Monday, September 29, 2008

Five things MANY Christians would HATE to admit

1. Jesus MIGHT have not looked too much like a guy.

Yikes. Don't freak out. I know this could be hard to take. But let's think about this for a second, okay. He might have looked like his mom, Mary. Joseph wasn't his dad, correct? Everyone was really short back then, but depending on the genetics the Spirit used, (maybe the Spirit mirrored her genes). Jesus could have had all her genes, and then just add the needed Y chromosome. If so, then he was REALLY short, and maybe sort of girly, and maybe he couldn't even grow a good beard.

Granted, his hands would have had calluses from hard labor, and he could have been wiry! We don't know for sure, but it's possible. (Is this a let down for wildman John Eldridge, oh, and macho Mark Driscol? He's still God though, maybe that will soothe any wounded manly pride on this issue.) No worries.

2. Jesus wasn't a Christian. He was Jewish. (Remember that came later. Sorry, it's just history, people.)

3. Jesus wasn't Republican, and didn't run for political office. (He didn't have that kind of social standing or money! Oh, and it wasn't his MISSION. He was here to die for us.)

4. Jesus wasn't an American, a Boy Scout, a Freedom Fighter (or warrior), a Passivist, or a Police Officer (We'd like to think he would have been, or that he likes those things. But, let's stick to the, um, you know, facts. Narrative. Official stuff.)

5. Jesus wasn't white skinned. (He was brownish. Think about the area of the world we are speaking about, the Middle East. It's actually gotten lighter skinned in the last 2,000 years.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

philosophy and political debates

I watched the first obama/mccain debate....

First I should say, I'm under-whelmed this election cycle. There have been ups and down, yes. But my faith in politics and the "system" just doesn't hold the glow form. People are flawed (often drunk or twisted from power too) and it takes cooperation to get things done, not just a President (with bad or good ideas).

So, let's just say the idealistic me from youth is gone. Yes, I vote. I vote every time. But I'm not so concerned anymore, and so vocal about particular people, by way of promoting them, etc. That is how to embarrass one's self, I think. Or worse become distracted by thinking politics actually solves many things. People, in the trenches, are usually the people who do that.

Now that I've said that preliminary stuff, I wanted to point out that I noticed that neither candidate articulates his core values, philosophies all that well. It's really about strategy. It's a shifting thing. It's two men, from shifting places, speaking in vague terms about assuming a concrete job position in troubled times. McCain has said the place he lived the longest in his life growing was prison camp-5 years, and Obama, moved all over the place too from Hawaii, to Kansas, to elite school after elite school, then ended up, after a bit, in Chicago. I've never seen anything like it. It's really weird, and it doesn't inspire my confidence.

It seems in the quest for the "big title" there has been a misplacement of something very important.... MEANING.

We all need it. It isn't enough to have a goal. We have to have the undergirding in and through the framework of our efforts. This might be true somewhere under the mess of the electoral campaign, but it didn't come out when you would wish to see it the most. The first debate is the plug toward the undecided voter-the commercial. And it underlined the lesson for each of us just how vacuous even the most important of pursuit can look without a sound framework.

It looks like unsightly ambition, grasping... or floating, vanity, even silliness. I'd like to see some meaning.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brief insights from the desert

Reading the desert Abbas and Ammas I've learned something profound, that the desolation of our deserts illicit from within anything that which God needs to purify. Here many battled demons. They ate little. They owned nothing. They lived alone.

These people would seek the empty places searching for wisdom and union with God. They as saints would find it, not easily. Through prioritizing, renunciation of the world and its values, obedience to God and their spiritual guides they became revered. They had purity in heart, simplicity, and a true centrality of a life devoted in prayer.

I don't suggest we transform into ascetics, but giving heed to what the desert can call out of us will change us into something much better. It may refine us quite well into single-minded, unencumbered devotees of the Savior. It seems being stripped down to only us and God draws out our dependency to God in ways we cannot know otherwise; in ways where we cannot so easily hide, among our things and habits and self-aggrandizing obligations.

Perhaps this is why -silent retreats and prayer retreats- are gaining in popularity and priority, and perhaps we'd do well to make way for one, at least a mini one.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My free book - Coffeehouse Theology

Okay, I admit it, I love getting free books.

NavPress sent me one, and it still smells lovely, right off the press. It's called Coffeehouse Theology, by Ed Cyzewski. So far it looks really solid, very applicable, and and I'm really glad to have it nearby.

