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Archive for October, 2008

The Inexplicable Profundity of Church Lawn Signs

October 27, 2008 2 comments

On my commute I drive by a lawn sign in front of a little white Baptist church on a hill that was once changed frequently but lately has been stuck on one persistent aphorism for perhaps more than a year now:

DOWNLOAD YOUR WORRIES
GET ONLINE WITH GOD

Now I see the intent here, but stop me if I’m wrong – wouldn’t getting “online” with God to “download your worries” result in having more worries than you started with? God, the eternal server for all the worries you care to install on your mainframe. They must mean upload. Even so, wouldn’t that still leave you with all the worries you originally had, now only duplicated somewhere else? Perhaps an antivirus or drive formatting metaphor would have been more astute.

There has been more than enough said about church signs in general, but I’ll point you here to read what I think could be the most effective use of a church sign (for its intended purpose), if however no church I’ve ever heard of would consider it.

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I Have Noticed Lately

October 20, 2008 Leave a comment

In the world of sports nothing means anything unless it means everything. Dan Shaugnessy calls the Sox comeback in game 5 “just a nifty footnote in 10 decades of Fenway history.” I say it still rocked. And so does Tampa’s chance at being Cinderella this time around.

The Life and Times of a Disenfranchised Christian, volume vi: Deconstructing Certainty

October 20, 2008 Leave a comment

One of the more significant ways my faith and views of God have been altered in these last several years has been the eroding and refining of what I am certain about. There are still of course things that I am certain about when it comes to God and the spiritual world, and in some ways this surprises me given the thorough nature of the stepping back and questioning everything I have done lately. But certainty remains.

The things I am less certain about are what God will do and how he does it. And thus how the world works, and in some ways how I am to respond. I traveled my faith journey thus far from the perspective that God meets my needs, and the acting and providing and healing he does is for my betterment. I still believe this, but differently now. Increasingly I am seeing that that point of view is woefully inadequate. God does not ignore my needs, he most certainly meets them, and promises to continue doing so. But contrary to my previous worldview (and to oversimplify it for the sake of expressing what I see changing), God is not a partially broken vending machine where I can push buttons to get what I want/need (wherever that line is), where some buttons work decently and others not at all, or dispense something other than what I put my dollar in for.

Instead I find recently that God is a waiting room, down the hall from the vending machine, with only me in the room and not much in the way of reading material. The receptionist’s window is closed, and the sign on the door is obscured, but behind the frosted glass there is movement, and the occasional muffled voice which I mostly take to be saying just keep waiting, I’ll be with you shortly, but I can’t be sure what the words actually are. But the door I came in has shrunk to an impossible opening, and the food in the vending machine has spoiled by now anyway, so I will wait.

I moved to Cincinnati with a hundred visions, and found here a hundred revisions. I can only hope that through them my faith is more real.

A God Who Serves

October 9, 2008 3 comments

I’ve been nagged lately by the idea that God doesn’t want to be served but to serve people, and therefore me. Jesus says this outright, that he “did not come to be served, but to serve.” Elsewhere God is described as the only god who acts for those who wait for him.

This seems like an absolutely critical distinction to me. If God actually doesn’t act on behalf of those whom he is in relationship with or meet the needs of the people he loves so much then he is nothing more than a collection of ideals, the projection of the best humans can imagine about the world and themselves, and a catch-all afterlife solution. But if he is active, a God who is alive, then he is more than a theology or set of moral or philosophical beliefs – he is a person, a real and active force in the world with separate and distinct intentional power who has character and intentionality that affects my life in real ways.

I’m not talking here either about an inductive view of causality, simply looking around at the needs of humans and of me personally that are already being met on a regular basis, the fact that there is air to breathe and food to eat and those sorts of things, and calling those the extent of God’s “serving” me. Then I’m just tagging what already is with my God-pen and calling it supernatural – though I wouldn’t necessarily call these things merely chance or fate either.

If this is true, if the universe really is at its core relational, and at the heart of it is a person who transcends the chaos of humanity’s limitations and hurtful choices and who wants not only to be known to exist, but to show us humans how to navigate our madness and meaninglessness and emerge into a truly happy life (if not necessarily successful or tragedy-free, though that is another post) – if these things could be real then I have to think this God is somehow making himself known in my life on a regular basis, that he is acting and speaking however God acts and speaks (I’m going on the assumption that there’s more to it than natural disasters and conflagrant foliage), and that more than that he wants me to notice. He couldn’t be this sort of God if he didn’t want me to know it.

I think perhaps I am starting to look for him again.