Saturday, January 27, 2007

[FUN] Wood Spider

My buddy Mike sent me this, it takes a real Canadian to fully appreciate.

[THO] Modern Church Mystic

I have to choose a 15th or early 16th century figure to research for my Modern Church History course. I really have my heart set on a mystic, I was thinking of Jeanne Guyon but she is born just a little too late. The ones that come readily to mind are: John of the Cross, Jakob Boehme and Theresa of Avila. I can only choose one and I would really like someone with a sense of Earthiness. I'm open to suggestions, I need to start some preliminary research soon.


Friday, January 26, 2007

[THO] Introducing Liberation Theology

"So the criticisms made of liberation theology by those who judge it on a purely conceptual level, devoid of any real committment to the oppressed, must be seen as radically irrelevant. Liberation theology responds to such criticism with just one question: What part have you played in the effective and integral liberation of the oppressed?"

- Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, Introducing Liberation Theology, p.9. (Orbis, 2006)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

[FUN] God, Inc.

I'm a big Office Fan, especailly the British version, so this totally tickled my fancy. Enjoy! Special thanks to Michael. More episodes can be found here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

[THO] Theology in Praxis

This is proving to be a difficult semester, not that the material is any more difficult but this is the first year where I think I'm actually getting it. Theology is making a demand on me and it is scaring the crap out of me.

Last year I studied ecology and it did change me, I did become more ecologically conscious, I did become more vocal about our responsibility for the environment and I did reduce my ecogical footprint. But this semester that seems like childsplay.

Usually I am good at making the connections between my courses, ecology and grace flowing together, ecclesiology bringing about a point of praxis for implementing the theology I'm engaging with. But while I made those connections last year, this year the connections are making themselves! It is as if everything I read is challenging my ideological framework and asking me - what have I done as my response to the death and resurrection of Jesus? Have I simply built up a nice fortress (status quo) and lived there with a slightly edgy message but still safe in my own ivory tower? Or have I stepped into the world of the oppressed and said truly that I will live the message that I have come to preach? It is never easy and it is never safe.

But isn't that Jesus? What makes us think that following the most revolutionary characters ever to step onto the stage of history will be safe? What blindness we must read the bible with. What arrogance we must bring to the liturgy week in and week out.

So far this semester I think for the first time I've understood that being a Christian means being political. I've fought that my whole life. And this isn't what most Christians think being political means, it isn't trying to make sure that those who will support the status quo get in power. No it is intensely revolutionary. It is stepping into the face of those who continue oppression in this world. It is getting in the faces of those who support systems that profit from the plight of the oppressed poor of our world. It is refusing to arogantly think that we deserve luxury, entertainment and ease while so many groan in agony for their redemption. I mean, of course, that this is my sin that I must get right.

Repentance is not just saying we are sorry, it is an intensly political orientation towards God and God's project in this world. It is about becoming a people of the Kingdom. It is about becoming a people of liberation. It is about saying yes to Jesus call that we take up our crosses and follow him. It is a lot harder than our self-serving personal piety would have us believe.

Someone once said the greatest lie the devil ever told was that he didn't exist. I think the greatest lie he told is that we can live our lives as Christians as if Christ doesn't matter. The supports for that lie in my life are cracking all around me. This is a hard year. I doubt I will be the same person at the end of it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

[THO] Tillich as quoted by Cone as quoted by Segundo

"I am not unaware of the danger that in this way [the method of relating theology to culture] the substance of the Christian message may be lost. Nevertheless, this danger must be risked, and once one has realized this, one must proceed in this direction. Dangers are not a reason for avoiding a serious demand."

Paul Tillich (from Liberation of Theology, Juan Luis Segundo)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

[THO] Personal Salvation

I think it is NT Wright that has me thinking in this direction, but I have been reflecting today on just how important my relationship with God is. I know I love to talk about the social implications of grace and some pretty heady theology, but there is something that to me is vital about my relationship with God. I don't pretend to think I have a market on it, or to understand God completely. God knows my views have shifted over the years. But I do know I have a real connection with God.

I was reflecting on some of the language around panentheism that I've been meditating on recently. I love that language but there is the possibility that the God of revelation gets lost in all that. I have been involved in quite a few different spiritualities before giving my heart to Christ and none of them really scratched that deeper itch. In fact none of them left me with a personal relationship like the encounter that left me on my face in New Brunswick so many years ago. That isn't a connection with an abstraction, but with a person.

I felt it would be good to lay those cards on the table. That is central to who I am. I love Jesus, about the simplist way to put it. I don't love the Christian faith or Christian Spirituality (well I do, but that I love it as an after thought not as a primary motivator) - I love the God who met me in that gymnasium and arrested me (I was going to walk away). I love it when I sense God's presence near me. I love it when I hear God's voice speak to me. Those things are core to who I am and why I am so passionate about theology and worship. Consider it my bias.

I am willing to talk abstractly about it, if you've been here a while you have probably seen that more than once. I am even willing to go for critical distance to try to understand my experience better. But, I always end up back here, at the feet of Jesus lost in worship.

