Why Christian Scholars Loved Peter Berger

His sympathetic treatment of faith made him a rock star among Christ-following academics.

In 1966, a Viennese-born sociologist, not quite 40 years old, produced a scholarly work that changed the world. Or more precisely, it changed the way we see and shape the world.

The Social Construction of Reality, named one of the top five sociology publications of the 20th century by the International Sociological Association, became required reading for graduate students around the world soon after its publication. Moreover, Peter Berger (who coauthored the book with Thomas Luckmann) became one of the most recognized social scientists of the last century.

On June 27, Berger passed away at his home in suburban Boston, concluding a lifetime of scholarly influence and a career that made him one of the most notable scholars of his generation.

It was Berger’s fascination with religion that made him and his work so significant to evangelical Christians. He called himself an “incurable Lutheran,” and his liberal Protestant theology might have placed him at odds with many evangelical leaders 100 years ago. But in our increasingly pluralistic world, Berger’s sympathetic treatment of spirituality and faith made him something of a rock star among Christ-following academics.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Berger’s work underscored the importance of social structures—and how they come to be through human actions (what social scientists refer to as individual “agency”). Culture, he argued, is most powerful when it is taken for granted. In The Sacred Canopy (1967), Berger explained how religion helped people make sense of the world by providing a “sheltering” tent under which all of life could make sense.

But over time (in Europe, tracing an historical arc from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake …

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A Walking Disaster

How a hurricane helped me weather my battle with cancer.

As I emerged from the fog of anesthesia, I heard the surgeon informing my wife, Kelly, that our worst fear had improbably come true.

“Cancer!?” I interrupted, before falling back into unconsciousness. That happened six more times before I fully awoke.

Earlier in the week, tests had revealed a suspicious growth atop a nerve bundle in my pelvis, which explained the shooting leg pains I had been experiencing. Baffled about where the mass might have originated, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy. “Chances of cancer in someone your age and health are less than 1 percent,” the surgeon said just before performing the procedure.

Not long after, I found myself at a cancer center looking over an oncologist’s shoulder and examining my test results on his computer.

“It’s cancer,” he confirmed. He went on: The cancer was advanced, and the tumor in my colon had spread to create the mass in my pelvic region.

I cried as the shock started to wear off. The oncologist tried some small talk. “What is it you do for a living?” he asked. I told him I’m a college professor, and that I direct the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI), a Wheaton College research center dedicated to the study of faith and disasters.

“Looks like you’re in for your own personal disaster,” he said.

At the age of 35, I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I had multiple surgeries to remove it. Altogether, I underwent chemotherapy for close to a year. For the first six months, my oncologist would only respond to my requests for a prognosis by telling me, “I can’t tell you that it’s going to be okay, Jamie. It’s too early to tell. But if there’s anyone you want …

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Forgive Us Our Debts: How Christian College Grads Pay the Price

Evangelical schools work to capture the real cost of student loans.

When Christian students view college as a part of their calling, they won’t let the cost get in the way.

For some, that means doubling down on savings, hustling for scholarships, or working their way through undergrad or seminary: whatever it takes to cover rising tuition bills. Others see robust federal loan packages as a godsend, allowing them to enroll at a Christian college.

Recent student loan trends have left some Christian college grads feeling the economic impact for decades. Meanwhile, financial counselors are desperate to improve financial understanding within a system that makes lending an easy default.

“I don’t feel swindled. I needed the nourishment I received from my professors and the community I found there,” said Ashley Abramson, who racked up $50,000 in private loan debt from three years at Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern–St. Paul). “But I’m still paying the price almost 10 years later, and it’s affecting my marriage and now, even my kids.”

Year after year, more Americans are getting degrees, and more of them are relying on loans to pay for them. In the US today, 44 million borrowers owe a total of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Students enrolled at private universities, including Christian colleges, are more likely to take out loans; three-fourths graduated with some debt last year.

Most students with loans end up with around $30,000, and the amount can be a little less at schools belonging to the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), where tuition is higher on average than public institutions but lower than fellow private four-year schools.

The $30,000 amount results in monthly payments of a few hundred dollars, …

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The Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It

World Relief wants clarification over today’s big Supreme Court decision.

It’s been a tumultuous year for refugee resettlement, and the latest ruling on President Donald Trump’s highly contested travel ban introduces more questions about the prospects for foreigners seeking asylum in the United States.

After months of holdups in lower courts and declining refugee admittances, today the US Supreme Court partially reinstated Trump’s executive order that bars refugees and travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the country. The high court will rule on the case this fall.

