Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Dems: Bayh, Biden, Kucinich, Vilsack, and Gravel.
Reps: Brownback, Cox, Smith, Hunter, Giuliani, and McCain.
It seems to me that the serious Republican candidates are accounted for, but the Democrats are all waiting for something... someone... Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Does anyone know what day it is?
It is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season in which we prepare for Christmas, for the incarnation. We prepare for the birth of Jesus. We prepare to be shock that Mary and Joseph had no room at the inn. We prepare like the wise men for a journey to Bethlehem to visit baby Jesus. We prepare for the birth of our savior.
And yet I read to you from the start of the book of John. There is no crib there, no Mary, no Joseph, no wise men from the east. Why the heck am I choosing to read this to you? What does it have to do with Advent? Maybe if I read it again we can find a connection between it and Christmas. (1:1-5,14).
This is a very philosophical. It is concerned with telling us something very profound about the way the world works. Yet, I fear, because the Gospel of John was written nearly two millennia ago we may no longer have a firm grasp on what is being said here.
Now as you guys may remember since last working as a volunteer here at St. Mark’s I’ve went off to Cambridge to do a Master’s Degree. One of the things that I do in Cambridge is travel back in time. I don’t have a time machine anything like that, just stacks and stacks of old books. When I and others go back in time we often do so in search of what the Germans call a “sitz im leben” (setting in life-translate?). I think to understand John 1 we need to understand how people back then thought. (1:1-5 LOGOS)
In ancient times the Logos, what we translate as Word, meant more than a collection of letters written down on a page. To the ancients Logos was the plans that God used to create with, it was his blueprint, his design for the universe; it was God’s thoughts and will put to paper. If life is a play the Logos is the script. If life is a song it is the sheet music.
But the Logos was not only that, it was also the master builder and architect. In other words the Logos not only was God’s plan for the world, but it also carried out God’s plan! The Logos was in some way God’s actions! It was the Logos that allowed the universe to function. The Logos was not only the script of the play but also the actions of the characters in the play; the Logos was not only the sheet music, but also the music itself.
So when this Gospel was first heard it made good sense.
The Logos was in the beginning. /// Of course it was in the beginning, there can’t be a beginning without directions as to how to begin!
The Logos was with God. /// Of course it was with God, it was God’s sheet music.
The Logos was God. /// Of course it was God, it was God in the act of creating.
Everything was made through the Logos /// Of course everything was made through it, it was the blueprint for all things.
The Logos was life /// Of course it was life, it was the act of living, the act of creation, the act of being alive.
The Logos was the light of men /// Of course it was the light of men, man can not be animate, man can not be man, without it!
The Logos will not be overcome /// Of course it won’t be overcome, what can stand up to God’s plan? What isn’t part of God’s plan?
So you can see the Gospel of John would have made good sense to a person living when it was written. They would have had no problems with his understanding of Logos. That is until (John) writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” This is where the ancient reader is surprised. This, this is new! This isn’t something the Logos does. John has just plucked this very philosophical concept out of the world of ideas and grounded it in reality! (John) is telling us that this Logos became incarnate.
Now, terms like Incarnate and “the Incarnation” are churchy words you may hear a lot at this time of year. It simply means in- Carne. Carne means flesh. So, John is saying that the Logos has become enfleshed, it has come “in the flesh.”
This is a startling claim for him to make. He is saying God’s plan can be seen in a physical and real way in a particular person. He’s saying in this person light and life can be found. He is saying God God’s-self has become flesh in a particular time and in a particular place. And he is saying that this person, though in the flesh, will not be overcome. Jesus Christ is the Logos made flesh. And that is what we celebrate on Christmas. We celebrating that Logos and Incarnation have come together in the person of Jesus Christ. A+A
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Via Sinning Boldly
1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)
1. Saladin began his siege of Jerusalem in 1187
2. A Holocaust occurs in Letychiv, Ukraine. 3,000+ Jews murdered in two days. 1942.
3. President Bush delivers his “Freedom at War with Fear” speech to a joint session of congress in 2001.
1599 - Christian the Younger, German protestant military leader (d. 1623)
1878 - Upton Sinclair, American writer (d. 1968)
2005 - Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian-Polish Nazi hunter (b. 1908)
“Holiday or observance”:
The seventh day of the Eleusinian Mysteries, when the secret rites in the Telesterion begins.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
On the social side I've been playing quite a bit of pool with an undergraduate from Birmingham, drinking lots of coffee with the various Tyndale House scholars, and striking up conversations with all the wonderful people at St. Edmund's.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I forgot my Student Visa so Home office detained me at Heathrow and then sent me to Chicago.
I made it to England a bit late. I stayed at St. Mark's for a few days. I moved into Tyndale House and have checked out my desk there. I went to St. Ed's matriculation ceremony, which included me dressing up in a college gown, a posh meal, and good company.
Today I went to a URC church and tonight will go to a quiz night put on by St. Ed's. And tomorrow the studying begins!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Also, here are the two places I might live. 28 Histon Road, or Tyndale House.
I chose Tyndale.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Oh, and for those trying to track where in the world Chris Halverson is, I am currently at Thief River Falls Minnesota. I went to a family reunion today. Good fun. Everyone kept commenting on what nice hair I have. I couldn’t figure out why that was, so I asked my mom. She reminded me that the last time any of the these people had seen my I was in my "dreadlocks stage." Apparently wavy fluffy blond hair is more attractive to little old Scandinavian ladies than gnarled up grey-blond dreads "set" with yogurt. Who knew?
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"I'm your aunts, cousins, father's sister's uncle."
"What does that make us?"
Then he throws him out of the spaceship.
Not so with Alex though, he's a good guy, check out his blog.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I read "The End of Faith" and "The Twilight of Atheism" recently. Both of them made me realize how frightening the USSR really was. TTOA says that 100,000,000 people were killed by the USSR. Sometimes we forget how atypical life in America is.
Monday, September 11, 2006
"I want to bring to the attention of the British people that Dr. Brydon won't be returning to India this time."
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
To maintain these claims Mr. Harris paints religion with a very broad brush. He tends to define religion on one hand very stereotypically- for example, the threat of hell is the only motivator that forces believers to act morally- and on the other hand very generally- really each time he says religion he should be saying ideology.
He also assumes that at base religion is nothing more than experience (which one must admit is no small thing). He is obviously influenced by Varieties of Religious Experience a book that compiled a lot of different examples of religious experience. In fact, some who follow this line of thought believe that they have found the part of the brain that only needs to be stimulated and a religious experience will occur.
As a sort of side note this line of thinking about religious experience, specifically the universality of religious experience and mysticism, is one of the issues that bible literalists are dealing with when they rely on the infallibility of the text. After all if Christian mystics and Muslim mystics are having the same experiences then it is of paramount importance to establish what is actually from God and what is simply a phenomenon. Their solution is Biblicism.
While Harris’ stated goal is a world where everyone is tolerant, since religion is the main obstacle to tolerance, he seems rather intolerant himself (which he would freely admit). At one point he suggests that fundamentalists should be undercut at all costs, even forcing moderates (in this case Muslims) to go to war against them. He’s saying his utopian atheist world is desirable at pretty much any cost, including inciting civil war. That seems to me to be an irrational absolute.
Being a pre-modern post-critical moderate evangelical Lutheran I can’t agree with Harris. Being pre-modern I believe that myth (properly defined) isn’t a bad thing, narrative is, if nothing else, a more soulful way to express truth than Harris’ cold science. Being post-critical I must concede that Harris is reacting to the realities of a post-9/11 world and attempting to combat what he perceives as the latent cause of those terrorist acts and prevent even more deadly attacks, for that I laud him. Being post-critical I must also affirm that Harris is failing to understand the complexity of faith, the worldview of the believer, and that his stereotypes are little more than paper tigers burnt only to illumine his views, for that I shame him. Being moderate and Lutheran I am horrified by his callous disregard for human life as exemplified by his advocacy of civil war in the Muslim world. Being an Evangelical I feel, to quote Jim Wallis, "the proper way to combat bad theology is good theology, not no theology."
