The table of the Lord: eating together

In the gospel story the Last Supper is the calm before the storm.

If we were filming it as block-buster movie, the Last Supper is where we transition from the wide-screen shots  to a narrow focus – from  fast cut action sequences of arguing with Pharisees to slower calmer exchanges with the devoted and the trusted.

There is a narrowing, a focusing, that happens at this point in the story. It gets tighter, it gets smaller, it gets quieter, it gets more focused. Everything draws in – the story takes a breath. More

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Islam and the Fringe

Last weekend the LA Times had a review of Miroslav Volf’s upcoming book  on Christian and Muslim theological concerns. It is well worth your 5 minutes to read. Volf is a renowned Christian thinker and is supremely well respected in my circles. For him to be addressing this topic is noteworthy in itself – regardless of what he says about it. But when one hears what he says about it… it is truly noteworthy.

For Miroslav Volf, an Episcopalian professor of theology at Yale’s Divinity School, (the name of God)  is a direct route over the “chasm of misunderstanding” and hatred that has separated Christians and Muslims for centuries… In his thought-provoking new book, “Allah: A Christian Response,” Volf attempts to explain how the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are, essentially, one and the same.

Here are three things, from a uniquely Christian perspective, that I would like to see addressed:

  • The name of god – Is Allah the same as Jehovah and is that the one Jesus called “Abba”?
  • If so – are these 3 legitimate covenants with the same God? (1 with Issac, 1 with Ismael and 1 with Yeshua)
  • Can we figure out how to stop A) converting each other and B) killing each other More

the C.S. Lewis Bible

I referenced C.S. Lewis earlier this week. I am always surprised by how much people like C.S. Lewis.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that I own and have read almost every book that is out. When I was an evangelical youth pastor, he was my go-to voice for apologetics and devotional material.

I bought the “Year with C.S. Lewis” the week it came out (ironically, at the Borders bookstore that had just opened in my town). I took a year off reading the Bible for morning devotions (I needed a break) and spent my quite times with his thought of the day. I have bought a dozen copies over the years as gifts for friends that I thought might like it.

So I just found out that they have released a C.S. Lewis annotated version of the Bible. More

the Tao of C.S. Lewis

I was sitting in Comparative Theology class listening to a presentation on Taoism and something really struck me. It was a quote.

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name.  (Tao Te Ching, chapter 1)

Now, I am not under the impression that all religions teach the same thing and I am not interested in downplaying real and substantial differences.  But there is an aspect to our Christian tradition called the apophatic tradition that is important if often neglected – and it ties in here.
I had never heard of the apophatic way (Via Negativa) before seminary. I was raised with and trained for ministry in the cataphatic tradition. It was all positive, presence, blessing. In fact, if those ‘good‘ things are absent, I was taught to ask “what is wrong”. More

Churchlandia (portland)

I am fascinated by the culture clash that seems to be generated mostly out of BIG churches.

I was born in Ohio, raised in Chicago, spent 6 years on the Canadian prairies, married a girl from Montana before moving to NY  and then training for ministry in California.

It was in California that I encountered a kind of church I had not really seen before. Some call them mega-churches but I have developed a different name for them, since not all of the churches I am talking about qualify simply based on attendance figures.

After college I lived on the NY-Vermont border for over a decade before moving out to the Pacific NW. Arriving in Portland that first week was a reintroduction to these types of churches.

I call them Castle Churches. They can usually be identified them by three primary factors: More

Football Jesus

There is an immense amount of football on the TV this month and the ‘God’ or Jesus of Football players continues to perplex me.   But recently I have found some relief!  A month ago something happened that I can not stop thinking about.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a game-winning touchdown in the end zone Sunday in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That night he used Twitter to say the most honest thing I have ever read!

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

I can not tell you how refreshing it is to hear Football Jesus get it trouble! He never gets blamed for anything. He gets all of the credit when things go well and none of the blame when things go wrong. This drives me absolutely crazy. This was like the Twitter version of the Psalms of lament where the psalmist cries out “where are you God?” More