Archives For September 2013

Recently my wife and I purchased the entire series of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’. It was one of those gradual purchases where you buy one and then after having watched it, you look at each other and say “hmm. I see why my Grandfather used to laugh at this so much…That was cool, we should get the rest”…

One evening while watching them, I came across this rather cool phrase and pondered the depths of its significance.

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My first thoughts about this statement went along these lines: the words remind us to look at where pride may have snuck into our view of ourselves. This introspective challenge includes how well we think we have grasped knowledge of a particular issue or fact. Secondly, the words remind us of how liberating it is to realise, that as individuals we don’t have to have all the answers.

We are allowed to lighten up and laugh at ourselves from time to time, because not having all the answers is partly what it means to be vulnerable and therefore be able to participate fully in community (Brene Brown’s – Gifts of Imperfection). For instance: we don’t stand alone but before a great cloud of witnesses. Among other examples,  we could also say that we “stand on the shoulders of intellectual giants” as we participate, for example, in the cycle of the trivium (classical education).

In my current understanding, true, raw laughter requires honesty. An acknowledgement grounded on some form of reminder or newly discovered knowledge. You know the kind – the elusive “ah-Haaa-lol-I should have known that” moment.

Worth noting here is this: responsible self-care is not selfish care (David Brenner, 1998). For example I would illustrate self-care as talking about your problems with a trusted husband/wife/parent/s and/or caring professional. The very people who will help you pull through by giving you strategies and support in order for you to manage those problems. People who are prepared to joyfully work with you, and who are NOT inwardly energized by your problem/s or negative situation. This is also opposed to dwelling on the worst and ingesting whatever self prescribed numbing agent there is.

In its Christian form as taught by scripture it is a reasoned goodness: I.e.: telling yourself the truth or seeking the truth, outside what you may feel at the time. This is a form of self-care, with the added benefit that being able to do for yourself will enable you to do for others. This is the actuality of ‘kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, peace, patience, and love’ (Gal.5:22). Which as shown is not only something enacted in how we treat others but also how we treat ourselves.

In a similar way I believe this is what Paul’s admonition to the Galatian Church teaches us:

‘let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another…if anyone is caught in transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you to be tempted…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he or she is something when they are nothing, each one deceives themselves….Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will they also reap…Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Gal.5:26;6:1 & 7,14 ESV)

When we have our broken understanding met with a redeemed correction that is fuelled by joy, kindness and gentleness, one absent of arrogance and indifference, the event bears witness to the fruits of the Spirit. Especially when that proper alignment comes from a person gracious enough to stand with us, even though they may well be more advanced than us. There can be no stronger example here than that of God’s revelation that is Jesus the Christ; God-with-us (see also James 1:2-5).

It’s a curious thing that one of Banner’s most repeated lines in Hogan’s Heroes is “jolly jokers”. This is something he says jovially (might I even say lovingly?) and often in response to the quips of the sojourners from barracks 2 as he passes by them . In defending his role on the series Banner is quoted to have said:

Schultz is not a Nazi. I see Schultz as the representative of some kind of goodness in any generation.“(Shultz was played by Jewish actor, John Banner – who incidentally  fled Austria from the Nazis in 1938).

If you are familiar with the series, I am certain you will capture the humanity, contrasts and warmth within those words, and if so their significance for theological reflection as well.

There is a lot more that could be said, but “I think I can say almost positively that I believe” I got to the gist of it.

Some interesting trivia on the H.H series:

1. A few of the actors have Jewish heritage  2. Bing Crosby productions owned the rights, (so Bing was the boss) 3. Robert Clary, the gent who played the French character ”LeBeau”, spent time in a concentration camp 4. if you watch closely enough you’ll see where a lot of the ideas for M*A*S*H come from. Given Gene Reynolds’ involvement in H.H and then in M*A*S*H, it makes for some interesting comparisons.

Sources (not otherwise linked):

Brenner, D. 1998 Care of Souls, Baker Books,  Baker publishing house Grand Rapids MI.
Brown, B. 2010 The Gifts of Imperfection

©RL.2013

Open the eyes of my heartYou might remember a few weeks back I wrote some thoughts about my start with Barth, where I highlighted a few things that stood out to me as significant. (If you missed it you can read that post here)

Since then I have made some good progress and have found the journey  to be much more enthralling than I had initially anticipated. One thing is for certain, while there might be some dense parts which slow down the reading pace, Barth is far from boring to read.

Among the many good things Barth has to say that bridge the gap between my last reflection and this one, a few recent statements stand out and as such are worth sharing.

Under the heading of ‘God in His Revelation’ Barth sets out to tackle the issue of the historicity of the Biblical witness. He points out that:

‘When the Bible gives an account of revelation it means to narrate history…it is to tell of an event that takes place in a specific time and place between God and humanity. It is a very specific event and as such is incomparable and cannot be repeated (326)…

Important to note is that, when discussing historical criticism, Barth prefers to use the terms ‘saga and legend’ as opposed to ‘myth’. This is because the former terms are more appropriate, given the form and content of events by which the biblical authors claim to be primary witnesses.

Barth argues that: …’saga or legend does not have to be an attack on the biblical witness…since even saga or legend is in any case meant to be history and can thus be heard as a communication of history irrespective of the “historical” judgement (327).Whereas ‘the verdict that a biblical story is to be understood as a myth is necessarily an attack on the substance of the biblical witness’ (327) because myth ‘pretends to be history’ (327).

The following statement was what motivated this post.

…’one might ask whether the verdict “myth” as applied to the biblical texts is not even from the purely “historical” standpoint a mistaken verdict because it can perhaps be made only when there is a failure to hear what the real biblical texts are trying to say and do say if we read them as we actually have them, in their narrower and broader context, as biblical texts’ (328).

