Showing posts from April, 2014

being certain of God–not our beliefs–is the mark of the spiritual life

Image 30, 2014 By 0 Comments The following was posted as “Gracious Uncertainty,” the daily reading (April 29) at My Utmost for His Highest (I made my own paragraph divisions). My Rector at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Dave Robinson, sent this to me. When you preach12 minute homilies you’ve got extra time for passing on nice things like this. The text for these reflections is 1 John 3:2, …it has not yet been revealed what we shall be… Our natural inclination is to be so precise—trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next—that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of thespiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?…

What I Wish Women Knew About Men

Image Date: 30 Apr 2014 By: Micah J. Murray Comments: 15 Comments
Dear Women,

Summer is almost here, which means that us men are going to be forced to realize you have a body and skin and curves. This is very difficult for us men. We have to constantly be on guard against danger (and by “danger” I mean you). This is why I wish you knew that…

We are Visual

I know you can’t understand what it’s like to be physically attracted to somebody. You prefer romance and long talks to hot bodies and actual sex, but that’s not how us guys are. We’re visual. This means that we see women primarily as objects, collections of walking body parts. We can’t help it. It’s just the way biology made us.

We Can’t Control Ourselves

Because we are biologically wired to see you as objects, being confronted with your physical existence transforms us fro…

Why Rene Girard's "Scapegoat" is Not a Theory of Atonement

Siding with Jesus on the CrossJan 28, 2014 @ 0:03 By 16 Comments Making sense of the cross has been the church’s business since the day Jesus died. It’s way of making sense was to theorize or, to put the matter more delicately, to theologize — even if Zinsser taught me long ago that adding -ize to a word is a shortcut. Indeed, maybe so, but the church didn’t take shortcuts when it came to explaining its beliefs through the cross. One theory after another unfolded in the church, each adding to the other and at times a new one arising because it thought earlier theories got things wrong. One such theory is the Abelardian theory, and another is the Girardian theory. The former is connected to the word “exemplary” and the latter to “scapegoat” and “mimetic violence.” I contend neither is in fact a theory of atonement even if each reveals yet one more way to ponder the cross. Here’s why I say so.…

Organic Community by Joseph Myers – A Literary Review

Image 8, 2008
One of the differences between a literary review and a straight up book review is that literary reviews are written to help with future research.  So I am writing with the idea that this will guide me to what I want to go back and study in regard to this book.  There are  various approaches to literary reviews, but here is mine. LITERARY REVIEW
I basically start with my sense of the author’s thesis, followed by a general overview of the book, and then I focus on themes that are pertinent to my future research.  With that said, here is my reviews. THESIS
In Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect, Myers makes the case that practitioners need to shift from being master programmers to environmentalist, people who follow principles of organic order to shape environments where…

DONALD STERLING AND THE TYRANNY OF THE OUTRAGE POLICE 28, 2014POLITICSUNCATEGORIZED One of the best things that I’ve read about the drama surrounding cranky racist white guy of the week Donald Sterling was a post by Hall of Fame former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He writes, “Moral outrage is exhausting. And dangerous. The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging. Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking.” I’m so tired of all this pageantry, which has little to do with authentic moral outrage and everything to do with the desperate scandal-chasing of today’s bloggers, pundits, and “cultural analysts” who get hits for their pieces by making bold demands for basketball players and fans to obey. The only way to boycott all the racist rich white people in the world would be 

What if . . .? Musings on God, Salvation, Gospel, and Church

What if God's eternal purpose is fellowship with us on the earth created for hosting such a fellowship?

What if God made us to be his royal representatives in and priests for creation's well-being and flourishing?

What if we rejected God and God's purposes?

What if God never changed his purpose but instead set about pursuing it in spite of us?

What if Israel was the means by which God sought to pursue and achieve his purpose?

What if almost all Israel defaulted on God's purpose for it?

What if the point of Jesus (the one faithful Israelite) and his work was achieving this purpose, which he called the "kingdom of God" or, in John, "eternal life"?

What if God raised him from the dead to vindicate and validate Jesus as the One who fulfilled and fulfills his purpose?

