Tag Archives: Musings

The Lion and the lectionary

Chapel on Friday mornings is an abbreviated version of the morning office–we pray, read scripture, recite the Apostle’s Creed and are silent together.  It’s a good time.

In the last couple of weeks, the scripture readings in particular have been quite jarring, but not in the way you might expect. A couple of weeks ago I read from Acts 19:21-41. The bulk of the text is about a riot at Ephesus and the material is largely political in nature.  I kept checking the readings for the day to make sure I wasn’t reading the wrong passage. What a bizarre passage to include as part of the lectionary readings, I thought to myself. What does this tell us about anything? I saw my homiletics professor afterwards and asked him how someone would preach a sermon on that passage.  What’s the big idea in that text?

The lesson, I suppose, is that even if the Bible is inspired and the word of God, it cannot be picked apart willy-nilly. There are some parts of scripture that are unpreachable outside of a wider context.  And even if such a passage functions within a wider context, the passage itself may not have anything to present to use other than information driving the story.

Today in chapel I read from Revelation 9:11-21. It’s a dark passage about plagues and the death of one-third of the earth’s inhabitants. Symbolism and metaphor or not, it was a difficult passage to read and then end with “The word of the Lord” to which the rest of the people replying, “Thanks be to God.”

This is the beauty of the lectionary: it takes us places in scripture we would otherwise not go. To run with C.S. Lewis’ imagery a bit, the lectionary teaches us that the Lion’s word is no tamer than the Lion himself.  Don’t think we know it all, that we have it in our grasp.  It can slip away from us easily, mystify us, frustrate us–maybe even offend us.

And perhaps that’s as it should be.

The Lord helps those…

I’ve dived (dove? doven?) right into my reading for this semester.  The first book I started is Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (a mouthful with the subtitle).  It’s written from a sociological perspective and one of the chapters deals with the fact that, among other things, Christianity was able to mobilize a human response to epidemics in a way that pagan religion was not able to.

What was new and different about Christianity was the “notion that more than self-interested exchange relations were possible between humans and the supernatural” and that “because God loves humanity, Christians cannot please  God unless they love one another” (86).  Emperor Julian–not a fan of Christianity–noted the benevolence of Christians and wanted pagans to at least match this activity, “but for all that he urged pagan priests to match these Christian practices, there was little or no response because there were no doctrinal bases or traditional practices for them to build upon.  It was not that Romans knew nothing of charity, but that it was not based on service to the gods” (88). The pagans mostly fled the cities to save themselves from epidemics; Christians stayed in the cities and cared not only for their own but also for those sick pagans who had been left behind.

There were, in Stark’s view, a number of implications to this Christian charity which contributed to the rapid rise of the faith, but that’s another matter (though an interesting one).  However, this particular passage struck me:

I suggest reading the following passage from Matthew (25:35-40) as if for the very first time, in order to gain insight into the power of this new morality when it was new, not centuries later in more cynical and worldly times:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.

When the New Testament was new, these were the norms of the Christian communities. Tertullian [one of the church “fathers”] claimed: “It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another!'” (87)

This immediately put in mind of the relatively recent brouhaha over universal medicare in the U.S. Run from your church if they talk about social gospel!, says Glenn Beck (inexplicably the new spokesperson for what appears to be much of the Christian right).  What is the social gospel?  As far as I can tell, these words of Jesus in Matthew are the essence of the social gospel. And it comes from the mouth of Jesus!

How it is that the “Christian right” came to oppose the notion of universal healthcare is beyond me.  It seems to me that they ought to be the ones who most strongly support it.  I’m not suggesting that state sponsored medicare is a biblical mandate.  What is a biblical mandate is care for those who are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned and what have you.  The state steps in because Christians are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. Somebody needs to heed Jesus’ words.

It would be one thing if the Christian right opposed universal healthcare on the grounds that they wanted to provide it instead of the Joe and Jane Taxpayer, but from what I can gather those within the church who opposed universal healthcare are not afraid of the government shuffling into their territory.  At least, not the territory of taking care of orphans and widows in their distress.  But the territory of tax dollars and the American dream?  Yes.  After all, God helps those who help themselves, it says somewhere in Hezekiah.

It scares me to think that many Christians seems to be drifting away from this “notion that more than self-interested exchange relations were possible between humans and the supernatural”.

