I know this is a rather long post, but the thoughts within have altered my path so much I had to share them. let me know what you think.
Imagine a scene: Pharisees Debating theology….a somewhat heated argument…all the sudden it’s over. “You too have interpreted the law,” the one says to the other. Because although they may disagree with each other’s interpretation, they respect the fact that, at least, each other HAS an interpretation. They think along these lines because they have a healthy view of a singular principle. “God has spoken; EVERYTHING ELSE is commentary.”
You see, in their world, they don’t take pride in their interpretations of the eternal word of G-d. They have too much respect for Him…so much respect they won’t even speak or write His name, for fear they may take it in vain. This is a healthy respect, passed down through generations of a people who had experienced a tangible God and lived to tell about it. There is a sense of awe of a God who could part mighty seas for His people, then swallow their enemies with the same waters that moments before had been their own salvation. They possessed a fear of a God who would do anything, no matter how reckless, to pursue His people and show them the error of their ways…even if that meant allowing their captivity, or sending famine and pain to push them back towards true life. Their understanding of this God could easily be summed up in one word: Wonder.
A while back I had a visit from a young man who was exploring the option of moving to our city. He was a young idealist that reminded me of myself when I was his age. Knowing my potential for questioning and arguing everything under the sun in those years, I wanted to see where he was at in his theological journey. After I interrogated him over several topics, he turned to me and said, “Even though theology is important, right now I’m focusing on getting back to the wonder of God. I just want to stand in awe of Him and be wowed!” Honestly, when I heard this, my first compulsion was to feel sorry for him. Then the more I thought about it, the more agitated I got. I was thinking things like, “He needs to be grounded in his belief before he goes off chasing lofty ideas like wonder. He’s going to get confused and become a Universalist or something” I honestly just didn’t understand him.
The following month, 3 components came together to humble me and show me that I was so wrong and he was more ahead in the game than I.
First, I was reading a book in which Tony Compolo said, “All theologies are in a sense heresies…” This is because a theology is simply a view or understanding of God. It’s taking an eternal, incomprehensible being and describing Him in limited terms. Even terms like omnipotent or omniscient fall very short of God-reality. We can’t fit Him into our human constructs. Although we have valiant attempts, our finite minds just can’t comprehend an infinite God. Though some theologies may be more true or accurate than others, they all pale in comparison to the reality of God. Compolo went on to say, “the only true theology is wonder.”
Next, Brennan Manning’s masterpiece, “Ragamuffin Gospel” talks about our loss of wonder. He points out that a hundred years ago men still ran for cover and shivered with fear at nature’s fury manifest in thunder and lightening. But we have lost our sense of awe in creation. With science, we have broken down lightning to the chemical level and laugh at the notion that thunder could be God expressing his anger. The mysteries of the ancient world are now sentences in textbooks, and words have stripped them of their splendor. Knowledge is opposed to Wonder.
Finally, in “Confessions,” Augustine asks God where his soul was before he was conceived. He wonders if he was alive somewhere in heaven, or if he even existed. After asking this question (and discussing other people who ask similar questions) he says, “Let them…be glad to ask: but they may content themselves with the question alone. For it is better for them to find you and leave the question unanswered than to find the answer without finding you.” There are so many people who search for answers. What happens when they find them? What happens when they don’t? Does it lead them closer to God?
Proverbs 9:10 - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
Fear here is also interpreted Awe or Wonder
It’s the Beginning of Wisdom. In other words, the basis of wisdom/ theology is wonder. We mentioned that all theologies fall short of God-reality, but that doesn’t mean we throw out theology… It means we bathe it in wonder of a God of grace and His miraculous love, having all experienced His love first-hand.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: AND the knowledge of the holy is understanding. We still have a natural, God-given desire to understand God more! This is central to our development as Spiritual beings. God has revealed Himself more and more to us through the ages. I'll wager you understand more about God now than you did 10 years ago
I think I’m finally beginning to really grasp this concept for the first time! What does it matter if I’m more correct than all the rest of the world, and in all my knowledge about God, I’ve lost Him. What does it matter if I have the most established view on theology, but that view is a list of beliefs floating around in my head somewhere, never becoming action…never accomplishing what it was meant to accomplish – Life more abundantly! What if my Orthodoxy never leads to Orthopraxy – Beliefs never turn into Action! Sadly, that sums up a greater part of my life, growing up in church.
