Fallen leaves, so fragile, flutter in the breeze. The dance illuminates, amidst a torrent of voices raging, as beauty fades away. Caught in the throes of decay and winter light opens the possibility of an astonishing renewal, not beyond recognition, yet vague and visceral. To await its coming requires the patience of change in the unchanging, a mystery in speech and act, arising to a disclosure of reality.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
I hope the 50 or so Reflections of the Week and other posts this year have been helpful, challenging, and spiritually illuminating. A special thanks to you for taking time to ponder the thoughts expressed here, make comments, and support this blog. Every blessing in Christ to you all this Christmas season.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.
Why did Word become flesh?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
To not be resigned to death in the midst of chaos and uncertainty is a challenge and a destiny. Fighting against addiction and abuse - the injustice of tolerance – takes hard work and deep commitment. As life frays from the center to the edges and back, death frequently looms large on the horizon of existence. Its rhetorical flourishes seek to persuade and convince that this is the final space. Being submerged into escapes from such closure only enslaves and leads to false release. Yet life, worn as it may be, is an ever present battle worth taking up necessary measures to defend and embrace.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Deeply engraved with complexity and mysteriously forged by extravagance, the drama of the biblical and natural world informers presents significant challenges for readers, taking us to the limits of imagination. Pushing reality to the edges raises questions and issues that mustn’t be ignored. To take each informer seriously means being open to learning and embracing truth wherever it is to be found.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.
What’s most important to you at Christmas time?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Falling into a blood red sky breaks open a mode of being. Touching – touched, fearing – feared, breathing – breathed. Alive. The jagged flow of wispy clouds dancing across a glow of fractured light stuns the senses out of dreams and sleep, producing a clawing at and groping towards one world, while dazedly departing from another. Fragile and fleeting, is so the dawn, always and only a beginning for today’s challenging encounters of trust and suspicion, which await a cautious engagement, before a mystifying dusk settles on heart and soul.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Intentionality is a moveable key to fidelity and commitment. Pledging ourselves to God and the other therefore far surpasses any form of self-constancy with its desperate staticity and facile regulation of obstacles and problems. Placing inertia, mired in stoicism over changing desire and challenging risk, will decrease our capacity to be ‘available.’ Autonomous selves are an untruthful fiction, yet so frequently a pretension embraced by people today. Shattering self-constancy brings release from falsehood and ‘availability’ opens us up to a true dialogue with the O(o)ther to whom an obligation is owed. Keeping promises is just and being intentional in motion. Not keeping promises is unjust and it betrays both self and O(o)ther.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.
Some say democracy is born out of revolution – a rejection of totalitarianism. Be that as it may, democracy seems to face a legitimation crisis because it lacks any foundation for living together. What do you think about a social contact of fairness based on reason and respect filling the lack?
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Imaginatively reading the biblical text will open us up to connecting with the characters of the stories and with the living God who is revealed through them. Becoming many people through reading this marvelous literature, yet still being oneself is one of the remarkable benefits of imagination. To see with other eyes, hear with other ears, and know with other knowers is a privilege and allows us to go beyond the closed circle of ourselves. Here, we transcend ourselves and are surely more ourselves when we do. Imagination breaks through space and time. When this takes place, we are mysteriously transformed and richly contributed to in luminous ways.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Tragic wisdom and practical wisdom are related and distinct. They are related as to wisdom of action, but distinct in the sense that the tragic creates difficult tensions and irresolvable problems. Tragedy disorients action, yet practice becomes the best response of reorientation to the inevitable place of lament. The itinerary of reconciliation – a poetics of wisdom – avoids both univocity and arbitrariness and charts a course through the maze of life’s conflicts, offering a transition from catharsis to conviction, which is rooted in a meditation on the cross and the mediation of the incarnation and resurrection.
Friday, December 2, 2011
We are increasingly facing uncertain times today. As natural disasters, financial chaos, and unprecedented tragedies proliferate, please pray for all those who are suffering. Pray that relief efforts would actually be able to get to the people in need and that the power and truth of the gospel would be made known in all the earth. Christ is Lord of all of life now and together we are to join in to be a part of God’s unfolding drama of his mission to humanity and the world. May God help us to be living in the light of the return of Christ, as it relates to present expectation and action towards social, political, and ethical transformation, for we await a redeemer who will renew all things. Therefore, in the apostle Paul’s terms, we are not to be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we might discern God’s will and offer ourselves as living sacrifices in doing it.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Do you think, or why do you think, that Christianity has a credible voice in today’s world?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Europe will have millions of people in the streets today protesting against procedures to curb the outrageous debts that governments have created over the last decades. European irresponsibility has reached new levels of chaos and there is little doubt that anyone really knows what’s going on. Transparency is shrouded over by so many layers of corruption and greed, there’s no way to see more clearly just how bankrupt we truly are. Meanwhile, embassies are attacked and plundered, and in the Hague a list of tyrants await trial for genocide and crimes against humanity. Tribal, ethnic, and religious hatred has promoted debts that no austerity measures can ever correct.
Into this context the living Messiah has inaugurated redemption; something so new and dramatic has burst on the scene through his life, death, and resurrection that we can hardly imagine what it fully entails. Resurrection though reminds us how to be and do in hope that the planetary mess we face will be resolved. One of the striking features embodied in the Messianic life is that God in Christ, through the power of the Spirit, explosively constrains the present and creatively directs it into the future. We are, as Christ’s followers therefore, not restricted to the status quo of the cycle of violence and hatred, but engaged in and by a transformation of grace that leads us towards our destiny of imaging the Crucified and Risen One in this life and the next. This means that we have a role to play in the drama of the world; God’s world. We are to make a contribution of redemptive power to the full spectrum of ideas, be they political, economic, or social, as this will give voice to a credible love and justice that desperately needs to be heard and lived.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Awakening to a balmy sky, as glimmering vistas escape into clouds and mist, creates a sense of the slippage and eventual loss of time. Eternity beckons, but only for a lingering moment and then it's gone. Caught up into the chaos of the here and now blurs vision and devises its own way of seeing the invisible, while forever becomes ungraspable by the rhythm of a blinking eye.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
The Bible frequently speaks of hope. What is it?
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The failure to recognize that there are usually two dangers and not merely one, may lead to serious misunderstandings of God’s truth. We can worry about the danger of traditional interpretations of Scripture not being adhered to, but we also need to be cautious about rejecting new interpretations that may be called for through discoveries in the natural world. While the impact of these breakthroughs may not yet be precisely worked out concerning our interpretations of the biblical text, this is no reason to argue that the scientific data that is causing questions to arise is completely faulty. On the one hand, holding on to traditional interpretations may betray God’s truth, while on the other, they may have credibility. This is equally true for new interpretations. On the one hand, they may betray God’s truth, on the other, they may affirm it. All truth is God’s truth. Both Scripture and nature are informers about God, ourselves, and the world. Giving too much weight to one informer over the other risks ignoring what is true and therefore depleting living spirituality.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Broken promises and betrayals of trust leave deep wounds in our flesh and bones. Fear and suspicion then become our primary skills in coping with scar tissue, which leaves its mark in the memory of our being. Yet the call to imagine again draws us out and past our ways of survival, transforming what had become essential into that which is merely secondary.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
What are your thoughts about how we should view the arrival of a new world without cash and credit cards?
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
These lines are part of the Introduction to my new book Living Imagination.
Meanwhile, the Moon look’d down upon this shew
In single glory, and we stood, the mist
Touching our very feet; and from the shore
At a distance not the third part of a mile
Was a blue chasm; a fracture in the vapour,
A deep and gloomy breathing-place through which
Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams
Innumerable, roaring with one voice.
