Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Path from the Community to the Disciples

I've taken another step towards becoming involved with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I can honestly say that I have felt called to move in this direction and honestly don't know how this call thing really works. Yet sometimes, sometimes, we gain a glimpse into the possibilities for our life that exist only in Christ.

I can also say that I don't believe that I'm leaving the Community of Christ (though the cynical side of me wants to say that the Community of Christ has left me!) Yet rather I believe I have the opportunity to become more familiar with my sisters and brothers in Christ who are in a different part of the vineyard.

There are many reasons why I am drawn to this branch of the Restoration movement. Yet for today, it is enough to say there is movement.

Come On, Everyone is Doing It

An e-mail from from Matt Frizzell let me know he was blogging at Casual Theographic. I have been thinking about my blogging here lately (or lack of blogging) and decided Matt's email would serve as a catalyst to write something.

Collaborative peer pressure theology. It's a good thing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

erosophy: the rub of theology

I am far too skeptical and cynical to claim to have any real understanding of what the Spirit is. Yet the Spirit continues to touch me. Or, I guess the better phrase is rub. See today, I ran across the blog of another companion, Shannon.

She writes about the the rub of theology in an amazingly beautiful and incarnational way. Shannon quotes Ludwig Feuerbach in her entry, which is ironic because a copy of his major work is on my desk.

I don't know really know Shannon at all, but we do come from the same tribe. As a friend remarked to me earlier in the week: Todd and I went to college together, just at different times. So too did Shannon and I attend college together, just at different times.

I am convinced that there is something great about the small college in Iowa that we both attended. Insights and wisdom that are lost too much in the institutional church and the outside world.

I believe there are Independence Saints and Lamoni Saints and I have always been a Lamoni Saint. I'm a small town guy, who loves the opportunity to make a difference where I am at.

While in seminary, I was assigned to read Sharon Welch's Feminist Ethic of Risk: Communities of Solidarity and Resistance. I told the professor that Welch too was a Graceland graduate and a former RLDS. My professor said, oh, you must see things in her work that we can't.

I honestly replied that I found no significant connections between Welch's writings and her RLDS heritage. Yet I'm older (and I hope wiser) now and I think Welch does offer a vision of the community that will build Zion. What is significant about her journey is that like many members of the RLDS tribe, she had to leave the community to find the alternative wisdom to move her forward on her journey.

Welch found Sophia in the stories of African-American women struggling for liberation and freedom. By gleaning wisdom from these 19th Century freedom fighters, she was able to articulate a "feminist ethic of risk."

What happens when a tribe decides they want to be like all the other nations? When they seek to downplay their distinctiveness and become another denomination? I think the Community of Christ is caught between two worlds and seems unwilling or too fearful to embrace its calling.

We are a church more concerned with risk management than with an ethic of risk. I believe that as along as we accept the hierarchical systems of powers as the norm, we never will be able to truly live out the call to be a prophetic people or be a tribe known for taking risks.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Myth Makers & The God Makers

This past year, I've discovered Facebook. It is amazing. It is far superior to MySpace on many levels. Like many new media, it is dominated (right now) by younger adults. There is a small debate going on in the "Community of Christ is NOT Mormon's" group. (Yes, the name has problems).

I respond to a young LDS woman who asserts that Mormons are indeed Christian, but they are also the one true church.
Taryn, you are passionate about your faith. That is admirable. I wish more people felt as strongly as you do.

You aren't being vindictive. Are you "slamming" my church? I don't know, but you are essentially saying my church is in apostasy and the only true church is yours.

I understand where you are coming from. I use to believe that about your church too. Yet God keep revealing to me more truth and and I found God's Spirit of Grace alive in other churches and with other people.

I am in the Community of Christ today because it does not discount the experiences of other Christians as naive or incomplete.

Both the Book of Mormon & the Book of Revelation say in the end there will be 2 churches. I believe that. I also don't believe it is one the institutional churches that exist today.

Joseph Smith was a true prophet, but Joseph Smith was wrong too. I think if you can understand the truth in that, you can begin to understand why I am a member of the Community of Christ.
The paradox of faith. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Joseph Smith is a true prophet and a false prophet. God is three persons, yet truly one one.

I believe in the holy catholic and apostolic Church. (My mom hates this line in the creed because she was taught that the Roman Catholic church was going to be one of the two churches in the end. She was taught it was going to be the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil.")

While writing this entry, I found an article online by Stephen E. Robinson, on
Nephi's "Great and Abominable Church." Robinson asserts that:
Once we understand that the term great and abominable church has two uses, the one open (inclusive and archetypal), the other closed (exclusive and historical)
I need to read the whole essay more carefully, but on this point, Robinson nails it. There are dual meanings to this phrase, both a symbolic reading and a literal reading. (I've known that Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell are key to understanding the Book of Mormon and the Book of Revelation.)

Hugh Nibley, a great LDS apologist wrote a book "The Myth Makers" to defend the church from fundamentalist Christian attacks. The of those anti-LDS attacks was called "The God Makers." (a book and a movie). What is ironic is that from a archetypal perspective, both titles accurately describe the church and the church's attackers. (And yes, I'm not being specific about the church, because that is my point.)

Every church has myth makers and god makers. Every religion has myth makers and god makers. So does every movement against a church or religion or a people.

The challenge for us is to discover the true myths which reveal the nature of the true God.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cool, Hot & Lukewarm or 3Way Forced Choice

When I was a youth minister, one of my favorite games was "Forced Choice" you would pick 2 things and make the players pick one or the other.

You start with something "easy" like Coke or Pepsi (our culture has conditioned people to make that choice). And then you make people defend their choices.

Eventually you work on harder questions like "Democrat" or "Republican"; or "Pro-choice" or "Pro-life". Or "Jesus" or "God".

The questions you struggle with are the ones that are at your growing edge.

But, what if, "there's more than 1 answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line?" (to quote the latter day psalmists, the Indigo Girls).

On 30 Rock this past year, they played a similar game: Marry, Screw or Kill. You had to name 3 people and were forced to assign them to one of the categories. (This was network TV, so you can imagine that screw might have another word attached to you).

Well, I love the game Marry, Screw or Kill. Yet I decided that Marry wasn't the right word. Vouch is a better word. And you can change the ratings dial to G on the game and get:
Vouch, Kiss or Slap; or
Trust, Eros or Anger/Violence

It is about root emotions. It is my argument that we have the capacity for all 3 of these things.

It defines us as human beings and it is about the choices that we make!

A new friend of mine has been explaining the concept of "Hotness' to me. To her, hot is totally about physical beauty, or the ideal about physical beauty (think Plato). Being a woman raised in our culture, she of course does not think she is hot. (I mean, who does?) Yet I remember a book I read in seminary, God Images and Self-Esteem. It was a feminist critique of the male images that we give to God and how that get internalized into girls and women.

Of course, hot is a metaphor. Our actual temperature does not vary much beyond 98.6 degrees. Yet we are so sure about "hotness" or the favorite metaphor from my day, "cool". So, my new variation on the 3-way-forced choice is:
Hot, Cool or Lukewarm

See, it moves us beyond these unhealthy dualism's. It is the Third Choice. And in that regard, I am a Trinitarian. I love the power of the Third.

And yes, Trinity from the Matrix is Hot. Way Hot!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Wish for Father's Day (Hughs Family Blog)

From the preamble of Hughs Family Blog:
I want to leave this digital blog to my children, so that as they age they can read about some of the things that saddened our family and brought us great joy. I want them to see how one man has changed their fathers life. I want them to know that person and walk with him as they get older. That is the purpose of this blog.
Bob Hughs a good man. Which of course is an oxymoron. (No, I'm not going to do a cheap joke against Bob). For you see, there is no such thing as a good man. I know this is true because the Bible told me so.

Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone. (Luke 18:19, NIV, emphasis added).

You know that verse in the Bible? Yeah, its true. I know it is true. I can vouch for it.

See, I probably should say that I can vouch for Bob Hughes. I know that he a man of God and that he is in the pursuit of being a good man. Has he ever fallen? Please, no rhetorical questions!

Yet Bob Hughes ministered to me yesterday. He came and visited me and we had dinner and we walked and hear Paula sing at the coffee shop.

Bob ministered to me.
Bob walked with me.
Bob was by my side in the midst of myChaos.

But who the heck is Bob?

Bob is the guy that walked with Todd yesterday. Bob went with me to Lincoln to hear Bono talk about DATA (which isn't the real reason we went to Lincoln). Bob and Jennifer were married at the ALC in St. Joseph when I lived there and I was blessed enough to do their wedding.

Yesterday, Bob ministered to me. Bob's presence blessed me. And I thank God for Bob. I truly do.

This is my testimony.

Monday, June 04, 2007

This I believe . . .

I believe in The Church. Not the community, nor even the Christ that the church proclaims, but I believe in The Church. Because it is the one thing in my short, 37 year-old life that I've found I could always depend on.

Yes, I a believer. I am a true believer. Which I thought was my downfall, but is actually my salvation.

I believe in The Church, the living body of Christ.

For The Church is a great repository of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. The problem for too many in the church is they seek easy answers, or simply "best-selling" spirituality. When that happens, the church is cheapened. Yet The Church endures.

The church endures with its vast library and archives of wisdom and knowledge. The church, at its best, is a teacher of alternative wisdom. (God knows the church often fails to live up to its best).

There is an old saying that the purpose of the church is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Yet the challenge in our current culture is that many of us are both comfortable and afflicted.

We all stand in need of God's grace and God's challenge to live a fuller or an abundant life.

I know that I need God's grace. For with her Grace, I have have the courage to move on.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Secret . . . Depends if you are in CST or MST

What is the secret?

Is the secret knowledge (gnosis)? Or is the secret framing? Or is it marketing? Or power analysis? Or Praxis?

Yes, praxis. Action and reflection. Action and reflection. (Rinse, lather and repeating.)
Yet I had the chance when I was looking at seminaries to sit in a lecture by Susan Brooks Thistlewait when she was "just" a professor at Chicago Theological Seminary.

She had the answer. (At least for me). And perhaps because she gave me the answer, I didn't need to go to CTS (or so I thought).

She taught me the importance of who asks the 1st question. In one lecture, she had transcended everything that I had learned as a philosophy/religion major at Graceland. She explained that for classical "Western" theology, the 1st question was, "Is there a God?" Yet for "liberation" theologians, the question is, "Is God on our side?"
A powerful difference. A huge difference. Both questions are fine questions, yet one is more powerful than the other.

What question do you find most interesting? That is the question that has more power for you.

It is your true question (or perhaps a truer question).

Dr. Thistlewait is now president of that fine seminary. Yet, why didn't I choose CTS and instead I went to the Iliff School of Theology? I mean, CTS offered me more money than Iliff.

It is a complicated answer. One, I'm not sure I've completely figured out yet. Yet, I think this is true:
I had already been to Chicago.
It was about a girl.
And it was about the girl.
And a boy from the
northwestern district
of Michigan &
the field of dreams,
yearned for the mountains
& a place to call home.
This is my testimony and my story and my song, for today at least.