Month: April 2018

ISRAEL EXHIBIT OPENS MAY 14

MiracleofIsrael2

An evening at the Paramount Theater, with a guest speaker, dramatic presentation, and special music, will open the new Miracle of Israel Exhibit at the Discovery Center.

The Paramount event will begin at 7 p.m. May 14. The following day, the new exhibit, with its own building, will open to the public at the Discovery Center, located at South Eighth and Butternut streets.

The exhibit celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Special guest speaker will be Randall Price, author and professor of  archaeology at Liberty University. Price has been on Mt. Ararat six times in search of Noah’s Ark. Also speaking will be Dr. Ergun Caner, former Muslim, author of 24 books, and serving as president of the Center of Global Apologetics.

Special music will be presented by Ashley Kershner, worship pastor at Beltway Park Church in Abilene; Michael Schuler, The Piano Man; Jaimalee Cordova, violinist; and Teran Hall, viola. Madeline Lowry will give a dramatic presentation.

The Discovery Center was founded by Carolyn Walden and her late husband, Tommy Walden. Admission to the event at the Paramount Theater is free to the public. An offering will be taken. For more information, go to http://www.evidences.org

 

 

STINKY FEET? A TEST OF FRIENDSHIP

By DANNY MINTON

While I was attending college there was one boy, we’ll call him Joe, who pretty much everyone tried to avoid. He was a nice good looking kid but had difficulty keeping close friends. The problem was his feet. They smelled. Due to this problem, people didn’t like being around him both in class and socially.

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

It was a real concern to him that he did not seem to be able to keep friends for any length of time. He didn’t understand why because he always thought that he and other people hit it off at first. He was kind and friendly to everyone, always making a good first impression.

One day he was walking with one of the only close friends he had and begin to open up and voice his concerns that he felt like an outcast. “Joe,” his friend asked him, “do you mind if I tell you why people shy away from you?” Joe encouraged his classmate to be honest with him. “Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the reason people avoid you is that your feet stink.”

Joe hung his head and with his eyes filling with tears answered, “I know it. You see, it’s the shoes. This pair of sneakers is all that I have to wear. All my extra money goes to school and food.”

The solution was easy to fix. Joe’s friends chipped in and bought him a new pair of shoes and the problem was solved. Unfortunately, if someone had only gotten with him earlier, it would have been so much better for him and his relationships.

Sometimes we think we are kind by not talking to someone about things that need sharing. We don’t want to embarrass them or hurt their feelings. In most cases, it would be better for someone to be a little embarrassed than quietly suffering or being silently destroyed as an object of gossip.

Wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you that you have mustard on your cheek instead of walking into a crowded room looking that way? Wouldn’t you rather be embarrassed with one person telling you that your shoes don’t match instead of standing in front of the group and being quietly snickered at by the whole crowd? Stop and think what you would want your friend to do in situations like these. Our answer would probably be, “A true friend would have told me.”

True friendship has two aspects. One is watching and caring for those whom we call a friend. It’s letting them know things that are for their good. It’s being there for them. On the other had a true friendship allows our friends to talk to us frankly. It allows us to listen to them knowing that they have our good at heart.

An old Jewish proverb says, “A friend is one who warns you.”

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”

Both are saying that true friendship means we are willing to risk our friendship if it is for the good of our friend.

________________________

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

Proverbs 27:5

 Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

DID JESUS REALLY HAVE A BRITISH ACCENT?

By JANICE SIX

The Simpsons have been called on the carpet for the portrayal of the Indian-American character, Apu, who speaks with a thick Indian accent, and is less than ethical as the owner of the fictional Kwik-E-Mart, where he sells food long past its expiration date and rips off his customers. According to an article in the New York Times (April 9), after almost 30 years since Apu made his debut on The Simpsons, people are voicing their objections. Concern is that Apu reinforces stereotypes that lead to bullying, self-loathing, and embarrassment. Interestingly, the voice of the animated character is that of Hank Azaria, a white Jewish man who was raised in the Bronx. A curios choice in light of Apu’s portrayed heritage, don’t you think?

JaniceSixOne

Janice Six

Shortly after reading about the current uprising over Apu, I was reviewing a DVD entitled Thomas: Close to Jesus, produced in 2001 when it occurred to me that the casting decisions of The Simpsons are not the only ones that may indicate a lack of ethnic sensitivity. I was impressed with the Thomas movie until Thomas opened his mouth. The strong British accent dashed my expectations. Why is it that in this age of global awareness, readily available access to people around the world, do directors continue to portray Jesus and his followers as Anglo-Saxons? Are there not talented actors of Middle Eastern heritage who could be cast in these roles for a more authentic portrayal of Christ?

