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A word about this blog

Daily News and Prayer is inspired by The Christian Science Monitor, one of the most important (and most underappreciated) newspapers in the world. Posts are usually (but not always) responses to articles in the Monitor (and occasionally other news outlets) about events and trends that call for prayer.

The blog's aim is to help strengthen humanity's collective confidence that we can triumph over even the most deeply entrenched evils, in ourselves and in the world.

Notifications: If you would like to be notified about new postings, please send an email to kscollins@gmail.com, with "Blog mailing list" in the subject line. I'll be sure to let you know each time a new item is posted.

Note on submissions: If you would like to contribute to this blog, I would be happy to consider your submission. It should be 500 words or less, very well written and fit the topic. Read several postings to get an idea of the subject matter and tone. It should also fit the audience, which is general, international and non-denominational.

Please email your submission to me at kscollins@gmail.com. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Please be aware that, while I appreciate the interest and efforts of anyone who wishes to write for the blog, publication is not guaranteed. If I feel your piece is promising but needs revision, I will let you know. Nothing will be published without your seeing the final copy.

Daily News and Prayer

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Christ Jesus

 

“We must not expect the world to improve much faster than ourselves.”

Will Durant

 

Thursday
Sep222016

Do we need more positive journalism?

Some people think journalism is too focused on problems. War, disease, poverty, crime, corruption – wouldn’t we all feel a lot better if our news diet were a bit more, well, pleasant? After all, there are a lot of good things happening!

Indeed there are, but life for most people is hard, so isn’t it dishonest to pretend otherwise? Positive news may soothe, but it doesn’t heal. You can’t positive-think humanity out of trouble. Most people are drawn to news about the pains and sorrows of life because that’s what they experience on some level every day. If not literal war or crime, then something else that causes fear. Problems can’t be solved unless that fear is addressed truthfully.

It’s not a revelation to say that what we need from journalism is truth – looking at problems and being courageous enough to tell where they really come from and what they portend. The best journalists do this. They are clear thinkers who know themselves well enough not to be fooled into misreading facts or accepting lies, whether pretty or scary, as truth. They don’t put personal, political, corporate, religious or any other agenda ahead of the obligation to search for and bear witness to the clearest and deepest truth they can uncover.

Evil has no inherent right to a platform. It has no legitimate claim to respect or even attention, except in the effort to expose it. One of the most important aims of journalism should be to uncover evil. Truth will take care of itself when evil is seen for what it really is. Christ Jesus called it a liar. It was a good start.

Insisting that the news media be channels for good news is not going to help humanity out of its multitude of messes. We need journalists who can help people see through the fallacies and manipulations trying to get their attention and demonstrate that truth is the only news we really need.

Monday
Mar282016

Violence and government

The world has always been full of thugs and murderers, but it still shocks us when they act with the tacit or explicit blessing of governments or international institutions, or governmental aspirants.

Two weeks ago the office of the chief medical examiner of Washington, DC announced that a former associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin was beaten to death when he was in the city in November. This is not the first time a perceived Putin opponent has been killed (although the circumstances and culprit in this case are not yet clear). And the day before, a protester at a rally in North Carolina for US presidential candidate Donald Trump was punched in the face by a member of the crowd. Trump, although saying he does not condone violence at his rallies, essentially excused it by attributing the assault to the passion of his followers.

Putin himself didn’t do the killing; Trump himself didn’t punch the protester. But both leaders have created climates of such intense emotion or personal loyalty that violence is apparently seen by some as acceptable in the pursuit of the goals the leaders represent.

Those goals – essentially, making Russia and America great again – are not bad in and of themselves. After communism stalled and disappeared in 1989, millions of Russians lost confidence that life would get better. Many have found hope and stability in Putin. Millions of Americans have felt their own hope and stability threatened by political, economic and social changes, and they have turned in desperation to aspirants for the office of President – Trump as well as others – who promise hope, in part, through aggressive and sometimes violent actions toward perceived enemies.

There is an element of fear in all this but also, admittedly, of pride. Actor Clint Eastwood captured both in his ad for Chrysler that aired at halftime of the Super Bowl in 2012:

People are out of work and they’re hurting and they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback and we’re all scared because this isn’t a game. . . .

This country [the United States] can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world’s going to hear the roar of our engines.

And as for Russia, its people have a powerful history and immense talent. To many Russians, the stability and confidence brought by Putin is leading them to a rich future.

But the caution of the Bible, in the book of James, is worth noting: “...the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” A lot of people are praying to see clearly what to do at this point, whom to support and where to turn for hope. The Bible’s simple assurance is encouraging: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” The present shaky ground will stabilize.

Putin, Trump and others may be well meaning, and they may be reading accurately the fear and anger of millions. But over and above those millions, over and above us all, is the powerful love of God.

 

Friday
Jan222016

Prayer and group action

The world and its seemingly random terror needs some clear thinking. Giving into the temptation to respond with fear or anger works against the effort to keep the light of hope burning for humanity. Each of us has an essential part to play in dampening emotion and buttressing peace and intelligence. And working together, we can be especially powerful.

The recent refugee crisis in Europe has shown graphically how people who are as humanly powerless as individuals can get, when banded together, can become a powerful force for change, either for good or evil. You and I are needed to help steer mass thought in the right direction, in Europe and elsewhere. This can only be done through prayer, because the only reliable director of mass thought is the supreme and infinite intelligence, God.

