Converge http://convergemagazine.com Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:00:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 What anxiety has taught mehttp://convergemagazine.com/anxiety-taught-14133/ http://convergemagazine.com/anxiety-taught-14133/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:00:39 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14133 What anxiety has taught me by Angel Prideaux

I sat in her big purple chair. It was a Monday afternoon in 2011, and I would rather have been...

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What anxiety has taught me by Angel Prideaux

I sat in her big purple chair. It was a Monday afternoon in 2011, and I would rather have been anywhere else. I looked down at my dangling feet.

This stupid chair. As if people didn’t remind me enough about my height, now this chair is laughing at me. I feel so small. Can I leave now?

“Angel?”

“Sorry, what was your question?”

“You were telling me about your flash backs.”

“Yeah. Sometimes I have flash backs, and sometimes I feel panicked for no reason.”

I feel like I’m going to puke. It’s only my first counselling session, and I’m told I have PTSD and anxiety. Awesome. I guess I already knew, but now it’s real. 

I hate that big purple chair.

I eventually got past my denial, but then I had to get past the Christians, which was going to be difficult, seeing as I was a Christian, attending a Christian university.

I am now about to finish my last year of undergrad, and I still have anxiety. 

I am a 21-year-old who loves Jesus, but my subculture often makes me feel like my emotions are not valid, and that I am a defective Christian. I pray every day, sometimes about my anxiety, sometimes not. I know I didn’t always feel like this, but I can’t remember when that was. The thing is, I’m content knowing my anxiety may never fully disappear.

I refuse to believe the lie that “If you just have enough faith,” the anxiety will be no longer. I am not saying God cannot heal, but sometimes He chooses not to. He chooses not to because He’s God, and He knows what He’s doing.

I have anxiety, but God still shows me how to rely on Him. I have anxiety, but His grace is sufficient. I have anxiety, but it is not my identity.

And when it feels as though my heart is punching my chest, the last thing I want to hear is, “Let go, and let God.” I didn’t always mind this phrase, but after the abuse Christians have put it through, I can’t bear to hear or see it. It’s one of the go-to responses we give someone when we don’t know what to say. 

It’s not just this phrase — there are plenty of others like it. A simple response, such as, “I don’t know what to say, but I am here, and I am listening,” would be enough — and it would be honest.

Honesty is what that purple chair taught me. Yes, talking to a complete stranger about the pieces of my life that were dipped in darkness was draining. Yes, admitting my stress hindered my daily life was terrifying. 

But, when I think back to that purple chair, I hear Christ’s words, “It is finished.” The days of pretending I am just prone to stress and repeating “I’m fine” are over. I can be transparent and know Christ takes me as I am.

God hears us through our melancholy prayers and He does not ask us to apologize for them. So why do we make each other feel like He does? 

I know some days are going to be bad. I know some days I’ll have anxiety for most of the day. Those are the days I thank God for that stupid purple chair.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Mitya Ku.

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Sterling’s appeal rejected, Clippers to be soldhttp://convergemagazine.com/sterlings-appeal-rejected-los-angeles-clippers-sold-14121/ http://convergemagazine.com/sterlings-appeal-rejected-los-angeles-clippers-sold-14121/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:54:15 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14121 Sterling’s appeal rejected, Clippers to be sold by Converge Admin

Donald Sterling’s appeal to block the sale of his basketball franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers, has been rejected by a...

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Sterling’s appeal rejected, Clippers to be sold by Converge Admin

Donald Sterling’s appeal to block the sale of his basketball franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers, has been rejected by a Californian judge in a tentative ruling on Monday. The sale that was previously orchestrated by his wife Shelly Sterling will go on as previously planned, with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gaining control of the Clippers for a paltry sum of $2 billion.

The controversy surrounding Sterling peaked in April when an audio clip was uncovered that had Sterling reprimanding his girlfriend for bringing black men to basketball games. 

