The first recorded gladiatorial combat in Rome occurred when three pairs of gladiators fought to the death during the funeral of Junius Brutus in 264 BCE, though others may have been held earlier. During the height of the Roman empire thousands of men and women were killed in the Coliseum in Rome. Many Christians refused to attend these violent games but for many it was ‘just entertainment’. Few people know that it was a Christian monk who brought the games to an end in the early fifth century. Unfortunately Telemachus was stoned to death for his faith!
Jesus claimed on several occasions that He had the authority to forgive sins. For many this is a deeply offensive thing to say. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is challenged by many people today. It is very instructive to think deeply about people who believe that they can find God without Jesus. As we have seen before, some people will go to extreme lengths to earn their salvation. Consider this true story about a 'raised arm baba'. How do you respond to Amar's self-torture? Do you admire him or do you feel sad for him?
Rachel is a young Christian woman and she is thinking about becoming a diplomat in the Foreign Office. She is challenged by a Christian friend who tells her that she will be wasting her life by going into such a ‘worldly’ and political profession. Again, and again, we can come up against this attitude, can’t we? The attitude that wants to create a hierarchy of callings. How do you love God in your job when it involves dealing with shady characters, compromised situations and ethical dilemmas? The OT book of Daniel can help us think through this issue.
Frank is a real life opera singer who was due to play the role of Scarpia in Puccini's famous opera Tosca. He was a gifted bass singer and had never heard a sermon that connected the Christian faith to his work challenges. On a hospital visit he asked his ear nose & throat surgeon whether as a Christian he should be taking on such a role.
Language expert David Smith has argued compellingly that the dominant way of teaching modern foreign languages (MFL) is shaped by consumerist and materialist narratives. The hidden message here is "I shop therefore I am". Or for those of you who are fluent Latin speakers – "Tesco ergo sum".
The focus in many French lessons is upon autonomous (self-governing) individuals buying ice creams, making complaints about hotels and busy in the many acts of (self-centred) tourism and consumption.
I've been talking to my mate Simon who is an accountant who works for a small business. This is the fruit of our conversation. Accountants can serve God full-time if they have a baptised imagination.
Accountancy has had a bad image ever since the Monty Python sketch with John Cleese and Michael Palin who have a 'pop' at accountants… "Dull, dull, dull, dreary, tedious and stuffy". Is this fair?
I am really looking forward to working with vicar Guy Donegan-Cross and the congregation at St Mark's, Harrogate next month. We will be exploring how to integrate Christian faith with our daily work and the church has asked RealityBites to craft some sermons on the topic. Fantastic!