Dang it, today is the deadline for the Southshire writing group’s call for stories. I’m currently working on a short story about food and need to send it out today!!!
I chose Turkish Coffee as my topic. Here’s a snippet from the story that begins in the photo shop of my friend Reuben:
It is not uncommon to think of God as a conqueror who extends the reign of his kingdom in this world. He defeats the forces of evil and advances boldly. We love to hear stories about radical change, instant turn arounds, and sudden shifts of alliegance, turning from darkness to light. But does it always work that way?
While we can say that God does conquer evil and in some cases affects immediate change, I wonder if God’s subtle, organic, and patient approach is tends to resemble rehab. After going through rehab for some shoulder and neck issues, I found that it was a lot of hard work and dedication, but over time the change was very real and my quality of life has improved dramatically. When I compare our hurting world to this little experience of mine, I think I see some similarities.
God just doesn’t invade and set things right immediately. Why? I’m not sure, but part of it must be that it’s the only way that many of us will change. Sometimes sudden change will happen, but more times than not, it’s God’s persistence and gradual rehabilitation of our broken lives that wins us over. He chooses not to force himself on us and selects the path that will lead to the most genuine, long-lasting, and authentic change possible. God’s ways appear slow to us, but in reality, they are the most effective.
I weary of outreach strategies and gimmicks. It seems that such things are a really easy target, but then those who support them wonder why more people don’t take advantage of them, and so I make an irreverant post.
Internet evangelism day is May 7th, and I only wish that Christians would leave their computers unplugged lest we mess things up any more than we already have. Would you like to be “evangelized” by a Jew, Muslism or Buddist? Would you like them to use “strategies” and “proven techniques” to hook you into their faith systems? Do you even care about what they have to say when they talk about the benefits of their religions? No. Perhaps internet evangelism day doesn’t have to be about aggressive proselytizing, but I can guarantee that it will quickly become this in the wrong hands.
And once I again I cover some old territory. If you have to take a class or employ a technique or use a gimmick to share your faith in Jesus, the problem is not your style or approach, it’s your relationship.
After the weekend’s distractions of maple syrup and hiking, I’m ready to resume my look at sola scriptura and its implications on the authority of scripture. Here are the questions I’m using as my jumping point:
What kind of documents do we find in the Bible and how are we to understand them?
What kind of authority was the Bible meant to have?
>>Who determines what the Bible has to say?< <
What is the Bible’s role in the church today?
If there was ever a sticky question facing the church, this is it. While we can certainly see a consensus throughout church history on a number of key issues, is it possible that certain voices in the church have been silenced because a powerful majority used their interpretation of the Bible for their own advantage?
< %image(20060327-sugarhouse.jpg|200|335|sugarhouse)%> We spent yesterday visiting a number of sugar houses in the area for the open house weekend. I was browsing the Bennington Banner this morning and found they had a picture of the place we visited yesterday. It was quite an operation.
The owner works in the construction industry, but apparently does maple syrup on the side in the winter. He has quite a bit of land with over 600 taps. While driving on the narrow dirt track know as Maple Hill Road, you can seen tons of tubes running down the hillside into holding tanks. While traditional tapping is done with a spout and a bucket, the latest trend is to run lines. It makes collecting the sap a whole lot easier. I recorded a short video of one of these lines. With the sound on you can hear the sap flowing. View the video.
The sap is then put into this huge evaporator machine. There basically is a rather large warming tank that gets the sap hot. The sap will start out clear and does not have any flavor that can be distinguished. Once the sap is warmed up, it is sent into several hot tanks that look like larger versions of the vats you would use for french fries. The picture here is of the evaporating end of the machine where the fire burns the hottest.
It’s probably too soon to know what will happen next, especially because there are enough people on both sides who can mess things up royally, but Hamas seems to be willing to make a deal with Israel. From Haaretz:
GAZA – The Hamas militant group on Monday said it was prepared for dialogue with the Quartet of international mediators to try to end conflict in the Middle East.
“Our people are in need more than any other nation on earth for peace, for security and stability. Our government will not spare any effort to achieve a just peace in the region,” Hamas prime minister
designate Ismail Haniyeh told the Palestinian parliament as he presented his governing agenda.
I was hoping that governing an entire nation/state would push Hamas closer to the mainstream and cause them to be more moderate. At least they have a much more direct link to militants than Fatah. Fatah had to play cat and mouse with militants while also supporting them at times. Hamas can hopefully speak more directly to militants on their side and provide a solution that will be acceptable to the Palestinian people.
I still worry about the Israeli military though. They can roam about the country with impunity and it’s never clear who calls the shots there, especially with Sharon down. Can the Israelis keep their military from sparking additional conflicts while peace negotiations resume?
< %image(20060326-maple bucket 1.jpg|206|275|maplebucket)%> Vermont, the maple syrup capital of the US, is in the middle of sugaring season. It’s that wonderful time of year when the nights are cold and the days are warm, causing the clear sap to flow out of the maple trees. The sap is collected in buckets or in tubes that lead to large holding tanks, and then it is boiled down.
This weekend there is an open house for all of the sugar shacks. We have had a lot of maple syrup and maple-related products such as maple sugar, maple spread, maple cookies, maple brownies, and a maple ice cream shake. It’s just fantastic. I’ll have more pictures to come, but here are a few to start off.