Even illustrators of children’s books and this year’s most popular VBS materials depict Jesus with chestnut colored hair and light skin. Couldn’t the animation artists just as easily have chosen a richer flesh tone and darker shade for the hair? Why is this? Being as concise and direct as possible, I typed, “What color is Jesus.” Instantly a whole string of articles popped on the screen. The first that caught my eye was a book entitled, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey, published in 2012. Apparently, this question has been on the table for years. As a culture fixated on the physical, the omission of such in Scripture has generated a great deal of speculation over the centuries.

Blum and Harvey do a good job of addressing this in their book. After reading only a few pages, my conviction was confirmed: In this age of hyper-sensitivity to misleading stereotypes, and suspicion of motives, it’s especially important that the church not be culpable of perpetuating an image of Christ that is blatantly inaccurate. By so doing, are we not undermining our own credibility? If we do not take seriously the little we do know of Jesus the man, by attempting to be as accurate and true to what is revealed through Scripture about him, then how likely are others to believe what we say about matters requiring great faith—such as his miraculous resurrection and ascension. 

We know from Scripture that Jesus was born into a particular geographic region, and that his ministry on earth took place in this same area. We know the physical characteristics of others, like Jesus, who were born and reared in this place, so why do artists and casting directors continue to present Jesus as being from a culture other than the one into which he was born? Whatever the reasons, I cannot imagine them to be goodRather than dwelling on what has been, perhaps it is more fruitful to consider the positive impact the Christian community might have by acknowledging Jesus’ Middle Eastern roots instead of perpetuating this false image of him. How much more believable might the good news of Christ’s inclusive nature be if his ethnicity were no longer altered for some nebulous reason?

If children were taught at an early age that Jesus was from the Middle East, would this reduce fear and prejudice against people from the same region? What difference might it make as far as acceptance and respect for people of other ethnicities if children were exposed to images of Jesus with dark eyes, hair and skin? I wonder if seeing Jesus with dark skin and hair might prove to be affirming to children who share the same. Would children in our congregations be surprised to learn that Jesus never spoke English, and certainly didn’t have a British accent? If I’m making more of this than is warranted, then why has Jesus’ ethnicity been ignored all these years? Why do we continue portraying him with chestnut colored hair and white skin.

Janice Six is associate pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church

GOOD ADVICE IN JUST THREE WORDS

 (Editor’s Note: Glenn Dromgoole is graciously sharing a series of “Just Three Words” from his book, More Civility, Please. A new segment will be posted each week for 10 weeks. The entire book can be purchased at Texas Star Trading Company.)

Most good advice can be expressed in

Just Three Words

By Glenn Dromgoole

From More Civility, Please

 (Third in a series)

Tell your stories.

Visit relatives’ graves.

Explore your past.

Climb family trees.

Be too generous.

Support street musicians.

Always be kind.

Always be considerate.

Check the mirror.

Like your image.

Give your best.

Make it count.

GlennDromgoole

Glenn Dromgoole

 

 

IT IS EASIER TO LABEL THAN TO LOVE

By MIKE PATRICK

We tend to use categories to guide us through a complicated life full of boundless diversity. For example, most children learn the difference between a parent and a nonparent, safe and unsafe, self and other. That is good. However, those walls of security may turn into prison walls, both for the one on the inside and those on the outside. Categorizing people may create barriers which destroy relationships.

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Mike Patrick

Categorizing people is a common practice. Economically, we divide people into rich and poor. Politically, we talk about conservatives and liberals. Republicans identify as traditionalists or Tea Party folk. Democrats are yellow dog or blue dog. A recent political issue in the news debates whether the next US census should have the question, “Are you a citizen?”

Racially, people are called black, white, or Asian. A young receptionist asked me the other day, “Why am I considered white, when I am Latino?” Sexual identity labels someone as gay or straight. Theologically, we identify people as fundamentalist, conservative, progressive or post-modernist. We pigeon-hole people by labeling them by their faith affiliation—Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Catholic, Charismatic. We use to kid around by saying, “When you get three Baptists together you will have four opinions.”

We think we understand people by labeling them theist, deist, monotheist, atheist, polytheist, pantheist, animist, universalist and so forth; not to mention the fear generated by certain perspectives of other world religions, especially the irrational fear of Muslims. So these categories may become a means of expressing derision against others. We accuse them of being different in an unacceptable way.

