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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Book Discussion: How (Not) To Speak of God
By Peter Rollins

How (Not) to Speak of God conveys a third alternative to fundamentalist certainty or lethargic ambiguity, pointing toward a new way of being authentic, humble and passionately committed to becoming Christian. Dogma is out; paradox is in; yet the mysteries of God are held in a sacred way, understood in the context of loving Someone whom we can never pin down with definitions, yet for whom we give ourselves entirely, without regard for personal gain or loss, but simply for Love.

Drawing heavily upon the classic Christian mystics, Rollins is not concerned with changing Christian tradition, but rather with adopting a new way of holding and encompassing that tradition that actively acknowledges that our religion is at best a response to an encounter with God, rather than a pure representation of God as God truly IS. Rollins writes, "This is no then a revolution that seeks to change what we believe, but rather one that sets about transforming the entire manner in which we hold our beliefs" (p7.) A/theism in this context is not a rejection of God, but a rejection of absolute certainty of what exactly God is; heresy, interpreted by Rollins is simply acknowledging that as Christians, we understand that our theologies are not adequate for God. In revelation, concealment is there too, because God is hyperpresent, hypernonymous...and who knows? Maybe God's just plain hyper! ;)

Two central themes of the book that stand out to me are, "God, rid me of God," (a quote from Meister Eckhart,) and loving/giving all for Jesus for the sake of love, rather than benefit, either earthly or heavenly. Rollin's reflections are profoundly philosophical, and at the same time extremely incarnational, challenging those on a journey of becoming Christian to walk as Jesus did, loving and offering ourselves to God and other sacrificially, simply for love's sake alone. Clearly, Peter is a romantic -- but not of the cheesy Hallmark variety.

Pete opens up a great discussion of biblical truth. First he works to tear down the bible as a conceptual idol, noting that "The only significant difference between the aesthetic idol and the conceptual idol lies in the fact that the former reduces God to a physical object while the latter reduces God to an intellectual object" (P 12.) Later Rolllins writes, "Truth is God and having knowledge of the Truth is evidenced, not in a doctrinal system, but in allowing that Truth to be incarnated in one's life" (p 56.) Rollin's argument for Truth as Relationship is carried over into his excellent discussion of Christian ethics, pointing out that "we can never rest easy, believing we have discovered the foundations that act as a key for working out what we must do in different situations: for the only clear foundation laid down by Jesus was the foundation of love" (p 64.)

Peter also addresses some topics we've been struggling with recently in terms of how to frame our own perceptions and experience in connection with brothers and sisters whose views and convictions seem to fight with our own deep values, leaving us wondering how to stand for our convictions without letting our egos, wounded places and insecurities get the better of us. There's a great discussion on "Being evangelized,” including a fascinating piece dealing with the scenario where two different people experience the same situation (even a church) in starkly different ways, because of what they bring as unique individuals to the experience. Pete uses a cool camel analogy to explain how both people's experience can be correct given their individual burdens. You can find the camel on page 67.

In part two, Pete invites the reader to witness (second hand) some of Ikon's services, which represent some practical worship outworkings of the ideas discussed in part one of the book. I highly recommend reading through these services; even if you don't resonate with Rollin's approach; the services are quite provocative, creative, and I would go so far as to say even sacramental (in the liberal sense,) with plenty of fertile depth to plumb.

I could quote this book for days, but really you should read it yourself, if you haven't already.

Please feel free to take this discussion anywhere you like; I've posted below some discussion points/questions for a place to begin.


1. Describe your initial response to the book and what went into your reaction. How then did your thoughts/feelings evolve throughout the reading and reflecting time you spent with How (Not) to Speak of God?

2. Was there any time where this book served as an icon, as in a place where you encountered God? How so?

3. What most confused, irritated or challenged you? What happened next?

4. On pages 33-35 Peter describes the beauty of faith expressed in a time of profound doubt. He writes about the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. "A love that requires contracts and absolute assurance in order to act is no love at all...it is precisely in the midst of a Holy Saturday experience that the decision to follow Christ becomes truly authentic" (p 34.) What are your thoughts and experiences with this way of embracing doubt as faith/love?

5. On page 53 (Being evangelized) Rollins explores the nature of loving dialogue. He states of healthy of emerging conversations: "This dialogue replaces the standard monologue of those would wish to either clone the other, making them into a reflection of themselves, or exclude the other, making them into a scapegoat who embodies all our fears and insecurities." In what do you feel you personally and Emerging Women collectively have succeeded and struggled with this way of being in conversation with different viewpoints? Where do you sense God leading you/us?

5. There is an incredibly beautiful story on page 63 about a priest living during the holocaust who feels his Christian faith compels him to lay down his life for his Jewish friends by becoming a Jew. Rollins comments, "The most powerful way for this priest to affirm his Christianity is to lay it down...and so this priest gives up his Christianity precisely in order to retain his Christianity." What thoughts does this bring to mind?

6. In his final chapter (service 10 on page 131,) in the context of talking about making Ikon a safe and accepting place for people of all religious/non-religious/liberal/conservative persuasions to come together in spiritual community, Rollins writes this: "One way to think of Ikon relates to the idea of a doughnut. Just as a doughnut has no interior, but is made of entirely of an exterior, so Ikon has no substantial doctrinal center." What do you make of this idea?

7. What's your favorite quote from the book?

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posted by Jemila Kwon at 8:28 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


42 Comments:


  • At 3/14/2007 11:17:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Too late to think tonight. However, I will comment soon. I also will let Peter know that we are beginning the discussion, and he can jump in where he would like. With the gathering this weekend, I know that it may take a few days to get this going. I hope it turns out great!

     
  • At 3/15/2007 08:25:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    thanks Michele! You rock.

     
  • At 3/15/2007 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    thanks so much for getting this started. I don't have the book on me at the moment, so I can't quote right now.

    I really liked this book. I see now why Tony Jones said that from now on he refuses to engage with critics of the emerging church if they haven't read this book. It is the best intro to postmodern thought that I've encountered. I appreciated the paradoxes and especially liked the emphasis that the whole absolute/relative issue isn't really the point. Those aren't either/or, but are part of a philosophy that postmoderns don't work in anymore. That has been such a hard concept to express in most conversations I've participated in, so I'm grateful for this book and its ability to express those ideas.

    I liked the descriptions of the services and loved how they brought ideas to life. And I know this was only a very very small sampling of their services, but they seemed very self-absorbed. I kept thinking how much money had to go into each one and they were all about personal stuff. Are they missional, do they push people beyond themselves? If so, I would like to see how they do stuff like that as well.

