repression

Bloged in poems by rod Sunday April 30, 2006

A thousand thoughts,
A thousand words,
yet pen repelled by paper.

a thought that could change the world

Bloged in worship by rod Wednesday April 26, 2006

Allison and I received the newsletter from an overseas ministry we support that stated that the leader of the ministry was in jail. He’s been charged with creating “communal disharmony”. His activities? Caring for children in orphanages. Allison and I were talking about this and how culture, and religion render things that seem unthinkable to us, perfectly appropriate in the eyes of others. I mentioned that it is nearly impossible for us to understand the depth of conviction held by people who in the name of those convictions do things that we know are heinous. Our religious and moral convictions are appalled by the same activities that others’ do because of their moral and religious convictions. We tend always to feel that people behave differently than we do because they are uneducated or intentionally evil. Educating them to our beliefs will certainly make them see the error of their ways. It rarely occurs to us that they are behaving thus precisely because they are battling what they believe to be evil. It seems that Christians, even missionaries, remain less successful sometimes because we haven’t the ability to realize that we aren’t the only ones being intentional. My cultural and religious context can’t understand how a people would think it appropriate to blow up and burn buildings as retaliation for being accused of terrorism.
Likewise, we find it unthinkable that a man would be jailed for attempting to care for motherless and fatherless children who haven’t a thing in this world. I mentioned that perhaps it has to do with Karma and the caste system. If I believed that suffering in this life guarantees a higher level or higher reward in the next life, I would probably refuse, or even flee from anything that would jeopardize my next life standing, such as better standing in my current life. With this mentality, I might actually feel I’m caring for the next life well-being of these orphans by assuring that they are not cared for and raised up in the current life.
As I was voicing my concerns that Christians don’t seem to be able to approach such an understanding, I thought of Bono, who seems to be open to understanding how people think in order to better understand how to minister to them. I was thinking of his description of why he is a Christian. He points out that every religion on earth seem to be based in Karma, and that Christianity is the only one based in grace. Why would someone like me not be drawn to a religion based in grace rather than karma? This seems to be the thing that makes Christianity the antithesis of other religions.
Only a few minutes after our discussion had waned, on a Christian blog, I read a comment that was criticizing the premise that if you are not experiencing God now, then you are missing out. The commenter said he’d rather experience GOD in eternity than some other god for a short time on this earth. Of course “eternity” is referencing something that doesn’t begin until later. I imagined that a good proof text for an apologetic for this thinking would be not to store treasures on earth where things are destroyed. Rejecting experiencing God now so that you can experience him later sounds an awfully lot like karma to me. Deny yourself now so that you’re guaranteed better standing in the next life. But this as a Christian doctrine?
Where have we come when we believe that not being conformed to this world is practiced by embracing the concept of karma, and fingering as false teachers those who preach grace obtained through Christ’s suffering in our place.
I have voiced concern before that it seems that we more and more often question direct activity that we’re instructed biblically, but at the same time, receive teaching that directly contradicts the scripture.
Beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news. It grieves me that the only good news there is is being mistaken with the same old hopelessness that it was given to replace.

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magnificent quote

Bloged in worship by rod Tuesday April 25, 2006

“Believing God” I originally thought to be her best book, but on second & third reading, I realized it was very repetitious. She seemed to be writing and re-writing the same points over and over.

-from this Slice comment stream on Beth Moore bible studies

Agnus Dei

Bloged in apprenticeship, easter, poems, prayers, worship by rod Monday April 24, 2006


Paschalvenus

the paschal moon is all but gone;
a waning crescent fading into the passing season
as are the fasts and sacrifices undertaken
to remember for a time.

the Paschal Lamb,
Bright Morning Star shines on
as new mercies are bestowed in the misty dawn
day after day after day after day…

Yeshua, Paschal Lamb,
slain from the foundation of the world,
may we remember in this season and in the next
and live thankful lives of service in the
freedom you’ve won for us.

As the flower moon waxes
may we be found blossoming into
what you are making us.

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on being one at sunset

Bloged in love and marriage, poems by rod Sunday April 23, 2006

To confuse myself with you is not such a stretch of the imagination.
The palm of my hand on your cheek.
Or is that your palm – my cheek?
My fingertip feels your skin,
Or am I feeling my fingertip with your skin?

Now, spent, I confuse us with the waning day.
Soft glow, dying orange light,
Illuminates the undersides of the rustling leaves out the window.
The slow, thick color of sunset gives everything a light of its own.
Orange and purple.
It flows around us, like it bathes the leaves.
Over, around, beneath.

I can feel the day melting on my skin, heavier each moment.
I can feel my skin become the sunset.
I melt.
You melt.
Dark falls.
We dream
One dream.

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history will teach us something…

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, primary sources by rod Sunday April 23, 2006

…if we stop asking the wrong questions.

