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Category Archives: musings

My thoughts ranging far and wide, here and there…when I just don’t know how else to categorize them.

free fall

A convergence of excerpts.

falling

love this. courtesy of Slavica Dolasevic

Read (reread, actually) this excerpt from Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places about Rick Bass, “a very good writer…another Montana neighbor of mine.”

He lives in the Yaak, a wilderness area seventy miles north of my home. Besides being an excellent writer, he is a fervent environmentalist. I don’t know him personally but have seen him in action, and like very much what I see. Environmentalists care deeply about this creation; but a lot of them are also pretty mean – angry, sometimes violent. Rick Bass is small of stature, elf-like, energetic and laughing, it seems, most of the time. He holds parties for the loggers and miners, working for common ground, developing a language of courtesy and understanding.

The Rick Bass tribe needs to increase.

Why is it that often those most passionate about protecting the earth and the civil rights of other human beings can be so unmercifully snarky in their handling of their fellow human beings who aren’t on the same page yet? And by what love and logic does such rough treatment cause us to think we will accomplish anything more than further feed mutual antagonisms while merely accumulating at our feet our own dittoheading crowd? How does this ultimately advance the ball on the field that really matters?

falling upwardThen this quote from Rohr. More spacious, second half of life musings that serves like commentary on the elf-like Mr. Bass:

Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have—right now. This is a monumental change from the first half of life, so much so that it is almost the litmus test of whether you are in the second half of life at all. Inner brightness, still holding life’s sadness and joy, is its own reward, its own satisfaction, and your best and truest gift to the world. 

Such elders are the “grand” parents of the world. Children and other adults feel so safe and loved around them, and they themselves feel so needed and helpful to children, teens, and midlife adults. And they are! They are in their natural flow.

Strangely, all of life’s problems, dilemmas, and difficulties are now resolved not by negativity, attack, criticism, force, or logical resolution, but always by falling into a larger “brightness”—by falling into the good, the true, and the beautiful—by falling into God. All you have to do is meet one such shining person and you know that he or she is surely the goal of humanity and the delight of God.

Adam’s fall so needs to be met by this fall “into the good, the true and the beautiful.”

God how we need to fall.

And then, topping off this convergence of excerpts, this (Peterson channeling Paul in Philippians, phear not):

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Yes, we need to fall.

Oh how we need to fall into such brightness, such expectation, such hope, such beauty.

And if this is what “falling into God” truly meant for us, who would want to hold by clawing fingernail to such dark and bitter perches?

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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Books, haverings, Mercy, musings, Unity

 

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theological odyssey

From The Millennial Maze: Sorting Out Evangelical Options by Stanley Grenz.

My favorite sentence of the week.

My theological odyssey is not dissimilar to that traversed by many other evangelicals. It has led me out of the older dispensationalism through historic premillennialism, into an amillennialism sympathetic to postmillennialism.

My biggest problem on the dance floor is working too hard.

I just make it harder than it needs to be.

This, of course, is not restricted to the dance floor.

Which reminds me of a poem:

As you go out, notice the barrel by the door.
It is for whatever you’d like to discard – those claims
you accepted for a while from someone forceful or
loud
but not really your cup of tea, those heavy opinions
balanced on fragile foundations in arguments.

We invite you to retain your tickets for noticing
things –
how sunlight is wide and democratic, how the rain
doesn’t care who you are, how sounds will follow you
home
and become songs that play back whenever you want
them to.
A crow, a gull, a foghorn – keep these for your dreams.

~ William Stafford, Farewell at a Writer’s Conference

16528091-abstract-word-cloud-for-premillennialism-with-related-tags-and-terms

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in haverings, musings, Poetry, Revelation

 

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dipper doubts

Spent some quality time with John the Baptist this week.

Actually, I like to call him “The Dipper.” Dipper isn’t a bad translation of the Greek word βαπτιστὴς that we refuse to translate. Don’t think it will catch on though. Particularly with Baptists.

Here’s a guy who before he was even born was handed a detailed prospectus:

You won’t drink wine or beer.

it may be da vinci, but I just don't see him this way

it may be da vinci, but I just don’t see him this way

You will be filled with the Holy Spirit right from the womb.

You will impact your generation.

You will be strong and yet will soften hearts.

You will attune your generation to the very heartbeat of God himself.

Quite the to do list (with one “to do not” item).

For a moment I could see this as a paint-by-numbers life plan, removing the mystery and suspense, the adventure of discovering all this for himself. Isn’t half the fun found in the invention and reinvention of ourselves? Of trial and error, of trying this, then that; of following a path that leads to a dead end, then finding one that opens up in a wondrous vista?

Then I saw instead a canvas being handed to John – a canvas with its own distinct texture and shape – along with a palette of paints for him to splash on it.

And splash he did.

