Archives For June 2013

Weekend kick-starter

June 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

Funny stuff.

Facile Friday

June 28, 2013 — Leave a comment
SHURE_55s_MICROPHONE_by_uncledave_20130627115943563

Source: SHURE_55s_MICROPHONE_by_uncledave. Adjusted by RL2013

1. I found this CNN article on the significance of the font, ‘Impact’, in memes interesting. (the comments are just as entertaining).

2. I read  this week that DC talk vocalist, Kevin Max, joined Audio Adrenaline. This particular article is dated from August, 2012…still it’s worth a mention. Great choice for a lead singer, and according to multiple reads on the net they have an album due for release soon. Click here for a youtube video of them performing @ K-LOVE.

3. Crisis magazine had an interesting article on ‘the anatomy of sloth’. This comes from a Roman Catholic perspective and is enlightening, although, I’m not sure I agree with number 8 – still processing that one. The symptoms of sloth are listed as being:

1.  Habitual procrastination 2. Disdain of details 3. Abhorrence of complexity 4. Unfinished symphonies 5.  “Leaving it to Beaver” (or whomever) 6. Fashionable, or at least tolerable, lateness 7. Opposition in principle to any form of haste or accelerated performance 8. Preference for motherly love, which is unconditional, rather than fatherly love 9. Probably most important, insistence on the inalienable right to do what one likes, and refrain from what one dislikes” (Howard Kainz)

4. On my news feed a few days back someone linked an Australian interview that the Rock band Stryper gave in 1989. They talk about faith, music and provide a well argued defence against criticisms which accused them of compromising  as Christians, because of their particular style of contextual mission. Click here – 10min long but worth it! The Pastor talking with them was fair – Michael, Timothy, Oz and Robert did well in explaining their position.

5. Bono from U2 gave this interview on Focus on the family – liked it so much I figured, “hey even if everyone knows about – post it anyway”…click here for more.

6. Since doing some O.T study for my degree I have become sensitive to unusual, but interesting finds from the Middle East. I was VERY interested in this one. Fox news reported on a possible archaeological find that appears be from the time of King David. If this proves true think of the ripple effects that this would have on the international community?…read more here.

7. Amen…..

Hands of Praise

June 27, 2013 — 2 Comments

Some time ago we did some art theory, and then put it all together on paper. I had a general idea, and wanted to help my wife with home-school.

The theme I choose was ‘hands of praise’, which was drawn from  Neh.8:6.

‘And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands’ (ESV).

HandsofPraise_zpsd905b0c5

We used non-toxic acrylic  paint, post-it-notes and five sheets of butchers paper. We made circles with our hand prints, gradually moving from the outside in towards the centre. Once this was complete we used the post-it-notes to create the words hands & praise.

John Calvin wrote that ‘…..Thanksgiving, is the gratitude which ascribes to God the praise of all our blessings…..’ (‘Institutes’, II.8:392)….

Dec2010-April2011200_zpsc28dd4f1

A job well done.

The word ‘rape’ is a negative term. It rightly defines the abhorrent act of sexual violence committed by one human being against another human being.

Thesage’ defines rape as:
Noun:
a)      The crime of forcing a woman to submit to sexual intercourse White_Cotton_T_Shirt_20130626131821461_20130626133653190against her will.
b)      The act of despoiling a country in warfare

Verb:
a)      Destroy and strip of its possession
b)      Force (someone) to have sex against their will

(etymologically speaking it means = to seize prey, take by force)

Most psychologically balanced individuals would agree that the integrity of this definition should be upheld in no uncertain terms. The term ‘rape’ describes the act of rape. That is it describes an act of sexual violence, which most Western societies uphold as unacceptable and abhorrent.

However, in some online gaming subcultures the term is tolerated, and in some cases encouraged. For example: some gamers “beat their chests” by frequently ‘smacking’ (verbal taunting/bragging), their opponents with the words ‘rape’, ‘own’ and ‘pawned’ . These are often accompanied by the phrase ‘I just made you my b%#tch’, which is specifically used when one gamer wins or perceives some form of victory – dominance – over their online opponent.

