WmrW13 A Chorus of Voices

WmrW13 A Chorus of Voices

Chapter Thirteen: The Great Conversation

 “Faith that Survives the End of the World”

The Great Conversation

About 587 BC the 400-year kingdom(s) of the Jewish people were utterly destroyed. This also meant that the presence of God (which was seen literally within the Temple in Jerusalem) was in question. The nation, the religion, and in many ways the world itself had come to an end. In response, the people of God began to record the stories that would become our scriptures. The focus of faith become the Book rather than the Temple. And the world? Well, the world (or at least the way we make meaning in our world) must be renegotiated. Thus, the poets, musicians, artists, historians, priests, preachers, and prophets begin a Great Conversation which we, today, call “The Old Testament.”

The Babylonian Exile – History Channel’s “Mankind, the Story of All of Us’

The Great Conversation

The Christian Bible, as the “Word of God,” is our sacred, inspired, and multi-voiced conversation “inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Even if we recognize only the Old Testament as so inspired (as did the writer of 2 Timothy) we recognize that the voice of God in the Word of God is made up of a great variety of accents and contexts. We can also see that over the course of centuries represented in the Old Testament, the peoples’ concepts of God changed. It matured. And as a confession of faith we understand that the Bible does not just contain words of God, the library-of-a-book itself, complete with the messy thumbprints of transition, translation, and interpretation, is just as powerfully speaking the Word of creation even now.

Rather than requiring complete conformity and theological consistency, the Bible serves as a collection of sometimes differing opinions. Where Ezra/Nehemiah reports the need for ethnic purity and setting aside foreign wives, the book of Ruth tells the story of King David’s great-great grandmother … a foreign woman brought into the people of God.

One of the door-opening insights of serious biblical study and academic scholarship is that much of the Old Testament was collected, edited, and cataloged at a certain time in history and with an eye (and voice) toward a historical event. That even was the cataclysmic end of the Jewish world as seen in the exile.

By understanding this context of the collection and editing of the Old Testament we soon realize that God is up to something here. Not only is God up to something in the stories that are finally written down in one place –stories of creation, or cultural and language differences, or the creation of 12 tribes, or the exodus from slavery — God is also at work in the editing, collecting, and transmitting of these stories within in a world that continues to change.

The Great Conversation continues. Even today, as the world of Christendom begins to devolve and the post-modern, post-truth, post-everything world emerges, the conversation of meaning-making amid existential threat gains speed.

This is what it means to Make the Road by Walking.

It is not that God is changing. We are.

Or, more to the point, the fact that we are people who continually mature and change in our understanding and meaning-making in the world, has not changed.

GeekedOutSoul.com Kid-Friendly postings
wemaketheroadwithkids-blogfeatureimage-520x245John Stonecypher has a great blog with a variety of resources. Tap into his “We Make the Road With Kids” series.  Families may want to adopt his weekly family study disciple and style.Here are links to the first thirteen chapters.

  1. Awe and Wonder
  2. Being Human
  3. A World of Meaning
  4. The Drama of Desire
  5. In Over Our Heads
  6. Plotting Goodness
  7. It’s Never too Late
  8. Rivalry or Reconciliation?
  9. Freedom!
  10. Getting Slavery Out of the People
  11. From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges
  12. Stories that Shape Us
  13. The great Conversation

 

Bible Projects Genesis (Part Two)
https://youtu.be/VpbWbyx1008

 

Published on May 19, 2014

An animated walk through of Genesis 1 to 11 from www.jointhebibleproject.com Transcript: docs.google.com/document/d/1m…

The first part of Genesis, chapters 1-11, traces the story of God and the world from creation to the tower of Babel.

 

History Channel's Beginning
made-from-dust-history-channelThe first seven minutes of the History Channel’s “The Bible” cast an interesting framework around the creation story. (My inner skeptics notes that the narrator has a Scottish accent while those of the actors seem British.)
WmrW12 Divining the Story

WmrW12 Divining the Story

al-kennedy-keyboard-008

Photograph: Martin Rogers/Workbook Stock/Getty

Stories that Shape Us

— A college president recently shared about how institutions distinguish themselves from their competition. “You can highlight your name and location, but beyond that most of the other vision and mission statement taglines quickly become indistinguishable. We all say something about our unique students, highly qualified faculty, and special curriculum. What sets us apart from others are the stories we tell.”

This is one of the most empowering as well as most humbling revelations.

When people in my congregation ask if the biblical stories are true I immediately see it for the trick question that it is.

The unanswerable question of “does it tell the truth?” is of far less importance than the question “what truth does it tell?”

For children and others who make meaning from within the concrete operational stage of development, we simply teach and learn the stories themselves. Questions of factuality cannot be distinguished in these minds from questions of authenticity. There is a reason that Jewish children are not permitted to ask questions about the deeper meanings of the biblical stories until they have matured to adulthood.

But for adults and others who make meaning from within more advanced stages of development, limiting our understanding of the mystery of God to the simplistic reading of the biblical text is its own dishonesty. Biblical stories are meant to convey meaning not measurements, invitations rather than specifications, the drama of the Divine more so than data and dates.

Take the book(s) of Kings. Throughout this collection of stories the reader is instructed to look for the factual data elsewhere. The biblical collection of stories in First and Second Kings is intended to be theology and interpretation, not statistics. (see 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 16:14, 20; 2 Kings 1:18; 2 Kings 14:28; 15:21)

Those who study the Bible most deeply soon realize that these scriptures don’t tell you what to think as much as they tell you to think. And in the thinking, as Brian McLaren points out in his chapter in We Make the Road by Walking, we are invited into the interpretive community which continues, even now, to be actors AND authors of the story of God and the Gospel of Jesus.

It is no accident that church consultants often begin their work with a church that is in conflict by asking them to tell the story of how they came to be a church. Because often the way we tell our story is a commentary on the way we see our God.

Our scripture text assigned in this chapter are chosen to show how the words, images, and patterns of the storytelling itself help to emphasize that the scripture (God’s Word) is trying to communicate within. First is the story of the transfer of power, authority, and leadership from the prophet Elijah to his disciple Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-15) and the second is the story of the transfer of power and marching orders of Jesus to his disciples (Acts 1:1-11).

In both cases the disciples are left with a choice: Either they could remain stuck, longingly looking into the heavens for their savior to return, or engages in the mission in their leader’s place. In both cases, the faithful disciples closed one chapter of the story and began writing their own. So should we.

WmrW11 Maturing in Faith

WmrW11 Maturing in Faith

Chapter Eleven: From Ugliness, Beauty Emerges

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became an adult, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (First Corinthians 13:11-12)

Deuteronomy 7:1-11

Psalm 137:1-9 and 149:1-9

Matthew 15:21-39 

Online Pronunciation guide

TextWeek resources (Psalm 137, 149)

(The Deuteronomy 7 and Matthew 15 stories are not in the Lectionary)

 

When playing Dungeons and Dragons (and other games in imaginary worlds) players can choose their own gods. Their choices usually are made based on which god can best benefit their character’s goals and meets their character’s view of reality. The choices are plentiful. Evidently, there is an entire book of viable options. Players who choose to play thief characters choose gods that look favorably on that sort of behavior. Warriors’ gods look like comic book super-heroes. Characters concerned with wizardry pick the god who most meets their magical needs. Characters interested in fertility choose goddesses that look fetchingly fertile.

In these fantasy worlds, where might makes right, and deities are simply exaggerated replicas of imagined goals, nobody in their right mind would choose the God of Jesus.

The way we make meaning in our world has a direct impact on how we are able to understand and communicate the reality of God.

McLaren, in “We Make the Road By Walking,” emphasizes this strongly. Some in our Bible Study group get a bit distressed, for example, when he re-words the biblical text to make his point — myself included.

But that’s the point, actually.it is very important to remember that the story of God’s action with humanity has a great deal with the ability to the humans of the time to wrap their heads around the Divine mystery that is God.

It is very important to remember that the story of God’s action with humanity has a great deal with the ability to the humans of the time to wrap their heads around the Divine mystery that is God … at least in a way that can be communicated to people like us who carry an entirely foreign set of meaning-making insights.

This insight leads us to ask about biblical texts which attempt to emphasize the importance of “set-apartness” or “holiness” with language that was common in the prehistoric world of Deuteronomy. Did God really tell the Children of Israel to re-enter the promised land with instructions to slaughter every man, woman, and child who lived there in peace? Is a practice that we would call a war crime today okay if it was done by God? Or in the name of God? Or by someone who says that God told him to do it? On some mountain top without witnesses to verify the instruction?

Or was this story the best way to communicate in the world of that day, the normal practice of ethnic purity of the day to represent an idea about the importance God places on a single-mindedness of focus?

Does it make any difference that soon after Deuteronomy reports that all the current residents of the Promised Land were exterminated we read a few chapters later that those same residents were still in the land, in whole cities, in fact, and would continue there for generations?

