Posts by Denny
RESTLESS DEVICES: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age

RESTLESS DEVICES: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age

April 7, 2022 By dwayman

In an insightful study by Dr. Felicia Wu Song titled Restless Devices: Recovering Personhood, Presence and Place in the Digital Age, this professor of Sociology examines the impact of our ubiquitous and often devious devices.  Noting both their benefit and their peril, Song provides research, analysis and treatment for all of us.

Dr. Song says in part:

“What do we talk about now over two decades into the twenty-first century?   We still marvel over the efficacy of social media-driven campaigns like #metoo, still chuckle over the latest memes. But we are equally concerned about how our search engine algorithms results and social media feeds are driving our country toward increased incivility, polarization and extremism.  We examine the growing data on digital addictions from neuroscience and psychology research.  We wonder about the future of a democracy in a world where fake news is normalized, and we argue over the legal obligations of privacy protection: Who has a right to what information about us and when?…”

Noting the designed manipulation of social media users, Song writes:

“Tristan Harris…has been heralded as the ‘closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience.’ For several years he has been calling out tech companies for their exploitation of users’ psychological vulnerabilities and actively campaigning for ethical design.  And if you watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, you saw that Harris is just one of several Silicon Valley insiders who are choosing to tell all. 

CONSENT IS NOT ENOUGH

CONSENT IS NOT ENOUGH

March 25, 2022 By dwayman

In the decades since the sexual revolution which unmoored our sexual ethics from any resemblance of Biblical teaching, the results are now clear: Consent is not enough!  This observation made by Christine Emba in the Washington Post provides an insightful place from which to consider where we go from now.  Not appealing directly to the Biblical teaching, Emba nevertheless uses a definition of LOVE that requires the life-long commitment to the well-being of the other.

Emba states, in part:

“Even when it goes well, sex is complicated. It involves our bodies, minds and emotions, our connections to each other and our deepest selves. Despite the (many, and popular) arguments that it’s only a physical act, it is clear to almost anyone who has had it that sex has vast consequences, some of which can last long after an encounter ends. Over the past several decades, our society has come to believe that consent — as a legal standard and a moral requirement — could somehow make our most unruly activity more manageable. But it was never going to be that easy….”

“The problem with all this is that consent is a legal criterion, not an ethical one. It doesn’t tell us how we should treat each other as an interaction continues. It doesn’t provide a good road map should something go off the rails. And it suggests that individual actions — “ask for consent,” “speak your mind,” “be more forceful in saying yes or no” — are enough to preempt the misunderstandings and hurt that can come with physical intimacy.

ACT JUSTLY

ACT JUSTLY

February 9, 2022 By dwayman

At the 2022 Andrews Chair in Christian Unity lecture, the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, pastor of  St Martin-in-the-Fields church on Trafalgar Square, London, presented an insightful and inspired path Christians can take in order to ACT JUSTLY.   Wells notes that we often focus on ending injustice while missing the opportunity to do justice. Presented to the faculty and student body of Greenville University, the lecture is a timely presentation in an unjust world as he calls the church to a holistic understanding of how we act to bring justice into our churches, communities and nations.

The lecture is presented here in Facebook Video format:

5th Annual Andrews Chair Lecture:  Act Justly by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells

 

 

HONORING GOD’s COVENANT:  Caring for the Earth

HONORING GOD’s COVENANT: Caring for the Earth

January 18, 2022 By dwayman

Free Methodists and Creation Care

Honoring God’s Covenant: Caring for the Earth

Howard A. Snyder

Introduction

God has an everlasting covenant with His earth, as well as with His people. Since we humans are God’s stewards on earth, called to care for the garden (Genesis 2:15), God’s earth covenant is our stewardship commission. This is particularly true for Free Methodists, called to “maintain the Bible standard of Christianity.”

God’s Covenant with the Earth

The Lord God brings salvation to earth through a series of revealed covenants, culminating in the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ. The first of these covenants, following humanity’s fall into sin and after the flood, is revealed in Genesis 9.

God says to Noah after the flood, “I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark” (Genesis 9:9–10 NRSV). God makes it clear that this covenant is “with every living creature” and is “for all generations.” It is in fact an “everlasting covenant” — true and to be observed throughout all history. God calls this simply His “covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:12–16). All covenants have a sign, and the sign of this covenant is the rainbow.

CALLED FROM HATE AND DISDAIN TO LOVE

CALLED FROM HATE AND DISDAIN TO LOVE

January 10, 2022 By dwayman

At the beginning of 2022 the Word of the Lord came through Jim Wright to all of us.  Representative of the thousands of sermons given on January 9th, Wright provides us with God’s guidance in times when we often look to others far less helpful.  A lawyer and professor, his message to us is that we are called away from hate and distain to love toward all.

His text is 1 John 3:16-24:  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him,

PANDEMICS AND THE CHURCH AND STATE IN  HISTORY

PANDEMICS AND THE CHURCH AND STATE IN HISTORY

January 7, 2022 By dwayman

It is helpful to hear from a Christian scholar from Nigeria as we often get caught up in our individual nation’s politics and lose sight of our global Christian witness, purpose and history.  Here Dr. Bernard B. Fyanka, Redeemer’s University Ede, Osun State Nigeria, provides an insightful analysis of the church and state as both encounter a pandemic.

