Archives For November 2016

friedrich-schleiermacherReading the sermons of Friedrich Schleiermacher from two hundred years ago doesn’t happen without its challenges. It’s particularly challenging when it involves a dated English translation from a Prussian great-grandson of the enlightenment age, who was also a Pastor, romantic and continental theologian.

I’ve resigned myself to pursue this based on the fact that when these challenges are measured on the scales of hedonic calculus, the benefit out ways the cost.

I’m familiar with Schleiermacher, not so familiar with his work. I know of him. Have been drenched in Karl Barth’s quirky disappearing fondness for him as a teacher of neo-Protestantism, and joined in Barth’s reprimand of the pietism and liberalism which framed Schleiermacher’s theology.

Schleiermacher was raised in the Moravian church. Like most Christian movements, Moravianism, as nurtured into existence by Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf, was founded on solid biblical ground. It then moved towards extremes, finally finding its unique place in the Church Universal through much needed reform.

What stood out about the Moravians was their love of music, Christology and missiology. Their heavy focus on finding Jesus Christ at the centre of Church doctrine and a zeal for missions was equal to the zeal of a long existing list of Catholic missionaries.

Christology was also where the early Moravians almost found themselves shipwrecked. The excesses and early charismatic enthusiasms manifested themselves in their worship which bordered on the absurd. Such as the over-the-top mysticism infused language about Christ’s atoning blood.

“For seven years these Brethren took leave of their senses, and allowed their feelings to lead them on in the paths of insensate folly […] Since the year 1734,” he [Count Zinzendorf] said, “the atoning sacrifice of Jesus became our only testimony and our one means of salvation.” But now he carried this doctrine to excess. Again the cause was his use of the Lot. As long as Zinzendorf used his own mental powers, he was able to make his “Blood and Wounds Theology” a power for good; but as soon as he bade good-bye to his intellect he made his doctrine a laughing-stock and a scandal’[i]

Though the excesses of Moravian theology ended, Moravian theology didn’t. They humbly learnt from these mistakes and moved forward:

‘On this subject the historians have mostly been in the wrong. Some have suppressed the facts. This is dishonest. Others have exaggerated, and spoken as if the excesses lasted for two or three generations. This is wicked. The sober truth is exactly as described in these pages. The best judgment was passed by the godly Bishop Spangenherg. “At that time,” he said, “the spirit of Christ did not rule in our hearts; and that was the real cause of all our foolery.” Full well the Brethren realized their mistake, and honestly they took its lessons to heart. They learned to place more trust in the Bible, and less in their own unbridled feelings. They learned afresh the value of discipline, and of an organised system of government. They became more guarded in their language, more Scriptural in their doctrine, and more practical in their preaching.’[ii]

Further filling out the situation of Schleiermacher’s relationship with Moravian theology, Joseph Hutton tells us,

‘Though he differed from the Brethren [Moravians] in theology, he felt himself at one with them in religion.’[iii]

Schleiermacher left Moravian orthodoxy behind.

‘He called himself a “Moravian of the higher order”; and by that phrase he probably meant that he had the Brethren’s faith in Christ, but rejected their orthodox theology.’[iv]

Having a clearer view of Schleiermacher’s context eases the challenges of reading his work. He had a ‘scientific frame of mind, and also a passionate devotion to Christ […] The great object of Schleiermacher’s life was to reconcile science and religion.’[v]

Hutton points out, ‘of all the religious leaders in Germany, Schleiermacher was the greatest since Luther.’[vi]

In the reading I’ve done so far, it’s Moravian theology, this scientific frame of mind and his desire to reconcile science and religion that provides the key for hearing Schleiermacher in his context.

I’m curious about what we can learn from Schleiermacher. Curious about how much influence the Moravian Church had on his theology.  Keen to see how that early learning impacted his future learning and I’m interested in seeing, with a Barth’s crisp caution in mind, what Schleiermacher has to say to the socio-political and theological milieu today.


