Saturday, January 13, 2007

Announcing Mad Young Thing

I did it. I integrated my blogging into one blog - - so this will likely be the last post on Oh God, I think I'm a fundamentalist.

But don't worry. I'll still be talking about God a whole lot! And asking the questions that should keep us all awake at night, have we the ears to listen.

See you at Mad Young Thing; read my posts on philosophy, spirituality and my personal journey. And much, much more!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another thing...

...I enjoyed about A Generous Orthodoxy was the feeling that:

I haven't bought a book,
I've bought a conversation.

That was exciting and completely in keeping with the trends I see in the "secular" world of business.

Along those lines, I got all excited the other day over Open Source Theology. I'll no doubt dip into that in more detail later.

Amazing holiday

Well. My apologies for such a lengthy time in between posts. I'm actually considering amalgamating all my blogs into one, considering how infrequently I post on any of them!

It's been an amazing holiday season though. I finished How Now Shall We Live, no mean feat when you see the size of that book (491 pages minues endnotes and appendices). Then I read - in three days flat (it was the holidays!) - A Generous Orthodoxy, which was in some ways a magnificent complement, in other ways a jagged counterpoint to How Now...

Both books deserve much thought and meditation. My fluttering surface perceptions:
  • How Now Shall We Live gave me a lot of confidence in the intellectual rigour of Christianity. It gave me alternative perspectives on cultural "givens" such as evolution, the role of art in society, and the idea that popular culture is a reflection of what's really going on in society. Not to say I take everything this book says on board, but it gave me some interesting points of view that I had never heard intelligently argued before.

  • However, the tone of How Now Shall We Live tended to come across as combative. It made me feel angry at the seeming monopoly of Freudian, Marxist and Darwinian ideas that are presented with great dogmatism in academia and the arts. But I, and every other Christian trying to present their case, need to get over that anger, or risk appearing as another defensive conservative thinker who just can't adjust to the present.

  • A lot of How Now Shall We Live is devoted to debunking other philosophies. While this was really interesting and valuable, I didn't see it as part of presenting the Christian worldview. Instead, it can lead to the dangerous intellectual practice of assuming what we believe is the exact opposite of what "they" believe. So because we don't believe in Darwinism we reject innovation and progress; because we don't believe in Marxism, we embrace market-led capitalism; and so on. Particularly this book didn't do enough for me to address the world of business that I live in. And perhaps that was not its job.

  • A Generous Orthodoxy, on the other hand, made me deliriously happy in parts, because here was someone asking the same questions I have asked, and sometimes answering them a mischievous sense of humour I would love to have. It helped me get over some of the questions of life and doctrine that are really just mental masturbation or worse, an attempt to create an intellectual system of understanding God that leaves out the need for God to explain it all!

  • However, A Generous Orthodoxy didn't go anywhere near the fundamental questions of is there a God, how do we know we've got the right one, is Jesus God and is the Bible God's word? Well, it did touch on the last question, but only in asking what that means. So the fundamentals were taken as given, and that's probably right for this book - otherwise it would've been a huge volume!
What I loved about A Generous Orthodoxy was its big picture of God's work in creation. This was a theme also in How Now... but Orthodoxy put it in a way that grabbed my imagination more.

It also arrived at a joyously unfinished conclusion, stating that, while objective truth is out there (and in here), we will never have it all. How Now... gives a sense of finality, which is at once comforting and profoundly disturbing. I think I prefer the state of deliriously relaxed uncertainty in Orthodoxy, and its description of our journey of discovery which we go on together, in community. The need for that was the greatest lesson learnt and desire of my heart in the past three years.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A risky God

Great quote on the Prodigal Kiwi blog, and one that echoes my feelings after seeing The Nativity with my mate Darrell on Friday.

It struck me that Jesus was such a risk-taker. Of all children born, he had a choice, and he put himself into the most dire and risky environment. And also risked Joseph and Mary's lives too.

It's a call to adventure. Too often it seems like simply a call to the oppressively impossible. It's impossible sure enough, but that should give us inspiration. Not despair.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Are we ready to welcome the Church of the Mongrel Mob?