This is simply the latest in a long line of incidents that all point to Sterling being one thing: a racist. Former superstar and general manager of the Clippers Elgin Baylor charged Sterling with a wrongful termination lawsuit in 2009 that was dismissed by jury. Decades before, Sterling landed himself in hot water by discriminating against black tenants in the buildings he owned. Further incidents include heckling of his own players from the sidelines, as well as scattered inappropriate comments about women. The NBA, until now, has done nothing. This uncovered audiotape was the last straw.

Adam Silver, the newly minted commissioner of the NBA, made one of the defining moves of his young career by banning Sterling from the NBA and slapping him with a $2.5 million fine. Sterling fought the ban and sale of the team, but now stands defeated.

For an African-American dominated sport, having a rich white owner lording over you with a “plantation mentality” is akin to a prison without bars. Silver didn’t base his decision on NBA sales revenue; he based it on the grounds of human decency.  

Photo courtesy of The Big Lead.

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Why the church is full of hypocriteshttp://convergemagazine.com/hypocrites-14095/ http://convergemagazine.com/hypocrites-14095/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14095 Why the church is full of hypocrites by Lauren Bentley

I’ve been a Christian for about 20 years. The number one thing I’m tired of hearing? “Christians! What a bunch...

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Why the church is full of hypocrites by Lauren Bentley

I’ve been a Christian for about 20 years. The number one thing I’m tired of hearing?

“Christians! What a bunch of hypocrites!”

When I hear this or read it in a dreaded Internet comment, I want to raise both fists in exasperation and say, “Exactly!”

Because here’s the thing, smug Internet commenters: Christians are hypocrites. I know I sure am.

My dad directs food services at a hospital. On surveys, over and over, people would insist on “more healthy options” in the hospital cafeteria.

That is, until the hospital took Mexican haystacks off the menu. In case you don’t know, a Mexican haystack is a pile of Fritos covered in chili and nacho cheese (to be clear, it’s not a healthy option). There was basically a riot.

People are walking contradictions. We say one thing, we do another. We applaud a plus-size model one day and fat-shame someone in the name of health the next. We talk big about equality but make sure our own children get a leg up. We exalt tolerance while denying grace to whoever left their dirty mug in the lunch room sink.

There are only two ways to avoid hypocrisy: be perfect, or claim absolutely no standards for the thoughts or behaviour of yourself or others. I have yet to meet someone who has pulled off either one.

Christians, as it happens, are exclusively people — and therefore the dirty hypocrites we’re accused of being. We seek to be like Christ, but we make choices that are far from His example. I speak often of the importance of reaching my community, but I cannot for the life of me remember my next door neighbor’s name. I store up treasures on my shopruche.com wish list at about the same rate as I store them up in heaven.

I, like all Christians, like all people, am totally incapable of doing all the things I intend to do. I am totally incapable of living perfectly. I am totally incapable of being Jesus. Only Jesus could be that — and that’s why I so desperately need Him, and why I’m a Christian in the first place.

To be sure, there are dangerous forms hypocrisy found in many churches that deserve a healthy critique: false positivity in the face of life’s complexities, manufactured perfection that comes from pride, legalism masquerading as righteousness, or an unwillingness to acknowledge doubt are all unfortunately found (and sometimes fostered) in church settings. And there are certainly people in churches who see themselves more as the saviour than the saved.

These are problems that need addressing, but I’m weary of the insinuation that Christians are somehow cursed with something beyond standard human nature. Yeah, we’re hypocrites. But at least we’re in rehab for it.

As Christians, let’s not be defensive, but own up to our hypocrisy, humbly acknowledging our desperate need for help.

My suggestion: the next time someone says, “Christians are the worst hypocrites,” just smile and say, “You nailed it!”

Photo (Flickr CC) by David Butcher.