At the end of the day Mr. Harris is pointing out the fact that religion is awful, in the truest sense of the word. It is powerful, it is awe inspiring, it can make a man strap explosives and nuclear fissile material to his chest and blow himself up in a crowded place, or give up all his possessions and feed the hungry.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
This got me to thinking about the logistics, relational as well as career wise that would be involved with being a Terrorist. Specifically is terrorism more a job, or a hobby. Is it a "Mild mannered reporter by day, Jihadist by night" sort of thing, or is UBL an economic sonser in more the think tank sense. That is does he provide enough money to terrorists that they are economically able to be a full time Jihadist?
Just some random thoughts.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Descent is a horror movie about a group of women who go caving, get trapped in the cave, and find out they are not alone.
Yeah, it might sound rather typical (except that it is an all female cast) but it isn’t.
So. I’ve thought about the movie theologically as well. No big surprise there, that is kind of what I do. While Descent is no Pilgrim’s Progress I think there is a definite correlation between the physical descent of the women and their spiritual descent into violent depravity. At one point after the main character (Sarah) finds out one of her friends was killed (accidentally, but she doesn’t know this) by Juno, another of the women (who happens to have tricked the other women into going to this cave instead of another). Sarah then has to fight off one of the nocturnal humans (from now on designate as noc). She kills him, and then a female noc comes out and screams in sadness at the death of her mate. Sarah then gets into a life and death struggle in a pool of blood and mud (like some Mithrian baptism?), is submerged, and when she rises out of it becomes much more willing to kill.
Things get more and more gruesome until she and Juno reach an exit. They dispatch of what seem to be the three alpha nocs. Then Sarah does the unthinkable, she stabs Juno through the leg with her climbing pick and leaves her there as a horde of nocs come. And she escapes finds the Bronco and high tails it out of there. Then I think the last scene finally proves that this kind of descent, treachery and vengence, no matter how seemingly justified, doesn’t pay.
And now I’m going to sit up with all my lights on and read The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986 until I pass out on the couch. Hoping the Noc do not get me and devour me, or Sarah and Juno come and disembowel me in the night.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I think of Abraham, who did the opposite, left Ur and started out on the journey of Man with God, toward the eventual reintegration of the sacred and the secular, the mortal and the immortal... etc etc etc.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Hey all, here are the questions for tonight! Hope to see you all
P.S. Meet at 7:30 at espresso roma on 13th and Alder.
1) Who is Jesus?
2) What are the most important beliefs within Christianity?
3) Does Christianity lend itself to mixing with other religions?
4) Has Christianity changed since the time of the apostles?
- The ultimate and only earthly manifestation of the Hebrew God YHVH. Through his actions on earth we may know how to properly live a life in right relation as a human. His death on the cross manifests, again ultimately, the "godforsakeness" (I don’t remember the german off hand) humanity naturally feels because of the wrong relationship they have been born into and foster in their daily living. In his resurrection from the dead we have a clear sign that the alienation, decay, and hell that has trapped humanity is at an end. Through his teaching and transcendance YHVH has broken back into human morality and history for good; through his overcoming of death hope of life beyond life is assured; through his healing and his spiritual acts, and the mysterious returning of a balance long ago lost, hell itself no longer is a threat.
- That the Christ event was God’s decisive act in human history.
- There are many truth claims within Christianity that do not lend themselves to syncretism. That said, the I-Thou relationship fostered by Jesus’ command to "love your neighbor" necessitates a healthy trust in the importance of other’s subjective experiences. This can in turn allow for Christians to be tolerant, open, and respectful of the beliefs and morals of people of other faiths. So to simplify my answer Christianity does not mix well with other "religions" but does mix well with other people.
- Yes. The early Jesus movement was founded in a Jewish context and was built upon the assumption that the Messiah had returned and the end is near; Christianity was also considered an esoteric eastern religion by the mainly pagan west. Most Christianity today has become gentile in nature and has become a Western phenomena (baring the new South/East Christianity that is emerging on the tail of the submergence of Western Christianity into a much more secular culture in Europe and is often seen as subservient to the State in North America).
- This is a very individual/denominational question in some ways. For some people their gender either alienates them from many of the metaphors within the Christian Church or compels them to it(eg. "Father" is not a word that would necessarily make a lot of sense to a woman raped by her father, likewise the image of a "mother-hen" would not make sense to a man who works at a Chicken rendering plant). Further many churches have either official or unofficial roles designated for people of a certain gender. For example, more youth pastors/ child care folk are women; more young adult pastors/workers are gotteed-out late 20- early 30 something men. Some churches do not allow women to be ordained. There are also some "offending" verses found in the pastorals and in some bits of Paul’s writing that create certain gender specific spheres within the everyday life of Christians. Perhaps though I am dealing more with "sex" than "gender" as one being innate the other being an inclination.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
I’m a little disappointed, but the Bishop and the rest of the Committee handled things with tact and dignity, so I’m going to go ahead and take their advice and push all thoughts of Parish Ministry out of my head for a year… I’m a little worried that will be like a polar bear convincing itself that eating tofu is natural, but we’ll see.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight O LORD
Today Elijah is in despair. He has found himself in a shallow middle place between a powerful past and a glorious future, and is sinking down in despair to the point of death.
YESTERDAY he stood in contest with the prophets of Ba’al. He watched as that whole angry host danced for their deity, mutilated themselves for their deity, worked themselves into a frenzy for their deity, and failed. Then he asked God for an answer and a sign to come to the people in the form of flame. And the LORD did that mighty work there, and the prophets of Ba’al were dispatched.
TOMORROW he will climb the mountain and be in the presence of God. The LORD will pass by him. A great wind will tear at the mountain making it a mound of pebbles. An earthquake will agitate those pebbles, grinding them to dust. A fire will come and lap at that dust until it is ash. But as it says in scripture God will not be in the wind, in the earthquake, in the fire. God will at last come to Elijah in the Still Small Voice. And there Elijah will find his calling and his help.
But we’re not talking about yesterday, or tomorrow. We’re talking about today, and today Elijah is in despair. Today he is living with the perplexing fact that his God has won, the people have seen that the LORD is the true God. Yet, Elijah, now a proven prophet, is still persecuted and hunted. Jezebel wants him dead. Elijah, in his moment of victory, is faced with death.
So Elijah, weighted down by the disturbing problem of sweet success tainted by bitter failure, throws in the towel. He slumps down against a tree and asks God to end his life. He believes that the best days are behind him/ that the path he is on is a road to oblivion/ that the status quo is here to say. He is a man without hope.
But as we see in today’s Psalm ours is a God who “answers, hears, saves, delivers, and is a refuge.” God comes to this shallow spot Elijah is in and raises him up. God sends help to the hopeless in the form of an angel who provides him sustenance not once, but twice, that he may make his journey.
This disconnect that Elijah feels is nothing new. Simply look around. This Garden God gave us was, at least in blueprint form, perfect, paradise, Eden as they say… Yet things are all messed up. There is strife in the garden; there is murder in the garden. The garden is sick with pollutants and man is polluted with the sickness of sin. And because of this disconnect we become cynical. We don’t heed the voices of the visionaries and the prophets of the ages. Zechariah tells us to look forward to a day when every bell will ring out the words “Holy to the LORD,” and every scrubbing pot will be a holy vessel of worship, but we hear only the dull clanging of pots. John the author of Revelation tells us, “There shall no more be anything accursed,” and all we can do is let out an expletive. Isaiah tells us, as is recorded in today’s gospel, that “They shall all be taught by God,” yet too often God’s instruction does not touch our ears or our heart.