     
  • At 3/16/2007 05:09:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Well, I will do my best to stumble through my comments. Unfortunately, this book is not "fresh" in my mind. I read it a couple of months ago. However, I marked pages as I went, and will try to go back to them.

    First off, I too, like the idea of "God, rid me of God,". Being more aware of the context we all bring to the table in regard to "God". I have come to the conclusion that some of my "concepts" of God have been extremely limiting, if not a huge disservice.

    The book was helpful in that it was fairly easy to understand, seeing as I don't come close to the education and knowledge that Pete has. I found examples and descriptions helpful in pulling thoughts and ideas together.

    As I read, and even when I met Pete, I think the only struggle I had was how to enfold families and children. I agree with Julie, in that it appears a certain way. I would say that from my brief discussion with Pete, that this is not an end result, nor does he feel it is a "model" of what communities should do. Each "community" has to form in it's own way. What they have in the Ikon community may be different than each of our own. It is in a different country, and different social context etc. I also know that in speaking with him, there is interest in folding children/families into Ikon somehow. We shared what we have done thus far for our own community. I don't know about "missional" ideas, but I do think this is just one aspect of their faith, and I am sure it doesn't end there.

    In regards to embracing doubt as faith/love, my thoughts are that I am completely on that page. I have found my doubts extremely challenging and unsettling, however,the more I have allowed doubts and uncertainty, the more faithful I have become. It is within those moments of thought, that I truly seek God.

    The Christian world I was raised in was about "knowing my Bible", hiding verses in my heart, accepting Christ, and then converting others. Now that I am in a different place, I realize how empty my faith was. I did what I was "supposed to", accepted what I was "supposed to", and tried to live up to the "expectations". It was more about pleasing those around me, than it was about honoring God and allowing God to work within me.

    The description on pg. 36 was profound for me.-

    "Like a lover of nuts who is offered thousands of shells with no centre, so we offer God thousands of 'converts' with no heart."

    Another connection with that thought on Pg. 34 spoke loudly to my heart.-

    "A faith that can only exist in the light of victory and certainty is one which really affirms the self while pretending to affirm Christ, for it only follows Jesus in the belief that Jesus has conquered death."

    That was an empowering thought. I just recently had a "discussion" with someone where I shared that my concepts of "Salvation" have changed some. Not that I disregard everything, but felt it had a deeper meaning than what we have been taught. The person that I was speaking with could not get past my ideas. I was shut down quickly. The sense that I was "questioning" was dangerous. At one point this person said, "If Jesus didn't die for our sins, so that we can go to Heaven, why teach about him. What would be the point."
    At that moment I grew sad. It showed me how self-serving our faith can become.
    What am I getting out of it? If I don't get something out of it, what is the point.
    I thought to myself "how sad that the life and teachings of Jesus become so easily disregarded, it's only the part that 'saves' me that I am interested in."

    As for dialog with Emerging Women or other view points, I feel God is moving us toward acceptance and humbleness. In the traditional sense of "cloning" and/or "converting", we are taught that once you accept, in a sense, "you have arrived". The rest of the mission is to bring others in.
    The unfortunate part of this is many times, we become arrogant, we think we have the answers, we tend to surround ourselves with people who think like us, we fight, and we really tune out other thoughts or opinions. This is a huge disservice. I personally feel, how would God mold us or show us we could be wrong, when we live with the thinking that "we are right" and everyone else is "wrong". When I dialog or hear other opinions, it challenges my beliefs. I don't always feel "comfortable" but within that I grow and change. Sometimes my position changes and sometimes I feel even stronger about what I believe. For me personally, the more I encounter "other thought" the stronger my faith and dependence on God grows.

    When reading the story about the priest living during the Second World War, I, too, found it really beautiful and humbling. Would I do the same thing? Could I? I feel like we hold so tightly to "beliefs and traditions". I really made me think about what Jesus taught, and the way he lived. Sometimes, I really feel we have lost the message. I thought to the Pharisee's. They were so tightly holding to "tradition and the law" they couldn't implement it. They really were missing the meaning. It really made me think about how I "live" my faith and what I need to do different.

    Lastly, as for "Ikon has no substantial doctrinal center". My thoughts are very positive. Well...they have to be...seeing as the community I am in is moving in a similar direction. This is not an easy thing for most people in this day and time. We have been taught "absolutes", are used to churches having "statements of Faith", knowing what rituals to expect, and staying where our comfort zone pushes us. Every group has been demonized by some other group at some point in time. Places like Ikon are attempting to break those divisions down. However, in our ever changing world, science, communication, etc. I think a big change is coming. What seems very "unchangeable" to us now, was not always the case. Most likely, many of our practices, thoughts etc. have changed tremendously with time. People years ago, would probably cringe at our practices, just the way people are cringing with the changes now.

    I can't say I am always comfortable with the changes in my community, but I know I couldn't attend anywhere else at this point. My hope is that we continue to grow and change. We will make mistakes, won't be perfect, but I know that the people in my community have the most sincere hearts for God that I have ever experienced.

    I personally believe at this point, God knows my heart. God knows my struggles, that I do the best I can within my understanding, and that I long to follow God humbly. I also believe God's grace and love for me (and for the people of this world) is beyond comprehension.
    Pete's book was thought provoking and meaningful in many ways. As most things are, it is not the "answer" to all, but I do think it is a great step in a new direction.

     
  • At 3/17/2007 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele, can you share a bit more about how the "doughnut doctrine" is played out in your community?

     
  • At 3/17/2007 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Well...I can share my perception. Since it is fairly new, and still in process, I am sure others would have different perceptions.

    Basically, we are trying to hold our beliefs "loosely". I may believe X, but realize that X may change in time, or I may see a different aspect in which my position would shift. There are many things that may impact what I believe- context, history, society, science, experience, growth, education, etc.

    We are also trying to be open to other beliefs, at least in the sense of respectful discussion. I don't have to agree, but I respect and love others regardless. The thought is that "I" am unfinished and have not "arrived". God can use any situation to challenge and mold me. I personally, have tried to move away from the "demonizing" of others, and the arrogance that comes with that, to honestly see others regardless of their position, as a person made in God's image whom God loves.

    I think many of us realize that too often "right" thinking and "right" beliefs cause great strife. So much time is wasted over debating "details". Each person will have different thoughts about many different things. Even if you attend a church with a "statement of faith" or certain doctrines or practices, I would guarantee that there are still varying opinions in many directions.

