Saturday, January 19, 2008

HERETIC OR HEALER? - The Salem Gazette

So, we're in the paper again. The front page of the Salem Gazette has the above photo and an article which iss entitiled, "HERETIC OR HEALER?" Jeepers, who came up with that polarizing line - oh well, it is generally a good article, which is also followed by a short article about the person who challenges our way of doing things. He is fighting off police charges for causing a ruckus with his bullhorn over Halloween. Okay now that's a bit funny.

If you don't live in Salem, and don't get the Gazette, the story is here. If you want to respond you can write the editor at 72 Cherry Hill Drive, Beverly, MA 01915; or you can join the online discussion on the website. The online version does not have the print version title "HERETIC OR HEALER?" That was saved for the local people I guess.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Holy Fool - January 2008 SynchroBlog

Father Michael joined us for a few weeks. He stayed on our couch most evenings, and some nights stayed with another couple in the church. He still wore his black Orthodox robes, and carried a backpack filled with a few things he owned, which included some relics, and a thurible.
I jokingly referred to him as our episcopi vagantes, and I suppose the reference wasn't too far off. He had been an Orthodox monk for 14 years, and was recently asked to leave the monastery, because he had a strong fundamentalist pentecostal streak which wanted to get out on the streets preaching. He felt that not doing so was somehow missing the Gospel purpose.
Father Michael had devoted everything to the service to God. All his possessions were given to the Order when he entered in his early twenties. He helped make wine in one monastery, and did carpenter work in another. He rose early to pray. He kept the strict schedule of the monastic life with long work days, regular prayer and meditation hours throughout the day - even waking at midnight each day to keep the prayer hours of his Orthodox order.

When he was asked to leave the order he owned nothing but his backpack of belongings. He had no money. He had only one change of clothes apart from his robes, and he decided to travel over 500 miles to Salem, because he thought he might be of service to the Pagan community by meeting the people, and preaching the Gospel there.

Father Michael came to Salem and found us. For almost a month he fellowshiped and lived with The Gathering. He kept the hours of prayer, and shared his beliefs and experiences with us.

Father Michael had been stabbed multiple times while preaching on the street during his younger years before entering the monastic life. He had been kicked out of cities, and asked not to return. Eventually he found a place to rest his head, and express his passion for God in Orthodox Monasticism.

Michael and I discussed St. Basil of Moscow who was known as one of God's Holy Fools. St. Basil of Moscow is one of Russian Orthodoxy's most revered saints. He not only gave up his possessions, but also his reputation to behave in peculiar ways which appeared foolish, but revealed the gracious goodness of God.

Is there a place in our society for the Holy Fool? Or was there ever a place for Holy Fools in our world? Are they the so other-worldly saints who are willing to sacrifice reputation for the sake of the Gospel, and in doing so model living the Kingdom life for us all? Could it be that we should all take on some of the characteristics of the Holy Fool? Could it be that in doing so we fulfill walking in the power of God?

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

The Holy Fool by Phil Wyman
The Power of Paradox by Julie Clawson
That Darn Ego by Jonathan Brink
Won't Get Fooled Again by Alan Knox
Strength on the Margins by Igneous Quill
Foolish Heart by Erin Word
A Fool's Choice by Cindy Harvey
Quiet Now, God's Calling by Jennelle D'Alessandro
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right... By Mike Bursell
Ship of Fools by David Fisher
Hut Burning for God by Father Gregory
God Used This Fool by Cobus van Wyngaard
Fool if you think its over by Paul Walker
Blessed are the foolish -- foolish are the blessed by Steve Hayes
The Foolishness of God and the Foolishness of Christians by KW Leslie
What a Fool Believes by Sue at Discombobula
Fools Rush In by Sonja Andrews
What A Fool I've Beena> by Reba Baskett
God Uses Foolish Things by Sally Coleman

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Friendship and Discipleship

To what degree is friendship a necessary part of true discipleship? I tend to belive that it is highly important. Jesus' words ring in my mind, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you." This appears to hold following and befriending in tight tension together.

Must a mentor be a friend, and or can we follow at a long distance, and still grow in grace without friendship? If we can develop well at a distance does this say something about the character of our faith, and of our relationship to God?

I ponder discipleship and friendship as I consider trying to help someone move toward God who is visibly moving away, and justifying it as something positive in the process. How does one once again win those who have been meandering away from Christ, and Christ's deep calling upon them?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Theology and Experience: Which Drives Which?

My life ought to be driven by my faith, and my understanding of truth. Or so my pentecostal/evangelical heritage tells me, but I wonder to what degree my understanding of theology has been driven by my experiences in life.

I have noted elsewhere in this blog that I began to read the Gospels differently after experiencing the backside of corruption in my previous denominational affiliation. Was there a significant theological change following my circumstances? I tend to think that there was not a significant change, but rather a deepened understanding of things previously only partially understood. Yet there are others who would see it as a theological veering off course.

So this causes me to wonder what degree off my own faith is driven by experience despite the fact that I think of myself as far too objective to allow it to be a large percentage.

Are my experiences the back seat driver of my theology, and have I been listening to them? And is this good, or bad, or a little of both?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

One Laptop Per Child Competition

So, the One Laptop per Child Plan by Nicholas Negroponte at MIT just received the news that Intel was backing out of the deal of working with One Laptop Per Child. Could it be that Intel wasn't going to make the money they hoped by selling a billion inexpensive computers to the poor children of the world through One Laptop Per Child?

This is a sad moment for the plan which began as a means to end poverty by putting inexpensive computers into the hands of the world's poorest children. Now everybody is competing for a piece of the money making pie. There are certainly enough children to go around for many companies to get involved, but doing it for profit, versus not-for-profit certainly makes the story sickeningly greedy looking.

I'm no wiseman on the inside issues of this brief partnership breakup, but at first glance Intel looks pretty sleazy. Read the story at the NY Times, and on the BBC.

Check out a 60 Minutes short interview here: