Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My dislike of mobility is actually personal

I have stated before that I do NOT like mobility. I think it is anti-social and detrimental to the health of humans. Once I am able to freely move outside of my neighborhood and return in time for lunch, my understanding of "community" gets so thin as to be worthless.

But it's personal. I have found (recently) that I long for people to know me (duh). But I have my own way of feeling "known." It's not just a bit of history together. It's knowing the reasons behind what I do, think, wonder, etc. So without traveling through life, time, and space with me . . . you'll never know me.

My life, as I see it, is like a rope: lots (hundreds?!?) of smaller strands making up a single rope. For me, it is not enough to see the rope. I long for people to know the strands.

During times of depression, I find that many strands get tangled. Especially emotional strands. It feels like few people know me well enough to know what strands would be tangled.

Strands. The fibers of my being, the threads of my life, the parts of me. I have become a bit more verbal with people I know a bit less these days because I feel unknown.

And that is probably the real reason I hate mobility: someone else cannot know my strands if they enter my house, my neighborhood, my life, every other week for a few hours in the name of "community."

Friday, December 02, 2005

A quote from a friend

The sum of the many is greater than the sum of the few, or the one.

(click the title to visit the friend)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Is it not inane to protest in a Democracy (Republic)?!?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

My last post on the Origin of us

Has anyone else noticed that "survival of the fittest" does not actually stand up to reality?!? Maybe in some sort of short-lived, isolated situation. And certainly it "makes sense"!! But it didn't really happen, it doesn't really happen. The only way to get it to work is to make it circular - the fittest are the ones who survived. But that's both obvious and worthless.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Short version of previos post

I like the “hard sciences” a lot (i.e. have a degree in one, read tech. journals for fun, etc.). I also have come to enjoy the “soft sciences” (in particular, philosophy and sometimes politics). And, therefore, I find myself quite unnerved by the current Creationism/Evolution issue before the Supreme Court.

I heard a hard-science guy state, “A theory only has to have one failing before it’s proven wrong.” Then he went on to state how Intelligent Design is flawed because it requires creation to be perfect and the human back is not as evidenced by the number of people with back problems (I’m assuming this is not his only problem-spot). But what if his view of Intelligent Design is flawed. And what about the idea that the Sun is shrinking at 6 feet an hour and, if we go back in time 5 billion years (growing the Sun 6 feet per hour), then the edge of the Sun is between Neptune’s and Pluto’s orbits. Doesn’t THAT one fact disprove a 5 billion year old Earth? And how silly is it, really, to state the Creation theory can be disproved?!? How can you say that an all-powerful God who does things we don’t understand could NOT have created the Universe? Is it not possible that this God made the Universe yesterday, and that everything you observe is created? And what if (I’m borrowing from Twilight Zone) this God created everything yesterday, and all our memories and all our books were created by this God YESTERDAY! Can you PROVE otherwise? No, duh.

Point is this: hard-science cannot tell us about the past because that is the topic of History. The origin of the Earth, the Universe, and Matter is 100% out of the hands of hard science. If the Supreme Court had any foresight, they would take this case and BAN the discussion of the origins of Earth, Universe, Matter in the Hard Science classrooms, but leave it in History, Philosophy, and history of Religions. Anything else is simply delaying another case because hard science is overstepping itself.

[Personal opinion at this time: post-modern philosophy plus the evolution of Relativity is causing most everything said by “hard science” to be treated as suspect if not rejected by default. Example, the Earth was and is no more, the center of the Universe. But this is wholly un-provable. While it seems silly to think that stars billions of light-years away are spinning around the Earth once every 24 hours or so, it is NOT provable one way or the other. Why? Because astro-physics is mainly theory. We cannot test much since we can barely get past the Moon - how are we going to create astro-sized experiments?!? So we are stuck with observation. But Observation + Relativity means we cannot say anything for sure. So when hard science calls Evolution a “scientific fact,” they are in fact saying that hard science is becoming soft science and/or a set of beliefs (a.k.a. religion). Evolution is happening, no question. That’s why the term “evolution” is used in so many sciences, both soft and hard (e.g. social evolution, political evolution, etc.). But it says, in itself, NOTHING about origins.
Further, who cares if man evolved from chimps. Our DNA is similar, whether we evolved or not. That does NOT change anything we do, it does not prevent any kind of “scientific progress.” It’s a worthless thought (that is, it adds nothing / it helps in no way).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Evolution & Creation in the Classroom... again

This issue might be the epitome of "pendulum" to me. If I believe the news-media (which I don't, but it's hard to not believe when they seem like the only one's who "know"), the people are either die-hard evolutionists or die-hard creationists.

Here's an idea: individuals use their own brains, THEN they converse with other individuals who are also using their brains.

By converse I do NOT mean reading one article out of Time (an 'edited' media - not a primary-source!) and developing a battle-plan to blast the enemy!

"Scientists" (a term loosing value, which is why I believe this debate even exists) canNOT tell us what causes gravity, why light happens ('emitting photons by electron shift' only tells HOW it happens), etc. Why? Because these issues are NOT subject to "The Scientific Method" (pretend there is reverb as you read that): they are not repeatable with dependent and independent variables because WE CANNOT MAKE MATTER. Attempts are made to pull gravity apart and, like most subatomic theories, we end up at the exact same place only one step smaller (what is a proton made of? sub-atomic forces. Wait! we found a quark! What's the quark made of? sub-atomic forces. Wait we found ____).

Hey, "scientists," you cannot say squat about the origin of the universe. You cannot say anything about the origin of species. That's what philosophers and historians do! And we know what you think of those two! You weren't there to observe and you cannot repeat the beginning of the universe nor the earth. Stop pretending.

But the "Christians" . . . ugh. Isaiah did NOT think the earth was round no matter HOW you take that passage! The Bible had NO Intention of being helpful for Modern/Enlightenment science. Read Genesis 1 and tell me it's not poetic! Parallelism, incluzios, climax, repetition, vagueness. It's flat-out beautiful! And what does the rest of the Bible say about creation? It explains God (Ps. 19, Rom. 1, for ex.). What does it say about genetic drift, survival of the fittest/fastest, a galaxy that's so enormous that light takes BILLIONS of years to reach us - nada, zip, zilch. Why? It wasn't talking about that! It was talking about GOD!

And it talks about where everything came from. God. As John DelHousaye pointed out to me years ago (not that he would or would not agree with this post), either God has always existed or matter has always existed. One of those ideas is silly. Even if the "Big Bang" happened, it still doesn't explain what was before the bang. It just says there was stuff.

So what do Christians do when given a book by Darwin? ATTACK! Bring in more troops! Learn about God, His creation, His character, etc.? Naw. Kill, Kill, Kill! Take them out of context! Use poor science/logic! Whatever it takes. This is war!!

So chew on this, Supreme Court: It would take billions of years to evolve the current crop of creatures on this planet, no question. Part two: the sun is a big A-bomb. Bombs/stars use atomic fuel and burn/explode. The sun is both a bomb and it's own fuel. As such, it is using up it's fuel. This has as one of many results, shrinkage (the Sun's diameter is shrinking at about 6 feet an hour). So go back in time. On hour ago, it was 6 feet bigger. 10 hours, 60 feet. Go back 5 billion years and you get the outer edge of the Sun somewhere inbetween Neptune and Pluto's orbits. Okay, how does the earth "evolve" inside the Sun!

Does this prove Genesis-based 6-day creationism plus 6,000 year old universe. NO, NO, NO! It just means that the evolutionary proposal about Earth's age/origin is off. Genesis was not addressing the age of the Earth/Universe!

Even worse, isn't "origin" a topic for the history class?!? Or philosophy? It has no place in a "science" class! IT'S HISTORY! UnObserved, UnRepeatable History! If the Court had a clue, they'd pull origins out of Science altogether!

Stop wasting time! Does it matter if Humans evolved from Chimps? NO! If their genetic codes are close, the study them as close genomes. Don't worry about how they got that way!

Besides, nobody wants survival of the fittest anymore. Being abstract-capable beings who evolved would imply that we should start helping this concept along - genocide, euthanasia, kill all with any handicap, take over the world because that's what the strongest do. Societies stop evolution! They prevent our species from evolving. And if the belief in Evolution is allowed, then one should be allowed to murder the less-than! Who is the "less than" - anyone who is dead (if SURVIVAL of the fittest is used).

Puts the NRA in a whole new light...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

If you pray

If you pray, pray for University Baptist Church, Waco.

**Young senior pastor has evidently died while baptizing a young gal - her status is unknown or bad. His lapel mike fell in the water and electrocuted them both during the baptism.**
*** Correction: the pastor died, the gal was not in the water yet. The cause is not necessarily a falling lapel mike. The cause is being investigated at this time (this information per the website).
*** Correction as of 11/1/05 at 10:00am

The church-folk are in pain, the family (wife and 3 young kids, evidently) are dealing with the death of their husband/father in the church gathering itself. Prime warfare (mental, emotional, spiritual).

[This information comes from someone at the service, but was given to me indirectly. I cannot verify the specifics (death, kids, etc.), but it is obvious, even from the website, that it went very wrong this morning.]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Inerrancy Matters . . . or Doesn't

If you have not been so privileged to enter this dialogue, there is much discussion amongst some of my friends regarding the Bible being without error (“inerrancy”). In particular, see Goz and Brett and the comments on each site.

[For the record, both of these guys are: (1) pretty smart! (2) committed so fully to the health and life of all people that it rivals comprehension (3) good friends of mine, men for whom I would fight and die for, men whom I am unashamed to say that I love, men I have fought with against that which kills (4) both of them love God dearly. I can also write the same of Jason Fischer and perhaps some others in the mix]

I should like to propose an idea and then some questions. I am putting words into others’ mouths, which is wholly unfair. Please correct any and all of my misunderstandings.

Idea: we are NOT talking about the same thing in essence. One side of the discussion is about the importance of inerrancy. The other is about the practical ramifications of maintaining inerrancy, given the current situation of the Church in the western world. For myself, I still hold to full, 100% (“verbal, plenary”) inerrancy. My issue is that this theology has become toxic. The line between passion and belief is SUPPOSED to be blurry, I would contend. When belief is no longer married to passion, there is an extreme danger that the belief will become a reality by itself. Belief without corresponding life-expression is a worthless belief (in my opinion). This has been brought to light most recently by the post-modern philosophers of Europe (mainly in the 80’s). What I contend has happened, is that Christians have come to the following state: believing in inerrancy is essential, living the ramifications of this belief is a good idea but not necessary. Further, living the ramifications does not erode the belief nor its importance.

Issue #1, then: the doctrine has devolved into a belief that (quite accidental to the doctrine) precludes the believer from living according to the Bible.

Issue #2: post-modern critique of this doctrine. There are a multitude of theologies that claim to hold inerrancy but hold to MANY, fully different beliefs. So the question eventually gets posed, What good is Biblical inerrancy if one’s theology is NOT inerrant? I have a friend who is sincerely asking this. I appeal to those reading this to help me. Sincerely. What would you say to someone who says, “Ok, say the Bible’s 100% true. That doesn’t help me know what it says or what I am to do since my/your interpretation is up for debate.” How many times have you and I disagreed with God-loving men and women?!?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Truth served better with Relative

If I hurt/offend my wife, does it really matter what is "truth" about what happened? And if we both disagree on what "happened" - does an outside, objective "truth" really matter?

If I hurt her, then the relationship needs repair. Does Tara (or do I) need to know what "really" happened or does one need restoration. If Tara rightly discerns what "actually" happened, does that make me feel all-better? Nope. I want to know that she is concerned about ME, about my heart!

The "truth" is, I would much rather have someone who loves me and is concerned about me before the "truth" of the situation. [Note: this is NOT relativity but rather a move of priority from "objective" truth/reality to "personal" truth/reality]

Does the truth of a human (which changes over time and is different from human-to-human) weight less than truth observed, third-party point-of-view, objective? Or am I saying that the truth of Love First is more valuable than Truth Observed?

The Gift of Chronic Pain

I work with a good man named Mike Wallace who is a little younger than me and in a wheelchair. He broke his back in his teens (?) and is paralyzed in his legs. He lives one of those half-handicapped lives in that he drives (a "normal" car that has an accelerator/brake add-on - but anyone else could drive his car fine), etc. And he talks about the past (pre-accident) just like a non-broken-back would.

His legs hurt, though. All the time. We were talking the other day about chronic pain and he concurred - either it hurts or one is waiting for the pain to return. My lower back still hurts, usually. Sometimes a lot, but almost always at least some pain. It has become a part of my world, limiting what I can do (or at least forcing me to choose between what I want now with pain later today or saying, "no").

It has become so common for my back to hurt that when it doesn't, I notice. My back has become my vision, my world. Every thing I do or plan has to go through the "back filter" to get approval. My back is how I think. Always.

But therein lies the gift. I now know what it means to have one, single thing be the defining factor in my whole life. I am always either afraid of it, enjoying reprieve, thinking about how to improve my "back situation." Even last night as I sat with Tara talking (my favorite!), I was also thinking about my back (should I get up, should I move, is this posture okay, should I be doing some kind of ab. 'flex').

The gift of knowing what it is like to have one, solitary "thing" define my everything. Now I know, as well, what it can mean to have my one "thing" be "I am a child of the living God, I am under the mastery of Jesus."

Having lived with and without chronic pain, I am afraid I must say: for me / from my history, I don't know that it was possible for me to enter into 100%, all-day every-day Child of God without chronic pain. It is much easier, then, to be a chronic follower of Jesus because of my experience being chronic.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Its official

It’s official. We are “in” with OC International!! After praying with friends and family, we (all just mentioned plus OCi) are sensing that God is leading us in a new direction. Not fully new, just a new expression. Thanks to all who pray(ed) for us, challenged us, gave us insight, etc.

We desperately want and NEED continued connection, influence, and love from all as we begin a somewhat vague future (that begins with mountains of paperwork!!). At the risk of seeming co-dependant, Please don’t leave us now :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

by way of Gordon Fee

Quick test, based on some challenging thoughts I heard from Dr. Gordon Fee...

Which would you/I rather be: slave or free?
Which is better: love or no-love?
Which would you/I prefer to be: one whipping another or the one whipped?

Most, I presume, would answer with the following: free, love, one with a whip.

Gordon made an interesting point, "The one who is whipping CANNOT love the one being whipped." Paraphrased some more, The whippER does not have the choice to love, only the whippED does. Only the one being whipped is FREE.


I never associate whipping with freedom except as antithesis. Gordon's point was that when one has Jesus as Lord/God of life, then this person is free to love the whippER, for the one whipped now sees him/herself as no better than the one with the whip. Jesus is Lord of that person too (whether they submit or not is a wholly other matter). [My thoughts here] Further, if the one being whipped is NOT able to love the one with the whip, is not able to see themselves equal in Jesus' economy/culture and equally worthy of love, then the one being whipped is NOT living with Jesus as Lord/God.


Monday, August 29, 2005

I think I would have like Thomas Jefferson

Just finished watching a documentary on Thomas Jefferson - some PBS special, converted to DVD, rentable on

One thing I liked: he said the Constitution should be revisited and/or rewritten every 19 years (both State and National Constitutions). YES, YES, YES!! This would give Democracy a chance to grow with its people (cf. again things like "no spitting" laws).

He also grappled with "stuck" issues (in ways that I believe are resonant with my previous post on Unions). In particular, this documentary focused on Jefferson's frustration with "negro slaves." His plan, should anyone have wanted to implement it, was to (1) educate the slaves and the (2) send them to one of the predominantly Negro islands in the Caribbean. All at the cost of the "slave owners." Why? Because too much bad blood existed between owners and slaves. It was a horrible situation that was unfixable - the situation had to end wholesale. That is: no hope, so make a new situation. [All this according to the documentary, the facts of which I have NOT checked - it's was an introspective time for me anyway, fiction or non] Since nobody took to his plan, he decided that keeping slaves was the best option for the slaves. I know, I'm sure there were other motives, but one of his oft-repeated statements was that freeing an uneducated, thought-low-of "negro slave" was a disservice to the slave.

What scared me after watching the DVD, though, was that he gave up hope. His ideas were not realized, and he died sad. This blows my mind: IN HIS LIFETIME, Jefferson saw his ideas come into existence and then degenerate into a future without hope.

Maybe the reason I focus so much on the Church of God Himself, is that it's actually HIS thing, not mine. HE is the one that makes it work to begin with so HE is the one who can make or prevent its future. If I were Jefferson, working on a country that was NOT God's primary community, I honestly think I would have gone suicidal since I would have no hope that God would protect the people nor their community.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Unions in the U.S. today

[I live in a non-union state. I have no idea what it's really like in Detroit, for example. So I am writing already skewed...]

I'm listening to the head of some meta-union that seceeded from the mega-union recently. The guy was complaining about how union workers make 15% more than non-union, on average in the U.S. But the rate of increase in union pay has not gone up much in the last 10 years (or was it 20?). AND, those corporate &!%$#'s are giving more and more work to China.

I am STUNNED that people like this are in charge of their own electric bill, much less many workers. Hmm. Let's see. We all want to make more money than last year. So how does a company provide this? Increased wages, of course. How does a company afford this? Increased prices (a.k.a. inflation). But we want to pay LESS for the same thing. Wal-Mart hired L.S.D. induced smilies to pull out weapons and cut price markers. Why? United States citizens really, really want to pay less and make more.

How long can this last? Evidently not as long as the U.S. Why buy more expensive stuff from the U.S. when it's cheaper and better when made somewhere else. So top executives pay themselves well so they don't have to see reality. And Unions babel about how they want more money and to work less and to spend time union-ing. When did a Union ever scold its own workers for being lazy or slow or inefficient? Nope. We want everyone else to do more work. Or we want to get paid more for doing the exact same thing.

The only reason I should get paid more at work is because I am producing something more valuable than last year or because I can do more of the same thing in the same amount of time (efficiency). If not, why would I get more money? The company gets no increase in productivity or benefit from me!

What if instead of wanting a raise, I saved money. Instead of having my "deserved" vacation that I cannot afford, what if I waited until I had enough money before going? Or saw vacation as one of many ways to spend my money. What if I lived in reality - a closed system (my labor = my income + my status) does NOT just gain energy without an outside source. I have no "right" to an outside source, it is grace-upon-grace-upon-grace (or so I think as it pertains to God and this world and/or my life).

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." -Paul

Ultimate Governance

Seems like the government of the United States is asking the whole world to bow to Democracy. Our politicians used to speak about "freedom," but that has actually been replaced, word-for-word, with democracy. Iraq "needs democracy."


I haven't finished Plato's response in one of his dialogues about "justice," but this is what he has laid out so far (in the words of a friend who is questioning Socrates). Justice is a virtue only in word. If someone is actually just, they're screwed. This got me thinking.

Democracy forces those involved to live at the lowest, common level. For example, if we all agree to share equally the money we make working a particular project, it only takes ONE person to tip the scale, ONE person to use the situation to his advantage. Then comes the "laws." Rules that force us all to live in and only in the least common, most restrictive culture. Soon, all money will be handled by an "objective 3rd party" who takes a fee, of course.

Don't think so? Iraq was a democracy that exactly allowed Sadam to come to power! One guy, lots of power and guns (and other guys, I know). Now they are trying to re-do democracy. Doesn't look like it's working! Or how about the nuke issue in the Western Pacific?

And seriously, do we even have any idea how many fully stupid, restrictive laws we even have?!!? Can't spit on the sidewalk in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Lowest common denominator rules all in democracy. Great. Sign me up. How the HECK did "democracy" and "freedom" get tied together? Democracy & restriction, democracy and containment, democracy and corruption. But not democracy and freedom.

So what's better? Someone in charge. Someone who can offer the people access to a future that evolves wider than the past. I'm not saying growth is necessary, that progress = good. But compression? Ugh.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Worship #2

So I'm talking with my brother about some of this and the ramifications of it in the U.S. In particular, our dire need to never NEED anyone. Anti-trust laws, "free market" economy, consumerism, etc. have fed the following paradigm: don't need, but if I do, then I need to diversify so I don't need just ONE source.

When I diversify, I no longer know what it is that I'm exactly trusting/idolizing. "Money" is a common topic, as it should be in the U.S. Do I trust my 'having an income,' or 'money in the bank,' or 'retirement accounts?' I honestly don't know at this point. Or do I need to have all three so that if one fails, I can still "feel" secure because I have one or two other idols to fall back on? If I lost my income, would I be "okay" because I had some retirement accounts and some money in the bank? If The stock market closed forever and I lost my retirement, would I feel okay because I have a job and some savings? What if I lost two of them, would I feel the fear? Or do I have to loose my whole, diverse web financial support?

Here's what I am afraid I do. Because I can loose one of the three, then I convince myself that I am not trusting in money but I AM trusting in God to provide. But is that really true? Am I still trusting my "web" of finances, even when one falls off?

Do I trust that my public abilities will give me significance? When I lost one or two, I felt okay. But is that because I have others? Or am I really, actually trusting God for my significance? If I only had one thing I did that made me feel significant, and I lost it, THEN I could know that if I am trusting God or myself.

My webs, my diversity of emotional and trust investments, are making it hard for me to see if I am trusting in God Himself or money (or people or ________). Ugh.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is "worship" self-focused . . .

I read of the lives and societies of those more than 1,000 years ago (e.g. people in the Bible, Plato, Egyptian history, etc.). I read of "worship" (what the Bible often calls "idolatry") and have come to a newer perspective for me.

The gods worshiped for most of all time (pretty much until the advent of the Greek pantheon) have been gods of human need. Sun gods, rain gods, crop gods, earth gods, cattle gods, local business gods (the god of carpentry, the god of tents, etc.), the gods of countries. With the occasional, male-hormone driven gods (Aphrodite, etc.). Ask males who let themselves consider sex constantly and one will find them saying Aphrodite is also a need-based god!

When God repeats over and over in the Old Testament, "I am God, have none others beside me. . . YHWH our God is ONE . . . etc." I wonder what He is contrasting Himself with?

I wonder if I have focused more on the temples and sacrifices rather than the gods themselves. Is the God of the Bible saying, "Worship Me" or is He actually saying, "Trust Me"? His "competitors" are sustenance gods.

So in the Old Testament when God says, "Don't work on the 7th day" to an agricultural society (not to mention the 7th YEAR off, too!), is He not saying, "Trust ME"?

I was told that money or a car or anything else that takes my admiration, time, money, etc. could probably be labeled an "idol" -- anything that received my worship or sacrifice. But maybe that's not it. Maybe it's that I was relying on my friendships to make my life good-enough. For me, lack of friendships was "dying." My idol wasn't my "friends" as much as it was my friendships. Others may have relied on their very nice cars, but only because they trusted the car to bring them what they NEEDED.

So maybe "worship" should NOT be described as "worth-ship." Maybe it's much more self-focused than that. Maybe it's about who or what I'm going to trust to sustain me! Money, job, promotion, less-and-less debt, web of friendships, sex, control of my now (or future or past), control of my kids (or wife or friends or superiors or subordinates or customers), retirement savings, public esteem. Not because I deem them such "worth" but because I trust them to sustain and/or protect me from harm.

If you've made it this far, what do you think? Is worship about ascribing worth or about dependence? Or something else?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

If this were my last post, I'd say this.

Just finished watching October Sky. But what I now write is about what every movie is really about -- to me. This is what I see every time I see a movie, read a book, listen to a song, hear my kids talk and laugh, find someone' s story . . . This is why I cry almost every week, if not more. This is what I see. I think this is what I am made to see by God, but I am not sure.

The way it is supposed to be.

Where people are free to be what they love to be. Where people love seeing others free to be. Where people stand in awe of others and often of themselves. A kind of, "Can you believe you ( or I or they) did / get to do ________!!" Awe that I am allowed to, awe that I am encouraged to, awe that I am wanted to do what I am wanting to do. But more.

