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Religion - Roman Catholic

Jorge's Heresy

People might not think they know Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina. As a matter of fact, when asked, most will probably say they’ve never heard of the man. However, if you mention that the fellow changed his name from Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Francis and is currently residing in Rome in the Apostolic Palace, a light will go on and they will nod, “You mean the Pope.” Or perhaps they will use the familiar descriptor “Papa Francisco” to show that they indeed do know who the man is and that they rather like him. An affable looking, round-faced fellow, often smiling, Pope Francis has been touted in the press for humility; he has spoken out against abortion; and he seems not to care for wealth and material goods. Those are indeed virtuous marks with which no fault can be found. But ponder this: the man also prays the rosary three times a day. For those not familiar with praying the rosary, there is this clarification. To pray the rosary properly you begin at the bead holding the crucifix, starting there with saying the Apostles' Creed. Moving to the following bead the “Our Father” is recited. The next three beads take the Aves. That is to say:

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus, Sancta Maria, Mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Translated that reads:

Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with thee, Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Gloria Patri follows, and so it goes on throughout the chain of beads. The usual number of beads on a rosary, by the way, is 59, although that can vary. Elevating Mary Pope Francis is very fond of Mary. In the 1980s, while studying in Germany, he found great solace praying in front of a baroque painting entitled “Mary, Untier of Knots.” The painting depicts Mary untying a knot while simultaneously stomping her foot on a serpent. He took the painting back to Argentina and urged people to be devoted to the Virgin. The pope sees her as an untier of problems. The knots represent sins to him, sins that separate people from God. Mary, as shown in the painting, unties these knots and brings sinners closer to God. The pope, and the Catholic Church, wrongly attribute mediatory qualities to Mary. The adoration of Mary is nothing new in Catholic circles. Many stories circulate with regard to her. One such story was reported on in the Nottinghamshire Guardian of September 9, 1864. In this article it was said that a soldier had appeared before the police court in Madrid, Spain. He had been charged with having stolen a gold cup, a gold cup of great value. Exacerbating this crime was the fact that this cup had been placed as a votive offering on one of the numerous altars dedicated to Mary in the city of Madrid. Hat in his hand, the soldier was his own defense lawyer. His family was in great need, he explained to the judge in the police court, and their straits so dire that he went to church to pray. We can imagine the judge regarded him rather blankly and ordering him to go on. The soldier spoke of how while he was engaged in prayer, before a statue of Mary, he beheld the jewels displayed on the statue's brocaded gown. And then, he said, the Virgin Mother stooped down to his person and "with a charming smile" handed over the golden cup to him. No one replied to the defense. It was decided that however inconvenient the admission of the miracle might be, it would be impolitic to dispute its truth. Consequently, the soldier was allowed to keep the cup to aid his needy family. He was also given the severe warning that, should a similar theft occur in the future, the court would be inclined to disbelieve his story. Not satisfied with Jesus alone On average, it takes fifteen to twenty minutes to pray the rosary. You keep track of the various prayers by using the rosary beads. Pope Francis is on record as saying that the Christian who does not feel that the Virgin Mary is his or her mother, is an orphan. The archives of the Vatican Radio tells the story that the pope met with a couple during the seventies, a young couple with small children who spoke quite beautifully of their faith in Jesus. At one point Pope Francis asked them, "And devotion to the Madonna?" They answered him, "But we have passed that stage. We know Jesus Christ so well, that we have no need of the Madonna." The archives then relate that because of their answer the future pope thought of the young couple as orphans, poor orphans, because Christians without the Madonna are orphans. And Christians without the Church are orphans. He said:

A Christian needs these two women, these two women who are mothers, two women who are virgins: the Church and the Madonna. And to make a “test” of a good Christian vocation, you need to ask yourself: How is my relationship with these two mothers going, with mother Church and with mother Mary? This is not a question of “piety.” No, it's pure theology. This is theology. How is my relationship with the Church going, with my mother the Church, with the holy mother, the hierarchic Church? And how is my relationship going with the Madonna, my mamma, my Mother? 

