June, 2011 Archives

23
Jun

Muslims praying for Christians

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Bangladesh village imams meeting with Jim Denison

three of the many Bangladesh village imams that we met on our most recent visit, January 2011. The imam on the far right is the one who asked the question.

Lately I’ve been writing my daily devotional about Islam and the war in Afghanistan.  A 16 year old girl tweeted this response: “Believe me, us Muslims pray for Christians’ salvation as well.  It’s not us that need to be enlightened!  Just sayin.”

I have three responses.  First, I’m glad that this girl knew she could respond to my tweet (and devotional) in this way, and hope for much more dialogue with Muslims in the future.  Over the years it has been my privilege to know and befriend Muslims on six continents, beginning with my missions experience in East Malaysia in 1979.  I have taught world religions on four seminary faculties, but have learned more about Islam from Muslims than from any textbook.  Nearly every Muslim I have known has been very respectful of my faith and interested in a discussion about our commonalities and differences.  Social media makes such conversation easier, an opportunity I am looking forward to expanding in months to come. Read the rest of this entry »

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23
Jun

Afghanistan 101

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Marine on patrol in the town of Deh Zore in southern Afghanistan Helmand province

Marine on patrol in the town of Deh Zore in southern Afghanistan Helmand province (Credit: Reuters/Finbarr O Reilly)

On June 7, the war in Afghanistan passed Vietnam as the longest in our history.  As you know, President Obama announced last night that he has begun the process of “drawing down” our military presence there.  Why did our soldiers go there back in 2001?  Can we win this war?  What is the future for this embattled region and the larger War on Terror?

Here’s some background that may be helpful.  According to the State Department, Afghanistan is slightly smaller than Texas in size.  Its population exceeds 28 million, some four million larger than Texas.  It is composed of nine main ethnic or tribal groups, and is 99% Muslim (80% Sunni, 19% Shi’a).  It is undeveloped in many ways, with a literacy rate of 28% and life expectancy of 44 years.  Its $27 billion economy ranks 91st in the world.  About 35% of the population is unemployed and lives below the poverty line. Read the rest of this entry »

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22
Jun

Tuna salad and the Fall

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison

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tuna salad with orange zest and torn mint leaves

tuna salad with orange zest and torn mint leaves (Photo by avlxyz via Flickr)

Paul said, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).  I’m not sure he had tuna salad on his mind, but I do.

One of the results of the Fall is that I get headaches if I eat sugar.  Another is that diet drinks make me gain weight.  Still another is the tuna salad I had for lunch today.  As I get older each day, a friend’s diet is becoming more and more relevant: “If it tastes good, spit it out.” Read the rest of this entry »

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22
Jun

A devotional I didn’t want to write

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


graphically produced sorry key on a keyboard

Credit: LaCatrina

I need to begin this morning’s devotional with an apology.  I like to write on encouraging news stories whenever I can, knowing that most of you open the essay early in the morning in search of a good word from God for the day.  This devotional is unfortunately not about good news, but if you’ll read it anyway you’ll find great news in the bad news.

Two health-related stories shocked me when I read them today.  The first is a report on Time‘s website that 69% of people who abuse painkillers like Vicotin get them from friends, family or dealers.  According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, the author of the study, the number is even higher among 18-to-25-year-olds: 77% get them exclusively from non-medical sources, only 23% from doctors. Read the rest of this entry »

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21
Jun

Police cars and God’s grace

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Nothing needs to be said about this one except that it's a 1954. There were however RHD Met police cars painted black and white, not for catching bad guys, but for meter maids/tire marking. The police cars were 1957 and up.

Credit: John's Old Car and Truck Pictures

I was making my way to our  office this morning, slogging through downtown Dallas.  It was one of those days when every traffic light turns red just as you pull up to it.  I always enjoy the opportunity to sit quietly at each intersection and reflect joyfully on the circumstances of life.  If you believe that, I have some land just off the coast of Florida I’d like to sell you. Read the rest of this entry »

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21
Jun

Shrinking brains

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


xray of homer simpson tiny brain

Homer Simpson's very tiny brain

If you’re reading this essay on your computer, your brain may shrink as a result.  For those of you who kept reading, here’s the explanation: a study which suggests that so-called Internet addiction may lead to serious physical rewiring of our brains.

