Tag Archives: Jesus

San Juan Postcard: Cathedral and Lamb of God Statue


Three from Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista and one from Plaza del Quinto Centenario in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Now More Than Ever


Well, in light of my hyper-analytical last post, I guess the election has made this as relevant as ever, on all sides, from all perspectives: Try to love your neighbor, and try to love your enemies. “For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have?” And what difference would you make in the world?

A Question About Christian Theology


Why would God tell us to love our enemies if at least some of our enemies are beyond redemption¹ and God has already decided to destroy at least some of them², so by asking us to love them, God therefore is asking us to do something that would be loftier and nobler than what God is willing to do³

¹ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, some are predetermined to be beyond redemption (predetermined in this case because of points made in the following notes). Then again, maybe none of “our enemies,” the ones who ultimately really are enemies, are beyond redemption. Furthermore, it might not be clear right now who “our enemies” really are, which might be one reason to love those who appear to be enemies.

² By choosing to save some and to damn others. This point of view, while very present in Christian theology, is difficult because God cannot choose to save some without choosing to not-save others. When One is an all-powerful being*, not-doing must be just as volitional as doing. When all-powerful, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created.

*or even all-powerful and outside of being

³ This phrase assumes, for the sake of argument, that God does not love those whom He created yet knows ultimately will be His enemies, and additionally, assumes that God has decided to create some to ultimately become His enemies. In other words, God creates some people He does not love or plans to stop loving. So, by calling humans to love their enemies as themselves, God has asked us to do something noble and good that He neither is willing to do nor desiring to do, which you should admit is kind of strange. Again, choosing not to embrace one sentient being You have created must be just as volitional as choosing to embrace another sentient being You have created. Oddly enough, two verses later, Jesus asks, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” So maybe by asking us to love our enemies, God is asking us to follow His characteristics or part of His nature.

The question seeks a coherent explanation of both the command to love our enemies and the interpretative and systematic traditions which affirm non-universalist positions on predestination and election in which some individuals are intentionally created by God for the purposes of committing sins and thereafter being held accountable for the sins without being given grace and therefore damned. Is there some achievable coherence between God’s decision to create some people to experience His wrath and God’s command to love our enemies?

Aside

Monday: It’s wise as a dove and innocent as a serpent, rather than the other way around. Just remember some days are better than others.

Anne Lamott: ‘Jesus Didn’t Ask The Blind Man What He Was Going To Look At’


From an Anne Lamott Facebook post in which she exhorts us to practice “…love force. Mercy force. Un-negotiated compassion force…” in response to recent horrific events:

“Jesus didn’t ask the blind man what he was going to look at after He restored the man’s sight. He just gave hope and sight; He just healed.”

I think she’s right, and I appreciate her drawing attention to a wonderful point.

I’m really bad, I know, but I wonder if that’s the same mentality behind free Wi-Fi at Baptist retreat centers.

“We’re just going to give you free Wi-Fi and not ask what you’re going to look at.”

Surprise—it’s not the same mentality. I once tried to finish a freelance column on beer at a Baptist retreat center, and a few years later at the same place I was trying to do some freelance editing work on articles about marijuana policies in the U.S. I am here to report some web browsing was blocked. And that’s within the rights of the center’s administrators.

Like I said, I’m bad, but on a better note, you can read the entirety of Lamott’s Facebook post—which reads like a short newspaper column, a cool use of Facebook for some authors—here:
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAnneLamott%2Fposts%2F894203970709247&width=500

Plumbers are smarter than I am, and so are pastors


Plumbers make more money than university lecturers. So do pastors.

Americans have some tendencies to equate income with intelligence.

There are outliers who make money by going for the sensational and the glandular, like Miley Cyrus.

As a university lecturer, I might as well have the belief system of a pastor.

Worthwhile knowledge, its retention, and its real-world impacts are nebulous things, terribly hard to quantify. Outcomes are easily attributable to other factors.

Which is why people don’t ultimately accept “knowledge is power,” and why they remain skeptical of the value of education. The monkey with the shiniest toys didn’t necessarily excel in school, and that common observation places a little wrinkle somewhere in the brain.

In the U.S., the annual mean wage paid to clergy is $47,730.

At large churches, however, where they have “executive” positions, which help establish egos and golf club memberships, compensation is at least $110,000.

At other churches, senior pastors (first among equals, some being more equal than others) earn between $265,000 and $1.1 million.

The average U.S. income for individuals is $40,563, and the average family income is $82,843.

The annual mean wage for plumbers is $53,240.

As a university lecturer, I often deal with material similar to what plumbers have to deal with: clogs, stagnation, rust, and excrement.

Only the material I’m exposed to is metaphorically clogged up, stagnated, rusted, or just plain shit.

One thing is for certain. Pastors have a unique position. If your job involves prodding and provoking vulnerable hearts, your income has a shot at being slightly above average.

Move hearts and you’ll change wallets, whether you’re Miley Cyrus or an Executive Pastor.

By the way, everyone should be disgusted by the title Executive Pastor, except no one is, because churches are marketed and operated precisely like organizations designed to make money: corporations.

Some ancient fool said you cannot serve both God and money. Good thing we have plenty of Executive Pastors to straighten Him out.

Mark Driscoll past rebukes Mark Driscoll future, gives grounds for his own dismissal from Mars Hill Church ministry


On March 27, 2011, Pastor Mark Driscoll preached a sermon at the Mars Hill Church Ballard campus in Seattle.

I had searched “Mark Driscoll” and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 17, after thinking about Jesus’ warning in the first two verses: And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. It’s also worth noting the slightly different wording in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 18, verse 6, which adds a shade of meaning, essentially implying that “little ones” are any believers in Jesus.

The following excerpt of the sermon, which on its own merits is quite good, is striking in light of the recent formal complaint filed by 21 former pastors in Driscoll’s organization.

Number Two, how are you leading others into temptation? This may even be, in light of the context, of controversy and conflict, you compelling them toward raging, anger, escalation. You could do this through gossip, through antagonizing, through goading them on, leading them toward temptation. Now, they are responsible for their sin, but you are responsible for your participation in the temptation…. Sin should not come through you. Don’t be an agent of the devil, leading others toward temptation to sin.

Compare some of what Driscoll said there with the list of offenses in the formal charges. I mean, if Driscoll-past isn’t rebuking Driscoll-future, then maybe I can’t understand plain old American English.

For broader context, watch a 7-minute video excerpt of the sermon here:

Dealing With Your Sin Luke 17:1-10 from jway242003 on GodTube.

Also see:
“When your pastor is worse than ‘worldly’ — what’s Mars Hill Church to do?”
“Is the Mars Hill Church board lying for Pastor Mark Driscoll? Or just using weasel words”
“Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches you how to slander!”