Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TO OPEN NEW FRONTIERS OF THE MIND'S EYE

The environment we are surrounded by is an environment of control. Conformity. One of the most effective ways of keeping us there is through what I will call Bad Art. You might ask; What is Bad Art? I think it is just about everything we see and hear. The purpose of it is to shape us to follow the system we are living in. Bad Art is, transparent, in-your-face, fast paced and without breaks. You really don't have to think. The images are so powerful, they determine our response in thought and action. Like I said, just about everything we see and hear falls into this category.

I think it is Good Art that we are in need of, yet the Bad Art has shaped us to despise Good Art. Good Art is way to costly to the ones that have become comfortable with the Bad Art.

Good Art is never transparent nor spelled out neatly for us. It actually engages us in a the act of seeking. Answers are rarely ever spelled out. It always creates more questions. For those that are in the process of seeking, the seeking is often very disorienting and makes us uncomfortable. Most of this disorientation is caused by the conditioning we have been shaped by. The world system and it's Bad Art.

The seeking that Jesus' words create in us or that is set in motion by people around us that are coming to know Jesus in a real way will often (if not always) cause a disturbance of the waters. This is a necessary thing, but the Bad Art we have been exposed to tells us to "RUN". The Religious Bad Art will often say that God is not a God of confusion and many other things that keep us from walking out into the unfamiliar to seek Him where He is.

I have been thinking so much about Nicodemus lately and his walk out into the dark of night, so not to be seen by those using Bad Art (whom he had been a part of) to teach (control) others. The new teacher on the block was saying things in a way that had rattled Nicodemus and his conditioning. But something had begin to happen inside Nicodemus' mind. Jesus' words and stories had begun to disturb the waters. Many others with him had heard the things Jesus was saying. Why did Nicodemus end up risking it all at the hearing of what Jesus was saying while many of the others went on as they had always done?

Bad Art will always attempt to answer these questions for us. Good Art leaves us hanging and a bit unsettled. I like to think of it as having the rug gently pulled out from under me (again and again). All of this can be very scary, that is in the beginning until the old conditioning begins to lose it's grip on us and we begin to see that it is the questions that take us places that answer never will.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WE ARE HERALDS OF THE GOOD NEWS

A ran across this interview at http://christianmystics.com/?p=171 with Frederick Buechner and have added here a small piece of it. He is addressing this idea of story telling to ordained ministers but I am attaching it to any one who's life has been touched by the living God.

As you all know by now with me, so often songs or lines from a song are quickly attached to thoughts I might have or when I hear someone sharing a story from their life. This is the one that I immediately thought of when I read these thoughts of Buechner from this interview:

I don’t know how to make peace or find it
We’re most of us stories we’re scared to explain
But what if there’s sound, somewhere caught behind this
A song we can sing while we’re lying awake

This whole idea of us being stories has just been such a wonderful discovery for me. I never thought I lived my life hiding, but come to find out I had. I hid behind my success and abilities. Turns out, that is not who I am at the core of me. This world had shaped me into that person. Don't misunderstand me, all of that is a part of me, but it is not who I am. I am a very complicated story. We all are and I came to find out that I had been afraid to face that story myself and certainly afraid of letting others see it. I used to think I had many good reasons to be afraid but today I just don't anymore. Once you stand "undone and exposed" before the maker of all things and realize you have nothing to be afraid of, it just has a way of loosening chains and opening prison doors. I found a song hiding there worth singing in all it's complicatedness. And then, another paradox emerged. Simplicity began to open up before my very eyes. God wasn't complicated.....it was myself that had become complicated. Isn't it funny how it all unfolds?

As Buechner points out, all I have is stories. Jesus', mine and those around me telling theirs. Thanks to all of you that have felt safe enough with(in) God and with me to make me a part of your stories. I have been blessed and challenged by them.


BUECHNER: I tell them that a minister has only two stories to tell. One is the story of Jesus. The other is his own story. Most ministers don’t dare tell their own stories- the ups and downs, the darks and lights. In a sense, the two stories are the same story. The parallels are not exact… Jesus is tempted and resists; we are tempted and don’t resist. Of course, all ministers draw some stories from their lives- what somebody said or something that happened, but I mean more than that. If you want to talk about grace, if you want to talk about revelation, talk about your life with some depth (which doesn’t mean lurid revelations as much as simply looking at your own deep experiences and describing them as they are.) Many ministers agree that this is the way they should bear witness to their faith, but instead of drawing on their lives for truth, they draw on it only for anecdote.

Monday, October 29, 2007

MY FAVORITE BAND.....DURING THE 80's

I've been listening to a lot of REM's early music this afternoon and remember why they were my favorite band for so long.

Losing My Religion was released about 2 years after we stopped attending a Sunday morning meeting. It struck a cord in me back then. All these years later and more is still being pulled out. Nothing to boast in but that which Christ has accomplished.

This is Talk About The Passion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwDY8AiB8BM

And Begin The Begin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ3WxDM0vdU

Losing My Religion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mi7Selb4QQ

LIVING LESS DISTRACTED

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjcFHKOWc0Q

Sunday, October 28, 2007

THE QUEST FOR SIGNIFICANCE

A conversation came to mind yesterday while I was thinking of some of the things our culture (religious and secular) focuses on and has shaped us all to some degree. Probably more so than many of us are aware of. I'm posting it here so if any one feels so led to give it a listen.

http://www.thegodjourney.com/archive/Individual/quest.html

Saturday, October 27, 2007

THE PARABLE OF FATHER AND HIS TWO SONS

How do we miss in this story the picture of the Father that is not measuring by performance? Well, I can only speak from the perspective of someone shaped by our American culture, but I think it comes close to answering that question for us. Our culture teaches us that it is all about performance. Perform and you are good....don't perform and you are bad. I really think the truth is as simple as all cultures do the same. It's human nature. Maybe it is caused by the fact that we are left trying to figure out good and evil?

I've been a successful performer all of my life in just about everything I set out to do. I see more clearly today than ever that it means nothing. I'm not joking either. It means nothing.

I believe this Father is after one thing and it is all that matters. To set us free. Without that, nothing else matters. Whether it is a pile of so called successes or a pile of so called failures.

When the younger son took the money and headed off the farm to live it up and the older son stayed on the farm thinking he was making better choices, the reality was, one wasn't making a better choice than the other. That is, in the thing that matters. Doesn't the Father's treatment of them both prove that? This story never makes sense to those who are measuring by performance. The world and those that live according to the world's standards know nothing but pointing out the good ones and praising them, and pointing out the bad ones and punishing them.

Father clearly is after freedom.

The best the world can do is praise conformity and punish non conformity.

Question is, who do we trust?

Falsehood has an infinity of combinations,
But truth has only one mode of being.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Friday, October 26, 2007

ONCE FEAR BEGINS TO LOSE IT'S GRIP OUR UNIQUENESS WILL COME OUT FROM HIDING.

A friend of mine said something this morning while we were having a conversation and my response to it sent me down a path of thinking about it a little more in light of the continued attempts to get the systems right and working better for people.

She had just returned from a vacation in the Rocky Mountains and what she said to me was: "Those mountains are so majestic. And every one of them is so unique and different." I responded by saying: "Isn't that true about everything God has created?" When it comes to the natural world that he created (all of it) and humans (every last one of us) there is nothing or no one the same, and all things created and alive continue to grow and change moment by moment. It's constantly in motion.

