When I was at language school I was swapping stories with my language teacher. I was asking him about the collections of bottles of water you often see outside Japanese houses around the obon season; I had been assured by an experience missionary that they were offerings to the spirits of the ancestors who returned to earth at obon, so that they could have a drink on their journey. Well, not exactly, said my language teacher; they’re there to reflect the sunlight into cats’ eyes and stop cats peeing on people’s gardens. Read more about Bamboo Tree and Christmas Tree
There are a couple of really good articles going around about short-term mission at the moment, and so the main purpose of this post is to make sure you’ve read:
Someone asked if this applies to Japan, and so as a bonus here are my half-baked thoughts on the subject: Read more about Who does short term mission help?
Caitlin is three years old now, and has started taking an interest in the Bible stories. It started at Christmas, when she wanted us (over and over and over again) to tell her the Nativity story. Every day she acted out the story with us and with her dolls. And then she wanted to know what happened after Jesus was born, so we started acting out more of the stories of Jesus; and now she’s working her way through the Old Testament. She loves acting out the stories of Joseph, Moses, Daniel and so on. But… there’s a problem. Read more about #YesAllBiblicalWomen
Japanese churches are, in general, pretty dualistic. They only really deal with “spiritual” subjects; they may be excellent at giving you a theologically correct exposition of a Bible passage, and even at showing how that should affect your religious life, but they have very little concern for the “secular” life. For all that Japanese churches can teach you about how to relate to God, from the reaction I’ve received, providing teaching on how to relate to the world seems pretty revolutionary here. Read more about A theology of work
This morning I found myself wondering “what did Jesus actually talk about the most?” “What did Jesus talk about the most?” is a theological question which makes it hard to answer, but a related question—“What words did Jesus use the most?”—is a data journalism question, one that we can quantify and analyse. (It is worth reminding ourselves that answering the second question doesn’t necessarily answer the first, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless.) Read more about Jesus' words
What benefit do people get from all the effort
which they expend on earth?
A generation comes and a generation goes,
but the earth remains the same through the ages.
I have about five or six blog posts in the queue to finish writing, most of which are either quite long and involved, or require tact, or both. I have been getting stuck in my writing, so here’s something quick to get the ball rolling again. Read more about Most Mission Isn't Missional
I spent five years in university, theoretically studying Japanese and linguistics. What I actually spent my time doing with messing with computers. I turned my final year dissertation into a computational linguistics paper with a Japanese pretext. Basically, I was a scientist trapped in a humanities major. Read more about Why all Biblical studies people should learn XeTeX
Eight years ago, Thomas Hastings and Mark Mullins wrote an excellent article about the congregational leadership crisis facing the Japanese church [free subscription to IMBR required]. They said Read more about The congregational leadership crisis still facing the Japanese church