    I also think that (unfortunately) churches have become social clubs with membership requirements (and I don't mean that people don't want to follow God, just the reality of what churches represent). In order to "belong" or be accepted you have to believe X... If you question, or think in a different way, you may be shunned, pressured to think differently, pushed to conform etc. In many churches it becomes one hoop after another. People leave churches or drive others away more because of "right" thinking or beliefs than anything else.
    There are so many ideas, theologies, practices, etc. and we all have our "proofs" for why "we're right, and you're not".

    What we are attempting to do, is practice love of others, follow Jesus and take seriously what he taught about. We also accept that there is a great wealth of knowledge and growth that can be experienced in other belief systems and thoughts. There are no "wrong" questions? We embrace the uncertainty and doubt. Within the "tensions" we grow. Many of us are stepping back from our "traditions" and challenging ourselves.
    "Why do I believe X?"
    "Do I know where X comes from?"
    "Has this always been the case?"
    "What ARE the other views on X?" and "why?"

    I have changed my position on many things. It didn't take much. I realized that I took for granted a lot of what I "knew", but really didn't "know". For instance, there was a "story" I was taught as if it was boldly written in the Bible, when I went looking for it, I realized that it wasn't quite black and white, and realized history and other cultural situations quite possibly impacted the "interpretation" of the story I had been taught.

    Again, our basics are to love, respect, grow, leave space for God to move, challenge ourselves, follow God with sincere hearts, be humble, be less of a social club, help our community, open our minds, know "why" we believe what we do (seek and learn, understand other opinions, not just those in the "approved" circle). We are not perfect, and are struggling through transition. We will always be changing and do not feel that there is an "arrival" point. We are on separate journey's, where God meets us in our own way, as a group who longs to reflect God's grace and love.

    Not really about the book, so sorry for the length, but I do think it is similar to what Pete and Ikon is doing.

    If you have questions about that specifically, write them, maybe Pete can elaborate more on that thought.

     
  • At 3/19/2007 11:24:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Sorry for being slow in response on this one...I was at the gathering this weekend.

    First off, I really enjoyed this book. It put into words and images in a very descriptive way exactly how I have felt and understood my faith over the last couple years. The discussion about intellectual idolatry captured me as I have been wrestling with what exactly biblical inspiration means.

    The book did serve as on icon to me in that it while reading it, I found a place of peace. I found peace in the knowledge that this constant wrestling with and redefining of God and God's characteristics in relationship to humanity not just OK, but healthy and necessary for the believer.

    The concept of embracing doubt as faith and love was...well...lovely. Quite honestly, I'd never thought of Jesus without the concept of the resurrection. To think of a community that "got" the message of Jesus and followed those teachings without knowledge of the resurrection challenged me. It also gave me courage. In light of the many questions I have about who God is and how the Divine interacts with humans, I can doubt and question and not have the answer, but still choose God.

    Jemila, you ask a great question concerning "loving dialogue." I had borrowed my book from a friend so don't have it with me to refer back to. For me personally, though, I know that I can struggle with loving dialogue with those who think different than I do. Especially those things which I hold very close to my heart. The topics are so dear to me that I tend to hold more tightly to my ideas and passions than to loving the other.

    I have a couple favorite quotes from the book, but the one I'll share is as follows, "The point of this a/theology is that it understands that God is testified to in the transformed lives of believers rather than in some abstract doctrinal system..." (sorry, I didn't write down the page number and no longer have the book to look it up).

     
  • At 3/20/2007 04:19:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Michele, you write beautifully. My question for you and Pete is whether or not it is truly possible NOT to have dogma -- because isn't the value of community/listening/unknowing/love over correct/known/belief/truth a form of belief system by which one lives? Pete asserted the Ikon is not liberal or conservative, but able to hold all beliefs gently, with a certain attitude of humility -- but this attitude of humility that acknowledges that we don't have the full picture and that our beliefs are a response to encounter with God rather than an accurate representation of God seems to conflict with conservative doctrines of revelation and biblical truth being both accurate and true. For someone who believes that being doctrinally correct is central to life as a believer -- even essential to being "saved," and who feels compelled by their belief that all must believe correctly (as they do) to aggressively try to convince others of their positions (seen as a spiritual necessity,) how can such a person feel comfortable and included at Ikon?

    I've really been wrestling with how to be inclusive without excluding the exlusivists and whether or not and to what degree this is truly possible on a practical level. And is it being exlusivist if my inclusive beliefs cause someone else to exclude themselves?

     
  • At 3/20/2007 08:02:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Well, I may not do well answering this. From my experience thus far...you're right that we have changed our practices in a way that many with more traditional/conservative thoughts have not felt comfortable.
    I personally feel, no matter how hard we try, we honestly will always be leaning a certain way, or with certain beliefs at any given time. That is not ever going to be a perfect practice. Our hope is that with the openness their is a bendablility that will occur. With dialog, growth, and God we will just continue to weave our way through the journey ahead.

    I also feel that, it hasn't been that we are exclusive or trying to cause discomfort, but actually the other way. We feel very open to dialog and discussion. Unfortuanately, some people just can't do that.

    In my own life (and I have shared this before) I would love to and would be completely open to the dialog. However, any time a discussion begins, it very quickly goes to "hell". Usually I find myself completely blasted or shut out. There is no sharing my thoughts at all. I am usually told very quickly that I am wrong.

    I think part of the problem is when Christianity has been fear based, exclusive "truths", and absolutes anything outside of that is not "right", and we have been "programed" to turn the other way. Many people respond harshly to change or new ideas due to fear or the thought that they are "uncomfortable because God is speaking" to their conscience.
    I have tried very hard to not get confrontational in those moments. I DO understand where they come from, because I was that way for a very long time.

    It is more about the attitude behind the discussion than anything. One of the main reasons I attend where I do, is due to the change in approach. We focus more on creating relationships and dialog, more than coming from a "converting" stance. We try to allow room for God in those relationships, and don't feel the pressure on our shoulders to "save" the world "now".

    I have no problem with someone holding very strong beliefs that are different than mine...but I'll tell you, they would get a lot further with me relationally, if there was less arrogance and dismissal in their reaction to my thoughts and questions.

    We realize what we do will not fit everyone. We try to be understanding and gracious. It is not always easy however. Those leading the changes in our community lost many relationships, were "demonized", etc.

