Wednesday, September 29, 2004

An Atonement of God's Presence

Last Friday, Patrick and I went to a local synagogue for the Kol Nidre service in preparation for Yom Kippur. I was struck by the following reading in the liturgy:

When justice burns within us like a flaming fire, when love evokes willing sacrifice from us, when, to the last full measure of selfless devotion, we demonstrate our belief in the ultimate triumph of truth and righteousness, then Your goodness enters our lives; then You live within our hearts, and we through righteousness behold Your presence.

(there's more)
The passage draws together in my mind the interrelatedness of our action (justice, love, willing sacrifice, selfless devotion, demonstrable belief) and the nearness of God (entering our lives, living in our hearts, in a presence we behold). For me, it gives a bit of reality to the usually trite claim of "God living in my heart". When we live out the character of God in justice, love, and peace... it is then that we see God's presence in us.

The tangible enfleshment of the nature of the Divine in the life of the Human draws out redemption in such a way that just might be understood as atonement.

A Reflection of ME

It takes only a short time after one enters into any serious relationship, be that with friends, dating relationships, or spouses that a reflection of one’s self begins to surface.
This statement is not profound by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I have had the sentiment expressed to me numerous times and I know I have read it stated in some form in at least half a dozen books. (there's more)
Because of this familiarity, it seems idiotic to be surprised when I realize I am clearly seeing the worst of myself in a relationship with another person – most commonly my wife. Nevertheless, like an epiphany at an AA meeting, I say, “ Hi, my name is Todd and I have a problem with _________!” I usually declare this (to myself because I would never admit it out loud) only after I have yelled, rebelled, cussed, and screamed at the other person for showing me … ME!
I never cease to be amazed by my own stupidity most of the time, but I am glad that laughter and a caring person on the other end of the relationship doesn’t hold the same judgments against me that I hold against myself. The most frustrating part of this relationship process (if that’s what you call it) is, I inevitably feel like a hamster in a running mill because I keep making the same mistakes and having the same epiphanies.

Friday, September 24, 2004

soundtrack for amos

sunday bloody sunday as sung by president bush...sounds like something Amos would sing (especially the last verse)


this is a good re-post from jonny via geoff holsclaw

those of you who were there last does this frame our conversation surrounding Amos? How do we wrestle with the ambiguities of the scripts (#16)?

I feel like we discover the most clarity about such things when we are engaged in liturgies of our life together - welcoming refugees, eating together, visiting with friends at phoenix park, praying our way into an awareness of the presence of God in our city....

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

marketing team Posted by Hello

marketing department Posted by Hello

clinton and geoff and some hot-dogs at the roots and heritage festival....see this for a description Posted by Hello

Displaced people and being saved

Sherry and I have been thinking a lot about refugees lately. This stirs all kinds of grief, joy, despair, hope, and anguished prayers. Our community is getting ready to welcome a family from Liberia at the end of this week and my sister (with her husband and two children) is getting ready to leave her Johannesburg home to participate in the relief work on the Sudanese/Chad border. A friend from Ethiopia taught us how to make bread on the weekend, and some of our friends from Bosnia have just returned with their twoandahalf year old from an extended stay in Sarajevo. Each of these places and people have stories that have profoundly changed the way we live and view the world.(there's more)

Each one gives us pause to reorient our lives and the opportunity to learn more about the heartbeat of the gospel. The Psalm we are reading this week (146) unpacks some of the passions of the creator (and re-creating) God.....the one who made heaven and earth (v.6) is the same one who watches over strangers/orphans/widows (v.9). As I write this our Bosnian friends arrive and I'm having trouble communicating with the little one. He is earnestly showing me toys and describing them in his east-European tongue and I'm frustrated because all I know is "good", thank-you", and "good-night." The best I can do is cuddle him. For the longest time I thought YHWH's call for us to care for the foreigner was for their benefit. Having been caught up in the refugee-settlement work in our city for several years now I'm sure that this work continues to have salvific significance for me.

