Posts Tagged ‘Liberation theology



24
Apr
09

The Parable of the Sower – Matt 13:1-23

SOWING OUR SEEDS

“Listen!”  That’s a word meant to prick up the ears of the hearer; a word meant to get people to pay attention. And where do we hear, “Listen!”, but in Jesus’ first parable in the Gospel of Matthew. (You can read the passage here.)

The parables, for me, represent in blazing color the fact that scripture is not to be taken simply at face value. It is meant to be worked through, to be wrestled with, to be mined for meaning and relevance. The parables not only defy an easy understanding, but they are designed to be thought about and reflected upon. How do we know that? From the word itself. The Greek is paraboley, and means to compare – literally “to put things beside each other”.

With this parable, we have a little easier time than with many. While the parables, in general, use concepts that would have been very meaningful to people of that time, but not so clear to us today, this one makes use of symbols that are just about universal. We hear about seed, paths, rocky soil, fertile ground – in short, we hear about agriculture. That should make it easy to understand – right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Continue reading ‘The Parable of the Sower – Matt 13:1-23’

21
Apr
09

Recovery – A Poem of Survival

RECOVERY

Children survive.
They seem to be built to survive almost anything.
The pain of loneliness, war, crime, rejection,
being ignored, being abused,
being smothered, being used,
predation, exposure,
abandonment, over-protection;
these are just some of the things kids endure.
Continue reading ‘Recovery – A Poem of Survival’

20
Apr
09

Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”

The adherents of Christian religions include upwards of 2 billion people – almost one-third of the world’s population, according to David Barrett, an Evangelical Christian who is the compiler of religious statistics for the Encyclopedia Britannica.[1] While Christianity began in the Middle East, it is generally considered a European/American religion. Those areas, however, do not encompass the majority of adherents. More Christians, in fact, are found in the “third world” – those areas that were formerly colonized by various European powers.  The story of the spread of the world’s most prolific religion during the second millennia of Christianity is at least interesting, if not informative of the current political and military efforts of the West, most notably the U.S., seemingly aimed at making converts of another sort – disciples of Western democracy and capitalism. Continue reading ‘Imperialism, Colonialism and “Disciple-Making”’

16
Apr
09

Witnessing to Our Own Culture

The reading: Luke 24:36-48.

The women returned from the tomb to tell the other disciples what they had seen and heard – Jesus was gone. They had been told by angels that Jesus had risen to fulfill what had been foretold in the law and the prophets. The women believed. But the rest of the disciples did not believe. Peter went to see for himself. We’re told that he saw the empty tomb and left questioning what had happened. Later it is recorded that Jesus appeared to him.

The disciples were still discussing this when the two disciples returned from Emmaus and related their interaction with the risen Christ. The man they met opened up the scripture – the resurrection foretold in the law and the prophets – he opened them up in their minds. They recognized the man as Jesus when he broke bread with them – they too saw, heard and ate with the risen Jesus. The disciples declared that, “Christ has risen indeed.” The fact of Jesus’ resurrection was incontrovertible – there were just too many people who had seen and heard – too much evidence.

Then in the midst of this discussion – immediately following the declaration that all believed in the resurrection of Christ – Jesus appears to them saying, “Peace be with you.” And, of course, all immediately recognized Jesus as the risen savior – they were all in wonder at this fulfillment of what had been foretold, they all saw for themselves what they knew to be true. Right?

Wrong! Continue reading ‘Witnessing to Our Own Culture’

12
Apr
09

Resurrection – Pain & Joy

Ah!  Easter Sunday!  Christ has risen.  Alleluia. 

I always imagine the early morning Easter sun breaking through the darkness of the night.  I picture the angels Mary saw dressed in white.  There she was, standing in a garden filled with the color and the smell of Easter lilies, hyacinths, and azaleas.  Okay! So it’s not exactly accurate, but it is, for me, a brilliant and dazzling scene – a scene that inspires me and brings hope.

There are substantial differences in the four Gospel versions of the resurrection story. Much has been made of these differences – perhaps more than has been made of the other differences that exist in scripture.  There are enough differences that, while each depicts a brilliant and dazzling scene, it is tough to know which, if any, may be historically accurate. Continue reading ‘Resurrection – Pain & Joy’

31
Mar
09

Homophobia, Apartheid, et al

           Periodically, I suffer from the delusion that culture and society can actually be understood, and that I can speak with some knowledge towards that understanding. This fabrication in my mind, fortunately, passes with time, saving poor innocent bystanders the terror of witnessing the inner workings of my mind. Alas, this is not one of those times.