"BEING who I am." That you and I get to live out who we ARE; our activities and decisions flow out of our essence, our "who I am on the inside," our "the me that I see," and technically, "the me that I was Made to be."

As I have written previous, a place where power is FOR others. Where leaders are leaders because they are the ones who use power to provide for and better the world of others (because that's what they were Made for!), not because of objectified, worthless standards that fall so short of even the stated values and visions of the whole.

A place where a coal-miner's son is encouraged to build rockets, where the son knows that his dad really is his hero (even before the typical story line conflict-then-resolution-unto-understanding), and where death no longer robs experiences nor is necessary for us to see the value of life. [Where death is no more, but that is not for me at this time. I hate death with all that is within me. It is the team effort of evil.] A place where people live life to the full and are overwhelmed at the privilege - no matter their personal circumstances. A place where people laugh at themselves quickly, or at least eventually.

A place where people choose to trust a good God who says live in connection and love with Him and others - connections that become as vital as food and water. I think of that common "trust exercise" of standing on a 4' podium, closing one's eyes, crossing one's arms, and falling back into the "crowd" below who is responsible for catching the one falling. Relationships that put even vital parts of life in the hands of another so as to communicate Love and Trust and Value and Commitment and Connection and even Friendship.

This is no pie-in-the-sky existence, however. A place like this would be rampant with disagreements (what else would happen when people are free to be, think, and do what is within them!!). But equally rampant with dialogue. Rampant with, "yah, I guess it's not that important." Or just judges who decide on what is best for the community, not just individuals.

I see this everywhere. I see it in, "There is no 'I' in 'Team.'" I see it in the song, "We are family." I see it in most every statement about synergy and groups doing more than the individuals ("sum is greater than the parts"). I see it in hero stories. I see it in October Sky, self-realization stories, and even Bruce Almighty. I see it in most every teacher (the one's that care). I see it in those I have been privileged to walk life with - some friends, some family, some strangers, some homeless. And Tara, herself.

It is what drives me into the next job. It is what drives me at work as I deal with co-workers, bosses, clients, and vendors.

I see this world through my tears for I know this is possible. Here. Now. This planet, this lifetime. I see it lived out often these days in my family. I see it sometimes with those I am connected with outside my family. I see it in the hearts/minds/visions of writers and directors. I see it in Jesus: both in the Bible and in my relationship with Him.

I learned it from Him (for this is all quite un-natural, actually, to an angry, quick-tempered, power-grabbing, cynical U.S. male). He did it with me, He has done it with others, and I know He wants others to do this with still more.

If you read this post, please do this.


Post Script - June 30, 2005

Home for the living of the body, home for the health of the soul. It is home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Perfect Leadership is Possible with one, easy step

Lead FOR others. That's it.

Ok, some more. "Power corrupts, Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely." Why? What is "corrupt" anyway?

My answer: selfishness. Direct, personal gain or indirect advantage (or gain). I have asked the question that I heard elsewhere, "Is a benevolent dictator the ultimate form of government?" I suspect that the wording gives away my stance - yes. IF the power is used for the good of the community, then the power is good. If the power is used against or even indifferent to the community, it is corrupt.

"But no King or Queen will ever lead for the people all the time. Plus they don't know what all the people need - they're isolated."

So what DOES a dictator listen to, respond to? News? Threats? Opportunities? If a dictator can choose what impacts or directs the use of Power, then it would make sense for said dictator to develop systems that collect what's going on in the life of the people, no? For example, Jason Fisher's dad works at a church where once a month they have everyone who can come to a "prayer meeting." BUT . . . there are note-takers in the small groups who are praying. Not to collect "gossip" but rather to collect what is going on in the lives of the people. THESE VERY NOTES are used, as far as I understand, to bound the use of power. In other words, power is used Intentionally, it is used For the people, it is bound by the Lives of those for whom the power is to be used. This leadership group (same holds for individuals) specifically set in place channels of communication so that they can know, really Know, the people they are leading.

But our government and our churches have become habitually "higher than." Politicians have convinced themselves they are "servants of the public" by thinking for us (?). I heard NOTHING of how their constituents felt about Senate filibuster issues - just some Democrat/Republican (aren't there other parties, by the way?!?) rhetoric.

The Bible says, "Where there is not leadership/vision, the people fall." So we pastors are responsible for the vision of the people. WHAT!!!! Am I now to be excited that people don't "follow" pastors much (e.g. see how consistent peoples lives are with what is espoused from a pulpit and the corresponding value statements)?

Paul says that elders can be evaluated on how they parent - something like, "They'll lead in an organization like they do in their homes." I love my wife and kids. I really want to use all of my power for their benefit. Sometimes they don't like it, but I do not think that they wonder if I am going to be selfish with my power, if I am going to use it for selfish gain.

Or maybe I'm deluding myself.

So, is the "good king" of folklore fantasy or an option?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"Never say 'Good-bye'"

Why do people have such a hard time saying, "good-bye"?

I am one for whom the show "24 Hours" was written. Semi-Sci-Fi, action, suspense, intrigue, guns & technology, etc. I actually enjoy the fact that it's not real - that it could only be kind'of real at best. That's why I was a little surprised at the last episode this season. In a 100% fictitious world, created by the creators/writers, they STILL could not figure out how to say, "good-bye." What happens when the main character has to stop his own heart, get revived, sneak out of headquarters, and move to Canada, all to prevent the Chinese from capturing him? His best friend says, "Hey Jack. . . take care of yourself."


The honestly can't write a better good-bye?!? So then I really started paying attention to this perhaps U.S. phenomenon. Sure enough, it's everywhere. People cannot say good-bye without acknowledging the next time-of-connection (e.g. see you tomorrow, see you next week, see you soon, see ya'). Or even the "I'll call you" or "I'll catch up with you" - no idea if much less when this will happen, but it's vital that some kind of next-action is taken.

Then there is death, perhaps the most focused "good-bye." And seemingly the most difficult. Take away the finality of death, the changes that occur in one's schedule and life. Just knowing what to say: as one is dying as well as once someone is dead. I wonder if some of the difficulty is because we never really say "good-bye" during daily living.

I think back on times when I have said "good-bye" to someone I was never going to see again. Kind'of like death, but social convention requires that I say it to someone who can respond back to me!!

I am choosing to learn how to say, or perhaps even moreso, be comfortable with "good-bye." I'm going to learn how to sincerely say the words without reservation nor qualification. I'm going to accept that there is a breaking, that this breaking is natural, and I'm going to live as if the break might be permanent - all subsequent reconnections, then, are to be celebrated and enjoyed.

But why do people in the Western World have such a hard time saying "the words"?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Why a sermon?

What is the purpose of a Sunday morning sermon?

I have observed a few reasons. And if my observations be true, then my observations of the expressions of these reasons is . . . ugly.

Reason #1: to teach people how to live. Holiness, righteousness, lights in a dark world, pure and blameless. Words found in the Words of God (a.k.a. "the Bible") that describe how He desires His children to live. FURTHER, sin kills. Living God's way leads to life while living outside God's way(s) leads to death (cf. Gal. 5). So the sermon is about living correctly ("righteousness").

Reason #2: so people can have "spiritual food" and can "grow." I am dismissing #2 due to the following. The words of God ARE referred to as milk. Jesus said to Satan, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God." Problem: both of these passages are not speaking of the words of God but rather the LIVING of the words of God. Jesus goes on to say, later, "I have other food . . . to do the will of my father." To separate the words from the request from the expression is illegitimate Biblically. Further, look at the word "grow" and how it is used even in the contemporary, U.S. Church. It implies someone is getting "better" - more or better expression. So Food and Growth are actually up to the "hearer" not the sermon.

Reason #3: so people can know God better - "more fully." I like this one, actually. The Bible contains the story of the greatest Main Character ever. So expanding, reading, explaining, reporting on Him is always a good thing. The idea of "know" in this sense being more than fact: fact plus story plus relationship plus experience plus . . . But do we ever do this?

