Saturday, June 30, 2007

The love of God in a culture of disinterest

I had one of my most profound experiences of the love of God recently. 4 days ago Erica and I arrived in Minneapolis, our new home, and have been living with my parents. A couple days ago we spent an evening at my sister and brother-in-laws house and we brought Junia. The day before she had spent pretty much all day in the car and was pretty wiped out and confused at life. We tried to put her to sleep in the pack and play, but she just kept waking up so we would go in and give her her pacifier. This did not do any good, so eventually I just went in there to hold her which always calms her down. This time my holding her did absolutely nothing. Her little face just turned bright red as she screamed and cried into my face. It went back and forth between those yelping screams and the long sustained ones that sound like a lung is going to fall out. So, this went on for about 20 minutes and by the time Erica came I was crying with Junia because I simply had no idea how to provide for whatever her need was. I ended up throwing her pacifier against the wall because I was so saddened by the fact that I could not help this little girl I am responsible for. Once I composed myself and got the tears out of my eyes we left and Junia was dead asleep when we got home.

As I think through that night I am struck by what must be the incredible love that God feels for us. I just got this picture that as we make choices that fall away from the plan of God, God is holding us tight as he cries with our sadness and our mistakes. It is this immense love that overflows out of the person of God and should flow out of each one of us as we love the rest of the world. I need to weep more for the weeping of the world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flux Capacitor

I am in that flux time in between when I should have gone to bed and before Junia will wake up to do her feeding thing so I thought I might as well make a quick post here. Personally, I am also in a pretty distinct place of fluctuation in life. I have finished my seminary degree, which I have been looking forward to for some time, but I think I am truly beginning to understand the sad place that leaves me in. The reality is that by finishing that I am moving on to a different place in life. One filled with many joys I am sure, but also one that leaves me apprehensive at the tasks and responsibilities I am to fulfill without anything to convey that I am truly capable. I am also beginning to miss my friends here in Denver before I have actually left them. This is truly a reason to mourn and rejoice. I am so thankful for those people I have had the privilege to know here, but am starkly aware of the reality that meaningful, blunt relationships are not easy to find. In flux is also the job search as I am saddened more than I find reasons to hope.

I have been thinking about Psalm 118 lately, particularly verse 25, which states, "YHWH, please save us now. YHWH please grant us success now." This is where we get the word, "Hosannah". It comes from a Hiphil Imperative of the verb "yasha", the same place we get Yeshua. This verse is a desperate cry to YHWH for his salvation in the midst of difficult circumstances. The writer is physically beaten and emotionally banged up and screams to God for his salvation. There is a refrain in verses 14 and 21 that note that YHWH "has become his salvation." It is almost as if these trying times made the writer realize the saving God who was already there. The writer has realized that YHWH is his salvation and, now seeing this, cries out to YHWH for the salvation that he knows is there.

It is my prayer that I might learn to understand this salvation more deeply. I need it.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Reflections on a Lack of Sleep

Junia is now a little over a week old and her presence in our life is quite unmistakable, particularly during the hours of 1 to 6 in the morning. She has not, as the doctor puts it, changed her internal clock to believe the night time is sleep time, but rather maintains the opposite. This happens to be really cute during the day when she is sleeping, but becomes considerably less cute at 4 in the morning. On the bright side, I have been able to watch more SportsCenter and CNN which is making me feel more adept at current events, at least the current events that CNN finds mildly entertaining. Overall, I am still in awe at the fact that Junia is truly our daughter. Erica's mom and sister left yesterday which allowed me to remain in the confused state of prolonged babysitting, but this morning was much more profound. I am humbled by this task and feel quite insecure about my inability to be the kind of father that she deserves. This becomes compounded as I think through my need to find a job and support our family, a task that I also feel pretty inadequate to complete (as of right now I am a bit jaded by opportunities that have seemed like good fits, but for whatever reason do not come to fruition). But, the good news is that I have been reading portions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Junia late at night and I am almost positive she is truly grasping the beauty of his thoughts and writing. Well, those are my random reflections in the midst of no sleep. If anyone else has random reflections feel free to share them or if you have a kid and truly understand the lack of sleep thought processes, please share. Cheers

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Junia Charlotte Morrow

I am writing this from the hospital room. Our beautiful daughter has been born. She is a big girl and is 8 lbs, 14 oz. She was born on Saturday at 12:18 PM. More to follow on the event, but here are some pictures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Marker of Confusion...

Sorry, that is not our child, even though I am bit angered that you thought our child would be that awkward looking.