Monday, September 20, 2004

you made some promises....

A couple of Thursday nights ago at our 3rd St gathering we spent some time talking about Exodus 32 and the whole golden-calf-reveling-mess that blew up somewhere in the scratchy sand surrounding a way to enter the text and see how it might shape us we broke up into 3s and 4s and re-scripted the story from the inside - different ones assuming the voices of Moses, Aaron, the people, God, etc.
Here's what one of the groups came up with. They were trying to see it from Moses' perspective....

So, Moses had been wandering through barren, craggy hills, hands wringing, sweating through his responsibility. God had not confirmed the plan. These dirty, fickle people had been walking through the desert. Moses had no compass. There was no gas station. The promised land was not in sight. Again, Moses was sweating it.
Eventually God comes back to tell Moses about his earing-less people freaking out and thinking this brokenass calf brought them out of Egypt.
"I'm gonna blow up. I'm superflyTNT. I'm dynamite.
I'm a race car in the red."

Moses said,
"Chill, they aint my people. You brought 'em here. Don't give that locust and frog eatin' fool Pharaoh the satisfaction. So, chill man. Remember all those old dead dudes...Abraham and whatnot. You made some promises."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

reluctantly going where no man may go

so dostoevsky says, "a man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himelf or anywhere around him." and again, "it's always like that with holy fools: they cross themselves before a tavern and cast stones at the temple. your elder is the same: he drives the just man out with a stick and bows at the murderer's feet."

later on he describes how a particularly debauched character would sometimes wake his servant in the night just to be in the presence of a good man.

i had insomnia for a few months. i remember feeling the same urge and comfort lying next to laura.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

sick of choices

I have been fighting off a nasty illness for over a week now. It started last wednesday and has kept me up several nights coughing. After talking to a few of my classmates, I realized that there is a virus going around, and apparently it takes several weeks to get over it. Since it is a viral illness, there really isn't any treatment either. I just have to wait for it to run its course. I really don't have time for this sickness thing because I already feel behind in school, and I have 3 tests and a paper due next week. I also have many other commitments which unfortunately I cannot just brush off to spend the day in bed.(there's more)
This has left me somewhat irritable, as I'm not sure I see the end in sight. Then last night, while talking to Clinton, he suggested that I could just choose to be well tomorrow. My first thought was WHAT??? I can't do that because I am exercising all of my choice muscles to not be annoyed at you right now for making such a suggestion. It wasn't exactly the sympathy for which I had hoped. I have to admit though, I have been thinking of this option ever since. I'm not convinced that I can just choose away illness. The viruses that are multiplying in my lungs are very real, not just part of my imagination. The constant coughing at night is also very real. So, how exactly do I choose these things away? In school, I am being trained as a Physician assistant, and we do learn that a significant portion of illness is psychosomatic.
But, surely not my illness.
Then, I think of Jesus asking the paralyzed man "Do you want to get well?" This may imply that he chooses to be well despite the fact of a very real illness. I'm not sure what to think of this. I believe as part of my faith I think that we can choose to be well despite very real and difficult circumstances. However, my struggle comes in figuring out how to do this without living in denial. I can easily ignore all the trouble around me and be happy, but the challenge comes when I can see all of the real circumstances that would inhibit my well being, yet still make a choice to have faith that heals.
So, now I will finish out my day going to class, taking a quiz, having time to study, and ending with women's group tonight, and all the while I can think that if I am not well, it's my own choice.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Cry "Have-At-It" and Let's Eat the Dogs so Raw!

