jesus today

check out more of this, here.

first question that popped into my head when i saw this was: should i be offended by this? then i thought about the image for a little bit more and realized what i was actually looking at.

that my first thought  was regarding the offensive nature of this image is particularly telling, and i realize that much of what i think of jesus has been a bit too domesticated. indeed, jesus would probably make a habit of making me cringe.

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don miller @ the dnc

don miller gives the benediction at the dnc – very cool.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

christian life

i was recently chatting with a friend at his house.

i told him about one of my students.  he was given an assignment to create a powerpoint presentation on his own life, and one of the slides he created was entitled “future goals.”  one of his goals was, “not go to jail.”  i asked him about the goal and he shared about how his mother, father, and brother are all currently in prison.  

teaching has felt like ministry to me, so it was no wonder that i felt conflicted about how to respond to him.  as his teacher, i wanted to encourage him to stay on the right track; as a christian, i wanted to tell him there is hope in christ.  obviously, i could not legally share with him the latter.  so i wonder, what does it mean to be a christian teacher?  after all, every teacher — christian or not — would’ve encouraged him to “stay on the right track.”  do i have a unique message to share? Continue reading

health & wealth gospel

this is a video where john piper lets his feelings regarding the prosperity (word of faith, name it & claim it, health & wealth) gospel be known.  he’s not a fan, and i think his message is true for middle class/ well-to-do folks like me and my peers.  

…. but it is interesting to see where this message flourishes the most.  it’s been noted that the balance of christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, and the theology of these pentecostal faith communities in places like africa and southeast asia is largely shaped by the prosperity gospel. putting your faith in jesus, congregants are told, will yield an improvement on health and social status. Continue reading

a hermeneutic of trust

recently, i’ve been really interested in how to approach a “text” — movies, books, websites, scripture, people, cultures, etc.  what kinda predispositions should i have when i read?

i now take as a given that a text can never be read objectively; that is, i cannot wholly attain the “truth” behind a text because the way i read is always influenced by my worldview. i arrived at this assumption sometime in undergrad, when i learned to read texts under the tutelage of german and french guys interested in deconstructing language: they exposed how cultural systems and texts are constructed by idealogies that further the interests of those in power. as peter rollins puts it, deconstruction is about finding the “lie” in “belief.”

under this assumption, many folks (like me) approach basically all texts with a hermeneutic of suspicion. there is always a hidden agenda: the text is always phallocentric, jingoistic, tinged with religious dogma, or otherwise part of the vast right wing conspiracy, and i would be a blind fool to not recognize that my support of such texts means i support everything that’s wrong with the status quo.

i actually don’t think such a posture is a bad thing; it’s part of what makes an effective reader, in my opinion. but i’ve been curious: how should christians approach the bible? what should our bias be? toward suspicion still, even though we still choose to follow jesus?

richard hays argues here that we should read the bible with a hermenuetic of trust. this does not mean, he reminds us, that we should blindly give the bible a free pass on everything, or that we should never ask questions of the bible. to sum up his argument, he says that the task for christians reading the bible is to “hear” the text. our reading of the scripture should model and foster trust in god. texts are always critiqued but never interpreted; exposed by never exposited upon. all literary criticism ought to be founded on a love for the text.

surprised by hope

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Think of Oscar Wilde’s wonderful scene in his play Salome, when Herod hears reports that Jesus of Nazareth has been raising the dead. “I do not wish him to do that,” says Herod. “I forbid him to do that. I allow no man to raise the dead. This man must be found and told that I forbid him to raise the dead.”

There is the bluster of the tyrant who knows his power is threatened, and I hear the same tone of voice not just in the politicians who want to carve up the world to their advantage but also in the intellectural traditions that have gone along for the ride.

But Wilde’s next, haunting line is the real crunch, for us as for Herod: “Where is this man?” demands Herod. “He is in every place, my lord,” replies the courtier, “but it is hard to find him.”

[surprised by hope, n.t. wright, p. 74-75]

this book is good — i highly recommend it.

check out this interview he did with time magazine shortly before the book came out, where he briefly explained why the popular christian understanding of heaven is wrong.  this isn’t what the book is primarily about, but it is one of many insightful arguments he makes.

open source church

there’s a church out in minnesota called solomon’s porch. every tuesday, there is a community wide meeting where the lead pastor, congregants, and anyone else who wants to show up can gather for the purpose of constructing their community’s theology (which raises the question: what does it mean for theology to be localized without being relativized?). regardless of theological training or personal beliefs about jesus, an individual can go and make a robust imprint on the theology of the church because the product of the weekly gathering is the following sunday’s sermon.

i’m sure there’s some sort of filter in place, but in case anyone wonders if the pastor is weeding out dissenting opinions, their commitment to being an open source church is further demonstrated on sundays — during service, there is space for community dialogue where anyone’s voice is welcome.

it’s pretty crazy because we know americans are religiously illiterate and biblically illiterate, so one might legitimately be concerned about the blind leading the blind. i share the same concern, but again, i gotta believe there are some filters in place.

on a purely theoretical level, i admire their boldness, because allowing anyone a seat at the discussion table strikes me as a radical act of love with some interesting parallels to the woman’s annointing of jesus : can one truly claim to love another without leaving themself open to the other’s influence on some level? i’m not sure if you can.