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Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Discovery of a Definition to be Revealed.

This is something I wrote in 2006 (with a few recent revisions) that I think is pertinent still today in relation to some of my evolving theological beliefs.

What more is out there?  What can I discover?  What do I need to discover?  What needs to discover me?  Will a discovery satisfy the discontent?  What type of lens will I be looking through to see what has discovered me?  Will that discovery define me, or merely shape me?  Does my relationship with others define me?  Or does my interaction within relationships define me?  Or is it merely a definition in their mind inverse to my interpreted definition?  How does the world define me?  Is it wealth that defines me to the world?  Is it the amount of goods I accumulate that fills in the blank entry of the definition?  Do I need to consume to keep up?  By what yardstick am I measured?  Is it wrong to judge others?  I believe it is not. I will to not judge condescendingly. If I lack judgment will that not breed apathy?  Will not the apathy then suppress the desire of discovering?  As Dain says, “I prefer to walk between the raindrops”. The rain falling down my face as I dance will give a reflection to others of the discovery of my definition. The discovery.  I dream that the discovery will be a crystal clear reflection resembling Maroon Bells – it will reflect my inner desires.  But the discovery is not the end all. There is more; believe you me there is more…and it is also out there waiting to be discovered, or maybe I have already discovered it and it is waiting to be revealed…so now the pendulum swings to the revelation…

light filtering through

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Leslie Winkle vs Mr. Keating (arrogance vs humility)

This post shows two different schools of thought (close-mindedness and open-mindedness) in how our worldviews affect how we live our lives.   The post is not necessarily one cogent thought; but I believe if I don’t spell everything out you can take time to think about parallel instances in your life…if so desired.

I agree with much of what I say, but not everything. – Peter Rollins

arrogance

vs

humility

Way back in the euphoric days of college, I listened to a great speaker who was an extremely compelling speaker.  What made him compelling (besides his topics) was the creative way he intertwined media with his talks; he kept all of us on the edge of our seats wondering what he would include next.  The speaker had the ability to use books, movies, and music to evoke authentic responses from the audience.  He would use clips of “Braveheart” when appealing to the guys and then use clips of “Sense and Sensibilities” when appealing to the girls. (granted some girls are going to say, ‘hey, I love “Braveheart!”, which very well could be true, but in most instances it won’t affect girls like it does guys – the same is primarily true in reverse for girls relating to “Sense and Sensibilities”).  I digress…the way he used clips was not done in a cheesy, manipulative manner, but in a manner that required pause for reflection. Now, I do not want to compare this post to the quality of what he did, but I am going to attempt to make use of media in a similar manner as him. Movies, music, and books are profound motivators and powerful platforms in our society

This is a clip from one of my favorite tv shows, “The Big Bang Theory”.  The primary characters are Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), Penny (Kaley Cuoco), and Howard (Simon Helberg). There is also a guest star Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert).  You might recognize Leslie and Leonard from the tv show “Roseanne”.  The show is about genius friends who with all their quirks have to live life together in a somewhat manageable community while they process their relationships from their own scientific, logical worldviews.

The premise of the first clip in this post is to talk about how our inability to consider alternatives might close off more perceptive ideas and ideologies than what we think we know, or at the very least our close-mindedness might prevent us from learning more about other points of view. View the youtube clip from minutes 3:50-4:40 (I’ve included the full text of the conversation below this whole post – which includes a section of the discussion that was not included in the clip.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgMn8at7vA8&feature=related

This next clip is from my all-time favorite movie. “Dead Poets Society”. It speaks of branching out and viewing things from a different perspective.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EdWgsTUhmI

And finally just some quotes from C.S. Lewis’s, “The Great Divorce”.

