Tuesday, October 31, 2006

MySpace Rant!

God bless MySpace - I just don't get it... Is it narcissism, self-promotion, loneliness?

I am a total technophile and a lover of e-communications and everything nerdy - but "social networking" when it can be totally social-less and disassociated from real relationships just seems hollow. If you want to know how I REALLY feel, ask me in person.

Have we really advanced as people (especially as a spiritual people) when we remove ourselves from intimate personal contact? My training in pastoral counseling says that most (non-chemical) social disorders result from a lack of authentic and loving relationships. Is MySpace adding to the notion that genuine relationships involving vulnerability, risk and resultant trust are meaningless? If so, I fear it will only add to the number of people who must resort to a lifetime of medication to treat depression and social phobias.

MySpace as a cheap form of advertisement for bands and authors, yes. As a way to connect people in meaningful ways beyond "oh, my god you are sooooo cool and I am so cool for thinking you are cool. Isn't that cool?" Sorry, I don't see it.

Having a rare strongly opinionated moment,

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Measures of Grace

One of the most perplexing things about living in our age is the concept of grace. I'll define grace as "a free gift where one is not deserved." Most often in the Christian context we speak of grace as God's love in the form of Jesus Christ who gave himself freely so that we would not suffer the consequences of sin. Yet, we have been trained to think of ourselves as wholly autonomous - even within Christianity - and therefore grace becomes an ambiguous concept surrounding an event or a personal need when one fails. But grace is not an event (like the crucifixion), rather grace is a present and active state of being. Grace is more about Easter morning than it is about Good Friday. Grace has more to do with the hope of building and restoring right relationships than it does with correcting an imbalance in the yin/yang of cosmic justice.

So what does this have to do with the original definition: a free gift where one is not deserved? Grace is to us the ability to move beyond ourselves and see the world as God loves it. It is a friendly smile where someone has only known rejection. It is an invitation to explore where someone has been shunned for seeking. It is the willingness to build bridges instead of boundaries and to walk where others fear to go for the sake of being a blessing.

To be grace - to be a free gift where one is not deserved - also means loving those who hate us and praying for our enemies. Autonomy (and its kissing cousins xenophobia, narcissism, racism, sexism and sectarianism) teaches us that we are to care primarily for ourselves and then, if there should be time or resources available, to care for others. However, grace says that in caring for others we will make the world a place where we can live. In being grace we help to bring about the kingdom of which Jesus spoke. In being grace we make known God's love even when we don't use "God talk" to do so.

As we remember September 11, 2001 - my heart is stirred to think of the ways in which I am being grace. More accurately, I am being called to consider the ways in which I have not been grace. To be sure, fanaticism is never rational and the motivation of religious fundamentalists will never make sense. But in a connected world - where how we treat one another and how we live, or don't live, by what we say is judged on the world stage - we must always be aware of the ways in which we are being grace rather than a violation.

May we be grace and love without measure,

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

PoPoMo Explained

I'm not sure if it is the right moniker or not but post-post-modern seems to fit. The post-modern effort to seek relativity has been great - we are able to de-construct reality in a way that the modern era did not allow. We generally now have the ability to question and reason without fear of being called a heretic (I did say generally...) We can make relative truth claims that don't deny another truth. We can seek to understand another viewpoint without having to wholeheartedly adopt/reject that viewpoint. Post-modern thinking has brought many intellectual and spiritual freedoms.

Yet, what happens beyond the post-modern experience? Hence - how do we express a post-post-modern viewpoint in the Christian faith? I feel we are working towards convergence and connectiveness in a way that would have not been possible in modern or post-modern thinking. Not sure what we will call this new age but it is certain that endless de-construction leads to nominalism on a physical level and nihilism on a psychological level. The effort of thinkers in philosophical and faith communities is now that of building bridges between deconstructed "truth" statements and the quest for spiritual significance.

Some would argue that there is no basis for faith without absolute, foundational, doctrine or dogma or truth claims. The purpose of post-post-modern thinking is not to re-construct these sort of statements. Rather, the effort is aimed at using faith and reason in a mutually supportive manner - allowing each to influence the other as faith communities build a collective truth. Anyone who has read all four Gospels must realize that each of these communities had their own understanding of Jesus and how they were called to act in the world. The post-post-modern effort is no different - each faith community must seek to construct an authentic reason for being, believing and serving based on their experience of Christ. And these faith communities must be willing to recognize that their experience of Christ will change over time - so too must each community change in response. The inability of faith communities to change/adapt is but one in a long line of explanations for the "rapid decline of the mainline church."

So an explanation of PoPoMo is a little drawn out and may best be summarized with the business slogan: change or die. More appropriately for a faith community it can be expressed: respond to God's voice as heard in your community and you will remain relevant, continually able to express Good News to all you meet.