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Does ‘finishing well’ mean staying silent?http://convergemagazine.com/finishing-well-14080/ http://convergemagazine.com/finishing-well-14080/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:00:25 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14080 Does ‘finishing well’ mean staying silent? by Val Lieske

Two words hang over Christians until their death bed: “finish well.” Whenever I hear this phrase, I picture Yoda, in...

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Does ‘finishing well’ mean staying silent? by Val Lieske

Two words hang over Christians until their death bed: “finish well.” Whenever I hear this phrase, I picture Yoda, in all his wisdom. (“Luke, remember this, finish well.”)

I think I know what those two words mean when they’re spoken from the pulpit or when they are the title of seven-week Bible study. They mean running the race, fighting the good fight, keeping the faith. Which, in turn, means it’s not about how you start but how you finish.

Recently though, when people started saying the phrase in reference to a specific situation, it made me tilt my head to one side and say, “Hmmm, is that really finishing well?”

I’ve just gone through a rather unsavoury end to my employment with a Christian institution. It’s an institution with a long and proud history of being honourable and respected.

There is a season for everything, and perhaps this organization’s cycle of life has gone full circle. The current leadership has been untruthful to staff and clients. These individuals have been unethical, immoral, and certainly un-Christlike in their actions and attitudes. The board has been like an absentee parent, and concerns raised have been dismissed.

The wounding from this experience has been deep and wide. Many of the staff left in tears, enraged and broken. I have rarely seen such disregard and disrespect in the workplace, let alone a Christian one.

Because I have a heightened sense of justice, I started speaking up. I couldn’t simply accept what was happening and go gently into the good night. I wrote letters, I spoke out against the situation and against specific individuals, I called meetings, and I called a spade a spade. Many of my colleagues, as they were being pushed out of their careers and livelihoods, just smiled and told me that they wanted to finish well.

Finish well? So does that mean I’m not?

I think Christians are getting better at speaking up against injustices as a whole. We sign petitions, we write letters to the government, we boycott, and we’ve even been known to picket. We stand up when we see injustice: people treated poorly, inequities, violations, abuse.

So why is it that when something goes wrong in our own community we are pressured to stay silent? To simply pray?

We are encouraged to not be disturbers, to not rock the boat, to leave it to God to dole out punishment.

But I can’t do it. And furthermore, I don’t think it’s healthy. Not only is it naive to turn a blind eye to offences in our own communities, it’s not right to make the person who has brought these wrongs to light feel like a traitor.

For me, finishing well isn’t burying my head in the sand, allowing injustices to slide by unnoticed and unpunished because they happened within our own tribe. Finishing well is speaking truth, bringing light to the dark places, and holding people to account.

Pursuing truth starts at home, in our own spaces and churches and organizations; if we don’t seek justice within our own communities, then we have no right to do it in the world.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Tim Norris.

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‘Bibliotheca:’ the Bible as a literary work of arthttp://convergemagazine.com/bibliotheca-showcase-bible-literary-work-art-14105/ http://convergemagazine.com/bibliotheca-showcase-bible-literary-work-art-14105/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:47:57 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14105 ‘Bibliotheca:’ the Bible as a literary work of art by Converge Admin

Adam Lewis Greene’s Kickstarter campaign Bibliotheca closed yesterday, raising over $1.4 million. The project’s original goal was $37,000. Greene has created...

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‘Bibliotheca:’ the Bible as a literary work of art by Converge Admin

Adam Lewis Greene’s Kickstarter campaign Bibliotheca closed yesterday, raising over $1.4 million. The project’s original goal was $37,000.

Greene has created Bibliotheca, a four-volume set of the Bible, to allow readers experience biblical texts as “literary works of art” rather than the jumble of numbers, minuscule text, and tissue-thin paper we’re used to. In fact, says Greene, our modern Bible shares more of a resemblance to an encyclopedia than a literary classic. Through Bibliotheca, he says he hopes to change that.

“People still love to get lost in a good story,” says Greene in his campaign video. “Could it be that the encyclopedic nature of our contemporary Bibles is what’s driving this idea that the biblical literature is dry and boring?”