Our beliefs about God should produce delicious fruit in our lives. The more we see of God, the more we should grow. In the light of His glory, all our excuses should be confronted; all our poorly constructed choices and actions should change. In the power of his presence, the idols of our hearts should be toppled from their thrones. When we begin understand His goodness and His power, how can we continue to worship at the altar of fear and anxiety? When we begin to see how much He loves us, that true happiness only comes from God, and the fact that all resources are at his disposal, how can we still make materialistic decisions, hoping to find lasting joy by fulfilling our own desires? Doesn’t the truth of Who God Is confront the lies we believe that drive us to selfish pursuits time and again? As we walk in His light, the things that hid in the darkness of our hearts are exposed for us to deal with….it’s a life-long process
One day, finally, we will see Him as He truly is. In that day, when every knee bows and tongue confesses, all our lies, excuses and false gods will ultimately be melted away because of the confrontation of the revelation of God and the truth of who he is. In that moment we cant help but fall on our knees and acknowledge that He is God.
Until that day, we grow in wisdom, which has not only it’s roots in wonder, but entire life-source & environment.
I've known this song for quite a while, but never really "listened" to it.
The other night I was driving back home in the rain, hoping Nancy had made it home safely with the kids (she didn't have her cell). I was thinking about what life would be like without them: their ghosts that I would see in all the places we frequented, their laughter that lights up my life - silenced...I couldn't imagine it.
This is what came to mind as I drove the long drive home alone late at night in the rain.
Then this song began to play... listen to it as you read the words below.
Stardust And now the purple dusk of twilight time Steals across the meadows of my heart High up in the sky the little stars climb Always reminding me that were apart You wander down the lane and far away Leaving me a song that will not die Love is now the stardust of yesterday The music of the years gone by
Sometimes I wonder why I spend The lonely nights dreaming of a song. The melody haunts my reverie And I am once again with you. When our love was new, And each kiss an inspiration. But that was long ago, and now my consolation Is in the stardust of a song.
Beside the garden wall, When stars are bright You are in my arms The nightingale tells his fairy tale Of paradise where roses grew. Though I dream in vain, in my heart you will remain My stardust melody The memory of loves refrain.
...The moment was haunted. I tried to imagine what the man who wrote it looked like. Was he a middle-aged musician, sitting at a piano, smoking a cigarette in a bar somewhere late at night... one glass of scotch closer to numbing the pain of his loss? What was the pain he was feeling? How many people have felt that same aching feeling? I imagined him taking a pen out of his pocket and scribbling those words on a napkin...
Anyway, the guy was talented. It's amazing how life's most devastating moments spawn its most inspirational and eloquent works of art. I don't think there exists a more nostalgic, beautifully put together song about loss. Your thoughts?
I loved her. The woman with a purse full of candy, and a glittery sweater. The woman who had lived tough life before I knew her. The woman I never fully understood.
I'll try now.
She was loving and quick-tempered, stubborn and merciful, wounded and blessed.
Her mother deserted her and her siblings when they were young, leaving my grandmother (age 12) to take care of them in the absence of my great-grandfather, the revivalist. The wounds cut deep and left bulging scar tissue on her soul. I think the pain closed in on her heart. With what capacity she had left, she loved as best she could.
It's painful to think about how my great-grandmother's decision to run away from her neglectful husband and sickly children affects me today. Pain, in the form of reactions to life that have been learned from parental modeling and passed down through my lineage, shapes my thinking-actions-habits to a large extent. I could give examples, but you are intelligent enough to understand what I mean. We all have our ways.
This is the fall. This is the casting out of Adam. This is the butterfly affect by which one man's sin made many sinners. This is the hell we have on earth now. One poor decision scars all involved and multiplies in it's affect. The affects are variables in themselves that multiply. They are a cancer of selfishness; They are mother parasites laying millions of eggs per day that, in turn, all become mother parasites who lay millions more.
The effects of that first selfish decision cast all of us away from the paradise we long for.
They have destroyed my predecessors. They have scarred my existence. They will wound my children and take their lives, just as all life has been taken.
Paradise is a distant memory in the fabric of our soul.
The following poem encapsulates the lament of humanity:
Adam Cast Forth Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream? Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried, Almost for consolation, if the bygone period Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,
Might not have been just a magical illusion Of that God I dreamed. Already it's imprecise In my memory, the clear Paradise, But I know it exists, in flower and profusion,
Although not for me. My punishment for life Is the stubborn earth with the incestuous strife Of Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon.
Yet, it's much to have loved, to have known true joy, To have had -- if only for just one day -- The experience of touching the living Garden.
-Jorge Luis Borges
Time and effort would fail me to talk about our hope. God's Kingdom. "The Anti-Curse.. ...Death flowing in reverse" (1). But there is hope if you look. There is life if you find. All you need do is die.
