One of my heroes.
A reflective look into the life and beliefs of pastor and author Eugene Peterson. Executive Producer Don Pape. Directed by Greg Fromholz. Produced by Emma Good and Nathan Reilly.
One of my heroes.
A reflective look into the life and beliefs of pastor and author Eugene Peterson. Executive Producer Don Pape. Directed by Greg Fromholz. Produced by Emma Good and Nathan Reilly.
The confession below is about sincerity and integrity. I share it here because I feel exactly the same way. For a ‘social animal’ like me, loosing friends is never easy. Yet, I am not ready to sacrifice my conscience even in order to keep a friendship. I may be wrong on what I believe – I have been proven wrong before. 😦 That is why, some day I am going to write something titled ‘How I Changed My Mind’).
Yet, until I have enough evidence to change my mind, I have to be true to what I believe. And, of course, I will express those convictions in imperfect ways, in line with my temperament, my level of (im)maturity and my ethnic makeup. I hope my friends can live with that. But if they cannot, I can’t do anything about it.
As Scripture says, let us walk together in the things we think alike, and may the Holy Spirit enlighten us in the rest. I can live with that. Can you?
And now, here is what Pete Enns has to say about it.
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OK, this is going to be a little personal, but you don’t have to read it.
In case you haven’t noticed, I write about the Bible and Christian faith now and then. And if you’ve noticed that, you’ve probably also noticed that some of what I write about could be considered a bit edgy—for some, at least.
And that’s OK. When you write about God, Jesus, and the Bible, you’re going to be controversial for somebody. And, if several thousand years of recorded history are any indication, some people are probably going to be very, very, very angry with you for uttering thoughts about ultimate reality that they don’t like. They might even hate you (in Jesus’ name and for the glory of God).
But that doesn’t bother me terribly. Sure, I don’t love it, but it’s part of the job. Plus, my keyboard has delete button.
Over-the-top negativity isn’t the hard part. What’s hard is losing friends, a community, a sense of belonging, a shared narrative.
It’s not so much about friends becoming enemies, but the more subtle disorientation of not really fitting anywhere.
The insider becomes the outsider. Nothing unravels a social fabric quicker. I get it. No one likes their social fabric unraveled. It keeps us warm and safe. No offense taken.
I keep writing because I believe in being true to myself, and genuine faith cannot exist for me if I hold back and refuse to “take door number 3.” I’m not particularly brave. I don’t wake up in the morning mustering courage so I can go into battle to slay dragons. I just don’t know what else to do with myself.
I don’t know how not to turn things around in my head and look for a different angle that produces some new insights, even if that means leaving behind familiar things. I just can’t imagine not trying to work all this out—for my own benefit, and, if all goes well, for others, too.
I’m not whining. I’m not a martyr. It is what it is. I’m just saying the loss of community, of a shared narrative, is the hardest part for me. Not fitting. Not knowing where you fit, or if such a place even exists. And maybe this is how it will always be.
And I know a lot of others feel the same way.
La rugamintea prietenului meu, Dr Danut Jemna, fac publice aici consideratiile lui legate de situatia penticostalismului romanesc in acest moment. Textul de fata reia o analiza facuta de Dr. Jemna, singurul specialist in patristica in spatiul pentecostal romanesc, in urma cu aproximativ zece ani. Ca profesor universitar abilitat, Dr. Jemna este, de asemenea, specialist in statistica, cu un interes special pentru demografie, domeniu in care a publicat deja un numar de carti si articole. Textul de fata include si o discutie asupra citorva probleme importante pentru penticostali, si prea putin discutate pina acum, din perspectiva acestei discipline stiintifice.
Scopul acestei analize critice nu este nicidecum unul destructiv, ci reprezinta o invitatie la un prea mult intirziat dialog legat de o serie de chestiuni fundamentale de care depinde, crede autorul, viitorul comunitatii penticostale in Romania.
Autorul este deschis sa raspunda la reactiile celor interesati. O puteti face aici sau direct, pe email (pe care il pot pune la dispozitie, in privat, celor interesati).
Redau mai jos inceputul acestei analize.
