Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This End of the Telescope

Alone you ramble the whole of the world, through the black water jungles for bliss. It's feast or famine, you eat what you kill, there's no need to bring God in to this.

Inevitably when there is a need to understand something from a perspective that exists with us not being at the centre of the picture a conflict will occur. Inevitably.

We have to be the centre - and if we are not, the perspective must shift to make us so.

At our best, your joy becomes my joy, your pain becomes my sorrow. At worst, pain dictates my pleasure and your pleasure manipulates my pain.

This tension, albiet poorly described above, is a distorted, or muted image of that which I believe exists between our Creator and us.

Pain, conflict, sorrow and all that stuff which is, to us: "not good" is so quickly viewed through the wrong end of the telescope that we loose perspective. So our sorrow becomes about us, our pain is about us, and our confusion is about us not understanding. Through the wrong end of the telescope the Creator becomes a passive third party or at very best a smaller image that what he really is in this tension. It is from this end of the telescope that faith gets turned quickly into religion.

It's as if our understanding when it comes to God is that a) there is some stuff that God just "allows" to happen b) there is some stuff God wants to happen and c) there is some stuff where God just kind of goes..."oh shit..shoot didn't see that coming...hey Moses, you totally pulled the wrong lever on that one...this'll be interesting"

It becomes about us and only us - and then maybe a God character who is interacting from a far.I'm feeling like I'm only starting to wrap my head around this idea, that I think has many further implications - but in terms of the one I'm confronted with right now, the truth is this:

That if understanding our pain, pleasure and any other "thing" that goes on really gets reduced to the sum of our actions + the sum of other peoples actions and maybe the sum of a sometimes acting Diety we will forever come up short to the question of why does shit happen in our lives. Or more classically "why does God let bad things happen"

Always short.
And there are those (many, oh so many) Christians who actually believe (say on the topic of pain) that a lot of suffering is because God is just plain 'ol unhappy with them. They preach a sort of "God is getting you back" or actually disguise it as a "God is teaching you about ___" - while YES God does discipline those he loves, he is NOT "getting you back" and really I believe is not going "hmm how can I teach __ about humility...I know I'll give them nasty flesh eating disease...". Many christians would not actually articulate that, but I think a lot of us believe it. I'm going to go out on a limb here:
Jesus, when he died 2000 years ago, that was it. All the punishment, all the "revenge" that you could have had - done. Job's suffering wasn't about Job at all.

I think why we do this cause and effect system that reduces God is because we still want to be the centre of our faith and belief system. We have a great propencity for religion. This idea that whatever I do, it comes back. It puts us at the centre and removes Jesus. If I "get right" with God, he'll speak to me is such an intuitively "nice" idea but I would say totally biblically incorrect. Maybe it's unfair to draw a connection between us and Jakob - but, let's face it: where was he and what was he doing when God radically changed his (and our) life? Moses? the Disciples?

I do believe God's plan / will has suffering in it. Totally. But I think western Christianity has made up this cause and effect because it's easier than believing a faith that is mysterious, tension filled (ala first paragraph), not totally a sum of our actions etc. etc.

So ___ definitely, scour the bible for the why why why does this happen, but be prepared for the answer. I don't claim to know it, but I think it really has something to do with questions of who is this all about? Who is the person most glorified here? Cause, I think it's not really about us.

I think this Blog post is about a whole set of things just kind of perculating in a brain that I am finding to be ever more emotional, active and other than I would sometimes like. But I guess it's kind of an idea that our prayer life is so very much a reactionary thing - and while thats ok, it starts to breed a faith that it's about us. This starts to breed a set of beliefs that while based on the Bible, kind of take their own "twist."They are not "wrong" but I think a lot of the time they are really just not biblical (so yes they are wrong, I was just being kind). As a result of this "wrong" theology, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, we go running to a bible, from the totally wrong angle, and surprise, find that it just kind of leaves us unsatisfied.
But from a different end of the telescope I think, the galaxy is a lot bigger.

Word's out the doctor is not coming in
This genie's too angry to go back
Into the bottle again

Years of progress digging the sand
Companions we made didn't last
Lousy lovers do well with their hands
But I'll reach you like nobody can
Slow and easy you let your paddle go
Down a the bottom there is more hell to row
I see clear at last I love I loathe
On this end of the telescope

-Jakob Dylan

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Snapshots of a Friday

'The guards are asleep", "the guards are asleep"

Kits beach, friday evening, eight o'clock. With a finished glass of spiced rum, a book and a bible in hand I find myself sitting against a log looking out over the ocean to a setting sun. A few logs over there is a group of about 20, 20 somethings, talking, making light conversation. Immediately I say to myself "must be a young adults group" - pretty soon a guitar gets pulled out, and before I know it they're signing starfield. Gosh.

