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God Loves Protected Species. And the Poachers Who Kill Them.

A theocentric conservation effort looks out for both man and nature.

We sat in the slivered shade of the acacia tree outside of Serengeti National Park. Deus, a 30-something Lutheran pastor, used a stick in the sand to tally the income he generated per month from poaching. He paused after drawing an equal sign. “I preach in church every week,” he said, smiling. “Except when I’m hunting, of course.”

“Church?” I asked. “Doesn’t your denomination see poaching as sin?”

“Oh no,” he replied. “God gives us every animal.”

I stared at him, and he sensed my unease at his benediction of an illegal activity. “Don’t worry,” he said, patting my knee reassuringly. “I pray over every animal I kill. I thank God for each and every one.”

Of course, I knew that God loved the world, but it dawned on me then that Deus’s comment exemplified Thomas Moore’s simple idea in Care of the Soul. “If you don’t love things in particular, you cannot love the world,” Moore wrote, “because the world doesn’t exist except in individual things.”

I was idealistic when I met Deus during my research on human-wildlife interactions in 2007, and the particular thing I loved was wilderness—one unencroached on by poachers. John Muir and Henry David Thoreau’s wilderness: large landscapes unspoiled by human habitation and development. Places to escape to, to unclutter the mind and rejuvenate. Jesus valued wilderness, I reasoned, seeking it out on several occasions. So as a grad student in my mid-20s, I sought it out myself in Tanzania, embarking on a research expedition in the unspoiled wilderness of sub-Saharan Africa.

Everybody Poaches

When I first began interviewing subjects ...

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Prayer & Polarization

Amid societal polarization, American churches are dedicated July 7th to pray for the country.

Polarization has been trending for a long time. Especially in politics, but also in education, religion, economics, race, and more.

Even suggesting a place in the lonely middle-of-the-road can spark accusations of compromise and capitulation. Like the North Pole and the South Pole, polarization is about opposites that never meet and can’t even see each other. When it’s summer in the northern Arctic, it’s winter in the southern Antarctic.

Introduce a big What If.

What if Christians could set aside the cultural categories and extremes of our generation to center on the faith we all share in Jesus Christ? What if we could do something that demonstrated our Christian hope more than popular despair? What if together we made Jesus the winner rather than seeking victories for our sides of the lines that are dividing so many?

The proposal straight out of Washington, D.C.: Pray Together Sunday. It wasn’t my idea, but I was there when a staff member of the National Association of Evangelicals who is trained as a lawyer proposed a very Christian and biblical antidote to divisive polarization. She suggested choosing a summer Sunday for churches across our nation to pray together for God’s blessing in America.

Good idea with lots of reasons to say no. Of course it’s a good idea for churches to pray. No true Christian should object, but it’s easy to come up with a quick list of why it won’t work:

  1. The idea is already taken. We already have a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.
  2. Prayer is already part of every weekend church service. Asking churches to pray is like asking dogs to bark — it’s what they already do.
  3. Getting lots of churches to do anything together is tough to coordinate. Most churches like to make their own decisions, do what they are already doing and value independence over cooperation.

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Bibles Threatened by US Trade War with China, Christian Publishers Warn

HarperCollins, Tyndale, and others warn Trump administration that 25-percent tariff hike will make God’s Word harder to get—and could cause some translations to be discontinued.

The next victim of the mounting trade war between the United States and China: God’s Word.

Although books have escaped earlier tariff hikes by the Trump administration, the latest proposed round—a 25-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods—includes Bibles and Christian books.

In response, leading Christian publishers testified before the US International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. this week to ask for exemptions.

China is the world’s largest Bible publisher, thanks to Nanjing-based Amity Press which has printed almost 200 million Bibles since 1988 in partnership with the United Bible Societies.

For the world’s largest Christian publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP), more than three quarters of its production costs are incurred in China. Its portfolio includes bestselling authors such as Rick Warren, as well as the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The two popular translations give HCCP 38 percent of America’s Bible market, which sees about 20 million Bibles sold annually.

“We believe the Administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on the publishing industry, and never intended to impose a ‘Bible tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” Doug Lockhart, HCCP’s senior vice president of marketing and Bible outreach, told CT by email.

In a hearing before the trade commission on Tuesday, CEO Mark Schoenwald argued the proposed tariffs will force HCCP to increase its prices, reduce its sales volume, and discontinue some Bible editions.

With more than 800,000 words that can extend to 2,000 thin pages, special bindings, maps, ribbons, and four-color ...

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One-on-One with Tim Harlow on ‘What Made Jesus Mad?’

“The issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love.”

Ed: People may not know about you and your church, so please tell us a little about it.

Tim: Parkview was a 40-year-old church when I got here 29 years ago. We are located in the south suburbs of Chicago. We had to go through a relatively long season of transition to get to the point where we were focusing on the goal of reaching those outside the kingdom, which is where we are, and the point of this book.

In 2002, we were able to relocate and get some property, and we’ve been on a pretty wild ride since then. We added a second campus in Homer Glen and then a third in New Lenox. Eighty percent of our people grew up in a Catholic background, which is indicative of the south suburbs.

It’s also a blast for me because they have a love and respect for Jesus and the Word, but they aren’t mired down in a lot of evangelical traditions either. My favorite story is about the guy who bought a WWJD patch for his biker jacket, thinking it meant We Want Jack Daniels.

Ed: Your book is a pretty big slap at legalism. How do you define it, and why do you think it matters?

Tim: Yeah, I’m not a passive rule-following kind of guy. I’m a classic eight on the Enneagram. But the issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love. And legalism is an excellent way to do that. Matthew 23:4 says, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders…” And Matthew 23:13 says, “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…”

The problem is not the laws themselves; it’s when our interpretation of the laws or even our enforcement of those laws gets in the way of people making it home to the Father. That’s ...

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