Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land.
They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed. It is true that they are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.”
They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require.
They love all men, and by all men are persecuted.
They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life.
They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance.
They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated.
They are reviled, and yet they bless; and when they are affronted, they still pay due respect.
When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; undergoing punishment, they rejoice because they are brought to life.
They are treated by the Jews as foreigners and enemies, and are hunted down by the Greeks; and all the time those who hate them find it impossible to justify their enmity.
To put it simple: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world.
The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world.
The soul dwells in the body, but does not belong to the body, and the Christians dwell in the world, but do not belong to the world.
The soul, which is invisible, is kept under guard in the visible body; in the same way, Christians are recognized when they are in the world, but their religion remains unseen.
The flesh hates the soul and treats it as an enemy, even though it suffers no wrong at their hands, because they rage themselves against its pleasures.
The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and its members; in the same way, Christians love those who hate them.
The soul is shut up in the body, and yet itself holds the body together.
The soul, which is immortal, is housed in a mortal dwelling; while Christians are settled among corruptible things, to wait for the incorruptibility that will be theirs in heaven.
The soul, when faring badly as to food and drink, grows better; so too Christians, when punished day by day, increase more and more.
It is no less a post than this that God has ordered them, and they must not try to evade it.
Some modern abandoned cities are actually parts of functioning cities. Perhaps the best example of an abandoned district is found within Detroit. The Motor City gets its name from its former role as the world’s seat of the automotive industry. Henry Ford’s refinement of the assembly line led to cheaper, mass-produced cars and trucks in the 1920s, and the city expanded quickly. By the 1950s, Detroit, with its two million residents, was America’s third-largest city [source: University of Michigan].
With employment rates and income high in the area, opulent buildings began to dot downtown Detroit’s skyline. Ornately detailed architecture adorned the city’s theaters and office buildings. It was a bustling city, and its buildings reflected the power and the wealth the automobile industry accumulated.
By the 1970s and '80s, however, the American auto industry entered a decline. Detroit, inextricably attached to car manufacturing, reflected this downturn. In 1979, Detroit’s Big Three carmakers (Chevrolet, Ford and General Motors) produced 90 percent of all of the vehicles sold in the U.S.; by 2005, that figure was down to 40 percent [source: The Guardian]. Since Detroit was something of a boomtown -- based on cars, not gold -- it couldn’t help but suffer when car manufacturers faced competition from overseas automakers.
But it wasn’t only competition from foreign car manufacturers that led to the demise of downtown Detroit. Suburbanization played a role as well; as people began moving out of the city, their money went with them. The same holds true for the carmakers. Automotive factories became bigger as the car boom went on. With land in the city at a premium, car companies built newer, bigger facilities in the suburbs. Whole sections of Detroit were left abandoned, while in other cases, slumping buildings sat empty alongside struggling buildings that remained open.
Detroit began to crumble. Building owners simply left their investments to decay once they found they couldn’t lease or sell them. Others tried to revitalize or redevelop buildings into new businesses; for example, some stage theaters found new lives as movie theaters. Ultimately, a lack of customers caused many buildings to simply be abandoned. For years, office buildings, hotels, churches, theaters, homes, factories and stores were boarded up and left to rot. Vandals broke windows, spray painted messages and picked mementos from the architecture. Within these buildings, sunlight streams through cracks. Old furniture is overturned in unused hotel rooms. Desks still stand in empty offices. Even the city’s old train depot -- a massive, 18-story transportation hub -- has been abandoned, its intricate shell a reminder of its past importance.
Revitalization efforts are reforming these districts of Detroit. Many of the abandoned areas are being leveled, with new buildings or parking lots built over their former foundations. And an unusual tradition has had an effect on the urban blight. In the 1970s, vandals adopted the custom of burning empty (and sometimes occupied) buildings downtown on Halloween Eve, a custom that came to be known as Devil’s Night. The ritual continued into the 1990s, but peaked in 1984, when more than 800 fires were set from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1
Our incarnate God spoke loud and long as a prophet (Luke 7:16-17, Matt. 21; 11; Rev. 3:14), immersed in the harsh everyday world of tenant farmers and tax collectors and wage laborers and HIV-leprosy sufferers and guerrilla fighters and poverty hustlers and dolled up, street-walkers.
