Mar 26, 2007

1 Peter Lectionary Texts - For Study in Class

2nd Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:3-9
1Pet. 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pet. 1:4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pet. 1:5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1Pet. 1:6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,
1Pet. 1:7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1Pet. 1:8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
1Pet. 1:9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

3. Why is there a “the” in from of God? Is he only Jesus’ God? What, to Peter, makes God merciful? What does he mean by new birth? Like born-again Christians? What is a living hope? How is it different from a dying hope, or a dead hope? How does Jesus’ rising from the dead give this community hope? What is heaven for Peter? Any mention of Baptism?
4. What does he mean by inheritance? And why is it to spot-free? What does Peter mean by Peter?
5. How is God protecting them? Why do they need protection? Are they experiencing a lot of persecution already? Is this last time the eschaton? When does Peter think the last time will be? Soon? How does faith work for Peter?
6. What kind of suffering did they endure? What does he mean by rejoice? How did Peter know what was going on at these communities?
7. Is their genuineness or their faith precious? Does testing by fire make gold stronger, better? What does Peter mean by revealed? When Jesus comes back again?
8. Can we also love him without seeing him? How do others know we believe in him even though we have not seen him? Does we rejoice with such a joy?
9. What did salvation mean to Peter?

3. Lord language had survived. God was seen as merciful, and already there is resurrection theology. This faith was not doctrinal; it was very much about both life and survival. The resurrection of Jesus was the equivalent of being reborn, but there is no mention of baptism here.
4. What was gained by the believers was immense and pure. Our life with Christ deals with life on earth, but it also awaits us in heaven.
5. God will protect us through faith.
6. Even in the face of difficulty or persecution, it is important to rejoice. These believers did not have it as easy as we do.
7. Faith is made stronger by trials, and is more precious than gold. Christ will come again.
8. Peter is faithful that these believers are already acting in good faith.
9. Peter believed that this faith would lead to salvation.

New Interpreters
- Peter does not dwell on the culture of the day. His focus is on God.
- The Greco-Roman world was a world without hope. So Peter was offering something new here. It had everything else, culture, etc., but not hope.
- “The center of gravity in their lives was a triumphant, living Person.”
- “The Greek word amiantos, which means undefiled, refers to a mineral found among the rocks and made into a fire-resisting fabric.”
- Our joy has a future reference. Let there be no promise of a complete peace of mind, or any solution of all human problems, or of a perfect integration of personality this side of the eschaton, the last hour.

3rd Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:17-23
1Pet. 1:17 ¶ If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.
1Pet. 1:18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold,
1Pet. 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
1Pet. 1:20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.
1Pet. 1:21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
1Pet. 1:22 ¶ Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.
1Pet. 1:23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

17. How can God judge impartially AND according to their deeds? What is it to live in reverent fear? When would the exile end? What was home for them? Are we in exile as well, then?
18. What did their ancestors do that was so bad? Do we owe the person that paid the ransom? What did our ancestors leave us? Do we think money will ransom us?
19. Were these Jews or non-Jews? If non-Jews, why is he using sacrificial language? How does the blood of Jesus ransom us? Does this mean that Jesus was without sin?
20. Had John spoken to Peter just prior to this? Does foundation have anything to do with Rock?
21. Is Jesus the window to God, or is he God himself?
22. Can we ever really purify our souls? What is the truth? What were lies? How do we so love one another? Does this compare to Paul’s idea of mutuality in I Corinthians?
23. What does it mean to be born anew? Were these people agricultural? Is there an example of imperishable seed in nature? Different types of grass perhaps? Isn’t grass mentioned later in Peter? How does the word of God so keep us alive? (For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,)

17. God is a fair judge. We are to be in awe of God.
***18. The old way of doing things is over. God through Jesus has given you new life. There is frequent reference to things which are fleeting: perishable seed, gold, etc.
19. We are saved only through the blood of Jesus.
20. Peter is very Johannine here. He too acknowledges that Jesus has always been, and always will be.
21. Jesus is how we know God, so Jesus is our hope and faith.
22. Love without Jesus, love without God is not genuine or full.
23. Jesus gives us new life. We must dwell in the word of God to have this imperishable seed.

