Rest in Peace Leonard Cohen
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
Rest in Peace Leonard Cohen
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
I stumbled upon some material today and I felt called to share it with my audience.
It was a group of men discussing their lives in an honest and safe forum. They discussed their attraction to men and how they were exploring this personal journey alongside their Christian faith.
Many of the men talked about a call to celibacy, Others spoke about Mixed-orientation marriage, and others still talked about same-sex relationships.
The common theme was an honest and open discussion. The discussion wasn’t mired in assumptions or limits.
What was so striking about this discussion was its depth and from this experience I started to realize something.
I realized that these men and woman were having a discussion so much more real and honest than we have really ever had in the Church. That the stories and experiences these individuals were sharing far surpassed the content of the discussion we usually associate with the study/debate of sexuality.
These men and woman had lived this experience and they where exploring their lives with God and with friends with an ethos of Love.
They where sharing different perspectives and different narratives of each others lives. They where there for each other and talked as a family.
Lastly there wasn’t a bitterness to the institutions and individuals who had so greatly failed them. Instead the discussion was how to be part of the mission of the church in the most faithful and honest way.
Isn’t that the way of God though. To empower the victims, powerless, and marginalized in order for them to be a witness of the greatness and paradigm smashing power of Love.
I think there are seeds being planted in many of these communities that will bear a fruit so beautiful it is hard to express. I think a lot of these communities will be remembered in glory for being a witness and for tending to discussions that will lead to a harmony and communion we haven’t seen or been able to envision.
This isn’t a post about LGBT or LGBTQIA affirmation or negation in the traditional sense of the discussion we have so many times had.
This is about a new type of discussion and one more fitting for the christian community. A beautiful conversation infused with the breath of growth, honesty, and exploration that I believe is going to bloom into a wonderful flower that all of us enjoy.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
— Proverbs 27:17
There is something happening in Christianity right now which we need to address. It is the trend of many of my brothers and sisters (Myself included) to act in ways mirroring the world while preaching against it.
More often than not in the Conservative/Traditionalist branches of the faith we see a frenzied attack or stubborn refusal to delve into subjects. This type of attitude and approach is hurting the Christian witness.
A great many Christians feel they are under attack and I understand this. The fact of the matter is that the world has always been defined by scripture as hostile to those trying to live the religious life.
The world is based on a paradigm of fear of death/loss and self centered motivations. This kind of a framework ultimately leads to things like Greed, Arrogance, Gossip, Dishonesty, Etc. The problem is that it becomes more and more pervasive as that attitude and mindset is adapted to and internalized. Ones rational almost becomes imprisoned in this framework and so does the community and larger society.
The paradigm of the world has left a lot of people exploited and in a great deal of pain. It is appropriate to be angry about being hurt and about others being hurt. It is appropriate to be sad for being part of that and feeling great remorse for the harm you have done to yourself and others.
It is however not correct to start viewing yourself as “Saved” and the rest of the world and its inhabitants as worthy of your wrath, ridicule, and slander.
We are all suffering and we are all injured and scarred/scared. Most likely in ways we aren’t fully aware of or understand.
As the spirit of the world is one that only leads to alienation from oneself and others, The spirit of heaven is one that builds communion and heals/lifts ever higher.
The spirit of heaven seems foolishness to the wisdom derived from living in the world.
It is the spirit of lending without expecting to get anything back, Selling all your possessions and giving them to the poor. Devote your life to feeding the hungry and thirsty, Welcoming the stranger into your home and to partake of your blessings, Making sure those without clothes and support have so, Tending to the sick and dying, Visiting and befriending the prisoners and most hated amongst men.
Lastly the spirit of heaven calls on people to take no bag, no money, no food, or extra clothes and to preach that the truth isn’t the spirit of the world which seems to be unavoidable and all that there is. That the truth is that death has been defeated and no longer has a sting and we can live free from fear. That life can begin to be about healing and finding our proper place/meaning and that this is how God wants us to live. He wants us to prosper and be happy and be reconciled to each other and then to praise him not out of duty but out of sheer gratitude and happiness for the new lives we have.
