Mark Scandrette on priorities of Jesus followers

From Soul Graffiti

We often spend so much time reacting to religious traditions or a religious culture that we have little energy left to cultivate a proactive spiritual path. Even among “believing” people, there is often more critique and conversation about “the church” or parochial issues than honest engagement with the ways of the master – how Jesus lived and what he taught. Perhaps we have been too easily pleased by our overeducated ability to analyze and deconstruct. Rather than being skeptical, why couldn’t our collective sense of unrest about religion and spiritual community motivate us to be more curious and engaged?

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I Bonsai

…And at this point it’s not all that pretty. I think mainly I just want to keep them alive. I have had a few trees for the last couple months now and they are all doing pretty well. Not much to show for them though. I’m learning. I am a bit hesitant to post pictures as I want them to look like real bonsai and not like some scrawny sticks with a few leaves sticking out of them. But, I have put the pics of some of them below.

It’s the philosophy of bonsai that is really teaching me, I think. Slow down. Prune a bit here, pinch there… a week later new growth happens somewhere else. Not too much at one time. There is so much waiting involved. It is so much like what I am learning about growing communities. I want so deeply to know what things are going to look like in the future. I look and I study and I just can’t see it. I have to wait for more branches to come out. For more growth to happen. This will take so long. I am only just beginning this journey and I am not good at seeing what will come, what there is to be grown out of what we have.

Maybe in ten years or so. No one ever begins as an expert do they?

Mugo pine that I finally got into a good form
Mugo pine that I finally got into a good form
Japanese White Pine... haven't done anything yet
Japanese White Pine... haven
Juniper in semi-cascade
Juniper in semi-cascade
a plum that I am trying to re-foliate
a plum that I am trying to re-foliate

Emerging as just another color of the rainbow

I had a conversation with someone yesterday who said that Emergents are just another color of the rainbow. In other words, you have Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, emergents, etc… and they are all just trying to figure out how to faithfully follow Jesus. Different yes… not having everything figured out, but all adding a flavor to this thing we call Christianity. Emerging church is new, yes, but in the grand scheme of history, there is nothing all that new about it. The danger, he said, is when they feel like they need to change the rainbow. I agreed to an extent… but as I think about it, it raises too many questions to agree.

How do we explain that there are emergents already in every color of the rainbow? These folks are trying to remain true to many of the things that they hold valuable within their color | denomination yet rethink some things as they learn and grow from other colors. If they are found within every color of the rainbow, they can’t be a totally new color.

Maybe the analogy just doesn’t work. Maybe we don’t see the other colors as valid as our own… Maybe we don’t see the rainbow as a whole. Maybe we just see it as separate colors and not as a rainbow. Maybe emergents are trying to get at the view of the rainbow for what it is and excepting the reality that we have made it more than it really is. Maybe it’s not about the rainbow. I don’t know.

I as an Emergent Christian am not trying to change Christianity… but at the same time I exist in the reality that Christianity is changing… or I should say that our world is changing and Christianity, while changing much slower, is changing too. We are in a dynamic time where we can be part of that change, not resistant to it. I see it this way:

God is up to something… always
Present in a world that is changing… growing,
Learning
We long to be a part of what he’s doing
The growth of his kingdom
So we grow, change, learn
Paying attention
And in that we change as well.

The Rainbow changes because we understand the rainbow differently. It’s not about the colors, they all exist in the same rainbow. When it all comes down to it, all the colors are made of the same material… there is nothing different about any of them. And ultimately, perhaps, emergent is creating a place where all can come and be rainbows. In the words of Bob Marley from Sun is Shining

When the mornin gather the rainbow, yeah, yeah
Want you to know, Im a rainbow too
To the rescue, here I am
Want you to know, yall, can you, can you, can you understand?

Having rested, I begin again

Hold, wait, breath…
Taking in so much, I have nothing to give…
Ok with that
Sitting for a while
Wondering when it will come.
The giving the sharing…
The face to face through the steam in our coffees
The conversation in the smoke of our pipes.
Laughing and wondering over one fine beer… or two
Grunting and yelling, diving and crashing
Separated by a tennis net or a mountain trail.

I give
Though not in words
I live
Though not in print
Active, but dormant … remaining silent

Having rested, I begin again

Annie Dillard on being human

From Holy the Firm

It is the best joke there is, that we are here, and fools – that we are sown into time like so much corn, that we are souls sprinkled at random like salt into time and dissolved here, spread into matter, connected by cells right down to our feet, and those feet likely to fell us over a tree root or jam us on a stone. The joke part is that we forget it. Give the mind two seconds alone and it thinks it’s Pythagoras. We wake up a hundred times a day and laugh.

The joke of the world is less like a banana peal than a rake, the old rake in the grass, the one you step on, foot to forehead. It all comes together. In a twinkling. You have to admire the gag for its symmetry, accomplishing all with one right angle, the same right angle which accomplishes all philosophy. One step on the rake and it’s mind under matter once again. You wake up with a piece of tree in your skull. You wake up with fruit on your hands. You wake up in a clearing and see yourself, ashamed. You see your own face and it’s seven years old and there’s no knowing why, or where you’ve been since. We’re tossed broadcast into time like so much grass, some raven god’s sweet hay.

So much brings us back to the knucklehead in us. May we not forget that it’s there.