I Hope I Never Forget:

“Anything that one imagines of God apart from Christ is only useless thinking and vain idolatry.”- Martin Luther

Friday, March 30, 2007


Here's some interesting information regarding beer and a few of the church's better known members.
Perhaps not Lent appropriate...but Easter's coming!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


National Public Radio aired a short piece yesterday in commemoration of The Feast of the Annunciation. I appreciated the orthodox sentiments and perspective. Surely it was day worth celebrating- both the feast day and the broadcast.

For those friends who are unfamiliar with the traditional Christian calendar, the Feast of the Annunciation is the day Christ's church remembers the glorious condescension of God in which He “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary.” It is the day that marks the conception of our Lord- the beginning of his Incarnation.

It’s interesting to note the importance of this day for the celebration of Christmas. We celebrate on December 25th because we have first celebrated on March 25th. For those who are interested, you can find the details here.

Today is the Fountainhead of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery that was planned from all eternity: the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin and Gabriel announces this grace. Let us join him in crying out to the Mother of God: "Hail, O Woman full of grace! The Lord is with you."

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Lord God,
To those who have never had a pet,
this prayer will sound strange,
but to You, Lord of all life and creator of all creatures,
it will be understandable.
My heart is heavy
as I face the loss in death of my beloved Jasmine
who was so much a part of my life.

This pet made my life more enjoyable
and gave me cause to laugh
and to find joy in her company.
I remember the fidelity and loyalty of this pet
and I will miss her being with me.

From her I learned many lessons,
such as the quality of naturalness
and the unembarrassed request for affection.
In caring for her daily needs,
I was taken up and out of my own self-needs
and thus learned to service another.

May the death of this creature of yours
remind me that death comes to all of us,
animal and human,
and that it is the natural passage for all life.
May Jasmine sleep on
in an eternal slumber in your Godly care
as all creation awaits the fullness of liberation. Amen

A Prayer at the Death of a Pet
- Edward Hays

Thanks, Marky


"As I maintained in Crisis, Opportunity, and the Christian Future, the Protestant age is coming to an end. That means that the Reformed faith and Presbyterianism are also coming to an end. The paradigm is exhausted, and the world in which it was worked out no longer exists. We must take all the great gains of the Calvinistic heritage and apply them with an open Bible to the new world in which we are now living. We must be aware that there is far more in the Bible than the Reformation dealt with, and that many of our problems today are addressed by those hitherto unnoticed or undeveloped aspects of the Bible. Those who want to bang the drum for a 450-year old tradition are dooming themselves to irrelevance. Our only concern is to avoid being beat up by them as they thrash about in their death-throes. "

James Jordan- The Closing of the Calvinistic Mind

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Look at them! Anglicans, everyone.

Who knew?

Apparently the folk over here. That's who.

Comic books are particularly suited for dealing with issues of “true truth.” You’d be hard put to find another slice of today’s media that lets the spiritual themes “just hang out there” like today’s comics do. Hollywood Jesus attempts to take these explorations seriously. You ought to check them out.

Monday, March 19, 2007


The faerie sign was abundant at our house Sunday morning.

Hannah, Tommy and Esther each designed a new trap of their own during the afternoon on St. Patrick’s Day.

The only common denominator in each was the bait. Everyone knows that Leprechauns have a weakness for gold, alcohol, old shoes and tobacco; not necessarily in that order. We were totally out of gold, but we had the rest. Hannah and Esther tried a combination of beer and old shoes. Tommy took a more simple approach.

Here’s Esther’s idea. We cut a hole in the bucket’s lid and glued tissue over it. The grass disguises the danger. As long as our friend doesn’t wonder about the whole “grass covered bucket under the table” thing, we’d be set. Esther thought the decorated signs might help with that.

Tommy’s trap uses a trigger that is released when the bait is lifted. From the size of the “cage” you can see that we were counting on North American Leprechauns being really, really small.

You’ll notice the flour we sprinkled around. We hoped they’d track through it even if they didn’t go for the bait.

Hannah built her trap outside in the ground. She dug a good size hole and rigged an elaborate trigger. I worried a bit that she’d catch the neighbor’s cat during the night.