Our daughter is due today and like 90% of all people who get pregnant, the baby has not come on the due day. I am realizing an element of my pettiness and desire to control everything as I have this desire to just have the doctor induce Erica because it would fit better in our lives and then I could finally meet this girl. We have walked probably 15 miles in the last couple days (mostly in malls which is the most depressing experience ever, but on the upside I do know more about fashion, and particularly Madras shorts, than a few days ago, they are VERY in right now) in hopes of helping the baby along out of the cervix. So, no such luck. I have been praying that God would bring the baby soon and also praying that God's will would be done and not mine, but I have this sneaking suspicion that God knows I would prefer my will to be done. It is truly a struggle to desire one thing and hope for the will of God while also hoping that His will is the same as mine.

One final note, which relates to the title of this post, is how oblivious people are if they have not gone through a pregnancy close to others. We were at the eye doctor's office today and the woman asked when Erica was due and she said "today" so the doctor naturally freaked out and pretty much asked us to leave because she didn't want to be in charge of dialing 911 if Erica went into labor. Hmm... Also, I told our realtor today that the baby was due and he asked why we weren't at the hospital and I gently explained that you don't go unless the baby actually arrives.

Well, pray that the baby comes soon and if God tells you His will is something different please tell me even if I get mildly irritated.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Christ is REALLY Victorious!!

Over the past month I have had the wonderful privilege of hearing sermons on the topic of Christus Victor. In conjunction with this profound act of God, my staff pick at the bookstore for the past month has been Gustaf Aulen's Christus Victor. In honor of this rare coming together of all things good and beautiful I thought I might provide some links for any and all who are interested in listening to these sermons. I shall call these my annotated links:
This is my brother-in-laws blog with sermons from the church he pastors and his May 9th sermon is a comparison between the temptation of Jesus and the authority given to the disciples in the Great Comission. I would highly recommend this to you all.
This link will take you to Mars Hill church in Michigan. If you know me at all, you know that I have been rather infatuated with Rob Bell for about the past 5 years and this sermon is the bringing together of 2 wonderful things: Rob Bell and Greg Boyd. Boyd does a masterful job of elucidating the main ideas of Christus Victor in the April 29th sermon. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
This was a sermon done yesterday at our home church. We attend an amazing Anglican church and this week we were celebrating the ascension and our pastor connected the idea of the ascension to Christus Victor. I really like this church and greatly appreciate its passionate heart to be doers and learners of the Word of God. A bit less refined than Boyd's, but who isn't less thought through than Greg Boyd (feel free to respond if you totally disagree with that statement).

Finally, my friend Ryan told me that his church, Pathways, will be engaging the topic of Christus Victor this coming Sunday. Here is the link where it will be:

If you have thoughts on this topic I'd love to know your reservations or other thoughts (I just noticed that the calculater we use in the bookstore is made by a company called "Victor." If that isn't the sovereignty of God I am baffled). Cheers

Friday, May 18, 2007

Who are you going to vote for? Does it matter?

One of my favorite discussions to have with my friend Ryan are related to politics. If you know Ryan you are well aware that he has serious Mennonite leanings that usually pull him out of the political debate. I struggle a lot with this issue, not least because I graduated with a Political Science major in undergrad and spent a summer in Washington D.C., but I am attempting to determine what the role of Christians should be in that political arena. I truly believe that it must be seen as a double-edged sword that must be understood carefully. On one hand, the Kingdoms of this world, and specifically the United States, is not representative of the Kingdom of God and when it gets misconstrued in that direction we have a serious problem. On the other hand, we have to pay taxes (unless you're like the militia group I was reading about in the latest Jack Reacher novel who avoid taxes, but also stockpile arms and kill lots of people. They have more problems than could be mentioned here. If you are part of a militia group please respond and we can sort through these things.). These tax dollars go to a government and this government sometimes asks my opinion for how to spend that money. In light of that I feel as though I would be remiss to not take advantage of the change to share what I think.

More specifically, I grew up in a home that voted consistently Republican and have been shaped by that, but am in the midst of struggling through that issue. For this blog I want to focus on the main Democratic candidates, Barak and Hillary. Who would you vote for? Why? Is it difficult to get around the abortion issue in the midst of candidates who seem to cry out against the unjust loss of life in the other areas? I looking for help on this...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Killing Floor" and other wonderful novels

