A roller coaster or a funeral?

Jesus is the light of the world and his promise is our only hope. But so often, it ends up a dark parady of what it is meant to be. Sometimes, there is this dead thing we have ended up with. We call it Christianity. It is a corpse on a disection table.
People wiser than me have observed the disconnect between what it was meant to be and what we have turned it into. As a church, we’ll be reading the thoughts on of one of these folks. “I became a Christan and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” The central premise of the book is just that: following Christ should have been so much more than something to do on Sundays and a list of thou-shall-nots.
(It’s also incredibly funny and authentic.)

As I’ve been working my way through the beatitudes, I’ve been reminded of this. Scripture puts it this way:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Look at the picture of the blessed person that’s painted here:
poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for rightousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, and persecuted.
And observe that which is promised to this person: the kingdom of heaven(twice) , inheriting the earth, being filled , recieving mercy, seeing God, being called a son of God…

Persecuted yet called a son of God; mourning yet filled; poor in spirit yet an inhabitant of the Kingdom of God and somehow also an inheritor of the Earth; recieving mercy yet perseucted; … How could all this work together? How could it all be true at the same time?
It seems like the whole point is this: Jesus promised us ups and downs in this life. He promised that it will be Ultimately Worth It, but it seems like the litmus test is that every day will not be the same, the barometer will be this: some days are better than others.

The way we act, the way that I fear others might reconstruct Jesus words based on the fruits that they see in our lives… I fear that they might assume Jesus said something like this:
Blessed are those self satisfied in their theologies
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who walk around with a big fake smile on their face
for we all know God must be with us if we can fake a smile;
5Blessed are the arrogant
they will simply replay all the stuff they got now in the next life.
6Blessed are those who are satisfied with systems which benefit only them
God only uses bounty and surplus to grow us
7Blessed are the legalistic
for they get it that God is a traffic cop and they’ve found out all the laws.
8Blessed are those who focus on appearing to be pure at heart
for what people see is so much more important than what people are
9Blessed are the winners
for they will be called winners by virtue of God’s decision
10Blessed are those who persecute others in the name of rightousness
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

We make an idol out of ease, the status quo, fortunate circumstances…

Am I pointing fingers outward? Well, yes. But I’m also pointing them back at me.
Am I trying to being provacative? Maybe a bit. But I’m hoping to provoke myself as much as you. (Did it work? 😉 )


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

3 thoughts on “A roller coaster or a funeral?”

  1. J is for Jesus
    J is for Jesus

    J e s u s is for JESUS
    J is for jerked around by the ROMANS
    E is for everone can go to Heaven now
    S is for Someone there will love us.
    U is for ewe for ewe are my adorement.
    S is now for sustenance for HE is the broken bread that feeds the all of us.
    The altered altar made to finish works and bless us with his countenance.
    Yes ewe Eye want to see my JESUS yes.
    The J stands for Jesus yes.
    J is for Jesus.


  2. The only thing that real about jesus is the the sound that you make when you say the word jesus.

    Everything else is self-serving conjecture.

    What do we really know anyhow?

    Only that which is arising to our now-time conscious awareness.

    The never ending, always changing universal light show.

    Who or what is the nature of this conscious awareness? Consciousness.

    What does “jesus” have to do with any of that?

    Better off to study Zippy the Pinhead—at least he has a sense of humour.


  3. Sue-
    Thanks for posting your thoughts. I have to admit a little bit of confusion around them though. I hope you’ll post a reply to my questions so that we might understand each other a bit better.

    I can accept (though disagree with) the premise that much of what we know about Jesus is conjecture. Based on your later comments though, it seems that your position is that everything is conjecture… Even our sense perceptions. I’m curious if I should adress a specific skepticism regarding how reliable the Gospels are or if I should adress a wider skepticism about the nature of reality and how much we can trust our sense perceptions.
    I’d be interested in hearing about which of these you think is conjecture.
    I heartily disagree that following Jesus is self-serving. I think there are hypocrites everywhere; some claim to follow Jesus. I know that none of us are perfect. However, those of us who are trying to take Jesus words seriously might be guilty of a variety of things… I don’t think being self-serving is one of them. Perhaps if you’d elaborate on your claim, though, I’ll understand what you’re saying.

    Secondly, I don’t think it actually accomplishes much to define the nature of conscious awareness as consciousness. This seems to me to be rather a circular definition.
    Are you here making the claim that all a person can trust is the sense perceptions they are having at the very moment they are having them?

    I believe that Jesus has everything to do with all of this. A few ways in which I see Jesus as highly relevant to this discussion:
    A) As Erwin McManus (A pastor in LA) says, there is a more fundamental question that “what do you believe” that question is “Who do you trust?”
    Jesus said he is the truth. To me, this means that the truth is relational and that participate in the truth by being involved in a relationship with Him.
    Someone in the bible asked Jesus “What is the truth” I think this figure was coming from the same angle you are. I think it’s the wrong question to ask. I think the right question to ask is “Should you trust Jesus” Becuase the answer to this question will determine what we can believe in, what is merely conjecture, etc.

    Finally, I take the position that Jesus had not only profound depth but also an amazing sense of humor. The image of a beam poking out of someone’s eye while he tries to get a splinter out of somebody elses is hilarious. The fact that He sent a follower to catch a fish which had taxes in it’s belly is hilarious. His constant tripping up of the religious authorities of his time is incredibly witty…
    There are people who get offended when you point this out, but it doesn’t change the truth of it.

    Sue, I have to say that I don’t see a connection between my post and what you wrote. It appears that you have an axe to grind with Christianity itself. I share an identity with other Christians, even the ones who act like knuckleheads. (I want to affirm, by the way that I often act like a knucklehead.) In all of our name I’d like to offer an apology from Christianity to you, if in fact you are owed an apology.
    If you disagree with either the specifics in the original post of in this comment I’m interested to hear what I’ve got wrong or what of your comments I misunderstood.


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