Category Archives: Better Blogs

Peter Rollins on Parables and Resurrection

A couple weeks ago, I posted a review on the Rabbit Room of Peter Rollins’ new book, The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales, along with one of the parables, Finding Faith. Discussion on the post continues, including a couple mentions of, you guessed it, heresy. Some of the comments about the Resurrection reminded me of this provocative post on Pete’s blog, his confession about what he really believes – as made manifest by his actions – regarding the resurrection.

I am four days into my ‘Lessons’ tour and so far loving it… Many subjects have been covered, but perhaps the most pertinent one revolved around the place and nature of belief in faith.

At one point in the proceedings someone asked if my theoretical position led me to denying the Resurrection of Christ. This question allowed me the opportunity to communicate clearly and concisely my thoughts on the subject, which I repeat here.

Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…
Continue reading Peter Rollins on Parables and Resurrection

Belief in God is belief in mystery

I first discovered Tony Woodlief’s blog when he linked to a post I wrote about a year ago. He has a new essay, “OK, Virginia, There’s No Santa Claus. But There Is God” that was in the Wall Street Journal (!) on Thursday that is a good read, with quotes from G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and George McDonald. Here’s my favorite part of the essay:

Today’s Christian apologists, by contrast, seek to reason their way to God by means of archaeological finds, anthropological examinations and scientific argumentation. That’s all well and good, but it seems to miss a fundamental point illuminated by Chesterton, which is that, ultimately, belief in God is belief in mystery.

As a parent, I believe (with the older apologists) that it’s essential to preserve a small, inviolate space in the heart of a child, a space where he is free to believe impossibilities. The fantasy writer George MacDonald — author of “The Light Princess” and “The Golden Key” — whom Lewis esteemed as one of his greatest inspirations, suggested that it is only by gazing through magic-tinted eyes that one can see God: “With his divine alchemy,” MacDonald wrote, “he turns not only water into wine, but common things into radiant mysteries.” The obfuscating spirit of the “commonplace,” meanwhile, is “ever covering the deep and clouding the high.”

My favorite post that Tony has written recently is this one, Deconstructing the sola, a topic that I’ve been planning on bogging about soon, probably after the first of the year.

Inclement Travel

A friend of mine, Taylor, a high school history teacher, has just started up a new blog about traveling. He’s planning on blogging about travel tips, stories from his own adventures, and whatever else comes out on the page.

Growing up, my family did a lot of traveling. We had three big trips that we took, mom and dad and the five kids packed in a van. When I was eight years old, we drove from Chattanooga, Tennessee, up to Juneau, Alaska (wrecking the van in Saskatchewan, Canada, along the way, where it took us a week to get it fixed up enough to continue our trip), and we also took a trip up the east coast, all the way to Niagara Falls, and another trip out west, to the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert and other notable sites. And during the 16 months I lived in Argentina, I was able to do a good bit of traveling. So it’s something I really enjoy. My younger sister and her new husband are in Israel right now, and I’m looking forward to hearing their stories and seeing their pictures.

On the “about” page of Taylor’s blog, he tells us,

“I believe that travel is one half education and one half luxury (no matter how much you spend). I don’t believe that travel should be only for the wealthy, nor should it be only the adventurous. Travel should be something that you are comfortable with, because it is your money, and often a lot of it goes into your travels. Whether going to the Middle East to see great holy sites, or rather just taking a weekend road trip, there should be some selfishness in your travel.

Now before I go on, please note that one key to being a good traveler is being unselfish, but as you prepare, plan, and pay, you need to take note of the things that you want to do and see. Though it is rather commonsensical, it is your trip, and you need to at least make your voice heard.

On the other side of that thought, though you want to be heard, you don’t want to shout. Make a list before you travel with a group, and even yourself, of things that you want to see. Rank them in order, and have the attitude that if I get to see one of these things, than my trip has been interesting and successful. Remember, no one place or attraction makes or breaks any trip.

As you read, be sure to take notes of some of the main points. However, don’t forget, these are mere suggestions, because after all… it’s your trip.”

Good tips. I’ve added his blog to my link list, and look forward to reading his stories. Here’s the link for you to check it out:

Behind the Mask / Compassionate response

A couple weeks ago, Shaun Groves blogged about how his wife responded to conflict with a neighbor contrasted with how others in their cul-de-sac responded. Shaun wrote, “That night she called me. I was in a hotel room in Florida. It’s hard being away from her and the kids – harder still when anything goes wrong while I’m away. She told me what had been shouted at her and what she wished she’d said back. Have you ever had the perfect thing to say come to your mind way too late? I told her I thought she should call our neighbors and say every word of it. So she did. “This is Becky from next door,” she said. “I’m sorry things turned out the way they did. I’m not angry at you. I want you to know I had nothing to do with the police getting involved. We don’t handle things that way. I’d rather talk through things with you so if you want to talk please call me or I’ll catch you in the front yard sometime this week maybe and we can talk then. Let me know how I can make things right.””

