Saturday, April 29, 2006


Real Live Preacher has a new post that resonates with me, titled Open Communion. It can be read on his site. One of his best posts in some time, I even took a few minutes to read the comments and added one of my own. A young lady from Tennessee (now in Chicago) commented also and I was intrigued by what she said, so I checked out her blog. As the saying goes, these folks “done gone from preachin’ to meddlin’.”

In The Death of the Hired Man, Robert Frost, from Warren’s point of view wrote:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
And Mary’s reply was:
“I should have called it
Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.”

I may have the characters reversed; but if you’ve ever read the poem, I know you remember the passage.

Am not sure why RLP and Pledge’s blogs moved me, but they did. Probably was a sort of homesickness and feelings of lost community within my family that I felt the most. Our children are on their own, 8 & 14 hours away by car respectively. Am not close to my or the wife’s remaining sibling(s) and their kids. All the parents have been gone for several years now. That means it’s my turn at end of the line; and truthfully, it’s lonely being the last stop.

I’ve come to realize why my grandfather grieved his wife so when she died. In the same position as I, she was the last “binding” to his home. He had his daughter and her husband (my parents) as well as my wife and I, and my sister. But that really wasn’t enough. In the same house he’d lived in for the preceeding 10-12 years, a block away from his daughter, in the same city where he’d lived for a good third of his life and surrounded by extended family, it appears to me that he had utterly lost what he considered his true sense of home.

Could I be granted one wish, it must would be that: “I could again be in community with all those loved ones, now gone, who had meant so much for so long.” and spend a few more precious hours comfortable in the knowledge of who I am and not just who I’ve become. I suppose that’s why my faith is so important. Christ loves me “just because”, and not for that I am anyone extraordinary.

“Thanks be to God!”

Monday, April 24, 2006

What’s my theological worldview?

I've taken this stupid test like three times and tried to post the results from the first time. All I managed to do was to "screw up" my page layout so I deleted the results and am herewith presenting my scores in a form the blog would accept. If I were more computer "literate", I probably wouldn't have had the problem but; "What the hey!"

I am 86% Neo-orthodox.

Wikipedia says in part:
“Neo-orthodoxy was developed in the aftermath of the First World War, primarily associated with the Swiss Protestant Karl Barth
and theologian Emil Brunner
. The neo-orthodox thinkers had strong disagreements between themselves and so neo-orthodoxy cannot be considered to be a unified system. Nevertheless, this type of theology has a number of distinctive traits: such as Revelation, Transcendence of God, Existentialism and Sin.

First, there is a strong emphasis on the revelation
of God by God as the source of Christian doctrine. Natural theology states that knowledge of God can be gained through a combination of observation of nature and human reason. Barth totally rejected natural theology. Brunner believed that natural theology still had an important role and this led to a sharp disagreement between the two men. Second, there is a stress on the transcendence of God. Barth believed that the emphasis on the immanence
of God had led human beings to imagine God to be ourselves writ large. He stressed the infinite qualitative distinction between the human and the divine.

Third, the neo-orthodox theologians made use of
existentialism and in particular Christian existentialism. Barth was strongly influenced by the writings of the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was a critic of the liberal christian modernist effort to rationalise Christianity. Instead he maintained that Christianity is absurd and presents the individual with paradoxical choices. The decision to become a Christian is not a rational decision but a leap of faith. This was the foundation of Barth's theology of crisis. And finally, there was a stress on the sinful nature of humanity

(BTW: Am NOT a fan of Kierkegaard)

Neo-orthodoxy is distinct from both
liberal Protestantism and fundamentalism. This can be seen in Barth's understanding of the Bible. He rejected the fundamentalist claim that the Christian scriptures are inerrant. He rejected the modernist
liberal Christian claim of that time, that God could be known through human scholarship. He believed that the Bible was the key place where the Word of God can be revealed to human beings, and that an existential leap of faith is required by the individual to hear what God has to say.”

This sounds like Hooker's traditional Anglican faith to me so I guess I scored where a "good Episcopalian" needed to. Roman Catholic ran a real close second at 84% and since I'm more of a "high church" type that doesn't surprise me either. I scored in the 66-44 percentile for Evangelical Holiness/Weslyan, Emergent/Postmodern, Classical Liberal and Reformed Evangelical in that order. In the 37-25 percentile I was Modern Liberal and Charismatic Pentecostal and scored 0% (Zero) Fundamentalist (of which I take some pride).

