Month: May 2014

By ‘the authenticity meme’, I mean that picture of the self which suggests that what is real, what is true, what is most properly me, is what goes on inside, behind closed doors, away from the distorting, inauthentic traffic of social life. I mean that picture of the self which suggests that my task is to work on the deceitful surface of my life – all the faces that I present in interactions with others, in groups, in institutions, in society – until it becomes transparent to the authentic depths of who I am. I mean that picture of the self which suggests that you have not met me – not the real me – until I have become authentic with you.
In the face of this corrosive myth, I offer a counter-myth.
I claim that I become who I am only with and through others – and that I discover who I am only in company. Who I am. That is: what I can contribute, what my real strengths and weaknesses are, what I need, what I want, what I can give, how responsive I can be. All these are not sitting there quietly inside me, waiting only upon sufficient introspection, a sufficient effort of honesty, to become clear to me and so expressible to others. Rather, they will emerge (both in the sense of becoming visible and in the sense of coming into being) as I enter seriously into conversation with others, experimenting, exploring, trying out, working – and so finding what resistances and what possibilities emerge over the course of those conversations. And the self I find in the process will be, and can only be, something that both discovered and made in the process. That is, the self I find would have been different had my conversation partners been different, and would have been different had it been someone else engaging with these same conversation partners – but there is in principle and in practice no sorting out what I have brought to this self from what others have brought to it. – Mike Higton, “Authenticity”

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G.O.S.P.E.L.

It’s the full story of life crushed into 4 minutes. The entirety of humanity in the palm of your hand crushed into one sentence. Listen its intense right. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life. The greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told. God. Yes. God. The maker and giver of life. And by life I mean any and all manner and substance. Seen and unseen. What can and can be touched. Thoughts, image, emotions, love, atoms and oceans. God.  All of it his handy work. One of which is masterpiece. Made so uniquely that angels looked curiously. The one thing in creation that was made with his imagery. The concept so cold. It’s the reason I stay bold, how God breathed in the man  and he became a living soul.  Formed with the intent of being infinitely intimately fond. Creator and creation held in eternal bold. And it was placed in perfect paradise til something went wrong.  A species got deceived and started lusting for his job. An odd list of complaints as if the system ain’t working and used that same breath he graciously gave us to curse him. And that sin seed spread though our soul’s genome. And by nature of your nature, your species, you participated in the mutiny. Our. Yes. Our sins. Its nature inherited, lack in the human heart, it was over before it started. Deceived from day one and lead away by our own lusts. There’s not a religion in the word that doesn’t agree that something’s wrong with us. The question is what is it? And how do we fix it? Are we eternally  separated from a God that may or not have existed? But that’s another subject. Let’s keep grinding. Besides trying to prove God is like defending a lion homie, it don’t need your help, just unlock the cage. Let’s move on how our debt can be paid.  Short and sweet. The problem is Sin. Yes. Sin. It’s a cancer. An asthma. Choking out our life force. Forcing separation from a perfect and holy God and the only way to get back is to get back to perfection but silly us, trying to pass the course of life without referring to a syllabus. This is us. Heap up your good deeds. Chant, pray, meditate but all of that of course is spreading colon on a corpse.  Or you could choose to ignore it as if something don’t stink.  It’s like stepping it dog poop and refusing to wipe your shoe and all of that ends with how good is good enough. Take your silly list of good deeds and line them up against perfection, good luck. That’s life past your pay grade. The cost of your soul you ain’t gotta big enough piggy bank. But you can give it a shot. But I suggest you throw away the list cause even your good acts are an extension of your selfishness. But here’s where it gets interesting. I hope your closely listening. Please don’t get it twisted. It’s what makes our faith unique. Here’s what God says is Part A of the gospel. You can’t fix yourself. Quit trying it’s impossible.  Sin brings death. Give God his breath back. You owe him. Eternally separated and the only way to fix it is someone die in your place and that someone gotta be perfect. Or the payment ain’t permanent. So if and when you find the perfect person, get him or her to willing trade their perfection for your sin and death in. Clearly since the only one that can meet God’s criteria is God. God sent himself as Jesus to pay the cost for us. His righteousness, his death, functions as payment. Yes. Payment. Wrote a check with his life but at the resurrection we all cheered cause that means the check cleared. Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood stained son of man. Fullness forgiveness free passage into the promise land, that same breath God breathed into us God gave it up to redeem us. And anyone and everyone. And by everyone I mean everyone who puts their faith in trust in him and him alone can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness. And here’s what the promise is, that you are guaranteed full access to return the perfect unity. By simply believing in Christ in Christ alone. You are receiving life. Yes. Life. This is the Gospel. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.

