Monday, October 31, 2011

Superly Natural and the Supernatural

Today I made a box maze.  This is year three actually.  Life, though seemingly lost in the 21st century abyss, is a rhythm. I do, what seems new and great, as I have every year.  Time marches on, and nothing is played the same twice, and yet, always to the same four seasons sheet music.  Tomorrow is Halloween which means today, I made a maze.

It’s all so cut and dry (pardon the pun).  Boxes arrive from a member of the congregation who owns a motorcycle dealership. Mike, Tony&Di + a million little kids, and a few others come to the church.  Chairs are stacked, boxes brought in, and we begin.  My fingers grow sore from pulling zip-ties, stabbing with a box cutter, and ordering around the little kids running through the maze holding duck-tape and more zip-ties.  FINALLY the walls are up and half the group gives up leaving me and a few strong others to finish the roof.  In the end I’m the last standing…literally in the middle of the maze.  I begin the crawl through.  This year was impressive, I made it out without hitting a dead end but impressive all the same.  Everything looks different from inside, slightly claustrophobic, but to be honest my rug burned knees keep the hysteria to a minimum. 

I can’t decide what’s better, to be the maze maker, or to be the kids the maze was made for.  It seems it’s something everyone revels in too.  We love the imperfect, and yet to value is to lift up.  When we look at a hero from some fantastic story he is either a saint, or she is the lowliest of humans, a simple non-individual or a demigod.  But to look at either we still raise them up, “look upon this one for—” their normality or superiority.

Ever thought we probably do the same to God?

            Today Gold dust was swirling on the ceilings of bethel. 

Today I worked all morning, took a nap, caught up on some computer stuff, and made a maze.

This is where I’m supposed to be emergent and tell you about true spirituality
 and how I did the same by my actions
and how God loves me because I’m so
compelled to justify my normal moral behavior
and lump it into time with God *in order to* kill two birds
with one stone the same way my iphone does.

I don’t have an iphone and, sorry Mr. Smith…

So I stood a moment in the family room, watching Redding California’s Christian-Costco, Crazytown, swirling in gold dust.  I saw the worship of hundreds singing in acapella and I knew.  If God were anywhere he’d be there.  I became ACUTELY aware that I simply was not there, that I was here, 2,000 miles away.  It’s easy to forget that on a little screen but for some reason that moment was clear, Bethel’s service was going on right then and there, and I was not there at all.

This is the point at which a charismatic is supposed
to tell you that they turned on their
Jason Upton and suddenly beamed into the service,
or said Shaba and then God appeared—or
an angel and it was better than any old service. 

But instead I kept watching Mad Men, because while I knew God was there, I knew He was also here.  I was here with Him. I’m not sure which one is better.

I used to feel left out with stuff like that.  How my ridiculous record for never being in the right place to see crazy signs of God haunt me.  They still do.  (I’m still pissed about it, by the way God…) But the difference simply came when God’s presents became separate from the amazing.  God was not in the fire/wind/earthquake, but he certainly caused it.  I can’t decide what’s more wonderful.  That God was swirling crazy weird gold dust at church OR he was sitting with me at the foot of my bed watching TV.  I can’t decide whether to revel in this human Christ or the Glorious God.  It is both the incredibly normal life that hosts the presents of God, and the God who is touching down in to normal life.  But I guess He’s in both.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Something happened to Christianity.

It’s funny how this came about.  Driving around with my mom.  The term ‘Emergent’ happens.  I mean it happens because it seems to be a creature all its own, with thoughts and feelings and behavior all its own.  It’s an ambiguous term for preachers who wear cool clothes and write blogs, and, best of all, make a stir on these blogs.  They film their bible study devotionals with cool music and camera effects.  Don’t get me started on the cool thick rimmed glasses either!  BUT most of all emergent pastors write ‘scary’ books.

Something happen to Christianity when we became scared of a book, much less mad about it.  Why? Because half the time pastors are dragging their congregation by the ear to make them read something and suddenly they’re reading—the WRONG things!  After decades of watching the value of the written word drop, a book is written; and it scares us.

It’s the “watered down” gospel
It’s “catering to nonbelievers

How dare those tax collectors like Jesus?
I mean, they spend their whole lives following selfish pursuits
there’s no way they would like Jesus!
We don’t believe in any benefits to Christianity!

And then, what about the believers that read these books?  What happens when all that is read are a bunch of questions with a few “view points” thrown in?  What’s a 'view point' anyway?  What if the 'view point' that’s believed is wrong?