In a December 2014 address to Iraqi refugees, the pope said:

Dear brothers and sisters... You are in the hearts and prayers of all Christian communities, whom I will ask to pray in a special way for you on December 8, to pray to Our Lady to protect you; she is our Mother and will protect you...

That same December the pope sent Christmas greetings to prisoners: "May the blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary keep you under her maternal mantle." And that same month, following the death of an archbishop, he wrote: "I entrust his soul to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary." What is good? Pope Francis is viewed positively by many people around the world. His concern for the poor, his statements about the environment, abortion and same-sex marriage, and so on – whether right or wrong – resonate with many. Many view him as a moral and humanitarian spokesperson for the world, (regardless of the sexual allegations leveled on a seemingly monthly basis against many priests). But the fact remains that he abounds and leads in idolatry. And does it really matter how the world thinks about you? As a young boy in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio suffered an infection and had half a lung removed. He is 80 years old and occasionally suffers from fatigue, sometimes has difficulty breathing and has lost some weight. How many more years does he have before his body turns to dust? How many more days does he have left before his soul will face the only Mediator between God and man - our Lord Jesus Christ? Will veneration of Mary stand him in good stead at that time?

Christine Farenhorst is the author of many books, including an upcoming historical fiction novel, "Katharina, Katharina," about the times of Martin Luther. This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue. Some lines have been altered from the original version of this story to better reflect when statements are exact quotes.

News

Saturday Selections - Oct 26, 2019

The Mischevious Protestant's guide to Catholic Rome (10-minute read /6-minute video) Did you know there are two statues of Martin Luther (at least) in Rome? In both cases, Luther is getting stepped on, and in one a little cherub angel is tearing out the pages of his Bible translation. Tim Challies shares more on these statues as well as info on a couple of other spots that Protestants will find interesting in Rome. 10 things you should know about Christian hospitality Rosario Butterfield, author of The Gospel Comes With a House Key, with 10 insights on welcoming others into our homes. Sorry, banning plastic bags won't save the planet Bjorn Lomborg, the "skeptical environmentalist," highlights how banning plastics is more for show than for good. When abstinence is wrong "I want to offer some tips for husbands and wives on how to promote physical intimacy in marriage..." Readers should note that even as the article's biblical principles are authoritative – what God says, we should do – the specific outworking of those principles may look very different for different couples. Heroic animals in the Great War With Remembrance Day approaching, here's a 6-page comic commemorating Sergent Bill, a goat who served as mascot to a Canadian regiment during World War I Abortion: it comes down to just one issue (2 minutes) We can greatly simplify this debate by getting it down to the one question: what is the unborn? Greg Koukl shows us how.