Monday’s court decision included some notable exceptions to Trump’s initial ban, including allowing refugees with “bona fide relationships with a person or entity in the United States” to enter the country and allowing such connected refugees into America even after totals reach Trump’s limit of 50,000 this fiscal year.

World Relief, an arm of the National Association of Evangelicals that serves as one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the US, is waiting to hear more about the new qualifications. How the State Department interprets the decision will determine whether it will halt the flow of refugees or, possibly, allow in even more than planned.

Matthew Soerens, US director of church mobilization, said World Relief expects to receive guidance later this week, since the decision goes into effect Thursday.

Between 50 percent and 75 percent of refugees resettled through World Relief have some sort of tie to family or other contacts living in the US; however, some of these relationships may not meet the government standard for “bona fide relationships.” For example, “close familial relationships”—a term used in the decision—could …

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Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books

The Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books On Amazon

There are many books online and in local bookstores that not only talk about the benefits of Chiropractic care, but also the business models that make for successful practices. Here are the top 5 best selling books at the moment.

1.  Healing Pain – Book Description Referenced From Amazon

Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books - books on chiropractic care“Dr. John E. Sarno is a medical pioneer whose program has helped thousands upon thousands of people overcome their back conditions–without or drugs or dangerous surgery. Now, using his groundbreaking research into TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), Dr. Sarno goes one step further: after identifying stress and other psychological factors in back pain, he demonstrates how many of his patients have gone on to heal themselves without exercise or other physical therapy. Find out: Why self-motivated and successful people are prone to TMS; How anxiety and repressed anger trigger muscle spasms; How people “train themselves’ to experience back pain; How you may get relief from back pain within two to six weeks by recognizing TMS and its causes. With case histories and the results of in-depth mind-body research, Dr. Sarno describes how patients recognize the emotional roots of their TMS and sever the connections between mental and physical pain… and how, just by reading this book, you may start recovering from back pain today.”

2. Gray’s Anatomy For Students – Book Description Referenced From Amazon

Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books - student book for back pain“2015 BMA Medical Book Awards Highly Commended in Basic and Clinical Sciences Category! Anatomy texts just don’t get any better than Gray’s Anatomy for Students! Now in its 3rd edition, this completely revised medical textbook continues its focus on just the core information you need for your anatomy courses, presenting everything in an easy-to-read, visually appealing format that facilitates study.2015 BMA Medical Book Awards Highly Commended in Basic and Clinical Sciences Category! Anatomy texts just don’t get any better than Gray’s Anatomy for Students! Now in its 3rd edition, this completely revised medical textbook continues its focus on just the core information you need for your anatomy courses, presenting everything in an easy-to-read, visually appealing format that facilitates study.”

• Obtain reliable, accessible coverage of everything you will learn in your contemporary anatomy classes with expert knowledge from a team of authors who share a wealth of diverse teaching and clinical experience.
• Easily locate and remember specific structures. More than 1,000 innovative, original illustrations by renowned illustrators Richard Tibbitts and Paul Richardson capture anatomical features with unrivalled clarity.
• Understand the practical applications of anatomical concepts through unique coverage of surface anatomy, correlative diagnostic images, and clinical case studies.
• Expedite the review of basic concepts from each chapter with Conceptual Overviews.
• Stay current and engaged in your anatomy courses with many new “In the Clinic” boxes, which offer access to in-depth clinical discussions related to specific diseases or procedures.
• Source your review material quickly and easily thanks to a list of additional relevant study aids at the beginning of each chapter.
• Improve your comprehension of cranial nerves with help from a brand-new visual map summarizing cranial nerve distribution and function.
• Access the entire contents online at Student Consult, where you can also take advantage of an online anatomy and embryology self-study course, medical clinical cases, physical therapy clinical cases, self-assessment questions, and more.
• Further enhance your learning by pairing this textbook with its companion review products, Gray’s Anatomy for Students Flashcards, 3rd Edition (ISBN: 978-1-4557-1078-2) and Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy 2nd Edition (ISBN 978-1-4557-4802-0)!

“Your purchase entitles you to access the web site until the next edition is published, or until the current edition is no longer offered for sale by Elsevier, whichever occurs first. If the next edition is published less than one year after your purchase, you will be entitled to online access for one year from your date of purchase. Elsevier reserves the right to offer a suitable replacement product (such as a downloadable or CD-ROM-based electronic version) should access to the web site be discontinued.”

