The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) has been the site of a church or mosque since the fourth Century. The structure pictured and still standing was the third such church built on this site. Originally the largest Christian Church in the world, built by Emperor Justinian, this was a place of Christian worship for one thousand years. This was the spot where a thousand years of Emperor coronations were . Until the Ottomans captured Constantinople, removed the Christian elements and frescos were placed over the Christian icons (see picture of uncovered images of Jesus). It became Ayasofya (Holy Wisdom Mosque) in the mid 1400s. It remained an active Mosque until 1935 when Ataturk designated it a museum.
The Saints are Super. Their fingertips lace the crystal trophy. There was no way they should have beaten the Vikings led by the often retired, never benched greybeard Bret Farve. The Vikings were the better team, but like all season the Saints were Super. The Colts were the playoff vets ready for repeat performance in the Super Bowl, yet the New Orleans backed Saints were ready. They traded a victorious pig skin for a crystal version of a football and everyone is happy. So now everyone pronounces, New Orleans deserves this and they had it coming. I agree. However, this does not really change anything. It feels good, but it doesn't suddenly build the houses in the 9th Ward that are vacant. It was celebratory, but it does not improve the school system. We could see every play in HighDef, but it does not improve the rampant racism in a city with a significant separation between black and white. Nothing really changes-other than a trophy. Change is something that takes work, effort, and living life differently than it has been lived in the past. So please, lets hold off on pronouncing New Orleans suddenly rebuilt because they won the Super Bowl or even because Bourbon Street is in operation or even because a few houses have been built. Lets look at this from something akin to a Google maps view, taking into account buildings, schools, jobs and opportunity. I think we will see that things still are not as they should be in New Orleans. So, lets not assume that since the ground hog appeared from underground that there is Spring to Celebrate. In fact, Winter is still ahead when it comes to building a nation of people who will no longer tolerate racism and economic disparity.
The week long melodrama of conference hoping has assured me of one thing. Collegiate sport is dead. I suppose it has been that way for many years now. However the teams negotiating leave of the Big 12 for the Big 10, the left behinds negotiating a jump to the Pac-10, and then the final decision by 10 teams to stay in the Big 12 was all a soap opera fit for a Donald Trump show. The bottom line was clearly in site. The fact that the landscape could change and that teams across the board could DOUBLE their multi-million dollar television deals . . . well, that is proof that money is what makes decisions.
Does money make all of your decisions for you? Does if feel good when money either limits or advances you? I wonder if there are ways to live in this world that instead of rewarding the big boy on the block (the Universities of Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma or the power on Wall Street or whomever) we find ways to take care of the left behinds. You know, those millions of people whose homes were foreclosed upon even as banks took in record profit from the "downturn." The smaller universities who have no television market. The small town stores and businesses squeezed out by profit making giants. Maybe we should make decisions about how we vote, spend money or even discuss political issues in a way that benefits more than our already successful team, party, economic class, or nation.
Tomorrow the newest hardware is installed in human hands. Beings across the planet are upgrading their finger tips with a black apple. Some with choose to wait on the pure white apple iPhone 4. White buds will pollinate ears as far as the eye can see-in the masses on metro lines, one man behind tinted glass of fast moving car, or in a mom who cannot even see her children 15 feet away on a playground. Last year users installed the ancient 3GS into, before that the 3G, and prior to all this users installed just the plane jane aluminum shelled jalopy the iPhone. All of them now look like those silver bullet wind-stream RVs. Very cool, but so retro. Another year means another phone, means another propaganda line "everything has changed." Has everything changed, really? Or has change become the new norm. "We live in a culture of built-in obsolescence. Nothing is designed to last. In order to keep the economy healthy we are conditioned to respond to the latest as the best . . . Quickly bored we are easily diverted from whatever we have just purchase." (E. Peterson, p. 254 Practice Resurrection) Today nothing is created for a lifetime but only for a good time . . . for a limited time. Yet each new product promises it is what you have waited your life for. The repeated choruses of "best in class" "product killer" and "everything has changed" is so old school that we cannot even see past the gleam of what is new. Actually things are the same - the same as they have been from the beginning of time. The only difference is that the new Roman Empire of Capitalism does it better than anyone could have imagined or planned from the dawn of creation. But is "better" best? You think I'm a technophobe. You think I'm anti-technology. Wrong. I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone, and should receive the newest iPhone when it is released tomorrow. I like technology, use technology, and appreciate technological innovators.
After years of being used by everyday people, in home groups, with church plants, with non-believers, and Sunday Schools, Wipf and Stock Publishers released my book "Echoing the Story of God." It is now available on the Wipf & Stock site and will be available on Amazon and in your local bookstores by October, 2010. People regularly express to me the following three things: #1 they have a weak grasp of God's story from the Bible, #2 they don't have a meaningful story, and #3 they are uncertain how to talk about God with others. So I wanted to help people find a simple way to gather and tell the scattered stories of life and imagine them as part of a larger story. Over twelve weeks, this guidebook walk participants through the story from Genesis to Revelation. Even more significant than content is the simple small group method that shows people how to be attentive to their lives for hints of God's activity. Along the way, people discover that listening rather than talking is an art that Christians need to learn. I hope you enjoy it. More than that I hope you use it.
This morning I traveled the path tread every weekday morning, walking hand-in-hand with my two kids. There are no sidewalks, so we have to get ourselves to the curb and dodge parents driving in a rush to school or college students flying like rocket ships to secure parking spaces.
I had safely kissed my kiddos goodbye and was crossing 16th to enter the university campus. It was clear in both directions. Except for one mini-truck in the distance. This little black truck sped up- increasing his speed with me walking through the crosswalk! I picked up my pace. I passed the center stripe he swerved over the line. I kept eye contact as he approached. As I reached the curve, I turned to see him pass.
It really is stunning that someone would be inconvenienced by a pedestrian. What would cause a person to speed up? Swerve at a person? None of these compares to the questions I had when I glanced down and saw his bumper sticker, "LIFE" it pronounced in big bold letters.
Hum. The life of an unborn babies is valuable, but not walking professor?
I am guessing that this student is a Christian. Maybe even a quite vocal and activist Christian, unafraid to permanently stick his view on a tiny bumper. However, there is something awry with our hurried, angry, self-justified swerving Christians lives. How can we advertise our Christianity on the back bumper while running people down with our front bumper? Just a word to the Christians out there. People don't care what you think, don't concern themselves with your pedestrian beliefs, but they do feel the impact of your actions.