Last week I wrote about how faith crises can lead to identity crises – if my life is organized by my faith, a loss of faith tends to result in a loss of order to my world, a loss of understanding about who I am within that order. But there have also been moments in the midst of that crisis when I have experienced the surprise of grace, where I have experienced a fresh perspective on God that has come, it seems, as a pure gift from God. This week I want to share a story about that happened in the midst of teaching.
I teach theology – this is a vocation so deeply connected to my faith, that it’s difficult to picture it from a place of weak faith. How can I teach my students to preach the gospel when I’m not all that sure of the gospel myself? How can I teach my students about God’s love when I’m not all that sure God loves me… Continue reading
Posted in divinity, eschatology
Tagged anamnesis, belief, contemplation, divinity, doubt, eschatology, faith, friendship, graced teaching, love, memory, prayer
I ended up erasing the final chapter of my dissertation and replacing it with another. The one I initially intended was simply too much of a mess, and too risky to do well with the limited time (and, more importantly, limited skill) I possessed in that moment.
In a nutshell, the constructive theological moments in my dissertation were all inspired by conversations between my own academic theological ways of speaking and the everyday theological ways of speaking articulated by people in my church (this conversational process was more formalized through certain forms of academic methods, but I won’t bore you with that here). The final chapter was inspired by a conversation about God’s eternal nature in one of the Sunday night theology classes I taught at the church.
One of the women in the class said that some time she spent with a friend who had Alzheimer’s Disease had helped her to understand God’s eternity Continue reading
Posted in divinity, theological anthropology, Uncategorized
Tagged anamnesis, culture, divinity, faith, humility, kingdom of god, love, memory, post-Christian
I mentioned in a previous post that I have been reading Wendy Farley’s, Gathering Those Driven Away: A Theology of Incarnation. The book is beautiful, full of gems that stimulate the imagination to theological pondering. In one section that particularly gripped my thoughts, she writes of the Christian propensity to hold our beliefs too tightly by the presumed (but erroneous) power and authority of our own knowledge. It is hubris, she argues, and I would agree, to think that we can know anything about God – the deep, profound mystery of Divinity – with any semblance of certainty. Walking by faith encompasses walking by doubt, I interpret her as saying. But she frames this relationship in a much more compelling way than I have previously heard articulated: “Instead of reifying any authority,” she notes, “we might explore faith as our capacity to dwell in the breach between our ignorance and our desire” (42).
I loved this image: faith dwelling in the breach between ignorance and desire. Continue reading
It’s pretty easy to turn a love song into a worship song. We’ve all been teasing Contemporary Christian artists for doing so for years. But what about turning an anti-love song? And what about a turning that doesn’t water down the longing for the lover with the bile of cliched romance?
I immediately loved “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars the moment I heard it (even as the video is pretty terrible…sorry for that, unless you enjoy overly-dramatic singing and gratuitous cleavage-shots which, undoubtedly, many do). But I digress. The song’s achy intensity resonates with my aesthetic sensibilities. What I love most is that the yearning of the song is the yearning for an unloved lover. Don’t we all have those in our past…the lover whose touch haunted us long after they left, but who we might never place on the short list of lovers who we actually loved? Or even the yearning for the hint of a lover – a flirtation never consummated but which lingers in our imagination?
In the world of the song, the couple is committed to a life together – whether in memory or in reality remains unclear – without love. And yet the yearning does not waver. If anything, absent love the commitment grows stronger. The song inspires worship because it poses the difficult question: could I continue to choose God absent loving God? And it articulates a powerful answer Continue reading
Posted in divinity, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged belief, control, desire, doubt, faith, love, music, unlove, whiskey