The Story In My Mind

“The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hope and fears.” -Orson Scott Card

enders_game_poster_lead

This quote was taken from an introduction to one of my favorite books of all time: Ender’s Game. Orson Scott Card was talking about the different lessons people have learned from reading Ender’s Game; whether religious, political, or even different ideas of military strategy. Card is trying to say that all of these interpretation of the book’s purpose are correct. Every interpretation is true because it is true to the person reading it. While this is a little on the extreme side, this idea of truth could be applied to how people think about the Bible. What makes the Bible true is not what is written in the Bible. It is not how it was translated through the years. It is not even the original ideals that went into writing down the things included. What makes the Bible true are the things that God reveals through it to the individual reading it. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things in the Bible, that if interpreted wrong, can lead to some really wrong theology, and to some really wrong ideas about who, and what God is. However, if understood that every person who reads the Bible is going to take something unique from each story; we can begin to have less of a problem with denominational differences.

When we realize that God reveals different truths through the same passage, we begin to be more accepting of different ideas. When become more accepting of different ideas, it becomes easier to show love, and accept; most of all it opens doors for more fruitful, and educated debates about Scripture. I think this ideal leads into a deeper thinking about the things that we call “absolutes”. Questioning the things you believe, to a certain extent, can be extremely beneficial to deepening, and strengthening your convictions. Hearing a different idea about a passage of scripture can cause you to do some research to find out why you have a different understanding, and can make you figure out where that comes from, and which one of the two opinions is actual truth. There are truths, as I already mentioned; in the Bible that are absolute, and cannot be argued. However, having someone question the truth you cling to, can strengthen your grip in the end.

Some of the hardest faith-based argument I’ve ever had have been with very firm atheists. It is pitiful that, more often than not, a common atheist know more about the Bible than the common Christian. How, as Christians, can we defend our faith when the attacker has more information than we do? If you were the ruler of some castle, and the invading army knew more about your castle than you do, how likely is it that you would win the battle? People need to question things, understand why they believe things are true. Let God reveal new things, different things; in passages of Scripture we’ve never even though twice about believing. People need to understand that the reason the Bible has been significant for so long is that its truths are continually applying to new people, and continually changing.

I can almost guarantee that, if you went back in time about 200 years, verses like 2 Corinthians 5.17 would have meant something completely different than it means to us now. Its scary to hear someone speak differently about passages that are so basic for us to believe. But, why shouldn’t they? Every person has different experiences, different natural tendencies, different thought processes; and this causes different revelations. It is not something that we need to argue about. It is something we need to accept, appreciate, and rejoice in. It gives us the chance to sharpen our sword, to get a more accurate and pointed blade. It gives us opportunities to understand things in ways we would never have imagined before. It gives us more sidom.

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The Story In My Mind

“The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hope and fears.” -Orson Scott Card

This quote was taken from an introduction to one of my favorite books of all time: Ender’s Game. Orson Scott Card was talking about the different lessons people have learned from reading Ender’s Game; whether religious, political, or even different ideas of military strategy. Card is trying to say that all of these interpretation of the book’s purpose are correct. Every interpretation is true because it is true to the person reading it.

While this is a little on the extreme side, this idea of truth could be applied to how people think about the Bible. What makes the Bible true is not what is written in the Bible. It is not how it was translated through the years. It is not even the original ideals that went into writing down the things included. What makes the Bible true are the things that God reveals through it to the individual reading it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things in the Bible, that if interpreted wrong, can lead to some really wrong theology, and to some really wrong ideas about who, and what God is. However, if understood that every person who reads the Bible is going to take something unique from each story; we can begin to have less of a problem with denominational differences. When we realize that God reveals different truths through the same passage, we begin to be more accepting of different ideas. When become more accepting of different ideas, it becomes easier to show love, and accept; most of all it opens doors for more fruitful, and educated debates about Scripture.

