Friday, January 28, 2011

I Deny the Resurrection

This video is BRILLIANT, BEAUTIFUL, and COMPELLING. I was in the audience when Peter Rollins gave this talk at Rob Bell's Poets, Prophets, & Preachers conference. I was in tears as he finished. The last 30 seconds are what I see as the heart of the good news of Jesus. I hope you enjoy his words as much as me. AMAZING!

HT:  Peter Rollins

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting

Two weeks from today, Mandy and I will be boarding our first plane en route for Tanzania. I cannot believe this trip has come so quickly. It seems like so long ago that Brian and Nicole left for their year in Africa and we began deciding whether we would be able to go visit them. I'm glad the answer was "yes."

I thought today I would tell you about what our transportation will be like during our trip. Needless to say, it is going to be extremely long and strenuous. It will take 3 separate flights just to make it to Tanzania. We will first fly non-stop from Seattle to Amsterdam, a 10-hour flight. From there we will take another 10-hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya. And finally, we will have about a 2-hour flight from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Brian & Emily heading to Chamwino
We will arrive in Dar es Salaam at 11pm on a Friday night, get a hotel room for the night, and then early Saturday morning we will board a bus, with Brian and Nicole, for our 6-hour bus ride to Dodoma. Dodoma is a pretty big city of over 300,000 people that is in the center of the country and is about 20 minutes north of Chamwino, which is our final destination. There are no good, paved roads from Dodoma to Chamwino, so the best way to get into the village is on the back of a motorcycle, which is exactly what we are going to do. I'm actually really excited about this part of the journey. I think it will be a fun, quirky way to travel, complete with our luggage strapped to our backs.

Our return home is roughly the same trip, just in reverse. We will have some additional travel, however, in order to get up to our safari. Evidently there are two ways to get from Dodoma to the Serengeti. One way is 14 hours, but takes you on good, paved roads the entire way. The other route is only 10 hours but is on the highway from hell, a completely unpaved road that is supposedly horrendously bumpy and dusty. Let's just say I hope we opt for the former.

While this trip will exhaust us with the strenuous travel and jet lag, I am incredibly excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is going to be amazing!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pretty Clever Protest Sign

Saw this photo on a friend's Facebook page and thought I would share it with you. I thought this was pretty clever.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Africa Is Drawing Near

I'm sure this will be the first of many posts in the coming weeks about our trip to Africa. For those of you who did not know, Mandy and I will be in Tanzania from February 10-27. Our dear friends Brian and Nicole are living in the village of Chamwino this year, so we are going to spend a few weeks with them. We will get to see how and where they are living and experience what they are experiencing. We will work with a school where they have been involved and I will get to preach at their church, which will be an interesting experience since I will need a translator. We will also get to go on a 4 day, 3 night safari, where we will be camping out in the Serengeti each night. Needless to say, we are incredibly excited about that opportunity.

We have been planning this trip for months, but it is just now beginning to feel like it is really going to happen. We just got all of our shots this past week so that made the trip feel imminent. Tonight we are having coffee with Kedmon and Pendo, two friends of ours who are from Chamwino. They are living in the States right now as Kedmon works on his doctorate, and Brian and Nicole are living in their house for the year. It will be great to ask them questions about what we can expect during our trip. They are full of wisdom and will undoubtedly increase our excitement for the trip.

As more details get ironed out regarding the specifics of our trip, I will be sure to let you know about them. We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for us as we prepare for this trip, and especially during our times of travel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Is Often Me...and Us

I have a tendency to spend more time reading and learning about what it means to follow Christ than actually doing it...and I fear I'm not alone in this. It is incredibly easy to neglect the actions of Christ while focusing on the words of Jesus. May we come to be people who fully embody the words we speak.

HT:  The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hilarious T-Shirt

So I really have no rooting interest in this weekend's NFC Championship game, but I came across this image today and just had to share. Sorry to all my friends who love the Bears (i.e. Matt and Zach), but this just needed to be shared.

P.S.  I suppose if I had to choose who I am cheering for this weekend, I would say the Pack...Aaron Rodgers is just so frickin' good! So fun to watch play!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Aslan...Bad Kitty

Here's another great cartoon from the brilliant Jon Birch of ASBO Jesus, asking us to do some thinking about ideas like predestination and an angry, violent God. Great thoughts.