    What we are trying to find is an openness to the dialog and an understanding that we each have experienced God, worship, prayer etc. in different ways. I approach times where I may not feel the most comfortable with an open mind and a respect for trying to experience different practices. I don't always take home practices in my daily life, but I know it is more out of my "being comfortable" with something, than that I really feel "it is the wrong way" to practice my faith.

    People have different personalities, and some people may not like to worship or experience God in the ways Ikon or our community practice. I don't believe that is being exclusive. We try to incorporate many things.

    So, my opinion is, we are not perfect, we won't always make others happy. If we try really hard to be inclusive and accepting, open to what others need/want, we have to be ok with our effort. We can't control how others respond. In knowing that, we as a community realize that some may not be at the same place in the journey as we are. That's ok. We leave the door open, and try not to take it personal if someone leaves or doesn't feel ok with our vision. We do feel we have to keep moving in this direction, and with that comes a certain "way of thought" (broad thought), but that is just the way it goes. I personally don't feel anyone can truly have a community without some form of "similar" thought or position. (Not necessarily doctrines/beliefs, but approach)

     
  • At 3/20/2007 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Julie, you raise a good question about being missional in the world; do you think that it's important for that aspect to manifest among the same group of people who share an Ikon-esque service together or can individuals draw spiritual rejuvenation from being a postmodern/mystical/liturgy and then join hands with others already out in the world working for peace/justice etc, practicing being "in the world but not of it?" I would love to hear Pete's thoughts on this as well.

    Amy, I always cherish your honesty in self-reflection. I think most of us can relate to feeling more likely to respond protectively when we feel someone is in some way invalidating or threatening something (like a value, worldview or belief) that we hold very dear -- especially if it's one we've built our life, faith and practices on significantly. What kinds of things do you think will help us all soften our hearts to be able to trust God enough to be truly good friends and listeners when our knee jerk reaction is to see the other person as threatening something in which we are highly invested? How can we gently bring down our idols?

    Michele, your comment about families and children piqued my interest. I think Ikon and other pub-based emerging communities represent the growing demographic of single people. I forget the number, but my understanding is that it's an increasingly large portion of the population, to the point where married people with families are actually becoming the minority.

    Of course that doesn't in any way diminish the need for dynamic new paradigms of inviting children in community and communion and teaching our kids and young people to relate to God in new ways. The old method of downloading information into kid's brains, along with a craft for God measure doesn't really do justice to children's spirituality, or the values that I would like to teach my children. Yet the emerging conversation so far has been mostly the perogative of (at least pseudo) intellectually sophisticated adults.

    I would love to hear Pete's and your thoughts on bringing children into this new way of becoming Christian.

     
  • At 3/21/2007 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I'll make this short.
    Before I say anything about the kids....Jemila, I am posting a link at the bottom to our community. On March 11, there is a podcast that describes what we are trying to do as a community. I thought you might like to listen to it.

    As for our kids, it is still a work in process. We are trying to take our kids to the basics. We are not doing traditional lessons in the sense that we walk through key stories throughout the year and then repeat year after year.

    When we write lessons we try to encourage seeking God, and living the ways Jesus taught about. We do lessons on Love, Faith, Joy, Service, Kindness, Hope, Prayer, Worship, etc. When we do Bible lessons, we try to make them age appropriate, and consider the level of understanding that they have. We also try to teach in a broad way. Meaning when we tell the stories we try to find a line where it is not necessarily told as an absolute fact but not just a story. We try to hit different levels. Not always easy.

    We are trying to bring the community as a whole together more. Incorporate the children where we can. This is usually shared meals, service, etc. Our main thought at this point is to teach kids basics, and leave the "belief systems" up to the families to decide how and what they want to teach.

    Obviously, we still teach a certain way, but we are trying to get a way from "indoctrination" and breed a sense of searching, following, growth, learning, etc. as an on going process, not something with an end.

     
  • At 3/21/2007 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Ok, I am having a problem creating the link. Here is the address

    http://ccfblog.wordpress.com/

    Sorry!

     
  • At 3/23/2007 08:02:00 AM, Blogger Lori

    It's so helpful to read others' thoughts about this book. I share with Amy a response of peace--even joy--to the freedom inherent within emerging theology. I am grateful to find a place where my desire is interpreted as faith, where my questions are not only accepted but encouraged, and where transformation is at the basis of our pursuit. Reading this book served for me as a profound experience of worship, as well as gratitude. God's revelation of God's self never ceases to amaze me.
    All that said, when it came time to read the services, I found something lacking; this reading then shadowed back over the previous chapters, and I'm still trying to sort things out. If this a/theism is not then some temporary place of uncertainty on the way to spiritual maturity (p27) how do we embrace the revelations of God with which we are continuously confronted? How do we celebrate the beauty of God's incarnation? Or how do we honor the majesty of God's creation? I viscerally understand the need to hold our concepts lightly, and hope I can grow ever more deeply into this openness towards God. But if our focus lands on "holding lightly" don't we miss out on the wonder of all God has revealed? The services described (and I know they are only a representative selection) did not instill in me a sense of the hope or joy inherent in "gospel".
    I'd like to hear Michelle & Peter speak to the idea of hope & of joy. How do we experience these positive sides of faith within the context of negation/paradox? I would guess that love is at least part of the answer here--so specifically, how do we love God in new ways? And how does this undergirding experience of love express itself in celebration?

     
  • At 3/23/2007 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I feel bad that I am speaking a lot here. I was hoping Pete would jump in. I sent an e-mail, but maybe he is busy.

    In answer Lori...I still don't have exact answers (not that I plan to). All I can say is that in the "holding loosly" I have experienced God at a much deeper level. Most of the time...I just can't quite put my feelings/thoughts in to words. I see God (in a sense the revealed) in many other places than I would have before. I think my vision was blocked because I only "saw" God where expected (at least the context I was given).
    My new found love and hope is fueled in the unknown. I know I am completely wrong in some of my beliefs...but what I am hoping for is that we all have missed the mark by far, and a huge surprise awaits us. I think the grace and love God has for us will overwhelm us and be beyond comprehension.

    Maybe I should explain my idea of "loosely". When I say loosely, my focus (and the focus of our community) is to not get caught up in the "details". We realize that "revealed" ideas i.e "God's incarnation" can be interpreted in many ways. I may hold closer to one idea where someone else has another. Our goal is to respect each other, and honor God, without the distractions. Meaning...too often Christian concepts and beliefs can become a huge distraction from what is important, sincerely Loving God with all your Heart, with all your mind and all your soul, and to love others as yourself. Discussion and dialog are welcome, that is where we grow, and we believe God will work within the tension of this space. We try to live the love, joy, and hope.

