Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mclaren Chapters 4-6

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I am combining chapters four, five, and six, because I haven't had time to keep up with it all. In chapter four Mclaren talks about the revolutionary nature of Jesus message. Mclaren talks about how Jesus message is revolutionary because it addresses and is concerned about the poor, children, and the outcast. He also asserts that "Violent revolutions...aren't revolutionary. Noisy regime changes are utterly predictable--brought about by displays of power and hollow promises and indomitable wealth."...while the message of Jesus, by contrast may be called the most revolutionary.....because...."The radical revolutionary empire of God is here, advancing by reconciliation and peace, expanding by faith, hope, and love---beginning with the poorest, the weakest, the meekest, and the least"...While I am on board with the advancement of the kingdom via reconciliation and peace I am not sure to what degree the "radical revolutionary empire of God is here", now. As I look across the religious landscape in America today I am not particularly optimistic regarding how many folks "really" believe peace is the way of reconciliation and advancement of the Kingdom of God. Many, if not the majority of Christians might believe that reconciliation with God is achieved via peaceful means, by accepting Christ as Savior, but I am not convinced they believe reconciliation with each other or with our enemies can be achieved through peaceful means. And, it is important to remember that reconciliation with God was not achieved peacefully but rather through the death of Jesus by means of crucifixion which is one of the most violent and barbaric practices ever.

In chapter six Mclaren about Jesus use of parables. Mclaren states that "Parables
entice their hearers into new territory...and...they invite the listener to ask questions...and...have the power to transform the hearer into interactive, interdependent,humble,inquisitive, and persistent people"....Regarding why Jesus spoke in parables Mclaren says, "Because his message wasn't merely aimed at conveying information. It sought to precipitate something more important: the spiritual transformation of it's hearers."...and...according to Mclaren Jesus hid the "explicit" truth so that "we simply wouldn't hear with our ears or read with our eyes on a literal level: we must invest ourselves in an imaginative search for meaning---a meaning that will surprise us when we discover it for ourselves"....I think Mclaren is onto something regarding Jesus desire for us to explore the meaning of life
ourselves with an imaginative, inquisitive and persistent spirit. For many years I relied too much on the opinions, experiences, and authority of others regarding the meaning/purpose of life, morality, and how life "ought" to be lived in general. I don't mean to imply that one should not listen intently to the thoughts and experiences of others but at some point one needs to take ownership of his or her own life and embrace one's own thoughts, experiences, intuition, and the "spirit" that resides in us all....otherwise....one will be simply living out the hopes, dreams,values, and passions of others and I sincerely don't believe that is God's intention for anyone....Over the past six months I have also become more aware of the need for imagination in our lives. We tend to associate imagination with the arts but I believe imagination is something that can be applied to every aspect of our lives....politics, child rearing, our jobs, problem solving, and our love making...but...imagination is squelched or non existent whenever we simply defer to the authority and experiences of others....I also appreciated Mclaren's comment about hearing and reading beyond the literal. For some time now I have felt that the teachings and life of Jesus were intended to inspire his followers and future generations to live a life of faith to God as Jesus did. The Bible exhorts us to follow Jesus but we have to work out our own salvation with imagination in our own way in the context of the 21st century. To me, that means we have a responsibility to forge our own path with the gifts and callings we have which means my life won't look the same as others but that is O.K. because I don't think God ever intended us to be religious zombies who simply follow the marching orders of others no matter what titles or intelligence they may possess.....

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Learning to Drive

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I've put low priority on my blogging activities for the past month because I have devoted my time, energy, and emotions to face to face interactions with friends, my two sons, and let's just say a special relationship with "a daughter of Eve". Since I moved into my new house three months ago I have gotten a new lease on life and have been spending a lot of face to face time with friends. It's been great and good for my soul....My two sons now have their driving permits so I am trying to spend more time helping them learn how to drive. It's been a real challenge for them since my car has a manual transmission but their teenage cocky attitude, that I know how to drive dad, came to a crashing end as soon as they tried to shift from first to second gear and at this point they can barely go up and down the street let alone drive in traffic....I haven't kept up with the Mclaren series but I will try to post something in the next couple of days. I have been reading the book and haven't missed a single discussion group meeting in the last two months at the local Congregational Church. The discussion group time is limited to about twenty to thirty minutes, which is much less than what I would like but it has provided an opportunity for me to get to know some of the people at the church. During this time I have gotten to know the pastor and we seem to share a kindred spirit. She, like me, is devoted to a spirit of non-violence regarding public policy and interpersonal relationships. She also emphasizes an inclusive attitude and message in many of her sermons and the church reflects that attitude. There are a number of openly gay committed couples in the congregation and from what I can gather there is somewhat a mixture of political conservatives and liberals but the left leaning crowd does seem to be in the majority but they generally don't push their agenda from what I can gather...The pastor and I have read many of the same books and it is refreshing just to talk to someone who knows and understands where you are coming from. The other day I found out she is a big Ken Wilbur and Marcus Borg fan....Unfortunately, the pastor is retiring in July. I will hate to see her go....The weather has been way above normal here for two weeks running. It is supposed to get up to 90 degrees tomorrow which is twenty degrees above normal for this time of the year. Next week it supposed to get back down to normal but for now I am sitting around the house in shorts and no shirt....Well, I think I wrap this up for now and head over to my sons house for a driving lesson and on my way I'll say a quick prayer to Saint Patrick for safety as I put my life on the line driving around with my two sons. God have mercy on me....and....if I survive, I'll head off to a special Celtic service at All Saints Episcopal Church later this evening with "a daughter of Eve"....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dodging Cupid's Arrows

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I haven't posted anything on my blog now for over two weeks. It's not that I haven't had ample time or that something is wrong. To the contrary, everything, for the most part, is going very well...but...I confess I do have a "situation" that has been keeping me away from regular cyberspace activities. It all started about a month ago when I got hit by one of Cupid's arrows. At first I thought it might have been a stray arrow that hit me but I have since come to the conclusion that the chubby little cherub knew exactly what he was doing. Since my initial encounter Cupid has now appeared on numerous occasions and while I have dodged my fair share of his arrows I confess he has also hit me on more occasions than I expected...and...this past week-end I was unable to dodge the onslaught of arrows Cupid sent my way...So what do I do now?...I suppose I could go into hiding and try to keep out of sight or get some armor to protect myself but at this point I am afraid the deadly potion from his numerous hits have made their way into my bloodstream and since I don't have an antidote I guess I am just going to have to suck it up and ride this one out. Mind you, it's not that I am suffering or anything but when one gets hits as many times as I have over the past month a sort of madness sits in that makes doing the mundane chores of life difficult. Fortunately, the madness eventually goes away so it is generally best to just go with the flow which is what I am trying to do but in the meantime it's sucking up my time and keeping me away from my computer. I've fallen way behind now on my Mclaren reports and I there are a number of topics I did intend to write about but I am sure you all understand that when Cupid's arrows hit their target there ain't much a man can do about it except surrender to the fate of the god's and their chubby little messenger.