Of course it seems like it would have been so much easier to put our trust in these words in Jesus’ day. Each heavy footstep he took from Galilee to Jerusalem left a footprint of prophecy. If the rocks and stones themselves could sing why not bells? If this Holy man could touch a menstruating woman how could anything be called accursed?
And this Jesus who fed the 5,000 and walked on water said that he is the bread of life. He in fact attached the name I AM to himself. This name is the name God identified Himself with to Moses in the desert when He appeared to him in the burning bush. This name is a paradoxical name. It is a name that suggests that God does not need a name to put in relation to reality, for the act of reality itself is of God. And this Jesus who taught before them, who claimed heavenly descent, said, “I AM the bread of life.” He called himself by the name that the high priest could only whisper once a year inside the Holy of Holies, the centre of the LORD’s temple.
It is easy to trust the words, “you shall be taught by God” when He feeds you and 4,999 of our closest friends, arrives from the sea by foot, and proceeds to teach you.
But we’re not talking about yesterday; we’re talking about today. In the words of Luther since the first Easter we have been, and are, living in “The Already Not Yet.” Christ has already came; The I AM was manifest, but he has not yet returned. To use an imperfect analogy the difference between the already and the not yet is like the difference between D day in World War 2 and VE day that ended the war in Europe. Jesus’ resurrection created a permanent beachhead, but sin still thrives.
This paradox that pulls at the heart of the Church can be seen since its inception. In the earliest Christian writing, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, we see it’s author wrestling with the problem of “the already not yet.” In this case Thessalonian Christians were worried by the fact that some of the people of their community have died before Jesus had returned.
As long as we live in the “already not yet” we will have to deal with the same insecurities and hardships, the same paradox and perplexity, and the same despair, that Elijah did. We will ask the same questions. And they are hard questions to answer.
The Church over in England is struggling with these questions as it sees itself becoming irrelevant to the society it finds itself in and emptied of members. Only 4 percent of English children attend church. Only 25% of UK citizens are members of a world religion. 55% of Britains do not believe in a higher being.
Hard facts, a definite discontinuity between the triumph of Easter and the present situation they find themselves in. Yet everywhere I go I hear the same trusting words. They say, “When the church ignored the poor God sent Francis of Assisi. When the Church needed reform God sent Martin Luther. When the church became too disconnected from the common people God sent John Westley. When the Church became blind to racial injustice God sent Dr. King and Bishop Tutu. And now again we have lost our way, and now again God will act, again God will do something with his church, again God will send someone.”
I believe these churches, in their dark twilight hour have blindly struck up against something fundamental to the Christian faith. They have realized that God himself searches out for those who are in need and loves them. They have found hope.
And really this should be no surprise. Is this not the heart of the Gospel? This “bread of life” was first a grain that had to be buried to become a shoot of wheat. The wheat had to be crushed, to be made into bread. The bread had to be broken, to be shared and multiplied.
Therefore we have hope in the great I AM. We have hope in the Bread of Life. And in response to all this we live in hope. We hope for resurrection while being swallowed up by death, deliverance in fear, a voice in poverty, salvation in trouble.
And when we cling to hope we live into our calling as Children of God. As imitators of God we try to live a life of kindness, we try to be tenderhearted, we try to forgive, to be full of truth, to be charitable, and most of all as imitators of God, as Children of God, we love.
In doing this, in joining with God in His creative act of redemption, we may even reverse the disconnect that Elijah, and Paul, and all of creation, feel. We may truly begin to be lifted up by the wings of angels and travel forward from the deep swampy middle that we find ourselves in and continue on our journey up the great and glorious mountain. We will stop our paralyzed line of questioning where we constantly ask Eden why it is as it is? Instead Eden will start to ask us why we are as we are?
By this I do not mean that we take an immolating leap into the diabolical machine that is “the world” and stop its mad motion by forcing it to crush our bodies. No! Creation is of God, and so imitation of God involves embracing creation with love and hope. Our work is not that of a mechanic martyr, but that of a nurturing gardener.
And when we do this we can listen with fresh ears to the words of hope that we have. Every bell WILL ring out the words “Holy to the LORD” every scrubbing pot WILL be a holy vessel. “There WILL no more be anything accursed,” and “we WILL all be taught by God.”
There was a time during this last year of mission when I was asking myself why I was in England. Frankly I was homesick. And then one Sunday at Abbey Lane United Reformed Church I heard some distinctively America… more than that distinctively southern, voices. After the service the English folk were ecstatic at being able to introduce me to some Americans who were visiting the church. I was introduced to Bev and Jack, who instantly treated me like a grandson. At one point Bev gave me a collection of American poems as a way to combat my homesickness. One of those poems, Lift Every Voice and Sing, by James Weldon Johnson exemplifies the nature of the hope we have in Christ.
Lift every voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.
There is anguish yes, after all we do live in these in between times, yet there is also hope; in Christ there is always hope! And we will faithfully preserver. A+A
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The One Book
1. One book that changed your life:Wiesel, Dawn
2. One book that you’ve read more than once:Card, Ender’s Game
3. One book you’d want on a desert island:Aescyus, The Orestrian Trilogy
4. One book that made you laugh:Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff
5. One book that made you cry:Gipson, Old Yeller
6. One book that you wish had been written:Voltaire and Rousseau, Our Christian Faith or alternatively Calvin, Against Systemization
7. One book that you wish had never been written:Hitler, Mein Kampf
8. One book you’re currently reading:Caspi, Take Now Thy Son: The Motif of the Aqedah in Literature
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
Saturday, July 29, 2006
From Earth to the Stars
By Alexander R. Flint
"The History of man is the history of struggle."
Mankind was born on the planet Haeretz tens of thousands of years ago. As soon as man knew what property was he fought for it, and when weapons and willpower were great enough there came the three wars for Anglo-American Hegemony. The alliance created in these conflicts became the seeds of what would become the Colonists. After subduing Europe, Eurasia, and the Near East these proto-Colonist governments turned their attention to the Far East, and to the stars.
In the midst of the fourth war for hegemony the Alliance woke up a new enemy. This enemy was unlike the humans they had previously faced, who "struggled earnestly, grappled well, and admitted defeat." This new enemy from the stars, the Aliens, was a cunning and manipulative race.
They came down to Haeretz and offered "miracles that were manacles and cures that were curses." Many readily accepted this alien technology, but at a price, the capitulating governments had to agree to the Alien’s terms, the halt of all space exploration. The first government to agree to the Alien’s terms was China, fresh off its defeat in India.
The Chinese government became a puppet to the Aliens, and the 4th War for Anglo-American Hegemony became "a proxy war between man and menace." Then ensued a great twilight struggle to see if humans could be "masters of their own house," or if they would be dominated from afar. Tragically after the EMPing of the West Coast of America President Tracy was forced from power and replaced by the traitor Henry Stevenson, who sued for peace.
In a last desperate act of defiance President Tracy called on those closest to him who had not yet succumbed to the Alien threat to come together and form the Colonists. He dedicated the organization "to the principle that man’s destiny is in the stars." The Colonists confiscated space transports throughout Haeretz. A new era in the history of man was ushered in on the day of the Great Launch. 8 million men women, and children were transported to three dozen planets deep in space beyond the clutches of the Aliens.
For the next three hundred years the Colonists spread from planet to planet planting colonies wherever they went. Many a story of these brave pioneers and their struggles and triumphs could be told. There are so many tales in fact that they could fill the whole Net time and time again. Since my aim here is to give a general and panoramic view of our history, I will simply say courageous things were done that will never be forgotten and always will be lauded. In the year 300 GL there was found a planet populated by non-Colonist people, controlled by the Aliens, who had manipulated the belief systems of those people to a point where they understood the Aliens to be deities. In the year 301 GL President Abraham Robertson re-dedicated the Colonists to a grand new mission, the liberation of Man from all Alien influence.
