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Archive for the 'John’s Articles' Category

Last night we saw Shane Claiborne (of the Simple Way, and Irresistible Revolution as well as Jesus for President) at Park St Church in Boston. The man is certainly a storyteller. He has chosen to do things most people think is crazy. He is a fantastic encouragement that anyone can do this. Around ten years ago he started a community on Potter St in Philadelphia. They opened a community garden, and housed Christians. They got increasingly involved with the neighbors and children around them. They set aside (tithe) money to help the community with whatever needs were current. They’ve made a huge impact and given Christians a good name there.

Activity in Church

The head of the Anglican church, Rowan Williams, calls on his churches to spend more time praying and contemplating. If you’ve ever seen a church bulletin you probably understand why. They are chock full of activities. For nearly every night of the week you have something you might feel obligated to attend. It seems like he would agree with Socrates: Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

I think this is the perfect advice that would come from a man like Williams. He was never a business man. He doesn’t wear a shiny suit. I would bet he doesn’t give a service from a microphone either (which is actually something I’ve come to appreciate in a catholic service). He writes poetry, and to some degree he is a mystic.

Today Galatians 4 was in the sermon:

3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Going off some numbers given here there have been fifty million abortions since 1973. It is hard to understand just how big that number is. So they give you another statistic. Fifty million is the population of these states combined:

I still can’t fathom how we’ve done this. This is way beyond “man is his own God”, or “man is depraved”.

There is a word that, when a Catholic hears it, kindles all his feeling of love and bliss; that stirs all the depths of his religious sensibilities, from dread and awe of the Last Judgment to the sweetness of God’s presence; and that certainly awakens in him the feeling of home; the feeling that only a child has in relation to its mother, made up of gratitude, reverence, and devoted love; the feeling that overcomes one when, after a long absence, one returns to one’s home, the home of one’s childhood.

You could choose to live for Jesus. You will never live like Jesus.

There is something entirely unique about Jesus. It goes beyond the consequential facts about his life. Yes, he was crucified and endured it. Other people have suffered evils like this. Yes he forgave those who killed him. There are not many who have done this. Even Peter, as the article states, refused to be made an equal of Jesus though he matched the martyrdom and forgiveness. One could surmise that the big difference (and again the article says as much) is that Jesus paid for sin. But I think even that falls short.Jesus is more. Jesus is the climax of Israel’s story, the peak, what it was all building towards. Jesus is what Israel was supposed to be.

When we try to understand just who we are, we inevitably turn to our families and communities. Closely tied to our perception of ourselves is the perception of everyone else, specifically those not in our community. This is what ‘the other’ is. It is the group of people that you define yourself over and against. Generically, for the Christian ‘the other’ is the non-Christian. You could map out the groups along all sort of barriers and lines. The “haves” and the “have-nots”, the Catholic and the Protestants, African-Americans and Caucasians, are all good examples. The problem comes not with the intrinsic differences – but rather the perception of the ‘other’.

For our loss, Protestantism destroyed lots of Christian art in its history. Not because it disagreed with the message, but rather it disagreed with art, as if in principle. So, it hasn’t created much art at all. But, not to gut the movement, it nearly single-handed lead to the focus on the written text, arguably as an art form. We came up in a Protestant, 70’s jesus-movement tradition which also had very little art, and no liturgy. I find this strange because other Christian traditions have a rich history of art, and their liturgy is rich in music. It is one reason I enjoy going to Anglo/Catholic services.

On Scripture

When we approach the Scriptures we have a lot to consider. Obviously this topic intersects directly with worldview and epistemology, how we view the world, and how we know things. Often it is given an entire book, and is still not finished. Let us not be surprised then at just how large it is. Lets set some boundary markers.

The book by Paula Fredrickson, of the same title, is an astounding short read. It is an attempt to understand the crucifixion of Jesus historically. Why did the Jewish rabbi named Jesus die the death of a violent revolutionary? Of course the simple answer would be that he was a violent revolutionary – yet absolutely no direct evidence remotely hints that he was. All indications are that Jesus led a peaceful, arguably pacifist, movement. Fredrickson notes that if Jesus did lead a violent revolutionary movement, his followers along with him would have been crucified. James, the new leader of this movement lived in Jerusalem after the crucifixion. He moved freely there with no worry for his life. This is the fundamental paradox Fredrickson seeks to answer.

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