Saturday, April 22, 2017

Creation Thoughts



A Quote from Andy Crouch

It is hard to reconcile the definiteness of the Genesis creation stories, where the first human beings are birthed with the same suddenness as a human baby, with the story told by archaeologists and anthropologists, Genesis 1 certainly doesn't require us to think in terms of twenty-four-hour “days,” since the first two “days” are completed before the sun or earth are even created. But its hard to read Genesis 2, where the Creator bends down one day and forms a man in his own image from the clay, without feeling some dissonance with the archaeological record, in which human history seems to fade in, ever so gradually, from the shadows of time. When and whereas there an Adam and an Eve? Isn't the history of human culture both more complicated and less sudden than Genesis would have us believe?

I am not personally persuaded by the valiant efforts Bible-believing Christians have made to fit every detail of the Genesis creation stories into the story told by modern cosmology and archaeology. Yet I am not sure the biblical writers would have been terribly troubled by the failings of Genesis 1-11 as literal cosmological history. The Garden of Eden, after all, is described as being at an intersection of four rivers that ancient people knew had no interaction. Genesis's “primordial story”--the arc from Garden to Babel—needs to be read not in the context of modern judgments of archaeological evidence that the biblical writers knew nothing of, but in the context of ancient creation myths that the biblical writers were keen to counter with their own version of the story.

Even so, the stories in Genesis 1-11 strike me and many well-informed readers as much more compatible with our modern understandings of cosmic and human beginnings than most of the creation myths that were circulating in the ancient Near East at the same time. There are rough parallels between the sequence of days in Genesis 1 and our best guess at the gradual evolution in the universe of light, planets, plants and more complex creatures, with humanity coming very late in the game. Genesis 2 does no claim, like some other ancient religions, that humanity is a separate kind of being from the rest of creation, the offspring of the gods. Instead, we are made from dust—made of the same stuff as the world around us. This too turns out to be surprisingly and, for many ancient people, counterintuitively true…

There is something in us that cannot be reduced to dust—a creative spirit that has the capacity for speech and meaning, in short, for culture. Genesis suggests that this cultural creativity, by which we recognize human beings wherever in time or space we find their traces, is rooted in something just as real as our material being. From Genesis 1 we learn that the world is the work of a Creator, already part of a creative society (“Let us make humankind in our image”) that seeks to bring into being a beautiful, ordered, meaningful world. From Genesis 2 we learn that our creative spirit did not simply emerge from the dust but was breathed into us by the same Spirit that originally hovered over the dark, informationless chaos, speaking a sudden and decisive word that set creation in motion.

To be sure, we don't “learn” these things from Genesis 1 or 2 in the same way that we can “learn” about the big bang from studying data produced by radio telescopes. Then again, there are many things we cannot “learn” in that way. The most important things in our life are learned by trust, not by deduction from experiment.

With their primordial story, the chapters of Genesis 1-11 already stand apart from what follows in Genesis 12 and beyond in their form, style and content. They are less a finely documented history than a story that invites our trust. In this way they are very much like the other bookend of the Bible, the book of Revelation—also a story that stands outside recorded human history, offering us a possible vision of the cosmos's ultimate destination, something we will never be able to attain through investigation alone. Are these two bookend stories about beginnings and endings to be trusted? I believe they are. If there is some way, in the new heaven and new earth, to have access to the whole story of this wonderful broken universe, I will not be surprised if I find that the biblical authors missed some of the details about how God created the universe and the human race. But I am confident I will not feel in any way deceived by them—indeed, I believe I will be unspeakably grateful that, prompted by the Holy Spirit, they told stories that made the best possible sense of the world.

And my reason for extending this level of trust has much to do with the books between the bookends—the much more historically accessible and verifiable story of the people of Israel, their exodus from bondage from Egypt and the eventual arrival of a man who claimed to fulfill all of Israel's original promise. This story, which makes a central claim to history especially at its most radical point, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, can be tested; it has proven it can be thrusted; and it gives me confidence that the bookends, no less than the book, say something uniquely true about our beginnings, and our ending.

From: Culture Making, by Andy Crouch
(This chapter is somewhat of a detour in his discussion of culture in scripture. He titles the chapter “Interlude—The Primordial Story”)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not Enough Doctors in America?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/doctor-shortage-us-impact-on-health/
Click on the above photo or title for the CBS story.



Here comes the annual apocalyptic prophesy from the Association of Medical Colleges, outlining how the country will come to rack and ruin over an extreme dearth of doctors unless they are given more money and allowed to train more physicians. In a case of the fox guarding the hen house, these reports and testimonies from the association goad lawmakers and universities into opening the door to more and more subsidies for medical schools and of course more students. As for the students paying upwards of two hundred grand for the privilege of attending one of the association's schools, this expensive annual report is not helping them with tuition by any means. With pattern similar to the rest of the medical industry, the schools' windfall of increased income with larger class sizes and a more and more singular and technical curriculum has not trickled down to those students they are supposedly serving, nor to the patients they are to see. In the non-economy of American medicine, more supply means more money, especially for the barons at the top. The CEO of the Association of Medical Colleges, Dr Darrell G. Kirch, brings in over a cool million in salary according to the journal "Modern Healthcare."


