Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ryan's Top Ten List!

You need it!



It's Ryan Townsend's PopMatters list of the Top Ten albums of the year.

Click here,
               play them all,
                          listen and learn.
                                                  then see his Best of 2013: EPs

                               You're welcome.
                                                                              See you next year.

Carpe manana
  Ciao choix.
                Be holy, heteroclites.

crossover crossdressers: Needtobreathe





For some reason...I don't know, maybe complaining Christians...Conan's website had dropped the video of Needtbreathe performing in drag...uh, pulling a Dalton Brothers.  It was a Halloween broadcast, and they were actually dressed as  Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Tina Turner and Minnie Pearl to play “Girl Named Tennessee ." Funny that a lot of people don't know this is a "Christian band" (or something like that).. ..Here is  a YouTubed version, and some backstory:

Harvest Crusade’s Invite to ‘Crossover’ Band Who Dressed Like Women Questioned

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lady Antebellum, Amy Grant, Neeyo, and 12 others musicians walk into a bar...

Video description:"What do Lady Antebellum, Amy Grant, Neeyo and 12 other world-famous musicians have in common? Their passion for the nuance and beauty of music, and its affect on every person in the world"
.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Pope" N.T. Wright asked on Facebook about capitalist consumerism's spiritual side effects


NT Wright doesn't post statuses, selfies,  pictures of cute cats, memes and pics of his lunch on Facebook..

                  but he does answer a couple of questions a month on his page (:

Like this one below; interesting in light of  (and likely inspired by) the pope's recent comments


Question 1 from Simon Meadows:
“What might Paul make of our western culture of capitalist consumerism and its spiritual side effects?”


The answer from N. T. Wright:
“Paul would recognise current western consumerism as one aspect of a cultural phenomenon he knew well, namely that of a global empire. Wealth flows to the imperial centre (think of Revelation 18). The difference between his world and ours is that the number of people at the top of the pile has increased – the elite now numbers millions. But the proportion hasn’t changed that much: for every million elite consumerists (with more possessions than they can store in their own homes!) there are a billion non-elite living in poverty or near-poverty, with very limited access to clean water, medical care, education and so on. What would shock Paul particularly is that a great many of the first category claim to be followers of Jesus, and yet some of them at least seem not to mind the fact that their wealth sits on the back of the poverty of others (held in place by the unpayable debts incurred by silly western bankers lending vast sums to corrupt dictators in a previous generation). When Peter and James told Paul to ‘remember the poor’ (Galatians 2) this wasn’t just a reference to poor Christians in Jerusalem. This was a reference to an entire way of life in which the needs of the poor became the paramount concern of Jesus’ followers. The whole western church needs to learn and re-learn this lesson, which is radically counter-cultural in our post-enlightenment world where we assume that because ‘we’ are the ‘enlightened’ or ‘developed’ ones we somehow have an automatic right to the benefits of consumerism. Of course, we are all compromised (just in case anyone supposes I am blind to my own complicity with ‘the system’: as I was writing this answer there was a ring at the doorbell and a delivery arrived from a well-known department store . . . ).  link

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

interventionist sewing machine from above or divine iceberg from below?

  Capon's charts on competing views of history below.  Which do prefer?



--

Capon on video talks on this:
 
 

  (all 3 videos here) ----------------

Gary Mar summarizes Capon's charts of divine action in history (from pp.426-433 of  Capon's subversive classic, "Kingdom Grace Judgment: Paradox, Outrage,and Vindication in the Parables"):

--

 

III-A. Two Models of the Divine Action in Human History.




History, according to a Christian perspective, is not merely a random series of happenings, but a meaningful sequence of events in the grandest of all narratives: a narrative that lead to the end of history in the final fulfillment of God's purposes for humanity. Moreover, the acts of God in history are not limited to the Old and New Testaments, but continue today in the unfolding of current events. To clarify how this might be conceived, I borrow two contrasting pictures from Robert Farrar Capon's Parables of Judgment. The first picture sees God as transcendent upon, but connected to, human history through a few critical biblically-recorded divine interventions. Robert Capon explains:



Since God, the Alpha and Omega, the A and the W, is up there above history, I shall draw a series of descending lines to represent his several comings down his interventions in history, his intersections in history. The picture we have drawn looks like nothing so much as a divine sewing machine, with the needle coming down at various points and tacking God to history. It is salvation as the divine basting stitch. [13]





Figure 3. The Divine Tailor or Interventionist Model of Gods Relation to Human History

The above divine tailor or interventionist view of history with its occasional biblically-recorded accounts of divine actions connecting heaven and earth can be contrasted with what might be called the divine iceberg or sacramental view of God's relationship to human history. Capon contrasts and continues:



Figure 4. The Divine Iceberg or Sacramental Model of Gods Relation to Human History.

