Archive for General

To be embraced …

That you would embrace me
That you would surround me your divine light

That is bliss to me

That you would surrender to my embrace
That you would allow me to lead you in our dance

That is to wondrous for words

That you would look at me and smile
That you would accept me as your equal

That is to me a miracle

Oh beloved how I wait for you to do it again!

Notes from (over) the edge – book review

41Ee6ChbDPLSo this last week I have been reading the long anticipated book: Notes from (over) the edge by Jim Palmer. This is a very different book than Jim’s other work. It feels like Jim lifted the curtain and let us peak behind into his mind and his thinking that has fuelled the rest of his work. Although I suspect that while the notes are indeed the fuel and thought behind the other books, the other books and the walk that has produced them is what has formed the notes.

Jim writes, in notes, not with the normal “Christian” voice but rather more like a prophet, a mystic, trying to penetrate a deep fog of religious ignorance to get to some really deep truth or rather “the truth”. I think this book could have been written in 5 tweets (and it probably has been as well) but then who would have gotten the point? As a book it gets a bit repetitive at times and if you have already walked this path for a while you may feel like you are being beaten over the head with the obvious. This message must be repeated though, I do not think hearing it once or twice has any chance of getting through the many layers of protection we have wrapped ourselves in. Blow by blow Jim hammers away and deconstructs religion, only to leave you with a mystery that is so simple yet so profound that it cannot be understood with the mind but must be known, and is already known by your true self.

Anyone who has heard me preach lately will recognise the major brush strokes of this book and it feels great to know that there are other people out there drawing the same conclusions and more importantly dare to speak them out loud. I simply cannot recommend this book enough read it, let it soak, let the message saturate you and then go out and look at life, try to find it out there, because as great as this book is, it will not deliver you, you are already delivered, now wake up and live it!

Looking back before turning the page…

1483104_427050007395728_427193827_nI am guessing that when one is turning forty it is normal to look back and evaluate, how far one has come and what has prompted ones development thus far. In one sense I don’t think that my fortieth is any different from any other birthday, it simply is another step forward.

Still I look back at the spiritual and theological roller coaster I have been on the last couple of years (and I really mean the last couple of years, If I where to reach back further the list of people whom I could not have made it without would be endless) and realise that I would not be here if it was not for some significant voices speaking into my life. So today I would like to acknowledge some of the people that have influenced me or walked with me on this adventurous journey.

Hasse Kjellgren, Henrik Andersen and Vic Poke who believed in me and thought I would make a great Salvation Army Officer and made it possible for me and Hanna to go to William Booth College. All my tutors at college who inspired and challenged me but especially Gordon Cotterill, Brian Slinn and Stuart Watson.

I would not have made it through college if it wasn’t for the transformative message of N.T. Wright (Especially Jesus and the victory of God), Brueggemann (Prophetic imagination), Brian Mclaren (A new kind of Christian, the secret message of Jesus), Wayne Jacobsen (So you don’t want to go to church anymore) and John Eldredge (Wild at heart, Desire). Who all gave me a new way of understanding and reading scripture without loosing my Christian identity. I also wouldn’t have gotten very far without the friendship and support of Will Pearson, Dominic Eaton and Mark Anderson.

Once we arrived in Malmö we have been so lucky to have been encouraged and supported by Jonny Kleman, Mackan Andersson and again Vic Poke and Henrik Andersson while reading and talking to Timothy Kurek (The cross in the closet) and Jesper Svartvik (Bibeltolkningens bakgator).

As we moved to greater understanding and freedom we have had a great cloud of witnesses speaking into our lives and shaping our thinking and I cannot overstate their importance to my own journey among these heroes are: Richard Rohr (Adam’s return, Falling upwards, The Enneagram- A Christian perspective ), Tripp Fuller (Homebrewed Chriatianity), Jack Caputo (What would Jesus deconstruct, the weakness of god), Jim Palmer (Divine nobodies, Wide open spaces, Being Jesus in Nashville, Notes from (over) the edge), Peter Rollins (Insurrection, The idolatry of God, The divine magician), Kester Brewin (Mutiny, After magic), Jay Bakker (fall to grace, Faith and doubt), Marcus Borg (Putting away childish things), Bruce Epperly (Process theology – a guide for the perplexed, loosely Christian), Catherine Keller (On the mystery) and Doug Pagitt (A Christianity worth believing in, Preaching in the inventive age). Some of these greats have taken the time to speak with me (especially at Subverting the norm) and advised me on the way and others have simply done so by being pioneers and trailblazers.

During this whole Journey I am so grateful for the Pirate Church community and especially my Latvian friends, Arturs, Karina, Erika, Marika, Astrida Kozlovska, Anna Marta Sveisberga, Darta Seso and Liene Lazdina who, with their courage and love have pushed us forward along this road.

On our personal Journey I am deeply thankful for the writings of Christopher Ryan, Barbara Carellas, Kamala Devi, and Dossie Easton and the conversations with Linn, Alexandra, Catia, Sara, Charlotte and Alexander Rudenstam who have helped me navigate the more difficult parts of this Journey.

