Saturday, January 30, 2010

Can we PLEASE stop talking about "THE" Christian Worldview?!?

By definition a worldview is personal.

world·view (wʉrld′vyo̵̅o̅′)

a comprehensive, esp. personal, philosophy or conception of the world and of human life

Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2009 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Why then are we still trying to pretend that A or THE "Christian Worldview" even exists? There are as many Christian Worldviews as their are Christians. Now granted, the American church isn't known for encouraging individual thought or thought at all for that matter, but really people can we stop taking a political and social agenda handed to us by the "Religious Right" and packaging it as if it is the universal way things ought to be?

Christian Worldview is a huge buzzword in the home school circles in which I move. It is touted as the reason for choosing particular text books or for choosing which subject to teach at all. It seems to me, coming from a science and engineering background, that in the hard sciences it means teaching inferior materials in order to avoid grappling with the theory of evolution. I'm so tired of it. I'm so tired of hearing this or that curriculum praised because of its "Christian Worldview" and reviewing it to find that it is completely inferior in terms of accepted scientific theory and fact.

I see the same thing migrating into our history curricula now. Often what results is a completely revisionist view of the actual writings of the primary documents to fit our modern "Christian Worldview". Ben Franklin was a brilliant individual but he was a deist not an evangelical Christian (which by the way is a modern term unknown in the days of our founders). Thomas Jefferson wrote his own version of the bible, excising from it all the miracles of Jesus, because they did not fit his rationalist frame of reference. This isn't secret information. Go to Monticello the book is on display. Read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, its available at your local bookstores, and see in his own words what he thought and believed. These men were not trying to create a Christian Theocracy when they did the work of founding this nation. That we post-modern Christians seem from all appearances and actions to now think a Christian Theocracy is desirable would have horrified them. And make no mistake, when we assert that "America is a Christian Nation" that is exactly what is being proposed. We want our "Christian Worldview" to inform the laws of the land and the logical result of that process left unchecked is to become a Christian Theocracy rather than a representative republic.

Actually that political rant was NOT my point. My point is this don't let someone else tell you what your worldview is or should be. There is no monolithic organization that determines what constitutes a "Christian Worldview" nor should there be. It is the responsibility of every person, Christian or otherwise, to think critically and evaluate what we are being told we should believe. Christians who are admonished in scripture

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." KJV

should be most diligent about fact checking and handling the truth. Sadly we are content to allow our so called leaders to tell us what to believe and those who question are often admonished for our "critical spirit" or our "lack of trust" or most ironically our "lack of understanding" all of course blamed on our lack of a "Christian Worldview".

How is a "worldview" different from an "agenda"? In the true sense of the word because a worldview is PERSONAL there should be a tremendous difference. A true worldview, something each of us has whether we're conscious of it or not, is a way of making sense of the world as we experience it. What I see and hear when I hear about "cultivating a Christian Worldview" is an agenda being pushed and frankly I'm tired of it. Enough already.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hi Friend!

Sometimes your super cool incredibly smart and fun friend magically finds another blog you participate in and starts reading it.
SO HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this is me being a dork. But I think it's pretty awesome that somebody's taking the time to read our thoughts. Just having one of those random-life-God moments. Sure, this isn't really a contemplation, but isn't it lovely having friends who are interested in others religious thoughts and ideas?

It's why Quakers are so super awesome.

But that's a story for another day, when it's not almost 2 am. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deus ex Elliptical Trainer

I have intro to fitness class twice a week now, but honestly, I really don't mind. I used to think I was not an exercise person, but that's so not true. It's addictive. I love hopping on the elliptical and just getting in a zone. I can think and process so many things while I workout, and by the time I step down from the trainer, I feel so capable and confident. And when I'm going 5 days a week and you throw in some rowing, biking, arm workouts, and ab workouts, I feel pretty gosh darn stellar, like my thinking is clearer and life in general is just so much better. It also doesn't hurt that one of my friends is my own personal trainer of sorts. She's a total gym rat and we go keep each other company and chat it up while we work our triceps and whatnot.

So what the heck does this have to do wit this blog? God made our bodies, and as we use them and take care of them, He empowers us in the rest of our lives, and I'm definitely super thankful for that, as bizarre as it sounds.

YAY God made endorphins! And now it's time for me to hit the gym!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adoptionist Christology - My Favorite Heresy

I wrote this for my New Testament class. Granted, it's heretical, but I LOVE adoptionist Christology. It's really such a shame that it got squelched by the early church. It makes Jesus so much more human, so much more relatable, and in turn, so much more significant, at least in my eyes, even though it makes Christmas pretty null-and-void. Although Christmas is totally just Saturnalia in disguise and we should be celebrating Jesus being born in the Spring time, but anyways, that's not my point. My Catholic suite-mate and I have been debating this adoptionist theory (in the most amicable manner!) all day.

