Sunday, February 25, 2007

Homeless Man: Rich Mullins

'If I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way I can do that is to identify with the poor. this, I know, will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers, but they're just wrong. They're not bad; they're just wrong." -Rich Mullins
Barefoot, unshaven; often in need of a shower.
Sounds like a prophet to me.
Though I've never heard it clearly claimed before; he may have been an apostle as well.
Surely the reason that word does not fly so quickly off the tongue is that the late Rich Mullins was not flashy, high-powered, or all those attributes we ...unfortunately...catalog as traits of an apostle.
If Brian Dodd is correct, in his wonderful post on "Apostles: Slaves of Christ " (found here), Rich may have been apostolic to the core; he certainly saw himself as an "expendable servant."
The two Mullins stories I told (recounted in the delightful biography of Rich by his friend James Bryan Smith...excerpts here) in our worship gathering today are among my favorite: Once, when he was opening up a concert for Amy Grant, he was not allowed into the backstage snack room that had been set up for Amy Grant and Rich. Then he was in the parking lot after the concert, and some young people (whom one assumes had just been in the auditorium and worshipping under Rich's leadership) walked by him and called him a bum.
Both episodes happened because Rich was dressed as usual...tattered jeans, unkempt...and the folks didn't recognize him. In neither case did he flash his "backstage pass," or bother trying to claim his rights.
That is apostolic.
Being mistaken for a homeless man, and letting the mistake win.
The only way he could justify playing Radio City Music Hall was to ride like a common roadie in the equipment van. (This is a different brand of apostle than Bono...or is it?! See this wonderful story, if you can't picture Bono self-effacingly facing his messianic complex, and volunteering to usher at a Christian event.and this if you're still reeling over the immodest proposal that Bono may be apostolic.)
So no surprise he was indeed mistaken for a roadie when he walked in the prestigious Hall.
"You probably wouldn't recognize an apostle when they walk in the room," Wolfgang Simson suggests in another hepfully counterintuitive definition of 'apostle.'
Sometimes the homeless man (Rich loved to call Jesus.. "the man of no reputation") is Jesus.
"Homeless Man" is a documentary on Rich , and
is a great introduction the this amazing humble enigma and mystic..Especially if all you know of him is next to nothing, or just his most well-known song "Awesome God." Here is Part 1:

The other episodes are here.

Unfortunately, concert video...where Rich was at his most genuinely prophetic and down-home apostolic... is hard to come by, though this site has several (currently not working) clips. There are even a couple music videos on YouTube. Knowing his disdain for the commercialization of Christian music, it is hard to imagine Rich connsenting to an official "music video," isn't it? Which is why I think he'd prefer me to show...if anything...this promo he did for Compassion International:


Or "The Color Green" (which you may have guessed by now is not about money):

...Oh, the shower thing. Smith tells a classic story that capture's Rich's spirit:
"One time he was in Florida to do a concert, and he realized that he had not showered for several days. He called some people he had met only once and asked if he could come shower at their house. They welcomed him. After he finished showering, he got dressed, walked to the front door, thanked the people, and left. They were stunned. He left without staying and visiting. He just used their shower. Sam Howard says of the incident, "In his mind, there was nothing wrong with that. He needed a place to shower, and they had one. He used other people's possessions without feeling any obligation because that is how he would have treated them if they had needed to use his shower. With Rich there was no mine and yours; it was all ours." (p. 130)

If I could live like that.

Finally, with a sigh of resignation, I decide to muster a mustard seed of hope that someone somewhere saw Rich for what he likely was: an apostle. I winced, and googled that unlikely combination of words.

The official result:

Your search - "rich mullins was an apostle" - did not match any documents.

Of course not.

Which is why he was.

Rich would undoubtedly be the first to deflect and deny it anyway.

Further evidence he was.

Brian Dodd again (just replace the word "apostle" with Rich Mullins. It works):

An “apostle” in the ancient world is simply someone who is sent (Greek: apostolos). An apostle was someone who was sent to conduct someone else’s business on their behalf. There was—originally speaking—nothing religious about them. They were normally an unvalued slave, who was expendable...