I think this ideal leads into a deeper thinking about the things that we call “absolutes”. Questioning the things you believe, to a certain extent, can be extremely beneficial to deepening, and strengthening your convictions. Hearing a different idea about a passage of scripture can cause you to do some research to find out why you have a different understanding, and can make you figure out where that comes from, and which one of the two opinions is actual truth. There are truths, as I already mentioned; in the Bible that are absolute, and cannot be argued. However, having someone question the truth you cling to, can strengthen your grip in the end.

Some of the hardest faith-based argument I’ve ever had have been with very firm atheists. It is pitiful that, more often than not, a common atheist know more about the Bible than the common Christian. How, as Christians, can we defend our faith when the attacker has more information than we do? If you were the ruler of some castle, and the invading army knew more about your castle than you do, how likely is it that you would win the battle? People need to question things, understand why they believe things are true. Let God reveal new things, different things; in passages of Scripture we’ve never even though twice about believing. People need to understand that the reason the Bible has been significant for so long is that its truths are continually applying to new people, and continually changing.

I can almost guarantee that, if you went back in time about 200 years, verses like 2 Corinthians 5.17 would have meant something completely different than it means to us now. Its scary to hear someone speak differently about passages that are so basic for us to believe. But, why shouldn’t they? Every person has different experiences, different natural tendencies, different thought processes; and this causes different revelations. It is not something that we need to argue about. It is something we need to accept, appreciate, and rejoice in. It gives us the chance to sharpen our sword, to get a more accurate and pointed blade. It gives us opportunities to understand things in ways we would never have imagined before. It gives us more sidom.

Life Is Beautiful

First of all, a little disclaimer, this post has nothing to do with any of the movies with the same title. This post is the written form of a Pecha Kucha presentation I did for my Theology and the Arts class last night.

 

