Archive for June, 2008

According to the Scriptures, the ancient Hebrews told the prophet Samuel that they wanted a king to rule over them. When Samuel consulted g-d, the answer was quite notable. These words seems to show that g-d wanted no such thing as hierarchical authority structures. This ancient prophetic text seems to speak as if the writers recognized clearly that if the people do not rule themselves in holy cooperation, they will inevitably be exploited. 

According to 1 Samuel 8:

    10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked of him a king.

    11And he said, These will be the ways of the king who shall reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.

    12He will appoint them for himself to be commanders over thousands and over fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest and to make his implements of war and equipment for his chariots.

    13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.

    14He will take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive orchards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

    15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.

    16He will take your men and women servants and the best of your cattle and your donkeys and put them to his work.

    17He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves shall be his slaves.

    18In that day you will cry out because of your king you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not hear you then.

Jesus Talks With a Gay Man

Posted: June 11, 2008 in Uncategorized

Jesus
Talks With A Gay Man
 A Retelling of the parable, Jesus talks with a Samaritan Women, adapted from something I found online.



 

1 In late July, the Chicago Presbytery heard that Jesus was attracting more
new members and baptizing more adults than any other PC(USA) pastor in the
city, 2 although in fact it was not really Jesus who had baptized them, but his
deacons. 3 Now when Jesus learned of this, he left his church campus and went
back once more toward the Presbytery’s headquarters on Higgins Road.

4 Now to
get there, he had to go through an area just north of downtown called Boystown.
5 So he came to a part of Boystown called Nottlesworth, not far from the Cub’s
stadium. 6 A snack vendor was near there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the
journey on the Metro, sat down at a sidewalk café table outside the bar called
Hydrate. It was just about lunch-time, and though the rainbow flags were
fluttering in the breeze and the music inside the bar was pumping, there
weren’t many people around (because it’s often hot and miserable outside, at
mid-day in late July, in Chicago).

7 A waiter came to the table, wearing a
bright pink “His+His” t-shirt and a “equality sign”
armband, and raised one eyebrow at the man seated at the table in front of him
in the “I Am the Way the Truth and the Life”” t-shirt. Jesus said to
him, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (All those who were with Jesus had
gone down the street to grab some coffee for the rest of the journey.)

9 The
gay man said to Jesus, “Hey…
you
tell me. After all, you appear to be a straight Christian, and I’m a
gay man. Let’s face it – we don’t get many religious folks in
Boystown
, let alone places like this.  And I’m not only a gay man, but
I’m a Muslim gay man. So where does a guy like
you
get off asking someone like me for a drink?” (For Christians do
not associate with gays, nor with Muslims if they can help it.)

10 Jesus
answered him, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for
a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living
water.”

11 “Hey, dude,” the gay man said, “
I’m
the waiter here. It’s flattering that
you want to get me a drink, but it’s not how it works, and you are one of those
Christians. And where can you get this living water? 12 You think you’re
something, huh? The owners of this place are the wealthiest guys in town, and
they don’t even give us free drinks. 
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who
drinks your water, or soda, or beer will get thirsty again, 14 but whoever
drinks the water I give to them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give to
them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15
The gay man said to him, “Yeah? Um….you know what, I have
no
idea who you are, or even what the hell
you’re talking about….But you’re the first Christian man in 20 years that
hasn’t spit on me, or called me ‘an abomination’ to my face. What is this water
you keep talking about? Maybe if I had some of that,
  I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here every night
to drink and party. It’s really getting old.”

16 Jesus told the man,
“OK – just call your wife and come back here, and we’ll talk.”

17
“Who are you
kidding
?” the gay man said. “Don’t you know where you are?  You’re in Boystown, man!  I don’t have a wife,
or a girlfriend.  Man, right now I don’t even have a boyfriend
,” he replied.

Jesus said to him,
“You’re right when you say you have no boyfriend. The fact is, you’ve had
five
boyfriends, and the guy you’re living with now isn’t even your
boyfriend
.  He’s just some guy you picked up
in the club – some guy who doesn’t even know your real name.”

19 Whoah,
buddy,” the man said, “that’s pretty intense! How’d you know all that
about me?” Jesus was silent. “OK…I get it. Maybe you’re one of
those guys who can see right through people – maybe one of those guys with
‘second sight.’ Maybe you ‘have the Spirit,’ like you say. 20 I don’t know anything
about all that Christian stuff. My people think that you have to pray five
times a day to get that kind of power. The rest of the people I know don’t even
bother with religion. And all the
Christians
I’ve met think that I have to pray
their way, and start living life their way, or I’m ‘going to hell.’ Either way,
my day-to-day life is so empty, I’m not convinced that I’m not already
in
hell.  What’s a guy supposed to
believe?”