Economics - Home Finances

The case for biblically-responsible investing

God calls his people to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us, whether that’s our talents and time or the possessions we’ve been given. It all belongs to God (Ps. 24:1), so just as a steward manages and cares for what belongs to another – and does so as the owner desires – so too we are to manage what belongs to God as He desires. We are also to do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Eating and drinking are two activities we often do without thinking, yet specific mention is made of how even these activities are to be done to the glory of God. How much more then ought we to manage God’s money in a way that glorifies Him! How shall we then invest? So, when it comes to investing, we need to understand that buying shares in a company means becoming a part-owner. And an owner, whether a minority or majority owner, bears responsibility for the actions of a company. In Ephesians 5:11 we are instructed to, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” So here is a key issue for consideration: if a company is doing “works of darkness” being an owner of a company is taking part in those activities. Even if it is a small part, it is still a part. Another consideration is the aspect of making money or profiting from sinful activities. Proverbs 16:8 instructs us in this (as does Prov. 15:6): “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” As a shareholder, it is not possible to refuse the portion of a dividend or share growth which results from activities which directly contradict Scripture. Receiving that profit, no matter how it is then used, is bringing the “wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God” (Deut. 23:18). So, what is the problem? The problem is Christians often unknowingly invest in companies which directly contradict Biblical values. An examination of the companies which make up the S&P 500 is alarming. Found there are companies which, among other things, profit from or support abortion, pornography, and gambling. So, what is the solution? What this might look like The solution is what I call “biblically responsible investing.” The goal with this type of investing is to be a faithful steward who glorifies God with the management of His money. In striving for this, a disciplined process is followed which can be summed up in three steps: AVOID THE BAD: Via in-depth research and analysis, we want to actively avoid companies that are at cross-purposes to Biblical values. SEEK OUT THE GOOD: We want to actively seek out companies which value ethical business practices, the sanctity of life, care for the poor, and other biblical values. BE AN ACTIVE OWNER: An investor has a voice in the boardroom and a vote to cast in proxy votes. Rather than remaining silent or letting ungodly money managers cast votes, Christian investors and investment managers can raise their collective voice when needed in the boardroom. Will this always be perfect? Will a company ever find its way through the process? Unfortunately, perfection will not be attained on this side of the grave. A business may hide an unethical practice or donation. However, that is not an excuse not to strive for perfection. This is the way of the Christian life here on this earth. It is a continual striving to walk in the way of godliness, being “holy in all manner of conversation.” We strive to put off and flee from sin. We strive to fight the good fight of faith as God has called us to do. Then, after fighting the good fight, when we are called to give account of our stewardship we, being washed by the blood of the Lamb through no merit of our own, will hear these blessed words:

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

Brian Hilt is an Associate Portfolio Manager with Virtuous Investing of Huxton Black Ltd (InvestVirtuously.ca) and passionate about stewardship and biblically-based financial planning and investment advice.

Religion

Why Do We Suffer? Buddhism vs. Christianity

The current prevailing philosophy in our western world is that everyone's opinion is equal and no one is wrong or even less good. I am free to enjoy my religion (so far) as long as I don't impose it on you or let it provoke me to “hate speech.” The only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. Since we are surrounded by so many prompts to affirm and celebrate diversity, it is easy to get so used to focusing on what we have in common that we might be tempted to accept the general notion that there really isn't much difference between Christianity and the religions around us. After all, don't we all want peace and harmony and brotherly love? Doesn't meditation provide the same freedom from stress and problems that people have formerly sought through prayer? Can't we all just seek the good of man and leave one another to whatever spoke of the wheel might be followed to get to the God/god in the hub? Recently, I conversed with some Buddhists who claimed that I could be a Christian and still practice Buddhist philosophy. I studied about how Buddhism started as a quest by Siddharta Buddha around 4 BC to relieve suffering in this world. I was intrigued to note that there are some similarities between the two religions, and I began to understand why some people might think that they are essentially alike. Buddhism and Christianity are similar in their view that suffering is going to happen and that people need to be prepared with their manner of dealing with it. They are similar in their promotion of a lack of attachment to material things so that the loss will be less difficult. They are similar in many of their ethics regarding people’s actions and attitudes in life. But they are very different in their way of handling the suffering that comes, and in the meaning of that suffering. Therein all surface similarities take a wide fork in the road, to different destinations. Let's take the “Four Noble Truths of Buddhism” as a format on which to compare and contrast these two viewpoints on suffering. In brief form, they state:

1. Suffering is our existence. 2. Suffering is caused by craving, wanting or desirousness. 3. Freedom from suffering can be secured. 4. The way out of suffering is to follow the path.