How important must it have been, then, that Jesus has a conversation with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15) since the Canaanites were one of the seven civilizations specifically named in Deuteronomy? And that this conversation with the Canaanite woman hinged on the expanding ministry of Jesus to those beyond the 12 Tribes of Israel.

Jesus “undoes” the story of conquest by reinterpreting what makes one “holy” or “set-apart.”

And this blessing of the extended, boundary-breaking inclusion of God’s Good News is symbolized by the feeding of the 4,000 here in this same chapter. This time, unlike the feeding of the 5,000 Jews earlier in the Gospel which resulted in twelve left-over baskets of Jesus-blessed bread, THIS feeding is in a less Jewish section of the land and results in seven baskets of leftovers, coincidently, the same number of “tribes” slated for extermination in Deuteronomy.

Out of the ugliness of the extermination-based perception of holiness in Deuteronomy, comes the beautiful, inclusive, surprisingly open gift of holiness in the ministry of Jesus.

What the people could not communicate with terms of mercy in the bronze age, the people of Jesus were able to understand under the Roman Empire. Now, citizenship, set-apartness, and exclusive loyalty was based on actions and citizenship rather than lineage and bloodline.

God did not change, but the people’s understanding of God’s call to single-minded loyalty certainly did.

GeekedOutSoul.com Kid-Friendly postings

 

wemaketheroadwithkids-blogfeatureimage-520x245John Stonecypher has a great blog with a variety of resources. Tap into his “We Make the Road With Kids” series.  Families may want to adopt his weekly family study disciple and style.Here are links to the first thirteen chapters.

  1. Awe and Wonder
  2. Being Human
  3. A World of Meaning
  4. The Drama of Desire
  5. In Over Our Heads
  6. Plotting Goodness
  7. It’s Never too Late
  8. Rivalry or Reconciliation?
  9. Freedom!
  10. Getting Slavery Out of the People
  11. From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges
  12. Stories that Shape Us
  13. The great Conversation

 

Bible Projects Genesis (Part Two)

 

Published on May 19, 2014

An animated walk through of Genesis 1 to 11 from www.jointhebibleproject.com Transcript: docs.google.com/document/d/1m…

The first part of Genesis, chapters 1-11, traces the story of God and the world from creation to the tower of Babel.

 

History Channel's Beginning

made-from-dust-history-channelThe first seven minutes of the History Channel’s “The Bible” cast an interesting framework around the creation story. (My inner skeptics notes that the narrator has a Scottish accent while those of the actors seem British.)

WmrW10 Ten Words

WmrW10 Ten Words

Chapter 10: Getting the Slavery Our of the People

Ten Commandments God Provides to Keep His People Free

God has acted in a decisive way to bring the Hebrew people out of slavery.

Who were these people? Some say that “Hebrew” is a name given to the descendants Eber, Noah’s grandson. Others see the name is linked to the word meaning “over the river” because Abram came from “over there.”

A growing number of scholars believe the word “Hebrew” began as a more general term representing a mishmash of placeless, people described in Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, for example, as “an ethnically diverse social class comprised of dissident and disenfranchised peoples who lived on the fringes of Bronze Age society.” (Myers, A. C. (1987). In The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (pp. 473–474). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.)

This understanding of the people who exited Egypt as well as those who may have joined the caravan in the wilderness can be seen as people without social or political affiliation and structure. They are, by definition, a collection of fringe-living, placeless people. http://www.crivoice.org/aramheb.html

How will this quick-gathered group of freed slaved and other nationless, marginalized Ap-IRU [hebrew] collective be governed?

Slavery comes in different forms. Forced servitude is one type of slavery. Marginalization is another. Addiction, poverty, ignorance, and perfectionism or OCD could also fit the description.

So to invite a kind of community life that leads away from slavery and into “true living” God provides ten commandments or, as the original language says, “words.”

Brian McLaren paraphrases them in this way:

  1. Put the God of liberation first, not the gods of slavery.
  2. Don’t reduce God to the manageable size of an idol — certainly not one made of weed and stone by human hands, and not one made by human minds of rituals and words, either, and certainly not one in whose name people are enslaved, dehumanized, or killed!
  3. Do not use God for your own agendas by throwing around God’s holy name. If you make a vow in God’s name, keep it!
  4. Honor the God of liberation by taking and giving everyone a day off. Don’t keep the old 24/7 slave economy going.
  5. Turn from self-centeredness by honoring your parents. (After all, honor is the basis of freedom.)
  6. Don’t kill people, and don’t do the things that frequently incite violence, including:
  7. Don’t cheat with others’ spouses,
  8. Don’t steal others’ possessions, and
  9. Don’t lie about others’ behaviors or character.
  10. In fact, if you really want to avoid the violence of the old slave economy, deal with its root source — the drama of desire. Don’t let the competitive desire to acquire tempt you off the road of freedom.

