I came across Jim LePage’s Word Bible Designs through an interview on Rachel Held Evans blog.
Over the past couple of years, every time I take a training session or do a talk in church I’ve used more and more images as I’ve realised I’m a visual learner and there is something about the power of art and visuals that communicates powerfully in tandem with the words we speak. I lament how so often it seems the evangelical church has lost art and the power and beauty of visual art in fear of being offensive or blasphemous. I was at a wedding recently in a new church building which apart from candles and decorations felt like an empty soulless shell. I long for churches to recover visual art. It’s not something I ever grew up with attending a brethren church but a conviction that has grown as I have become more aware of the creativity that God instills in us and the power of beauty to instil hope.
So bring on a more colourful and beauty-full church – and enjoy the posters on Jim LePage’s site many of which depict the books in a wonderful honesty we sometimes don’t get in church…
Over at the Innovista Ireland page I’m asking what leadership shaped by the ‘good book’ should/could look like.
Is the model of leadership practised in most of our churches really a biblical one?
How can we move towards an understanding and practice of leadership that is less ‘one-man-band’ or about maintaining the status quo but instead more closely reflects the New Testament?
Those are the questions I have been asked to tackle in a seminar at New Horizon on Wednesday 20th July. At 10pm (As if the questions weren’t daunting enough!)
What do you think?
Head on over to weigh in…
I have long advocated that the most significant conversations i’ve had about theology tend to take places in the pub. Transfarmer, smallcorner and a few others help keep this theory alive in a long conversation about lots of things, partly how we read the Bible and think about it. On that topic I’ve just started Scot McKnight’s Blue Parakeet which is proving interesting reading.
So right and wrong. Are we missing the point by constantly being so worried about what is right and what is wrong? Or maybe its a pharisaic obsession with how we can judge others as right or wrong and in so doing justify ourselves? I’m not talking about obvious things like killing people, perhaps I mean theological nuances. So often we are obsessed with the right way of thinking, of sound doctrine, of having the right theology. Obviously I’m not saying its not important to think and wrestle with this stuff as that’s what I’m doing. But should we be more concerned with following the trajectory of the way of Jesus, obeying all the stuff he taught than looking at others and seeing if they have the right theology and trying to correct them all the time?
Help me out here, as i’m not quite sure wht i’m even trying to articulate.
In the garden Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, wanting to be like God, wanting to define good and evil for themselves. Is this simply our problem, that we are infected with our own desire to define what is right and what is wrong? So much so that we forget, or get distracted from walking the path of Jesus? Is it the case that there is no ‘other’ with God and so are we foolishly trying to define ourselves over and against others all the time instead of living the inclusive life and love of Jesus?
Does anyone know what i’m talking about?
It shocked me a couple of years ago to discover that women (or men) could be prosecuted for prostitution but yet those who paid for their services had no censure.
It seems crazy in this scenario that one of the two parties is doing something illegal and the other isn’t, that there is such a disparity. Either they are both ok, or both deserve censure.
But then I guess for too long its been the men that make the laws, and men who use and abuse prostitutes, men who keep women in the vicious circle that prostitution becomes. So obviously they didn’t want to make kerb crawling illegal.
Its not too dissimilar from that story in John 8 (the dubious part of John). Reading it and using it for some stuff with students it really struck me how one of the things Jesus seems to be doing is challenging the injustice of the situation. This woman was dragged in to be stoned having been caught in the act (of adultery). Now if she was caught in the act it would seem to be normal that the guy was also caught in the act but what happened him? Why wasn’t he dragged out to be stoned? Because it was the woman’s fault? The innate sexism in the society of the time maybe isn’t too different from today in many ways. As Jesus challenges whichever of the religious leaders who was without fault to throw the first stone, I wonder if in that he was challenging the injustice of women being punished for the same thing that the guy managed to get off Scot free with.