I know that there are things that I say over and over, and that some of my rants get beat to death, but from time to time, things become clearer in my mind, or I think of a way to say something that might be clearer than before. I’m always compelled to say it again. A good while ago, I actually posted a several blogs about our failure to use primary sources. In fact, that series wasn’t the first time I’ve addressed my aggravation with that fact. At some point, I made a comment that we seem to be teaching from the gospels less and from the epistles more and more. As a result, we are viewing Paul as the interpreter of Jesus. A comment to that post asked me to unpack that statement, but as I got busy, I never returned to do that.
There have been several events in the past 2 weeks that have got my mind back in my primary sources rant, so this morning I was contemplating these events and surmising about their outcomes. In light of my comment about Paul being our interpreter of Jesus, it occurred to me that we have less trouble understanding backward interpretation from the time of Jesus. Somehow, we realize and accept that Jesus’ teaching was interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures - for us, the Old Testament. Jesus told us that he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He constantly points to and quotes scripture and gives clues to how it spoke of him. John, often points out the meaning of actual events by explaining from the Old Testament, why it had to take place the way it did. Even after the resurrection (an event that should have made sense retroactively of many passages, and many of Jesus’ own words), Jesus walked along the road to Emmaus opening the meaning of the scriptures to them.
This makes sense to us, that Jesus should come along and make sense of all that had been said before concerning him. So we develop a system of retro understanding. The words and events in Jesus’ life make sense of prior history. But the truth of this is that the words and events of Jesus’ life make sense of ALL of history. Jesus is the hub around which all of history must be interpreted and by which it makes sense. Forward and back. Somehow we make errant generalizations from the knowledge that Jesus made sense of the past, so that we think the past should always be interpreted from the present. In other words, we can make sense of Jesus from what we’ve heard and said about him since. We look backward with an arrogance that we are better equipped now to understand what he was saying, rather than realize that what he was saying would better equip us to understand ourselves now. This attitude and disconnect is manifest in my previous statement of how we regard the epistles. We use Paul’s teaching to interpret Jesus rather than Jesus’ teaching to interpret Paul. Jesus has got to be regarded as the interpreter of everything taught, not only the things taught before him. We have got to ask, how are we to understand Paul, in light of what Jesus said?
A much more blatant disconnect is our ability to completely miss things that Jesus seems to have addressed, because we’ve become much more dependent upon consistent church tradition and praxis. Without knowledge of why things have been done and become custom, we run the danger of applying the practice as procedure but have no purpose in doing so. There are practices that we would defend to the death, but that have no biblical basis. We fail to realize they have no biblical basis, because it is just how we’ve always done it, and we assume that our intentions assure we’re operating biblically. Our blindness robs us of humility, and the ability to give grace and love.
We must not use church tradition and human commentary, habits and assumptions, to interpret what Jesus was teaching and doing. We must be willing to listen to him to come to evaluate and interpret what has happened, what we’ve done and who we’ve been ever since. If we were able to think this way, we would find Jesus perfectly capable of being our teacher, our instructor with ample knowledge to train us to live even today.
While today falls very short in proclaiming the ability to make sense of Jesus teaching, his teaching is ample and suited to explaining today to us.

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i propose

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, culture by rod Friday April 21, 2006

If one is going to live and die by the concept of propositional truth as a methodology, he should be absolutely sure that what he is proposing is Truth.

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shifting meanings

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Wednesday April 19, 2006

A little over two years ago, I wrote a few posts dealing with word pairs that I believe have become confused with one another, or have rendered one another meaningless. This happens in several ways. Sometimes one of the words, in reality, represents a means to the other. Over time confusion sets in and the means becomes the end. When this happens, sometimes the result is that the real end, which was reached by the means that has become the end, is forgotten and we go about pointlessly performing a means as an end. Doing something is what we’re about, but we have no idea that we were once trying to accomplish something with what we’re doing. At other times, when the means becomes the end, the end becomes the means, and thus we twirl endlessly in a confused stagnancy, but don’t realize that we are stagnant because we are spinning while we are going nowhere. We think that the movement of the trees stirs the air and causes the wind to blow, and completely lose comprehension of cause and effect. Sometimes the two words just begin to mean the same thing, and thus, are used interchangeably, or redundantly in pairs, while their meanings morph into some gray area somewhere between the true definitions of the separate words.
Since my rants a couple years ago, I’ve gathered more word pairs that I have noticed have begun to be misused and misunderstood, and that I’d like to discuss and get feedback on my observations.
I’m going to start by reposting my original post called “the integrity of integrity.” I’ve never reposted something that I’ve written in the past, though I’ve referenced old posts. I figured though that I’d stand a better chance getting you to read if it were right here to see. So here it is, respond as you see fit.

originally posted January 20, 2004

Confession

Honesty and integrity – two words that go hand in hand. They are often spoken just like they are found in that sentence. If you think long and hard about them, there are just nuances that separate them. They are so close in my mind that I assign the phrase as just another redundant Christianese thoughtless word pair. Honesty and integrity. Mercy and grace. Fellowship and community. Awesome and wonderful. Always and forever.
Lately though, I’ve been seeing a modeled difference in the meanings of these two words. I think I would define integrity differently than honesty. To me, integrity implies adherence to high moral or ethical standards. I guess if the words need to apply to the same scenario, then honesty would be the willingness to admit failure to adhere to these standards. But a serious lowering of the bar occurs when integrity is defined as the ability to admit the failure, rather than the standard that was breached.
When the word integrity is used in this way, one needn’t have any at all. All one needs is honesty. Do as you please, but always admit what you’ve done. Now the difference between these two words is much greater.
There is a serious moral danger in coming to the place in which one has a peace because they’ve got nothing to hide, but they’ve got nothing to hide because nothing causes them shame. A simple act of confession erases conscience. Sure God forgives the sins we confess when we repent, but if we confuse sin with a sin, what are we confessing? Will a confession of each act while we willingly live in sin get us any closer to holiness?
I think the problem boils down to a confusion of confession and repentance. Confession is the honesty part; repentance, the return of integrity by ceasing to do that which was confessed, and begin again to adhere to the standards that were broken.
Hold integrity up for what it is. Its something we want. If we are convinced that all we need to do to have it is admit our lack of it, then there is no goal, no standard, nothing to strive for. We develop an honest immorality and pat our selves on the back for it.

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promise

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Monday April 17, 2006

“surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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he is risen

Bloged in easter, worship by rod Sunday April 16, 2006

He is risen indeed

He is risen…

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