Tag Archives: theology

One side of the coin

Some days I leave work, and my only response to humanity as a whole (or, more specifically, that subset who take advantage of their power and privilege to do violence with impunity) is in line with what Roy here says below:

As I was driving home tonight, I remembered the corollary to the above statement made by the southern theologian Will Campbell when he was asked to define what Christianity meant to him, and he responded, “We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway…”

It doesn’t make the anger go away, or make everything all better…  The problem is still there.  But I’m no longer alone in it.  And neither are the girls…

People are bastards.  Men are bastards.  But God loves us anyway


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Salt and light

MATTHEW THE TAX-COLLECTOR and Thomas the doubter.  Peter the Rock and Judas the traitor.  Mary Magdalene and Lazarus’s sister Martha.  And the popcorn-eating old woman.  And the fat man in the pick-up.  They are all our family, and you and I are their family and each other’s family, because that is what Jesus has called us as the Church to be.  Our happiness is all mixed up with each other’s happiness and our peace with each other’s peace.  Our own happiness, our own peace, can never be complete until we find some way of sharing it with people who the way things are now have no happiness and know no peace.  Jesus calls us to show this truth forth, live this truth forth.  Be the light of the world, he says.  Where there are dark places, be the light especially there.  Be the salt of the earth.  Bring out the true flavor of what it is to be alive truly.  Be truly alive.  Be life-givers to others.  That is what Jesus tells the disciples to be.  That is what Jesus tells his Church, tells us, to be and do.  Love each other.  Heal the sick, he says.  Raise the dead.  Cleanse lepers.  Cast out demons.  That is what loving each other means.  If the Church is doing things like that, then it is being what Jesus told it to be.  If it is not doing things like that—no matter how many other good and useful things it may be doing instead— then it is not being what Jesus told it to be.  It is as simple as that.

~ Frederick Buechner, Listening to your Life


Thinking about salt and light as they pertain to a life of faith…  Jesus told his followers that they were “the salt of the earth”, “the light of the world.”

But the point of salt isn’t to eat it by the heaping spoonful.  (“Mmm.  This salt is delicious.  Could I have another spoonful please?”)  It is to enhance the flavor, bring taste to food, and allow us to appreciate and delight in what we eat (even if it’s brussel sprouts.)

The point of light isn’t to dazzle and blind.  (“Gosh it’s dark out here.  Can you shine that spotlight in my eyes?  Thank you!  I’m so glad you brought a light on this camping trip…”)  It is to show us the world around us – to allow other’s eyes to see the world as it is.


“If you salt the water, you won’t taste the salt. But if you don’t, you’ll know something’s not quite right.”


Ipsissimia Verba?

You are the salt of the earth.
Gather it together in heaps lest it be polluted;
keep it in the jar.
Let society rot in its sin and be redolent in its putrefaction
the saints pristine in their whiteness shall be gathered together as a memorial pillar to me.

You are the light of the world.
Guard it carefully lest the darkness put it out.
Build a beautiful shrine for the lamp of God
where it may be kept safe for you to admire.
Do not take it out into the storm to look for the lost:
the wind might blow it out.
Let the lost look out for themselves
– if they are lucky they will see the chinks of light through the shutters and try to come in.

You shall be my witnesses,
so witness faithfully, on Sundays, come what may, and at as many meetings as you can
give money, make long prayers, sing hymns, and listen to sound sermons.
Teach my lambs, in particular, to get their priorities right
and keep the fold nice and tidy:
then it will be easy to find you when I come back, already gathered
from the rest
and glorifying God in your holiness.

You are my body.
Treat it gently, keep it warm,
make sure it gets enough to eat and lives respectably.
Keep it out of politics of course and the crush of the common people.
Avoid confrontation with the realities of evil.
One crucifixion was enough.

~ Muriel McNair (via ~ Prayers and Creeds)

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On the Mystery…

…Salvation as a gift given, not a bargain struck.  A father who does not trade forgiveness for good behavior, but who kisses the prodigal son before he gets his confession out of his mouth.  A vineyard owner who pays what he pleases, not what the laborers earn.  A shepherd who allows no sensible business considerations to keep him from leaving ninety-nine sheep in jeopardy to bring one to safety.  A wheat grower who runs his farm, not for profit, but for the sake of letting everything grow as it pleases till the end.  An Incarnate Word who won’t talk to Pilate; a Carpenter of Nazareth who saves the world by nailing down his own hands; a Risen Lord who runs everything by going away.  A God, in other words, who does all things well by doing practically nothing right, whose wisdom is foolishness, whose strength is weakness – who runs this whole operation by being no operator at all and who makes no deals because, in the high Mystery of his being, he’s got it made already…

…We call Christ’s dying and rising the Paschal Mystery, the Passover Mystery.  But seen in the light of a non-transactional view, this isn’t just typology anymore.  It’s a flat assertion that the Passover and the Resurrection are, beneath the surface, the same thing.  You don’t have to work up some system for getting the Israelites in the wilderness in touch with Christ: They already were, long before Jesus turned up on the scene.  And so were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  And so, to take it all the way, is everybody and everything that is.

Christ wins in every triumph and loses in every loss.  Christ dies when a chicken dies, and rises when an egg hatches.  He lies slain in the wreckage of all Aprils.  He weeps in the ruins of all springs.  This strange, savage, gorgeous world is the way it is because, incomprehensibly, that is his style.  The Gospel of the Incarnation is preached, not so that we can tell men that the world now means something it didn’t mean before, but so that they may finally learn what it has been about all along.  We proclaim Christ crucified, the formless, uncomely Rood Out Of A Dry Ground, in order to show men, at the undesired roots of their own being, the Incarnate Word who is already there, making Jerusalem to flourish.  We do not bring Jesus to people or people to Jesus.  We preach the Word who sends their roots rain, whether they hear or whether they forbear.

And so at last, the theological Rube Goldberg contraptions go into the trash can.  At Auschwitz and  Buchenwald, the Jews died in Christ and Christ in them.  No limbos.  No bookkeeping.  If the church never got around to them – or if it did, but put them off with rotten manners – Christ still draws all men to himself.  He descends into every hell.  The Incarnate Word preaches on all days, to all spirits, in all prisons.  The Good Shepherd has other sheep, and he flatly refuses to lose a single one.

Robert Farrar Capon ~ Hunting the Divine Fox

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