Barth’s words echoed loudly in an error I made when I answered a wounded brother in Christ, and told him, in haste, that while Genesis is a theological narrative one could see elements of both ”myth and science”  present within the text. What I should have said, and what would have been more in line with my own theological sympathies is that one could see elements of “saga/legend and scientific observations within the theological narrative” that is Genesis.

Some may ask, is this just semantics?

Barth doesn’t think so and I tend to agree. As stated above this is because ‘even saga or legend is in any case meant to be history and can thus be heard as a communication of history irrespective of the “historical” judgement (327).

Most important of all is Barth’s words:  ‘Is not the question of faith in revelation, of the acceptance of the God with us? (318)…The History of His acts is a history of ever renewed beginnings’ (322). That God chooses to be with us is gravity enough to hold me for hours of reflection on the possibilities of His presence. I cannot deny the change in my own life, brought about by His willingness to dynamically-be-for-us-awaiting-our-reply. Regular readers will know I come from a broken place. In no way can I claim a privileged beginning or to have inherited a religious silver spoon. Still here in Barth’s words there is a reminder that the God of the Bible, Yahweh, Jesus the Christ and His ongoing presence, ordained and given through the present activity of the Holy Spirit is one of Hope, restoration, promise and ultimately fulfilment.

I find strength in this and today, I hope you do also.

Pax Vobiscum.

Source:

Barth, K. 1936 Church Dogmatics 1.1: The Doctrine of the Word of God Hendrickson Publishers

…’The Father…has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Col.1:13-17, ESV)

Maranatha!

Pray for the Ignored

September 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

Christian persecution and faith in the Middle East.

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Source: ChristianPost 25th September 2013.

Distinguished guests of Gratia Veritas Lumen,

I have worked on the Facebook page for GVL, which is something that I created in May, just never bothered until now to utilize.

My purpose is to improve the ease of following updates for those of you who read my blog on regular basis, and for those who like a more streamlined newsfeed. I am also putting some effort into redesigning the layout and format. This will take some time, due to consideration and planning. If you have any genuine suggestions in mind, please feel free to suggest away via FB message!

To those who have liked the FB page already – you have my appreciation and  thanks for your ongoing encouragement.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gratia-Veritas-Lumen/366564830130353

In Christ,

Rod.

Small things make a difference

September 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

Sometimes small family outings can turn into significant ones. As I continue to observe: ‘small things make a big difference’.

My family and I took a beach walk the other day and it turned into a whale watching event and a botany class on Banksias. Unfortunately my 2nd Gen. Samsung smart phone was not smart enough to zoom in and catch them (I know, 1st world problems right?). So you’ll have to take my word for it :). I promise you, this is not a ‘whale of a tale’ in the colloquial sense, even though it is about a few whales which does indeed involve their tails. Thankfully my phone managed to snap some sweet shots of the atmosphere on the day.

Looking out from a break wall towards the Pacific Ocean.

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Below: from the headland. In between the beach in the distance and the rock in the foreground,  the whales were moving about and waving tail fins which reflected off  the sun. A boat is near to the right of this.

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So in order to mark the occasion and in a moment of inspiration, I wrote this little ditty down:

‘Noiseless existence

not silent, just finely tuned

into this moment of breathtaking brilliance.

Right. Now.

This present, its significance

 the surprise in little gasps of … WoW!!

Met with a priceless magnificence,

in this joy-filled ambiance, cherished,

my grateful heart bows.

I recollect in this reminder, permission granted

through Jesus the Christ’s persistence

Lord, be mindful of my contented-thankfulness.

For this present. Its life-giving significance,

and the priceless

magnificence in little gasps of…WoW!!

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The flower in this pic. is part of the Banksia tree. These trees grow near coastal areas. However there are different varieties and these are located further inland. Banksia trees can be identified by their olive branch like leaves, yellow brush like flowers and brown cylindrical seed pods.

©RL.2013

I happened to find this statement from Karl Barth intriguing and wondered what implications it might have for Christian bloggers. Particularly those who are not theologically trained, yet bring their theological acumen to bear, as they broadside their readers with content so theologically deep that it has the potential to impact even the most qualified.

Speaking in the general zone of theological reflection – I say general zone because they don’t neatly fit – of what we call deliberative theology (questions motivated by experience) and embedded theology (learnt, assumed, taken for granted), Barth writes:

‘It has happened, of course and this was especially true in the age of orthodoxy, that the scientific character of academic dogmatics has had to be vindicated against free-lances. BUT it has also happened that the scientific character of dogmatics has had to be vindicated by free-lances against the dogmatics of the schools. Naturally it cannot be denied that the aversion to the dogmatics of the schools which may be found a little in every age has often rested on enthusiasm of some sort and not on solid Christian insight, that it has had little or nothing to do with the seriousness of the question of dogma, and that it is not, therefore, a sign of scientific concern. BUT it is also impossible to deny that the transition from irregular to regular dogmatics – when perhaps the school has ceased to be aware that it had to serve life, i.e., the Church – has often been accompanied by a decline in the seriousness, vitality and joyfulness of Christian insight, by lameness in the enquiry into dogma, and therefore by a loss of the true scientific character of dogmatics’ (Karl Barth 1936, Church Dogmatics 1.1:278)

Conclusion:

Sometimes academic questions are answered by the seemingly not so academic. For example: if you’re a Christian blogger responsibly writing with, for, about and to the Church (read: The Commonwealth of Christ) don’t give up because you think that you are theologically unqualified.

You may just be providing an objective insight that joins a serious answer to an even more serious question. (and the added bonus is, it appears that Barth would approve!).

Related reading:

Duke, J.O & Stone, H.W 2006 How to think theologically, 2nd Ed. Augsburg Fortress