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Recap of January Series’ Messages

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

jsHere is a recap of some of Calvin University's January Series speakers:

• Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, of their award-winning podcast Pantsuit Politics  dealing with the history of the welfare system in the United States. They are co-authors of the book, " I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-filled Political Conversations."

As two  Christian  women from opposite sides of the political spectrum and as trained attorneys, their goal is to model how people from opposing political perspectives – as well as members of religious congregations – can have calm, grace-filled conversations  about politics.

Silvers said they have learned that, ultimately, political issues are never as black and white as they are often portrayed. "We are all stuck thinking we have to represent our group, but we never reach a destination where everything is finished. No one rule will work for everybody," she said.

• Reuben Miller, sociologist, criminologist, and social worker who teaches at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where he studies and writes about race, democracy, and the social life of the city.

"Punishment doesn't stop when someone leaves prison," he said. "When people get out, there is little out there for them. They go from one rejection to another."

• LaTasha Morrison, founder of Be the Bridge, a nonprofit that raises awareness about racial inequality and systemic injustice in the U.S. by focusing on actions for justice, reconciliation, and unity, and author of the book, "Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation."

"When dealing with a broken system of race, we should all want restorative justice," said Morrison. "Keep in mind that seeking justice is threaded through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation."

• Max Stossel, a technology insider who once worked to develop social media platforms that he now sees as causing widespread problems and as leading to a culture that breeds loneliness and separation.

"Social media was designed for companies to keep our attention constantly," said Stossel. "Our attention is kept by algorithms that lead us to things we want to watch. . . . We have been taught that our phones are a magical device and that it is so hard to live in our bodies without this device."

"We need to ask, 'Am I using technology, or is it using me?'" he said. "The real world is being taken over by the digital one, and it is very hard to break out of this cycle."

• Rick Steves, popular public television host and guidebook writer said traveling internationally endues in people a first-person understanding of the world the live in, and thus reduces misunderstanding and fear about people from other cultures different then our own.

"When we travel, we can connect, talk, learn, and become better citizens," said Steves, a Christian in the Lutheran tradition. "I think especially that as Christians and people of faith, we have a moral obligation to own how our country is impacting the world, both good and bad. .. That's one dimension of good citizenship; it's honest citizenship."

• G. Sujin Pak, dean of the School of Theology at Boston University, said wrestling with God, as Jacob did on the night before he met his brother Esau, whom he had betrayed for his birthright years earlier (Gen. 27-28; 32), can be an important, necessary, and even sacred experience, said.
"In the depth of night Jacob wrestled with this mysterious stranger and wouldn't let this stranger go as dawn approached until the stranger blessed him," said Pak,.

"We ask, 'Who was this mysterious stranger?' I think we can interpret this to mean that it was God and that Jacob had the chance to encounter God face to face. We can read this as Jacob wrestled with the Word made flesh and was blessed in the process."

Pak added that certainly there are different interpretations of this story – contained in Genesis 32:22-32 – and that is important to keep in mind.

"Multiple and valid readings of this text are possible," she said. "There may not be one interpretation. I invite readers into the story and invite them to share their interpretation with others. When you read Scripture this way, I hope something life-changing and transformational will happen."
Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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