Eighteen college-age students who met the criteria for “Internet Addiction Disorder” (IAD) were tested for brain function.  The result: a reduction of as much as 20% in several areas of the brain.  Researchers surmise that this reduction could lead to impaired inhibition and short-term memory loss, among other effects. Read the rest of this entry »

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20
Jun

Rory and me

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy holds the U.S. Open Trophy after winning the 2011 U.S. Open golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, June 19, 2011.

Rory McIlroy holds the U.S. Open Trophy after winning the 2011 U.S. Open, June 19, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)

What does Rory McIlroy have that I don’t?  Watching him demolish yesterday’s U.S. Open field was awe-inspiring.  I used to play the game with some regularity, before two knee surgeries and schedule challenges derailed my golfing career.  The sport has apparently not missed me.  People constantly wonder when Tiger Woods is returning–no one asks me that question.

What do Rory and I have in common?  He’s 22 years old–I’m nearly double that and counting.  He can putt the ball farther than I can drive it.  He has that great Irish accent; I talk like I’m from Texas.  He won $1,440,000 on Sunday–I got some nice Father’s Day presents. Read the rest of this entry »

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20
Jun

Prosecuting a dead man

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


The cover of a special edition of TIME magazine devoted to the death of Osama bin Laden is seen in this image (illustration by Tim O'Brien) released by TIME Inc. in New York May 20, 2011.  (Credit: Reuters/TIME Magazine/Handout)

The cover of a special edition of TIME magazine devoted to the death of Osama bin Laden is seen in this image released by TIME Inc. in New York May 20, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/TIME Magazine/Handout)

Here’s something I didn’t know: Osama bin Laden was under federal indictment for more than a month after his death.  He had been facing criminal charges stemming from a 1998 indictment which named him in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, but prosecutors formally dropped charges last Friday.

Why were we prosecuting a dead man?  The court filing explains that the U.S. government had to confirm bin Laden’s identity.  They completed this task through DNA samples, facial recognition technology and verification from one of his wives who lived at the compound where he was killed.

What if prosecutors had dropped their charges and then learned that bin Laden was still alive?  I had no idea, so I turned to the Internet.  Here I learned that if the charges were dismissed “with prejudice,” they could not be brought again without production of evidence not available when the charges were first brought.  If they were not dismissed “with prejudice,” they could be brought again. Read the rest of this entry »

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19
Jun

What my Dad taught me about my Father

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


dad with his son on the seashore

Credit: Natalia Sinjushina

Psychologists say that our earliest impressions of God are formed by our impressions of our fathers.  On this Father’s Day weekend, I find myself thinking about my Dad and my Father.

Dad was a Methodist Sunday school teacher before enlisting in the Army at the beginning of World War II.  There he experienced horrific atrocities and struggled with his faith for the rest of his life.  He had his first heart attack when I was two years old, and died when I was a senior in college. Read the rest of this entry »

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17
Jun

Pablo Picasso and me

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison

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Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso in 1962 (credit: Wikipedia)

What do Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and I have in common?  Unlike Picasso, I know that heads are supposed to be pictured atop bodies; unlike Hemingway, I can write a sentence longer than six words.  Unlike both of them, I have never been confused with artistic genius.  But like both of them, I am a fan of Moleskins.

I never travel without one.  The small squared notebook with an elastic band and storage pocket in the back is indispensible for note-taking and receipt-keeping.  (Our staff says I’m better at the former than the latter, but that’s a subject for another blog.)  The books were nearly extinct before an Italian named Maria Sebregondi resurrected them.  Now they’re a global phenomenon, with dozens of blogs and more than 50 Facebook pages dedicated to their praise. Read the rest of this entry »

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