I remember my grandfather telling me of the day he heard of the incineration of Ur-Kaldez, the Alien’s home planet, in that memorable year 598GL. I can still remember what I was doing when the liberation of Haeretz began to take place in 662GL. Our war of liberation has become an act of cleaning out the remaining pockets of resistance through psychological operations, wearing down the remaining Alien forces, and winning the hearts and minds of those who remain under the boot of the Aliens. Many see the wiping out of the Aliens within our lifetime! As President Robertson’s call is being fulfilled before our eyes Colonial society can now look forward to a third age of man. An age filled with the pursuit of recollecting the classical learning of Haeretz, the compilation of narrative histories of man in the NCK, and the integration of non-Colonist humans into Colonial society.
(Any clue how to put footnotes on Blogger as that makes this much more fun)
Friday, July 28, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I’m coming home. At least to a form of home. I’m leaving home. At least a form of home.
What bags that I packed will be waiting for me when I return? What bags will have mysteriously been packed by others and left behind?
They will say welcome back when I still am saying goodbye. I will say its good to be back when they say goodbye.
And this is not a one-time proposition. Movement is part of who we are. Stasis is not possible. Abraham was told to get up and go; Moses wandered for 40 years; Ruth went and joined Naomi; Jesus left, face toward Jerusalem; Luther hid from the Pope’s thugs; Kierkegaard made a leap of faith.
That’s just it. We go from one place to another. We change and are changers. We move again. That changes things too.
We return sometimes. God’s people end up back in Egypt more often than anyone expected; they also returned from Babylon; Luther returned to the deep well of scripture; Jesus is promised to return.
Returning everything is the same, but fuzzy and different. A friend has a paunch. A cinema has more screens. And some are gone. They too have moved.
And once you wrap your head about this, it is all very exciting. I’m both coming and going!
We’ve changed- This is apparent by our appearances alone. When we three volunteers came our hair was all long and flowing (we all three of us looked like rejected hippies). We will all leave St. Mark’s with hair cropped quite short. Beyond the apparent changes we’ve also been living in a very specific place, doing jobs that come with their own jargon. We’ve also been living together in tight quarters for the last year; our personalities are beginning to rub off on one another. And that doesn’t even get into the fact that poor Vik has been thinking and speaking in English for the last year.
The people we are going back to have changed too- My best friend has a fiancé; my dog is dead; I’m going to a friend from way back in Elementary school’s wedding. To top that off as Vik recently pointed out while I’m acting like a 50 year old my parents, who are now living in Alaska, are acting like 20 somethings.
We feel loyal to England- When we toast the Queen it’s more or less a joke, and we aren’t going to start singing impromptu choruses of "Rule Britannia" as he sees me off to the airport. That said we really feel close to Britain. For example, if we met someone from the UK in our homelands who was lost we would move heaven and earth to see them to where they were going.
Very few people will ever understand the things we have done here, and that’s okay- I think I may have gotten the first part of that statement from that WWI book I read for Novel Approach (not to mention the Gettysburg Address), but none the less it’s true. It would take a whole year to describe to someone what this year was like, and even after said description the poor power of words would show through and they still wouldn’t understand what we’ve done. I remember a specific episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Malcolm is visiting colleges. He meets this one girl who did an exchange year in Barcelona (she keeps pointing out it’s properly pronounced "Barthalona"), and she can’t shut up about it, every sentence she says starts with, "I remember when I was in Barthalona…" We realize we don’t want to be like that so we’ve decided to look at our time at St. Mark’s sort of like it was Narnia. That is, we’ve been through the Wardrobe and we realize anything we tell anyone about our time there will not really be understood. Therefore it is best for us just to be glad we’ve been to Narnia and treasure it in our heart until we return there for our next adventure.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
A faith- that professes that the Father, good, holy, the arbiter and foundation of all that is Good and Holy, created the world. Created Eden, created perfection, yet things are all messed up. There is murder in the garden; there is starvation in the garden. The garden is sick with pollutants and man is polluted with the sickness of sin.
A faith- in the Son, a man murdered by a powerful empire that has long since become dusty tomes in a dusty library.
A faith- that, in this loud and extraordinarily busy and self important world, where indifference trumps action, materialism trumps morals, and where it seems more important to watch Friends than make them, in this world where we attempt to drowned out the voice of God, we claim that the Holy Spirit is as close to us as our jugular vein.
A faith- that knows one God, and yet knows God as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.
A strange faith.
Yet a faith worth suffering for. A faith- with many martyrs. A faith- the first of those martyrs, St. Stephan was stoned for. A faith- the Apostle Paul was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and eventually died, for.
While they are very important it is not just those noble sufferings of the saints of old that we should consider when reading this letter of the Apostle Paul. No, we ought also think of the perennial problems of life, the problems that make all of creation fall to futility.
All of humanity, each and every last one of us, is a card within a house of cards. We were all stacked carefully and precariously atop one another. Even the slightest breath, a slight jarring of the table, would cause the whole house to fall down. And that deck of cards has fallen down a long time ago, and we are constantly attaining toward a return to our original placement. Every personal sin is a card falling, knocking down the whole deck. This deck is in a constant flurry of motion, Jacks falling atop crazy eights, and twos upon Kings. Every time a wall of a house is reconstructed two more fall down. The interactions of these cards grow in intensity until they become a splashing, bubbling sea of black, red, and white.
But we can’t stop there, for we should consider the present sufferings/ be they physical pain, emotional ache, or spiritual distress. And we must realize suffering has meaning. It turns us back to what once was. It is the echos of Eden that makes us ache. It is a yearning for God.
More than that a calling from the Father. A calling to live as Children of God. To live into the goodness of creation as it was made by God.
So the Father has "subjected us to hope." So the Father has left us with a distinct feeling that things can, should, be better. That’s good news isn’t it? (ask again)
And still there is more gospel, more good news. God’s son, Jesus, entered into creation. He was born into this suffering as you and I were. He lived for some 30 years teaching about the Kingdom of God and the Love of God. He suffered on a Roman cross, and died there. Yet the "bondage of decay" would not hold him.
In this way the Son’s Life, Death, and Resurrection, bring us closer still to the new creation we yearn for. We have hope for "the redemption of our bodies." That is, death no longer controls our bodies because we have the hope of Resurrection and New Life. That’s good news isn’t it? (ask again)
And there is more gospel, more good news. After Jesus left his apostles they were gifted with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to proclaim the saving message of Jesus to the ends of the earth, and were led by the spirit to do many things, including welcome non-Jews as equal followers of Jesus.
And we Christians today are heirs to those first followers of Jesus. And we still are animated by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit still helps us in our weakness, that we may be and become Children of God, and live in the new creation that we now "groan inwardly for."
God is still with us, the "Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words." That’s good news isn’t it? (ask again)
The good news today, more than any abstract, or even concrete, statement about the nature of God, any statement about the Trinity, is this.
"I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depths, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ our Lord."
Monday, July 24, 2006
Then yesterday the St. Mark’s crew was invited to Lord Braybrook’s. The tea was a fundraiser for St. Mark’s so we went there to shmooze (which I found out yesterday from Vik, in German refers to foreplay, not socializing, so I use the word in it’s American context!) with all the posh people there. So now I can say I’ve had tea with an English Lord and Lady!
I have to admit rubbing elbows with the "high and mighty" was kind of fun, and it makes me remember more clearly that we as Christians are called to minister to the low and weak ones; to the Ungoogleable ones, so to speak!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
PS it's HOTTT here in England. Being out in the sun isn't too fun. I've become a "redneck" in the most literal sense.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
ALL THINGS SHALL BE UNITED AND HOLY IN CHRIST
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD.
There is a great division. A division as real as the severing of John the Baptist’s head. A division wider than the English channel. Greater than the divide created by the Great Wall of China, greater that the Grand Canyon. A division more vast than the Gobi desert or the Pacific Ocean. A division greater even than the space that divides Galaxy from Galaxy. This is the division between humanity and God.
