Posts Tagged ‘IMAGE OF GOD



31
Mar
09

Tending the Garden

Not being accustomed to gardening in the Northeast, I am somewhat amazed to see perennials starting to shoot out green in March. Past winters, except for the one spent in England a few years ago, have been suffered in less hospitable climates than upstate New York. I remember the stares of incredulity as I planted Iowa gardens before Mother’s Day, as well as covering up those plants in early May to protect them from a deep freeze. Of course, there’s nothing to say that I won’t have to do the same here.

I view gardening as one part of participating with God, in some small way, in the act of creation, Continue reading ‘Tending the Garden’

30
Mar
09

Wrestling with Personal Theology

Over the last few years, one of my favorite preaching topics has been the abandonment of self-interest, selfish ambition and conceit that is extolled in Philippians chapter 2. The call to humility contained within that passage culminates with “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (2:12) which, I remind the congregation I am addressing, is difficult to do with someone else’s theology tucked under your arm. To be free of your own conceit requires being free of theological tenets that establish authoritarian norms of belief. It is to acknowledge that certainty is the opposite of faith, not doubt. Continue reading ‘Wrestling with Personal Theology’

30
Mar
09

A Parable based on Gen 19:1-15

             Two gay men and two lesbian women came to Sodom in the evening as Rev Lot was communing with some local folk downtown. When Rev Lot saw them, she rose to meet them and extended her hands, because she saw, in the faces of these people, the image of God – the very tired and rejected faces of Christ.  Continue reading ‘A Parable based on Gen 19:1-15’

12
Mar
09

Running Someone Through the Wringer … several times

Paul Capetz is my one sorrow from the two years I spent at United Theological School in the Twin Cities, my alma mater. I never took a class from Paul, although I benefitted from his faith, wisdom and intellect in other ways. I have no doubt that Paul would have joined the ranks of Chris Smith, Jann Weaver, Eleazar Fernandez and Sharon Tan as exceptional teachers I have experienced first hand. Don’t get me wrong, NONE of the professors at United from whom I took classes were less than great, but these just stood out as truly inspiring. To my great disappointment, I will never know Paul firsthand as a teacher.

I could also never know, firsthand at least, the stress and agony that Paul must be feeling at the hands of an unwieldy ecclesiastical judicial process that is far better equipped at passing a “hot potato” than actually making informed, judicious decisions. Rather than fill some with awe at the intricate workings of judicial machine, which is how I have read some comments, it should fill all Presbyterians with shame. As always, the hand-wringing and juggling of important matters has a human face, and I can only imagine the agony that Paul must feel at times. Continue reading ‘Running Someone Through the Wringer … several times’

04
Mar
09

The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives

For much of the last two thousand years there have been scandals associated with, or hindrances to, belief in Jesus Christ as savior. What is so outrageous about the claim of salvation in Jesus that offends the moral or rational sensibilities of at least certain segments of society? In examining this question, three authors – Jan Milic Lochman, Elizabeth A. Johnson and Justo L. González – discussed the traditional orthodox views of salvation through faith in Christ in light of modern interests. The authors had particular agendas, openly declared in each of their works, around which they developed their arguments. These various arguments were in close agreement at some points and in discord at others but, when viewed collectively, created an interesting sampling of some of the opinions that make up modern Christian thought. Continue reading ‘The Scandal of Jesus Christ – Three Perspectives’

20
Feb
09

A Worthy Woman

Jesus didn’t invent the parable – he may have perfected it, but he didn’t invent it. The book of Ruth is, in its entirety, an Old Testament parable as critical of Jewish culture as Jesus was in his day. The Book of Ruth isn’t just a story with a nice moral, but is just as “in your face” to the Jewish culture as the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Ruth, as a Moabite, was unacceptable in Jewish society. Racism was alive and well back then, too. Deuteronomy, Ezra and Nehemiah all tell how Moabites were ostracized – barred from being part of Jewish society. And it all went back to the time of Moses, when the men of Israel blamed their promiscuity on the women of Moab. Sound familiar – well, if they weren’t here, we wouldn’t have sinned. They’re the problem.

How is this story critical of that attitude?

Continue reading ‘A Worthy Woman’

20
Feb
09

ELCA Wrestles out its Conscience

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is not alone in its efforts to find a suitable middle ground in the debate over sexuality. There! That’s some surprising news, eh? The ELCA is on the verge of proffering its won solution to the internal squabbles over basic rights for an entire class of candidates for ministry and the populations they may represent. The “Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality” does essentially the same things as the PC(USA)’s G-6.0106b Amendment 08B – establishes local authority to discriminate or not. It is not an ideal solution, by a long stretch, but a awkward step forward. Continue reading ‘ELCA Wrestles out its Conscience’

16
Feb
09

The Nature of God and Salvation in Mormon Tradition

With the LDS church being under some fire for their role in California’s Prop 8, I thought it might be useful to examine some of the theology behind LDS. I am now curious as to how evangelical Christians and Catholics reconcile the theological differences to form an alliance of the kind it took to wage the war. See what you think.

OVERARCHING QUESTION

“The questions that arose for me are hardly easy ones to ask or to address. The Mormons’ concept of the nature of God seems problematic, as does the relationship between God and humanity. Ultimately, however, the question that repeatedly surfaced was whether the Fall of humankind was integral to God’s plan of salvation – in the Mormon understanding, did God intentionally engineer and/or participate in the Fall and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? If so, what does this say about the nature of God?”