New Interpreters
- Obedient people do not use faith to give them peace of mine of a happy feeling inside, thus putting man and his wishes at the center instead of God and his gracious purpose.
- Obedience is the one antidote to the world’s corrosive processes.
- The holy roller has no attraction for anyone, and runs of the risk of hypocrisy.
- The church fails of impressiveness in the world largely because there is not enough difference between the people inside and those outside to strike a contrast.
- You can be born again through the gospel, not just baptism.

4th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:19-25

1Pet. 2:19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.
1Pet. 2:20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.
1Pet. 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
1Pet. 2:22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
1Pet. 2:23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
1Pet. 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1Pet. 2:25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

19. What kind of pain is Peter talking about? Physical pain? If we keep God in mind while we endure pain, that sanctifies it? Were these people being abused? Do we endure pain?
20. What does Peter mean by doing wrong? From whose point of view? What if we suffer, but don’t endure? What does Peter mean by endure?
21. We have been called to suffer? Obvious question: what about beaten spouses? How do we distinguish right from wrong suffering? If we don’t suffer, do we still have God’s approval?
22. What is this from? Can we ever live up to what Jesus has modeled for us?
23. How does this author know this if he is not Peter? How are we called to so suffer as Jesus did in our very different context? Can we give up our need to repay so freely?
24. Is this from Isaiah? What does it really mean to be free from sin? Would this have made any sense to these listeners? How does Jesus free us from sin if we still sin?
25. What would this shepherd imagery have meant to these hearers? How do we wander off? What does it mean for Jesus to be the guardian of our soul? What was a soul to Peter?

19. Even though we may feel alienated from God when we suffer, even though we experience theodicy, Peter promises that God has not forgotten us. But we must keep God in mind, not ourselves and our own glory in our suffering.
20. Not all beatings are alike.
21. Christians may not be called to suffer as such, but it is highly likely that in a world opposed to Jesus, suffering will be a part of it. We may not be beaten, but we will experience alienation.
22. Jesus fulfilled the scriptures.
23. Christ is our model of living out the Christian life. How often we want to return abuse for abuse. Instead we need to forgive, no matter how difficult it is. God knows that we suffer, and will judge those who persecute us. Let us never be the persecutor.
24. Christus victor. We are to live for righteousness.
25. We are like wandering sheep, trying to find our way back home. How can Jesus guard our souls?

New Interpreters
- Mirror of Isaiah 53.
- There will always be need for this higher sense of divine vocation to lend the proper attitude and dignity to the person who works under another’s direction.
- All suffering must be redemptive in motive and aim, and must be undertaken and endured only in full obedience to Jesus Christ.

5th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 2:2-10
1Pet. 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—
1Pet. 2:3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1Pet. 2:4 ¶ Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and
1Pet. 2:5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1Pet. 2:6 For it stands in scripture:
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
1Pet. 2:7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,”
1Pet. 2:8 and
“A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
1Pet. 2:9 ¶ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1Pet. 2:10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

2. Were these like newborns? New to the faith? What if you have been Lutheran your whole life? How do we grow into salvation? Will we let ourselves be toddlers again?
3. Have we tasted that the Lord is good? Or do we just show up to church like we always have? What about those who endure suffering, and don’t feel that the Lord is good?
4. Can we be living stones, part of the building up of God’s kingdom?
***5. Can house be thought of more as economy? Is this a passive understanding of being built up?
6. So we are living stones and Jesus is the cornerstone?
7. Does “head of the corner mean “cornerstone”?
8. How can he be a stone that lifts people up on the one hand, and makes others fall?
9. What does it mean to be a royal priesthood? How can we be this nation within the nation?
***10. Can we remember what it was like to not be God’s people, or do we have no memory of it at all?

2. This is a command to want holy things, not worldly things. These holy things will ensure our growth and our salvation.
3. Let’s not take it for granted that we have tasted that the Lord is good.
4. We are not to be unmovable pillars, but living, breathing disciples. We gather our strength from the acceptance God gives us, not the world.
5. More like a spiritual economy, a network of believers that constitutes a priesthood.
6. Jesus is precious.
7. The last laugh is on the unbeliever.
8. With Jesus, we either accept him and life, or deny him and fall.
***9. To be a royal priesthood does not make every man a priest. It means we are a separate nation within the nation. With this gift, however, comes responsibility: proclaiming the mighty acts of him. In America, it is harder for us to see ourselves in this light.
10. We are God’s people. That means that you are God’s child. This gives us a new framework in which we live our lives.

