RELIGION & The potential benefits of personal religiousness according to science. #BostonUniversity

… The potential benefits associated with personal religiousness have been well-documented. They may include less drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; lower rates of depression and suicide; better sleep quality; and greater hopefulness and life satisfaction. A 2001 study showed that personal religious belief and practice act as a buffer against stress and the negative effects of trauma among first- and second-generation immigrant youth, and reduces the rates of depression among that population. Another study linked higher rates of religious service attendance with better test scores among US girls in the South, pointing to an emerging consensus on “the generally positive role of religious practice on education,” according to a 2003 Boston University study.

From “Should you raise your kids religious? Here’s what the science says” by Annabelle Timsit, August 5, 2018, Quartz.

Read more at … https://qz.com/1301084/should-you-raise-your-kids-religious-heres-what-the-science-says/

RECONCILIATION & Practical Ideas for Repairers of Ruined Cities, Healers of Many Devastations Written By My Colleague #ElaineHeath

Article by Rev. Elaine A. Heath, Ph.D., Dean, Duke Divinity School, The Duke Center for Reconciliation, 12/6/16.

In her book, Trauma and Grace, Serene Jones offers the proposal that both individuals and communities who suffer from trauma, can find healing and hope in certain biblical narratives. [1] For example she cites the story of the Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-49) as a text about the communal trauma that the disciples experienced, and how Jesus broke through and helped them to begin to re-narrate their experience and their future. Jones specifically uses this text in conjunction with the trauma inflicted upon the United States on September 11, 2001. The story of the Walk to Emmaus thus becomes a template with which to imagine our own collective healing from other kinds of community trauma.

The process of healing trauma, writes Jones, includes speaking about the original harm that caused trauma, doing so in the presence of witnesses who create a safe environment as a container for the story, and finally, both those who experienced trauma and the witnesses to their story, begin to create a new story together, “to pave a new road through the brain.”[2] By creating the new narrative of hope, survivors of trauma develop agency to enact a better future. They reframe their understanding of themselves and increase their capacity to resist further victimization or enactments of violence, as well as the paralyzing apathy that can be a side effect of trauma. For communities in trauma, the corporate creation of a new pathway “through the brain” takes place through a new set of shared practices that foster communal healing. The appropriation of what Richard Hays calls Scriptural Imagination is a key element in healing communal trauma as Christians.[3]

Scriptural Imagination and Post-Election Communal Trauma

A primary task of the church in post-2016 election United States is to invite a deep reading of Scripture within the church in order to facilitate healing of communal trauma within and beyond the church. Indeed this is a significant aspect the Church’s “working out our salvation” at this volatile and polarized time…

The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us

The first place to begin is to remember our identity. When Jesus stepped into his public ministry and preached for the first time in his hometown, he read from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 18-19, 21).

Jesus, in other words, claimed Isaiah 61 as his mission statement. He then went on to live this text throughout his ministry. Because the church is the Body of Christ, Isaiah 61 is also a defining vision for the church, and no text is more powerful than this for helping the church to once again imagine how to live with and for our neighbors. This text is, indeed, a template for us to imagine God’s preferred future for the world, and to live into that future together.

Consider these verses, for example, and how they might shape our plans of action as congregations working together for the common good: ”They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:3-4). This is our vocation, our identity—to step forward and create a new story with our neighbors, one in which devastated cities and ruined neighborhoods are renewed, children grow up with a future, and the church behaves like Jesus.

In the midst of a climate of fear, despair, and hate, the church can and must live into this text, to work together for the healing of our nation. We can do this because “the Spirit of the Lord is upon us.” Not only is it possible for us to bear witness to the trauma and usher in healing through this text, but it is a gospel imperative. The church is in the world for “such a time as this…”

 

End Notes

1. Jones defines trauma as “…an event in which a person or persons perceives themselves or others as threatened by an external force that seeks to annihilate them and against which they are unable to resist and which overwhelms their ability to cope.” Serene Jones, Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World (Louisville: Westminster/John Knowx, 2009) 13. Gabor Mate describes it this way: “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold in the absence of an empathetic witness.” Gabor Mate, “Foreward” in Peter A. Levine, In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2010), xii.

2. Jones, 31-32.

3. Richard Hays discusses Scriptural Imagination as a crucial skill that fosters renewal of the church with colleagues L. Gregory Jones, Ellen Davis, and Stanley Hauerwas at Duke Divinity School in a panel discussion Feb. 14, 2013.

4. Also see William J. Barber II, The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, with a Foreward by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Boston: Beacon Press, 2016).

5. Harassment Incidents Since Election Day.

6. According to a Pew survey released 11/9/16 the divide between evangelicals and other Christians in this election was similar to previous elections of recent decades.