I graduated from seminary this past Saturday and it was a joyous occasion. My parents were in town which was excellent and I got to have lunch at P.F. Changs with 11 of my favorite people (I had the double pan fried noodles with beef which was spectacular). Upon graduating and finishing all of the academic requirements necessary for graduation I have been doing what all graduates would do: READING NOVELS. My dad told me about an author named Lee Child. He has written numerous novels that revolve around the character, Jack Reacher. Reacher is a military burn-out who is now a loner, but seems to continually get caught up in fantastic stories of espionage and political suspense. Anyway, I love them. It is so refreshing to read a book without a pen in my hand and a worry that I am going to get tested on the contents (can I get an AMEN!). I am on my third of these books and would highly recommend it for those of you who, like me, spend most of your time in non-fiction books that hurt to read after about ten pages because you can't remember the argument that began 100 pages ago. This is also a friendly and necessary reminder that the biblical story is supposed to be read as a novel in many cases. Reading the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Jonah, Esther, Ruth, etc, are supposed to be read on the edge of your seat. I truly need to re-discover these texts for the first time in order to truly experience the intrigue and suspense of these stories that are supposed to draw us into the text and, ultimately, closer to God. Praise the Lord for novels.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just breathe ... it'll be okay George

It's hard to be annoyed at George Steinbrenner anymore, he's just so consistently irritating that if one were to be annoyed each time by his antics I imagine ones life would be considerably shortened. As noted in a previous post, I have personal issues with the New York Yankees, specifically with Derek Jeter (who, by the way, I struck out five times in one game while playing my game cube, and yes, you guessed it, Johan Santana was pitching to him for a complete game shut out against the Yankees). The Yankees just signed Roger Clemens for a ridiculous amount of money (I believe a conservative estimate is that he will be paid $40,000 per pitch). I honestly don't have much against Clemens, other than the fact that he has signed on more than once with the evil empire. I have come to the conclusion that it is time for God to step into this disturbing little world and have the Yanks finish below five hundred. I also believe that the Twins stadium should start sending around an offering plate at each game in hopes of raising enough money to keep Santana at the end of the year. Ok, all for now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Oh Joy, graduation...

I am three days away from graduating from Denver Seminary. My thoughts right now are filled with immense joy and mixed with a incredible fear over what is to come in the next couple months. Here is my short list of to-dos:

1. Graduate sucessfully
2. "Assist" in the birth of our daughter (i.e. try really hard not to faint)
3. Figure out how to get the contents of our house to Minneapolis soon after the closing of our house on June 25th
4. Find a job that will provide financially for the fam along with feeling like I am being used in a meaningful way (also so we have some sort of income and can qualify for a loan on a home)
5. Locate a house that meets Erica's criteria (lots of character, really cute, built-ins, in the city, built before 1950) and my criteria (won't fall apart and cost lots of money to maintain)
6. Try to re-learn how to be in the same city with family and meet all the many expectations

So, that is my minor whining, but whenever I dwell too long on those realities I am quickly struck with our place in life right now. We "randomly" made it to Denver Seminary where we have met so many friends that we will be exceedingly sad to leave. Erica "randomly" got a job where she can be a worship leader, mentor for young women, drama director, choir director, and use her degree. We "randomly" bought a house out here in a 3 day weekend over 3 years ago that happens to be within 10 minutes of both the seminary and Erica's job. We "randomly" showed up at Mission Hills church and found some of our dearest friends.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. "Why do you worry?... seek first the Kingdom of GOd and all these things will be added to you!" It is my prayer that these next months might be a time to become drenched in the Kingdom.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What would I really say?

My friend Josh just recently had their first baby and he had written some thoughts on his blog that he would like to share with little Roy. So, in honor of that and in thinking through our own child could arrive any time now I thought I might try the same exercise.

Dear ...... (I know your name, but we're keeping it a secret)

Here are some basic ground rules of my life and I would greatly appreciate if you might be obliged to consider them important also. First, I try really hard to love Jesus and out of that love to take care of other people in the world. One of the things I am particularly passionate right now, which will probably have repercussions in your life, is the desire to get out of United States in order to show you that this place is not the normal way of existence. To be honest, I fail a lot at this goal, but I do pray that my life might be a small guidepost of what it means to love Jesus and pour that love to others. Second, I love your mom a lot. She and I have known each other for about seven years now. Our first year was filled with sadness for me because she was dating some guy (whose name shall not be mentioned), but she finally came to her senses. I know that you will grow to love and respect her because she is passionate about life and loves to envision a better and more profound world. You are really lucky. Third, the rest of your family is really anticipating your arrival. You have more clothes and toys than most people would ever need, particularly when they are still unborn. I hope that you take the time to know them because you will learn a lot and be challenged. They are a joyful group that embodies hope, joy, fortitude, passion, intelligence, and love. Fourth, I love to learn new things. This has actually a bit of an obsession for me lately, I am writing this while working at a bookstore. We just packed up the books in our house and it was about 30 boxes of books. You WILL like books because I will force them on you. I have heard it is not good to force things on your children, but this will just have to be the exception. Don't worry, I will not read you irritating books by angry people, but some of them might be a bit above your age. It'll be good for you. Fifth, our family roots for the Minnesota Twins. I guess this is probably another non-negotiable. I am ok if you don't root for the Vikings, Timberwolves, and Wild, but the Twins are an essential part of our unit. We particularly enjoy when Johan Santana is pitching in the second half of the season. You will understand what I mean when you are a teenager and he is about to win his 15th Cy Young award! Finally, I am not perfect. I know this will come as a shock, but I thought I should get it out of the way early. I have failed in many ways and will continue to do so in my life, but you need to know that I will always love you as well as I know how. I promise to respect you and be your advocate. I promise to be your protector and bestow worth upon you. I want our relationship to be one rooted in honesty so I thought I would initiate that here.

