Monthly Archives: April 2014

I have closed myself as fingers

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

Selected Poems Quotes by E.E. Cummings.

Jesus’ deeds as a living man

A comment at The Dish asks a question about what we celebrate at Christmas and Easter:

“Why do we celebrate the birth and death of Jesus, and not his actual accomplishments?”. To me, he represented a transformational shift in thinking about love and power that is at least as important as his divine status. Or maybe not? Both major holidays are all about worshiping Jesus’s divine status, rather than his deeds as a living man. Aren’t his teachings and example central to Christianity? How do our major holidays represent the core values demonstrated through Christ’s living, if at all? He did offer a bit more than his own claim to being the One True God, right?

via Was Jesus God? « The Dish.

There is much we do not know

A couple of interesting ideas from RJS at the Jesus Creed blog. She’s in the midst of a series reviewing Ronald Osborn’s book Death Before the Fall, and she posts these ideas near the end of today’s post (emphasis mine):

  • There is a humble recognition that there is much that we simply do not know. We don’t have all the answers in science, or in our interpretation of scripture. An honest humility will serve us well and relieve us from the “oppressive burden of knowing.” There are not nice neat answers for every question.
  • The description of creation emphasizes competing freedoms rather than divine design or decree to account for features of “natural evil” that we see in the world today. Osborn finds that this offers moral and theological coherence he doesn’t see in other explanations for predation and “natural” evil.
  • Christ is not plan C offered to correct plan A (Adam) or even plan B (Israel) gone awry. Christ is the true Adam and the faithful Israel. More importantly Christ is the redeemer of Creation from the dawn of time.

via Jesus Ate Fish and Other Thoughts on Death RJS.

Doing what it says

Simply “reading it off the page” as a directive for life is to misread it and to distort it… There’s more to reading the Bible faithfully than just doing what it says…

via the apostle Paul’s clear inerrant teaching on government and why we don’t need to follow it.

Come and see what is actually there

Found a new bible/religion blog via James McGrath. The blogger, David, nails the trouble with arguments for biblical inerrancy here:

If you would know what sort of book God has actually given you, you cannot deduce it a priori from some preconceived account of his attributes.  You must come and see.

You cannot predict at the outset what genres will or will not be in the Bible.  You must come and see what is actually there.  You cannot say a priori whether all of its narratives will be “historical”.  You must come and see whether they are.  You cannot decide beforehand whether the books had one or many “authors,” whether they depended upon and edited sources, whether they took artistic license with the stories at their disposal, or whether the books were written by this or that person in this or that place and time.  You must come and see where the evidence leads.  You cannot take a “deductive approach” to the Bible.  You must come and see, lest you presumptuously allow your finite, fallible reason, to dictate to the God of the universe what he can and cannot do with his Word.

via The Bible, Human Reason, and their Limits: The Poverty of “Deductive Approaches to Scripture” | Brick by Brick.

Beliefs are like the tides

Reading thru some of the things I’ve posted in the past I came upon this quote of Richard Beck:

For me, beliefs are like the tides, they ebb and flow. But how I treat my neighbor, how I practice my faith, should be constant and unchanging.

I like it. Beliefs are like the tide, and the tide comes and goes, and what you do everyday is more important than whether the tide is in or out at this moment. The big question, when living near the tide, is what you did. Did you build your house on the rock or on the sand?

What I am not

Thomas Merton, via Tim Suttle’s blog:

What do I fear most? Forgetting and ignorance of the inmost truth of my being. To forget who I am, to be lost in what I am not, to fail my own inner truth, to get carried away in what is not true to me, what is outside me, what imposes itself on me from outside…

via The Basic Fear that Dominates Your Life Far More Than You Realize.

As a person who suffers hugely with fears of failed competence, the line that resonates deeply with me is getting “lost in what I am not” and not living up to what’s actually true about me.

Our role in the unfolding of creation

When we consider evolution and natural selection we often think of it in terms of survival of the fittest. The vision is of competition and bloody fight, of victors and vanquished. But this is not the point. Fitness in biology has little to do with competition and victory in the local specific situation. Rather the fittest are those who raise most offspring, nothing more, nothing less. In the long run a variant with greater fitness will survive, but in the short term many will coexist. Evolution does require a natural cycle and process of life and death with successive generations. But this need be no more violent or wasteful than the world we see around us today. Each succeeding generation fulfills a role in the process of the unfolding of creation.

via And it Was Good … But Red in Tooth and Claw? RJS.

Wrathful, Angry, Retributive, and Punishing

Like the Galileans, we too have a tendency to want to believe that God is on our side and will judge “the other” who is over against us, or different from us. Such was not the case with Jesus. He observed that God makes no distinctions between righteous and wicked, between oppressors and oppressed, they both need deliverance and God’s blessing. Did he not say, “God makes rain to fall on good and evil and sun to shine on just and unjust?” Matt 5:45

This is perhaps the most important point I am seeking to make in my book The Jesus Driven Life, namely that, like Jesus, it is essential for us to begin to reframe the way we understand the “wrath” or retributive violence of God.

To suggest that God is nonviolent or better yet, that God is not involved in the cycle of retributive vengeance and punishment will undoubtedly strike many as wrong. … Nothing irks some folks more than losing a God who is wrathful, angry, retributive and punishing. This is only because we want so much to believe that God takes sides, and that side is inevitably our side.

via Are you irked at the thought of God not being wrathful? Michael Hardin part 2.

I don’t know why

This is the end of a poem by Hannah Notess exploring why some people experience religion so clearly and others do not.

I don’t know why

some buildings burned to cinders

instantly, while others

only turned a little gray,

just kissed by ash and smoke,

and I don’t know why

God touches down on some of us

and not on others,

and I don’t know why sometimes

a prisoner doesn’t even have

a window to look out of

when he writes Rejoice, rejoice

and other times

an earthquake rattles him free.

via Big, Wild and Unanswerable | Addie Zierman | How To Talk Evangelical.