bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Glorious Diversity: Why We Should Celebrate Difference

by Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner
via Huffinton Post

As the world's memory of apartheid receded, Desmond Tutu responded to a stream of invitations to speak around the world on the practical implications of ubuntu. An excerpt from a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 2001 follows.

We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity. There is not just one planet or one star; there are galaxies of all different sorts, a plethora of animal species, different kinds of plants, and different races and ethnic groups. God shows us, even with a human body, that it is made up of different organs performing different functions and that it is precisely that diversity that makes it an organism. If it were only one organ, it would not be a human body. We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?

For Christians, who believe they are created in the image of God, it is the Godhead, diversity in unity and the three-in-oneness of God, which we and all creation reflect. It is this imago Dei too that invests each single one of us -- whatever our race, gender, education, and social or economic status -- with infinite worth, making us precious in God's sight. That worth is intrinsic to who we are, not dependent on anything external, extrinsic. Thus there can be no superior or inferior race. We are all of equal worth, born equal in dignity and born free, and for this reason deserving of respect whatever our external circumstances. We are created freely for freedom as those who are decision-making animals and so as of right entitled to respect, to be given personal space to be autonomous. We belong in a world whose very structure, whose essence, is diversity, almost bewildering in extent. It is to live in a fool's paradise to ignore this basic fact.

We live in a universe marked by diversity as the law of its being and our being. We are made to exist in a life that should be marked by cooperation, interdependence, sharing, caring, compassion and complementarity. We should celebrate our diversity; we should exult in our differences as making not for separation and alienation and hostility but for their glorious opposites. The law of our being is to live in solidarity, friendship, helpfulness, unselfishness, interdependence and complementarity as sisters and brothers in one family -- the human family, God's family. Anything else, as we have experienced, is disaster.

Racism, xenophobia and unfair discrimination have spawned slavery, when human beings have bought and sold and owned and branded fellow human beings as if they were so many beasts of burden. They have spawned the Ku Klux Klan and the lynchings of the segregated South of the United States. They have given birth to the Holocaust of Germany and the other holocausts of Armenians and in Rwanda; the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the awfulness of apartheid; and what we have seen in Sri Lanka, in Northern Ireland, in the Middle East, in the Sudan, where there has been a spiral of reprisals leading to counter-reprisals, and these in turn to other reprisals. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Where the law of an eye for an eye obtains, in the end all will be blind. If we don't learn to live as brothers, we will die together as fools."

Religion, which should foster sisterhood and brotherhood, which should encourage tolerance, respect, compassion, peace, reconciliation, caring and sharing, has far too frequently -- perversely -- done the opposite. Religion has fueled alienation and conflict and has exacerbated intolerance and injustice and oppression. Some of the ghastliest atrocities have happened and are happening in the name of religion. It need not be so if we can learn the obvious: that no religion can hope to have a monopoly on God, on goodness and virtue and truth.

Our survival as a species will depend not on unbridled power lacking moral direction, or on eliminating those who are different and seeking only those who think and speak and behave and look like ourselves. That way is stagnation and ultimately death and disintegration. That is the way of people in times especially of transition, of instability and insecurity, when there is turmoil and social upheaval, poverty and unemployment. Then people seek refuge in fundamentalisms of all kinds. They look for scapegoats, who are provided by those who are different in appearance, in behavior, in race and in thought. People become impatient of ambivalence. Differences of opinion are not tolerated and simplistic answers are the vogue, whereas the reality is that the issues are complex.

We need so much to work for coexistence, for tolerance, and to say, "I disagree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to your opinion." It is only when we respect even our adversaries and see them not as ogres, dehumanized, demonized, but as fellow human beings deserving respect for their personhood and dignity, that we will conduct a discourse that just might prevent conflict. There is room for everyone; there is room for every culture, race, language and point of view.

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

by Johnathan Dudley
via CNN Belief Blog

Editor's Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s "pro-family" activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Christian Authenticity

by Hugh Hollowell
via Red Letter Christians

I think it was my friend Karen who turned me on to Jamie’s writing. I was hooked by the title of her blog: Jamie – The Very Worst Missionary

She lives in Costa Rica as a missionary. What I like about Jamie is she is very authentic – she talks about her very unreligious thoughts, her family fights, and her struggles, both temporal and spiritual. On twitter a while back she was talking about her urinary tract infection.

