more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.

 

The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.


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Wednesday
Oct222008

To rob bell in response to 'Jesus wants to save Christians'

 

Jeremiah Wright, Jack Kevorkian and Rob Bell have a common thread. They all have had an axe to grind against ‘the Man’, the empire, the oppressor, the cold hearted merciless bully who is at the top of the heap. They are prophets from within the empire.

And the bully will do almost anything to silence ’these’ people, the ones who stand up for the ‘little guy’. When they speak against 'systemic oppression' calling them to task they are ridiculed and made to look foolish so as to quiet their messages.

King of the hill was a game we played when we were young. Little did I know it wasn’t really just a game; it is life in the lower story. As children we walked away from the mount arm in arm. We went home for dinner. We were kids. But we aren’t children anymore. In real life we plant flags and crosses on the hills we take. And we stand our ground.

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton was a historian and a moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton. He expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Another English politician with no shortage of names - William Pitt, the Elder, The Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778, is sometimes wrongly attributed as the source. He did say something similar, in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770:

"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"

I have come to know Pitt as the great friend of slave abolitionist William Wilberforce through the recent film ‘Amazing Grace’. Wilberforce spent his entire life tirelessly campaigning for the freedom of those of less fortune. He was a hero for the oppressed, the slave.

The cry.

And on the topic of slavery, what should we say of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King? We’ve made him a hero of sorts, to speak against him these days would be to call scorn upon your own head. Yet those with a long memory can recall that in his day he was such a thorn in the side of so many of the white privileged class. The jury was out on him. Perhaps he was ‘a communist’. To speak against him now seems almost archaic. It seems blasphemous...But it wasn’t so long ago….

And you can add the prophets of Israel spirited by the likes of Amos to the list. Their message was almost never well received in their own time by the powers that be. They spoke out for the widow, orphan, and the poor of the world.

The little Aurore’s of the world. Aurore is the story of a little girl who was a victim of child abuse in Canada. Although there were many occasions where someone could have stopped the atrocity--no one came until it was too late. She was born in 1909 and died in 1920. Someone should have said something. But the townspeople just minded their own business--and took care of their own 'stuff'.

And why not just be honest about it; that madman John the Baptist was really out of line. He lost his head over his protests. He should have held his tongue, he should have kowtowed. Maybe if he had hedged his words and just went to the synagogue and kept his religion a matter of personal preference like ‘a good Jewish citizen should’ he would have been ok. The Jews were after all are ‘allowed’ to practice their personal religion within their walls of propriety. You are permitted to have beliefs, stands; opinions provide you keep them mostly private. He should have kept a low profile. He should have known.

And while we are at it we might as well add Jesus to the list. He was managed by the powers of his day, too. When the rabble (the name unaffectionatly given to the peasant class folk that Jesus emerged from) began to gather round him the powers that be took notice. When He came into the city at the final Passover He was a marked man. So he rode in on a donkey. He knew what was going on. Traps were laid. It was a matter of time.

Cross Rome and you end up on a cross. Turn over tables and they will turn on you.

Crucify him became the cry of the people. And that was just the moment they were looking for. And there it is—He is driven outside the gates of the community now hanging for all to see. Naked and ashamed is He. On the day he was crucified it was a brutal disgrace for the upstart Jew. I doubt that anyone had any idea of what had just happened.

The ones on retainer usually do the dirty work. It is a way to climb the ladder. Show Caesar that you have things well in hand and you may move up to another post outside of this god awful assignment in Jerusalem. Please Pilate as the Jewish leaders on 'retainer' were inclined to do and they would be rewarded with a peaceable life, bordering on pleasant, for their efforts. After all their 'maintaining the peace' suggested Pilate was a success. And those that cross Rome and upset tables. Well, just take a look outside the city and up on the hill.

This is what happens to those who ‘speak out’ against those in ‘power’ or as Marcus Borg and Walter Wink before him called them ‘the domination systems’.

And they are martyrs. The question is; why do we keep killing the best in us all.

Dion sang ‘seems the good they die young I just looked around and he’s gone’. The song was recorded in 1968. It was a year I‘ll never forget; a year when my 12 year old antenna was up and listening hard. That year my father was in a horrendous car accident that nearly took his life, the Tigers won the World Series and there were race riots in the street just down from my house. Martin Luther King was assassinated but I made the little league All-Stars. It was a time of uncertainty. I was sad and happy and confused all at the same time.

I can vividly remember playing ‘king of the hill’ in the front yard—trying to cope—to make sense of it all. It never did.

I never met Jeremiah Wright but I ‘get him’ and his rants though I don’t always agree with his way of saying things. (For my perspective on Dr. Wright see Traditions below) I suspect siding or speaking well of him in these days is akin to speaking well of the prophets of old and Jesus Himself in His day. Not so popular. I have never met Jack Kevorkian but ‘I feel what he feels’ when he speaks passionately for the terminally ill. Yes he crossed societies agreed upon line and is an eccentric figure to be sure. But he has some arguments that ought to be heard. When Barack Obama gave his exceptional speech on election night he said 'we will listen to all and particularly close to those who have different opinions' and my respect for him grew. Kervorkina has a voice. When he stood his ground it was, for him, personally devastating. And to say I feel with him puts me at odds with a lot of people in the world these days, too. But when you see someone dying a slow agonizing death you become a little less political and a lot more compassionate.

I have met Rob Bell.