Melancholic Maritime Fiction

I’m reading Alistair MacLeod’s No Great Mischief again. Last summer I read his collected short stories, some of them while sitting in an Adirondack  chair on the west coast of Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The weather wasn’t great those couple of days on the ocean, but it was perfect for the melancholic nostalgia of MacLeod’s short stories set on Cape Breton Island (even though it’s on Canada’s opposite coast).  Memory is connected with action and activity, as well as the senses, and MacLeod’s fiction will always be connected with our family vacation on a beach just south of Tofino.

Today is wet and windy, kind of like it was on the island last summer–a perfect day for reading, especially MacLeod.  My daily routine since finishing the school year has been to take an afternoon nap on the living room couch, which sits underneath a window.  On cool days like today, I will open the window so that the cool air flows in and down over my face as a read and then lay the book open on my chest and drift into sleep.  There are few things as enjoyable as a nap in a fresh breeze. And so I took one.

I wish there was a website somewhere that would give me suggestions for books similar to MacLeod’s.  I would enter “Island” or perhaps “The Shipping News” (not by MacLeod, but in the same category) into a search field and up would pop a number of appropriate suggestions.  Or maybe they’d have a Melancholic Maritime Fiction category.  I can’t enough of this stuff.

And not just a site that generates suggestions based on what other users have read.  If they used my fiction reading habits to recommend books to someone else who is searching for something to read akin to, say, Kurt Vonnegut’s The Slaughterhouse-Five, would turn up not only Catch-22, which is in the same vein, but also The Lord of the Rings, Right Ho, Jeeves, and, perhaps Who Has Seen the Wind, none of which would be helpful.  No–there would have to be a direct link in feel not just an algorithm or some such based on other people’s reading habits.

It would probably be a magical website.

Alas, I suspect one lands on these books by sheer accident.  There is no way of predicting which book will satiate that melancholic maritime fiction desire. As it is, I think I originally bought No Great Mischief at Costco some 10 years ago based mostly on its cover photograph in combination with the blurb on the back.  Had the cover been designed differently, I may never have read the book.  So much for the old saying.

Why ought we believe?

Today this question came to mind: “Why do we believe in Christ?”*

My childhood answer would have been, “So that I can go to heaven.”  I think that continues to be the answer of many mature Christians as well.  Maybe the answer would be more nuanced–something like, “Because he died for me/my sins.”  Or perhaps someone might answer, “Because I love him.”  But with a follow-up question–“Why do you love him?”–things are likely to end up in the same place: “Because he died for me/my sins.” However it is phrased, often it ultimately boils down to avoiding consequences.

I’m starting to think that a better or possibly more accurate answer ought to be, “Because he is Lord.”  It seems to me that the difference between the two answers is subtle but important.  To say, “Because he died for me,” is in a way a self-interested answer, because my primary motivation is the consequence (salvation or damnation), not the person.  Conversely, the primary motivation for believing “Because he is Lord,” is the person of Jesus.  This seems to be the New Testament answer as well.

You might say that “Because he died for me/my sins” is an egocentric answer, whereas “Because he is Lord” is a Christocentric answer. The difference between “Because he died for me/my sins” and “Because he is Lord” is the difference between what might be (in my own interest) and what is (regardless of my own interests).

This is why it is important that in Ethics Dietrich Bonhoeffer argues that Jesus is saviour whether people believe it or not. Jesus as Saviour and Lord is a fact not contingent on my believing it or your believing it.  This, according to Bonhoeffer, is ultimate reality. He is Lord–I can choose to believe it or I can choose to ignore or deny it, but that’s the way it is regardless of my choice.

So for Bonhoeffer spreading the Gospel or sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is not about presenting people with what might be and then having them actualize this potential through a choice of belief or non-belief.  Instead, evangelism (or proclamation, which is apparently the more Bonhoefferian term for it) is simply about pointing people to the way things are.

This is also, I think, why theologians such as Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and Thomas Torrance (to name the three I’ve spent some time with this year), who all have a highly Christocentric theology, all at least tend towards supporting some form of universal salvation (through Christ).  Because for these theologians it is ultimately about who Jesus is rather than what might become of me.  Of course, what becomes of me comes into the picture somewhere along the line, but that is still ultimately an outworking of who Christ is. No matter how you look at it, Christ is the centre.

I feel like I could transition into some of my reflections on this past year which I presented in church a couple of weeks ago as a part of our “The Spirit Speaks in Community” series. I reflected on the impact of “faith of Christ” vs. “faith inChrist” in Galatians 2 on my own thinking on the subject.  However, a) people tend not to read overly long posts, and b) I need to crunch those thoughts down into a post-sized form. So this post is, in a way, to be continued…

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*I suppose another way to frame the topic is to ask, “What is the essence of the Gospel?” but this is the way it came to mind today.