When Esther went to check Sunday morning her trap was sprung. The beer was down in the bucket and the shoe was missing. You can see that something left what looks like small boot tracks in the flour. She and Tommy noticed it tracked across the table and other kitchen surfaces.

Tommy’s bait had been drunk. More tracks.

Hannah found the flour covered shoe from Esther’s trap outside in hers. There was also a well smoked small cigar. Sure Leprechaun sign, that. Who else would be smoking in such a hole in the middle of the night?

Everyone was excited. Not as excited as we’d been if we’d ended up with that pot of gold, but pretty excited, none the less.

Esther was less enthused as she went to bed tonight. She’s worried about waking up with her hair tied in knots…or worse yet, to the headboard. You see, we put water in the beer bottle she used for bait. (I didn’t want to risk loosing good beer to the wee folk. You understand.) She knows that’s got to make a Leprechaun mad.

I told her that her hair would be fine.

She wanted to know how I was so sure.

I didn’t tell her.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Editorial Addition: 3/23/2007- After rereading this thing, I don't care for the "in your face" grumpiness. Could try to launder it out, but I think I'll just leave it alone with my apologies up front.

Many are surprised to find that St. Patrick’s Day has anything to do with the gospel and the church, which it created.

Like many of the church’s holy days, the commemoration of the life and death of St. Patrick has become little more than a commercial opportunity and excuse for acceptable partying. Now, it’s obvious that any culture that feels it needs an excuse for festivity is far gone from the gospel, but this day is particularly telling in how far we’ve gone…in how much we’ve forgotten.

First of all, there’s the “Saint” thing in the name. I think everyone still refers to it as “St. Patrick’s” or “St. Patty’s” Day. Hard to overlook that. I suspect that in a land of Evangelicals this simply means “Catholic,” and everyone knows real Christianity has nothing to do with Cath’lics. I don’t blame the average person for this atrocious silliness, but someone’s responsible. It must be the leadership and “teachers” of that subculture. Shame on them.

Secondly, it’s an especially significant indicator of how far the American church has secularized because few people played as significant a role in the existence of the European (and therefore, American) church as did St. Patrick. For spiritual descendants of the British church, St. Columba and St. Aidan might rival him, and for the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe, St. Boniface played a lynchpin role, but without Patrick and his sacrificial life, there may not have been a gospel for Columba, Aidan and Boniface to have heard. So no, there is no real rival to St. Patrick’s influence nor to the debt we owe to him. In important ways he is to European Christianity and civilization as Our Lady is to all of the church. It could have stopped with him and her.

But… and I’m beginning to see…amongst a people who think it a virtue to ignore the painful sacrifice of the woman who gave Christ the body and blood that worked peace between God and man, there should be little expectation that the man responsible for the way of life we enjoy and that same body and blood being weekly “offered for you," would be honored. Shame on those who form us so.

Without Patrick’s life- as he chose to live it- the church, Western Civilization and the world would be unrecognizable today, and….we treat it as if it’s about green clothes and clover. Surely, that’s a pretty good indicator.

Don’t misunderstand.

In our home we will wear green, sport shamrock, drink lots of beer, build Leprechaun traps, check them in the morning, and watch Finian’s Rainbow before we go to bed. Today’s a day to be kept through those things- not because of them. We will also retell the story of Patrick and sing his Breastplate together. We do all of these things because it's our brother St Patrick’s special day.

The problem’s not in colors or four-leafed flora. The problem is thanklessness. We need to be grateful- to our brother Patricus and the gracious God who gave him to us. The church says “Amen” to that, and so has given us this day to keep.

That’s what all the Guinness is about.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I’ve ranted a good bit against Modernity.

Don’t like it.

At all.

Apparently the few who stop by get that part: I’m against it. But I’ve been asked just what I mean by “it”.

Derrick at Beaten with Brains has provided a very helpful summary of the situation- as it applies to American Evangelicalism, anyway.

He calls it American P.I.E. It's a clever acronym for the Pietism, Individualism, and Egalitarianism that form the lens through which American Christians see the world, God and themselves.

In this series he discusses plain ‘ole generic pietism, but it also comes in delicious varieties. There's this flavor, and this one, too. He then goes on to talk about egalitarianism. Individualism gets attention in every treatment, because it's to P.I.E as milk is to Ice Cream.

