I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Dual Exposure of seeing God

We often sing…
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see you

In Isaiah chapter 6 Isaiah encountered God and “saw” Him.  The seraphs were singing and God was “high and lifted up.”  And yet what is so interesting about this event is the double nature of the “seeing.”  On the one hand Isaiah saw the LORD.  And yet, on the other hand, Isaiah himself was the one who was more exposed.
Consider the response of Isaiah:”I am a man of unclean lips and I live in the midst of people with unclean lips.”

The double nature of the seeing is that God exposed His Holiness to Isaiah and yet it was Isaiah that became so incredibly undone.  He was petrified.  He was afraid.  He was naked and exposed before God.  How was Isaiah so exposed?  Was it the power of seeing the LORD Almighty?  Or was God up to something?  Was God the one doing the exposing?

The amazing thing about this story is that God was actually the one doing the seeing.  Isaiah said that he saw God.  But maybe we would be more accurate in saying that it was God who saw Isaiah.  God was the one who was doing the exposing.  

To encounter God in a religious experience seems rather easy enough, and especially these days when our church worship experience is conducive to sensing the presence of God.  The presence of God Almighty is everywhere:  in the order of nature, in the moral order of the universe, and even within the heart of humankind.  But that we see God is only half of the equation.  What the story of Isaiah tells us and what resonates from Isaiah’s response is not that we must expose God, but that God must expose us.

The World Cup is upon us

The craziness of the World Cup is almost upon us…well, according to these articles bizarre events have already begun….

Bangladesh students on rampage for World Cup TV sets
DHAKA (Reuters) - Students at a Bangladesh university ransacked their dormitory and burnt furniture to pressure officials to buy two new televisions in time for the World Cup.

Ukraine squad offered sex incentive if reach semis
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukraine's players have been promised quality time with their wives if they reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What defines you?

Alan Hartung has a post about not allowing our tragedies to define us.  He says we should learn from the past, but not allow it to hinder us from moving forward.  Hhhmmm….but is it possible to not dwell on the past enough?  What happens when we don’t spend enough time dealing with tragedy and it catches up with us later because we moved too fast?

Where is the line between dealing with the past in a healthy way and not allowing our tragedies to define and dominate us?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The closest thing to Mayberry you're likely to find

REXBURG, Idaho - Law enforcement agencies depend on citizens in the community to be their eyes and ears. But officials in this southeastern Idaho town aren't sure how to respond to reports of skimpy bikinis, lost TV remotes, menacing squirrels, and a report of a neighbor's shrub trespassing.

Odd News Stories

A few odd stories and strange news out of the great state of Oregon…
SALEM, Ore. - Oregon legislators and staff members should not be drunk while performing their official duties, a citizen panel says.
Apparently some have found it a bit odd that legislators are showing up with booze on their breath and voting against drunk driving…Ok, no Ted Kennedy jokes, please…

And this also out of Oregon…
PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - An Oregon man has filed a $1.6 million "loss of companionship" claim against a neighbor who ran over his family's 13-year-old dog, Grizz.
Hey, don’t mess with a man’s best friend!

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finns should be happy about paying some of highest income taxes in Europe. At least that's what Finland's new Happy Taxpayers' Association says.
This is just too hilarious to comment on. It sort of feels like they are adopting Kindergarten-type motivational techniques! What’s next, smiley faces and little bear stickers for taxpayers that pay on time – oh, and you must also pay with a good attitude!

Friday, May 19, 2006

In Science We Trust

There is an interesting article at Fox News that Children Trust Science More Than They Do Religion. The article seems a bit conflicted because, on the one hand, they claim that “scientific studies supports the idea that children do not take all the teachings of parents and teachers at face value.” On the other hand they cite a quote from the article that:

"Children are quite dependent on adults for information," he said. "Whether with respect to science or religion, children are rarely in a position to evaluate the claims for themselves."

I think I would lean more towards the view that children pick up the vast majority of their beliefs via their parents or other trusted adults. Of course, this does not mean simply what their parents tell them to believe, I think much more is based on subconscious inference based on a child's observation. But this is psychology that is beyond me! The interesting point this article makes is that children somehow pick up on the idea that science is more trustworthy than religion. The article speculates, and I would agree, that children probably trust science because as adults we tend to take it as "gospel." In other words, if it is science we don't trust it. On the other hand, God is a belief we teach our children. In other words, it's debatable and hence something we must pound into their little skulls full of mush.

But what has brought us to this point? Is it fair to say that our society has places more faith in science than in God? Probably. In that case, perhaps Science has become the contemporary equivalent of the idols in the Old Testament. While God is debatable and up for grabs, science is the thing we can count on.

