Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Living Spiritual Rhythms–October 22

Atheist Sam Harris argues that facts and values are the same thing (Google his TED talk on morality and science). Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus) contends that they have nothing to do with each other. Both exaggerate. One conflates, the other deflates. Facts, says Harris, are scientific and therefore so are values. That’s true in some sense and facts do play a role in some of what we value, but facts and values cannot be collapsed into the same thing. Wittgenstein proposes that values are unspeakable and mystical, and thus completely differ from propositions of natural science as facts. I wager, Harris is reductionistic by putting them together, Wittgenstein by keeping them entirely apart. And reductionism in a holistic world is neither a fact nor a value. Alas, values go beyond facts, since they pertain to courage, trust, love, commitment, and the like, but these types of values may also have a factual ring to them. While it may turn out that the brain can produce such values, the ultimate testing ground for them is not merely scientific analysis, but the laboratory of relationality. A more pertinent illustration of facts and values, therefore, would be to understand they are related and distinct, and then to work out this living tension in the world.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Reflection for the Week–October 20

As readers of the scriptural story today we are foreigners to the text and its ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman context, yet we are not excluded from its time, narration, drama, and spherical refraction. The extraordinary possibility of integration, for us to be grafted into the revelatory story of God’s creation and redemptive outpouring of love in Christ, remains a marvel. Renewing people and the earth is part of God’s majestic destiny and fortunately we’re invited to participate in this adventure.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Musings–October 17

A gift for the other? Self-interest may or may not nullify gift. If SI is interest to please or satisfy the other, then SI becomes OI, and gift is a gift. If SI is in self, to please or satisfy self, then what is given is not a gift.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Thoughts – October 16

The notion that what is true being supposedly narrow and bigoted comes from those who are narrow and bigoted, not from what is true? True, opens up possibilities – where old and new perspectives can be explored. True is an adventure, not dogmatic religious or scientific beliefs. True has an elasticity that is fragile, yet resilient. True goes alongside and beyond love and justice. True is a person and a relation. True is connected to the laboratory of life.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Living Spiritual Rhythms–October 15

Being, knowledge, nature, interpretation, ethics, and the biblical text have a tendency to operate as monologues closed into separate compartments, but none of them can go it alone. A dialogue between each informer is necessary in order to lead us in a better direction and in so doing, to give us enriched, even sumptuous innovative and truth oriented perspectives and possibilities.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflection for the Week–October 13

The power of despair is highly significant and provocatively tempting. One of the realities we most desire – to be known – is what we tend to fear. Being known is a dangerous enterprise that challenges our control over ourselves and the other. The risk factor appears so momentous, we retreat and dare not expose who we are. De-relationship though brings us further and further into deception. This direction is often embraced because we assume it’s safer to be unrelated, than it is to connect with the other. Better to deprive ourselves, before we allow anyone else to do it to us. But this is one of the worst forms of attempting to be a self that will ever come across our paths, as it will only produce death. A turn towards an-other, however, while it will no doubt be a challenge, has the possibility of generating life, since life is deeply rooted in real relationships with all their perils and joys.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Musings - October 10

Love goes beyond justice and justice goes beyond love. Neither can go it alone, nor can one be collapsed into the other. TENSION.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Thoughts–October 9

Biblical interpretation, in the best sense of the art and practice, has been rightly focused on God, the text, and the reader. Recently, culture has been fittingly added to this trio, but it seems to me that there is at least one other consideration that will help us better interpret the biblical story; and that is the natural world. If we leave this feature out, our interpretations will be less sufficient and perhaps even more wrong headed than they would be otherwise.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Living Spiritual Rhythms–October 8

Competing voices float around in us like butterflies on a spring day and are part of being human. Which one’s to listen to as authoritative is an ongoing quest that is connected to trust and suspicion. The bold and cutting voice of inappropriate accusation, condemnation, and guilt that results in self-hate is often so loud that it prevents us from hearing the voice of appropriate freedom, capacity, and encouragement, which results in self-love. Changing how we listen, therefore, is essential to living a well lived life. This shift will not happen through an act of the will alone, although the will may challenge us to listen again. What we’re in desperate need of is a line of appeal that goes beyond our wills and which acknowledges that there are more objective trustworthy criteria available (other, biblical text, and world to mention a few) to heighten the volume of the voice of love that comes to us a precious resource of self-love.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Reflection for the Week–October 6

