Fill in the Blank Worship

Our Congregational Worship Element Last week:

For I am convinced that __________________ will not be able to separate me from the love of God.

And my answer which i didn't share:

* deconstructing my theology *

what is your answer, btw?
props to jen



My parents have been attending a small congregation that is closer to their home. its an old church with a 150 years of inertia, and its really become the focal point of ministry for them. yes, they feel their ministry is *to* their church. at least for the time being.

Like many other baptist church's in the midwest region of america, this church is changing their name to take the word "baptist" out of it - in order to not present it as a stumbling block (leaving Christ, the only appropriate stumbling block) - because, ummmm - 'baptist' doesn't really have a good name up there.

My parents have suggesting that, instead of just changing the name - they do something to change who they actually are.  (e.g. let us consider exactly *why* baptists have the reputation they do, and consider what we might do different).  i have asked to share the letter they recently wrote to their church, as a guest blog post here. they read this letter to the eighteen bigwigs in the church - emailing it to the pastor ahead of time to let him know they were going to share it. (they didn't ask for permission, just gave him the heads up as a courtesy, thinking - "we shouldn't have to ask permission to be *christian*").  i think its a fantastic letter - and am very proud of my parents for the way they approached this - recognizing the opportunity to make a holistic change to who this community is, rather than a change in name only (as if thats the real reason for their declining attendance). here is the letter they wrote and read:
We would like to propose that along with our name change, we also would consider a change in philosophy. For too long a Baptist church has looked to the outside world as an elite club for perfect people. Not that we have sought that look, but none the less, that has become our reputation. And Baptist churches have done things over the years to deserve that reputation.

As a result, some people would come to a Baptist church, but when a family member fell into sin or a child started going down the wrong path, too often that family would leave the church because they felt “judged” and they felt like they no longer fit into this club of perfect people.

We propose that this church become a spiritual hospital for those in this community who have been ravaged by this imperfect world: A church where the hurting are welcome, where the sinner finds grace and love - Not that we love the sin, but that we demonstrate love to the sinner, as Jesus did. Let us be the hands and feet of Jesus who came to save sinners. Let us welcome the lost of this community into this church with an attitude of acceptance so that we can share with them the Good News of the Gospel. Let our church be a place of healing, a place where people can understand forgiveness and where they are accepted and loved because Christ died for them. Let us minister to people - not because they deserve it, but because they are desperate for it.

We think the start of this is the support group that Ruth started for divorced people. Maybe other support groups need to be available: Like maybe for grief, and maybe for alcohol and drug abuse, or maybe for parenting, or for handling finances, or for loss of a spouse, or for those who have had an abortion in the past, or for cancer.

Let us let it be known in this community that this church ministers to people’s needs in this community, whatever those needs might be. Let us be real, authentic Christians so that hurting people in this community might look to this church to find the Only Answer amidst the pain and sin and chaos of their lives.
This letter comes amidst a recent surgery that left my mom's right arm in a sling.  some at her church asked to let them know if they needed a meal or anything - and sent my parents a shiny new devotional book.  my mom's reaction to the way this came off was "I would sooner eat at mcdonald's than ask someone to make a meal for me". when you hear your own mother get on a soapbox and say, "i didn't need a devotional book i needed a meal!" - it really hits you how far off base we have been.

More recently, someone in their small group, who owns a farm, lost their helping hand to a suicide. he was a young man - someone they had met randomly, had provided a job to - and then this. his surviving family was catholic (which in this area, is the opposite of baptist), and no one really knew them. my mom suggested they provide meals for the family. someone literally asked why we would do that? my mom had to argue that you would do that to share Christ's love with them. they came back with - but they are catholic - wouldn't their church do that? well - the answer is apparently "no" - their catholic church wouldn't do that. they came back with "but nobody here knows them". my mom replied, well... thats ok, we can leave a little note with each meal explaining our connection to them through the church. 

