Wednesday, November 30, 2005

That suit is suhweet.... gosh!

To celebrate the beginning of my second century of posts (my previous one was post 100) I have decided to start out with a...

ROAR...

Liger
You are pretty much the coolest animal, a Liger.

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Time well spent

What a week!

My sister came home to visit from Australia, where she is doing an "art evangelism" YWAM course.

But then Grandma died, age 93.

I got food poisoning and, that night, replaced sleep with vomiting.

The next day I replaced being awake with sleeping (so wasted I couldn't even drink).

Then I had the funeral where people said, "You look terrible" for a multiplicity of reasons.

Then my sister left again, back to stupid ol' Perth.

Then I had another day recovering from the food poisoning (at least I could eat and drink now!) where I felt like a diabetic; whenever I stopped eating and keeping my bloodsugar levels up I started to feel like I had just downed two beers.

Then I went to the airport and waited a million years for a delayed flight for girl who I had never met before.

But now I'm feeling better... seriously :)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Right to Die

Hat Tip: Big Al

The issue of the "right to die" of an individual is a big one.

Should a person be able to kill themselves before they are physically unable to end their own life at a time chosen by themself?

Should a person be able to have another kill them, should they be physically incapable of the task, when they have decided that their quality of life is low enough?

Should a relative or a medical professional be able to kill another person (be it relative or patient) if this person decides that the other person is no longer living with enough quality of life?

Should a Doctor be able to kill a patient with a low-quality life, even if the patient is unable to indicate their wishes on the matter (i.e. in a coma, a vegetative state or even, possibly, suffering from loss of motor function and speech while conscious)?

My Grandmother is very sick and could die anytime. For a while there it felt like the resthome wasn't providing her with enough care (food, drink etc). It felt like as she was slipping away they were letting her slip faster by not feeding her the food she couldn't feed herself. I know that I would be angry if I felt that I was attending the funeral of a relative that had been starved to death by the resthome that we were paying thousands of dollars to so they could provide her with the loving care we weren't able to personally provide.
In recent days they have began to take better care of her. But it makes me wonder. Grandma almost certainly would gladly embrace slipping away in the night, should she be given the option to elect her own time of death?

But as far as what this guy says, I think it is the silliest thing I have heard in a long time. To Allan's reaction against this article, Mark says:

"SO you're not a proponent of Ecclesiastes 3:2 then?

I don't think that there's anything particularly holy about wanting to live forever. Shouldn't we as christians be yearning to join God in heaven?"


Ecclesiastes 3:2?! "A time to kill and a time to heal"?? Give me a break. There are so many things wrong with proof texting that verse to support euthanasia it just isn't funny. The debate aside, that method isn't going to win any points.

As far as yearning to join God in heaven goes, that sounds like some kind of fatalistic, nihilistic, afterlife-mentality approach to living that throws out the value of now for the sake of the value of the hereafter.

As Paul would say (the cousin not the apostle), your Eschatology affects your present Theology. I would hazard a guess that Mark, if not atheist, was a premillennial Calvinist who was looking forward to Creation being burnt up, the depraved non-elect being burnt alive and flying away to paradise to forget all about this awful existence.

I think we need to consider this issue carefully and also think about why we believe what we do. What we believe about God, humans, creation, salvation and other facets of theology will inform our behaviour down to the everyday, practical level.

If we don't think about it properly and don't have a strong foundation to our thoughts - tested by scrutiny, opposition and dialogue - then our thinking will probably just go to the Byrds.

Comments encouraged.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Science, the final frontier


Hat tip: Franky Baby

You Passed 8th Grade Science




Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!


Curse you Mr Needham... you should have taught me better!

I new I should have studied more about the time that Buzz Lightyear visited the Planet of the Apes (refer to above picture).

Aargh, I'm no brighter than Frank, I wanted to win! WIN I tell you!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Prayer

Picture of 'Virgin and Child with St. Anne'

Lamb of God,
Who takes away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.


[Painting titled, 'Virgin and Child with St. Anne' (link);
Poem translation of the original Latin, 'Agnus Dei']

Monday, November 14, 2005

A request to Allan

Allan,

Go ahead and talk about Agrarian Lifestyles, Feminism or whatnot, I don't care.

I know you mean well ("...for the sake of their souls").