The Prelude, Book XIII, 1805
by William Wordsworth
These splendid words from Wordsworth depict a myriad of images that have inspired imaginations for generations. A friend once told me that imagining will lead you nowhere. Imagination is for kids, not for grown ups. What, she asked, could it possibly have to do with being an adult? Seems to me our parents tend to tell us something similar – quit imagining so much and get with the program. Part of growing up, at least as they would see it, means letting go of imagining. This perspective, so prevalent in our times, would have been non-sense in Wordsworth’s era. If you’re anything like Wordsworth or me, you’ll have a hard time accepting this outlook. Imagination is, well, just part of us – an important and perhaps neglected part of us.
When I was young I spent plenty of time imagining, as most of us do. We’re curious. We want to know what’s behind the clouds, under the ground, and why the world is like it is. Big questions are unavoidable, at least in our youth. But what happens? So often our curiosity and our tendency to question and imagine becomes immersed and sterilized in a vat of facts. We’re closed off from imagining. It’s almost as if we’ve undergone a lobotomy and that a crucial part of us is severed from having anything valuable to contribute to understanding life. Answers to important questions start to rely on merely what we think and what we see and this, it is claimed, is all part of growing up. If that’s the case, may we remain forever young.
For many Christians imagination tends to remain beneath the surface submersed under reason, logic, or sense observation. Someone recently made the argument that Christianity was rational to the core, when I suggested that imagination was necessary for belief in God and following Christ. Contesting my proposal went something like: reasoning and truth has to do with the facts, not imagination? Christians can sometimes even go further. Imagination, they suggest, is all about make believe and pretending, not what’s real. Don’t do it. Certainly, they affirm, it has nothing to do with reading the Bible or the Christian faith and will end up leading you away from God. Beware of imagination and focus on the real.
One of the shocking things that arises when discussing imagination with Christians is that they often see imagination as merely something to be avoided, or are almost oblivious to its existence all together. This perspective is not only unfortunate, but unrealistic and stifling. One-sided and false portrayals of imagination like this, I suggest, hold us captive. My wager is that when imagination is devalued or seldom noticed as a feature of being human, embodying a legitimate faith in God and experiencing living spirituality will be severely impoverished. If imagination has no relevant significance for the knowledge of God, an engagement with Scripture, and a perception of the natural world, we are failing to embrace what is true; knowledge, engagement, and perception are imagination dependent.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Jesus calls his followers to have faith, as he himself does, in God. There is so much in and around us that lures us into a false sense of hope and security, while having faith in God is a challenge filled with tension leading us into the pathway of life. Jesus, therefore, does not merely want to cleanse us of the idols in our lives, but like the image of the fig tree, he wants to destroy them from the roots to the leaves, as a pre-figuring of the judgment of God on all that is false. Purging our deep attachments to the unholy and cutting away our meta-religious god identifications will no doubt be an uncomfortable operation that takes place over the course of time, yet this liberation is crucial for developing a radical and uncompromising trust, which Jesus himself exemplifies with: Have faith in God.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
What are several characteristics that should identify Christians and do you think they're being sufficiently acknowledged and practiced today?
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Our theological and philosophical configurations are so often supposed to represent absolute precision. We tenaciously hold on to them come hell or high water. They effectively immerse us in a sterilized vat of facts, where mystery and imagination are are forced to undergo the steady drip of a powerful anesthetic that aims to keep us under control and on the true path. But what happens? God breaks through. Curiosity and questioning begin to surface and unqualified exactitude is shattered. All of a sudden we’re free falling with seemingly nothing to hold on to, unanchored in a violent sea of uncertainty. Such an experience, disconcerting and complicated, is unavoidable, but should be considered a necessary development that will hopefully lead us towards embracing and standing for truer views of philosophy and theology, where mystery and imagination are part of life with God, the other, and the world.
Monday, November 7, 2011
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself. God has declared, through Christ and the arrival of the New Covenant, that he no longer counts sins against us. This act and message of reconciliation is handed over to God’s people, so that they might become ambassadors of Christ and the righteousness of God, announcing and living his settlement for all to hear and see. Stunning! A heavy responsibility, but as we work together with God, let’s do our utmost not to accept his grace in vain, nor in the mission of reconciliation to set obstacles in anyone’s way.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
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 may be at least one other consideration that may help us better interpret the biblical story. What do you think, and if you would suggest something else as necessary, what is it and why would it be valid?
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Europe has set the markets off with a ticking time bomb. Debt has come of age. On the day of the meeting of the G20, the Greek PM, who has had the audacious idea to take the European plan to save Greece from default to the people for a democratic vote, will have to show up at this meeting and explain his decision to the major economic forces of the world. Many leaders think that he must need brain surgery. They claim the austerity plan must be applied irrespective of the Greek people and whether or not they agree. The new face of Europe, as a result of enormous debt, will be that of an integrated enforcer of post-democracy political and economic interests that far outstrip rights and freedoms, which European union was supposed to bring about. This gradual, but marked shift is disconcerting and evolving into a crisis that is visible to all. It is with deep regret that one perceive’s that everywhere in Europe the Christian faith is feeble or already faded into a history and culture that no longer exists. Marginalized and weakened, often due to its own demise, the faith must regain a voice in the public square if it is again to mark the times as a compassionate, loving, just, true, and hospitable alternative to the folly of consumerism and the legitimizing of oppression.
Monday, October 31, 2011
When we lose the ability to understand that centaurs and dragons are more real than technology and mechanics, we’re in deep trouble. Impoverished imaginations create unfaith and a loss of meaning, neither of which have anything to do with following in the footsteps of the Crucified and Risen One. An enlightened biblically shaped and Christ focused imagination will be attuned to the interpretive space of dialogue with symbol and story, which eloquently heighten and enrich meaning as an augmentation of reality that is now able to be understood, yet remains inexhaustible – there is always more to be imagined, found out, and discovered.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Affirming that there is much good, when considering all the horror, suffering, and tragedy in the world, do you find it easier or harder to believe in God?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
When communism collapsed and the Berlin wall fell, there were widespread hopes for a brave new day of freedom and democracy. Cohesion, negotiation, and peace were thought to be the marks of progress, though Europe and the West in general are now losing relevance and credibility. Integration in Europe, for example, has turned into a remarkable question mark that is producing unified centralization and increasing rules and legislation configured by the few to control the many. This no doubt is connected to the looming shadows of the past and its oppressive strategies. But with debt spinning out of control, the system is obliged to reign in freedom and impose its authority. Unfortunately, a Christian voice into our social, economic, and moral problems is absent or so uninformed that it is written off as quickly as the latest joke. If ever there was a time to get our own house in order, it is now. Speaking the truth in love to each other can be a good beginning, but this then has to be lived out and built upon if we are to recapture integrity, renew a realistic hope, and have something valid and viable to say to a world that offers diminishing returns.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sometimes it seems our lives are going so well – at least no disasters or catastrophes – yet our faith is waning and losing traction. Where’s God and where are we in the story line? The continuity and repetition of daily life appears to go on and on with no resolve, and this can weigh heavily upon us. We want to know where and when it’s all going to come down. But what beginnings there must have been some many, many years ago as God spoke to fill the starry sky and shape a barren earth, and what endings there will be perhaps many, many years from now as God dwells with his people. The story of commencement and ending in the biblical text gives a sense of direction for our lives that in spite of an ongoing now or the cessation of an individual existence, promotes the notion that life as we know it will not continue ad infinitum, but there will be a change – a present and future transformation – that is to be fully realized in the consummation of the coming Kingdom of God, which will bring renewal.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Why do you think Christians so often read the Bible as a magic book dropped from the heavens – closed eyes, open the Word, and get a verse for the day – and is this a viable reading approach?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Rocked by debt and greed, the Western world as we know it is slowly but surely disintegrating. There is a rising sense, a vibrant pulse if you will that fraud and betrayal are leaving us without direction and hope. Austerity plans are put in place, interest rates are cut, and more money is printed, but little really changes. But where to turn in the midst of the tailspin remains a significant question. Facing large scale and personal moral and economic meltdowns, the viable options seem slim, yet we try this and do a bit of that to no avail, or embrace various forms of fundamentalism, which collapse under the weight of fanaticism. Both relativism and absolutism, however, strip us of reality. To be real is to move away from ourselves and to admit of having a need for another worldly perspective that can be integrated with our own, yet not consumed by it. The Christian depiction of God as Creator and Redeemer could fit this scenario and help revive us, as it offers possibilities for a credible explanation and new understanding of life as we live it.
