Archive

Culture

Understanding the postmodern context.  Is it even possible?  Somewhat, perhaps.  In any case, whether it is possible or impossible, our attempt at understanding must begin with the first step of immersion in the culture of postmodernism.  By this I suggest that you read.  And not read books about postmodernism,  rather books written from a postmodern mindset.
Infinite_jest_cover
Yesterday as I was reading through the New York Times I came across an essay/article entitled “The Best Mind of His Generation”.  Naturally the title alone peaked my interest and I clicked on the title.  David Foster Wallace was described as, “the kind of literary figure whose career was emblematic of his age.”  The article continues, “He may not have been the most famous novelist of his time, but more than anyone else, he exemplified and articulated the defining anxieties and attitudes of his generation.”(emphasis mine) Intrigued by the article I drove to the nearest bookseller and purchased his Infinite Jest a novel of 1079 pages described as having “set his generation’s benchmark for literary ambition…for all its humor, an encyclopedia of phobia, anxiety, compulsion and mania.”  In the foreward to Infinite Jest, writer Dave Eggers writes about Wallace as a writer who wanted “(and argably succeeds at) nailing the consciousness of an age.”  Our current age ie Postmodern Age.  I would be remissed if I didn’t include the following description.  “…Infinte Jest is something other.  That is, it bears little resemblance to anything before it, and comparisons to anything since are desperate and hollow.”(Dave Eggers)

As I began to read Infinite Jest yesterday I was vaguely reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea. Something about the increased feeling of anxiousness as I continued to read.  Be forewarned, Infinite Jest is not for the weak at heart.  It requires patient reading.  At times re-readings.  It is a book where you might find yourself being described.  Scary I know.  I have only just begun reading the book, but the content in the first few chapters has caused me to write pages of reactions and responses in my moleskine journal.  I plan on posting later today or tomorrow about the second chapter “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment”.  But for now pastoral duty calls.

Advertisements

As the year draws to an end, I hope that the business of the holidays and last minute to-do lists will also draw to a close. I haven’t had much time to post anything substantive in the last month or so but I intend to change that. This is also the end of my first year blogging (or at least half of a year) and it has been an exciting one. But with the new year it is my hope that the writing on this blog will be of more substantive content, hopefully even provoking to think about conventional wisdom. I know blogging can only do so much but if what they say is true about the journey of a thousand miles then i suppose a blog is a good first step. So I invite you to stay tuned and journey with me. I wish for all of you a “Hope Filled New Year”.

thumbnail.jpg

If you are from the Imperial Valley we are starting a new teaching series at our Seventh-day Adventist churches, in Brawley (Worship Service at 9:30 AM) and El Centro (Worship Service at 11 AM). The series is called “Learning to Live Well” – we will be looking at what it means that Jesus was resurrected, and what it means that we are a “resurrected” c0mmunity. “Learning to Live Well” will go back to the message of Jesus and what it means for us to day.

elders.jpg

…they will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is a conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.” (Nelson Mandela announcing the formation of the Elders. You can see a video introduction by Mandela here.)

This is an amazing thing that is happening. A formation of leaders, and past “official” leaders working toward making lasting change in an ever needing world. A group of influential people without a hidden agenda. In Mandela’s transcript of the announcement he says that the Elders will work towards,

“…assuming the essential interdependence of all human-kind. We call this the spirit of Ubuntu – that profound African sense that we are human only through the humanity of other human beings.”

Ubuntu truly is profound. In Christianity we might call it “creation”. The sense and consequent reality that we are all an essential part of God’s creation. We find our value first and foremost in that we were created to bear the image of the God, and secondly in the human-“ness” of others. We can only truly relate to God, when we consciously and purposely take the time relate to one another.

I wonder if there could ever be an Adventist version of “the Elders”? A group of Adventist leader’s committed to making our communities of faith, vibrant places of hope, refuge, and reconciliation. Not just for our own sake, rather in order to embrace and engage our world. To be a part of the world we live in. I know this is what our community of faith’s are intended to be, but how many churches have you been to that feel like that? For fun what would an Adventist group of “Elders”(of course not elders in the traditional church setting) look like? Would it even be possible? Perhaps this is how the Blogosphere is functioning. Could we be stronger together. Meeting together, in person every once in a while. Maybe this is already happening and I just didn’t know about it.

 

rwanda1.jpg

Where do we go to find the Imago Dei (the image of God)?

I read an article in Sojourners Magazine titled “The Hungry Spirit”, thinking that it was going to be an article about the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). It turns out that it was not directly written about the that particular text.

