Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From the Newstand

I read these articles on Sunday and thought everyone should take a look...

Southern Hospitality, but Not for Newcomers
IMAGINE this: It’s Sunday morning, beautiful and quiet, except for the mockingbird practicing comic routines on the sweet gum tree in the backyard. As usual, you get ready and drive your family to church. Everyone is well dressed, and the kids are singing in the back seat.

Somewhere along the way, you spot a stranger by the roadside, carrying a Bible, looking lost. As a good Christian, you pull over and offer him a ride. In the car, you introduce him to your family, making sure your kids know their manners. You chat with the stranger. Chances are, he’s from somewhere else, maybe even another country. You drop him off near where he’s going; or, God willing, he’ll come, on your invitation, to your church for the service. If the latter, it will make your day, having welcomed a stranger into the benevolent fold of the Lord.

That stranger could have been me, 20 years ago, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Fresh out of college in Beijing, I had left my home country in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre. Landing in the sleepy college town, I was disappointed that Times Square was nowhere to be seen. I started going to churches, and without a car, I had to rely on good Samaritans for rides on Sunday. A newbie not yet brazen enough, I always carried a Bible, which seemed to work better than a hitchhiker’s thumb. When kindhearted folks — men in immaculate suits and women in puffy, flowery dresses — stopped for me and asked what church I was going to, I would invariably say, “Yours.”

If the same scene is played again today, you, the good Samaritan, could be in trouble. According to an Alabama law that went into effect on Sept. 1, it is a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride. (Read the whole article!)
After Egypt’s Revolution, Christians Are Living in Fear ...
THE images streaming from Cairo’s streets last month were not as horrifying as those of the capture and brutal death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, but they were savage all the same. They were a sobering reminder that popular movements in some parts of the world, however euphorically they begin, can take disquieting and ugly turns.

When liberal Muslims joined Coptic Christians as they marched through Cairo’s Maspero area on Oct. 9 to protest the burning of a Coptic church, bands of conservative Muslim hooligans wielding sticks and swords began attacking the protesters. Egyptian security forces who had apparently intervened to break up the violence deliberately rammed their armed vehicles into the Coptic crowd and fired live ammunition indiscriminately.

Egyptian military authorities soon shut down live news coverage of the event, and evidence of chaos was quickly cleared from the scene. But the massacre, in which at least 24 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded, was the worst instance of sectarian violence in Egypt in 60 years.

Confusion and conflicting narratives abound. Some claim to have overheard an announcer on television encourage “honorable Egyptians” to come to the rescue of soldiers under attack by a mob of Copts. Others heard a Muslim shouting that he had killed a Christian. (read the whole article!)
Reading Between the Poverty Lines
A new and improved gauge of poverty, released this month by the Census Bureau, shows that 49.1 million Americans are poor, and that the ranks of those just above poverty are larger than previously believed. The middle class is under pressure, too, battered by stagnating incomes and unavoidable expenses like medical bills.

The older, official poverty line is still used to determine eligibility for government benefits, but the new formula offers a broader view of life both in and out of poverty. These numbers bear directly on issues of joblessness, budget cuts and health care costs — and more broadly on the question of whether government policies to help the poor and boost the economy do any good. The answer is an emphatic yes.

If only lawmakers were paying attention. Instead, they are fixated on budget cutting, generally downplaying the good that government programs do while ignoring the consequences when they fall short.

However you slice it, the definition of poverty is abysmally low.  (Read the whole article!)
Can Gary Chapman Save Your Marriage?
I HAD never heard the word “gonads” mentioned from a church pulpit. But on a picnic-perfect afternoon in August, as more than 1,000 people crowded into the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ outside of Nashville, Gary Chapman, a 73-year-old Southern Baptist pastor and author of the mega-selling phenomenon “The Five Love Languages” (7.2 million copies and counting), was talking about what he calls Christianity’s “great sex swindle.”

“That is the idea that good Christians don’t talk about sex,” he said, “at least not out loud, and certainly not in the church. I want to say that both of those ideas are fallacious. Dr. Ruth did not invent sex. Sex was invented by God.”

For the next hour, the centerpiece of a daylong conference called “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” Dr. Chapman discussed the Bible’s robust support for conjugal sex. He also delivered a pastoral primer on the differing sex drives of men and women. Men, he said, explaining their relentless buildup of sperm cells, are far more driven by physical needs; women, by emotions.  (Read the whole article!)

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