He learned his message from bombastic, uppity women who would not keep quiet in the courtroom (Luke 18:18), would not take “no” for an answer when he was “underground” and trying to hide from the authorities up near the city of Tyre (Mark 7:24-30), would not refrain from wiping him with their hair at hoity-toity dinner parties (Luke 7:36-50), or contaminating him with uncleanness by touching him in the marketplace (Mark 5:24-34), would not even consult their husbands when deciding to “have” him, as a baby, by somebody else! (Matt. 1:18-24; Luke 1:26-38).
This God continued to speak even when he was no longer invited to read the bible in nice, respectable “churches” (John 7:11; Luke 4:16-30; John 11:54), pray for the nice sick daughters of the wealthy or their nice dying servants (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 7:1-10), or give nice opinions on local events (Luke 13:1-5), because so much of what he had to say did not sound so nice to well-washed and perfumed ears (Matt. 23:1-39; Luke 11:37-54).
He spoke even when accompanied by crowds who smelled (John 11:39), who were presumed to be thieves (Luke 19:1-10; John 12:4-6; Mark 11:17), who organized parades on pretenses (Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:39), and misunderstood everything except that their own exploiters and oppressors were getting a public comeuppance in this guy’s words (Mark 12:37).
He spoke even when the CIA lurked (Mark 7:1), when the FBI jerked his chain (Mark 3:6; Matt. 12:14), when the spin-meisters sought to catch him in damming sound-bites (Mark 12:13; Luke 11:53-54), when the police threatened arrest after a day-long takeover of the national shrine (Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47-48).
He only ceased speaking when the kangaroo court demanded that he speak (Mark 14:60-61).
Then, in the final moment, far from a quiet, complacent passing on, in full control of pain and pathos like some god-in-human-drag, “slumming,” for a brief season, among such poor wayward creatures, this God yelled, yowled, cursed, swore, cried out, groaned, moaned, made it plain this blood-letting was a divine abomination, and even, like job, finally dared put God “himself” at issue, if such doings as this were “the father’s will” (Mark 15:33-39).
(Maybe - even more than substitution - this incarnation was about solidarity.)
it's fascinating stuff, but really difficult to find anything worth reading on it.
so, i'm doing a lot of prophetic reading, a lot of study in ezra/nehemiah, and a lot of comparisons between genesis 1-4 and revelation 21-22.
and it's been very cool (though, it's a little early to share any real conclusions yet).
my big feeling, though, which has been haunting me over the last few months is this:
the church is broken
just as the world is broken
and we're refusing to acknowledge that our mission to redeem the world alongside god
is more important than anything
than anything at all whatsoever
what so ever
and i'm feeling really buggered up by our lack of concern to heal the world
and our lack of impatience with the church-as-it-stands
and our lack of passion, verve, commitment, intelligence, and frustration
focused on seeing things transform for the better
Thursday, December 18, 2008
(CNN) — Prominent liberal groups and gay rights proponents criticized President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday for choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration next month.
Warren, one of the most powerful religious leaders in the nation, has championed issues such as calling for the reduction of global poverty, human rights abuses, and the AIDS epidemic.
But the founder of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has also adhered to socially conservative stances — including his opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights that puts him at odds with many in the Democratic Party, especially the party's most liberal wing.
"[It's] shrewd politics, but if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now," Andrew Sullivan wrote on the Atlantic Web site Wednesday.
People for the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert told CNN she is "deeply disappointed" with the choice of Warren, and said the powerful platform at the inauguration should instead have been given to someone who is "consistent mainstream American values.
"There is no substantive difference between Rick Warren and James Dobson," Kolbert said. "The only difference is tone. His tone is moderate, but his ideas are radical."
Dobson, a social conservative leader, is founder and chairman of Focus on the Family.
Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama, defended the choice of Warren, saying, "This is going to be the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history."
"The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] issues. But it has always been his goal to find common ground with people with whom you may disagree on some issues."
Douglass also noted Obama and Warren agree on several issues including advocating on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged, and people who suffer from HIV/AIDS.
#1 the winds was given a Jackson Award earlier this month for being the best "house of worship" (which is, of course, funny in-and-of itself notwithstanding the nifty plaque they sent us yesterday)
#2 we just passed 40,000 views on ustream (indpendent of our vodcasting/podcasting stats) since June of this year.
not bad, eh?