... If we practiced slavery like they did in the ancient world, when you said “apostle” today no one would think of the manager, owner or executive of a restaurant. They would think of the dishwashers and busboys. “Apostle” was not a claim to high status or authority, but a claim to low status and expendability. When you attached the words “of Christ” this communicated whose business and authority the apostle was operating under. Christ is the boss, he sent the apostle and, when the apostle speaks, he is merely the conduit.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"Moving information from the future to the past"

Two more items for my "Time Travel Part 2"...or "Back From the Future":

"Later, outside over a glass of wine I ask him what was going on in there. 'The future,' he says. 'Didn't you feel it?" (click for more)

"It is interesting to note that any religion which postulates the existence of fulfilled prophecy requires, at the very least, an agent which can move information from the future into the past." (click for source/more)

random fun

Just some photos I couldn't upload I put 'em here.

Maybe SQ will write a story about them...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

what is church....Steve Collins/Small Ritual slideshow

brain test using "colorful words"

...found this somewhere....

Bibliography of Emerging Church and Culture

Hope you have not missed St. Len's invaluable resource:
Not to mention his own articulate articles here.
Grab a prayer, a Guiness (Okay, for Len's sake..make it a this..see the comments there(:...), or coffee and be blessed.

Wild peace to you, St. Len.

"The fragrance of worship is..."

Fill in the blank:

"The fragrance of worship is..."

Click here for one surprising, shocking that was not one your radar, but belongs there..

"How to Pour New Wine into Old Wineskins" ?

At first, I thought this book title was a joke.

Apparently not.

All due respect to the author; I even have one of his books.

He may have had nothing to do with the terrible title.

But I seem to remember Someone saying this ("pouring new wine into old wineskins" ) is something that by definition and design couldn't/shouldn't be done.

And check the subtitle. Jesus also specifically addressed the subtitle, suggesting that if it is done via the way of the title, all is lost.

"No one" does this, he says:

Jesus said: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; it will never work. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
(matt 9:17)

"God is Alive: Good Wine and a Tuna Sandwich"

(photo link "Leonard Cohen never drinks wine..")


It's "Tower of Song" by Leonard ("God is Alive")Cohen...even more haunting/daunting when performed by Cohen and U2 (Cohen: "Well, like the Talmud says, there's good wine in every generation." ): watch it here...

More here on Cohen's spirituality:
Leonard Cohen: Poet, Prophet, Eternal Optimist


Interview (1984)

(2001):"why nirvana is now a mean tuna sandwich ..."

Wikipedia entry

Video interview snippet about religion/"Hallelujah"

"Tower of Song"

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
In the tower of song

I said to Hank Williams, “How lonely does it get?”
Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
Oh a hundred floors above me
In the tower of song

I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels from the great beyond
Well they tied me to this table right here
In the tower of song

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all
I’m standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah they don’t let a woman kill you
Not in the tower of song

Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices
In the tower of song

I see you standing on the other side
Don’t know how the river got so wide
I loved you baby, way back then
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
I feel so close to everything we’ve lost
We’ll never, we’ll never have to lose it again, oh, oh-oh

So I bid you farewell, I don’t know when I’ll be back
They’re moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone
I’ll be speaking to you sweetly
From my window in the tower of song

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
In the tower of song


Also: Much like the "All That You Can't" U2 songs took on new meaning after 9/11, how could you not suggest the same for Cohen's "First We Take Manhattan":

They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within
I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
I'm guided by a signal in the heavens
I'm guided by this birthmark on my skin
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin...(lyrics)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Apostles as Slaves: Brian Dodd

Brain (that was a typo...should be "Brian," but I'll leave it as it was prophetic)Dodd...see previous post on his "Just go low; don't worry about getting up" here ..has sent out a new piece with permission to share. Here it is below. I found it highly helpful..I want to hear more about the secular use of the term, what would it mean to be sent to the world; not just the church. For related, see Wolfgang Simson's "Nobody recognizes apostles when they walk into the room" and "Taxi triving apostle gives us five fingers "..

I also found this on Technorati while searching for the Wolfgang articles: a page called "Everything in the known universe tagged 'apostle'"


On to Brian:

Apostles—Slaves of Christ

Brian Dodd

For your thoughts and feedback. Brian

An “apostle” in the ancient world is simply someone who is sent (Greek: apostolos). An apostle was someone who was sent to conduct someone else’s business on their behalf. There was—originally speaking—nothing religious about them. They were normally an unvalued slave, who was expendable.

