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The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

From time to time I’m fortunate to receive advanced reader copies of books from publishers.  In the fall I received a copy of The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight (you can find his excellent blog here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/)a professor at North Park University in suburban Chicago.  I was very happy to find it in my mailbox at the office because I had recently heard a podcast on Emergent Village where Scot had told the story that gives the book its name.  I’ll let you read the story for yourself…it’s WAY worth it!

This book is a joy, it provides a thoughtful yet accessible means of understanding how Christians have read Holy Scripture through the ages.  McKnight unpacks the practices of tradition, literary and historical criticism and helps a broad audience understand how these practices have changed over the course of the centuries.  He does so by giving excellent foundational explanations supported by real experiences in his many years as a teacher of undergraduates and liberally shares his own life experience as a passionate reader of the Bible and seeker after the Truth is offers.

Though McKnight self-identifies as an evangelical christian he doesn’t allow himself or his views about the nature of scripture and its application in the real lives of faith communities to be co-opted by the stereotype of fundamentalist evangelicalism. In fact, at one point early in the book he identifies his church preferences by the hybrid name he gives himself, that of Willowpalian, a play on his affinity for the worship, program and fellowship of a place like Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church and a fondness for our Book of Common Prayer. He, himself is one of the Blue Parakeets in a group of folks in the Emerging Church  from across the theological spectrum who I find incredibly interesting and exciting as how the work of the Gospel is happening in a 21st century, postmodern, postchristian world (though he wouldn’t care for those last two labels).

After laying the foundations mentioned above, he puts the tools to work examining what Scripture says about the role of women in pastoral leadership in the Church today.  Once again, the mixture of personal recollection, intellectual understanding and pastoral insight are helpful in understanding how dynamic the church’s and believers relationships have been with the Bible down through the ages.

Long story short, if you are interested in a thoughtful, serious, inclusive, orthodox and faithful way of understanding of how we read the Bible can shape the lives of faith in individuals and communities I recomment you pick up a copy of McKnight’s book.  You can buy it from Amazon at this link http://tinyurl.com/8mlbtd

If you read it and like it, drop me a line or leave a comment here!

Blessings on your journey of faith and may Blue Parakeets brighten your relationship with the Bible.

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Dear Folks,

I’ve taken the plunge to a self hosted blog.  I’ll post both places for a time.

The new url for Breaking Fast on the Beach is; http://padrewarren.net

–Warren

The Ordination of Saint Hilary. From a 14th century manuscript.

The Ordination of Saint Hilary. From a 14th century manuscript.

The world often tells us that in order to keep from making waves we would do well to GO ALONG, TO GET ALONG. Today, January 13th is the Feast Day of Hilary of Poitiers and early father of the Church and a central figure in the struggle against Arianism and one who refused to heed the call of compromise or capitulation.

The Arian heresy was named after Arius, an early figure in the Church who claimed that Jesus was not, in fact, God but appeared to be of ‘like substance’ to God.

Arianism , had it gone unchecked, would have undone the doctrine of the Trinity as wel know it and would have rendered the Nicene Creed an historical anomaly rather than what it is, and enuring statement of belief in the nature of God as three distinct, equal and coexistent persons.

One of the hallmarks of Hilary’s contributions to the resolution of the Arian Heresy, was his ability to maintain relationship and credibility as a person and intellectual interlocutor with folks across the spectrum. His realtively calm demeanor, without compromising his beliefs in the face of enormous pressure to denounce the Trinitarian view, is one of his remembered as one of his most outstanding qualities. Though he was thoughtful, gentle, humble, and pastoral; he was no pushover theologically or in his commitment to the Truth as revealed in the Church. He endured exile and maintained faith in his position that Jesus was both fully human AND fully divine.