This is where I used to live 3

So Google Street View has reached Heerlen, The Netherlands, the place of my birth and the first seven years of my life.  I can “walk” around my old neighbourhood.  How cool! Technology! So here’s the third installment of a series of posts which will only be interesting to me and possibly some members of my family. Posts 1 and 2 and here and here.

I’ll post some highlights. Valeriusstraat 9, my home for seven years. Bathroom to the right of the front door (with the five-on-a-die window), livingroom to the left of the door. Above the living room is a bedroom–originally shared by my brother and I, then it became my parents’ room. The two windows above the door and the bathroom is a very small room that my brother had as a bedroom in later years. The door was green in our day:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

There used to be a hazelnut tree on this corner. I think you can see its stump in the grass. We would pick the hazelnuts and then stomp on them on the sidewalk across the street in front of Maik’s house (the picture after next–basically just turning slightly to the right where you’re standing):


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My (sometime) friend Maik’s house. If you look down the street along the same row, our house was the one at the elbow:


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The entrance to the back pathway which ran between the houses for what be about two city blocks. Unfortunately, the Google Street View Car didn’t/couldn’t go in there, we won’t be able to peek in to my back yard:


View Valeriusstraat in a larger map

Now turn 180 degrees and you would have seen a parking lot, beyond which there was a field where I used to kick the soccer ball around and pick wildflowers for my mom. Madeliefjes, I think (I’m not sure what that would be in English.) There is now a row of houses where there used to be parking lot. But on the left in the picture below the field beyond.

Straight ahead where the office building is located used to be a much larger field where I wasn’t allowed to play on my own. They used to have some sort of carnival there. It is where I first smelled a certain combination of beer and smoke (beer tents) and laid eyes on those pulpy beer coasters emblazoned with the Heineken logo. Scent and nostalgia are closely linked for me. I’ll always think fondly of this place whenever I smell a certain combination of beer and cigarette smoke.

To the right in this field were bushes which for some reason terrified us. We thought “hashkickers” (hashish frogs?) lived there. Maybe someone found some needles there, in which case the fear may have been our parents’ doing.


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A couple of blocks away from here is my kindergarten. Turn 90 degrees left from this point, walk down the street until the large intersection, hang a 90 degree right down the street that runs along the row of apartments and here it is:


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That’s a rotating sign on top of that tall building in the picture below. I could see it from my bedroom window at night, glowing blue and red. For some reason even the thought of it is comforting.


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At the opposite end of our street and around the corner, somewhere along this row of buildings was Arie de Friteman, where we would buy “patat”–french fries with mayonnaise and other deep-fried goodies.


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I’m going completely on memory of the streets, but I think this is where my best friend from the first day of kindergarten (we are still in touch to this day) lived. I remember sleepovers at his place, playing with his cool pirates Playmobil set, his piles of Suske en Wiske comic books, drawing pictures of cars with their hoods up, and the one time I crapped my pants in my pajamas. (My mom has now confirmed the location. I’m amazed how well my memory of the streets are. I was 7 years old when we moved. It has been 25 years since I was on these streets, but I can still find my way around.)


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For some reason I think my brother’s scouts meetings were in this church, which is just across the way from my childhood friend’s house. But my memory might just be making things up now. It sure look familiar, though.


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This is the hospital I was born in and where I had at least two operations to put tubes in my ears. I still have the little stuffed toys I received as gifts from my parents after my surgery.


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In this next picture you will see a church steeple in the background. On the street in front of that church was an outdoor market that we would go to every now and then. I can smell the fish and hear the church’s bells. I also distinctly remember there being a calliope. Through one of these doors and down the stairs there used to be (or perhaps still is) a toy store where my mom would sometimes drop me off while she went to the market.


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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate my elementary school, even after a phone call to Mom. I’m picturing the concrete tiled school grounds. At recess we would dig holes in the dirt around the perimeter and play marbles. Only I rarely played because I liked my marbles too much and didn’t want to lose any. I’ve never been much of a risk taker. I also wasn’t able to find the library or the building where the church my dad planted met. Apparently that building has been torn down and the whole neighbourhood, including streets, redone.

