Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: August 2011

I have begun to notice more and more how many people make quotes for their status updates on Facebook.  On Twitter it has reached a level of almost total quotation mania.  In my experience well over 90% of all tweets are links to some article on the web.

It’s almost like a new currency has sprung into existence.  We love trying to impress others by the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the company we keep …  Are we now trying to convince people we are well read and educated?  Are we trying to make a show for the watching world that we are well connected and at the cutting edge of technology, intelligence, art, culture, politics?

Have we lost our ability to think for ourselves?  Could this be the effects of social/cognitive/intellectual/moral consumerism setting in?  Fast food ethics and morality?  No mess, no fuss, just collect it off the shelf.  And it’s all colour coded and wrapped in plastic rap for our hygienic convenience.  God help us!

Yet still the increasing outcry is for individualism and personal significance.  We all desire independence and self determination but could this be a self inflicted form of ‘group think’?  Has the human race given up?

Group·think is the act or practice of reasoning or decision-making by a group, especially when characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view.  It is the tendency within organizations or society to promote or establish the view of the predominant group.

Our beloved democracy is the same only it is far more decisive and demonstratively unforgiving towards those who think independently.  Democracy forces the opinion of the masses into modern doctrine and legislated culture.

Being a follower of Christ myself I have also noticed that Christians seem to spend a majority of time and much effort quoting often extensive passages of biblical text not only in their social networking status publications but also in their interpersonal communication.  Whether offering personal advice or counsel or even simply commenting on a news article even in informal social settings.  It also seems apparent to me that we seem to regard the accuracy of the literal quotation of any given text as weightier than any truth or sensibility that may be present in it in a given situation.  This too appears to me like a form of social and political currency.   Who might we be trying to impress?   Are we really trying to help and engage or market ourselves?  And who do we think we are fooling?

“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – this is what Jesus said as a key part in his teaching on prayer.

So I ask myself, is this what we are doing happening in heaven?  Is this what heaven is going to be all about for ever and ever?  quoting scriptural texts at each other?  Will we reference everything we experience and participate with there?  When we cross over into the heavenly spiritual realm will we hear God quoting back biblical text to every question we have?  Is this the way God speaks?  Does God even speak human language?  Is what we are doing now the language and culture of heaven?   I mean, when one travels to France they speak French and especially in France, … English doesn’t really cut it  …

Will God’s communication to us be tagged with the topographical grid reference of each statement?  Is God at all interested in what we have to say or think?  Is this what we are created and even redeemed for?  To be a silent audience without opinion?  Is this more important that the people God created, redeemed?  Yet in modern Christian culture it seems to me that the content of the passage of scriptural text quoted battles to hold any water unless it is tagged with a “John 3:16” or a “Matthew 28:19-20”.  People are important, yes, but not nearly as important than the accuracy and fluency of the text quoted.  Is this the Gospel?   “Hand me my sledgehammer, .. I want to go tell someone how much God loves them.”

Does God want a mass of “believers” who chant the same thing over and over in unison?  “Oooo, say that again … that part about me being great and almighty and magnificent … ”  Is this a true reflection of the nature and character of God?

I was always under the impression that in Christ God was setting us free to be an extension of his presence and a free flow of his life in the present world and in the realm to come.  Will heaven be filled to the ceiling with scrolls and books (now “Kindle’s and iPads too perhaps)?  or will it be filled with liberated beings who have reached their full potential and optimum effectiveness not in word or deed, but in their full spiritual essence?  … in who they are and not in what they managed to make the fig leaves look like in the setting sun.

My God, maybe Roger Waters was correct all along?

COME BACK, PINK FLOYD!!!  ALL IS FORGIVEN!!!!!

Ken Robinson, in his book “The Element” wrote:

“…. Children everywhere are under intense pressure to perform at higher and higher levels on a narrow range of standardised tests.

Why are school systems like this?  The reasons are cultural and historical. … … The point here is that most systems of mass education came into being relatively recently – in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  These systems were designed to meet the economic interests of those times – times that were dominated by the Industrial Revolution in Europe and America.  Math, Science, and language skills were essential for jobs in the industrial economies.  The other big influence on education has been the academic culture of universities, which has tended to push aside any sort of activity that involves the heart, the body, the senses, and a good portion of our actual brains.

The result is that school systems everywhere inculcate us with a very narrow view of intelligence and capacity and overvalue particular sorts of talent and ability.  In so doing so, they neglect others that are just as important, and they disregard the relationships between them in sustaining the vitality of our lives and communities.  This stratified, one-size-fits-all approach to education marginalises all of those who do not take naturally to learning this way.” (Ken Robinson, Ph.D. with Lou Aronica, “The Element” – Penguin Books – pg 13-14 paper-back edition)

Even though in orthodox Christian scripture we are told not to conform to the patterns of this world but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, Ken Robinson could be talking directly to the dominant fundamentalist mindset prevalent in the modern church of our day.