Bibliotheca is a way in which people are given the opportunity to read the Bible with fresh eyes for the profound story that it is. Separated into four novel-sized hardbound cloth volumes with reader-friendly typography, line length, spacing, and margins, Bibliotheca removes all distractions, producing a clean, elegant — and most importantly — readable work of art.

Its translation is American Standard Version (ASV), but without the “thees” and “thous.” It’s this choice, rather than a more common translation like New International Version, that is perhaps one of the main critiques of BibliothecaIn an interview with Bible Gateway, Greene says he chose to use this translation for a literary purpose:

It can be said that the English of the ASV is difficult, but it can also be said that the writings of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens are difficult. And they are, but most of us agree that they are well worth our effort. I knew going into this that the ASV wouldn’t please everyone, but it is my favourite complete translation. I appreciate its conveyance of the “otherness” of the ancient languages, and I posit that it is one of the last great literary translations of the Bible into English.

Though the Kickstarter campaign has ended, you can still pre-order Bibliotheca online.

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The problem with instant newshttp://convergemagazine.com/news-14051/ http://convergemagazine.com/news-14051/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14051 The problem with instant news by Caroline Schmitt

A few hours after I was assigned to write about the media’s silence over the Crimea situation, a Malaysia Airlines...

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The problem with instant news by Caroline Schmitt

A few hours after I was assigned to write about the media’s silence over the Crimea situation, a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine. While the international political scene is still trying to find an explanation for the disaster, the families of the 298 victims will now finally be able to grieve. The initial density, then absence, and now permeation of Ukraine coverage raises the inevitable question over the quality and reliability of our 24/7 news culture.

How could the media stay relatively calm after the “worst” was supposedly over in March — in order to concentrate on the unfolding events in Syria and Gaza — while the local situation in Ukraine evidently still deserved attention and urgency? Whether or not the downing was an accident or the result of a successful act of terrorism, reporting of the crisis further exemplifies how the public is being fed peaks of a disaster rather than the whole story with context and follow-ups.

But the Crimea conflict didn’t only arise in February 2014. Decades of complicated cross-territorial conflicts between Russia and Ukraine hardly fit — nor should they — into a 300-word news story or a 1:30 television package. The same applies to Israel and Gaza, and most other complex political situations.

The actual problem originates from the nature of breaking news and our consumption of it, not from journalism as such. It’s tempting to draw conclusions about the overall state of the international media when we read CNN or BBC push notifications, shake our heads about their definition of news like the new lifestyle blog of Blake Lively or the inquest surrounding Peaches Geldof’s death, while the phones of plane crash victims are being answered by strangers with an “Eastern European accent.” Online news is increasingly defined as the quick fix that will generate a historic amount of buzz on social media.

Now we could blame the news conglomerates, much like a number of media theorists do. We could blame the ruthless economy that forces newspapers to cut down on real journalism jobs and and instead turns news into easily consumable, outrageous snippets of reality. Dry foreign policy analysis isn’t overly sexy, and supposedly doesn’t stimulate our brains in the same way as pictures of baby cats.

Our behaviour is at the core of the problem. Derek Thompson recently argues in The Atlantic that while audiences often claim to be interested in the “hard, ugly truth,” the majority still click on lists, quizzes, or that picture gallery of new burger recipes. “Ask readers what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy,” Thompson writes. Commercial news companies ultimately use this data for editorial decisions, which would explain the rise of BuzzFeed-type articles on traditional mainstream media. Strictly speaking, if we prefer cat pictures over extensive timelines of the Ukraine conflict, then maybe it shouldn’t come as a shock if that’s what we get.

But this is not a world that can afford to judge the media in those black and white terms; in the same way, the media should resist the important vs. insignificant evaluation when covering conflicts in Crimea, Syria and Gaza. Because the truth is a lot more grey than many of us would like to admit.

