+ Some Quotes +

A trinity of quotes today. 

One from a scientist. One from a philosopher. And the final from a priest. Somehow they speak to the foundation I sense I’m standing on. It is, to be sure, a weak foundation.  I’m not looking for a strong or obscenely certain one.  The weakness of the foundation is as weak as Love itself–something that calls to us, that draws us, urging us to be fall forward, to take the leap, propelling us ahead, but without force. In the end my affirmation is a simple one, to quote Gianni Vattimo when asked if he still “believed”, he answered “I believe so.”  I believe that I believe. 

You have a choice… I don’t think anyone can prove that God exists or that God doesn’t exist–we’re in an area far to deep for mere proof…a big fundamental question like belief in God (or disbelief) is not settled by a single argument. It’s too complicated for that. What one has to do is consider lots of different issues and see whether or not the answers one gets add up to a total picture that makes sense–but also gives meaning, beauty, depth, joy and hope.  In other words do you like the panting that you’ve just created or not?–Polkinghorne, pg 36

 

Who do I love when I love my God?  I love this question because it assumes that anybody worth their salt loves God. If you do not love God what good are you?  You are too caught up in the meanness of self-love and self-gratification to be worth a tinker’s damn. Your soul soars only with a spike in the Dow Jones Industrial average; your heart leaps only at the prospect of a new tax break. The devil take you.  Religion is for lovers, for men and women of passion, for real people with real passion for something other than utilitarian gains, people who believe on something, who hope like mad in something, who love something with a love that surpasses understanding…but again, we must ask then “Who do I love when I love my God?”(Caputo, pg 2)

 

Dear friend, being beloved is the origin and fulfillment of the life of the spirit.  I say this because as soon as we catch a glimpse of this truth, we are put on a journey in search of the fullness of that truth and we will not rest until we rest in that truth.  From the moment we claim the truth of being beloved we are faced with the call to become who we are.  Becoming the Beloved is the spiritual journey we have to make. (Nouwen, pg 41)

If God Will Send His Angels

Starting the morning out being spiritually formed by U2:

…God has got his phone off the hook
Babe would he even pick up if he could?
It’s been a while since we saw that Child
Hangin’ round this neighbourhood
See His Mother dealing in a doorway
See Father Christmas with a begging bowl
Jesus sister’s eyes are blistered …
THE HIGH STREET never looked so low

It’s the blind leading the blond
It’s the cops collecting for the cons
So where is the hope and where is the faith … and the love?
What’s that you say to me
Does love… light up your Christmas tree?
The next minute you’re blowing a fuse
And the cartoon network turns into the news
Jesus never let me down
You know Jesus used to show me the score
Then they put Jesus in show business
Now it’s hard to get in the door

It’s the stuff it’s the stuff of country songs
But I guess it was something to go on

HEY IF GOD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS
I SURE COULD USE THEM HERE RIGHT NOW
WELL IF GOD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS
WHERE DO WE GO…
 

 

A Movement

Life in the way of Jesus requires movement…a change of mind, a renewing of thought and feeling and choice.  It’s what Jesus and His earliest disciples called “repentance”.  

Any of us who seek to live an integrated life, filled with balance and beauty, transcendence and truth, the experience of more and of mystery, first must move.

A friend recently pointed out something interesting,  ” Jesus said “Follow me” before penetecost, and [his disciples] followed. In other words, we are called to follow the Lord before we are ‘empowerd’ from on high. In a sense, the ‘empowerment’ is a result of obedience.”

To me, that is a description of faith.  And movement is often a step of faith, a leap forward into inky blackness.  

Today I’m touched that people might want to join in that movement:

A movement from isolation to solitude,

from individualism to the personal

from self to others

from the corporate to community.

A Song for the Church

Achtung Baby (by U2) was an album full of sex and drama…and also double meanings many of which were aimed at the Church.  For me, this song, almost every line of it, is a song for the church.  I would love to play this at an alt.worship event.

Check it:

Taking a Break…sort of

hey friends…

Well, I’m taking a bit of a break…nothing extravagent.