HT: The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus

Just a Bit Over the Top??

I ran across this picture/advertisement on a blog today and thought I would share it with all of you. I couldn't believe this was real...but it seems to be. I'm not sure I fully know what the connection is between a Christmas tree and American patriotism. I can maybe understand the cross, but I'm struggling with the red, white, and blue. Hope you enjoy!

HT:  Eugene Cho

Non-Violent Resistance on the Personal Level

As I was composing my previous post on non-violent resistance, I found myself wondering about resisting evil on a personal level in a way of non-violence. When we talk about resisting evil, we often speak of resisting systemic evil. We speak of working against systems of slavery, greed, and numerous institutions of injustice, but rarely speak of working against evil that attacks on a personal level.

Through the help of authors like Walter Wink and Walter Brueggemann and activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Oscar Romero, and Gandhi, we have begun to see that fighting evil with violence does not work on the systemic level. Violence only begets more violence. Yet, we keep trying to fight individual evil (i.e. sin) through violent resistance. We hate our sin. We hate ourselves for sinning. We desperately try to quit that sin 'cold turkey.' We feel immense guilt and shame when the sin is not 'conquered' overnight. No wonder we have not been very successful in fighting this evil when we have only tried violent methods of sin management.

I wonder if a less violent means of resisting personal evil and sin might reap more rewards. I am not quite sure how to begin this process, but a few things seem important in this conversation. First, a non-violent resistance of sin will take much longer than the alternative. Slavery wasn't ended in a day. Apartheid was not ended in a week. The Civil Rights Movement took time. Do we have the patience it will take to not expect immediate results? Will we be gracious with ourselves and others through the long, arduous process of transformation? Can we find ways to no longer feel shame and guilt if we don't end our sinful ways overnight?

And secondly, this process of non-violent resistance requires including others in the journey toward healing and restoration. We live in a lone-ranger, individualized society where everyone generally keeps to themselves and solves their own problems. We rarely involve others in helping us move toward health. Yet, with the non-violent resistance movements that we have seen in the last hundred years, they are all incredibly communal in nature. People rely on one another. Friends rally around one another for support and prayer. No one solves these problems on their own. May we come to be people who help one another with our personal evils as well. May we journey together with others in a way that helps each one on the path make steps toward new life. I look forward to the journey. A peaceful journey. A gracious journey. A journey with friends.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Cross as Non-Violent Resistance

I am currently reading The Powers That Be by Walter Wink and am finding myself in deep reflection about the nature of evil and power in the world. Wink argues that evil maintains both a spiritual AND physical dimension in the world. I grew up thinking that evil and demonic forces were primarily a spiritual, cosmological matter, but failed to recognize the systemic evil inherent in our world in the form of power and corruption. We, as Christians, can easily subject evil to the metaphysical realm. We lack an awareness (either consciously or sub-consciously) of the systemic injustices of our societies, thus failing to reject and fight against these problematic and harmful institutions.

Wink speaks about the 'Powers That Be' in this world, saying, "They are good by virtue of their creation to serve the humanizing purposes of God. They are fallen, without exception, because they put their own interests above the interests of the whole. And they can be redeemed, because what fell in time can be redeemed in time" (Wink, 32). As I read this, I found myself thinking about the language we use in our communion liturgy: "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." It seems that the work of Jesus on the cross is fundamentally an act of non-violent resistance against the spiritual AND physical powers of his day. Jesus' death and resurrection served to defeat the spiritual evil that we know as Satan, but also served to make a bold statement about the Roman Empire's lack of actual power.

Jesus' work on the cross should act as an example of how we might engage in our own non-violent resistance to the corruption and injustice of systemic evil in the world. We must find ways to humbly and prayerfully resist corporations, institutions, and governments that contradict God's plan for creation. We must recognize both the personal and corporate presence of evil in the world and individual lives, and counter these movements of evil with much thought, prayer, patience, grace, and love. For the Kingdom of God is not one that advances quickly through power and dominion, but starts small and moves slow, always emphasizing love and compassion over power and control.