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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Thursday
Nov062008

buggin'

 

This is going to be a 400 page book. It may emerge in the end as half that size but trust me it was a 400 page book. It began as one thing and emerged into another thing. I stared at one point and ended up in a place I hadn’t really anticipated. A lot of pages ended up in the garbage bin. A lot of ideas were given up. Others came forth. In other words this book unfolded.

It emerged.

Much like the story of God.

I don’t believe God ‘knew’ exactly what was going to happen in His long oft times difficult quest to bring his lost treasure back to the garden safe. I doubt he knew what it would be like to experience temporal, time constrained, mortality. It unfolded. It was ‘new’ to Him.

The Bible emerged out of a quest, a crisis, and what I call a blip in heaven. It’s like the sound you hear when you are on your computer and a message hits your inbox. You hear a blip, as sound. You can choose to ignore the blip and go on as if it never even happened. No one would know. But if you give it your attention and you open the box you become involved and a decision must be made. Depending on the message you may casually hit delete. Darn spam mail anyway. But if it is significant enough to garner your attention you enter into the story. You didn’t ask for it, you could avoid it, but you choose not to.

God responded to the blip in heaven. He became involved in something that may have been small to heaven but grand on the earth. I say this because heaven is so unfathomable and earth is so finite.

I took my granddaughter to see the movie “Horton Hears a Who”. We loaded up the Rendezvous, opened up the back and experienced a drive-in movie on a warm summer night in Woodbury, Tennessee. She liked the movie, loved the concessions stand (we made several trips), and really enjoyed stretching out between grandma and grandpa beneath the stars.

On the other hand I loved the movie.

I loved the movie because I see things through a particular lens. I see God in movies, songs, and stories. For those unaware ‘Horton Hears a Who’ is a Dr, Seuss tale about an elephant who discovers there is a town contained in a speck of dust. It is filled with theological overtones. The story is told on Wikipedia by one of the faceless inhabitants of the Whoville of modern earth—there was nothing similar to the concept of Wiki just twenty years back—now isn’t that amazing—this isn’t the same world it was just a short time ago.

In the Jungle of Nool, a caring, imaginative elephant named Horton (Jim Carrey), the jungle's nature teacher, takes a dip in the pool. A dust speck floats past him in the air, and he hears a tiny yelp coming from it. Believing that an entire family of microscopic creatures is living on that speck, he places it on top of a clover that he holds in his trunk.

In fact, he finds out the speck harbors the city of Whoville and all its inhabitants, led by Mayor Ned McDodd (Steve Carell). He has a loving wife, Sally (Amy Poehler), 96 daughters (all voiced by Selena Gomez), and one son named JoJo (Jesse McCartney), who, by Who custom, is next in line for the mayoral position, and as such, gives it his best effort to give JoJo enough attention. Unaware to Ned, JoJo doesn't understand his father's wish. Ned is aware, though, that JoJo doesn't speak and tries to befriend him to get him to speak.

The Mayor finds out from Dr. Larue that Whoville will be destroyed if Horton doesn't find a "safer more stable home." So Horton resolves to place the speck atop Mt. Nool, the safest place in the jungle. This outlook earns Horton nothing but ridicule from the inhabitants of Nool, especially from the strict official of the jungle, the Sour Kangaroo (Carol Burnett), who tries to get Horton to give up the speck, so as not to put ridiculous ideas into the heads of the children. Ever faithful to his motto, "A person's a person, no matter how small," Horton refuses. Also taking force toward Horton are the Wickersham brothers (all voiced by Dan Fogler), a group of bullying monkeys who love making misery.

All the small incidents that Horton experiences on his trek across the jungle have a catastrophic effect on Whoville. He almost falls off a rickety bridge, which causes a dentist's needle to accidentally slip into the Mayor's arm while getting a root canal taken care of. At night, leaving the clover outside will cause it to frost, which creates winter in the summer down in Whoville. As the other Whos become suspicious, the Mayor finally reveals the truth, but at first, the Whos don't believe him any more than the animals believe Horton.

In the meantime, the Kangaroo has enlisted a nefarious "black-bottomed eagle" named Vlad Vladikoff (Will Arnett) to get rid of the speck by force. Vlad manages to steal the speck and drop it from hundreds of feet into a valley full of identical clovers. The impact nearly demolishes Whoville like an earthquake, yet Horton finds the right clover, after painstakingly picking 2,999,999 clovers through the field. The earthquake is enough to convince the rest of the Whos that the mayor is not crazy, and they all tell Horton they believe in him.

Kangaroo finds out that Horton still has the speck, and, as her patience completely runs out, forms a mob by telling lies to get rid of the speck once and for all. The animals plan to rope and cage Horton, but Kangaroo turns this into a chance for attention, and offers Horton an ultimatum: give up the speck and "admit" he was wrong, or pay the price. Despite a heartfelt speech from Horton that clearly touches the animals, Kangaroo still takes this refusal as an insult, orders them to proceed with the torture, and drop the speck into a pot of boiling beezlenut oil, which is shown to have acidic properties.

