stupid on top of silly, on top of ridiculous

i have never been a big fan of what i call "jesus junk." i have always been under the impression that the "wwjd" was the "top" of the "jesus junk" marketing pile - that is until lifeways [and i am still not sure how i got on their email list] sent me a email about this thing called "birth verse" and the catch line is "everyone's got one; what's your?" WHAT? when did that happen, when did i get a "verse" assigned to my birthday? it sounds like a christian horoscope way to make a buck.

for example, mine "birth verse sign" is ephesians 2:5 [because my b-day is feb 5th] - and reads: "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." but my question is what makes that "the" verse for my birthday? i can think of some better ones, like 1 chronicles 2:5 "The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul" or how about that classic verse in ezra 2:5 - "of Arah 775" - the fountain of verses is endless. how about going a little more in the "ouch" section of scripture and pick romans 2:5 "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." now, that one has a real bite to it, a real "in your face you sinner" kind of punch. but why not find one with a little more challenge to it, like philippians 2:5 - "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." that seems to have a handle on can hold on to.

to me, this is simply more "jesus junk" designed to make money off people in the church - i have been growing more and more insensitive to this kind of garbage, but it simply echos the point that "christians have deep pockets." i am amazed at the level we are willing to go to "make a buck on christ."

i can see it now; [wavy lines, wavy lines, wavy lines] the music is playing, to coffee is brewing and at the corner of the christian coffee house is a hot blonde. slowly, mark picks up his caramel mocha whip frap ['goliath size'] and heads over. as he approaches, he checks his hair in the reflection of the chrome cross; winking and smiling he says, "hey baby, i'm galatians 5:13, what's your verse?" i find the idea of a "birth verse" stupid on top of silly, on top of ridiculous


they eat their own

i received a few emails today asking me about this whole ted haggard thing. most wanted me to share my views, and some wanted me to share more then my views. but, i have done neither in emails. let me share why -

in reading the reports of what has happened to ted, i have been shocked [though i should not be] by the reaction of other people claiming to be "pastors." some placed themselves above such a thing while others just wanted to distance themselves from haggard. some are claiming how "heartsick" they are over the allegations, yet none of them are truly standing with him. now, some may be "behind" him, but none are "along side" him. Instead of standing along side of him and his family, they are running away, or standing in the back ground - kind of the way evangelicals do when ever one of their own is wounded. over the past i have come to the conclusion that many leaders in the evangelical church simply eat their own when they are wounded.

i know the drill, because it has been the same drill over and over again; every time an evangelical seems to "shake" the same things happen. first, they put on a "united front" [never lasting more then a few hours[; then they run for the hills as soon as things heat up. soon there will be a power play in both the church and the nea - and they will toss ted aside like an old rag. they will offer little but "prayer" and bloated talk about how God can bring him back to "the right path." but never once will they make even the slightest effort to help him in his time of need. they will claim they have forgiven, but they will always look at ted with an eye that focuses on judgment. they will say they will help, but little will be done to truly help.

over the past years i have seen this with others in the evangelical community. those who "fall" become the butt of evangelical jokes and sermon illustrations by pompous pastors and "christians" alike. evangelicals claim so much about being a "bible people" and yet i would venture to say forgiveness for ted is not forthcoming.

i believe the possible outcome is less on ted, and more on us as a christian community of faith [even thought i am not evangelical] - do we forgive and help, or do we judge and feed on the carcass? do we offer of ourselves in honest, or do we offer him up for sacrifice? do we actually walk along side him, or do we walk away? are we willing to do anything to help as needed or are we simply going to offer lip service?

as i see it [being a post-evangelical] this is the way it can go - this is not on what ted did, but on how the evangelical community reacts to ted's needs. because, if there is one thing i have seen over the past - they do eat their own.


