Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Scream at God

I have screamed at God. I don’t think he minded it. I wish we would hear this more often from the pulpit. God is certainly big enough to take it, even if our faith is not.

The Jagged Word

By Cindy Koch

(The following is an excerpt from a presentation given on October 14, 2017)

I once asked the question out loud, “Have you ever been angry at God?” and I was met with a confusion of quiet stares. On my left I saw a half nod, quickly quieted as her eyes crossed the room. On my right, solemn and serious foreheads wagged stoically, no. A few frozen faces held their breath as the question hung in the air. Yet, for some reason, no one boldly shouted out their yes or no. The question uncomfortably stood before us, naked and embarrassing, and we didn’t know how to answer.

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Dangerous Assumptions

This is the conundrum we face. We need both Law and Gospel, and must live in the tension between them.

The Jagged Word

By Paul Koch

We all do it. We all assume things. We assume things about our friends and family, about strangers and perceived enemies. Assumptions function as a sort of lazy shortcut so that we don’t have to do the hard work of actually engaging in the details of an argument or the context of a statement. It’s easier to assume things are written or spoken with a particular agenda in mind and then speed to our judgment.

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Letter 48: Faith for My Fathers

 

It’s finally starting to look like Spring in these parts, after a fairly strange Winter.  In a few weeks my parents will be coming North for the last time.  My father has dementia, and while he can still make decisions, they have agreed that they need to be near family to help out and keep an eye on them.  I’m glad I won’t have to make sudden unplanned trips to Florida as my father did with his mother, but I wish their return were under better circumstances.

 

It’s hard to know how to pray exactly about this.  My father has stated very clearly that he doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone.  I suspect that as a child of the Depression, this thought was firmly impressed upon him.  I see standing watch for a few hours to spell my mother as an act of love, not a burden, but I can see his point of view.  He’s already a “burden,” and he hates it, but there’s nothing any of us can do. 

 

He can’t be left alone for long periods of time as he may forget to turn something off, or leave something valuable about.  But he can tell you all about his childhood dog, and how she loved to play.  He can tell me that the sun is shining, and that he had a doctor’s appointment that day.  But he can’t locate financial statements to complete his taxes.

 

He’s become sadder as a result.  The world looks more grim and depressing, and I can hear it in his voice.  No more opportunities, worse, no sense of hope.  My heart aches.

So, how do you pray?  That he is healed of dementia?  I haven’t heard of that happening to anyone, and to some extent, it seems to be part of the process of aging.  The days of a man are three-score and ten, and then only with much trouble.  Do I pray that the progress halts or at least slows?  Yes.  Dignity and comfort, and strength, too.  I seem to pray a lot for strength for various people these days.

O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy; endue his soul with patience; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

uncertainty

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Link: On Sanctified Sentiment

The author below takes deadly aim at the abundance of sentimentality in the Christian subculture.  Indeed, much of it is treacle.  However, methinks he stray too far into snobbery, mostly by failing to consider approachability.  Yes, nearly all of George Herbert and John Donne can be read, understood, and loved by the ordinary person.  This is not always true of either TS Elliot or Gerard Manley Hopkins, both of whom I have struggled to understand.  If you need extensive commentary or annotation to be able to understand it, the ordinary person never will unless begrudgingly compelled.

 

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Letter 42: Interlude

Since Sunday, this hymn has been playing through my mind.  We live in a world that wishes to alarm us at every move.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

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The Feminization of Christianity | The Art of Manliness

Welcome back to our series on the relationship between Christianity and masculinity, which aims to explore the historical and cultural factors that have made women statistically more likely to be committed to the religion than men. In our last post, we weighed one of the more popular explanations for this gender gap: that the theology, story, and ethos of the Christian gospel was intrinsically feminine from the start, and thus naturally attracts more female than male adherents. We ultimately dismissed this theory by showing that it’s possible to see both traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine traits in the religion. The fact that the softer, gentler side of Christianity has long been emphasized over its harder qualities, then suggests that factors above and beyond the faith’s intrinsic narrative and theology led to one side being privileged over the other. Today we will explore theories as to what exactly those “feminizing” factors were, beginning with a discussion of when

Source: The Feminization of Christianity | The Art of Manliness

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Why Does God Prune Us?

I came across this post shortly after reading another by Addie Zierman that challenged me to ask the question, “Where do you see God at work in your life?” I am sensing that this might be a season of pruning. As I see God at work because of Church, but not in it. Church has been a sore trial for me. I see God, but only as an observer. For the past year or so church has been about the absence of God. Yet I keep attending, while asking why I am still there. For the moment, it seems He wants me there, for reasons I do not now understand. I want to say that this reflection explains it all, but I have only entered upon praying through this. Pray with me……

rethink

1 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 

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