But now, let me posit God not as a divine tailor in heaven sending down an interventionist needle from time to time but as a divine iceberg present under all of time. On that analogy, one-tenth of his presence to history will be visible above the surface of its waters and nine-tenths will be invisible below the surface, but his presence out of sight will be as much a part of history as his presence in broad daylight. The divine acts in history are not just occasional interventions of a reality that wasn't present before, they are precisely acted parablessacraments, if you will, real presences--of a reality that was there all along.[14]


If Gods interaction with human history is more like an iceberg than a sewing machine, then it is reasonable to suppose that the particular cross section of the iceberg represented by the narrative of scripture might intersect with the cross-sectional histories of many nations. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, could direct and inspire the Civil Rights struggle in America by drawing upon the Old Testament narrative of the liberation of the Jewish nation from Egypt. When Christians immerse themselves in the gospel narratives, they naturally interpret the events of their lives through the spiritual categories and truths of the Scripture such notions as creational blessing, fall, and redemption. This is part of what is meant by conversion. Similarly, to interpret our nations historylike our life stories--through the categories of scripture is an invitation to see more, and more deeply.[15]  - LINK:   And the Leaves of the Tree Were for the Healing of Nations: Philosophical Explorations and Documentary Strategies for Global Missions
 by Professor Gary Mar

--
Excerpt from Capon's book:

Let me posit God not as a divine tailor in heaven sending down an interventionist needle from time to time but as a divine iceberg present under all of time. On that analogy, one tenth of his presence to history will be visible above the surface of its waters, and nine tenths will be invisible below the surface, but his presence out of sight will be just as much a part of history as his presence in broad daylight. The divine acts in history are not just occasional interventions of a reality that wasn’t present before; they are precisely acted parables - sacraments, if you will, real presences - of a reality that was there all along ... Better yet, the WHOLE of the mystery that underlies creation is present every time one of those sacramental outcroppings of the mystery occurs. It is not, for example, that the mystery of the Creation occurs only at the beginning, to be superseded later on by the mystery of the Passover and then by the mystery of the Cross, the mystery of the Resurrection, and the mystery of the Judgement at the End. It is that those several manifestations are outcroppings of a single, age-long mystery of Creation-Call-Passover-Redemption-Resurrection-Judgment that is fully present in every one fo the. Just as each upthrusting of the iceberg is one and the same iceberg in a visible aspect, so each upthrusting of the mystery is a visible aspect of one and the same mystery.”  link

Jesus as ugly, dark-skinned, Hobbit-sized hunchback leper?

All the "news" about Jesus being white (or not),
and some great discussions lately about Jesus being "ugly" (see scriptural and traditional arguments)...

...and then I catch this.
In "The Jesus I Never Knew," Phillip Yancey mentions an early tradition that Jesus was a hunchback.

More specifically
"dark-skinned, Hobbit sized hunchback":

In the eighth century, the archbishop of Crete, one Andreas Hierosolymitanus, quoted a description of Jesus Christ which (he said) could be found in a version of Josephus extant at that time. Andreas' report is startling. Jesus, he said, was a dark-skinned hobbit-sized hunchback with a big nose, thinning hair, a patchy beard, and eyebrows that joined in the center in a monstrous fashion.   link

In the Middle Ages, many taught that Jesus had leprosy.

Links

PS.  And it goes without saying that Jesus was Asian, but that's another post.

On Santa and Jesus being white

Original broadcast:
Megyn Kelly's rebuttal:

  Responses:

Virtual 3D Printer

Link

links on the Christian publishing scoop


 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Vatican Fashion Leader Removed From Influential Post"

article by John M. Becker for The Belrico Project:
click link to see lots more photos of the Burke's fashion
Vatican Fashion Leader Removed From Influential Post

Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American prelate and a divisive leader of the Catholic Church's conservative wing, was today removed from a prestigious Vatican congregation that helps the pope select new bishops.

