Monthly Archives: April 2010

Three Things Tuesday

JENNIFER KNAPP

Jennifer Knapp, Christian music artist, recently came out publicly about being gay and in a long term same sex relationship.  Check out her facebook page and you will find that another coming out has occurred as you read all the argumentative and condemning messages that so many Christians are posting there.  There are Christians coming out as allies who aren’t so hateful (check out this post by Chad Holtz) but they seem to be in the minority.

FYI – I am straight, married, with two sons and Christian (although I prefer to use the label “follower of Christ” since the label “Christian” has so much negative baggage) and I have seriously studied scripture and found that there is not clear evidence (when you look at original language and historical context) that loving, monogamous same sex relationships are wrong.  Without sufficient evidence I believe that it is unjust to condemn and oppress people in loving, monogamous same sex relationships.  If Christians who believe these relationships are wrong continue to refuse to admit that their interpretation is only one interpretation and that there is a possibility that they are wrong they (imo) continue to look ungenerous, unkind, stubborn, unreasonable and lose credibility all the way around.

And one more thing … if they are right why is it that they are so obsessed with this particular sin and how do they justify trying to bully and intimidate others into agreeing with them and do they really think they are going to change someone’s mind by winning their argument and why aren’t they more concerned with being kind, loving, generous, compassionate, merciful, patient and humble.  I could understand them getting a little riled up if they were actually standing up for some individual that was being mistreated or hurt but I don’t understand their passion about this issue and the way they treat others over it.  It really seems that they care the most about convincing everyone they are right and forcing everyone to agree with them.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention …  Knapp’s new album, Letting Go, will be released May 11.  Check it out here. If you preorder from her site you get Evolving EP free.  I already received mine and am loving it.

Perspectives on Arizona’s Immigration Law

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed into law the highly controversial senate bill 1070 which is considered to be the harshest anti-illegal immigrant law in the country.  The bill makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally, empowers Arizona police to verify immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion, enacts harsher penalties on employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants, and makes it a crime to transport, harbor, or shield illegal immigrants.

As you might have guessed there are two opposing Christian views of the bill.  I thought Emily Patterson-Jackson wrote a well balanced post covering the two views.  Check out her post here.

TransFORM

I’m headed to Washington, DC this week for the TransFORM: East Coast Gathering.  I’m really excited about the guest speakers who will be there and the crazy part is the conference is completely free.  Everyone working on this conference is donating their time and energies for free because they believe in the ideas that this conference supports.  I think that is amazing and beautiful.  I’m also really excited about the attendees – I know so many of them through facebook and twitter and now I will get to meet them face to face – in person.   Check out the info on the conference here.   Some of the main sessions will be live on the Ustream Channel online.

Advertisements

Prayer For The Week – A Windsurfer’s Prayer

A Windsurfer’s Prayer (from New Zealand)…

Spirit of Love, you are strong and true,

a constant wind to our sails.

Your power will never fail us

but the direction we take depends

on the way we set our sail,

and that skill can only come

from practical experience of journey.

Yes, we studied manuals, examined charts,

listened to the advice of others,

but in the end it’s a matter

of getting out there and doing it.

And we can be sure that just as we think

we’ve got everything under control,

we tack the wrong way and capsize.

That’s the way it is with learning.

Spirit of Love, strong and unchanging,

you teach us that the trough of the wave

is as important as its crest.

Thank you for giving us the freedom

to learn through trial and error

and thank you for showing us

that if we don’t make mistakes

we don’t make anything at all.

Whose Soul Will Be Condemned To Torment?

