Archives For December 2016

learning-in-progressAs the year draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the past twelve months of blogging. I’m fortunate to have had many new interactions with some great thinkers, and some edge dwelling doers, in the active academic field of theology and ministry.

This year, however, I’ve also met with a different, darker side of that field.

I’ve studied theology and have a double degree to show for it. I’ve Read the books. Ticked all the boxes, met the requirements; even made some lecturers smile. Yet, the more I read and learn; the more I seek to participate in the world of academia, the more I see that I don’t fit easily into some of its neatly stacked bubbles.

For starters, my current occupation involves me being a homeschool teacher to my five kids. I don’t say all the “right things” or do what others do to get noticed. I don’t pad agreement on top of agreement. I haven’t written a book yet, and I don’t write blog posts that give an overly appreciative applause to something I’ve read or someone I know.

I write to benefit the reader; share a discovery and hope to learn something in the process. I don’t write for the approval of any who might read my post. I don’t write for others to see how brilliant my academic ability is, and as a result offer me a position on their team. Neither do I seek to invite insult, just to paint myself as a victim.

My focus is on how the theology I read and study, critiques what we are being sold in by society through the media, Hollywood, the Universities and in politics.

I’m interested in working out how that theology translates into ministry; how the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to the world today in its obsession with escalating the hostility between Left and Right.

How that theology brings a critique against the conclusions of academics who, all too often, appear ready to shoot down conservatives, or those on the right with tired rhetoric, slogans and labels.

For sure, some of that criticism in the past has been justified, but when does that criticism, itself become a whip or chain used to oppress new victims?

For instance, I’ve come to learn that any post that seeks to draw theologians like Barth or Bonhoeffer ‘’outside of the box’’ won’t be met with encouragement, let alone a smile. I don’t read the works of Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer through the agreed upon traditional political filters; speak about them through a modern liberal theological lens.

For that I’ve been drawn into some heavy discussions with overly picky critics. I’ve even had someone go out of their way to politely warn me that if I want to move forward in my academic studies, I shouldn’t upset those in power on the Left, by rocking their boat [i].

But I’m not the kind of person who goes around stroking egos, my own or those of the people around me. I aim to proclaim the truth and do that in a loving way. Will it be a flawed communication sometimes? Yes. Do I do my best to take into consideration the blind sides and their inevitable limitations? Absolutely. With every fiber of my ability to do so.

The more I venture into this post-grad world, the more I see; the more I begin to understand that if you’re not politically aligned with what is considered to be the collectives authorised narrative, you’re more likely to just end up speaking to yourself.

The warning signs are clear, if you’re not ‘’on board enough,’’ you won’t succeed beyond what you may have already accomplished. For some, it doesn’t matter how well you write, draw, paint, sing, create or communicate. If you say something different that opposes the consensus of those in box, you’re viewed as a threat to the thrones of those in power within the box.

Even though I’ve worked hard all my life, am a certified four year college graduate; parchment-on-the-wall qualified theologian. The past twelve months have shown me that in the field of theology, I’m an insider forced to live on the outside.

And that’s okay. Here I stand. Introspectively speaking, I’m freed from having to perform to the same oppressive modern liberal tune I suspect many others feel they have to dance to.

I have questions about the appearances, sums and conclusions, so widely assumed watertight, honest and reliable. I’m not looking to rise to the top of the echo chamber. Not looking to outdo, or compete for a position in it. I’m seeking to make an honest contribution. Share what I’ve found and work on refining that as God’s Grace allows.

The past twelve months have opened my eyes to the fact that if I’m relegated to the sidelines because of this, than perhaps the problem has less to do with me, and more to do with those who pushing me, and others like me, there.


Notes:

[i] Yes this did happen. No I’m not prepared to reveal who.

gresham-1923-rl2016


Sources:

Machen. J.G. 1923 Christianity & Liberalism

Murrell, B. 2006 The Sun Sword Trilogy: Quest for the Sun Gem,  Random House (p.207)

Sin Shake Sin , 2015 Lunatics & Slaves from the Lunatics & Slaves

19th-december-2016-023Here’s how a committee meeting between Herod and his advisers might sound, if such a meeting were to take place in a Western context today.


“This baby! This Jesus, his mother and father, is a threat to us! Committee members, you are asked to agree with Herod’s call for the genocide of all new born male Hebrew children. For by this child’s very existence, all the power structures that surround him stand unprotected. This so-called, “Prince of peace”, is a threat to safe spaces, our glorious goal of perpetual revolution and the power of its leaders.”

“This child’s birth is nothing but a conservative, bourgeois conspiracy, comrades! It’s violence against everything we stand for, which is surely justification enough for its violent suppression.”

“His existence as an outright repressive assault on everything we’ve built; everything we want people to believe in.”

“This is blasphemy against the State and it must not go unpunished. We’ve heard of the academics; how three bourgeoisie wise-men cheated you. Traitors to our glorious academic industrial complex, all of them!! Therefore, any who refuse to give up this child’s location should be tried and tortured. Treated like the vermin, we say they are.”