3. The Frozen Shoulder Workbook – Book Description Referenced From Amazon

Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books - frozen shoulder chiropractic bookPowerful Techniques to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Stiffness
Author Clair Davies’ own case of frozen shoulder led him to undertake an extensive study of trigger points and referred pain that eventually resulted in his best-selling Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. Now this renowned bodywork expert and educator revisits the subject of frozen shoulder with The Frozen Shoulder Workbook, offering the most detailed and comprehensive manual available for this painful and debilitating condition, a useful resource for self-care-with and without a partner-and for bodywork practitioners looking to expand their treatment repertoire.”

“Frozen shoulder, the syndrome name for several joint and tendon-related symptoms, is experienced as a loss of motion and pain in the shoulder and upper arm. It is most often observed in women between the ages of forty and sixty and individuals with type-two diabetes. Unlike traditional medical treatments for the condition, which rely on painkillers, steroid injections, and physical therapy and often do little to moderate symptoms or speed recovery, trigger point therapy can bring real and lasting relief. This gentle massage technique targets localized areas of tenderness in soft tissue. Put it to work for you to relieve pain, restore range of motion, and shorten recovery times.”

4. Muscles: Testing And Function – Book Description Referenced From Amazon

Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books - muscle pain relief “Publisher’s Note: Products purchased from 3rd Party sellers are not guaranteed by the Publisher for quality, authenticity, or access to any online entitlements included with the product.”

“This renowned classic provides unparalleled coverage of manual muscle testing, plus evaluation and treatment of faulty and painful postural conditions. The thoroughly updated Fifth Edition is completely reorganized and has new, expanded treatment and exercise sections in each chapter. Other features include a new section on post-polio syndrome, additional case studies comparing Guillain-Barré to polio muscle tests, a new full-color design, and a first-of-its-kind chart of upper extremity articulations.”

5. Neuroscience Exploring Brain – Book Description Referenced From Amazon

Top 5 Best Selling Chiropractic Books - exploring the brain “Widely praised for its student-friendly style and exceptional artwork and pedagogy, Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain is a leading undergraduate textbook on the biology of the brain and the systems that underlie behavior. This edition provides increased coverage of taste and smell, circadian rhythms, brain development, and developmental disorders and includes new information on molecular mechanisms and functional brain imaging. Path of Discovery boxes, written by leading researchers, highlight major current discoveries. In addition, readers will be able to assess their knowledge of neuroanatomy with the Illustrated Guide to Human Neuroanatomy, which includes a perforated self-testing workbook.”

These are currently the top selling books on Chiropractic care on Amazon.

When we asked Keller, Texas Chiropractor Dr. Dennis James how he felt about the books that made the top 5 he had this to say. “Performance Chiropractic supports all authors and contributors that write and publish content that benefits the growth and advancement of chiropractic care.”

Be sure to check out our other interviews:

 

The Church’s Biggest Challenge in 2017

Let’s get unchurched evangelicals back into church, and prejudiced evangelicals back to the Bible.

Every week, we are treated to another revelation about the alarming attitudes of white evangelical Christians. You would think that a people steeped in the Bible—which commands and exemplifies concern for refugees and others in dire straits—would find President Trump’s closing the door to the world’s neediest refugees repulsive. But white evangelicals support Trump’s exclusionary policy by a whopping 75 percent.

Or take attitudes toward undocumented immigrants. Evangelical Christians believe Jesus died for them while they were lawbreakers. They are a people who know themselves as those who live moment to moment by sheer mercy. You would think these people would try to make at least some allowances for illegal immigrants. It turns out, however, that white evangelical Christians, more than any other religious group, say illegal immigrants should be identified and summarily deported.

Since Trump’s election, social and political scientists in survey after survey have tried to unravel the mystery of the 81 percent of white evangelical Christians who voted for him. While the economy seems to be the main reason, with abortion and religious freedom being crucial as well, too many of them seem to show little mercy to those who are not white Americans.

Supporting hardline immigration policies does not itself a xenophobe make—in fact, there are prudential reasons for limiting immigration. We just don’t find them persuasive. And when the argument for excluding foreigners from our shores amounts to fearmongering or sheer prejudice, a political issue becomes a matter of church discipline. We’re dealing with character issues among fellow believers.

For various reasons, here’s the …

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In ‘Cars 3,’ Humility Finishes First over Generational Conflict

The classic Pixar franchise returns with a refreshing look at what it means to pass the torch onward.

Cars 3 opens in the same way as the original Cars, with Lightning McQueen, the central character, sitting in his trailer before a big race. As usual, McQueen is prepping for the race with a little motivational self-talk: “Focus. Speed. I am speed,” he says to himself. “One winner, 42 losers. I eat losers for breakfast.” After this line, however, the scene goes in a different direction; McQueen follows up with, “Wait. Did I really used to say that?” It’s as if he still can’t believe that he used to be such a jerk.