21 Jesus said, “Believe me, my friend, a time is coming
when you won’t worship God in Mecca or in a mosque, or in a church, nor will
you need to find fulfillment in a club. 22 People worship what they think is
true, but what is true? 23 A time is coming – and has
now come
– when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father
seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in
truth.”

25 The gay man said, “I know that you Christians say your
Savior is coming. Maybe when god finally gets here, god will help us
understand.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “Then wait no longer. I’m the
one they’re waiting for.”
 27 Just then those who had been with Jesus
returned and were more than a little surprised to find Jesus talking to a gay
man – one who appeared to be Middle-Eastern in origin. But no one asked,
“What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with
him
?”

28 Then, leaving his tray and
his order pad behind at the table, the gay man went back into the bar and said
to some of his friends, 29 “You gotta come and
meet
this guy… he’s a Christian, but he’s really nice. And he didn’t
condemn me for being gay. Could this possibly be ‘the Christ’ all those
religious people keep talking about?” 30 The waiter’s friends cam out of
the bar and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile those who were with Jesus
saying, “You still haven’t eaten and we are in a rush. Let’s go get some
food somewhere
else.

32 But Jesus said to them, “I have a source of energy that you know
nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “I wonder
if he packed a lunch?”

….
Many Gays and Lesbians Believe


39 Many of the gays and lesbians who
gathered from all around Boystown believed in Jesus because of what the waiter
said. 40 So when the people of that area – gay men, lesbians, bisexuals (even
people in civil unions from Vermont and Episcopalians visiting from New
Hampshire) came to him, they urged Jesus to stay with them. So rather than
continuing the ride out to Higgins Road, Jesus disciples found some rooms at a
nearby bed-&-breakfast, and he stayed in Boystown – amidst the people with
whom most Christians would not associate. 41 And because of what Jesus spoke to
the men and women there, many more believed.

42 The people who heard Jesus
said to the gay man who first encountered him, “We no longer believe just
because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that
this man really is the Savior of the world.”



*Article I wrote years ago. It reflects a certain period of time in my life. I agree with what I wrote, but wouldn’t claim ties to any sort of ordered morality system these days, which is what I was getting at in this article really. 



I found Jesus at
the bottom of a beer; when I fall from grace I fall into You.

-The Reformation

 

Cause even with my
feet on the path,

Our quiets heart
lost contact.

So know I’m
wondering off,

Just to hear you
calling me back.

-As Cities Burn

 

The two sets of lyrics above,
written by “Christian bands,” have gotten me thinking. I have struggled in the
past, as we all have, with the notion that “failing” seems to be the necessary
path to growth. This might match up with our experience well, and seem right and
logical, but what follows would then blur the lines between right and wrong.
Are we supposed to fail on purpose, to ensure our growth? I would like to offer
that the question is not so “black and white.” Maybe we have created a false
dichotomy when it comes to morality. False dichotomies are simply dualisms that
exist only in our minds. Many physical aspects of our world are split up into
dualisms- night/day, hot/cold, black/white, right/left, etc. Philosophers have
argued that these ever-present dualisms within the physical world have prompted
our minds throughout the ages to create dualisms that don’t actually exist,
thus creating false dichotomies.

            The
form of Christianity that most of us grew up in teaches that morality is a
black and white ordeal (to allude to the dualism of color).  Surely it is understood that there are
plenty of “grey” issues, yet it is thought that those grey issues only exist in
between the black and white ones.

            I
want to offer that maybe it’s not that simple. Perhaps morality cannot be put into such a dichotomy… ever. Yet I am not
arguing for a moral relativity. I am simply reacting against the popular idea
that people
should not make
mistakes. Perhaps morality is not about
what we do, but about who we are. This goes with the understanding that life is a
journey and that people make mistakes. Yet it furthers that thought, moving
towards an acceptance of those mistakes. The bands above have “found God” as a
result of their “failures.”  Of
course one could say that they didn’t “find God” as a result of failure, but
that the guilt of their sin led them to seek forgiveness, thus giving the
illusion that their mistakes were “worth it”. But I want to move past all of
that thinking (which assumes that mistakes are sins worthy of repentance).
Would it be heresy to argue that God
only cares about the end result; that the character that is created in us,
through years of traveling down crooked paths, is the important part? Is this
not the gospel? Everyone pulls out the story of the prodigal son to preach a
sermon on grace, but how many people have taken this radical parable to heart?

