Archives For December 2016

learning-in-progressAs the year draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the past twelve months of blogging. I’m fortunate to have had many new interactions with some great thinkers, and some edge dwelling doers, in the active academic field of theology and ministry.

This year, however, I’ve also met with a different, darker side of that field.

I’ve studied theology and have a double degree to show for it. I’ve Read the books. Ticked all the boxes, met the requirements; even made some lecturers smile. Yet, the more I read and learn; the more I seek to participate in the world of academia, the more I see that I don’t fit easily into some of its neatly stacked bubbles.

For starters, my current occupation involves me being a homeschool teacher to my five kids. I don’t say all the “right things” or do what others do to get noticed. I don’t pad agreement on top of agreement. I haven’t written a book yet, and I don’t write blog posts that give an overly appreciative applause to something I’ve read or someone I know.

I write to benefit the reader; share a discovery and hope to learn something in the process. I don’t write for the approval of any who might read my post. I don’t write for others to see how brilliant my academic ability is, and as a result offer me a position on their team. Neither do I seek to invite insult, just to paint myself as a victim.

My focus is on how the theology I read and study, critiques what we are being sold in by society through the media, Hollywood, the Universities and in politics.

I’m interested in working out how that theology translates into ministry; how the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks to the world today in its obsession with escalating the hostility between Left and Right.

How that theology brings a critique against the conclusions of academics who, all too often, appear ready to shoot down conservatives, or those on the right with tired rhetoric, slogans and labels.

For sure, some of that criticism in the past has been justified, but when does that criticism, itself become a whip or chain used to oppress new victims?

For instance, I’ve come to learn that any post that seeks to draw theologians like Barth or Bonhoeffer ‘’outside of the box’’ won’t be met with encouragement, let alone a smile. I don’t read the works of Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer through the agreed upon traditional political filters; speak about them through a modern liberal theological lens.

For that I’ve been drawn into some heavy discussions with overly picky critics. I’ve even had someone go out of their way to politely warn me that if I want to move forward in my academic studies, I shouldn’t upset those in power on the Left, by rocking their boat [i].

But I’m not the kind of person who goes around stroking egos, my own or those of the people around me. I aim to proclaim the truth and do that in a loving way. Will it be a flawed communication sometimes? Yes. Do I do my best to take into consideration the blind sides and their inevitable limitations? Absolutely. With every fiber of my ability to do so.

The more I venture into this post-grad world, the more I see; the more I begin to understand that if you’re not politically aligned with what is considered to be the collectives authorised narrative, you’re more likely to just end up speaking to yourself.

The warning signs are clear, if you’re not ‘’on board enough,’’ you won’t succeed beyond what you may have already accomplished. For some, it doesn’t matter how well you write, draw, paint, sing, create or communicate. If you say something different that opposes the consensus of those in box, you’re viewed as a threat to the thrones of those in power within the box.

Even though I’ve worked hard all my life, am a certified four year college graduate; parchment-on-the-wall qualified theologian. The past twelve months have shown me that in the field of theology, I’m an insider forced to live on the outside.

And that’s okay. Here I stand. Introspectively speaking, I’m freed from having to perform to the same oppressive modern liberal tune I suspect many others feel they have to dance to.

I have questions about the appearances, sums and conclusions, so widely assumed watertight, honest and reliable. I’m not looking to rise to the top of the echo chamber. Not looking to outdo, or compete for a position in it. I’m seeking to make an honest contribution. Share what I’ve found and work on refining that as God’s Grace allows.

The past twelve months have opened my eyes to the fact that if I’m relegated to the sidelines because of this, than perhaps the problem has less to do with me, and more to do with those who pushing me, and others like me, there.


Notes:

[i] Yes this did happen. No I’m not prepared to reveal who.

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Sources:

Machen. J.G. 1923 Christianity & Liberalism

Murrell, B. 2006 The Sun Sword Trilogy: Quest for the Sun Gem,  Random House (p.207)

Sin Shake Sin , 2015 Lunatics & Slaves from the Lunatics & Slaves

19th-december-2016-023Here’s how a committee meeting between Herod and his advisers might sound, if such a meeting were to take place in a Western context today.


This baby in a manger is a threat to us. By his very existence in this world, all the power structures that surround him stand unprotected. He is a threat to our safe spaces.

This whole nativity; the event of the Christ-child being born is a conservative conspiracy. It is violence against everything we stand for, which is justification enough for violent suppression. It stands as an outright repressive assault on everything we’ve built.

This is blasphemy. We’ve heard of the academics that cheated you. Wise cracks who refused to give up his location.

It’s their kind that hinders us from completely implementing our social programs. The structures we seek to replace with our own. The ones we want to tear down, the ones we’ve told everyone is “for the good of the people”, our erosion of those structures. All if it will all be brought into question.

Our collective’s survival rests in our ideas dominating these higher learning stations. Those who still have sway with the young, and yet betray us must be purged.

We must rally people to take up arms against this heteronormative oppression. The masculine he, the male Christ-child, the nativity scene itself, is an idea, constructed to further the chains of bigoted societal norms.

At its heart is a war against phobic misrepresentations empowering archaic social constructs, designed to unhinge us from progress. For the betterment of humanity; for our evolution, we must have control and influence of hearts and minds, which as we’ve agreed, has to happen first with our educational institutions.

That is why this strange birth; these chosen people; these breeders, are an assault on our humanity.

How dare this young woman choose to keep her unexpected pregnancy?  In doing so she stands opposed to our ideas of inequality and equality; of justice and injustice.

This must not go unpunished!

