Thales’ circles

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Posts tagged Christianity

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We need to enrich our vocabulary.

As it stands, the word “Christian” can mean—depending on the context and who’s saying it—kind, hateful, traditional, radical, hegemonic, persecuted, love-based, or authority-based, and occasionally it might have something to do with believing something about Jesus. Much of the time we’re not arguing about whether or not to be Christian, but what it means to be Christian. That’s the real culture war, in my view. Can those of us who are Christians find a way to center the church on Christ, not ourselves?

Filed under language Christianity Christendom

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Poor Paul!  

I’m just reading this litany of all the people who hate Paul: Gentiles, Jews, other Christians, urban dwellers, rural dwellers, the oceanand I wonder if even a single person ever said to him, “Paul, have you noticed that the only common denominator here is you?”.  Maybe they did. Maybe they are those “false brothers and sisters” he’s complaining about.

I gotta say though.  I appreciate following a religion whose foundational texts were written by a failed revolutionary and total social reject who oscillates between beautiful, mystical images of an all loving God and passive aggressive whining about how people don’t appreciate just how right he is about everything.   It totally speaks to my human condition, man. 

Paul also speaks to me.


(via shortbreadstuff)

Filed under gpoy Paul Christianity Bible

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The central text of Christianity is the Bible, as mysterious and labyrinthine a library as that portrayed by Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose. … It describes ancient encounters with God which are far from straightforward. God knows who God is, as he once remarked to Moses out of the fire of a burning bush. Jewish and Christian traditions want to say at the same time that God has a personal relationship with individual human beings and that he is also beyond all naming, all characterization. Such a paradox will lead to a constant urge to describe the indescribable, and that is what the Bible tries to do. It does not have all the answers, and – a point many forget – only once does it claim to do so, in one of the last writings to squeeze into the biblical canon, known as Paul’s second epistle to Timothy. The Bible speaks with many voices, including shouts of anger against God. It tells stories which it does not pretend ever happened, in order to express profound truths, such as we read in the books of Jonah and Job. It is also full of criticism of Church tradition, in the class of writings known as prophecy, which spend much of their energy in denouncing the clergy and the clerical teaching of their day. This should provide a healthy warning to all those who aspire to tell other people what to do on the basis of the Bible.
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years

Filed under Bible Christianity

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LORD, shall we not bring these gifts to Your service?
Shall we not bring to Your service all our powers
For life, for dignity, grace and order,
And intellectual pleasures of the senses?
The LORD who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.
For Man is joined in spirit and body,
And therefore must serve as spirit and body.
Visible and invisible, two worlds meet in Man;
Visible and invisible must meet in His Temple;
You must not deny the body.
Now you shall see the Temple completed:
After much striving, after many obstacles;
The work of creation is never without travail;
The formed stone, the visible crucifix,
The dressed altar, the lifting light,

The visible reminder of Invisible Light.

T.S. Eliot, “The Rock” (via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under t.s. eliot poetry poem lit christianity religion theology

138 notes

In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead! And largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute. Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps,” or power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95% of his written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95% to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgmental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these “pelvic” issues.
Richard Rohr (via azspot)

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Christians Christianity belief creed mysticism morality Jesus

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In their frantic effort to escape the fleshly vices and so to be “holy,” many fell unwittingly into the far more crippling sins of the spirit, such as pride, rejection, and lovelessness. This, I continue to feel, has been the greatest tragedy of Protestant life.
Langdon Gilkey, Shantung Compound

Filed under Christians Christianity Protestantism virtue holiness Gilkey

135 notes

The Christian life is not a means to heaven. War is not a means to peace, freedom is not a prerequisite for following Christ. The Christian life is about practicing heaven now, on earth, even if it gets you killed. It’s not about making our way to Christ in some far-off eschaton; Christ is the way.

William Cavanaugh, Liturgy as Politics 

I think I’m just going to reblog this regularly.

(via invisibleforeigner)

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Christian Christianity heaven eschatology practicing faith awesome

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“In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision,” Augustine wrote, “we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”

As it turns out, God is not threatened by science or honest inquiry. If all truth is God’s truth, then we shouldn’t be afraid of what this world has to teach us. God is big enough and deep enough and eternal enough to handle our toughest questions and our most baffling discoveries.

Rachel Held Evans, in Relevant Magazine

Filed under Christians Christianity science faith Augustine Rachel Held Evans Bible

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Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like tides of an invisible sea. It’s there, even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian skepticism. It will keep you free - not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.
Flannery O’Connor (via invisibleforeigner)

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Flannery O'Connor letters Christianity faith theology mystery skepticism