Thursday, May 30, 2013

a photo of me with Moses on Masada, and a theology of farting in the general direction of empire

For many reasons (including the memorable nuclear power plant field trips that Rev. @Scott Allred took me on), I will never forget our first trip to Israel.

One highlight of course was Masada ( מצדה , only reachable by cable car), where Moses (tour guide, OK?) asked me to read/reenact Elazar ben Yair’s 73 AD speech given  before
Moses and me, and some folk from Scott Allred's church
 the stalwart Jews committed mass suicide  as Masada inevitably fell to the Romans .  So there atop the historic fortress...with wind whipping through my hair for dramatic effect (see video here)...and with the Roman attack ramp (amazingly) still in place and in view, I read/preached:

Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”

It was stunning and moving.
But of course, as good tourists, we soon came down the mountain and had a snack and visit to a souvenir shop (see "Holy Hamburgers").

In a maddening but entertaining book, Scott Korb (p 173) relates a pivotal event as things came to a head, and the Masada standoff loomed:
Some blame even has to fall on an unnamed Roman soldier,who in the spirit of Monty Python, farted in the general direction of a crowd of Jews.  [Josephus relates the following]:
'The people had assembled in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Roman chort stood on guard over the Temple Colonnade.armed men always being 
on duty at the feasts to forestall any rioting by the vast 
crowds. One of the soldiers pulled up his garment and bent
          over indecently, turning his backside towards the Jews and
          making a noise as indecent as his attitude. 

Some would even attribute this..uh, shot.... heard around the world as the catalyst for the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome.

If you imagine the roles reversed, and the Jewish freedom fighters offering a similar noise and attitude towards the Romans....maybe such is  a model for prophetic spiritual warfare against empire.


Beats violence.
If you didn't get the Monty Python reference, check this out,and consider reenacting this response the next time someone/something pressures you to cave into empire:

Most have never heard of the Sicarii,, theradical Jewish sect )Often confused with the Zealots) that Josephhus credits as staging the resistance at Masada...but they were pretty much a terrorist cell of freedom fighters.
Why not subvert violence, not with violence...but with a radical, peacefully violent "noise and attitude"?

Heck,, Eugene Peterson (suh a distinguished Presbyterian I bet he's never farted) might approve.  Do read  Eugene Peterson on loud farts

A later saint  (Francis no less_once suggested a similar strategy for spiritual warfare.
(I am not making this up):

But when the devil says to you again: ‘You are damned’,  you answer him confidently: ‘Open your mouth and I will shit in it’, and let it be a sign to you that he is the devil that when you say those words, he will immediately go away…
             -St Francis, Little Flowers, Part 1, Section 1. chapter 29 

"looking at the back of another Christian's head"

Just one item (#2) from Miguel Labrador's  5 Ways to Topple a Church Regime"

2. Stop facing front and face each other.First things first. Detonate, destroy, and disassemble the pulpit. When all eyes are focused towards the front, they’re not focused on Jesus or His people. How many hours of a Christian’s life is spent looking at the back of another’s head instead of into another eyes? How are you suppose to weep with those who weep if you’re not face to face? “Jesus looked on them with compassion.” You look away!Tear down the stage and any other platforms that separate the body of Christ. Put the worship bands and choirs in another room where no one can see them and pipe the music in. Better yet create an environment for a flash mob worship event. Why do you need a “show” in order to collectively worship God? Take the big screen down from the right hand side of the church and begin extending the right hand of fellowship.Change the church’s shape. Get rid of squares and rectangles and sharp corners. Round out its edges. Form circles and spheres so that people can see one another, share with one another, and truly be amongst one another. Color outside the lines. Establish circular frameworks instead of boxy boundaries. Make “the front of the church” indistinguishable for the rest of it. All parts of the church should be equally accessible.  Full list

"The Scandal of the Jewish Pope"

Pope FrancisThe Scandal of the Jewish Pope  by Michael Brown

Pope Francis quote

“I try to maintain the same way of being and of acting that I had in Buenos Aires, because if I were to change at my age it would certainly be ridiculous.” – Pope Francis, in a letter to a priest friend in his native Argentina, quoted by the Zenit news agency.

"Did you always know? No, but I believed"

  • Seraph: "Did you always know?"
  • Oracle: "Oh, no. No, I didn't. But I believed. I believed."

Ray Vander Laan's "Faith Lessons" playlist (12 complete episodes)

Below-one complete episode from each volume of "Faith Lessons."
Complete playlist here, or embedded consecutively below.
Author website here, more clips here.

