According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, 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
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, July 18, 2014

Peter Rollins - The Call to Brokenness

If you don’t want your faith to be challenged, do read this post

by Peter Rollins
July 15, 2014

In my last book there’s an interesting typo on the back cover. While Tony Jones assures me that he wrote, “If you don’t want you’re faith to be challenged, don’t read this book,” you will see on the back,

If you don’t want you’re faith to be challenged, do read this book

In [psycho]analysis, the analyst listens carefully and patiently for the precise moment when the person on the couch stumbles, makes a slip, or hesitates. For it is at these moments that an unconscious truth is potentially being spoken. Ironically, it is precisely such slips of the tongue that the person on the couch attempts to dismiss with phrases like, “that’s not what I meant,” “or I just made a basic mistake.” Here they spoke something without intending it, they confessed something without meaning it, and the clinical work of analysis bears witness to the fact that such unintended sayings can act as a royal road to some undisclosed, and often unpleasant, truth. Hence psychoanalysis is a discipline that listens out for what everybody else ignores, passes over or just plain fails to see.

So what if we were to put The Idolatry of God on the couch and ask what this mistake (what is called a “sic” in publishing) might mean? Of course it is highly unlikely to be intended by anyone involved in bringing the book to press. The copy/editor would have no reason to do it on purpose, and the editors where unlikely to have left it in for the sake of malice. Indeed I’m very sure that I was shown a copy of the back cover before it went to print, and I certainly didn’t see the mistake.

Just like in daily life, the relatively large number of people looking at the book before its publication missed the slip entirely. Indeed, more than this, I’ve never once had anyone mention it to me, which leads me to suspect that there is virtually no one in the world who has actually noticed it.

But what truth might be held in this unseen Freudian publishing mistake?

I want to throw out one possible interpretation, and it’s this. The book itself is attempting to ask people to question their fundamental way of being in the world. Not just religious people, but those who describe themselves as secular (though the book is more aimed at the former). It’s making a demand… and the demand is to overturn our pursuit of wholeness and mastery so that we might find liberation through embracing a fractured existence without guarantees.

But what if this is precisely the kind of book one can read so as to broadly avoid such a fundamental change and maintain the status quo? What if many people read me precisely to feel a little bit edgy without having to actually do the work that I am asking? This is a point that Katharine Moody insightfully glimpsed in an article entitled “Becoming Church Mice: From Refusing to Lead to Refusing to be Led.” Here she writes,

"Rollins’… courses like Atheism for Lent and The Omega Course [were] courses designed to send people off course. They were not so much offered as courses to be faithfully replicated than [to be] inspiration… to depart from Rollins’ courses and create their own… His work tries to recall us to the fact that we are all poets, all singer-songwriters and story-tellers. For… [we] all weep and pray, all doubt and disbelieve, are all a/theistic. The community of faith is called to be a community of Poets… rather than of Critics. We are to all enter into this Crucifixion experience fully ourselves… But… in a reversal of the function of many other church leaders who believe on behalf of the community, are we letting Rollins disbelieve on behalf of the community?" [Italics mine]

In other words, by reflecting upon the smashing of the idols are we really just doing the equivalent of having a nice daydream in which we imagine being freed from a horrible job so that we can wake up refreshed and actually go to it?

For dreams, at their worst, act to make our reality bearable.

Yet, perhaps an alternative is possible. For dreams, at their best, can lead into a fight where we struggle to change our reality.

Rendering it into something wonderful.

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