Archive for Books

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!

On the recent silence…

So if you been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed the silence of late. There are many reasons for this. For one, I have been ill with strep throat although it is of course entirely possible to blog while you are ill. No the silence is due to the fact that I have been reading faster than I can process, in the past I have been able to simply write my thoughts as they come to me during my reading. I now feel I have reached the point where I cannot just write my thoughts without first processing, ordering and structuring my thoughts.

When you deconstruct something as fundamental as your sexuality and the nuclear family it is bound to shake your entire reality. It is bound to leave you, at times, confused and a little bit lost. We (both me and Hanna) are working on reconstructing a more human?? realistic?? true?? biblical?? View on human sexuality.

Problems abound, how do you tackle such an intimate and confusing issue and question what has “always” been the way of things? How do you teach a different ethic of sexuality? How do you reclaim eroticism without soiling your hands? Where shall new lines be drawn and do you need new lines?

How do you question the un/biblical “doctrine” of the nuclear family, especially when you are in one? It is like questioning the validity of church during a church meeting.

I think maybe, the subject cannot be unpacked and dealt with in the format of a blog post or even a series of posts it is something that can only be properly unpacked in the format of a book. Watch this space!

 

LGBTQ part 10 – Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Andrew Marin – Love as an Orientation – Elevating the conversation with the gay community. (Paperback – Amazon UKKindle International)

Jay Bakker – Fall to grace – A Revolution of God, Self & Society (Hardcover – Amazon UKKindle international)

Walter Wink – Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of conscience for the churches  (Paperback – Amzon UKKindle International)

Jesper Svartvik – Bibeltolkningens bakgator – Synen på judar, slavar och homosexuella i historia och nutid. Swedish (Adlibris)

Bibliografi

Caputo, John D.
2007 What would Jesus deconstruct – The good news of post-modernism to the church.
Baker Academic: Grand Rapids

Childress, James & Macquarrie, John (Eds.)
1967 A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics.
SCM: London

Manning, Brennan
2008 A Ragamuffin gospel  (Kindle edition)
Multnomah Books: Colorado Springs

Marin, Andrew
2009 Love as an Orientation – Elevating the conversation with the gay community.
IVP:Downers Grove

Svartvik, Jesper
2006 Bibeltolkningens bakgator – Synen på judar, slavar och homosexuella i historia och nutid.
Verbum: Stockholm

Wink, Walter
1999 Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of conscience for the churches  (Kindle Edition) Fortress Press: Mineapolis

LGBTQ part 8 – Four possible approaches

There are probably as many ways to approach LGBTQ issues as there are people with opinions. What follows is a summary of the second half of “One family’s story” written by Bishop Paul Wenner Egertson and found in Walter Wink’s book: Homosexuality and the Christian Faith (pages 28-30).

Bishop Paul Wenner Egertson depicts four different approaches to LGBTQ people who may be able to help congregations to find both clarity and perspective, but perhaps also assist it in its own move forward on these issues. It would, of course,  be better to read the article in its entirety in Walter Wink’s book but here is an abbreviated version (a translation to Swedish) and half as a paraphrase interspersed  with the author’s own opinions.

SIN?

The first way one can choose to approach the matter is as a moral problem. One chooses to read a handful of scripture verses with a literal interpretation and conclude that GLBT behavior is a sin, that is, a (conscious) choice to rebel against God and God’s will, like prostitution, promiscuous sex or violent acts.

In this case, the only way to deal with the issue as a breaking (conscious dismissal) of a law, that ought to be corrected (reprimanded) and the response we want to witness is remorse /repentance and a complete change/turnaround. But the question must be posed, is homosexuality a choice to rebel; can it really be likened to ‘prostitution’?

ILLNESS?

A second method is to liken LGBTQ behavior to an illness (or condition) or resulting in certain behaviors that stem from abuse  (from an addiction) that can only be treated with complete abstinence, similar to alcoholism. The disease is treated solely in apart from the external behavior: alcohol consumption. If this is the case, a life of celibacy is the solution to the GLBT issue. But can LGBTQ really be likened to alcoholism?

In both cases above we are forced to solve the problem through abstinence (which often leads to clandestine promiscuity), However, can we force someone or something to act against their nature? And more importantly, can one force someone to live out a Charisma, a spiritual gift?

And as long as we treat homosexuality as something sinful, we force homosexuals in our community to live “outside/beyond” that which we would normally suggest to anyone else. Only if we let go of the stigma, sinfulness, can we bless and encourage, tenderness, fidelity, and long-term commitments.

DISABILITY?

A third option is to liken LGBTQ to a tragedy of nature, where nature has been misconstrued; the effect of the “fall” in the world.  Something not planned by God or a part of God’s plan or will, but something that happens regularly in our world nonetheless. An unfortunate phenomenon that we could hardly call good. However, it is a fact that we do everything we can to help disabled people to a valued and decent life. Should we not then, in such cases make special rules for them so they (too) can live as rewarding a life as possible within the limits of their disability?

When someone’s legs are paralyzed we do not draw the conclusion that God does not want them to walk (be mobile), but we solve the problem with prosthetics or wheelchairs. If a couple cannot have children (conceive) do we not conclude that it is God’s will that they shall be childless, but we assist/arrange an adoption.

Should we not in the same manner arrange a parallel structure providing marriage for gay people; to live out a full life to the best of their ability? But the question remains, can GLBT issues really be compared to a disability?

NATURAL VARIATION?

The last possibility is to see LGBTQ persons as a natural variation in creation, one of the wonderful differences that regularly occur in opposition to the norm. In this case, GLBT can be compared to left-handedness. One must remember that left-handed persons have been persecuted, punished and forced to live against their nature throughout history. Man eventually learned that it turns out to resemble issue of GLBT persons; you cannot make left-handed into right- handed persons, it only creates problems. When society relinquished their views on left-handedness one was free to discover the positive rewards assumed by, for example, the sports’ world. But can LGBTQ be likened to left-handedness?

If it can be, can’t we simply include LGBTQ persons in our congregations with joy, and also celebrate these persons as God’s gift to our churches.

The latter two subversives allows us to include LGBT people in a positive way in our corps (church fellowship) and also provide meaningful information, opportunities, pastoral care and above all, we can encourage a sexual morality which is the same as we teach all the other members of the Corps without distinction. That is, we can encourage abstinence outside of marriage, we can teach gentle, loving and committed relationships. And we can help LGBTQ couples to manage their relationships; build them strong and sustainable in a world where promiscuity is otherwise elevated to a virtue.

Lt. Patrik Olterman

Malmo, Sweden

Translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

 

NaNoWriMo Update.

Last night I passed the mythical 50.000 word mark on my novel S-tech – Soul Filter. The novel is not yet finished although it is definitely on the last stretch. The few who have read the first part of the book are asking for more so I guess I need to decide whether I should release the whole thing on the internet or if I should go through the whole editing and publishing process. It feels strange to have actually gotten this far and in such a short time but I am convinced that without the pressure of the contest, I would not have found the time to do it.
So, I am hoping to finish up first draft before the new year then it’s proofing, editing tomproduce a final draft. And then finally some form of publishing whether that means sending the draft to publishers or releasing an ebook for download either on amazon or here.
If you been down this road I’d appreciate tips or just a cheerful pat on the back.

NaNoWriMo – Feedback needed

So here we are week one of NaNoWriMo over, so far so good, I logged 18.000 words in the first week which si the longest piece of writing I have ever written. I feel a bit like Sam Gamgee when he stops and says: “This is it, if I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been”. It is a good feeling, but a scary feeling.

The worst part is that I have no idea if what I am writing is any good at all, I have nothing like objectivity when it comes to my own fictional writing, couple that with no experience of this process and it’s all disaster. So here goes, I have set up a tumblr where I have posted part one of the book (somewhere around the first 10.000 words. It is all first draft and subject to heavy revision, and it has not even been spellchecked but it’s there. If you want to help me out, drop me an email (find the contact me button here) and I’ll provide you with the Password to: S-tech – Soul Filter part 1, First draft.

Is the evangelical church going to toss out C.S. Lewis?

He is definitely one of the great, author, theologian, thinker, philosopher. Lewis is mostly known for the Chronicles of Narnia but in the protestant church many have read Mere Christianity and a handful have ventured into his great discourses on theology like The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce. My personal favourites are his science fiction books: Out of Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, stashed full of beautiful symbolism and theology.

I have noted before that Rob Bell is merely paraphrasing C.S. Lewis when he talks about Hell and it seems that finally more people are picking up on this.

Philosophy professor Jeff Cook (featured on Scot Mcknight’s blog) states that the issue is not about what Rob Bell is saying but how he is saying it ….