It's fantastic timing as I'm in the middle of my Christian Theology class right now. We are really unpacking how theology PLAYS OUT. This book speaks to just that. Kevin Vanhoozer in his Doctrine of Drama presents Theo-drama, and it's very inspiring for those of us who believe God is not just the scriptwriters but the star of this created world. The trouble is reading Vanhoozer, which I love, is like swimming through pudding. Not many will last through it, or want.

I'll be commenting more on Cyzewski's book here periodically as I piece through it. If you pick up a copy, chime it! What has stood out to you so far? Let me know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How a "President Palin" would reform Evangelicalism

I have a thesis in mind, and here is the short version.

The fact is Evangelicals have no idea how much culture they bring to their hermeneutic. They way they understand Scripture and the roles of women. as women have gained respect in american culture, women have gained more responsibility in the church.

Is this because God's word says so? It's because they find it in there. They mine the text for truth.

All Evangelical women should vote for Palin as VP if they want more prominence in the church then, because the visibility and stature of of Sarah Palin, will have a ripple effect for them.

What is the truth? how does God feel about it? What does the Bible REALLY say?

It's not, I believe hammered out in perfect detail by Paul for women in the year 2008 in America. It seems God settled in back in a garden, when two people still had fruit juice on their lips. He sewed them leather garments. He redeemed them both. He did not have to. He covered BOTH their shame. He made it right. consequences happened, and yes, blame started, but God redeemed women. Man just forgot, conveniently. God reminded humankind in his Laws. Man forgot, conveniently. Women forgot too.

How strange for secular culture to remind us of the rightness of things, and that women are not less than men.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Redemption vs. punishment

I had the chance to press charges today. I didn't.

I'm hoping to redeem a neighborhood situation. And not just a situation either. It's about investing, I hope, in healing, which sometimes looks like letting people get off the hook. Redemption ---working it out-- can be an ugly process, too, until it's through.I'm praying more, too.

Many people don't take the chance when they have redemption given to them. They just opt for the corruption.

Is undertaking all this community organizing? No, not really. But building bridges is the redemptive work for every Believer, and yes, this can be community organizing. Those words are buzz words, that will play out in terrible ways too soon, and used to sledgehammer, when a tweezer would do better.

It's all a work in progress. We can't give up. We can't hide in our Christian bubbles.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Recent politics shows me how wrapped up so many get in amusements. Since this is a BIG ONE, and it carries a lot with it-- power, control and all the rest.. it makes for great spectators sport. Everyone has such strong opinions. Everyone thinks they are so very right. Everyone has to be heard and wants their team to WIN!

It's just an amusement. When the roar tones down, many will go back to their lonely, uninteresting, and self-centered lives. They will think about their futures, their wants, their love life, or (even) their appearance.

They will forget the Drama of Redemption, and that God is there, so close. This is really because they never saw life that way in the first place. They have only been seeing that the world was about them. A dream world where they win, or at least they want to win. They can't seem to wake up... into a new story.

For those people, the election won't last long enough. They will need another amusement, and soon.

I'm getting very tired of politics. It is very shallow to me, it's spin. I wish it was about important issues, for real. But too many chefs are in the kitchen, and important work is done in backyards, coffee shops, hospitals, and across tables, in ordinary life. Not on the stages, or within the amusement, and amid solipsistic dreams.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Suffering Broken Theology? what about Verification?

What about life.

What has meaning.... many ask. Many sort. Christians too.
More so all the time.

Does God seem distant? sleep at the wheel? unconcerned in your life?
Do you suffer from functional theologies that don't match your theoretical theologies Biblical or otherwise?

What do you use as a reference for your beliefs...which are in fact your Doctrines?.. yikes what a word.
Everyone is afraid of the word DOGMA... but every one ends up functioning on some kind of one, like it or not.

If we use ourselves --really our experience-- as a gauge for verification of our theology, our beliefs, we end up stranded. Eventually. Well, how could we not, really.

It's amazing how many Christians start with themselves to figure out life, and then feel so desperate, and still have no idea why. It's not entirely their fault. Christianity has been co-opting with modernity for its theology for a while, making it human centered and increasingly futile to sort out among the pervading view on ontology and millions of competing messages bombarding us. So many Christians feeling miserable, or something like it. That is a vapid life, and no wonder.

Some time tested spots for verification are-
Devotional Classics
Church History (tradition)
Wise/trusted counsel of honorable friends or ministers
Propositional theology combined with Narrative theology

more to come on this . . .