Marcus, my buddy

Where has Marcus Borg been all my life? The first time I heard about him was from a friend who is a new Christian and she found him helpful--this was like two months ago. Then I realize he is a gigantic historical Jesus fanatic. Then I am writing a paper of the Christus Victor theory of Atonement and find one his books in a bibliography. What the heck? Then, I realize that Tyler has two of his books on one of our shelves in the living room. Am I living in a cave below sea level? I have desperately been needing for some time now a non-Evangelical writer who knows his stuff and isn't angry. Thank you. I have already found The Heart of Christianity extremely helpful. Check it out if you're interested and we can chat about it some more.


This is Amazing

This speaks for itself; I hope. I can only assume the designer of this was serious in his artistic expression/creation. Good ole subculture, rebuking-the-devil, evangelicalism at it's best. I'm thinking about placing this on the cover of my Christus Victor Atonement Theory Paper that I'm currently writing. (just kidding.)

Nothing Special

Since I've started this blog I'm learning that each posting is hanging in the balance, waiting patiently to be written and published onto the site. But it takes time for me to get on with it because I think I must have some profound insight at each moment of sharing and reflection. Sort of like when I'm in therapy, heaven forbid I just show up to the appointment without some life-pending issue to discuss in order to break free into the realm of perfection. Then I remember to calm down, relinquish the pressure to always get it right, yeah, I know, even blogging, and enjoy the process of typing--even if it's stupid stuff no one else cares about.

On with the posting point, you say...well, more about Jesus. He was preaching a message of sustainability even before it was cool to care about the environment. This comes to my attention through Kyle who just transmitted an email evident of lots of deep thoughts to Cindy about this. Jesus was all about promoting life, life in the Kingdom. Jesus epitomized love of people, love of God, love of the created world. (Could the picture be any more dramatic? I couldn't resist it.) When he spoke of servicing others with respect, when he showed that all human lives were valuable and worthy of healing, when he picked up the littered coke can and in threw it in the nearest recycling bin (oh wait, he didn't do that probably would have), he was saying, "Stop driving your pollutant SUV's, don't live in LA with all the smog, don't shop at Walmart, don't use too may baggies in one lunch box, and don't run the water the entire time you're brushing your teeth."

I used to brush this way-of-living-differently stuff off; I still do some of it (I commute 25 minutes to church, even). But my exegetical class on the book of Matthew won't allow it anymore. Jesus really did intend for us to live out the Sermon on the Mount. He really wants us to live differently than the rest of the world lives. His teachings are not just a Platonic-like ideal. He really wants us to work to sustain creation, life, and one another. But, damn, this is some hard shit. So what do I need to change if I'm going to take it all a little more seriously: yikes, that's another blog for another day. (I buy organic baby food, that's gotta count for something.)


Hymns Adorning Worship

For the past several weeks I’ve been asking about Jesus. Who is he? What was the point of his mission? What is the purpose of the church? How are Jesus and the church related? How do I pray to Jesus/in the name of Jesus? There are more uncertainties for me right now than certainties. People who dish out answers so quickly to these queries drop low on my spectrum of legitimacy right now.

Here is a picture of one of my favorite professors at Fuller, systematics guru, Colin Brown. Isn't this picture awesome? (I can't figure out how to get it smaller.) I sit in his Christology and Soteriology class twice a week and wonder more. In our discussion about the Quest for the Historical Jesus we noted how some scholars want to evade the entire mission and say that we know all there is to know about Jesus via Scripture and centuries of preaching Jesus. Others in favor of the mission counter-attack with the historical situation of first-century Palestine, the Jewish animosity towards Jesus, etc. Without full understanding of these social/religious/political issues, we'll never really, fully know him.

At this point, we moved to a discussion of faith. If everything in life is so challenging and complex at times--to the point where we don't know which bracket to complete on our tax forms, we're diagnosed with cancer and we don't know which treatment to have or if we should even have treatment, we have worries about the best way to raise our children, and the list goes on--if all of this mundane, life-stuff is such a challenge, then why would we expect faith to be any different? Why do scholars and individuals in the church want to boil down Scripture, God, and kingdom living to the point that it only exists as simple, clear vapors in the air rather than rumbling, substantial, scary-hot water? Faith and knowing Jesus and understanding Scripture are difficult things.

