How we rushed to get through antiquity
discarding the pre-socratics
their dialec-tic monistic vapory
Until meeting with Friedrich Hegel's
dialectic holds absolute sway
engendered in reality
philosophy of day to day.
Utilitarianism of desire
observes the train that’s crashing
and Calculates net pain.
And if it’s you that suffers
as long as it’s less than me
I'm thoroughly Epicurean
following John Dewey.
Bu’the rules o’the game are written
with cheating built right in
and this game is played for keeps,
incentivize! play! just win!
How frivolous our objections
when observing all the rules
we dare to come up short
o brother, - Racca, - fool:
If you think society's aim
your ultimate demise
you esteem yourself too highly
and consider us too wise.
For margins were added on purpose
to level the playing field
and you are but the means
to-day on the alter kneeled.
- This the people's confession
as you drown in a sea of terror:
"there is - no - conspiracy
just a comedy – of - errors."
How we rushed to get through antiquity
I thought racism was dead. Sure, when I was growing up, I heard the occasional rude comment. I remember an old lady who told me about the war with the Germans and “J*ps”, but for the most part those are insensitivities, and no-one ever expressed hatred. I went to college in the
I have found that in
I took a job working for a high end homebuilder, and worked there for three years. There I learned that there are some deep seated personal hatreds that are getting stronger here in
For those of you who think as I once did, that Martin Luther Kings's dream was accomplished - I entreat you to think again. Especially consider those prejudices against Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Arabs - all of which never gain the same attention as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.
I have a dream, that one day MY children too…
But a very astute Barth actually said…
"The Pastor and the faithful should not deceive themselves into thinking that they are a religious society, which has to do with certain themes; they live in the world. We still need according to my old formulation - the Bible and the Newspaper."
"Take your Bible and take you newspaper and read both. But interpret the newspaper from your Bible."
I fear the church has become reactionary joining the chorus of unison voices as we all seek a cathartic experience, and I do not mean to devalue those expressions as we seek to make peace in our own ways. But the church is called to be prophetic - speaking truth to blindness. We live in a time where one finds it necessary to speak out in condemnation because there is the very real risk that someone will in interpret our lack of condemnation, our silence, not as respect but as condoning the prejudice and hatred in others.
We as human beings have a penchant for identifying the things we hate, as the cause of hate and thus perpetuate a vicious cycle and whirlwind of propaganda, and creating such a noise that nothing meaningful can be heard or understood; for (let me be clear) Hate is not made possible in our culture by bad parenting, ignorance, differences, or the prevalence of guns.
Martin Heidegger, one of the most influential philosophers of our post-modern era wrote that "Aesthetics is the consideration of humanity's state of feeling in relation to the beautiful." Heidegger went on to argue that only and "anti-aesthetic" or "post-aesthetic" view of art and beauty can help us understand its true significance, our basic sense of what is and what matters.
Heidegger essentially declared war on beauty, in the interest of a mechanistic post-modernity. And the past several generations of Americans have with religious fervor chased the illusive promises of the "American Dream," all the while devaluing the only things of infinite value. We as a people far from being united by what and who we are, have learned to be united only against a common enemies. (i.e. Soviets and Terrorists) We deny the intrinsic value of human life, quantifying humanity as wealth producers and consumers thus making beauty in the form of the image of God, only the means to an end: wealth and consumption.
But Stephen looking up to heaven displays the transcendent in and exclaims his praise in the face of beauty while being stoned.
Acts 6:15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Hate is made possible in our culture by the cultural war on beauty itself as an end in itself, as intrinsically valuable, as universal experience of transcendence - beauty instead is superfluous, unnecessary, without utility to our industrially refined capitalistic sensibilities.
Only in a culture like this: where beauty or its imposters are harnessed to sell products do we find a utility which is marketable, is it possible to devalue that which we personally find no utility for... Only in a culture like that is it possible to walk into the sanctuary of a church and shoot Nine people.
We think we know beauty, but much of what we experience is merely reminiscence of something past, a comfortable feeling, salacious, even pornographic - or it is our attempt to appear erudite in the face of esoterism. But beauty, true beauty, when experienced is transcendent. Beauty inspires, and this is what makes art special: The Sistine chapel is not beautiful because of the frescos, and the millions of people who experience the work of Michelangelo, rather the Sistine chapel is beautiful because it gave Michelangelo the means to attempt to express through fresco, his own personal experience of transcendence.
This is historically the unique relationship between the church and the arts, and this is why the church must stand for beauty, teach not art appreciation (mechanist appreciation) but beauty appreciation, the praise of a beautiful God for the Beauty of the earth. We as a body are called out to display Gods glory, or as Romans 8 says:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
So we must also try its expression, though we fail, though we feel hideous, though we engender ridicule, and especially because we invite hate.
"so perhaps that old trinity of Truth and Good and Beauty is not just the formal outworn formula it used to seem to us during our heady, materialistic youth. If the crests of these three trees join together, as the investigators and explorers used to affirm, and if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light—yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three. And in that case it was not a slip of the tongue for Dostoyevsky to say that "Beauty will save the world" but a prophecy. After all, he was given the gift of seeing much, he was extraordinarily illumined. And consequently perhaps art, literature, can in actual fact help the world of today."The church is called to be beautiful: Be ye perfect, in Matthew 5:48; or a pure bride, Ephesians 5:27; to walk in light... But all we can truly do is try - to appreciate all beauty, to let it affect us in our core, express that we have been changed - To bear witness that we have experienced beauty.
