This is a reflection of Django Unchained. It has uncountable racial slurs and is ultra violent, typical of a Tarantino movie. It is not recommended for kids and for those who are unable to stomach bloody brutal graphic violence. I should not approve of this movie but I do. Why? It screams for justice.
How do we deal with injustice? A sense of justice flows in the blood of every human being created in the image of a just and righteous God (Gen 1:27, 18:25). Whenever and however injustice happens, our blood boils over and our very beings want to explode and demand justice. Surely, this is because our God is the God of justice, with justice being intricately and inseparably intertwined with righteousness (Ps 89:14; 103:6; Isa 9:7; 33:5; Amos 5:24). As Abraham’s descendants through Christ, we are called to do what is right and just (Gen 18:19).
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What I am sharing in this post is my happiest story. I have shared it uncountable times over the last 30 years ever since I “married by faith” in Chicago UBF in 1981. My most recent telling of it was in my sermon last Sun as I tried to explain Jesus’ promise that “your grief will turn to joy” (Jn 16:20). It is at the 35 min point of the sermon. In short, my grief was that I knew I would never be able to marry because of my shyness and my complete inability to talk to any attractive girl. I literally had no guts to ask any girl out for a date, because I could not handle the rejection. I felt doomed and condemned to a life of singleness and solitude that is not of my own choosing. My favorite song was “I am a Rock. I am an Island. If I never loved I never would have cried” by Simon and Garfunkel. This was compounded by the fact that my aunt once made an innocent remark when I was young that “no pretty girl will ever marry a cross-eyed boy.” This cut to the depth of my heart, because I was and still am “cross-eyed.”
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Three years ago we started this blog in hopes that it would become more than a blog– perhaps we could become an influence and an online community which would promote unity, friendship and vibrant discussions, not only about our experiences in UBF, but about God, the Bible, Christianity and life in general. So what have we been talking about?
A clever analysis of religious groups has been circulating on the internet. I first saw it in this article by Christian author Frank Viola, but it has been popping up in other places as well.
The idea is elegant. Sit down at your computer and bring up Google or any search engine that has an autocomplete feature. As you type a word or phrase, the search engine will predict what you are trying to type based on what other people have typed in the past. A small menu appears with suggested ways to complete your expression. This pop-up menu provides a window into public thoughts and perceptions.
When someone typed the words “Why are Christians so” into Google, this is what appeared.
Last year during a blogging discussion with various people, I had someone tell me: “The bible says it, and so I believe it. End of story.” Such an attitude left the person in an odd situation. Her own words contradicted her beliefs because she failed to reason through the topic at hand. As I continue through my paradigm-shifting transformation, this notion of the “bible alone” has struck a deep chord with me.
Is the bible sufficient for every facet of life? What role do traditions, organizations and other inspirations play in the life of a Christian? Who is it who guides us into all truth?
Recently, some interesting discussion began on this website about the concept from social psychology known as cognitive dissonance. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.” According to Wikipedia — our authoritative, infallible and inerrant source for knowledge of all things — the term first appeared in 1956 in a book titled When Prophecy Fails. In that book, the authors explored the behavior of the members of a small UFO-obsessed cult, how they coped with the inner conflict that came when their predictions about alien invasions didn’t come true.
Our friend Vitaly alerted us to a YouTube video called The Witnesses at Your Door which illustrates cognitive dissonance. Vitaly wrote:
I liked this video after I left ubf. There seems to be very many similarities especially in the leaving process.
Vitaly’s comment, and the interesting discussion that he started with Chris, can be found here.
The video is 37 minutes long, and I think it is well worth watching. So I made a unilateral decision (sorry, Vitaly, hope you don’t mind!) to pull the video out of his comment and place it here in an article of its own, so that it gets more attention.
In the book Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice, author Mary Clark Moschella hones in on some painful truths about pastors.
Religious leaders are often socialized to be better at speaking than at listening. It is understandable that preachers want to teach preach and lead with their voices and their carefully honed understanding of scripture and theology…..Being the resident religious expert gives you a kind of status and a feeling of control. On the downside of accepting this role, however, is that it may lead to what Yogi Berra called ‘talking too much’ (p. 141).
Humiliation is very difficult to talk about. Perhaps, some ex-UBFers who share “abuses” that they experienced in UBF, arose from feeling humiliated by their leader, which I am sure the leader will swear that it was never their intention to humiliate anyone. They were just “doing their job” and “obeying the Bible,” even if it came across as “putting you in your place,” or making you feel unimportant. Likewise, even if they will not acknowledge that this is the reason, I think that many present UBF people will never read UBFriends or anything perceived to be “anti-UBF,” because they feel humiliated. They believe that they and/or their church is being unfairly and unnecessarily dragged through the sewer by “bitter people who will not devote themselves to the more important task of feeding sheep.” Of course, these are all subjective, subtle, silent sentiments which can be refuted.
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Warning: This article may cause psychological pain by revealing that you are not a good listener. If you can’t handle the truth, stop reading, cover your ears and yell, “I can’t hear you!”
Attentive listening should come naturally. Newborn babies easily gather and synthesize information, picking up words, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues from their parents and siblings, acquiring volumes of tacit knowledge about people and the world. But somewhere along the way, many of us lose the ability to listen to other people well. In the area of listening, we become socially challenged. Yet we are largely oblivious to our handicap. In fact, we develop sophisticated strategies to pretend that we are listening, and to convince ourselves that we are listening, when in reality we are not fully present with others nor hearing them out to the point of understanding.
We cannot agree as to what the solution to a problem is unless we agree as to what the nature of the problem is. People leaving UBF is a problem. Often (and sadly) the nature of the problem is placed on the person who left, such as “He is demon-possessed.” This is not tenable, because people who leave UBF did not “run away,” as has been stated too often. Rather, they joined other churches, often over some frustration with a UBF leader regarding unresolved issues during their time in UBF. Martha, in a recent comment, said, “It’s frustrating to speak with leaders and realize that ‘Wow, they just don’t get it.’”
UBF, on a wide scale, needs to acknowledge that blaming the person who leaves UBF is never the way to solve any problem. Blaming others fails to take any personal responsibility. So, people will continue to leave, as has been the case. Last month another couple left after two decades in UBF. In 2013, my hope and prayer is that issues that have existed for many decades in many UBF chapters, big and small, may be addressed by taking more and more personal responsibility.
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