1. Is suffering our existence? In order to conclude that suffering is our existence, the Buddha employed a wide view, which included not only tragedies and grief, but daily sadness, old age, sickness, association with the unpleasant, and all forms of mental and physical sufferings as well. He also included such ideas as imperfection, impermanence, insubstantiality, and a lack of lasting satisfaction. He believed that everyone suffers it, and must become truly aware of that suffering before anything can be done about it. If there is no lasting satisfaction, it is no wonder that he said suffering is our existence! Christians are taught to expect suffering to be a part of our lives, but there is also joy, peace, and comfort. Jesus spoke of his upcoming suffering in Luke 9:22 and then followed with the words, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (9:23). By this he meant that his followers would indeed suffer in this world as they followed him. In Matthew 5 he told his disciples that they would mourn and that they would be persecuted for righteousness' sake. Hebrews chapter 11 tells of many peoples’ suffering, and the faith which caused them to continue. And 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 talks of being "hard-pressed," "perplexed," "persecuted," and "struck down." Both religions involve people looking out at the world and beholding the misery to be found there and describing it. But what is the cause of this suffering? 2. Is suffering caused by craving, wanting, or desirousness? The Buddha taught that the cause of suffering was found in craving, wanting or desirousness. By this he did not mean just wanting something that is possible or needed, but wanting what is impossible for one to have. He described it as a "wish to possess wholly, to cling to," as something that we want "to remain as it is at that moment" (Adrienne Howley, The Naked Buddha). We want people we love to stay the same, for no one to ever die or be sick, and for any good thing we have to always be with us. This leads us to feelings of greed, hatred, passion, aggression, and ignorance. We want what we want when we want it. Instead, the Buddha taught that we need to accept the truth of impermanence. If we do not expect it, we do not miss it. Howley explains that "nothing can make us joyful in the face of sorrow,” but states that being aware of this truth will reduce the pain, because the craving and clinging cause more pain than the loss itself does. Otherwise, we may suffer loss and continue on in blaming, anger, and hatred for whomever brought about our loss; it might even lead to war or personal wars of jealousy and envy. He taught that the attachment itself is the cause of suffering in this life. The Bible expresses somewhat similar views regarding our attachments and cravings. But the underlying cause for suffering in the world is completely different. In Matthew 6:19 Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Colossians 3:1-2a implores followers to, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." James 4:1 asks, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight." From all of these verses, we see that the Christian faith leads us to realize that our attachments to "things" can lead us to suffering. If we desire our brother's possessions, we will be unhappy and also ungrateful for what we do have. If we are attached to our goods and they are stolen, we will feel loss. If we become really envious, we may even fight someone else to get what we want. But while our actions are the cause which leads to the effect of suffering, the Bible leads us back a step further into the cause behind this step in the process of suffering. Romans 3 teaches us that "there is no one who does good, not even one" and states that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (3:12,23). There will be no sinless thinking this side of heaven. Throughout the Old Testament there were many admonitions to follow God's path in order to be blessed, and examples of being punished because of not obeying God. We see that it was because of their sin that they acted in rebellion against God's commandments, and they brought suffering upon themselves. We should also note that the groups that Israel conquered and destroyed were receiving the result of their sins against God as well (Psalm 2). But Christians also know from the Book of Job that God allows His people to suffer for reasons other than their sins. Satan, the deceiver, contributed to the suffering by coming to God and receiving permission to afflict Job in terrible ways. This test to discover whether Job would be faithful was limited by the hand of God. The Book of James explains this testing well in 1:2-4: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." The Heidelberg Catechism explains it thus:

God's providence is His almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come not by chance but by His fatherly hand (Lord's Day 10).

