Christine and I have just got back from 21 days walking one of the worlds premier desert treks.
Have a read of our adventures here on my travel blog.
Christine and I have just got back from 21 days walking one of the worlds premier desert treks.
Have a read of our adventures here on my travel blog.
I had a Facebook conversation yesterday with an old contact from a church I was a pastor in over 15 years ago. In short the conversation went like this in response to a post I put up on SSMarriage; (this is a VERY abbreviated version with my interpretation)
Person – If you just obeyed Leviticus you would know what God want you to vote.
Me – Hahaha, if you obeyed Leviticus you would not wear clothes of mixed blend, we would be killing people for doing all sorts of things…Because “God says!”
Person – Look, DON’T ARGUE WITH ME – ITS GOD, HIS WORD, NOT ME YOU HAVE TO ARGUE WITH, YOU WILL STAND BEFORE HIM TO BE JUDGED. And by the way I don’t like the passive aggressive tone you took with me in the above comment.
Me – Tone? I’m not the one on caps lock shouting down the internet! I just was hoping for some interaction, some robust discussion, some push and pull.
Person – You had better take that up with God, it seems you have a problem with him, not me. All I am doing is speaking His truth.
What disturbed me more was that I was that person! And truth be told, too often, I AM that person. Give me a bone to chew I will go at it if I believe strongly enough in it!! “Person” had his kids in my Youth Ministry, I no doubt reacted to them the same way 20 years ago when they would come to me with doubts and questions, desire for discussion. “You had better stop thinking that way, it’s not how we think as Christians…just think proper…like me, as I am God’s voice…I read the bible!”
Today, I called past home to eat lunch as I was in the area and picked up a reflection book by one of my favorites, David Whyte. In it he writes on robustness, he reflects my desire for healthy conversation, healthy community, here it is;
To be robust is to be physically or imaginatively present in the very firm presence of something or someone else. Being robust means we acknowledge the living current in something other than our own story. Robustness is a measure of the live frontier in our lives, whether it is a wrestling match, a good exchange of ideas in the seminar room or a marital argument in the kitchen. Without robustness all relationships become defined by their fragility, whither and then die. To be robust is to attempt something beyond the perimeter of our own constituted identity; to get beyond our own thoughts or the edge of our own selfishness. Robustness is not the opposite of vulnerability: robustness and vulnerability belong together; to be robust is to show a willingness to take collateral damage, to put up with noise, chaos or our systems being temporarily undone. Robustness means we can veer off either side of the line while keeping a firm on-going intent. Robustness is the essence of parenting: both of children and ideas.
A lack of robustness denotes ill-health, psychological or physical, it can feed on itself; the less contact we have with anything other than our own body, our own rhythm or the way we have arranged our life, the more afraid we can become of the frontier where actual noise, meetings and changes occur, the temporary need to stop things happening eventually becoming a permanent identity based on siege, where life itself has been turned into the enemy…
We are never one thing, but always the meeting…Robustness is not an option in most human lives, to choose its opposite is to disappear.
May I always honour the divine in the ‘other’. I pray my desire to be ‘right’ never over takes my desire to engage in healthy community which includes disagreeing, debating and some robust conversations.
(Kind of appropriate on the 500th anniversary of one of the worlds most famous invitations to a robust conversation me thinx!)
and a version of the letter here written by a mate Colin Craggs x sarcasm for illustration of the same intent minus a kind of literary violence often used …by me 😉 and you … I’m sure!!
Dear Franklin Graham
My name is Peter and this is an open letter, pastor to pastor, with other’s watching. I have to say I was insulted when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” Not that we don’t want you to visit, I do. I think there is a lot we can talk about it. I was insulted in how it was promoted and how we are portrayed.
Yes, we are small community churches. We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t very well); feed the hungry that come to our doors; care for the sick; comfort the dying; and bury the dead. Are we not the image you want for the mega-churches? Is this not the kind of prayer and action you are seeking in your ministry? We are small but we are trying our best to live out our faith well.