And where is the failure here? It is easy to blame the lack of apologetic education of believers. It is, of course, true that most Christians have no idea how to defend their faith against those willy university professors with little better to do than stir up trivial arguments against Christianity. So, I would heartily agree that the church has failed in this respect, that is, in the education of Christians in the various intellectual arguments for the faith. Very true.

But I see another huge failure here as well. It seems far to easy for the above mentioned Willy Professors and others to debunk belief in God by going straight at the Bible. One of the reasons it is easy to debunk the Bible has nothing to do with the Bible, in my opinion. Rather, it has everything to do with what many Christians have made the Bible into. We have created a sort of "Bible God" where the Bible itself becomes God. Some call this bibliolotry because, rather than worship the God of the Bible we worship the Bible itself. We turn the Bible into this an enormous answer key with all the scientific and historical knowledge we could ever need. The Answers in Genesis crowd might be a prime example of this fallacious treatment of the Scriptures. The text of Genesis becomes the answer key for all scientific inquiry. After all, if the Bible is "wrong" about science, then we can't trust it about anything, right?

But all of this goes to a very critical mistake in how we view the Bible. Is the Bible our own handy, dandy Answer Key? Sounds magical, doesn't it? And if the Bible is an Answer Key then it would be the Ultimate Answer Key because God himself wrote it. But there is a simple question here: Was this really the intent of Scripture? Did God inspire the Scriptures so that we could possess the Ultimate Answer Key? Or was he trying to keep a record of His great works? Or was He trying to draw all men to Himself??? Could it be that God inspired His Word by His Holy Breath through the "primitive" ancient peoples? For some this is an insult. They want a Modern and scientific Bible. A Bible that gives us Answers. But maybe God breathed truth into the text by using the worldview of the ancient peoples? Maybe we have been trying to use the Holy Scripture rather than listen?

Perhaps the church needs to recover an understanding of the text as it was given and received, rather than using it to further scientific or political ends.

Back, then, to our topic: The god that Science has become to our culture. I lament the loss of the belief in God - I mean, the raw doctrine "God exists." The simple, logical proposition. But much more than this I deeply mourn the loss of wonder. We have conditioned ourselves to tune in to the things that our senses can perceive and we have lost the capacity to extend our souls beyond our world and truly experience the Divine. After all, we trust science. Our lives are content and we have overflow of money and possessions. We can control the visible things in our lives. After all, in science we trust. And yet our souls become sick from spiritual deprivation. And so we fill our hearts with strange and exotic religious experiences that we may find in mystical meditation or in other so-called spiritual practices. We patch up our spiritual wounds with a band-aid of religious works and think that all is well. But all is not well. Not without a genuine knowledge of God. Not without the person of Jesus Christ.

I lament the loss of the belief in God. But I deeply mourn the loss of real wonder that comes when our minds are not confused by religion and philosophy that is disguised as science that tells us that "I believe in God" is a risky thing to believe: Better to order your life around the things that are sure and real - only the physical world can really be explained by science. It is difficult to really wonder and stand in awe of God when the only thing I can really count on is science. Can we really learn to truly wonder and reflect on God when we are told that belief in God is not something we can take for granted?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What does a person do at my age....

So, yesterday I went to the doctor to get the low-down on a sore throat.  It appears I’ve got a little strep and a little allergies.  The doctor, a lively woman in her late forties who made a crack about how old she was, told me that “at my age” I would start experiencing spring allergies.  And that “at my age” I had a lot of great things like this to look forward to….

So, I’m talking to my sister on the phone last night and I mentioned that I had a blog.  She starts laughing and tells me, “You have a blog?!?!?”  As if I’m not young and hip enough to have a blog.  As if I’m just an old geezer whose out of place on the blogosphere….

I’m not sure I needed this kind of feedback as my next birthday approaches….

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Can we make the Word come alive????

Tim Challies posted a little piece on how we should not talk about the bringing the Word to life.  The Word is already “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), so it is wrong to talk about bringing the Word to life.  We don’t make the Word alive, the Word is already living.

I think I understand the concern here: We don’t want to make the power of the Word entirely dependent upon human reception.  However, does that mean that we can completely disregard the role of the reader when it comes to the Scripture?

When I take the time to study the Word and meditate upon it I usually find that it “comes alive.”  Also, there have been many speakers and teachers who have explained the Word in such a way that it helps it “come alive” for me. Common sense and experience tells us that what the Word does to us depends, at least in part, upon what we do with the Word.  Do we meditate upon it?  Do we spend the time necessary to study it?

