Wednesday, January 18, 2006

great article, great title

good ole’ jimmy s. here at lightway clued me into a great christianity today interview that is entitled
unfiltered webb. throughout this interview derek webb talks about a number of intriguing things, including his family’s decision to leave the "republichristian" 'burbs and move into the inner city, but i was particularly intrigued with his discussion of the "filters" that christian culture imposes on artists, thinkers and simple folk like you and me. Webb tries to bypass such filters when writing songs (hence the fitting title), and, I think, the result is some of the most genuine, provocative christian music on the scene.

i also struggle to eschew such filters as well in my conversation, teaching and writing. although i might unwittingly offend, the only filter that I find worthwhile is love.

what do you think are the benefits of eschewing or embracing such filters? are there additional filters (i.e., other than love) that we should keep in mind when communicating? does scripture have something to teach us here? do you want some of this milk?

i've been reading stanley grenz's theology for the community of God recently and, as others have noted before me, it is fantastic. grenz could have also called this book theology of the community of god, for his teaching concerning the nature of and the interaction within the Trinity not only enables us to fathom the Triune God, but also empowers us to incarnate God's sacrificial love among and for one another. the following quote touches on a couple of things i've long suspected about God. it also challenges me to live out this kenotic or self-sacrificing life i often talk about.

"helpful in understanding the theological significance of the biblical assertion "God is love" is hegel's concept of the essence of "person." to be person, he asserted, means to be in self dedication to another. this application to the triune God follows, one which in embryonic form may date back to athanasius. the divine unity is compromised by the reciprocal self-dedication among the trinitarian members.* this corresponds to the new testament concept of agape, which may be defined as the giving of oneself for the other. consequently, the assertion that love forms the foundation of the unity in the one God opens a window on the divine reality. the unity of God is nothing less than the self-dedication of the trinitarian persons to each other. indeed, God is love - the divine essence is the love that binds together the trinity" (pg. 68-69).

let us hope and pray that reciprocal self-dedication is the type of love that binds us together as well.

*my italics.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother or sister." -Proverbs 8:24 (NIV with a subtle amendment)

i am struck by how many of my friends fit the latter description and am overwhelmed. a e.o.e.r like me deserves no place in such company. thanks be to God.

Monday, January 16, 2006


yesterday i waited many a long minute to hear npr's on the media discuss the james frey situation. the report was, by and large, a boring recapitulation of an overdone story. however, one of the media gurus they talked with made an interesting point. he noted that over the past several years, especially since the success of girl interrupted, memoirs have become a popular form for young writers who are trying to leave a mark and, in many cases (including frey's), cannot find anyone who will publish their novels. he mentioned that these memoirs often focus on the writer's neuroses and, more often than occasionally, include details which have been questioned by numerable sources. especially notable in the latter case is burrough's running with scissors, which has had its veracity questioned by a number of independent sources.

okay, that's a long introduction to a simple thought. the fact that writers are obsessed with chronicling their neuroses and, as readers, we are incessantly intrigued with such stories, may not bode well for our culture. it seems to me that by constantly musing and reflecting upon the self and its vices in the most minute detail we just might lose sight of the deeper virtues such as justice, mercy, friendship, family, love and sacrifice that make life worth living. vice, as one of my S.H.I.T. professors used to say, is always easier to chronicle and more exciting to read about than virtue. yet, it is thinking deeply about and seeking to incarnate the latter that will lead us to become whole and healthy human beings and communities.

you might think i am a hard-arse for thinking this and, alas, such thoughts will probably never secure me a seat on oprah's couch. but before you write me off completely, quickly turn these questions over in your mind:

what if martin luther king, a man who we rightly honor today, had written obsessively about his lust instead of his longing for justice?

for that matter, what if martin luther had written volumes about his struggles with depression instead of his 95 thesis or his epochal commentary on romans?

regardless of our religious preference, can't we agree that civilization would have suffered if moses had chosen to write about his insecurities rather than providing much of the source material for the pentateuch?

please note, that these thoughts are offered humbly and without an accusatory heart. i am well aware of my own hypocrisy, insofar as i tend to offer more self-effacing humor and neurotic musings in this space than i do anything of real value.

may the peace of christ be with you today as we celebrate the life and legacy of one of God's greatest voices.