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Zuckerberg – No longer an Atheist January 4, 2017

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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In a reply to his Christmas message Mark Zuckerberg declared that he is no longer an atheist and that “religion is very important”.

zuckerberg

I sometimes describe myself as a “lapsed atheist” and recently unpacked an old school book in which at the age of 13 I declared that I didn’t see much point in RE (Religious Education) unless I was going to become an RE teacher or a vicar.

I was surprised that the first page in my RE book had something on Bible translation and I’d written about how the Tolai people of Papua New Guinea had been waiting 100 years for a Bible in their own language. I would have been given an English New Testament by the Gideon’s at about that point but I didn’t try very hard at reading it.

Like Zuckerberg I “went through a period when I questioned things” but at 13 I just assumed most of the good questions about religion had been answered and that it was just a bunch of stories told by old people to children to get them to behave. I didn’t question my atheism until later. I still think questioning things is important. In fact if religion is very important it’s even very important to keep asking questions about what you believe and why – it’s one way you continue to grow.

athiest-who-p2e-really-smallThese days you can still get books to help explore questions about Christianity but there are also a few to help raise questions about the stranger idea that there is no God. (Here’s a link to read the opening chapter of The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist)

thedaydeathdiedWhen I was finally ready to explore Christianity properly at the age of 20 a friend gave me a copy of Michael Green’s “The Day Death Died” exploring the interesting question of whether Jesus actually came back from the dead and what that might mean. I believe it’s out of print now but there are still copies on ebay or lurking in church libraries.

Many newspapers are asking questions about Zuckerberg’s change of heart. Such as which religion he’s actually following or whether it’s a political move with plans to run for office at some point following his planned tour of every US state in 2017.

Journalist Sarah Graham-Cooke of the Independent used the story to explore her own rethink of atheism.

I’m sure there will be a few more new stories on Mr Zuckerberg and a few more people rejecting atheism in the coming coming year. Religion is very important – know which one you believe in and why. They are definitely not all the same.

The Virtue of Reality December 31, 2016

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I bought my first virtual reality headset in 2016. It was second hand and only £3 which already says something about the technology.

jesusvr_guardianreview

Jesus VR reviewed in the Guardian 2016

I decided that by the end of the year they’d be on sale in the Pound shops and Dollar stores of the world, and they are. The first VR Jesus movie also made it to a number of headsets in time for Christmas with mixed reviews following the release of a preview at the Venice Film Festival. I’ve not seen it but I’m sure it will have an impact.

2016 was also the year I ‘attended’ a friend’s wedding in India via facebook live and sat in on a couple of church services in Africa and the USA via Periscope. Not quite as good as really being there but better than not being there.

2016 was the year both YouVersion and Faith Comes By Hearing made scripture available online in over 1000 languages. I’m wondering whether 2017 or 2018 will be the year that church services are live streamed in over 1000 languages (I’m not aware of anyone collecting data on that yet).

Such technology offer tremendous opportunity for people who cannot  easily attend services in their own language in other ways.

As the year closes we’ve just spent a couple of weeks bridging two of our own realities – leaving our home in England to visit, pack up and sell our home in Canada.

sledginginstrathroy

VR is good but sometimes reality is better

Our last Christmas in Canada was 2010 but it really did feel like we’d stepped back into that life. Reconnecting with friends, shoveling snow and enjoying the pleasures of A&W Burgers, Tim Horton’s, and of course the home cooking of our friends.

There’s a lot to appreciate in Canada and it’s easier to appreciate by being there. As well as some sledging and ice skating our son also got to reconnect live with some friends he last saw briefly in 2013. Having arrived back he’s already connected again with two of them via skype, google hangouts and a couple of online games.

We’re hoping the technology helps them stay in touch and looking forward to how future tech improves that connection until they  can meet face to face again.

Jesus: What to expect December 5, 2016

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whattoexpect This Sunday I’ve been invited to speak on the subject of Jesus’ humanity. (someone else covered the subject of his divinity).

So how human was Jesus?

The answer isn’t difficult. In my culture people don’t have trouble believing Jesus was fully human. It’s the bit about him also being fully God  that people outside the church struggle with.

But what does Jesus being fully human mean and why does it matter?

It’s a good question for Advent so I’ll let you wait for a few of my thoughts on that.