** * *
În noiembrie 2008, la un moment aniversar, am scris un text pe care l-am intitulat: Are un loc Biserica Penticostală în România şi în Iaşi? În acest text am încercat să fac câteva observații legate de: dezvoltarea comunității în profil teritorial (am subliniat concentrarea în anumite zone ale țării și în mediul rural); spiritualitatea penticostală (cu înclinații dualiste și lipsa unei viziuni care să integreze întreaga realitate a existenței umane); prezența publică (precară și ambiguă, reactivă și partizană); relațiile cu celelalte comunități religioase (dominate de spirit sectar). Revin asupra acestei teme cu o nuanțare a întrebării puse atunci – mai are viitor această confesiune în România? Pentru a putea da un răspuns coerent la această întrebare este necesară analiza unor elemente pe care le supunem discuției în continuare.Read More »
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—disruption and chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is not working anymore. The mystics use many words to describe this chaos: fire, darkness, death, emptiness, abandonment, trial, the Evil One. Whatever it is, it does not feel good and it does not feel like God. We will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart.
This is when we need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening our controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). Not accidentally, he mentions this narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule. Jesus knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” (7:12).Read More »
Courtney Martin is a columnist with On Being
Please take some settled quiet time one of these days, before the end of the year and try to respond these seven questions. It may do some good to you. They are serious ones, so, prepare for a rough ride. Here are the questions:
1. What was one of the moments I was most proud of this year? What does that tell me about what I want to spend my energy/time/money on next year?
2. Who really enriched my life this year in a big way? Who is someone I am wanting to get to know better in the year ahead?
3. It was a year of resistance for many people. What did I resist most effectively? What did I surrender to?Read More »
In him was life,
and that life was the light of the people.
The light shines in darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Advent is a season of waiting. The anticipation of things to come. The desperate hope that the darkness of the world is not the end of the story; but one day light will prevail.
For those invested and paying attention to the political realities of the Middle East, often darkness seems to rule the day. There is much darkness to lament.
The darkness of the Syrian conflict that has raged for more than half a decade and has
resulted in the displacement and death of millions… Read More »
(RNS) — Kaitlin Curtice grew up Southern Baptist and now attends an Anglican church. She doesn’t necessarily identify herself with either denomination, she said, but she does call herself a Native American Christian.
Then she watches a look of confusion cross people’s faces. “They don’t understand what that means,” Curtice said.
The popular 29-year-old worship leader has been working that meaning out in her writing — including a blog, titled “Stories,” and a well-reviewed book published this month by Paraclete Press, “Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places.”
When she isn’t traveling around the country to speaking engagements, Curtice is in Atlanta with her husband, two young sons and two dogs. She home-schools the boys, she said, and with them, she is learning their Potawatomi language and culture.
This first book of Curtice’s is full of stories about everyday moments infused with meaning, the books that “opened something up” in her and reconnecting with her Native American heritage. She talked about all these things earlier with RNS.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
* * *
Early in the book, you mention your journey to learn more about your Potawatomi heritage. What set you on that path, and what has that journey looked like for you?
We live in Georgia, and there are a lot of Native historic sites here. It’s Muscogee Creek land and Cherokee land — there are areas you can go hiking, and there will be a plaque that tells you who lived there. We went hiking at one of our favorite places, Sweetwater Creek, and my youngest son was 1, and he was hungry, and I had to breastfeed him. I was like, well, I’ll just try and feed him while we walk because there’s no place to sit down.
It was just this moment where God stopped me and time stood still and God was like, “This is what your ancestors did on the Trail of Death. This is what your great-great-great-grandmother did.”
It was that moment where somebody points at you and says, “This is who you are, and this is who your children are, and this is what you’re called to be.” It was just really beautiful, and it just switched on this light for me. From then on, it was just constantly reading and writing and processing and trying to learn as much as I could and having these memories of childhood come back to me that I had forgotten.
Read HERE the entire interview.
David G Benner shares with us today a wonderful reflection of the essential human thirst for oneness in Christ. This will sound quite familiar, even if, possibly, more holistic and challenging, for those acquainted with the Eastern Orthodox concepts of theosis or deification, and with the classic universal Christian concept of mystical union.
