Friday, August 17, 2012

More reason for no war

CBS News reports that July saw 38 suicides amongst active duty and the Army alone.


If 38 people died in one month from a certain flu strain or salmonella or something, there'd be a nation-wide outcry and even panic. If 38 people died in one month due to drinking from plastic bottles, we'd outlaw them.

The answer is not to increase services to service people. That should happen regardless and many times over what is currently offered. I'm tempted to note again the billions of dollars that go into weaponry and "defense" and question just if and how a small percentage of that should be directed to post-war healing. But the fact may be that no amount of money can be thrown at such problems as a solution for healing.

The answer is not to have wars, or at the very least,
consider the morality of how we go about having them.

I can't do much of anything about that.

But the Church can still stand in as a means of grace in these situations.

Here again is Dr. Stanley on the moral injuries of war:


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ecclesiological, Ecclesiastical, Ecclesial

As I gear up for a possible re-entry into academia and have been thinking through research possibilities, I came across a syllabus from Bryan Stone wherein a footnote clarifies the distinction between three terms that I've wondered about in the past. I'm putting it here for my own future reference, but also because others might appreciate the distinctions:

Ecclesiological: “of or relating to the understanding, doctrine, or concept of the church”  
(e.g. “Church architecture has enormous ecclesiological significance.”)

Ecclesiastical: “of or relating to the church as an established institution” 
(e.g., “Our church follows an ecclesiastical calendar.”)

Ecclesial: “of or relating to the church or to the church's nature” 
(e.g., “Christian existence is ecclesial existence.”)

There. Now we know.

The difference between ecclesiological, ecclesiastical, ecclesial, ecclesiastes, ecclesia, ecclesiology, ecclesiologist

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me

What a great book.

It's been a long time since I've posted about a book. While that doesn't mean that I haven't read any books great enough to talk about, this one really got me. It's cliche, but several times, it literally had me laughing in one moment and crying in the next.

Ian Morgan Cron and I have few things in common: we both lead a segment of Christ's people, we live in New England (and vacation in VT), we can't help but feel that raising children is similar to handling fine china, and we aren't sure what we'd do without the Eucharist. But other than that, my appreciation of his book hardly came from being able to identify with his life:

His father was an alcoholic and an agent for the CIA. He had a nanny. College was filled with drunken partying. He's an alcoholic himself.

And yet, I was able to identify with his story because he was able to tell it so well. What I really appreciated about the book was Cron's ability to say up front that the anecdotes and conversations he'd write about were obviously in the spirit of what happened, and not perfect historical accounts.

This is life. I can hardly tell you in exact factual detail how an event I witnessed an hour ago went down, let alone one from my childhood. But I can tell you the truth of how I remember it. In a world that tries so hard to remember - or worse yet: create - the factuality of events past, what we really have are warped shadows of what happened, or again, worse yet: a truth full of lies, which is no truth at all.

Truth is hardly about facts.

So don't let the facts get in the way of the truth.
No...really, don't.

(Just to be clear, I don't mean that facts and truth are totally unrelated or mutually exclusive. And facts serve the truth. But when it comes to faith and life, the truth does not serve facts or historicity.)

So I really appreciated the way Cron approached his own life story.

I've often looked at the memory of an event in my childhood and wondered what might have "really" happened. In the end, it doesn't matter, because I grew up thinking it happened one way and my life has been profoundly shaped by that thinking. The realization that things can be so often (mis-)remembered in this way - at least in terms of fact - hopefully causes us to be gentle in how we respond to the words, stories, and remembrances of others. And so, the media, politics, and the brutality of scientific fact...these things often make me weep.

I recently came across this picture that says: "Seek Truth" with truth crossed out and "Jesus" scribbled in instead.


This just admits that the quest for truth has become so misunderstood in relationship to who Jesus Christ was and is (we do remember what he said, right?). That we'd have to dismiss the notion of truth in order to search for Jesus is sad, and for me, totally faithless. For me, truth is much different than an end of having collected the right facts. And in Jesus' story, it looks like it was different than fact-checking, too. He apparently didn't care as much about presenting the facts as we do:
The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ 
...but Jesus was silent.
I heard a quote last week that I love. We, like Thomas, want the details of the road ahead: namely, the destination. Jesus provides a way of living in the moment instead. This spanish proverb speaks to it:

"Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar."

Traveller, there is no road.
The path is made by walking.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Old People

While on vacation last week, I went to a church where I heard a sermon that was a great encouragement to me. It was an encouragement because the Word was one which I myself have been led to many times, yet sometimes feel alone in it. I have sometimes been rebuked or challenged when having preached on this topic and made to feel childish, unrighteously brazen, and even marginalized. Time and again though, I feel as though the Lord has led me back there anyway.

Leaving the specific topic and preacher aside because they are besides my point in this post, it made me reflect more on the voice of those more experienced than I. I greatly value voices that have been seasoned by age. It's not just about authority (though it is in part), but it's because I appreciate hearing and am emboldened by a voice of solidarity that is older than my own. It reminds me that I'm not simply a child and though I have a lot to learn, I haven't learned nothing. It's unfortunate that when paired with a person, the adjective "old" is generally felt with a negative connotation in our society. I reject that.

What I'm saying is:
Sometimes I need to hear from old people.

Now age doesn't necessarily imply correctness nor impart sageness either. Usually the old voices that inspire me are ones that are able to note that they too - at their age - are still learning. (Hence the solidarity!) I've had some old people who've spoken with me in terms of pure rebuke and little else. I generally leave those conversations and individuals unchanged and uninspired. But the wise, old voices that imply, "Maybe you can see it this way..." help me to better see Jesus.

These old people are the kind that I want to be if I end up living many more decades. I want to be Jesus-gentle-like. There are a lot of younger people who inspire me too, and I long for the dual-vision of Joel that Peter reminds us of in Acts 2:16-17, but there's just something about age for me.

Here are some of the old people who are still alive with white or no hair and aged voices who have spoken to me, inspired me, or encouraged me (I purposefully chose to leave off people that I actually know personally because it would likely show too much of my prejudice concerning the word "old").

I'm thankful for them:

Walter Brueggemann
Stanley Hauerwas
Brennan Manning
Eugene Peterson
Barbara Brown Taylor
Phyllis Tickle
Jean Vanier
N.T. Wright*

Anyone else out there? Any old people that inspire you?

*I know he's not that old. But he fits the bill/image in my heart.