“Ah, but we must all interpret those beautiful words in our own way! For me there is no such thing as a final answer.  The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind, must it not? “Prove all things”…to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.’” pg. 40

“Before me green slopes made a wide amphitheatre, enclosing a frothy and pulsating lake into which, over many-coloured rocks, a waterfall was pouring. Here once again I realized that something had happened to my senses so that they were now receiving impressions which would normally exceed their capacity.  On Earth, such a waterfall could not have been perceived at all as a whole; it was too big.  Its sound would have been a terror in the woods for twenty miles.   Here, after the first shock, my sensibility exulted.  The noise, though gigantic, was like giants’ laughter: like the revelry of a whole college of giants together laughing, dancing, singing, roaring at their high works.” pgs. 45-46

My closing thoughts:

Sometimes we are sure in what we know and in what we want and in what we believe, and that might be ok, at times, but if we don’t at least have the humility to say, “I agree with much of what I say, but not everything.” then we might be setting ourselves up for a lot of tremors in our worldviews.  Personally I’d rather travel hopefully than to call it all off because we can’t agree on loopy or non-loopy space theories.

(full text of conversation from “The Big Bang Theory”)

Sheldon:  I will graciously overlook the fact that she is an arrogant sub-par scientist who actually believes loop quantum gravity better unites quantum mechanics with general relativity than does string theory.

Leslie:  Hang on a second, loop quantum gravity clearly offers more testable predictions than string theory.

Sheldon:  I’m listening, amuse me.

Leslie:  Ok, well for one thing we expect quanti-space time to manifest itself as minute differences than the speed of light for different colors.

Sheldon:  Balderadash. Matter clearly consists of tiny strings.

Leslie to Leonard: Are you going to let him talk to me like that?

(Leonard with a baffled, helpless look on his face)

Leonard:  Ok, well there is a lot of merit to both theories.

Leslie:  No there isn’t. Only loop quantum gravity calculates the entropy of black holes.

(Sheldon giggles under his voice)

Leonard:  Sheldon, don’t make that noise it’s disrespectful

Sheldon:  I should hope so it was a snort of derision.

Leslie:  You agree with me right? Loop quantum gravity is the future of physics.

Leonard:  Sorry Leslie, I guess I prefer my space theories not loopy.

Leslie:  Well, I guess I’m glad I found out the truth about you before this went any further.

Leonard:  Truth, what truth? We’re talking about untested hypotheses…look, it’s no big deal.

Leslie:  Oh, it isn’t? Really?  Tell me Leonard, how will we raise the children?

(keep in mind they’ve been dating for 1 evening)

(Leonard and Sheldon with extremely baffled looks on their faces)

Leonard:  I…I guess we wait until they’re old enough and let them choose their own theory.

Leslie:  We can’t let them choose Leonard; they’re children!

(Leslie storms toward the door)

Leonard:  Wait, where are you going?

Leslie:  I’m sorry. I could’ve accepted our kids being genetically unable to eat ice cream or ever get a good view of a parade. But this?  This is a deal breaker.

(Leslie leaves)

Sheldon:  Look on the bright side…

(and he attempts  to proceed to bring levity to the situation)

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2009 in theology

 

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suicide – the final goodbye or a temporary separation

Recently a friend of mine asked me what I thought about suicide and the role it plays in determining our eternal destination.  She mentioned recently that the husband of a friend of hers took his own life.  They attended the funeral and since then my friend and her husband have been talking about this subject a little bit.  My friend and I are no strangers to this subject because during high school (she somehow completed high school in 4 years, it took me 7 jk  😉  but we had three of our friends commit suicide – and as always they were three people you would never expect.  Also, I’m in no way shape or form an expert on this topic – I have a brain, knowledge of religion, and an internet connection which in cyberspace grants me liberty to post my thoughts.  But I hope my thoughts my provide some information for people to chew on and ponder.

Please be aware that when I reference Christus Victor and substitutionary atonement I do so in very wide swipes, and in some cases generalizations, because otherwise my response to my friend would have been about 1,000 pages to unwrap all the history of the atonement theories along with all the cause and effect possibilities.  Here’s my response.

I’m curious if the Reverend giving the funeral hinted to one way or another at the funeral?  That could be very touchy.

Ok, here are my thoughts. Like I mentioned this is a very tough question and I am in no way an authority on the issue, but I don’t know if anybody is an authority on it other than God. From the way I see it there are 3 basic responses and it pretty much depends on 1) how you view Christ’s crucifixion as atonement for sin and 2) a belief that there is a hell. I’ll run through the different atonement views very quickly and how they would approach suicide and then I’ll also tell you which one I side with.