As part of my presentation I’ll be asking people to simply reflect on some of the milestones in a child’s life and to discuss what the first year of Jesus life might have been like. After all the events surrounding his birth I wonder what Mary and Joseph were expecting? How ‘normal’ did they think their child would be? How much like their own childhoods did they think his would be?

Later writers came up with some ‘interesting’ stories based on their ideas of what a child who was God must have been like, and there was a recent movie, ‘Young Messiah‘ that weaved some some of those in along with some fresh imagination.

youngmessiah

It’s not a film I’ve seen and I’m sure it gets quite a few things wrong. But the trailer helps raise some good question.

The truth is we don’t know a lot about what it was like growing up for Jesus or for his parents. Born under an oppressive regime, in a temporary shelter, Jesus was fairly soon a refugee carried by his parents to a foreign land.

Sadly too many people this year know what that can be like.

 

 

 

Create your own Theresa May advent Calendar December 1, 2016

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It’s the first of December (or was when I wrote this) and news has recently broken that British Christians should not be afraid to talk about their faith (at least “in the same way you might talk about sport, hobbies and family life”).

I won’t comment on the politics of this and obviously different parts of the British press are reporting this in slightly different ways. Less obviously I haven’t read them all but, if you like, you can use these links to create your own advent calendar and read one a day.

I’ve not found 24 mentions of the story yet so perhaps on the other days you could simply talk to people, or read about and perhaps pray for Christians in other countries where persecution is a little more intense. There’s lots of information on OpenDoorsUK.org (which would be a good web address for an advent calendar but is actually about praying for the persecuted church.)


Links below from Google News search for Christians Therasa May on Dec 1, 2016

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Christians should not fear speaking about their faith at work and in public places, Theresa May says

Telegraph.co.uk – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Christians should not be afraid of of speaking “freely” about their faith at work and in public places, Theresa May has said. The Prime Minister said people should be able to celebrate Christmas as she endorsed a report which said that Christianity
images-1

Theresa May says Christians must feel free to celebrate their beliefs without fear

Daily Mail – ‎21 hours ago‎
Christians must have the right to discuss their beliefs and celebrate Christmas without fear, Theresa May declared yesterday. The Prime Minister, a vicar’s daughter and regular churchgoer, told MPs that Britain should be proud of its Christian heritage.

Speak about your faith freely, Prime Minister assures Christians

Church Times – ‎7 hours ago‎
THE Prime Minister has welcomed a report that seeks to encourage Christians to share their faith and invokes Charles Spurgeon’s adage that a Christian is “either a missionary or an imposter”. Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Theresa …

Christians Too Scared to Talk about Faith in Public, Says Bishop

Breitbart News – ‎4 hours ago‎
Christians are increasingly fearful to speak out about their faith in public due to the rise of an “intolerant liberalism” in the UK, a bishop has said. Nick Baines, the Anglican Bishop of Leeds, said Christians feel “picked on” by some secularists who

PM May backs call for Christians’ freedom to talk of faith

Belfast Telegraph – ‎8 hours ago‎
Christians must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear, the Prime Minister has said. Christians must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear, the Prime Minister has said. Her comments come as a report from

Bishop of Leeds: Some Christians too scared to talk about faith in public

Irvine Times – ‎10 hours ago‎
Some Christians feel so “picked on” they are too scared to speak about their faith in public, a bishop has warned. The Right Reverend Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, said some secularists “have a problem” with religion being talked about. And he

Theresa May says Christians must feel free to celebrate their beliefs without fear

Daily Mail – ‎21 hours ago‎
Christians must have the right to discuss their beliefs and celebrate Christmas without fear, Theresa May declared yesterday. The Prime Minister, a vicar’s daughter and regular churchgoer, told MPs that Britain should be proud of its Christian heritage.