One thing I can’t fail to notice as I wander the streets of this old Dutch city is that Dutch people are not big on large lawns. Good for them. I could do without a large lawn and I think the kids could, too. In fact, I would go so far as to say that front lawns are a completely useless feature in a property and only create unnecessary work.

I think I’d happily live in Heerlen.

The small south Saskatchewan town of Caronport, where I spent the next 12 years of my life also has street view on Google Maps. Perhaps I’ll do a post about that sometime, too.

Sometimes translation is moan

I’m fascinated with how one language relates to another and what that looks like in translation.  One of the special features on Monty Python’s Holy Grail special edition is a scene from the film which was dubbed (i.e. translated) into Japanese with English subtitles translated from the Japanese dub.  It’s fascinating what happens to words and phrases when they are translated out of one language into another and then translated back to the original language.

Earlier today I was reading a Dutch children’s story to Madeline and translating it into English as I read. It’s really quite interesting how much nuance is lost in translation, even between two Germanic languages. Certain Dutch words have no English equivalent that I’m aware of; other words require multiple words in English; some have so many shades of meaning that several similar words put together only hint at what the original word might mean. I imagine it’s the same when translating the other way.

To that end, and for my own interest (because I’m sure that few, if any of you, will be interested), I present you with my literal (“wooden”) word-for-word translation of “Nijntje Aan Zee”.  (Nijntje Pluis is a children’s character, named “Miffy” in English.)

It looks long, but it’ll be a quick read, and near the end I have some fun by translating from Dutch to English to Dutch and back to English again using different translators.

Continue reading

This is Our Father’s World.

I haven’t written anything about creation/evolution in a while.  I’m not really going to in this post, either. At least not in terms of theories or possibilities. However, the BioLogos Foundation has been posting a series of short video clips on YouTube, in which a variety of Biblical scholars talk about various aspects of creation/evolution, theology and Genesis 1. The videos featuring N.T. Wright were interesting, but this one with Bruce Waltke (conservative OT scholar, connected with the NASB, NIV/TNIV translations) sparked some new thoughts in my mind:

Initially I had some reservations with his concern about church becoming a cult (or at least looking like one), because that seems like a poor reason to accept a different view. But I think that what he says in this context (as well as his specific definition of “cult”–a “group which does not interact with the real world”) is important.

I think that if the data is overwhelmingly in favour of evolution, then to deny that reality will make us a cult–some kind of group that is not interacting with the real world…To deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death.

The implication of the creation story is that this world is God’s world and it his creation. To deny or ignore the evidence* in creation of the method or process of creation is in essence to deny the message of the creation story. It would be to “deny the truth of God in the world”–to deny what God has done.

In other words, to deny the evidence for evolution found in God’s creation is potentially more dangerous to our view of God than to affirm it. “It would be,” says Waltke, “our spiritual death.”

If God created the world, and the evidence within the world he created points to an evolutionary process, then we must conclude that God may well have used an evolutionary process to create the world.

God and evolution are not mutually exclusive.** For some reason this isn’t self-evident to many Christians. In fact, many Christians, at least by implication, would say that they are mutually exclusive, and so to preserve the one, we deny the other (some scientists will do this as well, except vice versa). So, for some Christians, the evidence must be either non-existent, faulty, or misinterpreted.

The comments on blog posts about this video show a certain lack of self-awareness on the part of the Christians commenting with unequivocal rejections of evolution. The general response of the Christian skeptic is generally that scientists are reading the evidence however they want to or that they are imposing their views on the evidence. However, Christians have to have the humility to recognize and accept that we are often no different when it comes to interpreting the “evidence” of scripture. We are often imposing our view on scripture rather than letting scripture be what it is.

Another comment might go something like this: scientists are making the evidence say more than it can. This is normally in reference to coming to naturalist/materialist view of the universe based on the evidence–i.e. the suggestion that the evidence proves that God doesn’t exist. This is a legitimate concern, but not reason to deny evolution or the evidence for it altogether (evolution and evolutionism/materialism/naturalism are different things**). But, once again, are we able to recognize that same tendency within our own views? Particularly as concerns the question of creation/evolution, are we making the Bible say more than it can or was meant to say?

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*the “if” in “if the data” is important. It’s important for two reasons: 1) most people discussing this issue in this kind of forum are not scientists. So we are dealing with what we think we know about the issue, which is probably not very much. 2) the “if” is not an implied denial of the evidence, but actually an affirmation of what is accepted by scientists generally (but, again, I need to be careful here, because I don’t know for sure), including scientists who are also Christians.

