Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Live Radio Interview Tomorrow in the UK

I've been asked to do a live radio interview in the UK tomorrow at 10:40am EST (USA). Premier Christian Radio is doing a telephone interview on Wednesday 26th with me at this time. The interview is for the Premier Drive show with Bridgitte Tetteh and Dave Rose.

This is what they asked me to consider:

"I wanted to talk about your ministry in Salem. Probably focusing on Paganism, Neo-Paganism, Witchcraft. To let out listeners realise that this still exists and understand that Witches are real people too.To understand how you can minister or talk to someone who may be into Witchcraft . To talk about your experiences with people that are in to Witchcraft."

I am told that interview will be "general and light."

If you would like to tune in to it you can do so online at Premier Christian Radio at 10:40am EST, or 7:40am PST for my West coast of the USA friends. This means 3:40pm for my friends in the UK.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Defending the Faithless?

I used to believe in "defending the faith once delivered to the saints." I am finding more often that I need to defend those who stand outside my faith system against those who are within it. Do you find that you sometimes need to defend the "faithless" against the "faithful?"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pub Theology, Pagans, Debates and Monks

On Tuesday night I held the first off what I hope to be many monthly Pub Theology groups. We met at The Old Spot on Essex Street in Salem. They have a few good ales on tap, and no one should attempt to do Pub Theology without good ales on tap. Halveston's Bitter and Twisted was my pint of choice. Okay 2 pints.

There were nine of us who eventually showed up. Five who were from The Gathering, or at least hung out with us occasionally, two Witches, and the rest were varying degrees of Christian in thought, but did not attend any church. Keiran who is studying at Harvard Divinity was there, and our nieghbor Sam, Christian Day and Leanne Marrama. Jorgelina was there, and myu friend who lives behind The Gathering - Tom, as well as Jeff Menasco, and Father Michael (Yes, the former Russian Orthodox monk has returned - I guess that's another post!)

So, we talked about how we come to decisions about the theological conclusions we make. What determines your theology was the question on the table. Father Michael lives in a perpetual state of spiritual warfare - Kieran and Jorgelina found that terminology disconcerting, and were vying for peace as the Christian Way. Tom feels strongly that Christians often live far too sad, and should have the victory of joy. Sam had his disagreeing thoughts with that as a standard for all people. Jeff added the Hindu illustration of the five blind men and the elephant, and that added some fuel to the fire of thought.

Then our Witch friends arrived, and we made a change in direction simply because it was now a more interfaith interaction. There was a moment in which Christian stated that he highly respected the Catholic Church. I stopped to note that this was a wow moment - Christians hearing a Witch respect the Church. This doesn't happen every day - we laughed. Then Father Michael gave an example of an exorcism prayer in the Russian Orthodox tradition. Christian and Leanne asked to see this, and Michael performed it over the both of the them with heir full accepting consent. This was enlightening for all, and slightly entertaining actually. It was complete with ritual prayers, holy water, the blessed host, and more.

Wow, this was a sometimes heated, fully entertaining, and great way to start our Pub Theology night. Life on the edge of adventure, and craziness is good. Everyone seemed to have a good time at the end of it all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Daffodils in a Brown Betty Pot Make Me Happy

This pot with daffodils sits on my kitchen table right now.

Brown Betty teapots were some of the first teapots in Britain to be able to be purchased by the common public, and they helped bring tea to the common man. They can still be purchased by the Caledonia Pottery Co.

The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, and calls the mind back to Dewi San (or St. David) the patron St. of Wales, and a bettle in which he supposedly called the Cymry to put a leek in their hats. Okay, for now you'll have to read somewhere else for yourself, and just know that daffodil replaced the leek, simply because in Welsh it's name is St. Peter's Leek.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Religious Superstition Kills

Having been the victim of religious superstition from my own Pentecostal tradition, I am sensitive to the subject, and concerned when I see it arise in either mild or severe forms. This story of an illiterate Saudi woman sentenced to death for Witchcraft shows the severity to which superstition can grow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Photo SynchroBlog - What Does this Say to You?

This month's SynchroBlog is a photo blog. Here is my photo. Does it speak to you? If so, what does it say?

SynchroBlog - PhotoBlogging this month

Tonight I will be posting my SynchroBlogfor this month. So, tonight and tomorrow check back. This month's topic is a photoblog. All the SynchroBloggers will be posting photos as this month's topic.

Here are others who have so far said that they would be joining this month's Photo-SynchroBlog: (some of them won't be active links until the Photo Blog is posted.)