The Mayor enlists all of his people to make noise by shouting, "We are here!", so the animals can hear them. JoJo runs off to Whoville's abandoned Star-Studying Tower and soon Ned takes off after him. Inside, he reveals his ingenious invention: the Symphonyphone, a giant machine that serves as an orchestra, and proceeds to add it to the mix of sounds. Still, the sound isn't loud enough. The animals don't hear anything and Kangaroo, who has now caged Horton, takes the clover with a chuckle, holds it over the oil, and lets go. In a last-ditch effort to be heard, JoJo grabs the horn used to project Horton's voice, runs up the highest tower and yells "YOPP!" A sound wave emerges and ripples up to the clouds, which are already under a lot of stress from the other sounds, and collides with them, causing an explosion.

Hearing the Whos' cries, Rudy (Josh Flitter), the Kangaroo's son, grabs the clover and returns it to Horton, refusing his mother's orders to return to her pouch.

The animals finally realize the atrocity they almost committed.

The Kangaroo is humiliated and ashamed, but Horton forgives her, and offers his friendship, to which the Kangaroo accepts. At the end of the film, everyone helps Horton carry the speck up to the top of Mt. Nool. After a big number of the cast singing REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling", the camera zooms out, revealing that along with numerous other worlds in our universe, the jungle of Nool is just one speck among numerous others like our planet.

So many lessons. The big caring for the small. Standing firm in the face of ridicule. The idea that the many can do what one alone cannot. The power of 'the way it is' groupthink. The animals realization of the 'attrocity' they were about to commit. The concept of repentance. Forgiveness. And imagination and wonder. I love this story.

We are but a speck, this is but one story, but for those of us that inhabit this Whoville known as the earth the story is large and so very important. But something is shaking on this speck. Something is going on in Christianity in America. "The Great Emergence' as Phyllis Tickle has so appropriately described it is here. It is not going away but building steam as it circles round and round again. What is happening in this particular crucial time in the town of Whoville called Evangelical Christianity is this—a lot of Who’s are believing in a ‘Horton’ and joining together to ‘cry out’. Their religion, their Christianity is expanding, enlarging so as to include...well everyone. Their number is growing. It is a good thing. I hope they will be heard. I hope we don’t push delete on them.

In one of the prophetic books known as Hosea we are told to ‘cry out against your mother, cry out’ against the motherland. Speak out against that which gave you birth. Rise up on my behalf and say ‘no more’. The mother in the context in which it was originally written was the nation of Israel, but in the context to which we now live this can be applied to the church. Some will scoff and deride me for being melodramatic, but I believe the mother has sold out for other ‘lovers’. I understand that this message can be deleted at any time. Call me a nuisance, curse me as a ‘troublemaker’ but I believe I am not alone and the motherland will fall if she doesn’t heed some of the children of Whoville.

“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.

Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’

Rob Bell and Don Golden have written a book entitled “Jesus Wants to Save Christians”. In the book they describe how Egypt is depicted as the oppressor and Israel as the held down, underling, oppressed, brick makers. The brick makers build the kingdoms and places of the wealthy ruling elite. The elite rule with an iron fist. They make the argument that all of us have a little ‘Egypt’ in us. In other words we, when we are given power, have this instinct that makes us want to ‘rule it over others just like the Gentiles’, a phase coined initially by Jesus to deride James and John for their ambition to power. Once we have the upper hand we forget where we come from. We horde and stash away power so that we don’t lose our grip. We hold onto the advantage less we fall from the mountain we worked so hard to climb. We become the oppressors.

Bell and Golden have considered this to be such an important issue as to name their book—“Jesus Want to Save Christians”. In other words they suggest that this idea of power being a right needs be challenged because it flies in the face of what it means to be ‘truly Christian’. To be Christian means ‘you have come to serve and not be served’. The idea wasn’t original to Bell and Golden. Jesus said it first. He came and spoke out against His ‘mother’. Jesus came to change the human tendency towards power and oppression.

How irritating. Especially when you have the power. And we in America—in the church of America—certainly do have the power.

In ‘Rattle and Hum’, a movie about U2’s Joshua Tree tour made in 1988, lead singer/prophet Bono begins to make a plea for the poor, the broken, the least of these. After a rather passionate introduction to one of the songs he pokes the audience saying—“Am I buggin’ you—I don’t mean to bug ya”—but of course he does mean to bug us.

And I think Rob Bell and Don Golden are ‘buggin’ a lot of folks right now. They are poking people in the sides, saying ‘when the children plead for the mother to stop doing what she is doing’—she had better listen or they may be surprised when it comes time to enter the pearly gates.

Matthew 25:31

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’—Jesus.

Bono, Bell, Hosea, and Jesus. They all said the most irritating things.

And we can delete their message.

Or we can listen and become involved.

 

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