This could just be dismissed as harmless immature, adolescent fun; a reflection of the fact that the online gaming context is predominantly occupied by men, most who feel as though their masculinity, has been forced underground by radical feminism.  This would be accurate up to a point, but it cannot justify the online gaming trend that makes the misappropriation, and therefore watering down, of the term ‘rape’ acceptable.

Yesterday a mate of mine on Facebook linked a 2hr lecture by John Stackhouse (Regent College, Canada) about ‘Sexual Morality, Pastoral Implications, and Public Policy’. (I cautiously agree with his developing theology on this issue and recommend  it.You can listen to that lecture here)…

As far as politicians go, on this issue, today most seem to be content to just ‘go with the flow’ of the plebiscite, so the real leader in Western democratic societies becomes popular opinion – or as Stackhouse pointed out: 51% of the population.

He then goes on to suggest resourceful ways the church can better decode those messages and respond in a balanced and respectful way.

One high point, among many, was when Stackhouse points out a problem with the messages about morality that society as a whole, is sending to the church…using the comedy genre as an example, he stated that the messages the world sends the church regarding sexuality are inconsistent e.g.: hot/cold/hot/cold .. yes…no..maybe…My concern here is that the misuse of the term ‘rape’ communicates an inconsistent message that, to varying degrees, minimises or worse, discounts the significance of its impact on victims of ‘rape’ – potential or actual; physical or virtual.

An example of the inconsistency identified by Stackhouse is found in a recent news report from CNNMoney. The article outlined the decline of a business because it used the word ‘rape’ on one of their products…

‘’Fierce public backlash brought down Solid Gold Bomb, which made headlines in March for offering shirts that said “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot.” The company closed its doors last week and let go its remaining three employees. Company founder Michael Fowler is now swimming in debt and he says he’s still getting death threats, including one caller who hounded him for months insisting on meeting him in person’’ (Jose Pagliery)….read more here

For me, this unveils the brilliance of Stackhouse’s observations.

If anything exemplifies his point about the Church receiving mixed messages from society, about what should be morally acceptable, then surely this is an example which makes it to the top of the list.

The business that decided to put the phrase ‘’keep calm and rape a lot’’ on a t-shirt showed poor judgement. It was a bad decision. Nevertheless, before the men and women involved were crucified, and their livelihoods destroyed, shouldn’t those who protested, have wondered what prompted them to do it?

To say that rape is wrong, is to make an absolute moral statement – in White_Cotton_T_Shirt_20130626131821461this instance Kant’s categorical imperative is more than welcome. Rape is wrong. Therefore, given that the term ‘rape’ is having its meaning watered down by its seemingly jovial and harmless misappropriation in online-gaming. Perhaps society needs to re-examine its own post-modern allegiance to the ideological lie which considers ALL morality to be relative?

In their defence some dedicated game developers and gamers may simply accuse me of ‘’taking it way too seriously’ – dude – ‘it’s just a game’ ”don’t remove it from its context – [then insert the irritating covert aggressive statement] – just say’n”. If this is an adequate defence, then the same ethical principle should be applied to the company that made the t-shirt, after all ”it’s just a t-shirt right? – just say’n”.

If not, does this show that there is a double standard at work here?

The online-gamers’ acquiescent use of the word ‘rape’ makes it a mantra, and waters down the severity of it’s meaning. Essentially the word is deconstructed to a point where it’s meaning bestows a sense of honour on the perpetrator and reinforces a sense of shame on their victims. In the online-gaming context it is a favourable word, one used to illustrate an extension of a gamers real life ability to competitively subdue other human beings. Putting the ‘false sense of accomplishment (re: Jm.4:14-17)’ tangent aside, the fact that the term ‘rape’ is an acceptable word in some  virtual online gaming communities, should not change the way we view the seriousness of the physical crime that it defines.

Reading through Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonheoffer I have discovered the importance of the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church’ in Berlin. It seems that Bonheoffer preached there quite a bit.