Monday, October 17, 2011
If we are to find out who we are and what to do, we have to be willing to consider what story we are part of. Being situated in the Christian story of God’s mission to humanity and the world translates into living in Christ like ways – costly love will hopefully begin to shape and identify who we are and what we do. While this being and doing is never perfect, there should be a marked sensitivity towards dispensing grace to the stranger, the weak, the disenfranchised – victims of the economic, religious, and social meltdown of the early twenty-first century. The failure of Christians to recognize what story we are part of will result in our leaving people ungraced and history will not forget our hardness and lack of hospitality during these shattered years, and our selfishness will not go unnoticed and unmarked in the flow of time.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
People who I talk with that say they have found something of true community, and then have to leave it for one reason or another, long for it more and more as the years go by. Why does true community seem to carry so much weight for people nowadays?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Living spirituality comprises a multiplicity of dimensions, which this blog is dedicated to exploring, but one of its central features is action founded on God’s commitment to the flourishing of the world as other than and outside God.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Slick apologetics attempts to offer fast and easy answers to serious questions. If you’ve got a question, SA will make sure to give you an answer. This tactic is most unfortunate, if not deceptive. Driven by the disguise of “having it all together,” this type of apologetic endeavor will ultimately fail to convince, and do more damage than good. People, when they find out the strategy of contrived answers is bogus, being exposed for its lack of integrity, will turn away and go in the opposite direction of the faith that has been so ineffectually defended. There are some questions that simply cannot be answered, which is not to say there are not appropriate answers to honest questions. Apologetics that seeks to have it all is an apologetics without love. Loving apologetics deals with real people and actual life settings, admitting to uncertainties and dilemmas that do not detract from, but enrich the Christian faith.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Do you think a young earth perspective is a credible interpretation of the early Genesis narrative and the world?
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The living Messiah has inaugurated redemption; something so new and unceasing has burst on the scene through his life, death, and resurrection that we can hardly imagine what it fully entails. One of the striking features embodied in the Messianic life that can be mentioned is that God in Christ, through the power of the Spirit, explosively constrains the present and creatively directs it towards the future. We are, as Christ’s followers therefore, not restricted to the status quo of the cycle of the same, but engaged in and by a radical transformation of grace that finds its destiny in imaging the Crucified and Risen One, beginning in this life and culminating in the next. Let us, with courage and patience, hold fast to the God of redemption, transformation, and destiny.
Monday, October 3, 2011
The failure of the grand narrative of modernity – achieving it all – absolutism, progress, reason, – is shattered. Its replacement is the master narrative of post-modernity – achieving nothing – relativism, consummation, contradiction is not faring much better. The former attempted to construct a unified story for all humanity, while the latter left behind shards, fragments, and sub-plots with no beginning or end. Unfortunately, many Christians have bought into one or the other of these story lines and uncritically woven it into the biblical faith. Moving away from the power schemes of modern or post-modern meta-narratives is an essential task for believers, if we are to be able to present the gospel in a credible and persuasive manner to a world that has lost its way.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
If spirituality can mean anything, it means nothing. Of course there are plenty of sources of spiritual non-sense around, but so much today that is passed off as spiritual is coming out of Christian impoverishment. Woe! Authoritarian hypocrisy wielded by those in power steps on the stage and seeks to control people through performance, superficiality and manipulation. Many are having none of it, others are feed up. Can’t say I blame ‘em. Redrawing the boundaries for the meaning of ‘spiritual’ is a crucial task for our understanding of living spirituality. We best begin at home and the sooner the better. If you’re interested in my take on this, read more widely on this blog, which attempts to make a start.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Superficial and agenda driven readings of the Bible plague the church. Too many readers make up their own meanings as they go along, showing little concern for the orientation of the text. Instead of paying close attention to author and context, there is a tendency to drift from one passage to another in hope of a jolt for the day. Such a strategy, so widespread in our times, puts us at the center of meaning, and in so doing, therefore underplays the power of God’s revelation in its offer of a living and sustainable spirituality. Recovering credible biblical interpretation remains a long and difficult road ahead, but should we be unwilling to engage and to be engaged by the text and its meaning, the integrity of the faith we profess will suffer a serious blow and people will rightly turn away.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
ZZC is closed and will re-open on the 6th of October. I’m looking forward to renewing the conversation and dialogue then. For now – Bonjour.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hermeneutics plays a central role in our lives, and it is important to be aware of this. Here are four consequences. First, the general action of interpreting anything is part and parcel of what it means to be a human being in the world. Second, we can think of the interpretive act as part of our hardwired neural functions that assist our quest for optimal understanding. Third, this quest can be viewed as a circuitous passage that takes us through different kinds of worlds; spiritual, natural, contextual, textual, and otherwise. Fourth, along the journey, discordant thoughts are garnered and woven together into a reflective concordant whole. It might be said this way: our overall picture of the world, including our place in it, condenses out of the mist of a life being experienced. Hence, the base-line level of being in the world must incorporate this hermeneutical dimension.
The biblical writers themselves are interpreters of the signification of God’s communication – God’s speech acts – and the ancient authors are not free from the hermeneutical web of life setting connections with the cosmos and the living God, who claimed Israel for his own, revealed himself primarily, though not solely, to noteworthy characters in the plot, and ultimately the Christ, who then would pass on in word and deed the story of redemption to nation and world.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Quitting church is reaching epidemic proportions. Caught in the vice between those who exchange the gospel for a social code and those who market it as a consumer product, streams of people are flowing out of churches. From what I can tell many of them long for God, love, truth, credibility, justice, and redemption but are disappointed with what the church is offering. Bagels and coffee, and promises of health and wealth are limited and breaking down. Thus, today’s pseudo–gospel is having less and less traction and for this we should rejoice. Yet, the fallout is serious, in that the legitimate questions people are asking are not being addressed, nor are these folk being provided with a place to dwell, which has more to do with spirituality, than merely a geographical home. Rich and diverse gospel centered communities are essential to renew and redo the faith in what appears to be the demise of what has been known as church for all too long.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Someone who is a believer recently commented: "I always felt that I was such a bad person, and if people found out who I really was, they would reject me. I know this is not right, but it’s how I feel. My life therefore has been made up of hiding and pretending – external performance over inward conviction."
What are your thoughts / responses?
