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Enter the Void – the year that was


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I believe in world peace.

I believe that all men are created equal.

I believe in the Force, America, freedom, the Tooth Fairy, a bearded man in the sky, Jesus Christ.

 

Beliefs are cool but in the words of Tyrion Lannister,

“words are wind.”

 

They say faith without works is dead, and I’ve often felt that to believe something you need to be living it. Otherwise you just like the idea.

But what happens if that “living it” takes over. What if that action becomes the only sign of faith, does it just become empty ritual… and how can you tell?

How can you tell when you’re so caught up in the doing that you’ve stopped being.

When you’re more Martha than Mary.

How can you tell when the things you do sneakily become  the relationship you have, instead of overflowing from it. And does the fact that I even have to ask a sign things aren’t right?

 

What seems like an eternity ago I embarked on some travels, part discovery, part losing things along the way, part chasing dreams & passions. A journey which saw me hanging out with the houseless in Hawaii, and sharing tears in Palestine.

A journey which saw me stop writing. A little bit awkward if you keep a blog.

And in amongst the travel weariness, shameless self promoting selfies, new experience buzz, innocence lost insight, humanity rediscovered, crisis uncovered, laughter, tears, solitude and connection, was an invitation to enter the void.

 

I would summerise my faith journey this year as an invitation to enter the void. The laying down of things near and dear to me, let the chips fall where they may.

I started writing this post early 2014. I’ll finish it in 2015. Apart from a couple of YouTube videos, quotes & previously unpublished poems, I only wrote one post last year. And while very little of what I write sees the light of day I pretty much wrote nothing of anything.

I didn’t read much either, I made no videos, I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t go to church.

In fact I lost all desire to do any of these things, which was a little bit strange.

Concerning even, if I thought to hard enough about it.

 

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Yet I felt strangely at peace with this invitation to emptiness, as if it were ok to be on this journey. Some how comfortable with the uncomfortable, or at least at peace with the process… whatever that might be.

Like rehabbing an injury, things aren’t right but one day will be.

Last year I attended a friends exhibition and was really moved buy the powerful stories and imagery, so much so that I bailed early, it made me think about my own travels, the people I’d encountered and their messed up situations. Maybe 2014 was the year I chose to shut down a bit instead of being overwhelmed by the worlds problems and my inability change things.

As 2015 begins I find a rekindled energy for some of my passions, a desire to read, to write, to create. I’m looking forward to finding and committing to a faith community, but that may depend on where I end up living. Somethings I don’t think I’ll ever resume, their time has past and I’m happy to let them go.

 

Love & Breathe. Here’s to doing coming from being.

Let-Go-Let-God

 

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poetic

hallowed


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behind a tranquil monastery is a boundary of forestry hiding a barbed-wire monstrosity

a church safe cursed by a razor-wire crown of thorns

we must protect our truth, sanctified and clean

like we set the standard for what clean is

hide your light under a bushel

unless it’s sanitized and superficial

poetic

Culturanity


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Supermarket-church snap-frozen-reheated greetings, cookie-cutter-christians rehearsed prayers and scripted meetings

Yahweh’s speechless we’ve hijacked his voice and branded it like sneakers,spread the brand globally sweatshop-manufactured-ministry, unethical in our political standing on others to maintain our status quo

checkered shirts, buzz words, clap for yourself ignore the helpless, it’s you who commands and god who follows, enslaved by his own words pages of grace turned into spiritual laws and promises

a world void of colour and complexity, 40-days of formulaic-faith-paint-by-numbers-christianity

we’ve robbed the God of creation his creativity, denied his mystery, trapped him in a black and white box of simplicity

is it any wonder he doesn’t flow through me…

when kingdom looks so different from this brand of culturanity

quotes

Christ & Christianity


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“Somehow our religion has made it too easy for us to forget the radically inclusive, table-turning, paradigm-shifting Christ of the Bible, and instead, subtly buy in to the lie that Christianity is a little bit boring, a little old-fashioned and not quite true in the parts that count” – Robby Dawkins

adventures

Caged Love


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Spent the day walking around San Francisco, from the Wharfs to Mission District up to the twin peaks to catch the sunset.