Even in regular sermons, truth is not truth unless it is parenthesised by a mathematical grid reference – a spiritual GPS, if you will.   Conformity to correct social order, culture, language, behaviour, ‘submission’ and ‘discipline’ are the direct determinates of ‘spiritual’ progress and promotion in the church along with academic qualification and rote regurgitation of and conformity to doctrine and tradition.

The fact that in the same scriptures an overwhelming picture is clearly painted of the significant prophetic players in God’s dealings with man and the church as being non-conformists and even the outcast, rejected, often uneducated, even rebellious and ‘sinful’ of the community is somehow completely disregarded.

Could it be that we got here because we have focused on playing a game of ‘catch-up’ with the cultural and historical times we live in rather than keeping our eyes on the instigator, provocateur, and revolutionary originator of our faith?

Who are the legalists, the lawyers, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees of our day?

…. why, … they are we

We seem to live in a very relative world.  Perhaps this world we live in is much more emotionally and culturally based, perceived and even defined than most reasonably intelligent people would be willing to admit.

Everything seems to be relative and equally everything seems to be very relational.  It is virtually impossible to do anything in isolation and yet so many of us feel so isolated.

Perhaps it’s how we relate that really counts.

 

Our perception is all we have and we are only one … or are we?

Even reality itself may well be completely relative, …. and this could be a very lonely, alienating thing, but it’s all we’ve got …. together.

 

TH15 M3554G3 53RV35 TO PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG TH1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 TH1NG5! 1N TH3 B3G1NN1NG 1T WA5 H4RD BUT NOW, ON TH15 LIN3 YOUR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 1T 4UT0M4T1C4LLY W1TH OUT 3V3N TH1NK1NG 4B0UT 1T

It is clear that thrown into this cocktail we are also amazingly adaptive.  This can be as good as it is bad – we can change for the better or we can change for the worse.  We can absorb open-mindedness or closed-mindedness.  Mostly we seem unaware when we do this – either way.

 

So what might this reveal about our faith? … what we believe and why we believe it?

What might it reveal about our ‘reality’?

 

… and where to from here?

 

Here is an extremely interesting video clip off www.ted.com. enjoy!

 

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

 

Could an argument be made that the ‘legal’ corporate music industry companies are the biggest pirates and ‘bootleggers’ of the arts and culture?

Can it be said that they are ‘legally’ raping the artistes, their dignity, income, even their ‘prophetic’ voice (as artistes depart from the integrity and honesty of their own style/voice/art form to follow the dictates of what a superficial and essentially greedy and exploitative group dictate as being ‘marketable’ and artistically ‘acceptable’?)  … and in so doing siphoning exorbitant, unethical percentages of profit for ‘administrating’ the creativity and integrity of gifted people –  simply put: ‘legal’ exploitation.

Could the same argument be made of the so called “Christian” book, music and “worship” industry?   Are they not doing the self same thing? Exploiting the creative gift for a profit?  … reducing the creative prophetic to a commercialized popularity, catering towards mediocrity and popular culture rather than on giving wings to creative integrity, honesty and the voice of the Spirit of God?

Jesus cleansed the temple violently and what seemed to offend him was the peddling, the “market place” that the temple had become.

I wonder what ‘tables’ he would over turn if he came into our churches or “Christian” book and CD stores today?  I also wonder whose backs would feel the bite of his meticulously platted whip?

Has the Bible Become an Idol?   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/skye-jethani/bible-idol_b_922324.html

 

Just how religious are we?

Are we able to look at ourselves with an open eye?

I don’t like criticism (unless I’m doing the criticizing).   However, in my many years as an deployed  journeyman I have never learned as much as when I have been confronted with the bitter truth of my own short-sightedness.  No, let me rephrase that, the bitter truth of my own total blindness to the stuff inside of me – that prevents me seeing the stuff outside of me – that locks me into what I hate seeing myself do.  I have usually hated every second of the exposure to my own folly and I have good reason to believe that nothing much will change at all in terms of the continuing journey. I also hate it when others see me for who I really am, and what I really do.  I am filled with unhealthy ego and grotesque insecurity.  As a result I deploy all manner of diversions in an attempt to squirm out of the smelly mess I find myself in.

