Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Potpourri Faith or just mumbo jumbo

So okay I know Char is going to get all weirded out by this (maybe mom and mom –in-law too) We had a very refreshing/stimulating talk about rediscovering the sacraments for evangelicals. Having grown up in a Latin American country where sacraments were almost like voodoo this is a place of stretching for me. (check out the book by Vander Zee on this) We talked about baptism and communion as begin a window to the mystery of God. Dirksen said that in their church they baptize infants and that when they do they have the rest of the people in the congregation touch the water to reacquaint themselves with the mystery and power of baptism. I know that as a hard core Anabaptist there is the whole problem of believers baptism but really it has become behavers baptism in most of our contexts. The orthodox practice of kissing the icons is really no that different than the hand raising, kneeling, dancing and other stuff that we ‘practice’ during worship. Do physical objects have a place in our gathering times well I certainly think that if we can avoid some of the excesses of superstition that often comes with that – then maybe even crossing yourself can be a really meaningful thing. I’m losing you Char I know it! Get this we even talked about praying to the dead/saints. Dirksen reminded us that people talk to the dead all the time at funerals. We don’t stop them and say they are heretics for doing that, (“Grandma wherever you are…”) Why should we stop talking to them once they are gone. Obviously they our relationship with them has to change but… Okay now I’ve gone too far…
Other stuff
We spent most of the day though talking about how essentially we in CANADA are more emergent than US and yes Gil I have a problem with the word emerging. Anyways out of the discussion and the stats surveys we come a few comments:
-Tolerance doesn’t let me get rid of the bad guy – local Sask politician in conversation with Dirksen hmmmmm
-There is a strong conviction that the church needs to fight for the approval of government in Canada (in the US not so much cause it probably is the government) but we should be nervous about fighting for government approval. The church has often been the strongest when the government did not approve of it. Yet we fight for things like the definition of marriage and losing our charitable status and see big problems with not having things go our way. So are we deluding ourselves into thinking we are living in a Christian country (wow Christmas north of Red Deer could be fun)? The whole Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s political activism has been shaped by this kind of a view. Hmmmm
-Question of these three entry points to faith which is best? Which is more lasting? Which is happening now? And in the future? BELONG BELIEF BEHAVE. Do we ask people to belong first then believe and behave or behave first then belong and believe (probably more fundamentalist)? We can certainly see that we are moving away from the believe first then belong and behave? Much to the chagrin, I am sure, of the Christian education centers and Ryan Dueck? (sorry buddy my tongue was emerging through my cheek for a minute there) I don’t know where I stand on this. I’m not sure I know if there is a right way or not. Now given the debate that has gone on on Gil site this question is not about truth it’s about praxis – the appropriate ENTRY point for people outside of faith. Should they believe all the right stuff first? Should they act right first? Or should the relate to right first? I hope that distinction is clear.
Mo and I built a good old Mennonite sausage meal last night and it was good
We have talked extensively and really my mind is fried so I wonder if we might just go see a movie tonight
Love you char
I still love Jesus like crazy and you’re not that bad either.
Now get back to your paper
God please save your servants in Iraq please if a miracle is up your sleeve this might be a good time to use it – I know I would give you props…


Clinton said...

I've been reading and re-reading this entry, chewing on all the things which evoked an immediate response/reaction from me wondering what to address first ... so I'll start with the sausage. I'm sincerely envious! That is one staple we are not able to purchase in this part of the country. I've been threatening to put up a smoke house in the back yard for just that reason.

You hit so much here, Dale, which resonates with me. I personally don't think you were 'going too far' but then that's just me. I think 'icons' can serve a very valid and valuable function in our spiritual journeys. Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelites being encouraged to build and altar, dig a well, etc. as a memorial to what YHWH had done for them. Physical items to turn ones memory back to God's involvement in their lives. I think if we had a few more of these we might be a little less inclined to spiritual consumerism. It seems as though the order of the day is demanding a visible (preferably miraculous) intervention by God into my life on a daily or weekly basis. The absence of this seems to lead people to wonder 'where is God, why doesn't He hear me?'.

Our memories are good, it's the retrieval system which is sometimes faulty. If we establish memory stones of some sort to commemorate God in our lives we will have visual reminders to jog our memories. A wedding band is an icon, it reminds us constantly of our commitment before God to our spouse. The form of the 'icon' is fairly immaterial, the issue is that it is something established to commemorate an occasion/occurance/etc. As I see it, there is room for personal icons as well as corporate icons.


Incoming... said...

and Christ himself is an icon of God. I think in our attempt to stamp out idolatry we have createde a very detached practice of faith. Ironically we may be the most idolatrous people yet.
good take
but just curious
how do you think what you just said up there might have been understood by your parents say 20 years ago or even now

Clinton said...

"how do you think what you just said up there might have been understood by your parents say 20 years ago or even now"

... 20 years ago ... well I'm not sure that my parents were indicative of their generation and I don't know if they ever thought of it in this light, but I think that likely my parents would have endorsed what I said. I know from conversations with them, that they viewed numerous things in that spirit, even if they would not have called them icons. I think their view of baptism, for example, was more iconic that sacramental. I know they often looked back at specific times in their lives when God had visibly interacted with them, I suspect they would not have taken issue with the concept of an icon to stir these memories.

To address the last part of your question takes us into another aspect of your post. "or even now" ... for me to speak to that I would need to have some interaction with the saints departed. While Hebrews speaks of the great crowd of witnesses we have, referring to the saints departed, I have no scriptural basis for believing that these witnesses can/will or do communicate with us. My limited logic would lead me to believe that if they 'witness' my life, that witness would in all liklihood be more that merely visual. If that is the case, it's not a great stretch at all to believe that we can 'speak' to the saints departed. (As you say, "Obviously ... our relationship with them has to change") I know that I on occassion 'speak' to my parents. (dangerous confession perhaps)
My boys will do or say something and I'll wish so much that mom and/or dad could be here to experience them and I'll say something like "Dad, I really miss you! I wish you could be here to spend time with my boys and enjoy them." Does he hear me? I suspect he does. That said, if he does then he has also witnessed exactly what I had been wishing he were here to witness. BUT the relationship has changed.

yeah I know ... the freaky weird uncle