--Something wrong is here.  Whether it happened or it simply flares up when a Luther is about, something is really wrong.

We’ve become Believers, we stopped being Followers.

This is not the part in the blog,
Where I tell you to get off your butt and save people
This is not the point where I hand you a
Shane Claborn book and a
“be poor” mantra
We are so scared
of believing the wrong things.
We are no longer following this
Rediculously kind God
who popped up on earth and said

Follow me.

We just have to believe he said that.

But what if we’re wrong?

Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God.
Work as thought everything depended on you.”

But we don’t think that way anymore. 

We are so scared.
So very scared.
And we should be.

Because we’re Believers, and what we believe depends on what we choose
and what we choose, chooses our salvation.

We have become Believers we sure as hell, yes, sure as Hell, better get it right.

But I don’t think Jesus wanted Believers.
He said, follow me.

You can follow someone and be wrong. 
You can also not follow someone and be right.
In fact, you can not follow someone and be wrong too!

They were all “Believers.”

But Peter was a really, really wrong follower. 
He didn’t even know what he believed sometimes,
which, as you know, is the 8th deadly sin of ‘emergentism.’

Followers are friends.

Believers are slaves. 
They are happy to know the facts about God and stick to them.

But I want to know His thoughts
                        I want to know truth.

So I’m going to follow.  Because Jesus, You have the words of eternal life’….” John 6:68

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are we really?

Are we merely mechanics,
Over what?


Are we groaning
And alas dashed to nothing

Forgoing facts
Yet sure in our observation
Renouncing faith
Yet fully embracing our despair

We are so so sure there is nothing.

Are we mere scientists to see our thesis and conclusion,
To create our net-like theories and statistics
We have made our bed
But nobody is in a hurry to lie in it.
No instead is a groan of despair
For we are now reduced to being observers
We are passive and sure
While we once hailed the death of certainty
We have made our bed
And we are lying in it in death.

We have hailed the end of systems
We have hurled reason into chaos
Given voice to mad men
And are sure of our futile cycle.

Once we were called to dream.

To see as though from above, to see the world
in all its complexities below, a bustling city of queer patterns
and predicable anomalies.

Or overwhelmed with the passion of the experience. 
Standing in the center of it all and seeing into the deeper recesses.  Gloriously.

In awe or blissful experience we once stood.
But in front of the pattern now we stand,
as children after the fair—
or watching puppet show
 from the wrong side of the stage. 
Our worse fears have come true. 
The paint is not as bright,
the lights only shine on the outside,
and the set is all too flat and grim.

 Our pinnacle of philosophy is merely to “understand” the system.  The ridiculous revel in knowing what’s wrong; because, so much is wrong.

But what mechanic only knows the problem?
A philosopher is now nothing but a blinking, whining, repetitive, oil light.

We are crying out like a child who fully believes,
he fully knows,
that everything is wrong.

Philosophy died not when she crucified reason, or proclaimed even God was dead,
She was no more when she decided, that nothing could ever be said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bitches and Earthquakes

I’ve been thinking.  Then I hit a road block and I look for more ideas to mix in.  Then I realize it’s not a road block it’s the great wall of china, or perhaps the actual edge of the world. I have theories too.

The problem is marriage.  Or rather, marital submission.  Secular feminism vs. traditional views are totally irrelevant with this one.  This boxing match has a well built ring.  The bible, tradition, other writings, practicality, we’re not talking about some abstract.  We have verse taken as holding truth.  We have our eternal purpose at steak as we decide what to think on the God’s opinion of our existence.  With that let’s take egalitarianism out of the fight.  Why? Because as it is there seems to be no egalitarian thought which also holds to marital submission.  What’s being fought here is complementarianism --A hierarchy of God > Man/Men > Woman/Women >Children > animals.  (The animal part was my addition…)  For the most part this is agreed upon as complementarianism.  It’s pretty straight forwards.  Everyone works together in a heavenly bureaucracy of love and higher-ups.  However there seems to be a deviation in the philosophy when talking about women.  I always find that when men preach on this topic they do such a nice job with talking about what a Man is, then they move to part two and I find myself hugging my knees and running my hands through my hair.  But alas here are the two deviations.

