Archive for July 2012

A larger container


Often in these theological conversations we are presented with a set of polar opposites. Monica Coleman states in a recent Homebrew podcast that when presented with polarities in conversation all you need is a bigger container.

Think of the earth (or the Earth as Jeanine Slettom and John Cobb would have it), a globe with two opposite poles the Arctic and Antarctica on opposite sides of the globe. There is no way they can be reconciled (brought together) but they are in fact connected and together not only in that they are on the same planet but in the larger container of the universe, they are infinitely close and interconnected. Just as we are all connected or rather an integral part of the eco system of this planet.

In church, the larger container should be god, or maybe, to make it more applicable, love (god is love). This I think is Christ centred, Pauline, process theology. All of the created exist within godself so that god is always present and at the same time transcendent. God is intimately present in me, in you in everything and everybody. But because god is always present in everywhere and everybody it also means that god is always bigger than the present situation (conversation, polarised debate) we find ourselves in.

This also means that everyplace is holy, because god indwells it, and every person is holy, because god indwells them. This means that different opinions, or theologies (or maybe even religions) only need a bigger container to find that they are in fact intimately interconnected.

Exasperated Paul cries out, don’t you get it? You cannot say you love god and then turn around and hate your brother. If you are in love, you are swimming in this bigger container and have the opportunity to se how we are al interconnected and interdependent. Love is the true god-particle that binds us all together and gives us mass.

Why can’t our different theological perspectives be in the words of Bruce Epperly, contrasts, different colours and streams of thought rather than mutually exclusive polar opposites?

People are still having sex

I have been putting of writing this post for nearly a week now, I get both uneasy and angry just by thinking about it.

Stephen Court wrote the following in his blog the other day:

Evangelicals Encouraging Contraception for Singles? It turns out that 80% of American Evangelicals are going to hell. That is, they admit to being involved in fornication (and intentional, habitual sin as implied by ‘being involved’ keeps you out of heaven). This is a ‘Christian’ application of the harm reduction fallacy (that we blogged on last week – scroll down or ‘find’ on the page).

So it it seems it is that simple, these Evangelicals who admit that they have sexual relations (although there is no mention whether these relationships are committed, loving relationships) are simply going to hell by Court's judgement. because they are intentionally involved in an activity that according to Stephen Court is a sin.

The sin in question (I am guessing) is fornication (Gr. porneia) another one of these words that are hard to define what they actually mean. In OT times this was an action that would mean somebody was unclean (until the evening) not condemned. The graver offence, that of adultery, that is actually dealt with in the ten commandments is not a sexual crime but that of wanting (coveting) or making designs to acquire somebody else's property, and as disturbing as it may be that women where considered property and that property law has become an integral part of our sexual ethics that is not what is discussed in this article.

So on that shaky ground Steven Court is announcing that 80% of American Evangelicals are going to hell. It never ceases to amaze me how fixated the evangelical church is on sexuality (The lady does protest to much) . I wonder how many of the American evangelicals are intentionally and habitually over eating or intentionally and habitually sponsoring slavery, human trafficking and other injustices just by their comfortable life styles. Sure you could argue that some of this is not intentional but as a Christian in this day and age I think claiming ignorance about justice issues is a bit naive and lazy. Not to mention all the Christians gossiping and hating each other within their churches or denominations and that is narrowing the scope not to include the hatred and bigotry towards LGBTQ persons or persons of other faiths.

Following this logic not only are all evangelical Christians (with maybe some few shining examples) going to hell but the rest of the world and all other Christians with it.

I am reminded of the old 'Judge not lest ye be judged'. I am also thinking that sex education, even for Christian single are of the utmost importance. I have said it before and I feel the need to say it again: THIS IS SOMETHING WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT!

When I as a young single Christian asked questions about sex to my Pastor I was told: Patrik, don't ask me to bless your perversions. And with that the conversation was closed for all times. The only ones who would receive any kind of sex ed in church where married couples and that consisted of, you need to do it and when you do god will bless it (best case scenario, although I do have a friend who was told to open the windows during intercourse so the demons could fly out) then the course would move on to how it was important to spend time together, light candles and work on keeping the romance alive (and yes I agree that this is important, but it is not sex ed).

I wonder is it really our job as Pastors and fellow Christians to add a new law to our friends and church membership, surely our job is to encourage people to seek god and listen to the voice of the spirit in any and all relations whether sexual or not whether within marriage or not?