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
i've always like the guerilla approach...hidden within the landscape...no full frontal assault...just normal, but more than normal
and host, of course, refers to the sacrament...though (if i'm honest) i really only picked it because "church" "christian" "faith" etc. were all taken
"guerillahost" has become dear to me
only because i've been using it for almost 4 years
but it's always bothered me that the name doesn't make immediate sense
and that people often think of me as a gorilla
so i'm thinking of switching my blog over to "shadowing god"
which, if you've followed my theological ruminations lately
you'll know is dear to me in many more significant ways
no changes yet
but i am contemplating one soon
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
OK, let me start off by saying this Xterra is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women). My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o'clock shadow, this Nissan would look like Tom Selleck. It is just that manly.
It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on. It wasn't meant to transport you to yoga class or Linens & Things. No, that's what your Prius is for. If that's the kind of car you're looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now. I mean it. Just stop.
This car was engineered by 3rd degree ninja super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis. They didn't even consi der superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don't get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn't let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don't even know what the hell On Star is).
No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need. It has a 265 HP engine to outrun the cops. It's got special blood/gore resistant upholstery. It even has a first-aid kit in the back. You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you're operating on yourself. The Xterra also has an automatic transmission so if you're being chased by Libyan terrorists, you'll still be able to shoot your machine gun out the window and drive at the same time. It's saved my bacon more than once.
It has room for you and the four hotties you picked up on the way to the gym to blast your pecs and hammer your glutes. There's a tow hitch to pull your 50 caliber anti-Taliban, self cooling machine gun. I also just put in a new windshield to replace the one that got shot out by The Man.
My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $12,900, but I'll entertain reasonable offers. And by reasonable, I mean don't walk up and tell me you'll give me $5,000 for it. That's liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab. Would it hurt? Hell yeah. Let's just say you won't be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore.
There's only 69,000 miles on this four-wheeled hellcat from Planet Kickass. Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name. It will live on as a monument to your machismo.
Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see. If it's a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then contact me. I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my ladies, but I'll get back to you. And when I do, we'll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash.
To sweeten the deal a little, I'm throwing in this pair of MC Hammer pants for the man with rippling quads that can't fit into regular pants. Yeah, you heard me. FREE MC Hammer pants.
Friday, December 12, 2008
the graveyard book (novel), by neil gaiman...excellent - highly recommend...creepy book about a kid raised by ghosts in a cemetary
god and empire (theology), by john dominic crossan...excellent - highly recommend...except for the parts where he denies jesus' deity and resurrection (tough to overlook, admittedly)
satan and the problem of evil (theology) by greg boyd...excellent - highly recommend (for dorks)
a feast for crows (novel), by george rr martin...amazing - best series ever (soon coming to HBO)..."high" fantasy for renaissance fair clowns
a little book you'll actually read on... (series of short books) by mark driscoll - not great, don't recommend
rejesus (theology) by alan hirsch and michael frost...pretty good, though a little academic...standard fair for folks at the winds...recommend for keeners
the watchman (graphic novel) by alan moore...overrated, but fun
death by love (theology) by mark driscoll...excellent - recommend (a head-ier version of the same concept for our "images of atonement" series and teaching atlas)
the drama of scripture (theology) by craig bartholomew and michael goheen...solid, helps make sense of narrative theology...recommend
a spiritual formation workbook (discipleship) by james bryan smith and lynda graybeal...recommend - excellent workbook for a formation group (used by several ww satellites)
reimagining church (theology) by frank viola...strangely compelling despite its many, violent, biases...do not recommend unless you've spent the last 15 years studying church history, theology, and know your bible inside and out...viola tells a million little white lies that - if undetected - could be very damaging
anyway...lots more to go this holiday season (i'm on a roll and LOVE this part of my job)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
so, do you think that it's time to invent a new religion?
i mean, i know that sounds absurd and absurdly presumptuous.
but what do we know now that is different from what we
knew ages ago?
that the universe is gigantic?
that the universe is old?
that we are made up of matter that used to be other things?
that our actions are seemingly insignificant from a universal perspective?
that matter, at it's most basic level, doesn't do what
we think it would/should do?
i sound flippant.
but really, given what we know about the universe and about ourselves, isn't it absurd to hold on to conventional ideas about our significance and identity and relevance and so on?
