All posts tagged “Christianity Today

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Invitation to Common Good PHX

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly noticed I have a habit of including stories from Christianity Today‘s This Is Our City project in my weekly Repaso. Yep, guilty as charged.

The idea behind the project, if you’re not familiar, is to tell stories about the ways Christians are seeking the flourishing of their cities, largely through vocations that wouldn’t necessarily be considered “full-time Christian ministry.” Rather, by making everyday common good decisions, believers are doing wonderful and inspiring things in small towns and big cities all over the place. If not for this project, it’s safe to say these stories would mostly go untold. And that would be a real shame. After all, in a world of so much bad news, good news is, well, good news!

Katie and I have each written for the project – Katie told the story of the Chris and Bethany, who are finding creative ways to build community in their apartment complex, and I profiled Aaron, a serial entrepreneur who thinks theologically about what faithful presence in the marketplace really looks like. We’ve been known to tweet and pin things for the project as well, for what that’s worth.

andy-crouchAnd now we’re so excited to be part of the team that’s organizing Common Good PHX, a two-day event in mid-April featuring our friend Andy Crouch. Andy wrote the excellent book Culture Making, and in his three plenary talks, he’ll lead us through the story of culture, the work of culture, and the hope of culture, stirring our imaginations to consider how we can serve the common good of Phoenix through our vocations. We’ll also have opportunities to hear from local Christians whose common good decisions are making Phoenix a better place for all of us.

A few key details:

  • When? April 12-13, 2013
  • Where? Christ Church Anglican (5811 N 20th St, Phoenix)
  • How much? $15 (early), $20 (late)

Everything else you need to know about it here.

Registration for the event is now open, and we’d love to see you there!

[Photo: Donald M. Burns via city-data.com]

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Faithful presence in the marketplace

My profile of entrepreneur Aaron Klusman was published today by Christianity Today as part of the This Is Our City project, which chose Phoenix as one of several cities to highlight. I enjoyed getting to know Aaron while researching the story and interviewing him, and I’m encouraged by what he and others are doing through entrepreneurial ventures to create jobs and to seek the flourishing of Phoenix.

Here’s an excerpt:

Klusman works hard to turn a profit, as success in business requires, but the dividends extend beyond his investors. As he sees it, thriving businesses are instrumental to the flourishing of any vibrant city, and Phoenix is no exception. “If you’re going to talk about the well being of the city, the reality is that you have to understand economics,” he says. “A city flourishes as its economic engine thrives.” …

The belief that the work of our hands is a way of honoring God has become foundational to Klusman’s theology of work. “There’s intrinsic value in making a table,” he says. “You can take joy in that each day. You don’t need to slap a Bible verse on the leg of the table for it to be stamped with the approval of God.”

You can read the full story here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Repaso: Refugee photos; the human face of immigration; Marco Rubio’s faith; short-term mission trips; Steve Saint update

1. World Refugee Day
This Wednesday was World Refugee Day, and The Big Picture had a great collection of photos of refugees from around the world to commemorate the day.

2. Viewing immigration from the low places
One of the critiques of the recent statement on guiding principles for immigration reform signed by evangelical leaders is that it doesn’t naturally translate into action steps that could lead to actual policy changes. Alan Andrews, former U.S. director of The Navigators, now lives in Phoenix with his wife, serving among undocumented immigrants. He shares part of his story here and then offers some practical action steps:

Not long ago, I viewed the immigrants coming to our country without proper documentation as lawbreakers. I thought if people wanted to come to our country, they should get in line and do it right. The apostle Paul made it clear that submission to governing authorities was important. I affirmed the importance of treating people with compassion, but breaking the law was unacceptable. Then in 2004, my wife, Becky, and I spent two weeks living in “the ‘hood” at Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona. As we met undocumented families and heard their stories, we came to understand their plight and pain. The issue had a new dimension—a human face.

