According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heaven Has A Name and It's Called Sidney

Resurrection | in memory of Sidyney

by Mason Slater
posted on May 19, 2011

A week and a half ago our cousin, Sydney Potjer, passed away due to complications from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

She was six years old.

Losing someone so young has been devastating, but that we had even six years with Sydney was a miracle. When diagnosed at one year old with SMA she was not expected to live past two. Yet due to her parents incredible 24-hour a day care for her, and her determination to keep fighting, she was able to be part of our lives for far longer.

In those six years Sydney touched many people, with her ready smile, infectious personality, and desire to see the best for everyone around her. This was evident at her funeral last week, when her entire class from school gathered to sing songs in her memory, and over 400 people attended the service.

Our local paper, the Grand Rapids Press, did an article on Sydney’s life which you can read here.

In it her mother, Kami, recounts a conversation she had with Syd “She was excited about going to heaven and seeing Jesus. She said, ‘I want to go there. I want to see Jesus.’ Of course, she wanted to come back home afterward.

That story was told a number of times over the week, and on the second or third telling it struck me. Yes, it’s cute, and sweet, and touching,

but it’s also spot on.

Sydney, unbeknownst to the reporter or most of those gathered to honor her memory, had summarized the Biblical hope far better than we often hear it from pulpits and professionals.

When God’s people die they do indeed go into his presence, protected and comforted by our Lord, but then, later, we do “come back home”.

And Jesus will be coming with us, to restore this place and set all things to rights.

This hope, of not just disembodied bliss in heaven but real grounded resurrection hope for new life and new creation, has been especially poignant over the past couple weeks.

It’s easy to intellectualize our theology, but right now resurrection has a face to it for me, Sydney’s. A girl who, because of her SMA, was bound to a power chair, and in the resurrection will be able to experience this place as she never was able to before.

I have no doubt that Sydney is free already of her illness, but someday she will be able to walk the fields of Byron Center, play a softball game without any help, even ride a horse.

And all of it will be free from the effects of sin, and death, and pain because, in his resurrection, Jesus was victorious over all that takes life from his people, and in his life we see the promise of the life to come.

Grace and peace.

*Images from the book Art that Tells the Story*

1984 vs. Brave New World | Our own Distopia


by Mason Slater
posted on May 20, 2011

I have an inexplicable love for all things distopian, so I was intrigued when I came across this comparison of two of my favorites in that genre, 1984 and Brave New World.

Though 1984 was, in my opinion, the better read, this comparison argues that Brave New World might be a more accurate critique of contemporary culture. That rings quite true to me, and in fact I've had this very conversation with friends before.

Like Fahrenheit 451, Huxley's Brave New World features a society who, for the most part, can be relied on to oppress themselves with little outside help. Sure, both books feature powerful enforcers, but the majority of the work is left to the people.

People who volunteer to ban books because they are seen as dangerous, and because they are entranced by more immediate forms of media. People who are kept in line not through force, but through entertainment. People who don't challenge the status-quo not because of fear of retaliation (though that comes as well), but out of fear of losing a privileged position.

We worry about 1984, but it may actually be a Brave New World that we are on the path towards.

The illustration is based on Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, and was recently featured at Theology and Culture.





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The Industrial Eden

“For a long time now we have understood ourselves as traveling to some sort of industrial paradise, some new Eden conceived and constructed entirely by human ingenuity.

And we have thought ourselves free to use and abuse nature in any way that might further this enterprise.

Now we have overwhelming evidence that we are not smart enough to recover Eden by assault, and that nature does not tolerate or excuse our abuses.

If, in spite of the evidence against us, we are finding it hard to relinquish our old ambition, we are also seeing more clearly every day how that ambition has reduced and enslaved us.”

- Wendell Berry “Nature as Measure” in Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food


The Great Disappointment

http://rachelheldevans.com/great-disappointment

by Rachel Held Evans
May 20, 2011
Repent! Jesus is coming soonphoto © 2011 Ben Sutherland | more info (via: Wylio)

In 1831 a Baptist preacher from New York announced that careful study of Scripture revealed that Jesus Christ would return to earth sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. Before long, William Miller would draw over 50,000 followers to his cause. Dubbed "Millerites" by a skeptical public, the group would spend the next 13 years preparing for Judgment Day.

Miller’s first two projected dates for the Apocalypse (March 21 and April 18) passed without incident. Undeterred, he recalculated and prepared his followers to expect Christ’s return on October 22, 1844. This time, he said, he knew without a doubt.

People made final arrangements, gathered together, and waited to be raptured.

