Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Beauty in Work
We would most likely all agree that the work offered by the actor, the singer, and the kindergarten painter is beautiful work, even art.Oh, so close, and yet....
But what about the work of the teacher, the father, or the real estate agent? What about the mail carrier, the babysitter, the lawyer, or the cashier? What about the work you do everyday?
Is the work of the artist beautiful and the work of the rest of us just work?
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
God spoke the world and breathed humanity and when he did, he declared that every human was made in His artistic image.
Perhaps art isn’t only for the dancer, the actor, the singer, or the painter after all.
The beauty you have to offer may not be a song or a flower or a dance. And you may not see the beauty in a spreadsheet or the carpool line or the proposal you’ve been working on.
But the true art, the most beautiful kind, is you – worshipful, generous, small you.
Indeed, when God created us, we were created in His creative image. While we are God' beautiful creations, I would argue that there is beauty in a spreadsheet or carpool line or proposal. If we do not see the beauty, then we are not fully tapped into God's plan for us. The world is a beautiful place in all it's detail. It was designed to function beautifully. And all that we create including the mundane and the prosaic should be beautiful.
If it is not then it reflects the sin in us. It is often a question of being able to step back from the immediate situation. Most people, if they choose to, can see the beauty in a functioning gear based clock. There is a similar beauty in an electronic watch, but you have to see, in your mind's eye, the electronics work. And so it goes with most things. The ballet that is air traffic control, for example.
Finding the beauty in the seemingly mundane is not about us so much as it is about stepping outside of ourselves. That takes a deep relationship with Jesus.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
What Goes Hand-In-Hand
Most people are applauding Francis’ call to change the Catholic hierarchy, and many are welcoming his challenge to attack economic inequality. But his call to change isn’t just about the social justice we seek for others or the reform of outdated Catholic insularity. It’s also about the deep and often painful work of changing ourselves from the inside out. The Hebrew prophet Joel captured the challenge of the inner life clearly: “Change your heart, not your garments.” Still, changing one’s heart isn’t easy.I could not agree with that more, but it should be noted that we don't change ourselves, the Holy Spirit does.
That said; however,there is wisdom in what Shriver is saying here. No amount of organizational or practical change that is unaccompanied by genuine spiritual renewal will be effective, it will eventually be sinful. Whether it is the pope leading the Catholics or Joe Evangelical leading local mega-church #6.
You see, it's not nearly so much about what we do specifically, but who we are when we do it.
Who are you?
Monday, November 24, 2014
To which I respond - "ALL OF THE ABOVE." (and more)
The transformation offered in Christ is so total and so complete a recreation that it is beyond our comprehension. Here's the thing. The escatalogical viewpoint is not something I can do much about - just have to let it happen. The mechanistic is, but the mechanistic approach without the little things inevitably results in a legalism that is just as ugly as people outside of Christ, it must be tempered with the "little things" approach. (At this point if you have not clicked through, you are lost - take the hint, then come back.)
At that in the end is the real point to me. When Paul says "I am all things to all people" he is not just turning a phrase. Not only does it indicate that we have to meet people wherever they are and deal with whatever they are dealing with, but it also means that there is no crevice or area of life that Christianity does not creep to. Being a Christian is not a "specialty." It's not something you major in. It's something that consumes you.
Are you consumed?
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Culture v Culture
The issue of populism in the Evangelical ethos raises a concern for the need to differentiate between pop culture as folk culture and pop culture as mass culture. At its best, Evangelicalism seeks to preserve and foster folk culture and the critics of Evangelical piety need to recognize this strength, because it is through the ongoing propagation of folk culture that the disenchanting effects of modernity will be overcome ultimately. I say this knowing full well that the strong temptation within Evangelicalism is to traffic in the forms of mass culture, and it has succumbed to that temptation on more than one occasion.So he introduces his thesis and defends the use of folk culture with a line I think is extremely important:
As Alvin Plantinga has recently reiterated, citing Calvin’s sensus divinitatis, religious experience more than theist argument may be the most important ground of belief.And there in lies the rub with this very good, if very intellectual post. Most of the Evangelical confusion between folk and mass culture is coming from people chasing experience that will but absolutely no thought to the fine distinction drawn here. That is to say the people that most need to read and consider this piece never will.
I don't know what it is but there is something in us that tends to see things in either/or propositions. Evangelicalism is not lead by people that would think this hard about much of anything. Not only that, many of them would reject thinking this hard about anything as a blockage of the action of the Holy Spirit. Much of that has to do with the adoption of mass culture which is, if you look at it very long, completely thoughtless.
Which raises the question, can good ideas like this actually fix things or are we at a point where destruction/rebuilding is the only option?
culture evangelicalism thought
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with. If you’re not in the frame of mind or don’t have the emotional state in question (e.g., a desperate longing for God), then what are you doing lying and singing it? Worship leaders who encourage that sort of thing are making their congregations sing falsehoods.The idea is that "it's all out of the Psalms." Could not agree more, but I do think that the Psalms are a) not all songs, some are just prayers, and b) not all meant for public, corporate worship.
Worship is not only a corporate experience, it is also a private one. There are some parts of worship that should remain private, between one individual and God. One of the things that is supposed to happen in corporate worship is to build unity of the body. The first line of the quote above, "It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with." is correct, even if the whole "lying" thing stretches matters just a bit. Unity is not served if one group of people is left feeling alienated when the music is off-putting to them, for emotional reasons. (Taste we just have to get over on both sides of the equation)
Now, of course, it is impossible to ever capture the emotional state on a group of people, becasue there will be too much variation. Which is why I think corporate worship is not intended to be an essentially emotional experience. That does not mean emotions are not important, but it does mean they are for other, far more intimate settings.
emotion songs worship