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
A realistic faith is a constant dialogue between the because of and the in spite of. In living a spiritual life, we traverse periods of belief in God that are like the vistas of a changing landscape. Sometimes the viability of the reasons for faith are convincing and firm, while at other times we are clinging to faith with little conviction or resolve. We can experience the joy of sufficient answers or the dread of the awareness that many questions are left unresolved. Passing through the valley of the shadow of death rocks our faith, yet God is with us to comfort and console.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Promising is one thing, but being obligated to keep our promises brings the sincerity of action into light. A theoretical promise without compelling force and lacking application does not do anything. Of course, on the action level of doing our promises, we will run into conflicts and obstacles that challenge our fidelity to the other. Yet, being committed to engage in dialogue with the other raises the stakes of our personal integrity, as well as underscoring that broken promises do violence to justice and the other, to whom we are to be available for. In times like ours, where false and broken promises are front page news, from pulpit and pew to politics and economics, fidelity and commitment to promises for the sake of self and other should be two hallmarks that identify followers of the Crucified and Risen One, as a testimony to the church and the world.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
The ZigZag Café
So many people seem to be quitting church. Why do you think this is the case and should something be done to change it?
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Be realistic about, but don’t be resigned to sin. That is, in this present life we will fail to obey and relate to God, the other, the self, and the world as we should. But this does not mean that we ought to have a status quo or laidback attitude to sin, as if, ‘oh well, that’s the way it is and we’re all flawed anyway. So be it.’ This outlook flies in the face of redemption, transformation, and destiny. Working against sin in our own lives and in the world is part of our new direction. While we remain sinful in being children of God, the latter should increase and the former decrease, as we go about living spirituality in community with God and each other.
Monday, September 5, 2011
One of the most impressive features of human thought is that we are capable of creating and configuring symbols in an effort to express meaning. Recognizing this relationship between language acquisition and symbolic thought provides the opportunity for a phenomenology with theological clout. God’s speech acts give rise to revelation in language and symbol. This interlacing of conceptual fields effectively expanded the function of symbols so that they were seen to reveal God and being in the world in polyphonic ways. At the same time, being human was envisioned as uniquely connected to language, and language to reflection, and reflection to hermeneutics. Thus, God’s speaking embedded in Scripture by symbol and thought finds its connection through the hermeneutical nature of being in the world.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
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How do you interpret the 6 days in Genesis 1?
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tragedy blows through us, disorients our gaze, and leaves us suffering. Groping becomes our sphere of momentary orientation, as we sink into a sense of desperation and helplessness. Aiming to think correctly and practically in this realm is shattered and even space offers us no escape from ourselves and the deeply frustrating experience of loss. Yet, as genuine as dilemma this is, we are not allowed to dwell in resignation and passivity. Life itself, as configured by the Creator, forces us into and towards a re-orientation mode, where we start to grapple in the darkness with the response of tragic wisdom, as most fully expressed in the Crucified and Risen One. While a configured life and tragic wisdom will not resolve all our conflicts, they offer a fragile, but true conviction and experience that directs us on into the future with hope.
Monday, August 29, 2011
The validity of the Christian faith will only continue to suffer if we do not engage the issues and ideas of our day. To bury our heads in the sand and hope the challenges to the truth of what we believe will all go away, is wishful thinking. We have the significant calling to be a testimony to the love of Christ, but this will not be heard, if we speak an entirely different language unrelated to current discussions, nor will it be seen, if we live in a spiritualized world of our own making, divorced from that which is really happening. Being informed about what’s going on is a responsibility for ourselves and others, as we tell the story of life and death in a pertinent and persuasive manner that has traction in the listening and watching world.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Amazon www.amazon.com is at it again. Previously, prices on my books have been reduced. Now Living Spirituality is 78% off and available for $3.30. If you think you might want to experience a challenging read on Christian spirituality for yourself, or pick up LS for a relative or friend, this may be a good time to buy the book. Click on the cover on the right to go straight to LS on Amazon.
What do you see as the major similarities and differences between writing history and writing fiction, and why might they matter, especially in respect to the biblical accounts?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Considering all the bantering going on over politics and the economy in Western democracies, recent reports in the media have suggested that some Christians advocate dominionist theologically authoritative governments. I have been badgered by journalists for interviews on this subject, but have declined. While the media is not noted for its accuracy, nor I might add, its credibility, the sheer false representation of positions reportedly held by certain people in this discussion is astounding. I’m not out to defend this or that politician or theologian here, as their writings and platforms speak for themselves. At any rate, it seems to me that moving in the direction of any kind of a theocracy is clearly a mistake. To identify the Kingdom of God and country is a travesty. Simply said, whether it is the fundamentalist form coming from the right or the fundamentalist freedom coming from the left, there has to be an effort to strike a balance that avoids extremism. Embracing the principles of both form and freedom is an inviting way forward. Granted, working this out is no easy task, but if politicians are committed to this venture, instead of slander, manipulation, and deception, we might get somewhere. One key working model should focus on the concept of collegiality and the acceptance of a diversity of political views, which all have to interact together in a way that preserves checks and balances. A dialogue where real positions are put out there to be discussed and analyzed is to be preferred to mud-slinging, which dubiously aims to cover a myriad of weaknesses and a lack of fresh ideas. Equal concerns from different quarters are to be represented in the public square and our interactions should take place in a civil and respectful manner.
Posted by Greg at 9:05 AM
Monday, August 22, 2011
Self-interest does not always translate into selfishness. God calls us to accomplish things and to take some credit for these, yet we are to avoid arrogance and self-centeredness like the plague. As created and spiritual people, who are gifted with the Spirit of God and Christ, this feat is not entirely beyond us, as we embrace the tension of working out our salvation, because God is at work in us.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Do you think there is any way we can enhance God’s well-being?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
There is no reason that I can see why producers of goods and the commercial enterprises that sell them should wait until there is a public outcry that prices are completely out of line and profit margins far too great, before any action is taken to decrease the stranglehold. It’s as if we’re being fed the message, “we’ll rip you off as long as we can and if you say and do nothing, then nothing will change.” If we don’t speak up, protest, boycott, and engage in other actions against injustice where we can, money and all its entanglements will continue its almighty reign. Instead of aiming to have peace and tranquility, we should be highly disturbed and unsettled by our political and economic systems that seem to operate as if they are ends in and of themselves. They are not and if we admit this it will bring a dimension of the uncomfortable into our lives and hopes. In fact, Christians should be among the most concerned, disconcerted, and angry people on the planet. To rant against the machine will help preserve our humanity and promote a well-lived life, as we adhere to the love, mercy, and justice reinforced by the Creator and his redeeming action in the Christ, which is to be the overarching context within which politics and economics are to be done.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Given the folly of debt circulating around the world, it’s no wonder the bankruptcy or potential default of countries, has not resulted in the fateful crisis that it should. Not dealing with the truth and reality of overspending and accumulating massive debts, will surely jeopardize the future for many, as it will inevitably bring about warlike conditions between nations of power.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Amazon www.amazon.com is at it again. Previously, prices have been reduced on my books. Now Living Spirituality is 66% off and available for $5.03. If you think you might want to experience a challenging read on Christian spirituality, or pick up LS for a relative or friend, this may be a good time to buy the book. Click on the cover on the right to go straight to LS on Amazon.
Why do you think there is so much of an emphasis on justice for the vulnerable: widows, orphans, the poor, and alien, in OT Israel, and what might this teach us today?