Travel in the ancient world was dangerous, and something that individuals did not choose lightly. Who would have the right to send someone on their behalf? A slave owner or a governmental or military commander. The person sent—the apostle—did not have a choice. In the case of the government or military, the apostle sent with orders normally would be a part of an armed entourage. The slave-apostle would not have such protection. The master would pick the slave he could most afford to lose, and send that one to conduct his business in some extended location. The apostle-slave might be the same as the lowest household slave who was given the shameful duty of washing feet (see John 13). Mattering least, and therefore sent.

Paul identifies himself as one such sent-slave in many ways in his letters: “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). Paul’s most common self-description throughout his letters is: “I am a slave who is sent by Jesus to non-Jews to communicate the good news that the Kingdom of God has come in Jesus.” English readers of the Bible find it easy to overlook this important aspect of Paul’s self-understanding, since the 190 different Greek terms used for slavery in the New Testament are sanitized to “servant.” This is not a very appropriate translation, since in Paul’s day 1/3rd of the population of the Roman empire were masters who owned slaves, 1/3rd of the people were slaves, and 1/3rd were former slaves. Paul makes it clear what he means: slavery to Christ is about exclusive ownership—Christ is master/lord (kurios is the simple word for master-owner of a slave). “Am I now trying to win the approval of people or of God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s slave” (Galatians 1:10).

Another problem in understanding how the word “apostle” is used in the Bible is the medieval pictures we have in our minds of the twelve disciples of Jesus with halos around their heads, or the false assumptions that apostles were only religious figures, they were high status people with a lot of power, there were only a few of them and now they have ceased to exist or their work is now embodied in others with different titles (bishops of various sorts of the Catholic/Anglican traditions). This is a complete revisionistic interpretation of what an original apostle was. “Apostle” was not a title for a high status leadership position. Before and after Jesus “apostles” were low status slaves with no power of their own, and they were as common as dishwashers are today. If we practiced slavery like they did in the ancient world, when you said “apostle” today no one would think of the manager, owner or executive of a restaurant. They would think of the dishwashers and busboys. “Apostle” was not a claim to high status or authority, but a claim to low status and expendability. When you attached the words “of Christ” this communicated whose business and authority the apostle was operating under. Christ is the boss, he sent the apostle and, when the apostle speaks, he is merely the conduit.

Several years ago I wrote, “The leadership we need today is apostolic leadership” (Empowered Church Leadership: Ministry in the Spirit According to Paul [Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1999], p. ____). I describe what I mean in that chapter using all extra-biblical language (because we so hopelessly misunderstand the term “apostle,” and lose its import in hierarchical misinterpretation). “Apostolic” is not a scriptural term. If I had been speaking scripturally, I would have explained why slave-apostles (like helps, giving, mercy, etc.) were common gifts then, and should be now. There were many apostles in the New Testament who were not the Twelve or Paul, who didn’t author scripture, and would not have considered the gifting a title, status or privilege. What we need more than anything is a release of these kind of slave-apostles for the mission of Jesus to the lost and hurting. God is a sending God and commands to go to those who have lost their way, not waiting for them to come to us.

Many leaders have heard the buzz and read the books and would like to be “apostolic in their leadership” and yet remain in-charge, in safety and security, in the cushy-comfort of some Christian bunker. Can’t be done. Apostles are given by God as a gift to the church and the world (Ephesians 4:11), and are needed most desperately. A church without apostles (and prophets, for that matter) is a fire without the flame. What’s wrong with this Body? We have severed an essential limb of apostles through intellectualism, religious control and the flesh (and therefore most gifts lie dormant and unoffered to God—the role of apostles is a mainstay in equipping the Body for service and maturity; Ephesians 4:11ff). Most apostles are not found in the church-as-we-know-it, and that is why the flame is burning hot elsewhere. Jesus is the boss—as He was sent, so He is sending these He owns to suffer and serve to make know the presence and coming fullness of His Kingdom. Apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church-as-God-wants-it (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5-6; 4:11).



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Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Once you label me you negate with God's help I can become myself. "

"Once you label me you negate me.... 
                               but now with God's help I can become myself. "

-Soren Kierkegaard

(attributed to him everywhere, but no one gives a source. Help?)

"{With God's help}, Become what you already are [:yourself]"
-Philippians 3:16

-The first line: no source found in SK found the source:

The second line is from SK's journal:

"My whole being is changed.  My reserve and my self-isolation is broken--I must speak."
(Journals,  Oxford edition. p. 747, April 19, 1848.)