– Jason Petty

2 ” ” ‘s …1 Serious, 1 Silly

“They say all foxes are slightly allergic to linoleum, but it’s cool to the paw, try it. They say my tail needs to be dry cleaned twice a month, but now it’s fully detachable, see? They say our tree may never grow back, but one day, something will. Yes, these crackles are made of synthetic goose and these giblets come from artificial squab and even these apples look fake—but at least they’ve got stars on them. I guess my point is, we’ll eat tonight, and we’ll eat together. And even in this not particularly flattering light, you are without a doubt the five and a half most wonderful wild animals I’ve ever met in my life.”
― Mr. Fox

 

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – Screwtape

I recently met a young man (we’ll call him Joel) who had been dating a young woman for a couple of years. Early on, Joel and his girlfriend decided that they wanted to love and support their friends through their relationship. For Valentine’s Day, they decided to invite their friends over for a game night instead of going out on a date for two. For them, it was important that their love for each other also be a love that overflows into the lives of those around them. So they try to bring others into this love as much as possible.

I also have friends who have done this for me. A couple I know went on a walk recently, and, as they often do, they invited me to come along again. I was also heading out of my house, but I was walking to a coffee shop to go study. So they just decided to walk me there. For them, one measure of the “success” of their relationship is whether others feel comfortable spending time with them as a couple, whether the “third wheel” feels like a third wheel or a friend. They have always made me a friend…

In my experience, I have found that the most generous people tend to be the people who have the least time to be generous. They also tend to be the people who you would think would be in most need of generosity. But they’re the ones constantly seeking out opportunities to be generous; not because of some self-righteousness or a need to make known their magnanimity, but because of an enduring desire to enrich the lives of others. If we are not these people (I certainly am not), then much of our vocation will be working to become these people.

the wonderful Chris Damian via Wes Hill

He remained what he was; what he was not, he assumed. No “because” is required for his existence in the beginning, for what could account for the existence of God? But later he came into being because of something, namely your salvation… He was carried in the womb, but acknowledged by a prophet as yet unborn himself, who leaped for joy at the presence of the Word for whose sake he had been created. He was wrapped in swaddling bands, but at the Resurrection he unloosed the swaddling bands of the grave. He was laid in a manger, but was extolled by angels, disclosed by a star and adored by Magi… He was exiled into Egypt, but he banished the Egyptian idols… As man he was baptized, but he absolved sins as God; he needed no purifying rites himself—his purpose was to hallow water… He hungered—yet he fed thousands. He is indeed “living, heavenly bread.” He thirsted—yet he exclaimed: “Whosoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Indeed he promised that believers would become fountains. He was tired—yet he is the “rest” of the weary and the burdened. He was overcome by heavy sleep—yet he goes lightly over the sea, rebukes winds, and relieves the drowning Peter… He weeps, yet he puts an end to weeping. He asks where Lazarus was laid—he was man; yet he raises Lazarus—he was God. He is sold, and cheap was the price—thirty pieces of silver; yet he buys back the world at the mighty cost of his own blood. A sheep, he is led to the slaughter—yet he shepherds Israel and now the whole world as well… He is weakened, and wounded—yet he cures every disease and every weakness. He is brought up to the tree and nailed to it—yet by the tree of life he restores us… He is given vinegar to drink, gall to eat—and who is he? Why, one who turned water into wine, who took away the taste of bitterness, who is all sweetness and desire. He surrenders his life, yet he has power to take it again… He dies, but he vivifies and by death destroys death. He is buried, yet he rises again. He goes down to Hades, yet he leads souls up, ascends to heaven, and will come to judge the quick and the dead…