But that’s just it. The debate over Love Wins is not actually a fight about doctrine. It is about angst caused by different cultures and philosophical precommitments. It’s about language and how we articulate what is real. It’s about the acceptance or rejection of postmodern ways of expressing what is most vital to us. It is about two cultures crashing together like a cold and warm front and causing a storm. Sure Rob is throwing theological hand grenades in that trailer and on the back cover, but as he rightly says in the intro to Love Wins, he’s not claiming anything new. We would be wise to pursue the real dialogue—the more important dialogue—at hand in American Christianity. We need to openly converse about postmodernity and modernity, their effect on doctrine, andespecially how Christians who assume very different epistemologies can actually champion each other instead of drawing pistols every time they disagree in this new century.

So is the church tossing out one of the greats because they do not like the way Rob Bell markets or teaches what he believes in? Or are we going to engage in the dialogue, embrace our brothers and journey towards the truth together?

Yet another post related to Rob Bell's Love Wins

So I am having a Conversation with Peter Baranowsky on Facebook about Love Wins and I am getting duly frustrated. I am probably not frustrated with Peter (whom I respect and love) but more so with the position that Peter and many of his fellow evangelicals have taken against … Against Rob Bell, against Emergent thought or whatever is the heretical flavor of the month.

I fail to understand why some people see it as their divine appointment to tell people who is wrong and who is right. Who is in and who is out. Why do we need to rail against Rob Bell or his book? Why can’t we passionately state what we are for, what we love, what our perception of God is. Why is it so important to tell people what isn’t instead of pouring all that passion and power into illuminating what is!

Why do we as Christians feel we need to tell other people that they are wrong and waste precious time on this instead of telling people what we believe or what we love. The good news, is a message of hope and love. It is definitely not a message about what or who is wrong.

I do realise the irony in me writing a post telling all those people that they are wrong for telling people that they are wrong. But I think most of all I am venting my frustration over the lack of love, compassion and willingness to embrace, to include in the name of him who embraced and included us all.

 

Love Wins

Here are my chapter by chapter reviews of Bells book Love Wins.

Chapter 1: So far Bell is asking all the right questions. The questions we have all asked or wanted to ask, or perhaps been told not to ask depending on our particular church culture. They are uncomfortable questions, that will fill you with dread, if your faith is built on being absolute certain about your fundamentals. Maybe the questions are so uncomfortable because we are afraid it might be true…

Chapter 2: Heaven. Bell describes heaven as Eden restored, Present elsewhere and future here. Bell describes a heaven that both comforts and confronts. A message of transformation to make us ready to handle heaven.

Chapter 3Hell. While Bell mostly describes hell on earth here and now, he in no way denies the reality of hell in the now or in the age to come. He does however redefine the word eternal to mean an age or an intensity of experience.

Chapter 4 - Does God get what he wants? Scripture tells us that God wants everyone to be saved, does God get what he wants or do we get what we want? Bell gives us an optional universalism. Everyone can be saved and will be given as many chances as it takes to make it happen. But in the end it is our choice.

Chapter 5Dying to live. Bell gives an overview of the different metaphors used for what happened on the cross, emphasising that the cross is not a small personal victory but a cosmic event that can never be just about sin and forgiveness but about the redemption and restoration of the whole cosmos. We need to enter into the death of the cross to find the resurrection life with Christ.

Chapter 6There are Rocks everywhere. Bell goes on to paint a picture of Jesus as the incarnation of the divine word, a Jesus that has been active and present in our world since creation and that is still active and present, alive and well everywhere even outside of the Christian church, even within other belief system. Jesus is the only way to God and Jesus is everywhere!

Chapter 7The good news is better than that. Bell asks the question if the difference between heaven and hell could be the difference between trusting our own interpretation of events or trusting God’s retelling of our story. He does so by looking at the parable of the prodigal son. Bell states that it is all about trust, trusting Gods retelling of our story but ultimately trusting God.

Chapter 8The end is here. Your choices matter and Love wins!

 

I love my kindle

Have you ever loaned a book to someone who take ages to return the book? Have you ever loaned a book to someone who never returned it? Have you ever had someone you don’t really know ask to borrow a book and you hesitated to loan it in case you wouldn’t get it back?

Enter Kindle. I have been wanting to read “Switched” by Amanda Hocking for a while and today I happened to see on the kindle-lending group on goodreads, that there was someone there who had the book and lending was enabled for it. An email and an hour later I have received the book on my kindle loaned to me by someone I have never met or talked to. Why would someone I never knew loan me a book?

Well kindle loans are for 14 days and then the book automatically returns to the owner, pristine and perfectly preserved.  Problem solved.

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