Here’s what I’ll be working on:

1) Finishing edits on the manuscript I’ve been working on for the last year.

2) Putting together a proposal for a non-fiction book celebrating the spirituality of absence, randomness, compost, complexity and absolutely everything in between.

3).  Working with TheOOZE.com to connect great material with great people (I help as an advertising consultant), working with intoLIFE/Dayspring Ministries, working on a new aggregate community to be unveiled in October (mums the word on this one, but it’s going to be grrrrreat!).

4).  Volunteering time and energy with Restoring Eden (a group of environmentally conscious Christ followers) and Bread for the World (a grassroots political advocacy group aiming to global hunger and poverty)

5).  Visiting friends in and around Portland to see how they engage faith and culture in their own peculiar contexts. Can’t wait to visit, Evergreen more, The Bridge, Old Growth, and various home groups.

6). Discerning clear next steps as Jessie and I, together with Ransom and Judah, move into this new phase of our lives.

7). Painting, reading, poeting, training our new dog Gatsby, and listening to good tunes…

Cheers,

Brittian

Evangelical Positivism

Positivism: a delusion that imagines we can know the past or participate in the present without any interference from your own personal and social situation as knower.

Evangelical Positivism is the same thought as above; the idea that we can look into a clear glassy pool of water and not also see our own reflection…but now add to it the Holy Spirit, as if He were some great trump card that erases our experience, our biases, our predispositions, and enables us to be detached and purely spontaneous creatures.

Being Spiritually Formed by U2

Eliacin made a comment this last weekend about not “depending on U2 for our spiritual formation”.  I thought it was hilarious then and I still do.  Honestly I’m trying not to be…but maybe it was that comment…somehow I ended up going back and listening to Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop…I love those albums…Most people think that Zooropa and Pop represent tremendous downshifts in U2′s career, I do not.  There was something honest about the pretenciousness involved in the overlayered melody and sensual lyrics.  Not only was it complexly authentic (everybody’s trying to be something else…something other…that is the reality…all the alt. kid’s who dress different like everybody else, the anti consumer’s who have the same lingo that they pick up from others, the pop music lovers who listen exclusively to the same beats…we’re all wanna be’s in someway…but what are we wanting to be?), but I think these albums articulate a faith and experience of yearning that I find real and true.  If you care to, check em out again.  Here’s the lyrics that are causing me to “turn inward” this morning.

U2
Pop (1997)
Gone

You get to feel so guilty
Got so much for so little
Then you find that feeling
Just won’t go away

You’re holding on to every little thing so tightly
‘Til there’s nothing left for you anyway

Goodbye…
You can keep this suit of lights
I’ll be up with the sun
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down

You wanted to get somewhere so badly
You had to lose yourself along the way
You change your name, well that’s okay, it’s necessary
And what you leave behind you don’t miss anyway

Goodbye…
You can keep this suit of lights
I’ll be up with the sun
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down

‘Cause I’m already gone
Felt that way all along
Closer to you every day
I didn’t want it that much anyway

You’re taking steps that make you feel dizzy
Then you learn to like the way it feels
You hurt yourself you hurt your lover
Then you discover
What you thought was freedom is just greed

Goodbye…
And it’s emotional
Good night…
I’ll be up with the sun
You’re still holding on
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down
I’m not coming down

Gone…sun…time…sun…
Gone…sun….gone…sun…
Sun…

Start Over…or not…

Start over!

It’s what we scream at God. It’s what we expect from our transformation process. It’s what demand in our bedrooms and in our prayer closets from the deity of the supernatural. Start over!

Because God isn’t possibly interested in using my cocktail of failure and fall. Because God couldn’t be concerned with the intricate and ordered journey of refashioning and renovating and renewing. Because God is as impatient as me–He must want the immediate eradication of me…because I know I do…

And that’s what is curious…we demand that God be conformed to our image. We re-interpret His peculiar Story (the scripture) to justify our personal expectation. We pound our fists and chant for “Revolution” of character, of ambition, of wants and wishes…we uphold the God who created something OUT OF NOTHING! The God who tears out the children of Israel from Egpyt and brings them to a New land. The God who acts with unexplainable supernatural events and is NOT dependent on men and women, does not need men and women, and then remind ourselves doggedly that God is NOT a man…we chant about the incarnate Divinity and maximize the divine nature…GOD in flesh we yell.