“It’s their kind that hinders us from completely implementing the way of our glorious leaders. The way of our glorious revolution [pounds fist on desk] !! We should continue to seek to replace structures we deem oppressive with our own. Tear them down!! This child, the “Prince of peace” is a threat! He challenges us, our religion of peace, and our people.”

“Comrades, you know that ‘State power must be exercised in all spheres, even in that of thought!’ [i] For what we do is for the good of the people, we know what’s best for them, better than they know themselves.”

“Yes. Our revolutionary non-gender specific person of the same mind is correct! Our collective’s survival rests on our ideas dominating the higher ground in the hearts of the people. Those who still have sway with the young, and yet betray us must be purged!”

“I concur! This birth represents heteronormative oppression. We must rally people to take up arms against it. He who says that God became man is guilty of hatred towards women. It is said that the husband, one carpenter by the name of Joseph, has wed this woman, Mary, under strange circumstances. As it has been told to us by our spies and confirmed by the secret police, this Joseph is said to have been given the task of caring for the child by Angels. This only reinforces the evils of patriarchy. It will perpetuate the lies that claim healthy child rearing at its best, involves both a man and a woman; a father and a mother. It MUST be stopped! We must ban Christmas!”

” We’ll paint this male Christ-child and the nativity scene itself, as an evil idea, constructed to further the chains of bigoted societal norms.”

“The birth of the “Prince of Peace” threatens our control over what we say is peace; We must have war! These chosen people; these breeders, are an assault on ALL humanity. The State alone, is the peace bringer. The State alone, is the saviour of the people.”

“At the heart of this child is a war on peace! He will stand against our truth and it’s phobic misrepresentations. He will not be easy to control through our mass propaganda and He will unhinge us from progress.”

“For the betterment of humanity; for our evolution, we must have control and influence of hearts and minds, which as we’ve agreed, has to happen first with our educational institutions. Our science is the only science. Our truth, the only truth. What we say is scientific fact, is scientific fact. After-all, we fund our scientists well, and they’re loyalty to our agenda is off the charts. They will all fall in line and do as we tell them to.”

The room quiets down then a voice shouts in frustration:

“How dare this woman, this Mary, choose to keep her unexpected pregnancy! Worst of all, she claims to have been chosen by God! Send her to the Clinic for the welfare of women’s rights! That child must not be allowed to live!”

“This must not go unpunished!”

“Her convictions and religious beliefs are phobic, sexist and irrational. So, we the committee applaud your decision, dear Herod.  We’ve even lined up celebrity endorsements to back us on how necessary and just this action is. This woman’s pregnancy, and the prophecy attached to it is a farce, therefore this child’s life should be deemed not worthy of life.”

“Her and her child’s suffering will not be on your head. This Mary has made her choice and we will not celebrate it …. If only she could’ve seen the freedom our glorious revolution has offered her, the same freedom we’ve given all women, who do as we say, think as we think, and follow what and who we tell them to follow. Ignorant fiend! How dare she stand against us and think for herself. We cannot be to blame, we wouldn’t have had to act as we have. Mary is to wear the blame for forcing your hand, dear Herod, not you.”

“Okay. Then the decision is unanimous. Therefore, let nothing sway you. You are to wipe out males up to the age of two. This will save us and make certain we have eliminated this threat to peace and our civil order. This is an act of great compassion, surgically liberating your people from this threat to us, is the right course of action.”

“After all, we are the victims here! It’s an all out attack on feminism.”

“This young woman’s choice disempowers all women. Her choice undermines our choice for women. If she gets away with it, what does our lack of response say about our pro-abortion policies and how will that negatively impact the millions in funding flowing into our abortion-on-demand factories? This woman could potentially kill the whole industry. The State must, at all cost, uphold the ideals of glorious revolution.”

“Yes. I have the data here. Social media polls suggest support for reinforcing our commitment to feminism. Killing every Hebrew male under the age of two, is the only way to reassure those people that, you Herod, and your council, remain committed to social justice programs that favour those we deem to be the oppressed, and those we deem to be the oppressors.”

“The birth of the Prince of peace; the Son of God, and its proclamation before everyday people is a threat to us. It will inspire ignorance,  non-conformism and counter cultural activists into disobedience. Zealots will rise. Worst of all it will inspire unity and solidarity amongst those we seek to control for their own benefit.”

“Surely, not! The people are now convinced we serve them, even if putting our own interests before them is undeniable. Will they really care? They know who holds the power and who doesn’t; who to fear and who not to.”

“Well, I think your trust in our propaganda success is slightly misplaced. Make no mistake, this child will work against us! He will stand as a threat to our factories, our causes, and he will take away our ability to convince the people about how necessary it is for them to have us in power. Only you can be called King. Only the State and the glorious leaders of the revolution can be called saviour! There can be no other!”

“The raising up of anyone against the glorious progressive collective must be met with ridicule, shame, and gaol time. This rise of a King of kings, must not be allowed to happen.”