again, i sound flippant.
i don't mean to.
but it's hard to describe this in a journal(not blog)entry.
i actually think that the teachings of christ accomodate most of the new ways in which we perceive ourselves and our world.
the problem is that although the teachings of christ accomodate this, contemporary christianity does not.
here's more seriousness dressed up as flippancy:
christ: acknowledging quantum realities.
christiantiy: depressingly newtonian.
does that make any sense?
well, to me it does.
and to some of you it might make sense, also.
i'm sorry that i'm being light and flippant.
i should just be straightforward.
we know things about our universe and about our world and about ourselves that make our previously held ideas about human significance utterly absurd. in order to move forward we need to accept that how we understand ourselves in the future has to be informed by what we know about ourselves from a quantum perspective.
and luckily, there's not a christian(or new testament)perspective that compels us to hold on to much of tradition.
many christians might disagree, but i would ask them to cite scripture to support their dissent.
i know, 'quantum perspective' sounds nonsensical and nerdy.
but we need to move on(no political pun intended).
we all know better.
we're all holding on to past conceptions of human endeavours and human significance, and they're outdated and erroneous and anachronistic.
our human significance is both far greater and far smaller than anything than we've hitherto recognized.
that is the truth.
we are paradoxical little creatures.
we need a new way in which to look at ourselves and in which to understand our lives and our significance.
there, that's all i have to say for now.
thanks for listening.
i guess i'll write more later if anyone's interested.
if not: uh, go, uh, team.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
That’s not entirely bad.
Pastors, for better or for worse, are leaders. And, one of the major setbacks of churches in the early 20th C was poor leadership. So, it’s probably fair to say that a certain amount of leadership development is required in order to pastor well.
Personally, I have read over 200 books on leadership. I have read almost all of the top-this or top-that books on all those top-lists. I have followed blogs and articles. Sometimes, I think I could teach more on leadership than I could on most of the books in the Bible.
And there’s the problem.
At key points, leadership philosophy and Biblical wisdom diverge…and most of us don’t know when that happens.
Take King Solomon, for example, who is almost universally held up as an example of biblical leadership. He was wise, by all accounts he ruled well, and he wrote much of the poetry in the First Testament.
But, I’m not convinced that he was as great a leader, nor as great a follower of YHWH as we’ve been lead to believe.
• Solomon weakened his dynasty to the degree that after his death the kingdom was split in two
• Solomon disobeyed God and made treaties and alliances with his former enemies
• Solomon disobeyed God and took his wife’s gods to be his own, leveling himself in apostasy
• Solomon neglected justice in favor of military expansion – something God had spoken strictly about before
Anyway, my point is not to defame Solomon, simply to point out that most of our material on the “Leadership Secrets of King Solomon” conveniently neglect his failures.
Just as most of our books on “Jesus, the Leader” focus on the concept of “Servant Leadership”, but ignore what servant leadership really means.
Servant leadership isn’t about teambuilding, consensus, profit sharing, or good human resources departments.
Servant leadership isn’t about listening before speaking, or seeking to understand before you beg to be understood, or beginning with the end in mind.
Servant leadership is about death.
Leadership is martyrdom. You lead to bear witness. You die to yourself, to your preferences, to your greed, and to your pride.
So that others can live.
So that others can be made whole, can be healthy, and can have fullness.
Solomon, for all his successes and exploits, was nobody’s servant. Good King Wenceslas, however, and Good King Jesus, additionally, were.
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would heal the world, bringing salvation to all the nations on Earth. Jesus suffered for his mission to bring healing. He was murdered, illegally and unjustly, for being the Great Physician.
He died so we could live.
That is servant leadership.
Leadership is not rooted in position or privilege, it is rooted in pain. People will follow someone who is passionate to a flaw, who is devoted beyond good sense, and who is willing to be the first to bleed.
That’s the most attractive thing, to me, about Good King Wenceslas: he bled. He walked barefoot in the snow, he worked in the fields alongside his people, he forsook his sexual privileges, he emptied his own pockets, and he gave himself to his land.
And it has inspired no shortage of followership – Wenceslas has become a saint, has his own Christmas Carol, inspired Pope Pious to imitate his humility, and has a collection of hagiographies.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Whoever wants to keep his life must lose it.