A few paragraphs later:

"It is essentially owing to her, to my melancholy and to my money that I became an author.
Now with God's help, I shall be myself.
I believe that Christ will help me to be victorious 
over my melancholy,  and so I shall become a priest."
(Journals, p. 748.  April 19, 1848.)

A few days later:

"No, no,  My self-isolation cannot be broken. at least for now."
(Journals, p. 749, April 24, 1838)

St Earl Throws it into Reverse

Earl Creps (see my review off his off-roadedness here), and his great thoughts on asks:

1. How much time do you take to observe pop culture? I depend on “human intellifence” and automated resources (e.g., Google Alerts).

2. What do older people want to offer the young? An example of how to do reverse mentoring in their own lives one day—or maybe even now. We want to offer them a place at the table, i.e., at our house.

3. What about how we learn spiritual things from one another? The young need spiritual mothers and fathers. Our last church taught us so much through the example of passionate, corporate prayer set by our young adults. People were broken by the example of this intense spirituality.

4. What can we say to the younger generation to encourage r-mentoring? Basic openness to people outside your generation. Don’t assume there are walls when they re not.

5. Is there a cycle of Pentecost in Earl’s life? A rising of hunger for renewal in the church + a declining interest in what renewal looks like. Plus, don’t forget the power of God.

6. How can we make space for God to move? Create small patches of “white space” in our services and grow it into the culture of the church from there. Keep the focus on lost people.

Context of his asking is here..

your thoughts would me "wiki-teach" a class

I will be teaching a class for pastors/missionaries/leaders in March and would love to get your thoughts on a few questions. .. would help to have input from a wide spectrum..whatever your faith..or none (especially if you don't do church).

My questions, post your thoughts as comments, email, whatever:

1)What words come to mind when you think of "Sunday morning church"?

2)What "horror stories" do you have about the church not "getting it"...(being corny, judgemental, irrelevant, boring, whatever..)

3)How would you summarize how the world/culture has changed in the last thirty years?

4)How might the church take steps to actually get people connected to God and each other?

5) Share about your experience with modern technology (Railway Zero or other forums, IM, text message, cell phone, webcam, MySpace, YouTube etc) that helps you meet people/connect with people/receive prayer or support, and talk about how/what the church might learn (pro or con) from such technology.

6)What..if any..role do you see for "the sermon" these days...(length, style,pulpit or not, dialogue, who delivered by..anything)

7) Share stories about churches you like or that "get it."

8)What "secular" music, bands, artists move you spiritually?

9)If you could design the seating arrangement and choose furniture for a church gathering, what would the room look like?

10)If you could give advice to pastors and leaders and knew you would be listened to and your advice implemented..what would you say?

thanks !

Here is my course description, complete conference schedule and even regisration
See you there.

"right but irrelevant"

"A theory has only the alternatives of being wrong or right. A model has a third possibility: It may be right but irrelevant."

