I’ve had folks tell me they get tired of me talking like I do now. That’s more than fair, cause I’m tired of talking about the things I talk about too, & even more tired of thinking about the things I think about. Frankly, I want to crawl back under the covers & go back to sleep.
You know what I want to talk about? I’m not being sarcastic here—I really DO want to talk about a new season, or how your comeback starts now, or how God is gonna turn it around. I want to say something vaguely but universally hopeful. I love to preach things, that preach easy.
The trouble, is that none of these things are universally true. The people who we actively oppress will not be free, because we tell them to think free. The people who we actively place in cages will not be free, because we tell them they are no longer slaves. It’s NOT. TRUE.
It’s a heavy time for so many. I haven’t felt like saying anything hopeful about it, cause I’ve got my own sadness, & I don’t always want to be hopeful. Sometimes I just need to feel what I feel. But if it’s helpful, brief thoughts on depression, suicide, & hell. No disclaimers.
Hell is a real place. Have you been? It’s where your stuck inside your own despair, trapped in your head, can see no way out. I’ve visited a few times, & thought I was over—wanted to be over. I’ve stood over the non-metaphorical cliff, ready to make that last call.
If you’ve been to the darkness—really—you know how strong the tide pulls you out. Anything to silence the voices, forget the flickering reel in your head, & let go into the night. You think there is a hell worse than this? What, a cosmic marshmallow roast worse than losing hope?
Every single dangerous theological idea I can think of (as in, theology that ACTUALLY RESULTS IN KILLING PEOPLE) comes down to one massive misreading: who/how God chooses (or, who God calls/elects/predestines, whether speaking of Israel or individuals who are "saved").
First of all, Israel as a modern nation-state has no connection whatsoever to Israel as the people of God in our Old Testament. But for a moment, let's grant that it does. Why does God call Abraham/Israel? So that through him/them, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed"
The historic story of Israel as the people of God is not the story of God calling a few at the expense of the many, but of God calling a few for the salvation of the many. Anything good God ever did for Israel, ultimately was for the sake of "all the families of the earth."
Hebrews 13.12-13: “Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.” My, my. Go TO Jesus. Where? Outside the camp. Why? To bear rejection alongside him.
No matter who you are or where you are, conscious awareness of God’s presence will come & go. But I’m convinced that many of us rarely sense the presence simply because we don’t go to Jesus where he is—outside the camp, outside the gate.
The two disciples encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus—not in Jerusalem, where the temple is, but on the road away from it. You don’t have to find God in the temple. God is on the road...because on the road is where you are.
We’ve fallen off of some wagons, jumped on to some others. You got a raise or lost the money. You got drunk or sober, married or divorced. People were born, people died. Nothing could stop the rising. Your accomplishments didn’t speed him up, your failure didn’t slow him down.
Love got up, in his own sweet time. Death was conquered. Maybe you don’t believe it. So? What you BELIEVE won’t make it more or less true.
Resurrection is God's responsibility. #easter
Life conquered death & there's not a thing we can do about it. Receive it as gift, doubt it, be wayward or devout-it's happened & happening. Resurrection is not an edict or summons, but an invitation to know the open secret humming beneath all created things-DEATH IS NOT THE END.
Ideological purity will give you plenty of room for self-congratulation & superiority, but there’s no grace in it. People move, shift, grow change—& the folk that ought to cheer them on the loudest attack them the hardest instead, telling them they haven’t come far enough.
Isn’t it better to affirm any steps toward life, love & justice—“hey good job taking these small steps! We believe in you! You can do it!”—rather than ripping people for not coming all the way? People who just left Egypt don’t need to be lectured while they are in the wilderness.
(Especially by somebody who’s been on a new shore for all of, oh, 10 minutes. Somebody shout with me right here...you’re barely out of Egypt yourself, & you got lectures for people who are still in the vulnerable, in-between places?!)
You can survive. You can survive when you've lost all rational reasons for wanting to survive. You can survive off of the primal, animal instinct that says it's not your time to go, no matter what the voices in your head try to tell you.