In the end, three meals were provided.

It's a start.

btw - who thinks my parents need to start blogging?


There is no Spoon

"your mind makes it real" ~ morpheus
so this is my 200th post here at P3T3RK3Y5 (the second anniversary of achieving three digits in the arbitrary base 10 numbering system) and its going to be a lot of doodles i've been brewing on for a long time, all linked together, that simply must get out - so that i can move on... to a bunch of other stuff i've been brewing on.... :-) so here goes!

while moderating a group discussion in one of our sunday morning community gatherings a couple years ago - i was presented with an off the wall comment from a gentlemen who walked in and had only been listening briefly. now I should preface this by saying, i had a number of my lay-physics books with me - but i recall his comment as really coming from out of left field. the best I could come up with to validate his idea was to mention that there are, in fact, physicists who think that the reality we know - is really a hologram (like i said, out of left field). at this point he muttered something about us being literal six day evangelical creationists and walked out. which was unfortunate - because i really was willing to engage him. anyway, since that time - scientists have actually devised a pretty cool little test to decide if this could be the case.

the thinking goes like this:

* (credit cards) holograms are etched on 2D plastic films - and create the appearance of a 3D image.
* our 4D reality could be projected from a 5D pringle shape - the physics are the same.
* a planck length is reality's analogue to a computer screen pixel.
* the grains of information that exist in the hologram (assuming were living in one) would be bigger than a pixel (Planck length). i.e. they would be blurry.

the idea is not unlike watching a DVD (at 720 x 480) at full screen on your computer (typically 1280 x 1024). there is only so much information available from the source material - information is not created just because youre watching it full screen. so what happens is 1 pixel of information is spread across maybe four pixels. if we can detect this blurriness - one good cause for it might be this hologram idea. incidentally ladies - this is why all the guys out there know the *right* answer is to have high-definition source material ;-)

so anyway, if you're willing to engage with the mind-job that we are (living) (in) a hologram - i think it becomes easier to embrace the significance of the role of the observer in this suggested ephemeral existence. and also - to accept the importance of the observer - and the role that consciousness plays in this suggested reality - and really, should play in our theology, and in our understanding of truth. personally, i think that ignoring the significance of consciousness, happens at our own very significant loss.

for example - when a friend looses someone - the significance of that to me is related to the 'significance of that death to the observers consciousness'. so if they don't care - i probably won't care much. however if they are devastated - i may be as well. another example, pain - is so significant to a persons consciousness - and life - it can't be overstated. the problem of pain is such a compelling one too btw. i would also argue that if someone is going insane - the significance of that (loss) is also related to / can be measured in terms of consciousness. another example, listening to a friend while they unload - is so significant - simply by the act of those thoughts being observed by the listener - another conciseness. compare that with words spoken into the air. turns out a tree falling in an empty forest really does make no sound.

recognize that these things have almost no physical bearing on the outside world. but they are precisely why solitary confinement - or even a blindfold are so significant to the consciousness - because our reality - our existence - becomes meaningful only when we observe and are observed. and there are a million other examples exactly along these lines - which you can become aware of by your new found awareness of this in your daily comings and goings.

and *consciousness* - is precisely where, i wish, christianity could begin to engage with a variety of the moral issues out there. traditionally - we have a christianity whose leaders are not well educated (not very "genetically diversified" as I've come to start saying), who already knows the answers to problems - so they think, who thinks that the world / america is out to get them, who asks people to accept by faith but on a given arbitrary form of christianity's terms, and is not willing to engage at the level of dialogue that is out there. partly, i think, because christianity has become so short sighted in its potential roles in the dialogue and future that is humanity's (going no further than gay marriage, abortion, and evolution. and viewing the world in terms of blacks and whites, and false dichotomy's).