7. Election Fears

Read more at … https://nccumc.org/news/2016/12/repairers-ruined-cities-healers-many-devastations/

REFUGEES & Reaching the nations from a small Georgia town.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I took my first-year DMin students to “the most diverse square mile in America” (Clarkston, GA) to learn first-hand from my colleague Brian Bollinger and Friends of Refugees. Here is an article about what another church is doing in the area.

“Reaching the nations from a small Georgia town” by NAMB staff, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/8/18

More than 1,000 refugees come to Clarkston, Ga., each year.

Send Relief missionaries Trent and Elizabeth DeLoach and the believers at Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC) have made it their mission to help these men, women and children feel not only welcome but at home in their new country.

A U.S. refugee resettlement program in the 1990s opened the door of opportunity for people from around the world to start a new life in Clarkston.

This suburb of Atlanta eventually became known as “the most diverse square mile in America.” More than 60 countries and 100-plus languages are represented, and the population continues to grow.

A place so rich in culture is exactly the kind of city the DeLoach family dreamed of finding—however it was hard to believe such a place existed in North America, especially in Trent’s home state of Georgia…

After they married, the DeLoaches moved to Kentucky to work with a church in Louisville. They were astonished that more than 5,000 Bosnian refugees lived in the area.

They started “restaurant hopping” and praying for connections. “The different cultures, religions, languages—it was all very intimidating,” DeLoach said.

Over the course of two years, Elizabeth’s influence and passion for those forcibly displaced from their homelands slowly affected her husband’s heart…

We have people [in the city] from different religious backgrounds that include Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. Most refugees have significant physical and emotional needs. They need Christian friends who can share the love of Jesus while helping them transition to life in America..,”

By living next door to families with diverse cultural backgrounds, Elizabeth says they have opportunities to influence the nations.

“We share with our people a three-step process — learn a name, make a friend, share Jesus. It’s simple. That’s our dream. And we see God bringing the nations to us.”

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/03/09/reaching-the-nations-in-a-small-georgia-town/

RURAL CHURCH HEALTH & @EdStetzer on challenges in rural contexts, talks research, opioids, economics & why Christians should care.

by Ed Stetzer, Twitter, 3/10/18

Glad to get a copy the @TheInfluenceMag today. In this issue, Tena Stone and I write about challenges in rural contexts, talk research, opioids, economics, and explain why Christians should care. Be sure to check out the magazine. https://t.co/DgaGaLjoOz

RESILIENCE & These 3 words helped Nick Foles succeed under pressure & win the Super Bowl

by Scott Mautz, Inc. Magazine, 2/5/18.

“It’s just football.” (Text message to Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles before the game from friend and fellow Christian Drew Brees.)

Even on the biggest stage of Foles’ life, with literally millions of armchair quarterbacks waiting to throw their beer cans at the screen, it’s just football. Given what Foles has been going through with his wife having serious health problems and a terrible prior year with the St. Louis Rams that nearly made him retire, it’s just football.

Foles went on to say that the sentiment of the text was true and that it settled him down. A settled Foles meant he leveraged one of his greatest strengths, what fellow Eagle players have called “tremendous poise”. That poise led Foles to Super Bowl MVP honors.

Read more of the article “Nick Foles’ Pre-Game Text From Drew Brees Is a 3-Word Secret For Succeeding Under Pressure” at https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/nick-foles-pre-game-text-from-drew-brees-is-a-3-word-secret-for-succeeding-under-pressure.html

RECONCILIATION & Billy Graham on his friendship/methods with Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Dr. King was a social reformer, we were personal friends and he understood my position completely – – That I was using one type of method to accomplish the same thing and he was using another type of method.” (Read the context and Dr. King’s comments below.)

WHEATON Archives Billy Graham on MLK 1.jpg

WHEATON Archives Billy Graham on MLK 2.jpgAccess the complete documents at http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/bulletin/bu1402c.htm

RESEARCH & How to create an online research library like ChurchHealth.wiki

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/19/17.

I get requests from colleagues, students and ministry leaders regarding how to set up a -wiki, like my ChurchHealth.wiki

Here is my QuickStart Guide to creating a -wiki:

1. Get a URL that ends in .wiki

  • For example, I use ChurchHealth.wiki.
  • Get it at any domain registration service, such as GoDaddy.com

2. Go to wordpress.com

  • Sign up and create a blog.
  • You don’t need to call it a blog, you can call it a -wiki if it is an encyclopedia-type resource.

3. Write and link to articles that are relevant to your field and via links:

  • Post videos,
  • post articles,
  • write articles,
  • excerpt your books, etc.

4. Add a short introduction re. the relevance of each posting for your readers.

5. Tell others to “follow” your site … they will receive a short email synopsis when you make new posts.

Results:

  • Thousands of students, colleagues and friends can follow the latest articles you discover or write in your field.
  • Visitors can “search by word” to find articles relevant to their interest.
  • You can “search by word” to find articles relevant to books/articles you are writing.