It is an understandable division. God, after all, is the IAMWHOIAM. God doesn’t need a name to put in relation to reality, for the act of reality itself is of God. Even when we put names to God they are supremely exalted ones. The unpronounced tetragrammeton- Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, El-Elyon-God most high, El Shaddai-God Almighty, and Adoni Tzavot-The Lord of Hosts. The Psalmist sings of God’s unimaginable power and dominion when he writes, "The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof/ the World and those who dwell therein."
We who dwell therein, in contrast, are mere creatures; called into being by God’s Word, God breathed, marked forever with the image of our creator, yes, but creature none the less. We are finite, with limited vision. Yes, there is a definite division between heavenly things and earthly things, Things of God, and things of Man, of Spirit and of dust.
When Moses went up the mountain to receive the 10 commandments from God his face became bright, seared with the holiness of God, reflecting the holiness of God. To prevent this sanctity from spreading and becoming a deadly contagion amongst the people he would wear a veil.
Second Samuel Chapter 6, today’s Old Testament reading, which wasn’t read today because when I was planning the liturgy I didn’t see its connection to the other readings, deals with King David transporting the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem. The Ark, which according to the Epistle to the Hebrews contains Manna from Israel’s trek in the wilderness, Aaron’s staff, and the 10 Commandments given to Moses by God upon that holy hill, is seen as representing the very presence of God. The Ark is much more than just a box containing holy things, but the throne of God. God was thought to, at least symbolically, sit between two golden cherubim atop the Ark’s lid. In today’s reading Uzziah, the son of a priest, saw that the Ark was tipping as it was being transported to Jerusalem, and reached out his hand to steady the Ark. God struck him dead instantly. As I said, there is a great division between us and God.
Psalm twenty four, which I read for the scriptural sentence this morning, also has a connection to the Ark. This Psalm is thought to have been sung while the Ark proceeded into the Temple. Listen to the divisive challenge of these words, "Who shall ascend the LORD’s hill?" "Who shall stand in his Holy place?"
When I think about how people treat holy things my mind wanders back to childhood. My family and I spent three weeks in Egypt. There I remember touring a great mosque (Mohammad Ali Mosque) in Cairo. Before entering that holy place our feet were wrapped in cloth bags so we would not pollute that Muslim sacred space. Holiness isn’t something to be easily trodden on, it is not a gentle playmate, but a fierce, transcendence in the presence of which we must take off our shoes and make ourselves ready to experience God.
The best biblical example of this great division that I can think of can be found in the Book of Leviticus. This book is probably the most systematic working out of purity laws found in the Bible. Everything is covered there, from dietary laws, to how to deal with menstruation, to how to distinguish if you are pre-maturely balding, or have leprosy. All these laws and regulations can be summed up as an attempt to keep separate "the sacred and the profane, the impure and the pure" things of life and things of death, heavenly things and earthly things.
Yet in Paul’s letter to "the saints who are" he says to us in the form of an early Christian hymn that God’s plan was, "set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." In some ways we have the whole gospel right here in these 11 verses of Ephesians. Because God loves us we have been graced with redemption. This forgiveness of our trespasses comes through Christ’s blood. Because of this we are, and shall become, holy and blameless before the LORD. We are made Children of God. We will all be united in worshiping God.
All this starts with Christ. —If you will remember last time I preached here I mentioned an image of Christ from the mind of Karl Barth, the image of an hour glass. If God is the top half of the hourglass, and we are the bottom half, Christ is the center that unites the two halves. In Christ we see God.
In Christ/ the great IAM is given face and form, bones and blood.
In Christ/ Dustman and Deity are made one and holy.
In Christ/ the sinner, tax collector, and prostitute, are gathered in as God’s people. In Christ/ the stigmatizing uncleanness of leprosy is cured and the menstrual blood, that strange mixture of life and death, is stopped after 12 continuous years of flow.
In Christ/ we are "redeemed through his blood." In Christ/ we are "graced with forgiveness."
In Christ/ life overturns death.
In Christ/ all things shall be united and holy. In Christ/ we may come before God and worship.
Now let me be clear, as I talk about unity I am not talking about indifference. I am not talking about the lines blurring between "light and darkness, dusk and dawn, cruelty and compassion, good and evil." No, in Christ there is difference, darkness is made light, dusk emerges into dawn, cruelty is raised up and finds the high ground of compassion, and evil is transformed into good.
Nor when I talk of unity am I affirming some sluggish centrism where kinder gentler Tories live in a constant photo op with their perky smiling families or where muscular more military Labor party members hug nuclear weapons tight to their chest. No. Unity calls for a bold prophetic approach. After all John didn’t get his head chopped off for his half-measures, but for his giving of the full measure to God. If we take Paul seriously we have to act prophetic, we have to live into an Eschatology of Unity.
Let me unpack what I mean by an Eschatology of Unity. Eschatology means "dealing with end things." Dealing with where this whole wild ride known as history is going to, is headed toward. So, believing that God’s ultimate purpose is to unite all things in Christ is to have an Eschatology of Unity.
Why is this important? Because how we view God’s "plan for the fullness of time" will effect how we live, how we see the Spirit, and how we will respond to our high calling as Children of God.
For example, if we look to an end where evil is punished and good rewarded, where Jesus trades his meek donkey in for a war horse, where the prince of peace wades through the bodies of the wicked, we’ve went off track. With such a view the church quickly falls into a paralysis, spending all of its time trying to figure out who’s in and who’s out, who’s holy and who’s profane, and that’s a recipe for disaster. As my pastor back in Cheyenne always says, "when you draw a line in the sand to say who’s in and who’s out Jesus will always be on the other side of that line" ministering to the outcasts and the sinners.
If we look at the world through the eyes of an Eschatology of Unity then we find ourselves in line with the prophets and visionaries of every age. We find Zechariah looking forward to a day when every bell rings out the words, "Holy to the LORD," and the very scrubbing pots become holy vessels of worship. We find Isaiah looking forward to a day when, "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level and the rough places a plain." A day when "the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." We too shall echo the words of John the author of Revelation; "there shall no more be anything accursed."
And you know what. No matter how inspiring, compelling, foolish, and utterly impossible, these words may sound, I believe them. More than that I see them today! In occasional flashes. In glimpses. Yes, the Spirit occasionally blows a little Galilean wind our way.
Over this last year my understanding of the global and universal nature of the church has blossomed. I have worshipped with people from 5 continents (maybe even 6! I unfortunately can’t tell the accent of an Australian from that of a Scotsman.) I’ve seen the healthy Eccumenicism of the churches of Saffron Walden. They are respectful of what each congregation is, and mindful of how they are connected to the whole. I guess that’s the blessing of being a stranger in a strange land. When your own tree disappears you can finally see the forest. I have went from being a Lutheran in the United States to being a Lutheran lent to an ecumenical British organization, lent to an Anglican Diocese, worshipping at the United Reformed Church.
And yes, I feel the Holy Spirit blowing here. When I think of the joint project you and the Salvation Army are endeavoring on, I smile. I feel the wind of God interspersed in the winds of change that are evident here by the construction back behind us. I think of the positive message of Christian Unity you are sending to Saffron Walden, which will combat the reputation that the Church has earned for bickering over minute points and trivialities.
They say Christians are known for the way they love one another. And I have to say I’ve felt loved here. I have seen Christ here, in your welcoming, in the friendships I have formed here, in your inviting me to preach today in this pulpit. Christ has told us to offer a cup of water in his name, and this church has done that for me. The water happened to be boiling and contained a tea bag, but you did it.
We will work toward unity, knowing that we have already been united in Christ, and that, despite all the upheaval that points to the contrary, we are headed toward a time where we shall be united in worship and praise of the LORD. A+A
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
I'm pooped, and next week I lead worship at the URC.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Three colors 4___________ 5_____________ 11_________
One something that makes a noise 6____________
One shape 8___________
One name of a ranch 9 ___________
One material 10___________
There was once a young cowboy named 1. He was the son of 2, the owner of 9 ranch. 9 was a dry place, treeless and filled with browned sagebrush and scraggly tuffs of buffalo grass. So in a lot of ways it was a place the total opposite of Essex.
