Wednesday, October 29, 2003

And a quote from Carl Jung just to finish off the evening:

...One of the most shining examples that history has preserved for us is the life of Christ. Obeying the inner call of his vocation, Jesus voluntarily exposed himself to the assaults of imperial madness that filled everyone, conqueror and conquered alike. In this way he recognized the nature of the psyche which had plunged the whole world into misery. Far from allowing himself to be suppressed by this psychic onslaught, he consciously assimilated it. Thus was a world conquering Roman Empire transformed into the universal Kingdom of God. His religion of Love was the exact counterpoint to the politics of power. Jesus pointed humanity [to] the truth that where force rules there is no love, and where love reigns force does not count...
And on the tail of that post, it seems only right, at least for context, to post a summary of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor:

...There is a story in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov about Christ coming back to earth during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. It's called 'The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor', and in it Christ appears in Seville the day after a hundred heretics have been burned at the stake in a great auto-da-fe. He appears as he did during his lifetime, and the crowds recognise him at once, and he heals the sick. At the steps of the cathedral he meets a funeral procession for a little girl, and he has compassion on the mother and brings the child back to life. Just at that moment the Grand Inquisitor is passing and sees has happened and orders his guards to arrest Christ and throw him into prison. And that night the Grand Inquisitor, an old man who has served the Church throughout his long life, visits Christ in the dungeons and talks to him.

It is in fact a monologue, because Christ remains silent throughout. And the Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that he will have him burned at the stake the next day, as the worst of heretics, because he has come back to undo the work of the Church.

The point is that the Grand Inquisitor understands perfectly, well that Christ came originally to offer freedom to mankind: he wanted man's free, unforced love, in place of the ancient rigid law. This lies at the heart of the temptation scene in the desert. If Christ had agreed to turn the stones into bread, he would have had no difficulty in persuading men to follow him - people everywhere would have flocked to him. But Christ rejected that option - he resisted the temptation. He refused to coerce mankind, he didn't want blind obedience: he preferred freedom - without freedom it would all be worthless.

But, says the Grand Inquisitor, that was a mistake. Man doesn't want freedom, he wants simply to be happy; and the only way to make him happy is to deprive him of his freedom. Man's greatest need is to find someone to whom he can hand over this gift of freedom as quickly as possible, and that, says the Grand Inquisitor, is where the Church stepped in. The Church, not Christ, had man's happiness in mind., the Church had the good sense to correct Christ's work, to take away man's freedom, and to give him the bread he asked for. What mankind craves is simply someone to obey.

As I said, throughout this monologue Christ remains silent. When the Grand Inquisitor has finished he waits for a reply - he longs for Christ to say something, however bitter, however terrible. But suddenly Christ gets up and comes over to the old man and softly kisses him on his aged, bloodless lips. That is all his answer. The old man shudders. He goes to the door, opens it, and says to the Prisoner: 'Go, and come no more'. And he lets him out into the dark alleys of the town: the Prisoner goes away.

Now Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor is a very good example of what we now call a Fundamentalist. The only uncharacteristic thing about him is that he is fully conscious of the implications of his philosophy: he actually intends to correct Christ's work, to rewrite Christianity Most Fundamentalists persuade themselves that they are imitating Christ, even to the extent of making the farcical allegation that they share his attitude to the infallibility of the Bible. But that apart, the Grand Inquisitor illustrates perfectly the following features of Fundamentalists- a distrust and fear of freedom; a belief in the importance of authority and in controlling what people believe; a corresponding preference for obedience rather than love; a desire to give people what they want rather than the truth: a refusal to allow themselves to be in the least disconcerted when they are confronted with the true nature of their religion; and a readiness to persecute and exclude anyone who is of a different persuasion.

To reduce that to convenient headings, the Fundamentalist is uncomfortable with freedom, truth, and dissent.' and very much at home with authority, obedience, and conformity But the most striking feature of the Fundamentalist is that, whether he is conscious of it or not, his approach results in the total contradiction of what he professes to believe... (from Peter Cameron's "Fundamentalism and Freedom" (Doubleday; Sydney: 1995. pp. 6-7).
I was re-reading Dave Andrews in Christi-anarchy today on the train and it was reminding me of one of understandings of God/Christ that are foundational to how I (try to) live life and do "the mission" in general. First one of the quotes that kick-started the thought:

...The English word "heresy" comes from the Greek word hairesis which means "choice"...

