The Grey Stuff on the Lottery Ticket

This reality is like the gray stuff that you scratch off of a lottery ticket with a coin. The physical world is just that… thin. That shallow. That fragile.
There is this deeper reality beneath.
This, I think, is one of the most underestimated of the truths that Jesus came here to proclaim, that he came here to demonstrate. The kingdom of heaven is among us.
There will be a time that it falls away. That we see things as they are. But we are not there yet. And sometimes the façade is so convincing, and so brutal. It is such a temptation to forget the deeper and truer reality. It is so easy to deny that the kingdom is already among us.

There is an irony here. Liberals like myself are the first to follow guys like NT Wright and Rob Bell in celebrating this. When it is convenient, we shout from the roof tops that there are not these utterly separate, totally irreconcible worlds.
At the same time, the least likely to make anything of this is as are the conservatives. They read Frank Peretti and see angels and demons everywhere. And yet… they seem to want this distance, too.

This all crystalized for me, as I read a really good book by a fairly conservative writer. “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson takes seriously the idea of demonic influence in our lives. There is some incredibly powerful and valuable insight. But there are also places that I think he just has it wrong.
Based on my understanding of what I have read so far, he follows most of Christianity in recognizing two possibilities for mental illness:
A) Sometimes it is a worldy mental illness, related to worldy causes and circumstances.
B) Sometimes it is a demonically induced mental illness, caused by the powers and principalities we are meant to combat.

For so long, the debate has been around how often each of those occur. Sometimes, it’s gotten a little more sophisticated, and there has been an attempt to explain A as a result of B, or B as a result of A.
We have been infected by the errors of our age. We are looking for either/or. We resist explanations that are both/and.
Sometimes the both/and possibility is scary because it is hard to wrap our brains around. I don’t claim that I have full explanation of how it works.
But I think it’s worth considering that mental illness is worldy and otherworldy. It is natural and supernatural. We can talk about demons. And we can not talk about neurotransmitters. The first is speaking the language of the world behind this one. The second is comes from the language that we speak here and now in this world.


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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.

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