It’s time to take a look at my inbox for the past couple of months.
The high point
Receiving spiritual- and religion-based press releases often means hearing interesting words.
This time it was “apotheosis,” which means the highest point in the development of something or the elevation of someone to divine status.
The term showed up in the title of a book, “Apotheosis Now: Rabbit Hole to the Beyond,” by Yanhao Huang.
In the book, the author says, “Suppose everything in the universe can be simply gotten by merely ‘thinking’ about it. Why doesn't everyone just listen to subliminal affirmations 24/7 until we all become billionaires?" He proceeds to look at how humans think and issue challenges.
Among the things Huang discusses are why humans have internal conflict, the beliefs that trap humans, the process of spiritual enlightenment, and why thought-based teachings and self-improvement advice don’t work.
Death penalty and the Catholic Church
Catholic Mobilizing Network announced the publication of a small-group study, “Dignity and the Death Penalty: Evolution of Catholic Teaching.”
Created in partnership with RENEW International, it is based on the teachings of Sister Helen Prejean, featured in the book and movie “Dead Man Walking.”
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of CMN, said the new resource helps deepen Catholic understanding of how capital punishment violates the sanctity of human life.
In seven small-group sessions, the book uses Catholic Church teaching, statistics and testimony from people directly impacted by the death penalty to prompt discussion.
A series of videos featuring Prejean are also available online.
America's favorite verses
illumiNations, a coalition of Bible translation organizations, is holding a campaign to show how one verse of Scripture can change a person’s life.
In a press release about its “I Want to Know” campaign, it lists what Christian Today says are the three most popular Bible verses in America:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIV)
Studying worship in Old Testament
Author Carol Tetzlaff takes an unusual approach to studying worship. She offers “Ezra: Unleashing the Power of Praise,” a seven-week Bible study. The study covers the book of Ezra and the minor prophet Haggai, who speaks encouragement and admonishment to the people.
“Ezra gives us the narrative of the exiled Israelites who had become comfortable in a place apart from their worship and dealt with distractions, just like we do,” Tetzlaff said. “Ultimately the book of Ezra is a call to refocus worship back onto God, the only one worthy of our worship.”