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In my travels I noticed that a lot of the doorway entrances have a caged door as well…

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and then I noticed some churches do too…

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and then I noticed not just doorways but little enclaves & places of shelter were caged off…

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and then I found this man in an alleyway…

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and right across the road was this church…

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it had a large sheltered area that would be perfect for alley-man to sleep & shelter in.

 

It may even make a difference in whether he lives or dies tonight.

 

I want to ask a question, so I find an entrance. On the way I see the churches slogan on a big sign,

Relationship. Not Religion.

 

I ask, “why do I see so many areas caged off?”. The answer it seems is because homeless people would take up residence there. “Is this why you guys have a caged area too?”, He looks awkward, a lady pipes up, “You have to remember we have to keep it clean for Sunday”.

I ask her if she knows a homeless guy died from the cold the other night, that he is the 5th in the last 2 weeks. She tells me if they let a few homeless stay (in the courtyard) soon there would be lots & they have families that come on Sunday.

He tells me they’re busy & I have to go now, I thank them for their time, I’m just trying to make sense of it all…

Wouldn’t God be appalled if our courtyards were dirty.

Heaven forbid we became known as a church where the least & disadvantaged seek shelter, or where faith was raw & real for our families, rather than disinfected-white-washed-sanitised-sunday-school-lives.

Lets do some simple math. There are easily a 120+ people there, that would mean committing 1 day every 2 months where you & another person cleaned up & served the homeless that gathered in your courtyard…

 

who knows, maybe then the words of your slogan would come to life…

maybe then it would stop being religion,

and start being relationship.

adventures

My Live Below the Line Challenge: day 1


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Day 1 will be the easiest, because it’s shorter than the rest. After coming off 4 evening shifts, Monday was a day off. My day didn’t start till after midday where I headed off to the supermarket to grab my food for the next 5 days.

Walking through the supermarket was when it finally hit home. There would be no salmon, no halloumi cheese, no coffee, no juice, no beersies, no Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon…

Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon is like the Jesus of food, it’ll change your life.

and I’m back… no eggs, I was really tempted by a large tray of cage eggs, but couldn’t do it… though I quickly jumped off my ethical-eating high-horse so i could purchase some bananas.

WP_001365Here is my shop in all it’s glory.

brown rice $1.60

Tuna $2.50

Bananas x3 $1.64

milk $2

Beans $2

Total $9.74

Which leaves $1.51.

I’ll need that for Friday.

Meal one: midday who am i kidding, 3pm. “Beans & Rice”

1/2 glass of milk

1/2 cup rice

1/3 can of beans

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I made the picture big so I wouldn’t be as sad.

 

Off to a good start. Today was a car free day I made two trips clocking up 3hrs of walking, although it meant I didn’t get home till 11ish.  Fortunately I avoided the rain but was unable to avoid a snail on my way home, I knew I was hungry because the crushing sound reminded me of crispy potato chips Mmmmm…

I just re-read that sentence, to clarify I stood on the snail, I didn’t eat it. That might come later in the week 🙂

 

Meal two: 11:30 pm “Banana Rice”

1/2 Banana, 1/3 cup of Rice, 1/2 cup of milk… all mixed together.

 

Almost midnight, I’ll be up at 5.30am to make it to work for 7 o’clock starts *shudder*.

 

You can follow my fund-raising progress here.

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fallout


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Fallout. Some intended, some not. Some you see coming, some you don’t. Some you think you’re ready for… only to discover you’re not as invincible or as invisible as you think.

I haven’t published anything of substance since March 22nds opening the Gay Marriage Can of Worms.

*sigh…*

 

That’s 6 months ago!

 

This is my 4th 5th – I’ve lost count – attempt to write a follow-up post.

I scrapped the “thesis” post, the “argue-louder-I’m-angry-you-called-me-those-names” post, and the “mailbag” post…

So I guess that leaves you with the “fallout” post.

 

What’s happened since then

Lots of people read it, it ended up in places I could never have imagined. I shut comments down, I received more emails in a couple of days than the blogs entire lifetime – some nice, many not. I had coffees & catch-ups. Gay marriage was made legal… my Facebook news feed read

Congratulations mps on passing your new bill now you have legalised gay marriage and prostitution what next pedofilla and rape?

and the world didn’t end.

