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Showing posts from 2019

Most of What You Know about Reading the Bible is Wrong (2): The "Gospel" of a Defeated God

Just posted the second installment of podcast as titled above to Soundcloud. Just google me there and you'll find it. Love to hear your response!

A Musical Reprise of Lent for Holy Saturday

For Holy Saturday this year I’ve selected some rock songs from my young adulthood which in singing about love and relationships sound some surprising reflective notes consonant with the movements of Lent. The selections (all available on You Tube with lyrics) are listed below. If this music is not to your tastes try to find some that is. These two songs speak to the Lack Lent calls us to own – our fallibility and frailty. All Out Love – Air Supply (fallibility) Dust in the Wind – Kansas (frailty) The Longing that drives Lent – both the love sought and the faith  needed to seek it. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner (object) Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey (subject) The Love that fulfills Lent – God provides the love we find, in finding we grow towards that love and its practice. The Search Is Over – Survivor (finding) Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon (responding)
When You Love Someone – Bryan Adams (practice)

Theology: A Guntonian Reflection

What is theology? This question cannot be answered once-and-for-all time, a template and corpus requiring merely competent internalization and reproduction. This way of thinking about theology can take two main forms. -theology as a flotation device: here theology is used to distance and separate believers from the world and its hurts and struggle. It centers one’s interest on a God whose interest is to “save souls” from a world gone wrong and now destined for destruction. Theology in this mode spawns an inner-focused spirituality looking upward to return to God in heaven at death or at Christ’s return. Focused on a God somewhere else interested in getting us somewhere else for some other kind of existence (non-bodily), the believe “floats” above the life and the earth he or she had been freed from with little concern for that world and those left in it, save for their “souls” which needed saving. -theology as a belt: here theology is used to secure the believer in faith as a belt se…

Andrew Perriman’s Narrative-Historical Hermeneutic

For some years now Andrew Perriman at his blog and in his books has been forming and re-forming what he calls a “narrative-historical” hermeneutic or approach to interpreting the Bible. His chief concern is to extend an N T Wright-type of approach to read the NT in a fully historical manner rather than stop at the end of the 1st century a.d.  As he puts it, “What I say is: a narrative theology ought to be able to account for the whole experience of the people of God, not just the beginning, middle, and end of it. We may give some sort of priority to the early biblical sections of the narrative, but the story doesn’t stop with the events of the New Testament—even those future events which are foreseen in the New Testament. We are still part of that story, and so is our future” (https://www.postost.net/2019/03/testing-times-narrative-framework-renewal-western-church?fbclid=IwAR28U5wmrfCodsjrYIXyFUUpiJn-dWG3vUPAz-5QnR6Ej6RNkNB0IRBuiUI). So far as I’m aware Perriman’s suggestive and prov…

Piss Christ and the Incarnation

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Andres Serrano's photograph of the cross of Christ suspended in a beaker of the artist's own urine has, not surprisingly, evoked head-scratching perplexity and vigorous opposition and condemnation. An artist's commentary on his or her work is obviously a place start in assessing that work. Serrano comments:
""At the time I made Piss Christ, I wasn't trying to get anything across . . . In hindsight, I'd say Piss Christ is a reflection of my work, not only as an artist, but as a Christian." Say what, Andres? Christian? Really? "The thing about the crucifix itself" he continues,"is that we treat it almost like a fashion accessory. When you see it, you're not horrified by it at all, but what it represents is the crucifixion of a man. And for Christ to have been crucified and laid on the cross for three days where he not only bled to death, he shat himself and he peed himself to death. "So if Piss Christ upsets you, maybe it's a go…

Only one set of 10 rules more important than these.

Jean Vanier, the Canadian philosopher and theologian and the founder of L'Arche communities, turned ninety this week. To commemorate the occasion he released a YouTube video laying out his “ten rules for life to become more human” by sharing his thoughts on life and on growing older. He speaks about success, vulnerability, listening, fear and love.  1. Accept the reality of your body Vanier says, “For a man to become a man he has to be at ease with his body. That body is fragile, like all bodies. We are born in weakness (as a little child); we will die in weakness. And when we get to a certain age – ninety – we begin to get weaker.” He adds, “I have to accept that I’m ninety. I’m not fifty, or forty, or thirty.” 2. Talk about your emotions and difficulties He acknowledges that men in particular “have difficulty expressing their emotions.” 3. Don’t be afraid of not being successful Vanier adds, “you have to discover you are beautiful as you are” regardless of whether or not you are succes…

