POINTING THE FINGER…………..This Sunday we are taking a look at Luke 13:1-9.  Let me quickly paraphrase what is happening.  Jesus is confronted by a bunch of people who make the claim that the suffering of others was brought about by their sinfulness.  Apparently, some people had been put to death and the crowd wanted to know if the people were killed because they were more sinful than others.  Jesus does not give in to the temptation to discuss the reason why they were killed.  Jesus does, however, take the opportunity to warn the crowd saying, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

This passage reminds me of my own propensity to focus on the hurts and pains of others, explaining away why things have happened the way that they have.  I tend to make way too many assumptions about why things happened.  I am slowly learning that a healthier approach would be to focus on my own life and how God can become closer to me.

Repentance helps us do just that.  It is a truly healthy process that keeps us on track with our relationship with God.  We stop pointing the finger out toward everyone else and we turn it inward and focus on our own shortcomings.

How is God redirecting you from blaming others to taking responsibility?  I will look forward to sharing more with you this Sunday!

BRYSON’S CONCERT.………….Come and support Bryson this Saturday, February 27th at 3 pm.  Bryson will be performing at the Ashbrook Independent School in Corvallis with other musicians from Oregon State.  Tickets are somewhere in the ballpark of $5.

WE CARE……………This Sunday our ministry partner, WE CARE, will be present in our worship service.  WE CARE “provides one-time financial assistance to residents of Benton County in emergency situations when no other help is available from either public or private sources.  Nineteen faith affiliated communities have come together to support this agency.  Come and hear how this worthy ministry is making a difference!

WIRED WORD……………….Read carefully the topic below in preparation for class this Sunday.  Brad will lead us again as we begin at 9:45.


University Authorities Strive to Balance Free Exchange of Ideas With Protection of Students From “Microaggressions”

The Atlantic magazine recently published an analysis of a growing phenomenon two authors see evident on university campuses and elsewhere in our culture (notably, in the political arena and social media): a movement that seeks to eliminate any ideas anyone deems potentially offensive to anyone.

Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and professor at NYU-Stern School of Business, wrote that professors and students alike are increasingly directed to avoid what they call “microaggressions,” or seemingly innocuous words or actions which could be construed as hostile. At some institutions of higher learning, instructors are told to issue “trigger warnings” in course syllabi about any content that students might find objectionable.

The writers say that in the past, such rules grew out of a desire to be politically correct or from the sense that administrators should make every effort to curb provocative hate speech against the marginalized. But today, they suggest, these policies presume that college students are fragile and need to be protected from words and ideas that might cause them emotional discomfort. However, by encouraging hypersensitivity and reliance on emotions to define reality, school administrators are playing to student weaknesses rather than building up their strengths, according to the pair.

Woe to the professor who expects students to learn how to handle ideas that may differ from those they already embrace! Such a professor may face accusations; attacks on reputation, property or person; litigation; loss of tenure or job; or worse.

Yet Lukianoff and Haidt argue that the job of the teacher is not to tell students “what to think [but] … how to think … critical[ly and independently] … encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them.” Such skills will be invaluable in their future careers and help prevent depression and anxiety.

“What are we doing to our students if we encourage them to develop extra-thin skin in the years just before they leave the cocoon of adult protection and enter the workforce?” the writers inquire. “Would they not be better prepared to flourish if we taught them to question their own emotional reactions, and to give people the benefit of the doubt?”

They propose that truly educated people are not afraid to consider the merits of views that differ from their own and to place their own assumptions under the microscope of reality.

In a report published in the academic journal Comparative Sociology, sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning link “microaggressions” to a “new moral culture of victimhood [that] fosters ‘moral dependence’ and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.”

Perhaps instead of trying to protect ourselves or others from new ideas, we should actively engage in discourse, believing that, as Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.”

Maybe exposure to diverse ideas, like exposure to “plenty of dirt — and cows” (see article with that quote here), actually has the potential to make us healthier and stronger.

More on this story can be found at these links:

The Coddling of the American Mind. The Atlantic
The Rise of Victimhood Culture. The Atlantic
Where Microaggressions Really Come From: A Sociological Account. The Righteous Mind
Microaggression and Moral Cultures. Comparative Sociology 

The Big Questions

  1. Have you ever felt the need to watch your words carefully lest someone accuse you of some kind of microaggression? What effect did this environment have on you? What effect do you sense it had on others, especially on those the new restrictions on language are supposed to protect? How do such restrictions change our society? What are these restrictions meant to teach us?
  2. TWW writer Frank Ramirez recalls what happened to a New Testament professor friend of his a couple of decades ago: “He told an ancient rabbinic story defining rape with regards to intent. Something of a ridiculous reductio ad absurdum[a method of proving the falsity of a premise by showing that its logical consequence is absurd or contradictory]. That was his style of teaching. A student took offense and the professor was fired. He sued the school (and won) because he felt the student had the right to be offended but the school should not and could not create an atmosphere where no one was allowed to offend someone. He was an academic pariah for a time.” Lukianoff and Haidt call the claim to be offended “an unbeatable trump card” leading to a kind of one-up-manship competition to discover who has been most gravely injured by real or imaginary offenses. Do Christians have the right to be offended? the right notto be offended? the right to offend? Explain your answer.
  3. The authors of the study write that “when we make moral judgments [we] … express allegiance to a team. But that can interfere with our ability to think critically. Acknowledging that the other side’s viewpoint has any merit is risky — your teammates may see you as a traitor.” Have you expressed a viewpoint that was significantly at odds with that of a group to which you belong? How did that impact your relationship with members of the group? How much does peer pressure influence the way you think and act?
  4. Are you ever tempted not to speak about the Lord or about what the Bible says because you are afraid of offending someone? Should you try to overcome that fear? Why or why not? If so, how do you begin to conquer it?
  5. Therapists use techniques to help clients identify “triggers” and then assist them to develop strategies to remove their power. Although after an initial trauma, triggers are to be avoided, eventually they are to be conquered. Are you ever troubled by words spoken in your church that trigger painful memories for you? How do you handle it? What words trigger negative responses within your spirit? What do you want others to know about those triggers? What do you need from your Christian brothers and sisters with regard to them? What does Christ expect of us when we are offended? How should we respond if we are the offender?