In examining Mark 1-4, I noticed the possibility of adoptionist Christology in the text. From the author’s introduction of this rendition of the “good news” (Mrk 1:1), he places no emphasis on Jesus’ birth or childhood but instead offers a prophetic annunciation to “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” following a mention of forthcoming messengers (Mark 1:3). This statement implies that the Lord’s arrival is eminent, and in the following verses this proves true as “a voice [comes] from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The Lord has claimed Jesus as his own son, whereas in previous verses Jesus has not been designated as anything beyond with his name, and has done nothing particularly of note beyond his coming from Nazareth of Galilee and being baptized (Mark 1:9). Baptism is seen as a symbol of rebirth, but perhaps this baptism at the hands of John the Baptist was Jesus’ actual birth as a divine being. This voice is accompanied by Jesus witnessing “the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him” (Mark 1:10). It is only following this baptism and revelation that Jesus is described as “proclaiming the good news of God,” marking it as at the very least a transition into his role of spreading the word of the kingdom (Mark 1:14). Also, following this Mark begins to tell stories of Jesus healing people and exorcising demons. While it is possible that he had these abilities before his baptism , that Mark chose to tell the story up through the baptism and revelation without mentioning any such incredible and miraculous abilities could be interpreted as Jesus gaining such abilities through his divine adoption.

This adoptionist theory connects with the shifting idea of family in Mark 3:31-5, in which Jesus, upon being informed that his mother and siblings are asking for him, Jesus states “Who are my mother and my brothers?” and then “looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Family is not a blood bond; it is rather a connection through service of the divine. In doing the will of God, the devout are adopted into a family of believers which surpasses the significance of genetic kin. This new concept of family supports the idea of Mark’s possibly containing an adoptionist idea, a new family for the new era of Christ, in which a man is adopted by God and in which all people serving God’s will become a part of that same family.

While it is difficult to tell what aspects of Mark derive from oral tradition rather than from the author himself, it seems that something lies between the lines in these passages, or at any rate, that something might be missing. Either Jesus was born with such supernatural abilities or else he obtained them otherwise, but as it is not explicitly stated in the text, the implication seems to be that their origin matters to the author of Mark less than Jesus’ actual performed miracles as well as his parables and proclamations of the kingdom. The story of Jesus’ baptism and the wonder of God’s speaking to him must have been the focus of the oral tradition, not the specifics of Jesus’ life before his baptism, and with good reason – if the people telling such stories were used to narratives about religious figures as Ehrman says, they would expect “divinely inspired teachings and superhuman deeds” but not much “character development” (Ehrman 73). The Gospel of Mark chapters 1-4 fits such expectations of the oral tradition, which seem to have been passed on to the author to some extent, but still leaves us wondering at what background information we are missing and what significance that could have to Christology, including Christology with an apologist stance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thoughts on Second Saturday

Tonight has been declared "Second Saturday" on my hall, and most of my friends are treating it like a second shot at the weekend and are pretty smashed. My very stoned and drunk friend asked me tonight when I started believing in God in a stunning non sequitur. I sat and thought for a minute (which wasn't actually noticeable considering I was the only non-high person in the room because I don't smoke - yay healthy lungs!), and I finally came to the conclusion that I simply always have.

There was no beginning of believing in God for me. I grew up in the church and in some way or another it has been a constant presence in my life, but beyond that, God has been an even more constant presence. He's just always been there, like stuffed animals, or my love of blankets, or air. Believing is a part of me. I can't imagine a world without something greater or without that little voice inside guiding me. In part, it has always been instilled in me, but it's also been a constant personal proclivity to believe that somebody out there has our backs. Otherwise, I honestly don't know how I'd get through the day.

Being an atheist seems awfully brave to me. I have to admit, I admire their fortitude to press on in life, even without some faith in something higher. It seems awfully difficult to me to go through the day without that comforting knowledge that someone out there made you and loves you, someone with a heart that is not humanly fallible, whose devotion has literally shaped our existence.

One of my good friends at school is an atheist, and he's been helping me deal with a lot of my major church issues with such tact and kindness that I am forever grateful to him. And always he reminds me that I'm a good person. I don't usually think I'm such a good person; I feel like I screw up an awful lot, but knowing that I have someone who can see the good in me, even somebody who doesn't believe in God, but who can recognize a piece of His's a powerful thing. Everyone needs someone to see the best of them, and I've been blessed with innumerable people who do that for me every single day, even when I'm at my worst and I'm obnoxious and whiny and obsessive, and especially when I start doubting myself.