It takes huge courage and even a suicidal attitude to take personal growth seriously.  I have never found a raised hand or a warm “hallelujah” to ever instigate real change in mine or anyone else’s life.   Yet we flock to hear those ‘feel good’ preachers and those spin-doctors who tell us things our itching ears want to hear.  Let’s be honest here – the minute we hear someone tell us the truth we tend to leave their presence.  They are not healthy for us.  They hurt us.  They challenge us.  They are simply not nice.

Suicide is an ugly, tacky, abysmal concept, but isn’t this what it means when we hear that in order to follow Christ we have to pick up our cross daily and follow him?  And didn’t he die?  Yes, he rose again and offered that to us as well, but he died first.

One of the most impactful personal revelations I have ever stumbled over is simply this, “death always precedes life.”

I urge you to take a good, hard, dirty read of the media link I posted above.  We may well meet next at the disgustingly putrid tombstone, but that’s not the end of the journey.  It never is.

 

I recently had a friend post a facebook status questioning the hierarchical titles used in mainstream Christianity.

She drew a few responses of which some were aligning to her view, some were humorous, and some even added their own opinions and questions.
Later she posted a note publishing an apology.  She pointed out that some had contacted her expressing concern that her status was “unwise”.  I can only assume those who were offended were from amongst those in official office in the institutionalised church or those sympathetic with the status quo of entitlement.

In scripture we are provoked not to cause the weaker brothers to stumble.
However, if the self proclaimed “stronger” (the entitled, institutionalised church leadership) begin to start, by their own offence, “stumbling”…  what would that suggest?

We live in a world where individuals are alienated and beaten into servitude to human institutionalised principalities and powers.  These man made institutions keep the rest of us under control, suppressed and even incarcerated under their threatening spells.

When the entitled authorities in the church (where servanthood, humility and self-sacrifice are the foundational truths – NOT attitudes of superiority, acts of manipulative coercion and political power and control )  are offended at their politically entitled status being questioned does this not indicate that nowhere is this evil more apparent than in the institutionalised church?

Why would they be offended?

What would they be offended about?

Why would they need to buff up or stamp their sense of entitlement and position of power and authority?

My name is Lloyd.  I am presently 51 years old.  My parents gave me my name.  It is the name I am known by.  I am a man. This was a gift from God at birth (… as being a woman is a gift from God at birth for those who are women).  I do not consciously recall asking for this gift or designation, but it is mine and as a result I am a man.

This being established however, I also do not need to walk around without pants on to prove this point.  I also do not feel the need to be addressed as “Man” Lloyd.

I live out this status or designation by being who I am.  I am who and what God has made me.  I can do or be no other, and if I did anything otherwise I’d be an impostor, even a liar and definitely rebellious and at best disobedient to the creator who gave me life in the first place.  If someone challenges my status as a man I would in no way feel the need to defend this.  I suppose I possibly might feel the need to defend myself  if I were insecure or doubtful within myself.   To date I haven’t been challenged in this but I probably would not even rise to the accusation.  Chances are I would not even bother to respond to such a ludicrous challenge, in fact it would most probably cause me to burst out laughing.

My point here is that the gifts of God, including leadership, and even any official spiritual office such as prophet, or apostle or evangelist, etc. are gifts of God by his designation, will and purpose.  They are not a social or political entitlement.

Those who are gifted as such will be operating in this naturally and not needing the stamp of approval from any human organisation unless insecurity and doubt is rampant.  These spiritual gifts need no human approval.  I find no record in the scripture where God asked the permission of man before anointing anyone with his spirit to perform any spiritual act or service of ministry?

Jesus himself preferred to be called the “son of man” even though he was the Christ, the Holy One of God, The anointed King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

To my mind this is in stark contrast to the superficial political lobbying that goes on in church circles today.

How did we get to this?

I have a friend who had a little mongrel dog as a pet.  The dog was a family pet and to my understanding was in no way mistreated or neglected.   To the contrary, it was loved and cared for.

Now there is always more than one side to any story but for some unknown reason(s) this dog upped and moved across the road to a neighbour – lock, stock, and barrel.  The dog now struts around in the street outside like a bantam-cock yapping at all who pass by as if it owned the whole suburb.

How and why did this happen?  I really cannot say.  Whether the neighbour lured the dog over with more delectable food titbits or pampered the dog, convincing it into deciding to cross over and switch affection, allegiances and devotion and even as a result now into co-habiting with the neighbour will probably never be known.  But there we have it.  The deed is done and the results speak for themselves.

Now the dog even barks at my friend and his family (along with all the other people in the street) when they leave or return from their homes.  It seems to have taken on a new sense of territorial responsibility for the street and surrounding environment and makes its presence felt in no uncertain terms.  Sometimes the only way to get the dog to remain silent is to actually charge at it, yelling in a threatening way so that the little mutt retreats hastily into the safety and privacy of its new home with its tail between its miniature legs.  This only works for a short time and as soon as it feels the coast is clear once again it struts out and the yapping starts all over.

