Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas from the unChurch Abbey

Merry Christmas from The unChurch Blog. May God's Kingdom come in you; as it is in heaven, so be it in your life and work! Now, go track sloppy footprints of grace and wonder all through 2010.

Credit for this fine photo goes to our friends at, maker and purveyor of parody gift items imprinted with things you would say under your breath. Thanks monk-in-absentia Darin of the Prarie for passing it along to us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chihuahua Worship

Conservative Jesus, liberal Jesus. Whatever. You can hang the name "Jesus" on anything, but it ain’t necessarily so. You could name your Chihuahua “Jesus”, but that doesn’t make him el salvador del mundo, and I won’t be bowing down to your pooch. Or to your bad religion. Even if you hang a cross on the wall and tell me I must.

What’s Jesus got to say about it?

He says the world has plenty of bogus christs. "Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. [Luke 17:23-25]

I can feel the eyebrows raising already: Come on, Joe B, that passage is about the “end of the world” or “the rapture”, what's it have to do with anything? Well, if you can set aside your "Left Behind" 3-D glasses for a moment, you may find the key in Jesus’ strange answer in verse 37: "Where, lord?", they asked. He replied, "Where there’s a cadaver, vultures gather."

Naturally, the fellas asked Jesus to get specific: “Where, Lord??” But there is a broader principle in play, one that stretches from Genesis to Revelation, and it cuts right through your life. It's not a matter of "when" or "where".

In verses 26 thru 30 Jesus describes people on the eve of judgment. And they are being normal. Just…being…normal. Then suddenly, but not without warning, God is sorting them out by fire or water or by sword. Jesus warns in verse 30, “It will be just like this in the day the Son of Man is revealed. Nobody should go back inside to save his stuff, or come back home to get anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it.”

This fundamental principle of Jesus is not when or where, it's always and everywhere: Where people live the way of flesh, they are just vulture food! And, looking back to Luke 17, we see that such people are prone to invent (or just infer) a bogus Christ. One who justifies them, and who condemns their opponents.

And here too is the seed of the inevitable, carnal tendency to choose up sides, put on matching shirts, and fight it out. We try to be like God, so God is like us. Therefore God is on our side. Therefore your side must be defeated. It is nothing more or less than the collective iteration of not loving your neighbor. It is ambition. It is politics. It is war. It is the evil that Jesus abhors and God avenges. And it is normal.

It also happens to be why I have quit "Church, Inc" forever. I'd rather walk by the spirit on the fringes than bow my knees to a so-called-christ who’s just the mascot of some group’s shared opinions. A christ who affirms us as we slouch, in Jesus' name, down the mortal path of Man: accumulating assets; forging alliances; competing for adherents; inventing rules; enforcing norms; quelling dissenters; excluding nonconformists. In other words, being normal. Being plain old ordinary men of juicy flesh. Whitewashed outside, but full of respectable, normal, 10%-more-righteous-than-your-neighbor bones. The kind of normal that God's vultures eat for lunch on the side of the road. "There is a way that seems right to men, but it ends in death."

Lost souls assure themselves that God is on their side. They cram into churches and jostle to the fore, seeking validation from God, and authority over men. But the people of the spirit move with God, free and powerful as the wind. They participate in God's new creation, expressing faith in Love. Their hearts are siezed with the beautiful revolution of the Kingdom of God.

“If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you shall live.” [Romans 5:4]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not for the Healthy, but the Sick

    "If you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

    Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done 'on earth as it is in heaven.' On earth."

I have no idea how Shane Claiborne is getting articles in Esquire magazine, but I do think this letter says a lot that I want to say... in a much better way than I could say it. This is what the unchurch is all about.

Sorry for yet another blog link-to-an-article. It is worth reading, though. Go read it. It is especially interesting coming on the heels of a news story I just read about Bible translations, in which some "argue that contemporary scholars have inserted liberal views and ahistorical passages [such as Jesus saying 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'] into the Bible, turning Jesus into little more than a well-meaning social worker with a store of watered-down platitudes."

Read. And discuss. Do these two stories have anything to do with each other? And was Jesus just about telling us what to believe, or was he about showing us how to live?