  1.  Standing at the Crossroads
  2.  Innocent Blood (Meggido)
  3. In the Shadow of Herod (Herodian)
  4. When Storms Come (Galilee)
  5. Everything to Lose, Nothing to Gain (Casearea Philippi )
  6.   When the Rabbi Says 'Come" (Bet Shan)  better audio version here
  7. Run!  The Passion of Elijah
  8. How Big is Our God?  (Egypt/Pharoah)
  9. The Lord Who Heals You (Marah and Elam)
  10. Build Me a Sanctuary (Tabernacle)
  11. The Way of the Essenes
  12. Join the Journey (Walking With God in the Desert)

Virtual Reality, the Demonic, Scapegoating and Conversion/Exist or Insist?: Peter Rollins

audio here, summary here

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"The Bible Makes Different Sense" -Brueggemann video

  •  1/11 Brueggemann: Introduction
  • 2/11 Multilayered and Conflicted
  • 3/11 Brueggemann: Alternative Literalism
  • 4/11 Brueggemann: Preaching the Text 
  • 5/11 Brueggemann: The Offense of Jesus
  • 6/11 Brueggemann: Fraudulent Militarism
  • 7/11 Brueggemann: Antidote to Loss 
  •  8/11 Brueggemann: A Thickness that Valorizes
  •  9/11 Brueggemann: Doxological Imagination 
  • 10/11 Brueggemann: This Particular Manifestation of Holines
  • 11/11 Brueggemann: God in Recovery

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Amos Young on Spirit/logos Christologies and atonement

Great post from Morgan Guyton:; excerpt:
I’ve been reading The Spirit Poured Out On All Flesh, a book by Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong, who could hardly be called “nascent.” He’s kind of like the Pentecostal Scot McKnight, well within the bounds of what evangelical sensibilities call “orthodox” while very sympathetic to postmodern concerns and critiques. And he offers a pneumatological account of atonement that seems to address a lot of the issues the emergents have with the traditional evangelical account of atonement, so he’s somebody that emergents like Tony really ought to read and learn from.
One of the things that Yong names which I had never heard articulated in quite the same way before is the coexistence of two Christologies in the New Testament. Yong calls the Christology of the synoptic gospels a Spirit Christology, which emphasizes the concrete account of Jesus’ humanity, while the Christology of John’s gospel is a logos Christology, which emphasizes the abstract account of Jesus’ divinity. Yong says that post-Chalcedon, the Western church has been left with a predominantly logos Christology because “the Synoptic Gospels were reduced to present what Jesus did, even as John’s gospel was understood to provide the definitive account of who Jesus really was” (110).

The result of a predominantly logos Christology is that the Spirit’s role in Christ’s atonement is minimized even though the Spirit is responsible for raising Jesus from the dead and “also remains present with Jesus through the passion, which ultimately separates the Father from the Son” (112). When atonement is understood in logos Christology terms, the result is an abstract transactional account (such as Anselm’s) in which the soteriological work of the cross is reduced to a math problem (e.g. infinite dishonor of sin + infinite sacrifice of Jesus’ blood = 0 debt owed).

So Yong seeks to show how a pneumatological soteriology is able to combine the best of the big three atonement theories: ransom/Christus victor, substitutionary, and moral influence. Here’s what he says about ransom theory:

How can the ransom theory remain plausible to the modern mindset, which has demythologized the idea of the devil? The pneumatological soteriology defended here not only reinvigorates the idea of the demonic… but reorients it according to contemporary sensibilities. Insofar as Satan represents the sum total of all evil and sin is thereby understood in cosmic and social terms, the ransom theory empowers a redemptive, nonviolent resistance against evil, following the example of Jesus… And insofar as the liberation of the captives accomplished by Jesus included the exorcism of demons from those held in bondage by destructive forces, so also does full salvation need to account for the triumph of Christ over the rulers and authorities of this present world. [113]

A pneumatological soteriology recognizes the power of the demonic and the need for salvation to involve the exorcism of demons from people’s lives, all of which affirms the ransom theory’s account of a need for captives to have their freedom “bought” by the blood of Jesus. This does not require believing in a literal anthropomorphic devil, only using Satan as short-hand for the evil to which we experience ourselves being enslaved.