It seems to have taken 2000 years for the same sense of injustice to hit the UK with Home Secretary Jacqui smith announcing a range of new laws to deal with those paying for sex, and especially with trafficed sex workers. Still not a crime to be a pimp and pimp out women though. It seems we still have a way to go…
For another perspective from someone who spends time with many of the women ‘working’ on the streets of Belfast check out a Velvet Bridge.
Rants from the soapbox have been pretty sparse recently through being tired, being away, getting old, but also having an ‘Key Doctrines’ exam next week on things like election and predestination, the Spirit and the Church. At this point half of you stop reading so welcome to the theology geeks. So I’ve been and am trying to study (while not playing scrabble on facebook and staring out the window or walking around a lot pretending to think), and I have a few questions.
Calvinism and election and all that.
So for the first time yesterday to my shame I read the five points of Calvinism (on a side note thank you Alastair McGrath for summarising clearly in a few pages what everyone else seems to take a book to try to do). Now I realised that I’m not a fan of limited atonement – it just doesn’t seem to square with scripture and God’s character (to me) that Jesus only died for the elect. I’d always assumed Jesus died for everyone and it was up to them to choose to accept the offer of grace and forgiveness. And the perseverance of the saints (once saved always saved in popular parlance) we had lots of discussion on in class, where the learned professor (in the Presbyterian college) suggested that we must take the warnings in scripture about not falling away seriously. I think Paul Helm said it would be immoral to warn about something that had no risk of happening. So then I came to read a book by Roger Olsen on Arminianism (as it actually is and not all the misunderstood caricatures) and found myself incredibly sympathetic to something that in various circles I’d tended to hear spoken of in a sense that ‘when Arminians grow up, or start thinking, they’ll see the light and become Calvinists’. I know I’m caricaturing a bit, and it does make me think about who people are following and Paul’s rebuke in 1 Corinthians 3.4. Is it just me or does it seem that sometimes people are more interested in following or the thought of Calvin or John Owen than Jesus? Olsen also suggested that although many churches profess Calvinism or Calvinistic tendencies, the actual default position of many evangelicals is Arminiansim or Semi-Pelagianism. Interesting eh? (that’s one for the geeks).
That often forgotten member of the Trinity, or the Trinity that is not Father, Son and Holy Scriptures. Apologies, I’m being facetious again. Regarding the more miraculous gifts, i’m aware there are different opinions, but it was suggested in class that theologically we must be non-cessasationist as the biblical support for miraculous gifts ceasing with the closing of the canon is so unclear. Now I’ve probably considered myself charismatic more by theology than experience but a comment by Sam Storms in his book convergence challenged me whether you can say that or if it is a bit of a cop out. Obviously recognising everyone has different gifts, but if these gifts are for today, and we are to seek after gifts, why do we see so little evidence of them? Have we been quenching the Spirit? Individually or institutionally?
I am learning and trying to think about some of this stuff, although I realise there are things we will never figure out – there is the element of God that is mystery but I appreciate all the help I can get as this faith seeks understanding.
And then there’s the church, but I better get back to the old revision… (Realising some of the flaws of Warhol’s quote below – waiting for exams definitely doesn’t make them more exciting)
” We are being asked to believe that, less than a week after the great upheaval, players who regarded Mourhino as their mentor have thrown their lot in with someone who they ahve reason to suspect may have hastened their beloved manager’s exit. T’s like saying Larry, Adam and The Edge would barely look up from their royalty checks if Bono were dumped in favour of James Blunt…”
Read the rest here
I’ve been doing a fair bit of training over the last couple of weeks – for new staff of our ever growing plot to change the world through students. I’ve been ranting a lot about the Bible as I have done here too. Jaybercrow and Zoomtard also have a lot of good stuff to say on the subject. One of the things i keep coming back to and trying to live as well as hammer into people [constantly emphasise is maybe a better phrase in this context as has been pointed out!], is a sense of humility. A wise lecturer commented a couple of days ago that their is a significant difference between arguing about the ‘authority of the bible’ and our ‘interpretation of the bible’. Often we confuse the two. If someone doesn’t agree with your interpretation, its easy to claim they don’t respect the authority of the bible. and again its a classic example of trying to make ourselves feel better by making someone else feel small and claiming superiority. Which is not humility. Which is not the way of Jesus. Humility is not about winning and losing. Humility respects that other people’s opinions are not snatched out of the air. Humility realises that we don’t know it all, that other people have much to contribute to helping us understand God, the world, each other. In fact I think that’s part of what is behind Paul’s teaching on the church as a body. God does not make us self sufficient. We do not have all we need by ourselves. We need others for their gifts, skills, wisdom and experience. I think this is also what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 3 – ” that you may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge”.
