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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pyro-Theology: A Place to Work Out Conflict, Disappointment, and Faith


Generations of senseless misery. High potential for the lucky. Actual miseries for the ill-fated. No one
ever seems to deliver on, the all-too-easily-forgotten-promise of, confronting and relieving suffering.





"An aim of pyrotheology is not to avoid conflict, but rather to create a space for it...
To hash things out, to be challenged and to perhaps discover that the other has
a perspective that might change you." - Peter Rollins






"The aim of pyrotheology is not to avoid conflict, but rather to create a space for it. There are real and serious issues to be addressed in every culture, and the strategies of [either the] hawk-like war mongers or neo-liberals would seek to avoid all conflict, are rarely the answer. Rather gritty, dirty salons are required where drinks can be slammed onto tables, obscenities shouted and tears shed. Spaces where the only real non-negotiable is a commitment to returning again and again to the same space and the same people. To hash things out, to be challenged and to perhaps discover that the other has a perspective that might change you. The point of embracing unknowing, interrogating assumptions and facing personal issues (the bread and butter of pyrotheology) is to facilitate a better form of life that is not only more enjoyable and enriching at a personal level, but also one that provides the basis of more healthy and effective political engagement." - Peter Rollins










"He lay listening to the horse
crop the grass at his stakerope
and he listened to the wind in the emptiness
and watched stars trace the arc of the hemisphere
to die in the darkness at the edge of the world.

As he lay there
the agony in his heart was like a stake.
He imagined the pain of the world to be
like some formless parasitic being
seeking out the warmth of human souls
wherein to incubate.

And he thought he knew what
made one liable to its visitations.
What he had not known was that
it was mindless, and so,
had no way to know
the limits of those souls
and what he feared
was that there might be no limits."

- Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses






"If the only image of Christianity that a society can access is of a [j]esus that is intimately associated with subjugation, imperialism, colonialism; a [j]esus that articulates the language of the Domination System; a [j]esus that silences the critiques of logic, of science, of Truth; a [j]esus that reinforces exclusivism, tribalism, and nationalism as a way to consolidate its power; if that society is utterly unable to differentiate between that [j]esus and the True [J]esus, then the Prophet of our time is the Atheist.

"Pyro-theology is one of the only places that lead me to believe we are not at that desperate time yet, and that is encouraging to me, because I definitely think there is still [J]esus to be found amongst all the other manifestations of [j]esus in our world."

- anon





"I’m reading Walter Brueggemann's ‘Prophetic Imagination.’ He discusses how prophetic communities offer radical criticism of the empire through grief. On the surface, I’m wondering if this is another possible expression of pyro? Has anyone ever wrestled with his work in this regard?"

- anon

“It is the task of prophetic ministry and imagination to bring
people to engage their experiences of suffering to death.”

- Walter Brueggemann


“The prophet brings to public expression the dread of endings,
the collapse of our self-madeness,
the barriers and pecking orders
that secure us at each other’s expense,
and the fearful practice of
eating off the table of a hungry brother or sister.”

- Walter Brueggemann


“‘Jesus wept.’
Such weeping is a radical criticism,
a fearful dismantling
because it means the end of all machismo;
weeping is something kings rarely do
without losing their thrones.
Yet the lose of thrones
is precisely what is called for
in radical criticism.”

- Walter Brueggemann







"Ikon was perfect for me. A safe community at a time when no one understood me at my "church."

[Even] my own partner at the time thought Rob Bell was a demon and that I was possessed. He literally tried performing an exorcism on me.

Yes, I am still in shock years later.

So what brought me to that person and to those people and that point in life?

That is a more important question than any theological question I could have asked myself.

My recent revelation has made me so aware of questions that are far more necessary, greater, and practical than pyrotheology or questions about God.

These are the more important questions about the very physical world [than what I] can see and [touch and] test and find with a microscope.

More important questions about the reality of my brain. [That thing] which frames the God I imagine and everything else that I question. That I experience. That I think. That I feel. And that I say.

Now, more than ever, [I am] tempted to set pyrotheology itself alight with the flames of questions that challenge the place and priority of Pyrotheology - or any theology - in one's life.

With this discovery I am, for the first time in my life, truly feel [the prejudice of] what "looking down upon" minorities, [the impoverished, the castaways of life] feel like.

I've never felt a weight so heavy before of living under the dark cloud of an international ideological framework that looks at brains like mine and people like me, and sees us as "less than" human.

I quickly experienced belonging to a people that is patronized, misunderstood, made fun of, and shamed for who we are.

I never felt that in my life... ever!

I've always been in the cool group. [The dominant group.] Even in those brief times when I fell off the cool wagon I [have] never felt this kind of weight [before].

And once I realized where I belong a sense of justice rose up in me to start addressing that heavy weight of ideology that the media [and my friends] persist with. That outdated science itself has establshed [in my bible groups and church].

I now have my own "principalities and powers in heavenly places" to wrestle with as Ephesians says.