Now 2 was an eccentric man. He wore a tall sloping 4 hat and he wore oversized clown-like cowboy boots made of 10. On them were spurs that jangled and sounded like 6 when he walked. And his pride and joy was 3, the buckingist, orneriest, mare that side of the Colorado. The horse was 5 with a distinctive 11 8 patch of fur between her eyes.
Now 1, impetuous young man that he was, wanted to be like his father. And 1 schemed and schemed and made a decision. He would take his father’s 10 boots, his spurs that jungled like the sound of, 6 and his tall 4 cowboy hat and head south to Texas.
And so 1 did just that. He got up well before the sun and snuck into his father’s room and took the 10 boots, 6 sounding spurs, and 4 hat. And then he went into the stables and took 3.
He put on his father’s clothing, saddled 3 and was off before the first fingers of sunrise had reached across the plains and touched 9 ranch.
Things went well for 1, at least at first. He had made it several dozen miles. Riding 3 was good fun and making her gallop with the spurs that jangled like 6s when he prodded at 3’s flanks was something 2 would never let him do.
By noon 3 was tired and 1 sore. They both were thirsty. 1, for all his planning, had forgotten to bring a canteen. And soon his father’s large 10 boots were hurting his feet. But he was ambitious and foolish, and continued on. And soon enough one of the boots fell from his foot, and when it clanged loudly, sounding like a giant 6 3 was spooked. She began to buck, and kick, and snort, and whinney into the air. 1 was thrown from the horse and his glasses flew from his face, smashing on a rock. Without them 1 was blind as a bat.
3 stopped and let her small rider back onto her back. They continued forward, their collective throats parched. They continued on like that for a whole day until 3 said, "We need to drink something or we’ll die."
1 was puzzled, "horses can’t talk," he said.
"I know," 3 replied, "you are just delirious from lack of water.
And 1 nodded and looked out hoping for help. All he could see with his blurred vision was a strange two headed monster. One head was 4, the other 5 with a strange 11 blot on it.
3 continued toward it.
"Don’t go that way. There’s a horrible monster there." 1 said. Yet 3 kept going.
Again 1 protested, "It’s horrible, and dangerous!" Yet 3 kept going.
And a third time 1 said, "It’s horrible and dangerous, and down right evil. We must stay away from it." And 3, with the last of her strength, broke out into a gallop toward the monster. And she nudged 1 off her back. And 1 saw that the monster was a reflection of himself in a cool still pond, which he drank deeply from and was saved.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
"Two score and three years ago, a great American, to whom this nation owes a great debt, told America about a dream he had. This dream came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of African Americans who had been separated from the bright promises this nation has to offer and trapped in the darkness of humiliating, squalorious, conditions, that man was not made to live in. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of calamity. But forty-three years later, we must face the tragic fact that we have stopped there.
Forty-three years later, the lives of colored people all around the globe are still sadly crippled by the manacles of tyranny and the chains of oppression. Forty-three years later, the West lives on a lonely island of material prosperity, political justice, and individual freedom in the midst of a vast ocean of poverty, injustice, and cruelty. Forty-three years later, the majority of the world languishes under absolutists, theocrats, and poverty...."
Thursday, June 29, 2006
"And even if we did have only Christians within our borders, who's Christianity would we teach in the schools? James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Levitacus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage so radical that it's doubtful that our Defense Department would survive its application?"
"We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.
Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God's test of devotion.
But it's fair to say that if any of us saw a twenty-first century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, be it common laws or basic reason. "
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
The wonderful program that has made this whole thing possible: Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM)
One of the things that I was told at the missionary conference was that they don’t want us to stay in our host country for ever, instead they want us to get back to the states after our year of service to start serving the ELCA. Now it wasn’t that I don’t pay attention, anyone who’s ever lectured me know better than that. In fact in my many pages of notes from the conference I specifically wrote this point down.
I say all this as a preface to a really exciting announcement! I have received and accepted a conditional offer to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Divinity at the University of Cambridge. The M. Phil. program is a very intense 24-week Masters Degree program. I intend to write my thesis (actually I’d like to end up with a book when I’m done with it, but that might be aiming a bit big) on the Akedah (The Binding of Isaac, Genesis Chapter 22).
What do you do when the only time your URC youth group isn’t being rotten to one another is when they play Yu-Gi-Oh!, a collectable card game? You make a Bible centric card game, that’s what you do!
This nearly completed project has taken up a lot of my time this past month. First I had to figure out rules for the game and invent cards. Then I not only had to illustrate them (with the much appreciated help of Yan), but figure out how the heck to actually make them into cards (after a few different ideas lamination was the simplest). When all done I’ll have created 100 cards (I should finish tomorrow). Then I’ll get to test them out on the Pilots.
Here are a few examples of cards:
Love (1) Event
Return target Character card from your discard pile to the top of your deck.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22)
The Flood (6) Event
All Characters are put from play into the discard pile. Noah is unaffected by this event.
The Flood continued forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. (Genesis 7:17)
Zebulun Character (2) 2/2
If Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Gad, Judah, Benjamin, and Levi are all in play you win the game.
If Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Gad, Judah, Benjamin, or Levi are in play Zebulun get’s +1/+0
Ruth Character (3) 2/2
If Naomi is in play Ruth gets +2/+2
But Ruth said, "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
Melody, a TFG volunteer over in Cambridge who is from South Korea, recently held a Korean night at the URC church she is placed at. It was a wonderful event where I was able to sample Korean food, play Korean games, and watch a presentation put on by Melody and some members of the local Korean church. It was great fun. The international aspect of this year has been an almost overwhelmingly positive part of this year of mission. I have gotten to know people of faith from all over the globe, and that makes me kind of giddy!
Professor Falk, my favorite Professor from back at University (and the only professor that reads my newsletters) recommend that on Trinity Sunday I should go to Trinity College and see the festivities. I’m glad I did. Everyone lounges on the bank of the Cam and listens to the choir serenade them with love songs. As dusk falls Chinese lanterns are lit. It was pretty. It was serene. It was magical. It was Cambridge!
The children are jittery. They always are. The Archer sees the Warden in the distance giving his shpeel. "These activities can be dangerous, so pay attention to what your instructors say," and so on. Then he numbers them off 1, 2, 1, 2. Further down the line he can see some of the children counting to see if they are next to the pretty girl. Some switch places with one another to ensure that they are in the same group as their friends.
The Warden has seen this before. He’s onto their scheme like paprika on Slovakian scrambled eggs. He switches things up. There were two twos, then two ones. The schemes of men can not withstand the will of the Warden.
The two groups are split up. The younger ones run with a carefree abandon to their cite of instruction. The older ones strut or swagger like they are on a catwalk somewhere in Paris.
The little ones are almost passed the rope on the ground that looks like orange flavored liquorice, when the Archer takes one fe-fi-fo-fum giant sized step to the line. He raises his hands like a hipster traffic cop and says, in a very American accent, "Line up behind the waiting line," and then with a strangely elegant flourish of his hand he indicates the rope.
He wears green cut-offs stained with grass, grease, and even a little blood for good measure. His white T-shirt has on it the words "Peace, Love, Luther," with a peace sign, a heart, and some strange flower with a cross inside it underneath the words. He must be one of those American Fundamentalists BBC Three always talks about, the children think. He wears wrap around sunglasses and a blond gottee that is so long that it had to be either ironic or post-modern. His short hair is topped off with a backwards raggedy military-style green cap.
The kids realize he’s not only a Yank, but a Damn Yank, cocky and brash, emblazoning his American-ness upon his chest. If Tolkien’s Orks were a warped and devolved version of Elves the Archer was, in their eyes, proof positive the Americans played the same role in relation to the British.
