"Jesus refuses to be your domesticated housecat."
"Jesus refuses to be your domesticated housecat."
It’s probably not what you think.
A few days ago, retired Christian recording artist Ray Boltz came out of the closet, announcing his homosexuality. (His website, btw, is having a pretty huge clearance sale. Interpret that how you wish.) “This is what it really comes down to,” he says in a CT interview. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”
On his official website he says:
"A few years ago I made the decision to retire from contemporary Christian music. I had won awards, performed in front of thousands of people, and sold millions of records. Still, I believed that if people knew who I really was, I would never be accepted."
The tragedy is that within a community of believers, genuine authenticity is not accepted. That, for all our talk of ‘community’, we have to still hide our struggles and pains beneath the veneer of success.
The tragedy is while Ray Boltz struggled in sin, and received unmerited grace to write beautiful songs, the Christian community will yet again throw him to the wolves. (Michael English, anyone? Sandi Patti? Amy Grant?)
The tragedy is that songs that once brought a sense of awe and reverence to the Church will now become the punchline in a joke.
The comedy? That the enemy will have a field day watching as believers debate and fight over the Scriptures, slander each other, and condemn and accuse the other side of neo-liberalism or fundamentalism. No. Wait….that’s another Tragedy.
Ray Boltz will stand before our Abba one day to give an account of his life.
So will you.
No doubt, homosexuality is still sin. But I believe the grace that covers my USAmerican sin of gluttony, consumption, pride and hypocrisy is big enough to cover his sin as well. If not, we are all in trouble.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message) reads:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
Pray for Ray Boltz. And pray for me, too. We still need Jesus.
OK…So, I gave in and read Young’s The Shack. It’s a lot like voting in the upcoming presidential election, I typically vote for the candidate with the least amount of celeb endorsements. After reading the pull-quotes from Smitty, Winona Judd, and Kathie Lee Gifford, I almost walked away. Nevertheless, I finished it over the weekend and, with all the hubub surrounding it, figured I’d nail some thoughts to the Missional Living door. Good, bad, or indifferent, I do not pose this to be an academic or hermeneutic dissection of this phenemenon, just some humble thoughts after reading it. So take it for what it is. (WARNING: contains spoilers)
Literary aspects. Although The Shack has been hailed as having the potential to be the Pilgrim’s Progress for our generation, I’m certainly not ready to jump on that bandwagon. Since Pilgrim’s Progress was first published in 1678, I’m pretty sure the jury will be out for at least another 338 years on that. Nevertheless, it’s a very well-written work of modern fiction. Slow at the start (in setting up the history and environment for the rest of the story), but moves along well after the first few chapters. It was even hard to put down in a couple of places.
The Shack is about Mack who loses his daughter to a serial killer, then gets a suspicious note to meet Papa (God) at a shack in the mountains. Mack is met by Papa (as an African-American woman—think of The Oracle from The Matrix), Jesus (the stereotypical Jewish carpenter), and Sarayu (the Holy Sprit manifested as an artsy, flowing, petite Asian woman. Each of the representations are to help Mack overcome his ‘preconcieved expectations’ of the Trinity. At the end of the story, Papa reveals himself to Mack as a Father figure, evidently because he is now ready for a Father-God figure. As he overcomes The Great Sadness, Mack learns to give and receive forgiveness and grace. Remember, all metaphors eventually breakdown. I repeat: ALL metaphors eventually breakdown. That said…
Theological aspects. Give me a verb over a noun anytime. The Shack doesn’t fit into Greudem’s systematic theology easily. There are several issues that raise spiritual/theological questions you’ll need to be prepared to wrestle with. For example, Papa suggests that ‘heirarchy only exists where sin is present’. That there is no heirarchy among the Trinity (only ‘mutual submission), which was the perfect plan for humanity all along. Only after The Fall was there a need for an heirarchal order. (Be ready to answer the ‘what about the heirarchy of angels?’ question.) Also, Jesus claims that “those who love me come from every (religious) system that exists” including Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims. (Um…no.) Mack then asks, “Does that mean all roads lead to You?”. Jesus responds, “Not at all…(but) I will travel any road to find you.” (OK…yes!) Also, there is a great line concerning suffering in which Papa says, “Just because I work incredible good out of tragedies doesnt mean I orchestrate the tragedies…Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist.” There’s also hole in the plot that leaves the question “Did this occur in real-time or was it a dream?” as a ripcord for the theological problems in the story.
Should you read it? Remember the main thing: it is FICTION. A story told by an author to communicate a difficult-to-communicate truth or experience. Think of it as reading the paper and noticing the following note:
Monday, September 15.
Sunrise: 6:23 a.m.
Sunset: 7:42 p.m.
No one actually believes there’s a literal ‘rising’ or ‘setting’ of a sun that moves across the sky, do they? We all interpret that to mean the sun, while motionless, will become visible (or invisible) as the earth moves in it’s rotation. Consider The Shack as a blip from the newspaper. It’s a fictional story of one man’s journey and struggle with a trinitarian God towards grace, not a watertight exegesis of the Trinity. It’s no Pilgrim’s Progress or Narnia, but if it causes you to search the scriptures for answers and to have meaningful conversations with the non-churched or de-churched in your community, then read it and be missional with it.
