Crying Heretic–err–Wolf!

I have a friend who is in two of my classes this semester at Seminary. He is pretty fabulous. He has glasses, some little bit of facial hair that fits no category and absolutely no hair on top of his head. Seriously, the man’s cranium shines in the lights of our classrooms. I want to rub it sometimes before exams–I always wonder if that’s like rubbing a Buddha’s belly–does it really bring good luck? Well, I wouldn’t mind trying….if I wasn’t such a Calvinist.

Anyway, this friend of mine, he wanted to get together recently to discuss Saint Augustine. We’re writing a paper on him for my church history class after reading The Confessions. But we just could not get our schedules together to chat. I would like to impart this conversation to you…

Sara: Hey, done w/ work and will be leaving campus unless you want to meet. Just a heads up on the movements of an Augustine Expert…
J: You’re awesome. Would love to, but am out to dinner with a buddy of mine. Unfortunatley, I”ll have to tackle this heretic on my own.
Sara: Heretic? Awh, J. That’s a wee bit strong. If it were Origen-yes. But Saint Augustine? Come now… you cry heretic like the boy who cried wolf…
J: Maybe…maybe

I love this man, he cracks me up. But at the same time, this is a point of contention in our budding friendship. He, like many, sometimes jumps to conclusions regarding those who wrote and lived in a different time and era. I’m not saying that culture is an excuse for incorrect or heretical doctrine.  Of course we have heretics from the early church–Origen, Marcion, Sabellius. There are always people who step outside the lines of orthodoxy and they must be addressed, corrected.

But someone who the church has long considered a Father in the faith? From whom much doctrine and clarification has been derived? These men need to be treated with care. They wrote to a different audience, a different worldview.

I don’t think my friend is alone in this, and I don’t think it’s entirely his fault. He comes from an age that values rational thought* and a Protestant background which was born of rebellion. In some ways, how could he do anything but argue against the Church Fathers who dabble in experiential reality and spirituality?

How many of us look at church fathers or authority and we don’t understand what they are saying, or we don’t like it, and so we reject it? Augustine’s understanding of time is over my head (dealing with the question of eternality). I don’t love his near obsession with his sins. I want to shout at him, “Augustine! Grace! It’s THERE!” But at the same time, to call him a heretic for not leaning into grace as I understand it? Or perhaps he does lean into grace more than I do, because he sees confession as the way to unbuild the wall between himself and God and to dive into a deeper relationship with the Father.

Either way. He lived sixteen hundred years ago. And he was brilliant. And the Church made him a Saint. So he can’t be all that bad. Maybe as Protestants who still struggle to not define themselves in opposition…maybe we should learn to remember our history, our heritage, and as the creed says: the communion of all saints.

J. He’s not a heretic. But I do love that we can have these conversations and walk away laughing like old friends.

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*Though Post Modernism increasingly emphasizes experiential spirituality and living

Why: Why Wednesdays?

I thought a rather good place to start with this Why Wednesdays phenomena is to explain the reasoning behind this latest venture.

I’ve done other attempts at providing structure or consistency on my blog. Most, if not all, of these have failed. But there are things right now which are constructing my life in such a way that I have more to share and more to hope for from this blog.

I also want the accountability that this will provide. I have a specific day now, each week, on which you will expect a new post. It’s going to keep me in line.

It also forces me to think. God knows I’m already doing a good deal of that thanks to seminary. I love this. The intellectual  challenge was a huge reason for my return to Academia. But “Why Wednesdays” will require me to break down, practically, why I think and live the way I do. Self examination and all that jazz. [thanks 7th grade overview of Socrates for that quote]

But I am doing this for you as well. I want to engage you, not just prattle on to you about my life. And if I do someday take this thing public, I want you to know the direction I am headed. I want you to know what you can expect and I want you to grow with me as I practice more explanatory and defensive writing in preparation for a thesis and future dissertation.

And, let’s be honest, it’s a great way to procrastinate each week.

Seattle Bound!

By the time you read this, I will be on the road to Seattle.

This weekend, a friend is getting married. I first met Amanda when she bounced across the hall in our freshman dorm during move in. I was a bit overwhelmed by the energy contained in this short dark haired figure that invaded the room I shared with Karin. But by the second or third week I was bursting into Amanda’s room without knocking at all hours of the day (and night). I was sit on her or August’s bed and just ramble about my day, the upper class boy, theology, etc. Amanda only yelled t me for my intrusions once when I interrupted a roommate arguement. But we were fast friends.

So this weekend, I am thrilled to have the chance to see her get married. She put up with a lot of unfortunate experiences in her dating life. How great is it to see her wed a good man who loves God and loves her?