actually - this shortsightedness manifests in all the abrahamic faiths. remember ahmadinejad saying "there are no homosexuals in iran". yeah dude - just like there are no homosexuals in the republican party - or the pulpit. this is, i think, quite honestly a little revealing: because it leads one to realize this short sighted kind of thinking is independent of ones faith, be it islam, christianity, judaism.

let me say it again, you're not being uniquely christian by opposing: gay marriage, abortion, or evolution. so if you're not being uniquely christian - you're being something else. what is that?

for me? the number one word i think of, when i think of this camp, is "fear". be those phobias. or the "certain" collapse of morality or society.

personally, i associate fear with cowardice. i think you're cowardly if you succumb to fear, and you're probably a bigger coward if you use fear.

which is also why i believe cheney and bush were such colossal failures as leaders because they led the country into being fearful (whatever happened to "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?)!! and also because they used fear to manipulate the masses.

and also, why fear-imbalanced fox news, who i actually don't necessarily believe to be led by a partisan - are so ... well, partisan. because their coverage, both on the internet and television, consists of peddling sensationalistic crap to those who would believe the sky is falling. but the motivation is simple: sensationalist stories sell, and the point is to make money.

so here are some bigger questions for consideration:
  • have you seen people setting tickle me elmo dolls on fire on youtube? why would you do that? turns out to kinda be disturbing. how is that different than cruelty to animals? when will it be not different? is it not different to the observers consciousness - or what it teaches a child - or what it could lead to. (actually while were here - why is cruelty to animals a problem in the first place? how do you argue that?) but then, what happens as elmo dolls get smarter - and start to sense they are "uncomfortable" and maybe start to call out - or even scream. why is that significant. why does it become significant. when does it become significant.
  • mores law says computers get twice as smart every 18 months - and thats not stopping any time soon. so maybe twice as smart as zero (my computers current smartness) will be zero for a long time. but what happens if we can sample a brain or build neural nets. what happens when your loved ones brain can be sampled at their death and they can live - on in in the internets, or your iPhone. or get downloaded to a synthetic body. what is that really? is this extending life or doing something else? what if that personality / program claims to be aware - and claims to be your loved one - and even acts like them. and finally, would you do this if you could?  i would.
  • what happens as we create synthetic life - synthetic life that is smart? or bring back neanderthal? what kinds of rights should they have in our society? how would you decide that?  what is the morality of hybrid humans? and what does it mean we we realize a parrot can have the IQ of a six year old. how should we respond to Dolphins intelligence. or Elephants. if smart is sexy - are these species going to get smarter?
i'm not asking these question because i'm worried or i think the world is going to end. i precisely believe its not - at least not with any of these! i just would like to be involved in thinking about them - because i think they are the really interesting ones. and i do think there are implications. moral ones. and i'd like to not miss those. mostly because i'm tired of christians arguing an issue that, in some cases issues 200 years old, while bringing nothing intellectual to the conversation. so i would ask you - if you want to talk about any of those - or even the old standards - lets have a dialogue that is elevated.

i'm not suggesting consciousness is the only perspective from which to dialogue - i'd love to see others. i happen to think its an exemplary one that shouldn't be underestimated. and i think its remarkable that we still don't know what it is, any more than we know what time is. but we need to have a better conversation.

btw - what do you suppose happens when the hologram blips out - or we blip out of the hologram. think we might begin to see reality as it really is? and no longer through a glass darkly? sounds like fun!


Where is Philip Rizk?

NY Times - Van Spirits Away Protester in Egypt, Signaling Crackdown on Criticism Over Gaza

Associated Press - Germany seeks reasons for student's Egypt arrest

BBC - Gaza activist detained in Egypt

IHT - German-Egyptian activist held in secret location

Facebook Group - Please Join to raise visibility on this unlawful detention lacking in due process.

The more visibility this gains - the safer Philip is.

p.s. Want to learn more?
Read more about Egypt, and it's human rights record.
US Aid to Egypt is greater than for any other Arab State.


