Vol 13 No. 1 Happy New Year

Dear friends,

A miscellany today.

First, a personal note on my own devotional cycle in a day…  Not because it is necessarily exemplary nor necessarily yours but I would love to hear any patterns that are present in this particular newsletter loop.  Please indicate in your response if I am able to share your experience.  I have made a commitment to repeating the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed, and Galatians 5:1-6 but most especially 16-26, and the living contrast between the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit.  I continue with a personal study of the gospel of John just a few verses at a time.  It is often augmented by prayers from the book “2000 Years of Prayer” by Michael Consell.  I am reading the prayers of Evangelicals from the 19thcentury at present such as Wilberforce, Shaftsbury, Spurgeon, and David Livingstone.  Over the years I have found the “Celtic Book of Prayer” also very helpful, written as it is by Baptists and Roman Catholics (but that is for another day).  In addition, my wife Kerry and I have a time of prayer which includes prayer for a variety of people and communities that we are part of.  My own prayer life includes much of the work we do in the CBWC family.  There is more but that is it for now.

Many, many things to pray for this month which I will pick up next week but I am particularly excited about the search for the new Executive Minister.

Finally, let me bundle up for us if you will some of the anxieties, longings, and indeed in some places the encouragements, of the last year by quoting a section of Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.  Postman was the Laing Lecturer at Regent College about 10 years ago and had a dramatic presence on the University of British Columbia campus as he spoke.  It might be helpful to Google both Orwell (1984) and Huxley (Brave New World).  You might also be interested in the humour and timing of God when you recall that Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and John Kennedy all died within hours of each other on November 22, 1963.

Peace of the Lord be with.  Happy New Year!

“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell‘s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley ‘s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley‘s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions. ” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”


In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

Quote of the Week: Someone showed me a quote from the author of Red Letter Christians, Tony Campolo.  Tony is complicated, so are we all but, God is full of grace.  Tony had a great line about whether you’re an injured child in Aleppo, someone sleeping on the street in Winnipeg in the winter, or a child who visited to 2 different homes to be with parents at Christmas… I was going to start a list but you don’t need me to. Tony Campolo tweeted on Dec 30: “2016 has been a rough year… which makes it ripe for beauty. And resurrection. Happy New Year from RLC.”

Notes from the Family: No names.  No bragging rights.  1 church in the Lower Mainland had 650 people on Christmas morning.  Another church had 300.  An exciting way to start a year.  I get the impression there were many more examples.