Golden Retriever theory:
When deciding that Women are to Submit to their Husbands one train of thought says that because God ordered man in this way it’s universal throughout culture.  Meaning, women are to submit to all men, married or not.  This is a logical conclusion if you believe that men and women are different to their core.  That their spirits are both man and woman as are their bodies.  This is good.  I don’t think God make a bunch of people spirits and then separated them into team red and team blue then said team blue already wins, sorry suckers in red.  It just isn’t logical.   In the end the woman can understand him better, be wiser or more intuitive, be kinder and in better character.  She may "complete him" or "make him who he is today" (both things you can here from people at a dog park) she is still a dog.  With a leash, and a crate, she's the best thing that happened to him. Yet, she's still of lesser value in her opinion and influence in his decisions.

The problem with that is by that standard no woman is to EVER hold authority over ANY man. Even the times when actual bible characters did... Why? The same reason your dog doesn’t do crafts with your kids on the kitchen table if you don’t let him eat there.  I mean.  Equal is flat bullshit in this opinion.  Men are higher than women.  Dolphins don’t hold swimming lessons no matter how good they are at it because in the end its an animal in a cage, the trainer teaches, the dolphin swims.

Tectonic plate theory:
This one is a little more illogical in the beginning but seems to have a more reasonable outcome. Men and women are equal and serve each other.  They don’t however submit until they are married at which point a woman submits the same way as she did as said above, only, not to anyone else.  This is called my tectonic plate theory because it’s the only way I could think of drawing that graph.  Think of the unaffected parts of the two plates being friends and others, equal, then BLAM! The man is over the woman in this crumpled blip where she’s shoved below the surface or he’s as high as a mountain.  I don’t exactly know why God would do this.  I mean, everyone appears to get along fine as equals and then marriage forces someone to be a leader?  Much more, does he rise up in power or does she shrink in her authority?  Why, if they are totally innately equal does this phenomena take place?  I mean, they were equals, then she put on a ring and he became higher.  It doesn’t really make sense but as long as this theory is in practice a woman has a chance of working outside the home, and having influence even over men, as long as her husband is okay with it.

Even in the mist of this bleak ultimatum I’m unfashionably ashamed to admit that I can’t help but believe that there must be some kind of marital submission of wives to their husbands in marriage.  Why? Probably because I’ve never known a day without that ideal. I can’t see life thought any other lens at present. I just can’t seem to find a logical answer as to why submission must happen.  In most balanced homes both partners seem to work together in a way that solves issues without one needing to be “leader.”  In order to pull the leader card a man has to know he’s severing the relationship, perhaps only momentarily, with his wife.  He’s saying, ‘I get that you think that, but right now my idea is more important and it’s more powerful.’  Perhaps it’s “for her own good,” (like no one has ever abused that phrase,) the point is, he finds his opinion and idea higher than hers.  That’s not equal, it simply isn’t.  It means that while a woman may have the privilege of making decisions with her husband they are merely privileges and can be revoked at any time.  Of course most sensible husbands don’t do that, or at least very often, my point is that he can. 

I’m not really worried about the practice.  Sure both of these options could potentially annihilate some of my hopes and dreams, but really, I’ve always been too optimistic for a future in theological studies anyway.  The point is deeper to me:  that I am something, or could be something, less than what I once thought.  That 50% of the world’s human population is superior to me in a way I can never achieve.  I cannot think like them, or speak like them, or feel like them, sure, but are their thoughts are higher than mine?  I may be smarter as, kind as, wise as, but at the end of the day could they still be unmatched in some invisible quality that God finds it good for them to be more privileged that me?  If this is true, it is more that I must realize I have been severely wrong.  It’s the feeling you get when you find out one you’re your coolest friends was hanging out with you out of pity. The small worthless feeling just about everyone get’s at some point in high school.  Unlike high school, where your mom told you that you were amazing anyway, you aren’t.  Actually, you are innately inferior to a being you have a 50% chance of producing when you get pregnant. In fact, your only real hope in life as far as influence goes is by producing said superior child and molding his young psyche until he grows up to do big things.  If you have daughters, well, too bad.  I guess they get to try what you tried in creating more superior beings.

This is bleak.  I don’t care.  If God made it, and God is good, (I’m still convinced) then I should at some point find joy in this existence.  I mean a dog might have his dreams as a math teacher dashed, it doesn’t mean he won’t like bringing in the paper.  But all I want is to know why.  Why God would find me not good enough and yet keep me smart enough to care.  I just want to know why.  It's not that I don't trust God, it's not that I'm even angry or doubtful.  I just want to know why.