450px-Emperor_Wilhelm's_Memorial_Church_(Berlin,_Germany)

Source: Wikipedia, circa 1900

B-17_Flying_Fortress_Wikipedia%20Commons_BombingBerlin1944

Source: B-17_Flying_Fortress_Wikipedia

The church was built in the 1890’s, and damaged by Allied bombing during 1943.Today, the church is a reminder of the devastation associated with war. In some respects it also stands as a visual metaphor for what happens when the Church capitulates theology to ideology. Instead of theology being held up as a critique of ideology.

The more I look at these pictures, the more I find myself taking in the serious message that each image conveys.

Sorrow is a corrective. Ambrose of Milan write that:

93. Let, then, nothing call you away from penitence, for this you have in common with the saints, and would that such sorrowing for sin as that of the saints were copied by you. David, as it were, ate ashes for bread, and mingled his drink with weeping, and therefore now rejoices the more because he wept the more.

(‘Concerning Repentance’ L:942-944)

Sorrow doesn’t allow us to ‘abdicate responsibility’ (Lesley Houston, 2013). It compels us to take responsibility by remembering what we did and where we come from. Sorrow involves confession. It is more sobering than sentimentality, nostalgia or having a morbid fascination with the past. Sorrow calls for authentic reflection. It requires crawling,  walking, thinking, waiting, talking, sitting, crying, grieving, apologizing to ourselves and to others. It means running towards the future with a cautious abandon, and having faith as-a-curious-obedience that accepts, as much as, gives mercy.

Kaiser_Wilhelm_Memorial_Church_in_Berlin_proto

Sorrow disarms our pride and negativity. It aligns us towards repentance and forgiveness. Although this comes with a caveat. For example: World War One army Chaplain , Oswald Chambers, wrote:

”There is more pride in human grief and misery than in joy and health; certain elements in human sorrow are as proud as the devil himself. There are people who indulge in the luxury of misery; they are always talking of the agonising and distressing things—“No one ever suffered as I do; there is a special element in my suffering, it is isolated.” At the back of it is terrific pride; it is weeping that will not stop”.

– He Shall Glorify Me, 489

When I look at the remnants of what was the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church’, I am saddened and reminded of the churches failure, at that time, to accept  ‘calls to behave like the church’ (Metaxas 2010:179). As a result its artistic beauty is left in ruins. The ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church’  is no longer a whole building, it is disunified, much like the church was in Germany during the 1930’s. Therefore, this becomes a an architectural metaphor that perfectly illustrates what happens when the church  compromises on its confession of Christ.

Still, Christians are like salvage merchants. We are called to own the past, deal with it and make progress towards restoration through devastation. Often in spite of the expectations that fall on us to surrender to spirit of the age (the zeitgeist). All the while believing and hoping that what remains as the result of our actions, or the actions of others, is redeemable.

This action turns a static monument into a monumental movement. Since it is only in Him that we ‘live, move and have our being’ (Acts.17:28), scars become beautiful stories of healing, repentance and redemption – ‘God never creates evil out of good, but good out of evil’ (Karl Barth, CD.II.2, 1957:757). The redeemer is behind this creative impetus. Art can direct us towards God, and is itself empowered by Father, revealed through Son and present in the Holy Spirit.

thCABORZFZ_Kaiser Wilhelm Church

Image credit: corinekm

JesusinsidememorialchurchBerlin

Image Credit:Cityscouter.com

Good news 1964_Ambassador College

Source: Good news 1964_Ambassador College


Sources:

Barth.K,  1957 Church Dogmatics.II.2 Hendrickson Publishers
Carson, D. A. 2010, God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God’s Story Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Chambers, O., & McCasland, D. (2008). The quotable Oswald Chambers (214). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.hambers
Ambrose Of Milan, 2013. Concerning Repentance (Kindle Locations 942-944). Kindle Edition.
Houston,L 2013 Christian Leadership lectures, Tabor Adelaide
Metaxas, E.2010 Bonheoffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Thomas Nelson Publishers Nashville, USA
PDF Good NEWS, 1964 Edition featuring KWMC
corinekm.blogspot THE GEDÄCHTNISKIRCHE OR KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH, 2009

Related reading:

One Immovable Place, aboldjoy, 2011
Battle of Berlin : Australian War Memorial Issue 25
World War One Sonnets


forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

I am working on my understanding of the various types of reactions associated with the phrase, “I am sorry’’.