** it’s important to make the distinction between evolution and evolutionism–which is basically a distinction between science and worldview. When I say “evolution” I am referring to the scientific theory relating to the evolution of biological organisms. I am not referring to “evolutionism” or any of its worldview relatives. Unfortunately, many Christians conflate the two, making evolution a denial of God’s existence, which I think does a disservice to the scientific community as well as this whole conversation.

Hope

how faint the whisper we hear of him! (Job 26:14, TNIV)

* * *

Here
is bigger than you can imagine
Now
is forever (Bruce Cockburn)

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about pain and suffering and genocide and natural disasters and…God.  Without diminishing the pain and horror, and without denying the legitimacy of our incredulity, our anger at God for allowing these things to happen, I do have the strong sense that we humans are awfully short-sighted in our assessment of what God is or is not doing in the world. What truths can we derive from our suffering when it is but a blip of an event in the continuum of history?  What do we, with our short lives, know about how these things fit in the great scheme of things?

And what of all the beauty and goodness we see in the world?  Should God get any credit for those things?  Should the bad things outweigh the good?

Perhaps it is easy for me to say this sitting comfortably in my Poäng chair at home, surrounded by books, family, love, health and…a roof and walls, but there runs inside me a deep vein of hope.  There is good in the world and it will prevail. I believe this deeply.

Hope does not do away with the pain and suffering, and neither does it justify or excuse it.  Hope does not mean we cannot or do not weep, grieve, shout at God in anger.  What hope does is see, if faintly and uncertainly, beyond pain and suffering to the time when, in Julian of Norwich’s wonderful words, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”.

Tonight I had Bruce Cockburn’s album You’ve Never Seen Everything playing in the background as I worked.  The title track is quite a powerful song.  On first listen it comes across as a heavily political song, which is not unusual for Cockburn.  It is a dark song, sparse instrumentation, with lyrics spoken in a low, tired, almost pained voice.

The listener is presented with a series of vignettes showing the dark underbelly of the world: viruses, suicide, murder, drug trade, sexual harassment, consumerism, poisoning of women and children, rage, greed, and so on.  After a couple of these vignettes, the words, “You’ve never seen everything”.  For example:

And a car crashes and burns on an offramp from the Gardiner
Two dogs in the back seat die, and in the front
a man and his mother
Forensics reveals the lady has pitchfork wounds in her chest –
Pitchfork!
And that the same or a similar instrument has been screwed to the dash
to make sure the driver goes too

You’ve never seen everything

The listener is shaken out of his or her stupor: there is so much darkness beyond that comfortable little world you’ve created for yourself, he seems to be saying. You think you get it?  You think you understand the world–like watching the nightly news gives you any sense of what’s going on?

For the longest time I would simply skip over the song.  It was too dark, too discomforting.  And the only reason I did choose to listen to it was to get to the chorus, which is a rich, beautiful melody dropped in the middle of those dark vignettes:

Bad pressure coming down
Tears – what we really traffic in
ride the ribbon of shadow
Never feel the light falling all around

Until tonight I wasn’t sure what to do with that chorus, other than enjoy it as a brief reprieve from the dark images being spoken around it.  The song is the shadow, it seemed to me, and the chorus but a thin ribbon of half-light running through it.  But suddenly, tonight, perhaps in confirmation of the things I’ve been thinking about hope, I realized what the song is actually saying.  It ends with the chorus and repeated mantra:

Bad pressure coming down
Tears – what we really traffic in
ride the ribbon of shadow
Never feel the light falling all around
Never feel the light falling all around

You’ve never seen everything

It’s not the darkness we haven’t seen around us, it’s the light!  We think we’ve seen it all when we see the pain and sorrow of the world, but we haven’t seen everything: we haven’t seen the light falling all around, filling all the infinite space in which the ribbon of shadow moves.  We choose to ride the ribbon of darkness when we could just as well ride the light if we are willing to see it.

In fact, the album ends quite abruptly a few songs later on the word “hope”.

Balance. Focus. Two things I need.

Today I asked one of the seminary professors about some of the classes that will be offered in the 2010/2011 school year.  In the course of our conversation, he said that he encourages his students to be more concerned about getting an education than getting a degree.  This is good advice.  A person can get a degree without really getting educated.

