Sunday, May 18, 2008

SOME EASY READING...wink wink...THIS BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY MORNING

Okay, I didn't wait till tomorrow like I first said.

I sat down to write the post below really with no intention of picking up Ellul's book Anarchy and Christianity but it happened anyway. I must admit though that much of my thinking since reading this book at this time last Spring has been influenced by Ellul. I use the word influenced specifically because these thoughts didn't begin in me through the reading of his work, it was there being stirred in me prior to ever even hearing of him. This little book helped me think about these things from a different perspective. All of his books have. He gave expression to things that had been inside me for a long time that had created many frustrations and contradictions in my life. Things that had been creating big problems for the "Christian World View" (as if there is such a thing) I had been shaped by.

I came to know of Ellul through a chain of events during the season my mind was going through the meat grinder. It seemed to be about a natural progression that was unfolding in my life emerging from the reality that I couldn't ignore the contradictions any longer. As I have mentioned before, it was about this nagging truth: "Kent you speak of a life you say is real and then you go on living as if you don't believe it." I was stuck inbetween two vastly different ways of approaching life and it wasn't working (because they don't mix) and I could no longer deny it. The chapter In The Belly Of The Beast from The Shack, gave me the push over the edge I was in need of...or did I choose to jump? Today, how it happened is really not important, I just knew my life as I had known it up to that point was coming to an end.

Here is something from the Introduction of Anarchy and Christianity that has been important for me to think about. What he describes here as a misunderstanding of Christianity is where I had lived and it is a part of what began to cause me great problems.

"What, then, am I trying to do? Simply to erase a great misunderstanding for which Christianity is to blame. There has developed in effect a kind of corpus which practically all Christian groups accept but which has nothing in common with the biblical message, whether in the Hebrew Bible that we call the Old Testament or the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament. All the churches have scrupulously respected and often supported the state authorities. They have tolerated social injustices and the exploitation of some people by others, explaining that it is God's will that some should be masters and others servants, and that socioeconomic success is an outward sign of divine blessing. They have thus transformed the free and liberating Word into morality, the most astonishing thing being that there can be no Christian morality if we truly follow evangelical thinking. The fact is that it is much easier to judge faults according to an established morality than to view people as living wholes and to understand why they act as they do. Finally, all the churches have set up a clergy furnished with knowledge and power, though this is contrary to evangelical thinking, as was initially realized when the clergy were called ministers, ministerium being service and the minister a servant of others."

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

This answers that earlier question so perfectly. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...

I love what he has to say about morality too! When I said I read his Anarchy I meant the essay online...I am ordering this book tonight. Makes me wish I could disappear and absorb for a while!

Your garden looks like such a relaxing place to read.

todd said...

Kent,

I'll have to come back to the quote, but I have to concur with J that that's a fine looking spot to read, sip a cool drink (or hot one for that matter, and take in God's Presence :)

cheers,

Todd

Kent said...

I spend a lot of time in that spot when it is not raining, not too hot or not too cold.

rob horton said...

kent,

i had to chuckle when you said that "anarchy and christianity" is a "little book". i didn't chuckle because it is not, but because the one i am reading now ("the ethics of freedom") is 510 pages. i have a feeling i am going to be spending some series time with ellul over the next few months (his content is so in season for me at this point in my journey).

what a trip!

blessings,
rob

Kent said...

Thanks for the chuckle Rob. This little book of 105 pages is much easier reading that The Ethics of Freedom. Ellul wrote The Ethics of Freedom 12 years before he wrote Anarchy and Christianity and I have a feeling TEOF set the stage for AAC. The one you are reading Rob might have been the most important book I read last year.

rob horton said...

Kent,

it is thick stuff. the kind of stuff that you want to stop after reading a paragraph and just let it land and do its work. way cool.

blessings,
rob

Kent said...

Jesus declared that his parables were not to make the meaning easy but inaccessable to the idle curious who "having ears, do not hear..." Bono

Rob, it has been an incredible journey over the past few years learning to force myself to think differently about things. It's been fun having you to walk with along the way and to challenge me at times with respectful push back and all the encouragement.

I understand perfectly what you have said about reading the book you are working your way through. In the beginning of reading something new from Ellul I often sat dumbfounded about what he was expressing and more often than not within days and sometimes just a paragraph or chapter later some new understanding was opening up to me that began to make so many thing about life in God and how this world we live in works. It began to make more sense than ever before.

rob horton said...

awesome kent - it has been a blast sharing the journey together.