Monday, January 28, 2008

The Power of Ikea

I'm reading Walter Wink's The Powers That be: Theology for a New Millenniumat the moment. It's an interesting book that has a lot to say about the interaction between the spiritual and the material. Wink believes that every organisation, has a 'spirit' - not an actual celestial being like an angel or a demon - but a personality of sorts which once it has been given life then begins to will and act through the entity of the organisation. These 'spirits' can often be tangibly felt by those with a modicum of spiritual discernment. I must admit, whilst his writing is communicated with a good deal of biblical coherence I was struggling to make the mental leap necessary to take his ideas on board. Then I went to Ikea.
What is it about Ikea? The place makes me feel so uncomfortable (which must be the ultimate irony considering its a furniture store!) The minute I walk in the place I start to get a creeping sensation of rage. And every Ikea store I've been in seems to have the same effect. It's like there's a mass-hypnotism in progress, people just aren't themselves. From the car park to the checkout it seems that the blue and yellow beast has its wicked way with otherwise ordinary citizens. Is it just me or can anyone else relate to that???

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Onward Christian Gardeners just doesn't sound right does it? And that, I think is a large part of the problem. Many in the Christian networks I tend to mix in seem to really revel in the idea of being a warrior for Jesus, fighting off Satan and his demonic hordes with the Sword of the Spirit and War Cry prayers. Revealing, creatively and consistently, the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven in our little sphere of influence just doesn't appear enough to capture anyone's imagination.
This whole issue has really been on my mind this week. During a break in a tub-thumping prayer meeting on Wednesday I confided in a friend my worries about the whole militaristic dimension of charismatic Christianity (worries that have become even more acute in these days of religiously-sanctioned terrorism and war). I asked him whether he thought the primary reality for the resurrection community is one of ongoing conflict with spiritual forces - punctuated with some times of rest, or, whether the primary reality is one of increasing shalom - punctuated with an occasional battle here and there. We got interrupted before he could answer!
Anyway, that very afternoon, we had the opportunity to spend an hour listening to a guy describing his decade of ministry in Burundi (central Africa, bordering Rwanda and Congo). In that hour any illusions I had of forming the 'Onward Christian Gardeners Society' utterly evaporated. I was left with the stark reality that in a large proportion of the world the only response to the prevailing evil (and I can't even repeat the evils he shared with us) is a potent faith lived out through the travail of blood, sweat and tears.
As an interesting adjunct to all this I happened to be checking out an MA course this morning. The subject notes were handed to me as I arrived, the headline: The Powers. What followed was three hours of in-depth critical engagement around the theme of Spiritual Warfare particularly centred around the trilogy of books by Walter Wink. Superb stuff. It seems that God's making a concerted effort at the moment to get through my thick head.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is virginity the last taboo?

I was surprised by the affirming stance taken in this article which was printed in Sunday's Observer... what do you think?
"In our hyper-sexualised, ultra-liberal society, virgins are perhaps the only sexual sub-culture left with the power to shock us. You can be as gay or as fetishy or as promiscuous or as transsexual as you like; you can be a regular at Cake parties and on the dogging scene; you can be part of an open relationship, and we won't bat an eyelid. But a virgin? Are you serious? We simply don't expect to encounter them any more. We certainly don't expect to meet attractive, assertive, well-dressed, professional, celibate Christians in their late twenties. But it seems that they do exist. And furthermore, they reckon there are hidden benefits to their choice."

CLICK HERE for full article

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

The 'I' in 'Everything'

Over Christmas I read Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope by Brian McLaren. It's an ambitious book that attempts to relocate Jesus from the first century to the 21st. Taking in all the big global issues like war, trade, poverty, politics and the environment McLaren tries to join the dots and get to root causes. There's loads of examples in the book to provide ammunition to any wannabee right-on (or should that be left-on?) finger-wagger but I was simply left with the sad and scary reality that I am part of the everything and I must change. Donald Miller describes his own similar moment of revelation in Blue Like Jazz:
Do I want social justice for the oppressed, or do I just want to be known as a socially active person? I spend 95 percent of my time thinking about myself anyway. I don't have to watch the evening news to see that the world is bad, I only have to look at myself. I am not browbeating myself here; I am only saying that true change, true life-giving, God-honoring change would have to start with the individual. I was the very problem I had been protesting. I wanted to make a sign that read "I AM THE PROBLEM"
God help me.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Story...

I've heard hundreds of people attempt to communicate the big story we find ourselves in. Different people have different views - emphasis is placed here, there or somewhere else. As a way of ordering my thoughts I've had a go myself. So here it is, 'The Story of God + Us' using just 10 pictures. I have some words too but it's getting late and tomorrow's my first day back at work. Maybe it's better if you make up your own narration anyway ;-)

Happy New Year!

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