Most religious professionals act as if they never get urinary tract infections. Or, in fact, ever urinate. For instance, here is Rick Warren’s twitter feed: This feed could be a bot. There is nothing here to indicate a real person is running it. It is promotional material, recycled Bible verses and “How Great I Art” messages.

Here is John Piper’s: Same thing.You don’t get the feeling that either of these guys ever had a bad thought, ever had any problems, and ever ate a bad lunch, even. Can you imagine either of them ever talking on the internet about a fight with their spouse?

I am not criticizing these two people, specifically. They are just two very public evangelicals that a lot of people listen to. Rather, it is indicative of the larger trend: Lack of authenticity.

I get criticized from Christians for being “negative”. Non-Christians praise me for being honest and transparent.

The Buddha said, some 500 years before Christ, that life is suffering.

Christian leaders: The people who look up to you, who you claim to care about – they experience this suffering. They have lost jobs, they have sick family members, they have work related stress, and they are tired single parents.

They don’t need your recycled Bible verses and tired clich├ęs. They surely do not need to know how great your life is.

They need hope. They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that life is hard, but it can be overcome.

We Christians profess to know something about that.
Hugh Hollowell is an activist, a speaker and a Mennonite minister. He is the founder and director of Love Wins Ministries where he pastors a congregation made up largely of people who are homeless.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Myth of a Christian Religion

by Jeremy Myers
via Till He Comes

I recently finished reading The Myth of a Christian Religion by Gregory Boyd. Overall, his approach is similar to the one I will take in Close Your Church for Good. He reveals how the church has become seduced by various powers which have kept us from living according to Kingdom principles. After laying the groundwork for this premise, he writes about various subjects that the church must avoid in order to revolt against these powers and return to living like Jesus. For example, he calls for a revolution in the areas of judgment (chap. 4), nationalism (chap. 7), racism (chap. 10), and greed (chap 11).

It was a good book, and I really appreciated how he approached each subject with grace and tact. After presenting an area of concern, he gave suggestions, but always with gentleness and respect, knowing that the Spirit may lead you or I to respond differently.

And that brings me to my only difficulty with the book. I think that he didn’t go far enough. Greg implies that though most churches in the world are enslaved to the Powers, he and his church have found a better way. I have never visited his church, but my guess is that if I did, I would not be able to tell that it was much different from almost any other church in town. He’s made some changes which I think are a move in the right direction, but are they enough to reverse the course we are on?

It’s like a Playboy photographer who doesn’t look at Playboy magazines, or a Tobacco Company CEO who doesn’t smoke, or a BP Oil Executive who drives a hybrid. If you’re still part of an abusive, exploitive, damaging system, who cares if you make a few tweaks with your own involvement?

Maybe what we need is not a revolution, or even another reformation. What we need is a death and resurrection.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dueling Marquees

via Florilegia

A Catholic church and a Presbyterian church across the street from one another.
Probably Photoshop since nothing ever changes in the background, but still kinda funny.

10 things the CNN Belief Blog learned in its first year

By Dan Gilgoff, Religion Editor

After publishing 1,840 posts and sifting through 452,603 comments (OK, we may have missed one or two) the Belief Blog feels older than its 12 months would suggest. But it also feels wiser, having followed the faith angles of big news stories, commissioned lots of commentary and, yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year.

10 things we've learned:

1. Every big news story has a faith angle...
2. Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious...
3. People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins...
4. Most Americans are religiously illiterate...
5. It's impossible to understand much of the news without knowing something about religion...
6. Regardless of where they fit on the spectrum, people want others to understand what they believe...
7. Americans still have an uneasy relationship with Islam...
8. God may not prevent natural disasters, but religion is always a big part of the response...
9. Apocalyptic movements come and go...
10. Most Americans don't know that President Barack Obama is a Christian...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"life" in the bunker

by Bonar Crump aka "bunker buster"

I will always be amazed by the massive volume of ways that my Christian friends attempt to protect themselves from sin and even the hint of displeasing God. It’s like watching someone build a bunker in which to live that is capable of withstanding flood, earthquake, fire, wind, and all other forms of natural disaster. Then as they sit snuggly inside their spiritual bunker feeling safe and rather pleased with themselves for their obvious foresight and preparation, the unexpected happens. There are bugs and mice and air quality issues that sneak in and begin to rob them of their sense of security. Their isolation from sin is an illusion at best.

