Oh, Hi There

shame-on-you

Well, it’s been quite a while since I last afflicted the world with a blog post, and I apologize for that. The cycle has been something like: Crazy day at work means I have to stay late at the office, go to bed late, wake up with barely enough time to go to work in the morning, rinse, repeat, with class and homework thrown in.

So it’s been hard to find a time to blog. But I’m going to try to do better, getting back to a schedule of at least weekly. I need to wrap up the universalism series, and I’m reading through Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True, which obviously raises all sorts of questions about the nature and methods of God, some of which we’ve discussed before.

Likewise, I’m taking Restoration History this semester – a history of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a unity movement seeking to restore the practices of the New Testament church that, ironically enough, birthed three denominations: Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches and Independent Christian Churches – and that has led to a lot of questions worth considering about the nature and difficulty of unity in Christ.

So I’ve got some things to talk about; now all I need is time! I’m hopeful that I’ll better manage my time and go to bed earlier so we can continue to have these conversations. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy them, and they’re helpful for me as I process my thoughts on this journey.

Sorry again for my absence. Let’s talk again soon!

Life: Kind of in the Way Right Now

You’ll have noticed by now that my usual rigorous haphazard schedule of blogging has gotten a bit off-kilter of late. My usual tendency is to try to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes one of those gets forsaken, and so I supplement with a Tuesday or a Thursday post. Sometimes, I have so much to say, I’ll even manage four or five posts in a week.

But this semester, my class is at 8 a.m. Mondays, which means I have no flexibility in the mornings to sit and write a post. I have to be out of the house by 7:30. On top of that, the class sis so writing-intensive, I’m taking two study nights a week, and a study night guarantees a 1 a.m. bedtime. Which means getting up early to write something is quite difficult. So that leaves Wednesdays and Fridays for posting.

I enjoy blogging, and I think it helps me process and retain what I learn in class, so I’m not about to stop. Nevertheless, the blog will be a little slower, at least until May.

Love: It’s a Mind Thing, Too

250px-LovestampRachel Held Evans had a powerful set of posts last week detailing her problems with what she described as “the scandal of the evangelical heart.” She noted the often disturbing lengths to which evangelical Calvinists such as John Piper, Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll have gone to affirm the bigness and sovereignty of God, ascribing to him atrocities and tragedies that, were they correct, would turn God into a monster.

Rachel notes that many have criticized what I’ll call establishment evangelicalism for its anti-intellectual strain. She instead focuses on its stunning lack of grace, love or compassion.

But the questions that have weighed most heavily on me these past ten years have been questions not of the mind but of the heart, questions of conscience and empathy. It was not the so-called “scandal of the evangelical mind” that rocked my faith; it was the scandal of the evangelical heart. …

For what makes the Church any different from a cult if it demands we sacrifice our conscience in exchange for unquestioned allegiance to authority?  What sort of God would call himself love and then ask that I betray everything I know in my bones to be love in order to worship him? Did following Jesus mean becoming some shadow of myself, drained of empathy and compassion and revulsion to injustice?

In a followup post, she quotes from readers, one of whom makes a point similar to what I’ve argued on this blog before:

If “God is Love” is something that cannot be fathomed by our emotional understanding of love, then that verse has little meaning outside of any context people wish to place upon it. And placing a context upon ‘love’ that lies outside of our emotional understanding diminishes Christ’s loving sacrifice.

Rachel’s purpose in these posts is to defend the existence and use of emotion in our faith, and I certainly have no problems with that.

But I also want to affirm that love is not only emotion; those of us who are more “head” types than “heart” types can get this, too. Continue reading

Whoops

So I fully intended last week to write a “going on vacation” post. But the stress of getting everything packed up and into the car drove it from my mind, and though I brought my laptop with me, never even opened it until this morning. So instead this is a “sorry I went on vacation and didn’t tell you” post.

I’m pretty sure dropping off the face of the earth without warning for a whole week isn’t right up there on the list of things you should do to sustain your blog traffic, but the average hits per day actually increased when I was gone. Apparently, the masses have spoken: We like your blog better when you don’t say anything.

Undaunted, I’ll continue posting anyway, starting tomorrow. Be warned.

Now With Tweets!

Yes, that’s right, your favorite blog this blog you read has joined 2009. Follow @DisorientedBlog, and you’ll get up-to-the-second updates and perhaps stimulating conversation between me and other intrepid theological bloggers. Or just updates.

With a scintillating endorsement such as that, how can you refuse?

If You Read One Thing This Week …

… make it this Q&A with Dianna Anderson on Rachel Held Evans’ blog as part of Rachel’s “Ask a …” series. Dianna answered questions as a feminist. Allow me to pull an excerpt, from her answer about the compatibility of feminism with opposition to abortion:

I believe it is possible to be a feminist and pro-life, as long as that pro-life ethic does not come with rhetoric that shames, ignores, or vilifies women for the choices that they may make about a legal procedure. Don’t use your pro-life stance to treat women like morons. Don’t use it to shame women for their sexual choices, because, honestly, you don’t know what led to those choices. Instead, use your pro-life stance to attempt to make a difference in the lives of the women surrounding you by supporting them, by letting them know that you will be there for them if they do have an unwanted pregnancy (and then actually being there for them!), and by working to lower the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies in the first place – which means better sexual health education in schools, funding for birth control measures and education about using that birth control, promoting research into methods of safe male birth control, and creating an environment where the women in your life can come to you to discuss safe sexual choices.

Nothing will turn you into a feminist faster than having daughters. The more I think about what I want them to know about the world and about themselves, the less tenable I find anything but true equality in all aspects of life – including the church. We’ve discussed here before the radical femininity of Christ in response to the erroneous notion that Christianity has “a masculine feel” and shape. Go there if you want an example or two of how Jesus subtly subverted the patriarchal gender norms of his day. Anderson adds another one:

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Mercy for Judas

I’m not going to get all Rob Bell on you, so let’s assume for now the existence of a literal, fiery, Dante-style hell, the presumed destination for Judas Iscariot since, well, people started conceiving of hell as a place of eternal damnation. Because if anyone is in hell, it’s gotta be the guy who betrayed Jesus to the authorities who crucified him.

But Erin James-Brown, a seminary student here in town who spoke to us at Chapel yesterday, provides a different take this Holy Week of the disciple everyone loves to hate:

I am a Judas sympathizer. Perhaps it is my love/fascination with Gaga or my reading of the play “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” but I have come witnessed (sic) the cultural message of a negative, demonized Judas. …

Judas’ rejection of the Messiah and submission to corrupt religious leaders played the necessary role in Jesus’ sacrificial forgiveness on the cross. In a sense, we owe Judas a bit of gratitude for making forgiveness possible. What was once deemed purely evil (a Judas kiss), seems almost hopeful in another light.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul never mentions Judas, but he does talk quite a bit about Israel, whose leaders were much more directly involved in crucifying Jesus than Judas was, and whose people mostly rejected the notion that Jesus was the Messiah for whom they’d been yearning.

Continue reading