Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Harvard Students Want Religion

The article linked to the above title isn't, to be honest, worth reading. Rather, it's interesting because it further documents the desire of 'the people' (always vague and compelling) to see religion become more of a public phenomenon.

One thing that the author points out is that while race and class are recurring topics of discussion religion is still, taboo. Even the other dare-never-say 'politics' doesn't have anything close to the public taboo religion does. Nevertheless, day in and day out we see that religion is anything but a 'private' phenomenon. From the public execution of Christ, to Wilberforce, to the civil-rights movement, to the religious-right, we continually learn religion cannot be neatly lopped into a 'private' category. Religion always trespasses into the public, why can't we be honest about it?

'Religion,' the Duke philosopher Stanley Fish has said, 'is the new thing.' If he's correct let's let it be discussed publicly. Intelligently, compassionately, but publicly.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Let's admit it: renewalquest was dumb.


The act of someone screaming is at best startling, at worst completely and totally unnerving. That said, I've been interested in how many screams Jesus provokes in the Gospels. There is the Syrophoenician women who screams after Jesus. There is Blind Bartimaeus who screams after Jesus. There is the women who comes into Simon the Pharisee's dinner weeping and crying out.

In all of these stories there are a group of annoyed observers. They are the disciples, the surrounding crowd, and the Pharisees; people that have it all together. People that have decent jobs, people that look healthy. In all three of these stories Jesus, in his God-ish irony, silences the critical bystanders and offers care and acceptance to the one who screams.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is the screamers that the authors of the Gospels seek to show as the true model of faith. No, it's not those who have it together. It's not those with mortgages and kids at good universities. God reveals the screamer as the model of faith because the screamer knows herself; she knows the certain and great depth of her need. She also knows the great provision that is in Christ. These two elements fuse together to reveal an obvious boldness in the screams of the needy one. They know that their needs will only be satisfied in Christ.

I think we, like the by-standers, are uncomfortable with 'screamers' in our midst. They're unnerving. The problem is that they, rather than the bystanders, are God's model of faith. They, know the depth of their need and that the answer is only found in Christ. Rather than anxiously distance ourselves from these 'screamers' perhaps we need to evaluate our own life. What dulls us from truly understanding our need? What do we find apart from Christ do we find our answer in?