Two of my friends are driving up with me this weekend. The twenty one hours in a VW Jetta this weekend (each direction) will be really good for bonding…or really good for annoyance with one another! We will be driving through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. We go from sunny Colorado to rainy Seattle and will arrive on Friday evening.

As I’m headed out, I am reminded of how good community is so important. When I first talked about this trip I had no idea how it would be affordable. I was getting to Seattle one way or another. But I also couldn’t imagine how I would afford a plane ticket. A couple of friends, however,proposed driving and splitting the cost of gas. How great is that? And how great is their willingness to ride with me for 21 hours? I beyond blessed to have friends like this.

I had to leave my study group a bit early Thursday morning to grab a few last things for the trip. All my boys said goodbye and said they’d be praying. I love that I know they are serious. Just as we pray for a friend’s wife who is having joint issues, I am able to trust that they will be praying for safety.

And then there is the community I am going home to. There are cousins to see (and meet!), Keeleh on Saturday, Dr Davis on Sunday and half a dozen on Saturday night for Ethiopian food at my favourite spot! God blessed me with a huge community in college. Even the ones I don’t talk to on a regular basis are the kind of people I know will still come and see me when I am in town. How sweet is that?

Not to mention the church I get to attend on Sunday night. Mars Hill Ballard look out. Cause I’m coming home.

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I will be doing updates via phone on Facebook and Twitter. Follow me there to see pictures from the drive and the trip! And I’ll see you next Wednesday for the first installment of “Why Wednesday?”

Why Wednesdays

I’m thinking of beginning to actually plan things on this blog.

I think I am going to organize it and not just write pithy wandering posts.

Changes might include a bit of sprucing up (it is a bit dark around here!) and more pictures as I recently discovered the easy process of taking pictures from my phone to my computer.

Another change is going to be structure. Specific, orderly structure.

Here, I suppose, is where I announce the advent of “Why Wednesdays.”

Each Wednesday I plan to post on a new topic that explains why I think a certain way about a topic, or why I am doing such and such a thing with my future.

Feel free to ask questions, respond, and demand answers on the posted topic or on an entirely new topic altogether. Be mean, be friendly, be inquisitive or aloof. Well, not aloof. Because above all, I want you to be engaged. And this is one way I’d like to do that.

Maybe next week, I’ll explain what drove me to doing Why Wednesdays and where the unexpected inspiration came from. Maybe.

Until then. Enjoy the fall season and the many great things it brings (like pumpkin! and butternut squash soup! and scarves! and pumpkin lattes! and being thankful! and frost! and clouds!)

Le Jesus Politique

I went into this paper assuming that Jesus was only a political  figure in how he may have been misunderstood by the Zealots who were searching for a militaristic Messiah. Being a good westerner, I know the importance of separating church from state. And I assumed that Jesus (being so forward minded) didn’t plan on being understood as a political figure. He was coming to save us from sin.

not a political regime.

Obviously, Jesus didn’t overthrow Rome.

and  yet, after all my research,

I don’t think Jesus was so apolitical.

This is changing the way I read the gospels. It is obscuring the way I view our nation. And my role in our political system.

My paper is supposed to be 13-18 pages. I’ve only written there paragraphs. (and 18 pages is not enough space to cover all of this)

Obviously, I’m not done.

But I just want to throw it out there:

what if Jesus was incredibly involved in the political scene of his day? What if he was calling for an overthrow of Rome from beneath because he was calling for radical redefinitions of society? What if he was crucified as a political insurrectionist, rather than a simple blasphemer who was getting on everyone’s nerves?

what if being a blasphemer and an insurrectionist were the same thing?

 

also, I really liked the quote below and since it doesn’t fit in my paper, you’re being saddled with the responsibility of sharing in my appreciation.

“Give me proof of the existence of God,” said Frederick of Prussia to his chaplain.
“Your majesty,” replied the chaplain, “behold the Jews.” The survival of Israel is a miracle of history…. [Until The Coming of Messiah and His Kingdom; Robert Shank]

propped up dysfunctionality

in a recent class we discussed vitality in ministry. we talked about what it means to be a spiritual leader and make sure that your own spiritual life is healthy. this is a problem in many churches and it’s pretty epidemic among pastors to be just as unhealthy as those they are meant to be ministering to. when asked why, my professor responded with this:

“First, it’s a system in which we are all complicit. We’re all a part of it and everyone is guilty.

We’re a dysfunctional family where it’s like the pastor is an alcoholic and we’re all enabling.

On one level, it’s functional. He gets his ego needs met and we have a ‘successful’ pastor. But in reality it’s deeply destructive to everyone.”

We all laughed, it’s a perfect analogy!

And then we sobered up.

Because it’s a perfect analogy.