New Interpreters
- Christianity is a social faith, for it embodies itself in a unique and organic community of fellow believers.
- Peter contrasts the sacrifices which the Christian offers with the material sacrifices offered on Jewish and heathen altars.
- No individual, not even the Rock, makes a church.
- The cornerstone is not the top stone, but the stone at the extremity of the angle which controls the design of the edifice and is visible.
- All stones are built and cemented into this Cornerstone so as to become an integral part of the whole structure.
- Peter is conscious of the fact that it is composed of real persons who are living stones.

6th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 3:13-22
1Pet. 3:13 ¶ Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?
1Pet. 3:14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated,
1Pet. 3:15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;
1Pet. 3:16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
1Pet. 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
1Pet. 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,
1Pet. 3:19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison,
1Pet. 3:20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
1Pet. 3:21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
1Pet. 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

13. Is Peter serious? Or just naïve?
14. What does Peter mean by blessed? What do they fear? What is the role of being “macho” here?
***15. What does it mean to sanctify Christ as Lord? How do we defend without being defensive? Are our people ready to make such a defense? How do we go about making such a defense? On theological/scriptural/personal grounds? All of the above? Who would have to defend their hope?
16. Is it really about shaming other people? Why do people hate others who are good?
17. How can we tell the difference between good suffering and bad?
***18. How did Peter already know this? What would Jesus have meant to these people who had never met him? What does he mean to us?
19. Is this where we get the statement in the creed: “He descended into hell?”
20. Does that mean everyone is saved, if all those disobedient people are? How did Peter get such an advance theology of baptism so early?
21. Does this conclusively link OT with NT? Is baptism what we use to talk to God, not to rely solely upon?
22. How does Peter know all this?

13. Peter is naïve, and self-contradictory. On the one hand, he says no one will hurt you if you do what is good. On the other, he says people will hate you for your good conduct.
14. Nevertheless, we are to be courageous. Again, the frequent command: do not be afraid.
15. We are to keep Christ at our center. Some people will question why you hope the way you do. You will have to defend your joy in the Lord.
16. Do no be boastful about your joy! Lutherans are good at that. You can win by losing.
17. Our suffering may be more about not consuming than being persecuted. It may be more about sharing than being beaten.
***18. Jesus is the way we relieve our distance from God. We do not need to suffer in excess (by martyrs or braggarts) because God has done it for us. This may be Peter’s way of saying to us, God has done all the suffering for us. Enjoy it.
19. Peter must know something about Jesus pre-Resurrection and post-Resurrection.
20. Peter knows his baptismal theology. This is about Christ giving us life, and no one else.
21. This life begins in baptism. Our baptism is the beginning of our relationship with God.
22. Peter knows where Jesus is now.

New Interpreters
- Greek is optative, “if you should suffer,” or “even if you do suffer.”
- The suffering meant here is suffering which comes to one because he is a Christian. Remember Islam.
- Christianity demands both passionate zeal and reasonable faith.
- The Christian must express his faith in terms of witness, and be ready to do it without hesitation whenever opportunity offers.
- Jesus preached, most likely, to those who perished in the flood.

7th Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
1Pet. 4:12 ¶ Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1Pet. 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.
1Pet. 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
1Pet. 5:6 ¶ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.
1Pet. 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
1Pet. 5:8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
1Pet. 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
1Pet. 5:10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
1Pet. 5:11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

***12. Didn’t Easter cure our fiery ordeal? What was the ordeal for the original hearers? Does God cause theodicy to test us? Does that make God mean? How did they regard the persecution or alienation they were facing? Did they think of it as odd for a new religious sect to be experiencing?
13. So should we be glad when we suffer as Jesus suffered? How does our suffering bring us closer to Jesus? Can we get closer to Jesus any other way? Do we shout for joy when such glory is revealed? Or do we keep it to ourselves?
14. What does it mean to have the spirit of God resting on us?
6. Is this from “Humble yourselves…” etc.? what is the difference between humbling and humiliation? When is this due time? The last time? How will God exalt us then?
7. How does God care for us from so far away? How do we cast our anxiety on him?
8. Do we believe in the devil anymore? And is he like a snake, or a lion? How do we discipline ourselves without glorifying ourselves?
10. How does God restore us?

