ it was part of his culture. Since He is Lord of all Jesus is Lord of the dance.

    In Jewish culture, along with making music, dancing is one of the ways to praise God’s name. (Psalm 149:3, 150:4). From the Jewish perspective, you stop dancing when joy has gone from your hearts (Lamentations 5:15). God is the one who can turn our mourning into joy and dancing (Psalm 30:11).

    Our theme at KindlingsFest 2011 (July 27-30) is “Mourning into Dancing” and yesterday @ Orcas Island Community Church we ended the service with “Lord of the Dance.” It started with a flute, violin and mandolin, then Grant joined in on guitar and singing, then I sang with Grant and all the musicians and then I danced down the aisle of the church and invited people to join us aisle by aisle.

    It was magic! Especially when Len and Glenna Richards got up and started dancing in the aisle. I’m sure a few folks were fearful that we were taking a wild turn into the unknown, but I got this email from a woman in the church when I got home¢â‚¬¦” I actually had fun at church today; hope that’s ok?”

    Lord of the Dance*

    I dance in the moon and the stars and the sun,
    I came down from Heaven and I danced on earth,
    At Bethlehem I had my birth.

    “Dance then, wherever you may be,
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he,
    “And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

    I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
    They would not dance, they wouldn’t follow me.
    So I danced for the fishermen,
    James and John came with me and the dance went on.

    “Dance then, wherever you may be,
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he,
    “And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

    I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame,
    The Holy people said it was a shame.
    They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high,
    Left me there on a cross to die.

    “Dance then, wherever you may be,
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he,
    “And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

    I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black,
    It’s hard who dance with the devil on your back.
    They buried my body, they thought I’d gone,
    But I am the dance, and I still go on.

    “Dance then, wherever you may be,
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he,
    “And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

    They cut me down, but I lept up high.
    “I am the life that’ll never never die
    And I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me.
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he.

    “Dance then, wherever you may be,
    I am the Lord of the dance,” said he,
    “And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be,
    And I’ll lead you all in the dance,” said he.

    * Lord of the Dance is a hymn with words written by English songwriter Sydney Carter in 1967. He adapted the tune from the famous American Shaker dance song “Simple Gifts”. The hymn is widely performed in the United Kingdom and the United States, and is often mistakenly thought to be a much older traditional hymn. On one occasion its author was informed it had been written in medieval times. It follows the idea of a traditional English carol, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” which tells the gospel story in the first person voice of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

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    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
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    Posted in Staublog in October 25, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Loving Humble Pie

    Loving Humble Pie

    Loving Humble Pie

    Next time you are feeling unappreciated remember the root idea of the word humility is literally, “low to the ground.”

    Your self-doubt and discouragement about your tiny place in the world may be the best thing that can happen to you.

    In this fallen age, self-esteem has become our aim and we are driven to increase our influence and notoriety.

    Paradoxically, in the beginning we were created to love and be loved and it turns out that humility attracts and generates love more than influence and notoriety.

    Tolstoy said, “It is difficult for anyone to love those who are overly confident, proud and boastful. This shows the importance of living with humility and meekness. These qualities arouse love-the most important thing among people.”

    The Bible weighs in: Psalm 131: “1 My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions. I am like a weaned child with its mother.”

    Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

    Since God wants the best for us, He will continually shatter our pride because it makes us more loveable and able to love.

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    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
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    Posted in Staublog in October 22, 2010 by | No Comments »

    Reacting To & Acting On Faraway News

    Reacting To & Acting On Faraway News

    Reacting To & Acting On the News

    I live on a small island in the middle of Puget Sound, separated from Seattle by a ferry and car commute of more than two hours.

    Most of the headline news stories seem more distant to me now.

    Truth be told, that’s part of the reason I moved here.

    But thanks to modern technology, the daily news is as accessible to me as it is to you city and suburban dwellers. News comes to my iPhone on a 3G network, and is fed into my home by satellite and cable. I get my New York Times on a Kindle, and my news magazines still arrive the old-fashioned way.

    No man is an island from the news, whether local, regional, national or global — even if he lives on one. But since very few of the stories happen here (the one exception was the “Barefoot Bandit,” Colton Harris-Moore, who escaped the FBI), what should I think, feel and do about breaking news? Why should I even care?

    Rahm Emanuel is shaking hands outside Chicago L stops because he’s looking for votes. Rahm who? Do I care?

    The terror alert is raised for Americans in Europe. This one hits closer to home, because our 22-year-old daughter is on a hard-earned, one-month European travel adventure. She was in Paris the day the State Department warned Americans traveling abroad, and we stayed in touch via e-mail.

    What am I supposed to feel when I read about marauding bands of armed rapists mowing their way through helpless women, young and old, in small rural villages in the Republic of Congo? How should I react to the news that U.N. forces are stationed blocks away and do not intervene?

    It seems I should feel something when I watch the news. After all, our human capacity for rational thought and complex language makes us different from animals, and to lack emotions puts us somewhere on a psychopathic spectrum.

    But it’s not just me. This matters to you, too, because you live on your own island — a geographic or neighborhood bubble, just as isolated and distanced from most news stories as I am.

    So what are we to think, feel and do about the daily news, most of which has no direct bearing on our daily lives?

    Some people connect too deeply to news stories and become immobilized by irrational fear. Every day I receive news stories from the mainland, e-mailed by fellow islanders trapped in a cycle of hysteria triggered by events happening thousands of miles away.

    News stories are fertile ground for fundraisers and politicians who wish to exploit hysteria and fear. Deborah Tannen reminded us in her book, “The Argument Culture,” that the media generally view controversy as a form of entertainment that engages and retains the audience advertisers are paying for.

    Rational discourse aimed at mutual understanding and common ground might be good for democracy, but too often the media see it as bad for business.

    I moved to the island partly to get away from it all, but I’ve learned I can’t. The news of the world came with me, and I can’t tune it out. So once again I have to figure out how to avoid desensitization when bombarded with stories I can’t do anything about.

    Over the years I’ve learned there are ways to get involved in even the remotest of stories. I can pray. I can vote. I can financially support enterprises that address the issues that matter most to me.

    But I’ve also concluded that the most productive outlet for my news-driven thoughts and anxieties is to get involved in addressing local issues in my own neighborhood.

    Global transformation begins with local grassroots activism in our own communities where humans like you and me get involved in the bad news in our own backyard.

    We all live on an island. Get involved in yours.

    Order Dick’s Newest Book: About You, Fully Human. Fully Alive

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    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
    OR
    The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

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    Posted in Staublog in October 21, 2010 by | No Comments »