If you get a concordance and look up the word “religion” and “religious” you will find it is used about five times. I say “about” because the word is translated from two or three Greek words into the English, “religion” or “religious.” Not being a Greek scholar, I’ll leave that to the translators.

My reason for making the point is twofold. First, to a nonbeliever (atheists) religion is generally a bad word because it is also tied to superstition, even in the New Testament. Since superstition is based on a fallacy, religion is as well. And we would agree that many are based on superstition. There is even superstition among Christians.

So most atheists say religion of any kind is baseless. Which brings me to my second point. Not all atheists see it that way.

An avowed atheist who gets the bulletin, and who shows evangelistic zeal in trying to convert me, sends me (among several others) lectures by Daniel Dennett, who teaches Philosophy (among other things) at Tufts University. If you want to listen to an atheist who loves the Christian religion, listen to Dennett. He will use most of the usual atheistic arguments, but he is different because he says Christianity has moral values worth preserving. He even loves going to an Episcopal church in Boston. He loves the sermons, and goes especially for the high church music. On Christmas he gathers in his home a group of people to sing the great Christmas carols. And he says none of this “Frosty the Snowman.” I would assume, therefore, that he has great appreciation for Jesus as a teacher of good moral values.

Let me say if you hear him once, that’s enough. Like all “circuit riders” he has little new to say, which is not a criticism of him. Speakers of all kinds do the same thing.

In his own way, Dennett makes a valid point about the value of the teachings of Jesus. They are worth keeping and they are worth doing. Why? Because as Dennett points out, even from his belief that morality is the result of evolution, they are good for humanity. Which brings me to my second reason for this article.

In an email someone sent me, a Christian author, Benjamin Corey, in a preview of his book, “Invites us to reorient our lives not on Christian religion, but on the person of Jesus.” Since I haven’t read the book, my feeling is that this Christian author and atheist Daniel Dennett are saying about the same thing, except from a very different foundation. They both seem to be saying there is something apart from the Christian religion that is not the same as the person, i.e., the teaching and purpose of Jesus.

If I were to say that, I would put it this way: There can come a time when the institutional values may become more important than the values of the founder. In other words, we can end up with an ecclesiastical framework that confines the one we claim to serve. That ecclesiastical framework then becomes the sole purpose for existence.

Does, that mean there is no structure from which the truth of Jesus’ purpose can proceed? No. In the book of Acts and some of Paul’s letters, as well as the letters of John, we see the need to separate the meaning of the purpose and teaching of Jesus from that which is not. But I’mpretty sure Corey’s statement that the Christian focus should be on Jesus, rather than the Christian religion is not about that.

While it may seem contradictory to say there is a difference between the Christian religion and Jesus, while it should be, it is not. Let me put it this way: Places of higher learning are supposed to be focused higher education. Most of those places are also involved in sports, which in some cases are almost at a professional level. If funding and advancing the sports program becomes more important than funding and advancing learning they become separate entities.

The same is true with the Christian church. When the organization becomes more important than the intended teachings of the organizer, the meaning and purpose for its existence is lost.
Keith

CONCERNS: Alan Beach’s father fell and broke his hip, so Alan and Joni are in Tennessee. Judy Hall is to have a stress test on her heart. Zona Fisher is ill with what seems to be a virus that is hanging on. Keep her and Roger in your prayers. Erma Williams cousin, Eleanor Bresee, (Ovarian cancer). Lee Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s aunt has a form of leukemia. Kim Hall’s friend, Mary (Parkinson’s). Martha Foy asks prayers for Sandra Anderson and her aunt, Sue Huels and Gil Richardson. Sue is the sister of Betty Foy. Continues praying for Leena’s brother, Nick, Susan and Wayne Phlegar, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, Gary Overstreet, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, and Sharon, a friend of Del Bolin. Remember also Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Mary Smith and Mrs Matara, the mother of a friend of Jim Hunter. Marie Barnett asks prayers for her and her family, especially her mother, Mildred. Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner, is on dialysis.

OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 7-12
Monday : II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-20
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 14-19
Monday: Exodus 1:15 – 2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 42:1-13
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11

FOUND
A key was found in the area of the new rest room off the cry room. It does not fit the paper towel dispenser. It is brass with “soov CAT 74″ stamped on it. If it is yours, see Wayne Flora..

THANKS
Our thanks to Scott Blessing for conducting service today. Alan and Joni had to go to Tennessee because Alan’s father suffered a fall. Alan provided Scott with the material he was going to use, and Scott agreed to step in. The Wagners are in Nashville for a weekend family reunion. They will be returning today.