I want to live out in the open where I get to see the trees sway in the wind and feel the sun on my face from time to time. Sure, living in the open presents its hazards, but there’s nothing like watching a gentle curtain of rain approach from the West atop a hill. Isolation is highly overrated—especially when the far-reaching result is isolation from other people that have much to teach us.

Most of my Christian friends are convinced that they have something genuinely wonderful to share with the world around them. The problem is that sitting in the bunker doesn’t quite lend itself to sharing anything with anyone. Come out into the light, folks! Take a breath of fresh air! We won’t tell anyone if you sit atop this hill and enjoy the view with us. It’ll be our little secret.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I’m reading a book written by Jason Boyett called, O me of little faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling. The book acts as a testimony of sorts. It’s a well-reasoned collection of personal history used as a backdrop for explaining Jason’s doubts about the God and belief system of Christianity that’s been modeled for him his entire life. I don’t mean to imply that he blames anyone for the doubts he deals with, but he does feel compelled to explore the anomalies of his (and other’s) faith with an emphatic emphasis on asking “why?”

Why do we pray in such cryptic language? Why do we conjure up images of God which seem so paper-thin and flimsy? Why do we “sell” Jesus as a free gift or “get out of jail free card” only later to disclose that you’re gonna need to pay for the upgrades if you want to do this thing right? Why do we pit faith against logic and human experience in an attempt to rewrite all manners of time and space in a well-intentioned answer to the skeptics of “just because…that’s why”?

Here’s where I disagree with Jason: what he calls doubt in these situations I call honesty. His self-deprecating manner of presenting himself as a “spiritual weakling” seems very honest and forthright. His ability to untangle the spiritual knot in his life that is faith—doubt—understanding—self-evaluation—cosmic significance is an encouragement to us all to doubt. It is an encouragement to us all to be honest enough with ourselves to admit that a lot of what we’ve rubbed up against in contemporary organized religious circles CANNOT be from God.

My particular favorite section is about Jason’s struggle with the concept of prayer. I, too, don’t get what prayer is all about. If God is who He says He is then why do I need to be telling Him or asking Him anything? I never feel right praying for myself. It always feels like I’m using God as a Magic 8 Ball. Will someone give us an offer on the house this week? It is doubtful. Crap!

The message is clear…if you’re honest with your doubts and misgivings about your faith then you are asking the kinds of questions that will help you cast off the excessive garbage you’ve picked up along the way. That has to be a good thing. Whether you call it an “emergent” movement in the church or “postmodernism” it all translates into a generation of Christian believers that are honestly expressing their doubt in ways that are fundamentally enriching and controversially beneficial.

Thanks, Jason, for the cool read. My turtles rest on the outer rim of a black hole—there they wormhole through spacetime to wind up being connected to the top.  It’s a loop and I am the black hole. That’s the only way I can describe something that is without a beginning and without an end. You’ll have to read the book to understand what the hell I’m talking about…

I am ordering 4 more copies for friends today. Don't assume that you are one of the friends I'll be getting one for. Order one yourself.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Worship Jesus? (part 5)

This is the final installment to this topic. I’d like to keep it short and sweet, but, alas, I don’t know how. It is the most difficult piece to the puzzle. If I do this correctly and have laid the groundwork correctly then you should start to sense the “ah-ha” moment about paragraph 6. Here we go…

In part 3 of this series I did a compare/contrast of Satan (evil imagery) with Jesus (holy imagery). I discussed evil icons and analogs as masculine and dark. I contrasted that imagery with contemporary holy icons and analogs as feminine and impotent. You may not have seen eye to eye with me on some of it, but it didn’t rankle you. If I want to appreciate skulls and snakes and tattoos of snakey skulls and t-shirts with foul-mouthed slogans you’ll let me slide. You might not condone my tastes or appreciate the finer points of “biker etiquette” but you’re not gonna get your panties in a wad over it.