OK, WARNING: This might get offensive. I'm not trying to curse, offend, or hurt anyone's feelings here. If the whole point of this thing is speaking your mind (a scary concept) I gotta stick to the point.
We have a LIST by which ratings are given to movies, records, and games & labels are given to human beings. It's a list of cultural vocabulary that is frowned upon. Sailor language. Bad Words. Cursing.
My son picked up one of these from school the other day. We were driving in the car and he said, "Dad." "What?" I asked. "Fu-cker" he said in a high-pitched voice...then he laughed. I gently explained that if I heard him say that word again, he would regret it. Still, it made me think.
If you break down the etymology of the words on this list and their definitions, you'll see we often say their equivalents in our everyday speech. I'm not just talking about "by-words" either. I mean, is 'poop' a by-word?...How about 'number two?' But God forbid someone should say 'shit.'
Let's break down this 'shit' shall we? Isn't it a derivative of the Olde English/ Scottish word "shite," that commoners used to refer to fecal matter? Wasn't it during the Victorian Era that this word was demonized due to its "repulsive, vulgar" nature. Well Victoria is dead, and I don't wear a white wig. We say crap, poop, dookie, doo-doo, and all manner of names to refer to the same thing...it's even cute if Kids say them, but if I say "shit"...(Fill in your own conclusion)
Of course there are both tamer & wilder words on the list. Some are more offensive to certain people or in certain areas of the English speaking world. It's funny how I can say "Bloody" or "Bugger" here in San Diego, & most people could care less, but I would be highly offensive in a pulpit in London. Of course we have our own colloquialisms here as well.
Fuck = Screw = Have Sexual Intercourse (of some variety)
I know it's vulgar! I understand it's something that should never be on the lips of my 5 year old boy. I'm guessing he has no idea what it means...but does it even mean that any more? Hasn't it grown into just another expletive that people exclaim when being shocked or surprised, being angry or comical, trying to shock or surprise someone else?
It's funny to me that my devout Christian family grew up saying "Foot!" However, if someone would have said 'fuck' the picnic would be over due to thunderstorms in the area...know what I mean?
I'm not advocating for making curse words mainstream...or even saying they're ok. It seems like every culture has their variations of "bad words." I'm just questioning why we make a list in the 1st place.
Why? If it's the principle of the idea behind the words, the list should grow exponentially (we say words with the same meaning all the time)! If it's because of Vulgarity, the list should grow even larger (how about penis, fart, toe jam, fungus, boobies)! If the reason for the list is because, in some way or another, all these words are actually used to 'curse' someone, then the list would become gi-normous (we say idiot, moron, dork, nerd, stupid, hook you, screw you, jerk-off, get a job...etc. all the time... or at least a lot of preachers I know do)!
So, let's make a Talmud-like list (exhaustive in nature) of every word that offends, represents "lower" functions, or curses, then live according to that law as a society, culture, or Christian Bubble. Would this solve our problems? Would this insulate our young children from the evils of profanity? Would this isolate them further from the evil world outside the bubble? Or is the evil inside the bubble as well?...because we are in the bubble?...because we have evil in our nature and hearts, and if cursing was outlawed altogether we would come up with new slang to laugh at, new names to call each other & new words to shout in moments of surprise and horror?
See, to me (in principle) this is the same thing I see the early Christians struggling with...the thing Paul keeps combating in his letters. The sin drove them to a law, but the law was never meant to fix the problem of sin...only to shine a light on it (in my experience the law generally serves to entice it even more). So we, like the pendulum we invented (because it's motion mirrors our own), swing back and forth between legalism and lawlessness, and end up squandering the very thing Christ came to die for. "...that you might have life...more abundantly..."
I want to live by the law of Christ...the law of love...grace...learning to walk after the Spirit...be cause THAT....That's the shit!
I love to write. I'm just used to it being private.
A friend and I were talking recently about this phenomenon called blogging, and about how we used to write things in journals, meditate on them, and then express our feelings publicly through conversation.
"...I guess this means we seemed wiser...we only expressed the thoughts that mattered most and they were generally well thought through...you know, the whole thing from Ecclesiastes, about a fool's voice being known by a multitude of words..." he said.
I agreed. "Being Succinct is a value our generation holds high, but some of these really popular blogs are so long...if I spoke as long as some of these guys write, people would get so annoyed, i would think."
There went my ego.
I've resisted the urge to blog...my blog up until now has mostly been Bible studies, and sermons, and news about our church.
So here I go...I'll give it a try. Maybe my ramblings and private thoughts will connect with someone and give them hope...maybe not. Maybe people will think I'm a genius....probably not. Maybe I'll be a popular blogger in a year...no way in hell.