Chosen: What Is the Bible’s Policy on Contagious Disease?

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Dear friends,

 

The two countries that I call home – Ethiopia and America – have something unusual in common: influential groups in both countries consider themselves to be God’s new Israel.

 

These groups tell epic narratives that describe themselves as God’s chosen people, and these stories fuel a powerful sense of national exceptionalism. Exceptionalism means a self-understanding of being different, favored, and specially protected by God.

 

In both countries, I often hear people proudly say things like, “This is Ethiopia!” or “This is America!” in response to problems affecting other societies. What they mean is that bad things can’t happen in such a chosen, God-favored land.

 

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fascinating to revisit the original instructions that God gave to the original Israel concerning contagious disease.

 

How did chosenness and illness interact?

 

Leviticus is one of the more boring and bizarre books in the Bible. But it has a striking relevance for today’s COVID pandemic because it is the primary place where the Bible addresses this problem of infectious disease... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

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Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

On Loss, Grief, and Healing

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Dear friends,

 

Many of us are walking through a season of grief. In this journey, On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler has been extremely helpful. Special thanks to Duane Grobman for helping me face my grief and to Garrett Dickens for recommending this book to me.

 

In this essay, I share eighteen of the insights that this process and this book have taught me. Some of these insights may be meaningful to you; some may not.

 

I hope reading this is useful for you in understanding and embracing your own grieving process and/or walking with a loved one in grief towards healing. I will not offer commentary on the quotations, but many of them are worth extended reflection.

 

  1. Many of us are “grief-illiterate” (xi).

 

I have discovered my own grief-illiteracy and the truth of these words: “We live in a new death-denying, grief-dismissing world now” (205).

 

In the Foreword, Maria Shriver brilliantly defines grief: “[Grief] is the opening up to the exquisite pain of absence... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Faith and Science: Loving Our Neighbor During COVID-19

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Dear friends,

The caronavirus is revealing a theological crisis in popular Christianity.
Many believers think faith is above or even against science. Thus, they see special
hygiene and public health as unnecessary or even attacking the church. Instead, they say
we should simply pray and ignore practices like washing our hands and social distancing
as proof that we trust God.

But think of it like this.

Every Christian everywhere believes that God – not satan – created the world. The world
is God’s work. The very first verse of the Bible declares this. Paul said it like this: “For in
[Christ] all things were created…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-
17).

And this means that science is the study of God’s design. When we understand and
respect science, we understand and respect the way God made us and our world.
Science is spiritual.

Christians actually practice this every day. For example, we don’t jump off buildings
because we recognize gravity as part of God’s creation... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Caleb Meakins (1989-2020): A Tribute

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Dear friends,

On February 28, I lost a friend, Caleb Meakins (1989-2020), in a car accident. Grieving Caleb’s death has required me to face afresh our fragility and the brevity of our lives. It has also challenged me to revisit the fundamental question of what is truly valuable and worth living for during our limited time on earth.

This week, I’m sharing a tribute that I wrote for Caleb published today by Addis Standard. I believe Caleb lived an exemplary life marked by kindness, courage, and creativity, and it is a privilege to celebrate him, even as my heart is broken.

As you read about Caleb, I invite you to reflect on your own life and what you consider to be truly valuable and worth living for. In all that we say and do, may we see and celebrate the precious value of one another like Caleb did so beautifully.

Yours,

Andrew

Caleb Meakins (1989-2020): A Tribute

In a time of escalating conflict defined by us vs... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Othering: A Virus More Dangerous than COVID-19

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Dear friends,

The world’s attention has been gripped with the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19.  The increasing fear of a global pandemic has provoked me to reflect on the spread of another “virus” that daily proves to be more dangerous and deadly: othering.

I define othering simply as seeing others as less or unrelated to oneself or one’s group, often because of ethnic, religious, and/or political differences. Othering is the invisible root of much of the suspicion, hatred, and violence in our world today.

The following article was published on February 22 in Addis Fortune, one of the leading newspapers in Ethiopia. The article focuses on the Ethiopian context, but I believe it has relevance across the world, including in the United States.

Thanks as always for stopping and thinking with me.

