a few words

Month: March, 2007

herds more words

I’d like to draw your attention to a little feature I just added here. As I talk with people, occasionally they ask for a copy of some of the papers that I write. I’m not sure whether people actually read them, but I get asked frequently enough that I thought I’d make a few of my better academic efforts available here. You’ll notice a link on the left to a page called “essays and papers” (clever, eh?).

At present, there’s one paper that wrestles with the theological meaning of creatures dying on our planet long before humans were around to sin. What does it mean that God seemed to have created a universe in which death plays a role? Secondly, there’s a paper on the poet G.M. Hopkins. Without being a mystic, he seems to see Jesus everywhere. Jesus appears in his poetry in really unexpected places. The paper explores his understanding of God’s presence in the world, especially in light of the incarnation. It deals with one of Hopkins’ main influences (a really great medieval monk) John Duns Scotus

theology and power :: what’s the use?

Here’s an excerpt of a conversation that I thought others might want in on – feel free to add your two bits, eh?:

I’m going to throw a few words back; you said:

    “I’m really trying to figure things out – especially the power of nations against nations…especially “doing” theology while comfortably existing in a nation – I mean really – how does this work. Maybe they are right – in order for our ‘lil theology centers to keep tick’n out happy theology that “cares for the poor” we better keep piling money into our military piggy bank…because ALL nations will do this, so we better be the best at it.”

If theology is a detached “merely academic” enterprise, then you are right; theologians are the worst of the bourgeoisie – lazy, overfed men (and women) peddling metaphysical delicacies to those with the capital to buy a few years of listening leisure. Read the rest of this entry »

God’s work in Zimbabwe

Many of you will already have seen this, but what follows is a letter I’ve written to friends and family on behalf of a friend of mine who works as a pastor in Zimbabwe. Feel free to get in touch if you are interested.

Dear friends and family,

Greetings, I hope that Spring is progressing nicely wherever you find yourself this year. Here in Vancouver the cherry blossoms have just come out on the trees. I think that it’s my favorite time of year. At the moment, my only time to appreciate the cherry blossoms comes as I make my way back and forth from school. Carolyn and I are finishing up our last full semester at Regent College in Vancouver. We’ll still have a few credits lingering after this spring, but for the most part we’ll be finished; these two years have gone too fast.

My primary reason for writing is to let you know that I’m sending asupport check to Noah in Zimbabwe within the month. I’ve distilled and summarized the latest news that I’ve gotten from Noah below. He always passes on many thanks for the support that we send him. He remains tremendously busy these days and the state of his country
makes it increasingly difficult for anyone to maintain a stable existence. Noah’s commitment to serve the people around him is commendable, read a bit further to hear more about what he’s up to these days. In addition to his, I want to pass along my own gratitude; the consistent support we’ve sent over the last three years has made Noah’s family and his church an island of coherence and sanity in a whole sea of unrest. Read the rest of this entry »

of hospitality and hope :: coherence in corrosive times

Carolyn and I recently had the opportunity to stay with some friendly folks in Durham, NC. I want to call attention to what they are doing because I think that it offers an strong alternative to the standard American dream that is pressed (or oppressed) onto most of us from the time we wake up till we lay our heads back down on our designer pillows.

When a culture grows paralyzingly disjointed, unable to provide a coherent vision of what a good life looks like, unreflective participation in the machinery leads one deeper into bankruptcy of the soul. The need for an alternative vision is heart-felt. Christians throughout history have lived in some fairly fragmented cultures and have recognized the need to resist the toxic influence of the “values” touted by the mainstream. Read the rest of this entry »

of enemies and evasions :: truth and consequences

As much as we expect him to, Jesus never discards the category of “enemy.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; Invite your enemies to the table; go and be reconciled with your enemy” etc. I’m sure that many other people have reflected on this with greater depth and insight than I will be able to. Nevertheless, here come a few brief meditations.

Jesus had enemies. There were people who wanted to harm him, wanted to take his life. There were people in Jesus day who knew what he stood for (or thought that they did) and couldn’t stand him. He had a program, an agenda, a point. When he said, “follow me” to his disciples, it was because he was going somewhere, and he thought it was important that they come along. Having enemies means standing for something definite, something concrete, something that cannot be denied even at the cost of alienation. Living in the tension between truth and sinfulness, humanity lives in enmity. Read the rest of this entry »

studying theology :: life and death

What follows is a short article that I submitted to the Regent newsletter:

The reasons to study theology are probably as numerous as the students at Regent. One of my peculiar driving motivations to study theology is a (growing) conviction that bad theology kills people. One example is that of my favorite author of fiction. As a seven year-old, his pastor cornered him in a hospital hallway and told him that if he prayed “hard enough” his dying brother would recover. He did; his brother did not, and he has never since been able to take any church seriously as a place to meet God in the world.

Another example: As I study Dietrich Bonhoeffer this semester, I meet the German church of the 1930’s, who (all but a fraction) lacked the conviction to stand against the theological aberrations of Hitler’s Third Reich, and the horrendous injustice perpetrated under it. The picture of a swastika adorning an altar, coupled with the silence of the church on Kristallnacht (and afterward) bring a powerful urge to study theology hard, to be careful to get it right, and to be willing to speak out where it is needed. Read the rest of this entry »