It’s a thoughtful summation. After reading it you’re likely to look around and think, “Ah, now I understand.”

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I had my radio on during the trip home from work last night.

It was a Christian station.

There was “Preaching”.

I know, but it is Lent, after all. A good time for audio self-flagellation. So leave me alone…

Anyway, I was listening to this fellow explaining that his biblical protagonist was in a fix, but fortunately the protagonist knew where to turn. He knew he needed God.

Now there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s dead on, actually. But the preacher didn’t stop there. He made the pastoral point that it was God alone that was needed.
Just God- straight up. He didn’t need a worship service, or a Bible study, nor…whatever. He just needed God- pure, direct and unadulterated.

Perhaps all he meant to say was that its possible to look to all this other stuff instead of our God. True enough. That’s the basic danger of living in a world designed to refract its Creator’s glory. But I don’t think that was where he was going. He was meaning to establish a principled separation between God and …whatever. He wasn’t distinguishing. He was dividing.

This is very wrong headed. I don't mean desiring God, certainly; but believing that He wants to be or that its even possible to receive him, unmediated.

At the heart of our faith is the belief that God made himself available, knowable, and powerful in our lives- once and for all, mind you- through the mediation of a human, creaturely nature. We know our God through the blood, touch, tears, work, weakness and humility of a man. We learned this story through the diligence, care and preservation of many men and women. We heard this knowledge through the tissue, sense and sheer physicality of our own bodies.

Mediated, all of it.

Exclusively internal, intellectual, and totally unincarnated notions may form the conduit to God for some faiths, but not ours. Those faiths would teach that the only true bridge to God is located somewhere between our ears. The doorway is a spiritual one only. But our faith teaches that the gate itself is a crucified body and God himself is seen and served in the outstretched hands of a thirsty child.

The problem is Modernity. I really need to work that into the title somehow. Perhaps, Dappled Thoughts- Damn Modernity or Damned Modernity and Dappled Thoughts. Hmmm. I’ll work on it. But in the meantime it needs to be resisted. Here's a start:

Douglas Jones wrote a series of short essays making a beginning toward a more incarnational understanding of truth and knowledge. I hope you'll read each one. [HT: Derrick from whom I stole the links]

Knowing is Doing
Knowing is Haiku
Knowing is Presence
Knowing is Imaging
Knowing isn’t Syllogistic
Knowing is Tracing
Knowing is Loving
Knowing is Story
Knowing is Community
Knowing is Timing
Knowing is Falling

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I’m thoroughly enjoying Philip Pullman’s His
Dark Materials Trilogy. These award winning books certainly have an ax to grind; it’s a heavily Gnostic one, too.

When I left off reading, the young heroes were raising an expedition to hunt down and destroy God. Not your typical young adult fare; at least, it’s usually not so explicitly told. I’m not through with the story yet, but I think they’re going to be successful with the whole enterprise. Assuming the books’ underlying myth, this won’t be a bad thing.

In my opinion, this isn’t an attack on the Father of our Lord (as much as it may have been meant to be so). The Authority, as God is called in the trilogy, is not the Creator. Obviously, not the same guy.

But there’s little doubt that many will confuse the god of Pullman with the God of the Bible. There’s even less doubt that Pullman’s church and the Christian church will become conflated. Unlike the situation with The Authority, however, I’m not sure there’s an absolute gap between the organization Pullman describes and the one I’ve experienced. That’s a problem. But the first step towards solving a problem is in realizing that the problem exists. Pullman is helpful here.

It’s good for God’s people to see themselves as the rest of the world sees them and to hear the story that they tell as a non-Christian might hear it. Though his story is about a different god and a different message entirely, we need to ask, “Why did Mr. Pullman think of this story when he thought of the Church?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the simple day to day lives of Christians were enough to discredit the veracity of this sort of narrative? But they’re not. We forget that we are the message, and by and large we’re a message the world wants no part of. Like the church of Pullman’s novels, our own corporate self-centered demise ought to be applauded because neither have much of anything to do with The Kingdom- excepting nomenclature.

