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Haha.  That’s a little poke at my friends who are in Madison right now taking a seminary class.  Recently a few of us were out at Catalina Island and while we sat together during a break they we’re reading their books for class and I was reading a Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren. When I read over this part I handed it to my friend Paul whose head is currently being stuffed a time zone or two away:

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would write a book about how Christianity has successfully dethroned Jesus as Lord to such a degree that the “Jesus” who is preached, pasted on bumper stickers, serenaded in gooey love songs on religious radio and TV, and prayed to is an impostor.  Here’s how I might make that argument:

1.  We retained Jesus as Savior but promoted the apostle Paul (or someone else) to Lord and Teacher.  (Even as Savior, though, we limited Jesus to saving us from hell, which explains why we have had comparatively little interest in his saving us from greed, gossip, prejudice, violence, isolation, carelessness about the poor or the planet, hurry, hatred, envy, anger, or pride.)

2. We did this in various ways: by assuming that the purpose of Jesus and his gospel was to get people’s souls into heaven after death and therefore concluding that the only really important thing about Jesus was his death (or birth, or resurrection) to solve our guilt problem that kept us out of heaven.  Or by deciding that Jesus’ message was “spiritual” and therefore pertained to “eternity” and not “history,” and/or by deciding that Jesus’ life and teachings were completely interpreted by Paul (or a particular church hierarchy) so they deserved little attention on their own, apart from the uses to which Paul (or whoever) put them.

3. We developed theological systems that taught us how to avoid many of Jesus’ teachings and reinterpret those we couldn’t avoid. [I’m actually stoked that people like my friends are learning systematic theology because they are those who would help to correct this…if it’s true.]

4.  We made up for our demotion of Jesus from being our Lord and Teacher by saying or singing his name more often, and by saying “Lord, Lord” as much as possible, preferably with deep feeling and high volume.  This allowed us to still feel like good Christians whether or not we did, or cared about doing, anything he said.

a Generous Orthodoxy p 94, 95

This immediately resonated with me.  I remember about five years ago having a conversation with Bob, the buddha, Green about how to reconcile some of the stuff that Paul writes, apostle not seminary student (although…), with the principles or attitude Jesus clearly communicates.  I’ve had this conversation numerous times since with different people in various forms using a number of metaphors.  Basically, when we run into something that Paul says that (to our modern or post modern, western, individualistic, non-Jewish, consumer, democrat/republican) rubs us the wrong way, or shoot, even something that we feel is “right on,” but is controversial (to somebody, which could almost be everything), we go back to the source: Jesus.   I think to say that we must always interpret Paul through the lens of Jesus is what I mean.

However, not everyone believes this.  I’ve heard people say that Jesus was intentionally cryptic and that’s why we have Paul.  It was the plan all along to have Jesus be all mysterious and set the stage for Paul.  It’s like a two act play where the first guy asks all the questions and then the second guy answers them all, and then some.  But I don’t buy that.  First off, I don’t think Jesus was that cryptic, quite the opposite actually.  I know, Jesus used parables, but he also explained them to those who asked.  (More could be said about that.)  I’m convinced that most of our struggle in understanding what Jesus was saying comes from our recent history and world view (see NT Wright people).  Second, point number 2 above is pretty convincing.  I know that’s not true of absolutely every church, and some would argue that the tide is perhaps changing, but it seems pretty accurate from my experience (pomo).

What about your experience?

I think that what I’ve been experiencing lately is a growing conviction that my belief and understanding of what it means to be a Christian is rather like building additions to a house and realizing that I’ve stopped going into a room or two that I feel have become obsolete and need to be scrapped for material.  I have also built a few rooms that I really enjoy being in and seem to have plenty of function, but the foundation for them was never constructed.

Wait, here’s a better one.  In Costa Rica they have these trees that actually “walk.”  The trunk divides into all these legs at the bottom, like a multi-leg tripod, or dodeca-pod rather.  Just look here.  The tree grows new “legs” in front and old roots die allowing it to move.

What the second metaphor lacks is an ability to keep some of the old foundations.  I don’t want a moving house.  Some of the most essential roots of my faith are the old foundation.  I could get lost here in the metaphors some I’m going to stop.

If I were a die hard McLaren follower, I would have a list of questions now.

I’m going to end with a few jokes I’m blatantly copying from a web site.  This is for you systematic friends, you can explain to me why they are funny, and blame some guy named Dan Olinger:

“Amillennialism and covenant theology are good friends, but they’re not going steady; they’re dating around.”

“I’m a cessationist, and want you to be also, if only because it’s getting increasingly lonely over here [ironic smile].”

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This from a BBC report, to answer the question:

Is the US finally going World Cup mad?

Simple, understandable economics. “…bars have made money.”