Are we ready to welcome the Church of the Mongrel Mob?

Very cool. And very challenging. Sam Chapman, whom I have met, has lived his life in community for as long as I've heard of him. This is not mere talk, this is shared life. And it's working, as this article shows. I thank God for what He's doing through Sam et al, and ask, what can/should I do?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Slate blogs the Bible. - By David Plotz - Slate Magazine

Slate blogs the Bible. - By David Plotz - Slate Magazine

This is very cool. Just heard about this on NPR's On the Media podcast. David Plotz is going through the Bible, verse by verse, and blogging about it.

Sounds like he's taken some flak for reading and interpreting the Bible unmediated, mostly from rabbis. However I believe the Bible - mysterious as it is - speaks for itself. I hope David finds the Bible reading him as he reads it.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Got some fancy new shoes on the weekend after my other ones fell to pieces. They're nice - they measured my feet and how I stood beforehand. Good feeling, knowing you're stepping into something that's made for you.

Made me think about how the Christian life is referred to as a walk. It takes persistence, but it also means God has prepared my path. I don't know if He's given me cushioned soles though!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What repentance looks like

You can read Ted Haggard's apology to his congregation here.

I didn't know much about Ted Haggard except that he was high profile in the US Christian community and also featured in Jesus Camp.

It was really sad to hear of another Christian leader's fall, and hypocrisy. Sad because of the harm it does to Christianity's image, but sad too because it makes me think of the things not yet sorted in my life. There but for the grace of God go I - even if not in the same way.

But what gives me hope is the truly repentant tone of Haggard's letter. There is no PR spin here, nor is there deflection of blame. This is what repentance looks like, and although it's scandalous that this has happened at such a high level of leadership and therefore responsibility, truth is we are all very broken people. It'll be interesting to see the church's response to this, although at the same time that's best kept behind closed doors and not made into a media circus.

Interesting and insightful analysis from Gordon McDonald here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Just spring-cleaning my desk and found a quote I'd scribbled down. I don't remember who said it but it was a guest on In the Studio with Michael Card:

"We wouldn't know Him (God) for all that He is, if we didn't see Him in and through all that He made."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More thoughts on "The New Atheism"

Continuing from the last post, a few more thoughts.

"Everything you hinge your life upon is false"
According to the article, a lot of self-identified agnostics are really "polite atheists" who are shy of declaring their atheism because, in effect, it says to their believing friends: "Everything you hinge your life upon is false."

That may seem a bit on the nose, but it didn't faze me. Because, in effect, that's what I'm doing to people with a naturalistic worldview when I present Christianity - real Christianity - as a coherent, rational worldview with moral consequences. That's why I don't present it unsolicited too often - because if it's real, sorry, if Christ is real, then He will change your whole life and belief system, not just become an add-on to your life.

Yet how many people have not heard this? They make a commitment expecting it to be X, and then hear later that it's supposed to be Y. No wonder it's hard going for some, and many have been turned off church forever.

Why Wired?
I heard an excellent podcast (which I got through iTunes' feed, and can't find on Wired's podcast blog!) in which Wired's managing editor (I think?) interviewed Gary Wolf, the author of the article. In it, the managing editor asked, "Why is this a Wired article?"

Wolf answered along the lines that the Wired economy is built on technology, which in turn is built on science, and that these Intelligent Design people are standing in the way of true science.

It's an easy statement to make, but it's utter bollocks.

Another podcast I've been listening to, Intelligent Design the Future, seems to be a lone voice trying to remind the media that:
  • Intelligent design is as fair a conclusion to draw from nature as evolution
  • Scientists who believe in ID are still scientists
  • Intelligence in design doesn't necessarily mean the designer is supernatural
  • These scientists often face censure from their colleagues for not toeing the Darwinist line
  • It's Galileo all over again, but this time the Darwinist majority takes the place of the Catholic Church, getting really mad with those who dispute their dogma
On that third point, intelligence in design doesn't necessarily mean the designer is supernatural, sometimes words get in the way of real understanding.

If you're an atheist or an agnostic reading this, how about we substitute the word "supernatural" with "extradimensional"? Does that make the picture any more plausible to your scientific understanding?