Wild splashing by a wild man in a wild place.

And he seemed so sure of himself, his message, his vision. I don’t hear any quavering or quivering in his voice, no tentative calling, no tenuous pronouncements.

No reed shaken in the wind, this. More like a mighty oak withstanding all the winds beating upon it.

But then the oak is transplanted to a prison yard.

And there.

He doubts.

Did I really see what I thought I saw? Did it really mean what I was so sure it meant?

And rather than sitting on the question as it dripped with fresh raging doubt, he spoke it. Out of the prison yard it went, echoing through his followers to the very ears of Jesus.

“Are you the One, or do we look for another?”

There. He said it.

The Dipper was a Doubter.

And after answering John’s followers Jesus owns him. Right there. Publicly. He owns him.

Some solid lessons here in this tale.

Of the reality of our doubts and questions raging inside us, unexpressed, unspoken, as we put on that brave poser face.

Of what we can do with them instead.

Of how He responds when we do.

yes, sister aloysius, we all have doubt

yes, sister aloysius, we all have doubt

 

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borne identity

Do you think I know what I am doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,
or the ball can guess where it’s going next.

Came across this from Rumi this past weekend while waiting for a wedding to get started.

More “your life is none of your business” Hopkin’s wisdom.

Activity scurrying around me helter skelter as I sat on a bench under a tree with branches swaying in a gentle breeze, feeling that cool breeze, even as the engines of planes bombing wildfires droned in the distance. Experiencing a sense of peace, of calmness, of being carried, of being borne.

A borne identity.

So much of life seems much more flavored with Bourne Identity textures – a blur of motion and movement, no bourneconflict, questions, lies, betrayal, searching, maneuvering, calculating, fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting and hopefully surviving…and in the case of this wedding, a cake that collapsed at the last moment due to overexposure to the heat, the top tier of the cake – along with bride and groom perched perilously thereupon – tumbling unceremoniously to the ground, the groom’s head being severed in the process. Not an auspicious beginning. Fresh scurrying to salvage what was left and come up with Plan B — and to reattach the groom’s head.

Oh to swap Bourne for borne

Sitting under that tree waiting for things to get going – and for the cake to be reassembled – I strolled through the story of Ruth since that’s the story I would be relating in the wedding. What a case study in being borne, in bearing the borne identity – a case study of a rhythmic, jellyfish dance of self-propulsion within a moving current. There are clear movements in the story – moves from Israel to the fields of Moab and back again. Of Naomi sending Ruth out to glean, and of it just so happening that Ruth picks the field of a near kinsman redeemer; of Boaz ensuring that Ruth was protected and provided for; of Naomi urging Ruth to seize an opportune moment, and Ruth readily doing so, followed in suit by Boaz.

Wondrous initiative. A story with delightful turns from a background of chaos through present distress to blessing and future significance. But reading it I wasn’t left with a sense of “you can make your life whatever you want it to be” or some other such pointed “pick yourself up and just get going” inspirational talk such as we might hear at a leadership conference in our upbeat corporate culture.

We aren’t self made people.

We don’t know what we are doing (though we are rarely short on advice as to how everyone else should be doing whatever it is they are doing).

give me forrest over jason any day...

give me forrest over jason any day…and twice on Sunday

We are borne.

That’s the word that hung in the air before me. φερόμενοι (fer-OH-men-oy). It’s the Greek word Peter uses to describe the prophets of old as they were “borne” or “carried” about by the Holy Spirit. φερόμενοι is a present passive participle. Present, ongoing, repeated  action. Passive. Passive. We are carried beings. We are borne.

None of the “holy men of old” set out to be great prophets or to write what would become great prophetic books that would be preserved and read for millennia. They were borne about on a wind that they did not understand to places they could not foresee leaving a mark they could not imagine.

You did not choose me. I chose you.

As much as we might wish to think we are the architects of our own destiny masterfully composing the final suite of the sweeping narrative of our existence, we aren’t. We know what it is that we write, or, rather, what is being written through us on life’s gilded page, only in retrospect, only from the vantage point of eternity, really. And those pens write best that yield themselves fully to the Hand that would wield them.

As much as we would imagine we are orchestrating a masterful slam dunk in our self-perceived and launched purpose driven life, our life resembles more a ball that has no idea where it’s bouncing next.

No wonder such a thought would terrify us. So much trust in the Hand that wields us, that writes life through us, that bounces us so unpredictably from one unforeseen scene to the next.

What terrifying freedom to embrace the reality of such a borne identity…

floating

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in haverings, musings

 

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your life is none of your business

I’ve learned over the years it has nothing to do with me.
My life is none of my business.
It’s all in the hands of God.

A bit more Hopkins wisdom from that Q&A session with students I posted about earlier.

still can't call him "Tony"

still can’t call him “Tony”

“My life is none of my business.”