You can survive out of sheer morbid curiosity as to where your story might yet land. You can survive off of one garbled, half-sincere prayer. While not recommended for long, you can survive off of rage, or the refusal to give your enemies the satisfaction of watching you quit.
You can sing to yourself when you have nobody to sing to, preach to your self when you have no congregation. You can fall in love with the sound of your own voice, & not apologize for it. It's terrible revelation, I know--to see all you need to live in inside, not outside of you.
It never ceases to amaze that the president of the largest Christian institution for higher learning in North America consistently collapses the language of Christian faith with idolatrous nationalism. Nor does it cease to amaze that you literally have NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT JESUS.
Further, 1) I'm not a "Christian leftist." I am a Jesus-ist, a kingdom-of-God-ist. I believe Jesus' call to the kingdom transcends my allegiance to any particular nation-state. I'm not interested in telling Caesar how to run Rome, but telling Christians not to worship Rome/Caesar
2) I do find it hopeful that you are able to make the connection between Trump & Caesar. Follow this further...the proclamation of Christians in the first century that "Jesus is Lord" carried with it the implicit statement that "Caesar is not," which is what got them killed.
Dear twitter friends: these days have felt heavy to me. I’ve not said a lot, b/c I haven’t had a lot to say. But feeling a little freed up tonight, maybe I’ll make up for lost time with a few unconnected thoughts. Not super coherent, but a glimpse into my heart-however random:
1) A “platform” will not pay your bills. “Influence” doesn’t automatically translate into anything quantifiable at all. Let him/her who has ears to hear, hear.
2) We are so terribly fragile. Seriously. So much smaller & more helpless than we project. We are all middle-schoolers, walking around with our lunch tray, hoping we find a safe place to sit down. We are children. If we grasped this, we’d be so much more tender. To everyone.
I try to not riff/give “hot takes” on everything—I too easily could rant constantly. I prefer to be generous/edifying as much as possible. But for better or worse, here’s me letting out the monster that ever runs beneath my normally jolly, ostensibly encouraging exterior self:
I read the inflammatory piece on “shitholes” from Rod Dreher, & the flap over the latest asinine thing John Piper said about women in ministry. I’m torn between two responses: a) eye-rolling b) the same thing I feel when people report something crazy Pat Robertson says...
...that is to say, “who the hell is still paying attention to these persons, & why?” Dreher & Piper occupy different spaces, but are largely the same person: pseudo-intellectuals who sometimes impress folk a half inch above crass fundamentalism who think they sound “smart.”
So you keep hurtling down the path of deconstruction...good! I’m not afraid of this. God is an arsonist, regularly setting fire to systems & structures (especially religious ones) that keep out the Spirit’s wildness. If it can burn, let it burn. If it can be shaken, let it shake.
God is full of mischief. You couldn’t be more disruptive than God is if you wanted to. The question for you is...will you stick around for the new construction, on the other side of the deconstruction? Taking it all apart is exhilarating at first, then gets boring after awhile.
Will new practices take the place of the ones that stopped working for you? Will new community replace the one that failed you/or that you failed? After you’ve dissected the corpse on the table, & coolly examined the anatomy...will you sign back up for magic & wonder again?
Blessings to the intuitive folks out there—exhausted from every link they click, feeling every sound bite like a paper cut; & the folks just trying to keep their hearts open, with constant chaos in the air. Clear the hard drive of your heart. Disconnect. Remember your true name.
Blessings to the sensitive out there, who can’t stop feeling the brutality in the air, settled in your bones like winter’s chill. Blessings to the over-stimulated, about to collapse under the weight of your own wanting. Hear the call to fall/come apart, into Spirit’s sweet rest.
Blessings to the ones who still feel, despite your best efforts to numb yourself, for whom the pain runs deeper than the alcohol or pornography or food or approval can go. May Love flood every hole in your soul, by surprise. May delight wash over you, uninvited.