Here's the illegitimate child that comes from the current expression of the union of #1 and #3. We (sermon givers) speak of how people are to live correctly. We seldom speak of God Himself (e.g. when was the last time there was a sermon about God Himself that did not include some kind of application for me to live out, something I could do the next week). What I fear has happened:
#1 = How plus to live correctly
#3 = Know plus God
Reality = Know plus living correctly

Sick. Proposal for change. #1 - stop teaching and start doing. For example, if a local church is excited about loving its volunteers, then exit the "worship center"(??!?) and circle the children's wing and PRAY (thanks, protection, etc.). #3 - stop giving sermons that even COULD have direct application (i.e. doable by every listener w/in the next 7 days) and simply teach on God. I dare say that telling a sermon giver that he/she will have to give sermons on God for 50 weeks will scare the pants off them. FIFTY WEEKS?!?! What will I say? A sad state when the professional God- person cannot speak on God for 50 weeks.

Another way to say the same thing: sermon-givers have replaced the Holy Spirit. People know the sermon-giver better than their God (#3). Sermon-givers tell people (a.k.a. "convict," "lead," and other words that the Spirit is stated to do) what to do (#1).

I have mastered the illegitimate sermon. This is my own self-discipline. I see this in others because "it takes one to know one" and "he who smelt it dealt it." "Child-like" faith has some interesting ramifications, yes?

Talk about me OR talk about you

[The following is a distillation and extrapolation of thoughts and an observation I received from my wife, Tara.]

Christians in the U.S. are notorious for gossip. That, however, is not what this is about. Even if the following has no gossip involved, the following proposal still stands . . . as a proposal.

I propose this (that's code for, "I currently have a thought that I think I might like someday, but I really need to think through it and I really need to have other people challenge and/or expand it):

-- people who do not have much to say about their own life but only seem to talk about other people are, 94.7% of the time, living without personal growth --

I tire of conversations about other stuff WHEN there is no conversation about who I am talking with. Not in that prying, pre-gossip way. If I ask most people (including friends) what's going on, I'll get surface answers or situations. But seldom if ever will someone tell me what they are going through personally. I appreciate that they don't want to gossip or speak negative about someone else. But is that ALL that happens to Believers on a personal level? Is there no celebration of what God IS doing? Is ALL growth only from pain? Is all celebration, then, a post-pain party!!?! Are all Believers relegated to simply learning how to "praise God in the midst of trials?" Is there NOTHING positive that happens without difficulty?

I propose that the answer to the above questions is, "no." I have met some as of late who ARE willing to speak of their lives AND whose lives are not all filled with sorrow. The celebration of the adoption of a child. The joy does NOT come from the companion "low" of not having a child by natural methods. It just comes from adopting a child. And from experiencing the Biblical idea of adoption. And from rescuing a child from a usually-destructive future. And from fulfilling what they believe the Spirit has led them to do.

So therein lies my proposal. I should dare-say that if one does agree with this, then they are obliged to (1) speak of what is going on and (2) find what God is doing without pain.

Monday, April 25, 2005

More Eph. 2 Problems

"[Jesus] gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastor-teachers, for the equipping of the saints" (italics added . . . by most 20th/21st century Christians who speak or write).

More issues I have with making this the latest job description for "pastors" (ask most any church historian for a run-down of the verses used by 'professional Christians' over the last 1000+ years as their 'job description' verse - it's fascinating!). But first, some quick backdrop...

Most every citizen of the United State believes that what they think is important is concurrently important for EVERYONE. Ever come across a salesperson who is "off duty?" They sell anyway. Ever come across someone with a disabled child? The message of their child's illness needs to spread, awareness needs to be raised. Ever talked to a disgruntled church-member about the local, professional sports team? The teams failings, miraculously!, mirror the failings of their local church.

So it is with pastors. We(?) speak as if "the ministry" (one of the most vague terms/concepts in Western Christianity) is the goal, point, apex of human existence. You're not fully alive unless you are doing "Ministry." The God-shaped void is not fully filled until one is (1) a Christian and (2) equipped unto service. Why? Because the pastor's job is to equip! That's what the verse says! God said it, I believe it, that settles it. [Maybe that last sentence should end manditoraly with a comma]

Therefore, the human-who-is-pastor does what we all do (see paragraph 3 above). We assume that what is important to me/us is vital for every human. So we make people's vocations less than their "spiritual calling." I am tempted to end this post now, but I'll continue a bit further.

The rise of business literature that proposes a humane approach to not only activity directed towards employees but even their community will make this all VERY disruptive. What do we do when the boss is asking the employees to do, be, own a Christ-like character? Who is to be listened to over the other (should the case arise): my pastor or my boss? What if my boss is proposing something even MORE in line with the words of God than my pastor? Does that then make my vocation more "spiritual" than my service to my local congregation?

Perhaps, as I hope it was in my "sermons," this is all just an issue of meeting people where they are. Perhaps I spoke in terms of "real life = serving Jesus alongside other people in the congregation" because so many people had no meaning to their lives. I remember talking to some who LOVED being together with the Body because it meant they could be a part of something significant (vs. their data entry, no-conversation-allowed job). Or maybe it's a more sinister issue.

And I owe this all to the Chairman of the Board of Elders of Highlands Church, who is also my boss, who is also one of the most respectable and to-be-mimicked followers of Jesus I know, Brad Holaway. He runs his business as if it were owned by God Himself and attempts to "keep" the culture consistent with the values of the Owner.

So thank you, Brad Holaway, for destroying yet another paradigm while being in the middle of the paradigm. A true deconstructionist (grin)!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"David son of Bob"

When preaching one Sunday (back in the paid, full-time, lover-of-people job -- a.k.a. "pastor"), I was trying to communicate that even pastors were just a part, a small piece, of the Body. So I used the phrase, "I am NOT 'Pastor David!!' I am just 'David son of Bob' and I have the role of pastor." Brad and Becky Holaway grabbed this and have referred to me then-after as "David son of Bob." I love it!

Then Tara gave me the quote (which I lost immediately) that "hero" is only a small role played for only a short time. It is NOT the pinnacle of existence, it is a necessary role for the benefit of all. Even William Wallace in Braveheart?!?! Yup. It emphasizes the fact that hero-ing is an activity, not a state-of-being. And that being the hero is so situational, that there might be many who would be well-suited for the role, but only the one who is prepared and in the right place (usually serendipitously) plays the role. And it is only one of many roles - all necessary for each others' success, existence.

So here's my new view of leadership:

Leadership does NOT have to be "on" all day long, every day. Just like mercy isn't used every time I am with my children. Sometimes mercy is quieted while discipline is elevated. Same with leadership. A leader may have the (Spiritual) gift of leading, but one doesn't ALWAYS lead. Or maybe we do and we shouldn't. Ever seen a parent that can't exist a moment without parenting/training! Ugh.

I like this graph because it also has depressions. At any one time, certain people/gifts are used a ton, some, not at all . . . and then there are always some who are in need. I vividly remember going to my volunteer staff and asking them if I could change some of what I do. I told them it was like riding a bike and that I'd probably fall. And that if I fell I'd fall on THEM. They graciously accepted this fate. Then I failed at some leadership thing, I fell off the bike. I was the depression. And my mercy friends were in High mode! It was beautiful. And saving for me.

Perhaps we lead too much. Perhaps Sunday morning "teaching" is too much "leading." Perhaps pastors are lonely and/or fall because they are always in leadership mode and never get to be sheep. What if that chart above was the Body!! I think it would be beautiful.

Physics, Pre-Modern Perspective, and Healthy Churches

I have been told that before Modernity, people did not necessarily see things the same way. With this, I do not struggle. As to how they saw things, I have not first-hand understanding so what I am about to confer is speculation upon second-hand information.

I have been told that before Modernity, people saw life not as a Subject and a Direct Object (as we do mainly here in the U.S.), but rather as two objects PLUS their relationship. This makes three points (vs. the current 1 and 1/2 points). Whether the relationship was "heavier" than the subjects, I do not know. I would speculate that, from out point of view, the relationship will always be seen as heavier since we do not see one at all.