None of this would of course have happened if it wasn’t for our wonderful church and the community that has gathered around it, we have been greatly encouraged and motivated by all the courageous heroes that have been part of our lives the last four years. I hesitate to mention any for fear of leaving some out but I must, Tobias Viltonius, Tomas Hedlund, Erik Andersson, Christoff and Jack Lukkerz, Ulrika Anevska, Kajsa och Aron Tendler, Carmencita Gallardo and many many more.

Finally my greatest debt of thanks and my deepest admiration is still reserved for the beautiful warrior princess Hanna Olterman who have bravely walked this road with me and have been both critical and supportive when needed. I would never have dared to brave this wild and uncharted territory without you, thank you for still choosing to be in my life!

So here we are, turning the page, walking around the corner, jumping of the ledge into the future and for all of you who like me seek the divine outside the box, for those of you who paint outside the lines, for those of you looking for a new way to be a Christian in a new strange world, I salute you!

Falling upwards

311017_10150345372419514_349434286_nI don’t know how it happened, but it did. Suddenly I was forty and the numbers on the cake do not lie. It is strange to wake up and realise that my body is forty even though on the inside I still feel like seventeen.

I have had a great week, last tuesday (my birthday) I was surprised by some of the people that are closest to me that had flown in just to be part of my celebration. I was surrounded by love, gentleness and warm embraces all week. I have spent the time in deep conversation, felt deep connection and have been overwhelmed by the love present in my life.

Now I feel the aching afterglow of true friends absent and I am slowly realising that of all the adventures, all the crazy things I have done in my life the one adventure worthwhile is the adventure of loving someone deeply, of daring to be vulnerable and allowing someone to see the real me and to allow myself to be embraced and loved for whom I really am. I sit and read the kind and gentle words written by my friends in the book that describe the loving friendships we have forged. I am awed by the love penned there.

As I turn this corner and walk into what is the next leg on the greatest adventure of my life, I feel truly grateful and humbled by all of you who make my life special, meaningful and adventurous. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for showing me the face of god. Thank you for allowing me to be the best me that I can possibly be. Thank you!

Falling upwards

311017_10150345372419514_349434286_nI don’t know how it happened, but it did. Suddenly I was forty and the numbers on the cake do not lie. It is strange to wake up and realise that my body is forty even though on the inside I still feel like seventeen.

I have had a great week, last tuesday (my birthday) I was surprised by some of the people that are closest to me that had flown in just to be part of my celebration. I was surrounded by love, gentleness and warm embraces all week. I have spent the time in deep conversation, felt deep connection and have been overwhelmed by the love present in my life.

Now I feel the aching afterglow of true friends absent and I am slowly realising that of all the adventures, all the crazy things I have done in my life the one adventure worthwhile is the adventure of loving someone deeply, of daring to be vulnerable and allowing someone to see the real me and to allow myself to be embraced and loved for whom I really am. I sit and read the kind and gentle words written by my friends in the book that describe the loving friendships we have forged. I am awed by the love penned there.

As I turn this corner and walk into what is the next leg on the greatest adventure of my life, I feel truly grateful and humbled by all of you who make my life special, meaningful and adventurous. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for showing me the face of god. Thank you for allowing me to be the best me that I can possibly be. Thank you!

Falling upwards

311017_10150345372419514_349434286_nI don’t know how it happened, but it did. Suddenly I was forty and the numbers on the cake do not lie. It is strange to wake up and realise that my body is forty even though on the inside I still feel like seventeen.

I have had a great week, last tuesday (my birthday) I was surprised by some of the people that are closest to me that had flown in just to be part of my celebration. I was surrounded by love, gentleness and warm embraces all week. I have spent the time in deep conversation, felt deep connection and have been overwhelmed by the love present in my life.

Now I feel the aching afterglow of true friends absent and I am slowly realising that of all the adventures, all the crazy things I have done in my life the one adventure worthwhile is the adventure of loving someone deeply, of daring to be vulnerable and allowing someone to see the real me and to allow myself to be embraced and loved for whom I really am. I sit and read the kind and gentle words written by my friends in the book that describe the loving friendships we have forged. I am awed by the love penned there.

As I turn this corner and walk into what is the next leg on the greatest adventure of my life, I feel truly grateful and humbled by all of you who make my life special, meaningful and adventurous. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for showing me the face of god. Thank you for allowing me to be the best me that I can possibly be. Thank you!

The truth of the slippery slope

During the last couple of years many friends and people I do not yet know have told me to beware the slippery slope. They have in no uncertain terms let me know that if I start questioning the tradition bound given truths of the church that I would eventually loose my faith.

Today having wandered, slid, fallen, tumbled, run, surfed down this slippery slope I can say that it was all true.

Here are some of the things they told me about the slippery slope:
– You will loose your faith in the bible as absolute truth and authority
– You will loose your high view of Jesus
– You will loose your confidence in the church
– You will open your self up to the influence of other religions
– You will no longer be able to pray like you used to
– You will no longer be a christian

It is all true!

