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Posts tagged "Bonnie Poon Zahl"

Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

Another Week Ends: Anger at God, Tyrannical Histories, Pitmaster Preachers, Rom-Com Females, Money Metrics, and Here I Still Stand

Bonnie Poon Zahl has an amazing interview in the Salvation Army magazine about the psychology of religion and anger at God. Bonnie, who wrote an amazing essay in our Mental Health Issue on attachment theory, here discusses the link between religious life and the life of the mind. Incredibly wise, she notes the fear Christians have of expressing their negative feelings and uncertainties towards God, very often because they have learned that such emotions mean a lack of faith. To the contrary, she says, such invitations to honesty comes directly from God:

God gave us emotions as important cues. We need…

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Science Is From Mars, Theology Is From Venus: A Conference Breakout Preview

This conference breakout preview comes from Bonnie Poon Zahl and Bethany Sollereder.

According to the Pew Research Center (see here and here), over half of American adults who were sampled (59%) believe that, in general, science is often in conflict with religion. But “conflict” is only one way of seeing how science and religion might relate. Other possibilities include “independent”, “competition”, “dialogue”, “discussion”, “engagement”, “partnership”, “collaboration”, among others. Some, like scientist and theologian Alister McGrath, take a more nuanced approach, and describe the relationship as complementary, while historian John Hedley Brooke (writing before Facebook was a thing) simply described the relationship as: “It’s complicated”. How about you? How do you view the relationship between science and religion?

We (Bonnie and Bethany) have spent a great deal of our professional and personal lives thinking about how science and religion might relate. We’ve heard people tell us that Christians can’t be scientists, on the one hand, and that theology is the queen of the sciences, on the other – and everything in between. One of us is a scientist (Bonnie) and one is a theologian (Bethany) and we’d like to invite you on a brief journey on the history of how we’ve gotten into this complicated relationship through our disciplines of psychology and theology– and more importantly, hear your thoughts on –the unanswered questions about how science and theology speak to the suffering in the world and in personal lives.

Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Attachment Theory and Your Relationship With God

Another sampler from the Mental Health Issue! Here’s a doozie from psychologist Bonnie Poon Zahl about the meaning of ‘attachment theory’ and its implications for the ways we talk about our faith. Of course, this is only to whet your appetite…

I am a psychologist of religion. This means that I use tools from psychological science to study, empirically, the manifold expressions of religion and spirituality in human lives. I am most interested in how people understand and relate to God, and in my research I adopt the methodological naturalism that is expected in my discipline; I try to understand people’s religious…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Isaiah Chapter Sixty Two Verses One Through Four

This one comes from Bonnie Poon Zahl.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:1-4, ESV)

imageThere’s the old Shakespeare line, “What’s in a name? / That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet). Juliet may not have made much of names, but our names have the tendency to transcend us. In the Bible, significant changes in a person’s life were accompanied by a change in their name: Abram was re-named Abraham—“Father of Nations”—after God declared him to be so (Gen 17:5). Jacob was re-named Israel—“God contended”—after wrestling with God until morning (Gen 32:28). Simon became Peter, the “rock” on which God would build his Church (Mark 3:16). When God re-names people, He creates a new hope, something stretching much further beyond who they’ve known themselves to be. By changing their names, He changes their lives.

Although names seem to possess less inherent meaning today, we still wish to be known as people whose lives mean something. We strive to maximize the positive traits by which we are known and minimize the jeopardizing ones, and sometimes we wish we were someone else altogether. We are not usually completely happy with who we are: we know well what we lack, yet we also lack the means to really change it. It is hard for us to render a new name in any sustainable or significant way.

And yet the old story of a new hope is true for us: “you shall be called a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.” God promises that we will be known by a new name—a name that, in renaming, transforms us. No longer shall we be called “Forsaken,” but “Righteous;” no longer shall we be called “Desolate,” but “Delight of God.” The Lord has and will continue to transform us, and the first step is to call us by something different than what we are; He will name our righteousness into existence.

Hopelessly Devoted: 1 Samuel Chapter Twelve Verses Twenty through Twenty Four

This morning’s entry from The Mockingbird Devotional comes to us from Bonnie Poon Zahl.

140623_r25161-969And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:20-24, ESV)

“You have done all this evil…” These are the dread words of judgment, of being found out. We might be good at hiding our sins from others, but we have no way of hiding them from God. We all stand before objective goodness, even the most pious of us, and know that, though we claim to be followers of God, we could never justify ourselves on account of our own goodness.

Yet these words of judgment to God’s people come joined with words of love: “Do not be afraid…for the Lord will not forsake his people… because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” This is perfect love, the kind that drives out fear (1 Jn 4:18).

Though you have everything to fear as you stand before God’s judgment, you also have nothing to fear—because there is no fear in love. God’s love compels Him to forget judgment in order to make you His own. As you stand before the righteous God, He will see every part of you, and in spite of it all, He will not forsake you. He sees you through perfect Love—Jesus Christ.

Hopelessly Devoted: John Chapter Fifteen Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion comes to us from Bonnie Poon Zahl. 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…(John 15:1-5, ESV)

The_Tree_Pruner_by_Eric_Oberhauser_Web_I_2012.341145054_stdWhen we think of being “pruned” by God, it’s easy to think of minor cuttings, small challenges that do us good, but perhaps harder to think of the severe changes that might drastically affect our lives in too painful a way.

To the gardener, however, pruning a plant looks like cutting off living branches—taking significant lengths off of a perfectly healthy branch to encourage new growth. This is true of what Jesus is saying, too: being pruned oftentimes feels very painful, as if some large part of you that was once deeply connected to life has been severed. It can feel as though one’s wounds have been left raw to face the elements. It can feel like God has deliberately disconnected Himself, and one’s protests are met only with silence.

We can take heart from Christ’s words: God prunes every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, so that it will be even more fruitful. Every saint who has been “fruitful” has dealt with the emotional loss of having been pruned. The Gardener is lovingly ruthless. He severs parts of our connection to the vine—even connections that do not appear in need of pruning—so that we can bear more. Because He abides in us and we in Him, we can be certain that even the most painful pruning experiences are for the sake of His great love.

Hopelessly Devoted: Leviticus Chapter Twenty Six Verses Forty Two Through Forty Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Leviticus Chapter Twenty Six Verses Forty Two Through Forty Five

As we enter the holiday season, and all the anticipations and memories that entails, this timely devotion on the biblical nature of human memory, and the foolish memory of God, comes from Bonnie Poon Zahl.

I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they…

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