Wednesday, May 06, 2015

 

Caring and Community

Introdction to an article behind the pay wall @ Christianity Today:
I recently heard sociologist Robert Putnam speak at a Georgetown University event that gathered people of faith and no faith to discuss the common good. In his speech, he complained about America's "radically shriveled sense of we." The author of "Bowling Alone," the famous 1995 essay on the decline of social capital—our connection to each other through activities and institutions—Putnam converted to Judaism in part because of its strong sense of community.

[...]

Putnam was talking about inequality, which, he said, causes problems that need both conservative and liberal solutions. Liberals, he said, must learn to appreciate the conservative stress on family structures and the potential of faith communities. Solutions "have to involve churches," he said in a 2012 speech.

Further, he said, "I happen to think that hugs and time are more important than money." But, he went on, "money is important, too," and that means conservatives are going to have to recognize the need for government action in everything from tax structure ...
HOGWASH! NONESENSE! This problem is real, but not political, nor is it economic.

The problem is in our souis and it belongs very much to the predominant strain of Evangelicalism that says Christianity is about personal salvation. A fact which a) creates churcxhs that are not communities and b) does not teach us to build community in other settings.

Think about it and get back to me.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

 

You Really Should Not Tell People...

...that their problem is not really a problem.

ANy good decent Christian person will work very hard when encountering difficult circumstances to find God's blessing, which is always present in any situation. But this headline "The Hidden Blessing of Infertility" was more than a bit tasteless. The piece is really a testimony along the lines I just described, but to put it under that headline is to say to people in the middle of the struggle that their struggle is not really a struggle at all. It lacks empathy and understanding, It is the worst of what the church offers, prescription without listening.

I am often guilty of this very same sin and therefore try to be particularly sensitive to it. What I know is this, if I had encountered this article when my wife and I were younger and still wondering it, I would have never bothered to read it and likely complained to Christianity Today for daring to publish it. Too many times I have heard pastors and publishers make this mistake and then excuse it by pointing out the rarity of one particular viewpoint that was harmed by the perspective.

So, we are only compassionate to the majority position?


Monday, May 04, 2015

 

Liturgy and LIturgy

This needs to be read. That's all I'm going to say. Read all of it and follow all the links. You need to know,


Saturday, May 02, 2015

 

Comic Art

Artist Sean Phillips







Friday, May 01, 2015

 

Redemptive Goals

Mark Roberts:
In the language of Ephesians, we expose the darkness primarily through the witness of our lives. When people see the fruit of the light in us, the deeds of darkness will be exposed as fruitless and empty.

What is the goal of this exposing? What are we seeking to accomplish by shining the light on the dark deeds of the world? What is God's purpose in all of this?

Ephesians 5:13 answers these questions in a captivating and unexpected way. This verse reads, "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light." This verse reveals a two-part result of exposing by the light. First, that which is exposed "becomes visible." People see the deeds of darkness for what they truly are: fruitless, deceptive, and evil. This means that those who are engaged in such works have the opportunity to see the emptiness of their lives and to turn away from their sin and to the Lord, what we call repentance.

The second result of exposing by light reflects this turning. Verse 13 adds, "and everything that is illuminated becomes a light." This suggests that the people who have been doing dark deeds, when they see clearly the fruitlessness and wrongness of their actions, will indeed turn to the light and, like those of us who have gone before them, reject the darkness and become "light in the Lord" (5:8).

Thus, the goal of exposing is redemptive and inclusive.
I read those words, even agree with them, but wonder what we are to do in a world that responds so negatively anytime their mistakes are illuminated. But then I think of these words of Christ as He sends out disciples:
Matt 10:14 - "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.
I think that sometimes we let the evangelical impulse, often rooted in the very material needs of our institutions, override this bit of advice from the Lord. Sometimes you just have to walk away.

Sometimes it is painful to let people suffer the consequences of these decisions. Ofttimes it is painful to live in a world where such decisions are made on a large scale - we end up sharing negative consequences that are not of our own doing.

And yet, the Lord that so advised us paid the ultimate undeserved consequence. Can we really complain?


 

Friday Entertainment


Thursday, April 30, 2015

 

Liturgical Accessibility

Chaplain Mike:
That is why engaging in worship and liturgy is more like learning to walk or ride a bike than studying algebra or philosophy. You just start doing it. As you do, you fumble around, you make mistakes, you forget the words, you can’t find the page in the book in time, you sit when you should be kneeling, you stand and look around only to discover that everyone is seated. Furthermore, you can’t see the big picture. You don’t grasp why you say the Creed here or the Lord’s Prayer there. You have no clue why the readers are reciting the various passages from the Bible. Why those books and passages today? Are they supposed to fit together or something? As weeks go by, you notice that the pastor and leaders wear different colors and that there are different colors or themes in the sanctuary decorations. About all you can really hang your hat on is that people come, sing, pray, listen to a sermon, and take Communion together.
The counter argument is, of course, that people will not come and "fumble around" anymore - they find that embarrassing and off-putting. Hence the shift to services that are less "threatening"

Any even when high church liturgy was more widely practiced many people got used to the rhythms but never did bother to learn the "whys."

This strikes at the heart of what I consider to be THE issue in Sunday Service forms. There is a deep distinction between worship and evangelism. Worship is for the committed. They are willing, due to their commitment, to put in the effort to learn. Evangelism is outreach to the uncommitted, trying to make committed out of them. One can not assume any effort from those you are attempting to evangelize. But when we try to do both in a single setting we create a situation where the committed are never challenged to be more committed and the uncommitted see little difference between the committed and uncommitted.

We are afraid to say, "This is not for you" lest we be decried as "judgmental," and thus we raise perpetual children.

The problem isn't judgement, it's good judgement.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

 

On Forgiveness

Zach Hoag makes sense here:
BJU is fundamentalist to be sure, but their demonstrated approach to “forgiveness” is very common – perhaps even pervasive – in broader evangelical culture. And when abusive and harmful people are part of the equation, the results are especially egregious. I’ve experienced abuse from family/church authority. I’ve been counseled repeatedly by the church to “forgive” and “reconcile.” The results have always been disastrous, causing even greater destruction and harm.

A threat that often came from the church – and still painfully rings in my ears at times – is that to not “forgive” and “reconcile” with my abuser would mean the lifting of God’s blessing from my life. My calling would become invalid. My life would become worldly and meaningless.

[...]

And this kind of “forgiveness” has to end.

Because it’s not real forgiveness at all.

Forgiveness is a function of love and justice – it does not stand in opposition to these things. Forgiveness works in concert with therapeutic processing and healing – not in opposition to those things. Forgiveness validates anger, fear, depression, and any other emotions/conditions the victim may experience on her path to wholeness – it does not oppose these experiences and demand denial.
I am tempted to quibble with his continuing representation that forgiveness is a one-way experience, but in the end my quibble is purely semantic, there are two steps, one letting go of bitterness and two fixing the relationship, the rest of it is just what label you attach to what step. However, I really like his point that forgiveness does not eliminate justice but rather is a function of it.

Lately, I keep running into praise chorus lyrics that imply there is no guilt in life with Christ:
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
What nonsense, we are quite guilty - Christ simply pays the price that we owe for our sin. When you are forgiven you are STILL guilty of the offense, you are just not liable for the consequence. This is not a minor distinction. This lack of guilt is a natural consequence of the misunderstanding of forgiveness that the author derides.

Somehow I think the world would be a much better place with a proper understanding of forgiveness and quite a bit more guilt floating around.


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