I love you and can't wait to meet you.


Monday, April 30, 2007

River City, IA in Littleton, CO

My wife directed three outstanding performances this weekend of the musical "The Music Man." Those of you who are not connoisseurs in musical theater, this show is set in the early 1900's and is the story of people in River City, IA and the nice little world they have created by being insulated from most things in the outside world. While in the midst of this commune, of sorts, Harold Hill comes into the town in an effort to scam the local people into selling them a boys band. Harold manipulates the people into believing they have serious moral problems in the town, as can be evidently seen by the presence of a pool table. Ok, now there is a love story and other interesting plot lines, this overarching theme is my focus. I found the setting of River City and that of many concerned parent groups at my wife's school eerily similar. Now, I have no idea if anyone from that group will ever read this, but this is not an attempt on my part to be vindictive, I am hoping to convey some of the facts.

1. A sense of moral superiority rooted in the desire to save "the children" and agitated to believe a lie based on manipulated evidence.

2. The need and necessity for credentials that fit within an accepted norm.

3. Becoming agitated by authors who are merely thought to be inappropriate, but have actually been engaged on rare and minute instances.

4. And finally, this sense of moral superiority blinds us to the fruits in our lives and others.

While I am aware if you don't know the situations I am referring to this is a bit cryptic, but the comparison is not exact. Anyway, great job Erica on an awesome job. You make those kids shine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Evangelism...Jesus style

I was at our small group last night and my friend Michael made a really intriguing point that I have been thinking about. We were talking about the purpose and goal of evangelism, specifically in light of the common evangelical strategy of knocking on doors and getting people to say the sinner's prayer. We watched a clip from "Freedom Writers" that emphasizes the importance of gaining the respect of the people you are trying to teach before you have the right to speak truthfully into their lives (as a side note, that movie is a magnificent example of how I understand evangelism. This woman who does not really change who she is, but loves those kids so deeply that they desire to emulate her life). This discussion moved quickly into looking at the model of evangelism in the life of Jesus and his disciples. What did it mean for Jesus to send out his disciples to evangelize? What was the message before there was the death and resurrection? Matthew 10:7 says, "As you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven has drawn near.' Heal sick people, raise dead people, cleanse lepers, cast out demons; without cost did you receive, without cost give." The reality is that it seems the message of the disciples was to be the message of both John and Jesus, but it was not to simply remain words, but necessitated the healing action and powers of God. While I believe that there is a sense in which after the death and resurrection there needed to be a re-working of the message, we cannot disregard the evangelistic style of Jesus. Maybe our message needs to be more about this present life than the future. If the Kingdom is at hand, what are we waiting for? I am just trying to learn what it means to live out evangelism...Jesus style. I would love your comments.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mourning in the good of life

So, our house (pictured here) is under contract after approximately one week on the market, a miraculous fact in this market I am told. Upon realizing this momentous landmark in our journey here in Denver I have been hit with a deep sense of sadness. The last seven years in particular have been filled with this exuberant, yet lame, trend of engaging in meaningful and deep relationships only to see them dissolve with the changes in life. My roommate from college, Josh (see link on the side to Carn-dog's comments), just wrote a blog about one of his buddies moving on and he is one of those people that it is truly mournful to miss out on his friendship. I have some other buddies from college and even high school that I am just remembering and missing those moments of joy and laughter together. I am not sure what the next few months hold, while moving back to Minneapolis seems like the most likely option, but I ache at the thought of such a sudden change to friendships that I covet so deeply. Sometimes I worry because I don't feel things as deeply as others, specifically my wonderful wife, but I am realizing in this experience that I am starkly aware of those emotions. Well, here's to the good moments in life and learning how to deal with the undeniable pains that go along with those joyful celebrations.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Perhaps this will dissolve like another Left Behind novel