“I agree! We want our ideas to reign. We want a peaceful society in harmony with the peaceful religion we’ve created and authorised. We want our people to be thankful for the live-life-our-way programs. We have no room for a Prince of peace, we have a religion of peace; there is no room for a “King of Kings” who commands us to live life His way, according to the ways of the Good Book before our redaction of it.”

“If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know that I for one, am outraged! This so-called birth of the Prince of Peace, is what real violence looks like! It is violence towards the collective. Violence against the state! Violence against women! Violence against us!”

“Then let it be made known that all who disagree with us are traitors, haters and infidels! Anyone not thinking along with us, is against us.”

“We’re told that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, that this child is a saviour.”

“But the quiet proclamation announcing the birth of a Jew; a baby boy from Judea is ethnocentric; it’s offensive to other races. It propagates the legitimacy of Israel’s existence,  and threatens our power on the world stage.”

“If not stopped, this manger baby will lead a revolution. We are all in agreement. This Christ-child is a threat to us all.”

“We must not stop showing a unified stance against this blatant display of contempt for our leadership. Our glorious revolution depends on it, and our glorious leaders command it to be so!”

“Organise the outrage! Get the wheels of the State moving and manipulate the ignorant. Send out the murderous minions and shut down all this unlicensed good cheer. The party must not be seen to approve of this unsanctioned movement. Stop the early rumblings of this pathetic prophetic Jesus movement.”

“How will we survive, if the people are encouraged to think for themselves?!”

“Herod, you must act. Remember all who oppose you are tyrants fit for only one thing – total destruction and perpetual war!”

And everybody said:

“Long may our glorious revolution, the party who enforces it, and its leader who embodies it, reign!”


Notes:

This is a hypothetical response created for the purpose of highlighting how some in the West respond to Jesus Christ. How within that response rests a resistance to Him who still confronts us in our own positions of power.

For the recount of an historical response of someone in power to the birth of Jesus Christ, see Matthew 2:16-18

[i] Weil, S. 1936 Oppression & Liberty p.109 Routledge & Kegan Paul 1958.

The other day I quickly entered some notes into my phone. These were some ideas and directions from my mum about what, and where, she’d like something for Christmas.

Looking at it again today and the order in which it was written, I see one cool-as unintentional haiku.

 

Christmas RL2016 Shopping Directions Haiku


(©RL2016)

noel-rl2016

 

The revolution

Anastasis Iesous Christos [i]

Viva Noël!

 

 


(©RL2016)

[i] Resurrection of Jesus Christ

manger-with-yellow_jesusThe homeschool year has come to an official close. We’ve marked it for you by presenting our own arrangement of ‘Merry Merry Christmas’ from Colin Buchanan’s 2005 album, King of Christmas.

This song was a homeschooler pick. Consequently, they’re the acoustic guitarists heard in the mix. So, this arrangement was somewhat of a joint effort, and it shows some of our key learning outcomes achieved in 2016.

As for the quality of the vocals, forgive the not as-clear-as-could-be lyrics. I used an iphone to record the singing. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, though, because the song’s lyrics have been added to the video; and given the punk-esk lyrical vibe the words aren’t very difficult to pick up.

Like the other two songs we’ve done, I’ve added my own instrumentation including bass line, piano, percussion, lead and rhythm guitars. In no way is it a professional recording nor am I trying to claim it as such. The song is best heard through a headset or something with good speakers.

This for us is just pure fun; action directed towards the heart of God.

Feliz Navidad!

No writer goes without giving a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat hyperbolic critique of the circles in which they sometimes find themselves. Here’s mine.


92dgypsir9k-raphael-koh_bw_unsplash

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We share pictures of books
Show off our reading pace so everyone looks.

Pat ourselves on the back for having beaten our friends to it,
Be the first to blog, tweet, and hope the bubble applies “likes” to it.

We quit our news feeds to quiet the noise.
Yet feed news feeds with the sound of our own voice.

It’s all supply and demand you see,
I post my thing and demand that you read.

Yes, we like those we think can, or may, or will, advance our career.
And only add those who can pad our stats to show off our appeal.

Heaven help the soul who seeks to participate.
This is a “community” that doesn’t reciprocate.

We’ll sit in silence and execute our higher responses
While pushing our own intellectual repertoire up your noses.

If you speak outside the paradigm, you can be sure to be hated.
(This, however, is never openly stated.)

Not publicly of course,
fans, followers and friends might just as openly disendorse us.

It would impact our numbers; steal our thunder.

Outdo, be outone, but don’t overdo the outdo, or your membership is done.

Don’t rock the boat, cause these inflated egos don’t float.

Simply, don’t! Not even with quotes.

Our prime pedestals should appear dressed prim and proper,
Should be camera ready, because we’re the only real show stoppers.

If you serve with ambition and don’t provoke our progressive suspicions,
and as long as your not seen as competition,
you’ll fit in with this cult of neo-Gnosticism.

Ode to the wall of virtual snobs.

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(©RL2016)

Image: Raphael Koh

‘Proximity & activity don’t always equal connectivity’ – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited, p.43