Thursday, April 26, 2007

Poet of Fire

“We were put into our bodies, as fire is put into a pan to be carried about. . . . We are children of the fire, made of it. . . . And this hidden truth . . . draws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"God's word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." - Jeremiah ben Hilkiah


Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Line in History

When I asked him about whether it was good or healthy that he made fun of that part of his life he responded by asking, “How do you break a line in history?” I took this to mean either how you break the line of history or how you create a line in history. How do separate then from now? This is what I took him to mean. However, what he said was, how do you break a line in history. Perhaps it should be read, how do you break a line in history. Humour or especially laughter assumes a sense of distance and perspective. This is certainly true in the cruelty and self-preservation of laughter. Here laughter insulates or objectifies.

Perhaps this is not humour at all but something else. True humour may be the precise opposite. Humour allows the raw absurdity of reality to have its way if only for a moment but it is also more than this. Humour (godly humour?) allows this reality to hit us, to flow in and through us, in a posture of faith that transcribes its significance for us.

“We will laugh about this someday” is a gesture of hope that can be realized. One day we will find ourselves in a position of both vulnerability and security in which certain lines of history (and there are many) can be broken and forever transformed.



It is really . . . really great to hear birds singing outside your window in the mornings.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Race Card

I will not play it again. I said my piece with Michael Richards below. Here is a link to one perspective on Imus, Snoop Dog and Race.

Strange Behavior


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Child of God

I have been looking at Scripture passages that deal with faith formation in children. Quickly flipping through the Bible I came across three interesting examples.

First, Joshua (though we are not actually told his age) who serves under Moses. In Exodus 33:11 says. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent."

Then we have Samuel who was dedicated to the Lord and served under the priest Eli. In 1 Samuel 3:1-3 it says that, "The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was."

Then of course we have Jesus who stayed back to be "about his father's business" in the Temple.

Are these images of "special" children? Are these images in any way paradigmatic of childhood faith formation? If so, the images remind me of an aspect of Jesus's parables recently highlighted to me. Even in some of Jesus's harshest judgment parables the characters under judgment begin within the boundaries of the Kingdom. They are already invited, they are already servants of the King.

Does this then affect our understanding of the Fall, of the sinful child? If our body is the Temple then the unborn child remains in the presence of God (I suppose this begs the question of the extent to which that Temple can be "defiled"). Is infant baptism a gesture of placing the child in the Temple, in the body of Christ? Does our life become a series of "Temples" that move outward (or inward) in concentric circles until our body itself begins to bear the Temple?

Just some thoughts that were raised from these passages.

This just reminded me of a time I was in training at a Youth For Christ drop-in centre. The leader asked one of us how we should view the youth. One of us answered, "As a child of God." The leader said he was wrong.
How should Samuel have been viewed given that "Samuel did not yet know the Lord" (1 Sam 3:7)?


Friday, April 06, 2007

A Virtual Nomad

Well my good companions I am again pulling up stakes. Not from my blogging home which I am still enjoying. I am discarding the new old website that I had a link to on the right. The only thing I wanted to preserve from there was the links to me writings so I have included the post below which has those links. There will be a permanent link to that post on the right named "IndieLit." Any new pieces will be attached there.



A selection of writings in various forms and stages.

Read Carefully But Do Not Understand - MDiv Thesis
A Conceptual Analysis of Aesthetics
A Brief Reflection on Gospel Truth in St. Paul, Dostoevsky and Zizek
Rowan Williams, Grace and Necessity - Book Review
Sociology, Theology and the Priesthood of All Believers

Boundary and Presence
Reading by Scars

Love Lights the Darkness - Fourth Sunday in Advent 2006
The Priesthood of All Believers
Sin, Shame and Salvation - Fourth Sunday in Lent 2007
Peace Rides a Donkey - Palm Sunday 2007
Working in God's Economy - Luke 19:11-27
Sabbath Day, Eternal Rest - Matthew 12:1-14
A Theology of Work
Wise and Foolish Builders - Matthew 7:24-27
Old and New Treasures - Matthew 13:44-50


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Peace and Palm Sunday

Here is an excerpt from my Palm Sunday sermon. I hope it makes sense on its own.