faith based math

before i get a butt load of people emailing me about this whole thing, let me say that i do believe in an expression of truth that could be seen as "absolute" [for a lack of a better term], i am just not sure i believe any human can know of, or even think they know of, what that “absolute” expression of “truth” can be. you see, i believe we are limited in the way we think, express and define ideas; we are human and in that "human expression" we can only see things through human eyes and human experiences. while we may "think" we know something as an "absolute truth," we are fooling ourselves and simply demanding our personal view be seen as an "absolute." this is the case, no matter how noble, or loving the idea is when expressed as an "absolute" that another must accept, love, grace, kindness and forgiveness are left to the side to make room for law and judgment. while i have no problem knowing that God is the judge, i am unwilling to accept that humans can judge for God. all truth is contextual in our humanity, and can only be "valid or invalid" within the context of that human expression - i am not sure who, but someone once told me that an "absolute truth" is that 1+1=2, but that is still a contextual truth and not an "absolute truth" as some may think.

the expression "1+1=2" is "true" because we define it as true; we place it in a context where we determine the meanings of the individual components, we define the terms of the expression. 1+1=2 is "true" when people are using the decimal system and simple mathematics, because in that context, we define "1" as a single item, and "2" as a couple of items. so, we can say that "one single item brought together with another single item can make a pair of items," within the decimal system, because we have defined it that way. but not everything is defined by using the decimal system.

what if some does not think in terms of a "decimal" expression [a "decimal context"] are they wrong when they disagree with the expression? if we see "1+1=2" as an absolute expression of truth we are saying, "in all cases, without exception or limit, the absolute truth is that 1+1 must always equal 2, no matter any other condition." many people who use a different math, let's take for example someone like a computer programmer who uses a "binary" number notation system, called "the binary system." in a binary system there are only two values, 0 and 1, the "number" 2 has no value or meaning at all in a binary system. so, in the "contextual reality" of the binary system "1+1=2" is "not true" because in an "absolute truth" 2 is not real. so, in a binary expression of "absolute truth" the expression "1+1=10" is true. also, within the binary system the expression "0-1=1" is also true, which "violate" the idea of an "absolute truth" in decimal system where 0-1=-1. yet, like the decimal expressions of "truth" these binary expression are only "true" because we define it to be true within that system.

1+1=2 and 1+1=10:
so, in reality "1+1=2" cannot be seen as an "absolute truth." its "trueness" is limited to only certain number expressions [contexts] within certain systems. so, what does that mean for a christian who desires to share with others who jesus is, and how we are brought into a saving relationship with God through a relationship with jesus? well, at some level i am uncertain what it looks like, but at another level i know it does not look like what many are doing today. you see for me, God is the God of scripture and Jesus is the only way - but that must be seen in context of my desire to be on a faith journey through christ. someone who is not on the same journey as i am does not see that as an "absolute." now, does that change my seeing jesus as the truth? not at all. does that stop me from sharing what i believe to be truth about christ? not at all. does it demand i simply accept every view point as "equally" true? no, it does not. but what it does do is tell me that the way i express the "truth" i know, it should causes me to think different when i share my faith with others. it means, for me, that when i share christ with others, i share my walk, my journey, my expression of that relationship and that connection to God and not some canned, program driven expression of an equation that is valid in limited context. i can only express the christ i know, and not the one of church marketing and franchise rights.

people who have the expression of 1+1=2 as "truth", cannot demand that those who think in the binary expression of 1+1=10 stop seeing there expression as "true." but this goes both way, and those who think in binary can not demand people stop thinking in a decimal expression, because in reality it can be said that, "1+1=2, true and 1+1=10, true." to demand someone change their expression and "start thinking like us" says that "only people who think like us are right" [or in the club] and that is not seen as a very positive thing. for example, to make someone who thinks in a "binary context" [their cultural view] to only think in a "decimal context" [another cultural view] is not "sharing" faith as much as it is demanding people change their "culture" to fit the culture of another. the idea is not to demand the "context" change, but rather to learn to work within the context and to gain an understanding of the way others see the expression of truth in their world. the "key" is to find an way to show the expression where "truth" is contextual and where the expression can be seen by those as "truth." the idea is not to demand that "1+1=2" as an absolute, nor is it to demand that people see 1+1=10 as "truth." the key, in my view [and i believe in a scriptural view] is to simply express the term "1+1" and allow different expressions of that term based on the cultural expression of others.

