But now the games are over.
I'm an adult figure skater and a major fan of the sport. I loved watching North Korean pair Ryom and Kim skate to a Beatles medley in the recent Olympic games. I cheered for South Korean Choi Da-bin who finished 8th in the ladies competition with a beautiful skate dedicated to her mother who passed away a few months ago. The South Korean short track skaters took home six medals (three gold) and their long track speed skaters added seven more to the country’s medal count. (I shared the ice with dedicated future short track competitors when I skated in Korea last spring.) South Korea was praised for the way the games ran and the beauty of the region. The closing ceremonies highlighted the South Korean love for technology and K-pop.
But now the games are over.
Did you join us in prayer on Wednesday, February 21? Maybe you didn’t choose to fast or dedicate the day to prayer, but I hope you spent some time holding up this broken nation before the God of the Universe.
I watched the morning news with the pause button in hand, so that I could stop and pray about individual news stories. My instinct was to curl up with a bowl of cereal or stick in a piece of toast as I watched; I wasn’t yet hungry enough to remember I was fasting.
I even found myself thanking the Lord for a stand by President Trump. He is calling for strengthening background checks and a ban on accessories that turn legal guns into assault weapons. So common sense that it should be bi-partisan.
Some who have said they want to pray with us tomorrow on the one-week anniversary of the shootings in Parkland, Florida, aren’t on Facebook or for some other reasons will not receive the hourly prayer prompts I have prepared. So here they are for your convenience. Feel free to share. Please address any comments to God, not to me. The point is to bring our concerns to him.
I am frustrated by the ranting on Facebook since last week’s mass shooting—the 18th this year and we are only halfway through February! Arguments aren’t going to change anyone’s mind. So I am proposing an alternative: Let’s make Wednesday, February 21, the one-week anniversary of the latest killings, a day of fasting and prayer for a change of heart in this nation that we may be able to work together to find practical solutions that neither hinder the legitimate pursuits of honest people, nor endanger ourselves and our children. We aren't meeting in any meaningful way on Facebook; let's meet at Jesus' feet instead.
“I’ve never done that,” said one friend when I suggested fasting. “Will you tell me how?”
What I like best about the Olympics is that for two and a half weeks nations are meeting each other on the sports field rather than the battlefield. Lead stories on the news are athletic achievements, not wars or posturing over whose nuclear button is biggest. (Well, it used to be that way. At least in my memory.) The host nation goes all out to invite us to celebrate what is beautiful and up-lifting in its culture, and even the long, drawn out Parade of Nations is full of interesting geographical tidbits. (Like, who knew where Tonga was?) As a novelist, I revel in the personal stories of athletes, what they have overcome, and the network of people who got them there.
When the cultural celebration is somewhere I have lived (Brazil, England) or whose music and literature I love (Russia), I watch every minute. This Olympics is especially fun since I have visited Korea several times in the four years leading up to these games to spend time with our daughter and family living there. Last spring the hype was already huge. I snapped this mascot in a Seoul shopping mall.
I travel a lot and took to e-books early because they didn’t take up space in the suitcase or add weight. I read on my phone. I carry it all the time; the screen is as wide as a column of newsprint; and I can change font size if I want (like at the beauty shop when I can't get my reading glasses over my ears with perm curlers in.) The only downside is turning pages more often, but to my mind, that’s a small price to pay for not carrying an extra device and always having a book with me.
Of course, I’ve had a Bible app. It was useful for travel, but underlining and annotating was awkward because, you could only underline whole verses. Often what I wanted to underline was the repetition of a key word several times in a series verses, or a phrase that stood out. Underlining the whole verse didn’t work.
Wm. Paul Young. The Shack. Los Angeles: Windblown Media,
2007. 256 pp.
Reveiwed by Scott Horrell, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary.
I resisted reading this when it first came out in 2007 and everyone was talking about it. It was very controversial (God as a black female?!) and I heard it wasn’t all that well written. But I found it well worth reading and forgave the didacticism and occasional purple prose for the stimulating way it dealt with ideas. (The plot works way better than The Case for Christ, which, despite agreeing with the conclusions, I didn’t like at all.)
“Papa,” the main character’s wife’s name for God, explains her appearance to Mackenzie this way: “I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me ‘Papa’ is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning…To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure with flowing beard, like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes, and this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes.” (205)
I am currently visiting my daughter and her family in Seoul, South Korea. When I called to say good-by to my dad before leaving the US, he said, “I guess you haven’t been watching the news.”
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.