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Confidence in our global systems and economies is quickly and rightly eroding. Injustice and deception plague our times, as options of trust and credibility disappear like the stars at daybreak. Faced with the ultimate breakdown of the idols of money, status, and possessions, it is an opportune time for Christians to live with a greater integrity. As we let go of the insignificant demands of personal peace and affluence, the cultures in which we live will no longer look at us and see themselves in a mirror. And this will have a shattering impact for the sake of Christ, who boldly stands against the epidemic that infects us. His capacity to heal what contaminates us - to being brought aright, should lead us to take part in forging communities of love and mercy that reflect God, and which will therefore leave an undeniable trace in the midst of the chaos of the historical flow of the early twenty-first century.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Unmasking and denouncing the fear of exposure is no doubt a step towards trust, but we rightly wrestle with ‘who’ is trustworthy – Self, other, God. Surely this is not a venture for the uncritical, yet criticism is never an end in and of itself. Letting go of that which entangles us and moving into the laboratory of trust is a challenging task and a liberating joy that begins to diminish illegitimate coverings, while increasing appropriate disclosure.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Wilderness wanderings, seemingly distant from God, can sometimes appear to leave us on our own. But what may seem to be the case can be deceptive and just when we think we’re in it all alone, God moves with us into this mode of lostness. In sacrificially meeting us where we are, the Infinite One slowly but surely forges the way forward a step at a time, so that we sense his presence with us and can emerge into the land of the living.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Coercion, manipulation, and dishonesty are power tools of the trade for the selfish self, while love, justice, and mercy battle it out within the theater of life to promote redemption. Graciously convicted of sinful practices by the Infinite One, allows selfish selves to undergo the penalty of death, in order to be offered new life in Christ, the Unselfish One.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
ZZ is closed for vacation and will re-open on the 11th of August. I’m looking forward to renewing the conversation and dialogue then. For now – Bonjour.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Finding ourselves in a triumphal procession enhances the reality of both victory and humiliation. This powerful metaphor expresses the fragile tenor of our experience, as we follow in the footsteps of the Crucified and Risen One. Rejection can pierce our souls, and we flounder, weighed down by the woes of the cross, and while our humiliation runs deep and tears us apart, we are not left in utter defeat by those opposed to us, as this is only part of the procession. In the midst of this march, there is also a celebration of victory that will carry us through towards our destiny of resurrection.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Demands for exhaustive truth will continually fail to meet the target. Such illusions are tempting though unfulfilling, and they do a tremendous amount of corporate and personal damage. The sooner we face the truth that there are no meta-narratives, the better. No one has a total explanation of everything, even though at times a person can act as if this is the case. So be it. Illusion peddlers have been around for a while, and are likely to continue to be with us. Conversely, Christians proclaim their freedom from meta-narrative and therefore distance themselves from illusions. In doing so, we rightly let go of attempts to portray a comprehensive story, and embrace a mega-narrative of possibilities for the credibility of the existence of God and his creating and saving action through the Crucified and Risen One in faith.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
What steps do you take if you find yourself doubting that God exists?
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Being in community with God and each other is a joy and a privilege. In seeking to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way, the apostle Paul urged us to have a deep unity amongst ourselves as we follow Christ, so that we might glorify God with one heart and one voice. To accept each other then, just as Christ has accepted us, will ultimately be pleasing God. Since we are bound together in our various callings, let’s continue to focus on our purpose to serve God wherever we are and in whatever we’re doing. It’s all too easy to lose our way as we face threats and are exposed to the fears of a world spinning off into chaos. God is faithful; therefore do not be faint of heart.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Emerging out of the darkness into the light can be a daunting adventure. Grace and compassion, for example, seem more contrived than anger and malice, while self-constitution reigns over being given a self. We’re plagued by the unreal that appears real and much of the time our awareness level is so low, we can’t fathom anything but the same and obscurity prevails. Yet God has created luminosity, as well as revealing it through the Christ, so that we might have a vision of majesty. Enlightened imaginations heighten the acuity of perception, which begins to enable us to venture out through the illumination to embrace a radiance that glistens with all that’s transformative for good.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Aristotle thinks that, if we are to be just, politics should have an influence and impact on people for good, whereas Kant argues that this is not its role and any political imposition would be detrimental to our freedom. What are your thoughts on the role of politics in matters of justice today?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Living Spirituality, in connection with 2 Corinthians 3, is engaged with the recognition that we have unveiled faces and are new letters written not with ink, but with the Spirit. Thus, as followers of the Crucified and Risen One, we are enabled to be seen as a reflection of the revelation and presence of God, or in other words, indirect reflectors of glory. Unveiled ones are therefore in transformational motion from one degree of reflecting the revelation and presence of God to another, which signifies and symbolizes that we’re becoming more and more the image of what we reflect. This transformation emanates from the Lord, the Spirit, and I would wager it is to encompass the whole of life; the bodily, spiritual, and moral characteristics of human existence.
Monday, July 11, 2011
While it is true that biblical interpretation is always mediate, indirect, a task of seeking sense, as opposed to immediate, direct, or a giveness of complete sense, a text is never entirely semantically autonomous. Texts are author intended entities, not necessarily enclosed within the psychological constraints of the mind, but opened by a literary act, which unfolds a world out into the world, which a reader's world is then able to engage with. An author’s intentions must be considered as pertinent to textual interpretation as it is communicative actions that set the literary genre for and the content of the text. A search for the meaning of biblical texts, therefore, is to be concerned with what the author has accomplished as an action of communication and then how that arrow of sense points the reader towards a meaningful encounter that will refigure life in ontological, epistemological, and ethical matters, to the glory of God.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Are there any reasons that it would ever be just to torture a terrorist who planted a bomb on an airplane in order to locate and disable it, thereby saving 200 lives?
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Forging our way through the roadblocks of condemnation and guilt is a challenge, but transformative and sustainable change is an ever present offer to be embraced. Through the costly giving and the atoning manifestation of the Crucified and Risen One, and the reality of new life we receive as a result of it, we need not be ensnared in that which robs us of being in community with the Living God. As this “in community” is believed and acted upon there is freedom because what stood against us dissipates into the flow of redemptive blood that has significance for now and forever more.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Being responsible and being faithful are crucial elements of the Christian life in witnessing to the Crucified and Risen One. Keeping these essential features in separate compartments or to embrace one over the other is folly. These two characteristics of living spirituality are to complement and re-enforce each other, as we seek to follow Christ, who is life. Testimony nowadays, therefore, has to embody both actions and beliefs, if it is to have traction in the watching world. And when the world watches and merely sees itself in a mirror, the grim reality will be that we have not done our part to present that which is true and credible with integrity.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
What does it mean to trust God? Swim or Float? Check out www.internetmonk.com Do it all on your own or let go and let God? Should we totally surrender or not surrender at all? I have commented on this at IM, one of my favorite blogs. You’re welcome to reply here or add your thoughts over there.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Faithful biblical interpretation does not stop when the reader experiences the meaning of the text, but only when that experienced meaning is lived out towards the other and into the world. Once this action takes place there is then a retro movement back from other and world to the reader, who then re-engages and is re-engaged by the text, in order to prepare for a new encounter. Responsible interpretation means that readers must know what to do with the Spirit illuminated meaning on the pages, as this is not information to be stored or defended as ideology or utopia, but it is to be lived in a loving and gracious manner that gives testimony to the Crucified and Risen One.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Flowing out of redemption, we receive a cleansed heart and a renewed mind. Therefore, we are to put away falsehood and embrace truth, receive grace and abandon malice, live in the light and discard the darkness, as we seek to learn to practice the habits of living spirituality. Habit forming takes effort and responsibility, while it also requires being attentive not to grieve, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Love your neighbor as yourself. What does this mean and in what practical ways might it manifest itself?