I've discovered that even the most chaste and religiously devout of our Christian ranks quietly enjoy the guilty pleasures of reality TV on a scale that I will never be able to understand. I bet you $100 that every church going (CG) Christian you know devotes at least a couple hours a week watching shows that spend half their time bleeping out expletives. It’s all good. I don’t like those shows, but I don’t begrudge you for watching them. My wife, who cringes every time I drop a “shit, damn, or hell” near her, watches some of the sleaziest reality TV you can imagine. We are a hopeless pairing.

In part 4, I took a stab at your theology. Now you’re getting uncomfortable. Now you’re getting angry. Now you’re thinking, “this guy is an idiot whose caught up with all the other idiots suggesting that you do not have to be a god-fearing, circumcised, bible-toting Christian to enter the pearly gates.” Part 4 was WAY too long, but it’s a complicated subject matter—whatcha gonna do? You don’t take a run at dissecting theology that has been hardwired into people’s spiritual DNA without getting wordy about it.

The reason you felt much more inflexible and agitated about the discussion in part 4 than about the topic in part 3 is because you deem your theology sacred, holy, and succinct. HOLY means dedicated or set apart. SACRED means regarded with religious veneration, worship, and respect. SUCCINCT means expressed with brevity and clarity, with no wasted words. I am never succinct.

The reason you felt less agitated by part 3 is because it didn’t mess with your theology. It was just the ramblings of a dude on the internet that is probably over-compensating for some defect in his masculinity. That and the fact that you expect that what goes on out here “in the world” is going to be loose and void of formality. You anticipate that the “lost ones” of the world aren’t going to value the same things you do. You’re expectations of them are minimal at best. You are comfortable with the separation you feel from them. It is part of being HOLY and SACRED.

Because we mentally image Jesus as a singular person—because we psychologically define “church” as a building—because we stand vigilant guard over the fragile theologies we’ve pieced together—because we ignore the opinions of “outsiders”—because we allow all hell to break loose in the lives of those around us as long as OUR values aren’t in jeopardy—because of these things we have diminished God to the role of a cranky isolated old man screaming at kids to stay off his lawn.

All the while we’ve surrendered all things that we do not considered HOLY, SACRED, and RIGHTEOUS to “the other side.” Meaning that we expect bad things, unsavory attitudes, and questionable ethics any time we’re not in that building or worshiping that person or reading from that text. Don’t you see? We’ve become captives of our sense of sacredness, holiness, and righteousness.

Jesus (the person) didn’t party with hookers, IRS agents, AIDS patients, and criminals with a disapproving scowl on his face. He (the person) spent time with them as you would at a family reunion. He (the person) listened to their stories, laughed at their jokes, and played with their kids. Jesus (the person) wasn’t HOLY or SACRED. Jesus (the person) rebuked those that considered themselves HOLY and SACRED. Jesus (the person) told funny jokes, walked hand in hand with prostitutes, and was genuinely moved by people’s stories of tragedy in their life. Jesus (the person) was UNHOLY (not set apart) and UNSACRED (unworshipable).

Jesus (the virtues—the cause—the Son of Man) is entirely HOLY and SACRED. This is the meaning of an individual being both fully God and fully Man at the same time. The challenge is that WE aren’t simply being called to be “Christ followers.” We are being called to be JESUS. We’re not being called to save anyone…that part's been done. But we are being called to serve one another. To serve denotes humility and bestows honor even if it hasn’t been earned. To serve is to treat the OTHER person as if THEY are HOLY and SACRED. We treat them that way regardless of their beliefs because we are Jesus—not because Jesus (the person) would want us to but because WE ARE JESUS (the virtues).