The Congregation for Bishops takes lists of names of potential candidates for bishop and whittles them down toNational Catholic Reporter, while the pope is technically not bound by the congregation's recommendations, he nonetheless usually selects their top choice when a position opens up. Consequently, the group plays a huge role in shaping the direction and ideological makeup of the Catholic hierarchy.
a short list that's then sent to the pope for final approval. According to John L. Allen Jr. of the
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Burke to the Congregation of Bishops in 2009, but today the Vatican released Pope Francis's picks and Burke's name wasn't on it.

Francis's move makes sense in light of his recent call for the Catholic Church to become less "obsessed" with culture-war issues like contraception, abortion, and marriage equality. Burke, one of the church's leading culture warriors who has a rather legendary obsession with abortion, doesn't really fit with that vision. Writes NCR's Michael Sean Winters:
Burke is the consummate culture warrior and he has encouraged the appointment of men to prominent sees who, like himself, look out at the world and see nothing but dread, who have bought into a narrative in which all the Church's problems and challenges are someone else's fault, and that the Gospel is best preached from a defensive crouch, with finger wagging at any and all who do not see the world as they do. I cannot think of a single churchmen who is less like Pope Francis...
Perhaps the only thing more famous than Burke's obsession with regulating women's bodies is his fondness for clerical high fashion, including the ridiculously over-the-top cappa magna. But Catholic fashionistas can breathe a sigho f relief: Burke
still retains his position as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (head of the highest judicial body in the Roman Catholic Church), so you'll still be able to spot Cardinal Burke and his billowing garments fluttering about behind Vatican walls.

Link

"Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus": misreading the pope

Excerpts from "Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus." by Elizabeth Tenety:
..As a practicing Catholic blogging my way around Washington for the past six years, I never imagined I’d see the often-snarky mainstream media — including some of its more liberal outposts — falling so hard for a 76-year-old celibate guy who believes that God had a son, born to a virgin, who was sent to redeem the world from sin. But that’s the Francis Effect. No surprise, then, that Time took the final, logical step: Slapping Francis on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue is a sort of secular canonization.
“In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church — the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world — above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors,” Time’s profile said. “John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.”

...But Francis isn’t trying to win a popularity contest. And there’s still a lot in his beliefs, and in the church’s teachings, that rankle the very modern culture that is embracing him. Sure, Francis has talked about not judging gay people who seek the Lord, called for greater inclusion of women in Catholic leadership, and critiqued the “obsessed” narrow-mindedness of those in the church who care only about contraception, same-sex marriage and abortion. But he also said, while arguing against gay marriage as bishop in Argentina, that efforts to redefine marriage were inspired by Satan. He’s affirmed the church’s prohibition on female priests and declared that the church’s rejection of a woman’s right to abortion “is not something subject to alleged reforms.” How come nobody is paying attention to this Francis?



...This is the pope who denounces clericalism (the notion that church officials are holier than the laity), calls for a reexamination of structures that prevent “a more incisive female presence in the church” and asserts that God has redeemed “all of us . . . even the atheists.” But as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it, Francis is “innovating within the bounds of tradition.” He makes everyone feel a bit uncomfortable, because that’s what Christianity is supposed to do.
Thus the concern on the right that Francis is some sort of liberal relativist, a leftist political organizer in a papal mitre, seems overblown. If he’s a religious revolutionary, he is so no more than Jesus was.
So when Rush Limbaugh, that great arbiter of true Christianity, says that what’s coming out of the pope’s mouth is “pure Marxism ,” when Sarah Palin frets that Francis is “kind of liberal” and when Fox News’s Adam Shaw calls him “the Catholic Church’s Obama ,” they’re just distorting the secular left’s dreams into their own worst nightmares.

...Both left and right need to wake up. Francis is, at his heart, a spiritual leader. His mission may have political implications, but he has come to serve God, not to advance the platform of the Democratic Party — and it’s presumptuous to imagine otherwise. Even in discussions of economic inequality, Francis sees the primacy of the faith: “I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset that would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society,” he writes in “Evangelii Gaudium.” Oh, my: Sounds like Francis believes in trickle-down transcendence.
...Don’t worry if you’ve misread Francis till now, or projected your own political projects or fears onto him. Francis, after all, attends confession every two weeks. He believes in repentance.
Go and sin no more.  link

Pope shares birthday breakfast with the homeless



story

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Power of Books-- by Mladen Penev

By Mladen Penev
Ht Lynn Klapp

Mormon Church Explains "Revelation" Lifting Ban On Black Priests

This just in:

 

Mormon Church Explains Past Racism, Ban On Black Priests 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After Mormon church leaders lifted the ban on blacks in the priesthood in 1978, church leaders offered little official explanation for the reasons behind the ban, saying only they received a revelation it was time for the change.

