Friday, May 30, 2008


HT Josh at SCP

I like at the end of this video when he talks about people trying to define THEIR truth as THE truth. It goes back to relativism, the fact that what is true for you may not be true for everyone else.

It makes me think of John the Baptist. He had a pretty wild lifestyle; it was intense. Could you imagine if he spent all of his time trying to convert people to his lifestyle? What if he saw it as more than his calling - it had to be everyone else's too? He might have missed Jesus if he were to have taken that path.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Sad Moment

We buried Princess this evening. She was a little white hamster that my daughter chose as her birthday present a few weeks ago. Nobody knows why she died, she was energetic these past few weeks, but in a span of a few hours life slipped away.

Though it was only a little hamster, I cried. I cried because my children's hearts were broken. Kathryn cried herself to sleep that night. Jacob cried as much or more for his sister's pain, than for his own sense of loss.

We had a burial service in our backyard. I dug a hole between two plants near our porch. Bryson, the boy next door, was there with us. The five of us had a quiet moment and then I said a few words. I was about to place the box that held Princess in the ground when my daughter stopped me. "No Dad" she said, "I need to do it." She took the box from me and gently placed it in the ground.

This made me very proud of her. Over the past two days, she had avoided going into the garage, because that was where Princess was in her burial box. It was too painful for her to see and she would start crying again. Still, through her tears, she said that it was her place to lay Princess in the ground. Though she just turned 10, she seemed so grown up to me in that moment.

It was a quiet, intimate time and the five of us share a deeper bond than we had before today.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Mallet of Absolute Truth

I was Google-ing the Truth Project today and found that my blog articles are some, of very few, that critique it. So I started to drift through the many blogs and articles that praised it.

One of the more common praises is a relief amongst Christians that the Truth Project is standing up and defending "Absolute Truth". In fact, I think in many circles, clinging to absolute truth has become synonymous with (or has even surpassed) clinging to Christ.

Somewhere in Christian history the notion that some truth is not relative became NO truth is relative. In fact, the word relativism has become a swear word or an insult. In fundamentalist camps it would be a low blow to refer to someone as a "relativist".

Well, I am a relativist. I think we all are. God sees the whole picture. The rest of us are peeking through our lenses and vested interests from our different perspectives and angles. How could it be any different? The difference between myself and someone who claims to cling to absolute truth is that I recognize that the ground on which I stand is positional in reference to God. Therefore, I must keep moving to gain a better view of God. The absolutists believe their position to BE the baseline and if everyone would just come and stand where they are standing - all would be clear.

This is why I feel programs like the Truth Project can be so damaging. It makes the listener feel they are putting on layers of armor... when actually it is mere papier-mâché. You have all seen this or heard it in action. A Christian who has read a book, or seen a DVD, or heard their Pastor, has become an expert and tries to engage someone from the "other side" - except it doesn't sound like a discussion, it sounds like a lecture. The Christian gets befuddled by the most sincere contradictory questions (because their beliefs have been given, not earned) and goes back to repeating what they have already stated. Finally the Christian, in frustration, walks away muttering something about the other not "having ears to hear the truth" or other such nonsense. The Christian tends to learn NOTHING from an exchange like this because they usually make very poor assumptions:
  • He or she already has the Truth
  • The other is against them
  • Anyone not of the Christian Faith brings nothing of spiritual value to the table
  • If the other does have a spiritual insight, it must be tainted
To me, phrases like "absolute truth" are the shield and club of the lazy. They want everything ready made and pre-packaged (like the rest of our lives) so that nothing requires work or effort. We just want to be in the right group with the proper beliefs, and we want an iron clad solid response to anyone who would say otherwise. Mystery and ambiguity leave too many loose ends. Let us simplify God so he can be properly sorted out.

Paul was a relativist. He was completely comfortable being a Jewish believer. He just felt that Gentile believers didn't need to be Jewish believers. Many Jewish believers felt that there were obvious markers to who was in the Faith and who wasn't. Paul rejected this - not the markers themselves, only their enforcement on others. However, he gave grace for people to personally do what they felt they needed to do, "If anyone regards something as unclean... then for him it is unclean." Today in Christendom, we would want to press Paul for a straight answer. He would give none. He would shrug and say, "It is a matter of your conscience". I tend to think most of the Christian Testament writers would be unpopular in Christian circles today.

Paul spoke positively about freedom. Why is the Christian community so afraid of it?

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Defense of Speed Racer

Speed Racer cost 160 million to make, but has cleared only 35 million so far. It may go down in the books as one of the greatest financial misfires of all time.

This should not be.

There is a group of us (a dozen or so) that have been meeting every Tuesday to catch the latest summer blockbuster. The week prior to Speed Racer we had seen Iron Man. Iron Man may end up being the best movie of the summer.

