WTF is it all for?

I need faith. I want meaning. I am not pleased with the people over at NMSU. They lost my application and asked me to resend the info. Do I really want to attend a school that losses applications?

I have been home for almost 48 hours. I have had maybe 10 hours of sleep since Tuesday morning. Needless to say I am utterly exhausted. Yet I cannot sleep peacefully. I have been thinking a lot of my time in Indonesia.

It was only three weeks. Three short and long weeks in a context that forced me to be one 24/7. Three weeks of ass whopping goodness. I arrived in Bali with high hopes and a desire to have a spiritual encounter.

I brought with me 12 pairs of socks and 12 pairs of draws. Three pairs of shorts, a pair of pants, and three pairs of shoes. I also packed a deep exhaustion and bronchitis.

I chew the thought of finitude and what it means to invest my life in something. While I was away possibility ran amuck in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas. My life is in transition and I am full of uncertainty.

As I encountered other faiths along this trip I found my self wondering what my faith looks like to them. Am I a good Christian? Is love, compassion, joy, and discipleship visible in my life?

One Confusion priest stated that all faiths lead to the same enlightenment. That one should not believe anything unless it works for them. Faith then should not encompass a destructive component of self loathing and doubt. Challenging ones daily practice as one seeks to live faithfully to the divine is a must. As the profanity of creation seeks to attach itself to the divine, this is indeed challenging.

Another monk asked, what we thought of religious pluralism. I forget exactly what I said. I think about this now and question what my faith is.

I believe that Jesus Christ is present at all moments of salvation. I am not convicted that Christianity is the sole proprietor of Jesus’ grace and reconciliation. A part of me is fearful that I will burn in hell as a heretic. I am no longer sure of the black and white dynamic of my adolescent faith. I question the ideas I brought here to seminary and dismiss much of it.

I openly wonder what God is calling me to. I am certain I am called to serve in ministry. I want to serve in the Presbyterian context. I just want to make sure I covenant with an understanding of what it is I am seeking to uphold.

What do we say in response to religious pluralism here in America? We can no longer ignore the deep faith and practice other religions hold in America. Kindness, justice, peace, and sorrows or suffering are not exclusively Christian.

I sit here typing with the hope of a greater peace and compassion in this world that I am certain is a product of what Jesus did in death and life. I am just not certain that Jesus manifests only in Christians and only in the manner to which we have boxed up God with dogma, doctrine, creeds, and regulations. If scares me that Jesus, salvation, grace, and forgiveness all are tainted with western philosophy, western posturing, western culture and models of success.

If we are truly seeking to transform the paradigm of ministry and service then we must include religious pluralism and converse intimately and honestly with those around us. This must be a concern of the Emerging Conversation. We emerge from our surroundings bearing witness to the transformation that paints our experience. God does not change as we grow in wisdom and understanding. All that could be said about God’s truth has been said. It is the understanding of God’s truth that remains allusive to all of creation.

I could not sleep last night…

I wrestled all night with the situation that happened in Colorado. Prior to going to sleep I spent an hour or more reading the post from Matthew Murry. The pain and hurt this young man held inside is haunting me.

I think this is because some of his critique is valid. If you wade through the words and pain this young man wanted to find a place to explore his spirituality. According to him he was raised in a regimented life of an evangelical family. His mother was given a prophecy that her son (Matthew) was going to be a great prophet (something like John the Baptist). He was ridden with this pressure his entire life.

I am not condoning his actions at all. I have be lamenting the seemingly common hurt and distance that I witness in many young folks that have kept them away from the church.

Matthew describes his time with the mission organization with an “me vs. them” attitude. This is also prevalent throughout his rants. It scares me here…I feel the pressure of belonging and the cultishness of being perfect and that I will never get any respect unless I am beautiful, thin, pretty, handsome, and cool. It burns a bitter coal in my heart. I have never thought to react in violence. This is where Matthew and I diverge.

My heart goes out to all involved in this tragedy. It sucks all around. It has weighed heavy on my heart. I do not know anyone personally that was involved. It has captivated me. It has gotten me wondering about how the church can respond to folks like Matthew. Is there a place for kids that are aloof, isolated, and angry?

I imagine that Matthew will not be the only hurting evangelical kids out there. The responsibility one must shoulder to maintain ones salvation in this system is tremendous. I personally still wrestle with sins that I may or may not be forgiven of. It is like walking of egg shells every moment of everyday of your life. It is not healthy.

This has lead me to a couple of questions. I am wondering how the “church” can respond to the youth that is growing up in a pluralistic religious culture with love, acceptance, relevancy, and honesty. What does a ministry of service and mission look like in this context?

My prayer for today…

Beloved God,
Only you understand what is going on in this world. Truth is found in you. I pray you bless us this day with peace and the heart to love each other as you love us. Let us leave the judging heart at the gate of your Kingdom. Grant us the courage to be your people in spite of our fears, insecurities, bitterness, greed, and hate. Forgive us for the things we do in your name and for the things we do not do for your name. Give us strength to be. In the name of Jesus the Christ we ask these things radiate from all of your creation. Amen

A Call to Ministry in a Postmodern World

There has been much ado about postmodernism these days. There is postmodern architecture, postmodern philosophy, postmodern art, postmodern film, postmodern literature, postmodern music, postmodern theater, postmodern theology, and even postmodern postmodernism. You cannot escape conversation in many circles without postmodernism entering into it and mocking your modern intellectual vision.

The effects upon the cultural landscape moves today into tension with tomorrow. It begs us to ask the questions of where, when, why, and how of the very human fabric that weaves history, time, and space into a society or does it?

No matter how you interpret postmodernism you must contend that it is a reaction to the status quo. It is rooted in an outsider perspective that mounts attitudes of “us verses them” upon a position of entitlement.

What is Postmodern Theology?

Postmodern Christian theology is a theology rooted in reaction to the status quo. It should be counter-cultural in nature. It seeks to disturb and transform those engaged in the practice of theology. It looks to the pervading culture for means to express and illuminate the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It must not be comfortable or commodified. Theology that seeks to transform cannot and should not be consumed like fun size Halloween candy. To partake in the radical transforming nature of the gospel direct opposition to the status quo is called for.

Gone is the ability to stoically sit by as the gospel is used to propagate a conquering message that excludes and builds division. We are far to concerned with difference rather than similarities.

All are called to ministry. All are sought after to serve. In the Presbyterian tradition being a Minister of the Word and Sacrament does not entitle you to anything more than service. There is no difference between congregation and pastor. We are a body of Believers! Some of us have lost our salt. We are SALboosT as a denomination already.

Where must we go from here?

My outcome in this process
In the course of researching the topic of Postmodern understanding of call I conducted many interviews. I came across a few conclusions: 1) Call is relative to one culture. 2) Postmodern understanding of call is rooted in vocational understanding and a longing for security. 3) Action is called for today. we must seek to engage the culture around us to become effective instruments of witness.

There is need for ministers, pastors, and preachers. There is also a need for the understanding of these roles to sift and become more flexible. Churches would benefit from becoming uncomfortable and challenge he status quo. What are you protecting and from what are you protecting it from? In a world full of adjectives, may we be a people of verbs.