I will let you read the entre text on Dr Benner’s blog, but here is, as a teaser, a beautiful prayer rooted in the indigenous Lakota concept of Mitakuye Oyasin – in English, “all my relations.” Enjoy!
To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.
To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.
To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.
To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.
To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.
To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and carries the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.
To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.
You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One is not more important than the other. Each evolves from the other and yet each is dependent upon the others. All of us are a part of the Great Mystery.
Thank you for this Life.
Read HERE the entire post.
To every person who has survived harassment, abuse, or violation:
I’ve been thinking about you and wanted you to hear a few things today, in case you never hear them for anyone else. I so hope this reaches you.
I imagine these days must be difficult for you.
Not that every day isn’t difficult given what you’ve endured, but I imagine these are especially painful times—
to see the headlines and the hashtags, and to be continually reminded of the personal hell you’ve walked through;
to watch people debate the veracity of accusers,
to see survivors cross-examined by strangers,
to hear supposed adults suggest a child’s consent,
to listen to professed Christians defend predatory politicians using the Bible,
to see lawmakers take the side of the victimizers,
to witness admitted offenders being rewarded.Read More »
Blessed are the agnostics
Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are those who think they have nothing to offer.
Blessed are the toddlers who rush past the queue to share in communion.
Blessed are the bored
Blessed are those who stare at the roof of the Church, wishing for something to happen, hoping for God to act… Read More »
Let’s take a look at the history of mysticism to find our roots and see how we had it, how and why we largely lost it, and to recognize that now we are in the midst of a rediscovery and new appreciation for the mystical, nondual, or contemplative mind (use whichever word you prefer; they are all pointing in the same direction).
Before 800 BC, it seems most people experienced their union with the Divine and Reality through myth, poetry, dance, music, fertility, and nature. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) called this Pre-axial Consciousness. Although living in an often-violent world and focusing on survival, people still knew that they belonged to something cosmic and meaningful. They inherently participated in an utterly enchanted universe where the “supernatural” was everywhere. This was the pre-existent “church that existed since Abel,” spoken of by St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and the Second Vatican Council. Owen Barfield (1898-1997) called this state of mind “original participation.”  It is reflected in most of the indigenous religions to this day. As Pope John Paul II said, Native Americans have known from the beginning what it’s taking us Catholics a long time to realize: that the Great Spirit has always been available and loveable in the natural world. Read More »
Years ago, someone asked if I could sum up all my teachings in two words. My response was “incarnational mysticism.” The first word, “incarnational,” is Christianity’s specialty and should always be our essential theme. We believe God became incarnate. The early Fathers of the Church professed that God, by taking on human flesh, said yes to all that was physical, material, and earthly. Unfortunately, Christianity lost this full understanding.
Many Christians are scared of the word “mysticism.” But a mystic is simply one who has moved from mere belief or belonging systems to actual inner experience of God. Mysticism is more represented in John’s Gospel than in the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) which give us the basic story line of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In fact, the primary reason many are not moved or attracted to John’s Gospel is because they were never taught the mystical mind.Read More »
Am citit cu interes acest text. In ce ma priveste, ca ‘high church Anglican’ sunt mai pozitiv fata de ritualul religios decit sunteti dvs. Observ ca traseele noastre religioase sunt opuse, si poate de aici vine diferenta: al dvs este de la ritualul religios catolic (fie el si unul nominal), la saracia simbolica cultului evangelic, in vreme ce a mea este de la aceasta din urma, la bogatia liturgica si sacramentala a crestinismului istoric. In ce ma priveste, teologia, si in special interactiunea cu teologia ortodoxa, este cea care a determinat in cea mai mare masura aceasta traiectorie.
Acestea fiind spuse, dati-mi voie sa fac citeva observatii.
1. Omul este o fiinta simbolica si nu poate trai fara simboluri, metafore, modele, si, in cele din urma, fara ritual. Omul este singura fiinta are marcheaza ritualic nasterea unui prunc, isi celebreaza nunta si isi ingroapa mortii, intre multe altele.