Of course, none of the dogs were "raw" per-se, but we did give away over 150 beef and turkey weiners at the Roots and Heritage festival this morning. Although one might argue whether a hotdog is a "meat product", being ever-conscious of the code (LFUCG CoO: Article 1, Section 10-1b), we offered free coffee and hotdogs as the parade kicked off, with a jar available to take donations for Kentucky Refugee Ministries. At first the marketing department (complete with a state-of-the-art sandwichboard) was outpacing the production department (a.k.a. the "grill faster, you dogs!" and "what happened to the bloody slit in this bun?" department), and lines quickly backed up. One hour and one emergency "bun-run" later, supplies were exhausted, leaving a mob of not-so-hungry people, a cooling charcoal grill, and $58.44 in donations to KRM.
(There's More...)Lessons learned:

  • If you have 150 hotdogs, having 150 buns is a good idea.

  • When you're out of buns and out of plates, a free hotdog served on a napkin is apparently acceptable.

  • Marketing with the word "free" necessitates production in large, rapid quantities.

  • If you don't distinguish between "hotdogs" and "turkey dogs", no one cares. If you do distinguish, everyone cares (and no one wants the turkey dog).

  • Once a hotdog falls through the grill, just let it go... it's gone.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Saying yes to life

this quote from the latest sojomail challenged and inspired me this morning,

"Lest my way of life sounds puritanical or austere, I always emphasize that in the long run one can't satisfactorily say no to war, violence, and injustice unless one is simultaneously saying yes to life, love, and laughter."
- David Dellinger, peace activist and author

looking forward to meeting alan today and hearing more about the community he belongs to...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

greenbelt pics

enjoyed these pics from andrew jones and, among other emergent-dignitaries, spotted our beloved billy and maria kenney. look forward to their return and hearing what went on.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

word and world

thanks to some inspiring (inspired?) thoughts from Clinton this morning i felt like i started to understand this week's readings. the cry for grace/mercy issued by Moses and the Psalmist is shadowed by gratitude in Paul's "testimony" (Timothy). Luke reminds us of Jesus' preference for seeking that which is/was lost and what great celebration/parties erupt when we/they are found....looking forward to what these passages provoke in our Thursday conversation. These passages remind me of Kosuke Koyama's "relationship/invitation-theology" and it's superiority to the "answer-theology" we often seek and settle for.
In his book "No Handle on the Cross", Koyama writes,
"One of the unfortunate characteristics of the Christian mission in Asia has been the presentation of the Gospel of Christ in terms of a slogan; 'Jesus is the Answer'. In my own Japanese language 'Jesus is the Answer' sounds extremely awkward, cheap and superficial. In my culture it would be understood as saying that Christianity works mechanically, therefore it has no significant spiritual dimension. But the real issue is not a cultural but a theological one. Jesus Christ means a continuous story, not a deus ex machina answer. ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but by me (John 14:6). This passage is not saying that Jesus is the answer. Instead, Jesus is inviting us to come and walk with him. What is the use of knowing the way if one does not walk on it? No! Unless one walks on the way one does not know the way. ‘I am the way’ means ‘walk with me’, the basic message throughout the biblical tradition. ‘…and the truth’ means that as we walk we will be affected by his life. And being affected by his life we begin to say ‘Abba Father’ (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15). Jesus Christ is obviously neither like Mary Poppins who straitens out a messy children’s room with a snap of her fingers, nor like Santa Claus who is carrying a bag full of sweet answers for everyone. He is more interested in establishing a relationship than in giving answers.”

Monday, September 06, 2004

I'm in

It's good connect via cyberspace. Billy, I've enjoyed your parabling. Hope things are well in Europe. We miss having you around. Scott joined are group last Wednesday night, so as to not meet alone (Robert and Ron were supposed to arrive, but never did).

