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News That Illustrates for Sunday, May 26th—June 2nd

Stanley Cup Glory, Google and Your Past, and Michael Jackson vs. the Resurrection

The Price of Stanley Cup Hockey Glory
Bumps, bruises, fractures, missing teeth and facial rearrangements are an almost every-game occurrence for NHL players in their mad quest for silver glory that is the Stanley Cup. Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland observes: "Two months of playoffs will age a player more than an 82-game regular season." For instance, the Anaheim Duck's Ryan Getzlaf's cratered face took a puck to the chin during a playoff game on April 16, 2014. Doctors sewed him up. His face was "swollen and stitched, with a jagged line of sutures (doctors said there were too many to count) running from the right corner of his mouth to the left side of his jawbone." He sipped his meals through a straw the next day and played in the Duck's next game two days later wearing a face mask. Former NHL star Wayne Gretzky said that's how you win championships. Immediately after being swept in 4 games in the finals to the New York Islanders, he visited the Islander locker room: "Guys were limping around with black eyes and bloody mouths. It looked more like a morgue in there than a champion's locker room. And here we were perfectly fine and healthy. That's why they won and we lost. They took more punishment than we did. … They sacrificed everything they had. And that's when (my teammate) Kevin Lowe said something I'll never forget. He said: 'That's how you win championships.'" (Thanks to Jerry de Luca for this story.)

PREACHING ANGLES: Commitment; Discipline; Sacrifice

Michael Jackson and the Resurrection
In case you were wondering, the Resurrection will be better than that Michael Jackson Hologram. The recent 2014 Billboard music awards featured a performance of Michael Jackson singing "Slave to the Rhythm," which, of course, is strange—given that the King of Pop has been dead since 2009. The miracle was the result of a holographic image integrated with a team of real dancers and special effects. It took six months for the production team to pull it off. I'll let you be the judge of whether it was worth it or not. The final product, while amazing from a technological perspective, never lets you forget that you're looking at something fake. As hard as they tried to raise the pop star from the dead, and as lifelike as their hologram is at moments, it lacks something human, something essential, something real. We won't though, when God raises us up at the last day. The promise of the resurrection is not for the unreality of a hologram, nor is it for some kind of fuzzy disembodied existence. It is to sing, to dance, to live and work as real beings. As resurrected beings. As sons and daughters of God, made anew for a New Earth.

PREACHING ANGLES: Christ, resurrection of; Death; Resurrection

Google Must 'Erase' Your Past (But It Still Can't Forgive Your Sins)
In 2008, a now-defunct British tabloid wrongly accused Max Mosley of some wicked deeds. He sued the tabloid for breaching his privacy and won. But thanks to Google the allegations remained on the Internet. Mosley and many others who feel their lives are tainted by the smears and irrelevancies which search engines link to their names finally got their redress. Europe's top court ruled that Internet companies can now be forced to remove excessive personal information from search engine results. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) upheld the complaint of a Spanish man who objected to the fact that Google searches on his name threw up links to a 1998 newspaper article about the repossession of his home. The case highlighted the struggle in cyberspace between free speech advocates and supporters of privacy rights who say people should have the "right to be forgotten"—meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the Internet. While the ruling eliminates links to the public nature of our personal stains, what we desperately need is a God who is willing and able to deal with the crimson stain. (Thanks to Van Morris from Mt. Washington, Kentucky for this story.)

PREACHING ANGLES: Atonement; Christ, blood of; Christ, cross of; Forgiveness, divine;