2. Ritualurile de trecere, nu sunt doar apanajul omului primitiv. Chiar daca rolul ritualurilor de trecere a slabit in modernitate, acestea continua sa existe, slava Domnului, ele izvorind din natura omului creat dupa chipul lui Dumnezeu. In definitiv, botezul crestin tocmai asta este – un ritual de trecere (fara singe insa, caci pe acesta l-a varsat Cristos). In aceasta privinta refuz fara ezitare conceptia penibila a lui Zwingli despre sacramente, care le transforma in simple semne – daca e asa, adica daca singura lor ratune este sa semnifice, intr-un fel sau altul – caci aceasta este natura semnului: semnificatul este important, nu semnul utilizat, moartea si invierea cuiva in Cristos, de ce nu ‘facem botezul’, de exemplu, cu candidatul intrind cu hainele de strada intr-un dulap – semnificind mormintul, si iesind din el cu haine albe, semnificind invierea sau ‘nasterea din nou’ (intre altele, un concept biblic minor, a carui importanta a fost exagerata de evanghelici). La fel, am putea lua ‘cina’ cu brinza si lapte, daca vinul si piinea sunt doar semne arbitrare. Dar nu sunt. Cum nu e nici apa. Bunul nostru simt de spune asta, chiar daca bezmeticcul Zwigli ar vrea sa credem altceva.
3. Ruptura sacru-profan, oricit de folositoare ar fi ea pentru Eliade si istoria religiilor, este inselatoare din perspectiva crestina. Scopul lui Cristos, nu este sa creeze un soi de homo religiosus, la care doar dimensiunea sacra conteaza, ci ‘ a aduce toate lucrurile in ascultare de Dumnezeu, in Cristos’ (Efes. 1:10). Cu alte cuvinte, daca moderrnitatea a incercat profanarea (si eliminarea) sacrului, Cristos a venit sa sacralizeze intreaga existenta.
4. Da, modernitatea a incercat sa desvrajeasca lumea – lipsa de ritual a evanghelicilor, care sunt copii ai modernitatii, este o alta expresie a acestui efort – dar a esuat lamentabil. Avem de-a face, asa cum bine remarca multi sociologi ai religiei (inclusiv Peter Berger insusi – Dumnezeu sa-l odihnasca, cel care promova cindva teoria secularizarii, iar apoi a realizat ca s-a inselat), lumea a intrat, in postmoderrnitate, intr-un proces de revrajire, chiar daca, asa cum subliniam intr-un pasaj din teza mea de doctorat, este vorba de o revrajire in care transcendentul nu este inca pe deplin restaurat in locul care i se cuvine.
5. Cred ca evenimentul cristic nu schimba prea mult in nevoia omului de ritual. Inainte de Cristos, ritualul arata inainte, spre venirea lui, in vreme ce dupa inviere el arata inapoi, catre ceea ce a facut posibila mintuirea noastra. Atit si nimic mai mult.
In concluzie, convingerea mea este ca fara ritual omul nu este om, ci doar o jivina, fie ea si cuvintatoare.
How is it that after two thousand years of meditation on Jesus Christ we’ve managed to avoid everything that he taught so unequivocally? This is true of every Christian denomination, even those who call themselves orthodox or doctrinally pure. We are all “cafeteria Christians.” All of us have evaded some major parts of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): the Beatitudes, Jesus’ warning about idolizing “mammon,” his clear directive and example of nonviolence, and his command to love our enemies being the most obvious. Jesus has always been too much for us. He is the only true “orthodoxy” as far as I can see.
In fact, I have gone so far as to say, if Jesus never talked about it once, the churches will tend to be preoccupied with it (abortion, birth control, and homosexuality are current examples), and if Jesus made an unequivocal statement about it (for example, the rich, the camel, and the eye of a needle), we tend to quietly shelve it and forget it. This is not even hard to prove.Read More »
Seventh, a prophet confronts the status quo. With the prophet, there is no sitting back. The powerful are challenged, empires resisted, systemic justices exposed. Prophets vigorously rock the leaky ship of the state and shake our somnolent complacency. . . .
Eighth, for the prophet, the secure life is usually denied. More often than not the prophet is in trouble. Prophets call for love of our nation’s enemies. They topple the nation’s idols, upset the rich and powerful, and break the laws that would legalize mass murder. The warlike culture takes offense and dismisses the prophet, not merely as an agitator but as obsessed and unbalanced. Consequently, the prophet ends up outcast, rejected, harassed, and marginalized—and, eventually, punished, threatened, targeted, bugged, followed, jailed, and sometimes killed.