In John 10 Jesus talks about how his sheep hear his voice.  Apparently, there is a sense in which the call of Christ has an affect, but the affect depends upon where a person is at – where a person is at in a spiritual sense.  John 10 is not the only passage in the Gospel of John.  John 8 has some similar sentiments, particularly in 8:43 where Jesus tells the religious leaders that they are “unable to hear” the truth that Jesus is saying.  Why were they unable to hear?  Well, it seems as though they had put themselves into a spiritual position such that they were closed to truth.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Word of God is “living and active.”  But I’m not convinced that “the Word” is speaking exclusively about the written Scripture.  Further, it seems evident from the Gospel of John and from common experience that we have a definite part to play in making the Word of God come alive.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Does food taste better if you "smack"???

Today I was eating lunch at my desk with no human distractions: No boss around, no co-workers, no clients.  Due to my secluded environment I naturally found myself relaxed and able to fully enjoy my 12 inch Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sub.  As I focused my full attention upon the enjoyment of my lunch I began to notice that I was “smacking.”  Most of the time when we smack our food we are eating soup or something similar.  Yet I noticed a subtle smacking as I enjoyed my flavorful lunch.  It was such a positive eating experience that the question crossed my mind:  Does food taste better when we smack???

My theory is that the food does taste better when we smack.  This is because when we smack our guard is completely down.  We are in no way conscious about our surrounding environment and we have allowed our sense of taste to entirely dominate our present situation.  With our minds completely keen on our sense of taste we can fully absorb and enjoy all the wonderful taste of a particular meal.

So, the next time you want to really enjoy a meal – a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, for example – go ahead and smack away…..Just tell everyone at the table that you are savoring the fullness of the taste sensation!

Friday, May 12, 2006

How 'Daddy' affects your job

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Successes or failures of employees in the workplace can be traced to what kind of father they had, a psychologist argues in a new book.


The ancient days

There are a great deal of marked differences between the ancient biblical writer’s conception of reality and the modern/post-modern view.  It seems to be our lot in life to impose our contemporary culture’s views upon the biblical text.  This was certainly the case in Modern times as we scoured the Scriptures for all the answers to life.  We sought finality and certainty.  After all, that’s what every Modern person wanted.  If that’s what we wanted, then certainly the Bible had to have it, right?  

No one is exempt from imposing his or her cultural views on the biblical text.  For example, if the post-modern wants to create their own messages and their own reality, then surely the Scriptures could help them do that.  After all, if that’s what we want, then that’s what we get.

I want to appreciate the lessons of ancient thoughts and minds.  In particular I want to understand the lives of the biblical writers.  No one can completely return to the past.  That’s impossible.  The ancient days are gone.  We can never go back to their world or even completely understand and grasp it.  But through the text some of their lessons and views come to life.  We have lessons and inspirations in various places.  Little nuggets and gems to be found if we could only listen, and listen well.

As for me, I want to return to a time when humankind was not obsessed with trying to explain their feelings and spiritual inclinations in terms of physiological or biological impulses in an obsessive compulsive-like need to ratify the evolutionary and materialistic nature of the world.  I want to return to a time when men and women explored the mystery and paradox of the divine presence without the constant chidings of the enlightened scientific community reminding them that there really is no such thing as divinity.  Science and biology proves it.  What would it look like if we once again stretched out our souls to a real God and reached beyond the visible, material world?  Not in some anti-rationalistic leap of faith, but as a way of life.  What if we could once again take it for granted that there was a deep reality beyond the molecules and chemicals that compose the material world.

What would we find if we began to conceive of God in terms of his Realness and Presence, and spent less time trying to define Elohim in theological categories?  I want to return to a place of meditation where I can bow in the majesty of the presence of the one who said, “There is no one like me,” and really begin to understand what that means.  Where is the place where I can become completely lost in Majesty and Sovereignty until I begin to shake with fear and declare, “There is no god like you”?  Where is the place where answers to questions fade to the background and the chorus of praise and worship begins to drown out my mind’s incessant need for explanation?  I think it is in this place that my heart feels a terrible and restless peace.  Peace because my post-modern culture’s obsession with doubt, uncertainty, and irrelevance has lost its grip and allowed me to explore the Reality of Divine Fear.  But a terrible restlessness has taken its place and it pierces my heart with the understanding that my life’s quest is not in an arrival, but in becoming.  I want to become.

What does it mean to become a whole person again?  What would it look like for me to no longer conceive of myself in categories?  A mind.  A body.  A soul.  A spirit.  Feeling.  Thinking.  Faith.  Reason.  Faith.  Works.  What if we returned to the pre-Modern and pre-Scholastic conceptions of holistic personhood?  What would it look like to view myself in wholeness and not in compartments?  Would we feel more whole?  Would we feel less conflicted?  Maybe we could move beyond the point where everything in our lives – all of our emotional, mental, and spiritual confusion – has a psychological explanation:  Where I can be explained in terms of the masses of people.  Where I can be explained in terms of generic categories and generic psychological diagnosis.  Where I can be explained in terms of the observations of psychologists who know how to deal with people like me.  What if I were unique again?  Like in the ancient times – a whole person who was simply in the process of becoming and discovering.  Reaching out to the vast spiritual dimension to understand my finitude.

