Archive for April, 2010

Misunderstanding

Have been reading Scott Mcknight’s book – the blue parakeet. Great stuff. And even better following on from forum in MCC where we talked about scripture and the authority of GOD.

I have spent most of my life with a fairly straightforward version of understanding the Bible and it’s authority. Like most things in life I have realised that they are, if nothing else, a little more complicated that I first thought.

Belief, faith, love, everything I perhaps previously understood has become a little bit more complex with time.

I am not a biblical literalist. I don’t think I ever was, for a period I think I was meant to be, but I never when I think back actually believed it. A bit like discussions of women in ministry –  I knew the oft-quoted verses against women in ministry but was never entirely comfortable with the conclusions that people seemed to so effortless derive from them.

People like Scott McKnight, Tom Wright, CS Lewis, Lesslie Newbigin, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck and even people like Jaybercrow, Zoomtard, Soapbox, SmallCorner & Transfarmer (even when I didn’t really know any of them) have all helped me to grasp understanding of what the Bible is and does and how I relate to it.

Some of these understandings (mainly in the negative) are as follows:

  1. Scripture does not form the 4th person of the (now inaccurately named) trinity, squeezing in at the back, and pushing the Spirit out of the picture a bit. I/We have a tendency to divinise the word of GOD (as much as we divinise the puny, pigmy idol of a god we often worship) and make it more than perhaps it claims to be.
  2. Even the biblical literalists have been “picking and choosing” for as long as there have been biblical literalists so it’s not a question of whether we pick and choose (to use a cynical term) but how we do it
  3. The Bible is not a textbook, nor a rule book, nor an instruction manual. All of these metaphors fail to do justice
  4. Just because things happen in the Bible one way does not mean that is the way things are meant to be. From Genesis 3 onwards everything is broken until JESUS until we know how things will be fixed – even if they are not yet. So just because women are oppressed and suffer injustice throughout the Bible does not mean that that is GOD’s pattern for the new creation

I wouldn’t want to suggest that I have now arrived at some higher plane where the complexities of scripture are summarised in a sound byte. This is not an attempt at spiritual superiority more like honesty.

Don’t change your plans

Let me see. Where was/am I?

This is the plan.

In the next few months I get married to this idiot ball and chain sucking parasitic drag on my life light of my life.

That’ll be fun for starters. Let me say this and be clear – I have thoroughly enjoyed planning and organising our wedding. I mean that. You’re always told how stressful and horrible it is but it isn’t – at least ours isn’t. It’s been fun and cool to see it all come together.

Some of you will be getting an invite soon. I think the invites alone are worth getting married for but that’s just me.

We’ve planned a kick ass honeymoon except this guy has gone and made a TV show about it and given away the secret. And even has the dog I want.

Being a big fan of consumerist, western traditions I’m having a “stag do”. By which I mean we’ll form a canoe flotilla to Coney Island for a night for a BBQ and sit round a fire. I hope to retain both eyebrows. If you’d like to come let me know though I’m afraid testicles are probably a requirement.

[Incidentally me and transfarmer were there yesterday checking up on the place. It is still wonderful though feeling the effects of the biggest freeze in a long time followed by flooding. Peter (the wonderful warden who lives on the island, whose broken arm I fixes one nnight with my magical healing powers) has his work cut out just reclaiming the paths from the island.

Walking around the place feels a bit like the set of Lost. I’m waiting for polar bears and smoke mosnters and off shacks with shadowy old men in them to appear from the trees… here wait a minute…]

I have quit my job here, where I have worked on and off for 10 years (I started as a cleaner on weekends in the ED there and now I’m a doctor in the ED there. While the doctoring certainly pays better I pine on occasion for a floor buffer and a night shift…) give or take a few detours to NZ or looking after Da.

I will miss this place. I will miss these people. I will even miss not getting home till 2am and the not sleeping and worrying about the patients.

I love my current job in man ways – as much as it drives me batty. I think I am really quite good at it most of the time – though I could be a hell of a lot better. I even dare to use the words “call” and “vocation” in association with it.

But seeing as most patients I see end up dead shortly after I see them I figured I may just cut out the middle man (which may actually be me…) and just deal with dead people. So I have got a job here for a year in where I’ll be working with medical (and other professions) students doing cadaveric dissection (though I might wear gloves). And they even pay me.

I will work during term time and between 9 and 5. This will be a new experience for me. I currently only work 40 hours a week so I’m not normally mad busy but I do work a lot of evenings and weekends.

We will be living here home of – debo, clairebo, zoomtard, mitchelinman, and I finally endeavour to become a member of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, finally overcoming my own procrastination on the issue of membership.

We both have jobs for a year. We have no real plan beyond that. I have never really had a plan beyond a year so I suppose that’s nothing new.

I suppose this is all a bit of a change really. Exciting but perhaps somewhat unknown. I am neither scared nor apprehensive. I rather feel I should be.

Nice places to walk the dog if I’d remember to bring her

I have been meaning to climb Cave Hill for years. I even planned to once before the weather changed plans.

So me and the office and another killer in training took the challenge. My housemate described as a mini-Table mountain. Kind of like its retard long lost cousin they want nothing to do with.

Still at least it’s in Belfast and easy to get to.

The view is pretty sweet. Even if the office is non-plussed

Atmosphere

I always feel odd walking round Lidl, it feels like a library or something and today I noticed it – there’s no music playing in the background.

Something for the weekend

I spent most of my adolescence in these hills. When i should have been chasing girls and trying various substances under-age I was hiking up hills in the pissing rain with this lot.

These were some of the happiest times of my life so I’m not complaining. I figure it was time well spent – the substances get better with age and the women are still there just when you’re not looking for them.

We booked this about 4 or 5 months ago at the height of the wedding planning nonsense. As a little break and a chance to “get out heads showered” (whatever that means…). It also seemed a pretty apt pre-honeymoon as hills, mountains, oceans and driving is just what we have planned.

I had it all planned to go from our little cottage near Kilkeel to get to Belfast just in time for the Laura Marling gig. Tickets in back pocket we step out of the car at the Spring & Airbrake and I realise that I have the Divine Comedy tickets not the Laura Marling tickets.

Not my finest hour.

We climbed hills, watched hills and even managed to BBQ some duck on the grilliput.

I read some of David Bentley Hart’s The beauty of the infinte (a whole 20 pages in total) and my head hurts so much at all the mind-blowing ideas and complicated words that I had to keep looking up in Wikipedia –  it’s gonna take some time to get through:

beauty seems to promise a reconciliation beyond the contradictions of the moment, one that perhaps places time’s tragedies within a broader perspective of harmony and meaning, a balance between light and darkness; beauty appears to absolve being of its violences.

The Mournes aren’t exactly huge when it comes to hills but I still think they’re the best in Ireland.

I also spent a whole 72 hours with no phone and no internet access, not even emails on the iPhone. I should do it more often when I’m away. I experienced absolutely zero cravings or desire to catch up on the blogs or emails.

Yes I’ve noticed that I’m contradicting myself as I type.

The man of metropolis steals our hearts

When I die (not if but when) you can take my organs and give them to other people as Christmas presents to replace their failing organs.

Now this will only happen in specific circumstances. Like if transfarmer beats me on the head with a hammer and I am brain dead.  If I wasn’t legally dead at that point I’d be screaming “take my organs and give them to the nearest cute child with kidney failure!”

When GOD says “behold I am making all things new” I’m pretty sure he’ll know how to find me, even if I’m in a few different bodies at once.

I am a proponent of presumed consent.

70% want to donate their organs, only 28% are on the register. Very few will ever die in the circumstances that let us take their organs, so it’s important that as many people as possible are on the register.

This guy reminds us of all the very obvious and ends with a theological exposition of the substitutionary atonement in relation to organ donation. Tom Wright gets everywhere these days…

Mission of GOD – 9

I suppose at some point Chris Wright has to get round to the new testament. Even if it only is in the last chapter –  GOD in the nations in the New Testament mission.

There is a bit of a change when it comes to the NT – it becomes something we might more recognisably call “missions” – in the sense that we’ve misunderstood it to be.

In the NT we see people going out to the countries and communities around them and living and declaring something – clearly inviting others to be a part of something.

This seems quite different to the often insular appearing nation of Israel – who were no doubt something watched by the nations if not actively pursuing them.

The first radical thing to note in the NT is in the first chapter in Matthew. In the rather odd (to us at least) genealogy we find the names of some rather suspicious characters – not only women but gentile women!

And we see Jesus spending time with gentiles – the pagans we’ve heard so much about. Now it may not be his primary focus but it’s definitely there.

Peter and Philip continue this in Acts with two key events – the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius. The mission of GOD appears to be moving outward more and more – as was promised from the very beginning.

Wright spends some time on the servant chapters of Is 40-55. He describes the servant as one who:

seems to oscillate between a corporate embodiment of Israel and its mission, on the one hand, and an individual figure who has a mission to Israel and beyond, on the other.

He identifies the first as something that refers to Jesus as the restorer of Israel and the second as the task now entrusted to the church.

Which is yet another reason transfarmer should read this book so I don’t have to muddle myself poorly answering her rather perceptive and insightful questions on the role of the church and the kingdom in the pub.

The redemption of Israel has begun but it is not yet complete. The kingdom of GOD is here, just not in its final fullness. The eschatological temple is being rebuilt in the new community of GOD’s people.

Wright also points out something I’d never quite grasped before. That it isn’t all about Israel (as important as Israel’s place is in theology) – that GOD is making a community of people that includes both Israel and the nations but not the nations dissolving into Israel. Remember that the covenant promises made to Abraham were before Israel was a twinking in GODs eye (well maybe not but you get what I mean).

GOD is seeking to restore humanity to pre-fall, pre-Babel – the nations gathered together but instead of making towers to their own greatness they live in knowledge and worship of YHWH.

This mission of GOD, his will to be known, to bring order to chaos as Zoomtard put it the other night is GOD’s mission. I forget that too easily. Reading this book has put a number of things right in my thinking.


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