In the beginning of this class I had a terrible attitude about any kind of art that was not realistic, or at least had something realistic looking in it. It was hard for me to see the significance of paintings that we call “abstract.” I even looked at any of my art that had abstract, or just non-realistic qualities as entirely worthless. This aspect of art is the most significant thing I could have possibly learned. I was so stuck in a “way of art” where anything that was not realistic was not truly art. I allowed myself no freedom. I was not free to create what I felt, only what I saw. I was not free to grow. I never allowed myself the freedom to truly create. At the beginning of the semester we talked about beauty. What is beauty? What makes things beautiful? Why is it that God’s creation is so beautiful to us? William Dyrness describes beauty, in one aspect, as a “quality that merits the admiration of others.” Beauty not only involves Earthly admiration, but it is the very essence of God. The creation of the world can be completely wrapped up in the idea of beauty. Beauty is so much more than humans could ever truly understand. Beauty is at the very core of life, and the center of creation. It is so deeply written in our beings that it is something we are always seeking. God’s creation, by definition, is beauty and nothing else compares. This all culminates in His most beautiful creation–man. Man is, essentially , beautiful because God is the essence of beauty.  God created man in His image, with HIs essence rumbling deep within, There will always be, and has always been; the knowledge and reality of God rumbling within our very souls. At our most basic design He installed a pattern. A pattern to create. To find beauty, to understand beauty. A pattern to make beauty. The Garden of Eden is the only time when Man was completely in touch with the perfect beauty of God. The problem was, that for some reason, nothing was ever good enough for us. I think, in a way, this is part of a quality of God that man perverted. The fall is the depiction of man taking the great, perfect things, and beautiful; and twisting them into an ugly, and broken life. This fallen state that we are in holds us back from fully understanding. It propels us towards a life full of ugly, and broken things. A life without hope, a life where all that matters is self-preservation. All that matters is getting ahead of the pack, no matter how many things you destroy along the way as long as you can move to the top. This awful state barely allows us to catch tiny glimpses of beauty. This existence is the definition of pitiful. Human existence without God is unquestionably ugly. There is no beauty. There is no real joy. There are no miracles, no wonders, no peace. There is nothing. Without God, humans become mindless, hopeless drones programmed to look out for themselves. They have no hope for anything after death. Death becomes our finale. When we separate from God, we lose sight of what is really beautiful, and because of God’s Image rumbling deep within us; we have a desire to be reunited with that beauty . We can’t understand it, but for some reason, we are constantly on the look out for beautiful things, heavenly things, glimpses of the beauty that God intended us to experience. This fallen separation from God’s beauty is what causes so many people to have a hard time appreciating any art form. I would say that it is what causes so many of my problems with art, and being happy with what I create. This lack of sight is what causes people to replace real eternal beauty with temporary beauty. The idea of beauty is really a discussion of temporal vs. eternal. This hopeless absence of beauty is not the only form of existence. There is another way to live, there is hope. Jesus came down to Earth to display eternal beauty. Jesus established away for us to interact directly with the beauty that God intended for us to experience. In a way, Jesus was the human manifestation of God’s perfect beauty. Even though it was one of the most gruesome and painful deaths ever depicted, Jesus’ death on the cross was an explosion of beauty. Then, His death story was made even more beautiful with His resurrection with his death Jesus opened our eyes, and with His resurrection He displayed the full measure of God’s beautiful power. It is important to know that, until we join Jesus in Heave, whatever that looks like; we will never fully comprehend God’s beauty. But, until then we get glimpses, hints, of it here on Earth. Things in creation, beautiful moments, times of joy and times of sorrow. So many things where God is real, and present, and it is beautiful. The easiest way for us to visually experience a piece of God’s beauty is to look at His creation. Even more, to look at the things we create because of, and through Him. The things we create have significance because we create in God’s image because we were created in His image. I can’t help but go back to the idea of beauty through Jesus’ resurrection. Without this freeing act, we would feel only hopelessness, emptiness, and an unexplainable desire to seek something that we can’t even identify. Without Jesus there is a hole in our idea of beauty. All of these ideas culminate in us, and drive us to attempt to find this “beauty.” We know its there, we can feel it building in us, but for some reason its always just out of reach. Jesus puts it within reach. And the only way to get a better understanding is to create things that are beautiful, create things that respond to God. There are many different ways to create beauty. The thing that people forget, or maybe don’t realize, is that creating beauty may be as simple as living out the life Jesus calls us to. Cultivating a beautiful world is as simple as living a beautiful life. Living a life of love, forgiveness. Living a life of joy. Living a “life worthy of the calling you have received.” I have now learned one significant way to create things that are beautiful. Art is, for some, the easiest and most practical way to create beauty. For others, Art is the hardest, most frustrating and worst way to create beauty. I would say that anything you do in the name of, and that interacts; with God creates beauty in this world in some way. Dyrness does not describe beauty as a physical action, or thing, but rather as a “quality.” So, beauty is not limited to Art. It is not limited to the making of things. It is not limited to our Earthly understanding. Beauty is something that merits praise. It is something that stirs God’s image living deep within us. Beauty is something that, not only merits Earthly praise; it is something that makes God proud. Whatever you do in life that makes God proud is truly, and eternally beautiful. When you life becomes an act of beauty, life itself becomes beautful.

This is a link to my Theology and the Arts professor’s blog: http://mhloverin.wordpress.com/

This is a link to learn more of what a Pecha Kucha is: http://www.pechakucha.org/faq

 

“It’s not our job to make anyone believe”

This week for my Acts class, we had to comment on a post about the city of Corinth being referred to as “Sin City”, and it brought to mind some rather significant things about the culture we live in. I feel like, too often, Christians look around at the culture they live in, and see no hope for the salvation of our nation. Or, we look at everyone around us, and make unrealistically quick judgements about how “sinful” that person’s life must be. The city of Corinth is often related to our culture, because it is assumed that is was an “un-ordinarily” (I’m not entirely sure if that’s actually a word) sinful city. The relations is that it is also assumed that our culture is the same level of sinful.

