Monday, January 29

How Shall We Then Read?

Reading is not a passive affair. One can not read a romance and not be drawn in by the passion and desire of the two main characters. Likewise, one can not read an adventure and fail to not lose at least a few hours of sleep in finding out what happens next. And surely, when reading an instruction manual, one can not help being actively engaged. Whether the engagement takes on the form of anger and frustration, or the form of an epiphany...being passive is just not an option.

So what are we to make of the Bible. How do we read such a book? Is it a novel, romance, instruction manual, or adventure? I grew up seeing the characters in the Bible as soft little felt figures on a green background. I knew that that the figures had great things to teach me, but I did not see the direct application to my life. As I grew older I knew that I needed to read this Book, it needed to be the centerpiece of my quiet time. But the question There are so many questions that the Bible does not answer. Often the what, why, and where is left out. And Jesus...occasionaly the way that He would reply to those who questioned Him would confuse the dickens out of me. It was obvious to me that He did not care what people thought of Him.

Now, I often meet three kinds of people who read the Bible. There are the conservatives who read it literally and consequently make rediculous laws for themselves and pollute the Christian bookstores with their lack of grace. Then there are the liberals. These folks allow for the Bible to be changed. They say..."well, I think what he meant was"... and..."surely Jesus would have just loved them"... Finally, I run into the capitalists. These guys are the smart ones. They know that God wants to bless us. You just have follow seven steps, lead the life you deserve, pray certain prayers...just like Jabez... Read MY book they say and all will be well with you. Right.

How we shall then read? With wisdom, in prayer, and under shepherding. The prayer I leave to you, but as far as wisdom and shepherding goes, I have some suggestions...You have to read more...for you literary geniuses this is the best news coming, for you King of the Hill junkies, this may be a problem.

Robert Farrar Capon's Genesis The Movie is a great place to start. Father Capon is a phenomonal writer, you feel as if you are sitting in his living room drinking wine and following all kinds of wonderful "rabbit trails" to find Truth. His approach is wise and witty. Here is a snippet:"Literalists and anti-literalists alike went forth conquering and to conquer. ""Truth itself is on the line"" they said, and ""and we're willing to die for it!"" But as it turned out, they didn't die for the Truth of Scripture (which went grandly on being whatever kind of truth that it pleased); they died in the trenches of their own narrowness-and they were buried in the commom ditch of literalism. That is what happens when you let your enemy choose the field of battle: even if you think you are winning, you are losing".

Second, buy The Act Of Bible Reading. This multi disciplinary approach to reading the Bible is worth its weight in gold.

Finally, to wrap it up, read C.S. Lewis's Reflections On The Psalms. This particular work is a challenge to modern evangelical Christians. It looks at the Psalms in a very non-traditional manner. Consider this: "The human qualities of the raw material show through. Naivete', error, contradicion, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not ""the Word of God"" in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) recieve that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning the overall message"".

This is a work in progress for me. I wish you well in your endeavors. But, as you "steep yourself in its tone and temper", I would ask for any insights you have gained, and of course, your prayers are coveted.

Wednesday, January 24

God In A Box

We Moderns are familiar with Nietzsche stating that "God is Dead", and in this statement we implicitly understand that there is not a "cosmic order" to things. I would venture further into our modern worldview and speculate that we modern Christians have done something far worse than kill God. We have placed God in a box.

The modern Christian Church has done a good job marketing to culture. We generally have good praise bands, excellent overhead projections to follow the words to worship on, practical, entertaining teaching, and well thought out verbage for post modern psycho analytical thought to assist in the teaching (read sarcasm here). However, for all of this the Church is still missing something of great importance. We are missing the culture. When the church doors open on Sunday morning our Theology is left in the pew and lies forgotten until Wednesday evening.

The result is a seperation between the sacred and the secular. No longer is it God's creation, but a fallen world that Christians are not to involve themselves in. And why should we? According to modern evangelical thought, the world is ending soon any way. Accordingly, there is not a clear Theologically driven desire to engage the culture via music, art, politics, business, movies, etc, etc. Sadly, what follows is children raised in Christian homes who are schizophrenic. Not sure of what Truth is, these children, the post-moderns, live in a constant state of confusion trying to decipher what is Truth, reason, or just plain emotion.

Perhaps this is most obvious to many of those who watched the President's State of the Union Address and are following the "already heated" race to 2008. The issues that confront us today, are no different than the issues that confronted us many years ago. What is different is the manner in which we approach these issues. Instead of looking at global warming (thanks, Bryan), Islamofascism, and social issues critically, we view them emotionally.

