Friday, October 31, 2008

ALWAYS REMEMBER


My last post was an expression of amazement in light of the awesomeness of God's design. At this very moment as I write this the beauty/amazement has been a bit obscured by the reality of the fallenness of human nature. I've been exposed to a few stories today where people are clearly drawing from that dark place inside that has not as of yet been set free/redeemed. I want so badly to save them from the pain and beauty diminishing choices of "going with" the destructive lies that always present themselves as "cool". But I know I can't. All I feel I have to offer is a voice of advice to people in such places. "This won't end up being what you are assuming it's going to be."

I feel I've come to a better understanding of the reality of sin/living trapped (by what ever) and freedom/living loved. What we value wins out in our lives. Attempting to change what others place value on is a dangerous adventure. People get touchy about their idols. All we can do is live and in that living we're in a sense offering to others what we value...whether it be, freedom/beauty or something else. These days I'm living more aware than ever of the choices that produce life in me and the choices that do violence to that life. I want the way I live to scream/quietly of that reality and learn in the process that others have to make such choices for themselves and that even the choices that lead them into dark diminishing places is a part of the process. It's just not fun to watch. I spent 42 years of my life participating in diminishing activities and most of those activities were of the religious/Pharisaical nature...that is after my youthful debaucherous period.

But the good news is Father Son and Spirit had been at work through out it all doing what they do. And I must remember the same holds true for the others that are still trapped and I hear the voice of the Spirit in my ear screaming/quietly to remember the same really is true about the others...."Together, we have been working with a purpose in their heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but to us, we see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive---a living fractal. Look beyond what you "see" to see what we see."


Thursday, October 30, 2008

AMAZED

Nova....exploring Fractals

In The Shack there is a comparison made between the complicatedness of the human soul with the intricate design of fractals. What a wonderful comparison. The Nova special is worth the time it takes to watch it. Many scientists seem to think this just happens by chance. I think there is more to it all. And yet, I believe God has included within the mystery some randomness that we create by the exercising of our freedom to choose? Fractals can be created in art as seen the picture above and in nature as seen in the picture of the Japanese Maple leaf from my garden below. My garden is full of them and they never cease to amaze me. The Shack introduced me to them and now I see them everywhere....when I am looking at my daughters....my wife....my friends...myself in the mirror and as I walk through the amazing natural world God created. Fractals will soon be falling from the sky in our area when the ground is graced with the first snowfall. Be amazed.

"His gaze moved over the garden that surrounded them. "But it really is beautiful, and full of you, Sarayu. Even though it seems like lots of work still needs done, I feel strangely at home and comfortable here."The two looked at each other and grinned.Sarayu stepped toward him until she had invaded his personal space. "And well you should, Mackenzie, because this garden is your soul. This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive---a living fractal."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A CHRISTIAN APPROACH

This is a continuation from Ellul's book Money and Power so if you haven't read yesterday's post....start there

A Christian Approach.



Now as Christians we absolutely cannot accept
this solution and start down this path. We have already observed, to be
sure, that the supremacy (both spiritual and rational) of the individual
over the system need not stop certain Christians from looking for
objective solutions. But we must bear in mind that Christians are not
required to do this, and that in any case this is not true commitment.

To believe that joining a movement is the same as committing oneself
is simply to capitulate to today's sociological trends, and it is to follow the
herd while claiming to make free choices. Better to judge the herd
instinct beforehand and give in to it only when it is objectively valid, as
we are trying to do here; otherwise we are in exactly the situation
described by St. Paul: "children, tossed to and fro and carried about with
every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14). It is painful to see countless
Christians in this situation.

Among the three or four major systems trying to apply an
organization to money, do we have to choose? And which should we
choose? In fact, neither theology nor Scripture gives us any criteria for
evaluating one system against another. Since no economic mechanism
corresponds to Christian truth, if we wish to choose we will have to do so
for purely natural reasons, knowing that our choice will in no way express
our Christian faith. If we like these superficial involvements, if we want to
work with other people in group endeavors, nothing in the Christian faith
prevents our choosing conservatism or cooperativism or socialism.
Provided that we retain our sense of the relative along with a healthy
skepticism for these inadequate recipes-and provided above all that we
not regard our activity as a direct and natural outgrowth of the Christian
faith.

It is understandably disappointing not to have a system
corresponding in all points to Christian faith and doctrine. But beware:
the disappointment is not in Christianity but in the system. Christianity is
infinitely too realistic, and revelation shows us far too clearly what man
and the world really are, for us to be able to base a system on it. For no
system can either correspond to this reality or organize it. Certainly no
system in the world allows us to reduce Christianity to its political or
economic aspects, and this becomes even more obvious when we look
at actual situations. It is indeed possible to maintain illusions so long as
we are looking only at great principles and broad ideas. A given system
may, from the standpoint of its philosophy or intentions, seem to conform
to Christian ideas. But we should already be on guard because there are
not many ideas in Christianity: faith and knowledge are based on real events and situations that are closely related to man; they have nothing to do with ideas, principles, and so forth.

Now it happens that when we examine any economic system in
detail, we find more and more discord. While from a general point of
view a particular system may look valid to a Christian, if we look at what
Scripture clearly tells us about economic questions, we realize that the
system is neither a solution from the human standpoint nor an answer to
the question God asks us in Scripture. The same thing happens when
we look at money itself none of the major systems has anything
reasonable to say once we are aware of what money really is in the light
of Scripture.

But then, we think, could not Christianity itself propose a global
solution, an economic doctrine of its own? Most Christians who have
studied this topic have concluded that no Christian political doctrine
exists; it cannot be constructed either from biblical texts or as a logical
outworking of Christian principles.

It is not possible to speak of a Christian doctrine of money, first
because that is not why we have been given revelation through the
Scriptures, and it is even less why Jesus was born, died and was raised
from the dead. The purpose of Christianity is not to provide useful rules
for living or organizational schemes. From the perspective of salvation,
how the world is organized is not of major importance. Of course it is
fine for human beings to organize the world, but this is a fallen world and
redemption is not tied to our organization of it. Consequently God's
work, which is from the beginning the work of redemption, cannot in any
detail be expressed by social, economic or other worldly organization.
We cannot extract any system from God's revelation without twisting the
texts and coming up with unwarranted conclusions because redemption
is not a system.

No doubt the problem of money is very important, but we cannot
build a system on that basis. This is so, and this is the second reason
we cannot speak of a Christian doctrine of money, because no objective
solution exists. When we open the Bible we do not find a philosophy, a
political statement, a metaphysic or even a religion. We find instead the
promise of dialog, a personal word addressed to me, asking me what I
am doing, hoping, fearing-and especially what I am.

All that the Bible has to tell me about money is found in this dialog.
It offers no objective discovery on which to base a general system. It
instead offers truth about all things-including money. But it leads us to
this dramatic conclusion: truth is not objective (nor is it subjective!). It is
found in relationship with God, and nowhere else. Thus a person who
has received truth can make it known only in making known this
relationship with God. It is perfectly useless to try to extract from the
Bible a money system applicable to the world because people will
recognize the truth only after they have come to faith. The immense
body of revelation-which contains, among other things, wisdom about
money-does not appeal to reason, evidence or pragmatism; indeed, it is
shut tight against these modes of conviction.

When looking at biblical passages about money, then, we must let
them have the character God has given them.

First, these are fragments
of the total revelation, and we have no right to detach them from the
whole in order to consider them separately, objectively. They are there
because their content refers to God's work in Jesus Christ; we cannot
puff them out of this context.

Second, these passages have to do with the relation between God
and man (this is the context for biblical statements about money), and we
have no right to turn them into simple descriptions of the relation
between man and money. They are based on the personal relationship
that is fundamental to the whole work of salvation; therefore we cannot
abstract them from a general idea, applicable to the world.

Third, these texts ask us to commit ourselves. They start us down
a certain path. They are not providing us with rational options or
objective conclusions; the biblical texts never come to conclusions
because there is no conclusion apart from the heavenly Jerusalem and
our resurrection.

The texts are therefore never a "solution." To the contrary, they
get us started on a journey, and the only answer we can hope to find is
the one we ourselves give by our lives as we proceed on that journey.
This absence of systematic conclusions destroys every attempt to base
an ideological or ethical system on Scripture. We must resign ourselves
to this. And if we will not accept it, we are so refusing biblical truth that if
we ever did find a Christian financial or economic or political system and
happened to accept it, we would be basing our acceptance on its
non-Christian features! This would be a tragic mistake.

BOTH LEAVE HUMANITY IN A MESS BECAUSE THE HEART REMAINS UNTOUCHED

I am reading once again Jacques Ellul's book Money and Power. In light of the political environment and economic situation we here in the States are caught up in, this is a very interesting read. The battle is on between two competing economic ideologies...Capitalism and Socialism.

People these days find my stance rather curious and look at me askance quite often. I'm getting used to it. I'm just not caught up in the fight anymore. It's just another one of those "disarmings" Father has worked/is working out in me. I'm not going to site scripture when it comes to the issue of money and the community of faith in the New Testament but what is spoken of "sounds" more "socialist" "equality" than it ever does sound "capitalist", but it's still not socialist. And here is when people, especially Christian Capitalists, usually want to throttle me because they are so twisted at the notion they no longer can hear my next remark which is the title of this post: Both of these man made systems of economics are flawed and oppressive because they have no power to free the hearts of men and women. They both fail miserably and hurt people. But both systems leave their supporters fully convinced that theirs is the superior one....such is the nature of blinding ideologies.

Jesus challenges us as individuals to think differently...free from these systems created by the fallen mind. Only love sets the heart free from greed/the power of money.

Here is how Ellul describes the two ideologies and the corresponding systems in Money and Power.


Capitalism.

Beginning in the Middle Ages when money had very little
importance and played only a minor role in human life, thought and
concern, capitalism has progressively subordinated an of life-individual and collective-to money.

Money has become the criterion for judging man and his activity.
One by one the state, the legal system, art and the churches have
submitted to the power of money. This is the rule, not the exception, and it has nothing to do with corruption. As a matter of fact everyone has begun to think that money, the source of power and freedom, must take priority over everything else. This belief is well supported on the one hand by a general loss of spiritual sensitivity (if not of faith itself) and on the other by the incredible growth of technology.

Looking at the material success that money has allowed us to
achieve, how could anyone deny the excellence of money, the source of progress? Money, which allows us to obtain everything material
progress offers (in truth, everything our fallen nature desires), is no
longer merely an economic value. It has become a moral value and an ethical standard.

We must recognize the truth in Karl Marx's observation that money,
in the capitalist system, leads to alienation. One of the results of
capitalism that we see developing throughout the nineteenth century is the subservience of being to having. This result makes allegiance to capitalism virtually impossible for a Christian. For it is not a by-product, something that might not have happened, a result that could be eliminated by a better organization of capitalism. To the contrary, it is the inevitable consequence of capitalism, for there is no other possibility when making money becomes the purpose of life.

The work ethic (that work is virtuous because it produces money)
obviously leads to the subordination of being to having. Any other
possibility would require us to dethrone money, give economic activity a smaller role, put the brakes on technological progress, and bring personal and spiritual life to the forefront-in other words, to destroy capitalism. But if we did all these things, money would no longer cause global, collective or social problems. It would no longer be necessary to take sides on economic theory or to join a system.



Socialism.

Does socialism, then, look more attractive? Socialism rightly
attacks capitalism for subordinating man to money, for its unjust
economic structures. Socialism takes for its motto "To each according to his work," which in communism becomes "To each according to his needs. "


This is all well and good. But how does socialism plan to achieve
its goals? First, by strictly limiting human life to work, to economic
activity. Everything else is superfluous, a superstructure made to give pleasure and happiness. Serious things have to do with work and production. It is even appropriate for people to work harder than ever before, because the future of socialism is tied to intense production.

Of course we are positing honest socialist structures with a just
distribution of goods and no unfair stockpiling. But even in such an ideal case we have organized life and society around the supremacy of the economic system. Individuals are still subordinated to their work, which itself is mandated by the needs of the world community. It is possible to say, without paradox, that socialism takes the worst features of capitalism and carries them to extremes while justifying them theoretically. In socialist society individuals are doubtless freed from subordination to others, such as capitalists, but they remain entirely submitted to production: the economy is the basis of their lives. This is precisely the source of real alienation-not the subservience being to personal having, but the subservience of being to doing and to collective having.

The differences between systems look small next to such
similarity. Socialism forcefully affirms the supremacy of economic activity over all other activity. Moreover, this error is so deeply rooted in longstanding customs and possesses such a weight of evidence that it passes for truth in the eyes of most. It turns socialism into a product of the very evil demonstrated by capitalism in its degenerate state.


Someone may agree with my argument so far but observe that it
has little to do with money. In any case, the role of money in capitalism is very different from its role in socialism. In socialism money, by itself, cannot be a means of possessing and oppressing man. True enough. In socialism money is not the motivator of all economic activity. This motivator is the state.

But in closely examining the situation, we see that the role of
money is not so different after all. Money has the practical function of measuring value, circulation and capitalization. Although capitalization is not done by individuals, it still exists. Money is no longer one person's instrument of power. Such is progress. It would be major progress if socialist reality corresponded with its theory. But the relation between man and money, like the general function of money in the economy, remains the same in socialism as in capitalism. For it matters little that the form of money is changed-whether a bill represents the state gold supply (no longer the case even in capitalist countries) or national assets or national labor, as in Hitler's Germany, whether a bill represents a stated amount of work entitling its holder to a stated amount of merchandise or, at the far extreme of socialism, whether it is a ticket representing specific merchandise available without charge-it all
amounts to the same thing with respect to human problems.


These are only outward variations corresponding to one organizational type or another; basically the situations are the same and the reality of money is similar. We are well aware, for example, that
ration coupons gave rise to exactly the same relations, passions,
exchanges and powers as money. The coupons took on the value of
money. The reality of money, symbol of economic power, is not about to disappear-and this fact strengthens the economy.


Ultimately socialism does not resolve the money problem any
more than does capitalism. In some ways it may appear more just; in others, more oppressive; in any event it is neither the kind of total liberation nor the suppression of the dangerous man-money relationship that it is made out to be. No economic system can settle this question. No economy can function without money-, to think it possible is pure utopianism. Only abstract, impractical schemes give such an illusion. Insofar as the economy (free-market or planned) is real, we see that it is linked with money, for money is nothing but the expression of economic life.

But any system which would provide a balanced economy is
threatened by our own lack of balance; the system, rather than solving the man-money problem, risks being annihilated by it. We therefore cannot escape the necessity for personal decision-making that we would prefer to avoid at all costs. We want to avoid it because it introduces personal risk into our life and because, faced with the enormity of the task, we see no way to provide a global solution for this individual problem. For it goes without saying that in our eyes nothing is accomplished without a solution that is global and general.

It is true that we are catching a glimpse today of one possible
solution: crushing human beings with propaganda, thus integrating them completely into the system. This would eliminate the individual's problem with respect to money, simply by eliminating truly human beings themselves, leaving only psychological mechanisms in their place. Only by annihilating individual conscience can the system regulate both the objective organization of society and human passion, which from the beginning has both used and bowed down to the power of money.

Monday, October 27, 2008

JUST BECAUSE I'M INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU ALL THINK


"Words fascinate me, as you might imagine. Take the word 'responsibility'. Doesn't show up in a Greek Lexicon, which is rather surprising. But it also does not show up in the Old King James either...meaning that it is a more recent addition to our language, probably emerging about the time of the industrial revolution." emphasis mine

That's a response that Paul Young (author of The Shack) made to a question I asked him on The Shack Forum shortly after the book came out. We were having a conversation about the difference between living with expectancy vs. expectations and the ability to responded as opposed to responsibility. Turns out this has been one of the most transforming changes that has happened in my life over the past couple years.

I was reading back through the thread today and posed this question on the forum also.

Once the industrial and technological revolution began "efficiency" which is all about performance became the driving force in the industrialized world in which we live.

Do any of you want to share any thought as to the effect this has had on us as individuals and as a whole and on the things that are of utmost importance to how God the Father created us to live....in relationship with him and each other?
By the way, I think this has everything to do with choice and is very important when it comes to living free.

FALL






I took a walk this afternoon through the garden and the colors of fall are all around.






























Sunday, October 26, 2008

I LOVE MUSIC

Here's another one of my favorite artists, Sam Phillips. Here's how music critic Jeffrey Overstreet describes Sam. "Sam Phillips' concerts are treated like secrets so special that you want to tear down the posters for the show so she remains accessible."

From Strawberry Road

You can't get their
with your morals
or without love

BLINDING IDEOLOGIES




The message we are left with, and in turn, the way we live in regards to blinding ideologies, is to be very hesitant to ask questions or to attempt to think differently from the group one happens to be a part of at any given moment. The responses from those surrounding you can be very brutal. And all those responses are driven by fear.

Most often when someone changes his or her mind about their former ideologies, more than likely they exchange them for another set of ideologies conjured up by the world. With that being the case, I guess it is understandable that the group one is now moving away from in the realm of thinking would feel threatened. All the world's ideologies are competing against one another and often are at war with one another attempting to destroy opposing ideologies.

Today I see liberals acting real smug sensing that conservatism is gasping for air and might not survive the approaching death blow in the realm of ideas based upon how this election seems to be going. For the past 20 years I've heard conservatives saying that liberalism/socialism was on it's death bed having been proven time after time to be an inferior idea in comparison with conservatism. Standing outside it all helps one see the absolute lunacy being touted by both ideological groups.

It's all a trap and it's all a lie. Living within any such ideologies will without a doubt set us against our neighbor. Ideologies are oppressive by nature to someone. All of them.

The Incarnation, God choosing to come into the midst of the world and all her ideologies that ravage his people was a radical act indeed....the only final death blow that has ever really occurred. All the crazy ideas humanity has come up with were judged and rendered powerless and coming to an end.

As I am seeing it, Jesus didn't give us a better/superior ideology to follow and enforce upon other people in hopes of dominating them. He gave us himself and he didn't dominate anyone. Jesus is the good news....for people.....not so good news for the world system and all her blinding ideologies of politics, economics, religion, and social systems with which she attempts to keep people enslaved.

Love and grace do their thing in the midst of a world governed by law and sin and shame and guilt but when people begin to be set free by love and grace they begin to see that love and grace is an invitation to come out from under the blinding influences of all these blinding ideologies....and live free so as to love people out of these destructive mistaken notions.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

GRACE RARELY MAKES SENSE TO THOSE LOOKING IN FROM THE OUTSIDE

One of the reasons grace (real grace) rarely makes sense to people is due to the demanding nature of the script that has shaped most people's thinking. The American script truly has to be one of the most demanding and ungracious and since the demands are disguised so well as "responsibility" it gets accepted as a valuable thing. Responsibility ends up making grace look....well, irresponsible.

Grace and living in the reality of grace really is a faith thing. The natural mind can't grasp it and the religiously trained mind is just an extension of the natural mind but lives unaware of that fact.

Grace is just another one of those "other realm" things, and it truly is a part of the transforming/reconciling power of God the Father. I think this from The Shack describes what I am attempting to express?

"The are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn't mean that it is actually irrational, but it surely isn't rational. Perhaps there is suprarationality: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that only makes sense if you can see a bigger picture of reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in."

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things....demands and responsibilities have to do with law and it takes faith and the eyes of the Spirit to be able to see and to know all the manifestations of law and the damaging outcomes of attempting to live by law. And when trapped under law, grace really doesn't make any sense.

Friday, October 24, 2008

PROUD


We just returned home from the Fall Dance Program 'THE SUM OF MOTION'. It was our oldest daughters first performance as a college dance major. I just love watching her and the other dancers. BEAUTIFUL HARMONY.

Now for us all to learn to live with each other so beautifully and gracefully.

Here are a few of the songs that were a part of one of the dance performances tonight. Music I grew up on. :)























STUNNING

This photographer's work is beyond words for me right now. Many of these pictures describe perfectly why I love the Pacific Northwest. I know I linded to his site yesterday but I just felt like doing it again.

Marc Adamus

Thursday, October 23, 2008

SIMPLY GRATEFUL

Do you ever feel so full of awe and peace that you just might explode? It's been one of those mornings. I woke up and it was just here.

The feeling produced this mornings two blog posts.

This one pertains to one of the most awe inspiring natural features (IMHO) this round ball we live on has to offer.....Bristlecone Pines. "The Bristlecone Pine is a very ancient tree, it is known to be the oldest living organism on earth. The oldest individual bristle cone pine is in California, and is 4,700 years old."



I love wild places as represented in these pictures of mountain top Bristlecone Pine groves, but as in the previous post about Japanese Gardens, when it comes to humans capturing/recreating the serenity I feel while in wild places...Japanese Gardens come as close as you can get for me.



















The first picture comes from this photographer. His photos are unbelievable.

TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

I stepped outside this morning and stepped into one of my favorite natural experiences...Fall. It got me to thinking about a dream of mine that has to do with one of my other favorite things...Japanese Gardens.

Who knows, maybe it will happen one of these days...maybe not? The cool thing is I no longer feel the need to grasp and claw and scheme in an attempt to try to make such things happen. It's just a nice thought and if the opportunity presents itself at some point it might just become a reality. But if it doesn't, I'm perfectly content without it because living in peace and living in joy is no longer attached to such dreams. It's about the gift that life is and that has to do with the moment and what I already have because I'm learning how to take it all in.

Enjoy the gift you already have.














Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ANOTHER PART OF THE FREEDOM PUZZLE FOR ME

This describes another part of the tearing down of the OLD in my life that created a space for something NEW to emerge. The old paradigms that had been shaped into me had to fall apart. Things like family genetic heritage and habits that had created synaptic bonds and pathways in my brain that made "seeing" anything else difficult at best due to the constant unbroken environment of advertising and propaganda.

Here's how Walter Brueggemann explains it one aspect of it.

1. Everybody has a script. People live their lives by a script that is sometimes explicit but often implicit. That script may be one of the great meta-narratives created by Karl Marx or Adam Smith or it may be an unrecognized tribal mantra like, "My dad always said ..." The practice of the script evokes a self, yields a sense of purpose and provides security. When one engages in psychotherapy, the therapy often has to do with reexamining the script--or completely scuttling the script in favor of a new one, a process that we call conversion.

As the self is organized by a script, so are communities. And leaders of a community are skilled in appealing to that script.

2. We are scripted by a process of nurture, formation and socialization that might go under the rubric of liturgy. Some of the liturgy is intentional work, much of it is incidental; but all of it, especially for the young and especially for the family, involves modeling the way the world "really is." The script is inhaled along with every utterance and every gesture, because the script-bestowing community is engaged in the social construction of a distinct reality.

I began to see all of what I had done in my life was more or less about survival for myself and my family. Because of fear we all are looking for things to make us feel secure...things to bring certainty into our lives. The world steps forward and makes many offers with the promise of providing that security and certainty. Only problem is that it is all a lie and it creates one big powerful illusion. The grace of God began to poke holes in that illusion and I began to see it for what it is.

Another relationship developed during that season of my life that also was a big help to me in beginning to wrap my brain around what freedom was about. I love how the Spirit causes our paths to cross the paths of others who have gifts that we are in need. Here is something else from The Shack that plays into walking in freedom.

This speaks to the institutions of politics, economics, and religion. This is Jesus speaking to Mack.

"Put simply, these terrors are tools that many use to prop up their illusions of security and control. People are afraid of uncertainty, afraid of the future. These institutions, these structures and ideologies, are all a vain effort to create some sense of certainty and security where there isn't any. It's all false! Systems cannot provide you security, only I can."

As many of these shifts began to happen in my head and heart the sermon on the mount began to make more sense than it had ever made before. Jesus is telling us how it really is. Embracing the uncertainties that are a part of living in this world and understanding that the world's lies have never created any security for anyone was the moment that faith was birthed in my life. The way I am seeing it is, faith creates counter-cultural risk takers. And in reality the only risk that really exists is putting our trust in the lies of the world's systems and ideologies. They are enemies of our freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WHAT IS FREEDOM REALLY?


I AM CERTAINLY FINDING IT TO BE VERY COUNTER-CULTURAL
and often seems to be a road we have to switch to even if no one else understands.


These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it . . . so I am going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, and stand them on their ears.—Isaiah 29:14, Eugene Peterson translation

I'm not quite sure how that quote from The Message applies but it came to mind after I entered the title of this post. So there it is.

I submitted a thread a few weeks ago over on The Shack Forum asking a question about one of the main themes of the book.....Freedom. What is freedom?

Papa pretty early on asks Mack if he thinks he is free to leave the shack which then leads to this:

"Or, if you want to go just a wee bit deeper, we could talk about the nature of freedom itself. Does freedom mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want to do? Or we could talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom. Your family genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness, the quantum stuff that is going on at a subatomic level where I am the always-present observer. Or the intrusion of your soul's sickness that inhibits and blinds you, or the social influences around you, or the habits that have created synaptic bonds and pathways in your brain. And then there's advertising, propaganda, and paradigms. Inside that confluence of multifaceted inhibitors," she sighed, "what is freedom really?"

Without a doubt this has to be at the very top of the list when it comes to things that have occupied my mind over the past 30 months. It also happens to be one of those things I have found most people not wanting to talk about or not wanting to personally face. When it was for freedom that Christ set us free, it just seems stunning to me that even amongst Christians it is something that is rare to find.

Since I made the post about freedom on The Shack forum back on October 1 it has been viewed about 150 times but no one has touched it. Is there anyone that drops in here that wants to take something from that excerpt from The Shack and share how freedom is becoming real in your life and maybe what had been standing in the way of freedom?

I myself will begin with something that more than likely would fall under soul sickness that inhibits and blinds, and had this not been exposed in me to where I could no longer deny it, I really don't know if anything would have changed in me. I had to be in control which actually turned out to be a big fat illusion/lie. I wasn't in control of anything and never had been.....I was just an obnoxious know-it-all who had a much better plan than everyone else because I had it more together than anyone else. That turned out to be a big fat illusion/lie also. Now that sounds funny in light of yesterday's post and what began to happen in my life once I owned up to that soul sickness/inhibitor/blinder. To explain how wonderful this freedom feels is really impossible. But that is what I would point to as the beginning of freedom in Christ in my life and surprisingly it happened 17 years after what I had assumed was a serious dedicating of my life to Jesus.

Freedom turned out to be something totally different than the verbal dedicating of my life to Jesus and the religious training that immediately began once I made that dedication and the religious mind that it formed in me. All of those things were a strengthening of the soul sickness.

Monday, October 20, 2008

AS MY CERTAINTIES DECREASE, MY FAITH INCREASES


Michael Spencer over at Internet Monk has put up some of his experience and as I read it all I could say was This describes my journey pretty well. You can read it here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

APPLE PICKING

Our family along with our oldest's boyfriend went to a local orchard today to pick apples. We couldn't have had a better Fall day to do it.













































































It was a fun morning.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

THE MEANING OF THE CITY

This book by Jacques Ellul just keeps popping up on my radar over the past year or so and here it is back on my mind again. I still have yet to read it. It just seems to be something the Spirit keeps stirring up in me and I think I know why.....GRACE....GRACE....GRACE.

I googled the book title today and ran across this description from Ellul of how he sees the City....Cain built the first city after he killed his brother because he wasn't satisfied with God's promise of protection:

The City is “counter-creation” man’s prideful response to God’s perfect creation.

A revolution of love and grace is what was set in motion by Jesus right in the middle of the City that functions by everything but love and grace because it is governed by law. Jesus prayed that Father would send us into the world as he had been sent into the world...into the city that is in open rebellion against God, seeking it's own protection. This reality has become so obvious to me right here in the city that I live. It's awakening to this reality that is another big part of the process of setting us free.


Friday, October 17, 2008

BEFORE THE FROST

This first picture is from last fall. In a week or so after the frost it will look like this again.
It's just a matter of time now before the fall's first frost and it will signal the end of this growing season. And a wonderful one it has been for the plants and myself personally and my family and many of my friends. I enjoy this space so much. So many life changing important moments have happened over the past few years while sitting on that bench in the above picture. Hopefully those ripples have spread out to many other places beyond this garden.
I have had many moments where thoughts have come to mind that ended up as a blog post while sitting there right in that spot. I have had many moments while sitting there praying and thinking that ended up revealing to me something so out of sorts in my relationship with my wife or one of my daughters that sent me off to find them so as to own up to my infraction and to begin anew with them. I have been sitting in that very spot while Jesus began working at disarming me and showing me how out of place any sort of power-over and use of violence (it manifests it's self in many different ways) is in the life of anyone wanting to follow him. Understandable....but out of place none the less. With that very process happening inside my head and heart as I spent time in this space working through it all, it's safe to say that this space played a part in love expanding inside me for all that God has created. It is not an exaggeration to say that this change, being freed from fear which in turn has freed me from the self-preservation mode that used to govern my life was a tipping point that set in motion the changing of my entire world view. A lot has happened here.

I have had fun this past year adding these garden posts along with the other things I choose to talk about here. Sharing the garden with others is one of the great joys of gardening. Just last week a family friend brought a young man (17 years old) to walk through and talk with me before he heads off to a major university to study Horticulture. What a bright young man he is and his enthusiasm was so apparent.
We all have been given gifts. We all are loved beyond anything we can even fathom. We all have a love inside us that the world is in desperate need of knowing and experiencing. I will continue sharing my thoughts here on this blog and tending this garden as long as God the Father gives me breath and leads me to do so and I hope as I do that others might find it helpful and inspiring and that in some way it plays a part in the rediscovering of the harmony we all long for. And as that harmony grows and expands, it by it's very nature replaces the boring life of conformity that always has and always will suck the color out of life. My prayer and my hope is that this continues to come more and more into focus. Learning to rest seems to be a big part of it all. This garden has been a help to me in learning how to do just that. Slowing down and just watching it all unfold and participating with Father Son and Spirit moment to moment as I go.










Thursday, October 16, 2008

SYSTEMS PREOCCUPATION

Over the past few years I have watched very little TV. The past month I have had it on a bit more having been a little bit interested (not really) in at least hearing what the so called Economic "Experts" were saying about the world's economic woes. Here's what has been so apparent to me. Every thing that humanity faces seems to have a corresponding system involved. All the focus is on systems and not on people. Just listen from that perspective if you are watching any of this on TV or even listening to people on the street.

The preoccupation with systematic approaches to fix the systemic problems humanity faces is wasted energy. As well intentioned as it might be....it's still wasted energy.

Love is the only thing that can turn this around.....all that has been lost can be found. But I don't think both are going to survive. Systems win....and humans lose or humans win and systems lose.

The Creator of all things overwhelmingly tips the scale in the direction of this being about his people (our neighbor) and being very opposed to the things that enslave his people and his creation. That at least to me seems to indicate that the odds are overwhelmingly set against the systems most humans seem to be preoccupied with....well preoccupied with at least today.

I long for and wait patiently for a turning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SUPERIORITY COMPLEX....WHY?

Sorry, but this is sort of a rant. I've just grown saddened/weary of the smug strident superior attitude of Christianity and the blindness to it on one side and the justifications for it on the other.

I don't have a faith I can prove except through the changed life I'm experiencing. That changed life has eliminated my former need to fake it to "make it" and to prove it. My faith tells me I'm already where I need to be and in that place all that needs to change in me will be changed. If the changed life isn't enough to cause others to ask me why I am full of hope...not afraid...at peace...no longer scrambling...and full of joy... I really don't think I have anything to give. All I've had to speak about for awhile now is what Father Son and Spirit have accomplished in me. To speak of anything beyond that just seems foreign.

My life is full of unexplainable mystery. I live with more uncertainty as far as specific answers go than ever before. Yet in this moment to moment space I find myself, a faith and a trust in God the Father and his plan has expanded in ways that really are difficult to explain. I've learned what faith is like, it humbles and creates a people that speak from that humbling and know that their faith can't be proven to the other. And that has a way of making the strident superior expressions that flow from the coercive religions of the world look like something other than faith. The strident crowd though doesn't seem to be too fond of anyone that's not willing to be strident like they are. But that's okay because I'm learning that grace rarely makes sense to those looking in from the outside. Everyone must be allowed to follow their conscience and the freedom of God seems to say just that. He doesn't seem to force anyone to change anything? I think there is something important for me to learn in that. Father help me to love and know how to live with the strident ones and not feel it my job to change them by violating their freedom to act in whatever way they feel led to act.

Richard Rohr got me to thinking about these things again the other day when I remembered an article he wrote about the humbling Father had worked into his life. Here's an excerpt. The full article is linked below. It's been linked here more times than once. I've learned the value of going back often to articles like this to read them again.

"When I was young, I couldn't tolerate such ambiguity. My education had trained me to have a lust for answers and explanations. Now, at age 63, it's all quite different. I no longer believe this is a quid pro quo universe -- I've counseled too many prisoners, worked with too many failed marriages, faced my own dilemmas too many times and been loved gratuitously after too many failures. Whenever I think there's a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite."

UTTERLY HUMBLED BY MYSTERY

Monday, October 13, 2008

EXACERBATING THE MESS

Humans have turned exacerbating the messes we make into an art form. The liberation that has taken place through the work of Father Son and Spirit is the only hope for humanity....for each and every individual to live in freedom. There seems to be a big problem though. Religious training has left us malformed and that malformation has distorted (in the minds of those who have been trained religiously) what liberation means.

Jesus so clearly described and demonstrated love. He so clearly demonstrated a life of living in that love....loving his Father and his neighbor...the very fulfillment of the law. He truly lived free of all the lies of this realm that are perpetuated by the fallen mind.

Show me a human that has picked up worldly power and I believe we will be looking at a human that is living in violation of God the Father and his neighbor. It is what it is. It's one of those things Jesus refused to pick up. Maybe there is a lesson in that reality for us to ponder? If the cross is the power of God (and I believe it is) maybe Jesus submitting and dying at the hands of human violence and worldly power really was a liberation from the violent realm of uncertainty for all who would follow him? (again, I believe it is) It just isn't the kind of liberation religion teaches us to look for. Think about this......Isn't that why the Jews missed the Messiah?

Things haven't changed much now have they?

Like often happens a song (Michael Card) that I haven't heard in years is now playing in my head:

They mocked his true calling
and laughed at His fate
So glad to see the Gentle One
consumed by their hate
Unaware of the wind and the darkening sky
So blind to the fact that it was God limping by

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CREATION AMAZEMENT

















First off let me say, as I have mentioned in previous garden/Creation posts, the season long resort type weather continues for us here in the Midwest. I love Fall. The changing of the seasons is enough to leave one amazed and everything about fall always leaves me feeling cozy. Having met Internet friends that are living on this rotating orbiting ball we know as Earth is another one of those things that creates an awareness that leaves me in amazement. My friend Melbourne Sue is going into Spring and moving away from Winter at the very time we are in Fall moving quickly towards Winter. It all leaves me astonished and awed. Our Creator is very good indeed and very very gracious with us.




As in the post from a couple days ago I mentioned that Wendell Berry has been on my mind recently due to the painfully obvious oppressive nature that is the human created world system that we live in. Drawing attention to the destructive/dehumanizing nature of that system isn't the only thing Berry writes about. He also has much to say about God's creation...People and the Natural World.
So I add these pictures to my blog record today of some of the things that are happening in my garden today. And I offer this also.