Read the rest of Shaun’s story here. During interactions with my neighbors in the past week or two, it came to mind a couple of times, and I thought of it again this morning when I read a blog post from my uncle about a recent experience he had involving his boat. He writes about a conflict at the marina involving filling his water tank, and how he ended up handling it. His response was prompted by reading Walter Wink. He writes, “Wink proposes that nonviolence need not be submisssion to violence, nor a passive retreat from aggression or abuse, but rather should be an active, bold, initiatory striving for justice based on compassion. By responding to the anger and violence of others with a sharp, clear, bold yet nonviolent compassion, we can lay the basis for others to change their behavior, and we can learn how to change ourselves as well.” Here’s the link for his blog post.

So what would that “bold yet nonviolent compassion” look like if put into practice in our daily actions and attitudes? How would tomorrow be different? How does that inform the way I’ve acted today?

Flannery O’Connor on Faith

Re-reading some old Rabbit Room posts, I came across this Flannery O’Connor quote in the comments section of a post about one of her books that reminded me of one of my posts from a while back, Weak and full of holes, where I quoted some thoughts from Frederick Buechner, Kevin Twit, and Philip Yancey on faith.

I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as a process by which faith is deepended. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is a cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it , keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. Don’t expect faith to clear everything up for you. Faith is trust, not certainty.

~ Flannery O’Connor

How to write good satire

Okay, I’ve said before that it is hard for me to write satire because I read stuff in papers like The Sword of the Lord and The Biblical Evangelist that are exactly what I would write, except they go even farther than I would go. Oh yeah, and they’re not satire.

A friend of mine, Matthew, just sent me a link to an article that includes the kind of quote they would print, the kind of thing I wouldn’t believe if he made it up. He blogged about it here. And as a side note, if you do want to read good satire, pick up Matthew’s book The Christian Culture Survival Guide (on sale right now from Relevant Books for only $4!). Hilarious.

Shaun in the Dominican Republic

Shaun is in the Dominican Republic this week with Compassion International, filming the stories of children and familes that have been rescued by Compassion. His pictures and stories bring back memories of the time I’ve spent in the Dominican.

Back in the summer of 2001, I went to the Dominican for a week to help build a church. That week ignited an interest in learning Spanish and living in another culture, so about six weeks later, I moved to San Miguel del Monte, ninety minutes outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to study at a Bible Institute. I lived there for about fifteen months, taking Bible classes and traveling around Argentina running sound and lights for a couple of their different drama groups. After moving back to the states at the end of 2003, I found out my friends that I had gone to the Dominican with were moving there to start a church. So, I took time off from the T.V. station I was working for and spent five weeks that summer in San Pedro de Macorís helping with all the details that are involved in starting a church, like designing and printing a songbook/hymnal, painting the building they rented to use as their facilities, spreading the word about the new church, leading and translating for home Bible studies, and whatever else needed to be done.

All that to say that I am looking forward to hearing and seeing the stories that Shaun will come back telling, stories of the glimpses he gets of what happens when the “curtain becomes translucent”, as N.T. Wright said Tuesday, times when “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is more than just a nice sentiment.

So what can we do? Compassion is doing a push now to raise money to fight malaria. $10 buys one mosquito bed net, $50 buys five. You can give on their website. Why not?

Consider the lilies…

After posting the Kathleen Norris quote yesterday, “I think sometimes that sacred space is found in an encounter with another person,” I went over to Seth’s blog, Five Cent Stand, and noticed this:

I think if maybe ever’ once in a while we could try to know our neighbor, then maybe we wouldn’t be so worried about predestination or whatever. I think if I can spend about 3 minutes not thinking about myself and ponder the wonders of that tree covered in white flowers, just swaying in the wind like its waving at the sky, I’ll probably get the best theology lesson I’ve had in weeks, maybe years.

After all, Jesus didn’t say, “Consider the Trinity…” or “Consider free will,” or “Consider dispensationalism.”

Nope, He said. “Just sit still for a minute. Stop worrying. Consider those Lilies over there.”

Maybe the best theology lessons are sometimes found in loving our neighbor and looking at lilies.

Thanks for the reminder, Seth.

“Makes people out of strangers.”

You may have noticed that most of my posts from the Festival of Faith and Writing consist of quotes that I scribbled down during the talks that caught my ear. Today, I was reading a friend, Eric Peter’s, latest post at the Rabbit Room, Ragged Stitches, and in a paragraph he wrote about his wife Danielle sewing, this line jumped out at me: “She makes people out of strangers, and keeps ragged stitches from ripping.” What a great thought – “She makes people out of strangers.” What if we did that more often?

I’ll try to get the rest of the posts from the Festival of Faith and Writing up sometime this week, if I have some time amidst the busyness of the week. This week is GMA (Gospel Music Association) week here in Nashville, so on the way home from the airport last night I met a friend at one of the writer showcases downtown and picked up the string score for music we are working on for the Dove Awards Wednesday night for Casting Crowns. Then tonight, some friends and I headed back downtown and caught the INO Records showcase, which included Caedmon’s Call and Sara Groves, and then walked a couple blocks over and heard Sara play a set at another showcase. Sara mentioned that It Might Be Hope, my favorite song from her new album, is her new radio single.

Tomorrow my favorite theologian, Bishop N.T. Wright, will be in town (not related to GMA week), so I’m meeting up with my friend Matthew Paul Turner and his pastor to hear Bishop Wright. I’m really looking forward to what I’m sure will be an inspiring and thought-provoking talk.