I have heard Corinth spoken with the illustration of “Sin City” so many times, I had never even questioned it. But, looking at this post, and doing a little outside research; Corinth would not really have been much different from any other Greek city at the time. I think that the most significant thing said in the post is the comparison between the “church at Corinth to the wealthy politically minded American church”, because whether or not Christians have come to grips with it yet, the church these days is not behaving in the way that it should. The problem is that Christians are still living with the mindset that we are a Christian society, and that is entirely wrong. “We are not called to Christianize the state, there is no point prescribing Christian values for people who are not Christians” (taken from an article by Michael F. Bird). Just like what Paul was doing in the time of Acts, we need to realize that we are an underground network of religious organizations that are bent on resisting the demoralizing of our country. We are bent on being counterculture, and as such, there should be distinct differences between our subculture, and the world’s dominating culture. Our culture, in a lot of ways, is just as sinful as the Roman culture of Acts, and we need to realize that “it’s not our job to make everyone believe” (“Listening to Freddie Mercury” by: Emery). It is, however, our job to help those who are believer, and followers, to realize their place in this culture, and realize that they cannot continue to live the way they have been living. 

Christianity is no longer the ruling, religious, powerhouse it was before. That is not to say there are not a lot of christians, because there are quite a few churches averaging attendances over 2,000 people, but that population is still a fraction of society today. As I touched on earlier, Christianity no longer has the purpose of ruling, and directing where society is going. I would challenge us and say that Christianity in a time where we need to be in the background, refusing to give up our foundational beliefs, and refusing to just disappear like the world would like us to. This article by Michael F. Bird was really a challenging read for me. It was weird to think of Christians in a time exile, but I think the argument is very powerful, and very true to what I can see happening in the world around me.

God is doing something weird in our culture, and I honestly don’t believe it is our job, or our duty to understand what He’s doing. I think that, as Chris-followers we need to understand that we are blind to the works of God, and the only way that we can truly see is to let Him see for us, let Him be our eyes. In John 9 Jesus makes a statement that, if really thought about, should change the way we think, and pray. He says, “For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (vs. 39). I think Jesus is trying to make the Pharisees understand that what they call, and think of as, sight is not at all what Jesus, Himself, would call sight. I also think Jesus is saying that the only way we can truly see, is to allow ourselves to become completely blind.

I would say, also, that the only way we can truly affect the culture, and truly make an influence is to allow ourselves to become the lowest. The only way we will understand what God wants to do, and is doing; is to allow Him to be our sight. I like to think of it as a horse and a rider. While the horse can obviously see where they are going, and understand some of where they need to be going; it is the rider who decides, and it is the rider who knows truly where the destination is. We need to understand, that when we think we see everything, and think we truly understand, that is when we are completely blind: and when we are the most blind, and realize we have no clue, that is when we have relinquished control to God, and can let Him guide us to where we truly need to go.

Link to the Acts blog post:
http://readingacts.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/acts-18-corinth-as-sin-city/#comment-9445

Link to the Michael F. Bird Article:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2012/05/my-solution-to-the-same-sex-marriage-debate-with-an-ecclesiology-of-exile/

I think we’ve forgotten something…

Fear…
Why aren’t we a little more scared of what our God is capable of? I know that God calls all of us friend, and we are His children. But, even then, aren’t you scared of making your parents angry? Doesn’t that often keep you from doing wrong, simply to avoid the consequences? I think about the Romans, or the Greeks. When ever anything went wrong in their lives, no matter what it was; they immediately attribute the blame to something they might have done wrong. There could be no other reason for a bad thing happening, aside from a god being angry with them, and because of that they immediately made a sacrifice, or whatever ritual was required in order to appease the gods. images-1

I think that, as Christians, we should have a small amount of this fear element in our lives. We should be scared. Our God has more power than anything anyone could ever have imagined. We talk, and even sing, about how great our God is, but how often do we think about the amount of power he really has over everything. Maybe it’s just me, but I think if I was a little more afraid of God, I would live a little more as He desires of me.

