One Man's Web

A friend of mine has a list of 21 words she no longer uses in sermons.  These words are some of the (once) most important words in the Christian faith.  Her list includes:  sin, justification, sanctification, gospel.  Last time I talked to her, this Lutheran was even thinking of adding the word "grace" to the list.

Why does she do this?  For one thing, some of the words--justification, sanctification--make a modern person's eyes glaze over.  The last person to resonate to the word "sanctification" died decades, if not centuries, ago.  Secondly, even the words people think they understand--sin, gospel--don't mean what many think they mean.  Says Presbyterian John Schuck:

I find much of our modern theological work little more than dealing in antiquities. The Trinity, the person of Christ, the sacraments, the authority of the Bible, eschatology, and so forth were invented in the pre-modern era and are best suited for that time period.

This does not mean that we are smarter or more hip than the people who invented these ideas. We simply have changed. Trying to retrofit our belief systems to a modern understanding of the Universe, Earth, and Earth's inhabitants turns theologians and pastors into pawn brokers for ancient religious relics that fewer and fewer people embrace...

Read on >>>> at Progressive Involvement with Rev John Petty.

AWAKE BEFORE THE SUN

It is still dark, but it is a darkness I know well, the darkness of night about to yield to morning. This is my favorite time, a time of exquisite solitude, the kind of solitude that has nothing to do with loneliness. It will not stretch dangerously on and on for hours, like the solitude of late night, luring me into sadness. The dark before dawn is limited; it knows its time is short. Anything can happen...  Read Barbara here >>>>

The Almost-Daily eMo from the Geranium Farm is a delightful email I receive... almost daily.

Trinity is not arcane doctrine. The architecture of the Central Processing Unit in my computer, or in the one on which you read this article is arcane doctrine . It’s there, it works,  but it’s not relevant to you and me. All that matters is that it works. The theologians from Intel can worry about it... and good luck to them!

This is not Trinity. Trinity is something we are within. Read on >>>>

Listening to her rants though made me think of a talk I had just heard about the dangers of acedia. The term is most often associated these days with the sin of sloth (one of the seven deadly sins), but it goes much deeper than mere laziness to describe the state of not caring or being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It’s a spiritual apathy that turns one inward instead of outward in a life oriented around loving others. In the talk I heard, it was compared to compassion fatigue – not having the spiritual resources to care anymore.>>>> Julie Clawson, One Hand Clapping

This classic Australian poem was published inThe Sydney Mail, 25 July 1896. Perhaps Mulga Bill should have started with a road bike rather than going straight into downhill MTB!

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"... Read on >>>>

People assume I’m an atheist, but I’m not. I don’t know what I am, but if I had to choose a label I’d choose agnostic. When I say that people usually ask me if I think God exists, and I usually give them the answer that my teacher, Gordon Kaufman, used to give me: The question of God’s existence isn’t the right question because it won’t get you very far. It’s a question human beings can’t answer. If we take God’s mystery seriously, then we can never know. I think there are better questions that we can be answering: What does a particular vision of God do to those who submit to it and to those who won’t submit to it? What difference is my version of God making? Who is it harming? In one of his books, Kaufman writes, “The central question for theology... is a practical question. How are we to live? To what should we devote ourselves? To what causes give ourselves?” He argues that theology that does not contribute significantly to struggles against inhumanity and injustice has lost sight of its point of being.... see the review at Religion Despatches

Think about living in Israel.... It’s dry, and it’s hot. Every year there is a wind which blows as the seasons change from winter to summer. It’s called the Hamsin, and it’s like a bad north wind that we get here on a foul hot, dusty day. The moon goes blood red, even the sun, like we get with a bad dust storm. We get a few days like this each year. In Israel, it happens every year! It is so regular and predictable, that the wind, the Hamsin, has been named after the time it lasts. Hamsin means “50”, and it lasts about that long; fifty days.

It was a time of great anxiety in ancient Israel, because a bad windy season could destroy the harvest. Imagine having a couple of rainwater tanks, and maybe a well in your backyard; or more probably there would be one a few streets away. That’s all the water you can have.

And the only food you have is what you can grow. There is no Coles, no Woolies, no IGA. The rich people at Hillbank might have enough money to buy food in, but herein Elizabeth, if you don't grow it, you won't eat it!

This meant harvest festival, harvest thanksgiving, was a really big deal; no tinned foods on the table down the front. At harvest festival, which they called Pentecost, there was a real, fervent thanksgiving for the harvest. And if the harvest was poor, there was a suspicion that God was not pleased. A poor harvest, or a bad windy season with the Hamsin, was a sign the people had not been faithful, they thought, and that God was punishing them... Read on >>>>

This trip was a four hundred kilometre challenge. Could I do it in 24 hours? The date was set for 7 October 2010, chosen for the warmer weather after winter but before the summer heat.  The day was a Thursday, which was chosen, as was the route, to minimise traffice exposure. I left Elizabeth at midnight.... Read on >>>>

Rabbits are not native to Australia. They are a feral pest. There were times before  myxomatosis when we were  almost been buried under rabbits. Despite this, rabbit is a good and nutritious food; so much so, that in Australia it is sometimes called underground mutton. Up north we used to say to the CSIRO scientists, “Do what you like to kill out the rabbits, but don’t bring it up here, because here rabbit is a really important part of the diet.”

On the sandy plains in Pitjantjatjara country, rabbits have a side effect. They attract lizards. The big sandy warrens of the newcomer rabbits have become a haven for Perentie, the fourth largest lizard on the planet.... Read on >>>>

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