Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Father has got to be proud...#2!

I can't help but look forward to seeing Eryn as a Winter Page in Cinderella with The Royal Ballet Company at the Royal Opera house. It'll be a case of blink and you'll miss it but nevertheless well done Eryn!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CS Lewis on Salvation ...

I read this I think in the leadership journal a couple of months ago and it interested me.

"To be saved was more than just an external pardon by God or an intellectual consent to an idea. For CS Lewis, salvation was an inward process involving the transformation of the whole person by the Holy Spirit and leading to nothing less than mystical union with God. In other words Lewis embraced the ancient Christian doctrine of theosis."

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Søren Kierkegaard and Faith Development 1/3

Alan Hirsch facebooked some interesting information regarding Søren Kierkegaard and faith development from a forthcoming book authored by Hirsch and Frost tentatively called "The Faith of Leap: A Theology of Adventure and Risk and the Implications for Discipleship, Mission, Leadership, and the Church"

"One of the ways Søren Kierkegaard articulated how we move to true maturity is what is known as ‘the three stages’: the aesthetic, ethical, and the religious stage.

Firstly there is the Aesthetic Stage:

Here the individual lives in what Kierkegaard calls ‘immediacy.’ "At this level one lives within almost entirely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure (what he calls ‘the prisoner of the happy moment’). Life here is profoundly unreflective and lived in conformity with the expectations of the ‘crowd.’ For the person in this stage, the highest goal is self-satisfaction, even at the cost of living an authentic, consistent life. But the end result is that people made in the image of God cannot endure such shallowness and it leads to despair. What Kierkegaard calls ‘the staling of existence.’ Most people never make it beyond this stage and live lives of quiet desperation. We are the most over-entertained, most affluent, most indulged generation of all time, and yet we have the highest depression and suicide statistics among the young. This indicates something significant. Boredom is the end result of living on the surface of life…of failing to go deeper."

It is interesting to think of this self absorbed state of thinking in terms of pre-critical faith. A selfish approach to worship and mission that shows inhospitality to any opinion beyond self. Discipleship can be marked by great levels of pro activity but for who, whose needs are being met? Positions of theology shaped by the narrowness of tribal conformity mean any move towards a more critical appreciation of faith is difficult, the fear of the judgement of others makes any attempt to dig deeper probably more trouble than it is worth. To live with a suppressed desperation of faith where easy answers to big questions require placing ones mind into neutral for some becomes faith numbing, for others it spells an end to a faith journey as dogma rather than spirituality pushes them out of the door. However, as much as I find it difficult to understand and to equate it with the fullness of life that is our promise, there are those that find contentment here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Urban Forum: Dependence or Dignity?

Geoff Ryan is asking for the word to be put out! Here is the word, consider it out!

A reminder that the fourth Urban Forum is taking place this coming January. This time it will take place in downtown Toronto, Canada as a partnership project between The Salvation Army and Church Planting Canada (

The dates are January 26-29, 2011 and the theme is Dependence or Dignity? From Service Provision to Community Development.

The Forum website is updated with the schedule of events and information on speakers and presenters, registration form, payment and contact details and a downloadable PDF of the promotional poster.

Please pass the word along to people in your networks who would be interested and find the Forum helpful in their ministry. I'm hoping we see a sizeable, mutli-tribe turnout in January.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flawed Sentiment...

You can tell that Jim is a big drinker, one thing you can't tell is how old he is. You can see a glint in his eye, while the street may be a rough place he enjoys life. He brought a book in tonight for a volunteer who he thought would benefit from reading it.

Shane Claibourne's 'The Irresistible Revolution', Matthew clearly touched flicked through the pages. With a sigh he turns to us and says "I can't have it ... he has stolen it from a library!"

After another closer examination .... "it's from a Quaker library, I'll have to return it!"

Trying to encourage him to read the book I hear myself say...

"...don't worry they wont say a word!!"

Clearly something flawed in the sentiment, but nevertheless compelling. There was something more compelling from Jim. He prayed for us tonight, the staff and volunteers, he sobbed his gratitude to God for somewhere to go.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chief Rabbi Sacks on Professor Stephen Hawking

Jonathan Sacks writing in the Times (3 sept 2010) draws attention to the brilliance of Hawkings and his mind, but points out that while he is an outstanding scientist he is a poor theologian.

Apparently, within Hawkings thinking there is a fallacy. Hawkings suggests 'that if we found science's holy grail, a theory of everything, we would know the mind of God and then why we and the universe exist', However Sacks argues should that happen we would know how rather than why.

"There is a difference between science and religion. Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation. Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. They are different intellectual enterprises. They even occupy different hemispheres of the brain. Science - linear, atomistic, analytical is typically left brain activity. Religion - integrative, holistic, relational is supremely a work of the right brain."

So Sacks makes the point that "there is more to wisdom than science. It can not tell us why we are here or how we should live. Science masquerading as religion is as unseemly as religion masquerading as science."

Sacks, J. (2010) 'Even great science tells us nothing about God' in The Times 3.9.2010 pp 27

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Knowing ... Doing ... Being

Looking through my notes I liked what Moltmann had to say about getting the balance right between:

Orthodoxy - right belief
Orthopraxy - right action
Orthopasy* - right emotion

* (sic) I may have heard the term wrong but the sentiment still fits

Two days with Rowan Williams, Jurgen Moltmann, David Ford, Miroslav Volf, Luke Bretherton, Dallas Willard and Saint Symeon The New Theologian!