The “how” of human agency in the context of “what is” has monumental significance. Here’s what I’m trying to get at. Let’s consider, for example, that meaningful relationships are a central part of being human. This amounts to the “what is.” But an essential element to consider carefully is “how” we engage relationally. To do so in a self-centered manner will result in self and other defamation, while acting in the realistic configuration of oneself as another will open up possibilities for a more appropriate “how” of relating in healthy and trustworthy ways. The implication of this focus on “how,” highlights the crucial perspective that the ‘guts’ of our relationships really do matter, if we are to be aligned with and tethered to “what is.”

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflection for the Week–September 29

Memory bears the marks of time. We have such a fascinating potential of recognizing phenomena and then to be able to remember people, places and things related to it. Life, both consciously and unconsciously, is continually changing. It’s so saturated with texture and richness that our gaze can barely take small, but nevertheless significant pieces of it into our stories. We are both shaped by and shapers of each element and can marvel at our capacity to integrate this interaction in a coherent fashion that forges continuity with what has taken place previously. Remarkable. Telling memorable stories about what once was, is meeting the challenge of taking disparate parts and making them into a unified whole. The restoration of a faithful resemblance, however, will remain a fragile matter of trust and suspicion, as temptations to false testimonies plague us and seek to undermine the truthful ambition of memory in its reaching out and grasping the flow of life back when.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflection for the Week–September 22

As the famous French philosopher Albert Camus once commented: ‘the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.’ Taking Camus seriously, there seems little doubt that we are fragile agents in time and story, groping for a picture of our lives that makes sense. Our plots may include shifting dimensions of hurt, suffering, despair, and healing, joy, and well being, but these very spheres of our narratives leave us in a world that’s way too small. Faced with continually discovering that we are not able to emplot a self-determined existence, we stumble along and are forced to ask Camus’ burning question again and again. The truth is there is far more to the meaning of life than our present circumstances may be able to recount. Surely, in some areas this truth is widely accepted, but just as surely in others it is not. There are many instances where we readily acknowledge there is more, while in some situations we still tenaciously grasp at the illusive power of being the ultimate authority. Thus, we all too often continue to demand to tell the key parts of the story our own way, but in attempting to do so, this simply leaves us short of meaning that is sufficiently able to address and cohere with a world that is not of our own making. Following on from this, we begin to recognize the need for a bigger story – the biblical mega narrative – which appears on the horizon, not as a totalizing account, but as a meaning-full telling with the force of explanation and new understanding that, while limited, takes us to the limit.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Musings - September 19

Be a critically gracious (open, but not naive) listener to the stranger for as long as you possibly can.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Thoughts – September 18

If we are to critique and reverse inappropriate trust and suspicion in our lives, we’re going to have to nail both dimensions at the same time. That might look something like this. She says, “I don’t trust my self-assessments (suspicion), but I do recognize when I’m abused (trust). I trust my parents when they tell me I’m worthless (trust), and don’t trust myself that I’m not (suspicion).” This is an example of inappropriate trust and suspicion. On one hand, she already is in some sense trusting and should continue to trust her self-assessments. After all, her assessment that she has been abused is trustworthy – that was a grievous actually. Her suspicion of herself, in this case, is unwarranted. On the other hand, she trusts her parents where she should rather be suspicious, and again is suspicious of herself where she should be trusting. True, this is an intricate dynamic, but perhaps what seems trivial is actually explosive. Putting two nails down at the same time makes it much more difficult for us to “lie” to ourselves and get away with it. And that’s appropriate and therefore worth trusting.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Living Spiritual Rhythms–September 17

Jesus has a multiplicity of voices. When Jesus is recorded as saying something to Nicodemus, he speaks in one manner, yet when it’s recounted that he has a dialogue with a Samaritan woman, he does so in another. This surplus of voices should not be missed, as it shows readers that Jesus is willing to proclaim his message in the context of the life of the one he’s talking to. Being born from above and living water both have a number of referents, but culminate in the possibility of receiving a never ending life.

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