One thing does seem apparent though, and that is that the dog doesn’t seem to have a sleepless night over any of this.   It’s business as usual and life goes on.  I often wonder what it does think actually (if it thinks about it at all that is).   Does the dog think about commitment and past affection?  Do the concepts of loyalty, responsibility or the feelings of the ex-cohabitants ever enter into the equation in its mind?   Perhaps it’s simply a matter of whatever is directly beneficial to the dog at any given moment that is the key or even sole factor in any of this?

But what am I thinking? … this is a dog for goodness sake!  Dogs don’t have a higher sense of conscience.   They are brute beasts.  They can’t think about their thinking like humans do, … can they?   They are driven purely by beastly instinct  and unbridled self-preservation.  Not so?

Interestingly the neighbour also seems to see nothing wrong at all with the current state of affairs and can be heard lovingly calling the mutt for food and left-overs and in the evening for the dog to come in for bedtime.  The neighbour also seems naturally content, even happy and at ease with the little mongrel bustling playfully around at their feet whilst they are working in the garden or doing chores outside.  The neighbour even greets my friend and his family warmly whenever their eyes meet, even whilst the dog is there in plain view and even sometimes when yapping at my friend and his family.   It would also appear that the neighbour too seems not to lose any sleep over the turn of events and the shift in allegiance.

Strange creatures these … aren’t they?

I have another friend who has a wife and two delightful and beautiful children.

He recently left home and family and now has a very young lady lover.

The hired hand can never be God’s hand.

No matter how gifted the hireling may be no one can serve two masters.

The gift will be spoiled though it glistens like diamonds and pearls.

The hired hand will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.

One cannot sing the song of heaven and the song of man at the same time.

 

We lay down by Babylon’s rivers.

And it was there that those who remembered Zion wept

How could they sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?

 

God cannot be bought.

God cannot be hired.

Is it possible for God to be in any way involved in such a transaction?

When the hired hand comes into the service of the master how is it possible for there to be any sincere heart honesty towards that master?

How will the master know whether the hired hand is serving him or the hired hands own selfish ends?

And how will the hired hand know whether he is serving God or his earthly masters selfish ends?

And if the hired hand is to serve the purposes of God how can he serve his human master at the same time?

His head and heart will be divided and his destruction will be inevitable.

And his destroyer will be his earthly master.

And folly will be the lot of both the master and the hireling.

so, how does it feel?

maybe the only real path ahead is a drive back to real community?

real relationships, real interaction, real honour, respect, really extending dignity to others – especially strangers, the strange, the cast-outs, the rejected, those who are simply different to us.
maybe the greatest command really is to love one another? … and maybe it starts with you and me .. one on one … one at a time?

can we see that we are living lives of alienation and that we are effectively herded into smaller and smaller compartments?

can we begin to entertain the possibility that we are effectively being conned (by everything around us and even ourselves) into believing we are each specialists and even now led to believe that we are connected intimately through technology and our sophisticated political and social post-modern environments?

maybe we’ve been herded into pseudo communities of all forms; political, religious, social, churches, economic sectors, mosques, synagogues, causes, temples, ‘secret’ societies, sports clubs, environmental action groups,  … whatever?

maybe we have begun to believe that these bring us together and keep us together – perhaps they are what’s keeping us apart?

maybe we’ve begun to even lie to ourselves?

what about it?

could we begin to conceive of authentic community again?

 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/curious/201108/what-happens-when-were-rejected-and-ostracized-strangers

Just listened to a short but very interesting and somewhat provocative talk on TED about social networking http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2011G/None/AdamOstrow_2011G.mp4 and I got to thinking about how we wrestle with a concept of a “God” who is aware of everything that goes on.  Every thought, action, intent – even the deep, unconscious meanderings of the heart.  An amazing thought indeed.

What a headache!!  I can’t imagine what it could be like.  Billions of people, whether asleep or awake each having billions of thoughts.  Conscious or unconscious.  Feelings,  emotions,  plans,  humour,  silliness,  brilliance,  stupidity …. and everything in between.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be God.  With all due respect, I wouldn’t want God’s job?

And the narrative suggests that we want to take the place of God.  Evict God and elevate ourselves as the supreme rulers of our destiny.  …. another  amazing thought indeed.

And then this short talk suggests the amount of data we are generating all the time and the potential it may have as we ride this exponential wave or virtual reality …

I can’t help thinking about what goes through the mind of a dog when it eventually does succeed in catching it’s own tail?