One blogger has written "why do the hateful come to houses of worship"
"I thought about a church gathered for prayer and Bible study last night, and how they had opened their circle to let a stranger join them. And I thought about a mosque in Arizona, and how the faithful walked past angry, mocking crowds with guns in order to worship. And I thought about the temple in Maryland, and the anti-Semitic graffiti they found one morning this spring.No. The hateful choose places of worship, because the house of God’s family represents a safe place to try, it represents sanctuary. The hateful choose places of worship because that sanctuary represents the experience of the transcendent and the encouragement to seek out transcendence. The hateful choose places of worship because the experience of the transcendent requires the acknowledgment of beauty - and hate is the denial of beauty; it is the war on beauty. God allowed the fullness of his revelation; of his beauty to be nailed to an ugly cross, in order that a beautiful people might rise up and help redeem this world for the Beauty, the Glory, and the Majesty of God.
“There’s a reason the hateful choose houses of worship. It’s because that’s where so many of us put our hope."
Let me end with this exhortation from Kurt Vonnegut:
"Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. There are very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."We must as a people bear witness to beauty.
Sermon, June 21, 2015 - First Baptist Church of Plymouth MA.
"If people were like ants, then there would be no unemployment. There would be no need for redistribution of wealth, because people would produce enough wealth for themselves, so they wouldn't depend on others to create wealth for them."
"Those people like the idea of redistribution of wealth who do not produce enough for themselves and depend on others to supply them. They believe that wealth is limited, because they don't count themselves into the [equation]. They view themselves as consumers and wealth as finite. The workers who produce wealth view wealth as something renewable, something infinite."
"Wealth can be infinite only if we get up and work. Otherwise, we can discuss economics all day long and try to convince each other that it's infinite, but sooner or later we'll run out of wealth and realize that it is finite."
So again, is a slave wealthy or a consumer...
The answer is that they get unfavorable work reviews, they are labeled as not being team players, it is said that they can't follow orders, they get reassigned to a desk, or a less favorable position, demoted, they become the fall guy in falsified reports, or they plain get fired. We only hear about it when someone sues like Gerry Pickens - Does anyone remember Richard Jewell? How about Adrian Schoolcraft? As a society we look on these people with scorn, and we doubt their stories - we're supposed to trust the police, these people aren't police anymore - there must be a reason.
So do we need more people who follow the gang lockstep, until someone dies - or do we need to honor the ethical scruples of the "non-team players" who actually want to "protect and serve" and help keep everybody out of trouble.
That in itself is earth shattering when you consider we have average attendance of 12, and I haven't gotten a paycheck since March 30. It's hard not to appear "too welcoming." But you know what was the best thing about this visitor? This person wanted me to be aware of how much courage it took for them to walk into a strange church. I can identify with this: I'm a pastor in an American Baptist Church in a small New England Town, and I'm terrified of other Christians. Just take a look at what's going on and tell me why anyone would want to join our sorry lot?
Sovereign Grace Ministries Scandal
Gospel Coalition Split
Mark Driscoll - need I say more
Black or white only please
I may be a pastor, but I'm also a human being.
I've been told that in my current situation, if I invest more, and put more time and effort into re-developing this small church, it will turn around and grow. I've been told I also need to find a second job (60 funerals in two years don't count) - any job even though we're a single car household, and getting to most of these jobs would cost more than I'd earn. I've been told I shouldn't be helping a Brazilian Church because it's not mine. I've been told that I need to make my family the priority, and spend quality time with them. I've been told I really should be helping my parents more; I've been told I really should be helping my parents less. I've been told I really need to pursue my wife, take her on dates and buy her flowers make her feel special; and I've been told it's financially unsound to spend any money when we have bills to pay. I've been told I need to bring more security and stability into my families life; and I've been told I need to keep trusting God to provide, and stop trying to figure it all out. Mostly I've been told to stop over thinking it...
The problem is that talk is cheap, and consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Everybody wants to be your mentor, nobody wants to learn. Should I be terrified to point out Jimmy Evans Eisegesis of Genesis 2:24-25 from "Marriage on the Rock?" Or that a Biblical Hermeneutic requires us to at least consider that Man was created for a purpose, part of which was to "tend the garden"... and it was for the purpose of helping Man with this work that a suitable helper was formed? I'm not trying to demean Jimmy Evans, but I also don't see God writing four laws in Genesis 2:24-25. Should I be terrified that by raising the idea that maybe we should seek to fulfill our role in creation that more Christians will abandon me, or worse attack? Should I have to stay up all night working on a funeral because I'm terrified an Evangelical or Conservative will be present and deem that I didn't use enough scripture, or watered down the gospel; while trying to also be sensitive to the grief of a family? Should I continue to earnestly work with church that's tried to fire me several times, and now can't pay me? Should I have to pretend I'm naive and a fool - or just keep silent, in order to get along with pretentious and arrogant people? Should I be afraid of posting this post?
Part of me says if I haven't proved myself yet, I never will - I don't want to be the kind of Christian other people are afraid of.
"So hold me Jesus
Cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been king of my glory
won't you be my prince of peace"
- Rich Mullins