adding to the expression:
in some form or another, the idea of knowing "the absolute truth" is a power play; an "excluding principal" [i am in, and you are out] of many believers. for many, the idea is that if you do not believe in the "absolute truth" as they define it, you are not allowed into he club; or worse, you are actually seen as "anti-club." but i wonder if at any point that was the intent given by jesus? you see, when jesus proclaims he is the "truth, the light and the way" [in john's recording of the life of jesus chapter 14] i have no problem with jesus proclaiming he is the truth [notice jesus never proclaims he is the "absolute truth" - in fact, the term "absolute truth," and ideas many desire to express in the term, are not found in scripture at all - more on that later], in fact i agree that jesus is "the truth." if we look deeper into the reality that jesus is "the truth" we find some very interesting information. the greek "truth" used in this case is "aletheia" and actually implies an objective and subjective expression of "truth" [an "absolute truth" can not have both qualities] so, while jesus is saying, "i am the truth" that truth is both based as a "matter of fact" [but not an "absolute"] and also, at the same time, an expression defined by a personal understanding of what "truth" is in life. at a very real level, the statement is "1+1=2 and 1+1=10" where jesus is the term "1+1."

in luke we find a very interesting statement concerning "exact truth." in lukes recording of the events of jesus' life he says, "so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." [in luke's recording of the life of jesus, chapter 1 - bold added]. the term "exact truth" is the closest we can come to to an idea of "absolute truth" in any form. the word is "asphaleia" and is used three times in the greek, here in luke, ones in luke's recording of the acts of the followers of jesus [chapter 5] and once in paul's first recorded letter to the thessalonians [chapter 5]. but, only in luke is it translated as "exact truth." in the other two cases it is seen as "security or safety." now, i am not as interested in the way the word is translated differently in different places, what does interest me is that in luke's opening he proclaims his recording of events as an "exact truth" which implies that the other recordings are not. can this be the case? can one version be "more truth" then the other? i once mentioned this to a professor who told me, "well, the differences in the gospel narratives can simply be seen as people seeing things different, having a different point of view or perspective on events. where one man say a mountain another saw a plain. it is not that one gospel is 'more true' then another. it is just the perspective of the author." which sounds reasonable to me, and which also sounds like "objective truth."

when we look at the world around us and we see all the hurt and pain we are fast to think that we need to get people thinking "1+1=2." at some level it is easy to tell people what to think, how to act, and what to say. people seem to like to be told how to think and what is and is not an "absolute truth." many humans like "absolutes," they like the "certainty" of what is expected. the idea of only God knowing what is and is not an "absolute" bugs us and causes us to think we can know as much as God. while it is easy to demand people follow a set of rules and laws, we are called to be much different then that. what we need to do is find ways of expressing our faith, our journey, our savior, our salvation in a way people can understand without demanding they "do it this way." we need to not find fault with how they view "truth," instead we need to see how "truth" can be expressed in their ideas and expressed in their culture. i personally believe that the debate over "absolute truth" is something God sees as silly on our part and i believe it removes from us the responsibility to interact with others in an open and vulnerable way. you see, i believe that "absolute" remove our vulnerability cause us to go into a situation closed. they remove from us the ability to truly address the needs and desires of people based on life huts and pains. "absolutes" have cause us to be a callous and closed people of faith where striving to know a person for who they are is beyond us. while we are debating which expression "truth" is true, people are walking by our communities of faith wondering if we will ever speak to them in terms they can understand; actually, i think people are walking past our communities of faith and thinking we are completely irrelevant to their lives; as one young man put it, "if it is absolute truth that God is absolutely in control, and has absolute power to change anything, and there is an absolute truth that God loves me, why is my life such shit?" think of it this way, while many are debating if it is "2" or "10" what we all have in common is the reality "1+1" all we desire is to find meaning in it.