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The Gospel according to Elijah

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Fake Porn Videos and Gospel

By now, you’ve probably heard about the rising tide of fake porn videos. The BBC and others have run informative articles on the subject over the past week (here). Fake porn involves imposing an alien face onto someone in a porn video and, with the help of new easy to use apps, this has recently gotten a whole lot easier to do.
The phenomenon, also called 'deep fakes', has been mostly the digital lifting of female celebrity faces and attaching them to the bodies of porn actresses. (That is, if we may be allowed to assume the gender of these performers. I must confess to being one of those terribly backward types that still thinks of women in terms of having vaginas and men in terms of not having them.) But falling victim to fake porn could happen to anyone who has ever posted just a few selfies online―male or female.
It is even reported that Donald Trump is appearing in quite a few.

These new apps will get even more accurate, user-friendly, and powerful over the next couple…

Anglican Resistance Fires Shots Ahead of Synod

Next week is the Church of England’s (CoE) official Synod. Religious men, women, and non-binary will descend on London in their ecclesiastical garb in what is sure to be the oddest-looking gathering since last summer’s cosplay convention. Unlike the cosplay convention, this clerical congress likes to take itself and its discussions very seriously and we should do them the favour of playing along.
In anticipation of this sober summit, a group of evangelical Anglican church leaders (CEEC) has just released a declaration formally referred to as 'Apostolic Life and Faith'. It's actually about sex. In releasing it they (presumably) hope to direct some of the synod’s discussion in a sane direction - something we cannot take for granted at Synod.
To understand why some people will find this interesting (other than the fact it's about sex), we need a bit of context.
The reason this synod is garnering more attention than normal is that the last one was more sin-odd than synod. M…

#MeToo, Potiphar's Wife & the Failure of Jacob's Patriarchy

The first book of the Bible has a few #MeToo moments recorded in its brutally honest pages. And, as our church is going through Genesis, I am preaching them all. This means I tend to think about these accounts more than when I just read the book for myself.
This is at a Post-Weinsteinian time when the #Metoo and #ChurchToo movements are burning like a Southern California Autumn all over social media. The story of American pastor Andy Savage has helped add extra fuel to the flames this week alone. These hashtags accompany stories of sexual assault―victim stories being brought out of the closet. And, like most emotion fuelled movements, there is both good and bad that comes of it.
Dinah In Genesis 34 we read of Dinah’s #MeToo moment. While her family was still somewhat new in the neighbourhood, she went out to meet some of the other lasses in the area. It is recorded that Shechem, one of the princes of the area, saw her and sexually assaulted her. She comes back home and tells her dad, Ja…

An Alien Christmas on a Theologian's Toilet

In the Spring of 1517, a theological professor went to the crappers. While doing his business, he had an explosive breakthrough.
Possibly more than one.
He was teaching through the book of Romans at the local University and he was puzzled over an issue. Though possessing a sharp mind, a degree in Law, and a doctorate in Theology, he was still struggling to make sense of what St. Paul meant when he wrote about ‘the righteousness of God’.
This was more than a moot point for the North German theologian. He had trembled his whole adult life with the question of how a disgustingly sinful man―such as himself―could ever be good enough to stand in the presence of a thrice-holy God and not be killed. It was while on the john that he had a revelation that caused his heart soar in pure spiritual ecstasy and liberation―and which takes us to the heart of Christmas. What was that revelation?
Or, to be more precise, ‘the alien righteousness of Jesus’. Martin Luther had been exceedingly scrupu…

Of Gilead and Gulag: 'Handmaids Tale' and 'Gulag Archipelago', a Comparative Review

Earlier this month I read both ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. As they both centre on the themes of freedom and oppression―much talked about issues in our day―I thought it was worth doing a comparative review. I’ll briefly describe each book first.
Gulag Archipelago Gulag was written by the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). As its title suggests, it focuses on the numerous prison and work camps into which the Soviets threw millions of its own people who were suspected of political dissent. Solzhenitsyn himself spent nearly ten years there, so it contains biographical as well as historical elements. In addition to simply recounting history, there is considerable space given to literary and spiritual reflection as it describes his journey from atheism to Christianity while in the gulags.
I read the author-approved abridged version which is 500 pages (the original is 2,000). Gulag is credited as being one of the great books that helped to bring down the …

Book of the Month: Dare to Ask

I have read some good books this month, but I’d like to highlight Dare to Ask by Israeli author and worship leader, Simcha Natan. She lives near Mt. Carmel where she helps to lead programs centred around intercession and worship.
It had been a while since I’d read a book of this sort. It is a reflective in tone and personal in application. It’s the type of book you’d want to take with you on a quiet prayer retreat – or the type to read at the end of the year to take stock of your spiritual health. It deals with personal dreams, gifting’s, serving others and personal sanctification. I often caught myself thinking of the Biblical story of Joseph and how God shaped his character and then resurrected his dreams.
I have well highlighted Natan’s book, but a few of favourite lines would be:
‘There is a tension we must learn to live with well: to be at peace that our dreams may never happen, while trusting that God placed them in our hearts for a reason.’
‘It is necessary to hold onto the Maker o…