Sources:

[i] Hutton. J.E, 2014, History of the Moravian Church Heraklion Press. Kindle Edition. (pp.190 & p.189)

[ii] Ibid, p. 195.

[iii] Ibid, p. 295.

[iv] Ibid, p. 295.

[v] Ibid, pp. 295 & 294.

[vi] Ibid, p. 294.

Image: source

blog-post-25th-nov-2016-rlWhen it comes to composing music there’s hits, and then there’s misses.

The lesson I’m learning from my own hits and misses is that nothing created is ever completely wasted.

Outside the perfectionist, the only mistakes that really matter in music are the ones that stand out. Those particular kinds of mistakes can break a song and an artist. It’s the ones that break with the rhythm or the melody; the ones that are heard by everyone, not just the person with a trained ear to the ground.

The potential for mistakes like these keep us fine-tuning our craft and tools for the job. They keep is in step with the beat, ensuring that one hundred percent of our attention is given to the composition at hand.

Through humility and a gracious attitude, mistakes can teach us. Through grace they can be made part of a disciplined life. They become fuel; the impetus to get better. Through grace mistakes can even become part of the song, or the beginning of new one.

In God, with God, through God, we are shown how this works. Shown that once humanity drops its facade of isolation, rejects it’s hubris-filled rejecting and grasps the grace that grasps us, nothing created is ever completely wasted. As Joseph said to his brothers,

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen. 50:20, ESV).

Likewise, Paul tells us, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Rom.8:28).

Not even the scrappy three-minute melody that had way too much drums in the mix, or the muddy sound of an instrumental overdone with bass or a guitar solo.

Nothing created is ever completely wasted.

Every new melody, every new beat, every new sound is born from the lessons learnt by simply having the courage to put a hand in The Hand that enables us for the task.

“Courage, dear heart,” (C.S. Lewis) for ‘our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.’(2 Cor. 5:21-6:1, ESV).

Nothing created is ever completely wasted.

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gardenia-2016One of the best ways to review how to identify syllables is with the traditional Japanese form of poetry called haiku.

It’s excellent for revision because it encourages students to work with vowels, adjectives, objectivity and themes.The basic principles of haiku writing makes this an excellent teaching tool.

Traditionally, haiku follows a non-rhyming syllable pattern of 5-7-5. This becomes a stanza of only three lines. The sentences tend to follow a theme, but it’s not necessary to have each sentence follow on from the next. As long as the general idea or topic is packaged well enough as a whole.

For our homeshooling haikus it’s been a lot of trial and error. None of that has been a bad thing. These hits and misses only make us work harder at refining our own personal style.

Each of the homeschoolers have a voice, its just a matter of coaching them to speak with it in writing. We’ve been doing these from time to time over the past couple of years and I’ve grown to value of the simple, reflective and calming process.

Our next project, when I can get to it, is to do some more work with Tanka, which is very similar to Haiku, only it allows for more syllables per line and usually contains five lines instead of three.

Tanka seems easier, given the extra room, however, when working with kids, I’ve found it to be harder to work with, than haiku. My hope is that since we’ve become more familiar with Haiku, Tanka will not be as daunting a task as it was our first time around.

Here’s a few I put together the other day. My themes were Spring and homeschool.
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From the storm emerges

the firm grip of sunlight

Clouds break open

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Dancing petals

Ride waves of air

Wind makes the melody

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Books swing open

The drowsy meet the dawn

And minds awaken

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(RL2016)

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“The Christian faith is a singing faith” – Cliff Barrows

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Notes:

The Cliff Barrows Memorial website: https://cliffbarrowsmemorial.org/

tony_evans_the_urban_alternativeAmerican author and Pastor, Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship gave this response to the recent elections in the United States.

Delivered in a fourteen minute address to his congregation, Evans’ hits home the reality of the responsibility of the Church, both universal and local.

Directing the Church to look towards the Kingship of Jesus Christ, Evans called Christians to practice honor in disagreement; to maintain kindness and seek to provide a reasoned voice in the midst of global and domestic, conflict and uncertainty.