The 'Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality' Line Strikes Again
I'm sure you've heard the following two popular lines of thought regarding homosexuality: 1) Jesus never mentioned it so we shouldn't either; 2) Leviticus sure has some weird stuff to say about eating oysters and stoning witches so we sure can't trust what it said about sexual morality. In a recent interview, the brilliant novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson trotted out both of those arguments. In response, Wesley Hill, who reveres Robinson as a writer, argues that no Christian he's aware of bases his or her views on the morality of same-sex sexual partnerships on Leviticus alone. Rather, Hill writes, "The reason Leviticus remains a part of the ongoing Christian conversation on these matters is that the New Testament exhibits a certain continuity with the Old Testament's prohibition of same-sex sexual behavior." Hill adds, "Robinson's answer here suggests that Jesus knew of many same-sex couples and remained silent on the ethical status of their relationships. The implication, it seems, is that if Jesus saw no need to carry forward Leviticus' explicit prohibitions of same-sex sexual behavior, then neither should Christians today. Leaving aside the myth of a sexually tolerant Jesus that Robinson's answer conjures, we have here—again—a misunderstanding about how traditional Christians form their ethical convictions." Read the whole thing. It's a concise and compelling dismantling of that all-too-familiar line of thought.

PREACHING ANGLES: Homosexuality; Same-Sex Marriage

$40,000 Found in Couch … And Returned
The Little Rebellion recently broke a story about three college students who bought a $20 couch from a second-hand shop. To their amazement they found envelopes of money stuffed inside the couch—to the tune of $40,000. Reese Werkhoven, one of the students said, "The most money I'd ever found in a couch was like fifty cents." And who needs money more than college students? But Lara Russo, another student, found an envelope that had a woman's name on it. Lara said, "We had a lot of moral discussions about the money. We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to—it's their money—we didn't earn it." So the students did some digging and found the woman's contact information. Reese then called the woman and the three students piled in the car with the money. After arriving in a creaky old house in a rough neighborhood, they were greeted by a friendly 91-year-old woman, her daughter, and granddaughter. For years, at her late-husbands request, the woman had been squirreling away the money in her couch until she had to dump it at the Salvation Army. She rewarded the honest college students with a $1,000 "thank you." What would you have done? Keep in mind that the college students weren't just honest. They were diligent about doing the right thing.

Preaching Angles: Ethics; Honesty; Responsibility

Americans Claim to Attend Church Much More Than They Do
According to a recent study from the Public Religion Research Institute, Americans may not be telling the truth about church attendance. But the real story here isn't just the headline; it's where the exaggeration of church attendance comes from in the first place. For context: gauging exaggeration in a poll is notoriously difficult—after all, your numbers are only as good as people's honesty. So to see how much exaggeration was present in people's reported church attendance, this study gathered data by using two platforms—a phone interview and an online survey. In the impersonal online survey, participants were less likely to exaggerate their church attendance … showing "much lower levels of worship attendance." Why? Because of what sociologists call "social desirability bias." We've all felt it, it's the desire to exaggerate something about ourselves that we feel will impress others. Here's the bottom line: we live in a culture where church attendance is dropping dramatically, but people still feel a strong bias to be perceived as attendees. Where does that hypocrisy come from? Is it positively or negatively motivated? If church is socially desirable, why aren't we attending it more? I guess we need another survey …

PREACHING ANGLES: Attendance; Church; Involvement

Christian Incarnation in a 'Rootless, Screen-addicted' World
Ever get tired of the endless buzzing of your smartphone, the deluge of emails, and the million and one digital notifications that seem like unavoidable parts of life today? Missional thinker Michael Frost is too—and he thinks they're symptoms of a deep and pernicious disease for Christians. Frost says that modern life is increasingly "excarnate" or "de-fleshed." It's a "rootless, screen-addicted" world, that flies right in the face of Christianity's central teaching—the Incarnation. Frost says: "[M]any people don't think hard enough about whether they like the way technology is shaping them… . We need to live a fully embodied existence, in community, and in place … . [I]f technology wrenches us out of a meaningful sense of embodiment, away from connection with neighbors, and out of the place in which we live, we lose something precious and important. Using web-based tools is great, but so is walking your neighborhood, hosting dinner parties, volunteering at community gardens, sharing a table at a soup kitchen, playing with children, gardening, sports, games, and sex. You can't phone those things in." No you can't, church. No you can't.

PREACHING ANGLES: Community; Incarnation; Mission; Technology

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