Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Creation

Book Review: 365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories

365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories: Inspired by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible, Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2017.

Rev. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (1843-1930) was a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Born in New York City, Hurlbut pastored churches in New Jersey including in Newark, Montclair, Paterson, Plainfield, Hoboken, Morristown, Orange, and Bloomfield.

Hurlbut was a contributor to the Sunday school and tract work of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served as secretary of the Epworth League from 1889-1892. He also served as a District Superintendent of the Newark District.

Hurlbut was a prolific writer.  His Story of the Bible was written to help children become familiar with the stories of the Bible. These retelling of Old and New Testament stories were written for children ages six and older.

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Book Review: The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book One: The Beginning

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, Book One: The Beginning, M. J. Thomas, Worthy Kids, 2017.

Mike (M. J.) Thomas was looking for a book for his nine-year-old son to read that would teach the Bible in a fun way. Unable to find such a book, Thomas decided to write it.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is that book, while books. The first in this new series is, appropriately, The Beginning, a good book for children ages eight to ten.

Transporting Scrolls

Peter, 9, and his 10-year-old sister, Mary (who was adopted from China), along with their smart dog, Hank, are sent to stay with Great-Uncle Solomon while their parents travel to Africa. Fearful of spending more days bored than entertained, the children wander through the old house.
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Book Review: Mr. King’s Machine

mr_king_s_machine_0Mr. King’s Machine, Geneviève Côté, Kids Can Press, 2016

“The divine presence of the Spirit in creation binds us as human beings together with all created life.” (World Council of Churches, 1991)

This little book from Geneviève Côte, the third in the Mr. King series of books, has a simple message: Care for creation.

When the cat, Mr. King, discovers some beautiful flowers have been chewed by a caterpillar, he decides to do something about it. His solution is to build a Caterpillar-Catcher machine to track down the flower-eater.

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Roadmap Genesis (2015)

Roadmap Genesis PosterNolan Lebovitz is a filmmaker and a Rabbi. At one point in his life he made suspense thrillers. But, once becoming a father, he began to question his vocation. After deciding that he would rather do his part to make the world a better place, especially for his children, he entered seminary and became a Rabbi.

But that did not put an end to Lebovitz’ questions.

In a time in our country when products are being made overseas, jobs are rare, the economy is rocky, and politicians “debate” more than they govern, Lebovitz wonders if the answers to all of our problems can be found in the book of Genesis. Is it possible that an ancient manuscript could hold for us a roadmap to life? A roadmap to faith?

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Noah: Discussion Questions

ark4As I’m been working on collecting my thoughts and reading other thoughts about the new film Noah, the Christian educator in me wrote out some questions. I’m sharing them here for those who are looking for such a resource. As a Christian educator, I should tell you, if you use these questions, don’t feel like you have to use them all. If anything, let the questions be a guide to having a conversation around the themes presented in the film.

Noah Discussion Questions

1. Which of the characters, as they are presented in the film, did you relate to the most? In what ways?

2. There is a lot of longing for communication with God in the film. How have you experienced (or not experienced) communication with God? What was that like?

3. In the film, God communicates with Noah through a dream. How has God traditionally communicated with the Church?

4. His father tells Noah about the tradition that has been handed down regarding caring for God’s creation. How is this a part of your faith tradition? How do you feel about humanity’s responsibility for caring for creation?

5. The film depicts the results of sin and wickedness through the barrenness of the earth. In what ways have you seen sin and wickedness depicted in prayers, hymns, or other forms of faith tradition?

6. Use this chart to compare the Biblical narrative with the film. Discuss how the filmmakers depicted different parts of the story.

7. There were a number of added scenes that were not recorded in Genesis. For example, the Bible does not communicate what happened on the ark through all the rain and floating. The filmmakers make an attempt to fill in that gap. What do you imagine may have happened on the ark? If you were one of Noah’s family members, what would it have been like for you?