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, from The Third Theological Oration (Oration 29.19-20) via Wes Hill

Personality is eternal and inviolable. But then, personality is not a datum from which we start. The individualism in which we all begin is only a parody or shadow of it. True personality lies ahead -how far ahead, for most of us, I dare not say. And the key to it does not lie in ourselves.  It will not be attained by development from within outwards.  It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a colour first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavour when inserted just where and when a good cook wishes among the other ingredients, as the dog becomes really doggy only when he has taken his place in the household of man, so we shall then first be true persons when we have suffered our- selves to be fitted into our places. We are marble waiting to be shaped, metal waiting to be run into a mould.

– CSL “Membership” (p. 173)

We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body, and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court. After that it seems almost trivial to trace further down the diversity of operations to the unity of the Spirit. But it is very plainly there.  There are priests divided from the laity, catechumens divided from those who are in full fellowship. There is authority of husbands over wives and parents over children. There is, in forms too subtle for official embodiment, a continual interchange of complementary ministrations. We are all constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man when we intercede, and man to Christ when others intercede for us. The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.

– CSL “Membership” [pgs. 166-167]

But the problem is this: So often Canon White (and his friends) are welcomed among us as visitors. We celebrate them as speakers. We enjoy their embarrassing eccentricities. We cheer when they describe their risk-taking lives. We laugh when they poke fun at the powers-that-be. But we are also happy to see them go. It is the rare and remarkable custodial institution that welcomes them in, gives them a home, and encourages them to truly be who they have been called to be. Or that doesn’t just relegate them to the margin…

Evangelicals are excellent institution builders. We can look back at our history and point to risk-takers and claim them in our heritage. And there have been moments when we have truly moved our society into better places, particularly in the past 20 years. But this is probably less common than we like to admit. We have tended to shy away from the prophetic voice for reasons I have never understood. It’s rare that we take risks that raise social concerns or justice issues or put our supporters in an uncomfortable place.

Gary Burge, “Do Evangelicals Have Room for Prophets?” via Wes Hill

A Text Message To Charlie Zimmerman

Life has been good.  Faithfulness is the theme.  Not my faithfulness …in fact, to be honest with you I find NO unadulterated faithfulness in and of myself (to be sure there is the appearance of faithfulness from time to time, but when you get down into the roots of what appears to be “my faithfulness” it turns out to be greed or something worse).  I am fickle.  However I am the recipient of true faithfulness.  I’m not talking imitation faithfulness – though if left to myself I would TOTALLY settle for the imitation brand (mostly because I’m an idiot who is guided and governed by my fleeting emotions, appetites, and distorted orientations).  I’m talking about AUTHENTIC – GRADE A – faithfulness.  Faithfulness – by definition – won’t quit, but at the risk of sounding redundant I must tell you – – – I am the recipient of FAITHFULNESS THAT WON’T QUIT!  I want my life to be fulfilling.  I want my life to be satisfying.  I want to experience good things.  However, I am very doubtful that I can actually produce a lasting version of these things in my own strength.  I am insecure.  I am rampantly afraid of failure.  I am averse to risk …and it’s a massive RISK to rely on myself!  You see my predicament!?  But here’s the good news – – – > I don’t determine or define my ultimate satisfaction, or fulfillment!  I want a great life!  And I shall have it because I have been chosen by One who is faithful.  This is surreal, and frankly – much of the time – unbelievable!  I so easily forget this (sometimes for days on end), but it’s not contingent on my memory, nor my feelings, nor my efforts.  It’ll happen because the faithful One sez so!