I just thought you all should know that.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

[LIF] No Email!!!

For some reason I can't get my email from Sympatico, but my wife can??? I've tried all sorts of things, even going online and using their getmail programme. But no luck? It is a bit frustrating actually.

This week has been a bit crazy. I have friends going through rough times and we have mice in out basement. So far I've caught two of them. They made a big mess of our Christmas ornament boxes, we didn't notice until putting them away. And they got into some of Sharon's expensive cereal! (She has Celiac disease so everything costs more for her.) I bought six more traps, but talking to neighbours who also get them frequently, I'll probably only catch one or two more. I'm not too crazy about picking up dead mice, but at least they are just in the basement! Last time they got upstairs and left poo everywhere, what a mess to clean.

I think I just heard a snap!

Monday, January 15, 2007

[THO] Thomas Berry

OK so I know he isn't a theologian, more of a cultural historian and self-proclaimmed geologian, but I am more theologically oriented so that is where I engage with Berry. I've run into Berry over the last few years via Heather Eaton, an ecofeminist theologian at St. Paul University. Berry is a brilliant observer of our culture and I believe has profound insights into how humanity has arrived at this point in history. I should be clear that I share Berry's concerns that at this point in history we face a crisis that will end our era in a geological sense, and that this is due to the way we, as a human species, have lived on this planet we call Earth.

Berry minces no words when dealing with the arrogance of humanity. That we could extract to exhaustion from our homes is something akin to the fowling of our own nests - something other species wisely avoid doing. But rather than harp on how we, as a species, have destroyed our home and future. He begins to paint a picture, using symbolically charged language, of a way forward. I don't find him a pessimist even though I would say he is a realist.

Now how Berry does this is where the trouble resides. Christians tend to be very suspicious of anything that challenges their worldviews, especially cosmology into which the Christian project has invested so much of its energies. So to entertain notions that challenge the assumptions of these worldviews, such as a Teilhardian evolutionary framework (which Berry build on), is taboo. Heather was sharing how she quoted Berry in a report she did for some Roman Catholic board and was called a heretic for doing so. Yikes. But like NT Wright says, "Christians shouldn't be afraid of the truth", wherever truth is found.

I'm posting on this because I've decided to engage with a number of other students over the course of this semester for some extra studies. We are going to look at the works of Thomas Berry. We are going to try to swim in his waters to get what he is saying. Should be fun.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

[LIF] Good News and Bad News

I showed up for my AM class only to find it cancelled, there were only two students registered. The prof. was there and stomped off after saying he couldn't run a course with only two students. I know it is not economically viable, but it could have been pretty rich to only have a couple of students.

The good news is that I managed to quickly switch into John Gibaut's Modern Church History class. I love Gibaut, he is very pastoral. I found him in the halls and he seemed happy that I was going to be a part of his class. I did Contemporary Church History and Liturgical Theology with him so far. He's the one who encouraged me to publish my paper on Primitive House Churches (or sit on it for some post-grad work which is the option I've left open). Also he's affirmed my calling to be a professor in the past. With a focus on the Reformation this should be a great class for me.

So far I've picked up some great books:
The Great Work - Thomas Berry
Evening Thoughts - Thomas Berry
Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 - Diarmaid MacCulloch
God is Green - Ian Bradley

Coming from Chapters Online:
Intersecting Voices: Critical Theologies in a Land of Diversity - Dan Schweitzer
The Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology - Christopher Rowland
A Theology of Liberation - Gutavo Gutierrez
Introducing Liberation Theology - Leonardo Boff

Coming from (I'm trying them out for the first time):
The Challenge of Jesus - NT Wright
Gustavo Gutierrez: Essential Writings - James Nickoloff
Flame of Love - Clark Pinnock
God Will Be All in All: The Eschatology of Jurgen Moltmann - Richard Bauckham
Early Church Fathers Post-Nicene Volume 2 The City of God, Christian Doctrine
Early Church Fathers Post-Nicene Fathers Volume 1 rolegomena--St. Augustine
Early Church Fathers Volume 6 The Fathers of the Third Century
The Resurrection of Jesus - Gerd Luedemann
The Sayings of Jesus: The Sayings Gospel Q in English - James Robinson
Traffic in Truth: Exchanges between Science and Theology - John Polkinghorne
Faith in the Living God: A Dialogue - John Polkinghorne & Michael Welker
Christian Faith and Religious Diversity - John B Cobb Jr
Psychological Biblical Criticism - D. Andrew Kille
Experiences in Theology - Jurgen Moltmann
Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel - McLaren & Campolo
The Social Setting of Jesus and the Gospels - Wolfgang Stegemann, Bruce J. Malina & Gerd Theissen
Science and Wisdom - Jurgen Moltmann
The Kingdom and the Power The Theology of Jürgen Moltmann - Geico Muller-Fahrenholz
The New Historicism - Gina Hens-Pizaaz

(Kenny, I might not be able to consume as many books as you, but I sure can make my shelves look pretty with them).