As I read H.G. Gadamer's "Truth and Method" (2nd, translated edition), I came across some interesting ideas related to this. On p.249 he states, "What Husserl means, however, is that we cannot conceive of subjectivity as the opposite of objectivity, because this concept of subjectivity would itself be conceived in objective terms. Instead, . . . the relation is the primary thing, and the 'poles' into which it unfolds itself are contained within it, . . ." I love that part. Now to Physics.

"Two perpendicular forces have no impact on each other," Physics 105 ("Physics for Poets" or "Physics for Non-Majors" - Arizona State Univ.). In a vacuum, a ball rolled off a table at 60 m.p.h. and an identical ball dropped from the same table at the same time, will strike the ground at the same time. The downward force (gravity) will pull both balls down at the same RATE. The horizontal force (whatever shot the one ball @ 60 m.p.h.) does not change this. One ball falls straight down, the other at a quite flattened arc. But they will both hit the ground AT THE SAME TIME!!
In graphing terms, y = y + 1 ever second and x = 2. No matter how fast y = y +1 (ever second, every year, every nanosecond), x will still = 2. The rate of "y" does not change "x = 2." Any "force" applied to "y" does not impact x=2.

Synthesis: often two "ideas" are considered polar opposites when in fact they are quite perpendicular to each other. "Objectivity" is not the OPPOSITE of "Subjectivity." Seeing it through the quote above, Objectivity is the observation about the poles (left / right, black / white, -10 / +10, etc.) while subjectivity is the relationship between the poles. Example, "small" groups and "large" groups (or cell-ministry and Sunday morning 'service'), relational and programmatic ministries, etc. Are these opposites? On some scales, yes. In daily living, don't have to be!

What if these "opposites" are not really opposites but perpendicular?!? Perhaps this is part of the problem with "light" - is it a wave or a particle? Perhaps what we call "light" is the relationship between the wave and the particle, "wave" and "particle" no longer being opposites but perpendicular. [Or maybe we just need a new metaphor!]

Does a church have to Program Driven vs. Purpose Driven vs. Cell Driven vs. Family Driven vs. Action Driven? Does it have to be Evangelism or Discipleship?

Does it have to be loving God OR loving people? Of course not. Even God says, "If you love me you'll love people." But we don't like that - it's too messy of a phrase. How does one measure?!?

Measure. Is this what drives us? If it's not measurable, then how do we know if we are doing it (or doing it well)? Physicists know that they can EITHER determine a sub-atomic particles direction OR its velocity, but never both. For in measuring one aspect, they alter the other.

A leeson to be learned with people also? Has our need to measure driven us into less-than-human churches? If we always called light a wave, we'd never observe the particle-ness of light; itt wouldn't be a complete picture. If we only measure people "objectively" - do we miss the whole picture of being human (much less a human quickened by the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead and brings life, energy, to this mortal body!?!)?


Why? Why the preponderance on blogsites lately about "being counter-cultural?" Is it those statements in the Scriptures about "not of this world," "in the world but not of it," "the world says/does ____, but I say [insert opposite]"? PLEASE don't let it be the roots of the compound word "church" in Greek -- "out" - "called" - "ones"!!! Do people really think that this VERY, very common word with widely accepted usage, is suddenly a foundational concept based on a meaning that was completely lost to the original hearers/readers?!?!?!

Do those proof-texts (a derogatory phrase, when I use it) push us to be fully "counter-cultural?" How come these same bloggers don't go fully separatist? What does it really mean, then?

Should Jesus, having finally let go of the offer to the Jews (Matt. 13ff) encouraged his disciples to STOP going to Temple since Jesus was going to start a new, "counter-cultural" movement?

I am anti-sin, pro-piety. But COUNTER-cultural? It seems like a waste of time. Unless one actually does it. Separatist communities at least are consistent and fully committed to at least this value.

Or maybe this is all just another Western and/or American joke: as long as you believe it, that's enough // if you apply it to one or two small (and try to pick something unobtrusive) areas, you are a champion of the belief.

Are there other reasons to be counter-cultural? What else can the phrase mean? Now that I've barfed my woe, I am open to new intake.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The death of Stanley Grenz, the death of my boss's brother-in-law, the near death of Dick Hillis, the death of Christ (celebrated 5 days ago). Death. It strikes hard on the poor, hard on the rich, hard on the powerful, hard on the daily, hardest on the families. Or hardest on God (John 11:35, "Jesus was weeping")?

Why so hard? I shall venture this: we were not made to handle death. We do not have the "tools" necessary to deal with it. Like trying to build a home not with a framing hammer but a rubber mallet. It looks like it should accomplish the job, somehow. But it does not. It's fiction.

Figure this: hope and faith are NOT something we are supposed to have. They are remedial. It has been churning in my mind for a while that "faithfulness" is NOT supposed to be a statement about one's actions, a trajectory of expected behavior. It is a state-of-being, "He is faithful" -- not "He faithfully acts." Did Adam and Eve have "faith" in God? No. They KNEW Him! He IS faithful. Do I have "faith" in gravity. No, I just assume the Earth gravitates(?). Most people who have lived on Earth never even thought about gravity. It just . . . is. So is God's faithfulness. Adam and Eve were with God, they knew Him. Faith is the assurance of things NOT seen, no? But once sin and then death are introduced, faith becomes paramount.

And hope. We might be made for surprise, but not hope. Hope has the potential of not happening. An illusion at a magic show does not require hope, but it does entail surprise. We know something is going to happen, just not what. It would be another thing if I did an magic show. THEN there we be the need for hope!

Now that we have death-of-vital/intimate-relationship with God, we have to have hope. Paul's great 3: faith, hope, and love. And the first two are remedial. Amazing. They are foundational to living on this Earth, but they only usher us into the real life, the one we were meant for. Like a virus in the belly of a faith/hope mosquito. We eventually get deposited where we were supposed to live, to flourish.

How bizarre. We are not supposed to have faith and hope. We were not actually made for them. They are guides, gifts, protection. Until we see Him, face to face. Fully revealed to Him and to each other. The REAL light of day.

[for the record, I am NOT condoning a "live however" life because this world is a joke - just wait for heaven. this is simply an observation about humans. this is no way changes that I do live with faith and hope and more so a love for God and people and even respect for this planet. if a futurical point-of-view is captured from this post, then this post has been misread]

Monday, March 28, 2005

Doesn't anybody stay together anymore?

Why is it that there are "Christians" who seem to give off "heat" and those who only collect "heat"? There are those that seem to "cause" heat in others, and then there are the others who mainly get colder when they are not around "heat people. Why is it so common for people to grow and think about God and love Him and love people in high school, and then go away from that and diminish? Do they even think they are diminishing?

Why don't people love Jesus when no one is pushing them?

Why is it that the only adults that seem to have any kind of
long-distance progress in their relationship with Christ (Himself and His body) are in some kind of leadership position: either paid or volunteer? Why is it that most people have a "stint" with Christ, and then move on . . . like He was just a boyfriend?

And yet some go the distance in this lifetime.

If you are reading this and your relationship with Christ and/or His body (i.e. some local church) have not been progressing much, please tell me why. Either comment below or email me direct at:

dmalouf2 at cox dot net (you'll have to convert the 'at' to @ and the 'dot' to '.' -- I get way too much spam otherwise).


Monday, February 28, 2005

"Common Sense"

At the recommendation of Tony Jones (see sidebar), I am reading Gadamer's "Truth and Reason." In the middle of one of the early chapters (p.24 in a 550+ book - I'll be reading for a while!) is a discussion of the history of the phrase "common sense." Once exposed, the two meanings became so clear, that I cannot NOT see them both...

Typically in the U.S., "common sense" is that which all should know (e.g. don't barf on and curse at the police officer that has pulled you over for doing 105 m.p.h. in a school zone). It is 'sense' that should be 'common' amongst the population. But turn on the word "common" (e.g. community, commune, etc.) and a new (actually the original) meaning comes to light.

The Greek writers (continuing into the Roman era) spoke of what was good (sensical) for the community (common). "Common Sense" was an understanding of what was good for the health, life, and future of one's community.

Currently, "common sense" = what each and every individual should know. Previously, common sense was applied to one who thought long-and-hard for the community.

