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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's it all about?

John Smulo who is a friend of mine and a top missional thinker recently asked me to consider what my blog might be all about. Looking back over it he has a point. After much consideration here is the couse I will attempt to navigate:

1. Developing a theology of hope especially as it intersects with the work of Jurgen Moltmann

2 Discussing aspects of institutional church life that tick me off and seeking constructive alternatives.

3. Touching, now and then, on my journey with mental illness and how God walks with me in this and shapes my destiny.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bruce Chatwin

I recently completed Nicholas Shakespeare's biography of Bruce Chatwin. As the only famous namesake that I have come across I was interested to read his life's story. It is, indeed, a fascinating story.

What struck me was a quote towards the end of his life when he was contemplating his eventual conversion to the Greek Orthodox faith. Bruce said that he liked the Greek Orthodox Church because they reserved all the best buildings for God.

This comment caused me to reflect on the place of reverence in current Christian practice and architecture. Have we lost a sense of respect and awe for God. Even in a fluid, post-modern church with no permanent building surely there is opportunity to present concrete images of the vast beauty, goodness and love of God.

Having visited many cathedrals in England I am always taken with the beauty of the buildings. Maybe we need to reserve more beautiful places for God?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Personal Jesus

I have been reflecting recently about the need for subjective hope before we can progress towards a wider schema of hope. I am back in the counseling room and dealing, once more, with uncomfortable aspects of my childhood. In one way it is incredibly frustrating for me to find myself back in this place again seemingly revisiting the same issues. I first visited a counselor 7 years ago which coincided with the fact that my first child was nearly a year old and was uncovering the cracks in my well constructed emotional facade.

The positives are that I am back in counseling and at least making some sort of forward progress. As I have reflected upon the complexity of childhood trauma I have been considering the need for Christian hope to have an inner, subjective quality before it can become something more expansive. I may be misunderstanding this and, arising as it does from my own journey, I am open to discussion.

I don't mention the therapy to draw attention to myself but simply to set the context for these thoughts. Everyone has some kind of inner, subjective, world. For some people there is a great sense of integrity and congruence and for others there is a lot of fragmentation and dysfunctionality. In order for Christian hope to be effective and transformative I believe that it needs to meet these core inner needs.

This understanding of the scope and purpose of hope operates as part of a wider framework of hope. In this paradigm subjective hope would be one end of a continuum with ecological hope at the other end. As I comprehend Christian hope Jesus' life, death and resurrection offer transformative hope from the individual to the global level. What I am seeking to do is to drill down to a micro level.

Until our inner being achieves healing and is drawn into a future which is characterised by Christian hope then we cannot be truly effective in living day by day as Christian witnesses. Accepting Jesus as Lord and saviour is a starting point that owns our need for a savior and the idea of Lordship acknowledges, in principle, that Jesus is Lord of every aspect of our lives.

Traditional models of evangelism that rely on a propositional model achieve the goal of mental and spiritual assent to the gospel message but do not, in my view, draw people into the journey of hope on which Jesus can take people. Many Christians, myself included, can become locked into a needy situation where Jesus is the divine rescuer and operates continually as the one who will rescue us from sin and shame. This is a reasonable and biblical understanding of Jesus' interactions with us but I would like to see the church present a message that helps people to have this rescuer Jesus alongside a redeemer who continues to redeem.

Redemption was not simply a one-off. Jesus paid the price with his death and redeemed us so that we can be reconciled to God. This is part and parcel of the classic evangelical position. This can lock us into a life where Christians are assured of their salvation and the hope of eternal life but that hope is not transformative now. I talking of a holistic inner transformation and a hope that presents a future that can make us who we are meant to be. I want to divorce these ideas from any sense of a "prosperity" gospel which looks at what I can get for me. The thoughts presented here begin with me but move outwards as we grow in maturity.

This model arises out of my own therapeutic needs for which I make no apology but I believe they hold the germ of a theory that can operate in a wider arena. My inner world is fragmented and needs healing. I am a Christian and have accepted the offer of salvation but I need a hope that can offer wholeness to my inner brokenness. Over time as I achieve more and more inner integrity I will begin to be more effective in my outer communication of the Christian gospel.

I may be simply going on a round about journey to describe "inner healing" or merely outlining basic counseling concepts but I hope I have been able to elucidate something wider than this. Karl Rahner suggests that the Christian is free of the illusion that the present is the whole of reality. I would add that the Christian is also free of the illusion that the past is the whole of reality. In looking to a future hope it needs to be a transformative hope now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mid-Life crisis redeemed

I'm 39 this year and married with 3 young boys and I'm growing a mohawk!

Call it a mid-life crisis or an incarnational, postmodern, missiological paradigm but I'm planning to use it for a good cause.

Tonight I saw an advert for the "World's Greatest Shave" where people are invited, in March, to shave or colour their hair to raise funds for Leukemia Research. I am planning to have the "Mo" tidied up and bleached for the occasion.

You can donate online and it's all securely done. All details are on the sponsorship page that I have set up through the Leukemia Foundation.

Please check it out.