Flirting with Faith

Flirting with Faith

An Ordinary Holy Week Primer for an Extraordinary Season…

posted by Joan Ball
Wondering about the meaning of Holy Week and Easter? A new friend and talented author, pastor, artist Dr. David McDonald, has created a helpful site called The Common Truth: Ordinary Stories for an Extraordinary Season that offers thought-provoking daily reflections on Palm Sunday, Fig Monday, Great Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
Check out the Fig Monday piece here…

And the Great Tuesday piece here…

Read more about Holy Week and Easter at The Common Truth or up with David on his blog or at Westwinds Community Church

 

I Don’t Care About Heaven or Hell…

posted by Joan Ball

I don’t care about heaven or hell. There, I said it. As I’ve watched the flood of blog posts, Tweets, television interviews and articles about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person that Ever Lived and the response of folks like John Piper and Justin Taylor, I can’t help but wonder if all of this talk of where we wind up when we’re dead isn’t a convenient distraction from what people of faith should be doing in the here and now. 

Yes. I have read the Bible. I know it discusses salvation and eternity. I know there are harrowing scenes depicting lakes of fire for some and a bountiful inheritance for others. I know that some theologians and believers view these things as metaphor and others as cold, hard realities. I know that some view heaven as a place we might go and others say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And I know that these different takes on Christian faith have generated questions in me that have propelled forward my journey toward a deeper understanding of Father, Son and Spirit.
One of those questions, which I encountered months before the Bell/Piper afterlife controversy began, was this: Would I continue to follow Jesus if I knew I would not be going to Heaven?
This little doozie popped into my head upon waking one morning and it occupied my thoughts for many days and weeks after. It forced me to consider not just the what of my faith, but the why of it. What was my motivation for following Jesus? 
Heaven is sometimes described as an inheritance and God as the Father, so the best thing my human mind could do is bring the question down to earth. What would it be like if I had only loved and obeyed my father to collect on an inheritance? Would I stop loving and obeying my father if I learned that there was none? Would I be expressing unconditional love if I did?
It was then that I realized I had to put the question of Heaven and hell–my inheritance–on the shelf. 
The familiar Serenity Prayer asks God to grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. I cannot change the realities of life after death. There is a Heaven and hell or there isn’t. What I need to focus on is what I can change: myself by being willing and allowing myself to be transformed (by one I first understood as “higher power” and now call Jesus Christ) and the world around me by doing my best to love God and others as Jesus asked. 
Of course, my ego and tendency toward selfishness gets in the way of my doing that consistently and effectively. So I rely on prayer, scripture, community, contemplation and other spiritual practices to guide my steps. This of course, generate even more questions, motivating an even deeper pursuit of answers which starts the whole cycle over again. I remain committed to following this lather, rinse, repeat of faith to the end of my life, one day at a time…no matter where I wind up on the other side. 

Are We on the Road to Legalizing Incest?: The Rise and Fall of Taboos in a Changing Society

posted by Joan Ball

Columbia University Professor David Epstein was arrested last week and charged with having “consensual” sexual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter. Epstein’s lawyer, Matthew Galluzzo, tells ABCNews.com: 

“Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so. At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms.” 

Galluzzo goes on to say, 


It’s OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home…How is this so different? We have to figure out why some behavior is tolerated and some is not.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Galuzzo also questions whether “prosecuting incest was ‘intellectually consistent’ with the repeal of anti-sodomy laws that resulted from Lawrence v. Texas in 2003″ and asserts that “what goes on between consenting adults in private should not be legislated” because the bedroom “is not the proper domain of our law.”
ABC News is now crowdsourcing on Facebook, “should incest between consenting adults be legal?”  
While there will surely be much blogosphere debate about the content of this question, I find myself drawn to some larger issues this case raises. Specifically, I wonder where and how societal norms are created and enforced when there is no “true north” by which to navigate? I am also interested in Galluzzo’s distinction between being “academically morally opposed” to incest and noting that “an argument can be made” for it?  Does this mean that legal arguments do/should always trump morality? 
Love to hear your thoughts on this…

Coming out of the Christian Closet: Guest Post by Author Becky Garrison

posted by Joan Ball

duck.jpgGRAPHIC: http://asbojesus.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/934/
©Jon Birch

Coming out of the Christian Closet

By Becky Garrison

As part of my ongoing pilgrimage to chat up the
themes I raise in my book Jesus Died for This?
, I’ve begun to connect with an increasing number
of folks who seem to be searching for a connection outside of themselves though
they often wouldn’t call themselves emergent, misisonal, organic, holy hipster,
or even Christian.