There has been a lively discussion going on over at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed, about Brian McLaren’s view of the Soul-Sort Narrative in his new book, A New Kind Of Christianity.  Unfortunately, some of the theological talk went over my head but the last comment (at least it was the last one as of today) shared one of those real life illustrations that leaves a lot of the theological banter sounding cold and shallow.  Comment #107 by Lindsey, asked the question:  “Whose soul will be condemned to torment?”   Here’s part of what Lindsey had to say:

I attended a funeral of a man that I worked with. He was in his mid-forties and died of a rare form of cancer. He and his family were devoutly Jewish. The service was moving, spiritual, and had the raw feeling of the God of Abraham in Holy Spirit in the room. This man, Brooke, was an ophthalmologist, and had left his successful and lucrative practice to teach high school science to inner city kids. I taught with him. The kids were heartbreaking, helpless, and hopeless, and he built them up in every way. As he went through painful treatment, he refused to quit teaching, and taught up until a week before he died. The synagogue at his funeral was filled with his students: poor kids, minority kids, kids that had never set foot in a house of worship before. Through Brooke, these kids, and all who worked with him, saw God. Brooke, though he didn’t know it, was a true servant of Christ. Meanwhile, my very Christian neighbors across the street sport a confederate flag bumper sticker right next to their cross. Through this simple gesture, they have turned away many people in my neighborhood from even being willing to hear the name of Jesus. These people, have condemned countless people to eternity without Christ through their ignorance and selfishness.
So tell me, who’s soul will be condemned to torment?

In many ways this question is not relavant for me these days as I don’t embrace the theology that revolves around “who is going to heaven? who is going to hell?” but I believe the story that Lindsey surrounds the question with is important as it demonstrates the problem with the type of theology that I grew up with.

What do you think?

TerraCycle Products At WalMart During The Month Of April

A bunch of brand new TerraCycle items will be available, during April (in honor of Earth Day) for a limited time only, at every single Walmart across the country. Starting April 5th, nearly 60 TerraCycle products will be sold right next to the original items they were made from. Cheetos kites and tote bags made from Frito-Lay wrappers will be sold with bags of Frito-Lay chips, while notebooks and purses made out of skittles and M&M wrappers will be sold right next to bags of Mars Candy.

For those of you unfamiliar with the trash to treasure company here is a little background information:

TerraCycle collects traditionally non-recyclable waste from people all across the country by paying a non-profit of the collector’s choice 2 cents for each piece they collect and mail to the company (you a pre-paid shipping label that can be printed right from the TerraCycle website http://www.TerraCycle.net). A majority of TerraCycle’s active participants are schools, because the students usually bring in the items and the money can go right back to the school. TerraCycle collects such things as juice pouches, chip bags, and cookie wrappers. TerraCycle uses the waste it receives from its Brigade members to make hundreds of products that are not only eco-friendly, but are also very affordable because its made from waste!

Christian and Pro-Choice … WHAT???

I’m a Christian and I’m pro-choice.  Don’t misunderstand me … I am not pro-abortion – I am pro-choice.  I believe that women have the right to choose when it comes to abortion and therefore I believe that abortion should be legal and safe for those who choose to have an abortion.

Now many will say that I can’t be a Christian and pro-choice.  They will say that the two are incompatible.  They will say that scripture does not support a pro-choice position.   The truth is that scripture has nothing to say about abortion specifically.

The closest scripture comes to addressing abortion is when it speaks of a miscarriage and that is only in the Old Testament. There, the ancient Jews did not treat miscarried fetuses as human beings.

For example, Job 3:16 refers to “like a miscarriage which is discarded,” indicating that a miscarried fetus is not given a proper burial, as would have been necessary for a human being.  And in Exodus 21:22-25 we read about the consequences to someone who assaults a woman and causes her to miscarry. If the woman is relatively unscathed the only payment is money.  However, if the woman is hurt in the process, the payment is an equal injury on the assailant.  Clearly here, the woman’s life is valued much more highly than the life of her fetus. This scripture appears to indicate that true injury occurs when the woman herself is hurt.  AND – it is interesting to note that Jesus didn’t say anything about abortion even though it was a common practice in his day.

Again – don’t misunderstand me … I don’t believe that the scriptures mentioned support abortion.  I am just saying that they are as close as it gets when it comes to scripture addressing abortion specifically.  I actually think that the silence on the issue speaks much more loudly.

