Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quotes from articles I read recently #7

Ok, this was not in a blog article, but Redlefty wrote it and it was one of the coolest things I have read in a while:

It's impossible to behave like Jesus until we can perceive like him.


There was a time where possession of a Bachelor of Theology degree put your near the top of the educated within a western society. But, today it is usually very unlikely that a pastor would be anywhere near being the most educated person in their congregation in most churches. Moreover, the explosion of christian publishing means that theological resources are more available than at any time in the history of the church. And, it doesn’t stop there, the possibilities for mentoring, retreats and spiritual direction are no longer confined to clergy and their professional development. Fernando's Desk

The problem is that there is a middle ground between eclecticism and orthodoxy, one that views how we interpret Jesus as a much more open question than that was allegedly "settled" by ecumenical councils held centuries after Jesus died, and which focuses more on how we can transform our lives by following Jesus than on whatever theological spin you want to put on Jesus's nature. I believe I am not alone in being someone who is interested in Jesus, his life, his message, and their resulting implications for today, and who are also interested in progressive theologians like Borg, Crossan, Spong, Fox, Pagels, Hick, and Cobb. And I believe I am not alone in embracing an intelligent reading of the Bible without taking at face value some of the mythological claims found there. I see a lot of churches that talk a good game about diversity; but when push comes to shove, it seems that in many cases diversity really means "think what you want but this is what you really should be believing." If they are really going to tell us what "we" believe by laying out a set of orthodox dogmas, then they should not advertise themselves as encouraging diversity--because they don't. Mystical Seeker

Somehow we have convinced ourselves that each succeeding generation has to have a “better” and more luxurious lifestyle than the one before us. I just saw a statement by the director of the FCC that noted with the switch to digital from analog broadcasting, 3 million “at risk” Americans would find themselves without television. Only in America can the term “at risk” be used to describe someone who might have their T.V. shut off. Beyond the Pale

And I'm heartened to see much of my fundamentalism left behind as if in a cake pan; I'll serve the best of my religion to my kids in large slices and leave behind the crumbs. Most of it isn't intentional, but when I engage the fundamentalism of my youth (on a summer visit back home), I see what I was taught as a child, but I'm not teaching to my children:
  • - that they're going to hell - that God kind of loves them and kind of hates them
  • - that sex should be discussed with words like "filthy" "slutty" and "dirty"
  • - that rightful authority should be ascribed to James Dobson, Jim Bakker, Ken Ham, Bill Gothard, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell
  • - that conservative talk radio and cable news corresponds with conservative Christianity
  • - that whatever they're doing isn't good enough
  • - that their culture deserves their fear, judgment, and avoidance
  • - that the the world is 6000 years old and that God planted dinosaur bones in the earth to test our faith
  • - that Jesus is going to return any minute and won't they feel ashamed because their beds aren't made
  • - that, as boys, authority over women is their birthright
  • - that if they question outrageous, violent, ethnocentric, historically questionable, or contradictory things in the Bible, their faith is weak
  • - that a single moral point may be derived from absolutely anything in the Bible
The Paris Project

I was reminded of a passage I recently taught on in our youth group, the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman. If you don't know the story, Jesus is hanging out with his disciples and a Syrophoenician Woman--someone that had no business coming to Jesus for help, he was the Jews messiah--comes to Jesus begging for help. Jesus calls her something quite derogatory saying, "it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Now what was Jesus doing here? I am sure, at least I hope, that the disciples were surprised to hear Jesus talk this way. I am defiantly surprised to hear Jesus talk this way. But perhaps Jesus was talking to his disciples more so than he was to the woman. Think about it, the disciples looked at this woman and probably thought "dog." They had no problem thinking this way. But then I can almost see Jesus turning to his disciples as he says, "it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." It's one thing for the disciples to think it, but another thing for Jesus to say it. Jesus says this just to expose it for how ridiculous it really is. Here is a woman who desperately needs help, who is begging for just the crumbs from Jesus' table, and Jesus calls her a dog. This is not the kingdom Jesus has been proclaiming. There's a level of sarcasm in Jesus words, as though to say, "yeah, she's just a dog, huh? NO, that's ridiculous!" Jesus' final response is to do exactly what the woman asked. The disciples must have felt some conviction, hearing Jesus say what was in their hearts and seeing him expose it for what it was. Living in the Kingdom

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