He was not alone in his endurance, but still remains and example of quiet confidence and faith in the face of secular pressure on the Church to compromise on its beliefs in order to consolidate power and avoid conflict. In many ways it was his commitment to the doctrine of the Trinity as the divine embodiment of mutuality in relationships that I suspect sustained him in the darkest hours and gave him the faith to endure to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some 80 years later, the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE) affirmed his position as one of orthdoxy and we remain Trinitarian Christians to this day due to Hilary and others of his ilk who had the courage of the convictions and the spiritual strength to stand on them, believing that God would set all things in order in God’s time. Thanks be to God for Hilary…might the Church learn from him the virtue of patience in the face of our ongoing conflicts, assured that God’s love is not dependent upon our being ‘right’.

It seems as though every morning that I wake up there’s a new crisis on the horizon.  It’s certainly not a new observation that there seems to be considerably more bad news at the doorstep than good news.  If we as Christians got all of our information from ‘the world’ hope would be elusive at best.

From the ongoing global financial crisis, the humanitarian crises in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Gaza, to the specter of climate change and global warming it is easy to conclude that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket”.

We who point toward the coming of God’s Kingdom to earth we do not have the luxury of abandoning hope.  To see current realities as devoid of hope we have to live in posture where we have to look from the point of view that the height of God’s creation is going to be brought about by human will, skill and ingenuity.  The reality is other than that, however. Thanks be to God!!!!

God will usher in the kingdom at time of God’s choosing and by a means known only to God.  Our role, it seems, is to be alert and willing to do what God would have us do in helping that to happen, or at the very least not working against God’s initiative.  We are, at best, midwives in the process of renewal, redemption and recreation.  God will birth the Kingdom here.  We are to stand at the ready to be of whatever help we may at God’s request and call.

As we look into an Advent season that is meant to remind us of the coming of God’s Kingdom in a helpless, homeless and poor child, may we be ready as the Shepherds and Magi were ready to go where the angels of God call us and to behold with wide-eyed wonder the new thing that God is doing.  It will not be ours to understand, but to experience and ours it will be, not to have nd to hold but to share and revel in.

Blessed Advent…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, God be with us.

I have been thinking and reflecting a lot about change lately.  It’s been easy to do that here at St. Luke’s Church.  Our community is taking some bold steps in faith to follow where we believe God is leading us.

Change is often unsettling.  I think, by the way, that’s as it should be.  I would also say that being unsettled doesn’t necessarily have to lead to anxiety and fear.  I’m not sure who said this, but I believe it to be true,

life is 5% what happens to you and 95% in how you deal with it.”

Let’s try on another one:

the only constant is change.”

It seems to me that if we believe these to be true, on any level, then we’d be well served to embrace the reality of change and equip ourselves with the tools to do so.  As Christians I think we are ‘equipped’ with a great set of tools by virtue of our call to discipleship.

In his book The Sky is Falling, Alan Roxburgh contends that we would do well to understand the important difference between change and transition.  Roxburgh basically says that change is the often unavoidable forces that are external, transition is the result of our internal responses to external realities.  To paraphrase our first quotation change is 5% of the challenge, transition is 95% of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Please take a few minutes to follow this link to the story in it.  It’s about a man who made a Nobel Prize worthy discovery and shared it out of a sense of obligation and nobility for the work is what was truly important, not the credit!  I was captivated by both the poignant nature of this story and its melancholy tone.  What would happen if we could be collaborative in all such ventures as Dr. Prasher has been?

How many of us, when faced with the missing out on the notoriety and money Prasher faces, would see silver linings in the way he does?  I pray God that I might have the humility and solid grounding it appears as though he has.

This is likely not news to a number of you who will read this but, here goes anyway!

What’s the most common ‘one-liner’ in all of Holy Scripture??

(Cue the Jeopardy Music)

If you questions, “What is ‘Be not Afraid?”, or “What is Fear Not?”, you have control of the board and a leg up on an even keel through the present uncertainty that surrounds all of us.  If you can really live into that advice, you ought to look into offering your services as a spiritual director!!!

No question we live in anxious and scary times.  The realities (or at least perceived realities) of living in the 24/7 new cycle are that we have at least one pseudo-crisis every day.  The language of exaggeration and hyperbole surround us on every side and inspire a sort of neo-panic that can function as practical atheism.

