“The mark of solitude is silence, as speech is the mark of community. Silence and speech have the same inner correspondence and difference as do solitude and community. One does not exist without the other. Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech.
“Silence is nothing else but waiting for God’s Word and coming from God’s Word with a blessing. But this stillness before God’s Word will exert its influence upon the whole day. If we have learned to be silent before the Word, we shall also learn to manage our silence and our speech during the day.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 79
Back to Myers-Briggs again. Like all tools and frames of reference, it has its limits. But the light it can shed can be very illumination. Check out this chart from an old volume by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. I was particularly intrigued at the differences between the classic introvert and the extrovert. Check out the “overdevelopment” and “underdevelopment” for each type. The explanation on the pages following this chart in the book is really helpful.
Then check out this nuanced comparison. Jung noted that there are no “pure” types. We are all somewhere on the continuum, and a few of us are nearly bang in the middle.
And this humorous post – prayers by Myers-Briggs types.
And finally, a break-down by population.
Eugene Peterson writes,
“With the vastness of the heavenly invasion and the urgency of the faith decision rolling into our consciousness like thunder and lightning, we cannot stand around on Sunday morning filling the time with pretentious small talk on how bad the world is and how wonderful this new stewardship campaign is going to be.
“I am misunderstood by most of the people who call me pastor. Their misunderstandings are contagious, and I find myself misunderstanding: Who am I? What is my proper work?
“I get handed a job description that seems to have been developed from the latest marketing studies of religious consumer needs. But there are no images, no stories. St. John gives me an image and a story – and a blessedly blank job description.
“Apocalypse is arson – it secretly sets a fire in the imagination that boils the fat out of an obese culture-religion and renders a clear gospel love, a pure gospel hope, a purged gospel faith.
“Is there any way that I can live with these people and love them without being shaped by the golden-calf culture? How can I keep from settling into the salary and benefits of a checkout clerk in a store for religious consumers?
“Here is a way: submit my imagination to St. John’s apocalypse – the crisis of the End combined with the urgencies of God – and let the energies of the apocalyptic define and shape me as pastor. When I do that, my life as pastor simplifies into prayer, poetry, and patience.”
The Contemplative Pastor
At VIMEO — Brian Mclaren in Adelaide – Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (Part 1 of 3). Elsewhere, the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. The website.. and the practical efforts .. are divided into four areas:
God and Human Flourishing
Faith and Globalization
Ethics and Spirituality in the Workplace
A Common Word at Yale
AN ambitious set of concerns! But with theologians of the stature of Miroslav Volf, one would not expect much less. I have not yet got my hands on his book, A Public Faith, but I want to. For a written sample of what he is about, his “Easter message” 2009 is HERE. He also delivered the Kuyper Lecture in 2012.
Of course, with a seat on Obama’s council on inter-religious dialogue, some think he is the anti-Christ. But since we are called to love Muslim’s, and more importantly, GOD loves Muslims! – we had better learn how to talk with them. At Political Theology, Volf summarizes the reasons for his recent book:
“Debates are raging today about the role of religions in public life, and it is not difficult to see why. First, religions—Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and so on—are growing numerically, and their members worldwide are increasingly unwilling to keep their convictions and practices limited to the private sphere of family or religious community. Instead, they want these convictions and practices to shape public life. They may engage in electoral politics and seek to influence legislative processes (as the Religious Right has done in the United States since the Reagan presidency), or they may concentrate on transforming the moral fabric of society through religious awakening (as the Religious Right seems to be doing during the Obama presidency). Either way, many religious people aim to shape public life according to their own vision of the good life.
“Second, in today’s globalized world, religions cannot be neatly sequestered into separate geographic areas. As the world shrinks and the interdependence of people increases, ardent proponents of different religions come to inhabit the same space. But how do such people live together, especially when all of them want to shape the public realm according to the dictates of their own sacred texts and traditions?”
Related: this short story from Naomi Shihab Nye
Peter Berger writes, “Modernity is not necessarily secularizing; it is necessarily pluralizing. Modernity is characterized by an increasing plurality, within the same society, of different beliefs, values, and worldviews. Plurality does indeed pose a challenge to all religious traditions — each one must cope with the fact that there are ‘all these others,’ not just in a faraway country but right next door.” “Secularization Falsified,” First Things, Feb. 2008.