    Also, our community is still different from Ikon. We use some aspects, however we still have some traditional practices also. We almost always have speaking/teaching for about half of our service. So our community doesn't do services quite like Ikon. We have families and children and are still a "church".

    I don't know if that helps...it's imperfect. Pete and Ikon are just examples of different practices. He will say that others shouldn't "copy" them. The book is to share different thoughts, and provoke others to think in a different way, not just his way, but to be open to things we may not have thought of. We should just take what we can out of it, and allow it to move us along to the next step.

     
  • At 3/23/2007 09:35:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    I just picked up this book today. I've been slack-jawed with awe over the beauty of the Introduction and have read portions of it several times.

    Example: "...those who would seek to colonize the name of God with concepts"

    Not only beautiful but insightful and coherent in illustration of the emergent conversation. I thought I had a good grasp on what the conversation is about...this is already taking my understanding to a different level. It will be an invaluable tool as I continue the process of reimagining the kingdom. Wow!

     
  • At 3/23/2007 11:51:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Mmm, I really liked that quote too, Nancy.

     
  • At 3/24/2007 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Amy

    Michele, don't worry about sharing a lot on this. I love to hear the practices of your community and to hear from your own journey.

    Jemila, I think your question about an inclusive community also being exclusive to those who don't embrace that inclusivity is right on. Like you said, Michele, there's not a lot you can do when those with a traditional perspective and high value for a doctirinal correctness are not open to the community's values. But, I do think there is an inherrant exclusivity with an inclusive community. That's OK, though. When we attempt to be inclusive and hold our beliefs lightly, to embrace others and attempt to journey together, we are following God's calling to us, both as individuals and as a community. We are not responsible for the individual choices of those who do not agree with this journey. Not that we don't care, quite the opposite. But the idea that we can't control, nor do we want to, is part of the community value of inclusivity. So, we have to let that person or persons go, with care, love, concern and grace.

    Jemila, regarding your question, the best answer I have is from "The Search for God Knows What" by Donald Miller. He has a chapter called "How to Kill your Neighbor: Lifeboat Theory". He addresses how we essentially rate persons' "value" based on a jury of peers. For instance, I'm placed somewhere within an order of hierarchichal value. I try to increase my personal value by associating with those I deem more valuable and distancing myself from those less valuable on this scale. His overall point is that this type of valuing is contrary to the love God has for us. When we truly accept God's love towards us, we no longer have to judge ourselves on this jury of peers and we are freed to love everyone because our value is now unquestioned and secure.

    For me, that's the point at which I can extend grace to those who think differently than me, especially on these core values. Our differences in theology for practice do not define value. Therefore, when someone differs from me, it does not effect my overall value or how God is working in my life. As a result, I don't have to get defensive or angry.

    Unfortuately, this is not an easy fix or something easy to live out! But, it does change my perspective.

     
  • At 3/25/2007 09:16:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Amy,
    I loved Donald Miller's books! I totally agree with you. I, too, got a lot from that chapter as well as many others!

     
  • At 3/26/2007 08:17:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy that's a very good point. I think whenever we have visceral trouble with someone else's opinion it's because in some way we feel our worth/value is being invalidated or threatened and so we feel emotionally defensive. But yes, to the extent that we are truly able to walk in the understanding that other's opinions to do not shape our ultimate value any more than our opinions of others shape their ultimate value, the more we can all become compassionately human.

     
  • At 3/26/2007 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Here's another question that arose for me reading Rollin's book:

    What is the relationship between selfless love and self-love, between freely giving and experiencing joy in the giving. Pete seems to really emphasize an ascetic understanding of altruism in which true love is that love which in no way benefits or gives pleasure to the giver. Unless I am misreading his take...

    I found myself feeling dissonant with this -- however I'm not sure if some of it is feeling convicted of selfish motives and giving or if it's because Pete's understanding seems to me like setting up a false dichotomy between giving and receiving which is not really built into the fabric of God's universe. Probably both. What are your thoughts?

     
  • At 3/26/2007 07:10:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    Jemila, I have two separate (and possibly conflicting) thoughts on this... First, Peter stands in a strong tradition when he advocates a love of God for God's own sake, rather than for any joy or reward we may derive from God. John of the Cross comes to mind as a powerful representative of this tradition; his "Dark Night of the Soul" describes God's attempts to take away our comfort & pleasure so that we will seek God alone. It seems paradoxical, and likely true, that we seek God for God's self alone, though ultimately God delights in giving us joy in the pursuit. So while we pursue God in Saturday, without further expectations, we are often blessed with the celebration of Easter, as well. I would assume, then, that our love for others should be modeled after this paradox: not expecting any reward, but delighting in it when it appears.

    My second thought comes from a recent dinnertime discussion with a friend, who brought up the image of gift-giving: I may give a gift, but until it is received & unwrapped, the gifting process is not complete. In much the same way, I wonder if love is not completed without reciprocity. We, of course, cannot demand a response, nor even expect it; our only responsibility is in the giving. However, this giving opens us up to the very real possibility that our love will not be returned, and we will then be left with the pain of an "uncompleted" love.

    Much as I don't like the sound of this, it certainly rings true in the context of everyday life, and it seems to reflect Jesus' statement about "laying down our life" (greater love has no one than this...) This approach to love & giving calls us out of ourselves in profoundly uncomfortable ways, but I would guess that it also calls us more closely into dependence on God, for the wisdom, strength, and cussed perseverance which it will demand!

     
  • At 3/26/2007 07:22:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    Michele, you've got me thinking about "holding loosely"--I wish I lived closer so I could come see how you all do it! I know, I know, it has to play out in its own way in each context, but this is something that's so seldom modeled...it would be helpful to get a picture. Thanks for challenging me.

     
  • At 3/26/2007 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Lori, I like your perspectives. I definitely agree with Peter about loving God for God's own sake -- I just think he takes it a step too far in trying to conjure up ways to deny ourselves the natural joy that comes with truly free giving.

    Also, very interesting thoughts about, "uncompleted love." For me, what gets in the way of love is more my own wounds and reactions when others trigger them...this is what makes loving others unpleasurable for me at times. However, when I am truly able to transcend my own pain and love the other simply as they are/for love's sake, then it always seems to feel good to love, even if the love is not returned.

