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News That Illustrates for Sunday, March 3rd-10th

A Makeshift Hospital in Kiev, the Uncool Snowboarder, and How to Repel Teenagers

A Makeshift Hospital for the Wounded in Kiev
Three months of unrest in Ukraine finally spiraled out of control a few weeks ago. Government forces led by former President Viktor F. Yanukovych clashed with protestors, leaving 88 people dead and hundreds injured—the worst violence in Ukraine since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In the midst of the violence and chaos, Reuters news outlet ran the following story about an old monastery in Kiev that ministered to the wounded: "The injured, bloodied and bandaged, lay … on the floor of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery. The combat fatigues and green helmets of some recalled the primitive field hospitals of distant wars. As the death toll climbed … the wounded sought refuge on Wednesday beneath the bell tower of a sympathetic Kiev church. Volunteers sorted through medical supplies—iodine, gauze, bandages—brought in bags and boxes by anxious residents of the capital. Doctors tended to the wounded on beds in a side-building of the monastery complex, while people hurried through the main doors clutching bottled water, bread, ham and processed cheese." There's a beautiful reminder that the church really is a hospital for sinners.

PREACHING ANGLES: Church; Compassion; Mission;

Can Resilience Be Learned? A Lesson from an Olympic Skater
Resilience. Grit. Tenacity. There are a lot of words for that quality of endurance that is the difference between giving up and going on. In a recent article inspired by the Sochi Olympics (specifically the hard crash and comeback of skater Jeremy Abbott), the BBC asks if that quality is something that can be learned. Here's the answer from researcher Sydney Finklestein: " … humility and open-mindedness in the face of mistakes is the single best thing you can do to improve results. Everyone fails. But not everyone recovers from failure. The key is to learn from it rather than get beaten by it." Yes, resilience can be learned. But the key to gaining that endurance? Humility.

PREACHING ANGLES: Endurance; Failure; Humility; Pride

The Uncool Life of Olympian David Wise
Also from the Olympics, NBC ran an interesting story on David Wise, the 23-year-old American who just won a gold medal in the halfpipe. The article's headline ran "David Wise's alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold." What was his "alternative lifestyle" asked journalist Mollie Hemingway. "Is he pangendered? Is he polygamous? Is he dwelling in a commune eating only raw foods? What could it be?" No, Wise is married, has a two-year-old daughter, doesn't party, works out at the gym, and he's a committed Christian. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road. The article mostly lauded Wise for his maturity in a sport that seems to breed immaturity. But Hemingway had a good point about that NBC headline: "Isn't it fascinating that NBC views a man taking care of his wife and daughter as an alternative lifestyle? I'm glad David Wise won gold, but if this is any indication of media views on normalcy, our society is pretty much doomed." For his part, Wise merely agreed that his "lifestyle" is a little weird. He said, "A lot of people look at me and say that I am counterculture."

PREACHING ANGLES: Conformity; Christian life; Discipleship

How to Repel Teenagers from McDonalds—Play Classical Music
Illustrating the old adage that one man's treasure is another man's trash, a McDonalds franchise from the "land down under" found a classy solution to an awkward problem last fall. The franchise began to play loud classical music to disperse troublesome late night crowds of teenagers. According to The Daily Telegraph, Matthew Watson, the operations manager at the Mt Annan McDonald's on the outskirts of Sydney, said the music had been a successful deterrent. Watson said, "We've noticed a reduction in the number of young people hanging around, but we'll have to reassess it properly in a couple of weeks. We play a range of classical and opera music and so far it seems to be working." I guess what's beautiful to some is repellent to others. Perhaps like St. Paul's view of the gospel? To some, the smell of life. To others, the smell of death. On the other hand, this illustration also might say something about our witness—are we intentionally playing "music" for the world to hear that's driving people away?

PREACHING ANGLES: Evangelism; Gospel; Offense; Witnessing

Robbery Victim Strikes Back
You have to hand it to the robbery victim who chased a thug through a Manhattan subway tunnel. The suspect, Jeff Hamm, a career criminal, robbed his 52-year old victim, taking $94. But in a dramatic display of determination and guts, the victim didn't want revenge, but he did seek justice. So a dramatic subterranean chase ensued in which the victim started chasing Hamm through a subway tunnel. Hamm tried dodging the justice-seeking victim, craftily moving around the subway tracks. But the victim remained on his heels until he managed to flag a police officer who made the arrest. It's a great illustration about determination, the quest for justice, or just not rolling over and being nice in the face of injustice.

PREACHING ANGLES: Character; Courage; Determination; Justice

Joni Speaks Out on Belgium's New Euthanasia Law
Time ran an interesting response to a new Belgium euthanasia law—interesting because it was written by the Christian writer Joni Eareckson Tada. According to a BBC article the Belgium parliament has approved a law that will make Belgium the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice. But Joni argues, "To have an adult in authority approach [a child] and suggest euthanasia as an alternative to life is swinging the compassion pendulum to the outer edges of horror." Then Joni offers her own story of finding God's purpose in suffering: "After I broke my neck in a 1967 diving accident and learned I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life, I was convinced my life was not worth living. Had it been legal, most people would have thought that euthanasia was a rational choice for me, a depressed 17-year-old quadriplegic waning away in a hospital for almost two years. However, time—that prized commodity which is forever lost after you die - taught me how precious life really is, even with hands that don't work and feet that don't walk. Now, decades later, millions of people have been encouraged because of our ministry for special-needs families at Joni and Friends International Disability Center. If I had chosen death, none of that could have happened."

PREACHING ANGLES: Providence of God; Sovereignty of God; Suffering

Reflecting on the Joyful Comedy of Harry Ramis
The New Yorker has a brief reflection remembering the comedic career of actor and moviemaker Harry Ramis, who died last week at the age of 69. Sarah Larson begins: "People my age loved Harold Ramis before we even knew who he was; when we were kids, the subversive gaiety he inspired through the movies he co-wrote, directed, and acted in was everywhere … " Fittingly she ends, "You don't take something as joyous as the comedy of Harold Ramis and use it for selfishness. It's here to make the world more fun." A sense of outward giving, of joy and laughter don't characterize all comedy. But they characterized Harry Ramis's comedy. When people look at you, do they see the same sense of "subversive gaiety?" Do they see the selflessness of true joy?


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