So we see then that the Buddhist understands the cause of suffering to arise from peoples' attitudes and actions. The Christian will agree that one's cravings and actions can sometimes be the cause of the suffering. But the Christian sees it as arising either because those attitudes and actions are sinful, or as a test brought upon him/her by God for His higher purposes. It is no wonder that Howley states that "nothing can make us joyful in the face of sorrow" because there is no comfort from God for the Buddhist. 3. Can freedom from suffering be secured? The Buddha's aim in teaching us about suffering was not to deny that there is beauty and joy in everyday life, but rather to show us how to be happy right now and in the very next moment of this existence. Howley states that, "If it weren't for a third noble truth, we'd create a god or demon and blame our suffering on that." Instead, she says that Buddhism leads us to become truly aware of the real condition of existence: "Enjoy what you have now but accept that is already changing. Do no harm to living beings, including yourself. Learn to control your mind by being aware of things as they are, now." The similarity with Christianity is that the Bible always implores people to take an accurate and honest look at what is truly happening. But the interpretation of what is truly happening is entirely different! Note the words of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:8-10:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Christians are admonished to control ourselves, and to be aware. We are to watch for the temptations that can come from the devil, and resist them and him, which we learn from other passages is done by regular prayer, Bible reading, and worshipping as a community. We see also that we will suffer, but that after "a little while" God will restore us. Jesus promised in John 17:5-15 that after he left, he would send the "Counselor," who is the Holy Spirit who would lead us into truth, convict men of sin, and provide comfort as well. There is an anticipation built up throughout the progression of the Four Noble Truths. We now know the nature of the problem of suffering, and truly, we are eager to find out just exactly what we must do in order to solve it. 4. Which is the path that leads us out of suffering? The Fourth Noble Truth presents an eightfold path as the way out of suffering. In summary, this path promotes "right views, aims, speech, action, livelihood, perseverance, mindfulness, and meditation." Mindfulness is the awareness I spoke of, and meditation will be discussed in the next section. Perseverance is just as it says. The first five are further expressed in the Buddha's "Five Precepts" which were against "lying, stealing, killing, unnatural sexual activity and intoxication." It is important to note that these steps and precepts are not considered by Buddhists to be commandments, but rather they are guidelines for beginning a life free from unnecessary suffering. It is thought that we can live happier lives by understanding, not by obeying rules or believing that help comes from "out there" or "up there." They are given as advice which can be used or ignored; but one must take responsibility for the consequences of one's actions. Most Christians can easily see that this path and these precepts correspond to our Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Commandments. And the Precept regarding intoxication is covered in the list of sinful activities in Galatians 5:19-21 as "drunkenness." Furthermore, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:8-9b to "...live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing...." And in 1 Peter 3:10 we read “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” Clearly, this last verse is the same as number three, “Right Speech.” So there is some agreement between Buddhists and Christians, therefore, as to how one should interact with other people. Both would agree that there will be less suffering encountered in this lifetime when one lives in harmony with others, and both even agree to a great degree on the description of that harmony. Does this then mean that the two religions are similar? In their very essence, they are not. Buddhists look within themselves to find their ease, and do not look to a "god" to provide for them in any way. Christians look to the God who is the Creator of the universe, for our care. We believe he is personally involved with each of us, for "all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move" (Heidelberg Catechism LD 10). The Buddha taught his followers to escape suffering while Jesus showed us the way to go through it. If the Buddhists are right, there is no God to help us; and from the Christian's viewpoint, the Buddhists are just trying to get by as best as they can because they do not want to bow before Almighty God. Ravi Zacharias has stated, "Buddhism is a well-thought through belief that is bereft of God. More accurately, it is a philosophy of how one can be good without God, pulling oneself up by one's own moral bootstraps" (Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks With Buddha). The Buddha said, "Be a light to yourselves," but Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). Meditation or Prayer? Furthermore, Buddhism teaches that one can overcome suffering by right meditation. Buddhist meditation is not a “trance,” but rather a time of becoming more aware of what is going on in your mind. It is a time of not being distracted by other things. The word bhavana actually means development or “culture” as in mental development or mental yoga. This “insight meditation” deals with our bodies, feelings, sensations, the mind, and moral and intellectual subjects. Buddhist meditation develops control of one's own mind. This is very important because as Howley states: “where the mind goes, the body tends to follow. A controlled mind can be directed skillfully while an uncontrolled mind chatters like a ‘drunken monkey’ and its misperceptions lead to unskillful behavior and unnecessary suffering.” Thoughts and actions in Buddhism are divided into those which are skillful and those which are unskillful. Skillful ones are those which are the most useful and beneficial, and the least harmful. Karma is the word which describes the accumulated effect of actions. Since they do not believe in sinfulness or commands, this terminology represents the strongest persuasion for our compliance to that which will benefit ourself. With insightful meditation, we move away from our problem temporarily, by reaching deep within ourself, examining the issue carefully, determining how to deal with it, and then putting it behind ourself. There is simply no point to "hanging on" to what was desired since that causes suffering. When the Bible speaks of meditation, this is not what it means. Meditation in Scripture is on Scripture: it is looking at what God has to say about life and thinking it through so that one might learn to think God's thoughts after Him. And Christianity promotes prayer. Prayer is addressed to God the Father through His son Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Heidelberg Catechism explains that Christians "address God as Our Father – To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer that childlike reverence and trust toward God which should be basic to our prayer (LD 46). Christians pray for Him to be glorified and honored in all of our words, thoughts and actions. We ask for His will to be done and for all of our needs to be provided, our sins to be forgiven, and for strength to fight temptation and the evil one. We conclude by joyfully stating, "For Yours is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." As Ravi Zacharias has written, “Prayer is a constant reminder that the human being is not autonomous...there are cardinal differences between one who prays and one who meditates. One looks beyond and the other looks within." Conclusion A Christian is a person who has realized that he is sinful in and of himself, and he cannot come to God directly because of that sin. Therefore, through God's Word, he realizes that he needs a Savior. Christians believe that within all men is the knowledge of a Being higher than themselves who created the intricate yet vast universe and all within it, who knows all and is all powerful. We do not believe that we can handle all of life by looking into our sinful selves, nor that we were left to do so by an impersonal Creator. Rather we rejoice in the love that sought us, bought us, and keeps us in His care. We trust His decisions, even when we are suffering, knowing that He has a purpose in that suffering. Unlike the Buddhist nun, who claims that, “nothing can make us joyful in the face of sorrow,” we are able to experience a sense of peace, and even joy in accepting God's will. James 1:2 encourages us to “consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of any kind,” and 1 Peter 1:6 states “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." It was also mentioned before that 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 spoke of suffering – but it also speaks of God's strength being applied:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