    So I think it is the space between selfish love and agape love where we are trying to practice giving a love that hasn't fully healed or taken us over from the inside yet is where the rub and challenge lie...and in these areas sometimes self-love and other-love conflict. I have struggled greatly with this.

     
  • At 3/27/2007 12:16:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    Jemila, what a fascinating perspective! I hadn't thought about the pain of our own unwhole love, but that's definitely a point to be considered. If my own insecurities & sensitivity didn't get in the way, the love I give would certainly be more rewarding, even if it's not received. I think there may still be something to the idea of love as a whole (giving & receiving both as crucial elements) but your point reminds me that my giving still has a long way to go!

    And Amy, your reminder about the "Lifeboat Theory" still has me thinking, too; how can I extract my own sense of value from my interactions, in order to love most fully? I think this fits well with Jemila's point re: a whole, healthy love as selfless giving (which is ultimately an experience of great joy).

     
  • At 3/27/2007 05:01:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Lori, I too like your perspectives. It's very true for me that love would look different if I were able to act confidently in God's love rather than out of my own insecurities.

    Jemila, I think it's so true that for each of us self-love and other-love operate in relationship and our struggle lies in some level of balance or healthy dichotomy between the two.

     
  • At 3/28/2007 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Lori, I agree with you that one-way love is in a sense unrequited and I think there is always a sense of longing/ache/incompletion/sorrow in that...but not the kind of angst I feel when the rejection threatens or diminishes me because of my wounds.

    Amy, here's another question: how can we discern the difference between our egos (which, if pampered leads to selfish self-preservation/preoccupation) and our inner wounded child/children (who need acceptance, love and boundaries just like our outer children)?

    It seems to me that when we treat these aspects of ourselves as the same thing we end up either being selfish in a bad way or martyrs in an unhealthy way. What is the way out?

     
  • At 3/28/2007 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Jemila, can you clarify your question for me a bit. You mention the difference between egos and our inner wounded child. I'm not sure how the wounded child works out into martyr. Is it because of the inability to set healthy boundaries?

     
  • At 3/28/2007 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 3/28/2007 06:55:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    To me ego, the ego needs to be humbled, but the wounded child needs to be comforted and raised up. Kind of like the whole "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" idea, but within our own souls.

     
  • At 3/28/2007 11:05:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Thanks for clarifying, Jemila. That's what I thought you meant, but didn't want to take off on some unrelated tangent.

    That's such a narrow line sometimes. I would say that acknowledging and being aware of the different things that effect our motivations, and thus our actions, would be an important first step. Also, understanding the difference between ego and wounded inner child. I think sometimes, especially in certain Christian communities, there's an unwillingness to recognize that wounded child and allow for the process, and even encouraging, that child to be raised up.

    I've been dealing with this a lot personally lately. I have a situation in my family that is based on addiction. It's been a long road, filled with all the norms of addiction; deceit, abuse, and enabling among many. After the latest situation, I had had it and decided to put up some boundaries. I've always had a pretty good view of boundaries and their purpose in my life. In this case, though, I felt as if I'd run into this wall, and the wall kept saying, "What's so biblical about boundaries? What about turning the other cheek or walking an extra mile? Did Jesus draw a boundary with you as he hung on the cross?" For me, this was an issue of God dealing with me in the area of ego and self-protection. But, I am also well aware that the same situation might truly need boundaries for that wounded inner child in a different situation. In that case, rather than needing a humbling of ego, that wounded child would need protection.

    So, I guess my inadequate answer would be the need for self-awareness, training in how we deal with ourselves in this awareness and the ongoing working of God in our lives. The fact is, it's not easy and there's no easy answer, especially if we're not willing to take a close look at ourselves and our motivations.

    Is this kind of getting at your question?

     
  • At 3/29/2007 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Amy, I will lift up your family situation in prayer today.

    I have certainly struggled with discerning when it's time to set major boundaries and when it's time to embody grace that is willing to give all, even die for love.

    What has helped me is realizing that Jesus DID set boundaries in many, many situations. In fact as far as I can tell Jesus set boundaries as a regular habit of life, and the laying down of his life was more of an exception to this, based on a very clear call from God, for a very specific purpose. Look at all the times Jesus goes off alone to pray...or sets the disciples straight when they're trying to kiss his butt to be first, or doesn't allow their prejudices to dictate who he allows to come to him or when.

    My personal experience a former spouse who suffered from addiction and all the manifestations that you listed is that no good fruit comes from enabling someone with those problems in the name of Christian love. It doesn't help them or you. It simply degrades you both and ultimately is killing, rather than lifegiving.

    For me, both with my mom and my ex, good fruit came only when I valued and stood up for myself (even though at times I felt profoundly conflicted about doing so,) and took a tough love, strong boundaries stance. I began to respect myself and actually have MORE compassion for them, rather than hating and resenting them.

    And it's born excellent fruit in the actual relationships as well. My ex got on meds for a period, got a stable job and somehow became a basically good person with whom I am on good terms. My current husband and ex could be considered friends and my daughter benefits from having two dads in an unconventional family setup that is happy for all involved most of the time, where she doesn't have to choose between families to get the love and affirmation she needs from all her parents.

    My mom is a similar story. With her it's taken longer for the cost of staying the same to become greater than the cost of changing, and we got the very brink of having to part ways, but for the first time in my life we actually have a very good relationship!

    So that's my two cents :)

    The journey is rarely clear, but I think it becomes more so with time.

    Sending love your way!

     
  • At 3/29/2007 06:21:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Jemila, thanks so much for your prayers. As aweful as addiction can be God has been and continues to walk through this journey with each of us involved and it is improving.

    I totally agree that Jesus set boundaries and I'm actually a very firm believer in boundaries. Boundaries are healthy and they are a way to protect us in a good way as well as allow that inner child to have a safe place to grow.

    For me, this was a space and time where I felt God brought certain instances of Jesus to my mind as a challenge to me...because my motivations weren't gracious and were very much self-motivated.

    This was a time when a normally healthy response by setting up boundaries was challenged in my life. In it I saw that dichotomy of protecting the inner self vs. serving self. Although I don't want to enable, in this situation, boudaries was no the way to approach it. Next time, should there be one, it will probably not be the same.

    I'm not sure if that makes sense. My theories in these types of situations tend to point back to my personal experience, which sometimes (read: very, very often) does not translate for other! :)

     
  • At 3/29/2007 06:54:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    There's never any formula, is there? Only grace and discerning wisely from our intuition, knowledge and most of all Holy Spirit.

     
  • At 3/29/2007 07:00:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Very true. I wish there were a roadmap we could all follow, but life doesn't seem to fit in with any roadmap I've come up with. :-)

     
  • At 4/04/2007 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Happy

    I know I'm a little late chiming in, but hey, better late than never, right? It's been a crazy few weeks, and I've been trying to get through the book (hard to do fast because there's SO much to think about in it!) before adding my two cents.

    First, Amy - I will pray for you and your family. Addiction's a tough situation no matter how healthy the perspective with which you approach it. And to both you and Jemila - thank you for that cool discussion on boundaries! I wrestle with setting the right ones a lot - I know they're important, I know Jesus had them, but I don't always know where they're appropriate in my life, and when I'm trying to set them simply to get myself off a tough road I don't feel like walking, if that makes any sense.

    Jemila - your question a few posts back about love, and the difference between selfish love and agape love - that's totally the one thing I've been thinking about for the past two weeks. I loved Peter's book - it gave words to so much of what I've been trying to say and failing to - but the whole idea of loving God simply for Who God is - I really gor tripped up on that for a few days. Here's the exact quote:

    "For instance, to seek God for eternal life is to seek eternal life, while to seek God for a meaningful existence is to seek a meaningful existence. A true seeking after God results from an experience of God which one falls in love with for no reason other than finding God irresistably loveable." (p. 50)

    Yet seeking (and finding) God result in eternal life and a meaningful existence... and isn't it okay to want those things? Yet that makes seeking about me and my benefit and not about God at all...doesn't it? I really wrestled with that question, and actually, I've posted about that process on my blog - so feel free to read and comment there; a few of my friends from my community here had some interesting insights, that were really helpful. But ultimately, it was the kids I nanny for that really helped me to understand this...

    One of my friends, as we were discussing this late one night, suggested to me that God knows perfectly well how self-centered we are (and paradoxically, while we do become more truly who we were meant to be as we learn to die to ourselves and let Christ live in us, we will always experience God through our personal identity - talk about things that are hard to wrap your mind around!) - and because God knows all that, God's Word to us is full of promises and rewards for obedience to God's Way. I hadn't thought about it like that, so it was helpful, but I think I was still wondering if that was too easy an explanation - but then this week, the kids have been on this kick where they'll be all whiny and self-centered and stuff, but then if I give them something they want (even something as simple as chicken nuggets for lunch) they'll say, "I love you!" and it just hit me the other day - that's exactly what God's up to with us. When kids are little, they really love their parents; there's no one else in the world who can make them happy - but they don't really get it yet. While there's a purity to love of a child in terms of their ability to be unconditional in their love for others, there's also an inherent selfishness. Their parents are the source of what they need and often of what they want as well, and so of course they love them. But 30 years from now, when they're all grown up, they'll have an appreciation for their parents that they didn't have when they were small, because they'll know more, and have a bigger perspective; they'll be able to appreciate their parents for who they are, and not just for the benefits they receive by being their kids... and in the same way, I think God invites us to seek Him for His benefits (salvation, healing, etc. (cf. Ps. 103))- KNOWING all the while that as we start there, we'll come to see God a little more day by day for Who God really is, and love God more truly - less selfishly - as we grow in our understanding. I don't feel like I'm explaining this well, but hopefully that makes sense.

     
  • At 4/04/2007 07:52:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Happy, I think you communicated that wonderfully, and I agree.

    Another aspect is that of the relationship dimension. In human relationships, I have noted that when we initially fall in love, there are two paradoxical aspects: we love the other person (selfishly) for how they make us feel AND we love them simply because of seeing who they are, the beauty of getting to know them and tenderly hold their vulnerability and mystery in our hearts and hands. And then we commit and begin to share out lives, to depend on each other, to need each other. And it is simultaneously legitimate to have needs and inevitable that sometimes our needs and those of our partner will come into conflict. And we somehow are at risk for losing sight of how we once loved the person simply for their own sake, and now have become more obsessed with resenting them for not meeting our immediate needs. And what we need is a return to the eyes of love we had when we looked to them as an opportunity to participate in love as opposed to a resource for getting our needs met.

    I think there is something here that also happens with God. As we mature and evolve, both our selfless love and our selfish love (and the space in the middle that might just be called human love) change forms and emphasis and we are called to discover newer, more nuanced ways of relating to God in love when God doesn't "meet our needs."

    What are your thoughts on this?

     
  • At 4/05/2007 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Happy, I'm so glad you joined the conversation on this one. I really liked your insight.

    Thanks to both you and Jemila for your prayers. Addiction and all that is involved in that is difficult, messy and confusing. I'm nowhere near healthy in my approach, so sincerely appreciate your prayers.

    As I read the analogies of children to parents and of lovers and the change that takes place in those relationships, that journey to maturity captured my mind. As we grow past a lovely, but sheltered, innocence in the relationship, we have to start addressing situations that we don't like or don't make sense. We have to reconcile those with our view of life and that relationship and somehow make sense of it and continue on.

     
  • At 4/05/2007 09:59:00 PM, Blogger Happy

    "...we are called to discover newer, more nuanced ways of relating to God in love when God doesn't "meet our needs.""

    Jemila, I love that phrasing - thank you! It's so...hopeful. :) It gives us the opportunity to grow into loving God more truly, rather than beating ourselves over the head for not getting it right yet (as I am rather wont to do - oh the joys of being a perfectionist...) :P

    And I love the analogy - I'm sorry to say I haven't had the joy of falling in love with someone that deeply yet, but my hopelessly romantic heart said, "YES. This makes sense." :) (and filed away your wisdom for future reference)

    One of the lenses I always try to look through when I'm considering a major idea is: "does this hold true in a third world country, or is this only true in western christianity?" Part of my call is to international missions, mostly in Europe I think, but I also want to spend some time in Africa and India at some point in my life - so cultural relevance is something I think about a lot. And so as I was thinking about this idea of maturing into our love for God, part of what I journalled in my blog was this:

    "If I gained nothing by loving God, would I still love Him? If I lived in a third-world country, suffered from hereditary AIDS, and had nothing but watery rice gruel to eat and not even enough of that, would I still be compelled to seek Him, and would I still love Him if He never gave me more in life than that? And are these valid questions, or does God expect us to seek Him for what He gives us in addition to who He is? It's been pounded into our heads by Christian culture: "Jesus is the Answer" (digression: Peter has a really funny "urban myth" in his book about this pastor who asks during a children's sermon, "What is small, furry, climbs trees and eats nuts?" As soon as he had finished the question, a little girl stood up and said, "Mister, I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel." (p. 51)) He is the Answer to everything that's messed up in this world, including us - but people who love Him die from all sorts of diseases ...yet (Ps. 103:3) He heals all our diseases..."