In my experience reactions occur in four ways:

(approach/response)

1)      I am sorry – I am sorry too (healthy)
2)      I am sorry – it’s about bloody time you apologised, now earn my forgiveness. (one sided – unhealthy)
3)      I am sorry – Do you even know what you’re apologising for?  (dismissive – unhealthy)
4)      I am sorry – What do you hope to achieve by saying you are sorry? (demanding – unhealthy)

Correlated to this is the straightforward question ‘’what have I done wrong?’’, which is crucial to any conflict management strategy, this is because the purpose of the approach is to clearly identify what the actual problem is:

5)      What I have done wrong? – If you don’t know I am not going to tell you
6)      What I have done wrong? – Oh you know bloody well what you’ve done
7)      What I have done wrong? – Don’t you play dumb with me, I’m leaving you to figure it out

It is easy to see that six of the responses have the word ‘you’ embedded in each statement.The use of the word ”you” in this sense is accusative. It is unhelpful to the healthy outcomes by which forgiveness can be the ONLY conduit.

By contrast, notice that all seven approaches use the word ‘I’.  This is a key word because it indicates that the approach involves a concern for personal responsibility.

Often the person responding in this way dismisses, discounts and/or unrealistically and impatiently demands reparations for damages, before examining the authenticity of an apology. A significant historical example of this is the Allied demands on Germany after World War One.

However, from my experience I have observed that responses are often accompanied by guess work. That is, I am forced to try and figure out what has caused so much conflict. This “figure it out otherwise I’m not forgiving you” response is unhelpful because another person is required to participate in the process of forgiving or seeking forgiveness.

Cycles of abuse have to stop somewhere, and they only stop when somebody stands their ground, speaks, and acts on the truth.Removing yourself (establishing boundaries) from any cycle of abuse will mean that you create conflict in order to neutralize conflict and minimise harm.

This raises a few questions:

a)      Is forgiveness an assertive, rather than a submissive act?
b)      If so maybe our ideas about forgiveness need realignment?

Perhaps forgiveness is more like an interpersonal incendiary bomb than a fire extinguisher.

The former starts fires has a significant blast radius, and is most effective when used against targets which are already flammable (e.g: I am thinking Jer.23:29).

This image suggests that forgiveness effectively neutralizes conflict in an aggressive way. The blast radius of forgiveness is then measured by it’s point of impact; it’s influence, on any given interpersonal conflict. To forgive is too assert our freedom granted to us by the God who is free. Only in Him do we discover the true source of our Freedom expressed in His own act of forgiveness.

By necessity this means that every act of forgiveness we enter into becomes a necessary humanitarian act. An act of ‘faith and obedience’ (Barth, CD.IV.4). The basis of this act is the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus the Christ. On which we choose to not only stand, but live by the Spirit, with ‘resolute gratitude’ (CD.IV.4:158) in response to the gracious command of God.

Reconciliation is and can only be fuelled by forgiveness, as exemplified by Christ and the subsequent forgiveness of sin, granted through His willingness to act on our behalf. Therefore, forgiveness is an aggressive rather than a passive act. This is because the process of forgiving is both deconstructive and reconstructive. Since forgiveness is empowered by Christ’s example, its intent and purpose has a theologically motivated impact on ‘society and politics’ (Ben Myers).

Forgiveness is irreversibly transformational. There can be no going back if forgiveness is true forgiveness.

‘The foundation of forgiveness is the confession of our sins. Hiding sin in silence, not admitting and confessing it, is living in darkness, even if our lifestyle may have a Christian appearance!’ (Jobst Bittner 2013:L.910 & 1082).