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Jenelle D'Alessandro at Hello Said Jenelle
Billy Calderwood at Billy Calderwood
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Mike Bursell at Mike's Musings
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian
David Fisher at Be the Revolution
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Paul Walker at Out of the Cocoon
Reba Baskett at In Reba's World

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Brian McLaren, Simple Time and an Interactive Creation

“Many Christians seem to believe that God’s relationship with the universe is deterministic, that God has already filmed the future in his mind, and what we’re seeing unfold in history is the showing of a movie that’s already ‘in the can’ so to speak. I don’t believe that. I believe God’s relationship with creation—including us—is interactive. God gives us warnings, which are an invitation to change our ways. God gives us promises, which are an invitation to persevere when the going gets tough.” -Brian McLaren

I found this quote on my RSS feed to Emergent Village

I met Brian this last November, and have had a chance to speak with him on a few instances recently, - a ride in the car, eating breakfast together with others at a conference, and hobnobbing around Harvard Divinity and Gordon College students. I decidedly enjoyed being around him, but here I truly like his thinking!

I am surely showing my heretical bias. This flies in the face of the likes of Calvin, and Augustine, but who the heck really cares besides a few of you who have theological cramps. (smile, smile - avoiding emoticon use here for the sake of being hyper-cool)

A little reading up on the God and Time theories of William Lane Craig will give you a sense of where I am coming from. A little sense. Craig is still a devoted reformed theologian, and I am not coming from that perspective, but he outlines what I believe is an element of theology, which gives the kind of guidelines necessary for Brian to make his comments above.

Now I do not know if Brian believes in Simple or A Time, which states that the present is all that exists - the past and the future can not be accessed, because they are not real things. The past is gone, and the future does not exist because it has not yet come into being. Sorry if this messes up your time travel theory, and your belief that God dwells in both the past and the future as He dwells in the present.

I believe that an undetermined future in which God actively relates to us in the present necessitates Simple Time as it is so nicely outlined by William Lane Craig. I felt this way long before I read Craig's stuff, but he's got the pedigree and brains to really say it, so I'll let him speak more deeply on that subject for now. My point is I was really glad to see this quote - Go Brian!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Blood Ritual and TV Cameras

This last Saturday, I was asked to speak on camera about the subject of Salem's Witches for a show on Treasure HD, which is part of VOOM network. They came to Salem to do a show on Witchcraft highlighting Christian Day, Leanne Marrama, Sandra Power, and the rest of the gang.

I was not sure what the show was about, and did not have any talking points. I simply arrived at the shop Christian recently purchased, asked a few questions concerning context, and was placed in front of a camera.

Kevin, the director of the show "Magnificent Obsessions" asked a few questions: Who I was, and some basic info about the our church The Gathering. Our history of being excommunicated from our previous denomination, because they were afraid of Christians who were on friendly terms with Witches came up.

After a few questions Kevin mentioned that they just finished filming a ritual, and it included the use of blood. He wanted to know what "the church" thought of that.

Now I wasn't particularly prepared for that question, but I did a good job of hiding a moment of surprise. My eyebrows were raising on the inside, but on the outside I held a calm collected unsurprised expression.

You see, I was wondering how to respond to this one. I have many friends who are Witches, and many friends who are Christians. Typically they do not get along with one another, and so I figured this was a question which could leave me up a creek without a paddle with one camp or the other.

If I said that blood ritual is satanic I would alienate many of my Pagan friends. If I said it was acceptable to practice blood ritual I would alienate all my Christian friends. Yet most importantly I had to say what I believe is true, and not play some kind of popularity game.

So, what was I to do?

First of all I did condemn the practice of animal and human sacrifice, but quickly added that this was not what my Neo-Pagan friends were practicing.

Christianity, and its mother religion Judaism have their own connection to blood ritual. We are by our own admittance, and with great pride bloody religions. Sacrifices and war fill the scriptures from Genesis to Malachi. The sacrifice of Christ with an emphasis upon His blood becomes the central point of the Gospel in the New Testament. We sing hymns and choruses about the "Power in the Blood,"

Does the pricking of a finger and the drop of blood in chalice, or the more peculiar use of menstrual blood in spell casting post-figuratively speak to the power of the blood of which I have joyously sung in the comparatively tame church services of my Pentecostal tradition?

As I responded to this question from the producer of the show, and since then have pondered it further it causes to me consider the issue of blood in the religion I practice, and causes me to place it in a position which makes sense both of the power aspect, and of the lack of actual blood in today's Christian services.

Yes, blood has power. As Moses reminds us, "the life is in the blood." Christ's blood has the power of forgiveness, cleansing, and healing in it, and even though we celebrate the Lord's Cup regularly, we look back to the sacrifice which was "once and for all."

As Christians we primarily look back to the blood (even though Orthodox and Catholic Communions may beg to differ here). The blood of Christ was shed two millenia ago, and it has become the focal point of our religious experience. We pursue becoming "peacemakers" to evidence our identification with Christ, and reject the idea that the shedding of blood in war has any eternally effective power in the solving the problems of this world. In terms of identifying power in blood we look back.

As the Mosaic laws of sacrifice prefigured the power in Christ's blood, it may be that blood ritual of the Neo-Paganism post-figuratively speaks in the same manner - There is power in the blood.