 Thanks
to my conversations with Karen Ward (www.episcopalvillage.org), Kurt Neilson (
www.seekhere.org) and other like-minded souls, I’ve been exploring
my connection to Celtic Christianity and Anglicanism. On his blog, The Website
of the Unknowing
, Carl McColman reflects how I have begun to
describe myself as an ‘Apophatic Anglican’. The
following excerpt from that piece helps to explain what I mean by this:
 

“During a panel discussion at Journey Imperfect Faith Community , a
number of us were asked to explore the faith label we use to classify ourselves.
I said I was an Apophatic Anglican, which I described as follows: “The more I continue to enter the cloud of the unknowing, the more I realize
just much I cannot know a God that is outside the time/space continuum But
something happens when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus.
And the Anglican part is because I enter into the mysteries through the
Anglican ritual. And Anglicanism is one of those traditions, where I can
actually leave my brain intact. I don’t have to park my brain at the door when
I come in to partake of the mysteries. I was asked to further describe
“apophatic” as the tradition of negative theology by which you define God by
what you do not know. (And BTW-and it’s not apathetic but apophatic. :)



“The more I continue to enter the cloud of the unknowing, the more I realize
just much I cannot know a God that is outside the time/space continuum But
something happens when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus.
And the Anglican part is because I enter into the mysteries through the
Anglican ritual. And Anglicanism is one of those traditions, where I can
actually leave my brain intact. I don’t have to park my brain at the door when
I come in to partake of the mysteries. I was asked to further describe
“apophatic” as the tradition of negative theology by which you define God by
what you do not know. (And BTW-and it’s not apathetic but apophatic. :)

cloud-of-unknowing.jpg

 

GRAPHIC: http://www.nakedpastor.com/2008/11/13/cartoon-inclement-weather/ ©Naked Pastor

 

So what do you think? “What does
it mean to live out a faith where we live out the teachings of Christ while
walking in the cloud of the unknowing?”

Previous Posts

Does the Protestant Work Ethic Hold Up in the 21st Century
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posted 2:48:59pm Feb. 13, 2012 | read full post »

Does the Protestant Work Ethic Hold Up in the 21st Century?
This was originally posted last year, but it's on my mind again today... Reading a "secular" textbook this morning about the roots of Americans' tendency to define themselves by the work they do and came across this: "Calvin's doctrine of predestination led his followers [to view] success in wor

posted 12:57:29pm May. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Holy Saturday: Thoughts on Sacrifice
Woke this morning thinking about sacrifice and how infrequently most of us, myself included, actually sacrifice anything of true value to ourselves for God and others. Sure we give money to our favorite charities. But when is the last time we actually parted with money that would have gone to paying

posted 9:50:42am Apr. 23, 2011 | read full post »

Maundy Thursday: Inspirational Holy Week Stories for an Extraordinary Season...
Wondering about the meaning of Holy Week and Easter? A new friend and talented author, pastor, artist Dr. David McDonald, has created a helpful site called The Common Truth: Ordinary Stories for an Extraordinary Season that offers thought-provoking daily reflections and inspirational Easter season

posted 9:51:07am Apr. 21, 2011 | read full post »

An Ordinary Holy Week Primer for an Extraordinary Season...
Wondering about the meaning of Holy Week and Easter? A new friend and talented author, pastor, artist Dr. David McDonald, has created a helpful site called The Common Truth: Ordinary Stories for an Extraordinary Season that offers thought-provoking daily reflections on Palm Sunday, Fig Monday, Grea

posted 12:27:39am Apr. 19, 2011 | read full post »


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