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
In the Western cultural context there is a profound loss of faith in our capacity to be, to know, and to trust. I believe this woeful state of affairs is connected to a marginalizing of God and adopting the pretensions of being a capital ‘I’. Suspicion has become absolute and cripples the ability to be deeply committed to anything or anyone. ‘I’ calls the shots and functions as an authority from nowhere, while celebrity, spin, and hype permeate church and society. These capital I’s, are left in a supposed glorious dimension of suspension, floating from one experience to another, snatching at everything, but embracing nothing. Ideas no longer have traction, nor do they matter in this world of make believe. Thankfully, God has set a rescue operation in motion through Jesus Christ, which has the ideological and experiential power to revive and renew being, knowing, and trusting, while it reshapes suspicion and gives a truer and situated self in exchange for the deceptive ‘I.’
Monday, June 20, 2011
Following in the footsteps of the Crucified and Risen One means no less than to sacrificially embrace the fragrance of life. Being a new creation, a new self, has the distinct aroma of forgiveness, mercy, tenderheartedness, and hope. Do not lose an appropriate trust and suspicion, therefore, and remain unwavering in doing good to all.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Is it accurate to view the work of Christ on the cross as solely a spiritual triumph for us?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Following in the footsteps of Christ will comprise a grieving of losses and a celebrating of victories. Being in community with God ebbs and flows, as our lives are deeply touched by situations and circumstances that are emotionally overwhelming. Sometimes we are seemingly clinging on with fingers slipping, as we begin to lose our grip, while at other times, we assume we are free and clear in triumph. In truth, whether we are headed high or moving low, God is with us shaping our lives in redemptive ways. What we say and do, therefore, has tremendous significance, yet it is not conclusive for ourselves or others.
Monday, June 13, 2011
A torrent of rhetoric flows at us and we are inundated by dubious prospects of freedom, equality, and rights. Some speak of gathering behind the veil of ignorance, others of a liberty without constraint. Autonomous notions of the justice like these, however, will be unsustainable. Conversely, to be called by the Infinite One and to respond to his voice, while not supplying a perfect resolution to all our quandaries, opens up the possibility to embrace being justly loved and to love justly that which is lasting and sure. Beyond the pale of self-determination lies the Giver who situates us in being and being in a world that is not our own. Only in the light of this giveness can we truly work out a just dependent independence.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I noticed that Amazon still has a couple of copies of Living Spirituality: Illuminating the Path at a massive discount - $1.73 - 88% off. Such a deal! If you're interested in Christian spirituality, there's no better time to purchase this book.
Do you think there is a place for self-love in the Christian life?
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
When we are caught up in such fast paced lives, there is often an inability to cherish the moment. Living Spirituality is a moment by moment embrace of following in the footsteps of Christ and all that this comprises. The trajectory of living should be from being in community with God to everything else. Yet, we tend to forget the spiritual vision for all of who we are and what we do. We're too busy and enamored with that which is fleeting. Pray that God would remind us that each day is made up of precious moments, as we seek to live in a way that has a Christ configured integrity and grace.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Self-absorption binds us to false commitments, while deceptively assuring us that an ‘I’ focus will be safe and sustainable. Insecurities, complexes, and doubts weigh all too heavily in preventing us from engaging relationality. The O(o)ther, however, calls us from both near and afar, colliding with our pretensions of self-enclosure as a viable option for the minutes, days, months and years; all that lies ahead. Tearing down the barriers and dismantling the walls of estrangement is a continual challenge, and should we refuse to embrace the O(o)other, we shall never find ourselves.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Video: P.O Lind Music: Alexander Laughery
Do you think there is any place for self-hatred in the Christian life?
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Be realistic about, but don’t be resigned to sin. That is, in this present life we will fail to relate to God, the other, the self, and the world as we should. But this does not mean that we ought to have a status quo or laid back attitude to sin, as if ‘oh well, that’s the way it is and we’re all flawed anyway. So be it.’ This flies in the face of redemption, transformation, and destiny. Moving away from sin is to be a conscious choice and eventual desire: it’s the way of sanctification; being and being made holy. The Infinite One is out to change us and renew us into the image of Christ, so that we might live, and have a role to play in the Ultimate story that never ends.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I noticed that Amazon.com has a couple of copies of Living Spirituality: Illuminating the Path left at a huge discount - $2.96 - 80% off. Such a deal! If you're interested, there's no better time to take and read.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Lord, please give us the gift of patience as we live together in our churches and communities. Help us to be kind, gentle, and forgiving in the struggle for unity, and lead us into delight with you and each other. Let us learn to love as you have loved us, as we seek to represent and demonstrate something of who you are to the believing, to those who do not know you, and to those who do, but have gone astray.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
In his book After you Believe / Virtue Reborn, N.T. Wright states on p.202 in the latter:
“To accept appropriate moral constraints is not to curtail true freedom, but to create the conditions for it to flourish.”
What’s your take on Wright’s perspective?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Feelings are so important, though they are not decisive when it comes to knowledge. In order to assess whether feelings are trustworthy or deceptive, it is crucial that they be in dialogue with the rest of who we are, including reason and sense observation, so that we have a more holistic perspective. We should not stop, however, at an interpersonal dialogue, as we are obliged to interact with the other, the world, and the biblical text, if we are to have our feelings and the whole of our lives refigured, and to begin to know in the light of being known.
Considering all the talk about the end of the world you may, if you’re interested, want to read my book Living Apocalypse for hopefully a better interpretation of where we are and how to decode what lies ahead.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Stories help us come to terms with sorrows. No time to read and recount leaves us little time to mourn. And mourning is now more necessary than ever for the faithful. There is so much to mourn, be it political, social, ethical, or personal. When memory, imagination, and testimony provide an opportunity of working through the darkness of loss and suffering, it is crucial to recount and read, and to do so in the light of redemption and transformation that will eventually turn our mourning into rejoicing and our sorrows into joys.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
VIDEO P.O. Lind MUSIC Alexander Laughery
Some people think the problems of humanity could be solved if all religions would just get together and settle their differences. What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Prophet and priest alike preach everything or nothing. The interpretive strategies of reductionism and polarization offer deceptive sacrifices on the altar of resolution, and all too often function as the patron saints of Christian thought in disputes over the interaction between philosophy, theology, science, and language. What remains, post-rejection of unholy offerings, is the arduous, yet joyful task of working out the interdisciplinary tension of non-resolution integrated into creation, cross, and resurrection in a community of redemptive action that will have an impact for good on the other, the self, and the world, as we await the renewal of all things.
Monday, May 16, 2011
One of the major fallacies that many Christians embrace is that they don’t have biases, problems with ideas, or serious shortcomings. If anything undoes the necessity of the cross and resurrection of Christ, it is this kind of perspective. When we are pointing the finger at everyone else and arguing they’re influenced by secularism or materialism and therefore have it all wrong, we forget that critique needs to start at home and that our own views also have to be examined, evaluated, and assessed in order to help us sort out our own blindness, before sorting out that of the rest of the world.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
How significant should experience be when it comes to belief or unbelief in God?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Today’s composers compose their music in the shadow of Bach and Beethoven, Mozart and Handel and other musicians. This notion of inheriting ideas, forms of life, and structures of composition ought to be a continual reminder that we’re not the first people on the planet to make music. Similarly, to reflect on justice it is crucial to realize that we develop our views in the shadow of Locke, Hume, Kant and other thinkers who still have a tremendous impact and influence on our perspectives today. Theories of justice, therefore, are like texts under negotiation. They require a serious consideration of the points of view of our predecessors, along with a give and take connected to a desire for a better interpretation of what would be just for the sake of all concerned. No easy task, but nevertheless one that is worthwhile.