This is seen by the Christian as a true "letting go" of a situation, but it involves a total trust in God rather than the Buddhist's "true awareness of the real condition of existence" (Howley). There is great benefit in understanding God's providence, because as Lord's Day 10 of the Heidelberg Catechism states:

We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from His love; for all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move.

This is the Christian's response to suffering. At first sight, some might consider that the Buddha and the Christ taught very similar concepts which can be happily used by all people to ease their sufferings. It might even look like meditation and prayer are quite alike, since both seem to be "mind activities." Even the medical societies are promoting Yoga and meditation for one's health, although a recent study showed no real improvement in health in those who tried it. Before I studied about Buddhism, I did not realize that it is really the underlying philosophy of so many self-improvement techniques seen all around us. It is simply not acceptable to view Jesus Christ as just another great teacher similar to the Buddha, for Jesus claimed to be the Son of God who came to save people from their sins. So either He was who He claimed to be, or he was a lunatic not worthy to be followed, for He claimed to be the Son of God. He stated, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Christians believe that suffering can only be ended by coming into a right relationship with God, and this can only be done through Jesus Christ. Suffering ends because it is faced with God's strength and comfort here in this world, and it ends ultimately when one enters Heaven after death. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:5 of those who come "having a form of godliness, but denying its power." Buddhists attempt to bring themselves out of suffering by a type of righteous living, without connecting themselves to the God who created them. In other words, they seek to provide their own salvation from suffering. Therefore, there is very little similarity between Buddhism and Christianity on the topic of suffering.