Thank God for friends, both the friends who pose questions and friends who sit with you while you struggle through them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shame on you, America

About a dozen of my friends around the country have posted the following as their status today:

"Shame on you America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won't have the guts to copy and repost this."

I can't believe so many people that I am fond of could actually complain about efforts to raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti- one of the worst earthquakes in memory, that leveled a city and killed untold thousands, in our own back yard. And they frame this complaint around the fact that there are needy people in America -yet when we try to take care of THEM ultra-conservatives accuse us of being socialist, and the poor and hungry as lazy, so that argument is a cop-out. Why does it bother you to see people trying to help earthquake victims? I don't remember Jesus being so particular about who was "worthy" of help. Anyone who spreads stuff like this and then call themselves Christian should take out lightning insurance, I wouldn't want to stand too close to 'em. "99% of people won't have the guts to copy and repost this"??? 99% of people would have too much human kindness, or at least too much shame, to repost such crap. And before you follow your natural instinct to lash out at me for calling you out, stop and think about what you are saying, and ask yourself if you would have the nerve to say it if you knew God were sitting right next to you. "Whoever has done this to the least of these my children has done it to me."

Shame on YOU.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One of these things is not like the other.

A conversation:
Me: "Hey [Friend]! Let's play a game!"
Friend: "Okay."
Me:"Pretend you're a creationist. Which creation story in Genesis do you believe in? Chapter 1? Or Chapter 2:1b?"
Friend: "Ummmm..."

So here's the deal, yo. There are not one but TWO creation stories in Genesis within the first two chapters. They use different words for God's name and everything (this strongly suggests different authorship for each story). People get created TWO different ways - via God's divine magic-ness and via dirt/God-breath. TWO stories.

So how the heck can people claim that the Bible is infallible when it tells two entirely different stories about the exact same thing?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jesus was not a radical. Deal with it.

Jesus wasn't a freaking radical darnit. He did some unorthodox things (table turning over/temple temper tantrum, chilling with tax collectors), but for the most part, many of his social interactions were perfectly socially acceptable, especially his social interactions with women, which so many people try to claim were socially forward. I had to read a bunch of articles and textbooks on both sides last semester, but the general scholastic conclusion is that for the most part, Jesus wasn't that socially radical. SO STOP USING JESUS AS A VALIDATION FOR YOUR PERSONAL ISSUES WITH ANY SYSTEMS/"THE MAN" and take that stupid bumper sticker off your car, plzkthx?

My textbook on Quakerism called Jesus a radical, and I got pissed off. There's a huge difference between the historical Jesus and the qualities we ascribe to Jesus in a religious context. And honestly, while I thoroughly enjoy the Bible, it was written by a whole bunch of people, many of whom actually never saw him in their lives and who have radically different accounts of his way of speaking to and interacting with people. Granted, some aspects of stories in the Gospels are the same (I have to highlight all of them this semester...), but it's not particularly consistent beyond some basic story aspects. And I don't think it's fair to attribute qualities to Jesus that we just plain want him to have. Sure, it'd be cool if my lord and savior was a radical, but honestly, I'm perfectly fine with him being a middle of the road divine kind of guy, if that makes any sense.

It just makes me angry when people use Jesus to fit their own agenda and interpret all Biblical events as not only entirely factual but with an all to contemporary mindset on top of that.

I don't care if you have issues with authority/government/the church/whatever. But don't validate your contemporary radical opinions using your assumptions about a guy who lived 2000 years ago and who also deserves more respect than that.

I know we get grr at the super conservative Pat Robertson types, but honestly, I'm not so impressed with the more liberal end of the spectrum either.

Rawr. I is an angry college student with a virtual soap box.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A New Semester-Now with Extra Bible!

I just bought the Oxford Annotated RSV edition of the Bible.
Last semester, I bought the Oxford Annotated NRSV edition of the Bible.
They're remarkably similar, but the NRSV uses more gender inclusive language and is slightly less formal. I used the NRSV for a class on gender and early Christianity, and I have a class with the same prof. on the Intro to the New Testament.
I got the RSV for my English class on the Bible and Lit, and I am already obsessed with my new professor who is AMAZING. He laughs, he cries, he makes the text come to life. This is why I want to be a religion/English double major.

It seems silly that I bought another Bible. He said we could use NRSV, but the language wasn't quite the same, and he says that that's the important part (and it is an English class, that's pretty legitimate.)
I'm looking forward to seeing how the two editions differ. I'm considering it an investment in my future/a worthwhile use of my Southern Baptist Grandma's Christmas money.