Many knowledgeable foreign correspondents and analysts work hard to evaluate the current states of a conflict, and they will do everything they can to get their story and their viewpoint in the paper or online. But sometimes another catastrophe — and there appears to be a saddening density of them in 2014 — is thought to be more worthy of leading the news agenda. And unfortunately, that’s how the media business works.

The passion of these journalists inspires me to learn more about the country or the situation they are currently covering. And though it’s the one thing that’s so often deemed as the decay of a healthy news culture, social media allows me to take part in their research, frustrations, and debates.

So consider following Jason Burke, Rob Crilly, Anne Barnard, Declan Walsh, Lindsey Hilsum, and Nicholas Kristof. Ask questions, dig deeper. Resist the Disney character quiz; instead, educate yourself on the world around you.

An attitude like this will positively impact the results of audience behaviour analysis that Thompson highlights. It will set a positive example of engagement, interest, and perhaps most importantly, compassion. We live in a globalized world with instant news, so let’s make this a good thing.

Photo (Flickr CC) by DieselDemon.

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Prairie Institute launches Free Theology 100 Coursehttp://convergemagazine.com/prairie-bible-institute-launches-theology-100-14073/ http://convergemagazine.com/prairie-bible-institute-launches-theology-100-14073/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:00:51 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14073 Prairie Institute launches Free Theology 100 Course by Converge Admin

Theology. It’s the study of the nature of God and religious belief. It’s the ongoing conversation about God, what is...

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Prairie Institute launches Free Theology 100 Course by Converge Admin

Theology. It’s the study of the nature of God and religious belief. It’s the ongoing conversation about God, what is said in the Bible, and how He is working in our world.

On August 1, Prairie Bible Institute will launch Theology 100, a free online one-credit course, for all those wanting to be more intentional about studying theology, learning more about its biblical, historical, and systematic aspects.

“There’s never been a more important time for each and every Christian to grow in their understanding of theology,” says Dr. Anthony Siegrist, Associate Professor of Christian Theology.  “Information and change come at us at a furious pace today, and learning how to faithfully read and live Scripture is crucially important.”

The course is based on a two-month term, and has all the regulars you’d expect from a post-secondary class: video lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, and textbook readings.

Theology 100 also allows you to talk with a professor, gets you to read things you probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and puts you in discussion with a community of other students.

Students can register for Theology 100 anytime before or after August 1. Find out more at www.prairie.edu/th100.

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Freedom Climb: fighting to end human traffickinghttp://convergemagazine.com/freedom-climb-14041/ http://convergemagazine.com/freedom-climb-14041/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:00:07 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14041 Freedom Climb: fighting to end human trafficking by Greg Kernaghan

A man’s mind, once it has been stretched with a new idea, can never return to its original dimensions. (Oliver Wendell...

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Freedom Climb: fighting to end human trafficking by Greg Kernaghan

A man’s mind, once it has been stretched with a new idea, can never return to its original dimensions. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

“The climb has taken me far beyond the mountain,” says Denise Heppner. She was one of 45 women from around the world who climbed to Everest Base Camp in Nepal to raise global awareness of human trafficking. I sat down with her to talk about the Freedom Climb, and how learning about human trafficking has revolutionized her perspective.

What’s the Freedom Climb about?

The Freedom Climb is not simply about climbing a mountain; it’s a symbol of the struggle that 27 million women and children face every day. It’s a voice for those who have none, a way to influence those around you to take action and address this injustice. I heard about it through an Operation Mobilization [OM] speaker in my church, after which my husband challenged me to do it. I thought about it all week, telling no one, until the next Sunday, when a woman turned to me and asked if I was going to Everest. I burst into tears!

How do we separate the hype from the help? 

Denise Heppner teaches special education teachers online at the University of Saskatchewan and is married with three children. She lost 75 lbs preparing for the climb.

To be frank, [at first] I thought: is this just about me and my desire for adventure? I realized that it is not; it’s a powerful symbol of a greater issue and a way to generate action to relieve suffering and confront injustice. The mountain is a focal point which links to the greater need of trafficked victims. And, of course, significant finance has been raised to directly help women and children in several countries already.