It’s a clear signal from the start that, all these years later, McQueen remains a nice car. The lessons he learned in the original film are still with him. Free of ego, he has the same rundown sponsors and lives in the same rundown town (the economic boom viewers saw in Radiator Springs at the end of Cars having apparently been a passing one), yet he is at the top of his industry—a racing superstar.

The problem that McQueen has in Cars 3 has less to do with the out-of-control ego of the original and more to do with something far more intractable: He is getting old. A good percentage of his demographic can relate, as many of the parents who took their kids to see Cars when it was first released in 2006 are now approaching middle-age right along with McQueen himself.

Getting old isn’t fun, whether you are a human being or an animated racecar, and it’s not long before McQueen’s legacy is threatened as he is outrun by the next generation of cars. Thanks to enhanced technology and data-driven training, these cars are fast, and McQueen doesn’t have a chance against them. In short, then, Cars 3 turns out to be a story about millennials and …

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Judge Halts Deportations of Detroit Christians to Iraq

Court order gives 100-plus Chaldeans two weeks to make their case.

More than 100 Iraqi Christians arrested in immigration raids earlier this month will get to stay in the United States—at least for another two weeks, according to an order issued yesterday by a federal judge in Detroit.

Judge Mark Goldsmith halted the immediate deportation of the recently detained Iraqi nationals for 14 days, while he decides whether the district court or an immigration court has jurisdiction over their case, Hamama v. Adducci.

The court described their plight:

Petitioners state that because of their having resided in the United States and their status as religious minorities—many are Christian, others are members of oppressed Muslim sects—they are likely to be persecuted, tortured, or killed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the de facto government in many parts of Iraq.

The written order follows outcry from the Detroit area’s Chaldean Christians, who were shocked when officials detained scores of them on June 11. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has defended the detainees, who were identified by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because of their past criminal records.

“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” stated Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”

The order prevents the government from deporting the Iraqi Christians, along with a few others from minority sects, before a court can hear their case. It applies to “all Iraqi nationals within the jurisdiction of the Detroit ICE field office with final orders …

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Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman

In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.

This week marks the second anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the majority opinion states that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples according to the 14th amendment. Recent Pew Forum research indicates that support among Americans for same-sex marriage has grown from 31 percent in 2004 to 55 percent in 2016. Most notably, the percentage of those who identify as Christian (whether evangelical, mainline Protestant, or Catholic) who have also come to accept same-sex marriage has increased at nearly identical rates as the general population.

As Christians debate homosexuality in the context of our current culture, the church—like the rest of our country—is experiencing growing division and is now sharply polarized over an issue that few of us discussed at all 15 or 20 years ago. Groups on both sides of the debate often fall short in balancing the age-old tension between law and grace. Progressive Christians have to complete some relatively impressive theological gymnastics to work around the Bible’s consistent prohibition of same-sex activity and relationships, and hyper-conservative Christians have yet to explain how disowning children or rejecting fellow parishioners with same-sex attractions can possibly fall under Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbors as ourselves.

So how can we better hold law and grace in an effective tension that allows us to maintain our convictions and also show love toward those who do not?

This question is of particular significance to me as someone who grew up struggling with same-sex attraction and found no safe place to confide and sort out those feelings. From early on, I was drawn to other women in a way that felt different. …

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Melvin Banks Had a Dream

An interview with the founder of the largest African American Christian publishing house.

His name may not be familiar to those outside Christian publishing, but few have impacted the church as much as Melvin E. Banks Sr., the founder and chairman of Urban Ministries Inc. (UMI). On May 2 in Colorado Springs at its annual Leadership Summit, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) presented Banks with the Kenneth N. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 50 years of excellence, innovation, integrity, and commitment to making the message of Christ more widely known.

Inspired by Hosea 4:6 where God says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” he founded UMI in 1970 to create an African American Christian publishing house that would uniquely serve this audience. Today, UMI thrives as the largest African American Christian media and content provider, serving over 50,000 churches with curriculum, books, magazines, Bible studies, videos, teaching resources, and more.

Banks has been recognized with an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Wheaton College, where he served as a trustee for many years. He has also been honored as a Moody Bible Institute Alumnus of the year and has been recognized for his achievements by many others, including the History Makers Foundation. His innovative use of video in Vacation Bible School has been widely duplicated, and his work has led to many companies becoming more ethnically and racially diverse in the reach and content of their publishing efforts.

Theon Hill, assistant professor of communication at Wheaton College, sat down with Banks at UMI’s headquarters to learn more about his pioneering vision.

What was your background in publishing and media prior to UMI?

I had very little publishing experience prior to my work with UMI. In high …

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