The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: December 1, 2018
Welcome to December! In our family that means a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations. Of course, we’ll be eating far more than our share, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have Brunch each Saturday. We’ll try to keep the fare light so none of us will break the scales but we’ll still have plenty of nourishment and satisfaction. Come on, the coffee’s pouring!
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Watch your language!
Thomas Reese at RNS suggests that newspaper editors (and all of us) should be careful about our language, especially with regard to what the “church” has done or failed to do.
It is time to stop using the term “Catholic church” as a synonym for “Catholic hierarchy.”
We all do it. “The church teaches such and such.” “The church lobbied against gay marriage.” “The church failed to protect children.” “The church is homophobic and sexist.” “The church is authoritarian.” “I hate the church.”
The word “church” has multiple meanings. One theologian counted more than a dozen different ways “church” was used in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, referring to everything from a building to the Mystical Body of Christ.
“Church” is the word we use to translate the Greek word “ekklesia,” which originally had the meaning of an assembly called together by a secular authority.
In the New Testament, the term is used more than 100 times — to refer to Christians assembled for the Eucharist, to a local congregation (such as the church at Corinth) or to all the people of God united as a body with Christ as its head.
The leaders of the community were not “the church,” but the apostles, bishops, presbyters and elders.
I remember in the 1980s taking a tour of the House of Commons in London. The tour guide pointed to a plaque on the wall in honor of a minister “who was killed by the Irish Catholics.” Not the IRA, not the Provos, not the terrorists, but the Irish Catholics.
Today we do the same thing when we say, “Muslims are killing Christians.”
Saying that the Catholic church did not protect children is just as wrong. It was the bishops. It was the hierarchy.
We should not blame the the people of God for the sins of the hierarchy. In many other churches, the people have some say in selecting their leadership and therefore have some responsibility for their hierarchy’s actions. Not so in the Catholic Church, where new leaders are chosen by current leaders.
If the hierarchy had been open with the laity about the sex abuse crisis, if the bishops had listened to the people, we would not be in the mess we are today.
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You’ve got a friend…
Thanks to brother Mike Bell for this cool story of a Christian donating his kidney to a Muslim neighbor. This happened in Mike’s hometown, involves one of his university friends and an organization that his cousin founded.
It was not an ideal welcome to Canada for the Afghan family, who recently arrived in Hamilton via Pakistan.
That same day, neighbour Andy Clutton made his way through the 16-storey building along with a group of other residents, distributing water bottles to help those who couldn’t make it out of their units.
Going door-to-door, Clutton met Momand — who he calls “Dr. Akbar” — along with the rest of his family living in the building, which included nine children.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship between the two men born more than three decades apart in different countries with different skin colours.
That friendship moved to an entirely different level when Dr. Akbar learned he needed a kidney transplant after complications from a heart operation. Clutton is part of a movement called MoveIn, in which Christians move into poor communities with large newcomer populations in order to serve others as Jesus did.
Clutton followed his commitment to the point of having surgery and donating his kidney to his Muslim friend in early November.
“For me, my faith was more important than my physical wellness,” he said. “So, following the example of Jesus and loving my neighbour as myself.” “We often say it, but when it comes down to it, we still prioritize ourselves and our families above our neighbours.”
For Momand’s 32-year-old son, Asghar, the situation illustrates a section of the Quran which he said reads, “If you give life to someone, you give life to all of us.”
This is evangelical faith as it should be — “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
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Best books of 2018…
As we approach the end of another year, it is time for folks to talk about their favorite things from the year — including books. Here are a few links to some of the “Best Books” lists that are appearing these days:
- NPR’s guide to 2018 best reads
- New York Times Book Review best books of 2018
- Publisher’s Weekly best books of 2018
- Christianity Today’s 2018 Book Awards
Also, when it comes to books and book reviews, we are always happy to recommend our friend Chris Smith’s good work at The Englewood Review of Books.
My favorite reads of the year include the following. These are not necessarily new books from 2018, but books I read during the year (some I’m still reading).
- The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, by Jon Meachem
- Is This All There Is?: On Resurrection and Eternal Life, by Gerhard Lohfink
- Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, by Fleming Rutledge
- The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right, by Lisa Sharon Harper
- He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art, by Christian Wiman
What books did you read that you loved this year?
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Thanks for the mammaries…
Scientists typically define mammals as animals that have hair, produce live young, and produce milk. It’s a simple definition, but nature is very good at defying simple definitions. Platypi, for instance, lay eggs. And plenty of non-mammals produce milk for their young. One group of researchers from China have discovered that even spiders produce milk, and it’s so nutritious that their offspring eat it for a surprisingly long time.
The researchers were studying a species of jumping spider, hoping to learn more about how these spiders cared for their young. To do that, they set up a nest in the lab with a spider mother and a collection of her young, observing them continually while taking notes. To their surprise, they noticed that the young stayed inside that nest for over a month, which is a very long time for a spider.
Upon closer examination, the researchers found that the mother spider was producing some kind of substance, secreting it onto the floor of the nest. The young spiders seemed to eat that substance, and after about a week they began latching onto their mother directly to get easier access to it.
The researchers collected some of that substance and analyzed it, and they realized that the substance was, essentially, milk. In fact, it was apparently delicious milk—at least for spiders. The spider young spent around 38 days inside the nest, drinking that spider milk, even though they were technically able to leave the nest and fend for themselves after about 20 days.
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Another sign of the brave new world…
Spider milk is one thing, but the big scientific news of the week was the claim by Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who announced on Monday that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies. Here is background from Sui-Lee Wee and Elsie Chen at the New York Times:
More than 100 Chinese scientists have denounced Dr. He’s research — genetically altering embryos that he implanted in a woman who later gave birth to twin girls — as “crazy.” China’s vice minister of science and technology said Thursday that Dr. He’s scientific activities would be suspended, calling his conduct “shocking and unacceptable.”
President Xi Jinping has set a goal of turning China into “a global scientific and technology power” by 2049. Faced with a population that is growing sicker and older, the government is spending millions of dollars specifically on becoming a leader in “genetic manipulation technology.”
To strengthen its position, the government has sought to lure home successful Western-trained Chinese researchers like Dr. He. He was a beneficiary of the Thousand Talents Program, which gives scientists tens of thousands of dollars in funding and help with housing and schooling for their children.
…Many scientists in China say the drive to succeed is so strong that they adopt a “do first, debate later” approach. Wang Yue, a professor at the institute of medical humanities of Peking University, said many scientists lacked awareness of medical ethics and of laws and regulations relevant to their fields.
“It is true that many scientists are very bold and think of science as their independent kingdom,” said Dr. Wang. “So they are not willing to listen to the outside world, including ethics committees and administrative agencies that want to supervise and review them.”
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Good music for Advent…
Advent At Ephesus (2012)
Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
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Advent at Merton (2012)
Choir of Merton College, Oxford