What happens if we don’t face up to injustice? 

If we don’t collectively stand up to injustice in the world, it grows. There are always those waiting to take advantage of those weaker than them, whether for power, profit, or pleasure. Ignoring that only feeds the monster. Human trafficking is the second-largest economic activity in the world, after drugs. It will increase and overtake drugs, because you can sell the same human being over and over again, whereas with drugs, you sell it once and your product is gone. Turning a blind eye to this, as individuals and churches, says that we think this is acceptable. Trafficking, by the way, is not something that only happens on the other side of the planet; it’s happening in Canada and even in our own communities. There are 30,000 young girls trafficked every year in Canada alone — not so much through kidnapping but by being wooed by pimps with attention and gifts to the point of being indebted to them. By then you are their object to be sold, used, discarded. Parents and children need to become aware and wise to this evil. We need to pray against it. We also need to pray for those in society from abusive backgrounds that have come to see this evil as OK — what has happened to their soul that they can live like this?

Isn’t this really a justice issue? It’s noble to help an individual but, unless the structures that create injustice are challenged in a way that changes the rules to make a better future possible, what’s the point?

Without question, we need to engage in the long fight to eradicate this evil in societies. But, as with other slavery, this takes time and commitment at state levels as well. Right now, it’s as if we are snatching babies from the river: it’s absolutely necessary, but we need to push upstream and stop what causes them to be tossed into the river. In the meantime, millions of victims desperately need our help to survive and to see real change in their own lives.

Tell us an example of someone who has been directly helped by Freedom Climb.

OM in Moldova offered Christina the opportunity to do a small business training course. After this, she opened a small bee-keeping enterprise and earns enough to support her family while having a positive presence in her community. In Zambia, a 21-year-old from our church is part of the Freedom team. Along with three other women, she runs the Tabitha Skills Development program which provides women the skills in sewing and other work to earn a livable income for their families. Some of the women are escaping from the sex trade and others are clearly at risk. Actually, many women are at risk because there is no other work available; they are widowed or abandoned or have extra financial burdens to carry. These projects are thus both redemptive for those freed from slavery, and preventative for those at risk.

What’s your dream in all this?

My dream is that trafficking would become history. Until that happens, I notice that my concern for the welfare of the weak and powerless and hidden opens my eyes to how I treat those around me. This I wish for all of us: to treat life as a gift and share it.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. (Proverbs 31: 8–9)

Find out how you can participate in or give to the Freedom Climb, and for more information on Operation Mobilization Canada.

SponsoredPostOM

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The Commonwealth Games lives up to its valueshttp://convergemagazine.com/commonwealth-games-lives-values-14046/ http://convergemagazine.com/commonwealth-games-lives-values-14046/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:41:55 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14046 The Commonwealth Games lives up to its values by Converge Admin

Glasgow, Scotland was alight with festivities and pageantry last night. It was the opening ceremonies to the Commonwealth Games, an...

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The Commonwealth Games lives up to its values by Converge Admin

Glasgow, Scotland was alight with festivities and pageantry last night. It was the opening ceremonies to the Commonwealth Games, an athletic competition whose scale and grandness is bested only by the Olympics. 

Though the Commonwealth Games has its roots in colonialism, the Games now is for independent, sovereign states that have roots as a British colony. Most countries (like Canada) still have a strong connection to Britain, something that can be equated to an international friendship. 

The Games include 17 sports over the course of 10 days, where over 6,500 athletes compete for their respective homelands. What makes the Commonwealth Games fundamentally different from other sporting events is the inclusion of para-athletes in the main program. Starting at Manchester 2002 and continuing in Scotland today, para-athletes can compete in the same Games — and with the same exposure — as athletes without disabilities.