Christians should not fear speaking about their faith at work and in public places, Theresa May says

Telegraph.co.uk – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Christians should not be afraid of of speaking “freely” about their faith at work and in public places, Theresa May has said. The Prime Minister said people should be able to celebrate Christmas as she endorsed a report which said that Christianity

Christians are ‘fearful to mention their faith in public’

ITV News – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Christians have become fearful of speaking about their religion in public, an MP has claimed. MP Fiona Bruce gave her comments during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, and highlighted a report from think tank ResPublica that warned religious …

PMQs: Are you afraid to talk about Christmas in your workplace? Please get in touch

The Independent – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
It just gets earlier and earlier every year doesn’t it? Still not even December and already everyone’s talking about being too scared to talk about Christmas. Don’t laugh. This is, as Fiona Bruce MP (Congleton) pointed out at Prime Minister’s Questions

Theresa May ‘welcomes’ Christian report on how to proselytise at work

Left Foot Forward – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Why is the Prime Minister giving a plug to evangelical Christian groups seeking to proselytise in the workplace? A weird exchange at today’s PMQs raises the question. When asked by Fiona Bruce MP – a stalwart lobbyist for Christianity in parliament

Tory MP claims Christians are ‘fearful’ of backlash if they mark Christmas at work

Daily Mail – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Christians are ‘fearful’ about celebrating their faith and marking Christmas at work, a Tory MP claimed today. Fiona Bruce cited a think tank report which warned religious freedom was being eroded in Britain. Theresa May – a vicar’s daughter – told the

Theresa May says Christians must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear of repercussions

The Sun – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
CHRISTIANS must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear of repercussions, the Prime Minister has said. Her comments come as a report from a think tank warns religious freedoms are being eroded after teachers, magistrates and other …

Theresa May: Christians Are Free To Speak About Their Faith

ChristianToday – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Theresa May encouraged Christians “to speak about their faith” at work and in public during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. The PM said the UK should be proud of its Christian heritage and tradition of free speech. May, a Church of England …

Theresa May: we can all be proud of our Christian heritage

Premier – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
The Prime Minister has told MPs “our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of”. Theresa May was responding to a question from the Conservative MP for Congleton and Christian Fiona Bruce, who asked the Prime Minister if she would endorse a …

Tory MP Claims British Christians ‘Fearful’ Of Talking About Faith

Huffington Post UK – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Congleton MP Fiona Bruce told the Commons during prime minister’s question time today: “Many Christians are now worried even fearful about mentioning their faith in public.” Theresa May said people should be able to “speak freely about Christmas” while …

bbc.co.uk

The Christian Institute – ‎Nov 30, 2016‎
Theresa May has said Christians should be able to speak about their faith in the workplace. Responding to a question in Parliament today, the Prime Minister said the UK has a “very strong tradition” of “religious tolerance and freedom of speech”, and

May defends right of Christians to speak up about faith

The Times (subscription) – ‎21 hours ago‎
Christians must feel free to talk openly about their faith and about Christmas without fearing a negative reaction, the prime minister has said. Theresa May said in the Commons that people of faith had the right to speak freely, but also “respectfully

Bible Translation statistics and stories November 28, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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In the 20 years I’ve been with Wycliffe, scripture has been made available in over 1000 languages for the first time ever!

For 20 years I’ve been both looking at the numbers and hearing the stories of the people involved in translation and of those who receive God’s word for the first time.

If you want to take a look at some of the numbers, a guided tour through this info graphic may be helpful.

bibletranslationstats_prezi
Wycliffe UK’s latest magazine provides a glimpse into the some of the individual people and projects.
wfl_winter2016
My (Peter’s) role has changed a little over the last 20 years.
In 1996 only a small proportion of Wycliffe supporters were online but it was becoming important to look to the future and build websites and communities to help raise people and funds.

In 2016 not only do most people in the developed world interact via the web in whole new ways on their phones but so do many people in the communities we work with.I recently read of a community of 60,000 people in a “very isolated area of the Northwest Region of Cameroon”.

It took me less than 30 seconds to find a facebook group for this community with 4,400 members.

I don’t know how many of the communities we work with have people online but I think we are now at the stage when more do than don’t.

Jennifer’s contribution has morphed over time too, although always centered around coaching an empowering others in their management and strategic leadership. Currently she is leading the HR thinking around the growth and development of staff, how the organisation can learn, develop and change more effectively and how staff supervisors can better provide guidance and support for their staff.

Working with Wycliffe means that we rely on financial support of churches and individuals (we’re required to raise 110% of of our income). Click here if you would like to donate or find out more.

New Bible Translation Statistics 2016: When is translation finished? November 19, 2016

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Some scripture is now available in 3,200+ languages and the number without anything started is falling. So when will the task of Bible Translation be finished?

progress-2016aMany people  think the publication of a full Bible marks the end of translation, but this is rarely the case.