Just show some respect, for Christ's sake and your own.

I agree that people are going a bit far at times, but so are you.

*sigh*

Current Mood, Wearied :\

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Studious contentions

In order that I may keep on track instead of blogging, I have decided to keep a blog of some of my more conversation-worthy ponderings.

That way whenever I feel like being distracted, I can come a write a thought down. But those thoughts are about my studies, so I'm actually being cunning and not letting myself be distracted at all.

Clever, yes?

I highly encourage any comments, because I learn through dialogue and any input will enrich my knowledge.

○ ○ ○ ○

1) The permanency of heaven and hell. -- Is Heaven 'fixed' and is Hell 'fixed'? Some people try to argue for a temporary stay for the inhabitants of Hell. If the location of our eternal destiny is a product of a judgement, and not a personal quality, then isn't the length of stay also determined by the Judge?
But, even more worth considering, if Hell is temporary then why isn't Heaven? After all, I no more "deserve" eternal, conscious torment for my mortal and therefore limited sins then I "deserve" eternal, conscious bliss for my positive qualities.
Yes, you say, being "in Christ" ensures my eternal stay in Heaven. Surely, then, being "apart from Christ" secures an alternate and equally eternal destiny in Hell?

2) The perfection of the Christ. -- Was it impossible for Jesus to sin? That is, was it actually, physically an impossibility or was it just that he chose not to - despite the temptation? Why I ask is because if Christ couldn't sin (were it impossible) then we can't really relate to Christ, can we? Isn't it far more righteous to think that He struggled through the temptations, which were genuine, and - empowered by the Spirit - eventually overcame them? Surely if Jesus didn't have the possibility to sin it would make Him a superman, a god-ling, and not a man at all.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A friend called 'my enemy'.

First they came for the homosexuals, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a homosexual.

Then they came for the Labour supporters, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Labour supporter.

Then they came for the liberals, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a liberal.

Then they came for the women, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a woman.

Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

______________

This is my own blog-based adaptation from the famous poem by Martin Niemoller (explanation here):

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Phrenic Pundit

[ Hat tip: Frankie ]
Well, I don't like to brag...




You Are a Pundit Blogger!



Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few
.





No, go on... no you...

Aw, shucks...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Message of Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr., on the 28th of August 1963, delivered his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I think his is a message that reaches out to black people & white people.

I think it reaches out to the disabled & the able-bodied.

I think it reaches out to females & males.

And, at this hour, it reaches across the wide ocean to France.

[Here is the transcript. On my sidebar you can hear it from the man himself (or go here)]

_____________________________
Lincoln Memorial, 1963 -- I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
[read the rest here in the comments or listen from my sidebar]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'Oceans Away' by Season Pass

'Theology Review' of Oceans Away by Season Pass.
By Iain McMahon.
Listen (hook only)


• • •

God's love, a perfect love, shows us how we should love others too.

"Oceans away..."

God's lovingkindness can reach out to us no matter how far away we feel we might be. Because of an embrace that is big enough to take in the whole universe, we can never fall away from the gentle touch of God.
As Psalm 139 says, "9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Even Oceans Away, we can never be separated from the love of God - a love that crosses any distance.

"Time spent away..."

In the book of Nehemiah, in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel and others, God calls out, "return to me." God's patience is eternal and the grace of God is freely given no matter how long we spend away. For God, there is never a reason not to wait. The story of the prodigal son paints the picture of a heavenly Father who will run and embrace us on the happy day of our return.

Oceans Away by Season Pass sings of the humble attempt of one man to love another with the same depth as the God who first loved him.

___________________________
Season Pass is Matt Chapman (I know him through BCNZ) and Evan Cooper, original members and songwriters of the band Detour 180.
Check out their website here.
You can hear them on Rhema, ((LifeFM)) or buy their CD.

Why I am a Pacifist

MATTHEW FIVE, verses 38-48

38"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'
39"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
40"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
41"Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
42"Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.'
44"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47"If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

_____________________________

A bad soldier kills another because they enjoy it.
That person is sick.

A bad pacifist avoids combat because they lack the courage of any conviction.
That person is a coward.

A true soldier is willing to give his life for the liberties of his country.
That person is worthy of respect.

A true pacifist is willing to give is life for the liberties of all humanity.

