Monday, November 29, 2004

With the beginning of Advent we are concentrating again on the coming of Jesus - which raises a host of meaty theological subjects. One is the unmistakable self-sacrifice in the kenosis (emptying - Phil. 2:7) of the incarnation, which leads to the cross.

Christians have been self-sacrificing, but for the wrong thing. I believe that in recent decades believers have been called to give themselves sacrificially to the church - when they should have been been giving themselves sacrificially to the world. This has led to an institutionally-oriented and self-serving church without a meaningful redemptive witness in the world. The ministry of reconciliation occurs when the self-sacrifice is made for the world, and not for the collective identity of the Christian organization. Preachers are to blame for calling believers to support the church and for seeking to build enterprises - which has a self-serving link to their own "careers".

While I won't lay all the blame on professional ministers, a good portion belongs there. A desire for success, a tepid modern theology which is dependent on human efforts, and a institutional mindset derived from corporate models have all contributed to a Christian community that practices self-sacrifice for itself instead of the world to which and for which Christ came. Maybe this season of Advent will call us back to the incarnation as a vision for being a missionary movement for the sake of others.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Hawkish Americans tend to see the Europeans as too soft and tentative - not willing to use military might. I wonder how much this has to do with our memory of war.

Mainland Europe had two world wars fought on the ground in their countries in the last century, while for America those wars were profitable both politically and economically. America became a superpower because of those wars - building industry while other countries were destroyed. Many Americans died, but the war wasn't in our country. The last time we experienced war up close was 1865 - and maybe the horror of that experience has been replaced by the myth that the second world war brought peace. The peace in Europe after WWII had more to do with the different approach to peace found in the Marshall Plan versus the Treaty of Versailles, than with the fact that Axis powers were defeated by force.

Violence brings more violence. Only love can bring peace. Is there a "right to defend" oneself or a society against aggression? Yes, but we should never think that defending ourselves successfully is a lasting solution. We might also need to learn that there are many types of violence, and we in perpetrating one form may sow seeds for another form.

Monday, November 22, 2004

One must stop striving for heaven if one is to receive eternal life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is byond all reason." - Dag Hammarskjold

"Joy is more a matter of "rejoicing in" rather than being "glad about." - Dorothee Soelle

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The test of a true mentor may be whether he or she is willing to cease being one in the eyes of those they disciple.
I don't do very well when trying to think non-communally. To sit alone and attempt to conjure up thoughts of substance and truth usually doesn't do much. I get a bunch of random pieces and nothing seems worth pursuing.

However, put me in conversation with someone else, and I find myself thinking thoughts beyond myself. When I am responding to someone particular - relating through writing or dialogue - then the magical/spiritual seems to happen. The practice of our community invites an indwelling of the Spirit where God is revealed in newness.

Descartes said "I think, therefore I am." Perhaps we are when we converse, and we are because God enters into the relational moment.