 

GeekedOutSoul.com Kid-Friendly postings

 

wemaketheroadwithkids-blogfeatureimage-520x245John Stonecypher has a great blog with a variety of resources. Tap into his “We Make the Road With Kids” series.  Families may want to adopt his weekly family study disciple and style.Here are links to the first thirteen chapters.

  1. Awe and Wonder
  2. Being Human
  3. A World of Meaning
  4. The Drama of Desire
  5. In Over Our Heads
  6. Plotting Goodness
  7. It’s Never too Late
  8. Rivalry or Reconciliation?
  9. Freedom!
  10. Getting Slavery Out of the People
  11. From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges
  12. Stories that Shape Us
  13. The great Conversation

 

Bible Projects Genesis (Part Two)

 

Published on May 19, 2014

An animated walk through of Genesis 1 to 11 from www.jointhebibleproject.com Transcript: docs.google.com/document/d/1m…

The first part of Genesis, chapters 1-11, traces the story of God and the world from creation to the tower of Babel.

 

History Channel's Beginning

made-from-dust-history-channelThe first seven minutes of the History Channel’s “The Bible” cast an interesting framework around the creation story. (My inner skeptics notes that the narrator has a Scottish accent while those of the actors seem British.)

WMRW09 – Freedom

WMRW09 – Freedom

Chapter Nine: Freedom from Slaveries

“To make the captives free…”

The Israelites were brought to Egypt in order to save them from starvation. While there, however, they became enslaved by the Egyptians and a system which forced the poor to serve those at the top of the pyramid. Slavery was common in those times. It was tragic. It was real.

The Jewish people had grown in number and the Egyptians began to fear a revolt. So they began a program to reduce the number by legislating the killing of all the Jewish male children.

When the power of empire recognizes a threat they address the problem through the weakest and most vulnerable. And so it was in Egypt just as it would be when Jesus was born many centuries later.

But God raised up a leader to bring His people out of slavery. The leader, Moses, was one of the children destined to be killed but, due to the brave non-violent resistance of his mother, Moses was saved from death and instead found himself raised in the house of Pharoah’s daughter.

Raised in the house of those who oppressed his people, Moses found himself in a moment of decision. Who would he choose to help? The Egyptians? Or the slaves?

Moses, with the help of miraculous signs from God, led the slaves to freedom through all that would keep them in slavery. Through the hard-heartedness of their owners. Through the inner hesitation of the slaves themselves. Through physical, spiritual, and emotional barriers that needed to be parted, re-interpreted, and engaged in faith.

Then, once free, the people immediately entered a wilderness … a generation of wandering, searching, making the road by walking.

This story is the center of identity for the Jewish people. It is what formed them. It is through this time that they received the Ten Commandments and learned to understand the presence of God.

For us, even today, we too struggle with slaveries of our own. We too find barriers to freedom … either through physical limitations, strangled understanding of responsibility, or enslavements of other kinds.

It is telling that God is on the side of the slave and not the slaveholder. God is on the side of the powerless and not the powerful. In these stories especially, God is able to empower a powerless people to enter a land and a community long promised.

In the New Testament images of freedom are offered again and again. In the story of the woman caught in adultery, we read about the power of mercy to break the bonds of enslavement.

In the words of Galatians we learn of the power of Christ to set us free from our own sin.

What is it that we are yet enslaved by? And who is inviting us toward the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven?

GeekedOutSoul.com Kid-Friendly postings

 

wemaketheroadwithkids-blogfeatureimage-520x245John Stonecypher has a great blog with a variety of resources. Tap into his “We Make the Road With Kids” series.  Families may want to adopt his weekly family study disciple and style.Here are links to the first thirteen chapters.

  1. Awe and Wonder
  2. Being Human
  3. A World of Meaning
  4. The Drama of Desire
  5. In Over Our Heads
  6. Plotting Goodness
  7. It’s Never too Late
  8. Rivalry or Reconciliation?
  9. Freedom!
  10. Getting Slavery Out of the People
  11. From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges
  12. Stories that Shape Us
  13. The great Conversation

 

NPR: New Insights on Addiction

Unbroken Brain: New Insights on Addiction

A new understanding of the importance of learning as it related to addiction. Too simply put, addiction is, in part, a learned behavior as is, one might suggest, breaking from addiction.