Continue reading ‘The Nature of God and Salvation in Mormon Tradition’

16
Feb
09

Two Poles are Better than One

cropped-al-blog-header-3.jpg

In response to some inquiries that have been made about my rather cryptic title for this blog, I am going to unveil at least some of my thoughts behind the choice, and ponder further on the possibilities.

Gestalt – The obvious and, of course, most pedestrian assumption would be that it is based purely and simply on the fact that I am Bipolar. While, admittedly, that gave some impetous to choosing the moniker “Ministry From Two Poles”, it does not explain the rest of the name, “… or Preaching From Both Ends”, or the choice of header art. Continue reading ‘Two Poles are Better than One’

16
Feb
09

The Baby in the Bath Water

In colonial America, as in other places where water was fetched and heated only with great effort, ablutions were a family process. One by one, beginning with the father, then the mother and continuing through the youngest child, all would bath in the same tub of water. Both parents, as well all the oldest kids, worked the fields and tended the livestock. Of course, children also played outside. Saturday, in order to be clean for Sunday church service, was the proverbial bath night.  The old German proverb, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” had a very real meaning for early American settlers. Admittedly, even though the water was so tepid and dirty by the time the youngest of perhaps a dozen or more children were finished bathing that it would have been easy, it would have been ridiculously rare, if it ever happened at all, to loose a child in the muck. Rather than literal, the saying came to represent a frontier dweller’s value for resources similar to that expressed in the adage, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Continue reading ‘The Baby in the Bath Water’

13
Feb
09

Wisdom Distilled from the Daily – a study guide

Benedictine  Spirituality

Small Group Study Based on

Wisdom Distilled from the Daily

By Joan Chittister, OSB

Statement of Purpose:  

This small group is to help those curious about Christian spirituality come to a more personal understanding of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and how God works in our everyday lives. We will use the Rule of St. Benedict, a guide to spirituality used since the sixth century, to find ways to “fill up the emptiness and heal the brokenness in which most of us live in ways that are sensible, humane, whole, and accessible to an overworked, overstimulated, overscheduled human race”.[1] Continue reading ‘Wisdom Distilled from the Daily – a study guide’

12
Feb
09

Oooh! You’re Bipolar?

THE INTRICACIES OF “COMING OUT” TO A CHURCH

Thomas Covenant walks down the street feeling the stares and witnessing mothers grabbing their children before he passes by. Is he a child abuser? A criminal of another sort? Perhaps, evil incarnate? Thomas is the lead character in Stephen R. Donaldson’s series, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and he is a twentieth century leper. When I read the series many years ago I remember thinking, “People don’t react that way anymore. The world is not that archaic.” But, perhaps it is. Have we learned nothing from the Bible lessons about lepers?

The reaction to all kinds of emotional disorders and mental disesases can be interesting, especially in my line of work. While you would think that church folk would investigate before coming to conclusions, that is really a quite rare occurance – church folk are no less prone to believing myths than any other groups. I have found this out firsthand recently. I announced to my Committee on Ministry and my church that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar II disease and, after twenty years of misdiagnoses, I am now on a much lower regimen of pills than I previously took for depression. The reaction has been – well, shall we say, interesting. Continue reading ‘Oooh! You’re Bipolar?’

11
Feb
09

Testing the Waters on a Virtual Church

In another post, I described my ongoing interest in a virtual church – not simply a digital reporduction of a physical church or a place to pick and choose prayers and sermons, but a real and actual church meeting at predetermined (oops, there’s that Presbyterian word) time.

I envision a church gathering in cyberspace for communal worship and praise, as well as having a physical presence in each of the towns, cities and countries in which the “members” live. A church that enlivens mission, both individually and collectively, and promotes the notion of the “priesthood of all believers” actively engaged in the physical world as well as the cyber-sphere. It would be a church which has the same range of theological perspectives as any “real-world” church, but would have a space in which, unlike most churches today, those differences can be discussed respectfully and reverently. Continue reading ‘Testing the Waters on a Virtual Church’

11
Feb
09

Growing Beyond Numbers – a continuing project

This is a project I was involved with several years ago, while in seminary. I have threatened numerous times to revisit this and continue to work at the basic premise. It was good, just not complete. If you feel inclined to help, I would appreciate any suggestions. I will no doubt make sure that the revisions can be seen apart from the original, which is owned collectively by all the authors. Each gave their permission years ago to work with this, as long as attribution was given.

Be prepared: This is a small book. It is, at least I think, interesting and challenging – especially for churches in flux and those trying to redefine their identity – but it is not a quick read.  

Continue reading ‘Growing Beyond Numbers – a continuing project’

11
Feb
09

DOING THEOLOGY – A Series on Practical Theology

A 7-part series about praxis – the way we treat theology as an active word, rather than just something we think about if we have to.

Excerpts:

“Theology is a word that seems to bring terror to some people’s hearts, cause others to roll their eyes back in their head and, at the very least, make some folks think of a deranged, reclusive, scholarly pastor sitting amid a room full of books reading under candlelight. … Theology as something we think can be important, but theology as something we do – well, now, that’s just plain powerful. ” 

“What I hoped to show is that developing theology is based on a process – a continuous process, at that – in which we actually have to contend with what we believe, and consider how the consequences play out in our reality (”our” meaning human reality, as opposed to God’s reality). Un unexamined theology risks becoming an idolatry, with that which is idolized being our own rigid dogma.”

Continue reading ‘DOING THEOLOGY – A Series on Practical Theology’




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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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