Ninth, prophets bring the incandescent word to the very heart of grudging religious institutions. There the prophet confronts the blindness and complacency of the religious leader—the bishops and priests who keep silent amid national crimes; the ministers who trace a cross over industries of death and rake blood money into churchly coffers. A bitter irony and an ancient story—and all but inevitable. The institution that goes by the name of God often turns away the prophet of God.Read More »
(via Richard Rohr)
First, a prophet is someone who listens attentively to the word of God, a contemplative, a mystic who hears God and takes God at God’s word, and then goes into the world to tell the world God’s message. So a prophet speaks God’s message fearlessly, publicly, without compromise, despite the times, whether fair or foul.
Second, morning, noon, and night, the prophet is centered on God. The prophet does not do his or her own will or speak his or her own message. The prophet does God’s will and speaks God’s message. . . . In the process, the prophet tells us who God is and what God wants, and thus who we are and how we can become fully human.
Third, a prophet interprets the signs of the times. The prophet is concerned with the world, here and now, in the daily events of the whole human race, not just our little backyard or some ineffable hereafter. The prophet sees the big picture—war, starvation, poverty, corporate greed, nationalism, systemic violence, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction. The prophet interprets these current realities through God’s eyes, not through the eyes of analysts or pundits or Pentagon press spokespeople. The prophet tells us God’s take on what’s happening.Read More »
A prophet is one who keeps God free for people and who keeps people free for God. Both of these are much needed and vital tasks. God has been imprisoned and made inaccessible, and far too many people have been shamed and taught guilt to keep us clergy in business. Our job became “sin management.” Sadly the laity bought into this negative story line. That is what happens when priests are not informed by prophets.
The priestly class invariably makes God less accessible instead of more so, “neither entering yourselves nor letting others enter in,” as Jesus says (Matthew 23:13). For the sake of our own job security, the priestly message is often: “You can only come to God through us, by doing the right rituals, obeying the rules, and believing the right doctrines.” This is like telling God who God is allowed to love! The clergy and religious leaders, unintentionally perhaps, teach their disciples “learned helplessness.” Thus the prophets spend much of their time destroying and dismissing these barriers and trying to create “a straight highway to God” (Matthew 3:3). Both John the Baptist and Jesus tried to free God for the people, and it got them killed.
Kelly Flanagan on digital detox. NOT A SAFE POST! 🙂
In case you wondered what Fr Rohr thinks about the Cross (I know my dear friend Eugen Matei does). This spells it out a bit.
Franciscans never believed that “blood atonement” was required for God to love us. We believed that Christ was Plan A from the very beginning (Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-18). Christ wasn’t a Plan B after the first humans sinned, which is the way most people seem to understand the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Great Mystery of Incarnation could not be a mere mop-up exercise, a problem-solving technique, or dependent on human beings messing up. The Incarnation was not motivated by a problem but by love.
Did God intend no meaning or purpose for creation during the first 13.8 billion years? Did the sun, moon, and galaxies have no divine significance? The fish, the birds, the animals were just waiting for humans to appear? Was there no Divine Blueprint (“Logos”) from the beginning? This thinking reveals the hubris of the human species and our tendency to anthropomorphize the whole story around ourselves.Read More »
Awakening is a call we find in all religious traditions.
Did you ever receive this call? And, if you did, how di you respond to it, if, indeed, you did respond?
I have just finished reading Rob Bell’s latest book, titled What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything. I really loved it and I think every evangelical should read it. The book does not say anything new, nor does the author claim to do so. It merely presents at a popular level what theologians and Bible scholars have said about it in the last hundred years.
You may ask, what is then so important about it? Here is my answer.Read More »
“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” —John 13:14–15
The disciples watched with indignation and astonishment, this Lord become a servant. As they watched, their anxiety ebbed some. And he said to them: “Do you know what I have done to you?”
The disciples are always concrete operational. They said, “Yes, you washed our feet.”
