Obama’s Nomination for The Supreme Court

I have been completely befuddled by the response from some of the voices in the GOP regarding President Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court Vacancy.  I think that once again our president has shown that he has the ability to choose well and to have in mind the whole people of the United States.  Judge Sotomayor is not from the extreme left, she represents a growing population of our nation (Hispanic, but also women) and she has substantial experience and ability in her career on the bench.  Obviously, the few comments that are being blown way out of their context, having gained velocity as the GOP tries the spin game again.  Hopefully the American people have come to recognize this tactic and will choose rather to judge the Judge on her merit rather than the few idiotic comments that crawled out from under a rock on the right side of the road.  

Funny, I seem to remember that our former president was ready and intent to place a woman with no judicial experience to a vacancy on his watch.  At least this president is more thoughtful of what is best for the broader population of our nation and not simply trying to ideologically load the deck with buddies.

At Home in Washington

As a resident of Idaho, I have come to expect to be in the minority opinion regarding faith and politics.  But for the last few days I have been in Washington, in the Seattle area, and have enjoyed life in the majority.  I have seen more Obama bumper stickers in just a few days than I have seen in Idaho over the last year.  

Another reality is the wonderful greeness that covers the canvas of the pacific northwest.  The same was true of Portland, where I used to live and I must say I have missed it.  The lush green does wonders to brighten one’s attitude and is also very relaxing.  

The only down sides to a life in Washington (Seattle) would be the traffic, the sheer number of people and the cost of living.  While those obviously aren’t preventing millions from living here, I, on the other hand, have been seeking to move away from population since the late 90’s…so while there is much that is appealing about Seattle, it will have to remain one of those places that is nice to visit.

We head back to Boise tomorrow and for all it’s down sides, for now it is still home and it will be nice to be on familiar ground and to be home.

Black Elk Speaks

As I continue to read the Book “Black Elk Speaks,” I am marked by a couple of realities.  First how similar were his visions to some of our (Christian) apocalyptic material in our holy writ.  I have also had the opportunity to read other apocalyptic writings: some extra-biblical, some from other faiths.  There seems to be an apparent similarity in many of the ways in which these visions take place and the global perspective they all seem to have.  

Secondly, I resonate with the unity of all things within this world, our connection or relation to the rest of our world.  Black Elk often speaks of the “two-legged” and the “four-legged” and the way in which they are related…relatives.  Recently while out hunting, I was sitting at the southern base of the cuddy mountains near Cambridge, Idaho.  I couldn’t help but have the sense that I was connected to all that I was surveying before me.  I really didn’t want to come down off of the mountain.  I wish that I had a pen and my notebook to sit and journal and be at peace with all that was around me.  

I hope to return there soon!

Authority in community, the Bible as Idolatry

I was recently asked by a friend of mine, whether, as Christians, the Bible is our Authority?  My reply was no.  Ultimately faith, theology, tradition and such things are the interpretive domain of community and the individual.  The authority is in our common & diverse exploration of God and our seeking of him: common in that we who call ourselves Christians are all seeking, diverse because we all see him differently.  That is messy and not monolithic in any sort of organizational sense.  The fact that there are differing ideas about God, differing interpretations of holy writ all contribute to a lack of power base for those who would like to add uniformity of thought and expression.  

Now my friend who asked me the initial above question is not the sort of guy who is looking to extend any power base or necessary uniformity of belief.  He was genuinely asking the question that he was currently wrestling through in his Christian journey.  But his question has continued to bounce around in my mind, not because I am questioning the answer I gave him, I’m not, but because I am thinking about how bible has become an idol in western protestant Christianity, especially for the fundamentalist and the evangelicals.  Like any idol it does not reflect the divine but the maker and the gazer.  The blind spot (the reflection) in bible and faith is interpretation…we are all converging upon the same collection of words but we are all bringing different perspectives, experiences and theology to that interpretive process and coming out with different ideas and beliefs.  Additionally, we are swapping off the experiences of others, or rather our interpretation of another’s witness of those events, in place of our own.  If God is real, if he is involved in human affairs, then he should be at work in the 21st century just like in the 1st, only the places, the ways, our understanding of how and where he is at work should be different if only because of all the history behind us.  Really the bible, as it is used today reflects back our views and interpretations, not necessarily the divine.

