Monthly Archives: June 2010

In the Wilderness

Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk has posted a reflection on interpreting Genesis. He talks about how he doesn’t quite fit in an evangelical box, and asks these questions:
* Where can a non-charismatic charismatic fit?

* Where does a person fit who thinks eschatology is a supremely important aspect of Christian theology, but who finds the “Left Behind” approach to be terrible Biblical interpretation?

* Where might someone fit who does not think Genesis was written to answer modern scientific questions, and who would like to teach the book according to its original meaning and intent?

He suggests that he fits in the post-evangelical wilderness.

I have had these exact same questions, with a few additions:

*Where can a female pastor, who is *mostly* conservative theologically, fit since the conservative churches say that women can’t be elders, but the mainline churches that affirm women in ministry tend to be too liberal theologically?

*Where might someone fit who loves the liturgy of the ancient church, the creeds and confessions, but also prefers good contemporary praise music (read: I like having an electric guitar and drums as part of the music)?

*Is there a way to plant a church that fits a post-evangelical without it being interpreted as “I don’t like this, so I’m going to go out on my own?” Is there a way to branch out, but still be in submission to a governing body of leadership (denomination or network)?

Reflection on Research

Came across this quote as I was researching my paper for Gospels:

The attentive reader of John’s Gospel already knows the interpretation Jesus himself has given his death: it is an act of friendship love; it is a laying down of life for another, it is loving someone to the very end.” pg 146

Donald Senior, The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991

The research is done, now on to the writing!

Remembering — Good TV

I recently purchased the 1985 made-for-tv Alice in Wonderland (thank you $5 bin at Walmart). When I saw it, my childhood came rushing back. I remembered the cast of all-star actors and I remembered being terrified by the Jabberwocky. I took it home and watched it immediately. Now watching it as an adult and not as a 6 year old can change one’s perspective. But in this case, as I sat and watched, I thought, “wow, this is really good. Hokey, but good.” I mean it has Sammy Davis Jr. tap dancing to “Old Father William!”

Anyway, it got me thinking about tv shows that I watched as a kid and loved. Were they really good, or did my child-sized mind just think they were good? So I’ve compiled a list of 5 shows from my childhood, that now in adulthood still hold up pretty well. Later this week I will post a list of 5 shows that do NOT hold up well at all.

    Tiny Toons/Animaniacs:

Sure many of the jokes were recycled from the original Looney Tunes, but Tiny Toons and Animaniacs were fun. And they still are. Hey, Bill Clinton played the sax! Plucky still makes me laugh!

    Muppet Babies:

I still have the plush Muppet Babies Christmas dolls that McDonald’s offered years ago with Kids’ Meals. Re-watching episodes on You Tube, I find myself loving the whimsy. Where the Muppet Show catered to an adult audience at times, the Muppet Babies was innocent and adventurous and just plain fun. Looking up the wiki, I was surprised to see that some “names” were the voices of the babies including: Dave Coulier, Howie Mandel and Barbara Billingsley!

    Today’s Special:

This Canadian tv show was a staple in my house growing up. In fact, if I remember correctly one night a week, our bed-time routine was Polka Dot Door, Today’s Special, bath and then bed! What I really like is that this is a kid’s show that doesn’t talk down to kids. And it also actively invites kids to use their imaginations.

    Family Matters:

A certain other TGI-Friday show will be on the “Bad TV” list, but Family Matters is on the good. Sure Steve Urkell could get very very very annoying. And sure the show was formulaic sitcom. But it was a show about a family that loved each other (and yes they loved Steve too!). Anyone remember Stephan? I remember being 13 or so and seeing an episode where Urkell is transformed from Steve to Stephan, and thinking “wow Urkell is cute!”


So what’s on your list?

What Was Old Will Now Be New

I’ve got a busy weekend. I will be refurbishing two dressers and a shelf. One of the dressers was mine when I was a little girl. I’ve had it for over 25 years. It is beat up and a little broken. With a lot of TLC and elbow-grease, the dresser will be transformed. Yes it will still be the same dresser, but it will be restored and rejuvenated. It will be useful and beautiful. It will have a home in a new room.

Weighing in on the Conversation

I was sitting in the campus coffee shop yesterday, and was mentioning to a fellow student that I was (still!) waiting for my Amazon.com order of Rachel Held EvansEvolving in Monkey Town. The memoir is about Rachel’s struggle with doubt and her questions regarding inerrancy, faith and science, and the Creation account.

It prompted my fellow student to ask: “So where do you stand on the faith/science, creation/evolution situation?”

I assumed parrot-position and said: “I believe in the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, by which we understand the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation.” That statement is my denomination’s position on Scripture.

But, that is my pat (and maybe even sassy?) answer. The full answer might be a little more complicated, but here goes:

I am comfortable with the mystery. I don’t know how God created the world, but I know that He did. Do I read Genesis 1 & 2 literally? No. I’ve spent enough time in OT studies to see that Genesis 1 & 2 function as Hebrew Poetry, so to read them literally would do injustice to the text. I don’t think the purpose, (the author’s purpose or even God’s purpose in inspiring the text), of Genesis 1 & 2 is to explain “how”. Rather the point is that it directs us to the “Who.”

I don’t think it’s necessary to believe that God created the world in 6 literal days. If God wants to work through evolution He can. God is the Creator, and I think that holding to an evolutionary position allows us to see God as one who continues to create. Now I realize that some people will say that God resting on the seventh day shows that God was done creating.