More than that, he said. “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” Read More »
One of the ways I tend to describe my challenged identity to those who want to know who I really am is to say that I am a ‘border dweller, negotiating traffic between opposing realities‘. It is a fascinating position, as you are able to look critically at both realities, and to be enriched equally by both. It is, however, also a dangerous position, since those who are there are usually shot at from both sides. Yet, to be authemtic, one has to be what one is called to be, as unconfortable as that might sound.
Today I found a very interesting article, written by Robert Hunt, an American Methodist author I usually read with great interest (with a simple search, you may find a few of his texts on my blog, especially on topics related to Palestine and Israel). The article I mentioned here, titled ‘Privilege and Loss of Personnhood‘, ends with a fabulously rich poem in prose by Gloria Anzaldúa, which sumarises well my feelings about what it means to be a ‘border dweller’, be it in Mexican terms, in this case. Here it is:
* * *
To Live In The Borderlands
by Gloria Anzaldúa
To live in the Borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negra espanola
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps
while carrying all five races on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;
To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
the mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;
Cuando vives en la frontera
people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,
you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat,
forerunner of a new race,
half and half-both woman and man, neither-a new gender;
To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;
Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;
In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have scattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;
To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;
To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras.
be a crossroads.
Pr. Florescu, din nou, absolut superb:
‘Crucea ta o să fie când ai să duci de bunăvoie necazul altuia, nu necazul tău. Crucea nu este să fii tu olog, ci să porți după tine un olog. Crucea nu este să fii bolnav, ci să îngrijești cu dragoste un bolnav. Crucea este atunci când rabzi pentru altul, nu pentru tine. Când nu le mai cauți pe ale tale, ci pe ale celuilalt.’
David Benner on accessing the mind of Christ
My dear friend Phileena Heuertz has just published on the website of her organisation, Gravity Center, a reflection on the way in which a comptemplative stance could help Christians in the US (and I would say, anywhere in the world) get some perspective ‘from above’ on the messy world in which we live.
Here is summary of her suggestions, which she gathers under the acronym ACTION:
Rear HERE the entire text.
I am doing a series on the blog about why I became Anglican, and last week I looked at the church calendar, and this week I want to dip into “worship,” by which I mean Sunday morning worship service. (I do not equate worship with Sunday morning worship, but Sunday morning worship is worship.)
If the church calendar shapes the church themes, the church liturgy for Holy Eucharist is shaped by a customary set of elements of the worship service. Each of these is needed, each is integrated into the other, and each is formative for Christian discipleship. To repeat from last week’s blog post, I don’t idealize or idolize Anglican worship, but I believe it is a mature, wise, and deeply theological tradition at work.
I have taken for my text this morning last week’s worship guide, or bulletin. Here are the elements of our worship and eucharist celebration: processional hymn, a call to worship, the Word of God, the proclamation of the Word of God, the Nicene Creed, prayers of the people, confession of sin, passing the peace, and then we move into Eucharist beginning with an offering, doxology, the great thanksgiving, breaking of bread, a prayer of thanksgiving and we close with a blessing.Read More »
Biblical messages often proceed from historical incidents, but the actual message does not depend upon communicating those events with perfect factual accuracy. Any good writer knows that! Spiritual writers are not primarily journalists. Hebrew rabbis and scholars sometimes used an approach called midrash in which they reflected on a story to communicate all of its underlying message. Scripture can be understood on at least four levels: literal meaning, deep meaning, comparative meaning, and hidden meaning. Midrash allowed and encouraged each listener to grow with a text and not to settle for mere literalism, which of itself bears very little spiritual fruit. Some Christians do the same today with mature, reflective reading of Scripture (lectio divina), but Jesus and ancient Jewish teachers were much more honest and up front about this.
Whatever is received is received according to the manner of the receiver. This was drilled into me during my seminary education. People at different levels of development will interpret the same text (or homily) in different ways. There is no one right way to interpret sacred texts. Such a singular approach was a defensive posture that emerged more strongly after the fights of the Reformation and the attacks of the Enlightenment. How you see is what you see; the who that you bring to your reading of the Scriptures matters. Is it a defensive who? An offensive who? A power-hungry who? A righteous who? Surely, this is why we need to pray before reading a sacred text!Read More »