Can Anti-Aging Treatments Offer Abundant Life?

Science seeks to fix aging and death. But a Christian vision of the good life might actually embrace them.

A preacher’s kid growing up in the Bible Belt, Micah Redding had a particular view of the physical world and God’s work in it. Singing popular hymns like “This World is Not My Home” and “I’ll Fly Away,” he took away this message: It’s all going to burn anyway, so why bother with the environment or curing diseases? That’s a distraction from the gospel. Our bodies don’t go to heaven, just our souls.

When he started studying the Bible for himself and reading authors like N. T. Wright and C. S. Lewis, Redding formed a theology that more closely embraces the material world. “If we believe the material world is good, we have to engage in the transformation of it,” he said. He sees science and technology as part of God’s vision for the world, which, for him, includes radical life extension.

Redding points to Isaiah 65, where “one who dies at a hundred years will be thought a mere child,” as well as the extremely long-lived Genesis patriarchs. “Scripture really places this value on human life, relationality, and productivity,” he said. “We have to appreciate that idea as part of our embrace of the material life.”

In 2013, Redding founded the Christian Transhumanist Association (CTA), a group bringing faith and ethics into transhumanist conversations. Transhumanists, who believe that human capacities can be enhanced by science and technology, hold a gamut of views. Some are anti-aging researchers applying biomedicine to improve humanity. Aubrey de Grey, for instance, who headlined a recent CTA conference, studies preventative maintenance for the human body and believes the first human to live to 1,000 has already been born. …

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One-on-One with Russell Jeung on Emerging Adults in the Church

“This generation is less likely to affiliate with established religious groupings than previous ones, even if they do have a sense of spirituality.”

Ed: How would you describe the state of Christianity and the church among emerging adults—18 to 29-year-olds—today? What are their biggest questions, concerns, or motivations?

Russell: According to the Pew Research Center, over 50 percent of emerging adults identify as not religious. Three out of ten emerging adults are neither spiritual nor religious, and 22 percent are spiritual but not religious. That means that this generation is less likely to affiliate with established religious groupings than previous ones, even if they do have a sense of spirituality.

This trend towards non-religiosity and non-affiliation should be alarming to the Christian church, especially in terms of the corporate character of the faith. As Americans become hyper-individualized, it will see further declines in church participation and attendance, baptisms, member financial giving, and missions.

A key factor shaping this disaffiliation from Christianity is that emerging adults see that it has become too tied to partisan politics. Since this generation has high values for social justice, diversity, and environmental sustainability, they are looking for movements and groups that support these concerns in concrete ways.

Another trend affecting this group is technology and social media. Because they have more options than before that cater to their individual tastes and interests, they become more consumer-driven in how they spend their time. Churches must adapt and respond to this shift in order to draw in non-Christians and to serve their emerging adult membership.

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Argosy University can't get federal financial aid anymore, Dept. of Education says

This decision means Argosy students likely will not receive the financial aid funds they have been waiting for since January. It could doom the school.

      

 

 

ASU President Michael Crow talks politics at tailgate party

ASU President Michael Crow talks about the toxic political environment at a tailgate party before an ASU football game on Oct. 18, 2018.

      

 

 

The Church Made Vagina Sculptures Long Before Nadia Bolz-Weber

But early Christian yonic art symbolized baptism, not free sex.

In case you haven’t heard, Nadia Bolz-Weber recently commissioned a statue of a vagina. She gifted the statue to Gloria Steinem, who I hope put it on her mantle (though in a pinch, it could also double as a paperweight or spoon rest). The sculpture exists in part to promote Bolz-Weber’s new book, Shameless, and in part as a kind of performance art protest against the damage done by “purity culture.” She invited women to mail in their purity rings—in exchange for a “certificate of impurity”—and then melted them down to form the statue.

Bolz-Weber’s statue has been applauded by some as an artistic celebration of female sexual liberation. Her critics, by contrast, bring up the authority of the Bible, the Christian call to repentance, and the need to distinguish destructive parts of “purity culture” from basic Christian sexual ethics like chastity and marital fidelity. Others take issue with the icon itself as a fertility idol (or at least a sex idol, since I’m assuming this statue is on the pill). A few less-helpful critics responded essentially, “Eww. Vagina art! Icky!”

However, long before Bolz-Weber’s book tour and the ensuing debate, Christians have been making yonic art. (Yonic, by the way, means vagina-shaped, or technically vulva-shaped. It’s the feminine counterpart to phallic.)
You want vaginal imagery? The church has you covered. Some early baptismal fonts (starting in about the 4th century) were quite intentionally yonic. The Baptistery of Jucundus in Subetula, Tunisia and Vitalis’ Baptistery (also in Tunisia) are two that look particularly vaginal, but there are a handful of others that art historians and theologians …

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United Methodists Vote to Keep Traditional Marriage Stance

The UMC’s increasingly global delegation outweighs US push to shift LGBT positions, leading some progressive congregations to leave.