All the while forgetting that never again, from the foundation of the world, does God bara (create something out of nothing)…but instead he “fashions”…he “forms” like a potter using lump clay, ruined vessels and reforms the existing material into a beautiful new sculpture…We forget the flood’s terrible promise that “never again will God” eradicate…which is tested in the following chapters. For shortly after God makes this promise of grace He is questioned by a Babel…yet again, man’s wickedness rises to heavens…and the confusion that follows is atrocious. Here, God chooses…not to start over…but rather to call out of…to call forth and to birth a shoot of righteousness from a tree of rotten wood. He refuses to anihilate, to start over. He instead, fashions and forms. We forget Abraham, a flawed man who God refines over 120 years. We misunderstand Jacob who goes from being a “grasper of man” (Jacob) to a “wrestler with God” (Israel). We forget that God’s people identify themselves by that name: Israel, the folks who wrestle it out with God. We forget the Psalmist who compliments God for being a remodeler: “you restore my soul” or “you renovate my entire being”. This is not eradication of the old. This is recovery, a bringing back to the original. Restoration. We forget that while God calls the children of Israel out of the old and into the new, he uses the plunder of the old place in order to build His glorious New dwelling place (the loot of Egypt contributing to the building of the tabnernacle in the wilderness)…and so it always is. We forget that being fully God born of God…He was also fully human born of human. Incarnate God in carnate Man. His “New Man” is still a “Man”. His resurrected Life is still identifiably “human”. After all, consider Stephen “I see the Son of MAN seated in the heavens”. And in the end, was it not the resurrected Lord who feasted on kipper for breakfast with a boat full of hungry fisherman?

My point?

God doesn’t start over…He doesn’t anihilate. He renovates. He restores. He recovers.

This should be comforting. Because as many times as I wish I could be “completely different”, God seems to be suggesting something more balanced. Instead of numbing and the nixing my mind He chooses the renew my mind… Instead of loathing my body (like I do) He considers it holy and even says that He’s gone ahead and appropriated it to a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable, pleasing unto the good and perfect will of God. The Same me…but recovered and brought to a new use. Like clay. Like a lump of used clay now made new.

Maybe it’s time to quit making God in our image and start letting Him make us in His. Process. Adaptation. Growth.

This is the God who created the natural…the God who created the laws of life and physics to reveal His glory. This is the God who works within History to bring about the glorious climax of His story. Let’s not lose this incredible picture of God.

In the end this story begins and concludes with God leaning over a grainy and gritty, muddy and messy lump of red dirt…and breathing upon it. And that makes all the difference.

Taking A Time Out-Part 4

An older friend once relayed a bit of his family story to me. It is a common history in many ways—a grandfather from Finland who skimped and saved in order to immigrate to America, which he eventually did. When he arrived he did know a stitch of English, only Finnish. But after setting foot on the fresh soil of opportunity he committed to something that seems extraordinary to me: speaking only the language of the land where he now lived. I imagine that meant sometimes not speaking at all, other times it meant struggling—wrestling—languishing to find the most appropriate word. But, eventually he started speaking fluent English. For him the issue at hand was not unlearning the old—but learning the new. By being filled with the new he was being emptied of the old! As new words and phrases danced on his tongue the old began to fade—it ceased to have life or meaning.

This is what Paul meant when he said “We all with unveiled face beholding the glory of God are being transformed…” (1 Corinthians 3:18) As we relate to Him, as we just sit back and behold him…not attempt to unlearn our negative habits, not try and storm His throne with violent force and activity, but simply drink in His presence the mine field will be cleared and the ground will be renewed.

The filling results in the emptying…not the reverse.

And yet…as we focus on Him…look towards Him…receive Him…take Him in…we discover that there is less and less room for the noise that permeates our minds currently…it must be flushed out…How? By taking more of Him in…by repeating the process…beholding Him…allowing our attentions and affections to be riveted onto Him.