In the three decades since, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have struggled to understand the roots of the old ban and grappled with how best to respond to questions about the touchy historical topic.
Even as recently as 2012 — when the issue flared up during Mitt Romney's run for president — the church said it has always welcomed people of all races into the church but that was not known precisely why, how or when the restriction on the priesthood began.
Now, finally, Mormons can point to a new 2,000-word statement posted on the church's website that offers the....continued

 

Pope: "you expect me to believe God really cares if I wear a big pointy hat or not? "

This just in:

Pope Thinking of Losing Hat


VATICAN CITY (The Borowitz Report)—In his latest break with Catholic orthodoxy, Pope Francis said today that he was “seriously considering losing the hat,” the tall ceremonial mitre that has long been a signature of papal dress.
“I know I’m going to catch hell for saying this, but it looks kind of dumb,” he said. “Besides, you expect me to believe God really cares if I wear a big pointy hat or not? Come on.”
The Pontiff said that he would probably “try out some different looks, like a baseball cap or something” over the next few weeks, “just to see what happens.”
“If a lightning bolt comes out of the sky and cracks St. Peter’s in two, then I guess we’ll know it was a bad idea,” he chuckled.  LINK

U2's Mandela songs: "not sugarcoating a real moment for an epic man"/ "Agape love forged like steel in the fire"





The video for the  U2 tribute song for Mandela (for the "Long Walk to Freedom" film, and released just weeks before his death), "Ordinary Love," works on a few different levels, as do the lyrics.



But not many seem to have gotten that the basic inspiration was the relationship between Mandela and his wife:

U2.com: Can you explain  the idea behind the words disappearing?

Oliver:  It’s about the difficulty of permanent love. The correspondence between Nelson Mandela and Winnie (his then wife) worked so well within confinement but when he was released, the real world took its toll and made it go away. So it was about the lack of anything permanent, really. It’s disheartening, but it's also heartening to a degree,  where it inspires you to hurry up a little bit.
Mac: The idea of the writing fading is that when things go away, it’s often not a clean break. They fade away in different forms and different manners, different ways. It’s not a clean process. You don't know how its exactly happening but you can see that it is. I think Oliver and I both responded to the song in that it didn't look to sugarcoat a real moment for a very epic man.  The opportunity to portray that human element of someone so grand is pretty humbling. We wanted to do the best work to represent that.  link, full interview

As usual, Beth the detective has detected something else in the video that could be missed:
"I'm intrigued by the elevator inscribed with what seem to be sections of Dante's Inferno (I've identified Canto 11 which describes the tomb of Pope Anastasius"- link

Enjoy, video below (cover versions here).

Also, the Mandela version of "Breathe" below  (backstory here; I love it..wish, though, the first draft chorus ( "Agape love forged like steel in the fire. Agape love like a whisper that calls us to walk out into the street with your arms out and the people you meet are neither down nor out, hey there is nothing you have that I need. I can breathe. I can breathe") lyric has been left in.



Monday, December 09, 2013

No results found for "duende in the Bible"...yet

Google says:

InformationNo results found for "biblical duende".

            InformationNo results found for "duende in the bible".

Hmmm, time to start writing.

Antiochus Redivivus

Just as we shouldn't read the "temple tantrum" texts without getting the Antiochus Epiphanes/Judah the Hammerer connection (as N.T. Wright reminds), it's good to connect the Christmas/slaughter of the innocents story to  Antiochus Epiphanes as well (as Craig Keener reminds below:

....Regardless of how much Matthew's original audience knew about Herod's brutality, however, they could envision him like the anti-Jewish tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who also slaughtered Jewish babies. Most of all, they would associate Herod's behavior with that of Pharaoh of old, who killed baby Israelite boys in Moses's day. Ironically, it is Egypt that here provides Jesus's family refuge, and in the angel's later words to Joseph ("Return to Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead") Matthew echoes God's words to Moses: "Return to Egypt, for those who wanted you dead are now dead themselves." Political corruption makes Jesus's own home the most dangerous place for him...link

Practical implication:

If made explicit, such contrasts between the political king and his new rival could connote treason, but the rest of Luke-Acts shows that Jesus and his followers are not out to violently overthrow the empire. Rather, they work for change as they pray for the coming of God's kingdom.