Questions of human dignity, human responsibility, and human freedom implore us to work hard for and to be committed to deliberating and debating about what justice is.
Monday, May 9, 2011
May we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit a fresh to renew us in the ever increasing conviction that God is there and that he has acted, is acting, and will act on behalf of love and justice for his own sake, for the world, for Israel, and for us.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Following the question on ZigZag yesterday, here are a few thoughts. First, I think this ban is in the text because God already has his image represented in humanity on the earth. We are the corporeal images of the incorporeal God. Humans image God. Second, there is a risk in image making that we will defy both God and humanity by the worship of images. But it seems to me that the problem is not with image making per se. Why? Creativity and imagination are part of being human and imaging God and therefore making images can’t be necessarily wrong. As I see it, this thorny issue concerns the who, the what, and the why of image making. That is, an image can be fitting and appropriate if it’s not out to place a who above God, to install a what in exchange for God, or to set up a why that rejects God. The making of images can be an augmentation of reality, and as long as the image is not misplaced in its value or virtue, there should be an incentive to create and imagine aright and therefore no problem with the validity of images.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
In the biblical text, there seems to be a problem with making images. Why do you think that’s the case?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
There should be a noticeable and marked difference between disciples of Christ and other people. While indeed there are many similarities connecting followers and non-followers of Jesus, Spirit reception(s) are to differentiate disciples, in that they contribute to living spirituality, which is to be gently expressed through love, justice, patience, and kindness. When we do not love, practice justice, show patience, and manifest kindness to each other and all people, there is a serious failure to present a beautiful picture of the Creator and Redeemer. As ugliness triumphs over beauty and our unity disintegrates, the consequences can’t help but be gravely significant for those who look on and observe the lamentable results.
Monday, May 2, 2011
The spirit of fear, not the Spirit of Christ tends to dominate in many Christian circles today. Fearful of being carried away by the spirit of the age, the faith can grow narrow, lack credibility, and become lifeless. While it is true that believers want to be cautious about adopting the cultural, philosophical, or scientific trends of any given moment, there is an important place to engage new ideas and to be somewhat open to where they may lead. The Spirit of Christ casts out fear and releases us to a new configuration of confidence and humility. This Spirit allows for discussion, questioning, and, investigation. To have received the life giving Spirit who inaugurates community with God, over against a spirit that leads to a separation from him, means that we are free to seek, find, and follow truth where it may be found. Fear not, says the Lord, for I am with you.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
We may often be reluctant to say we know too much about God, self, other and world, but is it possible to be too epistemologically modest?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
A cursory look at the headlines shows that a million acres have burned in drought stricken Texas, someone is accused of bribing oil officials, nuclear destruction is wrecking lives, terrorist alerts are on the rise, storms and tornadoes are sweeping through parts of the world, Christians are being persecuted, the Arab world is in growing disarray with no end to the killing in sight, and as the one year after de-versary of the Gulf disaster arrived, recovery is moving all too slowly. When you add to this the economic crisis, unemployment, and the danger of the collapse of political stability, it appears that we find ourselves close to a meltdown. As we peer into the hourglass, we discover the grains of sand are not unlimited. How long, oh Lord? If ever there was a moment to turn to the living God, it is now. To wake up, be prepared, and come to our senses, means we have to engage the breakdown of the world and present the gospel in the teeth of the relevant and pertinent challenges we face, as we are truly living in perilous times.
Monday, April 25, 2011
In this post-Easter week, as our world continues in its rhythm, seemingly untouched by the dramatic event of the resurrection of Christ, we want to focus on at least these five points: 1) The resurrection of the dead is relevant to creation, salvation, and eternity; to the past, present, and future. 2) Death, as a separation from the Living One, is an enemy that will one day be destroyed. 3) The body is important to and for Christian spirituality—it is and forever intends to be embodied. 4) Resurrection is an affirmation of life that puts us in conflict with sin and evil. It provides a way into a deep and living tension. 5) Faith and action must be grounded in the truth and reality of the resurrection of Christ, which is to permeate all of who we are and what we do.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Why are you convinced or not convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead in history?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The failure to recognize that there are usually two dangers and not merely one, will lead to serious misunderstandings of Christian truth. Think for a moment about the danger of giving up the claim of the biblical informer that God is creator. While this is a central truth to hold on to, if we do not consider that there is another danger, namely, not paying significant attention to the force of the natural world informer, then we will undoubtedly fall into misrepresenting God in our interpretations. Reflect on another example; the insistence of a traditional interpretation. Holding to tradition and whether or not someone does, becomes the sole mark of fidelity. Yet, should we not consider the potential liability of tradition, we engage in something equally problematic. In fairness, we want to level the playing field as much as possible in that this is the first step towards better interpretation. When we only worry about one danger, we may unwittingly fall into another. Keep alert to the two dangers perspective.
Posted by Greg at 4:29 PM
Monday, April 18, 2011
Christians all too often become inoculated against the real. Plagued by inauthentic churches peddling illusions, and the covert deception of unreal images that manifest themselves in misplaced expectations and extravagant regimes, believers are facing serious impoverishment and succumbing to bogus spirituality. Instead of having the power of the real, the testimony to truth, and a life of authenticity, we unfortunately seem to have little to offer a world gone mad. Our plight, at times, seems overwhelming, yet God continues to shape and form a people to proclaim the good news and its credibility, and longs for us to leave the rest behind and to join in the drama of his creative and redemptive intentionality, which is as real as it gets.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
ZZ is closed for today, 14 April, as I’m out of town. I’m looking forward to renewing the conversation and dialogue on 21 April. For now – Bonjour.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
To find our way along in this world is a complex endeavor. We go this way and then that. True, God is faithful, as promised, to direct the lives of his children, but he leaves some important matters up to us. We are not without responsibility, yet cannot carry it all on our own. And that’s as it should be. Seems God wants us to achieve, to make good choices, and to grow in wisdom, while trusting him for the outcome.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Empires are impersonal. Trading in statistics, quotas, and mis-information, they entice us into embracing a falsification of the real and authentic. We tremble at the call to resist and fear the prospect of an exile from the facts, figures, and calculations. Threatened by the radical turn to a personal relationality and a potential loss of an assumed sense of equilibrium, we are then comfortably recycled back into the flow of the Empires. To leave Empire ways behind is a continual challenge, but the stakes are high, as a fear of failure to engage with people, to be personal and relational towards the other, will silence our ability to speak, to hear, and to love.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Following the question on ZigZag yesterday here are a few thoughts. The fierce debate about Christian living in the face of Empire is well known. My brief response to the question goes something like this. While there are various sources to explore, I was thinking along the lines of the prophets (Isa; Jer; Ezk; Dan) and 1 Peter, where there seems to be a working out of the types of Empire living that are appropriate for us. That is, in these texts, we encounter, in a deft and wise manner, the coming to terms with Empire. This includes some accommodation and some resistance. Finding our way along will be arduous, and the where and when we resist or accommodate not always precisely clear, yet while it won’t be perfect, we should be a standing for God’s truth and love, as we seek to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Being aliens is no easy task and it will require a living hope for redemption and transformation, no matter how oppressive or inviting Empire may appear to be.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
What strategies are Christians to employ, living as we all do, in the shadow of Empire?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posing unanswerable questions about God and refusing to trust if the answers are not forthcoming is to be a Capital I, that is, to put oneself at the center of knowledge and belief. While we do have an important role to play in both of these, we are certainly too small to be at the center. The issue of what we trust instead of God is a key to understanding our orientation, and its probable insufficiency. If we are interested in changing directions, there are sufficient reasons available to trust God and therefore God can be trusted. We may not get answers to questions that no one has answers for, but we will have answers that lead us to trust. A shift of focus requires an emphasis on what we can know and how we actually live on the basis of this, and this should at least convince us that Capital I is not a legitimate option for knowledge, belief, or life.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Being captive to the ideologies of certainty or uncertainty is like being pulled into a vortex that leads nowhere. Certainty aims to insure us that we have it all together and that everything is straight forward, while uncertainty attempts to illustrate that we don’t have anything together and that nothing is clear. We can become so addicted to polarizations like this, that moving into the middle seems highly unsatisfactory. Withdrawal symptoms are required and sometimes painful, as uncovering that which binds us and leads us astray is so deeply entrenched in every perspective and dimension of our identities. Letting go will be extremely difficult. Release, however, comes from learning to follow in the footsteps of Christ, which is not least to discover the hidden ideological trends and currents in our lives, and in so doing, to open us up to the possibility of a refigured destiny, culminating in a transformation into his image.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Do you have to imagine being saved by Christ for it to be an actuality for you?
