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As I have sorely neglected updating this blog, I will post my random, disconnected thoughts about God that I have had in the past couple of weeks or so.  Enjoy.

“We are the children of your mystical union, to share in the goodness of your love.”

“You are my anchor, my axis mundi, and around you I will fix my soul, revolving.”

“God is unpredictable, wild, untamable.  I see God in the Jobian whirlwind, or, as all-consuming fire.  I can relate to the Jesus who casts out the coin-changers at the temple as much as I see Jesus of the Beatitudes.”

“God shows up in unexpected times, to give us gifts we could never imagine.  God is the giver of good things, delighting in our surprise, given at just the right moment. And I am glad that God cannot be contained by our expectations.”

“How is it that the infinite God would pray for your lost creatures, that you would remember us, that you would yearn for us to the point of tears?”

“I want to see and be seen.  To behold the divine and to be held by him.”

“But, I, I look for love in all the wrong places.  When it is you who are my heart’s true beloved.”

“I want to sink into you, and drink from your well.  Engulf me so that I can drown in ecstasy.”

New Site

Please re-direct to my new page:  Here

Thanks!

A Spirit-led life

Thought of the Day, Post #1:

I have come to think that in the Christian life, it is far better to live a Spirit-led and power-filled life than to apprehend Christianity intellectually.  This does not mean that I am anti-intellectual.  While both are needed in my opinion, being empowered by God’s Spirit is an irreplaceable and vital aspect, one that conforms our will — ever weak and prone to straying — to the will of God.

A big reason I see for this is humility.  A person who seeks a Spirit-led life has to admit a certain amount of dependence, of ignorance in not knowing what is next, and an admission that weakness is a part of who we are.    It is a recognition that we are God’s vessels, empty jars that God fills up with Himself, so that in our weaknesses, it is God that ultimately shines through (2 Cor 4:7). What we lack, God more than supplies through his Spirit. To guide, convict, to be our advocate, to enable the Christian life, to inspire and teach us of scriptures.  And when we are lacking, the Spirit, is more than apply to supply us what we need.  The Holy Spirit IS the life of the church and of the Christian.

Now, apprehending God intellectually is a thing that I believe should be an aspect of Christian life.  It is a part of loving God with all that we are.  But an over-reliance on that knowledge, rather than having it become our strength, becomes our weakness instead.  It is based on our ability to know and fathom that which is deeply unfathomable.  Our “knowledge” puffs up (and if you don’t believe me, you haven’t been in academia long enough), but a life properly led by the Spirit should always be brought back to giving us a real assessment of who we are.  When our knowledge is mixed with humility, it is a beautiful thing.  But it is no substitute for a life led by the Holy Spirit.

Dostoyevsky & Gandhi

Gandhi’s peace social action movement, known as satyagraha, is one of those obscure terms that has been fascinating for me to try to analyze (Being the ignorant person that I am, I’ll admit to not knowing much about Gandhi before this comparative religious ethics course).  The philosophy behind it is of holding tight to truth, and in the instances of protests, Gandhi believed it was necessary to do it non-violently (ahimsa) in the quest for the relative truths within particular situations.  Though I’m intrigued at some of the ways satyagraha has been carried out, I’m not particularly convinced about the non-violence of his actions.   In my mind, all coercion is inherently violent in nature.   It is force to make people do what they would not otherwise do (note that I believe a lot of social contracts are coercive, so I’m not making the claim that coercion is always bad).  That is not to say that satyagraha only employed coercion, or that all persuasion is coercion, or that all coercion is equally violent.  But it is true that one of the great critiques of Gandhi is that his tactics are hurtful or wounding to people (even if not in the physical sense), and this is something that he constantly had to address.  He had to eventually say that some forms of harm are more harmful than others.  This is true, and yet it throws questions about the nature of ahimsa and to what extent some sorts of violence is okay.   It annoys me a bit because Gandhi was not a systematic thinker, and as someone who tends to be a systematic thinker, it is a bit problematic for me.  In Gandhi’s defense, though, he was more interested in the practical results (and he had many good results) than in theory.

