Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Embracing Injustice

A few months ago, a couple that I really look up to, recounted to me that they had sent a letter to the church they had been members explaining why they were removing membership from the church. I suppose they could have just walked away. I would have given them satisfactory marks just for calling to let the church know that they could be “scratched out” of the church’s ledger. But no, they sent a pretty descriptive letter detailing the reasons why they felt and believed that they should remove themselves from membership.

So, that got me thinking. Christine and I haven’t really been part of our previous church community since I was laid off. And we don’t envision a scenario by which we would jump back in. Ergo, shouldn’t we change our status to non-members?

Here’s my dilemma…and my question to you all. What kind of letter should we write? Based on how things went down, how much of what we feel should go into the letter? How much detail should we go into about theology, philosophy of ministry and ecclesiology? Initially, I thought it would be a good way to give our final “2 cents.” It would allow us to thoroughly communicate to the elders and leadership our “concerns”. Admittedly, we aren’t going to change the world with a single letter. But if everyone that leaves their church fails to communicate WHY they have made this decision, then the leadership of the church is left in the dark a bit. As I thought about these things, the desire for justice began coursing through my veins. I wanted…no…I NEEDED to be heard…to clear my chest about everything. Then, we could both “move on.”

Well, that was before I read this from Miroslav Volf. I have been challenged anew. Read it through a couple of times with our situation in mind. Then, make some suggestions about what we should do. OR...maybe there's a story you'd like to tell from your own life...

The “blood” in which the new covenant was made is not simply the blood that holds up the threat of breaking the covenant or that portrays common belonging; it is the blood but of self-giving, even self-sacrifice. The one party has broken the covenant, and the other suffers the breach because it will not let the covenant be undone. If such suffering of the innocent party strikes us as unjust, in an important sense it is unjust. Yet, the “injustice” is precisely what it takes to renew the covenant. One of the biggest obstacles to repairing broken covenants is that they invariably entail deep disagreements over what constitutes a breach and who is responsible for it. Partly because of the desire to shirk the responsibilities that acceptance of guilt involves, those who break the covenant do not (or will not) recognize that they have broken it. In a world of clashing perspectives and strenuous self-justifications, of crumbly commitments and strong animosities, covenants are kept and renewed because those who, from their perspective, have not broken the covenant are willing to do the hard work of repairing it. Such work is self-sacrificial; something of the individual or communal self dies performing it. Yet the self by no means perishes, but is renewed as the truly communal self, fashioned in the image of the triune God who will not be without the other.
–excerpt from Exclusion and Embrace: A theological exploration of identity, otherness, and reconciliation (Volf, 1996)

Monday, June 19, 2006

More Pics

Hollister Street Block Party -- Picture Share

On Saturday, we had our 1st annual Hollister St. Block Party. A handful of neighbors pitched in to plan it and the results were greater than we had anticipated. As you can see from the pictures below, there were quite a few people buzzing around--many neighbors from the block, along with friends from around the corner and other folks that got called down for the party.

I think this was a great event--not for what it accomplished--but for what it has begun. Now, it accomplished plenty...and I would be quite satisfied with the results. But I am anticipating and hoping for what will be generated from this Saturday evening together with our neighbors.

One example. Race. Now, pretty much everyone on our block is cordial and gets along. But race is still a factor. There aren't any hate crimes affecting us, but there are cultural oddities (from all parties) that affect our interactions. There are histories and events that impact us, even if we are ignorant of them. Even at our block party on this fairly diverse street (Latin-American, African-American, Anglo) there was still some self-imposed separation. People huddled with like kind. But as you will see in some of the pictures, the "colors" are blending together a little. These different colors serve to enhance the quality of the picture. Though "black and white" pictures may always be seen as "classic", we have to admit that "color" pictures display a vibrancy that is more fully ALIVE. I'm hopeful that our block party will generate both vibrant pictures...and a community that is MORE FULLY ALIVE because of the celebrated diversity.

This, the day before the Lord's Day, was my spiritual act of worship.

Friday, June 02, 2006

9's Are Wild--Part II

What is in a number? According to the Enneagram (from the Greek meaning 9-sided figure), we can learn a lot from a number. We can learn more about our personality, how we interact with others, what our root sins and weaknesses are, what our primary defense mechanism is, and what our particular gifts are. We can learn from the enneagram some clues about our maturity level...where we have grown and where we still need to grow. It can tell us where redemption has begun to take hold in our lives and the areas that we need to continue to beseech the Spirit for sculpting.

The enneagram is somewhat similar to other personality tests/paradigms. Maybe you are familiar with the Myers Briggs approach (are you an ESFJ?). There are a myriad of options. In many ways, the ennegram is similar to these other approaches. It is, I believe, distinct in some ways. For instance, the Myers Briggs has the advantage of being rooted in tons of research. Even though it is a relatively 'young' tool, its research base helps it be somewhat effective and useful. The enneagram has history on its side. It has some of its earliest beginnings in the 4th century and has been used for spiritual direction a signficant amount in the Catholic Church. Descriptions of its history can be found in The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert.

Here's the first thing you should know. There are 9 numbers...1-9...and everyone gets a number. There is no zero, i.e. there are NO LOSERS!

I am a 9. Christine (we think) is a 1. We discovered this past weekend that our friends Dave and Edie are a 5 and a 2, respectively. My buddy Micah is an 8, while John is a 7. Right now, that means aboslutely nothing to most of you. I think it would be too overwhelming for me to write a summary of each. SO, I think I'll detail why I think I am a 9--and what that means for me at this point in life. Maybe I can get those of you that are other numbers to write up a profile of why you are your number...then I could post those descriptions. Over the course of a few weeks, we could learn a bit about how the enneagram works and maybe some of you will be inspired to discover yourself anew through this tool.

Resources to consider:
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective Rohr and Ebert
Understanding the Enneagram Riso Here you can take a sample test to get you started...and read reviews about each type. This sample test in combination with one of the books is a great start.

So, the question that remains...Are 9's really wild? Answers forthcoming...

9's Are Wild--Part I

As of May 31st, these two Spring chickens have been married for 9 years. Married? Yes, married, gees! Now, we aren't setting any world records. Nonetheless, we are thankful for these years and excited about the years to come. The question really is, "How long can Christine last with Greg?" She may not be able to run a mile or sit through a 3 hour movie, but she can always say..."I've been married to Greg for 9 freakin' years!"

She's the best. If you think so too, I'd ask that with everyone's head bowed, you'd slip in a comment on the comments page. This is really just between you and Christine and no one else is watching. Thank you, I see that comment. Amen, I see your comment. I feel that there are more comments out there, so we will just keep playing the music and wait for all the comments to come in.