They had now finally seen their ancient error in asking for human rule (instead of remaining a nation governed simply by YHWH). They had lived through thousands of years of broken government: Saul, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Pekah, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander the Great, Seleucus, Antiochus, Herod, Ceasar.
They wanted something different. The image that best captured their expectation was “the kingdom of God.”
So what did that entail, practically, for them? And, concordantly, what does that entail, practically, for us?
Israel looked to a day when there would be “no king but God.”
• no allegiance to compete with God
• no security apart from God
The holy land, trampled and polluted by pagans, would be cleansed so that Israel could again live in communion with the Lord.
• reversing the curse of Sin and the sweat and toil associated with the Land
• healing the fruit of the land and of our labor
• redeeming workplace tension
• redeeming issues of worth and esteem for men based on their Work
• ensuring there would always be enough to sustain life, and that sustenance would be good
(non-toxic to the body, etc.)
God would return to the temple that he had abandoned and would once again dwell among his people (Malachi 3:1).
• there would be no separation between us and him
• we would be in his felt/experienced Presence every minute
• every place would be as the Temple – a liminal space where heaven and earth collide (…on
earth as it is in heaven…)
The nation would be liberated from its bondage to pagan oppressors, just as it had been delivered from Egypt and Babylon.
• we are freed from the bondage of our addictions, habits, evil desires, effects of sin, etc.
• the narratives of violence, control, dominance, consumerism, amnesia, no-belief,
hopelessness, despair and greed will be exhausted
The rule of Caesar in Rome and of his puppet kings and priests in Israel would be swept away, and the rule of God would set things right.
• authority and government will uphold justice in truth (not just in name)
• we will have confidence that our rulers/leaders serve YHWH and the people (in that order) as
suffering servants, rather than as despots, dictations, or power-hungry bureaucrats
The coming kingdom would mean liberation from foreign cultural dictates and an endorsement of Israel’s status as the elect people of God.
• our spiritual practices and preferences would not be watered down or compromised by the
state (or public opinion) in any way
• there will be no interference with worship (or healing [of the world, of others, etc…])
It would mean the reformation of the people in obedience and faithfulness toward God as he poured out his Spirit upon them and “circumcised their hearts” (Deuteronomy 30:6) so that they could obey the Torah.
• we will all be disciples and followers and servants, not merely cultural Christians who feel
entitled to the privileges of religious observation
• we would recognize that we are all on a spiritual journey
• we would all endeavor to continue shadowing God, becoming increasingly hospitable to the
Jews of past generations who had remained faithful to God throughout Israel’s many years of exile and bondage would be raised from the dead to experience—together with the living remnant—the coming of God’s kingdom (Daniel 12:2).
• our elders in the faith will see the fruit of their labors in our lives and in the lives of the
• they will know that their faithfulness has paid off in the lives of those they’ve lead, corrected,
discipled, and formed
• the kingdom will be built upon the extended faithfulness of the saints through God’s grace;
meaning that, to whatever degree is possible in this world, the kingdom will be realized
through God’s people living in God’s way for a LONG time (as opposed to ‘fits and starts’ of
Until the kingdom should actually arrive, the faithful in Israel lived in hope: they prayed, studied the Scriptures, celebrated the festivals to keep hope alive, remained faithful to the Torah, and continued to be ready for military action.
• even though the kingdom has not yet been fully realized in this world, we should continue to
live as though it has
• our lives should be lived consistent with the kingdom, keeping kingdom values and
The Message of Jesus Christ – his primary pet topic – was that the kingdom was both here (now) and is on its way (will be here fully soon). Hopefully, the bullets above can help you to understand what he meant by that.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
she's just plain awesome
fun. cool. smart. playful. mischievous. great mom. hot-as-*%*%
you get the idea.
anyway - from time to time she'll make my favorite recipe. she hates it, but out of her deep love for me, she'll make it and force me to fall in love all over again.
but not just any waldorf salad...oh no...traditional waldorf salad is crap...this is an ancient mcdonald family recipe dating back hundreds of years to the old country
(ok - that last part was a lie...it's just really, really good waldorf salad)
for your culinary enjoyment here is the recipe:
2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 cups green grapes, seedless
2 chopped red apples
1 peeled mandarin orange
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup walnuts
in a bowl combine
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP sugar
mix all ingredients together...