-Manfred Eigen in
"The Physicist's Conception of Nature" edited by Jagdish Mehra

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

True Confessions II



Ever put a lit cigarette up your nose?Uh, years ago...BC...1976..don't ask...there is a slide somewhere
Ever cussed at God?Like anyone else honest, yeah.. Like some Bible pray-ers..
Ever streaked?Sure...same year as two above ...No photos that I am aware of..but don't ask Mumbo Man
Ever stolen?Hostess Snowballs from Gong's Market as a kid...(amd a prayer, as St. Vincent Furnier did in the amazing song "Stolen Prayer"
Worst sin you ever committed?killed Jesus
Cheated on a math test?i don't think so...but i have a hilarious story about someone cheating off me in college math...They knew I was an "A" student..but didn't know I was not so in Math!
Eaten guinea pig?not sure...been to Peru twice so it's possible. I think Cathie Metz has.
Which talk show host should interview Jesus?Colbert, or Keltic Ken
Predestination or free will?yes
Dance south of the equator?i have and plan to again
Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme?since only KK in town, i'll choose that
Hegel or Kierkegaard?Tough..Both are they had their differences. Probably the Dutch Dude by a hair..but a Hegelian synthesis of the two would be huge fun
Batman or Superman?Superman...but I have fond memories of the TV Batman...Oof!
Guilty pleasure?mindless pop music once every two years; Ray Bradbury
AM or FM?AM just to hear Keltic Ken, Tom Gonzales, or Bruce Hood on KRDU 1130; other than that: FM and BM in the PM
Funny hospital stories?as a pastor, yeah" I think a guy burned his hand trying to hide a lit cigarette from me; also: "accidentally" seeing hindquarters from those crazy hospital gowns. Rev Kev Clancey has the best story
Regular or Decaff?Come on, no contest. What's the point in decaff...that's Oxy the Moron
Cheech or Chong?both gifted with great voices in the old skits... Cheech as Sister Mary Elephant, maybe...and as the man talking to Jesus in "Welcome to Mexico" Chong as the character "Man."
Backmasking memory?Sey
First crush?Mom
Last wine?Last Sunday @worship (what kind of church do you think we are)...but it was stale, eh, Ken?
Bath or shower?Sometimes...more than Rich Mullins...ok, ok: shower
Next US state to visit?Washington (to scout out church plant with Kev, maybe...and because it's one of the few states...besides sanity...I've not visited)
What's on your bedside table?Bible, 17 books, flashlight, 3 magazines, pencil, 53 cents, an Israeli Shekel, a cat, Kleenex w/booger
Desk: Piles or files?Tohu Bohu
Email or MySpace mail?Like many, I now get more MySpace mail than old-fashioned far as personal messages.. I guess email is so "last millenium" (remember pay phones? Beta video? Adam Ant?)
How well can you do that under-the-armpit noise?better than you...more musically than your mom
Spiritual gifts?pastoring (one hopes), compassion (need more), discernment
Car?Toyota Corolla..not matter what Pastor Scott thinks
If you could have just one Old Testament book?Isaiah..


"Ted Haggard Now 'Completely Heterosexual' ?

When I saw today's headline, "Ted Haggard Now 'Completely Heterosexual'," I confess..even though it should/could be true (and technically is true according to 1 Cor 6:9-11) plunged me into discouragement. Knowing that unless Haggard is radically different than eleven out of ten others who have travelled this road; the "complete" healing has not happened so quickly.

Serving on the board of a wonderful sex-addiction recovery ministry (chime in with an opinion below, Russ), watching the history of this exposure , and just knowing too much, this headline may well be an answer to my prayer; but I fear it is my worst fear: Haggard will declare himself healed and jump back into full-time ministry too soon.. the headline and keep praying..Maybe I'll feel better after reading the article, could've been an overly-dramatic headline...

I do believe, help my unbelief ..

In the meantime, read the book I hope Ted has:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"The Elegant Universe

PBS's "The Elegant Universe" series featuring Brian Greene. Great to wrestle with:

Part 1: Einstein's Dream:

Part 2: String's The Thing:

Part 3: Welcome to the 11th Dimension

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Idiot Box

Scott...and my kids...mentioned this as being a classic episode of Sponge Bob. It must be prophetic... Having only watched the first few minutes, some "reflection questions" might include :

1)How do we mistake wineskins for wine?
2)How do we discern the "real gift"?
3)How do we as believers cultivate imagination?
4)"All you need is a box...and imagination"...comment
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Friday, February 02, 2007

"And You give me something i can feeeeeeeeeeeeeeel"

“I like to think people feel it. They just don’t want to allow themselves to feel it. I mean, everybody feels it. Everybody"

Dave Wainscott got a tattoo!

A pin just dropped.

Note to my parents :

                                            No, this is not a picture of me.

It is a photo of another Dave Wainscott's back.
              Not only does he have a great name, but he is a believer as well.

A couple quotes on the tattoo trend before I paste in an old column of mine on the controversial(?) topic of Christians and tattoos.

First, the theologian George Carlin:
"New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your a--. And it translates to "Beef with Broccoli". The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high".
-George Carlin, quoted here by Sarcastic Lutheran (an important blog, subtitled: "The cranky spirituality of a postmodern gal")

I officiated at a wedding for a wonderful couple. They asked me to be careful mentioning to one of the grandmothers who would be at the rehearsal dinner exactly how the couple had met.
And please, would I not mention it is the wedding sermon. They were concerned the truth would be too much for her:

the couple had met online.

I found it curious that at the dinner, I found myself seated directly next to the relative in question. So I carefully navigated the conversation with this delightful older woman. I sure didn't want to give her a heart attack by blurting out the secret! But when the couple asked Grandma if she wanted to stand up and say a few words in honor of the couple, she began: "I just love these two young peeople; and isn't it wonderful how they met?"..

