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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Gomer, sweet Gomer

I thought marriage and family week in ethics was last week, but apparently it’s this week too. Our prof was going over various places in scripture where marital faithfulness is discussed when one student raised his hand and said, “You mean the women Hosea married wasn’t from a place call Whoredom? She was actually a whore?” He was serious. I died of laughter on the inside. Where do you suppose he thought Whoredom was?

and preaching update…it went very well. I got a lot of positive feedback from a variety of folks. I did succeed at calming my busy hands down. Only to develop some random leg kick thing. My sister said I didn’t look like a bad karate movie anymore, but I did look an awful lot like a Rockette.

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I just turned in my final Greek exegetical project – 9 minutes before the deadline.  It was 18 pages long.  How could there be so much to say about 10 verses?  Writing this thing has left me feeling like I’ve been driving for hours on end.  My butt hurts.  I have calluses on my wrists.  It’s Tulip Festival so there were marching bands going buy for an hour or two earlier.  Then the girls across the street set up their lemonade stand for the 5th straight day and have been shouting “LEMON-AY- ADE, TWINNY FI SINS!!”  I want to shake them.  Did I mention it’s been going on for 5 days?  They haven’t sold any lemonade yet.  You’d think they’d give up and go back in the house.

The last several hours have really added to the car-like analogy b/c I tried to shut the windows to drown out the band and the kids, but I got so blasted hot with the sun shining directly at me that I feel car sick.  I didn’t have enough time to spare to get up and open the window again.

I didn’t even really do any citations.  The new Microsoft Word does them for you…kind of.  It’ll take care of in-text stuff but you have to do your own footnotes.  I was getting so close to the buzzer that I just skipped out on the footnotes, put in Word’s automatic in-text citations, generated the automatic bibliography and moved on. 

I seriously feel like I’m coming off of something.  Can you get a hangover from First Peter?  This is out of control.  Well, I’m going to go drink a lot of water and go walk around the block a few times.  Thanks for celebrating/being slightly concerned/commiserating with me.

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Best Buy allowed me to purchase a “loaner” computer so that I could carry on with my school work.  I had to pay for it, but will get all my money back when mine is fixed.  The loaner cost $478 dollars, so I am slightly limited on the technology end.  The hard drive is gone.  The Geek Squad looked at it and the tech guy at school did too.  I could probably send it in to a speciality company, but quotes I’ve received so far are upwards of $300, and that’s if they get it back to me in 2 weeks.  However, I needed the stuff urgently which would have meant $1000 or more.  I really doubt that my papers were good enough to be worth $1000, so I have been working non-stop to rewrite everything.  Unbelievably, I am caught up and just need to begin redoing my Greek exegetical paper. 

The Greek extravaganze begins this afternoon and will carry on all weekend.  I present on Monday and the paper is officially due Wednesday at 5:00.  If any of you have ever exegeted 1 Peter 2:1-10, let me know.  Email me your notes.  Better yet, email me your work. 

Oh wait, seminarians arent’ supposed to cheat. 

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