My notebook has an amazing few pages. Illegible and hastily written scribbles bear testimony to an unbelievable week. Pages entitled Rowan Williams, Jurgen Moltmann, David Ford, Miroslav Volf, Luke Bretherton and Dallas Willard would be a lifetimes worthy listening but within a space of two days I struggled to get as much down on paper as I could.

It was Rowan Williams who talking on reclaiming hope, as a deep desire and yearning to be what God wants us to be, that tugged at something deep within me. Quoting Saint Symeon The New Theologian (949- 1022) he used Saint Symeon's prayer 'Come'

"Come, you who have become yourself desire in me,who have made me desire you, the absolutely inaccessible one."

RW's paraphrase was slightly different as he said "come you who have become desire in me, and want me to desire the unreachable you".

William's helped us to realise that with freedom and Christ shaped full humanity, there is an emptying of self, an aliveness through self giving and self forgetting. Making sense of this desire within us, we discover that letting go of our own agenda to take up God's is where God's own passion belongs.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

View of Sin ...#2

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalam 51:10ff

A pure heart emptied of self would seem to correlate to Christ being formed within you. Wilhoit is firm when he suggests that the only place such formation really takes place is in the honesty and hope of 'optimistic brokenness'

I have a theory growing that a process can be seen within Wilhoit's matrix, as an individual in faith matures, and discovers more of what it means to be selfless, the boxes reveal mile posts on what could be a significant journey.

Box 1 Sin Management.

  • Focus is on external sin and that yearnings are fully met.
  • People are characterised here through their expression of what they have done wrong, a strong emphasis being on sins of commission rather than omission.
  • There is a strong tendency to think that such sin can be overcome through trying harder. Marked by striving and denial.
  • Wilhoit points out that the Pharisees were 'adept sin managers'.

Box 2 Thoughtful self discipline.

  • The internal nature of sin acknowledged.
  • Sense of brokenness focuses on their sin and not as much on the yearnings from aches and disappointments in life.
  • Recognize need to change from inside.
  • Take their sin seriously and know they have a problem they can't fix on their own.

Box 3 Realistically trying.

  • External focus on sin.
  • The depth of sin has not yet hit them.
  • Marked by 'great disappointment' / 'dark night of the soul' / hitting of a metaphorical wall
  • 'discover that they are climbing a ladder leaning against the wrong wall'.
  • This experience can be either blessed brokenness in which we turn to God or become cynical and self-protective.
  • Cynicism here is common.

Box 4 Optimistic Brokenness.

  • There is a willingness to see sin as grievous problem that cannot be simply willed away.
  • With maturity there is a feeling of ill at ease with self discovery, alongside a deep optimism about the power of grace to set things right.
  • Optimistic brokenness is hope.
  • Psalm 51 offers what it is to recognise the brokenness within self combined with a rise of relief and optimism.
  • Pride and self-protection diminish.

Wilhoit, J.C (2008:60ff) Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Baker

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

View of Sin... #1

Wilhoit talks about true formation requiring a deep understanding that the 'sickness of the soul' or sin can not be cured through willpower alone. In other words he suggests that our view of sin has immense implications for our spiritual formation; these views exist at a variety levels. Using two continuum's he helps us to understand our approach to that which takes our sense of fullness.

View of Sin or the sin-sins continuum stretches between an emphasis on primarily observable sins i.e. lists of bad things you have done which he sees as external (sins), to a more internal orientation (sin), in other words, the actual awareness and self repulsion that you are the kind of person who would seek advantage by lying as you are by the actual lie.

View of Yearnings, Wilhoit asks:

"Do we as a people sense our longings as deep thirsts that only God can begin to
satisfy? Or do we think these desires for holiness should have disappeared for
the Christian, or that we can take care of them by our own efforts?"
How these questions are answered places us upon another continuum, ranging from an alignment with the idea that spiritual yearnings persist through to the concept that any inner thirsts are completely dealt with.

When the continuum's are laid over each other the resulting matrix helps in our understanding of how the view our sin and yearnings affects our approach to spiritual formation.
to be contd...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Netherlands 2010....

As expected with any Cotterill camping experience we attracted a fair bit of rain - can't complain though, only flooded out four times! The Duinrell campsite is amazing on many levels but not ground level where there is 0% drainage. The free theme park attractions and the amazing flume pool more than compensated though.

An art highlight was Mesdag's 14metre panorama here. I didn't really know what I was going to one rainy day in the Hague, but was bowled over by the eerie reality of this enormous picture painted in 1880 - a very strange feeling.

Thoroughly enjoyed catching up on the BBC 2 Rev series and also Sherlock and thought that the whimsical Lars and the Real Girl was a moving insight to how community could be (thanks Ian - great recommendation). Too difficult to describe the film, but I did find myself saying to Kate 'it's not sordid!' when I recommended it to Bethan!

Finished off
Needed a shower after 500 pages of Peter Mandleson, had a bit more of my mind opened with Horsley and Siberman and the dangers of approaching scripture in a vacuum that excludes history.

Loved the Park and Ride system around Amsterdam, found Anne Franks house still disturbing. The beach at Wassanar was great if it wasn't windy - all in all a good holiday!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Independent -- Story of Jesus to get the Bollywood treatment

I saw this article from The Independent and thought it might be of interest to you

Cecil B DeMille has been there before, of course. As have Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini, Mel Gibson, Franco Zeffirelli and Martin Scorsese. So maybe it was only a matter of time before Bollywood not only succumbed to the temptation but went one better by making its version in the subject's native land. Yesterday, India's Aditya Productions unveiled plans for a $30m (null19.5m), two-hour-15-min biopic which will be shot in the Holy Land and which it said would be "the first ever – in 79 years – Bollywoodian film on the life of Jesus Christ".

© 2009 Independent News and Media

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