In an interview on his new book at The Englewood Review, Gregory Walter comments:
“One of the reasons language and practices of gift have so much cache owes to the basic human experience of the web of relationships that characterize gift exchange. We are given, we receive, and we return. Though many people debate why we live this way and why we might feel the obligations to receive, give, and return the gifts that flow between us, the fact of this remains. Marcel Mauss called a “total social fact” that means that almost every dimension of our lives as social creatures (or, theologically, as creatures created together in one great web we call the world) is governed by the gift.
“I have tried to articulate how God’s promise of the Crucified One engages this gift, is dirty and down in the fragile connections and networks of life, yet holds out hope for repair of injury and reconciliation. Some theologians try to show how the gift holds out hope by skating above it all, by transcending the impurity of our obligations and failures but my attempt to describe promise show show it is weak, fragile, and fully part of this creation, though going beyond it in the possibility it holds out.
“If creation is a sort of grace, then promise is the kind of grace that repairs or holds out a chance that the failures of that initial grace of existence and life together can fit together despite their actuality.”
I particularly like the paradox here — weak and fragile yet transcendent. To me that means he is hitting at a sacramental reality. And it is really, really hard (impossible) to have a rich theology of creation — or of the Eucharist — apart from a sacramental lens.
But I’ve also been seeing this through the lens of pastoral theology. So much of what we do is learning to honor the process. It seems slow and weak, maybe even pointless. What, another conversation? Let’s get on with the work already. But we risk obscuring something really important. At the heart of pastoral work is listening and prayer, two activities which can seem useless in a needy and broken world. But if we take the time to listen, take the time to pray, take the time to wrestle with truth together, and take the time to care, wonderful things happen.
Patrick Franklin writes,
“Our questions about God in North America (Does God exist? How is God ‘relevant’ or ‘useful’ to my life? Etc.) are not the key questions for most human beings living in the 2/3rds world. I like how Gutiérrez puts it:
“. . . the question in Latin America will not be how to speak of God in a world come of age, but rather how to proclaim God as Father in a world that is inhumane. What can it mean to tell a non-person that he or she is God’s child?” – Gustavo Gutiérrez, The Power of the Poor in History (London: SCM, 1983), 57.
A publisher committed $5000 to this project last summer, then backed out. The book project is well along, and has involved six months of work. Much is being written about incarnational and missional engagement, and the recovery of parish, assuming a theology of place without articulating it. We need renewed imagination that is biblically rooted, creatively engaging the places we live and God’s relationship to the world: this project aims to fund that imagination.
The eight chapters will total 70,000 words. Three indices will be included: General, Names, and Scripture.
1. Exploring Place
2. Foundations I: Culture, Creation and Covenant
3. Foundations II: The New Testament and Eschatology
4. The Practice of Place
5. Politics and Public Space
6. The Urban Landscape
7. Re-placing the World through Pilgrimage
8. Re-placing the World through the Arts
9. Appendix – Prayers and Liturgies
“In a world of long commutes, affordable travel, global internet connections, and a host of cultural practices tending to distance us from the truth of our locatedness, No Home Like Place invites us to take root again. It dares us to embrace the gift of a human-scaled life. Hjalmarson integrates fresh theological reflection with thoughtful practices for inhabiting place; a magnificent and liberating practical theology of place.”
Dwight J. Friesen, DMin. Associate Professor at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. Author: Thy Kingdom Connected.
“No Home Like Place unfolds a message we earnestly need in the West: “God calls us to a people and a place.” Winsomely written, deeply researched, this book will genuinely help you see where you live differently, as a “place,” a story, a sacramental tapestry where God is steadfastly, concretely at work for the salvation of the world.
David Fitch, PhD. B.R Lindner Chair of Theology, Northern Seminary. Author: Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier
“Len is an important voice in the emerging conversation on the spirituality of the missional church. In this book, he articulates vividly and beautifully something that is implicit and crucial to missional theology, though previously undeveloped in the literature—namely, a theology and spirituality of place. Len’s writing provokes thinking, stirs the imagination, and calls forth and nurtures one’s inner longings to put down roots, to invest in one’s home, neighbourhood, workplace, and city, and to join with others in welcoming and bearing witness to God’s presence and kingdom in our midst. A valuable contribution!