I am sure that this will be one of many blogs devoted to what has been happening in Virginia over the last 24 hours in regards to the shooting there. As I was in the bookstore this morning my boss was asking us how we were processing the whole situation and my friend noted that he is having a difficult time experiencing compassion in the situation and is not sure why. I think that this is a legitimate observation, particularly in the midst all of the disasters and horrible tragedies that occur everyday in our world. How do we properly grieve for the horrors of the world and not become overcome by sadness that we are unable to get up in the morning? I struggle with this (and on a side note was rather annoyed by the proclivity to blame among the media rather than attempt to assist in the grieving process) because I believe that one of the grandest callings of Christians is to be a kind of people who honor ALL of life, whether this is our enemy in another country or our enemy at home, and I believe this means grieving for all of life. I am beginning a project on the book of Lamentations and have been impressed by the intracacies of the lament in that book. The entire book is an acrostic of lament (each line beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet) and I was struck this morning how sophisticated the language of lament was to those ancient peoples and how important that is for Christians to resurrect. We need to revitalize lament, not just in an off-the-cuff fashion, but through the means of artistic expression that are able to grasp the depth of sadness and through that revitalize hope in who we should be as a people of God. Here is my first attempt:

What do you do with a life that is no more?
Does it make sense to allow my heart to feel it all?
If I go there will I ever come back?
In allowing myself to die with them can I arrive at the depth of their pain?
It is senseless, it is vile, it is gross, it is revolting, it can be redeemed
Was God crying as that man pulled the trigger?
If God cried should I not be crying too?
Where else was God crying today?
What did I forget to grieve?

May lament help us arrive at the realization that this is not what life is meant to be and this carnage is NOT "simply human." Try living lament.

"They charge me with fanaticism. If to be feeling alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large." - William Wilberforce.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What is my/our deal?

My friend Ryan (picture to the right with an awesome beard) recently wrote a blog about prayer and its presence, or lack thereof, in our lives of faith. That got me thinking about my journey of prayer within my faith. It all began in junior high when my mom began giving me journals and I would write out my prayers, but rarely actually pray them in the standard sense of closing my eyes and attempting to imagine a deity of some kind. Moving on from this rather safe relationship, my college years were filled with long and sometimes arduous times in the prayer chapel at Bethel University. These were fruitful, but seemed to be lacking in their sustainability. As I found my way to seminary I have had many theological discussions regarding prayer along with doing a learning contract on the topic, but have found that my prayer life continues to falter. I recently read a book by Greg Body called "Seeing is Believing" where the main premise is the need to use imagination as a source of engaging with God. The point is that we remember visually, not with data and facts, and that to truly engage a being that cannot be seen we must use our imagination. It is an outgrowth of some of the characteristics of lectio divina (see Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson for an introduction on this topic)

So, beyond the intellectual exercises that I attempt to utilize to help my prayer life become more of a conversation, I need to come to grips with the honest truth. I think that I am truthfully afraid that in my prayer I might get to a point where God decides that my sins are too great an offense. I think that I fear the justice of God in my prayers which sometimes makes me not want to pray. I know that this goes against much what I say that I believe theologically, but it is the truth of my journey. I long for that intimacy, but sometimes it is just hard to find. I would love to know of your journeys...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

THE problem with the world (or maybe just one large one)

I grew up in Minnesota and continue to be a die-hard Minnesota Twins fan. I have been pleasantly surprised by this past week where, living in Denver, I have had the opportunity to see two of their games. Now, this fortuitous situation has made me think again about the meticulous sovereignty of God, but thankfully whenever I see the Twins on national television they are playing the Yankees which reminds me of the deep depravity of humanity. Chief among the "sinners" must be Derek Jeter. For those Jeter fans, I must say that I might like him if he played for a small market team and was not drooled on by every announcer, but he has been lumped with an unfortunate crowd (the old adage must be true, "you're only as good as the crowd you're with"). Jeter is very sound fundamentally, but the biggest difficulty I have is the seeming necessity for the camera person to follow him into the dugout while the announcer posit what his mysterious thoughts are at that moment. Ok, maybe that isn't my biggest difficult, maybe my even greater problem I have is when the announcers completely ignore the reigning batting champion (Joe Mauer) and the reigning MVP (Justin Morneau) along with the reigning Cy Young winner (Johan Santana) in order to look longingly at Derek. Do I sound bitter? Good, then I have properly conveyed my sentiments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"The wrath of God was satisfied"??

