Friday, October 21, 2005


after typing out a heartfelt salvation message in Icarus' comment line, ezekiel decided to start a blog of his own. to ezekiel's first post, icarus replied:
I for one hope you do try to convert me and others, as you said, it would really be wrong of you not to.

nice comment. it appears as though there are two things that irk (?) people about believers:
1) those being overzealous and underthinking...
2) those being (you guessed it) underzealous and overthinking...

the message and the mission must travel together as equal partners the way faith and reason must.

those being overzealous and underthinking are often pointed out and pointed at. no point going on about that here- plenty of blogs already chronicle the mistakes made in God's name.

but as to the problem of 'underzeal', i think that it begins to take root when the recipients of grace become so used to that gift of God's mercy that they lose their edge. instead of preaching the gospel (which is supposed to be, by the way, GOOD news but that is also a whole nother blog) of grace to those who have not yet freely received it, Jesus' beloved start preaching a gospel of permission. the fear of disagreement and the resulting apologetics that will ensue is just too great a risk, so the rescue mission that Jesus died to launch never leaves the training compound. it remains simply another good idea which can be taken up in discussion and debate, like a right-thinking foreign policy with no actual action or support.

so we end up with this passive-aggressive gospel that says 'well, i would have preached, but he didn't ask and i didn't want to force my views upon him. he had every opportunity to hear the gospel- i was ready to share, but didn't want to jeopardize the relationship we have by getting into religion stuff too soon...'

yet, when a person like icarus asks a heavy question, believers can find themselves in over their head because comfy sunday-school answers don't deliver the goods to someone who has already heard the rhetoric and is looking for something beyond that. people like icarus can be tough and intimidating, not because of anything malicious on their part, but because they ask questions which challenge the things that believers mightn't have ever questioned.

in my view, walking the faith journey side by side strengthens everyone involved in that journey in some way- if they let it happen.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

ethnocentric rut

in poitu varam, marcy said:
Jolly (you) have been hanging around in Sr Lanka and those other godforsaken Buddhist counturies and Bigbro tells me Jolly (you) came back not so Jolly (was you at one time) because you are disillusioned that a bunch of godless Buddhists who managed not to die in the tsunami and get reincarnated are not embracing Jesus the way Jolly (You) envisioned they'd embrace Jesus when you brought them THE WORD from the land of Wal-Mart and the New York Yankees.

to which jollybeggar replied:
lack of 'jollyness'? only when it comes to westerners who seem to think that whatever they think is the way it is because they think it. far too much presumption here
at my school it is one-act play season. i hate the majority of the plays people choose: forty minutes to an hour of adolescent anxst being enacted on a local stage is more than i can handle in one sitting- and usually there are two to three plays in production that make it to the stage for the big playdown. i mean, there are only so many ways that you can say it's tough to be a teenager these days before we all start nodding our heads out of both nauseated overfamiliarity and general drowsiness going 'uh huh- listen more- got it.'

so whenever i choose a show, i try to find something bizarre or otherwise 'alternative.' (my absolute favourite show to do has been "The Handicapper General" based on the classic short story "Harrison Bergeron" by kurt vonnegut- but that's a whole nother blog)

this year, melodrama is my chosen vehicle of creative expression. there's something really madcap and exhilerating about double entendres, over-acting and badly choreographed violence. imagine how surprised and delighted i was when i read this scathing social commentary wedged in between a pratfall and some under-the-radar innuendo:

aunt absinthe: never fear, our old friend henry homeward the banker will never evict us from our humble hovel! ten times already, he has stumbled in vain up the steep and winding mountain path! today will be the eleventh, and surely he will once again give us a break!

chastity: surely, because we are pure, humble, and innocent-- not to mention white, anglo-saxon, and protestant-- the powers above will bless us all our lives! this morning, for instance, the powers above have furnished both sunshine and birdies! (etc etc etc)

did the western arrogance of that cynical statement hit you the way it did me? the powers above apparantly smile down upon the WASPs in the crowd, completely tonedeaf to the sound of texas radio and the big beat in all that effort to make the hills alive with the sound of music...

at least, you would think that to hear some of us talk.

i've been thinking a lot over the last couple of days about the descriptive compound word using by marcy in her post-holiday greeting: Godforsaken

now, i know that marcy was probably being sarcastic because she sometimes writes that way, but the wordchoice carries with it a pile of that western presumption- and is probably dead in line with how many of us view life in our circumstancially spiritual walk on the tame side. we presume that God has turned his back on those who do not somehow line up with our money-laced belief systems. we believe this because we are in charge. it does not matter to us what Jesus said to pilate about all authority and dominion being granted by God in the first place, except that we can bolster our ethnocentrically inflated picture of our own importance using this as a prooftext.