1) Substitutionary atonement – this view accounts for two of the options (options ‘a’ and ‘b’) – Christ’s death on the cross is a substitution for our sin. Equal retribution for our sin on earth.
a. Suicide is ultimately damning to hell. He’s in hell. The thought is that the person is saying, “God, my problems are so big that not even you can help me.” So they’ve given up all hope even that God can help them.
b. Suicide is sin and equal to all other sins. He’s in heaven. He murdered himself and murder is sin, but every sin carries the same weight (except for blaspheming the holy spirit which I don’t think applies here). Christ died to pay for our sins. Personally, I’m very conscious of when I sin and when I sin I’m in essence saying, “God I know I’m about to sin, but even you can’t help me for what I’m about to do and I’m going to do it anyway.” This is the same situation as above but somewhere along the line as Protestants we started to weigh certain sins as heavier than others – murder, rape, suicide, etc.) (it’s kind of been unspoken, all the while still saying that sin is sin and no sin is greater than any other sin) The reality in this view is that sin is sin and they all carry the same weight in God’s eye. Christ’s death paid the price for our sins no matter what they are.
2) Christus Victor atonement – this view accounts that ‘every knee shall bow every tongue confess that Christ is Lord’ and that everybody will be in heaven; it makes no difference what a person’s sins are. And depending on your view of Christus Victor it also sometimes makes no difference who you believe is God. Christ’s death has conquered sin completely and he reigns over everything so almost everybody will be in heaven.

Not to get on a soapbox but I personally fall somewhere between substitutionary atonement and Christus Victor (it would take too long to explain why, but over the past 10 years my theology has changed a bit). Regarding suicide I used to hold the first view that suicide is saying, “God you can’t help me.” Personally I believe that God is a loving God (more than I ever realized), who loves his creation. So, I would hold to the ‘b’ option and your friend’s husband is in heaven. But it is definitely a tough, grey area and I’m glad that God’s in control of what’s going on for our eternal destinations and not me.

I talked to a couple buddies of mine about the subject and I’ve included one of the guys’ thoughts on the topic. My other buddy basically said, “ditto” to my first buddy’s thoughts. 🙂

my buddy’s thoughts…
“Suicide as a damning act is a novelty of Roman Catholic doctrine so far as I know. I could be wrong, but i’m not aware of that belief in Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, or Judaic streams. The premise that someone goes to hell (which requires a belief in a literal hell to begin with, of course), is premised on the last act of a person’s life being self-murder, with no chance to confess or offer penance. Judaism never had much of a firm afterlife theology and Protestantism rejects the notion of itemized repentance, so it’s easy to see why that idea did not crystalize there.
I’ve had a couple of friends commit suicide, and while i think it shows a profound level of unhealth and degradation to get to that point, I don’t get why that is suppose to send you to hell.”

It’s me again, 🙂
So I hope in some way shape or form this might help; and I’m sure that your friend who is dealing with her husband’s suicide is in pure anguish – I can’t imagine having to cope with that situation. Love on her like crazy.
Let me know what you think; and what your pastor says too. I love hearing different views.

cigar recommendation – Rocky Patel, Olde World Reserve – I enjoyed this cigar last night and it’s a quality cigar.  It has hints of being just like the name implies, Olde World.  It has earthy elements and has a rather strong, full flavor.  It was every minute of a 2 hour smoke and definitely worth the $12 (I live in AR where cigar taxes are ridiculously high). I don’t think you can go wrong with any cigar from Rocky Patel.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2009 in theology

 

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sex cells

I’m not a fan of this genre of music (discotech), but I thought the lyrics of, “What Matters More”, by Derek Webb (he’s got a great first name and he’s formerly of Caedmon’s Call) are quite compelling; much more compelling than the discussion at the bottom of the video.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in theology

 

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Four Musketeers or Amigos

There are three guys who if you don’t know them already you should get to know them.  Tad DeLay – on my blog roll, John Hardin – on my blog roll, and Ryan Byrd – soon to be on my blog roll.   If you don’t know these three guys you should because they’re awesome.  They’re good friends of mine and have been great to grab a brew and cigar with and muse on our theology, politics, current events; and with John why the Royals are superior to his cardinals.  I’m definitely happy I’ve met these guys since I moved down here to Little Rock.  No man-crush going on here just three cool dudes who are great guys.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Hearsaywhat?

