Monday, December 13, 2010

Reason 1 Santa bothers me

This is intended to be the first of a series about that annoying fat elf that isn't really jolly he's actually a little crazy. Seriously, who laughs like that? Maybe it's all the cookies.

We confuse kids and ourselves with saying this is a season of giving when we treat it as a season of getting. We have them makes lists and write letters for all the stuff they want. We are focusing on what they are going to get. Then, maybe, give them just a little money or some craft supplies to make a few gifts. It is almost an after thought. The season is really about what they are going to get from Santa if they are good enough that is.

If you want it to be a season of giving focus on the giving not the getting. Make a list of who you are giving gifts to. Brainstorm together what special thing someone might like. Help them think about people who may need a little extra who may not have much at all. Refocus your list to reflect your values.

I guess if you value debt and stuff, then by all means make a long list for Santa.

Happy Advent

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Do you ever get bored with the bible?I I know we aren't suppose to say it, but sometimes I find the bible rather dull. The thing that gets me is I know it isn't suppose to be dull. I know these stories are interesting and exciting. Perhaps it is they way they are presented. Reading the Psalms responsively is not how to bring alive these works of powerful poetry. I can rarely pay attention to any of the readings at church. Perhaps we should bring in a forensics coach to teach people how to read. How can I make those stories come alive again?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Relative Belief

Will I raise my child to be able to choose whatever religion fits her best? No. I could do that if I didn't believe my beliefs are true, but then they wouldn't be my beliefs. I don't believe they are true just for me and for someone else there is another reality any more than I believe gravity is different for different people. Now the way people approach their faith practices may be different. Completely open to lots of different ways to connect to God. And I don't think that our little minds have God figured out. I also don't think we have physics figured out. We are doing the best we can with both mysteries. So, I will teach my child that there is a God who is big and mysterious and loving and people have been trying to understand what that means and have even written down some of that figuring out and we can read about their stories in the bible and writings from theologians and stories from different people. I look forward to continuing to unpack the mystery with her.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Life

My daughter is just over 16 weeks old, and in the past 3 1/2 months I have read more books on parenting and education than on theology, so I haven't been posting. But when I think back I have thought about theology, just in a different way. Having a new baby in my arms is so hard to describe. I feel like I have participated with God in creating a new life in a very real way. I feel vulnerable because I never thought I could love anyone this much. I feel like I'm looking at myself and getting a picture into a part of my life in which I have no memory. As I watch her grow I wonder who she is and feel privileged to be able to participate in the unfolding of her life. Wow. She is developing right before me. I am truly blessed. I am truly scared. I am truly exciting.

More to come.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Did we replace God with the Bible?

This is a thought I had the other day. It isn't well thought out yet, but I wanted to ask the question. We can get really hung up on what does the bible say exactly, even as we understand that it was written by people and from their perspective. I'm not saying it isn't important or other people's stories are not important, but what I wonder about as we dissect words and phrases they may not have ever meant to be taken apart are we loosing track of the big picture. In other words, does God get replaced by the bible. Do we end up worshiping the book?

This being said, I will continue to dissect what I read, mostly to get to the story behind my cultural lenses written by someone else through their cultural lens. But the point is that it points to God. Perhaps we shouldn't hold on too strongly to the parts that just don't makes sense.

God is too big to be contained in a book.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm a goat.

The shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep took care of those who are hungry or thirsty or in prison. The goats did not. Neither were aware of what they were doing. Both groups ask when they had done such a thing. Well, I'm a goat. I try to help those who are hungry or thirsty, but I know I do so much that puts me in the goat category unknowingly. I knowing know I do those that hurt people that I don't know about. Did you get that? I wish it wasn't true, but it is. Sometimes it is laziness to buy the easy cheap item and not caring who is impacted by my purchase. Sometimes it is complete lack of knowledge that I should make a different choice. Either way, I'm a goat.

Will I be thrown into a lake of fire for my goatness? Well, aren't I already. Don't our choices that disregard the well being of others cause problems in the world or of more personal significance problems in my community. Maybe the only reason it doesn't feel like a lake of fire is because we've gotten use to the temperature and can't even imagine a world where each cared for the other. The Kingdom is so close and so far away.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grace and Hell

I'm not sure what I have to say on this topic, but it is on my mind. The concept of hell seems awfully harsh to me. And the way people get to hell seems even harsher. I can't imagine sending someone there myself, so does that mean I have more mercy than God? Doesn't seem right. It also makes God's love conditional. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then you get to go to this nice place, but if you don't you can spend the rest of eternity in misery. You're either with me or against me. Yikes!

Some people's lives suck a lot while they are alive, then if they didn't do the right thing and believe in Jesus it goes from bad to hell. Makes you wonder why they even exist. Perhaps it would be better to never be born.

What if hell is a place on earth. The way we treat people can be rather hellish. There is plenty of weeping an gnashing of teeth already; I don't think we need a separate place for it.

