Folks, something very, very good is happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with potential to impact the Christian Church worldwide. Two articles in a city newspaper explain:
KENTWOOD — Talking amid shelves of books in a warehouse littered with huge boxes of even more books, Kurt Berends offered one perspective on the work of the nonprofit organization he started four years ago: “We’re waste removal.”
Of course, that’s only half the story. The real magic of Theological Book Network comes in turning academic trash from U.S. libraries into treasure for under-resourced areas in other parts of the world.
The small but growing operation takes unwanted books from U.S. schools and ships them to schools in Africa, southeast Asia and eastern Europe. Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Africa, Asia, Books, Calvin College, Eastern Europe, Grand Rapids Michigan, Kurt Berends, Latin America, libraries, Middle East, Theological Book Network, Theology
Piety and high finance. Christian ecumenism and Middle Eastern tension. The Vatican and a Kentucky businessman meeting to fund a Holy-land venture. A ruined 1st-century Jerusalem synagogue excavated while laying the foundation of a 21st-century hundred-million dollar hotel complex. (Then its old coins and other relics captured, one imagines, under plexiglass cases in the behemoth’s gleaming lobby).
All of this and more surfaces in yesterday’s news story about the “Magdala Center,” coming soon to the Sea of Galilee.
I’m sorry, I just find the powerful gospel associations of the Holy Land creepily incongruous with accommodations that will undoubtedly prove both luxurious and unattainable to 99.99% of the world population–not to mention the crew of fishermen who once hung around the Messiah. Continue reading
Medieval miniature painting of the Siege of Antioch - First Crusade
After lecturing the other day to Bethel undergrads on the feudal system (the defining reality of “those who worked”), and before outlining the idea of sacramentality and the sacraments in the Middle Ages (a central notion and rituals for “those who prayed”), I laid out what many of “those who fought” were doing between the 11th and 15th centuries.
They were going on Crusades.
That is, they were seeking to reclaim the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in general for Christendom.
[Again, sources for this part of the lecture include several lectures from the Teaching Company, e.g., http://teachingcompany.12.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=2605]
Jerusalem was the center of the world for medieval Christians—and for hundreds of years, Christians had been making pilgrimages there. Yet since the 7th century, Jerusalem and the surrounding area had been controlled by the Muslims, whose massive growth from the 7th through the 11th century came at least partially at the expense of formerly Christian territories. Continue reading