Now when you take a look at the things man and woman set out to make and continue to make to this day, can we not fit everything that we attempt to create, into the domain of systems? Institutions, leadership, beliefs (ways of thinking, or not), ways of communicating, money, politics, societies, theology, doctrines, creeds, worship, preaching, teaching, goal setting....etc. In actuality, there is not any part of our lives that are free from the affects of systems. And these systems can not move to accommodate and take into consideration the changes that are happening or recognize the uniqueness of us all and the moment. It is people that must conform to the system. So for systems to survive, they must change people. People then begin to loose their uniqueness....or they must learn to hide it.

With so much fear, shame and guilt running about, coming out from hiding becomes a radical act. Unfortunately systems seem to like keeping these companions around? Think about that for awhile and I think the reason why will become very clear.

Freedom scares systems and rarely if ever can handle diversity (at least without heavy controls). That's why they must strip us of our uniqueness and then require conformity towards an end goal. I can't find any systems that have end goals that excite me, and along with the means used to get there they are antithetical to freedom and harmony in all it's uniqueness.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

THE LIFE OF UNCERTAINTY.....BUT IN HIM, WE WILL ALWAYS BE SECURE

Letting go of the need for certainty will always be difficult. No one said this would be easy. But I know the road well that I was born on. The exhausting search the surrounding environment sets us out on in hopes of calming the fear we all live with has nothing but more busyness and unfulfilled promises and fulfilled promises that never satisfy....and more fear. Those dice are loaded. To live free when what we see offered and the promises we hear being shouted about from those we have been shaped to trust in, becomes the challenge.

Is there any hope or security to be found in anything other than a restored realtionship with God? But when we have grown so accustomed to being governed by what we see and needing proof that we are okay, things get so complicated. And there is the tension. Can we learn to walk by faith in what is not seen, all the while being surrounded by voices and images and things that we can reach out and touch that might give us a sense of security? But aren't they all just illusions with no substance?

The substance belongs to Christ. And following the Spirit will always be disorienting to us as long as we live by and long for the certainty offered by what we see.


Remind Us
Over The Rhine

I don’t know where this is going
I’m taking a ride on a wing and a prayer
Follow me there
We’ll both be surprised
If we forget anything
Hopefully nobody will remind us

Can’t bear the news in the evening
We’re going to bed and we’re going to war
All of this for
Anyone’s guess
If we forget anything
Heaven forbid someone would remind us

Sinners and saints, priests and kings
Are we just using God for our own gain
What’s in a name
Open your eyes
If we forget everything
There will be no one left to remind us

I don’t know where this is going
I’m taking a ride on a wing and a prayer
Follow me there
We’ll both be surprised

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

LEARNING TO WALK BY FAITH IN WHAT IS NOT SEEN....INSTEAD OF WHAT IS SEEN

During the 4 hour drive home from Kansas City Yesterday this song by Over The Rhine began to play and I was just struck by the lyrics in a profound way. It stirred again a question in me that has been swooshing around in my head and heart for awhile now. It is a question about how we perceive things. I'm reminded of something the apostle Paul said about not judging any man according to the flesh. Not even himself.

All of us that are alive today have grown up in the technological age and we are so shaped by images. There is a constant unbroken barrage of images that create an unreal environment that looks real and we begin to believe it. We are governed by what we see. Paul seems to be pointing to us knowing something deeper about each other. And treating each other according to that instead of what we see.

How often are we missing something beautiful in someone on one hand, and at other times blaming others for something they are powerless to change? How much time has been wasted in attempting to change what is seen, especially in other people? All the while ignoring that which is more real....that which is not seen. So often aren't we humans fixated on the visual when the Spirit is at work transforming something deep inside? Isn't the visual world the life we are attempting to build, the one we often get distracted in and miss what the Spirit is doing in ourselves and others?

This song Yesterday made me once again think of Jesus' words about losing our lives to find them. I just wonder if as we let go of this life we have been so caught up in building our selves, we would begin to see that which is really real? The reality found only in Jesus, the first born of many brethren in that real reality, free from the confines of this material world and all the dysfunction.

I want to keep walking and living because it is a good thing do. That is the only way forward. But I am learning that hanging onto things too tightly is not good. I've come to find out that many of the things I was doing wasn't what the Spirit was doing in me and in other people....or the world. I'm also learning that this Letting Go gig is so necessary because much of what I pick up at any given moment might turn out to be something God has not given. I'm learning to walk away from things I can leave behind and live without. Many of them are material possessions but many of them are ideas and ways of thinking that have separated me from others. Today I am left believing there is only one thing necessary...learning to live loved and in turn learning to love. Letting go seems to be an important function of the life of freedom.

Sorry if this makes no sense.....just feeling something and going with it.

I Let It Go

I wanted to sing you a song
This gift I was given has all come out wrong
I wanted to give you so much
I came all this way just to hand you a (broken) crutch

I let it go
This life I know
Seeds that we sow
May come to dust

I let it go
One thing I know
What's real will grow
Inside of us

I wanted to lay by your side
Take this small world and open it wide
I wanted to write it all down
Your skin was the paper your pages unbound

Lonely is just how I feel
Alone in the world and the world's a wheel
Spinning these thoughts in my head
I tangle with you and we hang by a thread

I let it go
This life I know
Seeds that we sow
May come to dust

I let it go
One thing I know
What's real will grow
Inside of us

There may come a day when this dream dies
Fair enough fair enough
Until then we lay down our own lives
Fair enough fair enough

Monday, October 22, 2007

IT'S BEEN HERE BEFORE.....BUT YOU MIGHT FIND IT REVISITING HERE OCCASIONALLY

You will certainly hear me alluding to living in the moment often. But my friend Paul has a way with words and I think this is very profound. Been Future Tripping much lately?

http://www.windrumors.com/37/future-tripping-and-the-presence-of-joy-peace/

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HERE IT IS

This post is inspired by an email from one of my friends/sisters.

Her and two other friends/sisters went to see Over The Rhine Friday night. They apparently had a wonderful time. So this is brought to you through these three ladies.

While reading the email account of their time at the show I thought of an OTR song that so wonderfully expresses what I am experiencing these days. And I am more certain than ever of the One who will be revealed to us all one day.

Today we get to share our stories with each other of the One who is setting us free and at work in the world to reconcile that which was lost and belongs to him, back unto himself. I thought of this song for many reasons. One of those reasons is that it speaks of the tension we all live in. The struggle between that which is already here and that which is still to come. That which has been accomplished already...in full.. through what he has done for us, and our floundering between freedom and the things that hold us captive still. It speaks of the work of his love that bruises and the forgiveness that melts the ice that makes healthy relationships possible again. First of all our relationship with Him, which without, our relationships with each other will just continue to cause more pain and hurt.

This disarming he has been walking me and many of you through is so necessary. A disarming that is another outworking of this transformation and reconciliation. If it does not happen we are left unable to love the other with his love. Be they friend...lover...or enemy. The deeper his love goes the deeper the bruising. What a beautiful piece of heartache this is all turning out to be.