Our world essentially offers one model of peace, it is the peace achieved either through victory or ironically through victimhood. In either scenario the peace we seek is simply the ability to be insulated and protected from any unwanted contact. As the victor we try to overwhelm the source of conflict and impose order on it as the United States continues to attempt in Iraq. In relationships we use our status or authority or manipulation to impose our way in times of conflict. And strangely enough we also often use the role of victimhood to attempt to overcome conflict. To be classified as a victim can absolve us of facing any criticism. In relationships if we can convince the other person that they are evil then we may debilitate their influence on us.

Now I want to be clear that this has nothing to do with someone who is the victim of abuse. In these instances the victim should be protected from the abuser. What I am referring to is how we use the role of victim to keep ourselves from meaningful, constructive relationships. Ultimately we all need to open up to someone in a meaningful way.

In both positions change or growth becomes difficult because differing voices are no longer heard, they have been effectively silenced. Chris Heubner writes that “the culture of victimhood simply reproduces the same logic of power as that of victory, namely a competition for security and control. Put differently, the hero and victim are both expressions of a desire to escape difficulty.” In both of these scenarios peace cannot be established because peace requires right relationships and these positions choke out the possibility of meaningful relationships.

When we receive Christ like the crowds did on Palm Sunday we often assume both positions. Out of a position of being victimized we, like the people, call on Jesus to enter as our victor and overcome our enemies dramatically and decisively.
Then we often become offended when Jesus does not put people in their place. And then we are even more offended when Jesus implies that perhaps we may have some things to work on.

The reality of Christ’s peace enters when we discard our attempts to preserve our lives, our attempts to impose order through the position of either victor or victim. The peace of Christ assumes that it is in fact our very lives that become the medium for peace. We do not create peace we receive, become, and then offer peace.

The extreme example we are given is this that of the martyr. I am not using the term martyr as it is commonly used today when we say that someone is making themselves a martyr. That is the definition of victim that I used earlier. Indeed Huebner writes that “one cannot designate oneself a martyr.” Also I am not assuming that a martyr is necessarily someone who dies for their faith. Rather, and I think this important, the martyr is someone who give their life for their faith.
The martyr does not enter into conflict in order to play by its rules. A martyr can do this because her identity is not defined by or dependent on the instability of the conflicting beliefs, practices or relationships that surround her. A martyr does not use the practices or materials of conflict to overcome conflict.
This is the call to be in the world but not of the world.

Being of the world means allowing Christ to remain as an icon to grace our wall. Christ the icon remains still and static passively accepting the role that we give to him allowing us to use our own means to accomplish our tasks.
Being in the world but not of it means being on the watch for a Jesus who comes on his donkey receives our welcome and continues to move on. It is in his passing through that we are confronted with the question of understanding what will bring us peace.

Here we are reminded of a parable that Jesus tried to prepare us with. This is the story of the king who gave his servants some money and then went away. When the king came back he only scolded the servant who did nothing with his money except try to protect it. The money given to the servants represents their lives. We cannot keep our lives and so we only have the choice of either trying to protect our lives or of investing, of giving our lives. Ironically enough this is the parable that Luke leads into Jesus’s entry on a donkey.
We know what it is to give our lives to our work or our family but to give our lives for Christ is to participate in something earlier, something deeper than the violence of world. It is to return, at least in part, to peace of creation. But first we must follow Jesus this Easter. Follow him and his donkey as he moves through us this Palm Sunday.
Follow him to the Last Supper where gives us the image and command of service to one another.
Follow him into the Garden of Gethsemane where he too wrestles with his own human understanding and his divine calling.
Follow, perhaps only at distance, to the hill of skulls on Good Friday where Jesus confronts the ultimate violence of death.
Watch for him on Easter Saturday as he prepares his return.
Celebrate him Easter Sunday and invite the peace of God in our midst.

Lord have mercy,