But October 22 came and went like any other day, and as soon as the sun set the devastation among Miller’s followers took hold. As one Millerite reported, "Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before... We wept, and wept, till the day dawn."

They called it The Great Disappointment.

Now it looks as though history is about to repeat itself.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Family Radio broadcaster Harold Camping has garnered quite a following by predicting that the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011. Many of his followers have quit their jobs, emptied their bank accounts, and travelled the country handing out tracts and pamphlets to warn others of their impending doom, news reporters in tow.

The nice thing about completely crazy religious people is that they make slightly less crazy religious people like you and me feel better about ourselves. Oh I’ve had some fun at Camping’s expense—retweeting jokes about requesting pagan airline pilots on Saturday, sharing weather reports that include “rapture” in the weekend forecast, giggling at the plan to leave empty pairs of clothes at notable places around the country, and speculating on what Camping and company will do on Sunday morning when the sun rises once again.

And yet, deep down, I know the difference between us is not so great.

I confess that beneath my playful derision lies a hint of fear, not that I’ll be “left behind” but that I’m already caught up—in a delusion, in false hope, in a God of my own making…and perhaps, in a looming Great Disappointment.

Like it or not, Harold Camping and his followers make us laugh because we see a small piece of our faith in theirs. They are exaggerated caricatures of ourselves.

We too are guilty of projecting onto God our expectations and desires.

We too can get overconfident in our interpretations of the Bible.

We too expect God to judge the way we think he should judge, act when we think he should act, be who we think he should be.

And, you gotta admit, there’s a chance that we too might be absolutely, devastatingly, irrecoverably wrong.

If disappointment is about thwarted expectations, then we have all been disappointed by God at one time or another. My hope is that when the sun rises on May 22, Harold Camping will repent of his overconfidence and delight in a God who is bigger than his expectations and whose plans for this world far exceed anything he could ever ask or imagine.

My prayer is that I do the same.

1 Town, 50 People, 1 very difficult Question



Very interesting video... it makes me want to ask the
same question, that is,"What's mine?"


The End of Evangelicalism 6

http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/05/20/the-end-of-evangelicalism-6/
 
by Scot McKnight
posted May 20, 2011
 
I begin with this claim: the church, the local church as well as the church universal, is a politic. Instead of supporting a political party, which confuses the church into serving two masters, the church strives to be a politic. These are my words, not David Fitch’s, but I think they get to the heart of David’s section on how the church is to recover the core of our politics for mission. The problem is the Christian Nation vision, but the solution is to abandon that and to become a politic under the Lordship of Jesus, a politic of the kingdom of God. Fitch, in The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions) examines four theologians.

The questions we need to face are these: How is your church shaping the politic of the church as part of God’s mission in this world? How is your church a “politic”? The gospel is performed as well as proclaimed. How does it perform the mission of God? Has your church been co-opted by political partisanship?

They are Henri du Lubac, William Cavanaugh, Nathan Kerr and John Howard Yoder. Here’s how he ties them together:

Lubac’s focus is on the Body of Christ in his physical body, in the Eucharist and in the church, but the eucharist has become a place for spectating instead of embodying that Body. Cavanaugh, another Catholic theologian, contends the eucharist births a political presence and engages society for redemption and renewal. It is thus a subversive presence.

Nathan Kerr, however, subverts both of these ideas (and Fitch’s) by contending the church is the church when it is dispersed into mission. Missiology precedes ecclesiology. The church becomes a non-site place! This leads to John Howard Yoder … who advocates the church as those who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ — when the church embodies the “gifts.” It lives today what the world is to become. The church does this in binding and loosing, breaking bread, baptism, the gifts, and the rule of conversation.

And the church does this as the body that extends the incarnation, by living the kingdom, and by having a porous boundary.

Now Fitch digs: “Evangelicals have put forth the church as Christ’s voluntarist army dispersing individuals into the world to do the work of Christ and his mission.” He says it is “the social body of His Lordship (His Reign) incarnating Christ in the world for God’s mission” (166).

The Sunday gathering is in order to be shaped together into his body for the world in eucharist, preaching the Word and re-entry into the world. Sunday gatherings are not to be distinguished from daily living.


continue to -
 
 
 




 

The Cycle of Hope in Life & Death

Take heart… there is Hope!
http://peterrollins.net/?p=2818

by Peter Rollins
posted 6/5/11

I remember, when I was young, reading a short story by the great Philip K. Dick about a man who discovers that insects are highly evolved beings intent on destroying humanity. If I remember correctly the insects communicate to one another through a form of ESP that the man is suddenly able to pick up.

