When I preach, I try to believe that God is going to speak to people through what I'm going to say. But I'm always surprised when it actually happens. Sermons are like sausages: (and laws) if you like them, you don't want to see them being produced. At least, they always seem a lot less uplifting for the producer than they're supposed to be for the consumer. In short, I find it hard to get excited about my own sermons. I'm forever picking holes in them. So it was good to hear this story today.
I've been pretty much on the go since arriving here, apart from one or two less busy days. This past week was no exception. On Monday we had a seikai (regional church meeting) which was a full day of services involving the churches in our area: Hikone, the church I'm staying at right now; Nagahama, where I'll be moving in two weeks time and working for the next six months; Kinomoto, and Yokaicihi. The speaker was Rev Mikio Yokoyama; he was very good and very entertaining, at least in the morning session. I think in the afternoon I was… shall we say, flagging a little. Still, it was good for me to show my face at Nagahama church.
It's not fair that I can't sleep right now, but that's not what I want to write about. There's been a lot of coverage in the press here recently about the case of Lucie Blackman, who was murdered back in 2000. The murderer, a guy called Joji Obara, was actually acquitted of her murder, but convicted for life for manslaughter and rape of some other girls. Lucie's parents are appealing the not-guilty verdict.
An old friend called me up yesterday to ask me how I saw my Christianity and my programming working together. (I have some strange friends.) I didn't have any good answers at the time, but it got me thinking. I still don't have any good answers about the relationship between Christianity and computing, and I don't know if there are any, to be honest. It all seems a bit up in the air, you know, having to come up with a theology of everything you do - it smacks of overspiritualising life. But that's precisely what folk like Mark Greene of the LICC encourage people to do, and he's one of the most down-to-earth blokes I know. Besides, why should your spiritual life and your “work” life be separate? I've even preached that they shouldn't, so maybe I should put that into practice and have a theology of computer science.
Justification by faith and not works, yes or no?
Graeco-Buddhism is a really fascinating thing: it's about how Buddhism came to the Greek empire and the syncretism that took place between Buddhist thought and Greek philosophy between around the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD. Rather an important time frame from Christian theologians, one might think.
So here's another Accordance tip. I got the wonderful Theological Dictionary of the New Testament this morning and started to play about with it. I selected the second word of Matthew 1:1, and was surprised to see this:
My tutor used to tell me that to be a good evangelist, you need to be a good atheist. You need to have looked into all the arguments and rebuttals and come up with your own re-rebuttals. You need to be able to play Devil's advocate, and for obvious reasons, many within my church tradition aren't very good at that. I rather enjoy it. Not because I am trying to persuade people with my words - I'm not very good at that - but because I see the benefit in having my faith stretched. I think it can take it. The way I see it, if this Christianity thing is demonstrably a load of rubbish, then my life becomes a heck of a lot easier. If not, then dealing honestly with objections to it gives me more personal and intellectual integrity.