Now I don’t want to throw out the bible; far from that I think it needs to be brought back to a place of appropriate function within the community of faith.  I think that the bible is something that we should be in dialogue with (Borg) and to the extent that we are in conversation with those stories and living a explorative Christian life, seeking to find where God is working in our day, we are living a Christian life.

Why do some wish to have bible as our authority, I think that has more to do with power than with faith.

What do you think?

Conceptual idolatry

I have been reading, again, a story from Peter Rollins’ new book “Orthodox Heretic“.  My favorite story thus far is the story where the agnostic becomes an atheist.  It is a fascinating story about coming to grips with conceptual idolatry and laying down reliance upon ideas, words and concepts about God, but taking up the lifestyle of Jesus in some fashion.  I am also reading a book from Jean-Luc Marion, entitled “God without being“.  Though I am barely into the book (which is dense and a slow slow read) already Marion has helped with his distinction between idols and icons.  Idols capture our gazing and cease our exploration or any deeper examination…we are entranced so to speak, with what we think is a object worthy of our gaze.  However, the reality is that the idol is merely an invisible mirror, reflecting to us a view of ourselves (which is precisely why I think we are truly so entranced by it).  So our gazing at the object of the idol really displays our own visage (or something of our own thought in the case of conceptual idolatry).  

The Icon, on the other hand, invites our gaze to consider that which is truly invisible and unreducible…it conducts our gazing toward another, toward that which exceeds reducibility into something visible.  Hence the Icon does not limit our view and ideas but opens up our gazing, our thinking, our knowing (with appropriate humility and limits).  

While I have not gotten further into Marion’s argument, it is clear already to me that part of what he is aiming at is the reduction that we impose with our words and the concepts we are attempting to describe.  Even our word “God” is a reduction to the nature of the divine that we are naming.  If we allow the word to represent in an absolute way the one to which it points, we are in real danger of setting up a conceptual idol, not having adequately recognized the function of language, even the language in what we consider holy writ.

In Rollins’ story, the philospher attempting to prove the non-existence of God, is visited by God who tells him “I do not Exist”.  Now for some this story will seem blasphemous, believing that it is intimating that God is not real.  But far from that, the story challenges our conceptual impositions upon the divine one we call “God”…even the assumption that God has “being” in the same way that we do.  The One who is absolutely mysterious, communicates to the philosopher that he doesn’t exist (in the way that we conceive of being).  So the philosopher is atheistic in that he rejects the conceptions of God that have been offered, not the existence of God.  Although I am not certain, but I would be willing to bet that underlying this parable is Marion’s work “God Without Being.”  

In Rollin’s story, the veracity of the encounter is expressed not in words and concepts but in existence.  The aim of the philosopher’s living and work is altered, traveling not further into description but by incarnation. What if  that which an author intends to say is not the point to which one should pay attention, but rather what those who read do in response to what they have read.  Maybe we ought to value  and read the living of those who follow God, rather than their words as a means of perceiving what they claim to believe and  understand about God.

Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins

I have just gotten my copy of “Orthodox Heretic” by Peter Rollins. I have already been appreciative of Peter’s writing and find that his book is delightful and thought provoking. I am still musing over the parable about the agnostic who became an atheist: Facinating and powerful! If only the faith described there could take hold in our undertanding in the church, a revolution of love would occur. I look foward to reading the rest of these parables, hopefully in community with other philosophical atheists.

Reviewing: Evan Almighty

We watched evan Almighty tonight.  What a fun movie and what a thought provoking story.  I highly recommend it and tell you that it is very family friendly.  It reminds me that God is still in the business of calling people out to stand in the gap for others and for this world, and that if we are going to stand in that “in between” spot we are going to seem silly even crazy to many people.  I appreciate this movie because it takes things out of the “churchy” and “religious” places that we seek to contain God and it expands it out into broader concerns for environment and combating greed which always seeks to make a profit at the expense of others.  Additionally, I think that Morgan Freeman is a much more convincing God that George Burns ever was.  If you haven’t yet seen this movie…it is worth your time and funny to boot.