So you can disrespect me all you want for the alcohol that I drink, expletives that I fling, theology that I mock, and ink that I bear but you need to understand something about that moment in time—you will have to answer for it. When you set yourself, your beliefs, and your actions apart and adorn your t-shirt with the word REDEEMED across the chest you are not representing Jesus. In that moment, you are representing yourself.

So mock us all you want. Shout us down. Quote scripture AT us. Pray for us to change our “wicked ways.” We appreciate your concern and we will indulge your ignorance. But at the end of the day, I can walk into that biker bar feeling right at home with my vulgar t-shirt and my tats and my fixed blade knife attached to my hip in all my UNHOLY UNSACRED glory and partner with the people I meet there—you cannot. I know their language. I know their customs. I value their beliefs. They can smell a phony a mile away. You are not welcome. Don’t even try.

But many of us in that bar have hearts that are HOLY and SACRED even if you can’t see it on the surface. We readily admit that we don’t understand all the inner workings of God and the complexities of the Bible. However, we do know that there is a God and that He/She loves us deeply enough to saddle right on up to the bar here with us and buy a round of drinks for everyone.

Say what you will about protecting your faith through the judicious management of your outward appearance and actions. Jesus (the person) said that it’s the heart of the lesbian, biker, criminal, pro-choicer, Buddhist, atheist, Muslim that matters. Guess what—Jesus (the virtue) loves them all.

Why not worship Jesus (the person)? Because he isn’t worthy of praise. Worship Jesus (the virtue). Worship THAT Jesus through the service of others—not in a pew singing old tired washed up songs at a wooden idol on the wall. It’s the heart of Jesus that matters and it’s the heart of us all that must carry THAT Jesus into the world with great honor, vigor, and resilience.

"Hi, my name is Bonar and I'm a heretic."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Worship Jesus? (part 4)

It’s where we stake our claim to absolute exclusivity as Christians. It’s where we’ve been taught that only the “true believers” in Christ as the Son of God who was born of a virgin came to die on a cross so that we might have eternal life in heaven. It’s where the conservative theologians live, breathe, and teach. It’s where the red letters say, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).

I’m not about to dive into a verse by verse analysis of all the dynamic ways that John 14 is conveying a myriad of meanings. But I will tell you this—it’s not as simple as most of us believe it to be. We’ve been taught the most convenient ways of understanding these verses by people that have been taught the same. Many of us have hung our hats on these particular verses without appreciating that our interpretations of John 14 might just be coming from the “dummy’s guide to understanding Christianity.” Most of what we understand about this small piece of scripture is a condensed version of a much larger picture. It’s like viewing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on a postage stamp…you recognize what it is, but you can’t possibly appreciate the nuances and beauty of it.

Philip says, “show us the Father,” meaning let us see God and then we’ll know FOR SURE that you are who you say you are. Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” The intellectually honest person reading these verses understands that Jesus is saying look at who I am and what I do—that is what seeing God is all about. Physical appearance is not being discussed. When someone asks us, “show us the Father,” we are to say look at who I am and what I do.

Oh, but we’re way too conscientious to utter those words. We’d never think to tell someone that if you want to know God then you should get to know me. But why not? Does the Holy Spirit live within us? Do the teachings of Christ fill our hearts? Does the unmitigated passion for others saturate us to the core? The reason we hesitate to answer these questions is because we aren’t always “on point.” Sometimes we’re lollygagging about selfishly in our pajamas at lunchtime having called in to work sick when it’s really more of a hangover that’s knocked us down. We aren’t perfectly “on point” all of the time so we disqualify ourselves from wearing the t-shirt that says, “Want to Know God…Come Get to Know Me.”

Is perfection the starting point of reference for God? If so, then how can we ever ever ever relate to God?

Look, I’m not trying to uncover some Dan Brown hidden code within the original text. I’m trying to lead up to a point. The point is that there are anomalies within our understanding of what these words mean. I’d like to say that it’s okay for us to admit that we don’t know everything about everything. As a matter of fact, I think it best if we first admit that what we think we know isn’t always the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Jesus (the person) vs. Jesus (the virtues) 

If to know God is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to understand his teachings then to understand the teachings of Jesus is to know God. It’s a basic syllogism. It’s deductive reasoning. The teachings, interactions, experiences of Jesus are of utmost importance. What Jesus looked like and the mental images we conjure of him are completely useless.

