Category: Member Blogs

In Search of a Soul

It’s a rare thing indeed to observe members of the media from across the left-right spectrum offering something like a collective mea culpa in response to how they reported something. But this is, incredibly, what is happening in the aftermath of the storm generated by the already infamous video of the encounter between the Covington Catholic boys, the Native American elder, and the Black Hebrew Israelites at the Lincoln Memorial last week.
A relatively ordinary dustup at a protest that probably wouldn’t even have been news before the dawn of the smartphone touched off a quite predictable conflagration of outrage and virtue signalling and the reinforcing of moral and political narratives. When the story turned out to be a bit more complex, a bit more resistant to tidy narratives of obvious good vs obvious evil, some journalists did a peculiar (and commendable) thing. They said, effectively, “We should have resisted the hot take. We were too quick to judge in ways that served our preferred version of the story.” In some cases, there were even calls to withhold judgment (can you imagine?!) going forward. To take a step back. To ask inconvenient questions. To be the adult instead of the reactionary child.
Of course, these sober pleas probably won’t live long in our collective memory. Like everything else on the internet, they will disappear after their few hours on the online shelf, to be replaced by the next shiny digital object. “Cold takes” don’t sell, obviously, and as long as there is money to be made on online outrage, people will continue to be shepherded toward snap judgments and the stoking of inquisitional flames. Our dopamine-hungry brains will continue to obediently trawl the internet for vindication of our views. These calls for more measured responses to the news of the day (or what passes for it) will bounce around for a while in the aftermath of the Covington fiasco, but I doubt we will learn much from them. The next viral video of the next outrage-worthy offense will offer us the next opportunity to perform and parade our righteousness online. And we will, I suspect, gladly seize it.
This is the point where I often pivot to a plea for a lowering of our collective anthropology. We are all self-interested, all biased, all stupid and sinful. We should be more suspicious of our virtue and our rightness, etc., etc. But today, I find myself inclined in a different direction. It’s not that I don’t have a low anthropology. I do, certainly. I think it’s vitally necessary to make sense of ourselves and of the world, and to act with the humility appropriate to our station. But I also think we have lost something vital when it comes the inherent value and worth of each human being. This is evident in how we speak about our enemies, how quickly we leap to hammer their every transgression (real or imagined), how eagerly we shame and mock them, particularly online. Very often we don’t think nearly as highly of one another as we ought to.
I sometimes take pictures of quotes in books when I have nothing to write with. I found a note on my phone today with a snapshot of the following quote. I had no idea where it came from, initially, but I sleuthed out the source as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The quote itself is from the nineteenth century Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle and is approvingly cited by one of the characters in the novel:

Does it ever give thee pause, that men used to have a soul—not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as a truth that they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then… but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls… we shall have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us.

I don’t know the specific context of the quote. On one level, I imagine it is probably a religious argument for the eternal destiny of human beings. We’re not just the accidental products of biology and sociology, little more than a quiver in the dirt destined to eat and breed, make a bit of noise for a few decades and return to the dirt. We have souls, damnit! We are more than that! It’s probably a plea for an exalted view of human uniqueness that many in our day are quite keen to (inconsistently) leave behind.
But today, I’m also wondering what it might be like for us to, as Carlyle alludes to, act upon the idea that we are en-souled creatures. We might cast a thought toward God now and again, certainly, but we might also pay more attention to our fellow en-souled human beings. If we really believed that our neighbours, whether insolent teenagers in MAGA hats or Native American war veterans or Black Hebrew Israelites or whoever else, really had souls that could be shaped toward goodness, truth, beauty, eternity, even… That they weren’t just object lessons in the reinforcement of our worldviews. That they were particular and precious, not just placeholders in some irredeemable category in our brains. How would that change our discourse? Our behaviours? Our judgments? What if we actually believed this? It is indeed a pity that we have lost the tidings of our souls.
I’m not naïve. I know that people have always behaved in beastly ways toward each other, even when most people were convinced that they had a soul. But I’m with Carlyle. I think we shall have to go in search of them again. Bad things are befalling us and we need healthier and more life-giving ways of understanding ourselves and our neighbours if we’re ever going to find a way out of all the ugliness, both of the news of the day and of our reactions to it.

