Critique

Mr. Miyagi, Joan of Arc and God: An Interview with Eric E. Hall

Bruce discovered being god demanded more than he expected. Consider the scene where he must answer prayers. The counter spun with the number of incoming requests. Interested in something else, Bruce Almighty decided to answer every request with, “Yes.” Some concepts of god/God betray God revealed in Jesus. That may include yours and mine.

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The War We Ignore

A young single father hustles for work. His long story packed into a relatively young life betrays his optimistic demeanor. Hear him describe some of his experiences and it is not hard to admire his determination.

Recently the hustle slowed. The normal avenues through which he was accustomed to paying the bills diminished. Rather than blame an economy or the weather, he got creative. I do not know what trekked thorough his mind as he was assessing his options. One thing is certain he intended to take care of himself and his young daughter, a sweet little girl who seems unaware of the precarious nature of her own existence.

The chosen means to pay bills came rather by surprise. An old hobby of sorts has proven a workable remedy to the slow season for his other sources of income.

We talked before the New Year. He told me how he had decided to give his new venture a try. To his surprise he said, “I sold enough to pay the bills.” Yes, it is legal. Once we discovered what it was we opened up something of a new “market.” Eagerly he aims both to please by assessing customer satisfaction and creatively diversifying his product. I confess to admiration.

This morning I was reading a linked to piece that was posted with a certain air of criticism. As if the systems in which we participate and blinding support are not in some way culpable. Those in the piece found life’s difficulties on a different level but shared a common thread. The way the world is working at present illustrates that desperation is the mother of invention. Rather than critique the details of the posted story I compared the content with the story of the young single father with a young girl. The two groups, if you allow the single father to represent a group, which he does, face the uncertainties of life with an interest to accomplish an internal aim. One group wants to get a college degree that is increasingly difficult to pay for and the other wants to provide the sorts of things young girls long for and see others enjoy while possessing very limited resources.

Common to both groups is their appearance  in an era where it is nearly universally agreed that the number of those with less and less is on the increase while at the same time those with more and more grows. Often our means to address the issue is to appeal to individuality. Work harder. Work better. Maybe one day you too may catch a break. But, what if we stopped long enough to pay attention to those who shout that we are interconnected – and not simply by virtue of inhabiting planet earth in 2014? What if we reconfigured how important others are? Not just talk about it but advocate for it.

The obstacle is our own comfort. Our own satisfaction. It is here I think those who claim Jesus should also claim his way. I read where a high profile former pastor suggested that Christians need to spend more time pointing people to individual experiences of salvation rather than be too involved in chafing the world. The logic is often used that if you want to see change in the world, change people. However, what often happens is that those saved people simply alter their individual perspective. Sanctify selfishness.

When we opt for a high individualism we inadvertently choose low community. The consequence is a loss of interconnectedness. We lose the war agains the very systems, structures, and practices that cheapen humanity in favor of what maintains our individual preferences. There is no dying to self. Or, as was described in today’s Daily Dig,

Daily Dig for January 14

Charles Moore:

It is hard to live consistently, but it is essential if we are to make our world a less violent place. If we are honest, most of us aren’t very willing to give up the good life we enjoy. Consequently, we keep on fueling the very fires of war we wish to extinguish. We want to own what we have, enjoy our creature comforts, maintain our autonomy and modes of mobility, and make sure our bottom line is secure, even when the rest of the world suffers because of it. Why do we war as we do?

Source: “Waging Peace”

 

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Weekly Wrap – Maybe You Missed These Posts

Nursing some soreness after Round 2 of Shockwave Lithotripsy. While the doctor did not mention how it might feel, my friend Charlie told me I might feel like I am passing a stone from time to time. Patty put it in perspective. “You had a lot of stones in there.”

Hope you enjoy your Saturday.

Join the Protest, “Christ Is Risen” – “Not a bad post election thought for weary pilgrims.”

Reflections from Sunday – Jesus Critiques the Church Cultus? – “My lingering question, “What sort of thinking would Jesus critique in the Church Cult?” And, by cult I do not mean in the sense of heresy or heterodoxy. Instead I mean cultus, community. Surely there are ways in which the Church today allies with the systems and structures that betray Jesus’ words that his Kingdom is not from this world, does not conform to the patterns of this world.”

Church As Elixir – “If the Church manifests in its body the manner and way of Jesus, then maybe we still have the opportunity to change the base substance of our world. Instead of choosing an option that, from the outside, looks as much like the fear everyone faces; we could offer a substantive hope in the Name of Jesus. Read More

Risking the Ethics of Critique

Social media creates any number of occasions for errant critique. Ernest Goodman interrupted his regularly scheduled programming about Scripture translation to raise the issue of the ethics of critique in a global social media world subject to the whims of those able to push “publish.”

John Piper and the Gospel Coalition took aim at missional authors Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. Incidentally, I facilitated an online course with Hirsch on his book The Forgotten Ways for Biblical Seminary a few years ago. According to Piper, in the video, he received a paragraph of a recent book by Hirsch and Frost, The Faith of Leap, from the Gospel Coalition. I have not read the book so any opinion I formed about the book would be un-informed. Too bad others refuse to assume such a position.

Goodman likened Piper’s critique to a MacArthurian move. May be. I think it follows the pattern set by D. A. Carson. Rather than investigate the claims of some in the Emerging Church at the time, Carson read what he felt he needed to then wrote a book that suggested he knew how to be conversant. I realize that in a bygone day that meant something like becoming familiar with and so reading someone’s thoughts may well have sufficed. That was then, this is now. Read More

I Thought We Were Moving Beyond the Politics of Fear

Words do mean something. In a conversation yesterday a friend pointed out how difficult it is for us to really engage politics. Once we make statements critical of one administration in hopes of prompting either change or a different direction by a soon-coming administration we must face up to the double-edge of our critique. Certainly this is overly simplistic. But, appeals for an anti-imperial, post-colonial approach to Iraq cannot be exchanged for the same kind of policy with regard to Afghanistan. If the attempt is to demonstrate we can engage without the prospect of securing a favorable source for oil then the notion of an anti-empire move becomes moot. Consistency would demand our troops come home from both Iraq and Afghanistan. So, there is more to the story. I am aware of that. But, the rhetoric used to describe the kind of change we need seems now to be what Krauthammer refers to as “sleight of hand.”

No, he is not describing the politics of war. He is addressing the politics of economy. Words are carefully chosen. Creating fear is something most modern people decry. However, we seem to find it a great weapon to stretch or agenda. What do you think? And rather than attack the writer (Krauthammer), how about the subject?