A few reactions to a recent article of mine voiced surprise and disapproval that I would list fictional characters as inspirations alongside biblical ones, or that I would be inspired by fictional characters at all. I would love to discuss this further with you lovely readers, because fiction — especially science fiction and fantasy — is near to my heart, and telling stories is a part of what it means to be a human in God’s image.
From my childhood through my teenage years, I devoured books. Whether sitting in my bed late at night reading historical fiction by Jean Fritz or spreading a blanket in my yard and paging through Jane Austen, books were among my favorite companions.
Reading fell to the wayside in college as class assignments intensified and activities with friends dominated my free time. Yet when I moved to Cincinnati almost three years ago and found myself lonely and bored, I went to the library, signed up for a card and decided to pick up my old habit of reading.
There’s a topic that doesn’t get addressed often within the church. It’s one of those elephants in the room. It can still be a bit of a taboo subject.
I’m talking about domestic violence.
It happens more than we care to admit. It happens to people we love. It is happening all around us.
More and more I see the world discussing and acting upon the scourge of domestic violence, but it seems to me that the church has not yet risen to this challenge.
Dentists have a way of asking questions at all the wrong times. Last summer as I was reclined on a chair with a mouthful of dentist tools and liquids, my hygienist decided to make small talk about my summer. I attempted to explain that I had recently started dating someone. To my great surprise, her immediate response was, “Do you guys live together?” I stammered a “no” in reply, mentioning something about how we had only been dating a few weeks and “were pretty G-rated.”
But as time went on, my (now) fiancé and I continued to get asked that question.
Question to discuss:
What questions do you have about cohabitation? Are you and/or your friends currently cohabiting? Why or why not?
Roundtable: Countering Cohabitation
More and more people are doing it — living together before marriage. Even the number of Christians who cohabit is on the rise. Is it possible to buck the trend and honor God in this area? And are there compelling reasons to do so? What if all your friends are living together and think you’re just backward and old-fashioned?
Compared with [fairy tales], religion and rationalism are both abnormal, though religion is abnormally right and rationalism abnormally wrong. Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges earth; so for me at least it was not earth that criticized elfland, but elfland that criticized the earth. -G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Too seldom in our busy, bustling lives do we stand still and let the grandeur of the world roll over us.
Over the past few months I’ve noticed a trend in TV and movies. A major plot line goes something like this: A woman or man has found Mr. or Ms. Right. Around that same time, a great career opportunity becomes available. Our hero or heroine must decide whether to choose the dream or the relationship.
Now, ignoring how unrealistic it may be that these two pieces of great fortune would come at the exact same moment, it is a question media seems interested in asking.
Think about the last time you typed an angry Facebook comment or fired off a knee-jerk tweet. Would you have written the same if you thought of your audience as your neighbors?
In response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29), Jesus turned the focus back on the questioner’s heart with a story that crossed prevailing racial and religious boundaries. The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that the demands of the Law are too high to justify ourselves — that’s why Luke points out that the questioner was “desiring to justify himself.”
Another important application, and the one I want to focus on here, is that our “neighbors” include even people we don’t know, and with whom we may vehemently disagree about important things like religion and politics (both of which separated the Samaritan from Jesus’ audience).
Question to discuss:
How can you speak for the voiceless in your own spheres of influence? Which aspect of the pro-life ethic are you most passionate about, and which would you like to understand more?
Roundtable: Pro-Life and the Big Picture
Many people hear “pro-life” and immediately think “anti-abortion.” That’s not wrong, but it’s not the whole story. Life at all ages, stages and circumstances is ordained and blessed by God; this means that the unborn as well as the orphan, the elderly, the refugee, the person with special needs—every person on earth has dignity and value, and is worth fighting for.
Most self-help books are about as insightful as the latest Buzzfeed quiz. They’re not even full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing”; they skip to the last bit: nothing. That may be my own pride speaking, of thinking I’m “above” self-help books, but it’s a gut reaction I can’t seem to shake each time I break down and check out the latest bestsellers in the category.
I’ve often found that novels and movies can be much more inspiring and insightful than books and videos which try so hard to tell me things I’ve heard before.