I find this even more interesting in light of my default definition of sin - sin = that which kills (i.e. an infinite God can see what will bring life and what will not, but rather kill). Of course in the U.S. I (we) see sin as an individual thing. But what if "sin" (and the opposite, "life") were allowed to be seen communally? I would be an individual whose sin impacted others, and whose life-giving activity (spawned by "common sense") also impacted others. Thus, "common sense" could also be seen as "community righteousness."

Words are fun!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Growth is always into new space

I came across a blog-article that looks into some contemporary use(s) of the word "growth." In light of my family's current situation, the article brought to mind that "growth" involves moving into a space previously unknown to the "plant." I picture a tree "growing" - its branches move ever into novel locations in the universe.

And in my little world: "unknown" = "scary"

I love the last paragraph of this article (the whole does a good job of loosly getting the reader ready for it). I resonate with it.

And I'm afraid. I want to go into the unknown, to adventure. But it is scary. For me, knowing the source of the fear helps. Perhaps some control-issue I have (grin).

Monday, February 14, 2005

Every belief has its costs

[Skip to "Jist of it" below to bypass my cathartic ramblings]

Having a semi-scientific background, I habitually notice when "science" is brought into "theological" discussion. In particular, the idea of a Darwin-based "evolution." Being one that leans towards a Creationist paradigm (rather, my own variant of it - which may or may not be acceptable to those claiming to be "Creationist"), I have sat in wonder at the development of the God-caused-Evolution that seems dominant in those who speak public ally about God.

These public speakers/writers are also very interested in the end of exclusive practice and speech (yeah!!). It began to feel to me that the God-caused-evolution stance was an attempt to say, "Hey you, scientist-types. We are no longer going to beat you over the head in public with our preconceived ideas about mater and origin. In fact! we're going to incorporate what you say. As we dialogue with you, we are going to [finally] let you be an equal voice."

Here begins the first "cost." In order to be non-exclusive, we have to make up for the past. We cannot say, "You're an equal voice" and STILL have nobody buy what the previously-oppressed is saying (in case I'm not making sense, we cannot tell "scientists" that they are a part of the dialogue while continuing to tell them they are wrong about Evolution).

This is the heart of affirmative action. We cannot say, "All are equal" and still have inequality at work, in pay, at school, etc. So affirmative action shows up - a swing of the pendulum the other way. It's destructive to its own goal, but it is the way that feels most correct and appropriate to humans.

So now there is a certain amount of pressure on Christians. Are you going to continue to exclude smart, science-oriented people!?!?!!! But what about smart, science-oriented people that think Evolution is . . . silly? None of the neuroscience department at Arizona State University thought Evolution was an option - there is NO way Evolution can produce a human brain, nor the non-physical connections of the 'mind.' What about Steady-State scientists? or Plasma theory?

Cost: in an effort to be "inclusive" we are hitching ourselves with people that we shouldn't be. The other issues that are being tied to these public-speaking Christians (VERY good issues: injustice, the abuse of authority, the silliness of mechanically thinking about God, etc.) will be mocked because of the messenger (ironic: most of these public-speakers talk clearly about how the message and the messenger are vitally connected - do they know the cost of holding to this truth?).

The jist of it...
Here is a list of what I think is driving some of the crisis-level issues. Green: many of these Christians, who are finally allowed to value something other than the all-go-to-hell-without-Jesus rhetoric, resonate with save-Earth ideals. Social Action: the unwillingness to not live what one says. The unwillingness to ignore what much of the American church has left to others or the government. Inclusivity: the desire to engage in actual conversations (that go BOTH ways) with those who have been excluded by Christianity. PostModern Theories: even self-observation by many of these philosophers see these non-solid, actually-relative stances as already crumbling. pseudoTolerance: the combination of Inclusion and PostModern relativity. Ask a "tolerance" person if they are tolerant of non-tolerant people/beliefs. But one just can't be non-tolerant in one's statements lest one be dismissed by the seemingly tolerant. SemiUniversalism: the combination of Tolerance, Social Action, and Inclusivity.

So the idea of Green and Evolution plus the Bible combine into: the Earth is to be cared for by humans, not simply consumed. God has spent millions of years creating this planet that we are now rapidly consuming. We should care for the earth, not simply because we should, but because we are destroying what cannot be rebuilt except by miracle or a million years of non-use. The real rationale is not goodness nor the Bible but Evolution. When Evolution goes away, does the reason to be Green go with it? Or will something else take its place? It makes the whole affair look some illegitimate combination of consumerism and Save the Forest.

The emphasis on the active, ushering-in of "the Kingdom of God." Rejection of the ridiculous lifestyle of the 1900's (U.S.) where some people actually lived as if Heaven was all that mattered, not here-and-now (as it pertains to people, the planet, etc.). However, this round of the "Kingdom" sees ALL people as subjects of the Kingdom. This SemiUniversalist Kingdom deliberately looks away from a future Heaven (though not denying it's existence). Further, all promises to Abraham, David, Israel (the people group) are rewritten. Ironically, this stance erodes Hope. While it DOES bring God back from being all-future, it all-but forces Him to leave future and promise in order to prioritize "today." Further, it forces the adherents to abhor those who are not SemiUniversal as evil, almost people-Haters! One even went so far as to say that the Church is simply (and only?) God's response to evil. Forget relationship, forget Body, forget God's glory, forget hope, forget promises, forget the past or the future, forget...

The forces that drive an issue, even misguided ones, do NOT negate the highlighting of the issue! But the reasoning, the rationale, must be done a little better. Because most humans, in my observation, do NOT allow the first sentence of this very paragraph. Further, as an actual expression of Conservatives and Liberals, I MUST allow these ideas to enter the discussion. I must let them illuminate the dark, unseen parts of my own beliefs, theories, paradigms, AND practices. It just saddens me that the good of what is being said might be lost due to illegitimate connections.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Frustrated with Emergent

I am so frustrated with many of those that I site on the sidebar as those I enjoy reading. The wh0le goal of anything "emergent" (small "e") is that it builds up what already is, but does is of different matter. Like the rings seen in the cross-section of a tree. Swinging pendulums in the same ring is NOT emerging. It's not really even thinking (see last quote of last post by Scott). Yet I do not negate nor disapprove of what they are doing.

These writers are bright. They are well-versed. They love God. They love and interact with people (no isolationists in the list). But it's as if they revel in the release (deep peace, not just lack of frustration or conflict - it's obvious they still fight daily) they have found by leaving the ridiculous stretch that is "typical Christianity." Like a rubber band that has been increasingly taut for decades (WOW! if that is not a play on words -- taut and taught!!) and has now been released.

But instead of taking new form, it seems as if they are preserving the non-tautness. AAAHHHHHGH!

I have come across many lovers of philosophers (philophilosopher?) lately, commentators giving prelude to a philosopher's writings. EVERY TIME they speak of how the given philosopher (Plato and Ibanez are two of late) always saw himself as part of an ongoing road. What the Reformers (according to what I have read second-hand) called "always reforming." Yah, even Plato. But now we have Platonists and even Neo-Platonists. Neither of which are consistent with Plato for he was a traveler on a road, not a city-maker. Not places to sit and enjoy rest on the journey. Not a place to release tautness.

I mentioned that I think N.T. Wright is a dispensationalist. He uses this "5 act" metaphor for the Bible. "You need to be careful, Dispensationalists are so much about the coming Kingdom of Christ that they forget to impact the world today." GEEESH! Grow, for crying out loud. It's the lame "I know someone who . . . " Am I to throw out everyone who says one thing hypocritical?!?!

How about "there is no metanarrative" and "there are no absolutes." Statements that have no power except in their enemy! I pray to God (I joke not) that these thinkers and writers will CREATE! If they did, then we all will gain unspeakably. I know they don't see it this way, but they spend their energy correcting. And there is certainly need for it. But I wish they would get on with creating.

