Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Foretaste of More than Tobacco

To the surprise of many, I have exercised remarkable restraint through the years by not writing very much at all about cigars and my passion for them : ). I have received criticism for standing by this passion; to this day, I correct my mother explaining the difference between a passion and a habit. I began my blogging journey back in 2008 by talking about the "taboo" subjects of motorcycles and cigars ( Now that I am deep into my passion on the centrality of vocation, so for the one who has eyes to see, perhaps even a cigar shop like this one serves as a foretaste of heaven; look and listen for it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Liturgy and Justice

“Gathering for celebration on Sunday and dispersing to begin the work of doing justice on Monday, a cadence of one and six, forms the essential rhythm of a week in the life of New Song Community Church. Because God’s activity in worship is a piece with God’s activity in the world, the worship of the church is a piece with its life in the neighborhood. The worship of God is flowing out into the streets of Sandtown, where it belongs in order to have integrity and authenticity (Isa. 1:11-17; 58:3-7; Amos 5:21-24; Heb. 13:15-16). For liturgy and justice belong together. Liturgy,… is not authentic unless the activity of justice is also present. New Song’s participatory worship, life of prayer, patterns of testimony, struggle for reconciliation, announcement of pardon and grace, and labors for a more just and joyful community form a single life dedicated to God.”

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Knowledge and Respect as Superior to Tolerance

"The idea of equality is a good one, so long as it means 'equality before the law.' Beyond that, the idea becomes squishy and sentimental because of manifest inequalities of all kinds. It makes no sense, for example, to equate equality with freedom. The two concepts must be joined precisely and within strict limits if their association is to make any sense at all. Equality, in certain circumstances, is anything but free. If we have equality and nothing else- no compassion, no magnanimity, no courtesy, no sense of mutual obligation and dependence, no imagination- then power and wealth will have their way; brutality will rule. A general and indiscriminate egalitarianism is free-market culture, which, like free-market economics, tends towards a general and destructive uniformity. And tolerance, in association with such egalitarianism, is a way of ignoring the reality of significant differences. If I merely tolerate my neighbors on the assumption that all of us are equal, that means I can take no interest in the question of which ones of us are right and which ones are wrong; it means that I am denying the community the use of my intelligence and judgment; it means that I am not prepared to defer to those whose abilities are superior to mine, or to help those whose condition is worse; it means that I can be as self-centered as I please.

In order to survive, a plurality of true communities would require not egalitarianism and tolerance but knowledge, an understanding of the necessity of local differences, and respect. Respect, I think, always implies imagination- the ability to see one another, across our inevitable differences, as living souls."

A Placed People

"If the word community is to mean or amount to anything, it must refer to a place (in its natural integrity) and its people. It must refer to a placed people. . . . 'community' must mean a people locally placed and a people, moreover, not too numerous to have a common knowledge of themselves and of their place."

To Belong to One Another and to Place

"A community, unlike a public, has to do first of all with belonging; it is a group of people who belong to one another and to their place."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Ordinary Work" as Glorious Work

My co-pastor, Mark Swanson, sent this to me recently. Mark knows how passionate I am about the topic of vocation. It really is amazing to think about how what we may assume from day-to-day to be "ordinary work" can be full of artistry, skill and wonder. Pictured are some London street workers who were captured doing "glorious work" in their daily rhythms.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Gospel, About Land

"If Christians could be clear that the gospel entrusted to Christians is also about land, perhaps a new conversation could emerge, but it will not so long as we misunderstand our faith in categories either existentialist or spiritual-transcendental."

The Land: Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith, p. 203

The Central Human Problem

"Our study of land suggests that . . . . the central problem is not emancipation but rootage, not meaning but belonging, not separation from community but location within it, not isolation from others but placement deliberately between generations of promise and fulfillment. The Bible is addressed to the central human problem of homelessness (anomie) and seeks to respond to that agenda in terms of grasp and gift."

The Land: Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith, p. 199-200

The Storied Place of Biblical Faith

"In the Old Testament there is no timeless space, but there also is no spaceless time. There is rather storied place, that is, a place that has meaning because of the history lodged there. There are stories that have authority because they are located in a place. This means that biblical faith cannot be presented simply as a historical movement indifferent to place that could have happened in one setting as well as another, because it is undeniably fixed in this place with this meaning. And for all its apparent 'spiritualizing,' the New Testament does not escape this rootage. The Christian tradition has been very clear in locating the story in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Galilee."