Reader beware! These may be nothing more than the ramblings of a madman.

           I am recovering from my former life – being a recovering addict, recovering economic exploiter, recovering sexist, recovering racist and recovering homophobe. In my newer life, I am a combatant in a war against all manner of exploitation, oppression, manipulation and dehumanization of any and all people. There is, as you know, no worse critic that someone recovering from a particular expression of a disorder. Continue reading ‘Homophobia, Apartheid, et al’

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’

23
Mar
09

Religions Put Emphasis on Least Theological Issues

Theologically speaking, God can be found in all situations. In even the most heinous of events, we can trust God to be at least suffering with those who suffer, mourning with those who mourn and crying with those who cry. So even in this trying economic time, we can envision God’s concern for those who are worst hit by our unfolding system of commerce – the worst hit, of course, being the poorest of the poor and not particularly those whose fortune may have been trimmed by a few billion. Given this, I find interesting the results of a Pew Forum survey of religious people in which they were asked where President Obama and the legislature should concentrate their efforts. Additionally interesting, although I have yet to find an explanation, is the fact that the categories include only white religious people. We are left to surmise the purpose of that decision.

pew623

Continue reading ‘Religions Put Emphasis on Least Theological Issues’

18
Mar
09

What Do the Numbers Actually Say?

It’s no secret that the the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn, had some interesting, if not troubling, news for U.S. churches. In a culture and age in which numbers take precedence over other indicators, the results of the survey are sending shock waves down the spines of many denominational hierarchies. As is customary, however, the concentration is on solving the numbers problem, rather than taking a good, long look at the causes. That would require collective introspection – not a process at which mainline denominations are adept. As is not uncommon, it is those outside of the fray that often give the most reasoned critique of the situation. Continue reading ‘What Do the Numbers Actually Say?’

14
Mar
09

Christology – Borg vs Wright

If I can be allowed a brief introduction, I have a comment about the perceived theological location of each of the authors. During 2003/2004, while attending Westminster College, Cambridge, I heard three out of four lectures given by N.T. Wright about “New Perspectives on Paul”. More interesting than the lectures was the diatribe from the various seminaries regarding Wright. The Evangelical Anglicans, conservative as opposed to traditional (self-description), denounced him as “apostasy on two legs”, while the Anglican Catholic half of the Church of England considered him a defender, albeit somewhat radical, of traditional theology in the current age. The United Reformed Church (Westminster), a mixture of very traditional (reformed) to very conservative, generally considered him to be a liberal Catholic. (All that being said, the lecture hall was packed to the rafters.) Overall, the book we’re now reading was described in Cambridge seminaries as a conversation between liberal (Wright) and very liberal (Borg). The book’s cover, claiming representation from liberal and conservative camps, seems to be heavily dependent on one’s point of view. Very few conservatives in Wright’s home country view him as anything but liberal. Still, overall it appears that both authors fit somewhere in the less-than-extreme centrist majority of the imaginary liberal-conservative spectrum and, as such, posit stands most Christians should be able to get their heads around.

Continue reading ‘Christology – Borg vs Wright’

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

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’

17
Feb
09

But, How Do I Know I Will Possess It?

The Reading:  Genesis 15:1-12,17-18

Setting The Theme:

God cut a covenant with Abram. While I realize much can be made of the nature of this covenant, I also know that I am addressing people who have already wrestled with these implications. Some have expounded on the unilateral nature of this covenant – that God is the only participant. Some have gone further and said that God has taken all the risk of the penalty – an utterly humiliating death – for both parties in the contract. From there it is not difficult to see the trail being blazed to Christ on the cross.

If I had the definitive answer to this conundrum, I think I would still be unlikely to change the minds of many people. Since I don’t have the answer, I am not even going to try.

The reason for the covenant is rather more interesting. What prompted it? Continue reading ‘But, How Do I Know I Will Possess It?’

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’




... or, preaching from both ends

WELL, HELLO! YOU’RE HERE.

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.

Readers since Jan 2009

  • 132,271 posts read

Archives