Anyway, I look forward to talking with my kids about this one. I think it will be helpful…and fun. But it worries me a bit regarding the audience as a whole, because it’s so well done. The new movie version (scheduled for release in December of this year) might actually succeed in subverting the genuine Christian story precisely where the embarrassingly flawed DaVinci Code failed.

Dr. Rowan Williams, current Archbishop of Canterbury, showed us what “being that message” might look like in a discussion with Philip Pullman. He didn’t blame the author for mistaken ideas, which the church’s own history has made credible; nor did he grow defensive when the author’s shots came close to home. He sat down, listened and conversed, and in doing so showed us the kind of winsome, humble, and intelligent person of conviction that others just might be drawn to. If all Christians were more like he, we could just enjoy this well told story without worrying about its negative effect; because no one could possibly find us lurking about in Pullman’s yarn.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I grew up singing “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.”

I shouldn’t have. Sung it, I mean.

Turns out that I had it exactly backwards.

I believed heaven was a place “somewhere else – over there.” I believed that the phrase The Kingdom of Heaven referred to that specific piece of “somewhere else." I also thought that Jesus, therefore, went around talking to people about how to arrive at that “somewhere else” and that he died on the cross to "save souls"- as opposed to bodies because only souls can make the trip; and so finally, I knew the gospel was about “going to heaven when you die.”

Simple. Popular. Self-evident, really.

And underlying the whole thing was that powerful ditty “This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through”

Backwards. All of it.

Remove the ditty and the whole landscape turns on its head.

Let me show you-

1. Heaven is that part of this creation where God is especially present. Sometimes he pulls back the veil to let us see what’s already here. Its just that sort of thing that happened to Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6:15-19. When heaven opens (as in Rev. 4:1), we’re not taken away from here, rather we are able to see all of here.

2. When Jesus or his cousin John wandered into a village telling people that the Kingdom of God was at hand, what did the villagers hear?

Come on, now. We have the entire Old Testament from which to answer. Did they hear “this is how you can go to heaven when you die?" Why would they have heard that? People coming out of a Twentieth Century Ole’ Time Revival tent meeting might have heard that, but a second century Jewish potter? I can’t find that sort of thing in the Old Testament at all.

No, the kingdom of God wasn’t a place. The gospel wasn’t a map. Jesus wasn’t saying he’d discovered a new route to a special destination. Rather, the Kingdom of God was a fact. The gospel was a proclamation.

It wasn’t that a new territory had been found; it was that God’s kingship had been asserted and established over this world. God had returned to Israel to set everything right. The kingdom was at hand because the king was present. God was in town.

3. We affirm every Sunday (because Holy Scripture most assuredly teaches it) that God created every visible thing. Stuff was God’s idea. Specifically, these Heavens and this Earth were the handiwork of God, and he took great joy in them. We have scriptural authority on that.

Was it all a mistake? Was Adam’s fall God’s big chance to get out of the whole “stuff” business?

The entire redemption story says otherwise; Romans 8 makes the point explicitly. God is saving all of creation. All of this creation.

There’s no better guarantee of this than the verity of Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning. While Good Friday was God’s “No!” to the fallen state of things in his world, Easter was his great "Yes!” to the goodness of Creation. Good Friday might have been followed by something else. If God had changed his mind, this was the time and place to show it.

“All of this is cursed” the cross declared, “and now….we’re going to do this instead.”

But that’s not what happened. Christ’s death was followed by a bodily resurrection. He put this world on in his incarnation; and he refused to take it off again- even after his death. Weeks later, on a Thursday, he took that same flesh back into the very life of the Trinity. Heaven and Earth met in that individual; because of him Revelation 21 promises the same for this world.

God isn’t in the business of saving bodiless souls. God has saved, is saving, and will save this world of men and women. He does so without destroying their humanity. Could salvation work in any other way?

This, then, is the great Christian hope. We do not look forward to “going to heaven when we die," rather we look forward to “the resurrection of the dead” and the New Heavens and New Earth that will be transformed along with our risen bodies- as was our Lord’s.

If my family were to travel to Disney World, we might stop for the night in Valdosta. Motel stays are a rarity for us; so no doubt, we’d have a good time, but in the morning we’d be off- because our destination is Disney World, not Motel 6. Heaven considered as a separate realm of this creation is not my home. It may be the case that after my death, God will preserve me there for awhile, but that’s not where I’m going. I shouldn’t confuse the two.

