News That Illustrates for Sunday, August 24th – 31st
News That Illustrates for Sunday, August 24th – 31st
A Ferguson Peacemaker, Haircuts for the Homeless, and the Loneliest Man in History.
In Grieving Ferguson, an Unlikely Peacemaker
After the recent shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, unrest and violence—including civilian looting and violent repression by local police—has turned the town into a "war zone." The situation in Ferguson is anything but simple, with decades of racial oppression, misunderstandings, and a militarized local police force combining for hurt and trouble. But the clash of protesters and police is seeing an unlikely peacemaking leader in police Capt. Ronald Johnson, who was eventually assigned to handle security. Johnson's early tactics pulled back the brutal police response, even demanding that officers remove their gas masks from their kits (tear gas has been widely used against residents). According to an article in The New York Times, at one point Capt. Johnson and a woman from the community talked about the story of Jesus Christ and an apostle, Peter, walking on water. Johnson said, "[This frightened woman from the community] said, 'When Peter got scared, Jesus picked him up and said, have faith'" and then Johnson added, "And I'm telling you today, we need to be just like Peter because I know we're scared." The situation in Ferguson is still far from resolved, but let's hope people will be taken to heart by the powerful in Ferguson, and remember Jesus, the great Peacemaker who identified with the oppressed and brought both peace and justice.
PREACHING ANGLES: Justice; Racism; Peacemakers; Violence
Facebook Tests New "Satire" Tag, in Effort to Boost Discernment
Perhaps you've seen the headlines like these: "ExxonMobil, Chevron Locked in Bidding War to Acquire Lucrative Pennsylvania Senator." "Elderly Dog Can Already Tell Owner Doesn't Think She's Worth $3,000 Gallstone Surgery." "Environmental Study Finds Air In Chicago Now 75% Bullets." "Obama Has Colorado Appraised." Satire "news" outlet The Onion has long been known for parodying wooden news headlines with bitingly funny observations on current trends and events. So good are they, that an increasing number of people are accepting their satiric reporting as real, and sharing it online as actual news. It's gotten so bad that Facebook is now tagging some posts shared by users as "satire," in an effort to reduce the social shame of finding out that apparently, John Kerry did not pose as a masseuse to get a few minutes with Vladimir Putin. It's a laughable reminder of the need for discernment in our lives. Not everything actually is what it seems to be on the surface. We need to be careful, inquisitive, and open-minded, using good discernment in what we do, say, and … share.
PREACHING ANGLES: Deception; Decision Making; Discernment; Wisdom
Can People Die of a "Broken Heart"?
BBC news writer Stephen Evans was curious—he'd heard account after account of long-married elderly couples who, sometimes inexplicably, died a very short time from one another. In a recent article, he asks, "Can You Die from a Broken Heart?" What he found was interesting—research indicates that while the numbers of such incidents are small, if you've lost your life partner within the past month, your chances of heart attack or stroke double. The numbers are statistically significant. The bottom line? As one key researcher, Dr. Sunil Shah, comments: "We often use the term a 'broken heart' to signify the pain of losing a loved-one and our study shows that bereavement can have a direct effect on the health of the heart." Our well being, even in our physical health, is so closely tied to those we love. Our losses directly affect us—even on the physical level. How good it is, in a world of loss and pain, that we have a God who is close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18).
PREACHING ANGLES: Death; Grief; Loss; Marriage
New York Hair Stylist Cuts the Hair of the Homeless
Mark Bustos, a hair stylist at an upscale New York salon, spends Sunday (his one day off) cutting hair, just like the rest of the week. Well, almost like the rest of the week. Because on Sundays, Bustos' clientele don't have to pay. From The Huffington Post: "Approaching each person with the same, simple phrase—'I want to do something nice for you today' —Bustos provides cuts to up to six people every Sunday, capturing many stylings on his Instagram account." The caption to one of his photos sums up his philosophy of generosity: "Every human life is worth the same. We all deserve a second chance."
PREACHING ANGLES: Dignity; Generosity; Human worth; Kindness; Love
The 'Loneliest Human Being' in History Talks about Perspective
Al Worden, the command module pilot of the 1971 Apollo 15 moon mission, has the strange honor of having been the most isolated human being in history. During his orbits of the moon, with his teammates over 2,200 miles away on the lunar surface, Worden, very much all by himself, got a perspective on the cosmos that only a handful of humans ever have had. "I got to look at the universe out there with a very different perspective and a very different way than anyone had before." Worden says. "What I found was that the number of stars was just so immense. In fact I couldn't pick up individual stars, it was like a sheet of light. I found that fascinating because it changed my ideas about how we think about the Universe. There are billions of stars out there—the Milky Way galaxy that we're in contains billions of stars, not just a few. And there are billions of galaxies out there. So what does that tell you about the Universe? That tells you we just don't think big enough. … [Y]ou want to feel insignificant? Go behind the Moon sometime. That'll make you really feel that you're nothing!" Sometimes, we have experiences that put our own smallness into perspective, as we are faced with something utterly beyond us. For you, that experience probably won't come on the far side of the moon. But it can come right here on earth—in the presence of the God who fashioned the cosmos, and still cares personally for you.
PREACHING ANGLES: Contemplation; God, greatness of; Human limitations
A German Professor's Crazy Recycling Idea
The need for sustainable manufacturing and consumption has never been greater, with humanity's throw-away tendencies profoundly impacting the environment, creating a culture of waste and disposability. But what practical alternatives exist, given our entrenched values of consumption? One possibility comes from German chemist Michael Braungart, author of Cradle to Cradle, whose fan-base includes Brad Pitt, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other high-profile names. Braungart's idea is simple: instead of rewarding companies to produce low quality disposable goods that—even with the best current recycling programs—will likely find their way into a landfill, to have consumers "lease" high quality goods for a set time span, after which, the product would return for replacement and recycling to the manufacturer. "In Braungart's universe, every product is basically designed to either decompose without causing any harm or to be recycled without loss of quality. His vision is of a planet on which no garbage accumulates, because all waste becomes food." Whether or not this ever happens, it's a compelling idea—and a reminder of a spiritual principle. You see, there is another economy where nothing is ever wasted—God's. No suffering or joy, no hardship or pleasure go unnoticed or uncared for by God. "All things work together for good," Paul writes. In spiritual terms, that means that the spiritual life, like Braun art's system, can be a place where even "garbage" can nourish us, and nothing will be thrown away. Only transformed.
PREACHING ANGLES: Consumption; Creation; Environment; Sovereignty of God
New Attraction in China Simulates Your Own Death
A morbid new "game" in Shanghai, China allows participants to experience their own death, complete with simulate cremation. The Samadhi—4D Experience of Death, a game that has participants complete challenges to delay "death" as long as possible before "cremation" and a return to a womb-like chamber for "rebirth," was prompted by "soul-searching" on the parts of creators Huange Weiping and Ding Rui. The Telegraph quotes Ding: "We lack understanding of death and the fear can become so overwhelming" said Ding, who hopes the death-simulating experience will provide "life education" and help people to confront their mortality." We humans deal with our approaching death in many different ways, from culture to culture, and individual to individual. But one thing is certain—we all must face it. Jesus spoke frequently of death, and the need to prepare now for eternity. Are you prepared in body, mind, and soul? If not, I know of a game in Shanghai that might get you thinking about it.
PREACHING ANGLES: Death; Life, short; Mortality