I heard a pin and a few jaws drop.
The room was quieter than my parent's living room when they first saw this post's headline on their computer.

"...They met online. Isn't that so wonderful!"

She had known all along, and was good with it.

But I still wonder:
Does she know about the bride's tattoo?(:

So here below are the questions I got circa 1997 on my "Ask Dave" web column....from the bride mentioned above:
Dear Dave:
So what I am wondering is why this one verse is taken as still holding true today, and then the rest of the verses aren't. Also, the devotional writer said that tattoos and body piercing were a form of personal mutilation. I personally disagree because I have a tattoo and a body piercing, and I would not say that I did either as a form of mutilation. What do you think? Have we just forgotten these verses cause we want to secularize God, or have these old testament laws changed, minus the 10 commandments of course. I'd like to know your take on:
1.Why do you think people get tattoos/body piercing?
2.Do you think that it's a form of mutilation?
3.Do you think that God looks down on this...why?
4.If yes to #3, what should people do who have already done this?
5. Do you think it's a generational thing...especially body piercing?

1997 was a long time ago. So last millenium. The whole world and church has changed since then (anyone remember pay phones?). Tattoos have become much more mainstream. And I am not sure how my answer would differ today, but here's how I answered then:

Answer: Probably the best translation of Leviticus 19:28 is the NIV as you have quoted. Most of the purpose of all these OT laws were to call Israel to a life of holiness that was not conformed to the pagan practices around them and pure. note the emphasis on not mixing clothes, etc,. as a symbol of that unity of purpose). One of these practices was cutting or disfiguring (a rough equivalent of tattooing) your body as a way of atoning for the dead (a clearly pagan and I might note modern Mormon principle) getting the attention of whatever god you were praying to. A classic example of this is the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18:28. If a modern person has cut or tattooed themselves as a means of manipulating a deity *(including the Christian God) then that would indeed be sin. Since you are clearly not doing that, I would place a body piercing (clearly to me not the same as self-mutilation) and/or a tattoo under the area of freedom gives to each New Covenant believer to choose if they desire to participate or not. For some it might be sin, but the sin would be in the motive (to invoke a deity or to intentionally offend or blaspheme), not necessarily in the piercing or tattoo itself. Clearly, St Paul asks us, also, to be sensitive to not offending a brother or sister who does not sense the same liberty you do. So in some cases and places, discretion, or at least a lack of flaunting, would be appropriate. A note on tattoos: another reason they were forbidden in OT law is because it would be assumed in may case if a picture of a deity were involved, it would not be the God of Israel. So by extension, a modern tattoo picturing or naming a counterfeit god would likewise be dangerous and open demonic inroads. 

And of course as you have noted so well, when is the last time you have heard anyone. even the most conservative Christian. claim that some of the mandates from this same chapter are directly applicable today: the beard (cutting your beard a certain way was also a pagan ritual of the day) and fruit regulations, for example. You have picked up on the two streams of OT law, which scholars often call "ceremonial law" and "moral law." As you have suggested, the 10 Commandments fall clearly under basic an intrinsic moral law, while the more ceremonially, or culturally-conditioned items (such as piercing, tattoo, fruit, beard) are not law that were ever meant to be lived out by people of another day and culture. or better yet, of a new Covenant. Didn't Jesus summarize even the 10 Commandments into the 2 Commands to love God and neighbor? 

Of course many would suggest that this leaves an open door to ignore OT laws against homosexuality, for example. One cannot biblically make this case, as sexuality is fundamentally moral, or better yet, based on creation, as opposed to culture or tradition,. And besides, this behavior is clearly spoken against in the NT (1 Cor 6:9). Tattoos, piercing, fruit and beards are not. 

1.I can't make a blanket statement about why people get tattoos or piercing. Some may do it just because they like the way they look; some to attract attention, some to fly in the face of tradition, some because they desire to witness to Christ. Maybe a large percentage of younger kids who do it, do it as an attempt to rebel or react against their parents generation, but I could never make a blanket judgment. 

2.I don't see piercing as necessarily a form of mutilation generally speaking, though for some it may indeed be an intentional or unintentional way of doing the equivalent. Some may do it as a manifestation of low self-esteem or a self-hatred, but certainly not all. 

3.I think God has a lot more important things to worry about or look down upon. 