...and pass out in the alaphylactic shock of pure bliss
(p.s. if you tell anyone i posted a recipe on my blog i'll never agree to pray for your sick grandmother again)
from carmel and i, i'd just like to say thanks to all of you who gave (and gave generously) to us and to our staff. it is very touching to receive such a tangible demonstration of your appreciation for our ministry.
you are too kind.
thanks, too, to all the staff at westwinds who (along with our heroic elders) have walked through fire with us. i think it's safe to say we've put our ghosts to rest, our past behind, and are looking forwards to increasingly wonder-filled days of serving jesus in a one-of-a-kind church.
everything we've won through together has come at a personal cost to you and your families. i am proud to serve with you.
again - thanks to everyone who has made this year at westwinds such a fantastically monumental year of advance.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
As we all know, the Saudis have a habit of constructing mosques in dozens of world capitals while forbidding houses of worship for any religion whatsoever outside its Wahabist brand of Islam. They've gotten some bad PR locally for some of the hate language in textbooks at the Saudi Academy in northern Virginia. Not only are hapless Christians terrorized and jailed for daring to hold private prayer services in Saudi Arabia, but God help them should they try to convert someone to their religion. And that's for a fellow People of the Book: One can only guess at what the treatment of Buddhists and Hindus must be like.
Wouldn't it be so ironic if the Russians were the first Christian body to win acceptance of the right to build a church in, say, Riyadh? (Some of the Russians are calling for a church in Mecca, but the chances of any other religion getting a foothold within walking distance of the world center of Islam is less than zero.) Of course we all know the Saudis aren't about ready to let Bibles or other religious literature, let alone a church, anywhere near their homeland, but all the same, it's amusing to see the Russians give the Saudis a taste of their own medicine.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
open source OS (like linux or ubuntu) is a user-interface created by geeky guys in their bedrooms that will do everything you want on your computer for free. it will run every program (including making programs - for free - that typically cost upwards of $1000) and any problem you ever have can be solved by receiving free advice from other open source users.(they help because they are sooooo excited that yet one more person has discovered the wonder of an open OS.)
open source OS will do anything you need it to. it will run anything you need it to. it's harder to understand...waaay harder to use...but the rewards are infinite.
unpacking the metaphor: we need to be less concerned about making everything "fit" into one system of thinking and more concerned with being open enough to embrace the movement of god...even (or perhaps especially) when it's confusing, mysterious, or unexpected.
we need to read ALL of the bible in its original context in mind of its original audience...not just pieces of the bible that say things we like, or bits of the bible that seem (at first) like they were meant just for us and our friends.
we need to read the bible with our traditions, allowing scripture to edit those traditions when we discover that some of our favorite things actually have no basis in scripture.
above all? we need to realize that the WHOLE POINT of any OS (read "theology") is so that we can use the programs (read "gifts"and "fruits" of the spirit)...so we need to constantly be evaluating ourselves (and our OS/theology) on the basis of whether or not we're loving people better, serving god more wholly, and being more useful in god's mission to save the world.
and dangers? are there any big dangers to this open source theology? YES...absolutely. the biggest danger comes from anyone who latches onto an idea that is neither biblically substantive nor open to testing by other leaders and thinkers (i.e. their idea is complete crap but they refuse to acknowledge it...so they become a cult leader). without systemic accountability anyone can run with any idea regardless of how kooky it is...the only way to avoid this danger is to open ourselves to dialogue, attend to our critics, and lean on the creeds as pillars of our orthodox confidence.
but - even with this very dark danger in mind - the rewards for faithfully following jesus are worth the risk of turning into a weirdo.
it's better for us to uphold the values of studying the scripture and opening ourselves to a more robust and deep-feeling experience of god through prayer and the guidance of the spirit...than simply memorizing a bunch of retread theology done by the swiss and the germans five centuries ago (or the italians and the french one millenia ago).
contemporary examples of the good OS: rob bell, tom wright, peter rollins, michael frost & alan hirsch, len sweet
historical examples of the bad OS: david koresch, jim jones
there's a widerange of availability. the old OS versions often work better than the new ones. it becomes frustrating to upgrade all of the time, but the payoff is pretty good because there is always newer and newer software that works on virtually every computer.