This is what it means to die to the old self and be born again.
A big part of this is changing the culture.
We as Christians need to remember that it’s not only about having the right propositions (Gospel) it is about the attitude and way in which we live and witness to it.
If we address peoples points of debate and or other ideas with slander or worse manipulation to suit our narratives we strengthen the world and not the witness of the Kingdom of God.
There is a golden dawn in really delving into these discussions with people from other points of view and understanding their narrative. In fostering an environment of peace and discussion we will be able to better witness and the light of the gospel will clearly shine.
So in summary please don’t lash out at people with other view points. Instead foster the “Fruits of the Holy Spirit” within you: Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
And meditate day and night on the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
If you do this you may be amazed at how you start relating to others and remember if one is a Christian than one believes everyone is their relative and like a brother, sister, mother, or father.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
“Theology is the work of the children of Adam who are slowly learning what it is to be the children of God.”
John Webster was a notable contemporary British theologian of the Anglican Communion.
He was an expert in the work of Eberhard Jüngel and Karl Barth (Two of the great theologians of our era).
It is very sad to hear of his passing. I recommend anyone that wishes to send some well wishes to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church to do so.
In Christ we are all one.
“Theology arises from God’s presence, by which it is endlessly astonished and to which it never ceases to turn in humility & hope.”
When I think of “Godlessness” I think of pain, suffering, drug addiction, prostitution, hopelessness, warlords, corrupt politicians, and the great gnashing of teeth experienced by humanity from the white picket fence suburban family to the crack addicted thief.
We all touch upon this reality of what it means to live in the darkness and have its mark upon us both physically, mentally, and spiritually. It makes us fearful, selfish, ignorant, and all other marks of Death and its domain.
To be a Christian I think is to believe that God has bridged this infinite distance between God and God. This chasm of despair and hopelessness.
“God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms…. Because no other could do it, he himself went the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion…. This tearing apart, over which supreme love places the bond of supreme union, echoes perpetually across the universe in the midst of silence, like two notes, separate yet melting into one, like pure and heart-rending harmony. This is the Word of God. The whole creation is nothing but its vibration.”
—Simone Weil, Waiting for God, pp. 123-24.
That “Godlessness” is no longer something that doesn’t fall under the Loving Sovereignty of God’s rule.
“Descent into Hell, in which God’s presence in the world in Jesus is seen as his journey into the furthest deserts of despair and alienation. It is the supreme image of his freedom, to go where he is denied and forgotten…. He comes to his new and risen life, his universal kingship, by searching out all the forgotten and failed members of the human family.”
—Rowan Williams, The Truce of God (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), p. 30.
In the end, love wins.
We as Christians need to stop associating ourselves with Republican and Conservative ideologies.
We have a gospel and it doesn’t need to be interpreted through a Republican or Conservative narrative.
The crazy and xenophobic drivel in regards to immigration.
The patronizing and demeaning way woman are regarded.
The anti-christian talk about “annihilating” our “enemies”.
We as a group need to wake up because this foolish talk alongside tired and stupid apologetic formulations is what is the true enemy of Christianity. We have done more harm to our faith than everything we consider “Other”.
The margin isn’t even close.
God Is Not A Republican, Or a Democrat and we have our own mission which is very very different than the current political one.
So instead of holding up signs which make you look like you can’t fathom complex scenarios and realities try just being a listening ear and opening your mind.
St. Therese of Lisieux otherwise known as “Little Flower” was a wonderful image of Christian piety.
As a young girl Therese had an incredibly soft heart. Any inner wall she built to contain her wild emotions crumpled immediately before the tiniest comment. In fact even if Therese imagined that someone was criticizing her or didn’t appreciate her, she burst into tears. Then she would cry because she had cried!
This soft heart though fond great favor with the Lord.
As Therese began to grow up she wondered how she could be like the great Saints discussed in the Church. With her soft heart and small demeanor she knew she must become a nun!