But our group had more FUN at Speed Racer!

It was a riot! Once you got into how over the top this movie was, it became hilarious. We were laughing through tears during the hotel/ninja scene.

Visually, the movie was amazing. There really has been nothing like it to date. The race scenes were awesome and the colors were almost unreal they were so vibrant.

This is definitely a group movie, and one that is safe to take the kids to.

One complaint I heard in the reviews was that Speed Racer was too long. Geez... How Fahrenheit 451 can we get? Does everything have to be done in 30 minutes in our ever growing ADD society?

Go see it! (I want the
Wachowski Brothers to keep making movies)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Family Night at the Movies

I just got back from Caspian. Wonderful Movie.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when Lucy first speaks to Aslan. They split that conversation in two. At first I was downcast. I felt they completely downplayed one of the most important parts of the story. They brought the conversation full circle later. Well done!

I never thought in these movies that they would add a piece of Christology that was not in the book. However, I was moved by the scene at the end where all of the armies of Miraz were about to rush over the bridge. Lucy stood alone at the other end and calmly drew her dagger. No fear or excitement; complete peace. She knew who was with her.

This view was stated earlier when Lucy said to Peter, "Have you forgotten who really defeats the White Witch?" Not defeated... defeats. Their story was not past, it was being played out again. Neither are our stories past. There is always another Pharaoh, always another empire to resist.

When the four Pevensies said goodbye to Aslan at the end, my son next to me tried not to cry. He had a friend from the neighborhood with him, so he tried to hide his tears.

I talked to him about that when we got home. I let him know that his tears made me proud and happy to be his Daddy. I told him it is because he has such a big heart and that he has compassion for people. I am not sure if he understood everything I said tonight, but I wanted to make sure that he knew that his tears were something he would never have to hide from his Father.

A Wonderful Night, I am full to the brim. Thank you Mr. Lewis for once again turning my heart toward "The Son of the Emperor over the sea".

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where I am...

I am frustrated and I feel confined. Words are escaping me at the moment. No, not escaping... too many to say.

Terry Taylor has expressed in poetry and song what I cannot seem to say presently in prose.

Love is a question mark
Life's in a shadow box
God hides himself sometimes
Inside a paradox

And there may not ever be
Anything new here to say
But I'm fond of finding words
That say it in a different way

Does everybody want it nicely
Lined up in little neat rows?
Does anybody know precisely
Just where the wild wind blows?
I can hand it to you brightly
Wrapped up in ribbons and bows

We could dance the same old dances
Learn all the same old ropes
Roll out the same safe songs
Tell all our tired jokes

We've got some walls to climb
We've got some gates to crash
We've got a fire to light
Burn down the pious trash

Ribbons and Bows from the album Mr. Buechner's Dream by Daniel Amos

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The FLDS want their rights

The comment below appeared in today's Salt Lake Tribune. I think the writer put into words some of the reasons that I have felt no sympathy for the FLDS. I was glad that Oprah recently did a show on what is going on down there and some of the history of the FLDS. I think many Americans outside the Southwest simply have no idea how large a phenomenon these polygamist communities are.

In response to "I am an FLDS woman and I am entitled to the same rights as you" (Opinion, May 11): When I heard about the men who were kicked out of your community and never given an explanation why, their wives and children given to other men, I did not hear you complain about rights.

When I read about FLDS girls under the age of 16 being married to men three times their age, I did not hear you complain about rights.

When your community kicked out numerous "lost boys," some as young as 14, I did not hear you complain about rights.

When I read about a husband never being able to see his young son again because of an alleged sin, I did not hear you complain about rights.

When I found out that many of the spiritual wives of your men were being supported by our welfare tax dollars, I did not hear you complain about rights.

Don't be surprised now if your call for rights falls on deaf ears.

Bryon Larson
Cedar Hills

Salt Lake Tribune May 18, 2008

When the writer above refers to "Lost Boys", these are the young men who get kicked out of a community. If you look at the picture above, the husband has six wives. In most polygamist communities, you have to have multiple wives in order to get to heaven. If biology dictates a 1:1 ratio, then some of the upcoming boys are going to be competition to the older men. This lets the community kick out a high number of their boys, and the ones who stay are the REALLY committed ones. These boys are then out of the community relatively uneducated, and completely unprepared for a world they have been taught to fear.

The FLDS way of life is something that should only be read in history books, but never have to be experienced by a human soul again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Brueggemann Quote

"When serious people of good faith disagree, they've got to go back into the narratives and come at it again. One of the problems in the church is that people are not willing to do that. People have arrived at a place where they think they have got the answer." ~ Walter Brueggemann

From a talk on Leviticus, given at First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville. Click here to listen.