    As a missionary, how do I walk into someone's life and tell them the gospel (what is the gospel, anyway? sometimes i feel like i've lost sight of that in the midst of churchianity) without being able to answer their felt needs in addition to their real needs on a spiritual level? Do I trust God enough to let Him handle the questions I can't answer - like why He can heal but doesn't always? This is a more pertinent question than usual, as I'm currently in those "I'm sick and waiting for God's intervention" shoes - and somehow I suspect God is allowing me to go through this season so that I can understand from the perspective of someone who needs His healing touch what the gospel can and does mean - but it's taken me awhile to get the point where I can honestly say, "God, I want this benefit from you (healing) but if you don't say 'yes' or 'soon' I will yet praise you."

    And I'm starting to realize that I HAVE been caught up in the practicalities of this life and forgetting the greater importance of the eternal - that the healing of my soul, the recreation of who i am in God, is so much more important than that of this jar of clay i live in. and that if it's true for me, it is also true for people dying of starvation or aids. not that it's right to take the gospel to them without what aid we can take - but the eternal, in the long run, is so much more significant...

    okay, sorry, that was a bit of a digression, sort of - shift in direction anyway - but there it is. :)

    Amy, what you wrote made me think of the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, and its contrast to the first. The first book is, despite the deep evil the children encounter, largely a delightful childhood story. The last book I almost didn't finish reading the first time I picked it up because the ape is so horrible, and i just didn't want to deal with his nastiness - BUT at the end of the book, everything that's good and true and beautiful survives, and becomes even more good and true and beautiful. Aslan's call - "further up and further in" - is, I think, in some ways, totally appropriate to this conversation: the further up toward heaven and the further in toward God's heart that we move, the less self-ish and more self-less we become.

     
  • At 4/06/2007 01:13:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Happy, I appreciate your challenge to look through third world lenses, which as you so beautifully demonstrated often leads back to just-below-the-surface issues for those of us in first world countries as well.

    My intuitive sense about the gospel is that it is less about "telling them the gospel" and more about inviting people into the life of Christ/God, which encompasses all things. I have come to perceive God as literally as the Being in whom all things hold together, the fabric of love of the universe and beyond. And as Rob Bell writes in Sex God, 'the cross was Jesus way of saying, 'me too,' when we come to God with our anguish and suffering.

    I have struggled with feeling guilty as a Christian because often I have found resources within the natural created order more helpful for practical problems/felt needs than prayer/God. For example, I have found meditation/breathing practice more helpful in easing anxiety than prayer, osteopathic manipulative method more helpful for back pain etc. I have wondered, "why hasn't God answered my prayers," but I have been able to "help myself" independent of God with the world's resources? Isn't this the opposite of what I am supposed to believe/experience?

    And yet, without God's being, all things would fall apart. there would be no resources to seek for healing, no people to go to for help.

    I don't know...I really don't have an answer to this...

     
  • At 4/07/2007 10:50:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    There's a quote in the footnotes of Colossians Remixed, pg. 105, that says, "Suspicion always presupposes a stance of trust that has entered into a time of crisis. But suspicion is not an end in itself. Rather, the moment of suspicion is always on its way to renewed trust."

    It's been my experience that this a the faith journey. As you quoted, Happy, "further up and further in." That constant of reconciling expectations against current circumstances and what that means about both God and ourselves.

    Jemila, I can relate to the whole idea of relying on things within this world to meet my needs rather than God. If a problem comes up healthwise, I take the medical route. If a problem comes up relationally, I find someone to talk to about it. In neither case to I run first to God. If I really view God as the Being that holds all things together and who loves me immeasurably, as you phrased it Jemila, shouldn't I go to God first and then let God direct me to the resources rather than search out those resources on my own?

    Happy, I think what you shared about your struggle with wanting and needing healing is such a wonderful example. It can be difficult when God doesn't heal or doesn't do so within our desired time frame. We may never have the answers to why, but in the midst of it we continue to seek God and find some way to understand our circumstances and then to open our hearts to God's work in us in the midst of these circumstances.

    Then, I think of the third world and how all this translates. What does suspicion look like, what does trust look like there? Thanks for bring that thought up as well, Happy. It certainly gives me perspective on my situation and cause to reflect on my thought processes.

     
  • At 4/09/2007 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Happy

    Sometimes I wonder if "natural resources" aren't God's answer to prayer already given... It seems to me that whoever the brilliant people are who figured out what vitamins and minerals we need to be healthy, and in what foods we can find them, God must have inspired them. :) How did anyone find out that grapefruit seed extract is a natural antifungal (or how to extract anything from a grapefruit seed in the first place)?! In my pursuit of healing over the past few months, I have definitely felt God's leading as I've had conversations with people that have led me to a few different books that explained everything I needed to know. He could have just reached out and touched me, but as with most things in life, I find that this particular journey is more about who I'm becoming and less about the end goal (being healed, hopefully). There are things to learn before I get "there" - and some of them are simply about nutrition and eating well, tho some of it too is learning to trust and love God more.

    And prayer - sometimes I think breathing/meditation is prayer - or at least one expression or form of it. I heard someone say once that prayer is really more for us than it is for God anyway - God wants us to pray, but knows what it is we will pray anyway - the act of praying allows us to focus and realize God's presence in the situation brought to prayer. Sometimes just sitting still and breathing, taking a minute just to exist, is the most prayerful thing you can do.

    Rob Bell spoke once at my college, and he said that the letters of God's unpronouncable Name YHWH (phonetically: Yah - Hey - Voh - Hey) sound like breathing (say it breathing out on Yah and Voh, and in on Hey, and it really does) - which is pretty cool when you think about God's Spirit hovering over the waters and breathing (speaking) life into existence, and how breathing sustains us - and, according to Rob Bell, every breath we take proclaims the Name of God whether we know it or not. No wonder meditation can be so calming - if we're unconsciously declaring God's Name, then we're also (un)consciously re-orienting ourselves to God's presence...

     
  • At 4/10/2007 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Well said, Happy. :-)

     

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