Archive for June, 2007

How Theology Should Work: Pt. 1, Theology as Poetry

Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: Theological Crap |

This is part one of a series of how theology should work according to me :

Theology is of course any talk or thoughts about the divine.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be the divine that I think about or that anyone else thinks about.  Theology is simply thoughts on G/god.  Everyone is a theologian in some way or another.  People around the world and in each of our communities have different ways of expressing this theology, from the deeply religious, to the seeking agnostic to the ardent atheist.  Of course I am approaching this from the angle of someone who does believe in God. 

For part one I would like to say that I believe theology should be poetry.  I know coming from me this is a little odd seeing that I usually hate poetry, but there’s no other way for me to say it. There is a beauty that “God talk” should bring out.  It should inspire and attempt to make whole something that is not.  In the book, The Gospel According to Star Wars: Faith, Hope, and the Force, John C. McDowell expresses it this way, “The poet…can help to make the world significant, displaying aspects of it in imaginative ways that would be otherwise missed or obscured by dominant scientific modes of ‘reading’.”  We should paint pictures with our words.  The words alone should remind us of the great landscape painters who were trying to portray something that no one else could see.  To bring to another person, something that can usually only be experienced if you are there.

Something that I’ve learned (and I think I have an unfortunate ability to do) is that inspirational theology should open up a mystery into the divine that could even move someone to tears (that’s the part I’m talking about, if I ever seriously get into some spiritual talk, a good portion of people end up crying).  This confused me at first and of course disturbed me.  That is until I began to realize that I’m not making someone sad or depressed.  Something is taking place inside of the other person that is moving their soul.  Something that they are dealing with, something that they are coming to an understanding of, something that has weighed heavily upon themselves is finally beginning to crack as they open their eyes to the grandness of the mystery. 

This is the poetry I’m speaking of.  In the best movie I’ve ever seen on the relationship between faith and reason, “Contact”, Jodie Foster’s character whispers the line, “They should have sent a poet!” as she gazes upon things in the universe that no other human eyes had seen.  This is what “God talk” should do.  Stand in awe of the mystery of it all, wonder at the immensity of it all and be humbled by your own smallness.  At the same time, that smallness and the immensity are mingled as we begin to realize that we are a part of something that is much bigger than ourselves.  There are times where we are participating not only in the present but also in the past and the future. 

There is that thread in each of us that connects every one of us to the other.  In the movie “Excalibur” Merlin solemnly tells Arthur, “When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.”  Here is an example of the poetry I’m talking about, especially in the context of our “divine” relationship with each other.  I think that even the early church understood this as Paul would essentially say, “When one person rejoices, we all rejoice, when one person suffers, we all suffer.”  Which will lead to the next post…theology should bring peace.

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Selling Salvation

Posted on June 20, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Uncategorized |

I did a guest blog on Maurice Broaddus’ web site entitled “Selling Salvation” it actually is a response to a question that someone had posed to me and having read it Maurice thought well enough of it to post.  It’s basically about the problem with our view of what evangelization is or should be…how to convert people, etc.  It’s a stance that doesn’t go with most main stream views of evangelization, hope you find it interesting.

Selling Salvation

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Your God is an Idol

Posted on June 20, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings |

God has become an idol for so many people.  Lately I’ve been wondering how to overcome such a thing.  First, let me define what I mean by God being an idol.  God does say to have no other gods before him and he does say you are not to have idols.  When you pray, what are you praying to?  How do you envision God when you close your eyes and pray?  Could you envision a woman?  A dog?  An it?  I once had a theology professor ask us to go home and pray the “Our Father”, when we returned to class she asked us what we saw when we prayed…there were the classic responses of a gentle old man, a picture of Jesus, etc.  The next time we met, she asked us to pray “Our Mother”, then she asked the same question.  Some people couldn’t do it, it was too sacrilege for them.  Finally she asked us to pray “Our IT”.  Almost everyone couldn’t “do it”, they didn’t “feel” anything, etc.   The lesson she was trying to teach us is that we more often than not have an “image” an “idol” set up in place of the God who is there. 

This was quite disturbing to me.  How much of an idol had I set up to pray to?  The question is, have I made a God in my own image or developed a God in some image period?  In the preface to N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus he says, “I have three concerns throughout the present work.  The first is for historical integrity in talking about Jesus.  Many Christians have been, frankly, sloppy in their thinking and talking about Jesus, and hence, sadly, in their praying and in their practice of discipleship.  We cannot assume that by saying the word Jesus, still less the word Christ, we are automatically in touch with the real Jesus who walked and talked in first-century Palestine, the Jesus who, according to the letter to the Hebrews, is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We are not at liberty to manufacture a different Jesus.” (p.2)

When you go to South America, you see a black Jesus, in the north, a white Jesus, in the East, an Oriental Jesus.  That’s not necessarily dangerous, it’s the Jesus that we assume to be real, the Father we assume to be real, the Holy Spirit we assume to be real, the gospel we assume to be real that are dangerous.  Many of us have already made the bible an idol; don’t put your drinks on it, don’t throw one away, etc.  Have you put your understanding or vision of God up on such a pedestal that it can never be changed?  How flexible is your vision/understanding of God?  Can you envision the feminine aspects of God, the shapelessness of God?  It’s next to impossible to have no vision of what God is to you.  But we can’t let it get so static, so impossibly set in our heads that we can’t see God for God’s self.  God is so close yet so far, to use Philip Yancey’s book title, we truly are reaching for the Invisible God.  Continue to reach, continue to stretch, continue to let God mold you and mold himself to you.

Peace to you all!

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