Psalm 7 (Post 10)

Notes -Last in a series of five laments after the two introductory sins (Pss.1 & 2) -theme of refuge ties this psalm back to 2:12. “Taking refuge in the Lord or making the Lord one’s refuge is a favorite and frequent metaphor in the psalms for the religious act of trusting one’s life to the care of God in uncertain or threatening situations. . . . The prayer itself is a way of taking shelter in the providence and salvation of God.” (Mays, James Luther. The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994, 63) -God the judge (vv.6, 11) is highlighted here. -Again, we do not know the specificities of attack here. Gerstenberger writes: “Psalm 7 . . . as well as the other laments, does not report a single incident, for instance, of somebody being accused of theft. Rather, the complaint represents an accumulation of the agonies of generations of supplicants facing unfounded charges of various types.” (Gerstenberger, Erhard S. Psalms: Part 1, w…

Confession of a White-Prvilege Addict

I want to share with you a remarkable address given by the Reverend Jonathan Krogh of First Presbyterian Church of La Grange, IL at the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in his city. From his place of white privilege Jonathan undertakes a repentant reflection on what Jesus, “an indigenous, brown, colonized man,” means for his empire, privilege-loving white followers in America. It is well worth, more than well worth, the time to read. Jonathan’s words will stay with you as they have stayed with me. Prayerfully, humbly read and reflect on them. It will cost you much to take his words seriously. But the end is well worth it! I will continue to reflect on his words here over the next few days. ----------------------------------------------- In preparation for this morning’s remarks I read the following words in a December 26 New Yorker article by Eliza Griswold entitled “Evangelicals of Color Fight Back Against the Religious Right.” Quoting social activist Sharon Harper: “The wh…

Psalm 5 (Post 8)

Notes -another psalm of David. -with Pss.3 and 4 this Psalm provides a morning/evening/morning pattern, perhaps an inducement to regular prayer (Grogan, Psalms: 1117). Exposition A king approaches a greater king in humble supplication (vv.1-3). David models here genuine leadership in the community of faith. Followership grounds every form of true leadership. Without a leader truly submitting him or herself to God, leadership practice gets highjacked into models alien to its true nature – corporate CEO, self-improvement therapist, social justice warrior, etc. But the fundamental identity of a faithful leader in God’s people is leading by following God. This seems self-evident but Israel’s history and our own show how rare leadership based on followership really is. Corporatism, therapist, and social justice warrior are all legitimate functions in the church. But their shape and manner of practice will be different by virtue of this leadership grounded in following from typical secular p…

Psalm 4 (Post 7)

Notes -though an individual’s experience, it is for the music director to set it to music for worship (see superscription). Thus it becomes a part of the communal memory of God’s saving work on their behalf. -this psalm is best understood as a commentary on 2:12: “Happy are all who take refuge in him” (Grogan, Geoffrey W.. Psalms (The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary (THOTC)) . Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition: 1154). -the point of the psalm is in vv.7-8. The “wake up” of 3:5 and the “lie down and sleep” of 4:8, along with numerous verbal connections between the two psalms, make them a pair, a morning psalm (Ps.3) and an evening psalm (Ps.4). -the NIV is probably right in reading “Give me relief from my distress” ( a plea) rather than the NRSV’s taking the phrase as reference to a past act of God. Exposition 4:1: Prayer for Grace With no delay or pleasantries the psalmist cries out in a demanding tone “Answer me when I call.” Some such chutzpah is ingredient to bibli…

Psalm 3 (Post 6)

Notes This is the first psalm attributed to David. “Selah” (vv.2.4.8) – probably a musical notation but we don’t know for sure. I take it as a pause for reflection: “Stop and ponder.” The superscription sets a context of David’s fleeing the revolt of his son Absalom against him. Instead of the nations revolting it is his own house turning against him, a consequence of his affair with Bathsheba and killing of Uriah (2 Sam 7:11-16; 12:10-14.15). He takes refuge in God, however, and experiences forgiveness and covenant protection from God. David is lifted up here as a model for a faithful follower of YHWH, one whom readers could and should emulate as those likewise included in Israel’s story. This a case where an individual, in deed, “the” individual in Israel, serves as a representative model for the people. “Absalom’s coup was one incident in the struggle for succession that anticipated David’s death. Dynastic succession was not yet established in Israel, which had previously relied on …