12. There is nothing new under the sun. We will be hated for our faith and our joy. Don’t act like you’re the first.
13. Suffering is one of the ways we come to know Christ.
14. So many refuse to name Christ even if they claim to be Christian, so they never know this persecution. This is perhaps the difference being a member of a church and being a disciple of Jesus.
***6. It is no fun to compliment a braggart. We exalt ourselves with our lifestyles. Living simply is a part of humility in our culture.
7. There is a difference between anxieties and passions, anxieties and causes, etc. It doesn’t mean to be lazy, but to not let fear dictate our lives. We are free, after all.
8. We can stay alert by being honest with ourselves. We can only wish the devil were like a lion…only in his appetite. Look at those on drugs or who have suffered long addictions, and you will see what a devoured person looks like.
***9. Knowing that you are not alone is part of the power of overcoming temptation.
10. God does not leave us to ourselves. The promise is never one of ease, but it is one of aid.
11. We accomplish all things through Christ.

New Interpreters
- The followers of a Christ who suffered at the hands of a world of men that hated and crucified him can hardly hope to escape the same kind of ordeal.”
- This is indeed a trial by fire.
- “He is the Spirit who enables us to glorify God through suffering.”
- Followers of Jesus are only partakers of his pain.
- Humility was inconsistent with the prevailing ideal of the perfect man.
- But true humility is not servility. It is not a sense of worthlessness. True humility is a sense of lowliness which results from a vision of life’s greatness.
- Even though Jesus was humble, he was not a coward.
- To trust God and cast one’s anxieties upon him is no indication that there is nothing more to do.
- As a practical-minded theologian, all Peter knows is that there is a sinister power at work in the world; that it is like a roaring lion on the prowl to prey upon the sheep of the fold; and that the Christian has to be on the alert lest he lose his precious new life in Christ.
- “There is a God; there is a law; there is an enemy; and there is a victory.”
- We must “keep cool.”

Mar 21, 2007

Can We Create Justice? Or Joy?

A few weeks ago, I sang a hymn called "A Place at the Table." It had powerful themes of justice and inclusion, reiterating the Lutheran dogma that all are indeed welcome at the table, regardless of age, power or wealth (not to mention race, ethnicity or sexuality). However, I couldn't help but notice the lyrics of the refrain, and it gave me pause as I sang them: "And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy."

On the face of it, I suppose the lyric implies that Christians have an obligation to help create a just society, to work on behalf of those who cannot help themselves, and in this way be the light of Christ in the world. Equally, we are to take seriously what Jesus said when he told us that he came so that his joy may remain in us and our joy may be full. When we are a joyful people, no doubt that will help make us creators of joy.

I worry, though, about some of the deeper assumptions, and some of the places this exact language may take us. First, if we are creators of justice, where does this leave God in the mix? Final justice belongs to God alone, does it not? Especially because our own sense of justice is flawed. We are saint and sinner after all. The assumption that God will be ever so happy with the justice that we create seems both arrogant and immature, forgetting the vast amount of human suffering that we have created, sometimes, maybe even often, in the name of justice.

We should remind ourselves of all the dictators that makes such grandiose promises of justice, only to commit human rights violations and mass murder in the process of achieving that view of justice. The idea that we can create justice is awfully tempting, but it can also become an idol. When we believe fully in our ability to decide what is just, we are in prime position to go down a very slippery slope where the winners win and the losers lose because of how we define justice.

Second, do we, as humans, have a good justice track record? Does our legal system always create perfect justice? Is there even a monolithic understanding of justice among all judges, lawyers and lawmakers? Not even close. Just as ten Lutherans share eleven opinions on justification, ten lawyers also, I'm sure, share eleven opinions on what defines justice. Part of what defines the American legal system is a dogmatic focus on defending the Constitution first, not our own biased understandings of justice. That is why in one courtroom, two lawyers with two equally impressive law degrees, working on the same case, will make two completely different arguments about what justice is as they understand it in the Constitution. Yet, we are supposed to make God delight in our creation of justice? Perhaps God delights in our attempts. God delighting in the creation is harder for me to imagine.