Time to stop and begin living humbly – realising others have much to teach us, that we need others. As someone working with students I see it all the time – sometimes at 19 or 20 people think they know it all and don’t need anyone else. It’s something I, as someone who always knows the right way to do things – my way, has had to learn the hard way and come to appreciate much more over the years. We need other people. a large part of humility is realising that.
the soapbox – coming after your money
To quote another song, dogs are everywhere here in Peru, well especially in Caraballyo, although most are pretty inactive and docile. However we have learned that Peruvian dogs seem to enjoy the Peruvian way of life which tends not to be too fast paced. Powerwalking in a European way to get back to the petrol station from which we get the bus back to Lima seems not such a good idea, as the hole in my t-shirt from an overexcited dog now demonstrates. No skin broken so no fear of getting rabies. We’ve been working in San Martin in Caraballyo for two weeks now. The roof on the community house is now complete, there’s a 3m hole dug for a latrine, and there’s now a fence running along the back of the kids playpark and the path shielding the sight of the rubbish dump in the background. We’ve discovered some of the genius of HSBC’s local knowledge ad from the local handyman and community leader Crescento who with a chain and piece of wood took out a pole concreted in the ground in two minutes which took us a couple of hours with our rocking back and forth method. We´ve loved working with Luis the carpenter putting up the roof, one of those people with a constantly smiling face who we managed to have great chats with in spanglish. The universal language of football is a great starter. Paul and I and a few of the girls have been getting into playing football with some of the kids and the guys who drive the mototaxis. We’ve seen the sun and blue skies in Caraballyo for the last week which has meant lots of sweating, even when just doing nets. The Paul and Sam combo is becoming a pretty fearsome attacking force. For those who are aware of my footballing prowess, the stony bumpy pitch and the dust seem to help. It’s exciting to see how AEGUP (thePeruvian IFES movement) are committed long term to community development in partnership with the community. The last couple of days we’ve been able to do a bit of mini kids club with arts, crafts, songs and bible stories. The kids seem to get it all, which is great. This weekend is independence weekend so there’s flags everywhere and we’re getting the chance to see some of the big parades in Lima. We’ve settled in really well, helped immensely by Rob [Rob Clay Rivers – to give him his full title], an american doing a year here with LatinLink. Sorry a North American, as we’ve realised that american refers to any native of the two continents of the americas. Watching the Copa america final at his house was pretty good too. One of Rob’s other contributions has been giving us another team member. His friend Jo came to stay with him for a week and get involved in the stuff he was doing and has ended up joining us for the whole time. Its been funny thinking back to this team almost not happening but we’ve got a great bunch of people with Emma and Cara staying from the Jordanstown team, and now Jo. Its added a great dynamic, perspective and banter. As a team we’ve been digging into Colossians which has been great, and I’ve been rereading Colossians Remixed – which is one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years, both for the context of the Roman Empire and for translating Paul’s subversive message into a global consumer culture. Lima is no different with McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut et al in evidence – although Paul and I’s sneaky Pizza last night from a local joint was pretty heard to beat… the girls weren´t so impressed but it was his birthday…
Soapbox – currently enjoying a free (involuntary) weight loss and detox regime