His sermon stands as a noteworthy example, in an otherwise dreary week flooded with politics, overreaction, propaganda and opinion.

Here are five of his top points:

First:

 “So, let’s get something straight about elections.The bible says that God puts up kings and tears kings down. So your vote whoever you voted for is never the final say so. The final so-say is what God either causes or allows.Now, you are to vote. I am to vote. We are to participate, but heaven rules.”

Second:

“Regardless of which way you voted God has created a gap that the church needs to take advantage of. Because how do we expect them to get along out there if we can’t get along in here [the Church].”
 “However you voted, whether democrat of republican, or write in independent, God doesn’t ride the backs of Donkey’s or Elephants. However you voted you are bound to be living like a kingdom man or kingdom woman, for the advancement of the kingdom of God. So our job is to demonstrate what it looks like when  people of God represent the King. Not the president, the King. In how we act, react, talk. When you see some of the things people are saying. Some of the attitude being displayed and then attach God’s name to it! It’s a contradiction.”

Third:

“The bible says, honour the king and the King he told them to honour was Nero and he was horrible, but you honour the position even if you disagree with the person.
And just like President Obama was dishonoured in many, many ways and that dishonour should be rejected, any dishonour of the position, even though we must address individual issues with the person, is unbiblical, unchristian and is evil.So do not let anyone hear, coming out of your mouth, dishonour, even though you may express disagreement. You represent the King. You represent Jesus Christ. And do so as an individual in what you say and how you interact, and react. What you train your children to think and to do. You saw some of the violence out there, it’s just unspeakable.
We have the right to protest, but we only have the right to protest to the help of others, not to the hurt of others.

Fourth:

In our community people ought to see when you step out in your job or in your school, or wherever you are, that you are kingdom citizen. A kingdom citizen is a man or woman who is fully committed to Jesus Christ, and their commitment to Christ seeks to bring heavenly principles into earth’s concerns.That’s what we do, we bring heaven to bare on it.”

Fifth:

“We don’t just replicate what everybody else is saying. Presidents come and go, there’s only one King that stays on the throne. So it is absolutely critical during this day of chaos and confusion that you go out of your way, that we go out of our way.
The bible says, Galatians 6:10, “Do good to all man as you have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.” So rather than fuss and cuss, cry and create havoc, let our good works speak for us. Let people see that we represent God’s house. Cause, trust me God’s not going to skip the Church-house to fix the Whitehouse.”

In the interest of full disclosure, this is the first time I’ve heard Evans preach. I know little about his theology, or personal political position. This said, his sermon is, to me, balanced and not overly directed to one side over the other. There is no blame. No lamenting. No evasion of individual responsibility.

This first and foremost is a sermon to his church. It should be remembered that this is not a political speech directed at a wider audience or any particular political personality.


Notes:

PDF transcript up to 14:23 [link]

Image source: Wikipedia, Tony Evans, The Urban Alternative, Creative Commons.

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john-martin-paradise-lost-creation-of-light-with-backdrop-border

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The chamber reverberates,

“I’m no good at this.”

These broken sounds match darkened walls.

Thoughts smashed together, move like crashing symbols.

Whispers drip down blood lines,

“…no good at this. We’ve made sure of it.”

Each unchecked word, spin.

Each unchecked word, a win.

So the servants of the serpent mumble.

“Yesss, no good at all.”

Unsurrendered

Villainy employs the surrendered,

And the surrendered seek to make their mark.

But these foundations tremble.

Impossible cracks appear in the dark.

With sporadic veracity,

Light, like lightning, sparks.

Igniting intervention,

Trumpets sound,

As signs abound,

“kommen das Gott von Veritas!”

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(Poem: RL2016)

                             (Art: John Martin, 1824. Creation of Light, (Paradise Lost – Book 7)

Happy 98th, B.G.

November 8, 2016 — Leave a comment
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“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me, if you can; set your words in order before me; take your stand.”
– (Job 33:4-5)