While we want restless motion—entertaining and exhaustive excitement—He is softly calling, asking us if we are willing to learn a new language…a language of love exchanged in whispers and intimacies to marvelous for words aloud…a language of “beholding and becoming”.

The blind song writer Helen Howarth Lemmel said it best, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
 
That’s the kind of sight I want…Lord, make me blind too…I want to unlearn by learning…to be emptied by being filled…
 
Don’t you want that too?
 
Isn’t it about time for a time out?

A junkie’s list of best hits…

Alright…as promised a (book) junkie’s list of best hits (reads)…

Due to popular demand…my top 10–the first five. I’m an avid reader. I read probably 10-20 books at a time, probably several hundred in the last year…I read fast and furious…I belch out content and trade in the currency of used books and Border’s Book store credit…seriously I’m a fanatic (ick…it’s almost embarrasing just admitting how much I read)…But there are a few books that have arrested my attention and furthered my development.  They are deeply personal…but also deeply applicable to a broad spectrum of living.  Other’s have gained tremendous enjoyment from them as well…so I feel pretty good about passing on the recommendations.

Like every Rolling Stone List– which mistakenly emphasizes the new music simply because it’s the current flavor of the week–you will find that some of my selections are part of my new reading…I don’t know what to say about that…but they are great…truly!  I hope you read some of them!.

Number 10: The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards–When I read this first, over ten years ago, my life was changed.  I had never seen the Bible as more than history and suddenly I was being invited into His Story…the greatest love story ever told.  What an amazing and full vision of God’s Eternal Purpose–from everlasting to everlasting (with you and me at the center of His heart).

Number 9:  The Complex Christ by Kester Brewin–In December a friend recommended this. I was dreading the book to be honest–it looked like a dummy’s manual “how to guide” to emergence…and I really had no interest in reading it…But then I opened it…I was wrecked.  The words were prophetic. They were inspirational. They were centered on the person of Jesus Christ and offered a deep vision of God and humanity working in concert together in His Kingdom.  Truly awesome.

Number 8: Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things by Watchman Nee–8 yeas ago an church planter and Christian worker suggested this. I had just met the Lord in a “knock you off your ass (donkey–in reference to Paul’s road to Damascus experience)” sort of way.  He thought that this might inspire an even deeper appreciation for Christ as all and in all…He was right.  It became the language I spoke for 7 years.  Very formational.

Number 7: Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell–there’s no doubt that this book was all about timing for me.  My faith needed repainting. I was on the verge of mental breakdown, I was immersed in a system of thought that had led me to pride–exclusivity–and absolutism, I was numb to God and closed to anything but the narrow vantage I found comfortable…Then I read this book.  It forced me to confront all of those demons and acknowledge my own brokenness…I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

Number 6: The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major Ian W Thomas–it’s not like I hadn’t heard the deeper Christian Life message before…this wasn’t a revolutionary book per se…but I’ve still not found a more artful and articulate synthesis of the theme of “All of Him for all of me”…I can’t help but wonder if this writing and thought process set me up for a significant embrace of the kingdom reality in my life–the kingdom gospel which speaks of a heavenly invasion into my livingess claiming my head, heart, and hands.  I would say that’s what Major Ian W. Thomas was talking about all those years ago…

Number 5: The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann–this book took me off guard.  It’s a recent addition in my life.  I knew of Brueggy baby (that’s Mike’s nickname for him) but thought of him merely in terms of dry scholasticism and theology. This book couldn’t be further from dry.  It reads with the language of an intellectual giving voice to the preaching of a pentecostal apostle.  He envisions the Scriptural reaction to the Empire/current dominant regime…he traces the continuity of how God’s people always respond the culture of competition and competence…guess how (and I hate to spoil it)…as dreamers…as believers in a better reality…as artists and poets and suffering grieving lovers…as a compassionate people–which the empire can never co-opt!  Brilliant! Brilliant!

Alright…check em out…buy em, borrow em, read em…

if you’ve already read any of them let me know what you thought. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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