By that time the straggling teens, trying very hard to out disinterest one another, show up he has already asked, "Are you guys ready for some Archery?"
"Yeah." They say with words as bland as the three servings of potatoes each day they’ve grown up on.
"I said," he says his tinted and unseen eyes scanning the line, "are you guys ready for some archery?"
"Yeah," again they say, some of the younger ones picking up the enthusiasm in his voice.
"Is that it? I’ve heard Liberal Dem MP’s with more fire in their belly," he says, smiling at his own wit, "Are you ready for some Archery?"
"Now. I can see that you’re all very excited," one of the older boys chuckles before he can help himself, "but we first need to go over a few rules, just to keep us safe. After all," he says, looking to the boy who had chuckled previously, "no matter how exciting archery is we do have to remember we are dealing with sharp metal bits flying around at fast speeds."
"Lucky for us you guys are already following rule number one, which is when you aren’t shooting stay behind the waiting line."
He pauses, walking down the line of kids, like some self-important Banana Republic General.
"Now what is rule number one?"
They don’t answer.
"What wasn’t a rhetorical question!" he says, with a smirk that reminds them of his president’s face.
"Don’t-mumble mumble- the waiting line."
"And," he says, pacing back down the line, "the second rule is if I, or any of you, see something dangerous out there," he makes a general gesture toward the two archery busses, "shout Stop!" and boy does he shout stop, "everyone should put down their bows and stop shooting."
He pauses. Stopping in front of the middle of the line of children, he says, "Dangerous things could include… Amber, the College’s dog," he makes a ridiculous motion of a dog bounding along by swaying his body back and forth and moving his hands up and down, "wandering out into the middle of the range. After all," he again looks at the boy who made the mistake of chucking, "after all shooting the Warden’s dog tends not to help relations with the boss-man… So what’s rule number two."
"Don’t shoot the dog," one young boy shouts, while the rest mumble, "stop if you hear stop."
"Correct, stop if you are told to stop. The remaining two rules are kind of corollaries of one another," they are also a little authoritarian, but never mind that, the Archer thinks to himself, "Rule number three is ‘Don’t shoot unless I tell you to.’ What’s rule number three?"
"Don’t shoot unless you tell us to."
"And rule number four is ‘don’t cross the shooting line unless I tell you to.’ Otherwise you might end up plunking your neighbor in the head. And I don’t want to remove any arrows from anyone. So what’s rule four?"
"Don’t cross that line unless you tell us too."
"Excellent," then he proceeds to explain to them how to shoot, describing the stance as similar to a golfing stance, demonstrating this fact by wielding a bow briefly as a club. He describes the proper fingering of the string as being "like the boy scout salute," and tells the kids that when retrieving an arrow from the target they have to do, "the live long and prosper sign from Star trek." A few of the younger kids do the sign unconsciously as he demonstrates it. In short he uses more similes and metaphors than are used in pulp noir.
Then the Archer comes to his favorite part. The demonstration shot.
"Okay. I’m going to let you break rule number one," what a benevolent dictator he is, "come on up so you can see what I’m doing. Stay to this side of me… like in a quarter circle. 45 degrees of a circle guys. A circle, yeah? Circle, yeah? Yeah, circle?" He says that last bit with a mock British accent.
Then he goes through all the steps he showed them thus far, from making sure the odd colored fletching points up when loading the arrow to pulling back the string to the side of the mouth. He looses an arrow. It finds its mark just inside the yellow. The children let out oo’s, and ahh’s. The Archer allows himself a momentary smile and then gets back to business.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
"I have little direct evidence about the atrocities in the Spanish civil war. I know that some were committed by the Republicans, and far more (they are still continuing) by the Fascists. But what impressed me then, and has impressed me ever since, is that atrocities are believed in or disbelieved in solely on grounds of political predilection. Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence."
- George Orwell
Monday, June 19, 2006
Dinesh D’Souza first pointed out this phenomenon to me. At a Washington dinner party, he was once asked, during the dessert, when Catholics are going to get over their medieval prohibitions on fornication, gay sex, and the rest. Dinesh is a very clever and quick-witted man, so he answered with a straight face. “I’m with you. I think the Catholic church should give up its whole sexual code, permit bestiality, pornography, auto-stimulation, the whole bit.”
And it goes on from there... Worth reading, nothing ground breaking but the scene is set rather well.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
I would like feedback if you get a chance.
For three weeks after the Pilgrimage things were normal for Ali. He attended a children’s class by P. Arius in the morning and stayed with his family in the afternoon and evening.
"What is Yas-Ba’al’s nature?" P. Arius asked on that fateful day. Gunther and Gregory said nothing, and did not raise their hands. Instead they looked away from the Padre’s eyes. Gunther at his crotch, Gregory out the window to their left.
Ali waved his hand, P. Arius nodded to him, "Yas-Ba’al is physical," he said, putting his hand down.
"Yes," P. Arius agreed, "and?" He sat from his stool, high above the students.
The classroom was in fact P. Arius’ house. Ali would take morning walks through the orchard, sometimes alone, to get to class.
"And subordinate to El Naptol, and authoritative to mortal kind," Ali recited, "especially to those that live within his province."
"Now why is this important?" P. Arius asked, getting up off his stool and walking around the small room. Something outside the window caught Ali’s eye. He tried to concentrate on P. Arius’ words. No one had raised their hand, so he had launched into one of his well rehearsed monologue.
He stressed the heavy implications of heresy, and the superiority of Renewalism to other forms of religion. He also talked of the ordering of the world into spheres of Authority, and how they interlocked with one another. "If the dictates of El El Yon are followed by El Naptol, and by Ba’al, and by me, and even by you guys here, then the world itself will be in a perfect harmony."
All this was interesting to Ali, it really was. Yet he paid less attention to Padre Arius than even Gunther, who was sniffing his own arm pits while the Padre talked. Ali’s eyes were out the window, observing something truly strange. Outside it seemed to him that a camel, lime green with a single hump, was trotting about Darius’ orchard. While the body was properly proportioned the head appeared quite different from the head of Ali’s plush. It was round, humanlike.
Ali squirmed in his wooden chair, straining his neck as the creature galloped behind a grove of apple trees.
"Ali," P. Arius said, his prize pupil seemed distant, "why is the world out of harmony."
"Uh," he paused, turning back to the present world, "because there are those who ‘hide from the truth’ and ‘hold fanciful thoughts’ in their heart." The first was a quote from his father, who had been quoting one of Yas Si’ak’s scribes, the second one was from P. Arius’ teaching the previous week. He had been quoting Padre Glenwood.
"Yes. There are those who prefer ‘fanciful stories, or strong impossibilities, to the self evident truth set up for us by the Pantheon.’ And because of these few errant fellows we are suffering disharmony."
Again the camel was in sight. It was coming closer. Ali looked to his fellow pupils, oft caught window gazing. Gunther was still smelling himself, although he had moved on from his under arm to the inside of his shirt collar. Gregory’s eyes were scanning the room, seeing nothing, and hearing the Padre’s words even less.
"Sometimes though," P. Arius was saying, "it is not only those outsiders that create disharmony. We ourselves also ignore the laws of the Yas. We ourselves," the Padre’s voice faded as Ali looked more frantically at his companions for some sign upon their faces, some sign that they saw the bright camel, with its unmistakably human face, that was approaching the Padre’s house. No though, they all sat there, Gregory even looked out the window from time to time, his gaze would go right through or passed the still approaching abomination. It’s face was the same green color as it’s body, but human. It wore short-cropped black hair, a well-groomed goatee, all set off by the green skin that became lumpy green camel fur as it reached the bottom of the neck.
He, it… the Camel-man, was right at the window, looking in, its eyes green, but a natural green, not the green of its skin. It looked down at Ali. Ali looked up, frightened.