What we learn from the first "Christmas stories," then, is more than a challenge against seasonal greed, gluttony, and grudging giving. It challenges us to consider to which king our loyalty lies. Do we pledge first allegiance to those who achieve power by violence, intrigue, and economic or political exploitation? Does it matter where our wealth and merchandise come from? Or do we pledge first allegiance to different values, identifying with those in need and working for peace and justice in the world?

If it is the latter, these are values not only meant to be celebrated during Christmas season. In both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke the earliest scenes of Jesus pave the way for the rest of his ministry of healing and restoration and its culminating conflict in his execution by those who considered him a threat. In context, then, these first stories about Jesus's birth challenge us to follow his sacrificial way of life, no matter what it costs us.   link

" If you’re trying to start a religion, this is a crap way to do it"

On gospel accounts of Jesus' resurrection:

..If you read the accounts back to back, there’s a lot of running and excitement and general mayhem. Setting aside the issue of whether a man actually rose from the dead (For the record, I’m a believer-the sheer poetry alone is so crazy good…), the four accounts of Jesus rising from the dead contain a number of jumbled details that render that narrative fairly jumbled, to say the least. 
There are several responses to these differences:
Some ignore them. They simply repeat again and again that this God’s word and so we take it in faith, we shouldn’t question its truth, etc.
Others take these differences as clear and tangible proof of its susceptibility. See? It’s all myth, fable, miracle, fantasy, etc, borrowed from the tales of the day.
I find both perspectives boring.Before I explain, though, a few thoughts about propaganda.
To summarize, this is the worst propaganda. Ever. If you’re trying to start a religion, this is a crap way to do it. How are you going to inspire confidence if you can’t even report the details accurately with one voice?
Not to mention the women, which we will mention because the gospel writers all mention the women. In these accounts, the writers all affirm that it’s the women who first realized (say it with me now)
Dude is alive!
Women didn’t have much in the way of respect as we think of it in the first century, so much so that their word meant next to nothing in court. Why, in a culture that had such little regard for the witness of women, would you tell a story that hinges to a large degree on the witness of women?
Second, Matthew writes that Jesus met up with his crew (posse?) on a mountain in Galilee and 
when they saw him some worshipped him; but some doubted. 
Wha…? They doubted?Why would Matthew include this?If the point of your book is that Jesus is the Messiah, the King, the long awaited Savior of the World, the one everybody has been waiting for, why would you reach the crescendo of the story and then include a line about some of his followers doubting? Doesn’t that ruin the moment? Doesn’t this undermine everything you’ve been saying in your story?
(Picture Jesus standing there on the mountain: You’re doubting? Seriously, peoples!!? I died and came back, I got nothing more impressive than that! If that doesn’t do it for you what more can I do?)
And while we’re at it, I have to mention what Jesus says when he rises from the dead. You know, right? You are familiar with his classic line, the profound saying, the brilliant truth he utters when he shows up after, oh yes, conquering death:
Do you have anything here to eat?
and in another account
Do you guys have some fish?
Because, as we all know, you can work up quite an appetite resurrecting…
That said, a question for you: If something extraordinary did happen, how would it be remembered?
Which leads to another question:If someone did rise from the dead, how would that story be told? In a calm and collected and polished manner or in a slightly haphazard way that buzzed and hummed and rattled with the electricity that comes from experiencing something unexpected and extraordinary that you don’t really have categories for?
Which leads to another:Is the haphazard humanity of it all reason to dismiss it or signs that it’s an authentic record of what happened?
Which leads to another question:When Matthew tells us that some his followers doubted, does this undermine the story or is the exact kind of honesty that reflects how people actually are?
When each of the gospel writers include the part about the women being witnesses, why risk it? What a strange thing to include knowing it would discredit their story, unless women actually were the first witnesses.
How open minded are you?What’s possible?Is there a new creation bursting within this one?Did something happen that changes everything?Is the tomb empty?What happens if you actually live like it’s true?What does this story do to your heart?
Is the dude alive?
-Rob Bell, What is the Bible 

