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July 30, 2013

Wandering the Web – From Kierkegaard to Harry Potter

Perhaps this is a pretentious enterprise, as very few people would actually want to read about the things I have found most interesting on the internet over the course of a week (or more). But as one is almost compelled to share new ideas, this is for anyone who wants to look at some of the thoughts bouncing around in my head.

Theological Wanderings

HypocrisyEveryone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony by Rachel Held Evans

This article is a great meditation on the problems with a biblical literalism that allows for no nuance. But that’s not what it is really about. It is about how we Christians pick and choose which sins we choose to condemn. And lo and behold, they are usually not ones we struggle with.

In short, we like to gang up.  We like to fashion weapons out of the verses that affect us the least and then “clobber” the minority with them. Or better yet, conjure up some saccharine language about speaking the truth in love before breaking out our spec-removing tweezers to help get our minds off of these uncomfortable logs in our own eyes.

Here’s to a hermeneutic which always considers context and is flavored with grace, and to hearts which are reoriented by Jesus to see our flaws as well as those of others.

Flood

Is the Flood Account a Beautiful Story about Rainbows? by Jeremy Myers

Sometimes someone does something so daring and significant that you just have to watch. It could be spectacular, or it could end up going down in flames. This is how I feel about Jeremy Myers’ series at Till He Comes about the flood account in light of Jesus. I’m excited because Jeremy shares my belief that Jesus’ life displays the way God really is, and he also realizes that this causes problems with the Old Testament. As Jeremy writes,

The flood story, however, is anything but a beautiful fairy tale. On its surface, the flood story is an appalling account of how millions (and possibly billions) of people died a horrible death by drowning because God was angry at them.

So he will attempt to read the text in light of Jesus. This is an ambitious task, and I wish him well.

In the events surrounding the flood, we will see a God who looks surprisingly like Jesus Christ.

This is a blog series to follow.

Tribe

Church Tribes vs. Jesus’ Tribe by Sam Riviera on Till He Comes

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately. At college, it seems community is a buzzword that no one defines. We know that when like-minded people gather together, a new dynamic is created. Sam Riviera encourages us to think of community in terms of “tribe” (for better or worse.)

One of the primary benefits of having a tribe is that it gives us a sense of belonging, a place where we can call home, and feel protected.

So I have rightly been drawn to the concept of community. Yet I have also realized that while a community must have a shared belief, too often that means a community ends up looking too uniform. Don’t dare test the boundaries or you will find the community is more like a cult.

If we cannot manage to restore ourselves to the good graces of the tribe, we may discover that the tribe no longer considers us one of them. Although we probably won’t literally be murdered, we may find that we are the victims of “character assassination.” Unless we’re total idiots, we’ll get the message. “Get out. Go Away. We don’t want you. And don’t you dare post your grievances on a blog, or we’ll sue you.” (All of these things have happened.)

So what is the church? In reality the church is often a tribe in the bad sense. But as Jesus’ tribe, Sam encourages us to think of this in a new way. Jesus’ tribe is not defined by any of the usual methods:

Jesus’ Tribe is so broad, it invites all people from all backgrounds among all ethnicities and from every socio-economic level. Jesus’ tribe has no official language, no preferred music style, no political persuasion, no dress code, no rules about tattoos or hair-length or food choices.

Perhaps this community is the most powerful of all: diversity unified around the person of Jesus Christ.

 

The Naked Anabaptist

The 7 Core Convictions of the New Anabaptists by Chris Morton

As the neo-Reformed gain influence in the world of Christendom, there is another movement, one I believe has much more to offer American Christianity. This group identifies in many ways with Anabaptism and its radical witness of Christ in a culture not willing to accept it. I recommend this piece, especially Part 2, for anyone who realizes the church has to change, or who wants to know what this new movement is. Chris (building off The Naked Anabaptist, by Stuart Murray) explains that there are several central tenets to this movement.

1. Jesus is the central reference for our understanding of church, and our engagement with society.

2. The Bible should be read together as a community, with an understanding that Jesus is the center of scripture.

3. Western Christendom culture has marginalized Jesus, leaving churches ill equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture.