Maybe I'm going to go to hell for this post.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kenosis and other fun words

I thought I should respond to myself after the Jesus didn't have to die post because I think something significant did happen. And perhaps this post will totally negate the other one. About 10 years ago (ish) I started asking "why did Jesus die?". I could "answer" the question with all the correct answers - Jesus died for my sins; Jesus died so that we might have life; Jesus died as a sacrifice; etc. But it didn't really make sense. Why exactly did Jesus have to die because of MY sins? What happened on the cross that took away my sins? It seemed like a cosmic fairy tale or something. I was not satisfied with any answer I was given, and I asked the question a lot. I read a lot. I thought I'd just walk away from the church because it just wasn't making sense, but somehow I couldn't.

So this is how I understand it now:

God is Life. Jesus is God made flesh or human. Jesus is Life. Sin is separation from God. Therefore, Sin is separation from Life. When Jesus died he descended into Hell. Hell is the complete absence of Life. Jesus completely emptied himself, kenosis, of Life becoming completely separate from God. No matter what I do, or what anyone else does, Jesus has "been there", has been that separate, that apart from God. But, the story doesn't stop there, no Easter without Good Friday, no Good Friday without Easter. Jesus came back from that farthest point. In a way saying there is no place you can go that you are too far away from God that God can't bring you back. Now every person has been given hope. It doesn't matter how awful you've been because God went a step further.

So should we continue to Sin so that Grace may abound. (Paul) By no means! Because sinning sucks. Sinning is going away from Life and away from community. It really isn't a good place to live. So, live free knowing that you can't get too far away from God, but getting far away isn't very pleasant, it's, well, hell.

So there you have it. How my little brain makes sense of what happened on the Cross.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


My little girl, who I am excited to see grow and become, has been rather active tonight. I wish I had a camera in my belly to watch her stretch and grow and punch me from the inside. I've been reading various websites about birth and parenting and education as I feel her move in my belly. I can't wait to see who she will be and what special gift she will bring to the world. I hope I am able to both facilitate her growth of discovering who God has created her to be and get out her way and not let my own hangups become hers.

I believe God has granted each of us a gift, something that is uniquely ours. It is a combination of our personality, our interests, our talents, and how all of these come together to impact the world around us. As part of a larger community we each play a special role in making that community whole. I am saddened when I see people who, for whatever reason, are not living out their gift. Because of abuse or addiction or circumstances they are not living fully. None of us are really, but sometimes it is more profound. I wonder who that person was suppose to be before they were dealt such a shitty hand. What are we missing in the world because some people are too busy just trying to survive to truly live or dies too young?

Can't wait to get to know you, little one. And could you tell me what your name is? Your parents are stuck.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

God is not a person

Something that has been bothering me lately is our tendency to personify God. God is not a person. Jesus was a person. The purpose of Jesus was to help us understand who God is. God is hard to picture, so we have Jesus. Jesus is God personified, but God the creator and God the Holy Spirit are not persons. God as he or she or it doesn't matter because God is beyond these labels.

When we talk about what God would do I think we miss the point of who God is. God is. That which makes an "is" is God. Sometimes when I'm trying to wrap my head around this it helps to substitute life or love in for God. God is life. God is love. So, does life forgive us when we lie or mean to someone or whatever, all those sin things? Those sin things we do separate us from Life or God. So, being a jerk is sinful because it isn't about life. Can we be forgiven? Yes, of course. Part of life and love is reconciliation. Love is bigger than our all the things we can do to mess it up. Love is patient and kind and... I can't remember the rest. But the more we push against Love or Life by doing things that takes us away from it the less we get to experience it. The less we experience God.

I'll leave it there for now. More to say, but one thought per post or I'll just ramble on too much.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking Communion again for the first time

I hear the words before communion almost every Sunday. They often just wash over me, but I don't always listen carefully. Recently, I was actually paying attention when they were said, perhaps because I was in a different setting, perhaps because the Holy Spirit was doing something in me.

Jesus took the bread and said "This is my body." (paraphrase) Well, it couldn't actually be his body; he was standing right there. So what was he saying? In that moment what I heard was, I am that which sustains and gives life. I am the simple piece of bread at your table. I am with you in this everyday item giving you life. It didn't seem to be about a moment, but a declaration of who Jesus is.

Jesus took the wine and said "This is my blood." (paraphrase) Jesus doesn't just sustain us, but adds to our life. Jesus gives life to our life. He brings meaning and celebration. He isn't just the ordinary bread but the wine which is a celebration. The joy we have from life comes from Jesus; he is present in those moments breathing life into the party so to speak.

So it seems we sell ourselves short when we put God in ritual. God is bigger than our rituals, our festivals. God is in our life. God is our life. It isn't about believing in some man in the sky, but about embracing the life we are given to the fullest. Live on. Live free. Jesus is part of it.