Their religious beliefs are phobic, sexist and irrational. So, we the committee applaud your decision.  We’ve even lined up celebrity endorsements to back us on how necessary and just this action is. This woman’s pregnancy and this prophecy is a farce, therefore this child’s life should be deemed not worthy of life.

If only she could’ve seen the freedom we offer her, the same freedom from the fetus we’ve given all women, you wouldn’t have had to act as you have. Mary is to wear the blame for forcing your hand, not you.

Therefore, let nothing sway you. You’re decision to wipe out males up to the age of two, will save us and make certain we have eliminated this threat to peace and our civil order. It is a surgical act of great compassion, liberating your people from imposters. We are the victims here.

Consider also that this woman’s choice disempowers women. If she gets away with it, what does our lack of response say about our pro-abortion policies and how will that negatively impact the millions in funding flowing into our feticide factories?

This nativity and its proclamation before everyday people is a threat to us. It will inspire ignorant non-conformists and counter cultural activists to disobedience.

Make no mistake, this child will work against us. He will stand as a threat to our factories, our causes, and he will take away our ability to convince the people about how necessary it is for them to have us in power.

This must not happen. The raising up of anyone against the glorious progressive collective must be met with ridicule, shaming, or gaol time.

We want our ideas to reign. We want a peaceful society in harmony with a peaceful religion. We want our people to be thankful for the live-life-our-way programs. We have no room for a Prince of peace; no room for a “King of Kings” who commands us to live life His way.

This is what real violence looks like! It is violence towards the collective. Violence against the state!

All who disagree with this are traitors, haters and infidels! Anyone not with us, is against us.

We’re told that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled, that this child is a saviour.

The quiet proclamation announcing the birth of a Jew; a baby boy from Judea is ethnocentric; it’s offensive to other races. Yes, it propagates the legitimacy of Israel’s existence, but it threatens our power on the world stage.

This manger baby will lead a revolution. This Christ-child is a threat to us all.

Our leaders must not stop showing a unified stand against this blatant display of contempt for us.

Organise the outrage. Send out the murderous minions and shut down all this unlicensed good cheer. The party must not be seen to approve of this unsanctioned movement. Stop the early rumblings of this pathetic prophetic Christ movement.

You must act. Remember all who oppose you are as the tyrants of the past.

Long may our party, its leader and its ideas reign.


Notes:

This is a hypothetical response created for the purpose of highlighting how some in the West respond to Jesus Christ. How within that response rests a resistance to Him who still confronts us in our own positions of power.

For the recount of an historical response of someone in power to the birth of Jesus Christ, see Matthew 2:16-18

The other day I quickly entered some notes into my phone. These were some ideas and directions from my mum about what, and where, she’d like something for Christmas.

Looking at it again today and the order in which it was written, I see one cool-as unintentional haiku.

 

Christmas RL2016 Shopping Directions Haiku


(©RL2016)

noel-rl2016

 

The revolution

Anastasis Iesous Christos [i]

Viva Noël!

 

 


(©RL2016)

[i] Resurrection of Jesus Christ

manger-with-yellow_jesusThe homeschool year has come to an official close. We’ve marked it for you by presenting our own arrangement of ‘Merry Merry Christmas’ from Colin Buchanan’s 2005 album, King of Christmas.

This song was a homeschooler pick. Consequently, they’re the acoustic guitarists heard in the mix. So, this arrangement was somewhat of a joint effort, and it shows some of our key learning outcomes achieved in 2016.

As for the quality of the vocals, forgive the not as-clear-as-could-be lyrics. I used an iphone to record the singing. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, though, because the song’s lyrics have been added to the video; and given the punk-esk lyrical vibe the words aren’t very difficult to pick up.

Like the other two songs we’ve done, I’ve added my own instrumentation including bass line, piano, percussion, lead and rhythm guitars. In no way is it a professional recording nor am I trying to claim it as such. The song is best heard through a headset or something with good speakers.

This for us is just pure fun; action directed towards the heart of God.

Feliz Navidad!

No writer goes without giving a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat hyperbolic critique of the circles in which they sometimes find themselves. Here’s mine.


92dgypsir9k-raphael-koh_bw_unsplash

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We share pictures of books
Show off our reading pace so everyone looks.

Pat ourselves on the back for having beaten our friends to it,
Be the first to blog, tweet, and hope the bubble applies “likes” to it.

We quit our news feeds to quiet the noise.
Yet feed news feeds with the sound of our own voice.

It’s all supply and demand you see,
I post my thing and demand that you read.

Yes, we like those we think can, or may, or will, advance our career.
And only add those who can pad our stats to show off our appeal.

Heaven help the soul who seeks to participate.
This is a “community” that doesn’t reciprocate.

We’ll sit in silence and execute our higher responses
While pushing our own intellectual repertoire up your noses.

If you speak outside the paradigm, you can be sure to be hated.
That, though, is never openly stated.

Not publicly of course,
fans, followers and friends might just as openly disendorse us.

It would impact our numbers; steal our thunder.

Outdo, be outone, but don’t overdo the outdo, or your membership is done.

Don’t rock the boat, cause these inflated egos don’t float.

Simply, don’t! Not even with quotes.

Our prime pedestals should appear dressed prim and proper,
Should be camera ready, because we’re the only real show stoppers.

If you serve with ambition and don’t provoke our progressive suspicions,
and as long as your not seen as competition,
you’ll fit in with this cult of neo-Gnosticism.

Ode to the wall of virtual snobs.

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(©RL2016)

Image: Raphael Koh

‘Proximity & activity don’t always equal connectivity’ – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited, p.43