Finally!!  CHDK finally developed a stable build for our SD Powershot 770.   I’ve been waiting forever for this, mainly because it allows me to boost the exposure above 15 seconds.  I was expecting to get up to 60 seconds of exposure time which would allow me to take some sweet night shots.  However, after a little bit of testing, I’m extremely excited to report that I’m able to have the shutter stay open for 2028 seconds!  That’s slightly over 33 minutes.  Tonight I only tried out 126 seconds.  This shot was taken at 11:25PM in San Luis Obispo.  Lot’s of stars.

I consider myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to technology.  I grew up using Macs, all the way back to the Apple IIe.  In Jr. High, another student and myself set up the network for the whole school (tiny school, mostly included crimping the connectors on phone lines, anybody?).  Occasionally I would help people out around town troubleshooting various computer issues.  I’ve matured away from my Apple idolatry and have now used Windows for quite a while and have fixed many issues for people in our circle of friends.  I’ve even dabbled in Linux, growing quite fond of Ubuntu.  I enjoy both the hardware side and the software side of technology.  Since 6th grade I’ve been upgrading and installing RAM on our home computers and in High School I was on the winning team for the FFA State Computer Competition (hit me with your best jokes about that in the comments, please!).   I like to think of myself as an all around computer techie guy.  I’ve seen my share of computer problems, from the simple virus or malware infection, to the freak accidents.

Along the way I’ve also developed a pretty good arrogance about the whole thing.  I absolutely love it when people ask me for help because I interpret that as them thinking I’m really smart.  There are some other techie people in our community and I secretly like to think of myself as the “best” or at least the one with the widest breadth of knowledge.  Being perceived as knowledgeable is one of my biggest weaknesses / temptations.  I’ll work like crazy to get that kind of attention.  I want to be known as the guy that can fix things.

Just recently, I spent a weekend with a bunch of really amazing students; I was at Cal Poly’s student leadership retreat.  I’m transferring from Bakersfield College to work with students in San Luis Obispo.  One of the biggest worries that I have in going to SLO is the reality that many of the students will be smarter than me.  There are students in Bakersfield that are smarter than me, for sure.  But the culture of SLO will be a lot more hostile towards my “got it all together more than you” identity.

So, to jump start the whole humility process, and hopefully deal with some of the root issues of my insecurity, I’m embracing confession.  I’m hoping that confession will work as an antidote to my natural tendency to subtly promote myself and allow for the root issues to be vulnerable to healing.

Confession #1:  While at our last leaders meeting for Bakersfield College, we took a bunch of pictures in different poses to print out and give to each other with affirmations written on cards.  The goal was to take the pictures and then print them out that night so each person could take home an album to remember the year.  I was in charge of all the tech stuff related to this.  When I went to set up the printer my computer wouldn’t find it.  I spent 20 minutes troubleshooting this issue and downloading different drivers.  After 25 minutes I finally realized that I hadn’t turned on the power to the printer.   I then announced to the group my mistake and asked them to use it against me if I ever got to proud of my tech skills.

Confession #2:  Recently my sister’s laptop stopped working.  I worked on it for a while and determined it needed to be taken in to Apple.  I was going to the leaders retreat in SLO so I took it with me and dropped it off at the Apple store.  Even though I didn’t have any real play in this other than the transporter, I felt pretty good about getting the thing fixed and for free.  I also had made a back up of all her documents and pictures a couple months ago so when I got the computer back I set it up back to it’s original state.  Bam.  Issue solved.  What foresight I have.  Immediately after restoring the laptop with all her pictures and downloading the programs that needed to be installed (all free open source; yeah openoffice) I dumped about 8 ounces of red wine all over it.  Yep, smooth move.  I felt pretty stupid.  I did respond quickly, unplugged it, removed the battery, and turned it over.  I also took it a part and tried to clean out anything that got wet.  Thankfully, it still works.  No real damage except to the screen.  There is an inch or so wide swath on the right side that has a reddish stain behind the LCD screen.  But the thing works.

So I’m a klutz and an idiot.  I forget the simplest things like checking the power, and I break simple rules like having a big class of red wine next to a $1500 laptop.  Things like this remind me that despite all my efforts, deep down I know I’m not that great.  At least, I’m no different that anybody else.  For some reason this bothers me.  I want to be different than everyone else, and not just that, but I want to better than most.  And this isn’t a good thing.  It’s not that I won’t settle for being average or that I don’t accept mediocrity.  That wouldn’t be a bad thing necessarily.  It’s that I need something that I can hold on to that says I’m better than “them” or better than “you”.  It’s that I need something that I can point to that says I’m needed and valued here.  And on top of that, I need that distinguishing thing to be something that I’m totally responsible for and is controlled by me.  This obviously conflicts with what I believe about the gospel.  So, let’s hope this confession thing works.  My mind needs changing.

Here’s my sister’s computer taken apart.  Evidence that I can be a moron.  Plus, it’s cool to see the inside of stuff.

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