If zombies take over the world, Amazon is ready. The company has written software that will run heart-lung machines and autonomous vehicles if the U.S. Centers for Disease Control declares a zombie apocalypse. The provision is buried within the Terms and Conditions of Amazon's newly-released video-game development software. As a result, people are talking about a software service most would have ignored.
This isn't the first time a company has used zombies for publicity. In 2011, the CDC issued preparations for natural disasters and diseases, but their announcements weren't getting traction. So they released "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" and that got our attention. Now zombies have taken over Jane Austen's acclaimed work; for more, see Nick Pitts's review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Zombies are one of the few problems we don't face these days. Zika-linked birth defects are now known to cause significant brain abnormalities. Boko Haram suicide bombers recently killed fifty-eight at a Nigerian camp. Los Angeles will spend $1.9 billion to tackle the escalating homelessness crisis in the city.
How does Jesus want his followers to respond to the needs of our day?
"Rend your hearts and not your garments," the Lord proclaimed (Joel 2:13). Jesus warned us that external signs of religiosity without internal transformation are useless or worse (Matthew 6:2, 16). I can speak in tongues with prophetic powers and mountain-moving faith, but if I have not love "I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).
We are two days into the season of Lent. What should we give up? According to Pope Francis, we should fast from indifference: "Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God's voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades."
As a result, "We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own."
Francis often quotes John Chrysostom: "No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great."
Will you do something great today?
Publication date: February 12, 2016
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.