Hmmm. Yeah. I tend to be of the opinion that "heresy" is just a word the powerful like to use to abuse those who are of a different opinion but are lesser in number. I mean, to a great degree, "truth" in such affairs is democratic. I mean what would happen if orthodox Christianity was living out heresy? It wouldn't matter much would it. As long as you have the numbers or the money or the power in general, you are "orthodox"; it is pretty easy to ignore or condemn the protests of the few.

...Pelagius, an Irish monk of "high character" turned up in the city of Rome at the beginning of the fifth century, and took exception to the establishment over this issue of "choice". He asserted that the concept of "choice" was essential to any meaningful notion of virtue or liberty. And he argued that, if there was no place for choice, there was no place for virtue or liberty either. According to Pelagius, "to be able to do good is the vestibule of virtue, and to able to evil is the evidence of liberty".

Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, promptly denounced the ideas of the noble Pelagius as a danger to law and order. He declared that "free will" could very well undermine the foundation on which the Empire was built. He contended that the "use of force" was necessary "to compel" all those people , involved "in heresies and schisms," outside the fold of the "true" faith, "to come in". And he concluded, adding insult to injury, by saying, "let them [that are compelled] not find fault with being compelled!". Those who persisted in finding fault with "being compelled", like Pelagius, were excommunicated at Augustine's behest.

From the on all public debate on religious subjects was banned. And over 270,000 ancient documents, collected by Ptolemy Philadelphius, and 700,000 classical scrolls , kept in the Library of Alexandria as they were considered questionable, were burned (Christi-anarchy, p. 27).

I think freedom to choose is the absolute foundation of God's relationship with us humans, the beginning of the gospel. Love itself stands on a foundation of freedom - in creation we see God creating beings with a capacity to either embrace him, or reject him, which was the only way that true Love can exist. There can't be any coercion in love, or it just ain't love anymore. Any kind of force or manipulation that enters in to a relationship - whether human or divine - taints the purity of the unconditional and just basically free nature of what the God kind of love is.

And that same principle is the entire difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Paul talks about God giving the Law to show us just how un-workable trying to get to God in that direction is. God's ways apparently don't get written on our hearts when we are trying to obey a list of rules with the threat of punishment hanging over our heads. History (and my own personal experience) would say that that way only makes us dig in our heels and rebel, I guess because at the core of who we are, we hate to be forced to do something, because at the core of who we are, we were created to be free to choose.

But the law is, in so many ways, easier. It is easier to follow some rules and based on that think you are righteous rather than knowing that we have the responsibility to learn to be loving and compassionate, which is infinitely harder. And freedom is scary, because by its very nature it gives up control. And you are bound to see as a result the very depths of evil, because some people will take their freedom and reject God (or reject Love, I think the two are interchangeable... God is Love). But you also get the very heights of true Love, as it seems nothing is more pleasing to God than when a person who is totally free to reject him, decides to enter into Love, and to learn to be compassionate, and to become like him.

And it seems from scripture that God has no interest is the lukewarm middle ground that the "rigid ancient law" (as Dostoevsky puts it in the Grand Inquisitor) seems to give rise to. By the very fact that he made us free to choose it would seem that God accepts the great evil that human freedom creates, as only through the gift of this freedom can humans create love. And somehow that creation of love by us humans seems to be what it is all about, what God made us for. Because if God is in essence, love, then creating beings that would commune with him must have been about creating beings that would be all about love....

Ok, this is what I mean about stream of consciousness writing. I am tired and repeating myself and a little confused. And I haven't even gotten to what that means for my "mission" yet. I will...

Good night.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

I am currently reading a book called "Freedom from Violence", which is a history of various non-violent groups in Christian history, in tandem with some Christian Anarchy stuff that I haven't read in a some time. I have been jotting notes and thoughts down all over the place and while my very good intention is to do a blog post on all the stuff it is making me think, the expected length of the post keeps shutting me down. When did I get so lazy? I should be more open to just sitting down and writing out stream of consciousness type posts, but I often feel, when finished such posts, that I made little sense and probably said a bunch of stuff I am not really sure I even think. So the period of time with no post at all stretches out. Someday I will once again have heaps of time alone with a computer and an internet connection, and then I will start writing and thinking deeply once again. Until that time, it has to be Japanese lessons that get the majority of my effort.