The conclusion to his analysis states:

” In my opinion, the central agitation of the church with regards to this pandemic and possible pandemics in the future should have been over the designation of the churches as entities providing essential and emergency services. This characterization should be based on the original basis of the relationship between the church and state in which the church is viewed as a charitable organization providing medical, social and spiritual relief to communities.The emphasis of the church should not have been on rights to congregate but rights to work inparallel status with doctors, nurses, police, and other emergency services in providing much-needed relief. Finally, as opined by the catholic church, ‘the Church has direct authority fromGod Himself over the exercise of religion and the meaning of faith and morals. But this authority does not preclude cooperation with legitimate governmental entities in fostering the common good, which in fact is required by the Church’s own moral teaching.”

Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus David Kendall notes:  “Dr. Fyanka’s point, as I understand it, is that the church is not called to protect and advocate for its own rights,

BAPTIZED CYNICISM  by Matthew Ruszynski

BAPTIZED CYNICISM by Matthew Ruszynski

October 18, 2021 By dwayman

Rev. Matthew Tuszynski

I’ve never read the ‘Left Behind’ series, but I grew up around the time it was most popular.  That meant that, even without reading so much as the first page of the first book, I already knew most of the major plot points just by virtue of being around people who were entranced by the books.  If you are old enough to remember the 90’s and early 00’s (and I still haven’t fully processed the fact that some of you reading this might not be), you’ll already be familiar with the eschatological hysteria of the period.  It’s a hysteria that had been building since World War I, but something about the turning of the millenia, and some nonsense about the Aztec calendar that was all over the History Channel for some reason, got a good portion of the populous to believe that any moment now we’d live through that ‘empty clothes left where my husband/wife/brother/second-cousin twice removed was sitting just a moment ago’ scene from those novels.

That hysteria imbued much of western Christianity with an almost Gnostic nihilism about the physical world and its problems.  Somewhere along the way the phrase ‘in the world, but not of the world’ was spawned, and it’s become such a fixture in Christianese that we sometimes forget that no such phrase appears in the scriptures.  There are two near analogues; the first is John 17:16–18 (NASB95) 16“They are not of the world,

THE SUFFERING WITNESS                 by Ayebale Barigye

THE SUFFERING WITNESS by Ayebale Barigye

October 14, 2021 By dwayman

The necessity of hearing the Word of God preached by a variety of unique pastors is vital to a full understanding of the Gospel. Each pastor not only comes from their own place in history but also in geography and culture.  Pastor Ayebale Barigye was born in Uganda and raised in the United States.  He is a graduate of Greenville University.  This blend of international and national experience not only causes Pastor Barigye to have a clear understanding of the justice our faith requires, but the importance of following our Suffering Savior as we also pick up our own cross and follow him.  This sermon is a part of the series on Suffering preached at St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church in Greenville, IL.

This sermon was given on October 10, 2021.  The audio is available on YouTube by clicking here.

LOVING FROM WHERE WE STAND

LOVING FROM WHERE WE STAND

October 11, 2021 By dwayman

When John wrote that the mark of being a Christian is by our love for all, (John 13:35) he established what is our clear Free Methodist understanding of the social concerns of our day.  This truth, also called the Theology of Love by Wesleyan authors such as Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, defines the dynamic power of love that is central to our Wesleyan heritage.

It is therefore appropriate that Supt. Bruce Cromwell was asked as a member of the Study Commission on Doctrine to write about the love we are committed to expressing to the LGBT community as we stand upon the teachings of Scripture.  His guidance has been published under the title Loving From Where We Stand and can be ordered here.

To understand his heart, this interview on FM Radio is a shared conversation with the Rev. Dr. Cromwell and Elijah Drake.  You can listen to the podcast here.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A COLORBLIND CHRISTIANITY

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A COLORBLIND CHRISTIANITY

August 19, 2021 By dwayman

With the 2020 Census revealing that we are increasingly a multicultural nation and therefor must be a multicultural denomination if we are to reach this and future generations, this article provides both an analysis and a call upon us.  Written by Amar D. Peterman in August 17, 2021 the author begins:

“In its early stages, the multiracial church movement felt promising. Inspired by the 2004 book United by Faith, this movement held bold aspirations of a racially reconciled, Revelation-like worshiping community. While many questioned whether this elusive dream might become a reality, I wanted it to be true.

Yet, as Tom Gjelten reported for NPR last year, the multiracial church movement failed. While the movement succeeded in racially integrating congregants, many multiracial congregations remained steeped in a Christian faith governed by whiteness. Congregations grew in diversity, yet governance and meaningful decision-making power was safeguarded by cohorts of predominantly white male leadership.

For all its promises, the multiracial church movement was unequipped and under-resourced to deliver. Most importantly, this movement failed to address the distorted imagination of belonging.

To understand this, one must start with a core interpretive assumption held among mainstream evangelicals. The task of hermeneutics, as I was taught at an evangelical Bible college, is a process of ridding oneself of the baggage — the “bias” and “presuppositions” — we bring to the text: our experiences,