Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Transforming Faith

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

From a Book Review on the book A New Kind of Christianity by Brian D. McLaren:
The central thesis, to which McLaren returns frequently to indicate its wide implications, is that Christian faith was terminally skewed when it was distilled through the Greco-Roman (imperial) worldview. This worldview resulted in a version of Christianity that was at once triumphalistic and reductive—a Chris tianity that was mainly about what happens after death. McLaren argues that the central message of Jesus, the kingdom of God and the life it entails, was lost or overlooked. There is important truth in this argument, perhaps especially for the world of American evangelicals, among whom it does sometimes seem that a version of Paul has eclipsed Jesus. I am less sure that it is helpful for the Protestant mainline and liberal Christianity.
I cannot speak for others. My road to Cultural Christianity is one of a personal sense of failure in my search for the real Jesus in the Gospels.

My search is perhaps the same that many others have had. They perhaps too have faded away from the Christianity or a feeling of such to match that from their youth.

What I have seen in the number of people joining mega churches or in evangelical revivalism is a growth in numbers without in many cases a growth in the Spirit within those institutions.

Too many people are clinging to the book of the Bible as some sort of magic tell all sort of medicine for everyday life and the life presumed afterward. These people I do not identify with.

That a man of simple faith if he reads and rereads the New Testament begins to see the flows and flaws of the original writers and they seem to be many. That since the Enlightenment, people have been willing to speak of discrepancies in the book. That was before modern scientific and historic research that puts us many times at odds with what a Christian is supposed to believe – that and what the life and message of Jesus probably was and glossed over or not mentioned in the official rule book of the New Testament. You do not need a masters degree or a PhD in theology to know that the Bible is an imperfect man-made book.

The quote above regarding the quest of one man and minister to find a New Way of looking at God and Jesus as well as the institution of Christianity - reminds me so much of how we see the world from the ancient writings does not match with how we now perceive our place in the universe.

That man’s nature as one of a sinner is a primitive way of looking at man who is both part human and part animal. That sin in many cases crosses swords with basic animal instincts and chemicals such as hormones. The myth of man is that man is made in the image and likeness of God – but what God – is he, she, it half God and half Instinct?

The rule book method I think puts the possibilities of a New Christianity on hold in the present world. How many of us when we get a new phone, or microwave oven or TV or automobile really read the instruction book word by word and letter by letter? In the same vein, how can you find the Spirit of God and or Jesus in an imperfect book in these imperfect times? The book at best should only be used as a guide in times when the Spirit moves you to read it and hopefully understand what you are reading in a higher light than the actual meaning and any mere man made words – in other words – to connect with the Spirit.

There is room for improvement in Christianity. There is also a terrible amnesia about the life, message and purpose of the life of Jesus. That amnesia should be sought out for a cure and the gaps filled in on hazy memory. All I know is that when I go into some churches, it may or may not have the Spirit I think it should have. If not, I continue on my quest to find a home here on earth while awaiting for the veil on the next life to be lifted and understood when I arrive there.

Arizona does not see the Light or the Map

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

I am a visual person more so than auditory. I can remember in the freshman year at college having to wait for a previous class to finish before I could enter the classroom. I and some of my classmates sat in an unoccupied classroom next door while waiting.

There was a map on the wall of modern day Europe. I remember looking at the map and considering the history of that geographic entity. I looked at the divided Germany of East and West Germany and a light bulb went on. East Germany was the approximate same geography of the historic country of Prussia.

That Prussia was always a war orientated culture, first for its survival and second for its eventual center of a United Germany around 1870. That is you follow a timeline Europe had three wars in seventy five years with Prussia/Germany as the ignition spark so to speak.

That the Containment of Communism in the Cold War by the United States and its Allies had its blueprints in the Soviet’s containment of East Germany – the Soviets prevented another European German War by removing the power keg West Germany from the Spark of East Germany.

I was surprised and disappointed that here I was in College and I had to figure out the truth of the then present day map of Europe all by myself. The Official history as taught by the teachers in college was somehow rationed out by the official party line of the CIA and the Pentagon.

Fast forward to modern day Mexico and the drain of it citizens across the border to the United States for jobs.

Arizona’s typically uncreative, punitive approach to protect its borders does not solve anything except maybe satisfy the angst of its country club gated pure white communities. Whatever happened to capitalism?

One just has to look at a national highway map of Mexico to see that in 60 % of the country above Mexico City there are no direct east west highways going from sea to shining sea that would encourage internal development and economic stability and jobs.

The wealth of the oligarchs of Mexico is one of sending exports to the Gringos up north. And not providing development to the northern part of Mexico.

Two parallel highways, one on each side of the U.S. Mexico Border at say a distance of ten miles could create an artificial economic zone for warehouses, factories and industrial research. Ring roads around the major north south Mexican Highways on both sides of each border could be a start.

If you are no longer in a no man’s land in the middle of nowhere, you might then be in a place where border guards would be effective in monitoring entry and exit into both countries. Right now building an expensive wall is not keeping our border safe. It is a government boondoggle.

Both countries would benefit from such a solution of encouraging economic development on the borders of the U.S. and Mexico. It would also leave the Mexican population with jobs and economic incentive for staying on that side of the border. Both countries would also have to provide tax incentives to create this joint economic free trade/production zone.

There are solutions to problems in this world. Medieval primitive immigration laws like those recently passed in the Duh State of Arizona are a dead end and not a beginning. Let’s try economics instead of politics and prisons.