COMMUNION CHANGE
Today begins the change in the communion service. It will now be before the sermon. Also: the steering committee has been looking at ways of separating the contribution from communion. In the near future you will be asked to deposit your contribution in two or three collection boxes in the back of the auditorium, either upon arriving or leaving. The prayer at the end of the service will include a blessing for your offering. This will, of course, take some getting adjusted to. There will be reminders along the way, and announcements in both the order of worship and from the one opening and closing the service..

PANERA BREAD
For several years we have been one of several groups that can pick up the unused bread at Panera. Our night is Thursday just before closing, which is 10:00 PM. The bread is then taken to the Rescue Mission. Erma Williams and Susan Jordan ask your help in getting this done, and several of you have volunteered. However, the more who will do this, the less each one will have to do it. If you can’t drop the bread off at the Mission, bring it to church on Sunday and someone will deliver it that day.

CONGRATULATIONS
Congratulations to Melisha Scruggs on the completion of her Certified Nursing Assistant studies. When she starts to work she plans to continue on toward become a Licenced Practical Nurse. Great going Melisha!

Disclaimer: I do believe in an old, very, very old, earth, and I don’t take the story of Eden literally. So don’t get all bent out of shape with what I’m about to write. Okey? It’s just for fun about a great wonder.

Once upon a time, well, actually there was no time because there was no galaxy with a sun or anything. But out in “space,” that’s what we call it, something happened. Out of all the nothing of space, some elements or something, got together and it wasn’t a happy joining, or maybe it was. There was a big explosion. Sometimes called the Big Bang.

Blown out into space, particles which had gathered to cause this explosion, somehow, stuck together, at least to some extent. For some amazing reason, this space stuff went out from the biggest piece and lined up and started what we call, our galaxy. Among those “flung out” hunks of matter, one of them, just like momma bear’s chair, landed just right. What we call atmosphere developed because of this “just rightness.” And it too was just right.

As it’s told, the most important (to us) stuff was under water. How long before water, well a million years or so, but they were not years because, you know, no one was here to invent a calendar. (Just to make things easier, whenever a million years or so is needed, I’ll just write “yada yada”)

Water finally got here, and it seems the really good stuff was in the water. Down in the deep darkness of the water, one leftover element from the explosion pumped up against something, and liked the way it felt. Although it really had no feelings, yet. But these two (or three, or more) developed into something more than was before. And yada yada, something bigger and better evolved. Maybe it was something like the consistency of a jellyfish. Whatever. But in yada yada it became an oyster, or something. Feeling confined without much ability to move around, yada yada, it became a crab. Now, not all oysters wanted to travel, so they stayed around to become oyster stew.

Yada yada, we’re not sure how they, you know, bred, or how some were considered male or female. Some folks supposedly in the know, say sexual orientation came from being exposed to certain elements, like heat. So, when you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not you’re not. That must have been confusing. Imagine what some of those first offspring looked like! “He takes after your side of evolution!” There may have been some kind of natural selection to decide which sex was which, except for the earthworm, who, to this day, is both male and female. Talk about the height of Narcissism!

I’ve strayed from the yada yada. The crabs, or something that came from them, or something they came from, decided to peek out of the water. They didn’t stay long, it was hot and there was nothing that looked good to eat. They didn’t know that in yada yada some other leftover stuff would start vegetation. With the passing of another yada yada, some of those water creatures started staying on land longer and enjoying a good salad. After a yada yada, they liked it so much they never even thought of returning to the water. Why all of the water creatures stayed in the water, is a mystery, at least to some.

Maybe it was the droppings of the sea/land creatures that caused the vegetation to yada yada and get so tall some of the land/crab creatures had to grow really big. Again, one can only imagine what a cross between a crab and a flying fish looked like, but with yada yada, something we call a dinosaur was born, maybe little at first, but with yada yada, really big!

Some other mixed up stuff from the sea, or land, or both, didn’t feel good about themselves and started hanging out with different species. Since no human(?) was there, and yada yada, we can only imagine what those crossed-up creatures looked like. It actually may be a good thing no cameras were invented yet, because seeing great-great (yada yada) grandpa slithering out of the primal ooze could be disheartening. Or finding out grandma (yada yada) was a descendant of what became the black widow spider clan. Not good.

With yada yada, the four legged creatures who gave up their fins and gills, and maybe their six or eight legs, (unless they were centipedes) made a lot of changes. Big things found it better to get smaller. In yada yada, what we call horses decide to become dogs, or it may have been the other way around, because, you know, no one was there with a drawing pad.