Syndicated from Rumblings


Third Sunday After Epiphany 2019: The Epistle Passage – The importance of the body and caring for the body

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (I Corinthians 12:12 – 17)
I am truly trying to work with this passage. This has been a very tough day (the day I sat down to write this), and my fear is that it is just the beginning of some very tough days – by current count (that is, again, as of the day I am writing this) at least 22 more. I am not sure if I have said, precisely, what my most current health issue is. I have skin cancer in the form of a tumor, and am currently undergoing radiation therapy. When you read this, there will be 15 more days until the end of my treatment. I have treatment each week day, so other than Saturdays each day I write, I have had a treatment. I started treatment the later part of December but it was not until the New Year that the side effects started to catch up to me. The last two weeks have been heck!
When I read the passage for this date, I quaked a bit as to how I was going to talk about the metaphor of the body. I mean my body and its members have been failing me left and right! How was I going to say something helpful and inspiring?! But I dug deep. And realized that in this instance it is not my entire body that has failed me – in fact it is a foreign and unnatural growth that has caused this problem. It took healthy tissue and corrupted it, and now the corruption has to be eradicated. And my entire body and all its members – my entire physiology – is suffering.
To dig deeper, if my entire body consisted only of my, say, right face cheek then I would be in deep trouble. But my right face cheek is only a portion of my body, and only a portion of the member of my body that is my face. Paul is talking about all of the parts of the body working together in unity. And it is actually the unity of the members of my body that have helped me cope thus far.
“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,. . . “ (Verses 17 – 22)
While the tumor needs to be eradicated, that does not mean that part of my face is going to disappear; only the comparatively small portion that is diseased will be made to leave. Or more precisely, shrink and melt away. The hope is that the major portion will stay, and in time heal from the radiation. I could not, and do not hate that portion of my cheek. In fact, I am doing all I can to protect it and nurture it so that the damage is at a minimum, and that in time healing will take place.
“ . . . and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. “ (Verses 23 – 25)
Radiation therapy may be directed at only one small portion of the body, but the effects are felt throughout the body. I learned this in only a matter of hours. I went from feeling quite well after treatment to feeling very weak and ill. I have learned how important self-care is – even more so than I ever realized.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.” (Verses 26 – 31a)
It is starting with verse 26, however, where my experience and use of the metaphor of the body parts ways with Paul’s. Not to say either of us is right or wrong. But Paul’s purpose is to use the body and its members as a metaphor for the church and all the roles that members of the church provide to each other. My purpose is to help you see, beloved reader, that care for the body is a holy act. That just because one part of the body may not be doing well does not mean the entire body becomes useless. Paul touches on this in verses 22 to 26. He moves on to talk about the church as the body and the members, well, members. Each with their own calling and role. Perhaps my purpose is also to exhort you to be gentle and caring for members of you faith circle who are struggling. To do good “self-care” in your faith circle as you would for your own body.
It has always, always been my hope that whatever experience I go through in my life might be used in helping others. It is the way I hope and pray that as a member of the body of Christ I might be supportive of the wider church and faith community. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Podcast: Is Being a Stay-At-Home Dad Shameful for a Christian Man?

Greg talks gender roles and considers the diversity of domestic callings.  Send Questions To: Dan: @thatdankent Email: Twitter: @reKnewOrg Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS
The post Podcast: Is Being a Stay-At-Home Dad Shameful for a Christian Man? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

What Does It Mean to Be Married to Christ?

The New Testament calls Christ the “bridegroom” and the church his “bride.” To understand what this means can change your life. We need to read this through the lens of first century Jewish marriage. In what follows we’ll highlight six aspects of first century Jewish marriages to see how each ...
The post What Does It Mean to Be Married to Christ? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Third Sunday After Epiphany 2019: The Old Testament Passage – Coming upon new knowledge