So anyways. My housemates and I had a little retreat on sat. We went down to Red River Gorge about a hour or so southeast of Lex. We grabbed a loaf of bread and assorted turkey products( Turkey Salami?) and headed into the park. We started with many expletives as I backed off the road into an unseen ditch, only to ground the bottom of my car on the road, but with a bit of a push we were liberated and went on our way.
After quick sandwiches and some sort of party mix, we headed down the trail. We stopped to swing on a rope someone had tied to swing over the river, but much to everyone's disappointment, no one slipped and fell in.
So we apparently left the trail, because we found ourselves trailblazing. I didn't mind this, but I almost felt sorry for Mike, who decided Birkenstocks were appropriate hiking footwear. So we headed up the mountain. Clinton promised a "gentle slop" around the corner from smooth inverted cliff faces we continued to come upon. Finally, after two hours we found not a gentle slop but a firm disciplined incline. We navigated the roots and rocks to pull ourselves up. The summit was in our sights. Weary and heavy laden, we approached the top. At which point, Clinton pointed out to John the sound of engines, more specifically, car engines. How could this be? Were we not in the remote regions of Kentucky, having triumphed the, until now, unreachable heights? In the distance we saw the signs of civilization, fences and paved walkway. Then the old couple strolled, yes strolled, by. It seems we had covered the entire mountain, except the road onto it and the paved walk way out to the overlook.
Of course the road out would have taken us ten miles away from our car, so it was decided after much deliberation and jockeying for control that we would head back down a different side of the mountain, into the wilderness. Finally, we reached the elusive car and snacked on grapes and granola.
Thus continues our policy of finding the most round about, tiresome, scar inducing , yet fun and memorable ways to the top of the mountain.

Friday, September 03, 2004

"If no answer" - these signs appear occasionally in our new neighborhood. wonderful. Posted by Hello

On the road with Bosch #2

Bosch finishes with a chapter called "the courage to be weak" in which he challenges us to live on the borderline of the "already" and the "not-yet". He doesn't quite nail down (crucifixion pun intended there) what that looks like but he does say it will be "the very antithesis of neutral aloofness, contentment, and passivity...shallow enthusiasm and hyperactivity."
I was most challenged by his discussion of "vocational certainty" and the struggle to know "this is where I belong." Bosch claims that, "Paul lived in this creative tension..he never doubted that he was where he belonged and was doing what he should be doing. The knawing uncertainty about whether or not we should continue more than anything else hollows out our ministry and destroys our joy."
While trying to embody what Bernard Adeney calls "epistemological humility and ontological conviction" (in "Strange Virtues" ISBN 0830818553), perhaps I have over-played doubt and compromised a healthy passion, conviction, and quiet-urgency about Jesus and the Kingdom. I need to work more on making sure my 'knawing uncertainty" is limited to doubt about myself instead of bleeding over into the lived-out/spoken-about message of Luke 4:18ff.
Perhaps I have been biting my tongue when I should be speaking the truth (as I see it) in love (as I live it).
Perhaps biting my tongue in this way is as problematic as the religious lip service that offends me so.
Perhaps, by trying really hard not to appear too sure about what I know out of sincere concerns about the cultural sensitivities of post/late/anti/not/modernity, I have missed the chance to be a fool (in the best sense).

Thursday, September 02, 2004

On the road with Bosch

A group of us just finished reading 'a spirituality of the road' by David Bosch. An awesome and humble exploration of the kind of spirituality we might aspire to. Bosch uses Paul's second letter to the Corinthians to construct a way of discipleship that avoids the 'us/God against the world' dualism of the pilgrim’s progress model. He suggests that, "the involvement in this world should lead to a deepening of our relationship with and our dependence on God, and the deepening of this relationship should lead to increasing involvement in the world." Being called out of and sent into the world is a "simultaneous double-movement". Not an easy thing to get a handle on when many of us have been schooled in an understanding of spirituality that, at best, is ambivalent about 'the world/flesh' and, at worst, hostile to all things material. Bosch eventually suggests the cross is the most compelling image of a holistic spirituality....he says, "Jesus was never more worldly than on the cross....Jesus never stood over against the world more clearly than here, and spirituality is both of these at the same time." Total identification and radical separation at the same time! wow.