Recently I came across an interesting new effort led by a couple of young German men from Berlin, Vincent-Immanuel Herr and Martin Speer, to help create a dynamic, cohesive Europe. They are building a group of young people from different countries in the European Union who see, and want to help meet, a fourfold need in their region: clearer (more critical) thinking, less fear, more self-confidence and more cohesiveness. “Who if not us?” is the title of their call to action. They intend to create a “think-and-do-tank” to help the process along. Herr and Speer understand that it’s not a change of governments or politicians that is needed in Europe so much as a change of thinking, starting with clarity, fearlessness, confidence and singleness of mind.

Is it fair to say that, looking beyond Europe, there is already a spiritual “think-and-do tank” in the individuals who pray with understanding about terrorism and other problems and strive to adopt the peace, intelligence and love of God in their lives? I have met some of these people. They pray for a clear sense of God and Christ, and they believe that Christly government is real, powerful and possible for all humanity. In the words of the Bible, they believe – and strive to prove in every aspect of their lives – that “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

What does it mean to have government on the shoulder of Christ? It can’t mean just a strong government. Nazi Germany was strong. It can’t mean just a wealthy government. ISIS is rich. It can’t mean just a feared government. North Korea is feared. It has to mean having a government, whether of a nation, an individual or the world, that demonstrates the qualities of Christ, helping humanity become less fearful and more hopeful, less resentful and more compassionate, less selfish and more generous. We can only get there through living – and supporting those in government who demonstrate to the highest degree possible – Christly qualities. There are no shortcuts to heaven, individually or collectively.

 

 

Friday
Dec112015

The Beautiful Revolution

Fear worms its way into our lives through the news, whether we read it, hear it, see it online or on television, or witness it in person. News doesn’t have to be world-shaking. It can be a little boy pulling the hair of some girl who stole his cookie. In every case, what needs to be addressed is fear, someone else’s as well as, very often, our own.

I had a sleepless night last night because terror warnings have come to Geneva. Yes, even Switzerland! I’m due to attend a concert next week. The thoughts came to me as they do now, I’m sure, to many others: Should I avoid crowded venues? Should I keep my eye out for people who look like terrorists are supposed to look?

I’ve concluded that the answer is no, and for this reason: You can’t pray at the same time you’re looking over your shoulder. I believe that the one invincible protection from all evil is God, the divine Love. I believe that His protecting presence is as real now as it was in Jesus’ time. But I also believe that this presence will be my reality only if it has not just primacy of place in my thought but singularity of place. As the Bible puts in the mouth of Deity, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” I refuse to let myself make a god out of fear.

We are all very much needed right now in the crowded venues of earth. With seven billion people, there are lots of them! Everyone who can fill their thought to capacity with prayer and the “beauty of holiness” represents a defense against the aggressive pretensions of evil and the paralyzing imaginings of fear.  

Life is beautiful. Let’s start a beautiful revolution against the wild-eyed insanities of fear and prove their ultimate powerlessness to stop the goodness of God.

 

Sunday
Nov152015

Paris and prayer

It seems evident that the tragedy in Paris will not break the spirit of the French people. They and their supporters around the world seem doubly determined to celebrate life. #Prayers4Paris on Twitter is one virtual place that people are fighting back.

But the arm-linking, virtual and otherwise, is only part of the story. An even more important factor in our response is what’s happening in thought. That will tell us how much progress we all make out of this incident.

You and I can do a lot to help that process along. Christ Jesus gave humanity a short prayer that summarizes well how to pray about difficult situations like this.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Our Father, God, is perfect. He is the creator of all, and Life itself. I will not let this incident undermine my confidence that He is good and will never fail me or any of His children. To doubt God’s goodness now would be to grant evil the thing it most desires: a disbelief in God’s love for all humanity.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

What happened was not God’s will. His will is always good. I will endeavor to prove that fact today in every thought and act of mine, my will and God’s will merging into one Christly motive of love for humanity. Terrorism cannot win in heaven or on earth.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Everything I need, including my safety and my joy, I expect to receive from God. And with that divine provision I can help to feed others with His rich and lively ideas. Today is no different from last Friday or last week or last year or a thousand years ago: God is here, now, a present help that we can feel through active prayer.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

We can’t escape the need to forgive those who perpetrated these acts, if for no other reason than that’s how we will be blessed. How do we forgive acts that purposely kill innocents? Many people have wrestled with the question in the past year, not only in France but also in Germany, Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, Syria, Iraq and many other countries, including many places in the United States.  The answer: by knowing that God’s goodness is an absolute law, as valid for the worst criminal as for the holiest saint.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

The temptation is huge to be angry, fearful, hateful, despairing. Working through prayer to free ourselves from these emotions will touch many others. Even reading the news can be a prayerful activity if we refuse to wallow in grief and instead insist on the indestructibility of Life. As many of you know, my admiration for The Christian Science Monitor and its value in supporting prayer is extremely high.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

There is no state more powerful than God’s government. The insistent violence wrought by self-styled governments is so-much empty screaming against the void out of which they came and to which they will return. God is Love. There is no other power in the universe. What is happening right now in the outpouring of love for the French and for the beauty of their great capital city is part of the proof of that fact.