“. . . all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. . . . . He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. . . . Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. . . . So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8)
I have from time to time been harsh on commentators . . . especially on those who bring modern interpretations and foreknowledge that the writers of the time may or may not have known. I find that more often when reading commentaries on Old Testament passages than New Testament; and heaped on that interpretations that come from a very obvious subset of Christian beliefs. So my first thought and response was that the interpretation given to the people gathered before the Water Gate MUST have been free from bias because it would have been just the Torah or the laws that the Lord God gave to the Hebrews after the exodus from Egypt. But then I thought, maybe I cannot and should not assume that! And I was sad.
Where and how might bias slip in? How do we prevent it from happening? Is it fair to scripture to read it with the lens of bias of the times? Anyone who reads anything brings their own experience to the reading. One hopes that the discernment of the Spirit inspires the reading, the understanding, and the interpretation. But that is not a given.
The sense in the book of Nehemiah was that the people who were gathered had not background or understanding of the text that was being read to them because they were so far removed from the faith life of their ancestors and forebearers. This was in essence new to them. So of course they needed guidance and interpretation. That is why I first assumed there would be no bias.
“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Verses 9 – 10)
I got to thinking though, and asked myself why were they weeping? So, I decided to consult some commentators. And as I thought, the weeping and sorrow was because they were made aware of the sins they had committed – unknowing sins because they had not heard the law. But sins nonetheless. So I had to wonder, did Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Levites, present the law in such a way that the people were “convicted” and “condemned” for their sins? Ie, bias? Or was it because (as one commentator said) they were tenderhearted to having erred?
And then I thought further, could it be universal that all new believers (whatever their faith traditions) weep and are tenderhearted seeing how they past steps have been missteps? I remember myself at a young age feeling sorrow and remorse that I had not lived a more accountable life. New faith does not always know grace . . . yet. That comes with time.
May you, beloved reader, come to new and renewed knowledge with joy and thankful – acknowledging your missteps but celebrating new understanding. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

The times they are a changin’

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King was instrumental in bringing about radical changes within an unjust political and social system in the USA. I believe that the 1960’s were in many ways the beginning of a new era that is still ongoing. Bob Dylan, another prophet of the day sang, “The times they are a changin’.”
Theorists like Phyllis Tickle have said that in western Christianity there has been a major cultural shift every 500 years where a new type of church has started that affects all Christianity.
• ~500 CE southern split = Coptic Church [also beginning of monasticism and in the midst of the Christendom Shift]
• 1054 CE eastern split = Eastern Orthodox
• 1500’s northwestern split = Reformation, Protestantism
• 2000’s Postchristendom = ?
I believe we are in the midst of another significant cultural shift today. We have a number of factors all lining up so that again we are in the midst of a major cultural and religious shift. I also think that there are similarities between the shifts and some of their movements so we can learn from the past (See my essay on the similarities between Anabaptism and the present Emerging Church movement under “published articles”).
King and others in the civil rights movement used various methods to bring about change. What is the best way to bring about change to an old system? Three precursors and influencers on the Anabaptist movement illustrate three different ways to respond and bring change:
1. Erasmus: work critically within the system to bring about change
2. Karlstadt: bring about change when given opportunities by the system
3. Muntzer: promote revolutionary change to overthrow the system
Which one of the above models the best way to work for change in our own time?

Syndicated from gareth brandt

DNA Ancestry Maps

I recently had a DNA test taken to discern my ancestral heritage. The results were interesting; some expected, some surprising. Recently, they added mapping, pinpointing the areas from which my DNA probably originated. This contained a few surprises from the research I had done about my ancestry. Of course, a lot of what I state from my observations is pure speculation on my part.This first image is no surprise. The Klemmer (Clemmer/Clymer) name had several generations living in the Zurich area of Switzerland. Many of my relatives from the Franconia area of Pennsylvania since 1720 married into other names that came from this region. The Bern area was where my mother’s family came from. However, not only did Horsts come from this area, but I have many other relatives that married people from this area: Wenger, Hershey, Gehman, Martin, High, to name a few. This second image is a little more surprising. The bluish area near Luxembourg is not surprising, since the Sensenig (my maternal grandmother) line came from this region. However, there is no indication of any DNA of mine being found in the Palatinate (between the two highlighted blue areas). This is where I assumed the Klemmer line moved to from Switzerland. In my research, I found a Klemmer relative from the area, but not my specific ancestor Valentine. On the other hand, Bavaria is a strong area my DNA. I have found nothing about Bavaria in my ancestral research. I did discover that there are a lot of HorschMennonites living in Bavaria even today, but haven’t made any personal connection to them as yet. The third image is very interesting. This area of France was settled by many Anabaptists fleeing persecution in Switzerland, in what is called the Alsace. This area of France passed back and forth between Germany and France, and many of the area still speak German. There is some indication that the earliest Klemmer(Klymer) came from this region of France and then moved to Zurich. Did my Valentine Klemmer return to this region? Of course, with inter-marriage between Mennonites of all central European regions, I could have had other ancestors from this region of France. Finally, the fun discovery. Nearly 10% of my DNA comes from the County Donegal province of Ireland. Who of my relatives ventured outside the Central European German-speaking ambit to marry and Irishman (woman)? Did it happen on this side of the Atlantic, or in Europe? Is it simply part of the Celtic DNA that left traces all over Central Europe until they were isolated in Ireland?I am waiting for one more mapping result. I have 2.3% DNA from the Iberian Peninsula. They don’t have enough information yet to pinpoint from where my DNA comes. I highly suspect it will be Galicia, the northwestern part of Spain because it is a Celtic enclave. Legend has it that Celts from Galicia made their way on ships up the Bay of Biscay to the Celtic Sea, and on to Ireland to settle.
Syndicated from Klymer Klatsch