whatever- i sound more cynical than i actually feel today. sometimes the words just write themeselves... you buy that?

anyway, here's what i've been thinking: it is we who are godforsaken, for it is we who are God-forsaking, shutting ourselves out of his promises of life in abundance in favour of a bit of controlfreakishly self-satisfying (but spiritually counterfeit) powertripping.

we turn our backs on faith and a closer walk with the creator of all, choosing instead the cushion of control and commerce. we climb up onto a homemade throne and sit on high, making judgements upon all the unwitting subjects below, like the little child wearing the paper crown sitting atop a tall ladder in his parents' backyard. failing to recognize that all any of the other kids have to do, due to a ridiculously high centre of gravity and some really poor perspective, is hit the ladder and watch the man who would be king become humpty dumpty in one transformative application of basic physics, we base our claim to dominion and God's favour not upon the blood of Jesus shed for all but upon the stuff we can pile up underneath us.

what do we read about pride in proverbs 16.18?
what do we read about the end of things in matthew 24?
it's all there at

marcy is mistaken. i'm not disillusioned with the sri lankan buddhists, nor with the hindus, nor with the muslims. there is a thrilling movement taking place in sri lanka right now that i desperately want to be part of... but i want it to happen here too.

if there's disillusionment anywhere in me, it's with how cold, graceless and ungrateful people can be in our part of the world- especially those who should know better because they have God's word easily accessable at work, rest or play- even online- and yet they continue to choose not to read it... and it bothers me that part of our milieu involves marginalizing others whom he loves.

we are the God forsaking- we have turned away from both accepting and expressing his true love. interesting how God often gets blamed for our rebellions.
don't stray from the rhythm
don't fall out of tune
the good book says that dead flies taint the richest perfume

i saw the men of vision
hiding their poor decisions
under plastic smiling faces and in forgotten places
someone cried 'over here'
and where the mud had cleared
were names and dates all written- drowned like unwanted kittens

i saw the corporate powers
in padded leather towers
cultivating a warm environement for an early beach retirement
but for the common labour
mourning their union saviours
punching the final timecard and living off of weeds in the backyard

i saw some good intentions
at leadership conventions
but intrinsic motivation leads egocentric nations
creator sent his son
a legacy to spawn
but rather than explore it man chooses to ignore it

i wrote and recorded these lyrics circa 1986-8... it is not the consistency of the east that's got me going here- it's the changelessness of the west. the bit about dead flies comes from the book of ecclesiastes... the same book that claimed about twenty-five hundred years ago that there was nothing new under the sun.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

singing 'grace' before the sunday meal

teri said...
i really want people's eyes to open spiritually. Plain and simple...Check it out...

so i did... and this is what i read:
This is the one day of the week that I don't like working. Those people that have gone to church and now they want to be waited on. They're arrogant and give off this, "How dare you work on Sunday", and the, "They are not giving me much money for a tip because they gave to the church"... If they truly believe that I shouldn't be working on Sunday, they should not bring their sorry asses out to eat on this day...

this post made me sad in the same way that the situations described make God sad, i think.

(good point about our sorry asses forcing businesses to be open. if it wasn't worth it, no one would bother to open up on sunday would they? )

here's what i began to say in response to this one post that stands for the thoughts of thousands yet unposted...

i remember, as a churched kid, being embarrassed when all the christians would just invade a restaurant and start 'singing grace' and all that. i hear you with the bad tip bit too!

however, i need to tell you that all believers aren't like that. that wasn't what Jesus was about- still isn't. he abhorred behaviour like that when displayed by the religious leaders of his day. Jesus' strongest words were towards graceless followers of God.

grace- now there's a heavy word. it means, in today's vernacular, giving someone a break even when they haven't done anything special to somehow 'deserve' it. really, in the presence of a perfect and holy God, none of us deserves anything but a busload of hell for our own spiritual rebellions, great and small, anyway.

yet for some reason God chooses to use regular people to do his work because he is about relationships, not control. the level to which we extend grace to others is a direct indicator as to the relationship that exists between ourselves and the author of all good things including grace itself.

sadly, that is probably not particularly good news for the person who serves a bunch of graceless 'would-be-if-not-for-the-state-of-their-heart-and-their-actual-behaviour christians.'
but let me thank you on their behalf.

let me bless you for serving them and for not spitting in their food or otherwise strengthening the dividing walls that seperate them from the world that Jesus has charged them to reach for his glory with his love.

let me bless you for extending undeserved kindness and giving people a break even though they have something else coming.

and let me bless you for your grace. it certainly won't make the world colder... and maybe somewhere in there a heart will recognize the kindness that God authored being extended to them through your humble service.

further reading?

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