The Bible (Rev. 12:10) calls Satan the accuser. He seeks to destroy our relationship with God by bringing judgment on us—accusing us of not being good enough, holy enough, generous enough, worthy enough. We are all that in Christ. The word translated “accuser” comes from the Greek New Testament word kategoreo.” We get the English word category from it. Thus, when we categorize people with an implicit judgment of them, we join Satan’s ranks of destroying relationships.

For a number of years, the late Rev. Fred Levrets, Southern Baptist missionary to Africa for three decades, spoke each semester as a special guest to my seminary students. Fred shared with them the story of his and his wife Mary Lou’s journey of having a gay son, Scott, who died of AIDS. During the 1990s, they helped a number of families in Abilene deal with the issue of having a gay child who was diagnosed with AIDS. Sometimes, when medical help was unavailable in Abilene, Fred, at his own expense, would drive a young AIDS patient to Fort Worth for treatment. I will never forget the statement that Fred declared to my students: “It is easier to label than to love.”

Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.

ENCOUNTERING HEROES EVERY DAY

By DANNY MINTON

You walk through the hallway every day and notice him sweeping or mopping the floor. Some days you nod and say “Hi,” while most days you scurry on to your next class not giving him much attention. You’re here for a better education where you don’t have to spend your life sweeping floors like him. Or maybe you’re a busy businessman, leading a major company or in charge of a task force of employees.

There are days you call on the janitor to change a light bulb in your office or empty a trashcan that has overflowed. In your mind, he is probably no more than a high-school graduate or maybe even a dropout. In your world of important people, he is way down on the list of people with whom you associate. You don’t invite him to your home or the office party. You don’t ask him if he wants to go out and have supper with you and the others. After all, he’s just a janitor, or is he?

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

William Crawford was a janitor. He cleaned the floors of the United States Air Force Academy. It was the 1970’s and having retired from his previous employment he hired on as a janitor for the Academy. He enjoyed being around the cadets even though he, himself was never part of the Air Force. Each day the cadets would pass him as he swept the hallways, mopped the floors and cleaned the restrooms, something these Air Force officer candidates could never see themselves doing. The shy unassuming Crawford went on doing his job, humbly, quietly and unassuming.

Then, one day a cadet was reading a book on World War II about the Allied advance into Italy. He came across a picture of a young army man named William Crawford who looked much like the older man now sweeping their hallways. Not only was his picture present, but the caption proclaimed that he was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for taking on single-handedly machine gun bunkers for his division to move up and take Hill 424 near Altavilla Silentina. The man sweeping the floors for these want-to-be officers was a recipient of the highest honor a soldier could expect to receive. Captured by the Germans and presumed dead, his medal was awarded posthumously to his father. When the students approached him about the picture, he humbly said, “Yep. That’s me. But that was one day a long time ago.” In their midst was a humble hero who they would never look at the same way again.

Our world is full of everyday heroes, men, and women who have done great things without seeking the praise and limelight in the midst of others. I think of Irena Sendler who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers in Poland or Gladys Aylward who marched a hundred children to safety in 1938 China. There are men like Jim Elliott, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint and Pete Fleming, missionaries who lost their lives taking the gospel to a tribe in Ecuador. Why? As one of them said, “If we don’t go who will?”

You walk through the hallways of your church building passing people who have done great things that you may never know. You walk down the street and see sitting on an old wooden bench an old man and his tiny gray-haired wife sitting peacefully, waving at children as they pass by their quiet place. On his head, you see a baseball cap with the emblem of his past military service. You may wonder, what’s their story?

The world honors its most visible heroes. There is vast media coverage, large funerals, long eulogies, and books and stories written about them. People will remember them in history classes for generations to come. However, in our personal lives, there are everyday heroes who do more for us than any of the great figures we read about in books. Maybe it’s the minimum wage worker who gives $10 to help hurricane victims, maybe it’s a single mother trying to make ends meet and being mom and dad to her children, maybe it’s a dad who goes to work every day to a job he dislikes, but does so to take care of his family, or maybe it’s a fireman or a policeman protecting your neighborhood.

Heroes are those people who show courage facing the challenges of life. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are male and female. They are old and young. They are the people we see on the street, in the park, at work, at church, just about everywhere you turn. Maybe they are sweeping the floor in our building. For most, there will be no movies or books written about them. There will be no rewards or medals pinned to their chest. But to someone, they are a hero.

Then there are those who gave their lives for us to be where they are today in our spiritual lives. The Hebrew writer lists several “no-name” people who gave their lives to further God’s cause. He then says, “The world was not worthy of them.” They were heroes giving all they had for people they would never know. They were unappreciated, figures left in the shadows.