After days of passionate debate, deliberation, and prayer—and years of tension within the denomination—The United Methodist Church (UMC) voted Tuesday to maintain its traditional stance against same-sex marriage and non-celibate gay clergy, bolstered by a growing conservative contingent from Africa.

The plan passed, with 438 votes in favor and 384 against (53% to 47%), in the final hours of a special UMC conference held this week in St. Louis to address the issue of human sexuality.

The decision leaves a sizable, vocal opposition, ensuring the exit of many progressive pastors and churches in the largest mainstream Protestant body in the US.

After the final vote, protesters began chanting, “no” and “stop the harm” through the rest of the session until the conference ended over an hour later.

The “Traditional Plan” preserves existing UMC positions and adds further accountability measures for those who violate them by performing same-sex ceremonies or ordaining gay clergy. But this is not the outcome many Americans, including most bishops, had been praying for.

In the States, a large portion of Methodists wanted to see the church accommodate LGBT ceremonies and clergy, as other mainline denominations have done in recent years. One poll through Mainstream UMC reported at least two-thirds of US delegates supported the inclusive “One Church Plan” instead.

But the growing global presence among the 12 million-member denomination held more sway. Methodists from outside the US, who favor more traditional positions on sexuality, made up 41 percent of the 864 delegates at the general conference, including a full 30 percent from Africa.

“This session of the [general conference] …

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United Methodist Church votes to keep ban on same-sex weddings, gay clergy

The United Methodist Church voted to uphold church-wide bans on same-sex weddings and ordination of gay clergy on Tuesday.

      

 

 

Mike Bibby: Five things to know about embattled former NBA player

Mike Bibby, a former NBA player facing sexual-assault allegations stemming from his time as Shadow Mountain’s basketball coach, is married.

      

 

 

You Shall Know Them by Their Clothes

What we learn about Bible figures from the clothing they put on, take off, and tear apart.

Storytellers know that the unfolding of dramatic events can be hard to follow. So to help their audiences make sense of what is happening, they often insert symbolic clues. In cartoons, the villains scowl and speak with gravelly voices, and the heroes smile and sound all-American. In movies, a menacing bassline announces the arrival of a dangerous person, while comic figures appear with bouncier melodies.

In the story of Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David, you can guess what will happen by looking at their clothes.

Some of this works at a simple level. When we first meet Goliath, he is covered from head to foot in scaly armor, which makes him look like a serpent or even a dragon. So when we find the snake-like accuser lying dead, his head crushed by the anointed king, we are not especially surprised. We first meet Samuel as “a boy wearing a linen ephod” (1 Sam. 2:18). Straightaway, we know he will function a bit like a priest.

Right after this, we hear that “each year his mother made him a little robe” (2:19). This garment will represent Samuel’s prophetic authority throughout the book. When Saul rips Samuel’s robe, he accidentally foreshadows that his kingdom will be “torn” away from him and given to David (15:27–28).

Saul, likewise, has a robe that symbolizes royal authority (or lack thereof). In one of the story’s dramatic moments, David refuses to kill Saul while he is going to the bathroom, instead cutting off a corner of his robe (24:4–5). At face value this is an act of kindness, as David spares the man trying to kill him. But as readers, we know there is more going on. Saul’s kingdom will indeed be “cut off” and given to David, and it …

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Seven Benefits to the Coming Opposition

The power of God’s kingdom flows exclusively through yielded human weakness.

Will the church in North America face an increasing spirit of hostility to its accustomed status of cultural privilege? Absolutely. The question is not, ‘if,’ but, ‘when?’ And my suspicion is that it’s coming much sooner than most would expect. The coming cultural backlash to our unrestrained ties to political power will become a threat to the status quo that no religious PAC can foil. We have declared and unleashed our preferred weapons of battle, and it is likely that they will be used against us in full measure (Matt 26:52). In many ways, it will be a bed of our own making and we have only our pride to blame.

But will this be a bad thing?

Not entirely.

The church of Jesus Christ has always resembled her King best when she was in a place, not of dominance, but of yielded weakness. A quick glance through our history unmistakably reveals that when we become powerful, we behave in counter-kingdom ways. We baptize the world’s operating systems and use its muscle to advance our own comfort, security, and prominence with precious little thought given to the mission of our Founder. Rare indeed are history’s examples of the Church in power becoming a kingdom advancing enterprise. The power of God’s kingdom flows exclusively through yielded human weakness. It is constricted by the vanity of human might.

So, how can the coming opposition be an advantage to the mission of Jesus Christ in North America? Here are seven ways that we can anticipate finding a kingdom blessing in the loss of our earthly status:1. Opposition Reminds Us of What Matters
So long as life is copasetic, we are tempted to believe that tertiary aims are worthy pursuit. Being liked. Fitting in. Having a voice. These lesser …

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