In the climate turmoil at the end of the last Ice Age, lots and lots of people died. Our cousins the Neanderthals went extinct before our very eyes. A lot of people thought “The gods must be trying to destroy us!” But our people — the people of Yahweh — couldn’t believe that. Because if we knew anything, we knew Yahweh is good, and Yahweh loves his creatures. Extinction events are hard times to hold on to that kind of belief, but we did hold onto it, because we knew it was True. So we started telling our own version of the story, a story about a guy named Noah…
Humans naturally desire the things other people desire, which makes us into rivals who are competing to get the same thing. This kind of rivalry can lead us into all kinds of nastiness, as we will see in this week’s family exploration of Genesis 3.
Sharing the Bible with my kids means inducting them into a particular community of interpretation. An essential tool for this is a children’s Bible — a collection of the stories our community deems central, arranged and interconnected in ways that communicate what we think the overall story is. My interpretive community (which includes what’s sometimes called “Emergence Christianity“) has not yet produced any children’s Bibles, so it’s hard to find one that doesn’t covertly promote agendas I oppose (religious violence, imperialism, sexism, moralism, deism, etc.). This tells me two things: The children’s writers among us need to get busy working...
This week’s video playlist features various big-picture ideas about life, including Conflict (Conan the Barbarian: “Crush your enemies and hear the lamentations of the women”), Consumption/Wealth, the meaningless Bigness of the universe (from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”), Yoda’s ruminations on The Force, an awesome auto-tuned song on how “We are all connected,” George Carlin’s “Stuff” bit, plus video renditions of all our Scripture texts.
GEEK OUT: (v.) Losing one’s cool when in the presence of something Cool. COOL: (adj.) Uniquely embodying Goodness, Truth, and Beauty (Synonyms: holy, sacred). SPIRITUALITY: (n.) One’s way of relating to the Cool. REAL-WORLD SPIRITUALITY: (n.) Relating to Coolness as if it is not imaginary.
Have you ever thought about how God creates? When faced with a dark / formless / chaotic emptiness, the Spirit of God hovered above it, thinking “How can I make something beautiful out of this?” To be made in God’s image is to have the same opportunity to be creative with what life throws at us.
Let’s admit it: Han shot first. Han Solo is a cold-blooded murdering thug, not to mention a slimy double-crossing no-good swindler. At the same time, Han Solo is awesome. He is one of us. I have a similar problem with my Judeo-Christian heritage. My spiritual forebears were spittle-emitting genocidal religious fanatics. I am one them; they are my people. But what I discover in the Bible is a God who is subverting our violent mythologies from within, taking us all somewhere we have never been before…
Today our family starts a year-long trek through the Bible, following its overarching storyline as laid out in Brian McLaren’s WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING. Our goal is to induct our children (12, 9, and 2) into our love for the Bible, and into a kind of Christian faith that we think is worth believing in. Our weekly after-dinner conversations will include Scripture readings, video-watchings, and a short talk from me — based on McLaren’s chapter, but adapted for 1). Shorter attention spans, and 2). Our family’s two favorite topics: Science, and the Trinity. All of that will be...
Brian McLaren says “we make the road by walking,” that we discover and build our faith by living it. My wife and I agree with this. But we never thought our kids would be making the road with us. Our children are 12, 9, and 2, and we’d planned to have the road nicely paved by now. Instead, we have a path we’re not entirely comfortable walking with little kids. But it’s the only path we’ve got. And we’re the only parents they’ve got. So it’s settled: The Stonecyphers are making a road.
Ruling in my kingdom means being a hospitable space for Katie to be Katie and for you to be you. But if instead you introduce Katie to the global Game of rivalry and hate, it would better for you to sleep with the fishes in concrete shoes. Woe to the world for the games it wants to play with Katie! Woe to the advertisers who will teach her to despise herself so that she will buy their products! Woe to the politicians who will turn Katie into just another hate-cog for their political machines! Woe to that sicko who lures Katie into The Game.
The Canaanite genocide just became less of a problem for me. The conquest stories of the book of Joshua (in the Bible) have troubled me for a long time. But it’s recently occurred to me that the problem really lies somewhere else — much deeper in the fabric of nature. If we take evolution seriously (and I do), we have to acknowledge the troubling fact that Death is the engine that runs Life. It has been like this for 3 billion years. I have no intention of going back to being a creationist who believes that death resulted from “the Fall.” That idea is behind me. I trust the data, and the data says that the God I believe in has created a world of Life fueled by Death, and I’m really not sure how to deal with that. That’s where my thinking process now has to start.
Science needs science fiction as an imaginative sandbox for ideas not yet ready for reality. Jules Verne imagined the first rocket launch; Arthur C. Clarke invented the idea of telecommunications satellites; and the list goes on. I have often wondered what it would look like if Theology had a similar sandbox, a “Theology Fiction” genre in which theologians could stretch their theological visions past their accustomed horizons (and I don’t mean lame-ass “end times” novels; I’m talking real theology here). Theology Fiction may need a better name, but this poorly-named non-existent genre now has at least one good book in...
I have spent a long time hating Bible story books. They tell a little story in isolation from the rest of the Bible’s narrative, and then they draw out some facile and vacuous moral, like: “Go be like Samson,” which happens to be awful advice. If my kids turn out like Samson, I may have to start taking drugs. But little tellings of little stories is how humans make culture. Am I short-circuiting the process by trying to dissolve the Samson story into the Jesus story? Is it perhaps not my job to hand my kids a finished pile of knowledge, but instead to induct them into a process that’s been going on a long time and is not yet finished — the process of getting to know an undomesticated God who refuses to fit into a single story?