He gains this unusual skill purely by accident late one evening while sitting in his house. The insects that he overhears quickly realise this and immediately send out a message to millions of other insects, telling them that the man must die.

Within a matter of seconds a mass of insects start appearing from everywhere. They ooze out of cracks in the wall, they slide through the slit beneath the door, and they flood from the gaps between the floorboards.

But just as it would seem that everything is lost dozens of spiders drop down from the ceiling and form a circle around the terrified man. One of these spiders addresses him saying, “You have discovered that the insects of the world are here to destroy humanity, but don’t worry we spiders have been placed here to protect you”.

The vast sea of insects edge ever closer as the spiders close ranks around the distraught man.

“Is there any hope?” he cries as the insects circle around him in their millions.

“It’s difficult to say,” replies one of the spiders, “there are so many of them. But we think there might be hope, so be courageous”

Soon the insects reach the circle of spiders and begin the overrun them.

Again the man pleads to the spiders, asking if there is any hope and again they reply with a cautious “yes”.

More minutes pass and soon the insects are crawling all over the man, millions of them. They begin to overrun his body and sliver into his various orifices.

“What’s happening” chokes the man to one of the few remaining spiders, “I thought you said there was hope”

“There is,” replies the spiders, “I promise that there is.”

“But I am dying” he shouts with his last breath, “they are killing me.”

“Oh” replied the spider, before succumbing to the flood of insects, “I’m sorry, but we never meant that there was hope you. We mean that there might just be hope for your species.”

As I reflect upon this story I am reminded of how much I want there to be hope for me… for my circle of friends… for my life. But perhaps this very narrow understanding of hope is not only misguided, but actually oppressive.

For there is a necessary shadow side to the belief that there is hope for me as I face my own demise and it is the sense that there really is no hope at all. These are not two separate realities but rather intimately tied to one another as heat is to light. Both of these feelings are centred upon me and focus upon my tightly bounded circle of reality.

But there can be a profound sense of peace as we expand the concept of hope beyond ourselves and the idea of our own longevity. Whether or not we will persist as an individual is not settled one way or the other when we expand our understanding of hope but rather becomes irrelevant (whether one believes in it or not). Rather we find a certain comfort in seeing ourselves as part of something much bigger, as participating in the ongoing manifestation of life herself. And that, whether or not there is any hope for us, there might just be hope for life, hope that she will eternally spring forth from the dark void of nothingness.


Eating with Others

On Consumption, Vomiting and Eating with Others
http://peterrollins.net/?p=2840

by Peter Rollins
posted 9/5/11


One evening a young man who is returning home after a long and tiring day at work gets a call from his concerned wife, “Dear, be careful on the way home as I just heard on the radio that some crazy guy has been spotted going full speed the wrong way up the freeway.” “Sorry love” he shouts back, “can’t talk right now… there isn’t just one nutter, there are hundreds of them!!!”

...One of the interesting things to note about this little anecdote is the way that the husband does not even entertain the possibility that he might be going the wrong way. Rather he takes it for granted that he is right. This is not a belief that he is conscious of, rather all his conscious thoughts are filtered through this belief.

This situation is sadly all too common. Let us approach this idea by briefly reflecting on how we encounter people with different political, religious and/or cultural values to our own. When faced with such a confrontation (that society all too often attempts to protect us from) our primal response is often one of either,

Consumption – Attempting to dissolve their difference by integrating them into our social body (making them like us)

Vomiting – Rejecting them from our social body as a foreign agent that must be expelled (protecting the integrity of our body)

Of course, most educated and enlightened communities attempt to avoid these very natural tendences, opting instead for a more reflective position that gets beyond these extremes of consuming the other or vomiting them out. This more thoughtful position can be described as eating with the other. Here the community seeks to sit down with the other and seek out places of convergence.

However this third position still operates from the same underling belief as the others,

Consumption – We are right and you are wrong. We shall integrate you

Vomiting – We are right and you are wrong. We shall reject you

Eating with – We are both right in some substantial way. Let us reflect upon where we converge and move forward together

In each of these cases we seek to exorcise or downplay the monstrosity of the other (their bizarre practices and beliefs). But what if one of the truly transformative encounters with the other is not where we try to annihilate their monstrosity (by abolishing it, rejecting it or domesticating it), but by coming into contact with our own monstrosity through it? In this alternative type of encounter we glimpse how we look through their eyes and begin to ask whether our beliefs and practices are just as strange.

This is the subject of a book that I am currently writing.