Pleasantly surprised by how well this came together and greatly encouraged by the response it received. Filmed at the Liberate Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/22:
I can’t believe Jesus. He said some things that just can’t be true. In fact, almost everything he said can’t be true. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like some it: He said that he came to fulfill the law. I like that. He said to love others and to love God. That’s tough (and maybe impossible) but it at least sounds good. It sounds right. But some of the patently untrue things he said also just sound wrong to my Christian ears. He told stories that seemed to say if you didn’t have your act together, you’d get…
This morning’s entry from the Mockingbird Devotional comes from Sean Norris.
Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7, NIV)
Life is a game of denial. In fact, I would argue that most of the things we fill our day with are, or at least can be, tools for denial. Work, play, shopping, television, relationships, hobbies, philosophies—anything can be used to manipulate the reality of things gone wrong. It would not be too far to say that Christianity itself has often been used as a tool of reality-rejection.
People often have a sober view of themselves around the time of…
This comes from biology nerd Lex Booth.
Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.’ — Genesis 11:4
Life in college during the cold & flu season is like navigating a Petri dish. A roommate’s sneeze is enough to fill a house with the dread of an impending epidemic. When a classmate coughs nearby, there is no sympathy, just offense by such blatant irresponsibility: ‘How dare you? Don’t you know I have an interview next week?’ Parents of small children are equally familiar…
A proud man, one who anticipates everything and is never caught off-guard, takes his grandson into the city to introduce him to the strange, new world which is old news to the proud grandfather, named Mr. Head. The man gets himself and his grandson lost, leaves his napping grandson dozing so he’ll wake up alone and learn about the value of so worldly and wise a grandfather as Mr. Head. The grandson runs off, knocks an old woman down, and gets accosted by the police. Mr. Head denies he knows him, and the two wander around the city, separated by…
A few thoughts on some recent Internet Prodigal Son banter, from David Zahl and Will McDavid:
As much as I admire The NY Times, it’s not where I go to read about grace. You? And yet, David Brooks was back at it again this week, talking about the parable of the prodigal son(s) and endorsing grace as an essential factor in crafting social policy for those who’ve squandered their inheritance/potential/goodwill. Check it out:
We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop…
“A fourth consequence [of God's humanity]: the sense and sound of our voice must be fundamentally positive. Proclamation of the covenant of God with man, announcement of the place which is once for all opened and assigned to man in this covenant, the message of Immanuel, the message of Christ – this is the task. The dialogue and encounter which are our theological theme involve God’s grace and man’s gratitude. To open up again the abyss closed in Jesus Christ cannot be our task. Man is not good: that is indeed true and must once more be asserted. God does not turn toward him without uttering an inexorable ‘No’ to his transgression. Thus theology has no choice but to put this ‘No’ into words within the framework of its theme. However, it must be the ‘No’ which Jesus Christ has taken upon Himself for us men, in order that it may no longer affect us and that we may no longer place ourselves under it. What takes place in God’s humanity is, since it includes that ‘No’ in itself, the affirmation of man.
The direction of our word is given therewith. The man with whom we have to do in ourselves and in others, though a rebel, a sluggard, a hypocrite, is likewise the creature to whom his Creator is faithful and not unfaithful. But there is still more: he is the being whom God has loved, loves, and will love, because He has substituted Himself in Jesus Christ and made Himself the guarantee… And with this explanation the statement that the human spirit is naturally Christian may also be valid as an obstinately joyful proclamation. That is what we have to testify to men in view of the humanism of God, irrespective of the more or less dense godlessness of their humanism – everything else must be valid only in the framework of this statement and promise.”
My Learn to Play Bridge program talks to me. Upon entry, “Welcome to Bridge Baron 23.” Upon exit, “Hope to see you again soon.” Mere visuals don’t work because, well, the voice is extraneous, but it’s hard to play a social game in solitude. I’m probably playing it alone, at any given time, only because I can’t find people to play with. The voice acts as an assurance, a psuedo-human element in an enterprise in which the human element could not be more glaringly absent.
The idea of depersonalization occupies us more and more: social media in particular serves as a…
How do we remember things? At a fundamental level, sensory impressions from the past remain in our minds, as mental images we call forth, things from the past that we re-experience. Recollection often involves distortion – “I certainly never said that, at least not in that tone of voice” – as well as a re-connection with something concrete, objective, outside of us. Memories create our personality as things which inhere always in the mind, latent but present; yet they can also recreate us, redefine us. In Christian terms, we could say that all things are remembered or contemplated by God,…
This timely reflection comes to us from Brandon Bennett:
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote some thoughts on identity and freedom, prompted in part by Apple’s iPad Air commercial. So to continue the theme of ads-from-tech-companies, I thought I might also offer just some brief comments on Microsoft’s ad from the Super Bowl, which is begging for religious reflection. (If you happened to be grabbing some wings from the kitchen while it aired on Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to watch it below.)
Here are the lines from the video:
“What is technology? What can it do? How far can we go?…
From Gravity and Grace.
“Christ healing the sick, raising the dead, etc–that is the humble, human, almost low part of his mission. The supernatural part is the sweat of blood, the unsatisfied longing for human consolation, the supplication that he might be spared, the sense of being abandoned by God. The abandonment at the supreme moment of the crucifixion, what an abyss of love on both sides!
“The cross. The tree of sin was a real tree, the tree of life was a wooden beam. Something which does not give fruit, but only vertical movement. “The Son of Man must be lift up and he will draw all men unto himself.” We can kill the vital energy in ourselves while keeping only the vertical movement. Leaves and fruit are a waste of energy if our only wish is to rise. Adam and Eve sought for divinity in vital energy–a tree, fruit. But it is prepared for us on dead wood, geometrically squared, where a corpse is hanging. We must look for the secret of our kinship to God in our mortality.
“We have to cross the infinite thickness of time and space–and God has to do it first, because he comes to us first. Of the links between God and man, love is the greatest…God crosses through the thickness of the world to come to us.”
Things to love about February: 1) it is short and 2) the following month holds the dawn of spring.
But there’s more, even in the midst of these ongoing frigid temps. There is still the hope of a huge, pulverizing snow, which forces the suspension of all activity. (I realize this is not on the positive side of the ledger for some, but the inner child still pleads for a snow day!) And then there is Valentine’s Day. Again, maybe not everyone’s favorite day. And then there are the fires in the fireplace. Who doesn’t love fires?
What I really love about February, however, is the way its spare beauty points to God. Spring is bursting, summer is lush, autumn is burnished. Their beauties announce themselves, obviously. February’s beauty is a shy beauty – a demure month. What other time do you notice the skeletal branches against the flat sky? What other time does the cardinal pop so brilliantly against the snowy hedge? What other time do you so carefully observe the slowly lengthening days?
When eyes are not overwhelmed with stimuli, they sometimes see deeply through the spare offerings. Is there a deeper beauty, a beauty below (or above, or within, or around) the beauty? St. Augustine thought so. In his famous passage, “What do I love when I love my God”, he says,
“It is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, or the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God – a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.”
I recently read Tim Keller’s book on work, Every Good Endeavor. One of the most important takeaways for me was learning more about John Coltrane, who is the inspiration for Keller’s title. Keller quotes the original liner notes to Coltrane’s most famous album, A Love Supreme, which use the words “every good endeavor.” This week I bought the album, something I should have done a long time ago. Here are those original liner notes, now in a CD booklet. Keller only excerpts the notes, but I feel the whole thing was worth sharing—”a love supreme” turns out to be Coltrane’s…