To qualify the things I’ve said, I should point out that I’m not myself a pacifist, so I don’t feel obligated to follow the extreme sort of non-violence that is endorsed by Gandhi.  I do believe that the ideas of non-violence is transferable to different cultures outside of India in order to achieve social action, but it definitely has to be modified to our times.  One of the things that my discussion group talked about was that satyagraha would have a very hard time being effective in our desensitized world.  We’ve seen everything that nothing really touches us.  Part of what made him so effective was not only his dedication to non-violence, but also because of the time was ripe for it to happen.  What I do admire most about it is the elevation and emphasis on pitting our ethics against those of others to convince the other side of the rightness of our position.  It requires respect.  It means you cannot malign the “opponents.”  It means that not all tactics are valid even if they are available.  It is a recognition of the other’s worth and humanity (which, funny enough, were concepts imported idea from Europe).  I also find the fact that Gandhi was influenced by the Sermon on the Mount to be pretty cool.  😛

Anyway, I’ve been reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov.  So far, I’m really liking it.   It has a lot of biblical references.  Here are some of the quotes that I found to be funny, regarding one of the characters called Alyosha.

“Alyosha was a realist. No doubt, he fully believed in miracles, but it is not miracles that dispose realists to belief. The genuine realist, if an unbeliever, will always find the ability to disbelieve in the miraculous. If confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognized by him. Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle, but the miracle from faith. If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to admit the miraculous also.”

“He [Alyosha] was convinced of the existence of God and immortality. “I want to live for immortality and I will accept no compromise.” If he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today, the question a tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up heaven on earth.”

The last quote is hilarious!  The narrative goes back later to speak about some abberant people who are Christians AND socialists.  Shocking!  lol.

Anyway, enough writing for now.  It’s wet and rainy and has been so for a couple of days now, and I’m hoping that it’ll be better tomorrow.  Here’s to hoping!

the new year is here

I’m strangely sentimental this New Year’s eve.

Partly, this is because 2009 hasn’t been the best year for me in a lot of ways.  Partly, because newness always brings with it a sense of hope.  It’s a renewal.  A ready expectation for something else.

Neither do I normally make New Years’ resolutions.  This year, I have decided to make one.  It’s more a list of hopes for myself.  🙂

1) Talk to God – Seek even when I don’t feel like it.  Listen.  Fall in love.

2) Take time to write to Dimas – Shoot for once every three months.  Be more hands-on with my financial giving.

3) Try out different ethnic restaurants – Have fun doing it.  Get others to join.   Experiment, explore culture, enjoy life.

4) Keep in contact with the important people in my life – Call, write, spend time with them.  Invest in the lives of others and stop being so self-focused.

5) Spend more time in studies – Spend less time on the internet and watching tv with friends.  Carve out particular time in schedule to do school work instead of waiting until the last minute.  There’s a time for everything, but grad school takes priority.

Have a happy New Year’s day, everybody! 🙂

thought of the day

Thought of the day: I would almost always prefer a God who constantly intervenes in our lives (as annoying and frustrating and confusing as it may be) to a God who merely sits backs and watches as history unfolds.

Mico adds that a God who does not act in history is like an artist who drew a picture that he liked, only to throw it out the window.  An apt illustration.  Thanks!  🙂

the things i value

Just a list, because I’m being sentimental 🙂  :

  • friendship
  • hugs
  • self-esteem
  • intelligence
  • knowledge
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • sincerity
  • creativity
  • originality
  • life and living
  • nature
  • silence
  • listening
  • scripture
  • written words
  • poetry, music, art
  • exploration
  • discovery
  • adventure
  • courage

history timeline

My timeline for my Christian History class from the beginning of the church to the Reformation: http://www.timerime.com/item/200909

Enjoy! 🙂

Genesis 18:16-33

Because a good Bible study (and the time spent writing it up for a friend) shouldn’t go to waste:

Passage: Genesis 18:16-33 (you should re-read it!)

Why did God feel the need to tell Abraham about what would happen to Sodom and Gomorrah?  I believe there’s a sense in which Abraham’s chosenness has now affected the way that God will act toward him.  In order to be the God that Abraham and his descendants will worship, God wants to prove that he is just and righteous in his dealings with humanity, that his character is good.