            Thinking
about morality in a non-dualist way also frees us to figure out morality on our
own terms.  There is certainly a
value in following a prescribed code of ethics, trusting that the code has been
tried and proven true by fellow travelers of the past. Yet this undeniably
creates a morality that is impersonal to the ones who hold it. How many times
have we “just had to find out for ourselves?” This does not deny the value of
the code, but simply allows it to be validated in a personal way for the one
who would follow.  Going along with
that thought, perhaps morality is not found in the code itself, but is found in
the end result of one’s journey, following (and failing to follow) the code.
Maybe it’s not wrong, or sinful, to disobey the code, but only to not repent
and learn from the journey.

Of course, this journey cannot be
taken lightly. Morality is not an individual venture. One must be aware that
moral decisions affect other people. The point is then not to purposefully make
“bad” decisions in order to learn from them, but to understand that the “sin”
is not in the action, but the entire process. Therefore sentences like, “Damn,
I messed up,” are not nearly as relevant as “What can I learn form this?”
Christians are often wrapped up in undue guilt due to, among other things,
years of a puritan value system and centuries of guilt-inducing church dogma.
Perhaps we have been tricked into this thinking, which does more to keep us
down than to keep us looking forward.  

            I
think that the church is ready to make such a distinction. We all know that
this is how life works, whether it matches up neatly with our moral ideals or
not. An understanding of morality as a process (and not the specifics of that
process) is therefore not an unreasonable stretch, but an affirmation of the
way we all know it is. This is not nihilistic. It is quite the opposite.  It paves way for grace and takes away
the unnecessary guilt that too often keeps us down. And who knows, it just may
pave the way for us to truly find God… and in places we would never expect!

 

Our world is grey…

Say it!Say it!

Say what this is
all for!

Say it’s
redemption.

-As Cities Burn

  "Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us – for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."


  Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time has not come yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling – it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars - 
and yet they have done it themselves."

  It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: "what are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchres of God?" 

Fidelity-Rollins

-Friedrich Nietzsche 

Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. Today, as ever, the few are misunderstood, hounded, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. The principle of brotherhood expounded by the agitator of Nazareth preserved the germ of life, of truth and justice, so long as it was the beacon light of the few. The moment the majority seized upon it, the great principle became a shibboleth and harbinger of blood and fire, spreading suffering and disaster… Now the minority has gone in pursuit of new conquests, and the majority is lagging behind, handicapped with truth gone false with age.


-Emma Goldman


Has our modern conception of god killed him? Have the images of god that we have created, acted only to misrepresent god so fully that god has escaped from our view? These are the questions that have been asked and explored extensively since Nietzsche's declaration that "god is dead." Pete Rollins' new book, The Fidelity of Betrayal further explores this issue and concludes with the question: Would a faithful betrayal of Christianity be the necessary means for finding God again?





I just read an interesting article about interpreting texts. Here's a particularly interesting statement from the article. 

The recognition that there are no "purely literal" interpretations is just as much a theme in Gadamer, who claimed that we always bring our prejudices to a text and so read it in light of our own experience. He went against the grain in thinking that prejudices are not necessarily bad; he went so far as to say that they are absolutely’ essential for there to be any understanding at all.

However, Gadamer never suggested that we could or should rest on our prejudices. Truly entering into a conversation with a text means that we put both ourselves and our prejudices at risk. The text may have something to say to us that overthrows our prejudices, so that we find ourselves "pulled up short by the text" (Truth and Method).

Like Derrida, Gadamer thought that reading a text involves entering into a kind of play between text and reader in which the text has an effect upon us and we an effect upon the text. Of course, that play requires a certain degree of humility on the part of the reader. Gadamer himself radiated that kind of humility. In my encounters with Gadamer I found him to be just as interested in asking questions about my work as I was about his. When he agreed to read some of the early portions of my dissertation, not only was his critique gracious but also it was clear that he was interested in learning from me.

That kind of receptivity is precisely what Gadamer thought was necessary for understanding to take place. He thought of understanding as a kind of "event" that happens to us. For that event to take place, we have to be willing to listen. Given that willingness, events of understanding can take place continually. Not surprisingly, we are sometimes startled by these events of understanding, for they demonstrate to us just how little we are in control of texts.