Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Josh is reading

The stack of things on my nightstand is growing taller. I thought I'd
share what's there and why I'm reading it.

The Mystical Way of Evangelism
Elaine Heath
Picked this up at Refresh 08, and heard Elaine speak there as well.
It's excellent about kenotic faith as the center of evangelism.
Refreshing and invigorating. I want to know how to put it into
practice at the campus ministry & church.

Good Omens
Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman
Just finished this quirky, hilarious novel about the end of days. Best
parts: four horsemen and the friendship between the angel and the demon.

Extension Ministers
Russ Richey
Reading this before strategic planning at campus ministry. Richey
wants to put extension ministry back at the heart of the Methodist
Connection. History + theology. So far a bit dry, but good information.

Why Go To Church?
Timothy Radcliffe
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book this year. Radcliffe looks at
the service of word+table (RC Eucharist, actually) as it leads us thru
faith, hope, and love. Looking forward to the read this year.

After these, I'll be working on The Challenge of Jesus (N T Wright)
and Small Gods (Terry Pratchett).

Happy reading!!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Curses, Lies, and Violence

Morning Prayer thew Psalm 10 across my path this morning:

The wicked boast
about their desires;
greedy for profit,
they curse the Lord.
They say with contempt,
"God does not care!
There is no God!"
They know their way to success;
your ways are beyond them.

They mock who-ever resists them.
They claim to be invincible,
beyond the reach of misfortune.
Their mouths breed
curses, lies, and violence;
trouble and deceit
hide under their tongues. (ICEL)

Was this written just this past fall, when financial institutions were crumbling and crushing employees, families, organizations as they fell? It seems like it. A damning indictment of human nature if I ever read one.

And the fundamental problem is something inherent in all of us: our greed, our contempt, our lack of consideration of others...which goes unchecked by any moral compass or sense of ethics that has God as its foundation. "There is no God! God doesn't care!" I don't know if these words were spoken in boardrooms or hearing rooms or offices...but they might as well have been for all the now-exposed practices that left no room for compassion or rectitude.

Any true, living connection with God, deeply rooted in Christian tradition (or for that matter Muslim or Jewish, etc.), would have opposed the self-interest and objectification which was exemplified by the financial collapse...and opposes the rooting of self-worth in monetary or fiduciary terms.

The rest of the Psalm condemns the violent and wicked...so there might be fodder here for a discussion of the vicissitudes of war, the annihilatory ethic of terrorism, and more. But for today, I hope you are struck--as I was--by the cry out to God for deliverance from the human-wrought terror of abandonment and the sense of being preyed-upon for profit and wealth.

In this day, Holy God, comfort us in trust that we are not alone in our struggle,
but that even in our groaning we live in hope by the Spirit. Amen.
(The Daily Office, Vol. 1, p. 297)