Well, there is some stream of consciousness.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Thought that came out of a discussion about worship music and the industry it has spawned etc etc:

An idea came from the thought that so much of the grossness that comes up in the worship music world comes from people wanting to receive and give the praise for the creation of a worship song more to an artist than to God. Combine that with the notion that the highest form of generosity is the anonymous gift, where no one knows you are the giver except for you and God. I heard that was an idea from ancient Judaism. Such a gift makes it very clear that the gift was done unto God, as only he can give you credit for it.

So we were thinking that we (or someone) should make a web site called Anonymous Worship or Audience of One or something like that, where one could download church worship songs and the music for them. There would be no royalties paid, no artists named, just songs you may use for the purpose of prayer and getting in touch with God. The artists who donate the songs get no credit for them whatsoever, they just give them because they want the song given to them by God to be sung back to him by others. Nothing more.

It was just an unexamined initial thought. Would that work??

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Diana and I are starting a Japan-focused blog. The Genki Dolphin. I am still keeping this one though...

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

oops, that one wasn't supposed to get posted yet, it wasn't finished... later...
Love is the only "definition" of God given in the Bible. Beginning with the Exodus, this biblical God acts in liberation: He is above all the Liberator par excellence. He condemns sin and the powers of evil because they alienate humanity. Even in the Old Testament, where God's power is often emphasized, it is never, never presented by itself. Every proclamation of power is associated with (and often surrounded by) a proclamation of love, pardon, an exhortation to reconciliation, an affirmation that God's power acts for people and never against them...

... Here again we discover a major distortion stemming in part from the institutionalization of the Church (which went from being an assembly of people united only by love, in the same faith, to being an organization with power). As the institutionalization of the Church hardens so does its dogmatism: truth considered as a possession (in which case it ceases to be truth) leads to judgment and condemnation. Love when institutionalized produces authority and hierarchy

Thus the Church was the joyous outcome of the unity of believers confident of their salvation, as they met together and showed forth God's love. But it became a structure, a custodian of authority and truth, representing God's power on earth. "No salvation outside the Church" originally meant that those who recognized that Jesus Christ had saved them met together to give thanks (thus, outside the Church, there were no people living this faith). But the phrase came to mean that all those who are outside the framework of the Church are doomed! This reversal of meaning is quite a serious matter.

Jaques Ellul from Jesus and Marx chapter, "Anarchism and Christianity".

Friday, October 10, 2003

It's fall, and I am riding the train more, which means I read a lot more, and think a lot more, about things that very few people seem to interested in. Some people knit, I like reading Ellul. Anyway, I should try to share thoughts, because it enhances my reading experience, and helps me process and remember, though it is likely to decrease traffic to the blog...

Anyway, if you are interested in reading along, I found a remarkable website today that provides a lot of books to read online - and many of the kind that I am interested in. It is at (look under the library link). I am just starting to read the last chapter of Ellul's book, "Jesus and Marx" which is called "Anarchism and Christianity" So I might eventually have something to say about that.

Yesterday, Paul Fromont sent me another article, as he does, and come to think of it he must have some sort of gifting as an intellectual encourager, because the articles he sends often get my wheels turning and me reading and thinking on things beyond simply whether I will eat salty, miso, or spicy ramen.

Interesting point of note: I just spell-checked this post thus far with the blogger feature, and blogger's own spell-checker didn't recognize the word "blog". Aim higher guys.

Anyway, Paul's article. It was by Dave Andrews who is a guru to me. Here is the quote I am latching on to:

The danger in dreaming is that our dreams don't come true. And it's hard for us when things we envisage don't work out. But the danger in not dreaming is that without our dreams we don't know what to do. And though it's hard for us when things we envisage don't work out, it's even harder for us to work for things we can't envisage.

Now Andrea wants the computer... I finally sit down to a blog entry, and she wants to search for something about fish and aquariums (is that aquaria?) and such. Oh well, I guess everyone gets a hobby...

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Hey, I am having trouble making a downloadable file on my webpage. If you have a sec, go over there and try to download one of the songs I put up there, and then let me know if it worked....