Why does the Church stop creating? Why do I? For me, why did I let my "fear of __________" always be the next defining thought of Sunday nights (until it literally un-created)? Why do we look at how things are and simply try to make them incrementally better? Why not asses (even enlist others) what is desired and what is and what is missing and then CREATE a new thing? a new method. a new test, a new measure. Why do we educate the way we do - if for knowledge, then do so; if for learning to learn, then do so; if for socialization, then do so.

This is where I love Doug Pagitt. If I want people to walk with Jesus, then I stop preaching and start doing it. Amazing.

Here endeth the rant.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Liberals and Conservatives

[Note: this will be a bit longer and not quite as "owned" as some of my other thoughts]

There are a handful of writers who have spurred my thinking as of late (Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Wendell Berry, N.T. Wright, Christian-Egalitarian writers) as to the meaning of "liberal" and "conservative." The denotative meaning of "conservative" coming from its root "to conserve, to keep." "Liberal" being "not-conservative, innovative, generous" (fascinating how the idea of 'liberally apply ____' is actually consistent with the idea of not-what-currently-is). These definitions do not seem all that consistent with the way the words are actually used today (at least in the U.S.). I want to suggest that their are liberal Liberals, conservative Liberals, liberal Conservatives, ... To do this will necessarily require a different working-definition of the terms. So here is what I propose.

"Liberals" start with action. MLKjr. (celebrated tomorrow in Arizona, an actual feat in Arizona's history!) did NOT start with keen ideas about equality. He started with a drive for action. As did much of what is considered "liberal" policy in this country. Brian McLaren's call to start with right action, and then formulate correct doctrines would be an example of this. General Patton fits this bill, at least in his movie. [It's fun for me to read writings from the 1700's and 1800's (and even 1900's) that speak of "that liberal democracy in the U.S.A." (i.e. a novel form of democracy). To think that Conservatives want to go back to a "liberal democracy."] I would like to propose that John and Peter were "liberal." Paul would not be...

"Conservatives" start with delineation. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and other framers (not "farmers"!!) would fit here. George Washington would not. Note now that this new definition of "conservative" is not with keeping what is, it is about delineating ideas. This is no way leans towards nor away from new ideas (except for the natural entropy of humans to not put into action what they say they believe). I think Paul would fit this, based on how long it took him to actually get around to being the "Paul" that we think him to be (and the book of Romans. and Galatians).

[more examples: Tara Malouf is a liberal, I am a conservative, most Christians in the US are conservative as demonstrated by their "Bible studies" that have no action (not because they vote Republican), Oprah is a liberal, Tom Brokaw is a conservative (his book "Greatest Generation" is simply a delineation of greatness, Peter is about grabbing swords and rebuking his Messiah (liberal), John Adams delineated a future and then attempted to enact it, Jacques Derrida is liberal even though his method is delineation (see Derrida for Beginners which has an excellent and not-disconnected biography) - see below]

Good points:

Liberals help prevent delineations that oppress. A very strong example, as far as I can tell so far, is Jacques Derrida (writer that helped push 'deconstruction' before the masses, or at least put it in their path). Derrida grew up, in oversimplified terms, an oppressed Jew in an anti-Semitic Europe. His deconstruction, from a cursory overview, is an action that destroys the power of oppressors (actually, makes them sound like fools) by deconstructing their hierarchy, their ideas, their policies, their philosophies. It was an attempt to right the wrong of ignorant oppression (specifically, his oppression - as is beautifully played out in history as he proved his genius over-and-above those who oppressed him).

Further, liberals give germination to new ideas of living. Sometimes it is new ways of thinking (e.g. Freud), sometimes a new way(s) of living (e.g. MLKjr.). Shakespeare fits this by way of both social commentary and his addition of words to the English language. It is this trait of liberals that also helps prevent blindness to the realities round about us. The contemporary ideal “court jester” was to use riddle and joke to unblind the king about the reality of the world: Nathan’s story to David about the rich man stealing the poor man’s lamb - an Old Testament jester. The generation of Social Security, the Peace Corps., etc. They are liberal creations not because of the political or philosophical statements of their founding, but by their being fully a response to the world.

And among other things, liberals see hypocrisy. Ask any Conservative Christian to honestly asses the “Liberal” critique of the church in the U.S. -- we (Conservatives) spend more time and money on Bible studies (and their materials) than we do on the children in our neighborhoods. Unless we are rich enough to move out of such neighborhoods by “God’s blessing” - do we (the rich, white people) really think that God blessed us so that we could get away from those in need?!?

Conservatives, when filling their place, help prevent the doing well of the wrong thing. I came across an article that spoke to how swiftly the poverty on this planet could be “erased” by the top income countries. If they all gave .7% of their income, we could end poverty by 2025. Does the “oil for food” scandal ring a bell? As has been pointed out, it is corruption that prevents poverty, not money. But this “delineation” comes from conservative writers. Relieving poverty is a necessary, NECESSARY aim. But not by bread alone.

Related, conservatives help prevent whimsy, often by asking an incessant number of “why” questions. Out of the field of “why”s came the renewal of being purpose-driven (no association to the incorporation of this by any given writer, group, church, or publication). A good example is Jim Collins as well as some of the work being done by the Gallup organization. These folks are trying to prevent whimsical decisions, decisions that may seem good but do not have enough sharpening by “why” questions. My time at Home Depot (during the transition from the original owners to the current CEO) gives good reason for the above organizations to exist. The reporting, merit, and management structures are destroying the people and the company. Not enough “why” questions.

. . . . Granted, conservatives often ask “why” infinitely. There is a time for action, and it takes some serious intuition to know when to start, which will inevitably be with many “why” questions still unanswered. Dialogue with liberal teammates is usually helpful!

[now would be a good time to inject my wife’s wisdom - NOBODY is distinct from the circumstance (history, relationships, setting, etc.). She believes that no author should be read, no pastor listened to, and no philosophy taken without knowing their background. In fact, it is this very thought of hers that led to my delineation between liberal and conservative. This does not diminish the delineation, but rather identifies that isolation (of thought or of person) is a misconception. Also, I do not believe that this confirms non-absolutes, but rather confirms the need for dialogue.]

Last in this list is that conservatives see the big picture more naturally. Liberals can often see the last chapter, the current chapter, and the next chapter with amazing clarity. But conservatives are most often the ones that the broadest scope. Too often this has been used to undermine the truth raised/enacted by the liberals, to the detriment of all. But without conservatives, we are doomed to swing pendulums as the liberal truth of today becomes yesterday’s oppression. I have very much enjoyed the difficulty of Derrida, but I find myself giggling at the assumptions. They work quite truly in/against my life. But they are often powerless with my wife. Her life as outflow sits in a place that is unaffected by the discussion and battle in deconstruction. The reaction of Derrida did NOT take into account people like my wife.

An example from Physics: one learns that two forces that are at perfect, 90-degree angles have NO impact on the other. [Assume the earth is flat for a moment] Imagine two bullets. One is to be shot from a gun that is lying perfectly flat on a table while the other (equal mass, etc.) will be dropped from the edge of the table. If the bullet that is dropped at the exact moment the other bullet exits the gun, then both bullets will hit the ground at the exact same time. Even though one is traveling horizontally at a ridiculous speed. The force of the gun is perpendicular to gravity (the vertical force in this example). Whether the bullet is traveling horizontally or not, the effect of gravity is the same. Reading Derrida to my wife is interesting, but perpendicular. Conservatives are the ones (rather are to BE the ones) who should see that very seldom is life a pendulum or a one-scale spectrum . . .

. . . . Scott Nelson (a friend and president of File Express / Trax Technologies) told me that most people think they are thinking, when all they are doing is rearranging prejudices. In theory, this is what a conservative helps prevent by seeing the big picture.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Another good article

Very profound article regarding how I see myself "in Christ." Yes, it's the right article, just read it (grin).

Question for self: what label (God) do I put myself under?

[I also like the article because it deals with what I feel is more of the core issue with homosexuality and "Christianity" and the Bible]

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Required read for all humans

I know this article has been around for a while. I know I've pointed others towards it. I am continuing to assign this article as spotlighting the most important subject for those in the US. Perhaps all humans. If this is not taken to heart, humans will continue to repeat and amplify the same doom that has preceeded us.


Blog Archive