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Showing posts from January, 2009

Abstinence makes the heart grow stronger

This article in Slate magazine caught my eye. The premise is deciding if you are a moderator or an abstainer, with regard to your personal habits and preferences. One section reads: You’re a moderator if you find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure—and strengthens your resolve; get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something. You’re an abstainer if you have trouble stopping something once you’ve started; aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits. On the other hand, sometimes instead of trying to give something up, we’re trying to push ourselves to embrace something. Go to the gym, eat vegetables, work on a disagreeable project. How does this strike you? Having spent my weekend talking to 11-13 year-olds about sex and sexuality, I can say that I don't think abstinence (or its companion, chastity) get enough airtime in our churches (or in our families) these days. When I talk to youth about abstinence, I try to emphasize tha


This is an interesting article from the New York Times about a connection between religious belief and self-control. The conclusion of the article is as follows: Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness. He suggested that nonbelievers try a secular version of that strategy. “People can have sacred values that aren ’t religious values,” he said. “Self-reliance might be a sacred value to you that’s relevant to saving money. Concern for others might be a sacred value that’s relevant to taking time to do volunteer work. You can spend time thinking about what values are sacred to you and making New Year’s resolutions that are consistent with them.” Of course, it requires some self-control to carry out that exercise — and maybe more effort than it takes to go to church. “Sacred values

Resolutions (Sermon 1/4)

JEREMIAH 3:7-14; EPHESIANS 1:3-14; JOHN 1:1-18 How many of you made resolutions for this year? Even if you didn’t formally write anything down or share it with someone, maybe you thought about something you’d like to try a little harder to accomplish. Maybe you came up with a new goal to stretch yourself. Resolutions seem to be a main part of a new beginning and the turn from one year to another is one of the clearest new beginnings in our time. Though much in the circumstances of our life remains the same between December 31 and January 1, the turning of the calendar page is a new leaf that brings inspiration to us in a variety of ways. The readings this week seem to point to resolutions as well. In Jeremiah, Ephesians and John, we read about God’s own resolve toward God’s people. We see God’s determination to reach out to all creation and the promises that He endeavors to keep. God’s resolutions are completely different from ours, since we are not God (no matter how we res