News That Illustrates for Sunday, January 27th – February 2nd
News That Illustrates for Sunday, January 27th – February 2nd
Apology Fail, Burning Toilet Paper, and The Million Dollar Minion Man
Defense Minister Botches an Apology
Here's a perfect example of how NOT to offer an apology (which also applies to how NOT to repent before God). Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's diplomatic efforts an "incomprehensible obsession" and that Kerry had "a messianic feeling." Ya'alon added that Kerry should "take his Nobel Prize and leave us alone" and that the U.S.'s security plan was "not worth the paper it was written on." As you might imagine, Ya'alon's statements sparked serious tension between the two countries. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman called Ya'alon's remarks "offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the U.S. is doing to support Israel's security needs." A real apology might look like this: I did a bad thing. I am sorry and I won't do it again. Instead, Ya'alon offered this half-hearted attempt: "The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister." Notice Kerry is really at fault, not Ya'alon. Apology fail! Please try again.
PREACHING ANGLES: Apology; Conflict; Forgiveness; Repentance
Man Makes Millions Off Despicable Me Minions
Chris Meledandri has become one of the industry's rising stars thanks to hits such as the Despicable Me films and the blockbuster Ice Age series while heading the animation business at 20th Century Fox. His company, Illumination Entertainment, was 2013's top-grossing animated movie, outstripping rival efforts from the likes of Disney and DreamWorks Animation. But Mr. Meledandri offers a powerful lesson: Be willing to serve behind the scenes. His first job was the antithesis of Hollywood glamour. In an article in the Financial Times he said, "My responsibilities ranged from taking the dog to the vet, to shopping for Christmas gifts, to being a courier for 35mm film canisters." Yet the experience he gained was invaluable. "I got complete access and exposure to virtually every aspect of producing a film, from the earliest conversations about ideas, to script development, to scheduling and budgeting, to marketing." In other words, lowly servanthood does offer some powerful life lessons.
PREACHING ANGLES: Humility; Service; Servanthood
Iranian Man Sets World Record for Non-bathing
Here's an interesting test to see how much we could practice Christlike love for "challenging" people. The Iranian News Agency (IRNA) recently published pictures of an Iranian man who set a new world record for the number of years spent without bathing. Amoo Hadji has now gone 60 years without a bath. An article in The Middle East Monitor reports, "The man eats dead animals, and his most prized possession is his pipe, which is 3 inches in diameter, in which he smokes animal dung. Amoo Hadji lives in a stone shack built for him by his neighbours and he rests in a hole in the ground resembling a grave." The news agency also noted that when he feels cold, "he wears a helmet and lights up several cigarettes at a time." Sure, he's a bit "unlovely," but spiritually speaking, I wonder how we all appear before God. On the other hand, this man models contentment. The article says, "The villagers who care for him also say he is a lot happier than some people who live in large homes with comforts and conveniences." PREACHING ANGLES: Acceptance; Contentment; Judging Others; Love; Unconditional Love
Money Can't Buy Meaning; Only Religion Can
For years now researchers have been trying to determine if money can buy happiness. Previous research has shown that wealthy countries typically rank higher on life satisfaction (or happiness), which is not the same as meaning. But a recent extensive study focused on what gives life meaning. Surprisingly, the researchers found that meaning in life derives primarily from one source—religion. An article in The Atlantic reported that the researchers analyzed numerous factors—education, fertility rates, individualism, and social support (having relatives and friends to count on in troubled times)—to see if they could explain the findings, but in the end it came down to religion. The study said, "Instead of relying on religion to give life meaning, people in wealthy societies today try to create their own meaning via their identity and self-knowledge. … Creating the meaning of your own life sounds very nice as an ideal, but in reality it may be impossible." The study doesn't explicitly focus on Christ, but it does show the hollowness of secularism. PREACHING ANGLES: Abundant life; Happiness; Meaning: Secularism
Burning Toilet Paper Destroys House
Cheryl Crausewell of Dora, Alabama wasn't happy about the toilet paper in her magnolia tree. A prank she wasn't laughing about, she was intent on cleaning it up ASAP. Her solution for the hard-to-reach bits? Fire. Of course it didn't turn out well. Burning toilet paper set her grass, then her house on fire. The house? "A total loss." Oh, and there's still toilet paper in her trees. If we misjudge the severity of a situation, or respond to conflict with more force than we need to, the solution to a problem can be far, far worse than the problem itself. You may just see a whole life's work or relationship go up in flames. All for a little bit of "toilet paper."
PREACHING ANGLES: Conflict; Forgiveness; Conflict Management; Conflict Resolution
Uganda, One of the Harshest Nations for Gays, One of the Top Gay Porn Consumers
Whatever your stance on sexuality and politics, this is a poignant illustration of hypocrisy and obsession. Uganda, known for its recent proposed law sentencing anyone convicted of homosexuality to lifetime imprisonment (lightened from the death penalty in an act of legislative clemency), plus prison time for citizens who do not report gay people within 24 hours. In a last minute surprise, the president of Uganda refused to sign the bill into law, fearing that it would only encourage the "problem" to go underground. There's some logic to that. According to recent stats from Google, Uganda is the third largest gay porn consumer in the world, following similarly repressive nations Kenya and Pakistan. Analysts link the repressive culture with private "obsession" about homosexuality. What is it about harsh commands to not do or be something that makes us desperately want to do or be that thing? Our nature hates a "don't," and we will look for ways around it in secret anyway we can. Repression and obsession are strange, but familiar, bedfellows.
PREACHING ANGLES: Carnality; Law; Human condition; Rebellion
Latvians Unite to Move Library By Hand
It was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside in the Latvian capital of Riga last Saturday, but 15,000 people still turned out in a show of unity and support for their local library. The national library, to be specific, which just moved to a new building. Though they only moved about 2,000 volumes of the far larger library by hand, the human chain echoed Latvia's difficult days coming out of communism, and celebrated a new direction for the country. As seems fitting: "The first book to be placed on the shelves in the new building was a copy of the Bible." The human chain is a powerful image of unity, and passing our culture from one hand to the next. Are we faithful to keep giving others the precious things that we have been given so that we all can benefit?
PREACHING ANGLES: Unity; Community; Trust; Community impact