3. Marco Rubio on faith and policy
Among the names batted around for a potential Romney running mate is Marco Rubio, an up-and-coming Cuban-American Senator. Sarah Pulliam-Bailey interviewed him for Christianity Today about his complicated faith and how it translates into policy on a range of issues. Here’s what he had to say about the question of immigration, and the relationship between compassion and rule of law:

I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. You can do both. At no time does our faith call us to violate legal principles—on the contrary. We have to recognize that when we’re talking about immigration, we’re not talking about statistics. We’re talking about human beings, the vast majority of whom, the ones who are here legally, are here in search of jobs and a better life. That’s where the debate comes in:how do we balance those two things? That’s what I hope any future conversation about immigration reform will be balanced by—the balance between our compassion for our fellowman and the need to have rules that are followed.

4. Short-term mission trips debated
It’s summertime, and for many of our churches, summer is synonymous with short-term mission trips. Darren Carlson has started a three-part series of posts on The Gospel Coalition blog. Part one describes the history and the good side of the phenomenon. Part two deals with some of the dangers. And part three will be coming soon, providing some tips for doing short-term trips well. These are important conversations for pastors, parents, students, and, well, all of us to be having.

5. Update from Steve Saint
Steve Saint, the son of famous missionary Nate Saint, was critically injured and partially paralyzed while testing a piece of equipment for I-TEC on June 12. He successfully came through surgery earlier this week, but faces a long road of recovery. Here’s a video update from just before the surgery.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: A Tibetan boy shows his trophy after winning a soccer match inside a Tibetan refugee camp, in Katmandu, Nepal. Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press via The Big Picture]

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Kingdom furniture and artificial grace

If you haven’t been following Christianity Today‘s This Is Our City project, I’ve got to tell you you’re missing out on some really great stuff. The project aims to tell stories about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities in all sectors of public life. Portland and Richmond have been highlighted so far, and Phoenix is up next.

Most recently, they introduced a new short film by Nathan Clarke, featuring a furniture maker in Richmond named Harrison Higgins who believes that the work of our hands can either be a sacrament or a sacrilege (an idea he borrows from Wendell Berry).

Here’s the film:

Philosophy professor and author James K.A. Smith has now written a wonderful meditation on the film as well, called “Artificial Grace: Why the Creation Needs Human Creativity.” Here’s an excerpt:

[F]or Higgins, there is no simplistic opposition between nature and culture, between a pristine creation and human artifice—the creative “work of our hands” that gives birth to artifacts, to cultural goods. To the contrary, good artifice is its own kind of grace: to make is to serve, is to bear God’s image to and for the creation. A Christian theology of creation is not the same as Mother Earth mythologies of “the natural” that ultimately end up lamenting humanity’s presence as a blight on creation. No, we worship the Maker of all, the Artificer we come to know in Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a carpenter. A Christian affirmation of the goodness of creation is also an affirmation of artifice—redeeming the very word, we might say, from its association with the fake and the faux. In an older sense, artifice attests to creativity and craft.

You can read the rest here. When you get some time, I’d encourage you to spend some time perusing all the great reporting, essays, and short documentary films This Is Our City has produced.

[Photo credit: This Is Our City]

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Giving gangsters a family

This excellent short film was produced by Fourth Line Films in conjunction with Christianity Today‘s Global Conversation project leading up to the third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town in late 2010. Here’s the blurb from the Fourth Line blog:

What happens when a generation of young men grow up without families? These are the stories of young gang members incarcerated in a Central American prison. They tell of their hunger for belonging, heartache at the church’s hostility, and hope that they can change and contribute to their communities.

In January I posted a video about a priest in San Salvador who ministers in a neighborhood with a lot of gang activity, which provides some more context on the situation facing so many in Central America’s urban centers. And last fall I shared some thoughts on Father Gregory Boyle’s work among gangsters in LA, as told in his bestseller Tattoos on the Heart.

Both of those priests and the pastor in this film show us the human side of gang members, who can so easily be dehumanized and, once they’re securely behind bars, forgotten. If anyone has any incentive to give these young men a new start and a healthy, life-giving place to belong and to seek the common good instead of destroying it, it seems to me it has to be the church.