river3.jpgIn the poem Fire and Ice by Robert Frost, the speaker presents two schools of thought regarding the end of the world:

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate 
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The point of the poem, however, does not lie in either side of the argument.  The speaker claims to "hold with those who favor fire," but his reasoning is not at issue, is not outlined for the reader to consider. Rather, the point of the poem lies in the irony of the truth behind the topic of discussion... that regardless of who is right about the way the world WILL end, either way WOULD work, and no matter how it is debated beforehand, no matter who believes what, when it happens, the world will be finished.  And the weight of that fact rather than the validity of either theory is what people should consider.

Robert Frost is mocking me. I learned this poem in sixth grade, and never could forget the biting irony behind it. But I love debate. I love a good mental tug-o-war...  

This is why I continue my dialogue about God and His current role in our lives with my dear friend (Meandering - Volume I, Meandering - Volume II).  It is why I look forward to her reactions to my contentions. It's healthy.  In the end, though, what we debate is not foundational, is not revolutionary, is not "salvational."  In the end, we're really on the same team. This is my counterpoint.  (Her points are in bold, and my responses follow.)

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God is love in the Old Testament and the New Testament... The latter half of the Old Testament is all about God's relationship with Israel and how He is dealing with their disobedience. (sidenote: the words "disobedience" and "obedience" imply a choice on the behalf of people. Otherwise it would not be obedience we would be functioning as robots, mindless zombies, etc.)

Your point about the words 'disobedience' and 'obedience' is quite valid.  Both imply choice.  The existence of both in the Bible implies that people chose to follow God's instructions or chose to stray.  Here's my issue with your reading of obedience in Biblical context.... You're applying a human take on the definition of 'obedience' and its antithesis to something Biblical. 

Remember that none of us has the capacity to achieve righteousness through our behavior, our actions, or our obedience.  Even when we "obey," we're still sinful and deserve death and nothing more.  So, Biblical definitions of obedience, in my opinion, do not necessarily tie-in with free will.  We live in a context which, for all intents and purposes, allows us to believe we have free will, but when we "obey" God, we're really only furthering His purpose, whether that means fulfilling the Great Commission, or barricading our hearts against the "present evil age" (Galatians), or merely providing Him with increased pleasure.  And no matter what is accomplished by our obedience, it works for the good He set forth long ago. 

No, I don't equate us to robots or zombies.  Rather, I think we may be more like chess pieces, but chess pieces who live lives which can appear to be personally fulfilling and inside our control even as we're furthering the playing out of His overarching game.

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IMG_0332.JPGCedar Grove Community Church is hosting a new Worship Bible Study at 6pm on Sunday nights. One of the discussions trailed over onto Facebook. The prompt was as follows:

I'd like to continue a discussion that we started at our Bible Study on Sunday night... here's the question: describe what you think about the Church (the global church, not any one particular one)... free association time.

Being given to diatribes, I thought I'd refrain this time, try to salvage what's left of the ever shrinking group of people who consider me "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." Everyone else knows me too well. But Pastor Tom nudged me, so... 

@TB: Here's my shot...
 

 

First, the global Christian church exists only insofar as we agree on the following: Jesus Christ was the one and only son of God, He died and rose again, and in doing so, He bridged the gap between sinners and their Creator.
 
But that's it. Beyond that sliver of dogma remain as many divisions and derisions about faith and salvation as there are human beings on the planet. And that's only when considering the global Christian church. Look outside those broad borders and the world according to its different beliefs is a jungle, savage and fascinating and desperate in its plight, and as worthy of our time and love as we were worthy of the time and love of Christ.
 
What do I think of the global church? Not much.

Let us not forget that the worst moments (and eras) of history have always come at those junctures when "righteous" men (and women) have sought the power to take over the world for God or god. Such misguided focus and greed has toppled empires.

Thus, I've often wondered whether the Christian community realizes that fighting against the separation of Church and State may not be in our own best interest. 

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Q2.jpgToday at lunch I sat in the sun, my bare toes exposed to the sky, and I breathed in the fresh, fragile scent of cut grass and aging flowers and leaves staving off the seasonal call to loose their holds and tumble to the earth.  Near the oleanders, where bunches of fuchsia flowers now bob between the browning, curled ends of their own, dying leaves, I caught a waft of almond, of mud, of something almost too ripe.  But all of it mixed and floated away on the next breeze.  It tantalized me.

Autumn is my favorite season, something I say aloud and blog about every year.  It reminds me of elementary school, upside down plastic chairs on desks, the jingling circus noises of recess, and the straight gray-blue lines dividing blank notebook paper into swim lanes for letters.

The thought of those lines and the thrill of empty paper begging to be filled with graphite scrawl, triggers another memory, a favorite memory: learning the art of cursive under the brusque tutelage of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Busselen. 

Mrs. Busselen's script on the chalkboard was perfect, graceful and purposeful, marrying each of the letters in a word to its neighbor with a quick, deft dip of chalk.

I coveted her capital Q. It was the most graceful number 2; it was the grand, arching contours of a trumpeter swan.

Before you accuse me of mixing my metaphors, I must tell you that I hold Metaphor sacred. In my personal religion of poetry, Metaphor is the god. It is all things. It joins all things. There is nothing outside the bounds of Metaphor, nothing that cannot be likened to something else, and nothing which, in the act of likening, is not rendered more familiar and more true in the process.

While I had always liked poetry (even winning a poetry recital in first grade), it wasn't until the spring ripened age of eleven that I found myself at the poetic precipice.

Up to that point, I had learned so much, so many foundational things. For me, learning was its own delight.  I read my lessons in earnest, proud of my comprehension but always aching to be allowed to know more.  Each fact given to me was pocketed, secreted away like a treasure.  After a while, my stock hold of treasures had grown to something fairly fantastic, but I was still acting miserly about the whole thing.  I obtained the gold pieces, the morals of stories and the sums of math problems, placed them on their rightful shelves in the cavern of my mind, and then visited them.

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