I have to say, though, that I was a little confused by your summons. Of all the things that worry me, loss of religious freedom for Christians in America isn’t one of them. I can’t say I have ever experienced anything in this country that could reasonably be called a restriction on my religious liberty, much less persecution. When you started talking about attacks on Christianity, I thought you might have been referring to the racially motivated slaying of pastors and lay people at Mother Emmanuel church in Charleston some time back. Or I figured you were referring to the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt this past Palm Sunday. That’s what I call persecution. But having to pay a judgment for refusing to bake a cake for a same sex couple in violation of the law against discrimination? This you call persecution? In Peter’s writing, as an expert on persecution, having been on the receiving end of it more than once. He says you don’t get divine kudos from suffering the consequences of breaking the law-even if you are a Christian. Likewise, the Apostle Paul (aka Saul) said that if your enemy is hungry you should feed him. So wouldn’t it have been the Christian way to have baked a cake for the same sex couple in your example, even if you deem them enemies (another assertion I don’t quite understand)? I think your idea of persecution is confusing and takes away from the plight of those shedding their blood for Christ. Am I wrong in this? Clarify this point for me please?
It seems to me that the church in America has persecution complex. We need to stop with the drama. We are not under attack just because we have to follow the rules like everyone else. Look, I understand the owners of this establishment you mention in your speech don’t approve of gay and lesbian people getting married. They don’t have to approve of them. But if they are going to do business in this country, they have to follow the law against discrimination-just like the rest of us. If you don’t like the rules, don’t join the game. It’s that simple. Furthermore, I don’t understand why baking a cake for people whose conduct you find personally offensive is such a big deal. Heck, Frank, if all of us small church pastors refused to bury everyone whose conduct we didn’t approve of, the country would be ten feet deep in corpses! We are to live in the world and this is a part of it.
I am struggling, too, with your claim that Donald Trump is a champion (albeit an unlikely one) for religious freedom. What freedoms are we talking about here, Franklin? We are called to use our freedom to serve one another, to love our neighbours and not to ‘bite and devour one another’. Is the language of Donald Trump promoting this freedom? When he refers to woman as “dogs,” “fat pigs,” and “ugly” can we say that’s the freedom the Bible talks about? Or calling his opponents “idiots,” “losers,” “liars” and “frauds”? Is he not guilty of slander toward people with accusations of criminal conduct based on absolutely no evidence? He is our president but I must question your assertion that he is our champion for religious freedom.
You might be right about God putting Donald Trump in the White House-though your reasons for so believing are probably different from what I might conjecture. Still, how do you know that? Where did you get this info? I’m concerned that this pro-Trump movement is not standing on solid Biblical ground. What makes you right and another wrong if both are claiming to have heard from God? As I read the Scriptures it seems to me that God is more concerned about how men treat women in the workplace, how people of color are treated in the real estate market, how the hungry and homeless are cared for (or not), and less concerned if we bake a cake for a same sex couple to celebrate their wedding? Let’s continue this dialogue from a Biblical basis. How do you know? Show me how you get to your conclusion that baking a cake is a bigger deal than caring for the hungry and homeless?
Here’s the thing, Franklin. At the last judgment, Jesus doesn’t ask anyone about who they voted for, how many times they have been divorced, what their sexual history or orientation is or for whom they did or did not bake wedding cakes. He isn’t even concerned with how we treated the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, those deemed “least” among us. We all fall short of God’s ideal. We commit adultery and we abandon the least among us. We offend our enemies and we live in abundance while those around us starve. But God is interested in whether we are united in himself through his son. That’s where the compassion begins. That’s where the power to love our enemies and feed the hungry comes from. That’s where we can stand together and work through this as brothers in Christ despite our opinions on politics.
You know, Franklin, I would like to think that we are brothers. I would like to believe that we are on the same side. I would like to believe that, beneath our differences, we worship the same God and follow the same Savior. But quite honestly, I don’t recognize the Jesus I learned from my parents, my Sunday School teachers, my pastors or my years of study and reflection on the Bible in your angry, fearful rhetoric. Yes Franklin, your sound angry and fearful. In Jesus you are in love and there is no need for fear. Yes, I will answer your call for prayer. But I will be praying for the real victims of persecution-the victims of racial discrimination, sexual violence and bullying. I will answer your call to action. But I will be acting to establish health care as a right for all people; making the college campus and the workplace spaces where women and girls need not fear being called “pigs,” “dogs” or “ugly” nor will they need to fear rich, white celebrity males who feel entitled to grab them by the genitals. I will respond to your call for action by working for a society in which no one needs to worry about where she will sleep at night or where the next meal is coming from. You want prayer? You want action? You’ve got it. Please tell me you are praying for these things too!
Franklin, we have the scriptures, we have prayer, and we are learning every day what it means to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s all we need.