My wife and I have been going to a wonderful church for the last 4 months. Wellspring church is a part of the Anglican Mission in America (there sending church is located in Africa). Our Easter service was raucous and I loved it. One of the songs that was sung that I dearly love was "In Christ Alone." This is such a beautifully moving song, but have trouble when we get to the line that states,

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

This line has always intrigued me and I am not quite sure what to do with it. I was chatting about this with some friends in the bookstore and one of the main conclusions we came to (with the help of one wise professor) is that there is a problem in our thinking when the wrath of God and the love of God seem like dichotomous opposites. Perhaps the main issue is with our definition of wrath that seems to stem most often from violent presuppositions which I have a hard time relating to the picture of God in the person of Jesus on the cross. Finally, I know this is a bit crass, but when I imagine the wrath of God being satisfied I picture a toddler throwing a temper tantrum who needs to be appeased into settling down. I am sure my Calvinist friends will note my limited perspective, but this is my blog and it just needed to be said.

My final analysis (at least for today, who knows what tomorrow will bring) is that the idea of the wrath of God is completely meaningless outside of the love of God. If God shows wrath, and this cannot be in the way it is seen today (i.e. the "shock and awe" campaign in Iraq), it is only out of his outrageous love and outrageous love cannot be fulfilled through killing that person.

I need some help so please give me your thoughts and opinions.

Monday, April 9, 2007

I'm SO sorry!!

We just had another ultrasound for our little girl and I came to the startling revelation that she has inherited my awkward toes. So, someday when she is reading this blog I need to say that I am sincerely sorry. For those of you unaware of my issue, my little toe is rather small and almost hidden beneath my other toes and my second toe is considerably larger than my big toe. Anyway, hope you love me anyways.

Let's all become immigrants

One of my two classes right now is "Old Testament Social Ethics" which has its moments of being very intriguing, although unfortunately I have been having far too many moments of zoning out in the hopes of soon being out of a classroom setting. We have a few different papers (one is on terrorism and is a wonderful exercise, I am reading "Where is God" by Jon Sobrino and you should all read it sometime) and the one I am thinking about right now deals with Hispanic Immigration. The goal is to engage numerous contemporary sources on the issues and compare the political/economic/sociological issues with the view of the Old Testament. I just read a chapter of "Beyond Smoke and Mirrors" and the main argument was that immigration into the United States is caused by the market needs of the United States. He defined the market needs not specifically related to money, but a social structure in the United States that does not allow certain people to fill certain jobs within the workplace. When people with a certain sense of entitlement come into those lower roles they force a pay increase which forces a pay increase on those above them and ruins the economic mobility of the company. Anyway, it ends up being our own sense of entitlement as Americans that forces the need for illegal immigration. I found this fascinating and wanted to get any thoughts you all might have. This is such a complex issue and I am just at the beginning of digging into it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Like water and oil? Or more like delicious cookies?

I am pretty open about being a free-will theist and my utter confusion with the basic tenets of Calvinisim, but I was thinking the other day after a conversation with my wife. She works at a pretty conservative Christian school and had a conversation with the co-workers about politics. The best quote of the time was, "Barak Obama stands for everything evil in the world" (anyway, that's a discussion for a different blog). One of them mentioned how America is the best place anyone could live in the world because of all the amazing freedoms we have been given and often take for granted. Erica and I were talking about this and I was thinking through how my own theological beliefs often fit so nicely within the framework of my national identity. Not that I equate Christianity with my nationality, but that my focus on human freedom within my theology can be seen as an appropriation of an American ideal in conjunction with a Christian ideal. So, I still believe that the Bible emphasizes human freedom to a large extent, but I think it can be dangerous when we do not question the way our political landscape has corrupted or hijacked the faith. Any places you all have been hijacked?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ankle-Deep in Water??

Ok, awesome cartoon. Whether you are really into President Bush or not, this is wonderful.

I just watched "An Inconvenient Truth" and am wondering what it looks like to be a faithful Christian and someone who desires to take care of the environment. I don't think it entails a reaction like James Dobson:

"More importantly, we have observed that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children."

But honestly, I know that there is a part of me that is frightened at what it means personally for me to do something about global warming. So, here is the question: "What can we do, as individuals or larger community groups, to help change the trend of using the earth to keep us comfortable?"

God's Rivals

I was just reading the introduction and conclusion to this book that is all about the existence of other religions and I was fascinated at his ability to articulate what I think of as foundation to my worldview, but have never fully applied. I have been intrigued as I think through the place of religions other than Christianity within my worldview and how to understand their place in a world in which God has complete control. Here is a quote that I found compelling. Let me know what you think.

"Here I will sum up what we have seen. There is a line of teaching in both biblical Testaments that non-Jewish and non-Christian religions were inspired by divine powers that were created good but then went bad. As Paul suggested, angelic powers rebelled in pride against their Maker and enticed whole populations to worship them instead of the Father of Jesus Christ. They distorted what they knew of God's truth and held their devotees in a kind of bondage to a version of divine law. Hence the religions were born in deception and malice. But at the same time the religions are tutors of sort. God uses their very distortions to teach truth by the very mixture they produce. Their truth, mixed with error, was sown by seeds from the Logos. That truth keeps people from ruining their lives by wholesale avoidance of God's law, and it leads some to a reverent fear of God."