Finally, this focus on justice seems to neglect a sentiment even more powerful than justice, and even more in our "control": mercy. Mercy picks up where justice leaves off, because justice is so arbitrarily defined. I’ve written more about this here.

Mercy, on the other hand, strikes me as a much more likely goal for us to achieve. Human justice, and therefore social justice, is a highly imperfect art, full of loopholes, prejudices and differences of opinion. Mercy, however, can pick up the slack. I wonder, if we are going to go about the business of pleasing God, what would do it more: to be merciful, or to be just? Or more to the point, which are we more likely and able to achieve?

Nanotechnology and Bread: How Technology May Change Religion

Listening to a podcast the other day spurred me to ask what the future holds for religion in a quickly-changing world. Futurist Raymond Kurzweil, who has a history of accurate predictions regarding artificial intelligence, sees robots becoming as intelligent as humans by the year 2029. Kurzweil, an incredibly prolific inventor and writer, holds that because technological change is exponential rather than linear, the world will see drastic technological breakthroughs in the coming decades that will increase lifespan, spawn robots capable of feeling, and have nanotechnology swimming in our bloodstream. All of this will eventually lead to a singularity, or the time at which humans cannot keep up with the advancements in technology. Imagine the replicants in Blade Runner, and you get a pretty good idea.

Which naturally made me wonder what the role of religion will be in such a new world. The vision in Blade Runner or Minority Report seems to be largely if not completely secular. People of faith, such as the "mystics" Ayn Rand portends in Atlas Shrugs, seem to be apocalyptic lunatics, caricatures who have only ever read the book of Revelation. But I don't think that will be the case in full. With every change comes reactions, and certainly the popularity of the dreadful Left Behind series is proof that changes in the world (even mere millennia) spark absurd reactions of fear. But ultimately, the apocalyptic fear monger is the exterior vision of the way technology may drive people to real faith. Technology, like a good photograph, is always full of promise and potential, but rarely cashes in. Technology, for many, brings with it a great amount of hope that our lives will be improved, diseases cured. Some dream of a techno-utopia.

But technology will be just as flawed as any other human effort. With every benefit comes a trade-off. You get to live longer? Great, but don't expect to be able to retire before you're 80 to pay for it. No more cancer? A plague is probably just around the corner; they always are, and they're always ahead of our medicine. More information at your fingertips? It's at everyone else's too, so the world just got infinitely more competitive. When technology fails, we will either continue to grasp for new hopes, or will revert to that which is real hope. That is not to say technology is a bad thing, or that I fear it. It's coming whether I like it or not. But its possibilities are limited, not infinite, and it definitely won't allow us to live forever.

What has the impact of technology already been on religion? I can't help but think that there is some link between the rise in fundamentalism over the last 20 years with the rise of technology. For example, the Internet has both allowed jihadists to propagate their message, but it may have also struck a great sense of fear among them. It was one thing when the West was relegated to nations thousands of miles away. But the Internet has erased borders and boundaries. The Internet has allowed the West to "infest" every corner of the world with its ideologies, commerce, and (gasp!) religion. It has gotten harder and harder to remain isolated, so it makes perfect sense that some who wish to remain so are fighting back.

We should remind ourselves that while America creates and devours knowledge at unprecedented rates, there is a real fear of information among many about what changes may come. We should have known that the information revolution would spark just that: a revolution. Surely we should have been able to guess that not everyone is in favor of knowledge. Some groups want to stay in the dark, and they desperately want others to stay there with them, at any cost.

So will it only get worse? Certainly the current wars will have to play themselves out. If democracy is possible in the Middle East, eventually the people there will adapt to technology, though it will take a very long time. I am optimistic that they will. But at a slower and steadier rate, I can't help but think that massive changes in the world around us will always draw people to faith. I'm not crazy about that evangelism strategy, mind you. But when I parallel the imagery of robots curing disease in our body, with say communion bread and wine, the older medicine seems like it may be a bit more appealing.

There is an aesthetic reason for this as well. It seems like the world of technological advancement is a sterile one, one where human interaction is limited. The blogosphere is even heralded by some as a replacement community to local communities. I don't see it. Technology enhances are life, it doesn't change the needs of people. We will always crave real relationships, real truth, and religion offers this in ways technology can't. I'll certainly be interested to see the way technology, not just the Internet and vaccines, but serious new technologies change the role of religion in society.