This relationship between God and Abraham (and implicitly Abraham’s descendants) is not a static one in which God would demand mindless obedience.  Rather, it is one in which God’s people will have a voice in the way God will ultimately work in the world (think also of Moses’ and Joshua’s intercession for their people when God’s wrath was against them).

Isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t just presuppose that humans do not know that justice and righteousness is?  Even if our concept of justice is not to the standard of God’s justice, we are not given the excuse to simply shrug away our moral beliefs as being ultimately flawed.  We do not know as well as God (that is a given), but we should still be in the process of working out what justice means in relation to what God says, to God’s character, to the sense of “oughtness” that we all have.

Wrestling with God just seems like a risky thing to do at times.  And it is!  We open ourselves to being vulnerable or wounded.  Abraham’s insistence that God will be just and not kill the righteous with the unrighteous did cause him some hesitation and uncertainty.  And yet it was effective (and this is the kind of risk-taking that I would encourage).  He was honest with God with his intercession.  Though the prayer did not ultimately change the outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham would undoubtedly be changed by his experience and relationship with God.  God heard him and responded positively to him.

Why stop at ten?  I suggested that when we say that Abraham should have gone down to one (any number smaller than ten), we are looking at it from an individualistic society.  While that’s not completely wrong, they would have understood faith in a communal context.  Ten is large enough to be considered a community of believers, and an effective presence in the city.  In the Jewish tradition, they have the minyan, the presence of the minimum of ten to be considered an official gathering.  Perhaps this concept is loosely correlated?  But perhaps the number isn’t the main issue here at all, and the point is simply that God has heard Abraham and has responded.

What would have happened if God did not include Abraham in this dialogue?  How would Abraham have reacted to the news of Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed knowing that his nephew is there as well?  As strange as it sounds, God’s reputation was on the line.  If ever an attack against God’s character was thrown at Abraham, he now can say that God is indeed righteous. God did not just destroy the cities because of whim or cruelty or malice, but because the cities were indeed so wicked that not even ten righteous could be found.

How does this story affect your perception of how you should pray? How have your past experiences with prayer changed?  What works for you now?

As for me and my own wrestling with God, I’ve found that no matter how angry or hurt or upset I am with God, it is good to know that he is big enough to carry all the weight of my accusations and pain.  That he listens and that he does not strike us down for our audacity and wayward behavior is a testament to the amount of intimacy that he will allow.  Without the direct confrontations I’ve had with God, my relationship with him would not be as straightforward and heartfelt.  After all, we serve a God who wants our honesty, who wishes us to speak to him about where we are and what we desire, and who is able to respond to us when we come to him with that honesty.  I think that’s worth a lot.  🙂

Anyway, I hope you have found this to be a good source of reflection and encouragement.  Peace.

Thanksgiving post

Yes, I know I have not written in a while.  This I may discuss at some other point.  However, since gratitude is on my mind at present, here is a list of things for which I am thankful (a couple days late, I know).

I am thankful. . .

  • for God, the Father-Mother, mine, the only One who will forever be strength, love, breath, life, and caregiver to me.
  • for old friends who love me and are willing to be my support (Mico, Dan, Abby, Brad, etc).
  • for new friends who are receptive to me and who I have enjoyed getting to know (Mariella, David, Valerie, Philip, etc).
  • for being in Boston which has given me joy and freedom that I had not have previously thought possible.
  • for my family (and extended family) who puts up with a lot from me at times and loves me despite my flaws.
  • for the financial resources to be able to go to graduate school and to travel.
  • for finding Park Street Church and being able to connect with passionate Christians.
  • for my mistakes and rebellions against God, without which my relationship with God would not be as frank, meaningful, or dynamic.
  • for innumerable opportunities for reconciliation, restoration, and healing.
  • for my life and for living, because such things are joys in themselves.
  • for Tyler, however fleeting our friendship may or may not be.  He has been such a blessing to me.

Well, that’s all you get for now, folks.  Goodnight.