News That Illustrates for Sunday, September 14th - September 21st
News That Illustrates for Sunday, September 14th - September 21st
The Google Oracle, Disorders Everywhere, and a 911 Facebook Emergency
Google, the Oracle
Some tech companies think they can help you know your future. Imagine a personal assistant—like Apple's Siri—that could provide you with specific advice about your future health issues, financial investments, and more, receiving answers from an all-knowing "oracle": a vast interactive storehouse of knowledge. According to a recent article on New Scientist, Google is building the largest store of knowledge in human history—without any human help. Their "Knowledge Vault" gathers and merges information from across the web, and supposedly "promises to let Google answer questions like an oracle rather than a search engine, and even to turn a new lens on human history." But think of this—even the most advanced AI can never compete with our omniscient God. Isn't it comforting to know we have a God who knows the present, the past, and the future. We may try to know everything, but there is only One who ever will.
PREACHING ANGLES: Future; God's Wisdom; Knowledge; Omniscience; Predictions; Pride
The Under-Appreciated Home-cooked Meal
Recent research shared by The Smithsonian highlights something that stay-at-home mom's have felt for a long time: home-cooking is a burden on women and under-appreciated by men and kids. Despite the incredible benefits of community, nutrition, and culture that home-cooking provides, it's an increasing struggle in modern life to put that home-cooking on the table. When it is, the food is "often met with whines and complaints from both their kids and husbands or boyfriends. As the researchers reported, 'We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn't complain about the food they were served.'" There are two things to take away from this: 1) Whether you're a man, women, or child, work to cook at home and be grateful for your food. 2) This is a picture of how so many of us view Communion or the Eucharist. The Table is set, with a lavish meal that cost our Host so much. And so often, we brush by it with hardly a thought, or meet it with inner complaints and whining instead of the deep gratitude such care, love, and selfless nourishment deserves.
PREACHING ANGLES: Communion; Eucharist; Family; Food; Meals; Mothers; Motherhood
When a Lie Comes to Light
Josh Shaw, cornerback and captain for the University of Southern California's football team, recently sprained both of his ankles. Why does this make headlines? Well, he lied about how he did it. What began as an awe inspiring story of saving his nephew from drowning, turned out to be a lie. According to the original story on ESPN, Shaw saw his nephew struggling in a pool and "jumped from a second-floor balcony onto concrete below and crawled into the pool where he was able to help his nephew to safety." His coach, Steve Sarkisian called him a hero saying, "That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside. But that's the kind of person he is." But that is also where the story started falling apart. Many people called USC to say the story wasn't true. Ultimately, Josh Shaw had to confess it wasn't. He's been suspended from the team indefinitely and is still being considered a suspect in a burglary and domestic dispute. What a great reminder of Numbers 32:23, "But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out," and Psalm 90:8, "You have set our iniquities before you, and our secret sins in the light of your presence."
PREACHING ANGLES: Lies; Light; Lying; Sin
Portraits of Your Trash
A recent photo project artfully pictures 9 households lying down with a week's worth of their accumulated trash. The images are potent visuals for our wasteful consumer culture, which sees so many of the items in our daily lives as disposable. The series aims to bring awareness of our throwaway habits—something that is invisible to most of us. Have you ever considered stewardship not just in terms of what you spend and save, but in terms of the impact that your lifestyle has on our common resources and environment? In a trash-making culture, what would it look like for Christians to take a stand to reduce their consumption as icons of a better way to live—the way of a coming kingdom perfectly stewarded by God and his people?
PREACHING ANGLES: Consumption; Consumerism; Garbage; Trash; Lifestyle
Shining Light on New Disorders
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recently was released. This has been dubbed, " the bible of psychiatry." But it is being received with an overwhelming negative response. The reason? According to the Everyday Bioethics website, "DSM-5 added ten new mental illness diagnoses and loosened the criteria for many others." The article goes on to say, "Current odds are that, based on the DSM-5, half the population will have a diagnosable disorder in their lifetime." Some examples: recurring overindulgence is now Binge Eating Disorder, children with temper tantrums suffer from Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, there is now a Hoarding Disorder, and finally Caffeine Withdrawal. It seems like everything is being labeled a disorder! We in no way make light of mental health issues, and crave the day when our every disorder will be redeemed. But in recognizing how many problems in our lives are outside our control, we also need to recognize that some of our "disorders" are the result of sin, demanding the Cure of Souls.
PREACHING ANGLES: Cure; Disorder; Health; Mental Health; Mental Illness; Wellness
Suicide has been in the news a lot lately—particularly with the high-profile death of comedian Robin Williams. And unfortunately, many of us Christians don't know how to respond in a healthy way to issues of potential suicide or the aftermath of suicide. But in a recent interview, expert and author Karen Mason talks about the many powerful ways that a church can respond to issues of suicide. She concludes: "We in the community of faith offer prayer to the Great Physician for healing for our suicidal brothers and sisters. We stand firm with them because their hope is eroded, and we claim for them our faithful certainty in the God who is present, loving, and sovereign. We lament the brokenness of this world, and wait for God to redeem all suffering and create a new heaven and earth. In the meantime, we help people get treatment. Following a suicide, we offer a non-judgmental ministry of presence. We allow lament, 'Why, God?' We offer practical help like meals or visits or babysitting for the long haul. Whatever a community of faith does following other deaths, they ought to do following a suicide. And in that way, we take a hopeful step in preventing suicide by recognizing it and talking about it." How can we help intervene with proactive compassion for the most vulnerable among us? Engaging our community with hope and practical support is a clear way we can love our neighbors—inside and outside the church.
PREACHING ANGLES: Health; Mental Health; Suicide
"Hello, 911, Facebook is Down"
Los Angeles, California recently saw an emergency of social proportions when popular website Facebook went down. Multiple L.A. residents called their local 911 emergency services number to report the outage, prompting confusion as to how exactly the outage threatened anything except sharing vintage-filter photos of that day's cappuccino. The article noted, "It's not the first time that people have called law enforcement to complain about domestic issues: Last summer, residents of a Connecticut town called 911 when a cable outage interrupted viewing of the popular TV show 'Breaking Bad.' The LAPD also estimates that 70% of calls to 911 this year have been non-emergency calls, including a man who called to complain that he hadn't gotten cheese on his hamburger." Here's what that illustrates: there are things in our lives that we think we need (even considering it an emergency if we lose them), that we simply don't. What would you call 911 if you lost? Consider it well—it might just show you where your heart is.
PREACHING ANGLES: Emergencies; Priorities; Heart