Economics

BUSINESS IS BEAUTIFUL! How do you view your business?

If you are an average healthy, able-bodied North American you will spend at least half of all the waking hours in your life at work (which, for most of us, is a separate place and community from what we call “home”). You will spend the majority of the remaining available hours engaging the marketplace in some way. Given that level of involvement, it’s remarkable how negative our outlook often is of work, business and the marketplace.

Work continues to receive a bad rap. The world of business is often characterized as a cold, calculating, sometimes cutthroat place where relationships are exploitative and largely dysfunctional. We might be tempted to think that, at its best, doing business should be nothing more than money changing hands.

Terms like “work/life balance” indicate a prevalent notion that there is no life at work. Rather life is something we escape to after work. Similarly, a saying like “living for the weekend” would indicate that we view work as an unfortunate but necessary detour on our way to our real life. And if we’re fortunate enough to not be suffering through feelings of drudgery, perhaps we’re still at a loss as to the meaning of it all.

In the Christian community especially – how many Christ followers haven’t had an inferiority complex about their work; as if church ministry was somehow a better or more faithful endeavour than whatever it is that they put their mind to from 8 AM to 5 PM each day? How many console themselves with the idea that the work they do provides funds for ministry which is where the “real meaningful” work in our world is done?

A necessary evil?

But is that really true? Is ministry the only way to really obey the Great Commandment and Great Commission? Is business only a necessary evil in the process?

Consider what James K.A. Smith, editor of Comment magazine once wrote.

When we spend our money, we are not just consuming commercial goods, we are also fostering and perpetuating ways of being human. To be a patron is to be a selector, an evaluator, and a progenitor of certain forms of cultural life. You didn’t realize that you exercised such power did you? Our entire lives, including the purchases we make and the businesses we patronize, tell a story.

If we are impacting culture – if we are telling a story – as patrons, then wouldn’t we be doing the very same as producers? Our businesses are also an opportunity to impact the world around us. Consider the influence we can have in our business life with:

  • our employees, customers, contractors and suppliers,
  • the entrepreneurs we encourage
  • the business leaders we meet
  • the organizations we build,
  • the products we develop,
  • the work we produce,
  • the services we deliver,
  • the way we serve our customers and
  • the way we cooperate with each other at work.

All of this too, reflects what it is to be human. All of this too is “ministry.” Our work is a prime opportunity for us to create beauty. Not a superficial surface beauty but the kind of beauty that flows out of love. The kind of beauty that reveals something “other.”

Business is an opportunity for beauty

Makato Fujimura, founder of the International Arts Movement, says:

Human beings cannot live for a long time in a place bereft of beauty. We hunger for beauty if we are robbed of it. True beauty nurtures our deepest longings.

Our time spent at work and in the marketplace has an impact. All the time and all the resources available to us on the job and all the activities we engage in offer us an amazing opportunity to meet not just people’s physical needs but also their deepest needs and influences our understanding of what is to be human in the process.

Fujimura continues…

In our pragmatism, beauty and art have been exiled to the peripheral realities of our culture and our business environments.

So we can approach work as something to be endured. Or we can see it as an opportunity to encourage something beautiful. Love transforms our businesses from cold, hard utilitarian structures into powerful catalysts for human flourishing.

Our leadership – creativity – innovation – organization – resources and the power we’re each given, everything in the world of business tells a story. When love for God and neighbour is the driving force in our life – including our businesses – the story that that tells addresses our fellow man’s deepest longings.

Because when love drives our business, “business is beautiful.”

Jason Bouwman is the founder of Compass Creative (CompassCreative.ca).

 Questions for further study

  1. How do you view your business? Do you see it as beautiful or a necessary evil? Why?
  2. Discuss your perspective of business with a friend or colleague. What is their feedback to you on your perspective of how you view your business?
  3. What steps can you take to help you and others see that, by design, business can be beautiful?

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