"12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command." (John 15, vv12-14)

That man is Christ.

"He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2 Corinthians 5, verse 15)

I want to be like Him.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Why I am an Anabaptist Christian

This post might be better labelled, "Why I Think I Am Probably An Anabaptist-Mennonite Christian But Will Never Be Sure Since I Don't Fully Understand Every Nuance Of The Word, 'Anabaptist,' Or Even, 'Mennonite,' . . . Or, Come To Think Of It, 'Christian'."
But my publishers weren't happy with that title for my book (it's coming a bit later, you understand) so I ran with the simple title.
____________________________________________


So, why am I an Anabaptist and what exactly is that anyway? Good question.

An anusual thing to realise is that Anabaptism goes back far enough that it is neither Protestant nor Catholic, as such. I like this because even though I may mostly swing the Protestant direction, I am extremely fond and sympathetic of the Catholic Tradition (and I must admit I like the theological depth and beauty of their Sunday Mass).

Remember, as with many Christian Traditions, there will be certain features of Anabaptism that are completely compatible or even identical with features of other Traditions. Think yourself lucky, it's nice to know the rest of you are right in at least SOME places :P

• • • •

The first thing that I love about Anabaptism, the Radical Reformers, is that they stress Ethics and not just Doctrine. For the geeks, they encourage Orthopraxy as well as Orthodoxy. For the theologians, they stress Ethical Christocentrism and not just Doctrinal Christocentrism (more on that a little later).

Chris Marshall, a well known ex-BCNZ scholar, who received the International Community Justice Award (presented by Princess Anne) in 2004, has influenced me somewhat in the area of Anabaptism, ethics, peace and justice. He is one of the contributors to the book Engaging Anabaptism: Conversations with a Radical Tradition (this link goes to a Mennonite publishing house, good books there). Read it, buy it, get it out of the library. It's a series of very easy, very readable autobiographical testimonies of people who have be touched or influenced by Anabaptism and what it means to them. The same article that Chris has in that book can be read here online as a Reality Magazine article.

Chris has this to say about a Mennonite (Anabaptist) Community in London, and it really resonated with me:

Many things [were special], but the one that stands out was its wholistic, integrative theology. Here was a church that held together many of the concerns we had come to believe were integral to Christian faith, but which in our experience Christians so often set against each other:

joyful worship... ...with sensitivity to pain;

thoughtful biblical teaching... ...with openness to the Spirit;

evangelism... ...with social commitment;

scholarship... ...with spirituality;

ethical seriousness... ...with humility and gentleness;

Christian community... ...with an acceptance of people's individuality;

enjoyment of cultural activities... ...with nonconformity to the world.

These things are often seen as mutually exclusive; Christians split asunder what God has joined together. The London Mennonite community modelled a natural and attractive integration of them.



Take your time to think about those carefully, each of those pair provides some thoughtful reflection. Think about some examples of each or maybe situations where you feel the pair has been divided in an unhelpful manner.

The main points that I support in Anabaptism? (again fleshed out well by Chris)

The Centrality of Jesus - Anabaptism insists on a radical devotion to Jesus ethically and not just doctrinally. It is NOT ENOUGH to just think lovely thoughts about Jesus (even, I might add, think that he is Lord) without backing that up in practice by following his commands in your life. Jesus becomes the central norm for determining how we should live & how we should interpret scripture.

The Essence of Christianity is Discipleship - Following Christ is key. What we preach, how we live and what we die for should be Christ - birth, teachings, life, ministry, death, resurrection & ascension - and this in turn should feed into others in community with us. This community should demonstrate practical and moral distinctives and not just ideological conformity. Anabaptist Christianity isn't about warming a pew or keeping to yourself.

An Ethic of Peace and Non-Violence - Anabaptists are known world-wide for their devotion to the progression of social justice issues as well as peace and ethics. In the first few centuries of the early church, nonviolence was an important distinctive. In time, this element was lost. In the 16th Century, Anabaptists were even killed for not killing others. Non-violence was seen as a significant way to imitate Christ. Through my own studies, I see in Christ a man who was given the position, power, authority and social support to start a violent uprising in his favour and yet meekly chose to die, tortured upon a piece of wood that named him cursed because of it. More people have died this century that across the entirety of human history combined. Something has to change. I'll begin with me.