But if we see God as a great caretaker who loves his creation, why should we say that He can’t tinker and continue to create and to love on his creation? What I cannot affirm is a deist position, where God created the world, setting in place the mechanisms of evolution and then left everything alone, to run on its own. (Also note I am not saying that God evolves or changes).

Maybe this isn’t my struggle because I didn’t grow up with it (I didn’t become a Christian until I was a teenager).

I get that people are asking questions. Asking questions is very, very good.

But I find I need to keep my cynicism in check, as I can’t help but wonder if this whole creation/evolution, faith/science “thing” is partly a publisher’s marketing tool. This is the “hip new thing” so let’s flood the marketplace with a ton of product about it, and lets make a ton of money in the process! (I told you, cynicism). Is this a fad like Prayer of Jabez, or the Open Theist debate of ten years ago or …? Will this conversation that the Christian community in North America is having in 2010 be replaced with some “hip new thing” in 2020? Is this even a hot issue for the Church outside North America?

But knowing that these cynical questions creep into my heart, I continue to read the conversation. I think it is a valuable conversation.

Does this mean I’m a fence-sitter? Perhaps. I am okay with not knowing, not because I don’t want to think about it, or because my faith is simple. I am okay with not knowing because I am becoming more and more aware of the Mystery of God. Our God, while He is immanent and Incarnational, is also Transcendent and Holy and Other. And I find myself enjoying sitting under the mystery. It provokes in me a sense of awe and wonder at God and at his creation.

My doubt and my struggles stem from other areas of theology and life. Like many things, these struggles ebb and flow depending on the season.

I struggle with gender roles, particularly as a woman who senses God’s calling to preach and teach. I struggle with people telling me that I can’t preach and teach simply because I am a woman, even though at the same time they acknowledge that I do seem to have the gifting.

I struggle with the state of the North American church, influenced by consumerism and individualism.

I struggle mightily with prayer (and this is a huge struggle for me in the last year or so).

I struggle with Christians who say that it’s okay to not read the Bible, or to not go deeper in our knowledge of God, or to not be compelled to participate in the process of santicfication (including discipline, structure and accountability).

And there are even times (though not at this particular time), where I struggle with the question of whether or not Jesus was really Saviour, and whether his death on the cross really matters.

So there it is. You probably won’t see a million posts on my blog about the creation/evolution, faith/science issue. But I will be listening and reading and watching and praying (for whatever that’s worth at the moment) and encouraging those who are asking questions to keep asking questions. Questions are not dangerous. Confessing struggles is not dangerous. God is not scared of our questions. And God already knows our struggles. Denying our questions or struggles, pretending they don’t exist and putting on a “good Christian” front that is what is dangerous.

The Absence of a Theme

I’m working on a paper for my Gospels class. The topic: How the death of Jesus is presented in John’s Gospel.

I’ve come across two references that point out that in John’s Gospel the theme of humiliation is notably absent. One(**) notes that this is because John is portraying Jesus’ death as revelation and glory. Another(***), points out specific details that John omits that would suggest humiliation:

-no agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
-no kiss by Judas
-no identification of Jesus being a helpless victim at his arrest
-no mocking by the guards in the Praetorium
-no ‘degrading episode’ before Herod
-no identifying the two other men crucified with Jesus as criminals

For the paper I am to flesh out several themes that John carries through his Gospel and which culminate in the Passion Narrative. I wonder if I can argue the absence of a theme?

** D. Moody Smith, The Theology of the Gospel of John. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. pg 120
***J.Terence Forestell, The Word of the Cross: Salvation as Revelation in the Fourth Gospel. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1974. pg 83

Canada Monopoly

Monopoly has announced its new “Canadian” edition Monopoly. And while I realize that the cities were chosen by popular vote, there seems to be a rather striking imbalance in the cities chosen.

- Dark Blue:
Chatham-Kent, Ont.
Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que.

- Green:
Calgary, AB
Sarnia, Ont.
Edmonton, AB

- Yellow:
Windsor, Ont.
Quebec City, Que.
Trois-Rivieres, Que.

- Red:
Medicine Hat, AB.
Gatineau, Que.
Shawinigan, Que.

- Orange:
Kawartha Lakes, Ont.
Chilliwack, B.C.
Montreal, Que.

- Magenta:
Kelowna, B.C.
North Bay, Ont.
St. John’s, N.L.

- Light Blue:
Ottawa, Ont.
Toronto, Ont.
Vancouver, BC

- Brown:
Beauceville, Que.
Banff, AB.

No Saskatchewan, Manitoba, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick representation. No Yukon, NWT or Nunavut representation. Yet Ontario has 7 properties, Quebec has 7 properties, BC has 3, Alberta has 4, and Newfoundland has 1.

Somewhere, in a box in my basement, I have the Canadian Monopoly from the 70′s. In this picture, it is the one on the top left. I should look and see what cities are represented there.

Archaeology News

From Canoe.ca:

Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ’s apostles. The images in a branch of the catacombs of St Tecla near St Paul’s Basilica, just outside the walls of ancient Rome, were painted at the end of the 4th century or the start of the 5th century…The frescoes were known but their details came to light during a restoration project that started two years ago and whose results were announced on Tuesday at a news conference. The full-face icons include visages of St Peter, St Andrew, and St John, who were among Jesus’ original 12 apostles, and St Paul, who became an apostle after Christ’s death. The paintings have the same characteristics as later images, such as St Paul’s rugged, wrinkled and elongated forehead and balding head and pointy beard, indicating they may have been the ones which set the standard.