Some four legged creatures with an identity crisis, decided to become part of what we call the “cat” family. There is some evidence, turned in by cats, that it was the other way around. Whatever, they both yada yaded.

It was probably the flying fish who with yada yada, became birds. Imagine what that first brood looked like! Only a Mother could love. There may have been dissatisfaction, or maybe climate change, but, you know, no one was there etc., etc. Maybe some flying fish/birds went through a change during yada yada. So we have all these flying things we call “birds.” There are even some who still like to swim and dip under water. The lucky ones became eagles.

Maybe after four or five yada yadas, at least one four legged creature wondered what it would be like to move about primarily on the rear legs. No longer liking scales or feathers, hair grew to shield it from the big hot thing in the sky. After yada yada, it seems this creature developed more than just a survival instinct. They started to think, even though they didn’t know it was thinking. That would come yada yada .

In yada yada, what we call humans came along. Some of the other hairy two legged creatures liked it where they were, and stayed the same. The humanoids grew and changed, but even the yada yada couldn’t take dominance away from one of that species. That’s why it’s called “Mother Earth” and “Mother Nature.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Keith

CONCERNS: Alan Beach had a checkup last week and things are good. Joni’s dad is having some issues but had a good checkup. Her uncle, William Voss, was in a serious car accident and has a long recovery ahead. Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, has stage four ovarian cancer. She has started chemotherapy and will have surgery in nine weeks. Del Bolin’s mother is recovering from broken ribs. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels; Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick is recovering from knee replacement. Mary, a friend of Kim (Hall) has advanced Parkinson’s disease. Martha Foy asks prayers for Gil Richardson and Sandra Anderson. Susan and Wayne Phlegar were able to be with us last Sunday. Susan is scheduled for back surgery in July. Remember also Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, The Overstreets, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood and Sharon. Also Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Matara, Mildred Horne and her family; Todd Baumgardner, dialysis. And Brenda, a friend of Melisha Scruggs.

OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 16-21
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-20
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUT DAILY BREAD: JUNE 23-28
Monday: Exodus 1:15 – 2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 42:1-13
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11

THE REST ROOM
According to the contractor the renovated upstairs cry room/handicapped rest room should be finished by today. (Let’s hope!) Even if it isn’t, stop by and take a look at how nice it will be.
SUPER SUNDAY
Today, June 15 is Super Sunday. It is also Father’s Day. So take dad out to eat here at church.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
Since today is Father’s Day, the steering committee will only meet if Mike Branch wants to bring them up to speed on the restroom progress, or if there is another matter that needs attention.
NEW DIRECTORY
Next Sunday cards will be passed out asking for current information for the new directory. These cards will be kept in the office in order to provide a quick reference about ways in which you are willing to serve in various ways. Ben Robertson also has a file. This will be for the office. Please fill out all that is relevant and lay it on the foyer table
Note: the directory is a list of those people who worship here whenever they do. It is not a “Membership” directory. It is a convenient way to stay in touch.
As soon as the information is gathered, pictures will be taken.
HELP
For some time now we have picked up the unused bread from Panera Bread and delivered it to the Rescue Mission. It is picked up on Thursday evening just before closing, which is 10:00 PM. The bread is then taken to the Mission on Friday or Saturday.
Erma Williams and Susan Jordan have been doing this and they need help. If you can’t deliver the bread, but can pick it up and then bring it to church on Sunday, someone who goes toward the Mission on Sunday can deliver it.
See Erma or Susan about signing up to do this.
STARTING JULY FIRST
Starting July first the communion service will be before the sermon. This change will enable those who may have to leave early to share in the Lord’s Supper.
There will also be a change in the way the contribution will be collected.. Bear with us while these changes take place.

A sad commentary on Christianity is the fact that it has too often come in near the bottom on issues of human rights. Especially when it uses the Bible in a literal way and allows the cultural understanding of the time of the writing to interpret the scripture for today.

I thought about this as I watched the unfolding story of Elliot Rodgers, the well-healed, mentally disturbed young man in California, who wanted to kill as many women as possible because, in his mind, they had refused to be sexually what he wanted.

It doesn’t take an expert to see something terribly wrong with men seeing women as inferior beings, worthless except to be used as sexual objects for their twisted pleasure; and then be blamed when they are so treated.

In a related story, Rodgers was a frequent contributor to web sites which degraded women to the lowest level of humanity. The little the story revealed from such sites was sickening.

Rodgers was mentally ill. But what about those men who are not mentally ill? Or should we say all men, all people, who reduce another human being to an object of abuse and scorn are mentally ill? Of course that begs the question of what mental illness is and is not. Is the line crossed when the person’s twisted thoughts become public and there is the threat of action? That seems to be the case. How well it works is debatable.

As I heard the statistics of rape and other forms of sexual abuse of women on college campus’s I couldn’t help but wonder how it got so bad. Neither am I so naive as to believe there has not always been sex on campus, even Christian college campuses. But this is about abuse, degradation, rape.

If I were an anthropologist I might take a stab at explaining why, throughout history as we know it, women have been generally seen as inferior. With some rare exceptions, all societies during the time of the Old Testament, viewed women about the same as did the Old Testament writers. Women were inferior to men.

It is sad, but true, that among all the advances made in science, human science has been the slowest. The fact that education for girls and young women is seen as a threat by certain men in today’s world is more than unconscionable. Recently a man said he was not going to educate his daughter. He wanted her to become a wife and mother. As if you can’t do both. Oh, I forget, not too many years ago in the 50s and 60s, that was what was being preached in our pulpits

The problem with demeaning women is certainly deeper than religion. It exists in all ideologies. It is now seen in almost epidemic forms around the world.

The Church has too often said most of the fault in rape is the woman’s. While there are situations which are more conducive to the danger of being raped, rape is always an act of violence against the victim. It is the same if it were an eighty year old woman, beaten and raped in her home, or a girl or woman raped anywhere. Anyone, Christian or otherwise, who blames the unwilling victim contributes to the problem.

Dare I say that what children see at home they will take into the world, both the good and the bad? Is there a psychology to the possible actions of a boy who grows up with an abusive and could care less mother? Would the same also be true for the girl and her father? Studies would say so. Of course, there is the problem of mental illness. But as Christians we should not only be showing gender equality in the home and in the church, but also the cause for equality among all persons. The record for much of Christianity, whether it be slavery, women’s rights, integration, or other forms of human indignity and inequality, has identified us too much as those who arrive after the fact and not as leaders bringing needed change.
Keith

CONCERNS: Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, also Martha Foy asks that we remember Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick; had knee replacement surgery on Tuesday. Susan and Wayne Phlegar; Hannah, Garrett Lee’s friend is doing much better after treatment for leukemia. Kim Hall’s friend, Mary; Rich Crites, Jim Hunter, the Overstreet’s, Walker Slusher, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, and Del’s friend, Sharon. Also Helen Nicklas, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and Mary Smith. Marie Barnett’s mother, Mildred Horne, and for Marie and her family as they deal with their mother’s declining health. Wayne Flora’s postmaster, Todd Baumgardner (on dialysis) Mrs. Matara and Brenda, a friend of Melisha Scruggs..

OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 2-7
Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-10
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-11
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-18
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 9-14
Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5

MAKING PROGRESS!
The remolded, handicapped accessible upstairs rest room is about half done. Take a peek and see how its going to look
You may also notice some changes in the last few pews on the handicapped entrance side of the auditorium. This change is necessary due to the requirements for wheelchair accessibility. The missing pew, as well as one moved out of line, will be shortened and placed back where they were.
The project should be done by next Sunday.

STARTING JULY FIRST
Beginning on the first Sunday in July the communion service will be before the sermon. There are good reasons for both ways, and the change by the steering committee was done, among other discussed things, to enable those who may have to leave before the service is over, and therefore missing communion.

PANERA BREAD PICKUP
More folks are needed to pick up the bread Panera Bread at Tanglewood on Tuesday evenings. From there it is taken to the Rescue Mission on Friday or Saturday. See Erma Williams or Susan Jordan if you would be willing to help.

LIGHTENING STRIKE
Last Tuesday, lightening struck Kirsten and Philip Pierce’s house. No one was home at the time but the quick response by the fire department the structure was not damaged. However, there was damage where it was struck and the line the lightening followed on the house. They will be staying with Rich and Connie for awhile until the damage from the strike, as well as water damage, etc. can be repaired. Keep them in your prayers, especially the boys, as they get things back together.

THANKS
If you look around the outside of the building you will notice the work folks did at last Saturday’s workday. Thanks to them for coming out. Also, thanks to those in the congregation who were able to contribute to the discussion about the DVD showing concerning end of life decisions. All of them were quite impressive. And finally, thanks to those who went to the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening to prepare the meal for those families who stay there.

Next Page »