Some References: 
For a detailed summary of the AAMC report as a pdf, click here 
Evans, Melanie. More healthcare association execs earn $1 million or more. Modern Healthcare. June 7, 2014
Data on medical school tuition from US News and World Report, compiled by Delece Smith-Barrow, 2016

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Speed

http://wallpapers111.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Need-For-Speed-3-Hot-Pursuit-Wallpapers-6.jpg

Spiritual growth does not happen by running faster.  What keeps many of us
from growing is not sin but speed.We are going as fast as we can, living
life at a dizzying speed, and God is nowhere to be found. We're not
rejecting God: we just don't have time for him. We've lost him the blurred
landscape as we rush to church. We don't struggle with the Bible, but the
clock. It's not that we're too decadent; we're too busy. We don't feel
guilty because of sin, but because we have no time for our spouses, our
children, or our God. It's not sinning too much that's killing our souls,
it's our schedule that's annihilating us. Most of us don't come home at
night staggering drunk. Instead, we come home staggering tired, worn out,
exhausted, and drained because we live too fast.

If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull
over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to
speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest
stop.

                                             -Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Service Dog

   http://www.amazon.com/A-Life-Jesus-Shusaku-Endo/dp/0809123193




"Jesus knew that poverty and disease in themselves are not the hardest things for people to bear; the hardest to bear are the loneliness and the hopelessness that come with being sick or being poor."
                                                                              -Shusaku Endo, A Life of Jesus

We doctors often poke fun of the service dog. We see the dog-lovers, obsessed with their dogs, bring them around the hospital to visit the sick.  What can they do, really?  Get in the way, pee on the floor.  

In America, various programs offer a safety net, a help, a support, to the poor, the elderly, the sick.  As I walk into the hospital every day, I am thankful that the patients can be cared with a high standard with relatively minimal restrictions due to the cost of care.  More so since the Accountable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.  

Yet Endo reminds me of what else I see daily:  chemicals and surgeries leave a large gap in care, and perhaps inadvertently contribute to it.  When the care came out of love and sacrifice in the face of need in the form of a family member, a volunteer caregiver, or a nun, that love and spiritual connection was obvious.  When the care comes with a paycheck as a carrot and the threat of liability as a stick, the love is not so obvious, and may be missing altogether. 
 
Thank God for the opportunities to serve those who are suffering.  For God still calls His people to love.  We should learn from the service dog.  Never tempted to suspend presence with the patient to mix a medication or do another x-ray, the service dog is unpretentious to the core. Perhaps if Jesus were here today, he would say: "if any would enter the kingdom of heaven, let him be like one of these service dogs."  Sit with the patient.  Do not try to cure them, leave that to someone else for a moment. Listen.  Empathize.  Lay hands on them in prayer and communion, not only to cut them open. They may not live longer because of this.  But perhaps they, and us, will become more human.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life and Self



http://www.amazon.com/Mourning-Into-Dancing-Walter-Wangerin/dp/0310207657
















 
A self-absorbed society thinks “life” is bounded by the skin of an individual. It pictures “life” as “self,” considering the self the essential element, the “living” thing. It pictures “life” as contained, particularly, within the physical body. If living is something the body does, then dying is the decease of this mortal flesh. Simple definitions. But deceptive. And dangerous.

This sort of life-and-death ignores relationship altogether. It absolutely rejects the intimate connection between one’s healthy living and one’s righteousness. Health is physical only; happiness is self-satisfaction; love must therefore be some gratification of this self’s desires. What does righteousness have to do with any of this? Nothing. In the world’s eyes, righteousness is a deadly binding of the self and an imprisonment, therefore, of that self’s freer, fuller life. There is no room here for obedience.

Thus, the sinful world celebrates self above all other things (since self is the final judge of goodness, the recipient of every “good” thing). Likewise, it puts the love of the self above all other loves. It reverses the necessary order of creation and holiness by saying: “First I must love my self before I can love anyone else.” It acts like God, living and loving in a solitude. Other kinds of loving become the choices of the self, only so long as the self considers itself served by them; for no other loving, no other relationship is seen as necessary for life.  The only code this self obeys is that which proceeds from and preserves its self, that which fulfills and enlarges the self. A perfect independence, a complete self-sufficiency—I need no one but me--is considered the highest sort of freedom.

And there is the wretched deception: one so “free” is merely one alone. Beginning and ending with the self isn’t life at all, but isolation. Which is death.

And here is the danger: such “freedom” hurts others by sundering dear relationships, killing them little by little.

                                                                                -Walter Wangerin, Mourning into Dancing

Friday, May 22, 2015

Water Under the Bridge?


Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian  -     By: Gary A. Haugen
What is infinitely more interesting, however, is not how far we have taken ourselves from what was intended, but how powerful and unrelenting our yearning remains even now in spite of all the water under the bridge... Our soul sings when properly reminded of the courage and goodness for which we were made and we weep when we look upon our moments of failure. Hallelujah, for by this we know that the heart of our maker lives. It still pounds within us: muffled, neglected, stifled, denied and stricken. And yet beating, wooing, yearning, weeping. Who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history. This is the grace of God that even now he sets before us a pathway to courage and boldness of heart.















                                                          -Gary Haugen, Just Courage

injustice

View image on teleSUR English website

Yesterday, just next to our high school where right now I have 2 kids, 2 black men were shot by a police man for trying to steal some beer and then being belligerent with a skateboard.  Hopefully they will live.  

Today, hundreds of boat people with no country languish waiting for a place to land.

Injustice seems to be everywhere.

Lord have mercy