No doubt Christ has those who have fallen asleep before the final renewal of all things well in hand. Though questions of post mortem existence are important, they are insignificant when compared with the rest of the story- simply because they are a mere hiatus along the way.

This is tremendously practical. This life, this world, this enfleshed human person is the point of God’s activity. As someone else has suggested, the proper question for evangelism isn’t “If you were die tonight where would you spend eternity?," but rather “If you were to live for another 1000 years, what kind of person would you be?”

Salvation's not about life after death, but rather about life after life after death. Perhaps the best introduction to this historic understanding is N.T. Wright’s inexpensive booklet New Heavens, New Earth: The Biblical Picture of the Christian Hope. It’s available here from Grove Books.


“Scripture and tradition require to be read in a way that brings out their strangeness, their non-obvious and non-contemporary qualities, in order that they may be read both freshly and truthfully from one generation to another. They need to be made more difficult before we can accurately grasp their simplicities.... And this ‘making difficult’, this confession that what the gospel says in Scripture and tradition does not instantly and effortlessly make sense, is perhaps one of the most fundamental tasks for theology.”
—Rowan Williams, Arius: Heresy and Tradition (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), p. 236. [HT: Alastair]

I like that.

If it makes instant sense to ears trained in the spirit of this age, could we have possibly heard it correctly? Isn't this another way of saying that we must always be sure that we are proclaiming the gospel of Christ's kingdom- not the latest "self-evident" fad of this passing age?


St. Andrews House Center For Orthodox Christian Studies hosted "a colloquium...designed to explain Orthodox Christianity to Episcopalians and Anglicans."

Lectures (including those by Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green) can be downloaded here.[HT: Reformed Catholicism]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Fred Sanders has found the real grave of the real Jesus. Read all about this astonishing find. Amazing, really ! [HT: Pontificator]

For those who wish a more serious interaction with the embarrassing Discovery Channel special, Ben Witherington points out it's glaring shortcomings here. And Alastair offers a lot of tomb stuff here.

Monday, March 5, 2007


David Fields offers a fifteen page summary of Bishop Wright's reading of Paul's letter to the Romans here [HT: Barb]


In Which God Likes His Stuff
(with illustrations drawn on a napkin)
GENESIS 1 & 2, again

It’s good- all of it.

That’s the place to start. Stuff is God’s idea.

Trees, water and sparkling stone, beautiful eyes, round bottoms and muscular thighs all began in the imagination of a god- the God; but also dirt, wiggling worms and the wasp’s sting.

These things- and all others- are here because he wanted them to be. Stuff was God’s idea, and he was immensely pleased with it. In our story, he says so.

This might seem too simple a point to make. Surely, everyone understands it. I wish that were true.

Thousands of years from the beginning, our God came down and put on the creation he had made. His people would summarize this surprising twist with the concise phrase- “He was born of the Virgin Mary.” They still tell it that way.

Today, many object at the word “Virgin,” but at the time of his Incarnation it was another word which gave them difficulty. Miracles they believed in. True divinity having anything to do with matter, they did not. “Virgin” they accepted. “Born” they could not.

Gnosticism was one of the earliest subversions of the Christian story. Like our story, it had room for a great deal of diversity in its telling. And there were many key elements in its plotline- too many to mention here. But chief among them was an abhorrence for all things material. In fact, evil was said to be located in matter. In their narrative, the creator god couldn’t be the true God for the simple reason that he was creator. He had the stench of stuff on his hands.

In the Gnostic version the true god emanated a lesser god, who emanated a lesser god, who emanated….down, down, down until we finally reach a god with a mind dirty enough to think up matter.

Like all deviant ways of telling “the true story of the world,” Gnosticism was cruel and dehumanizing. The body was either treated with contempt or total indifference. It either needed to be destroyed or totally ignored- what you did with it didn’t matter. One approach encouraged harm to oneself, the other- the use and harm of others.

Many who sincerely desire to live out the Christian story are inadvertently adding scenes from this incompatible tale. This is a radical departure, because it comes at the very beginning, and is sure to skew the end. In fact, it is in the telling of the end that the deviation is most clearly seen.