This is consistent with the differentiation between forgiving, forgiven and seeking to be forgiven. For example:

Forgiving: (Col.3:7 & 13a) is about engaging in a dynamic personal response to damage and victimization. This is powerful and requires human effort.

Forgiven: (Col.3:13b) is about accepting that you already are forgiven, by far the most powerful of all three and the hardest to grasp because we need to understand that this reality is one that has first grasped us. This is based on God’s divine initiative – His free movement towards humanity to be for us. (Barth CD.IV.4)

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Image credit:RL2013

Seeking to be forgiven (Col.3:13c) is about repentance, contrite admission of failures or ‘renunciation and pledge’ (Barth CD.IV.4). Seeking to be forgiven is to engage in a form of lament that reaches out. This is also difficult to do; it requires taking responsibility of our actions, humility, wisdom and a willingness to be transformed by acting on what we have learnt from our mistakes (Col.3:16).

In Colossians 3, Paul presents six lists. Of these six lists, four, form part of what is called an ‘ethical catalogue’ (DNTB). The remaining two lists are as follows:

1. ‘Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’ (Col.3:13)

2. ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in your hearts to God’ (Col.3:16)

Paul’s letter encourages us to ‘assert the primacy of scripture over culture’ (2006:62 – sola scriptura).One caveat that is drawn out from this is that unlike urban, Western philosophical syncretism, Christians should not confuse forgiveness with forgetting.

Pastor Jobst Bittner when talking about how survivors in Germany are dealing with the atrocities committed during World War Two, makes the observation that:

‘God’s answer for unhealed wounds is the power of forgiveness. This power, however, must not be confused with “forgetting” or “wanting to cover up”. The wounds of the Holocaust are still present in the third generation of survivors. They are the generation who are facing the truth and breaking their silence’. (Jobst Bittner, 2013:L.1658-1660)

The ‘repression of sin is graceless existence…forgiven sin does not mean forgotten sin’ (Busche citing Karl Barth in ‘Barth’ & CD.II.2 1957:756).  The brightness of Paul’s discourse on forgiveness in Col.3:13, makes it easy to miss the significance of his command in 13:9:

‘Do not lie to one another’

Forgiveness, in its truly Christian form seeks to break the silence by ‘putting on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator’ (Col.3:10).

Therefore I am not entirely comfortable to state, in complete agreement, with Alexander Pope, that ‘too err is human, to forgive divine’ (An Essay on Criticism, 1711). The reason for this is that Pope implies, when it comes to forgiveness, that human effort is pointless.

On the contrary, as we have seen from Paul’s words and from what Dallas Willard so profoundly explained, ‘Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort’. Like an interpersonal incendiary bomb, the blast radius of forgiveness is to be measured from it’s point of impact; it’s influence, on any given interpersonal conflict.Forgiveness given authentically, may be received or rejected, nevertheless in both cases it allows for the truth to be seen.

Only then can the ‘creative power of forgiveness’ (Bloesch 2006:62) breathe, reconstruct, transform and free us.

Sources:
Bloesch, D. 2006 Essentials of Evangelical theology Hendrickson Publishers
Bittner, Jobst (2013-04-03). Breaking the Veil of Silence (Kindle Locations 1658-1660). TOS Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Charles, J. D. (2000). Vice and Virtue Lists. In C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter (Eds.), Dictionary of New Testament background: A compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship (C. A. Evans & S. E. Porter, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (1255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
Eberhard Busch (2008-06-01). Barth (Abingdon Pillars of Theology) (Kindle Location 1212). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
ESV – Crossway Publishers
Willard, D. 2006 The Great Omission Monarch Books, Harper Collins USA

Related reading:

theology for beginners [19] Forgiveness: Faith and Theology, Ben Myers.

Copyright. Rod Lampard, 2013.

Weekend Kick-Starter

June 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Tackling some reading by pushing on through Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonheoffer.

IMG_20130610_114501

”in the whole of world history there is always only one really significant hour – the present…’ (Metaxas citing  Bonheoffer, 2010:80)

So far. So good.