Dr. Brown sought instruction through song to further his point:
He lives
He lives
Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me
And talk with me
Along life's narrow way

He lives
He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
You ask me how I know he lives
He lives within my heart

A familiar hymn, no doubt for us Baptists! We must sing this with caution, he warns. For we only know of the Jesus who is in our hearts based on the Jesus we know in Scripture--the tendential, manipulated, multi-focus book that it is. For this reason we also must beware of the childhood favorite

Jesus loves me this I know
for the Bible tells me so...

In other words, what does the Bible really tell? Well, I plan on teaching this song to Livia (I sing it to her every night as I lay her into bed). But I couldn't agree more. So where does this leave me...still with lots of questions. If the quest to know Jesus--and all that it entails is worth committing my life to, which I believe it is, then I don't want to cheapen it with theologically shallow worship.

Yesterday at PMC we sang a lovely hymn in remembrance of the VTech victims. It is a hymn that I plan on singing again as prayer to this man, messiah, Jesus.

"A Prayer for our Children"
1. God, we have heard it, sounding in the silence:
news of the children lost to this world's violence.
Children of promise!
Then without warning,
loves ones are mourning.

2. Jesus, you came to bear our human sorrow;
you came to give us hope for each tomorrow.
You are our life, Lord,
God's own love revealing.
We need your healing.

3. Heal us from giving weapons any glory;
help us, O Prince of Peace, to hear your story;
help us resist the evil all around here;
may love abound here!

4. By your own Spirit, give your church a clear voice;
in this world's violence,
help us make a new choice.
Help us to witness to the joy your peace brings,
until your world sings!

Now this is a song I can sing today without worry.


Jesus-the Kingdom Bringer

Jesus was baptized and the dove descended upon him and the voice from heaven spoke to him. Basically, John the Baptist pushed Jesus beneath the surface of the water as a man and pulled him up for air as the Messiah. So what happened while Jesus was holding his breath beneath that grimy river water? Well, for one thing, I do not think there was a cosmic shift in identity. But it was a moment that forever changed Jesus' perceptions of himself. From that point on, he started to get and apply his mission--to die so that the kingdom could begin. Or was HE, himself the kingdom?

I tend to believe the latter, but I do not see evidence that Jesus saw himself as a manifestation of the kingdom, but only the kingdom bringer. Perhaps Jesus saw how askew the Isrealites were in their relationship with God, so he decided to go to the cross so that things could be made right (read: perfect) in order for God to begin the work of the new Kingdom, the new community with the people. But when Jesus was hanging there, on that dreaded cross, not understanding that he was the kingdom and it had already come via him, he thought himself forsaken. He thought his mission had failed. Having no other words to cry, he petitioned his Father, "my God, my God, why have your forsaken me?" Even Jesus did not know that the final word was still in the wings, waiting to be spoken. Could this be? Could our Messiah have been so clueless? Why not?

Tyler and I watched a documentary on Deitrich Bonhoeffer last night. Convinced that Hitler was pure evil, he conspired with others to plot his assassination. Several attempts were made, each of them failed for a plurality of reasons. Eventually discovered, imprisoned, and hanged, Bonhoeffer lived most of his mission wondering if he and the conspiracy were following God's intent. Throughout the decade that Hitler ruled, Bonhoeffer believed in a God that offered no guiding light from heaven that pointed him into the way of truthful living. There was never a dove or a voice from heaven saying, "in you I am well pleased." Instead, he was forced to live out his belief in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to the core-and this involved ambiguity and mystery, yet a certainty that Hitler was outside the kingdom agenda. Bonhoeffer was convinced that his commitment to Jesus involved nothing less than a willingness to die for the cause of the kingdom, just as Jesus viewed his commitment to God and bringing the kingdom as one that led to death. Must we all die so that the kingdom can live? What the hell does this mean?

Here we go

Obviously this is my first post. I'm starting this series of ongoing thoughts because I have a lot of them flying too losely through my brain, and frankly, it's exhausting me. So hopefully these regular mental purges will free me up to get on with life a little bit more fully. As we prepare for Pentecost, I have a series of desktop images on a cyclic rotation. Here are a few of my faves. I especially like the feminine one!