To quote the song “People are still having sex”, and they will no matter what rules, judgement and/or condemnation we spew from the pew. Everybody (unless asexual) have sexual drives and will on occation act on these especially young singles. It really does not matter if we consider this part of our brokeness as a result of the fall or as a blessing and a part of our original glory, we still have to face the fact that this is a core issue and if we want to be a part of peoples lives we need to accept the fact that they are sexual beings with active sexualities (and this applies whether or not they are actually having intercourse at this time in their lives).

I would rather they had safer sex with their heads screwed on and informed consent on all sides rather than headless secret sex that leave them just screwed with broken lives, relations, hopes and dreams.

I cannot dance to Pipers tune.

Out of Ur recently posted this outrageous interview with John Piper where Piper states that: “It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.” 

I must say that I am flabbergasted with the smile on Pipers face as he makes these horrible claims for god. I have a very hard time believing that the god of Jesus whom we claim to be not just loving but to be love would say “Thou shalt not kill, I however reserve the right to kill anyone or anything whenever I please.”

The idea that god would decide the time of death for every living being on the planet is ridiculous as it would make god responsible not only for the time of death but the method of death for each and every one of these living beings, which in turn would make god ultimately responsible for evil. Evil then is not just the absence of love (as darkness is the absence of light) but evil becomes authored by gods omnipotent hand.

No, Piper presents a god i cannot believe in and one that I do not see evident in the representation of the divine presented by Jesus. What I hear from Piper is the kind of biblicist shoehorning of theology to accommodate for the inconsistency of scripture within an inerrant/infallible framework. It is verbal theological jiu-jitsu aimed to protect the largest idol of the evangelical movement, the bible.

Wrestling with god.

My good friend Mackan Andersson came by today for a chat and a coffee. He brought me this beautiful one page of a 16th century vulgate bible with a woodcut of Jacob wrestling with god. Reminded him of me he said …

And yes that is what it feels like, wrestling with god. Yet I am unsure, I don’t think I am wrestling with god. I am wrestling with the Goliath that is church and organised religion. I am wrestling with the Leviathan of preconceived ideas and ideologies, the raging dragon of systematic theology, but I am not wrestling with the god self.

It is a consoling thought that I still can feel the lure of the divine calling me, luring me forward into new and ever more intricate dance moves in this perichoresis. No not a wrestling match, an intimate tango, that may sometimes look antagonistic but it is instead a suggestive, breathtaking swirling dance. The fighting or wrestling is reserved for the constructs of man. Theology, Church, Culture and Society or as Paul put it the powers and principalities.


On the mystery…

Yesterday we had the honour of having two good friends on furlough visit us at work. We sat down for an hour and talked about the church where they where now serving, life in general and much, much more.

In the middle of our conversation they told us an incredible story (and I mean that literally, a story that defies all logic and credibility) of a magical box that produces items out of nothing. I think we felt like other people feel when told of miraculous healings or when someone reads the bible and runs into the reason-defying stunts of Jesus. I remember feeling the same way when Wolfgang Simpson (a prominent person within the house church movement) told us about missionaries praying for and seeing the instant healing of a two headed baby in Africa.

When someone tells you a story about something that does not make sense (or doesn't make sense to you) we have some nifty go to responses. Politely nodding, while thinking, they are mad (I know this not to be true in this case). Trying to rationally explain the phenomenon away. Or decide that they would tell us what really happened if their daughter was not with us here (I better not make any comments about Santa or the Toothfairy either).

As we where talking I found myself deciding not to dismiss it as madness and not to try to reason it out scientifically, but to just let it be. I found myself wanting to believe in this fairy tale. Wanting it to be true of the world. Some may call this a naive denial of reality, but I would rather label it (if it must be labeled) a furious longing for the transcendent. If I can let it be and not pick it apart, I can let it, like Shrodinger's cat, both be true and not true until the box is opened.

It is like the last lines of Terry Pratchet's book “The Hogfather” where the protagonists narrowly escape the disaster of loosing the wagon that pull the sun up on the sky. “What would have happened”, they ask, “if we would have failed? Would the sun not rise tomorrow? Oh sure it would, but it would just have been a glowing ball of gas floating in space”.

Most of the time we are so quick to disarm and dismantle the mysterious that we never get to experience the beauty of the mythical, magical and simply unbelievable. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating blind unreasoned faith (anyone who knows me will testify that it is simply not my thing). I am merely suggesting that sometimes we need to accept the beauty and power of a story without having to defend or even consider the veracity and factuality of the tale but simply let the power of the story carry us to a different state of being, knowing and experiencing.

We simply need more myth, more mystery, more magic, more story in all our lives!

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!


%d bloggers like this: