Join us this Sunday as we begin our new 7 week series "The Me I Want to Be". Jon has thrown out a challenge to everyone for this series.
- Invite a Friend
- Join a Group
All of these are important to the mission of the church. Of the three, I would like to further the challenge of joining a small group. Why? Read this previous post. How small groups change me
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By JAY REEVES, Associated Press Writer Jay Reeves, Associated Press Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Stricken with cancer and fragile from chemotherapy, author and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens sits in an armchair before an audience and waits for the only question that can come first at such a time.
"How's your health?" asks Larry Taunton, a friend who heads an Alabama-based group dedicated to defending Christianity.
"Well, I'm dying, since you asked, but so are you. I'm only doing it more rapidly," replies Hitchens, his grin faint and his voice weak and raspy. Only wisps of his dark hair remain; clothes hang on his frame.
The writer best known to believers for his 2007 book "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" has esophageal cancer, the same disease that killed his father. He is fighting it, but the 62-year-old Hitchens is realistic: At the very best, he says, his life will be shortened.
For some of his critics, it might be satisfying to see a man who has made a career of skewering organized religion switch sides near the end of his life and pray silently for help fighting a ravaging disease.
He has an opportunity: Monday has been informally proclaimed "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day."
Christopher Hitchens won't be bowing his head, even on a day set aside just for him.
"I shall not be participating," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer in June, forcing him to cancel a tour to promote his new book, "Hitch-22: A Memoir." He took time off from work as chemo treatments began but recently published the first of what is intended to be a series of essays in Vanity Fair magazine about his diagnosis.
On Sept. 7, he visited Birmingham for his first public appearance since the diagnosis, a debate against David Berlinski, author of "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions." They argued over the implications of a purely secular society before a crowd of about 1,200 in an event sponsored by Fixed Point Foundation, the Christian apologetics group headed by Taunton.
Taunton is devoutly Christian yet has developed a fast friendship with Hitchens, who appeared at a similar debate sponsored by the organization last year. Taunton is among those praying for Hitchens, and Hitchens takes no offense.
The way the English-born Hitchens sees it, the people praying for him break down into three basic groups: those who seem genuinely glad he's suffering and dying from cancer; those who want him to become a believer in their religious faith; and those who are asking God to heal him.
Hitchens has no use for that first group. "'To hell with you' is the response to the ones who pray for me to go to hell," Hitchens told AP.
He's ruling out the idea of a deathbed change of heart: "'Thanks but no thanks' is the reply to those who want me to convert and recognize a divinity or deity."
It's that third group — people who are asking God for Hitchens' healing — that causes Hitchens to choose his words even more carefully than normal. Are those prayers OK? Are they helpful?
"I say it's fine by me, I think of it as a nice gesture. And it may well make them feel better, which is a good thing in itself," says Hitchens.
But prayers for his healing don't make him feel better.
"Well, not any more than very large numbers of very kind, thoughtful letters from nonbelievers, some of whom know me, some of whom don't, asking me to know that they are on my side," Hitchens said. "That cheers me up, yes."
Hitchens doesn't know exactly how "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day" began, other than that it's one of those things that appears on the Internet and goes viral. He declined an invitation to appear at a rabbi's prayer service in Washington that day, and he doesn't see any point in the exercise.
"I'm perfectly sure that there is nothing to be gained from it in point of my health, but perhaps I shouldn't even say that. If it would do something for my morale possibly it would do something for my health. We all know that morale is an element in recovery," he said. "But incantations, I don't think, have any effect on the material world."
The National Cancer Institute says esophageal cancer affects about 16,500 Americans each year, almost 80 percent of them men. Smoking and drinking alcohol regularly increase the risk of the disease; Hitchens does both.
The cancer that began in Hitchens' esophagus already has spread into the lymph nodes in his neck, and he fears it has reached a lung. He's visibly tired after a book signing and luncheon appearance and says he needs to rest, even though resting seems like such a waste of time when so little time may be left.