However what they didn’t tell me, and what I found was this:
– I have found a new and deeper love for the scriptures
– I have a new understanding of Jesus that is refreshing, renewing and transformative
– I have a newfound respect and love for authentic spiritual community
– I have found the light of truth and transformation in the most unlikely places
– I have found a new urgency, understanding and love for prayer
– I may no longer be a christian according certain criteria, but I have never followed Christ more closely.

on top of this I have also found:
– A sense of belonging and connectedness
– immense peace
– unparalleled freedom
– unconditional love
– scandalous grace
– deep joy

I have also found a love for myself and my neighbour I did not think possible. All in all, while the warnings of the slope have proven true the rewards have been literally out of this world!

Philosophy + Theology = True!

Dictionary Series - Philosophy: philosophyI was approached last week by a Soldier that was concerned about my reading and quoting philosophical works in my blogs and my sermons. He quoted the oft quoted:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12.2 NRSV)

Thus he bundled all philosophy together as human/worldly thinking as opposed to divine or divinely inspired thinking. It tickles me that I attended a Salvation Army – Ethics weekend last weekend where the main speaker: PhD James Reed said the absolute opposite. That many of the philosophers must have been divinely inspired in their search for truth and wisdom.

But if philosophy truly is what the name means, the love of wisdom, and if theology is words about god. Then it seems to me that Theology without philosophy is a dangerous enterprise. In my days within the church I have encountered good and bad theologies, wise and unwise theologies and it seems to me that the love of wisdom is a very good place to start the theological endeavour.

Listen to the scriptures exhort us towards philosophy:

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

(Prov 2.1-5 The message)

It seems to me that if all truth belongs to god, then the search for truth, the search for wisdom will lead us godward in the end.

This is my voice

imagesRecently at “Subverting the norm II” I was challenged by Katherine Sara Moody who took the platform together with some heavy hitters in radical theology and opened up with “as a woman and a theologian I am still looking to find my voice”.

She made me reflect, and I think I have been reflecting on, what is my voice, ever since I came back. Apart from realising (once again) that as a cisgendered white male in the clergy I am always going to speak from a position of power and privilege, no matter how much I deconstruct this and show how unprivileged I have been as I grew up. I also realised as I invited all these fantastic theologians to read my blogs that I did so with a certain trepidation. The old fear: “what if they find out that I am a fake”, quickly reared it's ugly head.

It's not that I am ashamed of what I write/have written, I'm not. It is the fact that I do not write with an academic voice like for example Christena Cleveland or with the philosophical depth of Peter Rollins. I write like, well like me.

This is where it hit's me, I am no academic. Don't get me wrong, I love academia, I want to read books that make my brain hurt as I strain to encompass the grand idea, philosophy or theology in them. But I do not write with an academic voice, and I never will.

In my writing, I am first and foremost a poet, sometimes a pastor and often a preacher. I am a pirate and at my best I manage to marry this to being a good parent.

This is my voice, I write not for the academics admiration or to enter into an academic conversation. Sometimes I am philosophical but, I tend not to delve to deep and often lack the philosophical discipline to truly enter into the philosophical dialogue. No, I reach up and pluck ripe fruits from the top of the tree and try my best to serve a nice fruit cocktail for my friends down here on the ground. I am not an academic, or a philosopher, I am a preacher/poet with my feet planted firmly on the ground looking for a theopoetic that will part the veil and allow me to, if only for a moment, experience the divine.

This is my voice.

 

This is my voice

imagesRecently at “Subverting the norm II” I was challenged by Katherine Sara Moody who took the platform together with some heavy hitters in radical theology and opened up with “as a woman and a theologian I am still looking to find my voice”.

She made me reflect, and I think I have been reflecting on, what is my voice, ever since I came back. Apart from realising (once again) that as a cisgendered white male in the clergy I am always going to speak from a position of power and privilege, no matter how much I deconstruct this and show how unprivileged I have been as I grew up. I also realised as I invited all these fantastic theologians to read my blogs that I did so with a certain trepidation. The old fear: “what if they find out that I am a fake”, quickly reared it's ugly head.

It's not that I am ashamed of what I write/have written, I'm not. It is the fact that I do not write with an academic voice like for example Christena Cleveland or with the philosophical depth of Peter Rollins. I write like, well like me.

This is where it hit's me, I am no academic. Don't get me wrong, I love academia, I want to read books that make my brain hurt as I strain to encompass the grand idea, philosophy or theology in them. But I do not write with an academic voice, and I never will.

In my writing, I am first and foremost a poet, sometimes a pastor and often a preacher. I am a pirate and at my best I manage to marry this to being a good parent.

This is my voice, I write not for the academics admiration or to enter into an academic conversation. Sometimes I am philosophical but, I tend not to delve to deep and often lack the philosophical discipline to truly enter into the philosophical dialogue. No, I reach up and pluck ripe fruits from the top of the tree and try my best to serve a nice fruit cocktail for my friends down here on the ground. I am not an academic, or a philosopher, I am a preacher/poet with my feet planted firmly on the ground looking for a theopoetic that will part the veil and allow me to, if only for a moment, experience the divine.

This is my voice.

 

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