Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Benign and Objective Translations?

Before I go on, there's a bit to say.

First, Hitler translates Hebrews. His is an entirely neutral and benign and objective translation too. His supreme German is dynamically equivalent to the original Greek. There's not a hint of a whiff of the horrors of holocaust in it. No propaganda. No agenda. No bias. No racism. No rhetoric. No sexism.

No? You don't believe that? {continue...}
[via Aristotle's Feminist Subject]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Who's Really Innocent? Who Deserves Salvation?

I was reminded of how conservative Christians seemed to find Mel Gibson's Passion film meaningful mostly because of the ill-treatment that Jesus suffered during and before the crucifixion. I found it very interesting that those who pointed to the Roman's mistreatment of Christ were the most silent or even approving of Bush's torture regime. Not a new observation, but in yesterday's conversation, this idea was articulated most clearly when some one noted that perhaps conservative Christians saw a difference between torturing the Son of God and torturing someone who openly wanted to kill innocent people. I think that statement reflects a lot of the belief in conservative America....

Thinking about these two thoughts--the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and the issue of how we respond to others (yes, even those who profess to do evil)--and I have to say that I think the conservative theology is missing a pretty key element. I am no theologian, but isn't the power of the Easter story that Jesus gave himself as a sacrificial lamb for all of humanity? Isn't it based on the idea that he didn't deserve to die, but we all do? That we do not deserve grace or salvation, but he extends it to us anyway?

To go from that story to suggesting that it might be ok to mistreat others based on what they "deserve" strikes me as missing the point. {full post}
[via Streak's Blog]

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sympathizing With Our Weaknesses

Hebrews 4:15-16: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This passage indicates that Jesus in "all points" was tempted as we are, so I would like to make the following point. A spirit being (God) taking on physical form and human weakness (flesh) must die. This is a suicidal impulse, but a suicidal impulse with a purpose . . . to learn what it means to be human. {source}
and elsewhere
Indeed, if Jesus was truly tempted by every possible human emotion, then he must have been tempted by the thought of nullifying his existence, of laying down the guardianship of human life. In this sense, the cross might have been Jesus's relief from suffering, as well as his redemption of suffering. Jesus was able to give into thanatos finally, because through death of flesh came the birth of new spirit. Now, I'm not suggesting people go out and start killing themselves to emulate God....We are the aftermath of Christ's suicide, and no mentally ill person should feel ashamed for having had thoughts that tempted even Christ himself. {source}
[via Against Biblical Counseling]

As Christ Also Loved...

[via Emotional Abuse And Your Faith, from this post]

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our Own Kingdoms

We live in a world with political and economic systems that continue to crumble. We have religious and theological ideas and structures that are insufficient to make sense of it all. Jesus knew this over 2000 years ago. It is why he came to reveal and found a Kingdom that was not dependent on the Kingdoms of the World. Humanity rejected that message and rejected that Kingdom not because they first hated God, but because that Kingdom threatened the stability of their own Kingdoms and asked everyone to give up their own self-preservation in these Kingdoms in order to pursue a different one of God's creation. Clinging to their own Kingdoms, they killed Jesus - an act which is the ultimate expression of human sin and idolatry.

If we fuse and confuse our own Kingdoms with that which Jesus came to found, and if we cling to our own Kingdoms to maintain some kind of privilege status in the world, where we will go when they crumble either through human error, or by the very wrath of God that ripped open the Temple curtain on Good Friday? {full post}
[via Notes From Off-Center]

Legacy of Rwanda's genocide: more assertive international justice
[via The Christian Science Monitor, HT: Kruse Kronicle]

Matrix Revisited
[via xkcd.com]

Monday, April 06, 2009

There Will Be Resistance, But...

As a preacher, I never know what to do with Palm Sunday. It's fun to sing and dance, but I know where things lead. Making a big deal about Jesus' triumphal entry seems rather beside the point, when I know that Good Friday is on the horizon.

But the Gospels tell this story nonetheless, maybe as a reminder to us that we're often fickle, getting pulled along by the crowd, this way and that. In that telling of Jesus' story, we find him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. To us riding a donkey might not make an impression, but for first-century Jews, it may have called to mind a prophetic word of hope. It's quite likely that Jesus intentionally acted out Zechariah's prophetic word that one day a king would ride triumphantly into the city on a donkey, bringing with him the promise of peace for all nations, even as he extended his rule to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:9-10).

So, as the people began to hear that the teacher from Galilee was riding into town on a donkey, they must have wondered – Is this the one? Indeed, is this the one who will wrest dominion from the hated Roman oppressors and restore freedom to God's people? With those thoughts in mind, it's no surprise that the people responded by shouting hosanna and by spreading palm branches out in front of him.

As we consider this scene, we need to consider another one, because it's quite possible that as Jesus was entering the city through one gate, the Roman governor was riding into the city through another gate astride a war horse. So, here we have it – two visions of reality. One vision lifts up peace, while the other focuses on domination. We're fickle. We'll give peace a chance, but only for a moment, because when push comes to shove, we're likely to embrace Caesar. It's safer, after all!

...The message of Holy Week, which we enter this morning, is this: Whether it's sticks or stones, or names, we have been called to a ministry of word and service, and no matter what comes our way, God is there to sustain us in our ministry. As we go forth into the world, we don't go alone. There will be resistance, but God and not Caesar will prevail. So be strong, stand firm! {full post}
[via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

Palm Sunday: Anti-Imperial Street Theatre
[via Levellers]