I think that one of the most biblically coherent elements of this idea by McDermott is that it provides a way to interact with those of other religions in what amounts to patient persuasion rather than hostile argumentation. I also think that it gives an inroad into the realization that those who believe they have the truth in their particular faith might not be completely in that they have truth, possibly just a distorted version of what God once created as good. Finally, I think that in this I, as a Christian, need to have a more humble grasp on truth as I remember what has been done in the name of Christ that truth does not resemble the truths on which I claim to have life. I would love to hear your thoughts. I guess this could also be called "Cow Tippin'" (See post below)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Rocks (or trees) Cry Out!

So, this is a picture of one of my friends from Minneapolis, and sometimes Denver. Scott leads a group people to Nepal a couple times a year (he has been 19 times thus far) for leadership training, ministry, and hiking. They spend a lot of time with village people, sharing cokes, and loving on those in a leper colony. His ministry is one of those that when I hear about it this time at seminary seems like a miniscule learning opportunity. I am grateful for people whose lives spur me on to dream about the Kingdom of God in places I wouldn't even be able to imagine it exists. Scott, if you ever read this, thank you. The following is a blog excerpt I found of Scott's that is gorgeous.

"Jan. 16th Coming down from Annapurna Base Camp

i saw a tree today. That might sound odd to hear, but it is a rare sight at 13,500 ft. It caught my attention because after scowering the rugged cliffs and the mountain slopes all around me, i could not find its match. There were none but this one! It was growing BIG and strong right out of a cleft in the rock. My initial reaction to seeing this tree is that it looked lonely there all by itself. To be the only one and to be so different from anything else around...lonely. Then i thought, thats how i feel sometimes. Then i wondered if the tree ever got so caught up in the fact that it seemed so unique or if it ever got frustrated that everything around it was so different that it missed the fact that there was so much amazing beauty all around it? That if this tree took the time to just look around it would realize that God placed it right in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth. Then as i continued to take in this beauty and the thought of this tree, i wondered what the tree would think, knowing that today it's very exsistence led me in worship of our Creator and our King?! That this tree was God's centerpeice in the beauty i witnessed as i sat on that rock...that this tree is a beautiful creation that crys out in praise of it's Creator. We are that tree! i am that tree. God, may i never get so caught up in myself or my circumstances that i forget that i too am your beautiful creation, that i was created to praise you and that my mere existence is, in and of itself, a reflection of Your beauty and Grace!"

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Cow-Tippin' Time

I have been thinking recently about the need for the evangelical church to re-think some of those good old "sacred cows" that are held neatly within statements of belief and , my favorite, the good old church constitution. Maybe this will have to be a weekly or monthly endeavor where I propose a "sacred cow" that needs tippin' and we can all work together to de-clutter wonderful evangelical churches. This week's tippin' point is the following statement which exists in most evangelical doctrinal statements: "inherent in its original manuscripts." i am going to make this short and sweet because my brain is feeling like mush (don't hold that against me) from working on my thesis today and feeling like I didn't get anywhere. So, I have been in many churches that affirm that the Bible is inherent in its original manuscripts and I have often wondered. "Mr. Pastor, do you have those original manuscripts? Because if you do you can just quit being a pastor because you could be wealthy!!" As I am spending a considerable amount of time study Hebrew I am coming to the conclusion that humans often suck at minute tasks. We were looking at a passage in Samuel where the Hebrew literally says, "Saul was one year old when he became king and he reigned for two years." Excellent! I guess my main point is that I don't understand this incessant need that there have been some magical set of perfect manuscripts for them to have been from God. I think that the dictation theory of inspiration just negates the way God works to such an extant that it doesn't sound like the God of the Bible. Personally, I am so grateful to a God that would risk putting this Bible, His word, into the hands of lame humanity and working with us to preserve it up to this point and that the message of salvation is still as beautiful as it was 2, 3, or 4 thousand years ago. PRAISE THE LORD and Hooray for cow tippin'.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

My blog of confusion

Cheers, all 2 of you that actually check my blog and have thought that David is really slacking in this blog thing. Well, I guess I would prefer it if you just thought I was lazy rather than a big idiot who forgot how to access his own blog. Anyway, I'm back it.

I took comps this last Saturday and I still haven't heard back about that which bothers me for numerous reasons, one major one being that I am a bit worried (hence picture of awesome nervous boy) that I will fail more than one section and need to retake the exam next semester which would most likely severely bother my wife. Not to mention the fact that I would cry (i know Ryan is thinking something to the effect, figures! Little baby David doing his thing).