Here’s what Yong does with satisfaction or penal substitutionary atonement:
Instead of being an outmoded notion limited to the feudal and penitential context of Anselm’s medieval period or a piece of legalistic speculation amidst the emerging Protestant city-states, I suggest that the satisfaction and substitutionary theories remain pertinent for our time. Given our increasing awareness of the web of interconnectedness that binds all life forms together to the point that human survival is always at the expense of other forms of life, including other human life, the blood guilt that is upon our own heads as survivors requires the atoning sacrifice of Jesus in order for us to engage each other, the earth, and the divine in good conscience… Insofar as the Spirit, who raised Jesus for our justification, also gives life to us, the experience of forgiveness of sins deals not merely with the covering of our past failures but also with the empowering of our future actions so that they retain their full moral and ethical significance. [115]
The key here, as I have argued before, is that Jesus is punished for the sake of our wholeness (Isaiah 53:5) and ability to act “in good conscience,” not for the sake of God’s need to spew wrath on His Son. Instead of bifurcating salvation into justification through the Son and sanctification through the Spirit, Yong understands justification and sanctification both in perichoretic trinitarian terms. The Spirit’s role in justification makes it more than a forensic legal fiction and binitarian Father/Son transaction; it is our empowerment to “go and sin no more,” knowing our forgiveness....  Full Post here

Friday, May 24, 2013

'"________keeps us alive with hope" (fill in the blank)

"Lament keeps us alive with hope
           when the temptation is to surrender to a defeated numbness."
-Brian J. Walsh, in a discussion of Bruce Cockburn's "Humans" ("If Bono is right, and Cockburn is a psalmist, then Humans is a collection of psalms of lament" ) in terms of Bruggemann and the psalms.  Pp. 116-17, Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imaginination

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Mark Driscoll this generation’s Pat Robertson? (Jonathan Merritt)


 Related clip: We are not in Joel Osteen anymore. Driscoll's "God Hates You" clip (4:30ff):

Greg Boyd: Q&A: Do you think Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses Are Saved?


see  this by Scot McKnight

rethinking preaching: blank slate

Rethinking Preaching: Starting Fresh with a Blank Slate by Adam Walker Cleaveland

questions on Obama's "uhhhh" and "Eight Flags Magic Mountain"

This is not at all a political or partisan post or rant.
(You can look through years of blog posts and sermons and you won't find any
Even Jesus doesn't know who I voted for (:       )
It's an observation re: public speaking.

It's no secret that Obama's speeches  for years have been punctuated by predictable  "uhhh"s.

(see Uh, you know, uhuh, should Obamauh, seek the help of a speech therapist?)
Watching some clips of today's speech, I  immediately noticed:
2)that he seemed to completely close hos mouth after each thought.

Are the two related?
Has be finally been  successfully coached and disciplined out of that habit?
(Or does he primarily stutter in unscripted moments?)

Ans pastor/public speaker can relate.

Also can't help that note when he (or his advisors) want him to look patriotic, put him in front of EIGHT American flags>

He had obviously also learned to deal with hecklers :

Pope Francis casting out demons?

Is Pope Francis an exorcist?

Pope Francis: Atheists Redeemed by Good Works?:

 Knowing that theology and translation from another language are both tricky..and especially sticky together..

I am not sure the pope is really preaching


2)salvation by good works least as most would interpret these concepts.

Take a careful look at video and articles (the first two have quite misleading headlines)

Pope Francis defends atheists


Later edit:

Since this post above was published, two posts  have appeared,  which include some crucial context. 

1) A fantastic bit by Bram Cools   Do check it out:

Pope Francis as a universalist?

Pope Francis, the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, has already proven to be a controversial person from time to time in his career of only a few months. And luckily it has been in a surprisingly Christlike way, not in the way most modern liberal people expect popes to conservative and oldfashionedly irrelevant: The pope who denied the papal palace, shuns wealth, calls the church to focus on the poor,  washed the foot of women and Muslims instead of Catholic priests and criticised capitalism now stated that atheists are redeemed too and can do good works.

2 articles have been going round on facebook since yesterday, first one from the Vatican Radio and then one from the American Huffington post, which tried to interpret the words of the pope from an American perspective, but to me they seemed to miss the point and tried to make him answer questions he wasn’t addressing…
But let’s have a look at what our papal friend is saying:
“The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
(bold parts from the Vatican radio website)
Some people, like Paul from disoriented, reoriented, actually do think Francis’ words point to Christian universalism (the idea that through the saving work of Christ all will be saved in the end), and point to CONTINUED HERE




2)This by  Morgan Guyton:

Is Pope Francis a universalist heretic?This is a genius blueprint for effective evangelism. Instead of trying to argue people on the sidewalk into admitting they’ve violated one of the Ten Commandments and deserve to be tortured eternally (like sidewalk evangelism guru Ray Comfort), what Francis proposes is that we work together with atheists and other non-Christians for the common good in order to make the space for a “culture of encounter.” This is the space in which the witness of Christ is made manifest.
Francis isn’t saying that “doing good” earns your way into heaven. I would say that people who think the purpose of life is to earn your way into heaven whatever prayer or formula they have settled upon, however Biblical and orthodox it appears, are still very far from tasting the living water of Jesus Christ that wells up into eternal life. Such a shallow, self-preservationist understanding of salvation is the salvation of the third servant in the parable of  LINK

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

progressive "improv theatre" worship with Pastor Paul McCartney

Play some random tracks from "Electric Arguments," the third album by "The Fireman"...(or the first two albums,   "Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest"[ audio here ]and  "Rush"[audio here] for that matter, as they're instrumental, and kind of ambient-techno )...and have people guess 

For a really good time, play tracks 10-13 (videos below) from   "Electric Arguments,"  right now for someone, and ask them who they think the artist is.

Was Paul McCartney even on their list?

If your first thought of Paul McCartney is
 "silly love songs" 
 sappy pop;

                         and you saw Lennon or Harrisson as the experimental  Beatle..

Try on The Fireman albums...Paul (with some help from  Youth (Martin Glover, one of whose bands is Celtic Cross, and who has worked/associated with Godhaunted types like U2, Maria McKee and Zoe) is the Fireman, and reviews routinely drop comparisons to

Pink Floyd, 
           Tubular Bells,
                           King Crimson and...

Yes, you read right!

A bit of Eno..a touch of emo.

                                  house,                     Celtic and........

"Sing the Changes" is not the most representative song of the third album, but it's the most likely to be sung in church! (Hey.."I'm not religous, but I'm very spiritual"  Paul has already prayed for U2..and prays with his band every night ..why can't we play/pray him in church?)

Here it is below.. it is followed by some interviews, and then the whole album.
On a few songs a listener might say "That sounds a little like McCartney..but it can't be."

From Wikipedia:

The duo borrowed the title "Electric Arguments" from the poem "Kansas City to St. Louis" by Allen Ginsberg. In Wired magazine, McCartney stated this was because "he's been looking at the beauty of word combinations rather than their meaning."[3]
We had a ball making this album, and it was a great departure because it seemed more like improv theatre. In the improv spirit, there are William Burroughs-type cut-ups in the lyrics. I came to "Sing the Changes," as well as all the other songs in the album, with absolutely no concept of what the melody or lyrics would be about. So it was like writing on the spot, which I think lent an electricity to the whole sound.
—Paul McCartney [4]

Almost sounds Bongolesean.
When I had had my wife guess who this song was, she ventured "U2?"

"Sing the Changes"

like the sun playing in the morning 

feel the choir, feel the thunder 
every ladder leads to heaven 
call it ransom, draw the picture 

sing the changes as you're sleeping 
feel the quiet   thunder 
see the changes o'er and o'er
feel the choir hear the thunder 

like  the sunflake  in the morning 
see the quiet feel the thunder 
every ladder leads to heaven 
colored pencils draw the picture 

sing your praises as you're sleeping 
sing the changes any wonder
i feel the sense of childlike wonder 
sing your praises as you're sleeping 

sing the changes as you're sleeping 
feel the quiet hear the thunder 
sing  the changes o'er and o'er 
feel the choir in the thunder 
sing your praises as you're sleeping 
feel the quiet  hear the thunder 
sing the changes go on  on  
and everybody have a sense of  shine like wonder 

sing His praises as you're sleeping 
feel the fire  hear the thunder 
sing the changes o'er and o'er    
and everybody's  got a sense of 
childlike wonder 

I want some more  __ fire 
you can't stop me, time!

Official "Sing the Changes" video:
 "Sing the Changes" live ("Good Evening New York"):
br />

"Sing the Changes" on Letterman...on the rooftop (another U2...and Beatles) reference):


Written interview here

-- --
 1) Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight:

2)Two Magpies:

3)Sing the Changes

4)Travelling Light":

5) Highway:

6) light from your lighthouse:
7)Sun is shining:

8) Dance 'Till We're High:

9)Lifelong Passion:

10)is this love?

11) Lovers In A Dream:

12)Universal Here, Everlasting Now

13)"Don't Stop Running"..even ends with backmasking...guess Paul isn't dead...interesting message: "warmer than the sun and cooler than the air,"  I wonder Who that is.


Hidden track.e