however, the OS crashes all of the time, when you need the OS to solve a problem you've caused by overloading it.
to unpack the metaphor: there is great freedom in wesleyan churches...freedom to grow, to learn, to discover christ and the freedom that he brings
but there is also a great deal of confusion...people often feel like there is no "one truth" or that any reading of the scriptures counts as a valid interpretation. grace is often taken for granted and transformation typically ends right after a single sinner's prayer is prayer.
contemporary examples of the good: greg boyd, earl creps,
historical examples of the bad: dennis rader (infamous serial killer), leni riefenstahl (nazi propaganda filmmaker)
they are easy to use and quick to learn. the OS is intuitive and you always know where to get answers. they only work with their own software, however, and much of their energy goes towards advertising the flaws in other operating systems. plus, they prohibit you from doing anything other than exactly what they want you to do.
to unpack the metaphor: these theologies have got everything figured out. they sew up all complexity neatly and tidily. they leave no stone unturned.
or so they think
in actuality, there are a million little questions for which these theologies have no good answer...and you'll be damned straightaway is you start asking them. furthermore, if you ever find some of their "perfect" answers less than perfect, you'll be considered a heretic and promptly be subjected to church discipline.
when these theologies work, they work great - lives are transformed, people find faith in christ jesus, etc.
but when they don't work things fall apart fast - leading to violent and harsh beliefs, lack of love, and love of religion instead of the way of jesus.
contemporary examples of the good OS: pope john paul II, ronald rolheiser, mother theresa, ed setzer, john piper
historical examples of the bad OS: hitler, tsar nicholar II, sam bowens (founder of the KKK)
an operating system allows you to access the programs installed on your computer.
in our little metaphor here, the operating system is our theology and the "programs" are the gifts of the spirit and the fruits of the spirit.
(remember...this is just a metaphor)
anyway, i think we forget that our theology is really just a way for us to better understand how god wants us to live and to whom we owe our allegiance.
god wants us to live self-sacrificially (kenotically...for you theology dorks)
and god wants our total and complete allegiance to him and his kingdom at the expense of everything else.
our theology SERVES THE PURPOSE of transforming us into people who shadow god in every moment.
if, then, our theology does not lead us into this kind of life it is useless and flawed (jesus said: you'll know a tree by its fruit...ergo, if your theology doesn't produce fruit that transforms you into a more loving, self-sacrificial, penitent follower of christ then your theology is broken).
i was angry - having just finished reading 4 of his books in which he blasted other church leaders by name - and felt like i needed to steer our people (and many of my friends) away from his ministry and his influence.
anyway - carmel (my wife) told me i'd committed the same sins i was frustrated with this pastor for making by virtue of writing this angry blog post.
she was right.
so, i've removed the old post; but am feeling a little frustrated about how to interrupt the growing influence of this other pastor whose theology is good and clear (though narrow and strictly reformed) and whose preaching is exceptional (though angry and frequently slanderous).
i just don't want the people i love and am called to serve to think that right theology is somehow more important than right behavior, right relationship, or right missional activity. those four things go together (or at least they should) and when somone emphasizes 1 over the other 3 things get very much out-of-balance and can cause serious real-life damage.
historically, we have many, many examples of people whose theology was perfect but whose lives were almost the exact opposite of christ. everyone from the inquisitors to the crusaders and the nazis to the klu klux klan used pristine, biblical theology to justify dehumanizing other people, using violent rhetoric that erupted into violent action.
theology, then, is obviously not the only thing we need to consider while following jesus.
truth be told, though; most of the justification for acting like an ass comes from an overemphasies on pauline theology.
paul was brilliant, inspired by the holy spirit, and has taught us much about how to be the church.
but he's not the only author in the new testament for a reason.
his harshness (and that of james') must always be read alongside peter (who taught us to suffer well) and john (who taught us to love always) and jude (who warned us against teachers whose lives misrepresented christ jesus).
not to mention jesus' own words which - above anything else - taught us to love god and love one another self-sacrificially.
so - i'm frustrated...frustrated that many good and godly people who are becoming excited about theology for the first time may very well miss the forest for the trees.
they'll get their reformed (regurgitated) calvinist (calculus) doctrine perfect...
...but end up following the example of their teacher and becoming hateful, prejudicial, and unchristlike.
and that makes me sad.