I see the dark forces of ignorance everywhere.

I look and I now know where to be a light and on what hill to shine. And I feel a sense of what gay folks and African Americans have felt in addressing a massive false perception.

And it feels good to shine.

So. So. Good.

- anon


"Now read from the bottom up"

What Is Pyrotheology?

What is Pyrotheology? It is the burning down of everything thought important to us. It is a deeply black, deeply dissettling time of life where everything is thrown out of our lives in order to begin again. To begin with a newer vision unformed and awaiting formation. A time of prophetic imagination when the soul becomes so deeply vexed that it despairs of life. It is deeply angered by the lies we've lived with and have told ourselves. It is a time where suffering and death become the same thing. Where no light exists and all is black.

It is a time of endings and beginnings. Of ending an old life overspent with old forms and ways of being to explore a new life with new forms and ways of being. It is being more wise and cautious than at first when youth was an incautious sponge absorbing everything it saw and heard from significant people and movements surrounding itself.

A time where only pain and suffering must now exist until a kind of repentance is made for being so foolish. Where peace only invades when a nothingness exists in our being holding no answers and glad for this space of darkness and void.

For myself, it was a time where I was forsaken by the God of my youth but never forsaken by the God of reality. The God that died for me during this time was the God taught to me by my culture oriented in bloodshed, violence, and politics of oppression.

A God whom inhabited an imperfect theology built upon imperfect teachings of past generations so sure of themselves and in their philosophies of Western domination. So sure of their religious destinies, their arduous lives, their societal fulfillments. Carving out a history not of God's love but God's ruthless wrath, anger, and judgment should I fail to follow in their footsteps of war, of conquest, of brow beating opponents with God's holy book and opposing unholy thoughts.

Here was a dark space that must be thankfully abandoned in order to see the God who inhabits light and not darkness. Here was a time in life that must be ripped apart by my own hands as moved by the Spirit of God's winnowing fork burning up the piles of combustible chaff of biblical idolatries. Here was a cross-current sweeping me away in mad, rushing, torrents from the turbulent seas of my past into an ocean beyond my control. Unswimmable. Unsurvivable. Without horizons. And at one time, without light.

But I knew then, as I know now, that God was there and had never abandoned me. Just my false image of Himself which needed destroying. Who needed to fall on the violence of my own metaphors so that by His own violence to my life I might find resurrection.

It is a curious thing, is it not, to speak of the God of peace and love in so violent a terminology? But this is what I still observe in this violent world we make and must break if it is to live in peace and love. of death, not to others, but to ourselves. To our every unholy thought that does violence to those that would be violent towards us - or struggles with the violence clutching lives different from mine own. Such is the way of the world if we are to survive. And so unlike what I imagine an Eden, or a renewing world, might be. A world without violence

But alas, pyrotheology says that one must argue and fight for one's faith lest it be usurped by a violence that would undo it. So that by destruction may come a new destruction. One that can be holy and burn up all things in our lives by fire so that we may be a pure aroma of sacrifice and offering to a God of war and violence and all-seeing justice.

In a world of sin and evil only a God who dies to His own violence can be resurrected to the destruction of creation's violence. Even so must the penitent sinner acknowledge his or her own death before resurrecting against the oppressions of this wicked world full of spiritual delusion, political lust, greed, and selfish desire.

Against a world that sees itself and not the other. Which would kill all unlike itself lest despairing of its own motives to fall into a pyrotheology destined for its own future. A future that will come if not now, then later. A fire that must come. Must burn. Must destroy if we are to become a renewing people of God resurrected into a holy fellowship.

A fellowship which is at peace with those struggling with their own peace. Steadfast in its love for the other refusing God's winnowing fire. Martyred upon the cross of its making once realizing that the cross is the end of violence and the start of violence and the beginning of renewal.

Pyrotheology is an unusual thing. It is unlike so much else I have been taught and hold dear. But it is a good thing when it is the real thing and not the substitute thing we give it if so fortunate to travel upon its hardness. For at the last, the substitute thing is the thing that may have to die as well. To burn once is not to burn again. Death in God is a continual death even as it is a continual resurrection. And hopefully, with each new death and resurrection we may inch forward closer and closer to this thing God calls us too in our lives. A call to life and light and fellowship with one another measured by love and forgiveness and peace.

I will be the first to say I have begun on this journey. But I have not ended my journey in the Spirit of God. It may be a journey long and hard where failure is as constant as mine own stubbornness to resist evil and oppression. But perhaps God has given me the sword and shield as much as the breastplate of righteousness and forgiveness. To act as warrior and priest, lover and accuser, in the same breath as the space I live within.

Not a Moses. Nor a David. Not a Christ. Nor a Paul. I am a prophet by God's own calling. And a priest to the testimonies of God's own revelation. But through this may His healing hand bring balm to all. And if not to all, then to my own soul desperate for His winnowing fire and steadfast love.


R.E. Slater
August 8, 2015







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