Archive for the ‘Amateur Theology’ Category

God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead…

The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame…

The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'”

The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked!

When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

God called to the Man: “Where are you?”

He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”

God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?”

The Man said, “The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it.”

God said to the Woman, “What have you done!?”

(from Genesis 2-3, The Message)

Four weeks ago somebody came into our house during the night while all four of us – Dan, me, the little one and the puppy – were all fast asleep.  They took our TV.  They took our Wii.  They took most of our DVDs, Wii games, old school Nintendo games and an iPod.  They rummaged through every desk drawer.  And they took our Rubix Cube. (Honestly, who steals a Rubix Cube?)

We were so busy that Monday morning that we didn’t notice that our living room had been cleaned out until we got home from work.  It was the police officer who informed us the break-in likely occurred in the night.  Three other homes in our condo complex had been hit, all between 1 and 4 a.m.

While Dan and I were frightened and angry, we were also relieved that no one had been harmed.  Neither did our home get trashed.  It could have been much, much worse.  Our greatest crisis was not “are we safe?” or “how will we replace the stuff?” but rather, “how do we explain this to the little one?”

She has this idea that bad guys exist.  That they just might be in real life.  And that they will come into your house and do bad things and maybe even take you away from your mommy and daddy.  But she hasn’t tasted the fruit yet, so she doesn’t know for sure.  Maybe bad guys are in real life, maybe they’re not.  But as long as she doesn’t know for sure, they can’t terrify her.

Until the little one, I’d never had quite the heartfelt understanding of The Fall that I do now.  God loved his newly crafted children deeply and desperately wanted to protect them from knowing about the bad things that are in real life.  He didn’t want them to know because if they knew, they’d be terrified.  Ashamed.  Confused.  Angry.  They’d lose trust and the ability to sleep.  They’d grow clingy and skeptical.  It would never be the same.

Now I too, have tasted the fruit.  I know what’s in real life.  But when God inquires of me, “What have you done?!” I cannot let the answer be, “I let the little one taste it too.”  This little one, whom I did not birth but have been given, cannot know.  Not yet.  So Dan and I smiled as we told her, “Someone else needed a TV worse than we did, so we let them have ours.”

“Were they poor?” she said.

“We don’t know.  They just really needed a TV.”

If I could talk to those bad guys that took our stuff, like God, I would say, “What have you done?!”  Not so much because they trespassed or took our things (including the Rubix Cube), but because they handed our little one the fruit and tried to make her eat it.

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I will never be a very good Protestant. Or maybe the better way to put it is that I’ll always be a little bit Catholic. Namely in the way of sacraments. Especially in the way of communion.

After my first Protestant communion experience, I watched in horror as college kids tossed the bread around the sanctuary and then made plans to go home and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of it. Since then, I’ve had a few positive communion experiences, but I’ve also had to bear witness to Protestants holding hands, text messaging and talking while they waited to receive communion.

Anyway, Protestant communion has left a very bad taste in my mouth and even though I am preparing to be an ordained Protestant minister, I avoid non-Catholic communion whenever possible. This avoidance includes the weekly communion service at my seminary every Friday.

Today I was finally able to tangibly show people why I am so uncomfortable with/annoyed by the way so many Protestants handle the Lord’s Supper.

After chapel everyone gathers for coffee, bagels and other snackish things for purchase. Much to my horror, a shallow dish containing the left over communion was sitting on the same table as the bagels, coffee and cream cheese. Seriously, the pieces of unleavened bread could have been Doritos.

Come on people. Would you use Doritos to serve communion? Well, then what on earth makes you think it is appropriate to treat the communion as if it were Doritos?

I know that the Roman Catholic church has a much different sacramental theology than any Protestant denomination. As does the Orthodox church. And there are even lots of differences in the Protestant world. But in what I believe to be both legitimate Reformed and Catholic theology, the sacraments are an outward sign of inward grace, a means of experiencing God’s graces and a mark of the covenant God has drawn us into. Whether the bread and wine become literally Christ’s body and blood is a mystery I feel no need to analyze, agree or disagree with. The whole point, transubstantiation aside, is that the elements bear God’s grace, grace given to us to satisfy and sanctify. And God’s grace is not snack food, bird food or any other kind of food.

Even if I were to follow a more Baptist route and say that the sacraments are meant to convey our faith in God and to remember what Christ has done , I think I would still say that communion is a special, sacred thing. They may not carry grace, but that hardly suggests the elements should be treated the way you would treat anything you make breakfast out of or that is flavored with nacho cheese.

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Population Control

With the earth’s population spinning out of control, maybe we should stop having sex and just masturbate.

That’s the wise cynical comment one of my favorite professors made during my 8:00 class this morning. We were talking about family, Old Testament family values and seed spilling.

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