Building Bridges

Building Bridges Issue 6

May 22, 2019 by John Maurice

“The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up."  Henri Nouwen Society.org “The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up. Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.” (Henri Nouwen Society.org) Our culture does not value downward mobility, but rather upward mobility.  We love to hear stories of success, and in many ways, our culture judges people by their successes or failures. We promote education, not so much for the knowledge and wisdom to impact our lives for good, but for the ability to be successful (i.e. to increase our pay or quality of life). The homes we live in and cars we drive speak to our success or failure in society. We even judge or evaluate the success of our church or minister by the number of attendees, the offering, or the building. As president of a small Christian university, I am often asked “how many students do you have?” Often that question carries an underlying judgement of the college based on...

 

Building Bridges Issue 5

April 27, 2019 by John Maurice

Mother Teresa: "The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” On January 6, 2019, The Week had a feature article titled “An Epidemic of Loneliness.” In that publication the study noted that nearly half of all Americans feel lonely. They cited a study of 20,000 people by the health insurance company Cigna, where 47 percent of respondents reported often feeling alone or left out. Thirteen percent said there were zero people who knew them well. The article is quick to point out that this epidemic is not limited to the United States. In England, 41 percent of Britons say that a pet or television is their main source of company. The country has established a cabinet level position to combat the growing problem of loneliness. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy once said, "During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes, it was loneliness."  What are the effects of loneliness? An interesting study published in 2010 by Brigham Young University titled “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review” concluded that loneliness shortens a person’s life by 15 years. It equated the effect of loneliness with being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The...

 

Building Bridges Issue 4

April 05, 2019 by John Maurice

James E. Faust: "Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” "With Candle and Lanthorn, when the Sun shin'd I sought Honest Men, but none could I find." (Diogenes of Sinope) The prophet Jeremiah, like the cynical philosopher Diogenes, sought to find honest and trustworthy people in Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah, "Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (Jeremiah 1:5). In a world of fake news via social media, accusations of biased journalists and pundits, the normal misinformation of political advertisements, and the need for websites like “Snopes” or “Fact Check” is enough to make us all become cynics. Sometimes stories are fabricated to gain political power or to slander another’s reputation, even if there is no evidence. One only has to look at the accusations hurled at the most recent nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, to see how unfounded and unsubstantiated claims create divisiveness and chaos. The recent news regarding Jussie Smollett has caused quite a stir in Chicago. Smollett originally reported...

 

Building Bridges Issue 3

March 21, 2019 by John Maurice

Once a person, or culture, accepts a belief in relativism, any idea of absolute truth or morality that transcends culture becomes nonexistent or irrelevant. George Orwell once said, “The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”  I believe it is fair to assert that Western culture has drifted towards the doctrine of relativism.This idea is also referred to as postmodernism. Relativism is the belief that there is no absolute truth, only the truths that a particular individual or culture happen to believe. Once a person, or culture, accepts a belief in relativism, any idea of absolute truth or morality that transcends culture becomes nonexistent or irrelevant. Carried to a logical conclusion, every individual at some point determines what is true or moral. The biblical passage that captures this idea says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). The problem with such self-centered behavior is that it leads to division, hatred, murder, theft, sexual sin, and more; in other words, a breakdown of society, since society is identified as a group bound together by common concerns. One can see this doctrine of...

 

Building Bridges Issue 2

March 08, 2019 by John Maurice

What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? Dying to self daily . . . to be raised into what Christ has created us to be. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? That’s a pretty significant question to ponder. In fact, before you move to the next sentence give this question some thought. I must admit that one of the first places I go when I contemplate this question is to statements of faith about doctrinal beliefs. Doctrinal and theological beliefs are extremely important. After all, if Jesus is not the Divine Son of God, crucified, buried and raised from the dead, there is no basis for Christianity (I Cor. 15:11-17). But is there more to being a follower of Jesus than the statements about what we believe? Does being a follower of Jesus bring deeper meaning than going to church, making doctrinal statements about the authority of scripture, or having an intellectual understanding about the nature of the Christ? While statements of faith are important, it seems like a Christianity that influences the world and changes lives is built upon more than I believe proclamations. The late Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that “When Christ calls...