And I am cheering for him. I know the jury is out on him by many of the ‘powers that be’. Some people accuse him of being the devil himself but I don’t agree.

I think I ‘know’ Rob Bell. My antenna is up and I sense something good in him. When Lloyd Bentsen said ‘Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy . ’ to Dan Qualye we all got it. Sometimes comparisons simply overdraw the account. And while Rob Bell is no MLK, John the Baptist or certainly not Jesus there is something on him. And it is good. I suspect he may be one of the ‘giants in the land’ for the oppressed in our time. And that is so like Amos, Jack, Jeremiah, and MLK, John and Jesus. And some will be out to get him for that.

And in my mind I can sometimes imagine Rob Bell making it; I can see him ‘walking up over that hill with Abraham, Martin, and John.’In the NOOMA videos, which helped to make him known Rob always ends with a spoken blessing. It always begins with ‘may you’.

And now a blessing to you Rob and to your co-author Don Golden—may you survive without corruption. May you, in the words of my musician friend Drew Nelson, ‘never forget where you come from and never forget where you're going--for you are—the immigrant’s son’.

May power never corrupt—may the ‘powers that be’ not crucify. May the cry be heard.

Abraham, Martin, and John

By Richard Holler

‘Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walk up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.’

Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Traditions

We begin with “traditions” a word used by Wright frequently. Traditions for a pastor, who is a public speaker sometimes goaded into entertainment by the crowd or congregation, are part of the social contract between the people and the leader. There are certain expectations that are part of the package of church gatherings. In the tradition, right or wrong, of the Chicago church Wright leads oratory is king. The delivery is proclamation in the “prophetic voice” confronting rulers and authorities who should “let my people go” be they Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Rome, Britain, or America. Prophetic has to do with confronting the oppressive systems in the name of God more than predicting the future. Indeed this is what the prophetic books of the Bible are about for a people living in exile looking for a home. This type of oratory rolls down from the pulpit. It is by its very form a type of communication that gains momentum, filled with explosions and whispers. It is like the justice that rolls down like a mighty river that brings righteousness, God’s righteousness, unending, like a never ending stream. It is Biblical preaching in the tradition of the prophets and in line with the controlling narrative of the Bible which is, of course, the Exodus event. The pastor is animated, colorful, confrontive, creative, bold, speaking as from God, and mesmerizing in this tradition. This is not only acceptable but expected. He leans into the ‘level playing field’ concept. There are no favored ones and then the lowly rabble. No blessed over the cursed. The ones under persecution are like Jesus before Pilate, accused by Caiphus and his minions, persecuted and controlled. Yet in the end, in this story, vindication comes when Jesus comes up out of the grave.

When Wright declares in metaphorical embellished anecdotes a dissatisfaction with the status quo he is saying something deeply felt by many that are gathered in his church. How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'. This is a quote attributed to Martin Luther…not Martin Luther King mind you, but the Germanic, white Anglo-Saxon, Martin Luther. It is the mantra of the oppressed who is impatient with the reluctance of the oppressing voices; indeed the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King echoed the words when he wrote from a Birmingham jail cell,

"Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."--Letters from a Birmingham Jail--Rev Dr. Martin Luther King

When Wright says some of the things he says he is abiding by a social contract that he has agreed to, not by coercion but by choice. Here he stands and like Luther “ Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen! prevails. Here he stands and like King confronts the privileged groups represented by the Hillary Clintons of the world. There is a kind of stubbornness found here as in the “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” firmness that will not sit at the back of the bus or shine shoes in the city anymore. This type of social commentary in accordance with the social contract is a theological conviction. To Wright this is not an idea, fodder for discussion from time to time, but the core of the gospel preached by Jesus who quoted Isaiah 61 as he unrolled the scroll at Nazareth, spoke of in Luke 4: 18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

When Jesus says this has been fulfilled in your hearing he is saying the prophecies time is here, upon us, so “let my people go”. This is the message of the gospel, not a lesser, secondary, social gospel as some have made it to be. So Wright preaches this message with color and charisma and conviction. Here he stands like Luther, like King, like Amos, Like the Baptist, the long line of prophets who were martyred for their message, and in the end here he stands...like Jesus. And that is why he will not back down even to the pressure of the magnitude named the election of the president of the United States. His allegiance is for God and to God alone. And like the prophet John the Baptist he minces no words when he confronts the Herods of the world and like the John the Baptist, this defiance of the media, powers, and principalities that are will in some way “cost him his head”.

As for the congregation they encourage him, ‘come on’, ‘well’,’ amen’, ‘preach it’ and he does. They throw sheaves along the way as he rides along. It is a type of dance and has its own cultural heritage. Obama is, or at least was, a part of that tradition but it is hard, if not impossible to have these strong convictions and survive in the political arena.

The prophetic voice is like the voice of Amos in chapters 4-5. The voice demands freedom for the captives.

The “haves” are being judged…

Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,
who are on the mountain of Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
who say to your husbands, ‘Bring that we may drink!’
2 The Lord God has sworn by his holiness
that, behold, the days are coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
even the last of you with fishhooks.”

…and the have nots are being vindicated.

Amos 5: 21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”



References (3)

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  • Response
    Response: seo
    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - To rob bell in response to 'Jesus wants to save Christians'
  • Response
    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - To rob bell in response to 'Jesus wants to save Christians'
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - To rob bell in response to 'Jesus wants to save Christians'

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