Padre Arius continued, "so really, listening to your parents, especially your father, is on par with listening to El El Yon. Now that does not mean…"
Ali trembled, the camel-man was saying something, and the boy actually thought he could hear it, but shut the unsounded noise out of his mind, gripping hard to the wooden chair beneath him. The Padre continued on, not noticing Ali’s wincing, or Gregory’s glazed over look, or Gunther’s fascination with his armpits.
The Camel-man looked at Ali who opened his eyes after shutting them tight in hope that the apparition would disappear, hoping it was some disturbing play of the light, or dreadful hallucination. The Camel-man looked unsure at Ali. It seemed to question if the boy had heard it. It quirked its head to the side. The head balanced strangely on the long camel neck and body.
"Later. Soon," the Camel-man voiced through the glass window. Its voice came as much from Ali’s mind as from the physical lips of the Camel-man. The voice was deep and heavily accented, yet at the same time completely understandable to the young boy.
A small groan left Ali’s lips. The Camel-man turned and left, galloping off like a horse.
"Any questions?" P. Arius asked, coming out of a bit of a stupor himself, though his was self-induced. He finally looked at those for whom his words were meant.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
After a fresh coat of paint and a new playground, the church will be opening its on-site, non-profit, faith-inspired day care, Little Ones of Tomorrow.
Mary Scherden, director of Little Ones of Tomorrow, said this is a faith-inspired center, not faith based.
"We're not here to raise little Christians," she said. "We're here to outreach to the community and welcome anyone from any walk of life."
The Rev. Sarah Moening, pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, said the term "faith inspired," simply means to "do like Jesus did.""
I'm very happy for them!
Saturday, June 10, 2006
"They are inexhaustible, and deserve to be read, said, sung, chanted, whispered, learned by heart, and even shouted from rooftops. They express all the emotions we are ever likely to feel, including some we hope we may not, and they lay them, raw and open, in the presence of God, like a golden retriever bringing to its master's feet every strange object it can find in the field, "Look!" says the Psalmist. "This is what I've found today! Isn't that extraordinary? What are you going to do with it?"
Peace and good night,
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Over at the URC today we celebrated Pentecost, the celebration of the events described in Acts 2, and the celebration of the Holy Spirit still enlivening, leading, and comforting the Church. I was struck by the rhetoric not only of the sermon, but of the whole service. The word heart was used a lot. Now I think this is often the case, when we petition God we sometimes are said to "lift up our hearts," but this being Pentecost Sunday, and the presiding pastor being a Baptist, heart was used many times. She talked about Jesus filling our hearts with love, we asked the Holy Spirit to enter into our heart, she exhorted us to open our hearts to Jesus. In short the word heart was used quite often.
Why do I find this so interesting? I was born with a severe heart condition, I’ve had 4 open-heart surgeries, and my heart murmur is so loud that the doctors say it sounds like a basset hound in my chest. So, when I hear all these heart words I start to think, "how the hell do people who haven’t had heart surgeries hear these words?"
When you life up your heart do you not think of some Egyptian god weighing your heart, heavy and heaving with sin, cut and threaded back together with micro-filament, against the weight of a feather? When your heart is filled, what does it feel like? Does it slosh around with blue, yellow, and red dye on some ultra-sound type machine? When the Holy Spirit enters our heart does it do so like a branding iron, snaking up around from valve to valve, probing with flame through contracting bits? When the heart is opened does the chest have to be opened too, broken ribs and months of healing?
Seriously, please tell me how you relate to all these metaphors of the heart, because for me all this language is very, very concrete.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
I do not believe God will condemn practicing homosexuals, or people with homosexual inclinations, to hell.
In general I believe this because I don’t think what the Bible talks about is the same thing as a loving monogamous homosexual relationship. Those who surrounded God’s people in the Old Testament tended to employ sex as a part of worship of fertility gods and goddesses, so that type of sex was idolatry. Paul was surrounded by a Grecco/Roman culture, and…considering that the first phrase I learned in my current study of ancient Greek was "Kalos o pais esti" (beautiful is the boy), which is a phrase that is found on hundreds of pots given to Greek boys by their adult lovers, it is safe to say he was surrounded by a very specific type of homosexuality, Pedophilia. What I am saying is that the sexual acts God condemns are not the current sexual acts (or state of being for that matter) of homosexuals.
Let’s look at this is more detail. In every case in which the Bible seems to condemn homosexuality it is never the case. Let us walk through the verses.
- Genesis 19, Sodom. Raping angels is a no no (as is being raped by Angels, see Genesis 6 and my comments on Leviticus), further if one is to follow this story for its morals then one needs to offer their children up to be raped (same with Judges 19).
- Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 both deal with ritual purity, as does most of the book. Ritual purity tends to involve contact between holy and mortal (hence a Levite gets zapped for touching the Arc, and also why early Judaism viewed Genesis 6, the coupling of the "sons of God and the daughters of men" as "the fall" not Genesis 4) and powers of life and death such as semen and menstrual blood. Other examples of abominations include women wearing trousers and the eating of shrimp, buzzards, and "crawling things." What is especially troubling about these verses is Leviticus 20:13, which calls for killing of him who "lies with a male as with a woman."
- Romans 1: 26-27. Let’s look at what Paul was condemning, Bacchanalia or some such sexual-religious ritual. Read in context Paul is talking about worship. These, I presume former, Christians have switched from worshiping God to worshiping in a Pagan temple. They are punished for this in mid-Bacchanal, by having sex with people that they would not normally have sex with. In other words heterosexual ex-Christians go against their sexual orientation while blissed out on drugs, booze, fasting, and pagan ritual and have sex with people of the same sex.
- Corinthians 6:9 and 1st Timothy 1:10. If Paul wanted to refer to homosexuals in these verses he would have referred talked about "Paiderasste" but he didn’t he made up his own word "Arsenokoita," or literally manbed. To figure out what a manbed is it is best to look at 1st Timothy, since the manbed is put into a list with several other types of people, "immoral people" and "kidnapers." So what do "immoral people, manbeds, and kidnapers" have in common? Well, immoral people could perhaps be better-translated "male prostitutes" (the Septuagint uses this Greek word for male prostitutes). So Paul seems to be condemning male prostitutes, johns, and pimps.
Now, I have to say in all honesty I don’t know if Paul or Jesus (who I must mention says nothing about homosexuality) would condemn modern homosexuality. If Jesus or Paul were to be taken to the LGBTQ meeting at the University of Oregon, I have a feeling they may not react extremely well to the surroundings. After all they were both Jews from a very specific time and space, and though Jesus was and is God, he "emptied himself," (Philippians 2:7) and was in fact a Jewish dude in a specific time and place. Frankly, I believe if a pre-resurrection Jesus showed up in church and saw us worshiping him as YHVH he’d take offense (the resurrected Jesus on the other hand, is cool with it).
I must also admit my attitude toward homosexuals is shaped by my experiences as well as by scripture. After the Matthew Shephard murder I was introduced to one of his gay friends, the brother of a councilor at University of Wyoming High School Summer Institute. He was both Gay and a good Lutheran man. When I went to University of Oregon I met a plethora of homosexual people, many of them stereotypically flamboyant, some not. Two of them stick out in my mind. One was a guy in a creative writing class I was in, he was a bit pretentious, but no more an abomination than Leviticus’ "rock badger." The other was a lady about my mother’s age, who I had many a religious studies classes with. She had a loving partner and was a Calvinist, but was alienated from both her family and her church because of her sexual orientation. She believed, and I assume still believes, quite strongly in God. To her in Christ there is "no male or female," means God accepts her too.
All this said, I will admit in humbleness, that I could be wrong. Judah could be right; my understanding of homosexuality could simply be "the modern human view" instead of God’s. After all homosexuals who have sex outside of marriage do have sex outside of marriage. Perhaps, with me the Word of God has landed amongst the thorns of this world. I do not believe so, but it is possible.