How does “The True Story of the World” conclude?

The Christian can only answer, “It concludes well.”

That’s certain enough, but what do we mean by “well.” Is the destiny of this creation- the trees and worms and muscular thighs we mentioned above- is it their destiny to be finally erased? Does the salvation of mankind involve the destruction of his humanity- for human beings are nothing if not flesh and bone?

We’re jumping ahead, but surely you can see that it must end in a different way. Stuff is God’s idea- perhaps his favorite one. What must that mean for the end? Maybe more importantly, what must that mean for how our lives write the middle chapters?

It is very tempting to take the Gnostic perspective on spirituality. Cars, sisters, clogged pipes, bosses, weeds and burnt roasts are surely beneath our spiritual goals- distractions, every one. But, no; Genesis roots our calling as human beings and our walk with God (one and the same, really) firmly in the stuff of this world. Others have pointed out that while many of the men and women we look to as spiritual leaders fill their minds and speech with otherworldly phrases and concerns, a few minutes spent with a Concordance will demonstrate the sorts of things that occupy our God’s thoughts.

Look up “Infralapsarian.” Bet it’s not in the Bible- anywhere.

Find “Immediate Imputation.” No luck.

Now, try “Semen.” Got it.

“Excrement?” It’s there.

“Blood, taxes…menstrual period, roof railings and baby birds” All there.

This world matters. All of it, because in the beginning God- the one true God- created the heavens and the earth.

God crafted with the precision of an engineer, but he also dreamed with the extravagance of an artist. There is much that spun from his imagination and will that is extra and unnecessary from a “just get it done” point of view. Apparently, “it” could not be accomplished with the bare necessities.

Creation was meant to do more than simply run and function. It was meant to speak. It was meant to sing. “The earth is full of the glory of God,” an ancient brother wrote. Yes, “The World is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; it gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil. Crushed.” a contemporary brother answers from across the centuries.

We’ve tasted this glory in the sights, sounds, and sensations of our world. It is his glory reflected that we are sampling. They can break our hearts with their power and sublime pleasure. Like a gentle tug on the sleeve, creation pulls at our attention and then points us towards the source of all Life.

Creation was made to reflect the glory of God. It’s the road sign that points beyond itself; a finger pointing at the moon. But that is how it can go terribly wrong.

The glory is so dazzling that we can mistake the sign for the destination. Men and women grasp the gift while rejecting the Giver. But sadness lies along that path. Not only do we loose the greater when we ignore it outright, but we eventually forfeit the lesser, as well. Creation glows because it’s lit from behind. Try to sneak it away so that you can really enjoy it and you’ll pull a dull rock from you pocket when your crouching alone.

There are two truths to maintain at once: Creation is God reflected, but Creation is God reflected. A denial of the first is the rejection of God’s gift and our own humanity. The rejection of the second is idolatry pure and simple.

Untold centuries from our story’s beginning a bush would burn in a wilderness without being consumed. A man of God would bow before it, because God was there- in it. This is the end for which every creature was made.

Perhaps it will help to remember these lessons, if we flip our Creator/Creation Distinction symbol around.

The large and small circles can remind us that God created Heavens and Earth. They were his idea and joy. Maybe you can see a stylized Earth with a circling moon in the diagram now. He made them to reflect his own glory- to be a lesser image. Do you see Original and lesser image in the two circles?

Preface / Intro / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 /
Chapter 4 / Chapter 5

Saturday, March 3, 2007


Alastair has posted some of my thoughts on our Lord's graciousness towards those of us who are impure.

Check it out!

Friday, March 2, 2007


I’ve heard it from many different quarters lately- “The most important thing the church can do for the world is to be the church.”

Could it be that simple?

No, really. Could it?

Does the church only need to live what it claims to be- an alternative society, the earthly manifestation of the life of God, a different way of being human, a foretaste of heaven, the glorious renewed image of a fiery yet tender Conquering lamb, the very body of Christ?

Lot’s of cool sounding stuff, there. Makes me want to jump right in. I want to be fiery and glorious and …a heavenly foretaste, but what does it mean…really, practically, and is it enough?

When the life of the Trinity intersected our world, it ended up on a cross; and it continues to turn over the sod of Adam’s creation with a plow that’s distinctly cross shaped.