What a Great Day

... for the world:

AP | BBC | Al Jazeera

... he kept it cool:


Tidying up Scripture

one of a handful of memories that i have growing up (I have a terrible memory!) is sitting in church when i was about twelve, and wondering why God wasn't more clear with his doctrines when he wrote the Bible. I mean - its clear we all really want to follow him - but God really screwed up when he made things so purposely obtuse and "mysterious" so as to introduce so much room for confusion and latitude that all these denominations and disagreements could spring up. i mean, if he really wanted us to know what to believe - why didn't he just *say* it!

now i must mention that our pastor was doing his best to unscrew the narrative so that this story became understandable! and all that work (along with a growing awareness that there was disagreement as to what the scriptures really meant) is what made me realize that something was wrong. really seriously wrong. and i couldn't imagine what it was because - well, i even remember our pastor teaching us to be careful to reject modernism. and by modernism, my guess was he was worried about us invoking the thinking of man or the world while viewing scripture. not that i really knew another way to think.

in the midst of all this confusion - i had a really cool faith. i remember getting saved at age five by literally walking an isle lol - and then trying to tell my younger brothers about it downstairs in our family room that afternoon. and reading the bible all the way to grandmas house. and i remember getting baptized at age seven - and the seriousness of that commitment to have a public faith. everything was so real to me - and i especially loved reading the scripture. the new testament especially - the stories of Jesus. and then later on the poetic books.

its clear now that what i really wanted was for God to speak to me on my terms - terms that i created / preferred. you see, i was used to categorizing information in a certain way. like "parameters" for instance. i still like thinking in terms of those today. but also categories. codes of conduct. statements of belief. pre or post this or that. Gods sovereignty (no less!) understood in either / or terms. lots of opposites. mutual exclusivities. and dichotomies.

and i think that, like Ursus Wehrli's TED talk on "Tidying up art" we may have been trying to Tidy up Scripture.

the absurdity of which now seems evident.


those metal things

since my holiday plans (Christmas is the holiday i'm talking about, in case that was unclear to anyone) to travel have been thwarted, ive found myself not wanting to really see anybody except my wife and with a bunch of extra time on my hands. enough to start getting at some of those projects.

so yesterday i steam cleaned our living room carpet. pretty much just for the hell of it. and of course i pushed all the furniture around to let it dry. because, you know, when you steam clean - your carpet gets wet. that's by definition.

imagine my surprise today, when, i pushed our love seat back into place - to find RUST MARKS in the carpet. w. t. effing f.

my wife asked - "why... what is that? are there metal things underneath the legs??", to which i could only reply "apparently". to which she followed up with perhaps THE MOST perceptive and germane question I could ever envision: "why do they do that"?

and that my friends is exactly the fucking question. why the fuck did people, i want to say largely in the fifties, nail little metal things into the bottom of otherwise perfectly formed wooden legs?

to increase the pressure point like a woman's high heal does? so that you get digs in your floor? so you scratch the floor? so your table slides around easier? so that they will rust and leave a mark on whatever they are on if they get damp!?!?!? i'm mean seriously, why reduce the surface area AND put an intentional hostile and unforgiving material (that also rusts!) at your point of interface? and in your home no less? what, ... so they don't wear out? how long is this table supposed to last just sitting there - five hundred years? sure metal tires would last a long time - but they are the right answer to the wrong question for "best contact patch".

what the fuck were people thinking back then?

i'm loosing my tolerance for old school stupidity.

Gambling, the OK kind

So I think an economist (Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert) may have just stumbled upon the idea that unregulated individual investment of your life savings in the Stock Market is indistinguishable from the kind of gambling that is already illegal, and thus aught to be illegal as well.

isn't this the kind of thing pretty much everyone else has known all along?

... first obama gets elected - and now its being suggested white collar activities should be consistent with the rest of societies. i'm in shock and awe!


Who Throws a Shoe? Honestly!!