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness…” (Colossians 1.13)
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior…” (Colossians 1.21)
“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..” (Philippians 2.12)

These verse, in my mind, point back to this “Fear of the Lord” concept. Think about what God is saving us from. He saves us from this “kingdom of darkness”, and He brings us back from alienation. Imagine if there were immediate consequences for each betrayal, how terrifying, and humbling, would that be? We, as believers, would work so much harder to avoid sin, and to avoid temptation because we would be so scared of what would happen to us if we fail. Again, it could just be for me, but I think that sin (and especially the consequences) should scare the crap out of all of us. That, honestly, should help us to avoid it. We should get a little more afraid of the consequences on our lives, when we fail. Understand how much we are being saved from. At the beginning Philippians, Ephesians, 1st and 2nd corinthians, and Romans; Paul calls the churches “Holy People”. God thinks of us as friend, children, Holy, and we were even made in His image. We should fear messing that up. I am challenging myself to learn a little more what a healthy fear of God looks like, and calling myself to live in a way that reflects the fear that I have of God’s power.

What is your role in this play?

I’ve come to realize that as society continues to advance, we have become so focused on our individualism that we often forget about the people around us, we forget about our calling. Does not Jesus call us to be “salt of the earth, and light of the world”(Matthew 5.13-16)? But, what does that look like, what part do we play in this play we call “life”? I like to think of life as a play, and everyone has a part, and every part, in its own way, is in some way important, and has a real purpose. I also like to think that all of us should be aware of our roles, as we go along. But, as in every play, the only way we can really know what our parts are, and know our “cues”, is to be paying attention to the people around us. It is also important to give other people room to improvise, and give ourselves room to improvise as well. The times that can end up being the best are when things go awry and some person, or persons shows their skill in improvisation.

images I think that this concept of life can really make an impact on our individualistic views. When we start to realize that our mistakes affect others, we focus a little more on fulfilling our whole potential. On sunday my pastor listed “seven shifts” from the book Soul Shift that I think work perfectly for this changing of our perspective.

  1. Me to You
  2. Slave to Child
  3. Seen to Unseen
  4. Consumer to Steward
  5. Ask to Listen
  6. Sheep to Shepherd
  7. Me to We

I think we need to take these steps in order to figure out our true role in this life. It is important to know that no matter what God has a purpose for you. A lot of people worry because they don’t think their purpose “important” or at all “significant”, but as Paul says in Romans “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use” (9.21)? Even though sometimes in life you may have to play the “tree” in certain scenes; without that “tree” the scene wouldn’t be the same at all. Without those people who God intends for common use, the people intended for special purposes become useless. Without jars to hold the less significant things, the “significant things” become less and less important. Just remember that, no matter what the world think s of your role, it is significant, and written in the script. Also, remember the other people in the play, and be aware of their part, and of how your two parts interact.

What would God do without you?

Something people don’t often think about, or like to admit, is that God actually needs you to do His work. This is a difficult concept, because, honestly, God doesn’t really need any of us to get work done, but at the same time, He does. In 1 Timothy 1 Paul uses the words “He considered me trustworthy”. I found this an interesting choice in words, because a lot of pressure on Paul to live up to that trust. The word Paul uses is “pistos”, which, in its noun form means “faith”. The  active sense of the word, however, is more often used as a “believing in” or “relying on” concept; implying that God was relying on Paul to do His work. ImageIt is a picture of responsibility. For some crazy reason, God trust the fallen human race to do His work. But, there is a reason for it, we are created in His image, and thus have the abilities, and strength from Him to do the things He needs us to. I believe this concept is absolutely vital to living in faith. Realizing that God has given you a responsibility, and trusts you to fulfill it, should kind of scare you into doing what God needs you to, and scare you into living a Godly life. The God of the universe is relying on you, imagine the disappointment if you fail Him?