My wiser brother N.T. Wright said that God found the pain and the guilt of the world, stooped underneath it, lifted it up and carried it himself.

I've been told that there's nothing in that statement but rhetorical flourish. It has no meat or content. It's like saying "all the world needs is Jeeessssusss", but it does have meaning. It means that God found the hurting and the guilty and he behaved as if their misery and corruption were his responsibility. Though totally innocent, he responded as if these things were his doing- his own fault.

In a fallen world, that’s what the life of God looks like. It's "fiery' with a twist. "Heavenly foretaste" with a bitter tang.

But wouldn’t a society of people committed to living that out daily be an anomaly in our world- a strange and wondrous beacon and hope?

Amidst all the self-serving and self-glorifying pettiness of our lives, the body of Christ marks off, like a bubble in an expanse of water, a different reality. Out there it’s wet. In here it’s dry.


Isn’t that your experience with the church?

The most important thing the church can do for the world is to be the church.

The difference doesn’t lie in our weapons, though they do differ. It’s not that we do with bibles and prayers what the world does with bombs and mines. That’s not being a new creature; that’s being better armed.

The real difference is in our aim. We don’t seek to glorify ourselves by pointing out the failures of others, rather we wish to throw ourselves away so that the other can experience the life they were meant to live. The call to follow Christ is a call to be used up for our enemies' sake. We find our lives by loosing them.


The most important thing the church can do for the world is to be the church.

Is it enough for me to tell the young girl that abortion is not an option- that she must carry the unwanted child for the rest of her life? Is it enough to point out her “corruption” and lack of self control? Are we being the church then?

Or do we need to be the place where she is enabled to do the right thing, the hands from which God’s forgiveness is offered, an encouraging symphony of transparent “me, too”, and honest companions in a messy life of compromise and shortcomings?

“I can’t afford the baby.”

“We can,” Christ answers back.

“No one will love me, if they know”

“We do,” Christ answers back through an embrace.

“The pain and guilt are too much”

“But there not yours, there ours,” Christ smiles.

Would people want to be part of something like that? Would such a place make a difference in the world by simply giving the world another way of being the world?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Evangelicals are fleeing in record numbers to churches whose traditions, sensibilities and voice burrow deeply into the ancient soil of mystery, beauty and weighty common consent. This isn’t simply a religious revolution; it is one manifestation of a great cultural repentance.

The rationalistic and pragmatic disregard for glories- both light and heavy- and individualistic arrogance of modern man have rendered his world sterile, bare and almost unbearable to the human soul. Quick and shallow distraction becomes laudable and almost necessary- a blessed and charitable diversion to tingle our emptiness away.

People are looking for more. The human demand’s more.

It is doubly sad that many of the faithful within the Anglican tradition have chosen this time to sample a taste of the dehumanizing experiment that has managed to spin cultural stubble out of the gold of our Christian heritage.

It is sad first of all because of its claim. It measures Christendom against Modernity and finds Christendom wanting. It is wrong.

It is doubly sad because of its timing. Everyone who has lived through the fruitlessness of a world without magic, tradition or communal authority knows that it is wrong, and is retreating into ancient sanctuaries- even into those of their own making and imagination. Witness the growth of the pop pagan practices, which are collectively known as Wicca.

It is sad in the first place because the modern Wiccan understands creation more truthfully than does the modern worshiper of markets- even the Christian ones.

It is sad in the second place because just when the modern world is turning to embrace the view of reality offered by our ancient faith, we have turned to pursue that which they have determined to leave behind.

Like the companies of the late 90’s that invested tens of thousand of dollars to rebrand themselves with a dotcom on the end of their name, while the internet venture balloon burst around them, those parishes will have to find the stomach and resources to return to their former selves, or they will look foolish and dated as the world moves on to its next marketing fad.

I believe it was Allan Tate who said that in our attempt to be modern men, we have only succeeded in becoming momentary men. I think that’s right.

Full Homely Divinity [HT Patristic Anglican] offers some helpful resources to those who wish to preserve an alternative way of being human. There are other valuable ways, as well. But they can’t be found in the cultures of Walmart, McDonalds or MTV.