There is a broad plurality of recounting in the biblical text. The Torah, for example, expresses law as both the way of life and the road to death. The Gospels portray Jesus going to Jerusalem only once and many times. And in Acts, there are no less than three stories of Paul’s encounter with the Crucified and Risen One. Seems to me, we want to envision this sort of phenomena as a tensional testimony to a variety of sub-plots that find their place in the over-arching plot of God being One God; the Creator, who is out to redeem Israel, humanity, and the world through the Messiah. Think of this rich relation and distinction between sub-plots and plot as something like a masterful symphony, where many musicians are coherently interpreting and playing different parts of the same piece of music in a majestic way.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
We may, at times, be required to forge our way through the personal (individual) and corporate (social) horror of living in this world. There is no easy line of attack. This is because God has taken the hard way of dealing with devastation, passing through the wreckage incarnationally and on a cross, so that it can be defeated and eventually destroyed.
Monday, December 22, 2014
When we speak of a table in any language, we do not make it what it is. Whether we sit around it and eat and drink, or use it as a place to stack our books, we do not make it what it is. Even if we built the table, we do not make it what it is. This is because a table has an “isness” of its own as an object in the world. If this is the case and the case for reality more broadly, it would mean that we as subjects are interacting with objects that cannot be reduced to having their source and origin in us. The challenge today is to embrace that the subject and object are related and distinct, not just related. And this is monumental.
Friday, December 19, 2014
I take that it that we should have confidence and humility concerning belief in God. They are, in my assessment, crucial dialogue partners. Confidence without humility is arrogance, but humility without confidence is relativism. Neither are plausible options.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The great illusion of freedom: someone is free to refuse entry to another into a public space; the refused is free to complain and appeal; the press is free to report the problem; everybody is free.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
J-P Sartre writes in What is Literature? 210 : “Reading becomes a rite, more precisely, a communion.” But Sartre goes on to warn that reading must also include being read. That is, there needs to be a concordance with and discordance from the text. Otherwise, reading is in danger of becoming a comfortable, reassuring enterprise with no capacity to challenge or shock the reader out of one perspective and towards another. No doubt our inability to be confronted by the stories of the biblical text has contributed to what P. Yancey calls, Vanishing Grace.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
One of the major problems with the support of torture is what I’ll blatantly call a utilitarian ethic. In short, this view holds that good is the best for the most. Thus, on these grounds, torturing one person to preserve the lives of others will always be put forward as the logic for torture. Once this ethic is embedded in the orientation of what is supposed to be right, there will be little ability to understand that torture is wrong, no matter how many people it might be assumed to benefit. A utilitarian ethic operates on its own and therefore aims to resist all critique. This means we’re facing the ongoing battle, with lives at stake, between the individual and the collective. The latter is elevated over the former. Unfortunately, nothing will change this perversion as long as the perception that good is the best for the most remains unchallenged. For that to happen, there’ll have to be a new balanced ethic that re-positions good, and promotes a fresh dialogue between rights and responsibilities.
Monday, December 15, 2014
A shattered naïveté will be difficult to rebuild. There’s no going back. Picking up the pieces is not a viable option, but that is as it should be. Even though it seems painful, we have to move ahead through breakdown and criticism to discover what has more credibility than what we previously believed. This will be a season of questioning, searching, and exploring new possibilities that over time will then begin to coalesce and form a web of interconnected subjectively objective truths, which offer a resilient elasticity that stretches, but will not break.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Make room for the Divine. Be hospitable to God.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
While the evolving picture of nature is looking likely, it’s also important to recognize that the more the biblical story advances, through surprising encounters, choices, and detours, the clearer it becomes that this too is an evolving narrative. Think of the way, for example, developing Israel emerges into the Messiah, how the Spirit in the gospel of John flourishes in Paul’s letters, and why the golden age in Jerusalem provokes a mission to the ends of the earth. The natural world and biblical text informers are related and distinct in telling God’s story – both evolve, yet with quite different lines and sketches.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Theology is socio-culturally dependent, but God cannot be reduced to being solely the product of socio-cultural contexts. The God of promise and action comes to humanity in and through these, but emerges from beyond them.
If you order quickly before they change the price you can now get a copy of my published PhD at 87% off – Living Hermeneutics – or a copy of my new book at 68% off – Living Spirituality revised – on http://www.amazon.uk both on sale for only a few pennies more than a cup of coffee in Switzerland. I greatly value your interest and support.
Monday, December 8, 2014
I’d like to ask for your help and support. For just a few pennies more than a cup of coffee would cost in Switzerland, you can purchase my new book, Living Spiritual Rhythms Book 3 off Amazon. With chapters on Belonging, Hope, Identity, and Love, you’ll perhaps want to read it yourself or pass it on as a gift to others. There are presently now 6 in stock. Let’s try to get that down to 2. Many thanks for contributing to the cause of getting these Rhythms out there!
Arghh. Update. After a few of the books sold when I last posted this, Amazon quickly raised the price. Now the book will cost you a few pennies more than two cups of coffee in Switzerland.
The two great modes of narrative - fiction and history - can never be entirely synthesized. In fact, both the concordance and discordance between them becomes more recognizable when each mode is put in dialogue with the other. This connecting is precisely what allows their difference to appear. Unlike novelists, historians do aim to re-narrate the past and are therefore subject to what once was. Though historians receive a past before they create a story, this does not give them access to the events themselves. Plowing through documents, establishing traces – marks – signs of passing through, and reconstructing personal encounters, all contribute to highlighting that a historian’s task cannot be reduced to a literary achievement.
Friday, December 5, 2014
There seems to be less room to pretend – to make it up as we go along – in the material world than there is the spiritual one. These worlds are related to, yet distinct from each other. God appears though to give more liberty to reject God, than to reject nature. But greater liberty comes with greater consequences.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
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 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, December 1, 2014
I’d like to ask for your help and support. For just a few pennies more than a cup of coffee in Switzerland, you can purchase my new book, Living Spiritual Rhythms Book 3 off Amazon. With chapters on Belonging, Hope, Identity, and Love, you’ll perhaps want to read it yourself or pass it on as a gift to others. There are presently 9 in stock. Let’s try to get that down to 2. Many thanks for contributing to the cause of getting these Rhythms out there!
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
These salient words from TS Eliot in the Four Quartets set the tone for this post. Poets, like Eliot, have ways with words that configure worlds and how we view them. Thus, they are creators of powerful images of innovation and impertinence, which careen off the walls of time and sweep over the landscape of life, calling us to re-envision where we started. Being engaged in the intricate and inquisitive art of exploration is a perpetual challenge, which comes to an end with a new perception of the beginning.