Friday, May 12, 2006

The Secret Message Part 2

Chapter 1 - Troubling Questions About Jesus

I have thought about how I would like to blog about my thoughts as I read this book and I think I am going to post the questions from the aforementioned study guide and my responses to here goes.

1. What impact did the barrage of questions at the beginning of this chapter have on you? How many of the questions have you asked yourself?

Since I was reading out loud to Lauren it was kind of starting to piss me off only because it was getting weird reading aloud all those questions, but that's just me being weird. Seriously though, I love questions especially those that challenge and call into question the "typical" churchy thinking...typical postmodern reaction right? The one question I absolutely love and am excited to read how McLaren fleshes it out is this:

"What if Jesus' secret message reveals a secret plan? What if he didn't come to start a new religion - but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?" pp. 4

I love the idea of a revolution...not of fighting and violence but a revolution of the mind! Just the other night Lauren and I re-watched Moulin Rouge and I just love it when John Leguizamo's character Toulouse-Lautrec screams about being children of the revolution.

2. "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere." Respond to this statement, and to Brian's analysis of it.

When Lauren asked this question to me the other night my first was response was that I thought it was horseshit. Yeah I know harsh. I only respond harsh because I relate that phrase to the statements praising President Bush that he is a man of conviction and he stands by those convictions no matter what and that if a person changes their opinion about something they are labeled a "flip-flopper". What good are convictions if they are wrong. Just because the President stands by his decision to invade a much weaker country doesn't make him anymore right and he sure as hell shouldn't be praised for it...but I digress.

McLaren's response may be a little better than my own:

"A lot of people say, "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you're sincere." They're partly right: sincerity is a precious thing, and arguments about who has the correct beliefs have too often led to arrogance, ugly arguments, and even violence. But believing untrue things, however sincerely, can have its own unintended consequences.

For example, try believing that God will be pleased if you fly an airplane into a tall building, that you can get away with embezzling funds, that you have a personal exemption from sexual propriety, or that your race or religion makes you superior to members of other races or religions. You will become someone nobody respects, including (eventually) you.

But seeking to believe what is true - seeking to see things as closely as possible to the way they really are, seeking to be faithful to what is and was and will be - puts you increasingly in touch with reality and helps you become a wise and good person. It can also make life a lot more meaningful, and enjoyable." pp. 6

I'll give McLaren this one, his response is better than mine. :-)

3. Brian talks about the potential message of Jesus being understood by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, in addition to Christians. You may wish to invite members of various religions to be part of your group, if they aren't already. What might their presence add? Why might Christians need outside perspectives to help them understand the founder of their own religion?

Well, since Lauren and I are reading this book as a couple it might be a little weird to invite somebody else into this intimate moment between a husband and wife. Okay, poor attempt at humor. Anyway, I fully acknowledge that outside perspectives should be welcomed with open arms into a group discussing anything.

In this part of the chapter McLaren discusses how important it is to understand the Jewishness of Jesus since he, himself was Jewish. This may be a no brainer for some people, but growing up in the South in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (yeah that's a mouthful) this never occurred to me. I mean we were never outright told that Jesus was a pasty white boy who held to the exact same beliefs and practices as we did, there at a predominately white American was more subtle or maybe it was just what they didn't teach us. It has only been within the last few years that I have realized and come to appreciate the Jewishness of Jesus and how knowing that information creates a completely different image of my Savior.

So that concludes this chapter. I am totally digging on McLaren's gentleness, and shepherding voice...not like an overbearing, over emotional, self-rightious pastor preaching at you but rather a brother who is still on this same journey and just wants to share it with you.

The Secret Message

The Secret Message

Last week I ordered the latest book by author, pastor and emergent leader Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus. Lauren and I decided we would read the book together just to spend quality time together and also to have another person to discuss the things we would be reading. Usually when one of us starts a book, the one reading wants to discuss the content of the book and the other is left wondering what the heck is going on or just not wanting to hear it in fear of knowing too much before getting the chance to read it.

Anyway, all that to say we are delving into our first McLaren book together curious to see what he thinks this "Secret Message" really is. I have printed off a study guide for the book that I found on McLaren's website, so we will be using those questions to discuss the chapters.

So Wednesday night we read the introduction and first chapter of the book.

Immediately I found myself relating to McLaren as he spoke about his own spiritual journey. One interesting thing from the introduction was his mentioning of The Da Vinci Code, and his question of why the vision of Jesus that Dan Brown creates is more interesting, attractive and intriguing than the typical version of Jesus we hear about in many churches. I felt this way as I read Brown's book, just thinking to myself of how well I really knew or understood the person of Jesus. By the way, just in case anyone was wondering, I don't accept Brown's writing as is fiction and those who are threatened by fiction need to reevaluate their faith, but I still came away from that book thinking that perhaps my understanding of the person of Jesus was just as inaccurate as the depiction in The Da Vinci Code.

Next post will cover Chapter 1

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hannity's Jesus Complex


Alright I won't go into the reasons why I listen to talk radio, especially conservative talk radio but I do. Half the time it pisses me off so much I think my head is going to explode!

Before my schedule changed at work I would drive home between 6-7pm and the local station would be broadcasting the final hour of the Sean Hannity Show. I haven't heard it a lot lately but today I left work early and just as I turned on the radio I hear that damn opening theme song. Next comes Hannity and he almost always opens with the same line, "Let not your heart be troubled" he then goes on to proclaim how he is bringing the "good news" to all his faithful listeners.

I had heard all of this before but today it just really got to me. I mean seriously people who does this guy think he is??!!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My Hiatus

It's been over a month since my last post, but I don't think a day has gone by when I haven't thought about things I would like to post on here.

Why haven't I posted these thoughts?

I don't really have a good answer or excuse for that but nevertheless I'm back. I feel like I've dealt with a lot emotionally over the past month, and while I am not to the point where I can confidently say I've completely dealt with my father's passing I am however at a much better place. What has perhaps been the most difficult part of all of this is just the fact that something that has been a constant in my life for 29 years is no longer here.

Each day progress is made, some days more than others but one thing is carries on. There is a Peter Gabriel song, I Grieve, that I have thought about often over the past month, it's from the City of Angels soundtrack. I remember the first few times I heard it and how it moved me to tears, it now has obviously taken on a whole new meaning to me.

It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
It's just the way that we are tied in
But there's noone home
I grieve...
for you
You leave...
So hard to move on
Still loving what's gone
Said life carries on...
Carries on and on and on...
And on
The news that truly shocks
is the empty, empty page
While the final rattle rocks
Its empty, empty cage...
And I can't handle this
I grieve...
For you
You leave...
Let it out and move on
Missing what's gone
Said life carries on...
I said life carries on and on...
And on
Life carries on in the people I meet
In every one that's out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the - and the -
In the ashes and the dust
Life carries on and on and on...
And on
Life carries on and on and on...
Life carries on and on and on...
And on
Life carries on and on and on...
Just the car that we ride in
The home we reside in
The face that we hide in
The way we are tied in
As life carries on and on and on...
And on
Life carries on and on and on...
Did I dream this belief
Or did I believe this dream
How I will find relief
I grieve...