Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Passion and Love Rescue Me

For some reason, all through Lent as I've been thinking ahead to Passion Week, this song has crept back into my life-vocabulary. It comes from ages ago when Rattle and Hum was a cassette getting regular time in the stereo of my pizza-delivering Nissan Sentra.

While there were songs on the album that I liked a lot more back then, this one is showing itself to have some serious staying-power. The verses below are particularly striking.
Many strangers have I met
On the road to my regret
Many lost who seek to find themselves in me.
They ask me to reveal
The very thoughts they would conceal.
Love, rescue me.
And the sun in the sky
Makes a shadow of you and I
Stretching out as the sun sinks in the sea.
I'm here without a name
In the palace of my shame
I said, love, rescue me.
U2, Rattle and Hum
It is worth hearing with Bob Dylan singing so subtly in the background. But you know what? This little arrangement I found on youtube is  actually pretty sweet as well:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

World Vision and Samaritan's Purse

note: this was written before the decision was reversed.

Just a foray into a larger discussion, but as I've read World Vision's announcement and a spectrum of evangelical Christian responses it has become apparent to me that there is a failure by some pretty prominent Christian leaders--such as Franklin Graham--to appreciate and deal articulately with the nuances of the situation.

For my part I appreciate Richard Stearns' explanation that World Vision is "deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues"---which means continuing to work across theological divisions to unify churches in helping the global poor. Franklin Graham's insinuation that World Vision is trying to unify churches, full stop and without qualification, seems to be at best a misinterpretation and at worst a kind of opportunism.

I have a feeling that some of my readers and friends will see this another way, and I'm happy to hear from them and discuss. Perhaps Graham would say that Stearns does not intend to make a theological determination on behalf of partnering churches, but by his actions inevitably does. If so, then Graham should make that more clear, and explain why, in this case, the theological determination is wholly out of bounds.

Let's be clear: "in this case" refers to employment in the particular task of World Vision---which it sees not as church planting or even proselytization but as an operational humanitarian extension of the Church's overall mission. In that case it seems relevantly ironic that Franklin Graham's organization, Samaritan's Purse, derives its name from a story where a religious outsider helps a person in need, no questions asked.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Michael Knott Hallelujah: Keith Kitchen Grace

I'm not sure the world needs another cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" but when your all-time favourite musician/poet/artist/psalmist/genius does one, you share it.

Talk about understated, though. I consider myself a bit of a Michael Knott fan, but it took me 8 years to notice it on his bandcamp page.

Just click the square record to go give it a listen.

Speaking of cover songs and Michael Knott, follow this link if you fancy hearing an easy-going country-fied cover of "Grace" (from Knott's LSU album "Grace Shaker") on Keith Kitchen's "Restless"

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Transfiguration, Second-Hand

Click picture to read the story.
I'm preaching on the Transfiguration tomorrow.

What's interesting to me is that here's a scene where three guys experience what many non-believers have said they would require in order to believe in God (and what many believers seem to prefer as well): A direct, privileged encounter.

It is the fact that we get revelation second-hand that is the problem, isn't it?

Some would say, however, that this is Christianity's hidden strength--since revelation thus requires our participation in its sharing in order to be known. Perhaps that's what Jesus meant when he said "blessed are they who will believe without seeing"? 

It doesn't feel like a blessing to many of us, I daresay--I mean, who wouldn't prefer a direct unmediated encounter with God to the patchwork through-a-glass-dimly thing we get instead?

But maybe that just tells us we totally miss the point of God revealing Godself to humanity. An unmediated, privileged encounter would run contrary to God's purposes.

Even the three who witnessed it were told to hush up about it until much later on--when Jesus was halfway gone. Perhaps that tells us something very important about how this thing was all supposed to go.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Now in Print: Barth in Conversation

Quite some time ago I was privileged to take part in a Karl Barth Blog Conference over at Die Evangelischen Theologen by contributing an imaginative theological essay bringing Karl Barth into conversation with the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men.

Well, I'm happy to announce that material from that conference, edited by David Congdon and Travis McMaken, has now been assembled and published with Wipf & Stock (Pickwick).

You can buy the book here, peruse the table of contents here, and read its endorsements here.

This is, for the record, my first time appearing in a book-length publication. Special thanks to David and Travis for all their work, to the other contributors for raising the bar, and to Brad East for the excellent response!