The article is about the photography of Sebastio Salgado, a photography that creates “a religious narrative of poor people across the world.” Salgado uses his camera to tell the story of the human condition. The poor. The displaced. The helpless. The hopeless. In his Exodus project he “traces the human face, the Imago Dei, against the background of time, livelihood, and continents.”

In Salgado’s current project Genesis he seeks “out places that are still as pristine as they were in primeval times, places that provide hope…” I wonder if the word ‘primeval’ here is used to indicate the time when everything in the world was pure, green, hopeful, without pain, without tears, without suffering, a time in which the Imago Dei could be seen without having to look through the muck of oppression that comes with the civilizing of humanity. Ironic isn’t it. The more civilized and advanced we become the more isolated, the more, that less is done to help those that need our help. Any help.

Commenting on his new project Genesis Salgado says, “We exploit the entire planet to live as isolated individuals.” He continues “It’s very complicated to have hope, but there are spots of hope around the world”. Genesis seeks to find these places of hope. What I might add are places of holiness.

Don’t we all look for places of hope in our lives. Or even realities of hope. Experiences of Hope. People of, and people that hope. A real kind of hope, and not a well wishing sentiment.

Perhaps places of hope are the places where the Imago Dei is found. Hope, through the human endeavor to end suffering (of all kinds). Hope, through fighting for the survival of our planet. Hope, through human relationships, even broken ones. Hope, through music. Hope, through art. Hope, through families. Hope, through friends. Hope, through communities of faith. Hope, through forgiveness. Hope, through grace. Hope, through revelation. Hope, through Yahweh.

Hope in that which is rooted in what the Imago Dei reflects and represents. Can it be that the Imago Dei is more accessible to us than we ever thought possible. Because maybe the Imago Dei is found in places of hope, places that provide hope.

I read Samir Selmanovic’s essay “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness: Finding Our God in the Other” from An Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It is not for the (religious) light at heart. What I mean is that if you have been a part of organized religion this book offers brave new insights into life in the Kingdom of God. These essay’s provide glimpses of hope of how life could be, how life is for missional communities all around the country.

In this essay Samir thinks aloud,

“The Chominas and the Marks(to really understand these references you need to read the essay) aroud us leave us wondering whether Christ can be more than Christianity. Or even other than Christianity(Pg. 192).”

Samir marks a distinction between those that “take the name of Christ” and those that accept Christ on a deeper level that lead them to be “Christlike”. The difference is a significant one. One with important ramifications.

“Can it be that the teachings of the gospel are embedded and can be found in reality itself rather than being exclusively isolated in sacred texts and our interpretations of these texts(Pg. 192)?”

The substance of what it means to live Christ rather than merely accept the name of Christ. The substance of a life that lives Christ is exhibited in their interactions with others, what they do for them, and live with them. Life together.

Which leads me to this. This past week a girl by the name of Samatha Brown passed away. She had just graduated from high school. I didn’t know her personally but some of the youth from my church in Brawley were friends with her. I received a text message telling me that Friday (yesterday) a big group of her friends and classmates put together a car wash to help raise money for funeral expenses and related costs. There are pictures below of this car wash. I showed up to get my car washed and support the fund. I stayed for a couple of hours helping with the washing of cars. I stood their looking around and thought, “Christlike” as I saw what these teenagers did. A car wash doesn’t seem like much. But to me it spoke volumes of the goodness in humanity. The Kingdom of God hard at work. The temperature that Friday was about 110 and humid. In the two hours I was there I was drenched in sweat. These teenagers were there from 9 Am to 7 Pm.

The words that come to mind are amen, amen, amen.

car-wash-blog-4.jpg car-wash-blog-3.jpg car-wash-blog-2.jpg car-wash-blog-1.jpg

I have noticed that some blogs have a side bar with music that, that particular blogger is listening to. I don’t have one of those, so I decided to post on it. I purchased the Linkin Park “Minutes to Midnight” on a whim, never really having listened to it and I must say, I am really enjoying it.

linkin-park-minutes-to-midnight.jpg

This album serves as a bit of a social commentary, ok ‘a lot’ a bit of social commentary. My favorite song at the moment is “Hands held High” which discusses the war going on right now. Here is an excerpt from the song:

“For a leader so nervous in an obvious way stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay and the rest of the world watching at the end of the day In their living room laughing like “what did he say?. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

Not only is it a commentary, but also like a prayer. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen. Talk about the book of “uncommon prayer”. This songs seems an odd place to find a prayer, but aren’t our lives filled with prayer,even uncommon prayer. What makes a proper prayer?