Rewind by about 5 or 6 hours, driving up oak street. No music, no cell phone, no texting, no emails. Excited because I am close to finishing work and it's only 2pm. All of a sudden I blank out, and bam smash into the car in front of me. Shit.

The day is done.

Young adult singing wraps up, and a girl stands up to deliver, her expose on "salt and light." Knowing that the verse "should" mean something about something, she pulls meaning from it - the usual "stand up for Jesus" dialogue that was oh too familiar. Ironically, this process is almost more like squeezing salt from the rock, leaving a tasteless stone of a religion - void of this notion that SPIRITuality is more than "sticking up for Jesus." Let me tell you, he doesn't need sticking up for - history has done a good of enough job of that.

Have we become reduced to framing the gospels into an experience that we can "understand" and apply in a 30 minute study? Is that a bad thing?

Sitting in a room staring at a twenty something, dozing off in front of me. A few others to the right give me blank looks. Repeating words that both hold so much meaning and so much frustration - let the oil pour. Feeling, in some sense: ruined. Ruined because maybe I long for something that is not meant to happen. Ruined because maybe I think I could be a part of that - a catalyst. Ruined because, I think Jesus said it first, "We are prisoners of hope."

Salt and Light, Salt and Light. Saltiness, is not about "sticking up" for Christ. It's not about "walking the good walk" or even living by the moral handbook. Salt, and Light is spirit. Loosing one's flavour is not about denying Christ, but rather about denying spirit. Tasteless salt has all the qualities of Christianity, it has all the qualities of religion and following Christ. It just lacks its soul. You search the scriptures because you think in them there is life. You sit on a couch, making trite commentary about this person's thought on so and so, the historical analysis of Jerusalem, the pity prayer for those who don't know Christ - because you think in that you will have life.

My sheep know my voice.

He stood in the field, all of a sudden looked up quickly to the left and said - "sound the trumpet"; but the guards were asleep. The guards were asleep.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Where have you been, my son? Where have you tarried so long? Where have you traveled? what have you been seeking in the world? Happiness? And where should you have sought it but in God? And where should you have sought God but in his temple? And what is the temple of the living God but the living temple that he has prepared for himself, your own heart? I have watched, my son, while you wandered, but I did not want to see you stray any longer. I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a palace for my dwelling"
-John Amos Comenius

It's far too late right now to add to this, and really, how can I? How can I express what is deeper than to know that the living God has prepared a living temple for himself in you? How can we express anger towards christian circles who teach to fear thyself, to fear emotion to downplay imagination, creativity, expression? How can we cry for a renewal of thought, a reformation of an understanding of 'self' that is simply not valued in our culture? How do we build a damn against the flood of indifference, the currents of escapism the rushing of sound that violates our collective ear? How do we retort against the rhetoric of the "emergent few", ooh to be an emergent. From what are we emerging? and to what are we emerging into?

I have led you to myself by leading you into yourself, for here I have chosen a place for my dwelling. God help me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Life After S.bucks - v.1

I remember it pretty well I guess - as well as one can remember complete chaos. I remember it because I was wearing my lululemon yoga pants and they had this weird streak on the left shin and although I had tried washing the pants like 3 times, the streak wouldn't come out. If I scratched my thumb nail against it, I would have success, but I couldn't be bothered to do that all day.

I knew something was ary when the dark rimmed, shaved about three days ago, popped collared barista told me they had run out of soy. S.bucks out of soy? I guess, with Soy being the most advanced of the beans, if any were to jump ship - it would. And yet the whole beauty of modern management for a chain like S.bucks is that it has removed from it all possibility of human error. We laughed at Office Space's depiction of "pieces of flare", silently sinking into the realization that a lot of us, are a lot closer to the reality of channeled expression than we'd like. Customize your drink, so long as it fits in the customize your drink boxes we've made.

But I digress. S.Bucks, running out of soy is like McDonalds running out of McNuggets; it just shouldn't happen. The variables that make up management have been reduced controlled or eliminated - all so I can have my Soy based beverage every damn day.

But it did. I changed my drink order and was waiting by the lid counter, reading a pamphlet on the duetto card, humming whatever was on the S.Bucks XM Radio and before I turned around to pick up my boring, soyless drink I knew it was over.