Already into his fourth round of chemotherapy, which he is receiving every three weeks, Hitchens says it's difficult to gauge his eventual legacy. He hopes to be remembered with affection by some; with passion by others; and hopefully as a good father by his three children.
As for his work, Hitchens says he would be happy to be recalled simply as one of those "who are attempting to uphold reason and science against superstition."
"I'd be proud to have my contribution at that," Hitchens said. "This is a very long, long, long story. It's humanity's oldest argument. If I played a small part in keeping it going that would be enough for me."Print This Post
Video describing cell complexity from the movie Expelled.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Church logo tattoos are the latest in offbeat testimony at an Orange County church that holds Sunday services in a punk rock nightclub and collects offerings in KFC buckets. City Church of Anaheim is celebrating its first year in operation and the goal of reaching a 200-member flock with a radical commitment to the congregation and community: Tattoos of the red-heart church logo.
Pastor Kyle Steven Bonenberger told worshippers that God “tattooed your name on his heart” and it was time for an everlasting commitment to Him and the church.
The Orange County Register reported about a dozen people got inked, fulfilling the pledge they made if the church doubled its normal attendance.
City Church started in a living room and moved to Anaheim’s Chain Reaction Club as the congregation grew.
The next couple Sundays, Jon will introduce changes/clarifications to the mission of True North. Don't expect radical changes. Think of them as a way that is hopefully simpler to remember and focus on. We hope to see you this Sunday as we begin to look at what is NEXT.Print This Post
I was sitting on a bench this afternoon waiting for my son. The bench was odd because it had a very noticeable slant with one end sunk down into the dirt about 8 inches. Of course I sat at the end that was higher, or actually at the normal height.
As I sat, I started to imagine that I was sitting at the seat of honor because of my position on the bench. Then my mind drifted to Jesus and his disciples and some of their conversations concerning seats of honor. Surely I would give up my seat on the bench to Jesus. And surely Jesus would tell me to stay where I was and he would take the low end of the bench. Jesus is cool that way.
Weird ramblings in my mind. But it felt extremely comfortable.Print This Post
When God said "let there be light", little did he realize the fight it would start one day in the Holy Land - the fight over Daylight Saving Time.
Sunday Israel will switch back to Standard Time, two months before the U.S. does and well over a month before Europe; it has nothing to do with the weather or daylight and everything to do with religion and politics.
By law Israel switches back to Standard Time on the Sunday before Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in which Jews are required to fast from sunset till sunset the next day. Switching to Standard Time makes the fasting easier since those who fast get to sleep an hour more and the fasting ends "earlier".
This has always upset the secular Jews in Israel, but this year with Yom Kippur falling particularly early on the calendar the resentment runs deeper. This year some secular Jews began a petition collecting over 100,000 signatures in just a few days. They want to keep Daylight Saving Time for a while longer---and their arguments go way beyond letting "there be light":
- The early switch will cost millions of dollars to the Israeli economy as people consume more energy for light, some working hours shorten, and production goes down after sundown,
- It will increase the chances of car accidents for more driving is done in dark hours.
- Studies show it will shorten quality time parents spend with their children as less time is left for outdoor activities after school hours
Knesset Member, Nitzan Horowitz, also joined the call and he is now submitting a bill to end Daylight Saving Time on the last Sunday of October as Europe does.
Reacting to the public lightning storm interior Minister, Eli Yishai, from the religious party Shas, said that he would consider moving back to daylight saving after the Yom Kippur fast, but officials in his ministry quickly clarified that there will be NO double time switch, at least not this year.
Religious people call the pressure on daylight saving "a provocation" by seculars. While the seculars remind the religious, that God did not mean for fasting to be easy, and playing with the clock might not be in keeping with the idea of "afflict the soul" which is what the fasting is all about.
So is there any daylight at the end of the tunnel? Not this year, with the change just a week a week away it appear the most religious rather than god will decide when there is light.