Christ’s servant and yours,
Historically, of course, Australia Day represents the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet at what became known as Sydney Cove. The national public holiday marking this event is a fairly recent addition to the calendar, and many Australians will look forward to relaxing and enjoying a day off with friends and family.
And yet, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the legacy of the day remains strong. Tomorrow represents not a day of enjoyment but a reminder of the wrongs that were meted out by the British and the ongoing implications of our colonial past.
It remains a contentious day in the calendar of our history.
In modern Australia inequality and disadvantage are major problems within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities…read more here…
To demonstrate differences in the presuppositions of readers, consider these following statements about the Bible, inspiration, biblical authority, and biblical interpretation:
The Bible is literally the Word of God. Scripture consists of the writings that were inspired by God, if not actually dictated by God to the biblical writers. The community of faith is to submit to biblical authority. Biblical interpretation is divine, expressing the will of God, not of human beings.
Creating Scripture is a human activity that takes place within communities of faith. Inspiration applies not only “to the origin of the text but to its transmission and interpretation among us.” The Bible is “inherently the live Word of God,” which recognizes that it is divine communication that has been “refracted” through many different authors who spoke from their own circumstances. Biblical authority is exercised in community rather than over it, and the community of faith’s participation is called for rather than its submission. Biblical interpretation is contextual and necessarily influenced by the human beings who do it.
First, “if social location shapes reading, then it is important to be honest and self-conscious about one’s social location in approaching any act of interpretation.”
Second, if multiple interpretations of a passage are possible, then we need to make explicit the reasons we have chosen a particular meaning.
Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation
(I thought thes comments made a lot of sense, thoughts?)
I read this is a recent daily devotional from Richard Rohr. I thought it profound and practical enough to re-post it here.
Forgiveness is an act of letting go. When we forgive we do not forget the harm someone caused or say that it does not matter. But we release bitterness and hatred, freeing ourselves to move on and make choices grounded in our strength rather than victimisation. Forgiveness opens our closed hearts to give and receive love fully.
Jack Kornfield offers a wonderful meditative practice of forgiveness:
[Sit] comfortably. Allow your eyes to close and your breath to be natural and easy. Let your body and mind relax. Breathing gently into the area of your heart, let yourself feel all the barriers you have erected and the emotions that you have carried because you have not forgiven—not forgiven yourself, not forgiven others. . . . Let yourself feel the pain of keeping your heart closed. Then, breathing softly, begin asking and extending forgiveness, reciting the following words, letting the images and feelings that come up grow deeper as you repeat them.
Asking Forgiveness of Others
Recite: “There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, have betrayed or abandoned them, caused them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger, and confusion.” Let yourself remember and visualize the ways you have hurt others. See and feel the pain you have caused out of your own fear and confusion. Feel your own sorrow and regret. Sense that finally you can release this burden and ask for forgiveness. Picture each memory that still burdens your heart. And then to each person in your mind repeat: “I ask for your forgiveness, I ask for your forgiveness.”
Offering Forgiveness to Yourself
Recite: “There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed myself. I have betrayed or abandoned myself many times through thought, word, or deed, knowingly and unknowingly.” Feel your own precious body and life. Let yourself see the ways you have hurt or harmed yourself. Picture them, remember them. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this and sense that you can release these burdens. Extend forgiveness for each of them, one by one. Repeat to yourself: “For the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of fear, pain, and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself, I forgive myself.”
Offering Forgiveness to Those Who Have Hurt or Harmed You
Recite: “There are many ways that I have been harmed by others, abused or abandoned, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word, or deed.” Let yourself picture and remember these many ways. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this past and sense that you can release this burden of pain by extending forgiveness whenever your heart is ready. Now say to yourself: “I now remember the many ways others have hurt or harmed me, wounded me, out of fear, pain, confusion, and anger. I have carried this pain in my heart too long. To the extent that I am ready, I offer them forgiveness. To those who have caused me harm, I offer my forgiveness, I forgive you.”
Let yourself gently repeat these three directions for forgiveness until you feel a release in your heart. For some great pains you may not feel a release but only the burden and the anguish or anger you have held. Touch this softly. Be forgiving of yourself for not being ready to let go and move on. Forgiveness cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial. Simply continue the practice and let the words and images work gradually in their own way. In time you can make the forgiveness meditation a regular part of your life, letting go of the past and opening your heart to each new moment with a wise loving-kindness.