I had great intentions to put a lot more effort into this blog, but alas I have been diverted away writing here yet again. However, this time it is intentional, rather than my more regular drifting in and out of blogdom. I have joined Hubpages, and am attempting to complete the 30 day challenge to write one hub (aka post) daily for 30 days. So far I am achieving my goal, but I am not quite half way. It is an attempt to see if I can make a little money writing. So far I have earned one cent, so giving up my day job is not imminent. I don’t expect to write much here for a while. If you are interested to see what I am “hubbing” about, you can check it out here.
I did not grow up in a Christian home. I never attended church or Sunday School, and only found my way to youth group in my later teens. To save a very long story, my mother has always had a simple faith that was at least partly fed by TV. In those days there was no Joyce Meyer on the screen, or Hillsong etc. But Sundays could always be counted on for the “Hour of Power” (straight after a Catholic service that as a child struck me as mysterious and weird). My mother loved Hour of Power, and Dr Robert Schuller. And she supported him financially. We had the gadgets. Keys to positive thinking. Books of promises. A quick google search readily finds a string of quotes from Schuller. I can’t believe I found one I remembered – “Turn your scars into stars“. I am sure we had a key ring, pendant, piece of crystal or something with those words engraved on it. Looking back, it was an apt phrase. In a funny way, it gave us something to hang on to. To hope for. Schuller was certainly a peddler of hope.
I have never watched the show as an adult, and had all but forgotten that chapter of my life until I read on Scott’s blog that the Crystal Cathedral is now bankrupt. The comments on the article from “Christianity Today” were interesting. People seem to be blaming female leadership (Schuller’s daughter), wrong leadership decisions, the need for Schuller Snr to move on. As of tonight, only one comment questioning the validity of the 20th Century church phenomenon captured so well by the crystal cathedral. Time to look outside the glass house.
I took out my classical guitar tonight, for the first time in many months. I then spent over an hour trying to locate my classical music from the joyful days when I used to be able to afford the time for guitar lessons. One of my favourite pieces to play was Suit no 1 for Cello by Bach. To my dismay I could not even complete the first page. I have always been fascinated by how my fingers remember what to play more quickly than my brain does. A neurological phenomenon of course. However, even this knowing failed me. I am truly rusty. Out of practice(p): impaired in skill by neglect, according to wordnetweb.
U2 sing about love turning to rust (Where the streets have no name). Love impaired in skill by neglect. Perhaps skill is the wrong word. But love, faith, and classical guitar can all be impaired by neglect. I am in what I have defined as a “quiet place” within my faith. I think of it as not lost or dead, but quietly ruminating. Perhaps to be honest, it is in hibernation. The U2 song comes from the album “The Joshua Tree” – a long time favorite. A rare album that has remained loved from my angst ridden teens to now. The album art features a Joshua tree, apparently named by the Mormons because it’s form reminded them of Joshua reaching his hands up to the sky in prayer. A tree of prayer, of life, in a barren desert. The sort of place where love could turn to rust. Where life can be found. And faith.
I have been blogging here for a long time, and have really enjoyed the dialogue with people over the years. It has been a great way for me to ponder through the stuff in my head, and to have input from others. I have not posted with great regularity of late, as I have had little time or inspiration. However, I have decided to start another blog, one that will be more personal – a capturing of art, photography, joyous moments with my girls, as well as the odd rant, review or theological ponderings that have predominantly featured on this blog. If you are interested, my new blog can be found here. Thanks to those of you who have journeyed with me on this blog.
It seems as though death is all around me at the moment. I have moved recently to a country coastal town, and met a local woman whose five year old daughter died last year from cancer. A couple of weeks ago I learned that a former work colleague lost her partner to asbestos related cancer. Another former colleague lost her new born baby that same day. Yet another colleague from that same team found out two days later that her father had died suddenly and unexpectedly from a stroke. And then we hear of the catestrophic events in Haiti. Death too great to comprehend. It almost seems as though it is closing in, like a sea mist that chills and pervades everything in its path.
Hearing about the tragic losses of others invariably leads to pondering one’s own mortality, and the lives of loved ones. As a parent, I sometimes wonder about my children, will something happen. It could be very easy to become paranoid about death, to imagine it around every corner. I think that most people experience anxiety about death. We are programmed for life. Everything within us screams out for survival. Yet we have this fear that something is going to get us. Death is part of life, and we will all die at some point or another. The fear is more about something happening before we are ready. Arguably, we are never ready to face our own mortality. Perhaps I reflect on this as one only can when one has not faced down the barrel of a terminal illness.
Death is always sad, but is somewhat more palatable when it comes in due time, at the end of life fully lived. The emphasis of the loss is shared with the celebration of the life that preceded it. But it is hard to understand the life that is snatched away early – like the newborn child I referred to earlier. Or the five year old girl. Or any one of the thousands that perished in the Haitian earthquake. The mother of the five year old girl feels that it was her child’s destiny to die young. And that it was also her own destiny to experience losing her child, part of her own personal growth. The kind of growth I could do without I think!
Thinking about death invariably leads me to God. At the moment I am not wrestling with why God lets people die, or fails to stop death- whichever way you look at it. The thoughts for this post came to me while driving to work, and I found myself wondering how God himself experiences death. If we take a literal reading of the creation story, death was never intended to be part of human life. Death is a consequence of our separation from God, part of “the curse”. I wonder if God grieved the entrance of death into his creation. We read that God communed with first man and first woman. How did God experience relinquishing that communion? There was death of both relationship and the body itself. I also wonder, (and here I may venture into theologically dangerous territory), why bodily death was the consequence of disobedience. Was that a natural consequence? It seems like “all or nothing” thinking. And maybe, that is exactly how it is. There is no half-walking with God, partial obedience can never substitute full trusting obedience.
I also wonder about the death of Jesus. How did God experience the death of his son? Of course, this question and those that follow presuppose a particular trinitarian perspective. Did God fight the urge to stop the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus? Did he feel paternal? Or was it something accepted as a painful fait du complete. Does the term “paternal” have any place in the relationship between Father and Son? We sing about the fact that Jesus could have called “ten thousand angels” but did not. We don’t sing about the Father torn asunder by the desire to spare his Son and to save his creation.
One of the things I love about Jewish traditions and writings is that nothing is too small to be examined. I love the way Jewish writers enter the story and entice the reader to likewise look at familiar stories with the wide eyed wonder of a child seeing for the first time. There is permission to wonder, even if it leads to less trodden paths, or paths that don’t lead anywhere. I find it refreshing.
I am concluding with a disclaimer. This post is an attempt to capture my rambling headspace at the moment. It is not meant to be well thought out theology, my own personal treatise. It may not even express my final or future opinions. It is just an intellectual meander down a path that probably leads to a dead end.
Love it Asbo Jesus!
I haven’t got the energy these days to play around with wordpress much. I really didn’t like the last theme, but this one seems a bit cleaner. Need to try it on for a while.