If you’re so inclined, find the test at:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Various Passions

The presentation of “The Passion Narrative” has long had quite a hold on me. Wife and I have seen the traveling stage production of "Superstar" at least twice in Dallas as well as its 25th Anniversary revival performance in London. My son once sung the role of Caiphas for our local Civic Theatre. We have both film versions on DVD and have been privileged to see Oberammergau’s Passion Play on two separate occasions. Saw Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ within 2-3 days of its release on the first Friday of Lent. As a part of my personal Lenten “obligation”, I again rewatched Jesus Christ, Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I’ve tried to do so annually, during Lent, for quite some years. And the purpose behind all this personal history is?

I recall the tremendous concern, bordering on fear, regarding anti-Semitism in Gibson’s "Passion", as well as worry of reprisals against the Jewish community. Likewise, several productions back, the Oberramergau Passion Play was toned down as a result of its perceived anti-Semitism. We don’t want the Jews to think we really believe “they killed Christ”, don’t you know.

Watching “Superstar” this year I was forced to ask myself, why did Jesus Christ, Superstar get a pass in this regard? From all that I’ve witnessed; the Jewish people, Christ’s own people, get a worse portrayal in “Superstar” than either of the other productions. Led by Caiphas and Annas, the Jews of Jerusalem (our designated “stand-ins”, by the way) appear much more vicious and mean spirited in “Superstar” than either other production. Let me add, the brutality of the Romans portrayed in “The Passion” is about as inhuman as can be imagined, but that’s not my point.

I am convinced that part of the reason for the vilification of Gibson’s film is that it spoke to a larger audience than did “Superstar” and with much greater conviction. “Superstar”, I surmise, was perceived as entertainment without message for most folks and consequently could be dismissed as not worthy of concern in moving people towards Christ, or maybe it was just from a different time. I would tend to argue the position that its only value is entertainment, but ...

It appears to my untrained eyes that our “mainstream” news/entertainment industry holds a bias against Christianity. Anything they see as possibly spreading the message of Christ is in need of suppression if not rejection, by whatever means available, First Amendment be damned. And that bothers me. You see, I believe that we are offered the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion and I’m becoming rather tired of conventional wisdom dismissing me because "I’m one of those lunatic Christians who trust and believe in the message of the Gospels." And thus endeth my rant.

Under any circumstance, I wish y’all a Holy week and a Happy Easter morning secure in the knowledge that “The Lord is risen. The Lord is risen, indeed.”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Machine Gun Grandma

At a party last Christmas night I ran into a very old friend. I’ve known him and his brother since we were all in Elementary School some 50+ years ago. Their Mom was my Cub Scout Den Mother and their Dad was "the quintessential" Western Lawman. Guns were one of the “tools” he, their Dad, used on a daily basis and he had all types; including automatic weapons, all held legally. In actuality, the first pistol I can remember firing was his .38. That and a few other things contributed to my developing a lifelong interest in guns. Their Dad has long since passed and Mom is now 90 and confined to a wheelchair.

Seems that her sons took her out to the family farm for an afternoon and while there she took a few minutes to fire her SMG. It was captured as a video clip by someone else there and later posted on the net, much to her chagrin. As the clip is a little hard to hear, it’s also been subtitled. I was told that when she became aware that it was on the net, she was embarrassed and concerned that her fellow church members might disassociate her. Now, I know that’s not going to happen and that’s not where I’m headed.

But, I do have an issue. My understanding is that family and friends had gathered at their farm for an enjoyable afternoon of family companionship which included shooting. To some (particularly in the South and esp. Texas), it’s loads of fun and an absolutely legal afternoon’s entertainment. Whoever violated their privacy by posting that video clip rubs me the wrong way.

It seems to have become OK to post humorous clips without approval or license in our modern electronic world, and with no regard to the privacy expectations of the subject. Once posted, they exist forever in cyberspace. That being the case, why do we rail against cell phone taps (that some consider to be beneficial in a war on terrorism) and then ignore the daily privacy violations that abound with the posting of unlicensed photos or video clips? Therefore, my question is: “Where and how do we draw the lines?”

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pay it forward

Following the Sermon - 4 Lent '06:

How often are we offered the chance to respond to others without taking pause to consider the result? And how often do we avail ourselves of those opportunities?

Have we become so paranoid that we no longer feel safe doing our Christian duty to our fellow man? Or, is it not paranoia, but truly a part of the risk of operating from within a Christian ethic?