An education (*and* a degree) has been precisely what I’m after–I want to immerse myself in the subject matter, absorb it, make it my own.  I don’t want to just put out a product and be compensated for it.  I got my university degree mostly by putting out a product: the professors were the consumers, and I put out a product that met their demand.  Quite often, very little thought went into those papers–they are created for someone else’s benefit, not mine.  That is precisely not what I want to do here and now.  But I’m finding it difficult, when faced with a heavy workload, to not simply put out a product.

This semester is already overwhelming me in many ways, even though looking at my syllabi, the assignment demands aren’t all that high.  It’s the day-to-day work, the stuff that needs to be done between classes in order to understand and participate in class.  It’s the reading I have to do each week, it’s the translating and vocabulary I need to memorize (I’m way behind on my vocab–in fact, I should be doing vocab instead of writing this), it’s the daily journaling, etc.  I enjoy all of these things; all of my classes are interesting and engaging. But when I combine all the class preparation with the assignments that are due, I’m overwhelmed.  I’m trying to schedule a certain amount of time each day for the things that need doing, but I still seem to plod along and never get as much done as I had hoped and planned.

For my Theology and Practice of Christian Spirituality and Formation class I’m reading a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  The next chapter in the book is about letting go of things.  I imagine this will be “things that hinder”.  And I recognize that there are some things I could cut back on.  I rarely watch TV anymore, but the internet–Oh! The wasted hours!  I need to give up being current and up-to-date on blogs and Facebook statuses.

Dixie would never think of me as a person in a hurry, but it has become apparent to me that my mind is always on the go (although I do have the knack for shutting it off when my head hits the pillow).  It’s always on something: something I want to say here, the assignments I have due, the reading I need to do, the reading I want to do, this thing, that thing.  My mind is a cluttered mess preventing me from focusing on anything, whether it’s school or prayer (or any other spiritual discipline). And I’m wondering if underneath that mess there are some things I may need to deal with, things that I am blocking out or ignoring precisely by fillin my mind with time-wasters and distractions.  These things, I suspect, can tell me things about my personality, my work ethic, how I interact with people, who I think I am, etc. etc.  How do I get through that clutter and find that…thing?

That professor I was talking to this morning said that he tells students to do whatever it takes to get an education (as opposed to just getting a degree.  We didn’t finish our conversation, but I think he meant, Take this class not that class, simply audit this class, take less classes each semester, take your time completing your degree, worry less about your grades and more about what you’re learning, etc.

In connection with this Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book , I think one thing I may have to give up is achieving.  I may have to give up (or severely restrict) my internet usage (it’s more of an addiction than an interest these days anyway).  I may have to give up some socializing, just when I actually am getting to know people with whom to socialize.

But I have a wife and children to consider.  I have a life other than me and school.  And I’m at a stage in my life where losing sleep is no longer worth handing a paper in on time.

Balance. Focus. Two things I need.

And, perhaps ironically, I think I need to start practicing Sabbath in some way or other.  I need to take time to stop and give up control and just be, whether that’s by stopping for an hour in the middle of the day just to be silent (a separate discipline, I suppose, but still a way of stopping) or actually taking a day (Saturdays, probably) to not work.

Metamorphosis

Just a thought I had as I was ruminating on these words of Jesus: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (John 6:49-51a).

I’m gonna throw this thought out there; if you like it, you can take it, and if you don’t, you can send it right back:

I’ve wondered before about the possibility of there being death prior to the “fall” of humans–possibly even death as a part of the created order.  I’ve considered this from a somewhat scientific angle (so far as my limited scientific capacity allowed), but not from a theological or ontological angle.  (This is all speculative, of course.)

What if death was originally meant to be a sort of metamorphosis in the process of creation and that, prior to the fall, humans would naturally come out on the other side of death in a sort of resurrection into the final form of the physical life?  That is, what if creation (or human development specifically) is not complete until a human had passed through death into new life?  This came to mind as I was reading this passage because while Jesus promises eternal life (“not die,” “will live forever”), his disciples still died.  People of faith around the world die natural deaths every day.  It’s a question I’ve had for a while.

Today, however, it occurred to me that Jesus’ death was necessary in order for him to enter into the eternal life.  That doesn’t sound very profound, but listen:  Jesus’ resurrected body is completely physical, but in a way which we have not experienced.  He eats and drinks and can be touched, but evidently he also walks through walls.  Could the transition between our physicality and “resurrected physicality” be made without dying?

Going back to the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3, then, this idea would mean that the result of this disobedience was not death in itself but a specifically permanent death–that is, death which is not passed through, but one which is permanent, without resurrection into a new physical reality.

Interesting idea.  But possibly crazy.