Part 18: Our Dude is Alive!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Pundits and the Pope

E. J. DIONNE (Brookings Institution): There is something different here. I think there are three things: one—there is a radicalism and an urgency to what he is saying and you read the language of this latest document and in so many places, he talks about a deified market. He talks about a system which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits. He talks about defenseless beings and so I think we cannot deny that he has given a higher priority to the church’s social teachings, to our obligations to the poor, and to criticism of an unjust economy than we have heard in a long time; not that he is inconsistent with John Paul or Benedict because they said some tough things about the market as well, but I think this is so central to who he is.
MICHAEL GERSON: I would say that the heart, that for all of this discussion, the reason that Francis is powerful and attractive to so many is because he talks about Jesus and because he acts like Jesus. And that is the source of power and authority in the Christian church in all of its expressions. And I would only conclude by saying that a church that looked like this would transform the entire world

Brian Orme's list: Top 5 Most Misused Verses in the Bible

His list:
  •  Phil 4:13
  •  Jer 29:11
  •  Matt 18:20
  •  Rom 8:28
  • Prov 29:18
Read all about it here. 

It's better than mine: Dave's Top Sixteen list of "misundertaken" Scriptures
 

Friday, December 06, 2013

What's the most important command in the whole OT?

Form an answer in your mind
....and then...

check out Brueggemann's answer:


here.











"The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical"

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, on being asked if his band is a Christian band:
(Note: none of the places I've seen this interview give a source/link.  As soon as I find one, I will give credit.  In the meantime, I'll assume it's legit, and will link to the place I first found it)
“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.

I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.

We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.” -LINK

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Paul Louis Metzger on Philemon

Paul Louis Metzger:
....Given Paul’s and Philemon’s partnership, Paul requests that Philemon receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul (vs. 17). To receive him as an equal would entail receiving him as a free man. The idea that tends to float about in Evangelical circles that internal transformation does not involve a transformation of social status is seriously mistaken (it is as mistaken as the idea that the transformation in our spirits that leads to a transformation of social status arises from our own capacities and proclivities*). Paul appeals to Philemon to welcome Onesimus back on equal terms in the Lord and in the flesh. Onesimus is to be welcomed back like he would Paul, his partner in the faith (vs. 17). This follows from what Paul wrote one verse earlier: “no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (vs. 16)..
..This reminds me of a statement that Dr. John M. Perkins once made. He said, “I have a debt of gratitude to pay to the Lord” based on God’s loving grace at work in his life. I, too, have a debt of gratitude to pay in view of God’s loving grace at work in my own life, just as Paul and Philemon and Onesimus did. This same Onesimus who had been useless, once saved, becomes useful; no doubt, like Paul the “Apostle of the heart set free,”** he too is freed from the heart and now serves willingly, freely out of a spirit of gratitude. Just as Onesimus serves Paul freely, Paul asks Philemon to give Onesimus his freedom. The give and take of mutual benefit that is communion (koinonia) stems from gratitude which flows from God’s loving grace at work in their lives in relation to one another.When God’s gracious love takes over, gratitude kicks in and gets one going. An ethic of gratitude that flows from God’s gracious love is not cheap, but very costly. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, {Touchstone, 1995}, p. 44).  link

Also, his sermon on Philemon here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

living from, if not in, the city: place and "citi-zenship"

I remember standing on top of the World Trade Center (after taking this photo of my brother and mother), and thinking, "What if this building fell?"

Of course, I didn't imagine it falling in the direction/way it eventually did.. imploding top to bottom, as opposed to the "obvious" at-an-angle, leaning Tower of Pisa style
Maybe it was the Todd Rundgren line "Earthquake in New York City; the Chrysler Building fell in my yard" that influenced my imagination.

In one sense, it's a terrible analogy to imagine the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem "coming down"
onto earth in a ways/means similar to the Twin Towers..

...yet in another sense, it's very appropriate.  Not only is it described that way in Scripture, but such would be a subversion and reversal of the destructive nature of 9/11.  The text allows us to imagine very creative/recreative  move by the Creator: this "coming down"  city.   I imagine it a bit like this scene from a vintage  Peter Gabriel.. it comes down, closes down/clamps down, but  opens again...revealing the same cast of characters, but a new  contect and context. (start at 1 hour 29 min) 

Boom!

Thy Kingdom come

on earth
on Fulton Mall
on time
on me

in Africa
in hell
in droves
in me. 

