Saturday, April 11, 2015
Friday, April 10, 2015
It wasn’t a date. It was a hangout. We met up on a rainy night in the middle of April, to have dinner at a designated locale. “Present!” I texted upon arrival, and he stood up accounted for, waving me over to the bar area.... Everyone knows that a hangout differs from a date, though how, or in what way remains largely unqualified. A date is both a sign and symbol. It is an event that indicates the probable presence of something else, namely, attraction, and, traditionally, it serves as a symbol that stands in for something more: courting, love, marriage, etc.This is an incredibly powerful piece. It is pure analog.
A hangout exists outside the bounds of a date. It may be a sign or a symbol, but it may not be. Thus, choices and actions are not necessarily emblematic, but may be merely situational. And, in this way, a hangout is more like a happening than a date.
... a hangout leaves a person feeling somewhat unsettled and largely confused. Why are the women in nests? Why was there jam involved? Or, why did he pay for dinner, if it wasn’t a date? Why touch my leg if merely in pursuit of theological exegesis? We briefly texted each other in the coming days, but there was no follow-through on the plans he had eagerly proposed.
Had I been invited to participate in a happening, I might have prepared my mental nest, accordingly. I might have ceded that all conversation and gestures were a mere play at sign and symbol, a mimicry and parody of intentionality and meaning. He ordered a piece of pie for us to split. He held and helped me into my coat. Oh the ritualism!
But, one is unable to read a hangout, precisely because its sign and symbol are without character. It’s meaning less.
It is oh so tempting to go on and on about it, but I think it destroys the effect. So I'll just ask a couple of question - Are we running the church as a hangout or a date? How should we run it?
church commitment seriousness
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Today, the Holy Trinity calls us to follow Christ right into the center of His loving fellowship. He calls us into a new relationship of love with Him and all that He has made. Sin and death and isolation from God and from others will be the last word over every human life unless people are washed clean of sin and made new through repentance and faith in Christ. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “...if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”Agree, agree, and agree again - but in the set up to this pronouncement, Mark contrasts it with other understandings of the Trinity:
Christ calls us into life abundant and eternal.
But there is no life without love.
Not the Trinity as a doctrine to be memorized.What my friend is trying to do here is to breath life into something that for so many is a cold dead idea. And yet if we abandon the doctrinal and arcane aspects of the Trinity for a simple understanding of "love" then arguments for so many things that are not of God begin to pour into our churches in the name of love. The Trinity is love, but it is also grossly arcane and mysterious.
Not the Trinity as a teaching propped up by arcane and sometimes meaningless analogies.
Sometimes, the thing to do is to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by ALL OF IT. That's submission and from submission discipleship flows.
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Truth and Myth
The obstacle to the gospel at a cultural level is the increasing incompatibility of an emerging American mythology that increasingly centers the story of the human self around a radicalized, sexualized interpretation of humanity. Pornography, homosexuality, and debauchery in general are creating a new understanding of the human self and human relationships.Making mythology is part of making culture. When the church abandons its desire to affect culture (see yesterday's post) it gives up on "making the myths" that shape understanding. Of course evangelism will get harder.
Winning culture is not winning people to Jesus, but it sure does make it easier. But we cannot see past the end of our own noses. We don;t seem to care about anything larger than our own little circle. Maybe that is the ultimate bad effect of Facebook?
God's plan is indeed one person at a time, but that is not going to happen if we only focus on our immediate surroundings. We need to think a little bigger than that.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Only One Personality Matters
The idea that Christianity can be preserved in institutions may be so anathema to so many American Christians they don’t realize that be decoupling Christian life from some kind of institutional anchoring point that the kinds of cults of personality we’ve seen in Calvary Chapel or SGM or MH settings is probably inevitable. And a lot of American evangelicals wouldn’t even want it any other way because the kinds of institutional brakes that might slow down a single charismatic personality from steamrollilng his or her way to getting the mission accomplished would be dismissed as “bereft of the spirit”.Those are scary thoughts, and I cannot help but think of the passages about being of Paul and Apollo. Christ matter, not who takes you to Him.
But what really scares me here is that to operate on the personality level, bereft of institution is to a) not worry, at all, about preserving anything through time and b) to punt on affecting culture on a large scale. But most importantly, I think running the church on a personality basis is a means of preserving our own personalities - it is a way of making the self the focus. Is that not antithetical to Christianity where the other is supposed to be the focus?
Only one personality matters in Christianity - Christs. The idea od Christian leadership is to get out of the way of that.
church institution personality
Monday, April 06, 2015
Are We Sounding Retreat?
One day, Sarah sees Ishmael "playing," and she cannot stand his very existence. The delicious irony of the story is that the word often translated "playing" is more literally "laughing," the same word on which the name Isaac is based. Now laughter has turned to fury and rejection. Sarah demands that Abraham "throw out that child and her slave mother, too." The narrator claims that Abe is "angry on account of his child," but makes it none too clear exactly which child he means. Neither is the source of that anger very clear either; is he mad at the child or at Sarah or at himself for the whole mess? Whichever it is, he gives Hagar a bit of bread and water and drives her and her child, Ishmael, out of the camp, dooming them to a terrible death in the desert. Once again, Abraham refuses to defend someone he supposedly loves, while Sarah demands that any rival for the promise of her son, Isaac, most be disposed of. Thank YHWH, Ishmael is spared, due to the gift of God, but no thanks to the foul couple, Abraham and Sarah.The blunt retelling which is far more extensive than this quote emphasizes man's ability for cruelty, lying, and most importantly selfishness. This is from where our faith grew, through Judaism into Christianity. There was a time in my life when I derided sociologists for proclaiming Christianity as merely a way of codifying the advance of civilization, but they had a point. my argument was with the word "mere" not with the fact that as our religion advanced, so did civilization.
Now our society seeks to "throw off the shackles of Christianity" and allow each individual to seek their own. Can the life-devaluing, lying and prevaricating of the Old Testament be very far behind? Behavior in unChristianized parts of the world would surely indicate they cannot.
And yet I find Evangelicals arguing that Christendom was a bad idea?! I find that idea almost ludicrous. Was the history of Israel prior to the coming of Christ a bad idea? Was it not part of God's plan and purpose? Is it even possible for God to have a bad idea? The concept that Christendom was a bad idea is not a concept - it is a surrender. Christianity, often in concert with Judaism, has civilized the world. That's a good thing. OH, to be sure, there have been stumbles, failures, and outright evil along the way. And there will continue to be. But the need for improvement is not the same as the need for rejection.
I will not pretend to know what God is going to do next. Hence I fight to save the Christianness of America, which in so many ways is the inheritor and improvement of the Christendom of Europe. I will admit to many failures along the way. But failure in a battle is not losing a war. Failure in a battle is a means of learning how to win the war.
We should not be discussing retreat, we should be discussing what we did wrong and how not to do it again.
America Christendom failure learning
Sunday, April 05, 2015
Related Tags: Illuminated Easter