In August, a press release announced, “Beginning in the summer of 2016, the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged” Fifteen years after it was first published this was a bold move not only implying that the text can no longer be improved but that the meanings of the words won’t change either. It was to have been unchanged “in the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769)” … 158 years and countless revisions after it was first published in 1611.

In September the publisher made another bold move and reversed the decision, acknowledging that it had been a mistake.

Unfinished

active-programs-progress-and-needs

for more numbers and more explanations see wycliffe.net/statistics

Of the 636 languages in which there is a translation of the complete Bible, 303 of them are known to have ongoing translation work of some kind. Some are being revised to cater for changes in language or improvements to style or translation, in others entirely new versions are being translated.

Some people oversimplify the ministry of Bible translation and link it to the return of Christ implying that when translation is finished in the last language Jesus will return. Some even imply that he won’t return until the Bible (or at least some of it) has been translated into all 7000+ known languages (including ones where no one speaks them as their main language any more).

The truth is languages will continue to change, revisions will be needed and translation will continue until Christ returns. But we do know that at least 1700 more language communities have needs right now for Bible translation to begin. Even then the goal is not printed text or online products but people encountering and engaging with the living God through scripture.

Money, Museums, Missionaries …and Cathedrals November 17, 2016

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I have a love hate relationship with Cathedrals. I’d hate to see them disappear but I’m not convinced they are worth the money they cost to maintain. Giving wisely is surely one aspect of giving well?

Some Cathedral are a strange mix of ego and faith built to bring glory to God. Many were constructed centuries ago by people some of whom wanted to make a name for themselves and some who acted out of true faith and commitment.

Some are still powerful cultural and religious symbols and some have taken on a different meaning. At their best the vastness of the architecture does indeed inspire awe and remind us that God and his church are rooted in history. At their worst some have turned into museums, run like ‘for profit’ companies …except without the profit.

The saddest site for me on visiting a cathedral a while ago was the sign declaring that it cost over £6,000 a day to keep the Cathedral open.

A verse comes to mind of a disciples who saw what he considered a huge waste of money and pointed it out to Jesus, that the money could have been “given the poor” , and those of you who know the story may recall the name of the disciple – Judas.

It’s not always wrong to spend money on extravagances – but it’s not automatically right either.

My musings on Cathedrals were actually sparked by hearing about a brand new Museum of the Bible. I’ve got several conflicting thoughts on that, but I am willing to believe that it is being done with good intentions and when built it will help some learn and engage.

Like many other projects it is expensive! Just think what else the money could have been spent on:

  • It could have fed millions of hungry people for a month or a smaller number of well fed people wanting to eat out.
  • It could have built hospitals or it could have built shopping malls.
  • It could have been used for education or entertainment.
  • It could be used to fund a wide variety of mission work (including supporting us and other missionaries relying on individual support) or it could have been used on things that lead people further from God rather than closer.

The money spent on building and running the Museum of the Bible or on renovating and maintaining historic Cathedrals will pay people’s wages and they in turn will have to decide how to spend their own money.cathedralcosts

A 2012 news article highlighted that on average visitors to Gloucester Cathedral donated 55p of the suggested £5 entrance fee. Which of course means many gave less and some gave more

In another place in the New Testament is the story of Jesus sitting near where people put their offerings into the temple treasury. (The temple had high running costs too!)
He saw that some gave much, and some little.

Judas would have focused on money. Jesus focused on motives.

Whatever you give to, however much you give, however often, give well.
mark12

Who viewed what? November 2, 2016

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viewsbycountry4posts

Our personal blog doesn’t get a huge number of visits and I’d not posted anything for a while so this morning I was interested to see that I’ve already had visits from Malaysia, Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Each looked at a different page. One was a lighthearted look at whether pets go to heaven (sorry if you’ve just lost a pet), some idioms from around the world, Bible translation statistics from 2015, and thoughts on voice searchable digital Bibles.

So who do you think was looking for what?

While my web stats tell me where people came from and what they looked at they don’t tell me who viewed what, or why, and whether or not they really found what they were looking for.

So if you do find this blog as a result of searching for one of these topics, and if you find the content helpful or thought provoking in some way, do leave a note.

90_countries_so_far

so far this blog has been visited from 90 countries  (sometimes more than once)

 

 

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