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.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
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.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Be a critically gracious (open, but not naive) listener to the stranger for as long as you possibly can.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
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.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Receiving the gift of a new self, anchored in a Divine call from beyond and a Christo-redemptive act from within, deconstructs manipulative power and conniving selfishness, setting us on the path to life with all its detours and complexities. The vistas opened up along the journey are breathtaking, as God’s promises for the past, present, and future begin come into focus and to coalesce in our lives. As a result of this re-constructive reality taking place, novel ways of seeing, being, and living sear the landscape of the whole of who we are, encouraging us to begin to let go of self-defeating strategies of control and exploitation, and to embrace God’s project of genuine love that is out to transform us and the world.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Turning away from the light to uncritically embrace what it’s illuminating may be a move into darkness.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
There’s a radical difference between adopting a view and attempting to live it because it might make life better, and being embraced by and embracing that which truly IS, and then living it because it’s as real as it gets.
For example, one wants something or someone for the sole reason that it fills the emptiness and makes things more meaningful. The desire is fitting, though the orientation is suspect. Problem: this is too self-centered and pragmatic – it ends up being self-ish and doing what I do for whatever works for me. Another possibility: Encountering what IS as real will not cohere with the previous orientation, but that is the best thing that could happen to me, since selfishness and pragmatism will not offer a meaningful life.
A critique of absolute relativism, for example, is not valid because a relativistic view is a problem per se – in and of itself – but rather because through an awareness of what and who IS, such a criticism becomes legitimate, since it comes out of the reality that’s already there.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
True guilt should be acknowledged and viewed as a corrective signpost to a better direction for life. Facing up to one’s true guilt, therefore, can actually be a matter of self-love, as opposed to beating oneself up. And further, being a legitimate and careful informer of an other’s true guilt should have love, rather than condemnation at its core.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Covenant, which connotes YHWH’s love, liberation, and identification of a people to be in community with Him, is a central theological motif in both the OT and the New. Grace, law, and holiness find their place in this broader category of covenant. YHWH both establishes (unilateral) and cuts (bilateral) covenant, where each requires an action by the giver and yet a necessary response on the behalf of the receiver. In covenant there is a mandate for unity, a call to justice, and an appeal to love, to listen, and to do. YHWH’s people are to engage in and act upon covenant in order to stand out and be known as those who are marked by a vision for the redemption of the world.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Self-reflection is a marvel, but if it is not going to lead to a paralysis of motivation and action, it will need appropriate configurations of trust and suspicion connected to referents beyond oneself.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Relationships too frequently come and go, but love is rare and tough in that its demands go beyond the momentary and casual. Love today has it all going against it; commitment, trust, fidelity, longevity, sacrifice, and risk, naming only a few of its infelicities. Yet, in spite of our cultural orientations towards the relationally trite and superficial, I’ll take love anytime.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Provocatively cutting away at the darkness is a challenging task that gradually opens up slashes of light. These slivers of illumination, subversive and revolutionary, glisten through the veil of the masquerade, and offer a hope that translates into a new way of being, seeing, and living. Light leads to a destiny, whereas darkness takes us nowhere. Dismantling the darkness promotes light, embracing light exposes darkness. Here lies the ferocious battle, the substance of what it’s ultimately all about: life or death.
Monday, September 1, 2014
God, as I understand, is not composed of various properties, made up of intricate language systems, or constructed by a series of concepts. True, we can, yet only barely, account for God in some such formulations, but this does not give God the being that God is, since God is the incomparable One who be’s beyond them all. Infinite actuality expressed in the love, power, and grace of the Divine is an “isness” that is Other than all others.