Amongst evangelical christians it seems we are manufacturing consent (amongst fundamentalists)/dissent (against paradigm-pushers).  This is my posting on it.  It is rather lengthy.

Wrongly or rightly I’m a contrarian – I’ve always been that way.  Maybe it’s nature that imbedded it within me, but in having two older sisters I’m thinking it’s more nurture – I was provoking reactions at it’s most enjoyable.  Fast forward to the present and I’m a protesting-Protestant who protests the old tried and not-completely-true ways of the Christianity I grew up learning and living.  The old way was founded in modernity and in the enlightenment, and it’s purpose was to classify every piece of information contained in the Bible so it was all nice and tidy and made perfect sense to the masses.  The ‘correct answers’ were contained in some file box that we could reference when someone had a question.  Ummm…not everything in the Bible makes perfect sense if you ask me.  I feel comfortable with the mystery in the Bible and not understanding every verse.  If we as Christians reclaim the mystery and accept the mystery of the Bible then we can live with more graciousness and humility and not arrogance and pride of know-it-alls. (That’s not the only benefit of reclaiming mystery, but I’ll save that for another blog)  Today I have more questions than answers about Christianity and I’m ok with that.

Labels.

Labels are sometimes frustrating. But they are what they are, so allow me to attempt to muse on: biases affecting information, some common misconceptions about a particular label, and finally what that particular label means to me.  This will not be an all-encompassing dissertation, but just some quick tidbit thoughts to point out.  Maybe it’ll help clear up some ignorance on the topic, maybe it won’t.

The particular label:

Emergent

What a fun, hopeful, controversial, threatening, divisive, and misunderstood word these days in the world of theology.

Nebulous.

As much as I might try to ‘explain’ emergent thoughts and tendencies it won’t be wholly accurate because emergent is a very nebulous label.  Imagine light shining through a prism. You can see countless reflections of beautiful colors shining on a wall that look different when looking at it from different viewpoints.  But there are certain key components which allow the reds, blues, yellows and greens to shine beautifully – the prism and the light.

Biases come into play.

I’ll be explaining why I appreciate emergent from my viewpoint – my bias.

I was in jury duty the other day and the defense attorney started his voir dire (jury selection) by saying, ‘we all have biases’.  This is an absolutely true statement.  As much as we may try to put our biases aside and be objective our biases still come up and cloud our interpretations.

The oh so cheesy statement of, ‘let go and let God’, is meant to say  that God acting is and doing as he pleases separate from our interaction, which is true, but the saying also includes us interpreting his actions of what he’s doing.  Let me try explaining it this way.  Sometimes people say, “Let’s just allow the scripture to speak for itself”. My response would be, “Ok, that’s cool…but we still have to interpret the scripture.” Our biases always come in to play.

All that to say that, our biases will cloud how we view a topic.  I think these biases have played a major part into some of the misconceptions of emergent.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Misconceptions – we are lazily ignorant.

After 9/11 a Viet Nam veteran went to a local Target store and asked if Target would like to support a local Viet Nam war memorial with a monetary donation.  The local store declined and then soon after an email was fired all over the place, by an un-named source, saying that Target is against the military. (you might remember receiving an email about this)  At the time emotions ran high for our military and it looked very bad for Target and was not a beneficial p.r. scenario. The actual situation was that to receive a donation an organization needs to go through their corporate office. Bureaucracy? Yes, but very similar to other corporations. Against the military? Not necessarily.  The point is, is that the email was fired all over the place without people checking the actual facts.  This is similar to what I hear from some of my friends (and from some I’ve been de-friended) about emergent.  Reading one book by one ‘emergent author’ does not give you enough information for what emergent might believe.  There are many different beliefs.

People now side with Martin Luther and even named a denomination after him, but when he was asking his questions and making his public declarations he was viewed as a heretic…so either we’ve figured God out completely (that’s some mighty powerful kool-aid) and have nothing further to add to the painting or we are now no longer allowed to ask questions and proffer statements about God and continue painting our beautiful faith.  I, myself, want to add to the painting.