It’s about understanding the heart of Jesus. It’s about understanding the collective heart of all those that follow Jesus. It’s about understanding the concept of “Son of Man”. Don’t you get it—there’s more at play here than the recitation of a well-rehearsed Apostle’s Creed. It’s not about information any more than the Sistine ceiling is about specific pigmentations. It IS about the heart of a human being as it relates to God in whatever form it can comprehend.

So what if Jesus (the virtues) is known, practiced, and taught by a group of people that have no interest in Jesus (the person) at all? If they share Jesus values of love and forgiveness and kindness and generosity do they “know” him even though they may not “know of” him? Can someone never touched by the knowledge of Jesus (the person) live by these Jesus values and does that count for anything? If you say no then you are limiting the scope of godly virtue to the person of Jesus. That’s too small of a box!

Harder still—can the person that has rejected Jesus (the person) still hold fast to Jesus (the virtues)? Does the atheist love? Does an atheist’s love count for anything? Does Christianity have a copyright on the godly virtues professed by Jesus? Be careful going after the atheists because a very large percentage of them have been driven to reject the idea of God by Christians.

What if Jesus meant that through him alone we come into the presence of God not as if he’s the only passive doorway leading into heaven, but that through him (i.e. actively ushered into the room and introduced to God) we are able to realize grace and love and peace? What if Jesus (the person) isn’t even involved in the transaction? What if it’s Jesus (the virtues) that is our pathway to righteousness?

Rob Bell’s not the only one that can fill a page with questions… 

It is the values of Jesus that we hold sacred. It is why Jesus (the person) never commanded us to worship him. It’s why he refers to himself as the Son of Man which is a term used to denote humanity or a sense of self. Jesus / Son of Man / Christ-like virtue is US. But when I say US I don’t mean just those that recite the Apostle’s Creed. I’m talking about the collective US scattered all over the globe from every nation and tribe. WE are Jesus in that WE emulate his life/teachings/values whether we realize it or not. Indeed, Christ lives today—He lives in all of the US that emulate Jesus (the virtues).

To worship Jesus (the person) is counterproductive at best. To worship (adore / venerate) Jesus values is a horse of an entirely different color. Likewise, to insist that anyone concede to the persona of Jesus regardless of how they live their lives makes about as much sense as trying to recreate the Sistine ceiling on the head of a pin—it is useless.

WE are the ushers. WE are the Jesus analogs. To know US is to know God. Why do you think so many atheists don’t want anything to do with God? It is because they don’t want to have anything to do with us!

“Hi, my name is Bonar and I am a heretic.”

Series--> part 1--part 2--part 3--part 5

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why Worship Jesus? (part 3)

Visualize Satan, a demon, or any particular icon that sums up evil to you. What does it look like in terms of power? Does it have human characteristics? Is it reptilian? Is it a non-organic analog? Is it beautiful? Is it grotesque? How does it make you feel at the “knee jerk” level? Did you just piss your pants?

Visualize Jesus, an angel, or any particular icon that sums up good to you. What does that look like in terms of power? How does the power of the holy analog stand up to the power of the evil analog? Is it beautiful? Is it somehow grotesque? How does it make you feel at the “gut check” level? Does the feeling even reach the “gut check” level? During this visualization did you think of light? If so, what does light represent to you when you think of beer?

I like skulls. I like scary depictions of skulls with snakes crawling through the mouth and eye sockets. I like dragons and predatory animals depicted in ways that infer combat or the moment they are about to strike. These images don’t scare me, but they represent power and the use of such images via tattoos or fashions psychologically denote fearlessness. It’s kind of like in our collective subconscious we all believe that if you’ve got that scary of an image on your body or on your shirt then you must be one scary individual yourself.

Bikers love this stuff. Icons are everything in the biker world. Don’t go walking into a biker bar in West Texas wearing a red and white shirt with a skull and wings on it if there are Bandidos there. You are certain to be asked to take off the shirt whether you know what’s going on or not (Red/White + Skull/Wings = Hells Angels). Likewise, it’s disrespectful to flaunt any of the “other guy’s” colors or icons in any part of the country where that “other guy” is not welcome. We could delve into the specifics of body art, but that subject could fill an entire book.

