Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Living Spiritual Rhythms - December 30

Empirical data is a persuasive informer, which can tempt us to believe it’s all there is. Yet, numerous difficulties arise here, not least the aspect that so much of our lives are non-empirical. Consider, for example, thoughts, emotions, imaginations, and a self-referential talking to ourselves. These ‘invisibles’ are a strong argument against the reductionistic tendencies of empiricism and for a picture of reality that includes the unseen.



Monday, December 28, 2020

Reflection for the Week - December 28

Instead of invoking mystery concerning God, the world, and humanity, we make up a story. In good human primate fashion we long for, even demand, clarity and explanation for life. Yet, even at the best of times, this escapes us, so story telling becomes a vehicle for diversion and catharsis, which appropriately takes the place of the frustration with the unknown. But stories are stories, they are not to be proved or disproved in fact like fashion, though they can and sometimes should be believed or disbelieved, depending on their informative and illuminating caliber or the lack of it. Thus, while the biblical text, natural world, and other stories may offer us directions and possibilities, trying to figure things out will still leave us with plenty of ambiguities. I’d wager that’s ok, and perhaps is the way it’s supposed to be.



Monday, December 21, 2020

Reflection for the Week - December 21

Since it appears that we’re at a “defining moment” in the history of Christianity, I’d wager it’s time for a re-examination of who God is and what God does. Tread carefully, but tread we must. The biblical writers give an Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, or Greco-Roman picture of God, and their limited understanding of the natural world had a significant influence on their theologies. We are better informed today about nature, notably evolution, and this can’t help but cause us to re-view the theologies of those who precede us. Some of these may be worth holding on to, yet others will have to be let go of. The days where the Christian faith attempted to stand on the biblical text alone for its theology are over. It’s now just a matter of how long it will take for Christians to accept this, consult multiple informers, and refigure what they believe about God and the world.


Alpes Suisse ce matin



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - December 17

Love, self-understanding/self-deception, and the capacity for “awe” are realities that add a surplus of meaning to the notion of naturalism. Naturalism, though comprising many truths, cannot go it alone. Not even DNA can do that. Yet, this is not to say that what transcends naturalism offers total closure, since this only promises the hope of a “more sufficient” explanatory story that is, however, far from finished.



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Living Spiritual Rhythms - December 16

Many of the things the apostle Paul wrote are linked to his own particular mission on behalf of the Crucified and Risen One. To take all of this on ourselves seems foolhardy, yet if that’s the case, what applies and what doesn’t have to be carefully worked out. But let’s start by putting Paul’s writings into Categories like: Creation, Israel, Judaism, Law, Sin, Wisdom, Christ, Redemption, Resurrection, Spirit, Faith, Origins, Cosmos, World-view, Cultural Influences, etc. Paul worked with what he had and this wasn’t at the same level in each category. He had, for instance, more ‘information’ about Israel and the Law than he did about Creation and the Cosmos. He wasn’t ‘wrong’ about the latter; he just didn’t have the tools to see these in any other way than an ‘ancient cultural informer’ would have given him. In contrast, according to the narrative of Acts, and the testimony in the letter to the Galatians, the Risen One broke into his life at some point and commissioned him as an apostle, which gave him a whole new set of information to work from. As far as I can tell, this kind of encounter / event didn’t happen to Paul with respect to the way the earth goes around the sun or how cells, molecules, and DNA work. Thus, Paul’s perspectives on nature, anthropology, and the cosmos are exposed to far greater limitations. I don’t think we should ignore that when we consider the question of human origins, the natural world informer, and the interpretation of Genesis 1-3 or Romans 5-8.  


Monday, December 14, 2020

Reflection for the Week - December 14

Nobody is a nobody. Even those who say “I am nobody” are somebody. When it comes to some forms of Christian spirituality “a nobody syndrome” – like, give God all the glory – is frequently in play. Or it goes, “Don’t ever put yourself forward or mention your accomplishments. That’s unspiritual.” But this seems, humanly speaking, and I’m assuming being human and being spiritual have some common ground, counter intuitive. The desire to be somebody and to be somebody who accomplishes things in the world is not anti-spiritual. What is not spiritual is to have inappropriate pride in oneself or in what one does, but to say “well done” or “good job” is, I’d wager, appropriate pride and thus a valid expression of “spiritual.” Being spiritual, therefore, is disconnected from being nobody. So, go ahead “be somebody” and in doing so “be spiritual.” I think God would applaud.



Friday, December 11, 2020

Living 1 Corinthians 7 with Saint Paul: Sex, Marriage, a Feminist Option and the Rhetoric of Equality.

Some men maintain that women are not equal to men. If you’re interested in finding out if Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 shares that view, check out my new ebook.





Thursday, December 10, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - December 10

If the biblical text is claimed to be the unique source of explaining human nature, which it often is, I’d wager there’s a lot left out. Thus, consulting other informers, including science and the world, is an essential enterprise for a better understanding of who we are.



Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Living Spiritual Rhythms - December 9

I'd wager literary genres in the biblical text are not merely formal structures or conventions, but function as theological directives concerning the complexity of the character of God. Genre diversity, in the biblical drama, opens horizons and dimensions of God that no single genre can contain, yet even this is intriguingly incomplete. Narrative, wisdom, poetry, hymn, prophecy, and apocalyptic, for example, valiantly attempt to portray in words that which is ultimately beyond capturing: God.



Monday, December 7, 2020

Reflection for the Week - December 7

Imagination is a fascinating topic of interest and debate in today’s world. The deeply significant issues of the real and the unreal have never been as evident as in our own cultural context. Discerning between fact and fantasy, objectivity and subjectivity in our post-modern setting, means we have to deal with a new blurring of categories, which may threaten older precision crafted paradigms and previously settled ways of thinking. As we increasingly find ourselves in a culture that prioritizes the visual over all else, images can tend to dominate the landscape of life. Engaging the challenges of post-modern thought, for better or worse, may now suggest that we have to reassess our understanding of God, ourselves, and the world.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - December 3

Primates like us are wired to always want answers to everything. Where is God in a pandemic? Some say God is causing it to punish sinful people. Others suggest God is causing it to bring greater good. I’d wager both these responses say too much and that we just don’t know.



Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Living Spiritual Rhythms - December 2

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 developing neural functions that assist our quest for optimal understanding. Third, this quest can be viewed as a circuitous passage that takes us through an interpretation of different kinds of worlds; spiritual, natural, cultural, 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: an overall narrative picture, including our place in it, comes to the surface out of the mist of an interpreted life.