In the convent Therese took it upon herself to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining — so that she was often given the worst leftovers. One time she was accused of breaking a vase when she was not at fault. Instead of arguing she sank to her knees and begged forgiveness. These little sacrifices cost her more than bigger ones, for these went unrecognized by others. No one told her how wonderful she was for these little secret humiliations and good deeds.
Since most of Therese’s sisters were also nuns at the convent many began to believe the convent would be taken over by the family. It was at this point that the prioress asked for the ultimate sacrifice from poor Therese. The prioress asked Therese to forever remain a novice, in order to allay the fears of the others that the three sisters would push everyone else around. This meant she would never be a fully professed nun, that she would always have to ask permission for everything she did.
It was in these actions that Therese began to discover her way of being with God. In reading the holy scripture “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” Therese found her calling: She would stay little and become less and less so Jesus could be more and more.
“Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places…in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it…My vocation is Love!”
St. Therese never wrote any great theological treatises in fact much of what we know of her spiritual life is from her journal which became “The Story of a Soul”. Yet Therese discovered a great truth. One is not suppose to be like others. One is suppose to find their unique identity with God. In finding oneself one can discover the ethos of their own life, much how little Therese found her “Little way” to God.
Search and be brave in finding your true self with God. Then find your special way in which to shine forth not only with your light but with almighty Gods.
You will do amazing things and will be happier than ever knowing who exactly you are and knowing you are absolutely amazing.
Thanks to Catholic Online for the information and the inspiration for this write-up 🙂
“We do not need to be saved from God. We need to be saved from our sins, from the hate, greed, prejudice, and violence that have roots in every human heart and found collective expression through the religious and political powers that killed Jesus.”
– Chuck Queen (Baptist Minister in Frankfort, Kentucky, United States. Author of the blog “A Fresh Perspective”)
Although there are some aspects of Chuck Queen’s theology that I disagree with or subjects I think he treats to lightly I respect the man a great deal. He is able to eloquently draw a readers attention to important mistakes in Christian Intellectual History.
As prominent psychologists may speak of a collective consciousness maybe we as Christian thinkers should speak about a “Collective Christian Consciousness”. The reality of being a human is that we sometimes function on a meta-premise level.
Somewhere along the line the general North American & European meta-view of God became one of terrifying and judgmental. It is true that scripture gives witness to a God of frightening power and incredible vengeance yet this is within a greater context.
We as Christians need to address this issue and replace the meta-view of God with the God who preached the Sermon on the Mount, the God who said he was the same as the starving, the stranger, the poor, the sick, and the prisoner. Only when we as people associate the word “God” with “Love” have we succeeded. The kind of love that when you think about it you smile and feel less burdened and dreary. The kind of love that makes you weak at the knees. The kind of love that reminds you what life is all about. The kind of love that inspires you. The kind of love that makes you really smile. The kind of love that makes you love back.
God does not want human suffering and when we think of him as such and create a world system around that we end up in the same world that we have now. One in which violence and prejudice run rampant. One in which power and dominion are wide spread. It is not the world of Jesus who lived a life of life of humility, prophetic courage, compassion, nonviolence, and self-giving for the good of others. Jesus died the way he lived and his death drew attention to a meta-background that attempts at any turn to snuff out the light.
The 21st century has been a rough one for the Catholic Church, Priests, and Christianity as a whole.
I think it’s time we recognize Priests and Pastors for the wonderful work they do.
What this world needs is to stop looking at the worst and living in the mud and to lift itself into the light of the promised world to come. Truth be told Priests play a very special part in that and it’s important we get back to viewing them as ministers of that most special commission.
**For some reason WordPress deleted half of this post** I will re-post the full piece when I am done re-writing. 😛 What a bummer….
In my opinion to be a Christian one should have a Christocentric theology. This means that Jesus Christ should be the central theme about which all other theological positions/doctrines are oriented.
This is a lot harder task than it would initially seem. At this point in my life I feel that the gospel has always been available for humanity and yet the narratives that we place it within and or the apologetics by which we implore more often than not contradict and or confuse the brilliance of the gospel.