Tag: Christianity

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Married people or even anyone who has shared a romantic connection might have occasionally wondered: “Why can others not see what I see in this person? Why are they not thrilled and impressed as I am?” Everyone experiences something similar when trying and failing to share any focus of joy. From music and stories to […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Never Say Never

 

I think everyone must have their own “never say never” story, and this is mine. 

I have been involved with my church’s 20s/30s singles group for quite a few years now, and something we’ve done for a long time is discipleship groups (or d-groups). These are small gender-specific groups that meet during the week, usually at someone’s house, for deeper fellowship and Bible study. I really enjoy d-groups and signed up for one right away. But after I had been a member of a d-group a couple of times, our leader, Kelly, started asking me to think about leading or co-leading one. 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Satan, Theologian

 

Today, we hear again of Christ’s temptation by Satan in the desert. Note what occurs in the second temptation:

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,

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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday for Catholics. It begins the penitential season of Lent. There is no clearer reminder for our neighbors than the mark of death (ashes) upon our foreheads that the will to assert claims of truth and claims of sin — identifying misbehavior so that all may flourish through right conduct — neither […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Super Bowl: A Data Point on the Re-emergence of Roman Decadence

 

A friend of mine recently lent me a book called The Social Results of Early Christianity, by C. Schmidt, Professor of Theology in Strasburg. The impetus for the book, written in the 19th century, was an essay contest proposed by the French Academy “to trace the influence of Charity on the Roman World during the first centuries of the Christian era.” The first third of the book is devoted to describing various facets of Roman society and culture as they existed at the appearance of Christianity.

The parallels of pre-Christian Roman culture to the ethos of secular Western culture in our own age are numerous. Chapter 3, section 5 addresses the “Occupations of Slaves. Actors. Gladiators.” The Super Bowl, with its garish halftime show, represents a unique confluence of the actors and gladiators in American entertainment. Schmit’s description of the state of Roman entertainment I found especially pertinent:

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Candles in the Dark

 

Sunday was the Feast of the Presentation, when Christians recall the day Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus at the temple, offering Him back to God the Father. It is a mystery, like so many others, in which Christ in a sense returns home.

We do not belong to ourselves. Though so many choices are afforded to us to shape our own lives, our lives ultimately belong to our Creator. Our children are gifts for us to steward on His behalf. All of our many gifts are for giving again, including the gift of life itself.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Word of the Year

 

I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Save the Jews, the Christians – Civilization?

 

I caught the tail end of two Wall Street Journal journalists talking about the recent attacks on Jews in New York, and since WSJ is behind a paywall, I cannot find the segment. But what I heard burned into my memory. One said that this is a “mirror of what is going on in European cities, and has been for some time.” They stated the Jews are the canary in the coal mine, a cliche that has been echoed over and over to deaf ears. This has religious implications, but they said the “resurgence of antisemitism is a symptom that society as a whole is breaking down,” and concluded with “when that happens on a large scale, people choose camps, and a peaceful, cohesive society erodes and falls apart and all you are left with are warring camps.”

Is that what we are witnessing, in New York and elsewhere, when moral boundaries are removed? I’m not just speaking of the decline in church attendance, in Jews becoming more secular, but in the overall protections and safety nets that we once relied on. When we had boundaries, we relied on law enforcement, respect for property, differences of opinion, lifestyles, and it went both ways, instead of hurling hate speech and condemning one idea over another. We respected boundaries, which also included protecting children from overly sexual content. Law enforcement is now spat upon, doused with water, and shouted at with vulgarity. Wearing a MAGA hat in public can get you tossed out of a restaurant or pummeled, because of political differences. We now have something called gender fluidity.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Unforgivable Sin

 

I got into one of those Facebook arguments over the weekend. You know, the kind with relative strangers you wish you’d walked away from three comments ago. I don’t usually argue with people over Facebook, but when I do it almost always involves football, probably because, unlike politics or religion, football tends to be a safe topic where people don’t take things too seriously. But when a football player commits an unpardonable sin, lookout.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Is Judaism?

 

Dennis Prager has a really interesting article out, called “What Is Judaism?” Mr. Prager has written and taught on the subject (including two years as a member of the Brooklyn College Department of Judaic Studies). This is how he leads:

If you’ve ever wondered what Judaism is, here is a list of its principal beliefs. This is not an official list, but these beliefs have been widely held by religious Jews for thousands of years.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Recs for a Recent Catholic

 

I have recently decided I want to be Catholic after a lifetime of protesting (being Protestant, not being an anti-theist) and am looking for some great books on the history of the Catholic church, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologia, etc. I figured Ricochet would be a good place to ask, given the founder and community here. S o what would you guys recommend?

For anyone wondering what prompted the change, Cupid’s arrow found its mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Christian Tolkien Conference

 

Ricochet has many Tolkien fans and many Christians, so I thought you might want to pencil in a new conference. Aptly titled Christ and Tolkien, it will be held Oct. 1-3, 2020, in Deerfield, IL, just north of Chicago.

Tolkien’s works present many Christian themes, though not quite as obvious as those of his dear friend C.S. Lewis. JRR’s defense of the faith helped CS abandon atheism and embrace Christianity. The two went on to found the Inklings, a famous literary discussion group held at the Eagle and Child pub near the University of Oxford. (Full disclosure: I stole the name “Inkling” for my college graphic design business.)

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I’m not sure what the inspiration is for the latest student publication of Harvard Divinity Bulletin. The lead story is called “Spiritual, Sexual and Religious”, by Professor Mark D. Jordan. He has a distinctive and impressive bio: https://hds.harvard.edu/people/mark-d-jordan He gives “quite a detailed”…. history of the gay movement, and his dismay that now it’s all […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Gratefulness and Common Grace

 

“[F]or he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” — Matthew 5:45b

Somehow we survive on this small blue planet, we fragile bipeds vulnerable to the elements, to disease, to time, and to each other. Logically, our lot is sustained misery, ended only by a merciful death. Yet mankind has done far more than survive. Our life experiences are a rich intermingling of joy and angst, satisfaction and boredom, love and suffering. We look back on our early years and we remember carefree, secure innocence. Centuries’ worth accumulated knowledge was ours to study. Next we loved, and married, and cherished children. We are paid well for skills that we are pleased to perform. And all this while we are nourished with good food, warmed with comfortable clothing, and aided when we are ill.

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It was one of those unbelievable news days. It started around 4 am while I was trying to rock the baby back to sleep. I learned that TobyMac’s oldest son had died tragically at his home. Before the sun was up in Alaska the news blanketed the internet, and grief for the family soured the […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Kanye and Dylan

 

Kanye and DylanBut I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

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Imtiaz Shams is British ex-Muslim. Genetically Modified Sceptic is an American ex-Christian. Veedu Vidz is a British ex-Muslim comedian. Together they host a forum on what it is like to walk away from the religious faith that one grew up with, one that was taught by ones parents and believed by ones friends and extended […]

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Richard Dawkins has a new book out, guaranteed to continue the debate going on in the western world, and even the entire world, over the value of religious belief. Some think that religious belief is essential to healthy societies and happy lives. There is also the debate over whether a particular religious claim is, in […]

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Does Kanye West’s latest album Jesus Is King mean he is a Christian now? If so, should Christians embrace him? Jack invites Free Beacon media analyst and freelance Kanye West expert Nic Rowan back onto the show to answer these and other questions.

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