4.If an individual has a tattoo that is directly satanic or their conscience will not leave them alone after becoming enlightened or becoming a Christian, they have and should take steps to remove them. However, as this is not always possible , I can't believe God is not all that hung up on it. In a previous church, no one less than my associate pastor had tattoos he was sorry he had received. He was embarrassed by them,. and knew they might offend some Christians, but as they were not satanic, he did not feel pressure to have them removed at all costs. And let me state again, I have no intrinsic problem with tattoos in and of themselves, especially on persons such as yourself, whom I know and trust to follow the Spirit's guidelines for you as an individual. I wouldn't see the need to remove them unless you were so clearly convicted,. In itself, I'm guessing the tattoo is neutral, the way I read the Bible. 

5.For some it may well be a generational thing; even the contemporary equivalent of something someone who grew up in the forties did that is now completely inoffensive in our current century and culture. But as this trend crosses generations, it is also bigger than that.   

Here's an answer I really respect from Skibster, (a great wedding photographer, by the way) a deeper theologian than myself.

Here's a discussion on our forum centered around "Does God Hate Your Tattoos?," including comments by our self-confessed "very tattooed" (even in Koine Greek) guitar player.

Steve Beard at Thunderstruck has a whole list of "tattoo and church" links about halfway down this page.

More to say on tattoos as branding later.

Finally, some of my favorite "tattoo" lyrics (do you have others?):
"You say I'm written on your soul; then write me on your Me on you"
-The 77s, "Tattoo"
"I never wanted this tattoo...I never paid for this tattoo" -Chagall Guevara
"I Need Somebody" ...lyrics by the genius St. Steve Taylor (any song that includes the lines: "Hey look! It smokes, it drinks,it philosophizes!...if you reapply, you'll need a written excuse from" has gotta be churchworthy!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Self-Disclosure with Sunglasses On

This has long been a popular photo; reminding us that only 10-20% of an iceberg is visible above water.
Of course, I great reminder about transparency, self-disclosure and the "Splagnhizomai glasses' (to switch the metaphor.

Sunday was amazing.. I will post on it later...Basically, the "sermon" preached by one became the "habitat" (someone...Ron Martoia? offered "habitat" as a name for the new "sermon")experienced by all. We split into seven groups with various projects.
But the point here was the groups were formed by the ice breaking game where somone has a sign on their back that they can't has the name of a person or character (Jesus, Moses, Lois Lane, SpongeBob). The person must roam around the room and by merely asking 'yes or no' questions (Am I a TV character? Male or female?) of folks, discern who they are.
Paul Tournier ("Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets') suggests that we cannot know who we are except through the lens of...even asking questions of one another...and of God. "Known as we are known."
Note to self: explore intereelationships of Johari window/Myers-Briggs related to self-disclosure (as individuals and as community...Mark Artist speaks of "the interior like of a community'). I assume Len (fellow Myers-Briggs INFP) or Dream Factory Tom will beat me to the topic, but that's good.. I need to learn. And I know Moltmann is helpful on God's self-disclosure... Of course, in the meantime there is inevitably the Bono connection:

Bono: (Our manager Paul McGuinness) would sit me down and say, “You have what it takes. You must have more confidence in yourself and continue to dig deeper. And I don’t be upset or surprised when you pull something out of the depth that’s uncomfortable.”

Assayas: So you discovered things that, on first glance, you’d rather have kept hidden? What were those?

Bono: The gauche nature of awe, of worship, the wonderment at the world around you. Coolness might help in your negotiation with your world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw. That’s the connection with great music and art, and that’s the other reason you wanted to join a band: you wanted to do the cool thing. Trying to capture religious experiences on tape wasn’t what you had in mind when you signed up for the job.

Assayas: What about your own sunglasses, then? Do you wear them the same way a taxi driver would turn off his front light, so as to signal to God that this rock star is too full of himself and not to hire at the moment?

Bono: Yeah, my insincerity… I have learnt the importance of not being earnest at all times. You don’t know what’s going on behind those glasses, but God, I can assure you, does.
(Assayas, more)

"Pagan Days/Don't Look Back"

Keltic Ken (of Klovis, Kalifornia) gave a great word for those wrestling with
(as Len Sweet puts it) living "in the world, but not of it....but not out of it yet either",,,

It can be heard, as an "illegal download," at this click.
I found this photo of Ken on his website (hope he didn't take it himself), and thought it was a perfect accompaniment to his message subtitled "Don't Look Back."(: