Monthly Archives: February 2008

links for 2008-03-01

  • Is there a work of “ideological cynicism” at work in Christians supporting Obama? Is the Obama bandwagon a positive or a negative (or neutral) for the church’s role in bringing justice to the nations? Is energy by Christians spent on Obama politics misgui
  • The problem with Biblical literalism: “Put two readers of any complex text together and you’ve got two differing interpretations. If those two readers can appeal only to the literal sense, then those two divergent evangelical interpretations inevitably
    (tags: theology)

Receiving

While praying at the local Taize service last night I had a little nudge from God, a small voice saying, “Receive my love.”

My first response?

“But God I’m still such a sinful selfish mess.”

After all these years of reading the Bible and following Jesus, the simple act of receiving God’s love, grace, and forgiveness is still rather hard at times. While God doesn’t just sweep our sins under the carpet, he doesn’t want us wallowing in them, beating ourselves up, alienating ourselves from his love and grace.

I tried to let go. I tried to step away from who I thought I was and tried to hear what God thought of me. It was a relief, a refreshing relief.

In an instant I realized that so much of my life is spent in a futile effort to be good, loving, and kind. And then John 4 came to mind, the part where Jesus tells the woman that those who believe in him will have living water bubbling up within them and overflowing.

I’ve been cranking away at the well of my soul, pumping up drops of water–hardly enough for myself let alone for those around me. But God wants to drill deep in where his Spirit resides and sent his life and love gushing up into and out of me.

If only we could believe how much God loves us.

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Searching for Hope

Back in 1996 and then in 1999 This America Life broadcasted a show about the lack of inspiration and hope in America’s political scene. Here is the intro to the story:

“As we head into another Presidential primary season filled with candidates that few people find very inspiring, This American Life broadcasts stories of political idealists, stories designed to provide some small sense of hope about American politics.”

How times have changed. It’s hard to be certain about anything in politics, but if Barack Obama can keep up the momentum through November and win this election, we may see a new kind of politics and a chance to realize some of the foolish idealism and empty dreams that send us into the voting booths every four years for a Republicrat who will most likely bring us more of the same.

Whether or not you think Obama is the real deal, you have to admit that part of the wave he’s riding is our nation’s frustration with politicians and the attack or be attacked nature of Washington. According to This American Life, we’ve had this coming for a long time–at least since 1996. I think that helps put the election of 2008 into a sharper focus.

At the Mercy of the Elements: The Luminous Dusk

LuminousDuskLg02 A power outage has a way of reminding you that our modern world is rather fragile, hanging on a thin wire that can be cut off by a falling tree. In reading the book The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep Still Places, the author Dale Allison states that with electricity, reliable heat, a reliable food supply, and refrigeration, we are able to overcome many of the hazards of our environment, save for the large-scale natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This disconnect from our environment deeply impacts our relationship with God.

It’s hard to fathom this, but losing our power last night helped. While trying to fall asleep last night in the dark with the temperature dropping and little I could do, I began to catch on a little bit of what it means to be at the mercy of the elements as it were. The freezing rain and snow weighed down the tree next to our house and it thumped continuously on our roof all night. Each thump a reminder that it only takes one fallen tree to disrupt our neat, orderly lives.

Allison also touches on the importance of silence for religion, in fact that our modern culture’s assault against silence may be one of the most important contributors to secularism and atheism. We fill our lives with noise: radio, TV, cell phones, conversations, music, and even the hum of our appliances such as computers, always distracting, always preventing our minds from resting, from being still, from finding a sanctuary.

What is the net effect of all this?

As we remove ourselves from the natural, convince ourselves that we can control our own destinies, and deprive ourselves of true silence and quiet, Allison believes that we lose that sense of awe and wonder, that natural connection we experience with God while in nature. It becomes difficult to stop, to be still, and to let God speak.

Allison does not state that our removal from the natural world and estrangement from silence is the sole cause of secularism and atheism, but he does contend that these have made it quite easy to forget about God.

If you’re intrigued by these ideas, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. Though the cover design is nothing short of hideous, the writing is clear, and easy to read. I rarely find a book that deals with devotional/religious/spiritual topics that is so easy to pick up.

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links for 2008-02-27