Patrick Franklin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics,
Providence Theological Seminary.
“This book is about place, rootedness, belonging, yet it reads like a travelogue. Compelling, the book weaves together theological reflection, lessons learned in life, disappointments and dreams. It draws on thinkers as diverse as Ancient Bishops, Medieval Mystics, theologians of all ages and bible interpreters of modern and post-modern worlds. Through this book I felt I journeyed with Len, experiencing sacred and human places along the way that remind us our ultimate home is just around the corner.”
Tim Geddert, Ph.D. Professor of NT, MB Biblical Seminary, Fresno, CA
Maybe Phyllis Tickle is right: every five hundred years the Church has a great rummage sale and decides what to keep, what to revise, and what to leave behind. (The Great Emergence, 2008)
The dominant view of atonement for the first 300 years of the Church was not Penal Substitution, but Christus Victor. Jesus death and resurrection made him Lord, and established him as sole victor over the forces of death and destruction. Jesus death was a ransom paid to the devil. The Penal Substitution view was there in Scripture, but the early church was less interested in that view. Under Anselm in the 11th century the Church changed position, and began to put its weight on the other foot. It was the legal and forensic climate of those times that provoked the switch.
In other words, it was a cultural shift that provoked a theological shift. That’s a pretty important point, because we are in a time when culture is changing dramatically, and here we are having a lot of theological debates.
We could conclude from this that every time the culture changes, the church becomes unfaithful. Or, more wisely, we could conclude that when the culture shifts — God speaks in new language.
More — PDF
At OnFaith they write about the simplistic (cliches?) we too often use that scare off our young adults. It’s an honest and helpful discussion, and I am going to load it up with my own reflections. What else is a blog for?
“The Bible clearly says…”
We are the first generation to grow up in the age of information technology, and we have at our fingertips hundreds of commentaries, sermons, ideas, and books. We can engage with Biblical scholars on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s impossible not to see the way that their doctrines – rooted in the same Bible – differ and clash.
To me this is really an appeal to humility. And when you think about it, it’s a hugely hopeful problem to have! While biblical literacy in general — among believers — is at an all time low, for the more reflective out there, they are not content that we reduce complex theological meanings to three point summaries. Moreover, many are willing to do the work to get through the complexity.
We want to hear our pastors approach these words with humility and reverence. Saying, “This is where study and prayer have led me, but I could be wrong…” Amen!
“God will never give you more than you can handle”
This paraphrased Mother Teresa quote has become so commonplace in Christian culture that I was shocked to learn that it wasn’t in the Bible. Inherent … that your faith must not be strong enough.
And of course behind behind this frustration are a bunch of really good questions.
1. If I have more than I can handle, maybe it didn’t come from God?
2. following on this, it might be naive to attribute to God everything that occurs
3. following on this again, it could be that evil, Satan, and free will are also realities in the world?
4. and yes, those pesky Calvinists need a more nuanced view of sovereignty (see Roger Olson on this one)
Which gets us to —
“God is in control . . . has a plan . . . works in mysterious ways”
Chances are we believe this is true. But it’s the last thing we want to hear when something goes horribly wrong in our life. We are drawn to the Jesus who sits down with the down-and-out woman at the well. Who touches the leper, the sick, the hurting. Who cries when Lazarus is found dead… even though he is in control and has a plan to bring Lazarus back to life.
And here are both a theological question, and a pastoral concern. And the problem is that God’s omnipotence and goodness don’t always translate into deliverance, but our facile answers sometimes make it sound like that. no, we won’t always be delivered from pain, illness, or death. Witness Israel 400 years in captivity. Witness Jesus agonizing death on the cross. And there’s the clue. God’s power looks like weakness. He promises that in the world we will have trouble — but also his presence.
You’ve heard us say that we like Jesus but not the church, and it’s not because we’re trying to be difficult. It’s because the Jesus we read about enters into the pain of humanity where so often the church people seem to want to float above it.