  (link)



I love teaching "Theology of the City."

The catch is: the Bible College I teach it at is officially part of a city,
                        but it is so far out on a country highway that it is not
urban or urbane.
SO..my only choice is to (for at least one session) take a road trip/field trip so we can "have class"  incarnationally; "on site with insight."  We head on down the highway until we are in downtown Fresno.

Once, as we sat at a  downtown St. Arbuck's, with our class for once soundtracked by screaming traffic instead of a creaking heater, some  (prearranged) guests joined us for discussion.
One of the saints was Steve Skibbie, one of several saints  in our city who have intentionally moved into challenged inner-city neighborhoods. (read more:  Christianity Today).  I don't remember exactly what he said, but I remember vividly where he said it from: both from a  deep "place" he had come to live and a  a literal place in the city where he had amazing vantage and advantage points in watching Kingdom moments come down on a daily basis...on sidewalks.

I was jealous and zealous of his location...i live in the safe (unsafe) suburbs..

For class that day, we could do no other but move to a place/space/frequency/hood where we were Kingdomly connected and contexted...literally in the city.

In a recent interview, Bono tweaked one

of his taglines.  He has long said/sung versions of "Where you live should not determine whether you live or whether you die."  But this time it was, "an accident of where you live cannot decide whether you live."

Now Bono is quite a Bible reader, so he surely  doesn't believe it's literally an  accident where people are born. ..unless in the theological sense of the tern ( which delightfully means  sorta the opposite of the usual definition).  Acts 17:26: "From one person he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands."

One of Bono's "pastors," Eugene Peterson:

In the Christian imagination, where you live gets equal billing with what you believe.  Geography and theology are biblical bedfellows...I find that cultivating a sense of place as the exclusive and irreplaceable setting  for following Jesus is even more difficult than persuading men and women of the truth of the message of Jesus. Why is it easier for me to believe in the holy (because God inspired it) truth
of John 3:16 than the holy (because God made it) ground at 579 Apricot Lane where I live?  (emphasis mine)
 ...What we often consider to be the concerns of religion—ideas, truths, prayers, promises, beliefs—are never permitted to have a life of their own apart from particular persons and actual places. Foreword to Eric O. Jacobsen,"Sidewalks in the Kingdom"



 Leslie Leyland Fields --from  decidedly non-urban Kodiak Island, Alaska--recently returned from the Holy Land:

I will be leaving soon. I don’t want to leave behind the land of miracles. I don’t want to stop living this way: beginning every day with anticipation, asking the Lord to direct my feet, keeping my hands and backpack open.


I have decided to take the Holy Land with me.  Wherever God is, that’s holy land. You’re standing on it now. And when I return to Kodiak, to snow and winter darkness, that will be Holy Land and Sea as well.



This is what I remember and know again after this fourth visit to Israel. You don’t have to walk in the Footsteps of Jesus, or think you have lost something essential to your faith if you don’t make it to Israel. Yes, this is an amazing land, and I have received far more than I can carry or tell you about, but it is God who is Holy, and you can find Him anywhere. 









You just have to dare. You just have to risk.  Give strangers a lift. Put on walking shoes. Talk to people you don’t know. Listen to them. Feed them. Ask them for help if you need it.  Be a wanderer in your own town. Believe in the miracle of provision, of  multiplying oranges and fish you somehow can carry.  We can do this.



Help others see that this place, this land where you are living 



right now---



Beautiful, desolate, tropical, Arctic,



City, suburbia, wilderness, ghetto---



This is the Holy Land:



 Jesus is there



And miracles are waiting.  link

It is surely not God's will for all people to live in the city.
Bu could it be that we are indeed called ...and should will...to live from the city.
Or at least from the "heavenly realms," in which Paul says we actually are resident and embedded in.
But one cannot avoid  from the reality that Kingdom come...and kingdom now...is somehow  intrinsically and  gloriously enCitied:

I am quite sure that the Christian community in this country will eventually come around to fulfilling its role as city people.  i am confident in Eric O. Jacobsen,, "Sidewalks in the Kingdom," p. 166
this because I know about the New Jerusalem, and I also know that our current relationship to heaven is described as "citi-zenship."  For those whi can learn to appreciate the city now--so much the better.  And for those who can't?  Well, they'll just have a lot of catching up to do  -

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