*Update* Some great Brueggemann videos here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Barack at the Movies

Too Funny! Stole these from Kay!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


I have posted an article on Hope at the Salt Lake Emergent Cohort blog. Head on over to check it out. We need some hits! :)

Monday, May 05, 2008

More Book Commentary

From my web page:

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Truth can be so much harder hitting than fiction. The book refers to itself as "A Story of Violent Faith" and it tells the story of the darker side of religious life here in Utah. I think its subtitle is fitting and actually speaks to most faiths. There is a Professor who has recently put forth the thesis that "monotheism is inherently violent". I wish I could dismiss that notion quickly, but it can be a stinging truth.

Everyone in Christian circles gets all in a bunch over spiritual relativism (the idea that everyone has their own path and no pursuit is more or less valuable). Walter Brueggemann does an interesting talk where he puts forth the notion that absolutism is no less harmful. Absolutism, he says, invariably leads to denial. Reading this book, you can see the ultimate destination of absolutism. When self reflection stops, when one can no longer look critically at one's own theology and philosophy; suffering is the outcome.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Gospel according to the Sneetches

Unfortunately, most adults do not read Dr. Seuss. If we did, the world would be a better place.

In the Sneetches, we hear the story of two groups of Sneetches - those who have stars on their bellies and those who do not. The star bellied Sneetches felt they were privileged to have their stars and actively separated themselves from those who did not have "stars upon thars". They took pride in the thought that their stars made them superior.

Seuss understood the human condition. He understood our need to create an outside group. He knew this to be at the root of what ails us.

Yesterday, my family had the opportunity to attend the baptism of the daughter of some very dear friends of ours. We are not LDS, but this was a time for friends and family to come together in support of this young daughter of God. It was a blessing to be there and my wife made use of tissues on several occasions.

It unfortunately, for my wife and I, ended a little off key. At the very end two people in leadership stood to declare their testimony. This is the point where they state that the Mormon church is the true church. My wife and I both noted later that it was a shame that this had occurred. Up until that point we were together as a community in celebration. With those words came the reminder that my family did not belong. You are in this building, but you are an outsider.

It reminded me of an incident that had happened in my own church recently. An individual was concerned about my theological views (I am iffy on points like the trinity and biblical inerrancy). In this person's estimation, my views should lock me out of certain church functions. Not holding the correct views means I am an outsider. I am in the building, but I don't belong.

In the Sneetches, the star bellied lord their position over the non-star bellied. The non-star bellied, in their insecurity, try to get stars so as to be acceptable. Did getting the stars make them acceptable?


The star bellied Sneetches, like us, found new ways to create the outside group. In their world, there WILL be an outside group.

I think Jesus showed a very different view of in and out groups. If there was an outside group, he jumped in and left the separatists to themselves.

I have been discovering Jesus' example in that regard to be worth following. The more I break down walls of separation and remove barriers to others, the more free I feel.

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Reading Brueggemann

This a comment on one of Walter's books that I had written last year for my rarely visited web page.

Deep Memory, Exuberant Hope - Contested Truth in a Post-Christian World by Walter Brueggemann

Brueggemann gives me a headache theologically. I say this as a positive. Anytime one moves, as he puts it, from orientation to disorientation to new orientation; I suppose a theological headache is a natural result.

I wish I had come across Brueggemann years ago. His premise of faith being an active process of dialogic interpretation would have helped me to understand a lot of what I was going through both philosophically and theologically. He has given substance to many concepts I felt implicitly, but lacked the vocabulary and the background knowledge to state explicitly.

It is hard for me to grab hold of a particular quote from the book to use as an example. The items I underlined really require the previous page or two to give the full effect from that quote. However, I will give a shot at one. This one grabs me because I am learning that how I come to the text of the Bible will have no small effect on what I receive from the Bible. It is therefore necessary that I maintain and pursue voices that challenge my interpretations; for mine are, at best, penultimate. For as Walter says, "Tomorrow there is always another interpretation."

"The irascible character of God and the elusive rhetoric of the text mean that the outcome of textual testimony is deeply polyvalent, that is, it speaks with many voices and is profoundly open to rich variation in rendering." ~ Walter Brueggemann

A Great Summer Start

I just got back from a late show of Iron Man. Nicely done. Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect selection for Tony Stark.

There were some great previews. I don't think I have a had summer in recent memory that was generating such a large list of movies I want to see.
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Happening
  • The Dark Knight
  • Speed Racer
  • The Hulk
  • Indiana Jones
You might get the impression from the list that I am only into popcorn movies. Not so. I just don't feel the need to do anything other than scifi/action on the big screen. Drama is not intensified by screen size.

Oh, and if ya haven't done Iron Man yet, stay after the credits True Believer. There is a cool indicator as to where they may be taking this franchise.
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