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Voyaging through the charted waters of reason without imagination and a holistic understanding of humanness, Scripture, and the world, leaves us adrift and undirected in the waves of certainty, while navigating the uncharted waters of imagination without reason and a holistic picture of humanness, Scripture, and the world, leaves us submersed and floundering in the sea of uncertainty.
Monday, March 28, 2011
The biblical text is comprised of a medley of genres that reflect on and name God. To be sure the Revealed One inspires the plot and characters in the story, who are given creative license to explore and configure the Being who Is. Prophecy, apocalyptic, wisdom, law, psalm, and narrative send polyphonic tremors throughout the textual sea, as Infinite meets finite and tracks the traces of the communicative action of the Speaker. Surely, now we can move critically through and gently beyond Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, or the likes of the more contemporary influences of Heidegger, Derrida, and Ricoeur, as we seek to encounter a naming and thinking which stands next to none.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Poetry is more important than history in the Bible – would you agree / disagree - what are your thoughts?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Imagination expands our lives. It helps us to understand God, the world, and ourselves. No doubt fear of imagining wrong things in the Christian tradition has led to smothering and sedating imagination, as much of what we see and do has a greater connection with ugliness, than a vision of beauty. So many have been scolded and told – it’s all about following the rules and regulations, get in line, conform to the status quo, as if creativity and imagination are somehow always connected to the unreal. There is nothing less at stake here than humanness – being a creative, imaginative, rational, sense observing, feeling, experiencing and participating, beauty maker. Marginalized artists, poets, story tellers, and musicians, who have been forced to the edges of their churches or completely out of them, have come to Swiss L’Abri over the years. They literally weep when they are told they belong, have a key place, and are not required to paint crosses, recount a story with the name Jesus in every other line, or compose a syrupy chorus that has nothing to do with reality.
The mega story in the Bible, the deliverances of the natural world, and truer selfhood, however, give us a framework from which to be creative and imagine - a story of healing and redemption in the midst of ugliness, where God created, and in the twinkling of an eye, raised Christ from the dead, evoking a stream of new life that invites each of us to come as we are and to participate in the renewal of creation, as we follow the Crucified and Risen One. Re-imagining the Christian faith in the light of the mega story is crucial for our engagement with the world, each other as community, and the cultures in which we live. Imagine what the new heaven and earth are to be like and live that with love, grace, and fortitude, telling good stories – as a good story in that it reflects truth, is like the gospel.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Cacophony drums its steady beat through the soul, leaving a scar of perplexity. Faced with a surging discordance, our attempts to recover and to find concordance seem vain. Like being told a never ending story in which we struggle to discover the plot, hope seems to escape, as a vapor that disappears with the rising sun. Behind the shades of disheartening and the lines not yet written, however, lies the searing character of unbound love, which creeps into the narrative with a shattering power that goes beyond the resonance of time.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Following the question on ZigZag yesterday here are a few thoughts. The fierce debate about the similarities and differences of the God of the OT and of the NT is well known. My configuration would go along these lines. God in both testaments is contextual; revealing into contexts in different ways and these inform us about something of who God is. That is, the God of first and second testaments is willing to be contextual, though he is not finally subject to context.
In the OT YHWH is understood as being responsible for both Exodus and Exile. YHWH moves in a mighty way to liberate Israel from one Empire and to deport them into the hands of another. Words of disappointment and threat effectuate the displacement, as Israel has gravely sinned against the covenant God. Yet, a new hope arises and the proclamation that a freedom to return to Jerusalem will come, and loss, grief, and alienation will be undone, as Babylon the Empire, releases its vassal.
In the NT Jesus proclaims the arrival of the kingdom of God and that this is good news. He defeats Satan, casts out demons, heals the sick, and raises the dead, offering cleansing, forgiveness, and redemption to all who believe. He ventures to tell his followers that not only are they to love neighbor, but also enemy. Although, a military denouement is not yet, it will come. The mighty Woes in Matt. 23 addressed to the religious elite in Jerusalem of Jesus’ day, give a foretaste of an impending disaster and another Exile. Jerusalem has been longed for, but will be left desolate.
God in the two testaments is related and distinct. There is sameness and difference, proximity and distance. These portrayals of God show us his revelatory message and communicative acts are contextual, yet he is not enslaved to context, but freely wields love and justice in his own fitting way.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Do you think that the God of the OT is different from the God of the NT, and if so, or if not, for what reasons?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
There are three prevailing worldviews that tend to dominate the glocal context today. First, matter matters. This is the notion that all there is―is matter. Scientific hubris is attempting to capture what is, but in its reductionism and anti-theism is doomed to fail. Life is more important than matter. Second, money matters. Consumer strategies and corporate values teach us that all that’s real is―money. When money becomes a god in church, politics, economics, and society, everything is sacrificed on the altar of death and redemption is left lying in the ashes of the meltdown. People are more important than money. Third, power matters. Cutting down and shredding responsibility or anything else that stands in the way means that all that counts is―power. Explicit claims and acts of terror oppress and de-dignify an ethical imperative that is trampled by bullets and bombs. Love and justice are more important than power.
Such a lamentable concoction of worldviews is devastating, even catastrophic. Might I say - apocalyptic; borrowing a metaphor so often used to describe the fallout of what’s happening to this planet and its people at this particular moment. As, truth, love, and justice decline, partially due to the woeful state of so many churches who fall into one of the trinity of current views mentioned above, we are left to weep with the Creator and Savior. But tears should promote action to re-establish the viability of the Christian worldview and its capacity to speak a refiguration of the present world and then through an eventual face to face encounter with the Infinite and the Crucified and Risen One, lead to streams of never ending life.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Finding shelter in our world from the vacuous and inconsequential is harder and harder to do; the rhythm of trite leaves us exposed to a devaluing of heart, mind, and imagination. Rapid-fire bs captures the air waves and infiltrates our capacity to think clear and true thoughts that can be lived, in contrast to the prevailing and woeful meltdown of the critical adventure. While it’s true that criticism is never to be an end in and of itself, it is an essential component to chasten naïveté and to promote the virtuous life of following in the footsteps of Christ. Engage, critique, embrace―the Infinite One, other, and world; the given of giveness and the power of this trinity that offers us the spooky haven of relationality; the space to dwell in oneself as another.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Religious diversity is widespread today and it is often appealed to as a sufficient reason to not be committed to any one faith. What do you think of this position?