News That Illustrates: April 9, 2012
A Monument to Quiet Acts of Self-Sacrifice
Here's a great way to set up a sermon on Christ's sacrificial love or substitutionary atonement. Postman's Park, described as a "small slice of greenery in the middle of the city of London," is home to an unusual monument to heroism. This park commemorates 54 everyday heroes, ordinary men and women who gave their lives so someone else could live. The park contains 54 plain ceramic plaques that briefly retell the stories of these rescuers who died in the act of saving someone else's life. Of course although Christ died in an ordinary place on a plain wooden cross, and although many viewed him as an ordinary itinerant rabbi, on Good Friday we remember that this ordinary death leads to our rescue.
PREACHING ANGLES: Atonement; Christ, death of; Substitution
Our Ongoing Fascination with the Titanic
At 2:20 A.M. on April 15, 1912, the "unsinkable" R.M.S. Titanic disappeared beneath the waves. This National Geographic article wonders why the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic still has such a "magnetic pull on our imagination" even after 100 years. The author notes how the disaster undermined our pride in technological progress: "An illusion of orderliness, a faith in technological progress, a yearning for the future that, as Europe drifted toward full-scale war, was soon replaced by fears and dreads all too familiar to our modern world. 'The Titanic disaster was the bursting of a bubble,' James Cameron [the co-producer of the movie] told me. [Cameron said], 'There was such a sense of bounty in the first decade of the 20th century. Elevators! Automobiles! Airplanes! Wireless radio! Everything seemed so wondrous, on an endless upward spiral. Then it all came crashing down.'"
PREACHING ANGLES: Arrogance; Life, short; Mortality; Pride
The Odds of Winning the Mega Millions Jackpot
This past week three folks split the record-breaking Mega Million jackpot worth $656 million. But lest you want to try your luck at the lotto, this article pointed out that the odds are stacked against you. For instance, here's a list of events that are more likely than winning the jackpot—being struck by lightning (a one out of a million chance), getting wiped out by an asteroid (one-in-a-few million chance), dying from a bee sting (a one in 6.1 million chance), dying in a plane crash (a one in 29.4 million chance), and getting a royal flush in five-card draw poker (a one in 649,740 chance). And yet some people keep risking their luck on the lotto.
PREACHING ANGLES: Faith; Risk; Trust
Has the Sexual Revolution Been Good for Women?
The Wall Street Journal ran two articles representing both sides of this debate. This article by Mary Eberstadt concluded that the sexual revolution has not been good for women. She concludes by dispelling Myth No. 4, namely that the sexual revolution has made women happier. Eberstadt writes that if women are happier then "What of the fact, widely reported earlier this week, that 26 percent of American women are on some kind of mental-health medication for anxiety and depression and related problems? Or how about what is known in sociology as 'the paradox of declining female happiness'? Using 35 years of data from the General Social Survey, two Wharton School economists, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, made the case in 2009 that women's happiness appeared to be declining over time despite their advances in the work force and education."
PREACHING ANGLE: Happiness; Sex; Women
Google Earth Zooms in on India's Shantytowns
This story reported on the ability of Google Earth to take pictures of India's worst slums. "Before Google Earth existed," the article started, "the slums of Sangli, a city of 550,000 in southwestern India, was acknowledged on government maps by nothing more than some clumsily outlined, empty spaces. But then, from high in the sky, the eye of a satellite saw what no municipal geometer had taken the trouble to show: small islands of huts with dilapidated roofs spread throughout the city. Thanks to the satellite images available on Google Earth, a full picture of these forgotten slums has emerged. They now have borders; they are mapped; they have an identity." Of course as followers of Christ we would say that these slums—and every person within the slums—already had a name and an identity and that all the hairs on their head had been counted (Matthew 10:30).
PREACHING ANGLES: God's Love; God's Omniscience; Poverty
Going to Lunch with Jeremy Lin
A few weeks ago we reported on the ESPN employee who was fired for using a racially-insensitive headline for Jeremy Lin. The employee, Anthony Federico, who calls himself a committed Christian, apologized for the headline and asked for Lin's forgiveness. Lin, another committed Christian, promptly forgave Federico. But this week Lin took it one step further and met Federico for lunch. Federico said, "We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation. We talked about our shared Christian values and what we're both trying do with this situation …. We didn't talk about the headline for more than three minutes."
PREACHING ANGLES: Forgiveness; Peacemakers; Reconciliation