Take time to look around you and find the heroes in your life. Take the time to go up to them and tell them how proud you are to know someone who is of noble character striving to make the world a better place. See the courage that everyday heroes possess as they go about their daily lives without fanfare, pomp, and circumstance. The true heroes of this world are those that make it a better place for us all. They go about unseen, not for glory, serving us all, leaving in their wake a better world.

_________________________

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:14

 Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

By SARAH DANNEMILLER

What do a Muslim, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and atheist have in common? Not very much, as each operates from very different philosophical starting points. It would be odd, then, to claim that each of them ought to walk into a room together, sit down, and talk about these fundamental differences. Yet, I believe this collision of differences can remedy our intellectual and spiritual weaknesses.

Dannemiller,Sarahphoto

Sarah Dannemiller

The prevalent use of social media has drastically changed the way we communicate and interact with one another. We consume information like our favorite take-out: just the way we like it. We don’t have to invest as much intellectual or emotional labor into forming our beliefs about the people and world around us. As a result, we have lost the art of dialogue.

The theater of speech has atrophied into a menagerie of lines drawn in the sand, where you are immediately given a side to stand on whether you consciously chose that side or not. When we begin to speak, we are met with silence-inducing accusations and personal attacks, when what we need to be met with is kindness, understanding, and compassion.

If we can’t listen to one another, especially those who disagree with us, we run the risk of losing those life-giving principles that nurture the conditions for liberty. Humility, open-mindedness, empathy, perseverance, and courage must be cultivated if we hope to flourish. However, this requires hard work because the cultivation of these virtues demands an encounter with the ‘other.’ This ultimately entails the healing of both our own wounds and that of others.

Yet the question remains: how do we listen to the ‘other’ with the openness, empathy, and perseverance that dialogue requires? We do so by the same means we acquire the other things in life that are risky but well worth it, like love, trust, and faith; we leap. In order to learn how to dialogue with those who are different from us, we simply have to enter into that dialogue. Consequently, we may discover the transformative power of such encounters as we receive understanding and compassion from the least likely of places—from those who are fundamentally different from us.

The Abilene Interfaith Council’s Café Conversations are a prime example of such a project. A little room in the back of a local coffee shop in a West Texas town transmutes into a microcosm of human reciprocity. How do we accomplish this, you may ask. First, everyone who attends a Café Conversation commits to an agreed-upon set of standards for dialogue. For example, we restrict ourselves to “I” statements in order to avoid falsely perceived attacks and unwarranted assertions. This way, everyone has the opportunity to clarify and correct any misunderstandings one may have of a particular group.

Second, we witness to the diversity of the room by sharing our religious affiliation with one another. By doing this, we have accepted the reality that there will be dissonance. We then proceed to discuss topics that matter to the entire human family because they get at the heart of what it means to be fully human. As such, Café Conversations are hard work and there is a lot of pain and fear to wade through. True dialogue requires emotional and spiritual labor. While it’s inevitable that voices will raise and eyes will water when those very human topics of race, gender, and faith find their way onto the table, individuals who attend Café Conversations remain committed to responding to such pain and fear with compassion and understanding. One only needs to take a seat at the table and look to the left and to the right to find exemplars of mutual reciprocation.

By listening to the ‘other’ and by sharing ourselves with the ‘other,’ we strip ourselves of the need to be right and the fear of being wrong. In receiving each other with all our insecurities, doubts, and confused beliefs, we bear the healing marks of reciprocated vulnerability: empowerment. Paradoxically, it is through attuning ourselves to the lives and voices of others that we discover our own authentic selves and learn how to fearlessly share that self with others.

Sarah Dannemiller is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, earning her Master of Arts in Theology. Her research interests include questions in philosophy of religion, theological anthropology, and mystical theology. She was recently confirmed in the Episcopal Church of the United States and is currently a member at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, TX. She also has been a member of the Abilene Interfaith Council since 2015 and has served as an officer of the board since 2016.

If you are interested in the project of human cooperation and the discipline of dialogue and desire to cultivate compassion and kindness within yourself, please join us at the Abilene Interfaith Council’s Café Conversation, hosted every fourth Thursday of the month. We will start our conversations back up in September 2018 in the back room of Meamiz Coffee House from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. If you have any questions or would like to facilitate a Café Conversation please contact Sarah Dannemiller at snd14a@acu.edu.

Abilene Interfaith Council works to promote communication, understanding, and peace among people of different faiths who live together in our community.