The Church as a Visible Believing Community - Voluntary membership, the nominal need not apply. Believer's baptism, the believer chooses to die with Christ that they may rise with Him. Separation from the world, because the social order based on violence and coercion is alien to the gospel (I still, however, think we need to be IN the world... just not OF it). Dedication despite suffering, because nonconformity isn't always popular. Radical congregationalism, building a church with servant leadership that doesn't rely on clergy nor heirarchy (every believer - male, female, young or old - holds the keys to mission, ministry and discernment).

• • • •

So, you see, Anabaptism has many rich facets to it. Some of them will be compatible with many who read this. Other aspects may be acceptable even if you don't fully agree yourself (such as the complete dedication to non-violence / pacifism, per se). Other bits you might disgree with.

Even so, I hope you see what the Anabaptist Tradition means to me and what it can achieve in the world, our communities, churches and hearts.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The person my mother warned me about

When I grew up people told me what a Liberal was, and I don't identify myself with that.

Now that I'm older, people tell me what a Conservative (or, specifically, a Fundamentalist) is, and I don't identify with that either.

So where do I fit?

Progressive* Evangelical...

I feel like I'm turning into Paul, I can use big words to describe myself now ;)

That makes me a Historic Premillennial**, Progressive Evangelical, Mennonite (Anabaptist) Christian pacifist with feminist*** convictions.

How's THAT for putting myself in a box.


Granted, these labels are only as true as I understand their meanings and nuances. But I'm sure they'll be useful to others for categorizing me the next time they don't want to consider what I'm saying :P

You might be wondering where my denomination fits in, just so that I can add another label. I put Anabaptist since that is a worthy subset of people in my eyes, but I'm still thinking about that one. I don't really know enough about any of the denominations right now and I haven't found a faith community that I'm fully settled into as yet. All things in His time!
Anyway, in NZ we don't have any Mennonite communities, so I guess I'll have to settle in a "mainstream" church as a matter of convenience.

Somebody recently told me teasingly that an Anglican church would be flexible enough to contain me. We shall see.


As somebody really fantastic said a long time ago, "Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh", or, I AM WHAT I AM (Exodus 3:13-15).

Thing is, the Hebrew can also mean I AM BECOMING WHAT I AM BECOMING.

Know what...?

...me too.

___________________
*a.k.a. post-conservative
** not dispensational, tho perhaps a little convinced by the amillennial view
*** a.k.a. egalitarianism, from the french word egalité meaning 'equality'. Think counter-culturally challenging Class, Caste and Hierarchy a la Romans 2:11 and Galatians 3:26-29

A Generous Orthodoxy

Renewing the Center: Beyond Theological Liberalism and Conservativism

"Calling for a renewal of an evangelical center to the church of Jesus Christ, a center characterized by a 'generous orthodoxy.'"
Stanley Grenz

"It is time to ask how theology ought to be done in a postmodern era and to envision a rapprochement between theologians of the left and right."
Nancey Murphy

"My own vision of what might be propitious for our day, split as we are, not so much into denominations as into schools of thought, is that we need a kind of generous orthodoxy which would have in it an element of liberalism—a voice like the Christian Century—and an element of evangelicalism—the voice of Christianity Today. I don't know if there is a voice between those two, as a matter of fact. If there is, I would like to pursue it."
Hans Frei

"I will also say that if the sort of research program represented by postliberalism has a real future as a communal enterprise of the church, it's more likely to be carried on by evangelicals than anyone else."
George Lindbeck

Left...? Right...?

Get Evangelical...

...Get over it (and make a difference!).



Introducing, Generous Orthodoxy!

Six organisations (and more around the world)...

Seven churches (and more around the world)...

Six other websites...

52 Blogs (and more in their Blog-O-sphere)...

Ever increasing numbers of articles and essays...

Ever increasing numbers of contributors' books (67 and counting)...

One evangelical, academic Think Tank Blog (with 37 Scholars (Professors and Doctoral students, including Steve Taylor) contributing world-wide)!


One blogger I found by googling makes this comment:
The purpose of the site and the weblog will be to promote a progressive or postconservative evangelical identity. Steve says that many, many people identify as evangelicals but do not identify with the theological and/or political conservatism that dominates media representations of U.S. evangelicalism.