You could hear a small wave of laughter in the audience, and then he repeated it. And I “rewound” to hear it again myself.

“I’ve learned over the years it has nothing to do with me. My life is none of my business. It’s all in the hands of God. Your life is none of your business.”

Hopkins had spoken of a time of crisis in his own life where he came to terms with life as it is, commenting on the frenetic energy with which so many work so hard to make things happen.

Stop it.

Your life is none of your business. It has nothing to do with you.

Spending yesterday at a simulcast of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit and listening to the likes of Bill Hybels and Colin Powell, I realized a common link with listening to Hopkins talk about life and his acting career: that wondrous voice of the wisdom from experience. There was an energetic performance by a young man or two on that stage yesterday – and actually quite the energetic performance by one not so young that made me feel calm and collected by comparison. The passion communicated through such energetic performances tend to bring people to their feet, but there is something that settles in much deeper through the quiet wisdom of experience.

And that’s what I heard in Hopkins.

Your life is none of your business.

Images of Noah’s ark again with its complete lack of rudder and steering wheel.

Visions of Phil Vischer with his collapsed driven young energetic dream of Veggietales and his Big Idea corporation with his Big Hairy Audacious Goal of becoming the Christian Disney and Pixar…and in the ashes of it all coming up with a new venture. Jellyfish.

jellyfishJellyfish, you see, don’t wake up in the morning with the ambitious goal, the BHAG of “I’m going to Hawaii, come hell or high water, I’m going to Hawaii!”

No.

Jellyfish are carried by a current and all they can do it propel themselves a little bit up and a little bit down within that current.

Vischer refused to come up with another Big Hairy Ambitious Goal for the next ten years of his life, having learned, with Hopkins, that we are more like human jellyfish than driven speedboats or Titanics taking on the deep blue sea.

We are simultaneously propelled and carried. Like the writers of Holy Writ we are borne about here and there wherever the Spirit takes us. The author or authors of Isaiah didn’t set out to write a monumental literary piece that would stand for the ages. They picked up a pen and then were borne.

The wind blows where it wills, says Christ. You hear the sound of it but don’t know where it is coming from or where it is going. And so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

blown away lisa

But we prefer something much more hands on, don’t we? More specifically our hands on. We are much more cozy in the company of the hands on entrepreneurs described by James – “We will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit…” Such passionate, driven energy brings us to our feet with applause as we arise to build our own towering achievements, making a name, and a profit, for ourselves. Who has time to linger for another wise elder’s commentary: “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a vapor. Smoke carried by winds beyond your control and calculations.”

Your life is none of your business.

There might seem to be a tension between our propelling ourselves and our being carried on currents we don’t control. But really it’s more of a rhythmic dance, isn’t it? Jellyfish don’t seem very stressed by such tensions. They just move within the flow.

And while I’m not calling Hopkins a jellyfish, that’s the movement I was hearing in his words and seeing evidenced in his life.

Your life is none of your business. It has nothing to do with you.

Perhaps you and I will live long enough to learn that too.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Faith, haverings, musings

 

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Hopkin’s Wisdom: Know the Script

Know the text cold. Once you know the text, you are free. Once you know the text, you can improvise and do whatever you want. But you must know the text.

This was one little unexpected pearl of wisdom from an hour long Q&A session during which Sir Anthony Hopkins (“Tony”) dialogued with students of Thomas Aquinas College last year.

don't think I could call him "Tony"

don’t think I could call him “Tony”

I normally do the flyby on hour long videos, but I’ve always appreciated the presence that Hopkins brings to the screen, and I was drawn to it for some reason, so I listened while I filled out my pre-admittance forms for my pill-cam examination this week and sorted through some mail.

I paused on the forms and mail several times to re-hear what Hopkins said and jot it down in my wee quote journal.

The above quote was the first.

Whatever I had expected to get out of this Q&A session, I hadn’t expected to glean the observations that I did.

Starting here.

For Hopkins, an actor’s script is his text. His counsel: “Know the text cold. Once you know the text, you are free. Once you know the text, you can improvise and do whatever you want. But you must know the text.”

ScriptFor Hopkins a script is something to master so you are then free to, quite literally, act on it. If you don’t know the text, you have no idea what you are doing and you’ll make a mess of things. Know it cold to the point of getting it into your subconscious, and you’ll be free to act on it, to improvise with it, to see it come to life in your own unique performance.

What’s hard to communicate here is the fluidity and freedom in Hopkin’s passion.

The actor may need to know it cold, but the script is not a cold text containing strict boundaries for dialogue and action to be legalistically and mechanistically adhered to. But you must know it. And in knowing it, you must embody it in the part you play. And in embodying it, since you are a human being, you will bring your own unique nuances and turns to the performance of it.

