Mechanised church

"The harvest is great 
But the workers are few"
But
We don't really need more workers
Do we?
What we need
Is a way
To mechanise 
The harvest
Make it more
Efficient
So
Let's build a machine
That reaps
What has been sown
Sifts
And sorts
The harvest
No need
For more workers
Just a driver
Harvesting is hard
So
Lets build a machine
So we don't have to toil
In the sun
Or the rain
No need 
To get hands dirty
So
Let's build 
A mechanised harvester 
And call it
Church
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Church

And while I’m away
I’m leaving the fiancée in charge
Have you met her?
Yes
She’s the one
Who behaves like a whore
Has been unfaithful
On numerous occasions
Been violent
Lusted after fame
And fortune
But what can I do?
I love her endlessly
She’s my bride
And even
If she’s messed
With your own heart
And head
You should love her
And live with her too
Because
Apart from second hand words
She’s all you’ve got
Of me

“I don’t believe Noah existed?” Anya, age 6

I have found that reading the blogs of American progressive Christians can be more fun, more challenging and more enriching than most sermons I have heard in church. What can be just as eye-opening can be the comments, as conservative evangelicals seem to like to hang around and throw in their opinions too.

It struck me that the differences of opinion between people often lies in their interpretation of the bible; more specifically which parts of it should be taken literally as absolute truth and which parts were applicable only for the people at the time. My daughter just couldn’t imagine the whole world flooding, so I chipped in with, “Well how come the lions in the ask didn’t eat everyone?” David fought lions so they were indigenous to the area.

I then went on to explain that even if the story didn’t happen it was about how God loves us and wants a relationship with us, the thread through the whole bible…

So did Noah build an ark with his nameless wife? I have my doubts. I now tend to view much of the early part of Genesis as a poetic parable, not literal history.

Moving forward, some Christians get very upset about the breaking of some of the laws that the Jews were expected to follow, but conveniently forget about others. The early church worked out that at least a couple of laws were no longer applicable: the law of circumcision ànd the laws governing kosher food. It’s not recorded whether the church repealed the law on wearing clothes made from mixed materials or planting different type of seed in one field…

Jesus perhaps picked only one law from Leviticus – Love the Lord your God with your mind, soul and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. The prolific Paul of Tarsus made lots of recommendations to early churches and their leaders – drink wine if you have weak stomach, don’t let women talk in church or wear fancy jewellery, be kind, cast out people who make trouble, look after your slaves, pray a lot, amongst other things.

So how do you decide what should be taken literally. How do you decide what should be taken contextually? Who do you rely on to help you work out the context? Are the differences between Christians, and the groups they belong to, down to what we pick and choose to believe applies to us?

With thanks to Kimberly Knight
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/

Was Jesus a fundamentalist?

This is a response to a friend’s blog found here:

I think this is a really interesting topic and one I’ve been thinking about a fair bit since hearing McLaren speak on his latest tour of the UK and reading his latest book, which addresses the issue of pluralism vs fundamentalism.

For a long time I have thought that one of the characteristics of the Christian faith *should* be to be non-judgemental, being aware of the plank in our own eye and all that. As you point out, as soon as you believe that you have exclusive ownership of the truth you elevate yourself above the “other” and becoming judgemental is practically unavoidable, in my opinion. Couple that with a tribal, imperial attitude that the “other” should be feared and our identity is strengthened by hostility to those different to us (McLaren’s observation) and there is little hope, perhaps.

What McLaren asks early on is whether a strong faith identity always has to be associated with hostility to the other and whether acceptance of others has to lead to a watering down of beliefs? He argues that these 2 sit on a spectrum that we move up and down. His hope is that there can be a paradigm shift towards something completely different:

A strong faith identity that is benevolent to the other.

A benevolence that is rooted in a strong faith identity in Jesus (not the church or denomination) because Jesus was benevolent to the “other”.

Was Jesus a fundamentalist?

This from an online dictionary:
1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
2.
a. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.

What do you think?

Encouragement

I was thinking about encouragement this week. I was struck by two things, firstly I wondered whether I was encouraging enough to my children and family. Secondly I wondered if I sought after encouragement too much from those around me for things that I do?

As a community, I know that we should be encouraging one another, that is one of the reasons to belong to any community, religious or otherwise, but when British reserve, lack of time and my brave face combine, I am left feeling that practically no-one really cares enough about the things that I think, say, write and do to encourage me, beyond clicking a “Like” button.
If there is a God, and all that I try to believe about Him/Her is true then I shouldn’t be worrying about what others think, because surely their opinions don’t matter. I should be secure in the knowledge of an eternal, unending love. But I’m not…
I don’t hear God as an audible voice, he doesn’t send me encouraging texts or give me hugs. He doesn’t respond to my blogs, tweets and Facebook updates and certainly doesn’t need to buy my book. That responsibility lies with the people who are known as His hands and feet, His son’s body. But they’re only human.
So perhaps, I need more faith and belief in a God who calls me beloved, and less expectation of people and myself. Perhaps I need to ask myself:
Would I still write, sing, blog, tweet, if no person cared about what I thought? Or is everything I do an expression of reflected, eternal love, that’s between me and God and everyone in between?