Prayer of the Week – I have no idea where I am going.

Prayer of Trust by Thomas Merton

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself.

And the fact that I think that I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have the desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this

you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, I will trust you always,

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me

and you will never leave me to face my troubles alone

A Chastened Epistemology

This post is part of a Synchroblog coordinated by Julie Clawson to address the question “What is Emerging In The Church?”

I grew up with phrases like “Absolute Truth”  “Christian Worldview” and “if God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”. What wasn’t considered in my circle was that any understanding of truth outside of our own might have some value or that there really was no such thing as a “Christian Worldview” or that our interpretation of scripture might be flawed. The refusal to consider any of these things became like a thick slab of concrete between “us” and “them” (i.e. anyone who believed differently than we did and put a voice to those beliefs).

A few years ago some real life stuff happened and I began to reexamine my beliefs.  Around the same time, I was introduced to the emerging conversation.  It was such a relief to interact with people that didn’t write me off as spiritually immature if I didn’t believe exactly as they did.  It was so refreshing to hear people say they realized they might be wrong about what they believed.  And contrary to what I had been taught, I discovered that the lack of certainty did not diminish their devotion to being followers of Jesus Christ.  They didn’t have all the answers, in fact; they had more questions than answers, but they were more like Christ than many of the “Absolute Truth” Christians that I had hung out with for so many years.  Don’t get me wrong – these uncertain people had beliefs and convictions, but they didn’t hold on to them as tightly; and they had knowledge but it was a less than certain knowledge.  They called it having a “chastened epistemology.”

It made sense to me.  How could we believe that we had it all figured out? That would be like putting ourselves on the same level as God, himself.  And in recent years Christians had gotten it wrong about other stuff … such as slavery and interracial marriage.  Just because there “is” truth doesn’t mean that we fully grasp it or understand it.

As I began to embrace this new kind of thinking – this new way of being a follower of Jesus Christ – some much needed humility was born in me and out of that a space was created that has allowed me to connect and interact with God and others in a deeper more meaningful way.  I’ve been told that I seem more kind, gentle and compassionate.  I am more at peace and at last my faith is more like a bridge than a barrier.

I admit, it is a struggle living within the tension of believing something and holding that belief loose enough so that God can take it away from you without you feeling like you just got pushed off the edge of a cliff.  I have to consciously strive on a daily basis to remain humble about what I know and believe – and sometimes I fail.  But, it is possible and I believe that it is worth it.

After all …

How can God speak into our lives if we aren’t humble enough to listen and hear?  How will we know if we are mistaken about something if we hold on to our beliefs with unswerving certainty.  Can we be transformed without being humble?

IMHO a chastened epistemology is one of the most valuable characteristics that is emerging in the church today.  I believe humility = teachability.  More than anything else a “chastened epistemology” draws me to the emerging church/conversation.

Check out some of the other synchroblog posts:

Pam Hogeweide compares the emerging church movement to a game of ping pong.

Sarah-Ji comments that the emerging questions people are asking are far bigger than any defined movement.

Sharon Brown writes about using labels as an excuse.

Peter Walker reflects on how the emerging church conversation helped him recognize his power and privlege as a white male.

Dave Huth posts a on new ways to talk about religion.

Kathy Escobar finds hope in seeing a spirit of love in action emerging in the church.

Nadia Bolz-Weber reflects on the the beautiful things she sees emerging in her church community.

Chad Holtz writes on our Our Emerging Jewishness.

MojoJules describes her organic entry into the emerging church and reflects on moving forward with a new public face.

Dave Brown comments on the emerging church and swarm theory.

Danielle Shoyer reflects on the big tent of the emerging church.

Brian Merrit offers his pros and cons of the emerging church.

Julie Clawson is grateful for emerging globalized Christianity.

Liz Dyer believes a chastened epistemology is a valuable characteristic emerging out of the church today.

Sa Say adds her voice to the conversation in The Prick of Doubt.