Tag Archives: creation

American Reflections

My wife and I took a cross-country trip in 2002 as part of home-schooling our two daughters (12 & 13) and partly as vacation. We also took a foster daughter (17) and my wife’s mother. This was my end of trip reflection that I thought I might use as the basis for a pastor’s letter, but never did. (Jan. 28, 2002)

My family and I just came back from three weeks traveling out west. Our purpose was to rest a bit, visit Gay’s brother in California, and to give the girls the ultimate educational field trip. We went through 16 different states and spent a day in Mexico’s Baja California region as well.

As is often the case, I found myself being educated probably more than the girls.

  • I learned that looking down from the top of the St. Louis Arch makes my knees quiver.
  • I learned that you know nothing about waiting and the need for patience until you try to drive back into the United States in this post-Sept. 11th era.
  • I learned that it is silly to take along three or four “fun” books to read in your quiet times when you have 6700 miles to go with five others all staying in the same hotel room with you every night.
  • Oh yeah, I also learned the names of parts of a car such as spindles, races, bearings, motor mounts, and axles… and I learned that every one of them can break without warning or provocation… whether I know their name or not.
  • I also learned how evil and sinful mankind can be, as we stopped in Las Vegas and were bombarded by the worst of humanity’s vileness, vulgarity, greed, drunkenness, and lust, (and this was at 6:00 in the evening!).
  • I saw the evidence of evil again in Oklahoma City at the bombing memorial and I came face to face with the evil and hatred possible even in us as Americans towards each other.

But I also, once again, learned how great God is. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God,” but places like the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, the Mojave National Preserve, the Utah buttes, the Texas plains, the Malibu beach in California, the High Plains of Kansas, the Colorado Rockies, and each day’s new and glorious sunrises and sunsets, just showed me in new ways how colorful and creative and imaginative and detailed our Creator is, and was, and will continue to be.

As we faced mile after mile, and hundreds of rest areas and almost two dozen nights in hotels and motels, I found myself seeing God at work in the “drawing together” of our family. We did homework together, we talked, we hunted for license plates from different states, we asked questions, we swam together, we got “lost” together (I still think I could have found my way out). We shopped together (OK… They shopped and I “hung out”). We toured museums, memorials, and national parks, a tea factory, the Gaither resource center, the Focus on the Family ministry center, three different car repair garages, visited old friends, sang together in a nursing home in Arkansas, visited churches in Texas and Missouri, and spent a day with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

We saw God’s hand leading us as we found that we were in the right spot at the right time again and again. Each of the three times we had car troubles, we found ourselves close to someone who could help us, with a place to stay nearby.

Several times we found ourselves at the right spot to be an encouragement for someone else who needed someone to pray for them and with them. We arrived in Texas on the very day that a special speaker was coming in and holding special services at our friend’s church.

Throughout Scripture, God instructs His people to take time away from their regular daily activities. Weekly Sabbath days of rest and occasional extended Jubilees and personal retreats are ideas found in God’s Word. These times help us to regain our focus and recapture the sense of what is important as we not only serve God in our workplaces, but also in our families and in the wider ministry setting of His world.

How will your family use rest, Sabbath, and vacation to regain your connection to each other and to our amazing God?

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Another post recalling that trip can be found here: October 1, 2008.

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The Clergy Letter

I received an email from a college dean suggesting I sign a letter he called THE CLERGY LETTER. As is customary for email, the earlier letter is at the bottom, while my response is at the top.

I’m interested in hearing of other clergy who have received this and whether they did or did not sign on… and why.

Here’s my response…

Dean Zimmerman,

Science and religion truly do have much in common and ought to be able to co-exist amicably. I can agree with that much of your letter, but for ME, as a non-scientist, to be the one who puts my name on the line saying that evolutionary THEORY is truly a scientific TRUTH defeats the very purpose of your letter project. As a non-scientist, why would I, as a religious leader, be needed to prove the truth of a scientific theory? The scientific method already defines what it takes to prove a theory. Let’s let the scientists do the proving. I am not qualified. Furthermore, I am NOT one who has read the literature that scientifically PROVES the THEORY to, in truth, be FACT. If such literature does exist, I would be extremely happy to have a chance to peruse such information.

I remain eager to learn more of the proofs that have moved evolution from theory to fact…

REV. DAYTON D. MIX

Here is the original email and his copy of THE CLERGY LETTER…

Dear Reverend Mix,

I am writing to you in the hopes that you will join together with thousands of your fellow clergy members. Please allow me to introduce myself and explain. I am Michael Zimmerman and, in addition to being the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis, I am the founder of an organization called The Clergy Letter Project (http://www.evolutionsunday.org/). The Clergy Letter Project was created to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible and to offer an alternative voice to those who claim that modern science must be refuted if a religious life is to be lived.

At the most recent United Methodist General Conference, participation in The Clergy Letter was overwhelmingly endorsed. Petition 80990, which states that “The United Methodist Church endorses The Clergy Letter Project and its reconciliatory programs between religion and science, and urges United Methodist clergy participation,” passed overwhelmingly (http://calms.umc.org/2008/Menu.aspx?type=Petition&mode=Single&Number=80990). As the motion urges, I hope you will opt to participate in the activities of The Clergy Letter Project.

The Clergy Letter Project has two major initiatives. First, we have collected more than 11,400 signatures from Christian clergy (including more than 40 active and retired United Methodist Bishops) on a simple two paragraph letter explaining exactly these points. You can read The Letter on our web page (http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/religion_science_collaboration.htm) and I’ve reproduced it below my signature block as well. Second, we have an annual Evolution Weekend event in which hundreds of congregations from around the world participate by doing something to elevate the dialogue about the compatibility of religion and science. Last year’s event had 814 congregations from every state and five countries participating. Participation ranges from a sermon to a lunch time discussion and from an invited speaker to an adult education class. You can look at the list of participants at (http://www.evolutionweekend.org/). Our web pages also list more than 100 sermons that have been delivered on the topic.

I very much hope that you are comfortable signing The Clergy Letter and demonstrating the compatibility of religion and science. And, I hope you consider participating in Evolution Weekend 2009.

To add your signature to The Clergy Letter and/or to express an interest in participating in Evolution Weekend 2009 (13-15 February 2009), simply contact me (mz@butler.edu) by responding to this e-mail. Please tell me the city and state you would like listed with your name. Additionally, please share information about The Clergy Letter Project with friends and colleagues who might also want to participate but who may not yet have heard of us.

Thank you so very much for considering this request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Michael

Michael Zimmerman
Office of the Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Butler University
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Tel: 317.940.9224
Fax: 317.940.8815
mz@butler.edu

The Clergy Letter
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

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