Yours,

Andrew

We thought it was a mobile app, an exchange of ideas, a hotel, a newspaper, a website, an interpretation of historical data (one way or another), a name, a bottle of water, a kid dying in the street, unity, justice, a party, or a religion... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Chala Mohammed

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Dear friends,

I want to tell you a story from the streets of Addis about a young man named Chala Mohammed.

I was walking home from work in one of the busiest parts of the city on a Thursday (February 6). The sidewalk was packed with a river of people as always at rush hour. Lily said she was making dinner, so I was walking fast.

But then I passed a young man laying completely motionless on the sidewalk. I thought to myself, “He’s probably drunk,” and I kept walking. No one else was stopping or helping, so why should I?

But my conscience arrested me, and I turned around.

At first I thought this young man was dead. He was not moving at all, not even his eyes. There was a small pool of saliva by his mouth. He was like a piece of wood.

But I came close to his face, and he whispered, “Sugar.”

I immediately ran to the nearest cafe, bought him a Mirinda, and slowly poured it into his mouth... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

On Devastating Disappointment

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“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist

###

How should we respond to devastating disappointment?

This is a crucial question for everyone in the quest for justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But he also wrote a speech called “Shattered Dreams.”

The struggle for justice often involves the crushing collision of passionate hope and devastating disappointment.

For example, what if – I hope and pray not!!! – the abducted students we all ache for are not returned safely to their families? How will the hundreds of thousands of people out in the streets respond?

Like a nuclear reactor, the collision of hope and disappointment generates extraordinary energy within and between us. This energy often takes the form of fear, grief, anger, and rage.

These emotions are overwhelming, and they make us feel like we are bursting inside and breaking apart... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

A Seed of Peace in Abidjan

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Dear friends,

Last week, I had the privilege of teaching a 40-hour intensive course in Christian Ethics for fifty West African leaders in Abidjan. As we talked through difficult issues, I was inspired to hear their courageous commitment to fight corruption, ethnocentrism, and violence in the name of Jesus for the common good of Cote d’Ivoire.

The classroom erupted in applause when a woman pastor gave her presentation on ethnicity and neighbor-love and declared,

“Our problem is that ethnic conflicts are created by politics, and people bring these problems into the church. Different ethnicities follow different political leaders, but a pastor should not give privilege to people of one ethnic group above others. Sometimes there is no love for others in the church if they are not from our tribe – they won’t even say their name but only refer to them as ‘this tribesperson.’ We think we are better than other people, and we should not think like this; we are all the same... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Personal Update: Neighbor-Love in Abidjan

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Dear friends,

Warm greetings from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa! Lily and I are overwhelmed by the extraordinarily kind welcome we have received here. Special thanks to our hosts Rev. and Mrs. Kwak and Pastor Soro and Mrs. Kerim.

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking in a local church about seeing others as our precious neighbors. Entering into this community as strangers and being immediately welcomed as family felt like the most powerful miracle in the world. This is what the eyes of neighbor-love do: they see through every boundary of geography, color, religion, politics, and status and unite us in the bond of love.

I was deeply moved to unpack the Neighbor-Love Covenant through Pastor Soro’s French translation and see literally the entire congregation come forward to sign it. How beautiful that this Covenant, which was printed in Ethiopia’s national language of Amharic, was signed by seventy French-speaking neighbors 3,000 miles away on the opposite side of Africa... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Eyes: Embodying Neighbor-Love

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Dear friends,

Last week I invited you to begin 2020 by signing the Neighbor-Love Covenant. I believe neighbor-love begins with our bodies – not ideas, money, or technology. Our bodies can be our most intimate and powerful organs for practicing a life of love for others. This week I’m starting with our eyes.

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

How do you see others?

 

This simple question has occupied my mind and spread like a life-giving virus throughout my thinking. I invite you to welcome this question into your being: “How do I see others?”

 

The way we see others massively influences how we treat others and the kind of interactions, relationships, and cultures we create. The way we see others is the operating system for our lives as social creatures who are constantly meeting others – in our minds, online, in passing, in person.

 

Seeing others as neighbors is the first practice that embodies the Neighbor-Love Covenant... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.