Don’t dismiss an idea because it is new or unfamiliar to you.  One of my favorite books is, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, by Thomas Kuhn. Buy it, read it, appreciate it.  This speaks of how we react to paradigm pushers; I’ll just say we don’t react warmly, nor with open arms to people who challenge our worldviews.  We fight the new ideas because we don’t like change, we like to be comfy and be sure of what we know.  The Sun is the center of the universe.  You’re a heretic.  Say it ain’t so, Joe. The world is round. You’re a heretic. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

What concerns me is when people form finite, unchangeable opinions off of hearsay about emergent.  People are obviously free to form their own opinions about different topics.  But what aggravates me (not only about theology, but all areas of life) is when bad information and incorrect information is disseminated as fact. Sometimes people are too lazy to find out all the information.

Another common misconception is that emergent is unbiblical.  I can’t disagree with this more.  I’ve heard Brian McLaren speak in public – he was completely Biblical.  I’ve heard Doug Pagitt speak in public – he was very biblical.  I’ve read Rob Bell’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Jones’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Campolo’s writings – they are very biblical.  Part of this references back to our biases.  But just because someone has a different biblical worldview than yours because they interpret the Bible differently does not make it unbiblical.  They just might not completely share the same views on Biblical interpretation as you.

Emergent being beautifully inclusive – and why I want to be included.

With all the authors and innovators in emergent sometimes it’s hard to speak of emergent b/c there are many varying degrees of belief.  Take me for example; I’m a bit of a paradox – I’m a conservative GOP’er but would also label myself as emergent because of the complimentary nature of beliefs within emergent.  For more specific information on why I value complimentary beliefs see my posts titled, “calcio and an open mind”, “playing frogger with a nebulous endline”, and “harmoniously dissident orthodoxy”.

Politically, I have a friend who is as liberal as I am conservative.  I have another friend who is in-between us.  So we’re all on different levels politically and a bit theologically but we’ll sit at Creegan’s enjoying beer and cigars and still revel in the powerful, merciful God we serve.

Verse to ponder on Romans 2: 14, 15

I believe in hell, some within emergent do not, but I’ll be damned if I’m so narrow-focused on my beliefs to not allow C.S. Lewis (if he were alive) to teach at the church I’m attending solely because he’s an inclusivist. (which I think I am an inclusvist if it were not for it being a label)  We need to learn that while we might not particularly agree with someone that we can learn from them and they can help us grow in our faith.

Instead of expounding further since this has been a very long post, (but it was asked for by some people) I will sum things up by saying that I appreciate emergent thoughts because it allows me to say, “I believe in hell and here’s why. I know you don’t believe in hell and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never traveled to hell so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us.  I am an inclusivist (even though I’m not a fan of that label) and here’s why. I know you’re an exclusivist and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never died so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us. Emergent values context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make us feel good. I value context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make me feel good.  Emergent values learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  I value learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  Emergent revels in the mystery of God.  I revel in the mystery of God. Emergent recognizes and appreciates grey areas.  I recognize and appreciate grey areas.  Emergent compliments me and I believe I compliment Emergent.

I still don’t like labels, but I love God.

Even though I will probably always be a contrarian I still value the genius of Calvin from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ when he said, “Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant”.

Cigar recommendation – I have a Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve staring me in the face that I think I’ll have later tonight.  I’ll check back in and let you know how it is.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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out of touch

Ok, so I’ve been a bit out of touch recently due to…nothing really other than having a serious case of writer’s block.  I made a quasi-promise to a friend that I would blog over some mis-perceptions about emergent beliefs and leaders.  There are some disturbing thoughts (disturbing to me at least) about the emergent movement where I believe most people are just shooting from the hip and judging ignorantly, but I will try to elaborate more on later.

For now, if you have the opportunity to bring up, download, or rent the West Wing episode , “Five Votes Down” you will not be disappointed, it is the one of the most hilarious West Wing episodes ever.  Toby is getting razzed and harassed by his fellow staffers after making $125,000 from a $5,000 investment and President Bartlet is a little loopy after taking strong pain meds.  West Wing  was such a great series and I miss not having new episodes but I’m reliving the good ol’ days by recording the series on Bravo.

Cigar recommendation – I can’t stress enough how good of a cigar The Edge, by Rocky Patel is; go out get one and enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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