Do you ever wonder if those things you have planned to happen, which would be devastating if they didn't occur, make sense in some other way. I assume that graduating and finding a job that might make more sense with my current passions would be a good thing. And here is the vaguest (is that a word?) question ever be posted on this blog henceforth, now and forever. Hmm... I wonder how much control God has of that situation?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Good Reality Check

Comps were yesterday and I am having a hard time getting them out of my mind as I incessantly worry about whether I was either correct in my response or totally misrepresented the opinion of the person in the article who also happens to be the one grading the response. Well, I could go on for a while on that topic as might be noted by the fact that I am writing this early Sunday morning because sleeping has been a bit questionable.

You want to know a good way to be humbled? I know you do so don't even pretend to stop reading. The picture of the baby above is that of a child born after only 22 weeks (for those guys that aren't really sure if that is full term or what, this is about half way to full term) and she seems to be pretty dang healthy from what I have been reading. It is amazing seeing all the intricacies in that child knowing mine is about 6 weeks further along. God is so good. It's pretty healthy to get my mind off me, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Let us take a moment to be thankful

Can we all just take a moment and be thankful for the magnificent show that is "The Office" and how in the midst of bizarre weeks they can never be as bizarre as Dwight.

I still can't get the moment out of my head from last night's episode when Jim and the CFO are out playing basketball and they see Dwight throwing things off the roof from the chimney. Ah, wonderful.

When do I get to be wrong?

So, I am intrigued to see if anyone actually ever begins reading this blog, but I thought I might as well keep writing because oddly enough my brain just keeps right on trucking with odd little thoughts. So, this picture is one that was taken as President Bush learned about the airplanes flying into the World Trade towers on 9/11 and I was just thinking about how scared he looks. I know there are some that think he just looks mad and is ready to get back at the world, but I think he is scared. As a result of this event there are few political folks who would deny that the President has made any mistakes along the way. This whole Iraq thing probably could have been handled differently, anywho. This leads to my actual deal I am thinking about.

If the President of the United States gets a few "oops" moments why not me? I recently met with a leader of a prominent denomination within the United States and internationally to discuss if I would be right to work in that denomination and I was surprised to learn how rigidly all of their doctrinal beliefs are held. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer of doctrinal beliefs, but I wasn't sensing any area of wiggle room. I am 25 years old and am to affirm that for the rest of my life I will be cautious of Charismatic expression, premillennial, and always prefer a congregational model of church leadership. What would have happened to the church if the Apostle Paul was made to sign a statement of beliefs when he was young? All I'm saying is that there needs to be a richer awareness of the discrepancies within Scripture which might necessitate a difference of opinion and it bothers me when these differences mark a denomination and end of dividing the church.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Comps Ranting

I am in the midst of spending the majority of my time studying for my comprehensive exam which is quickly approaching this Saturday and I am finding myself thinking through issues that seem a bit too big for my britches. You know that feeling when you are trying to think through something that must be important to think through, but you just sense that you are becoming a heretic in the process. Oh well, hopefully it will all still fall within the realm of grace.

So, my thesis right now is on the book of Ecclesiastes and I am attempting to find a connection between classic canonical criticism (i.e. Brevard Childs, and others) and ancient Jewish interpretation from various Midrash and other sources. The main idea is just that to understand the book of Ecclesiastes you must read it in its canonical place rather than simply atomizing the book to the point that you decide it has no place in the canon. It is an attempt to place Ecclesiastes in the corpus of scripture in a similar way that James acts as a theological balance to Romans in the New Testament. Really, I am getting to my question.

In the midst of doing this I have begun to realize how closely narrative criticism and narrative theology relate to this topic. I love the idea of narrative criticism as it invites the reader to truly attempt to understand what the author was attempting to convey rather than simply idealizing scripture to fit with our own theological presuppositions. The only problem with this is that the more you read scripture as a story the faster academics are to see it ONLY as a story and revolt against any sense of historical factuality. I was reading an Old Testament theologian, Gerhard Von Rad, who believes that it is impossible to believe that all of Israel crossed the Red Sea or that the whole of Israel was at Mount Sinai. He prefers to think of the Israelite experience in the Old Testament as a beautiful sermon illustration that posits excellents points, but without any particular merit historically. Usually I am alright with this presupposition, particularly in relationship to the creation story which seems to be written in a poetic style and with an eye for metaphorical ideals, but what happens when we continue this trend and our buddy Bultmann and others see the Resurrection as something needing to be demythologized. I am just a bit confused at where the line is, or maybe my need for a line is pretty western of my anyways. I'd love any thoughts.