For the English class, I'm reading 1/3 to 1/2 of the Bible (plus about a gazillion other things). For the intro NT class I'm reading all of the NT. That's a lot of Bible reading REALLY fast. So don't be surprised if I pop up musing about passages and things, or listing my favorite quotation.

My favorite quotation of the day: "God has made laughter for me" Genesis 21:6 :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mourn with Those That Mourn

You know, the whole Pat "open mouth, insert foot" Robertson thing has gotten me thinking about how badly we in the Christian church fail at the command to "Mourn with those that mourn" (Romans 12:15 NIV). I can't count the number of people who left the institutional church due to some horrible platitude or completely insensitive comment made to them in the wake of a personal tragedy.

To be fair this isn't just a church problem its a human problem. We don't know what to say in the face of great pain and we seem to feel compelled to say "something" and usually that results in saying something monumentally stupid. Being of the age that I have endured a few personal tragedies in my life I can say without exception that the people who were the most comforting to me and the most helpful in healing were the ones who showed up, cried WITH me, held me while I cried and confined their need for commentary to "I'm so sorry this happened to you. I love you. I'm here for you."

It helps, even if they're not the cause of my hurt. I'm moving through a really painful situation at the moment and finally someone in the church, although not the one responsible for the situation, has sat and listened and let me cry and said "I'm so sorry this happened to you." Even if they don't have the power to fix it and even though they are not the ones that caused the offense, for the first time since this whole mess began I feel cared for. Prayed for. Loved. Hopeful that maybe healing IS possible and I won't hurt like this forever.

And in Haiti it is the people and organizations that don't feel the need to pontificate about the possible causes of this tragedy that are and will be making a difference. They are the people that are the hands and face of Christ to the people of Haiti. They are the ones that will bring healing to Haiti. The ones who simply and with tears on their own faces shut up and get to the business of mourning with those who mourn and helping those in need.

We are a small and deeply interconnected world. One of our homeschool families has a son that was in Haiti when all this began. I've received at least three different prayer requests regarding local mission teams that were already on the ground when the quake hit and that we had not yet heard from. My dear friend Troy spent some time in Haiti shortly after high school. This is deeply personal for him. Tony Compolo, a Christian "celebrity" that I deeply admire, has been involved in work in Haiti for decades. I immediately thought of him and his work their when the news broke. One of us, in this case one of the nations, is mourning. We need to mourn with them. We need to pray for them. We need to help in whatever way we can.

Praying for Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Would Joshua Do?

It REALLY bothers me that almost all the Biblical names have been westernized and Anglicized to the point that they are all but unrecognizable.

My family is really connected with the local Jewish community for various reasons, and my mom works at a Jewish school.

My dad only reads Tom Clancy books or things related to Biblical scholasticism. Between the two of them, I have heard so many rants about how the names we use in the modern American church often aren't even close to correct. Sure, maybe they start with the same letter, but chocolate and cat both start with the same letter, and if you go to take a nice bite of cat when you're PMSing, you're basically screwed.

Take King Soloman. I don't know how to spell it, but his name is basically Schlomo. Yeah, it makes him sound kind of like a schmuck. But personally, I think it's kind of nice that someone supposedly so wise and who supposedly wrote such great poetry could have as dorky sounding a name as Schlomo. And Jesus. His name should be pronounced as something more along the lines of Joshua. Yep, the guy our religion is centered around is getting his name pronounced wrong. Super classy. I think if somebody's gonna die for our sins, we at least ought to call him by his proper name.

I am really hoping to learn more about this. In the mean time, I'm just a little appalled at how the church has gotten so far away from the actual roots of our religion over time and sad that we've lost such a connection to our past, even as people attempt to find Noah's Ark and crud like that, and even as they reconsider the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek.

So I for thought I guess?

Speaking of Appalling

I cringe every time Pat Robertson opens his mouth in the wake of some tragedy somewhere in the world because I just know something stupid is going to come out of it. The tragedy in Haiti has been no exception. According to Pat sometime in the distant past the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil and this earthquake is God's revenge for that. I'm rendered inarticulate in the face of such blatant stupidity and heretical theology. Thankfully Donald Miller is far more eloquent and gracious than I am and I'm loving what he had to say on the subject. Please go and check it out. Donald Miller on Pat Robertson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This is Appalling - Linked From Tom Davis' Blog


What is truly frightening is that when I evaluate this based on my experience in the institutional church I cannot deny the validity of their findings. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture. God help us all.