Five for Friday: Flags in the Sanctuary? Reading Crisis, Flamethrower Sales Increasing

CHICAGO, IL (September 4, 2015) — Many Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos with one another that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed.

0905 five for friday flag
Please Remove National Flags from Your Christian Worship Spaces: A Plea on Behalf of the Flag
Roger Olson, an influential evangelical theologian, believes American flags should be removed from sanctuaries for theological reasons, but he also says it is unpatriotic to have them in the worship space.

He writes of a friend who is a Marine as well as a scholar of Christian worship who says that according to flag etiquette, “the U.S. flag ought never to be flown ‘in submission.’ ” The friend reasons that the entire worship service honors God as king and ruler over all; therefore, flying the flag in the sanctuary is flying it “in submission.”

This is not an infrequent topic among pastors and can stir up strong feelings on either side of the issue in a congregation.

Backpack Makers Rethink a Student Staple
The digital age is changing everything. More professors and teachers have ditched the textbook and use only digital texts, which students are reading on their tablets. With sales declining, backpack makers are taking steps to adapt—and learning that sometimes the small things can make a big difference. A good word for the church.

America’s Reading Crisis Is Much Worse Than You Think
The author of this excellent column highlights the problem: “Only a third of our eighth graders—kids who are 13 and 14 years old—scored proficient or higher in reading in 2013. The rates are even lower for children born to poor households. Fourth graders living in low-income communities are less than half as likely to be able to read at grade-level than students from wealthier homes.” The column also lists ideas for how the local church can help children develop a basic skill they will need for life.

Is It Wrong to Exercise in a Graveyard?
A fitness club in southwest London evoked strong reaction when they posted a video on YouTube of members exercising in a cemetery. The owner of the gym said that since the cemetery hadn’t had a burial in 160 years and that he had seen children playing and theater productions there, he assumed it would be OK to finish a session with 10 minutes of exercise out in the sunshine. I have seen people jogging in cemeteries but never doing other exercises. Is it desecrating a sacred place—or is it a sign that people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of death?

More Americans Buying Flamethrowers
Who knew that owning a flamethrower was legal in the U.S.? Two companies are now making them available for the general market.

One company advertises on its website that “The XM42 is the world’s first fully handheld, grab and go flamethrower on the market. No heavy pressurized tanks, no silly car-wash sprayers.”

There are no current federal regulations on the possession, manufacture, sale, or use of flamethrowers. They do not qualify as firearms under the National Firearms Act. Now as several states and municipalities are considering banning flamethrower sales, people are rushing to buy the conflagration starters, which cost just $900 plus shipping and handling.

In the text accompanying a YouTube promotional video for the XM42, the development team writes, “It’s every pyromaniac’s dream, and it has numerous practical purposes!” The videos include practical purposes such as being able to roast marshmallows from 25 feet away, burn balloons, or draw a ring of fire around the user. (Queue up Johnny Cash.)




  • Thanks, Stan, for the variety of information you’re putting out there. We recently had the discussion about flags (we haven’t had one in the sanctuary for years, but one member recently had asked to have one in), and our church has an active homework program for kids in the neighborhood on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons. Yes! There’s plenty of work to do all around the world! Thank you for the work you’re doing!
    Peace to you,

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