Monday, January 08, 2007

[LIF] Classes started today!

I began the day with the brilliant systematic theologian, John van den Hengel. I've taken Trinitarian theology from him in the past and he studied under Schillebeeckx. This is a course in Christology and from the first class I can say this will be one awesome ride! We are using NT Wright's The Challenge of Jesus as a sort of introduction, but once we've covered frameworks the real fun will begin. We get to test drive some of the prof's own work in Christology by using his to be released Figural Interpretation of Jesus. I'm a bit stoked. Prof. John remembered me and we had a warm greeting in the hall at break. He knows I'm a big fan of Moltmann and certainly Moltmann was present in the opening discussion!

Then the day got better as I hit Heather Eaton's Introduction to Liberation Theologies. She has a bit of a different take on it than other courses where I've studied Liberation Theology (Ken Melchin in the context of Grace and James Pambrun in the context of Christian Anthropology), in fact she spent time studying under Gutierrez in Peru! We are focusing less on a historical emergence and more on how Liberation Theology as a method is influencing other theologies, such as Feminist Theology. This is a small class of about 14 which will make for a great dynamic, plus a third of us were in a class on Ecology with Heather last semester. Good times!

After that I skipped over to the Ottawa U campus to find the English required course I've been putting off for six years! This one is on fiction and isn't too bad, literary criticism. I have just been avoiding it because it seems like a waste of time when I used to write for a living and am a straight A student. Oh well, we do what we have to. I have been telling myself to read some fiction, too bad I couldn't read my new Harry Potter novel for that class. But we do get to do some Poe which I used to love reading as a youth.

Tomorrow I'm up early for a course on Philosophical Hermeneutics. Should be fun.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

[LIF] Kenny Tagged Me!

Kenny has tagged me to share five things about myself that you probably don't know. This is tough as I am a pretty public kind of guy. But you might not know that...
1. I played guitar on the main Worship Team for Assemblee '94 of the Canadian Baptist Federation. A big event here in Ottawa, we had Tony Campolo speaking to the youth. I was even on television as the only guitarist that could make the Sunday outdoor worship celebration. I was the second youngest member of the band, the drummer was a kicking young musician from Montreal. At the time I didn't own a guitar with a decent pickup so I borrowed one for the event.
2. I once tried to learn Hindi. As part of Mission Toronto (93ish) my team worked with Operation Mobilization and connected with a local Hindi congregation in Mississauga. The pastor, Solomon, was a wild man. I stayed with Prakash Masih's family and his father never spoke to me. I heard him share his testimony through a translator one night and it was amazing, so I started to learn Hindi to speak with him. When he realized what I was trying to do he began to speak with me in English! I was really gung ho on learning the language but after the missions trip I landed in Ottawa with no Hindi friends to continue with.
3. Going back even further, my Mom claims that as a toddler I would crawl around at the cottage eating flying ants! I just remember that these critters surfaced in a big way about once a year. I used to love taking a baseball bat and swinging it through the air for the tick, tick, tick sound.
4. I am a philatelist. That's a stamp collector Chris! sheesh. That might not be news to some of you, but what is really peculiar is that I love Machins. The two stamps above are Machins (named after the designer). I love them in all sorts of shades and in both sizes. I love them on letters, on postcards and in my dedicated Machin album. It isn't a queen fetish so much as a love of organizing. You see for only one design there are many variations including the invisible to the naked eye phospher tagging that was used by the post to help with sorting mail.
5. And finally, I hate computers! Yeah I know, I know, blogging and all that. In fact it is rare to see me without a computer for very long. But the fact is they frustrate and annoy me and I often wish I could go back to life without them. Computers have been an integral part of my life since as a young lad I programmed Apple IIs and Vic20s. My first personal computer was the Texas Instruments TI994A. I even taught software development at a college for two years! Apple started to undo me, up until then I couldn't imagine a powerful system that actually worked. But in the world of IT consulting it was less and less practical for me to carry around my old G3 laptop. So away it went and when my SCSI drive died in my 7300/180 I pretty much gave up on Macs. But now I have little patience for PCs, the computer is one of the few things that has the ability to provoke me to swearing! Yeah, I think that they were created by the devil himself, and I am not a fan of him either.

Well that's me, who to tag, who to tag: NakedPastor! You're it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

[THO] Happy New Year

Yeah, I tagged this correctly. I started the online day with a request for prayer from a dear friend who is supposed to be heading to Thailand. This is how I heard about the horrible New Years bombings there. My dear friend is still willing to go, and rightfully asked for prayer. His trip is to encourage several urban ministries in Bangkok and Phnom Phen. So I prayed my prayer in an email, sent him an encouragement, promising to keep this trip in prayer. He has left the decision in the hands of the trip coordinator, another godly man he trusts.

Then I read this post that Ben recommended on prayer. I was deeply encouraged. I'm sure you will be as well, no matter what the New Year has to bring your way.

Thanks Kim for the post on prayer. Godspeed Joseph and safety in Thailand if that is where you end up.

Have a prayerful New Year!