What would it look like to conceive much less of myself?  To view the earth as the LORD’s?  To think of myself as very small in comparison with the Divine plan and the activity of God?  Can I ever again look at myself as a smaller one if I am bombarded every day with marketing campaigns designed to cater to me, the customer?  I am a consumer and you must give me what I want.  I am in control.  I am the center of economic activity.  If you ignore my power of purchase and choice you will suffer the consequence.  Because my world revolves around me.  I choose you to become part of my world if you can give to me.  If I can take from you without giving more than I choose.  I work where and when I want to work.  And if I don’t work then I deserve to receive, nonetheless.  Because I was born to consume.  I will marry her, but I will also unmarry her if she is not what I thought.  It’s all about the pros and cons.  It’s my world.  It’s my world and I have become a self-destructive chasm of darkness and confusion.  I have collapsed under the weight of my own interests.  I have become too big.  I have lost a sense of Dependence.  I have lost touch with the Other.  

My world can be explained and I am its Master and Commander.  But what would happen if I could no longer command?  What would happen if I no longer mastered?  What would happen if I were not a “Master” of the biblical text, but the biblical text mastered me?  What would happen if the biblical text made me feel my place in the world?  And I conceived much less of myself?  What if I were undone by the Greatness of the Great One?  I am “post-modern” and I have no anchor.  I need no anchor.  The Modern Man was pleased by his anchor.  Science.  Certainty.  A Bible full of answers.  These were delusions of grandeur.  I have no anchor.  I need no anchor.  But I am still not becoming.  I am still no closer to the Divine Greatness of Elohim.  I am still no closer to understanding that “there is no one like you.”  Because I don’t feel inspired.  I chase inspiration where I find it, or at least when I want to feel it.  The ancients didn’t seem to need an anchor, but they did understand paradox.  And they understood the Divine mystery.

The burglars who care

You know, sometimes burglars get a bad rap.  I mean, some of them are genuinely concerned that their victims feel relaxed and go through the whole “getting robbed” thing with as little stress as possible.  Like this burglar in Tokyo:

A burglar gave a 35-year-old woman a shoulder massage for several hours after breaking into her apartment in central Tokyo and tying her up, police were quoted as saying on Friday.

Monday, May 08, 2006

How to reward your child if you are a drug dealing mom.

HANOVER, Pa. - A 13-year-old boy told police his mother required him to do his homework first thing when he got off the school bus, then smoked marijuana with him as a reward.

Movie Reviews

Mission Impossible III:A very good action/espionage movie.  In my opinion, it is the best one so far.  The plot line was intriguing and interesting, but at the same time I didn’t feel like it was totally over my head like I felt in the first two movies.  MI I and II had such a complex and fast moving plot line that when I would watch the movies again after a year or two I would still not really know what is going on – that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, because a complex plot means the movie doesn’t get old after watching it a few times.
Tom Cruise did a fantastic job, as usual.  (I’ve really liked his work on some of his recent movies like Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, and Collateral.)  I thought the romantic theme got to be a little bit much and it took the edge off of the whole “Mission Impossible” grit that has characterized this series.  The movie just got a little bit too personal for my taste, but that’s just me.  I give it 4.5 out of 5.0.

The Sentinel:
Absolutely horrid.  A cheap attempt to throw together a 24-like movie with Kiefer Sutherland and take advantage of fans of Kiefer’s television show during the most intense part of the season.  The plot was completely predictable and had zero originality – every element in this movie has been done before.  It was a complete waste of $7.50.  I’m a big fan of 24, but absolutely hated this movie.  There was a great cast and the acting was good, but they had nothing to work with in terms of story line.  Frankly, I think even I could have written a better storyline in only a few hours on a Saturday morning.  This movie gets graded an “F”

Mother's Day Gift Idea

Why not give the gift of cosmetic surgery???

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Proving your never too old to have a baby!

ROME/LONDON (Reuters) - A 63-year-old British hospital consultant is set to become one of the world's oldest mothers after undergoing fertility treatment….

That'll teach ya' ta' drink on da' job!

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

True Love is Timeless!

A 33 year old man and a 104 year old woman have proven that true love knows no age boundary.  Just in case you were wondering this is not a case of a “Sugar Mama.” The article specifically states that the woman is poor….and apparently this is her 21st marriage – that’s got to be some sort of record!