8. One of the Watchers comes to Noah in the middle of the night to help him and his family get to Grandfather. Why do you think he came at night to help him? In what ways is this Watcher like Nicodemus (John 3)?

9. When Noah is describing his dream from God, he tells his Grandfather, “I saw death and new life.” How does this statement summarize Christian theology?

10. The first animals that are sent to the ark are doves. What do you think the significance of that is?

11. Ila, the girl Noah adopts and who will become Shem’s wife, is barren at first. Note other women in the Bible who were barren (at first). What similarities are they between them and Ila? What does barrenness symbolize in the spiritual life?

12. Noah changes in the film. At what point does this change happen and how does it affect him and his relationships?

13. What significant changes have happened in your life that has affected you and your relationships?

14. Noah and his wife have a conversation where Noah says that there is wickedness in all of us. His wife counters that there is goodness in us. How does this relate to the debate over original sin?

15. In what ways is Noah’s wife like the persistent widow in Luke 13?

16. In the battle scene, the Watchers one by one return to the Creator. What form do they take when they return to the Creator? How is this redemption?

17. While on the ark, Noah tells his family the story of creation. Temptation is symbolized by a black snake coming out of a green snake, living the skin behind. The fruit of the tree, beats like a human heart. A shadowed figure of Cain kills his shadowed figure of Abel. These images are shown throughout the film. Talk about each symbol and how it is significant to the Christian Story.

18. When Noah finds out that Ila is pregnant, he holds true to his task of destroying humanity. Why is Noah so certain that God has called him to destroy all of humanity?

19. Noah walks out of the ark and cries to God, “Why do you not answer me?” When have you had days like that? Why do you think God seems so silent at times?

20. After the ark finds dry ground, how has Noah changed? If you had such an intense experience, how would you have changed?

The Ten: Remember the Sabbath

Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you.Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, Common English Bible)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comWe are taught that after God created, God rested. As such, we should do the same. But this command goes beyond what we have been taught in Sunday School. The Christian tradition of Sabbath included closed businesses and attending worship. Many of the people in our pews remember the days when Sabbath was more than just a “church” thing. It was the cultural norm.

However, today, it is not. In our age, it seems that it is more difficult to carve out Sabbath. While it is difficult, it is necessary. To “remember,” as the commandment says, is more than a Lumosity exercise. To remember the Sabbath requires action. The observation of the Sabbath is an active one. It is something we do for our health as well as to honor our God.

Built into creation is sabbath. Just like the air we breathe, sabbath is apart of God’s creation. The level of which we keep sabbath will not determine the level of salvation we receive. No, sabbath is apart of creation. Scholar Terence Fretheim writes that “the divine rest ‘finished’ the creation,” and as such, “Only when that rhythm is honored by all is the creation what God intended it to be.”

On the seventh day, God rested. On the seventh day (which ever day that is for you), we rest to admire God’s creation. We rest in honor of God’s creation. We rest in respect of God’s creation.

Sabbath – holy rest – is as one scholar has written, “a sanctuary of time.” The Gospel of Mark gives something to ponder when it comes to Sabbath:

The sabbath was made for human beings, not human beings for the sabbath. (Mark 2:27)

The context of this statement by Jesus is when Jesus picks grain on the sabbath and he is called to task for it. This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time Jesus is called out for doing something on the sabbath. Jesus places the emphasis on human need. If there was a person dying from hunger on the sabbath, you wouldn’t ignore them, would you? John Wesley, in his Notes on the New Testament, wrote that sabbath law “must give way to man’s necessity” because the sabbath was created for humanity in the first place.

A strict following of the sabbath is not rest either. The Pharisees who call Jesus out for working on the sabbath, are themselves working on the sabbath. They are the keepers of the law – it is their vocation and occupation – it is their job to uphold the law. And like so many of us today, they added more work to their plate by interpreting the law with “If . . .then . . .” situations. We could dare say that they missed the point.

But it is something we have to be intentional about. Sabbath may have been made for humanity, but it is a gift that has to be opened.

How do you remember the Sabbath?

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