A few thoughts on Christian faith... 

Oh the times when I have failed to recognize
How many chairs are gathered there around the feast.
To break the bread and break these boundaries 
That have kept us from our only common ground,
The invitation to sit down if we will come...  
- Nichole Nordeman
In recent years, diversity within the church has become especially important to me. I'm discovering how enriching it is to discuss experiences and shared beliefs with people of different races and cultures and economic backgrounds. You discover how much bigger God can be than just what you have experienced. Currently, I'm involved with a great church called Cellebration Fellowship made up of people from all over the world---Sudan, Burma, Sierra Leone, the US, and elsewhere. Since many of the people come from backgrounds where they were persecuted, it's especially amazing to hear how their faith carried them through it.  The chance to share music, stories, and ideas amongst ourselves means a lot to me.

I may not see in front of me,
But I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder.
And Lord, it's clear You've brought me here
So faithful every step of the way.
 - Steven Curtis Chapman

Growing up in the "Bible-Belt", I've seen both the negatives and positives of the Christian faith. It is indeed true that it can become rather hollow, something followed out of tradition or even intimidation. I've also seen, however, how much the limits and biases we tend to put on our faith can be overcome by a simple willingness to recognize and deal with them. If there is one thing that I have discovered (and am still discovering), it's that the Christian life has to be a daily learning and re-commitment, not a blind acceptance of what we were told in the past. As the lyrics quoted at left point out, however, though we are constantly stepping into the unknown, we also have the assurance of what we have experienced in the past to comfort us in the journey.

I have always enjoyed reading articles that situate faith and practice in the real world, that give thoughtful responses to questions and doubts which arise, that recognize that there might be many ways of looking at an issue. Here are links to a few magazines and websites that I have come across over time that somewhat reflect this approach to faith and life.

Relevant Magazine is an online magazine providing information about "God, Life, and Progressive Culture".  It serves as storehouse for general online articles from a variety of religious and secular publications as well as a commentary on trends and ideas in the Christian world.  It is very youth and college-oriented in its style and subject matter.

Books and Culture is a scholarly Christian magazine which claims to represent an integration of faith and learning. That translates into some really good articles containing debates and cultural studies with a subtle but definite Christian perspective. You can access a whole backlog of past issues at their site, so be prepared to do a lot of reading. The articles are generally very well done and draw on a wide variety of sources.

Writing from a background of linguistics, anthropology, missions, and education, Orville Jenkins maintains a site of Thoughts and Resources with a lot of personal comments and professional articles on Christianity and other religions, language, and culture.  Having stumbled across Mr. Jenkin's site while looking at cultural information, I've also appreciated the interests and perspectives he offers in his faith outlook as it parallels much of my own.

I don't know anything about the school itself, but if you're looking for Bible references for study or presentations, I suggest using The Unbound Bible from Biola University. It's a very good search engine which can find words or verses in a large number of translations/languages in the Bible and the Apocrypha. Definitely the best that I've seen as far as format and ease of use.

Finally, be sure and see my music page for some Christian music links too!


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