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 tacos. Add salsa to taste.
Your thoughs below.
Our offices are ‘officially’ relocated. Even though we still have no phones or air-conditioning yet, we’re blazing through. As we blow through another week, I wanted to pass along some link love that’s gotten me through the past few days.
A pretty fascinating argument from Feminist Tammy Bruce FOR Gov. Palin. hmmm….
What American Christians REALLY Believe …if you believe it.
An interesting Gizmodo article on how you can possibly register to vote on your Xbox. Draw in the gaming (virtual moose-hunting?) crowd..
Listen free to some great Pearl Jam shows (as early as 1990). Pick a date, a venue, a set list, and a city…and listen to free streaming audio like a Gremmie outta control.
And for the true geek, check out the Shakespeare Insults Generator, and get your traitorous swag-bellied whore-master insults…
Share the love.
If you don’t know Ludo you most certainly need to check them out. Although their hardcore fans aren’t as crazy about their latest album as Broken Bride, the title cut is an amazing confession of addiction.
What flavor of addiction doesn’t matter. Whether alcohol or a destructive relationship or eleventy-billion other things, addiction is addiction. It’s high maintanence, gluttonous and cold, regardless of the face it wears. Check out the lyrics to ‘Love Me Dead’:
Love me cancerously, Like a salt-sore soaked in the sea.
‘High-maintenance’ means you’re a gluttonous queen
Narcissistic and mean.
Kill me romantically, Fill my soul with vomit
Then ask me for a piece of gum.
Bitter and dumb, you’re my sugarplum. You’re awful, I love you!
She moves through moonbeams slowly, She knows just how to hold me
And when her edges soften, Her body is my coffin
I know she drains me slowly, She wears me down to bones in bed
Must be the sign on my head that says, oh…Love me dead!
You’re a faith-healer on T.V., you’re an office park without any trees
Corporate and cold, gushing for gold
Leave me alone.
You suck so passionately, you’re a parasitic, psycho, filthy creature
finger-bangin’ my heart
You call me up drunk, does the fun ever start?
You’re hideous and sexy!
You’re born of a jackal! You’re beautiful!
Of course, you have to watch the video or hear the song to get the full carnival-esque feel of the tune. (That’s how music works…) But it’s a beautifully bouncy tragedy of the addictive nature of sin. Disturbingly beautiful images of ‘cancerous love’ that drains me, ‘filling my soul with vomit’ (and then asking for a piece of gum, no less!). It brings to mind the old adage, "sin will always make you go farther than you want to go, stay longer than you want to stay, and pay more than you wanted to pay." In my life, I know this to be true. Whenever I feed my sinful desires, they grow. And grow. Pride. Envy. Jealousy. Whatever.
(if the YouTube vid doesn’t work, go here)
Do you resonate with any of this? How have you seen the destructive nature of sin played out? What about it’s addictive quality? What do the lyrics and video bring to light about your own life?
Almost one year ago this week, i was in the same place again. After a whirlwind of summer activities and a little vacation, I was feeling almost human again. This year, it’s been postponed a few weeks due to some family issues, relocating our ministry offices, and a couple of hurricanes that have altered our plans more than once.
Last night, combustion occurred, and today the pheonix is rising from the ashes.
Somehow, we usually think that renewal and rebirth is comes out of a time of rest and recharging. That’s just not so. I don’t know of any first-birth experience that is so. What makes us think that re-birth is so? As John Piper so aptly once put it, "Pain is a beautiful hermeneutic."
So much to discuss, digest, and dissect. I feel like a newborn waking to the stimulus-overload world around me. And it’s a good feeling.
For starters, here are some things I’m chewing on:
This Gizmodo article that announced Microsoft’s partnership with Rock The Vote in order to allow Xbox Live gamers to register to vote and participate in prelim presidential votes. My question is do we really want the uninformed Rock The Vote schlubs involved? Or will they actually unplug from MasterChief long enough to get educated about the issues and plug in to the political realm? Time will tell.
An interesting New York Post piece about Sarah Palin. The entire article is well-written and worth the two minutes to read, but the last paragraph is especially worthy of reposting:
"But it was when I looked up her biography after the meeting that I learned one of the most salient facts about Sarah Palin. She knew she was bearing a Down syndrome child but refused to have an abortion. While I am personally pro-choice, pro-choice means just that, the right to choose to have or not to have an abortion. My head bows to the integrity, guts and courage it takes to embark knowingly on such a life challenge because of one’s personal belief in the sanctity of life. When we look at McCain’s loving adoption of a child from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa and Palin’s knowing birth of a handicapped baby, we see a quality of character on this ticket worthy of the White House."
There’s an interesting Boston.com article on why daydreaming is cruicial to creativity. From Einstein to the guy who invented sticky notes, there are some interesting thoughts (and some biblical parallels to be made, IMO, about prayer and ‘being still’ perhaps) according to recent scientists.