Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For Further Reading

As a follow up to my last post, I just wanted to toss out some links for further reading.

While not writing about Rob Bell or Love Wins, the latest post on Craig Blomberg's blog, through Denver Seminary, offers insight to a belief in Hell. Blomberg is one of the leading New Testament scholars in the nation. He's also just pretty rad.

The second is a blog written my friend Dianna, who studied theology with me at USF. Dianna generally has a way of articulating the very thoughts jumbled around in my head in a much more patient, elegant way. Check it out.

Also, here's Rob Bell's introduction to his book. It's essentially him quoting a portion of the first chapter.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Love Decieved?

There's been a lot of talk recently about Rob Bell, his new book Love Wins, and the Christian doctrines of the afterlife. But,this isn't a book review. In fact, I haven't even read the book. Yet.
(I came up with this silly little idea of reading all of the Harry Potter books and seeing the movies before the last one comes out in June. I'm a few years behind schedule in my Rowling reading, so that has taken up the bulk of my word-on-page time. Plus, as it turns out, I really like them. Also, I just received two books in the mail written by friends of mine, so they should probably be next on the list.)

My point, in writing this, will be brief. While I haven't yet read Bell's book, I'm highly curious, as it is regarding something that's been twiddling around in my mind for quite some time now. Thus, cruising around, I stumbled across some reviews and message boards regarding Bell and his book, and one man's statement stuck out to me. He said:
It is just like Satan to deceptively sneak in, seemingly stating 'Love', but in reality, sending people straight to hell.
And I wondered to myself:

Can we really be deceived by Love?
or, perhaps better stated,
Can Love truly be used to deceive?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Spring!

Well, it feels like no small miracle, but, we made it!!! Winter is officially over and gone, and to it I scream, "Good riddance!"
As I've been looking back and thinking about things I've written over the last few months, it seems so much of it has been in response to the weather, particularly the loathing of it. Winter is a hard hard time, it's true. There is a reason Shakespeare wrote that it was "winter of our discontent." But I must admit, it was only recently, this week, in fact, that I've come to understand the reason for so much emphasis on the cruelty and harshness of winter for me.

At one point in time, I don't remember if it was here on my blog or on facebook, but I mentioned loving fall despite it forewarning the "cold cold hell of winter." It is now that I understand the true nature of that metaphor. Hell-The place where one is completely separate from the presence of God.
With the exception perhaps of music, the place where I feel the most connected and closest to God is in nature. I need to be doing nothing but perhaps simply sitting outside, and I am content. Winter in South Dakota certainly does not allow this. For months on end, I am not allowed (nor is it wise) to simply sit outside and enjoy the beauty, power, and divinity of Creation. For months on end, it seems, the presence (which is deemed by many to be "life-giving") is stripped away from me and I am left where there is weeping and chattering of teeth.

But, somehow, the miracle has happened. The water has been changed into wine. Signs of redemption reach out and pull me from that vast darkness that is winter. I am able to move from the depths of sheol to the parkbench in the sun, which is steadily regaining his strength and providing me with much needed warmth. Once again, I am able to wander out of doors in the presence of the creator. Once again, I can live and breath and have my being. Once again, I see the beginnings of life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday-Phoenix Foreshadowed?

Ash Wednesday
(Never mind the fact that it’s now officially Thursday)

My current facebook status is this: As you bear your ashes, remember, it is kindness that leads to repentance.

An often overlooked bit of scripture I think, what with the threat of eternal damnation doing a fine job ushering folks into repentance these days. But, alas, that thought is better left for another time.
This evening, I wore ashes on my forehead for a period of time. As they were drawn as a cross by the pastor, he uttered, “Remember, from dust you came. To dust you shall return.” All we are is dust in ….no wait. It was only the first two lines. I’m confusing them with something else. I’m getting distracted. (Easily done when you’re keeping Vampire/Zombifying hours) Back to the ashes!
So, with ashes firmly imposed on the fore of my head, this great, wretched, tortoise race of a period called Lent has arrived. Though, I suppose it would have arrived with ashes not being imposed on my head just as well. Worn as a sign of repentance, I made a mental list of all my trangressions…no, most likely not even close to all. I made a list of prominent transgressions of which it is suggested I repent. I’ll share a few here:
I am angry. I am prideful. Self-centered and selfish. Mistrusting and greedy! And perhaps the winner, I am rather unforgiving.
Today, as each day in the life of a follower of Christ, I was called to repent. But, really, when I stopped to think about it…is it really my intention to truly “repent” of these things? Repent means to turn away from…essentially, turn my back on and walk away from. And I’m completely honest when I say, it really seems I have no intention of doing that, at least regarding a few of the things mentioned and unmentioned. For a certain number of them, I seem content to just let them linger in dark cloud around me, whilst I maintain my wallowing nature. But still, I wore the ashes. Perhaps in a desperate attempt to plead for grace, while my feeble and weakened self wanes and collapses at the very foot of the cross. I wore them in silent contemplation. I wore them in tears. Tears offered up shakily to my savior to say “The burden is too great. I am at a loss.” In that moment, to ashes I return.
Yet there is a greater promise in those ashes. For while to dust I will infact (and often do) return, in those ashes is found the remembrance of grace and a promise that despite the soot, one day those ashes will rise, soaring into the glory of the resurrection.

Happy Lenting, All