Archive for October, 2010

// out of action

My internet connection is down for the next few days so i’ll store up posts until it’s back – which should probably be sometime around Thursday. Sorry about the onslaught of posts then, but please check back soon to see what shows up.

Alternatively, if anyone wants to write a guest post and still has internet access, do drop me an email (i can still get email via. my phone) and i’ll send you the details.

See you in a week or so.

Posted by Wordmobi

// thursday theologian: soren kierkegaard

Taken from Kierkegaard’s “Speech in Praise of Abraham” in Fear and Trembling:

But Abraham had faith, and had faith for this life. Yes, had his faith only been for a future life it would indeed have been easier to cast everything aside in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham’s faith was not of that kind, if there is such, for a faith like that is not really faith but only its remotest possibility, a faith that has some inkling of its object at the very edge of the field of vision but remains separated from it by a yawning abyss in which despair plays its pranks. But it was for this life that Abraham believed, he believed he would become old in his land, honoured among his people, blessed in his kin, eternally remembered in Isaac, the dearest in his life, whom he embraced with a love for which it was but a poor expression to say that he faithfully fulfilled the fathers duty to love the son, as indeed the summons put it: ‘the son whom thou lovest.’ Jacob had twelve sons and he loved one; Abraham had just one, the son whom he loved.

But Abraham had faith and did not doubt. He believed the ridiculous. If Abraham had doubted – then he would have done something else, something great and glorious; for how could Abraham have done other than what is great and glorious? He would have marched out to the mountain at Moriah, chopped the firewood, set light to the fire, drawn the knife – he would have cried out to God: “do not scorn this sacrifice, it is not the best I possess, that I well know; for what is an old man compared with the child of promise, but it is the best I can give. Let Isaac never come to know, that he may comfort himself in his young years.’ He would have thrust the knife into his own breast. He would have been admired in the world and his name never forgotten; but it is one thing to be admired, another to be a guiding star that saves the anguished.

But Abraham had faith. He did not beg for himself in hope of moving the Lord…

Thoughts?

// the parable of the lost son (3)

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no-one gave him anything.

As he sat in the dirt, he spotted a figure approaching from the distance. As the figure got closer, he recognized his elder brother walking towards him. “Brother!” the elder son shouted from the distance, “I have come to bring you home!”

The elder brother drew close to his sibling and said, “Brother, I have come to fetch you home and restore honour to our family, as is my duty. If you come with me now, you will be welcomed back into the family and you can work alongside me in the family business. It will be as though all our shame will be redeemed!”

The younger brother looked up from where he was sitting, and to his brother’s shock, simply said, “no. I will not return with you.” The elder brother was dumbfounded, but he saw that his brother was resolved. So without a word, he respected his brother’s choice, turned from where he had come, and set off for the journey home.

The younger brother sat in the mud watching him go, wishing with all his heart that he had been able instead to see his Father coming to call him home, with tears of joy in his eyes.

So did the elder brother.

// sunday music: gungor

Today’s Sunday music comes courtesy of Gungor, who make Christian music for winter – hearty, warming folksy stuff that you could imagine going well with butternut squash and log fires. Maybe that appeals to you and maybe not, but whatever the case, let the title track from their new album “beautiful things” convince you. It’s on spotify, grooveshark and itunes now and it’s rather good, with shades of Rend Collective Experiment:

You can also listen to “the earth is Yours”, another top track from the new album, here:

*

I’ll try and post again tomorrow, until then enjoy your Sunday.

// the parable of the lost son (2)

There was once a man who had two sons. One day the younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no-one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, “how many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son: make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the Father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’…

And then, with a sharp slap around the head, the younger son is rudely awakened. ‘Stop your daydreaming and get back to work,’ the servant says to him. ‘We’re not paying you to sleep, are we?’

The younger son looks across at the fields, shimmering in the midday heat. He picks up a jar of pig feed, straightens his shoulders and takes a deep breath. This is no time for dreams, after all.

// the parable of the lost son

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no-one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, “how many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son: make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, one of his father’s servants saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He went to his master in the fields and told him, ‘Master, the son who left you has returned.’ But his master said nothing.

So the servant went out to the younger son on the road and told him, ‘your father is old, and did not believe me when I told him you had returned. But if you go to him, his heart will be softened when he sees you and he will surely welcome you back into his family’. So the younger son walked fearfully towards the house of his father.

When he arrived at the door of his father’s house it was dark, and he found the gates locked. In desperation and hunger he knocked until his father answered. “Father,” the son said, “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son: make me like one of your hired men.”

The father said nothing, but looked down at the man on his doorstep, caked in mud and filth, and shook his head sadly.

“No,” he said. “I have no need for servants here.” And with that he shut the gate.

The younger son shrugged sadly, sighed, and set off down the road he had come on.

The father rejoined his remaining son at the dinner table. “You made the right choice, Father,” his son told him. “People like that need proper boundaries.” The elder man smiled wearily, and nodded.

“I know, son. I know,” he said. “By the way, son, thanks for cooking dinner. The lamb is delicious.”

// C. S. Lewis

One of C.S. Lewis’ best passages in the classic The Screwtape Letters today, focussing chiefly on time, perspective and eternity. In the event that you don’t know, the book is written from the perspective of a senior demon, and so any references to “the Enemy” refer to God…

He wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present – either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present…

To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too – just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is now straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future – haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth – ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by doing so we make him think he can attain the one or the other – dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap on the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present…

What are your thoughts? Do you recognise yourself in that?