4. Associating the church with status, wealth, and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness.

5. Churches are communities of discipleship and mission.

6. Spirituality and economics are connected.

7. Peace is at the heart of the gospel.

So I guess I am a neo-Anabaptist:) Give it a read.

 

Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard for Grownups by Richard John Neuhaus

This is an incredible (and long) piece explaining the essence of Kierkegaard. Some who know me well know that I am obsessed with Kierkegaard, his radical concept of discipleship, and his generally brilliant thought. Ranging along biography, philosophy, and relationship to the modern thinker and Catholicism, I encourage anyone interested in or immersed in Kierkegaard to read this essay. Neuhaus uses the words of Flannery O’Connor,

“To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you have to draw large and startling figures.”

Kierkegaard was one of those prophets who shouted. He had his flaws, and this article attempts to critique aspects of his thought, particularly his relationship with the aesthetic. The comparison to Bonhoeffer is instructive:

Bonhoeffer discovered a new freedom for vibrant engagement with questions of Church, culture, politics, marriage, family, and friendship, and also with the celebration of the aesthetic. By circumstance, as well as by personal disposition and decision, such engagement and celebration was largely absent from Kierkegaard’s life and thought.

If Kierkegaard may have missed an appreciation for the material, his focus on radical discipleship may still be the antidote for American Christianity.

If we are good Danes (or good Americans), if we work hard and abide by the rules, the church, which is an integral part of the social order, will guarantee the delivery to heaven of the package that is our lives. But Christ is not in the distant past, protests Kierkegaard. He confronts us now, and a decision must be made.

May we choose Christ over the glittering image of wealth and power that too often is America.

Musical Musings

Arcade Fire – Windowsill

I have recently gotten hooked on Arcade Fire. Not only do they perform excellent music, but their music is reflective, even prophetic. As cultural critics, they illuminate some of the problems with American culture. Windowsill is a pessimistic examination of American commercialism, among other things.

I don’t wanna hear the noises on TV
I don’t want the salesmen coming after me
I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more

I don’t want it faster, I don’t want it free
I don’t wanna show you what they done to me
I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more…

I don’t wanna fight in the holy war
I don’t want the salesmen knocking at my door
I don’t wanna live in America no more.

This exposition of cultural skepticism ultimately provides the opening for the Church to be the authentic and radical community our world longs for.

Hymn for All the World – Josh Bales

I recently was at a camp where Josh Bales led worship each night for a week and a half. I was impressed by the meaningful liturgy he presented as well as the understanding of the kingdom in his songs, especially this one. This is worship, using song to reorient ourselves to God’s kingdom, and inviting him to work through us.

There is no place in all the world You do not call Your own.
Creator of all peoples every, nation every tongue.
From every corner of the earth, boundless is Your reign.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear us sing Your praise.We Your people call to You, asking for Your help.
God be merciful to those whose pain we’ve never felt.
Give them rest from worldly sorrow,
Bless them Lord with food to eat.
We ask You, Gentle Shepherd call,
The ones that are Your sheep.All seeing Lord now look to those in city and in field,
Who seek to spread Your fame and love,
this broken world to heal.
See Your persecuted children, soothe their violent wounds.
In their weakness be their strength, that they might hope in You.Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may Your kingdom come
In all the earth as it is in heaven, may Your will be done.
In all the world in all our hearts, Jesus You are King.
We wait, we hope, we trust, we know,
Your face we soon shall see.
Amen. Give it a listen, for the music is well done as well.

Humor

Five Reasons I Don’t Care about Poor People by Blimey Cow

Satire at its best.

Rock songs for 50 theologians by Kim Fabricius

Highlights: Anselm: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones), Thomas Cranmer: “Light My Fire” (The Doors), C. S. Lewis: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (The Tokens),
John Howard Yoder: “Give Peace a Chance” (John Lennon), Joel Osteen: “Money for Nothing” (Dire Straits)

Hogwarts Seminary

Ever wondered what would happen if some one illustrated the thoughts of a theology nerd as seminary with Harry Potter gifs? Wonder no more. Visit the page. Here’s an example.

Any time someone brings up predestination

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