This stands in stark contrast to the Olympics, which has a separate Paralympic Games that occurs after the “main event.” When asked whether he wants to return to separate Games for para-athletes, President Prince Imran of the Commonwealth Games Federation said a resounding no. “From our point of view,” says Imran, “the reason why Paralympic sports are part of the Games is because, we believe, we want our athletes to feel equal with the able-bodied athletes.”

There are too few people out there who watch the Paralympics. These athletes are the best in the world at what they do, but many in the general public don’t know their names (with the exception of the now notorious Oscar Pistorius). This is a sad omission. Olympians inspire future Olympians. In the same way, para-athletes can inspire those who have been told their whole lives that they can’t do certain things. By keeping para-athletic events in the main program, the Commonwealth Games is living up to its values, specifically one: equality. Maybe it’s time the Olympics choose to live up to that value as well.

Photo by highdefinitionwallpapers1080p.com.

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Why Christians should travelhttp://convergemagazine.com/christians-travel-14015/ http://convergemagazine.com/christians-travel-14015/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:14 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14015 Why Christians should travel by Chelsea Frischknecht

(And I don’t mean missions trips.) I grew up in a Christian subculture where leaving the church bubble was seen...

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Why Christians should travel by Chelsea Frischknecht

(And I don’t mean missions trips.)

I grew up in a Christian subculture where leaving the church bubble was seen as dangerous: it opened you up to the risk of temptation from the outside world. Want to travel alone or go with friends? Unless it’s a missions trip, forget about it.

And while you may be hard pressed to hear someone say it out loud, there is a pervasive underlying idea in some Christian circles that travel is only justifiable if it’s under the guise of missions.

In a sincere effort to protect their youth, my church discouraged experiences that could prove “too tempting” or pose a lack of accountability. If public school was dangerous because it might introduce children to ideals that opposed the church, Europe was that much worse.

But missions trips? That was another story entirely. You were in a controlled environment with other Christians, with high expectations for conduct and constant supervision.

For some, sharing the gospel was exactly the excuse they needed to legitimize their desire for seeing the world. If you were doing work for the Kingdom, no one would accuse your travels as self-indulgent or as an excuse to backslide.

But in my experience, travel is anything but self-indulgent. “Vacationing” is one thing — it presupposes relaxation and comfort — but travel is another beast all together.

It’s one of the most inconvenient and humbling activities you could ever find yourself in. There are ways to travel luxuriously (pay heaps of money), but it’s not the same as real, experiential travel that finds you in the back of a bus in Turkey, sandwiched between an old woman and a sack of beans. The inconvenience of travel is the most incisive form of dying to self I know — it is the sacrifice of your comfort for the opportunity to love.

Getting over your needs/wants/comforts through travel is like having the proverbial scales fall from your eyes. Suddenly the world is a clearer, more beautiful place, where little problems are refreshingly inconsequential. It’s a miraculous feeling, stepping out of self-despotism to simply marvel at things outside of yourself.

Granted, travelling is risky. It opens you up to new ideas and ideologies, and forces you to reckon with realities you may never have known before. The environment is new, stimulating, and can inspire poor decisions. All of this is true.

Confronting new peoples and cultures that cause you to question your preconceived notions, however, should not be a fearful thing. Preconceived notions should be torn down, and replaced with informed and educated convictions. God can handle your doubt.

God can also handle the struggle, grief, and questioning born of coming face to face with the brokenness of this world. Better you weather that storm than avoid it completely and never grow in your love and empathy for others.

Ultimately, those experiences can culminate in a deeper knowledge and greater appreciation for the beauty and holiness of the Creator. The majesty and diversity with which He has fashioned this world is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Like planets aligning, the experience of travel causes the things of true importance to fall into their rightful place.

The truth is, all the dangers of travel can also be found the moment you set your foot outside the church lobby door. If the danger of temptation lies everywhere (even within the church itself), doesn’t the benefit of travelling outweigh the risk?

Photo (Flickr CC) by kokorowashinjin.

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