I ran across the following paragraph while reading Wind, Sand, and Stars, a novel by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. "Every week men sit comfortably in the cinema and look on at the bombardment of some Shanghai or other, some Guernica, and marvel without a trace of horror at the long fringes of ash and soot that twist their slow way into the sky from those man-made volcanoes. Yet we all know together with the grain in the graineries, with the heritage of generations of men, with the treasures of families, it is the burning flesh of children and their elders that, dissipated in smoke, is slowly fertilizing those black cumuli". Written in 1939, Exupery's words are an example of how we can fear losses in combat and argue the "just war theory", yet abort babies and participate in euthenasia. We look at hardened professionals trained to deal in death and destruction as victims and ignore the most helpless among us. Likewise, we cry for every woman to have her equal rights, yet we demean her in every possible way with rampant, ever available pornogrpahy. And we wonder why post-modern children are schizophrenic?

Exupery finishes his thought with a sound answer. One that we sacred/secular bi-polar Christians may wish to heed: "The physical drama itself cannot touch us until some one points out its spiritual sense."

Thursday, January 18

Spiders On Drugs

I found this extremely profound, educational, and interesting. I am sure that you will as well.

Saturday, January 13

On Worship

As a fairly immature Christian I have been struggling with the concept of making our work worship as well as working during worship. I understand that we are called to worship 24/7, but how can we adequately do that in our fallen state with so many distractions that vie for our attention. I recently ran across the following paragraph from C.S. Lewis's "Reflections On The Psalms" which has helped me immensely as I continue to struggle with this important concept. It made particularly good sense to me since I am a former rider and could identify with the riding school anology.

"...It is along these lines that I find it easiest to understand the Christian doctrine that "Heaven" is a state in which angels now, and men hereafter, are perpetually employed in praising God. This does not mean, as it can so dismally suggest, that it is like "being in church." For our "services" both in their conduct and in our power to participate, are merely attempts at worship; never fully successful, often 99.9% failures, sometimes total failures. We are not riders but pupils in the riding school; for most of us the falls and bruises, the aching muscles and the severity of the excercise, far outweigh those few moments in which we were, to our own astonishment, actually galloping without terror and without disaster...The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him."

Wednesday, January 10

A Little Motivation

To my Leatherneck Bothers and Sisters...Damn the politicians...full speed ahead. Hang tight boys, I'll be there soon.

Semper Fi!!

Thursday, January 4

The Chosen Beer

One of the many benefits of submitting ourselves to the Headship of Christ is enjoying the uniqueness and beauty of His creation. The table as a facet of His creation, is no less significant to us theologically than our gathering together to study His Word. Eating and Drinking are a means to worship our Creator and give thanks for His many blessings. Gathering around the table, no matter the amount of guests, has the potential for a great time of community.

Robert Farrar Capon, one of my favorite cultural and culinary commentators once remarked on the subject of wine; "Nothing appalls me more than to hear people refer to the drinking of wine as if it were a forbidden and fascinating way of sneaking alcohol into ones system. My flesh creeps when I hear the legitimate love of the fruit of the vine treated as if it were a longer winded way of doing what the world does with grain neutral spirits and cheap vermouth. With wine at hand, the good man concerns himself not with getting drunk, but with drinking in all the natural delectabilities of wine: taste, color, bouquet; its manifold graces; the way it complements food and enhances conversation; and its sovereign power to turn evening into occasions, to lift eating beyond nourishment to conviviality, and to bring the race, for a few hours at least , to that happy place where men are wise, women are beautiful, and even one's children begin to look promising".

On that note, Electra and I have discovered a wonderful new beer. Well, new to us anyhow.... It is called He'Brew, the Chosen Beer. Sample the label: "As commanded, we at He'Brew beer have been fruitful and multiplied our offerings. Tradition teaches that the Messiah's name is Shalom-Peace. With your first sip of this rich, dark, and delicious libation, we hope to offer a momentary taste of microbrewed bliss. If you feel the sudden urge to beat your swords into ploughshares (Isaiah 2:4) or to picnic with the lion and the lamb (Is. 11:6). Rejoice"!

Monday, January 1

It's the first day

In 2007, we plan to move once, play as seriously as we work, and find a kayak to paddle around the islands of the Outer Banks all summer. Meanwhile, we'll bask under the shelter of family farmhouse from the cold Tennessee sky for another week. It's such a good thing to have long holidays when the daily life before is busy with work. New Year's Eve parties leave one tired and missing half the next day, so we've got some time to reclaim.