I ambitiously set about responding to all those emails, had some great discussions before crawling into a hole & escaping to blog elsewhere for a bit. I went to Uganda.

Which brings me to the most surprising thing that happened.

I did a City-to-Surf run to raise funds for a mission trip to Uganda… someone asked for their money back.

Yep, that actually happened (& wasn’t the only weird bit of overreaction).

 

If these were the views I was espousing they didn’t feel morally they could support my trip. Never mind that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda… what’s interesting is I saw more guys holding hands (and held hands with several men) in Uganda than you’d see in NZ… you see it’s not a gay thing its a cultural thing.

Which leads to the conclusions we jump to, two guys holding hands in Uganda are friends, two guys holding hands in a western country are gay. Conclusions we jump to.

Several emails I received were about how provocative this pic at the end of the post was.

holding-hands

Two guys holding hands.

Except it isn’t.

I just googled “holding hands”.

It’s interesting what we see when we’re a little riled up. I got a little riled up, it’s why I initially delayed a response. It’s interesting the space we go to when we feel under siege, part of me wanted to hit back, part of me wanted to do the “mailbag” post & answer every question…

Instead I’ll leave you with a few ‘fallout’ observations & then the reason why I wont answer all those questions, comments, accusations…

The original post was just some thoughts on recurring discussions I was hearing. A lot was cut out, I could have written a book, but even I don’t read long posts. It was to provoke some thought, to (I hope) be permission giving for some, to even begin a discussion or heaven forbid… have thoughts.

 

 

The Bible – this could be another book 🙂

why the lack? There are many books dealing with biblical interpretation, bible times culture & homosexuality. Some arguments are stronger than others.

Ultimately we pick what we want.

Then justify our method.

If I’d included some text that’s all I would have been doing, and that’s the reason why I said, the “surrounding issues are close to many peoples hearts”, the surrounding issue being the Bible & how we read it, that’s what it really comes down to, that is the core issue. Not just in the gay debate, but everything… women leadership, abortion, evolution. Different crisis, same issue.

You’re asking me to read my Bible differently than my tradition has prescribed, and so I can’t go there. If I do, my faith is kicked out the door

– Tim Keller

Whatever side of the argument we’re on we make the bible jump through hoops and conform to the views we hold. Ultimately we make the Bible bow to words like “authority”, “inerrancy”, “narrative” & “myth”.

 

 

A human face

I finally put my name & photo on the author page. We interact with things differently when there is a face attached to it. It’s the same with the ‘gay’ issue’.

When we lack a ‘face’ we lack compassion, we say “love the sinner, not the sin”, and while we can love liars (after all, we’ve all lied), thieves (I’m guilty), druggies (we’re suckers for a good “Saul/Paul” story), pastors who’ve had affairs (so much temptation out there), our love for homosexuals extends as far as wanting nothing to do with you.

For many of us there is no real face to it, we can’t identify with the struggle, it’s media stereotypes and fear of that which is “other” to us.

If I preach love & can visit murderers in prison but can’t give a gay guy a hug, then my love rings hollow.

The face for me is, my gay neighbours & their adorable wee boy. The gay family I stayed with overseas. Friends I’ve studied with in High School & Bible College. Those I’ve cried alongside with in the church, because wrestling with your sexuality & faith in a place that is hostile is just brutal. I can see why many choose to quit on church, I get why most choose to remain silent, I consider it a privilege to have journeyed a little with those who didn’t.

 

 

Love & God on opposite sides?

This comment drew a lot of attention.

If when it’s all said & done,  and I stand before God & I’ve gotten this wrong, I know I will have erred on the side of Love, and that is something I can live with

I guess what I’m saying is that, in this moment I’ve made what I feel to be the right decision for me & my faith journey. But I recognise that 12 yrs ago I thought the world had to have been created in 7 days & it was dangerous to think otherwise, so things change. Ultimately I recognise my own shortcomings, I’m not perfect, and I’m not God.

 

 

why no ‘mailbag’ post

I don’t have all the answers, I’m still trying to figure stuff out.

I don’t think the topic of “how we interact with those who we see as other to us” is a question that should be answered, a box to be ticked, a solution filed away…

rather it is something we should always wrestle with, so I’ll leave it open…

wrestle, read, have conversations, think, pray…

because there will always be minorities.