What if "following Jesus" or "faith" or "discipleship" or "salvation" means experiencing and sharing in spreading that purpose even now, even here?


Paul the Pastoral Theologian timgombis
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about Paul as a pastoral theologian (or, as a theologically-oriented pastor). I was struck by, and had to re-read a few times, this wonderful closing passage to Part 2 of N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God:
So when people say, as they often do, that Paul ‘was not a systematic theologian’, meaning that ‘Paul didn’t write a medieval Summa Theologica or a book that corresponds to Calvin’s Institutes,’ we will want to say: Fair enough. So far as we know, he didn’t. But the statement is often taken to mean that Paul was therefore just a jumbled, rambling sort of thinker, who would grab odd ideas out of the assortment of junk in his mental cupboard and throw them roughly in the direction of the problems presented to him by his beloved and frustrating ekklsiai. And that is simply nonsense. The more time we spend in the careful reading of Paul, and in the study of his w…

Why Sarah Palin is Right About Baptism by Waterboarding — #AmericanBaptism

Image 28, 2014 By 5 Comments Creative Commons Copyright DonkeyHotey (flickr) Sarah Palin is right about baptism and waterboarding. In a speech now heard round the Christian world, Sarah Palin said at an NRA rally that “waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists” if she were president. Christians were up in arms about the apparent blasphemy of the statement, shocked that she would sacrilegiously connect waterboarding with the Christian sacrament of baptism. It taps into a long, shameful legacy of Christianity that forced baptism on people of other faiths under threat of violence, and it contorts the Christian faith with nationalism in ways that make my own stomach church. But as Christians we seemed less outraged that Palin would consider waterboarding a viable method of interrogation rather than as a method of torture, as fellow priest the Rev. Dani…

9 Unconventional Leadership Lessons

Image 25, 2014,by 3 comments I don’t pretend to be an expert on leadership. In some ways I don’t even like the use of leadership language. However, over the past few weeks I have been asked several times about my own leadership development. What did my personal rhythms of study look like? What patterns of spiritual discipline did I follow? What leadership lessons have I learned over the years? And what advice would I give to a young “leader” today?

The following list is the result of my own reflection on each of these questions. I have thought about the activities and practices that have shaped me the most over the past three decades. These lessons are simply descriptive of my own journey. While some of them may not fit who you are, I wish someone had shared each of these with me many years ago.

1.  Focus less attention on being a great “leader” and more on being a great follower – especially of Jesus.

I wis…

10 Pastors I’m Concerned About

Image by Scott Postma | 236 Comments It’s not a secret the church has been in decline for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. You can read some statistics and views on why, here and here and here. Everyone has their opinions.
Abuse, apostasy, and irrelevance are just a few of the words that keep coming up in the search for reasons for the decline. There are a variety of compelling opinions and I even have a few of my own.
But I suggest there is another area of decline more significant and perhaps much less obvious—and one that certainly contributes to the church’s decline in numbers.
And I think its likely a careful analysis would implicate the church’s leadership for this more significant issue.
In other words, I’m concerned about pastors and the role they play in the church’s decline. By saying so, I’m not suggesting this pastor has it all together. Nor am I trying to cultivate (or ratify) some dishonest skeptics’ hat…

“God is Dead” – Nietzsche as a Theologian of the Cross?

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a line in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that many have taken as an epitaph on the tombstone of the Christian God: “God is dead . . . And we have killed him.”  While much ink has been spilled debating precisely what Nietzsche might have meant by this claim, I want to suggest that this putative epitaph can also be taken as an epigram indicating what happens every time God comes to us and draw us back to him.
“God is dead . . . And we have killed him.”  This is not only a sociological, historical event in Nietzsche’s sense but also a theological statement of God’s characteristic way of acting in a fallen and rebellious world.  Or, in other words, this statement can be taken as one version of a theology of the cross.
Think Isaiah 53 and the torture and death of the Suffering Servant which results in making “many” righteous.  And think Jesus who lived out this prophecy.  And think the slaughtered Lamb who unrolls the scroll of history in Rev.5.  Death leading to the fulfil…