Church-going (CG) Christians have their own icons and symbolic uses of colors. Don’t go walking into a church on Sunday morning in the Bible Belt wearing a black t-shirt with “If You Can Read This The Bitch Fell Off” across the back in big white letters. You are certain to be asked to take off the shirt whether you know what’s going on or not. Likewise, it’s disrespectful to flaunt any of the “evil colors” like black and many other derivatives of black…well, actually, it’s just mostly black. But CG Christians love their white, gold, silver, purple, and crimson red.

As you read the previous paragraphs the important thing to note is that you are engaging a part of your psyche that associates color with certain meanings the same way that you use words to denote certain meanings via language. Likewise, you associate specific icons with very specific meanings. Skull denotes death…cross denotes Jesus…black denotes darkness…white denotes light…red denotes blood…purple denotes royalty…and on an on.

Back to the Satan / Jesus perspective—on a very non-judgmental value neutral scale, which of the two seem more powerful? Stop!!! I’m talking about which one of the two prompt you to fear? Stop!!! I’m talking about which one seems more dynamic? Independent? Omnipresent? Exciting? Tempting? Forceful? Controlling? Motivated?

If you are stubbornly answering Jesus to each of these questions then I am accusing you of “intellectual dishonesty”. I get where you’re coming from if you’re uncomfortable with admitting (even to yourself) that on a base level you would consider Satan more exciting than Jesus. However, until you’re able to come at these kinds of issues without fear of stepping over some kind of theological “line in the sand” that might constitute an unpardonable sin then you need to stick with what you know and leave the real “intellectually honest” spiritual analysis to the rest of us.

For those of you still with me…one question…why have we accepted a persona of Jesus which is so docile, beatific, passive, weak, solitary, and feminine? I hate this persona. I don’t want a wimpy Christ. I don’t want a cerebral Christ. I don’t want a chaste, haloed, sing song Christ. Where is my Christ? Where is the Christ that “meets ME where I’m at”? I don’t want the demasculated Christ. I want to know where I can find the dynamic “he-man women hater” Christ.

We’ve allowed our worship of Jesus to become so one-dimensional that our collective psyche paints Christ as a pushover. In contrast, we’ve allowed our concepts of evil to provide us with images so robust, masculine, and sensory driven that CG Christians cannot allow them in the same room with their beatific icons lest Christ’s image be that of a pussy in comparison. That’s the real reason we disallow skulls, warlocks, snakes, and dragons within range of our Christian gatherings. Simply put, it’s because they all make our saintly images, color schemes, and analogs seem downright pathetic.

You can disagree with me on this, fine. This is only my opinion, but I stand firm on one central position related to this topic of discussion…when we worship Jesus (the person) instead of worshipping Jesus (the teachings) we are watering down a Christ that is far more powerful than all the Satans, demons, skulls, profanity-laden fashion, scary tattoos, and overly dark eyeshadow ever contrived.

It is my belief that when we fixate on the person of Christ instead of the role and teachings of Christ we cheapen the entire cause. That’s why Christ didn’t ask, tell, or infer that we should worship him. You will never be able to make Christ (the person) cool enough, masculine enough, or dynamic enough for me and my tribe. However, if you want to talk about respecting one’s brother, loyalty, love, courage, and protecting those that cannot protect themselves then you can have bikers of every color, creed, and location lining up behind that kind of cause.

My Jesus is a biker. Your Jesus can be a plumber. Her Jesus can be a lawyer. It’s a matter of understanding what Jesus stands for instead of what Jesus looked like. Jesus stands for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These things don’t become feminine until you clothe them in a white robe, shine brilliant light on them, and surround them with a lilting homage of boys’ choir harmonies.

If you’re with me so far then you might as well be on the lookout for part 4 of this topic. It’s where I walk my way through Jesus (the teachings) as transcendent of all our perceived classifications and ideologies. It’s gonna get deep enough to scare you just a little…sticky too.

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