This is from their Christmas CD Snow Angels

Here It Is

I cried when I wrote this
I’ll always remember
The worst kind of lonely
Is alone in December

The act of forgiveness
Is always a mystery
The melting of ice
And the future of history

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

The leaves on the oak tree
Hold on through the winter
They’re brown and their brittle
They clatter together

I can’t seem to let go
I’m so scared of losing
The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising

The trouble with talking
Is it makes you sound clever
The trouble with waiting
Is you’ll just wait forever

There’s a loop of excuses
That plays in your mind
And makes the truth
Even harder to find

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

When they blow Gabriel’s horn
Rip fiction from fact
I want to get caught
In some radical act

Of love and redemption
The sound of warm laughter
Some true conversation
With a friend or my lover

Somewhere down the road
We’ll lift up our glass
And toast the moment
And moments past

The heartbreak and laughter
The joy and the tears
The scary scary beauty
Of what’s right here

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

Kimber, Cynthia and Tina, it is so much fun getting to watch you all walk in these new freedoms with Father...don't be distracted or discouraged by what you might "see" swirling around you. He is always here with us in it all. Learning to listen is something we need to learn.

One day, maybe even in this life, if Father wills, we will lift a glass together in celebration of Him and the journey he has led us on out of the grip of the mess. But if not here, we certainly will lift that glass with each other at His appearing. I look forward to that gathering with you all.

SOMETHING REVISITED BUT STILL TODAY WORTH PONDERING

These thoughts by Wendell Berry and Walter Brueggemann came to mind in a conversation I had this morning at work. Myself and a client were discussing how most often we are so shaped to believe certain things we have been taught, which in turn leads us to live a certain way and we continue to do so even when the thing we desire most remains a distant dream or hope. Freedom. All the while we remain on the same road that continues to produce the same frustrating results. We continue on with these words continuously ringing in our head....TRY HARDER.

Only when our security is found through a restored trusting relationship with our Creator will freedom be realized. And when it happens, we realize freedom isn't the important thing anymore. It was being restored back into relationship with Him that we have been longing for. Many things stand in the way of us having the courage to change directions. I think I would point to fear as being what stands in our way to this relationship. It is manifested in many different ways in which we respond to the reality around us, but until we see it as being fear, the fog remains so thick and complicated to begin to untangle. Once I began to see it as fear, many things that I had refused to face as being in the way I began to accept as being in the way. What follows here are some of the things I am so grateful Father began to open my eyes to and began to show me how to live free from. Once I began to see them for what they are, I began to see the futility of placing any of my trust and hope in them. They began to lose their hold on me.

Wendell Berry

"We have many commodities but little satisfaction, little sense of the sufficiency of anything. The scarcity of satisfaction makes of our many commodities an infinite series of commodities, the new commodities invariably promising greater satisfaction than the older ones. In fact, the industrial economy's most marketed commodity is satisfaction, and this commodity, which is repeatedly promised, bought, and paid for, is never delivered."


With what follows here, I think I more than likely would differ in a significant way with Walter Brueggemann in how to find freedom from what controls us or what he points to as the failed script. I do believe along with him, that this script has failed and in all actuality, the script never worked. I believe he is right in saying the way to freedom is revealed in the Biblical text as he suggests, but is it found in the way the religious system interprets it? Isn't the ridiculous voice coming from the religious system a part of the same failed script? TRY HARDER. Conform to these rules and you will be free. This is where I think we have had it so wrong. Don't we step full circle back into the script by thinking the religious system and it's fear based conformity will ever produce freedom? Or a trusting relationship? As I have heard Walter say before, "We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the culture that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought." We do need to have the courage to think beyond what the secular culture has shaped us to believe, but it is also as important for us to be able to have an alternative thought beyond what the religious culture has taught us. Freedom awaits all of us that can do that and it begins with the hope of a restored trusting relationship with God.

1. Everybody lives by a script. The script may be implicit or explicit. It may be recognised or unrecognized, but everybody has a script.

2. We get scripted. All of us get scripted through the process of nurture and formation and socialization, and it happens to us without our knowing it.

3. The dominant scripting in our society is a script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism that socializes us all, liberal and conservative.

4. That script (technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism) enacted through advertising and propaganda and ideology, especially on the liturgies of television, promises to make us safe and to make us happy.

5. That script has failed. That script of military consumerism cannot make us safe and it cannot make us happy. We may be the unhappiest society in the world.

6. Health for our society depends upon disengagement from and relinquishment of that script of military consumerism. This is a disengagement and relinquishment that we mostly resist and about which we are profoundly ambiguous.

7. It is the task of ministry to de-script that script among us. That is, too enable persons to relinquish a world that no longer exists and indeed never did exist.

8. The task of descripting, relinquishment and disengagement is accomplished by a steady, patient, intentional articulation of an alternative script that we say can make us happy and make us safe.

9. The alternative script is rooted in the Bible and is enacted through the tradition of the Church. It is an offer of a counter-narrative, counter to the script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.

10. That alternative script has as its most distinctive feature, its key character – the God of the Bible whom we name as Father, Son, and Spirit.

11. That script is not monolithic, one dimensional or seamless. It is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent. Partly it is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because it has been crafted over time by many committees. But it is also ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because the key character is illusive and irascible in freedom and in sovereignty and in hiddenness, and, I’m embarrassed to say, in violence – [a] huge problem for us.

12. The ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent quality of the counter-script to which we testify cannot be smoothed or made seamless. [I think the writer of Psalm 119 would probably like too try, to make it seamless]. Because when we do that the script gets flattened and domesticated. [This is my polemic against systematic theology]. The script gets flattened and domesticated and it becomes a weak echo of the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism. Whereas the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism is all about certitude, privilege, and entitlement this counter-script is not about certitude, privilege, and entitlement. Thus care must betaken to let this script be what it is, which entails letting God be God’s irascible self.

13. The ragged, disjunctive character of the counter-script to which we testify invites its adherents to quarrel among themselves – liberals and conservatives – in ways that detract from the main claims of the script and so too debilitate the focus of the script.

14. The entry point into the counter-script is baptism. Whereby we say in the old liturgies, “do you renounce the dominant script?”

15. The nurture, formation, and socialization into the counter-script with this illusive, irascible character is the work of ministry. We do that work of nurture, formation, and socialization by the practices of preaching, liturgy, education, social action, spirituality, and neighboring of all kinds.

16. Most of us are ambiguous about the script; those with whom we minister and I dare say, those of us who minister. Most of us are not at the deepest places wanting to choose between the dominant script and the counter-script. Most of us in the deep places are vacillating and mumbling in ambivalence.

17. This ambivalence between scripts is precisely the primary venue for the Spirit. So that ministry is to name and enhance the ambivalence that liberals and conservatives have in common that puts people in crisis and consequently that invokes resistance and hostility.

18. Ministry is to manage that ambivalence that is crucially present among liberals and conservatives in generative faithful ways in order to permit relinquishment of [the] old script and embrace of the new script.

19. The work of ministry is crucial and pivotal and indispensable in our society precisely because there is no one [see if that’s an overstatement]; there is no one except the church and the synagogue to name and evoke the ambivalence and too manage a way through it. I think often; I see the mundane day-to-day stuff ministers have to do and I think, my God, what would happen if you talk all the ministers out. The role of ministry then is as urgent as it is wondrous and difficult.



Friday, October 19, 2007

STORY TELLING

Looking back over this past week I am again awed at what Father is doing. I know I mention it a lot but here it goes again. The stories I am having the privilege to hear from those I have shared The Shack with or people that have come across the book in other ways just humble me and at the same time make me want to shout.

Stories open windows. The stories being told by those I know having been touched by Mack's story are opening locked windows that many have been afraid to open. Prison doors for some are being flung open wide...for others who are carrying many scars and much pain they are hesitantly taking chances they have been afraid to take for a long time. Feelings of, "Do I dare believe that the God I have lived in fear of is as caring as he is revealed in Papa?"

The proclamation of what God has done spreads hope to others that have been buried under the weight of hopelessness that this world has dumped on them. The author of The Shack shared Mack's story which was in a sense a way of him telling some of his story. I'm hearing other stories on almost a daily basis from people that I have shared my story with and in turn shared this little book with Mack's and Paul's story, and I am so blown away by the outcome. Some people on a deep level are being touched by God and others are finding the courage and hunger to seek God again, or for the first time, so as to know him.

One of my clients heard a co-worker telling a story about The Shack the other day and my client said to me; "I am intrigued by what they are talking about." It opened a door with my client to tell some stories. He told me he was going home to order The Shack. I look forward to seeing him next month. I sense there will be some more story telling going on.

Isn't this what relationship is about?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

WHAT A DIFFICULT TRAP TO LIVE FREE OF

From The Shack

"Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could work or live together without someone being in charge."

"But every human institution that I can think of, from political to business, even down to marriage, is governed by this kind of thinking; it is the web of our social fabric," Mack asserted.

"Such a waste!" said Papa, picking up the empty dish and heading for the kitchen.

"It's one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you," Jesus added. "Once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FEAR NOT

As I have been thinking about the world we walk in and the things we have been shaped by I can't help but think that it is all about fear. Not only do we hear ringing in our heads the warnings:

DO THIS......or this will happen!
DON'T DO THAT....or this other thing will happen.

We are also relentlessly bombarded with images that create a continuous environment that keeps us believing all these warnings. Yet that environment leaves us nothing but confusion and fear because what dominates it is disaster and calamity along with the other extreme of sappy & sentimental.

It all reminds me of the analogy of the frog sitting in a pot of cold water over a flame. I'm sure everyone is familiar with that story. I also have been thinking about this continuous environment (reality) we are surrounded by in relation to God and the freedom he has for us all. The scriptures refer to it as being the difference between light and darkness.

I know for myself there are lies that still hold me back. Fears in me that this environment continues to feed. But I can also speak to this, Jesus has walked me out of many of them and continues to open my eyes to the reality of what surrounds me. As it continues to be exposed in my life for what it is, regardless of how wonderful and benign it might appear to be on the surface, I know the effects it has had on me. Jesus' words to us about being in the world but not of the world begin to be reveal as the life it really is. FREEDOM from the nightmare. And as we are freed from the intoxicating environment we can begin to really be here in it all to love others.

This is from The Shack.

"The darkness hides the true size of fears and lies and regrets," Jesus explained. "The truth is they are more shadow than reality, so they seem bigger in the dark. When the light shines into the places they live inside you, you start to see them for what they are."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

REALITY

When the eyes of man/woman were opened by eating from the tree of the knowlege of good and evil, the frightful adventure of humanity's trouble began. Humans discover reality outside of truth. Reality, fending for itself, on it's own.

Here is something taken from the book, The Humiliation Of The Word by Jacques Ellul.

"Evidence becomes the sign of certainty and conviction. It is compared with fleeting words which are preserved only by the memory: words of God, who is not visible, and words that are difficult to interpret. They contain all the laxity of freedom. These words permit no solid certainty; it is so easy to manipulate words.

"Did God really say?" is the only real argument. After all, am I so sure what I heard? "Really"--- that is, related to this reality. In a place of all this vagueness, this open-endedness, and this memory whose uncertainty is pointed out to me, here I have the visual, indisputable evidence. It leaves no room for discussion.

I see. What I see is evident and certain. It gives evidence against the Word. This is the real "temptation," and the process by which we question the truth. Rather than remaining in a fluid relationship based on listening, word, memory, choice, and response, the woman sees a possible way to take possession and to dominate at the level of this reality that she recognizes as the only stable one. She hears the true Word placed in doubt. These two facets are closely related, and based on them the opposition to images is made explicit, as the irreconcilable contradiction of image and word is ascertained (but this conclusion is a later theological construction!)

Evidence is absolute evil. We must accept nothing based on evidence contrary to Descartes's recommendation. The evidence of reality is quite useful for action, but can in no way help us understand the meaning of our lives. As soon as we allow ourselves to be invaded by this obsession with evidence, the discretion of the word vanishes. We become insensitive to language, which, even if it is the Word of God, loses it's meaning. Thus, we no longer pay any attention to it."

Monday, October 15, 2007

KENT, YOU SPEAK OF A LIFE OF WHICH YOU SAY IS TRUE, BUT GO ON LIVING AS IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IT

Some 18 months ago, those are the words I heard so clearly. In all honesty I had heard them several times before in my life. But today I am coming to understand that the transformative power of Father's Word had been buried under something other. Well, it least temporarily that is. Father's timing does play into this somehow? Why had it taken so long? Probably for many reasons, but what I am coming to see at the heart of it all, is that reality, (the world that had been pulled over my eyes) kept the truth that sets us free locked up. My dependence on reality, what I could see, stood in the way.

This reality, the world we see, shapes us without us even being aware of it into people that really need evidence. Because we have never ever seen Jesus, we remain paralyzed when it comes to the life of faith. We remain governed by what we see. We can though maintain a belief about God that never transcends religion---a set of personal beliefs that can exists without ever really changing us. We then must learn to work this set of beliefs into the reality we see. We adapt to our surrounding world. In that place, Jesus' life and words remain unintelligible.

I'm coming to understand that a mere belief in Jesus is not a life of faith. Beliefs are connected to and demand certainty. Evidence based on reality. Faith is totally different, Wholly Other. Faith is connected to the One who is certain and true. But this doesn't bring the certainty we have become accustomed to desire and look for, so as to feel safe in the chaotic reality of this world. But the life of faith, the life hidden with Christ in God, will make us secure in the midst of the uncertainty.

Life is only found in the word that proceeds from God's mouth. We become familiar with his voice as we live in a relationship with him. That is the only place peace, joy and security can be found. When Adam and Eve grabbed for what God had not given, it caused a shift in how they lived, and in turn how we live. Before that dreadful choice, they lived by the word God spoke. After that, their eyes were opened and they became overwhelmed by what they saw. Fear and shame now enter and the game changes, drastically.

18 months ago I heard what Father was speaking in a way that began to change everything. What was different from the times I had heard it before? I was worn out. My belief system had failed me. Fear and a good dose of shame and pain had gripped me like it never had before, and the life of certainty I was seeking was revealed to be the illusion that it had always been. I had nowhere else to run but into the one whose words are true. Reality, the world that had been pulled over my eyes began to lose it's grip on me. This freedom feels really good. Wrung out like a rag to say the least, more aware of the uncertainty, trusting Father more than ever, and exhilaratingly alive.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?

Isn't alienation from God, attempting to live independently from him, where all fear originates? This seems to be getting less and less complex to me. Most people I know, myself included, all seem to want to be free of fear and all the things that come with it... stress, anxiety, exhaustion, loneliness, hopelessness, meaninglessness......go ahead and add whatever you want to that list.

Religion and the working of it's codes and ethics and morals and principles and formulas, don't seem to be anymore effective at freeing people from the above list of things most people want free of. But generation after generation people continue to play that game in hopes of finding freedom.

Shouldn't this tell us something? Isn't it fear that is used to keep us in that game? And isn't it the attempts at making that game work that causes many of the things that leave us stressed, anxious, exhausted, lonely, hopeless, without meaning (or at least without joy and peace)....and whatever else you added to that list?

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%203:%201-27;&version=65;

Jesus' life in us is about freedom from the game. The game that attempts to eliminate the fallout caused by our alienation but hasn't the power to deliver us from it. We suffer under the weight of the game that is pushed on us by the culture at large and the religious sub-culture that looks pretty much like the culture it resides in. The similarities shouldn't surprise us. You can dress alienation and bondage up however you like, but it's still the same thing.

Jesus wants to liberate us from it. It is for freedom that he has set us free. Let's learn to live it that freedom.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

MY TRIP TO MT HOOD




I would love to do this trip again someday.

Here are some more picture Sue and a few tourist links for the area.




Here are some pictures of the falls mentioned in the story http://www.oregonscenics.com/Mountains%20and%20%20waterfalls.htm


Here are some picture of the lake mentioned in the story
















I love the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
















































IMAGES AND WORDS AND COMMUNICATION

"The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."
How many times throughout our lives have we been so convinced about something one day only to find out, days, weeks, months, or even years later we had been wrong? It's happened to me often. And yet for years I continued to be willing to "go to the mat" for an idea, a principle, or a "truth" and often that was done at the expense of relationships. So often I felt justified living this way because what I believed was so important and defending it was there for important. How many times have we all done this and hurt others? In the end not only do we hurt others but we hurt ourselves also. How often do we fight for what we see as being reality because it is so clear to us what we see? It's right in front us.
How often have we mixed up reality and truth? I'm learning that reality and truth are two totally different things. Just because we see something with our eyes (reality) doesn't make it truth. In just about every moment of our lives we are interpreting things we see and hear. 10 people can see the same event (reality) and come away with 10 different accounts of what they saw happen. The same is true with what we hear. Words so often mean different things to each of us. So 10 people can hear the same thing and again we can come up with several different accounts as to what they heard.
Where does this leave us? How do we come to a place that we can communicate in a way that we are less likely to misunderstand each other? How can we in a day and time, where we are so bombarded with images that are never able to be put into context, keep from living in illusions created by these images? Images don't have as much influence on me any longer when it comes to what is truth. It's dangerous thinking we "know" what is going on from having just seen images of something, especially with the greatest image maker man has come up with...TV.

When it comes to language
and conversation we are not
much better off. Not only do we face the problem caused by the breakdown of the meaning of words, we face the difficulty caused by the fact that we have a hard time really listening to the other person talking. We must learn to listen and we need to learn that what we see can often fool us.
Why have I put these two pictures here in this post? As an object lesson. When I took them I was standing in the same spot, the first on one day, the second on the day after. I'm glad I didn't go to the mat fighting with someone the first day insisting that Mt Hood wasn't in front of me. I'm humbled though wondering how many times I have made such a mistake and been dead wrong. I hope that helps as far as not blindly trusting in the images that our culture uses to present to us what is going on around us. And I am going to use the words of the Bishop of Durham NT Wright, that might hopefully cause us to pause long enough so that we might "hear" what the other is really saying.
"One sign of Christian maturity may be a readiness to hear the argument through to the end, rather than what many Christians are eager to do, short circuiting the argument in the interest of quick fix spirituality or missiology."
Isn't taking the time to listen, to really care about the other an act of love? It takes the freedom found in God to be able to do this.

Friday, October 12, 2007

THE SPIRIT'S MYSTERIOUS WAYS

Ain’t it crazy
What’s revealed when you’re not looking all that close....otr


Nothing has been what I'd guessed so far.
Unforeseen, this most sweet, beautiful change.....the innocence mission

SPEAKING OF FREEDOM........

Go check this out.

http://www.windrumors.com/39/a-story-of-gifts-loosely-based-on-matthew-8/

WHAT DO WE LONG FOR?

Conformity or Freedom?

It seems figuring this out would be a valuable thing to do?

Do most people even think about it anymore or are they so "set" in thinking they know what freedom is. Most people seem to think that having the ability to choose is freedom. Democracy has taught us in the West at least that this is what it is. Choice isn't freedom. And our choices are never made freely. They have been shaped by our surroundings, our culture, our family...etc. So doesn't that pretty much make choice more about conformity instead of freedom?

There is only one life that is free. And it is the one being transformed out of the old into the new. Lets us not be fooled into thinking religious obligation can accomplish this. That is about conformity, not freedom. Let us not be fooled by Democracy. That is about conformity, not freedom.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

ISN'T THIS ABOUT THE DEPTH OF THE WELL?

I had ran out early this morning to pick up some apples from the store so my two daughters that are home schooled could walk across the street today to grandma's house and bake a pie with her. She is teaching them to bake. As I was driving I was listening to some music of Ellery and the song It's Alright was playing. This line always stands out to me:

I asked you just once if you thought we could be found
You never did tell me; but I think I know now
Whatever ship comes, by dark sea or gray cloud
As long as the well’s deep, we make it somehow

Life is a struggle and I have come to think it is more about how we struggle than it is about living on the mountain top. If anyone decides to put anything on my grave stone let it be this. HE STRUGGLED WELL AND LIVED. I'm learning that struggling well feels like living on a mountain top. It's that life hidden with Christ in God.

I got home from the grocery store run and found that Cynthia had left a comment about my daughter's poem. She made mention of a healing balm. It made me think of the deep well. God is that deep well and he is with us always. Learning to live from that well is what makes struggling well possible. It's what makes taking up our own cross and entering into the sufferings of Christ not only bearable...but for those experiencing it...they come to understand that this is LIFE, and there is a FREEDOM to be found in him. And it is found in no other place.

My daughter and I are doing well right now but there is more uncertainty up ahead and always will be. I'm learning to live in the moment much more so than she is at this time but doesn't that come with experience? It happens as our trust in father grows (trust is something that grows, this is not about working harder to make it happen) and we learn this well is for us to draw from for all we need. It cleanses us and it quenches our thirst. As I began to understand that I needed both of those constantly, living in the moment began to make more sense than any planning for all those uncertain futures or regrets from the long gone past ever did.

She and I are doing fine and the well has been proven to be deep, but if she and I were still trapped in what had caused us all so much pain, the depth of the well would still be the same. My eyes were opened to that depth of love and care of our wonderful Father during that time. I don't know what lies ahead for her or myself, but I am learning more and more through every moment spent in Father's presence that we'll make it somehow. Father is committed to that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A SPECIAL POEM




My daughter is working on a book of poetry for a senior project. Many of you have heard the story so this really needs no set up. I read it for the first time this evening. Things are going well and once again I am left in awe and humbled even more.




THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH



The plane touches down

My heart beats faster now

Palm trees wave happily

But it's not the beach we are here for

The bright purple bus took

Us down the right route

To the place we were seeking

Hands point with excited shouts



The familiar happy mouse

Welcomes us to his haven

A few stressful months

Had brought us here heavy laden

The castle gleams with brilliance

The tower of terror beckons us on

Proud rock dares us to climb

And Epcot helped us to soar



Ending with a parade

And hot chocolate with Christmas music

Playing, starting to fade

There was nowhere else

I'd rather be

Holidays 2005

feel the Magic with me

PRAISE AND WORSHIP


Living in awe is how I would describe it. I've become so aware that there is a liberation going on. A liberation from a life that felt schizophrenic most of the time. A life where things continued to become more and more confusing and the more I would attempt to work it out or jump through the accepted "hoops" to figure it out the more drained and frustrated and exhausted I would feel.


I couldn't find many people that seemed to be figuring it out any better than I either. It seemed that everything we all desired...peace and joy...living in the realization of God's love and forgiveness...sensing his presence in such a way which made us know he was traveling with us...living loved by others and being able to love the other, all seemed to be fleeting moments that would come and go and during the times we weren't living in that awareness...well...all kinds of schizophrenic thoughts and actions would set in.


Today, I can say what I had been longing for has become much more a reality. I feel free or at least being set free of the schizo life I used to live out of the things that seem to make up most folks lives. Money, Politics, Religious obligation, social ethics and moral codes that had to be imposed on myself and others, violence, systems that seem to say they care and are here to help but always fall so painfully short....and trying to figure out the future.


With all that gone or at least exposed for what it is, I am left with awe and praise and worship.


I'm going to let something Linford Detweiler said close this out. I think it is a wonderful way of describing a life of Praise.


I cannot say it
with mere words
convincingly

So
I sing it with
the life I live
unflinchingly.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A LINK FROM TIM NEUFELD'S BLOG

This is from Tim's blog:
http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/2007/10/who-is-aung-san.html

Here is U2's video to Walk On. Stick through to the very end and you will see a clip from Aung San Suu Kyi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiCpjNSOY2I

Here is an article Bono wrote about her. I have heard him say that her story very well could be the most courageous story of our generation.

http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/2004/time100/heroes/100aung.html

I think this is the first post of Tim's I came across. It might sound familiar to anyone that has been visiting my blog for very long. I've mentioned the part about "Honorable Relations" many times.

http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/2006/07/where_is_the_lo.html

Monday, October 08, 2007

JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT

My daughter is in the process of preparing to audition for acceptance into College and she is pursuing dance. She is trying to decide between two songs right now that she will have to choreograph a dance for. Anyone out there want to vote on what you think would be better?

I want to see her dance to both of them. If she does, maybe I will post a video on youtube sometime soon. She is a graceful beautiful dancer. I've been moved to tears a few times seeing her ensemble group dance and some solos she has done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M27IMEjqEgk&mode=related&search=


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeGPxEHBIHs

TOO MANY PEOPLE STILL TRAPPED IN ZOOROPA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t11VmC3n2w

Did the members of U2 see something, a danger, that the majority of the Church in the West missed? I know for myself they seemed to have seen something (in the 90's) way before I did at least. How did we buy into the consumerist, nationalistic, self-absorbed version of the gospel pushed by the religious system? Shutting the TV and talk radio off did me a ton of good. I began to see through the illusion.

I heard a brother the other day talking about four things that worked together in his transformation. I can relate. The way out is usually preceded by a trip to the bottom and a good dose of confusion and pain.

having a good measure of success
experiencing a massive dose of failure
being involved in a gargantuan heresy
and a solid intimate betrayal


Listen to Bono describe it speaking of what they were doing with the recording of Zooropa. This is from the book U2 by U2.

"I wanted to get away from the weight of where I was going. I wanted to fly. There was enough melancholy around. And I have no religion, I don't know what is what. There is a line in the New Testament which says that the Spirit moves and no one knows where it comes from or where it is going. It is like the wind. I have always felt that about my faith. Religion is often the enemy of God because it denies the spontaneity of the Spirit and almost anarchistic nature of the Spirit.

The counterbalance of that freedom is 'Numb'. Which is the sound of the inside of somebody's head, with a great lyrics and performance by Edge. It is a relentless portrait of what he was feeling at the time and what a lot of people were feeling in the wider world about media. He was in that spot but it became a great metaphor for the media overload generation incapable of feeling anything for the pictures you see."

Here is a link to the lyrics for Zooropa. The video above is not an official video so the song in it's entirety is not covered. http://www.macphisto.net/u2lyrics/Zooropa.html

If you are interested you can here the song here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_FJAYhrKdg

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I LOVE THIS STORY OF REDEMPTION....NOT MANY THESE DAYS DO WHAT THEY DID


These are the liner-notes from Over The Rhine's Drunkard's Prayer CD. The choice these two made in order to save their marriage is so rare today. I want to be available to encourage people that are struggling under the weight that this life so often becomes. To let people know it is so worth hanging in there when the going gets tough. I'm reminded of a line from a song on this recording that is a good bit of advice about living day to day....or actually moment to moment. We all too often get way out in front and conjure up more problems than we need or can bare. Let's learn to live with Jesus where he is....in the moment. The past is dead....the future doesn't exist.

I remember once you said
Lying in this bed
The past is dead
Everyday is a one-act play
Without an ending

I think we all would find that if we do this a little bit at a time this journey is so worth going on?

1. Talk a bit about the band’s goings-on since OHIO.

OHIO got quite a bit of good press and our fans embraced the songs, which was a lot of fun for us, especially since we were a bit unsure how a double album would be received. We threw ourselves into promoting OHIO, because we believed it was some of our best work and still do.

But a few months into our national tour, Karin and I realized that although good things were happening with our music, there was just very little energy or creativity or time left over for our marriage, and it was taking a toll on us. I think we had to learn that putting a long-term relationship on autopilot indefinitely can be dangerous if not fatal. We decided we had to pull the plug on the tour and go home and figure out if being together was something we were still committed to.

We opted to start over, reinvent our own relationship, dig deep and do the homework to see if we could make our marriage sing. We decided to redirect the same thought and energy, that we had been putting into writing and performing, toward our life at home together. We prayed a lot. Our friends prayed a lot. It was the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for us. And hopefully, some of what we’ve learned has not only made us better people, but better songwriters as well.

2. Discuss the making of the record, the decision to record at home, the sonic results and feel.

Part of the challenge of being a working musician is just being away from home so much. On the one hand, it’s a real privilege to be able to perform our songs in front of an appreciative audience. On the other hand, it’s difficult to establish rhythms, be rooted and build a good life at home when we’re constantly coming and going. It’s also a challenge to stay connected to family and friends, to be part of a community. So, we opted to record Drunkard’s Prayer in our living room. We decided to keep it close to home and make a simple record that was deeply connected to this time in our lives.

We limited the palette to our piano and acoustic guitars, upright bass, some cello, a few horns and subtle textures. We didn’t labor over the songs, which tend to be very personal. We’ve found there’s often an undeniable warmth and honesty that comes through in the recordings we make at home.

3. Discuss the origin of the title.

We opted to call the record Drunkard’s Prayer, which was the name of the first song we recorded for this project, a song that sort of set the tone for the record. Maybe that’s why we need songwriters: when we run out of words to pray, sometimes a song will do the trick.

We decided to put a white horse on the cover, because that image has been associated with redemption. The songs on this record tell the story of two people finding their way back home after almost losing everything, each other included.

We also liked the fact that Drunkard’s Prayer sounded like the name of a race horse, a long shot, a horse with little chance of winning, but the one you’ve got all your money on.

4. Provide a few sentences on a few of the tunes: inspiration for, anecdotal info, etc.

Born - When we came home from the tour, we bought two cases of wine and decided we were going to put a bottle on the kitchen table every evening and start talking until nothing was left. The idea was not to get piss-drunk, but to talk face to face deep into the night.

Drunkard’s Prayer - Everybody wants to be drunk on the good stuff--drunk on life, love, music, the wine of God and what not. In the New Testament, when the believers were first filled with the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues, the onlookers thought they were drunk. It takes some of that same holy foolhardiness to attempt to be an artist, a lover, a true friend, an adopted child of God.

Hush Now - We’ve talked about doing a record someday with just the two of us, and we did a few songs on Drunkard’s Prayer that way.

5. Anything else you’d like to have mentioned?

Quiet music should be played loud.We are not brother and sister.

Questions: Anne Dickens
Answers: Linford and Karin

HOW DOES THE WORLD WORK NOW AFTER MAN GRABBED FOR WHAT GOD HAD NOT GIVEN?

Technique: The systematic procedure by which a complex or scientific task is accomplished.

This is taken from Technique and the Opening Chapters of Genesis by Jacques Ellul. I will add a link at the end where it can be read in it's entirety.

"We have seen why technique was impossible in Eden, but the fall brings about a radical break ‑the universum which had been created has been shattered. Adam is no longer in direct communion with God: he hides. The break between them is complete. Starting from this break between God and man, all other breaks follow ‑Adam and Eve separate. (Adam accuses his wife‑what greater break?) They are no longer one, but two. Man and the animals separate. (Eve accuses the serpent.) They learn fear and shame. "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked" (Genesis 3:7). That is to say, precisely, that the relationship among the elements of creation is completely upset. Instead of unity and communion, there is now an "I" and a "You.” There is the gaze of the Other, which is the gaze of a stranger imposed on me. Now I am under the scrutiny of the gaze of the Other, which is a look without love and without understanding and welcome, but only coldly perspicacious. (Here it is‑science, which discerns the objective reality of things and which sees that I am "other.” This observation now transforms everything into an object, and the other has become an object for me.) The mirror of creation is shattered. The universum is broken, and therefore it is necessary to have means‑means for holding the pieces together, means for establishing new relations in a world without relations.

Now it is necessary to have mediators and intermediaries because of the distance that has been established between God and man, between people, and between man and matter. There is no more immediate contact. Everything has become mediated. In particular, in his relationship with God, man is going to institute religion, which is both a screen between the two and, at the same time, a way of approach. Thus we have the sacrifices of Abel and Cain. Then, in his relationship with nature, man creates technique. At this point, we are thrown into the world of means and into their multiplication without end, without any checks. Indeed, we have to grasp that the proliferation of means characterizing our age is not a sort of progress whose roots reach back into the situation of Adam and Eden. Technical proliferation is necessary precisely because that situation no longer exists!


Thus Adam finds himself in a relationship of struggle, and rules by this means, that is, his technique, which cannot be an instrument of love but of domination.

Similarly, the world has become hostile with its powers of aggression which it hides from man‑wild animals, beginning with the serpent. Man now has to protect himself from everything that attacks him, and thus other means become necessary ‑weapons, for example. (Why should one limit techniques to tools? Weapons are the sign of a technique at least as early as tools!) More importantly, once again, he has to resort to the whole of technique. A qualified expert in these matters has been able to write that technique is a "protective envelope which man wraps around himself" (Leroi‑Gourhan
[8]). And it is true that technique is a collection of means for protection at least as much as it is the means of domination. In both cases, however, what characterizes the instrument is its efficiency. The only thing that denotes technique is its efficiency. That is to say, it is an absolutely new preoccupation which comes about in a world which denies and attacks, but a preoccupation which would have been incomprehensible in the garden of Eden.

Now Adam has to succeed in. . . . But what would success mean in a world of thanksgiving, of gift? Thus it is that Adam has now been placed in a truly new situation. He knows necessity, a few aspects of which have just been recalled. Previously, Adam had lived in freedom, and his work was freedom, play, child‑like. He was free to be himself in front of his Creator who was his Father. He was free from all constraint, all obligation. He knew only this freedom, with its complement of respect for the will of God, respect within a free love and a free dialogue. There was no law, but an order‑the very order of the freedom of God. From the moment when Adam separated himself from God, when his freedom was no longer love but the choice between two possibilities, from that moment Adam moved from the realm of freedom into the realm of necessity. (As for us, we no longer know anything but the freedom which is always the choice between two possibilities, and we characterize freedom by the possibility of choice; but let us not forget that this is nothing but freedom in the world of the fall and gravity and death.) When he no longer lives in the communion of love with God, then he lives in the order of law. Now he knows only duty. Now he knows that an implacable order governs his destiny, and that his universe is one where everything falls‑that his universe is truly one of gravity, of care, of the fall.

Everything is now governed necessarily. Fatality becomes a sign of his life and he is subject to an interplay of laws on every level‑physical and moral, biological and sociological‑ each of which is only a facet of the same necessity. In this universe of necessity, to which he must yield, man learns to use necessity, to be crafty with it or turn it against itself. He learns to know and calculate the laws of nature for the modification of his own condition. By submitting to these laws, he is able to rule them ‑ It is in discerning them as necessity that he is able to live in the middle of them and to subsist as a man who, in the depth of his heart, still keeps alive the memory of and aspiration for freedom.

When we write this, however, we have done no more than describe the process of technique, itself guided by science‑the means of submitting to necessity by yielding to it. But in a world where there was no necessity, what would this mean? Thus, no matter what attitude one takes toward technique, it can only be perceived as a phenomenon of the fall; it has nothing to do with the order of creation; it by no means results from the vocation of Adam desired by God. It is necessarily of the situation of the fallen Adam.

And now it remains for me to beg the reader not to have me say what I did not say! I did not say that technique is a fruit of sin. I did not say that technique is contrary to the will of God. I did not say that technique in itself is evil. I said only that technique is not a prolongation of the Edenic creation that it is not a compliance of man to a vocation which was given to him by God, that it is not the fruit of the first nature of Adam. It is the product of the situation in which sin has put man; it is inscribed exclusively in the fallen world; it is uniquely part of this fallen world; it is a product of necessity and not of human freedom."


http://www.jesusradicals.com/library/ellul/various/technogenesis.html

Saturday, October 06, 2007

THE SUBVERSION OF CHRISTIANITY

“No doubt some will reply that God is not a God of disorder, incoherence, or arbitrariness, but a God of order. Of course he is. Unfortunately the whole of the Old Testament shows us that God’s order is not that which we conceive and desire. God’s order is not organization and institution (cf. the difference between judges and kings). It is not the same in every time and place. It is not a matter of repetition and habit. On the contrary, it resides in the fact that it constantly posits something new, a new beginning. Our God is a God of beginnings. There is in him no redundancy or circularity. Thus, if his church wants to be faithful to his revelation, it will be completely mobile, fluid, renascent, bubbling, creative, inventive, adventurous, and imaginative. It will never be perennial, and can never be organized or institutionalized. If the gates of death are not going to prevail against it, this is not because it is a good, solid, well organized fortress, but because it is alive; it is Life that is, as mobile, changing, and surprising as life. If it becomes a powerful fortified organization, it is because death has prevailed.” — The Subversion of Christianity

Friday, October 05, 2007

STILL SURPRISED AT THE SYSTEMS MALFUNCTION?

I'm not.

I had three conversations today with people that have children caught up in systems attempting to "right" a wrong. They are so frustrated because the way those in control of the systems are handling it is just making things worse. Systems can't take into account the individual complexities of one's life on a case by case basis. All they can do is look at the rule book, and define the places those rules have been broken, and make the punishment fit the crime....that is, according to the rule book.

I know these families and I know two of the boys. I could hear in the heart of these moms the desire to help their kids know that they aren't "bad" boys. But that is how systems make people feel when they don't play well within the lines. A cycle so often is set in motion and too often the problems get worse. More control is exerted and those already having difficulty submitting become more frustrated and the war is on.

Another possible scenario (the one most people hope for) is that the system gets the person who is acting out to stop acting out. The fear applied accomplishes it's goal. Conformity to the rules. Societies and systems love this and in most cases families do also. If we want to live in a civil society this does make some sense. But if we are looking for relationships based on love and respect, this seems to me to be very deceptive and full of problems. Fear based conformity in society, in the work place, in religion, and in the family, seems to me to never produce love and harmony. It breeds dysfunction and that is a really big problem for all of us because dysfunction is what we were born into in the first place.

Born into dysfunction----shaped by systems of fear based conformity----left trapped in dysfunction.

I no longer want to be fooled by the societal and religious measuring stick of conformity. The world is full of rebels and conformists. Does God set out to make us either of these? Does God place more value on one of these over the other? If Jesus was using the father in the prodigal son story to describe God, it just seems the answer to the two questions above would be NO. The father gave the prodigal the inheritance early but told the older boy (the conformist) later in the story that everything he had, had been there for him all along also. The older brother was pissed off because the father was throwing a party for that irresponsible, trouble making, stupid younger brother.

Now I am back to the beginning of this post. How often are we caught up in being pissed off at others because they are not playing within the lines and jumping through the hoops we are jumping through because we feel we have to? Or at least have convinced our selves we are doing better at it than the others? How often do we resort to methods of behavior management and attempted forced conformity? Fear seems to be at the root of all of this. Fear of God, fear of parents, fear of peers, fear of all the worlds systems, fear of death.....and the list keeps growing. The father in the story didn't seem to be compelled to act out of fear or use fear to shape his sons. Maybe he knows something we don't know?...at least yet!!!!!

Maybe there isn't any reason to fear any of the things we fear? Maybe this is about something other than conformity? Maybe we prefer conformity over the other because it "feels" safer? Maybe our sense of what is safe is distorted? Isn't being trapped in bondage and sin what our father is at work to free us from.....not to make conformist out of prodigals....but to awaken us to the truth that we are sons and daughters of the most amazing father and that living apart from him is just like living in a pig pin?

Conformists are in as much trouble and danger as prodigals when it comes to the things that matter to God. The story seems to say that maybe prodigals come to the end of them selves before conformists do? Could that be because the human experience, from the time sin and shame entered into the story, has been trapped in so much dysfunction and been shape to believe that conformity to rules and law is freedom? It is not freedom. Freedom isn't about fear.

In the story of the prodigal son, a systematic approach to this prodigal and the older brother would have turned out looking drastically different. The system would have rewarded the older brother and punished the younger rebellious one.

But thank you Father that you didn't make this about a system and conformity to it. This is about you and your love for us. Help us understand this so that we can live in the ebb and flow of your Spirit, seeing each person as an individual, and every situation as unique. Systems don't seem to be able to take that into account. But in the reality of the life hidden with Christ in God, we are free to move as you move, free to be in the world as Jesus was in the world, unencumbered by the ridged confines of systems and systematic approaches based in law, principles, rules, and conformity accomplished through fear.

More like a wineskin that can remain flexible and able to move and adjusts to that which you are doing in the moment. Because no two moments are ever exactly the same because everyone of us has been made unique.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I FEEL LIKE TALKING

Last night my friend Jerry and I went to Blueberry Hill, as you all have already read in my last two posts, to see Over The Rhine. Jerry has been a friend for 21 years. He was part of the group of "heretics" that walked out of the traditional Sunday morning gathering with us 18 years ago. (I am joking when I say heretic. Many think we are but that seems to me to be their problem?) He and I had a great time. We left 2 hours before the doors opened so we could get a bite to eat there at BH and watch the doors where people begin to line up for the show. I just ordered some nachos so if I had to get in line before I was done I could take them with me. And that is what happened.

This was my 4th time of seeing OTR and the 4th time of standing in line so to get one of the few tables right in front of the stage. If you don't get one of the few tables, it is just standing room. The first two times we stood....I really don't care to do that again if I can avoid it. We got a table right up front and then our friends Mike and Manuela joined us. We didn't get much time to talk with them because they arrived about 20 minutes before Griffin House came on. That is not the name of a band....it's the name of a guy. He was really good also. Go check him out on his myspace site. I will actually link him in my music.

Jerry and I had a great conversation about living free and how living free of the illusions is where it is at. Freedom is about reality. For me that speaks of the reality of: What is the world and how does it work? and What is the kingdom of heaven and how do we live and abide in it?

If any of this God stuff as revealed through Jesus is true, it seems to me that understanding that one existence is death and bondage and for us to find life we must make the move from it into the other. How does this happen? I was struck last night by something Jerry said to me. He shared with me something someone had said to him awhile back. It was something like this. If we keep speaking of and keep thinking of the new place or the changes we need to make as being scary, the move becomes much more difficult. The reality is...that new place is life. And what we so often are clinging to is death. These illusions are strongholds.

At one point in the show last night Karin tells a story of her and Linford being invited to the White House and as she said it: Along with Bono and Peter Gabriel. I'm guessing there were a few others? Karin just liked the sound of the headlines being: OTR, Bono and Peter Gabriel. They along with some other artist were invited there for a conversation about the influence of music on the mood of the country and these elected officials wanted to get some idea of what message they found most important. I loved what Karin said she and Linford told them. "We want to give people the permission to NOT BE AFRAID." There it was again. The most repeated message in scripture. FEAR IS PARALYZING and it makes us do crazy things.

So what delivers us from this paralyzing fear? Last year it seems I began to experience some freedom in this area. It is still a work in progress and I sense it will be a life long project the Spirit will be at work at in me. I still at times feel it attempting to rear it's ugly head. What seemed to be so important in the beginning of this process for me was facing the tyranny of SELF-PRESERVATION. It seems to me to be the illusion that keeps fear intact. Here is a truth that busted a powerful illusion for me. Self-preservation mode is hanging onto a life that is not life at all...it is hanging onto death. Once one becomes free indeed, they realize there is nothing to hang onto anymore other than our life...JESUS. Jesus was the first one born into new life (reality) and he had to go through the cross. There is no other way. Jesus didn't live in any illusions and because of that, in his darkest moment he gave himself into the hands of his Father. The father he trusted. The father that we can trust also. Our older brother saw clearly the illusion that is self-preservation and he has has made a way for us to find freedom and part of that I believe is to help us see through the illusion.

The natural man cannot see the things of the spirit. It doesn't matter how hard we try. Hanging onto our lives as if we are in control will keep us stuck in the illusion of the natural man's world. And all there is in that place is fear. Jesus said; To find our life we must lose it. When this happens, we will begin to be delivered from even the fear of death. That sounds like freedom.

here is a link to some audio files for Over The Rhine. Find the song Spark and download it and take a listen. This song so beautifully describes this that I have tied to explain.
http://www.archive.org/details/otr2005-08-26.flac16

Here are the lyrics
http://www.seeklyrics.com/lyrics/Over-The-Rhine/Spark.html