Run with Determination the Race that is Set Before You

Training clinics for Vancouver’s 10-kilometre Sun Run started last week.  With almost 34,000 participants last year, it’s Canada’s largest 10k road race, and one of the largest timed 10k races in the world. The annual event began in 1985, and is still going strong. One year, a local radio talk show host invited any runners … Continue reading Run with Determination the Race that is Set Before You
Syndicated from April Yamasaki

Podcast: What if I Don’t Like Church?

Greg and Dan talk about what to do when we do not like church.  Send Questions To: Dan: @thatdankent Email: Twitter: @reKnewOrg Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS
The post Podcast: What if I Don’t Like Church? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

4 Ways to Love God More than Money. Number 3 Won’t Shock You.

I wrote a blog last week in which I tried to challenge our North American attitudes towards money. I am hoping that this follow-up post will serve to help us combat our consumeristic society. I wanted to tread new ground, but alas, I am returning to ideas that have been alive in the Christian Church for centuries.The fact is that our use and love of money has been an issue for Christians since the beginning. That’s why Jesus spoke so much about it. Humans want security and freedom, and having money can give us that (in part). But humans are also drawn to power and control, and money can be the means by which we obtain them. It makes sense that the Bible offers us ways to keep God at the centre of our lives by discouraging us from making wealth an idol, but what does that look like in our North American capitalist culture? How do we actually battle our love for money and serve God alone? I know there are many ways, but let me provide 4.1) Connect our wallets to our faithMost Christians I know believe that worship is far more than the songs we sing on a Sunday morning. In fact, if we are called to make Jesus Lord of our lives, then everything we do is either in worship to God or not. The apostle Paul encourages us in Colossians 3:17 by saying that in “whatever [we] do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”We could ask this question of every part of our lives, but when it comes to finances, are we worshipping God with our money? What part of our financial life is a witness to our faith in the God who created the universe? How does our money management draw others into relationship with God? As private as our finances might be to other people, they are never hidden from God.2) Be a steward, not an ownerThere’s no way we can get around ownership in our society. I get that. But God gave us the task of stewarding the Earth. Psalm 24:1 reminds us that “[t]he earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” What if we saw everything, whether we own it or not, as ultimately belonging to God? That makes us caretakers, using what we have for the glory of God rather than just for our own pleasure. That doesn’t mean that we should never own material things (even nice things), but acknowledging that we don’t ultimately own them allows us to hold less tightly to them.One rule that I try to live by is that I should never own anything I’m not willing to share. That doesn’t mean I just give everything away or let someone cheat or steal from me. But if someone is in need and I can help with what I have, yet choose not to because I’m too attached to it, then I have put myself in the place of ownership rather than stewardship.3) Tithe regularly I’m still convinced that regularly setting aside part of our income to give away is the absolute best way for us to combat consumerism and greed. But let me get a few things out of the way first. I don’t believe that we should ever tithe out of guilt or coercion. I also don’t believe that preachers or churches should promise us any particular blessing from God if we tithe specifically to them. And even though the word “tithe” comes from the meaning “a tenth,” I don’t agree that tithing needs to be a tenth of our income to our local church.Tithing is setting aside money from the top of our income and giving it away for the glory of God. We find this Him. When they were greedy and didn’t do it, God said that they were robbing Him (Malachi 3:8).Our tendency is to be generous out of abundance. When we have taken care of ourselves, then we can give to others. Tithing flips that around and says that since everything already belongs to God, we give first, and then learn to live on what’s left. Tithing orients our financial life around God and not us. When we tithe regularly, it becomes part of our life rather than just a one time event. It changes the way we look at money and our connection to it.The reason I’m not stuck on 10% is because no one should ever go into debt to tithe. Yet at the same time, no one should ever be limited to 10%. Some families could get by with 20% or 50% and still live far above the average income level. The actual tithing amount should be discerned by the individual. Also, I would never enforce that we all need to give to a specific Christian institution. We should give to the work of the Church, as the body of Christ, doing God’s work around the world.What I believe is most important is that we simply get into the practice of tithing and see it as a spiritual discipline. Give part of your income away before you spend anything on yourself. See it as an act of worship to God and your role as a steward of what God has given you. Allow yourself to be challenged and listen to where God wants you to give.4) Live on less Let’s be honest. 99.9% of us aren’t going to take Jesus’ word literally by selling all we have and giving to the poor (Matthew 19:21). That would make us homeless and dependant on others. But caring for the poor, the widows, and the orphans (James 1:27) is a command we can’t escape. The truth is that such compassion requires financial support, and that support is often a sacrifice.We can probably agree that most of us can live on less. If we think we can’t, then the problem might be our lifestyle, not our income. It’s okay to let compassion lead us to sacrifice for the sake of the less fortunate. In fact, it’s a good discipline for us to give up something that we love or would love to have to help someone else. Sacrifice is never easy, but the rewards that come from generosity far outweigh what money can buy.If we want to love God more than money, than we need to love money less in our personal lives. When we see ourselves as stewards of God’s earth and understand that spending our money can be an act of worship to God, my hope is that we would see the importance of tithing as a way to battle consumerism and greed. And we may find that we can actually live with less and give away more for the sake of God’s Kingdom. ——————Abundance Canada (Formerly Mennonite Foundation) has some great resources about giving and generosity, as well as financial and estate planning.
Syndicated from Blog - Moses Falco

Amish Boy’s First Trip to Florida, 1944

Another Way for week of January 18, 2019 Amish Boy’s First Trip to Florida, 1944 Guest column by Merle Headings Columnist’s note: Many northern Amish spend the holidays or coldest months of a northern winter in the south. My friend Merle Headings (no longer Amish) remembers how excited he and his family were to make […]
Syndicated from findingharmonyblog

Second Sunday After Epiphany 2019: The Psalm Passage – The gift that the Lord God the Divine is to us

Preacher: “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
Seeker: Your love, O Lord, is like a soothing balm to my spirit and my soul. My worries melt away and I rest in your grace, mercy, and love.
Preacher: “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.”
Seeker: Many times I feel hurt and oppressed, looked down on and pushed aside. But within Your Sight, O Lord God, I am worthy. You take my side against the hurt and pain in the world. You champion my cause when fate and circumstances have robbed me of my voice and my strength. You lift me up from the depths, dust me off, and then journey with me when I must walk steep, dangerous, and narrow paths!
Preacher: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Seeker: I would not last a day, not even an hour, minute, or second without the Lord God. Your love for me, O Lord, washes over me when I am at my driest point. My soul and spirit are protected when in your care.
Preacher: “They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.”
Seeker: When my soul needs nourishment, you feed me. When my spirit thirsts, you quench my needs. I grow strong feeding on your holy word.
Preacher: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”
Seeker: I know my earthly days will come to an end. But I do not fear this. When the lights of this world dim for me, I see most clearly the light of heaven. I place my trust in you, O Lord, that the darkness will not consume me.
Preacher & Seeker: “O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!” ( Psalm 36:5-10)

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Podcast: I’m Suicidal. Should I Keep Leading My Church?

Greg and Dan talk about depression and suicide in Christian leaders.  Send Questions To: Dan: @thatdankent Email: Twitter: @reKnewOrg Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS art: “Melancholy” by: Edvard Munch date: 1892
The post Podcast: I’m Suicidal. Should I Keep Leading My Church? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew


Email Subscribe

Subscribe for blog posts sent to your email

Post Categories

MennoNerds on YouTube