I’m as ‘connected’ as anyone (maybe more so) when it comes to access to information and ‘news’.  I’m coming to believe that it’s not having the best effect on my spiritual life.  When I invest my energies and time on what ‘may’ happen, I’m very likely to miss what ‘is’ happening.

Call me Pollyanna or accuse me of living in ‘denial’ but I’m coming to believe that ‘news and information’ are eroding our ability to be thankful people in relation to God.  For all the time I spend on worrying about circumstances beyond my control, I miss the opportunity to be truly present to the people in my life that are God’s gifts (for me that includes every person).

I baptized a father and daughter yesterday and the community was aglow with the joy of that event.  For a time, at least for me, anxiety was put on the run and Jesus truly was Lord of my life, my worship and my consciousness.  I, for one, want to learn how to live there more than I live in worry.  More chance for God to continue to form me.

Thanks be to God!

I have to confess that I am weary of the political season.  I am tired of hearing good people talk badly about each other.  I am weary of the collective monologue that seems to pass as debate in this day and age.  I am tired about the zero sum game that too often dominates religion as much as it dominates politics.  I’m tired and I just want to go to sleep and wake up and find out that it’s all over–or even better yet, that it was all a bad dream.

I’m not merely tired of partisan politics in government here or anywhere else in the country, I’m tired of the diversions from doing the work of heralding the Kingdom of God that sidetrack the Church as well.

I was reading a little book by Teilhard de Chardin the other night before going to sleep that made me sit up and take notice and helped me to refocus and fight the urge to flee from the struggles of politics.  In “Building the Earth” Chardin writes these words…may they rekindle your hope and focus your energies as they did mine.

Fundamentally, in spite of the apparent enthusisasm with which large sections of mankind go along with the political and social currents of the day, the mass of mankind remains dissatisfied.

It is impossible to find, either on the right or the left, a truly progressive mind which does not confess to at least a partial disillusionment with all existing movements.

A person joins one party or the other, because if he wishes to act, he must make a choice.  But, having taken his stand, everyone feels to some extent hampered, thwarted, even revolted. Everyone wants something larger, finer, better for humanity. Scattered throughout the apparently hostile masses which are fighting each other, there are elements everywhere which are only waiting fora  shock in order to re-orientate themselves and unite.

All that is needed is that the right ray of light should fall upon these people as upon a cloud of particles, that an appeal should be sounded which responds to their internal needs, and across all denominations, across all the conventional barriers which still exist, we shall see the living atoms of the universe seek each other out, find each other and organize themselves.

We must unite.

No more political fronts, but one great crusade for human advancement.  The democrat, the communist, and the fascist must jettison the differences and limitations of their systems and pursue to the full the positive aspirations which inspire their enthusiasm, and then, quite naturally, the new spirit will burst the chauvinist bonds which still imprison it; the three currents will find themselves merging in the conception of a common task; namely to promote the spiritual future of the world.

I believe that force that can bring an end to the systems and allow what’s best in them to coalesce around the promotion of the spiritual future of the world is nothing more or less than the Gospel of Jesus.

Should you, like me, find yourself weary, stressed, fearful, lonely, or whatever else in the coming months of high uncertainty, pick up the stories of the Gosple and let the Good News re-orientate you to work for the spiritual future of this world and all of God’s children in it.

Peter Gomes really ‘gets’ the whole Colbert premise. I particularly like the line that almost gets lost when Colbert talks about his neighbor. “We all have your neighbor”Amidst all the thrust and parry of their ‘fencing’ are great calls to the nature of what it means to follow the ‘Scandalous Gospel of Jesus”.

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more about “Peter J. Gomes | Monday September 15 …“, posted with vodpod

Colbert interviews Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham. Colbert does some very interesting interviews with folks from the realm of religion. For those who may not know, Colbert is a devout Roman Catholic and teaches CCD in his local congregation. Check out also his interview of Peter Gomes which was aired on June 15, 2008.

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