My mind naturally went to what has been my “script” for going on four decades – Scripture, Holy Writ, that scriptureaccumulated ancient community library we know as “the Bible” (“The Library” would actually be the better rendering of the Greek from which we get “the Bible” = ta biblia = “the books”). I know great swaths of it literally “stone cold.” It has been seeping into my personality and psyche for decades.

What a waste to devote a lifetime to the study and analysis of the Script, but to never get beyond quoting lines of it to other assembled actors during our rehearsals (church?) and arguing with other actors over their interpretation of the lines and their take on the plot.

How tragic to never get onto the real stage (life, like, wherever you live; all the world’s a stage, yes?) with the Script no longer in hand but in heart and head and then to give the performance of a lifetime.

Two challenges here present themselves.

Too many of us neglect the Script. And we think it archaic, religious (in all the bad ways), legalistic, unspiritual (“just move in the Spirit, dude”), etc., to do so…or we’re just plain too busy to bother with the Script ourselves and imagine that we are only the audience witnessing the performance of the actors (pastors, teaching clergy) on what we assume is the stage (church services). Result: we don’t know our own Script. We have no idea how to act on the Script – or imagine that we don’t even need to.

We are the actors not the audience. We need to know the Script or we won’t be able to play our part, period, and we will make quite the mess of things. And how do we going about knowing the Script?

Read it. Aloud. A lot. And start with heart of the Script. Pick a Gospel. Go on. Do it. I’ll wait.

Secondly, when we do set out to learn the Script, we become so anal in our rehearsing of it with and to our fellow actors that we never actually perform the play.

Actually, we still perform a play.

Just a very bad one that everyone has already seen too many times…

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Faith, haverings, Movies, musings, Religion, Sermons

 

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chthonically speaking

My word of the week.

Chthonic.

I recently read some advice for successful writing and publishing today that boiled it down to this: write your passion, but don’t use words that people have to look up, and don’t. use. long. sentences.

One simple word for that.

definitely not chthonic

definitely not chthonic

Boring. And definitely not chthonic.

Dare to serve more chthonic fare!

When saying, chthonic, in the US we treat the “ch” as silent (“thon-ic”), but it’s much more fun to ever so slightly pronounce the initial “ch” as you would in Greek and thus say, “keh-thon-ic” – just don’t linger over the “keh” too long.

I came across chthonic as I finished up Longenecker’s book, Quest for the Creed (I think I’ve mentioned Longenecker a time or two – I like him; he writes complex sentences and makes me look up words). Here was the section where I met chthonic:

“The conception that fused earth and heaven was accomplished by the power of God that Christians call the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some weak ghostly figure that floats about like ectoplasm. Instead it is that fiery, chthonic force that rumbles at the heart of creation from the dawn of time. The first words of the book of Genesis hint that the same brooding, gestating and conceiving power was there at the beginning. The Holy Spirit constantly broods over the bent of the world to bring forth new life.”

Ah yes, chthonic force. What a way to refer to the Holy Spirit – a fiery, chthonic force that rumbles at the heart of creation. I also love the picture of the Spirit brooding over a bent world to bring forth new life…

Layers-of-Earth

a chthonic slice

Chthonic is from the Ancient Greek χθόνιος (khthonios, “in or under the ground”), from  χθών  (khthōn, “ground”).

I thought it looked familiar.

χθών never actually makes an appearance in the Greek New Testament. It only appears in the compound form καταχθόνιος when Paul affirms the universal sway of Christ in the coming age (“every knee will bow and every tongue confess in heaven and on earth and under the earth” Philippians 2:10).

So we’re talking earthy, subterranean, deep.

Try complimenting the pastor this way next time: “Wow. Very chthonic contemplation today, Pastor.” Or perhaps you could tell him or her, “That was far too chthonic for my taste! (and please stop using words that I have to look up. And speak. In. Shorter. Sentences. Thank. You.”

And of course there are variations on chthonic. There’s chthonian. I suppose a chthonian performance would be the opposite of one that’s stellar.

a very ancient, chthonic discussion...

a very ancient, chthonic discussion…

Or how about we start the Chthonic Church – in fact, the early church in Rome meeting in those catacombs was literally chthonic, wasn’t it? Ultimately we’re all going to be chthonicized, aren’t we?

The Gospel is so chthonic.

Typically we think of God and Gospel as so otherworldly, so out of this world, so not of this earth. We’re back with Plato and Aristotle insisting that we point up while others point down, forgetting the chthonic reality of the incarnation. God spans heaven and earth to its chthonic depths and unites everyone and everything through that fiery, chthonic Spirit pulsing at the center of creation.

We love and serve a chthonic God who has really gotten down to earth.

Perhaps we should follow suit…

Hands Holding Soil --- Image by © L. Clarke/Corbis

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2013 in haverings, musings

 

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