- Everybody lives by a script. The script may be implicit or explicit. It may be recognized or unrecognized, but everybody has a script.
- We get scripted. All of us get scripted through the process of nurture and formation and socialization, and it happens to us without our knowing it.
- The dominant scripting in our society is a script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism that socializes us all, liberal and conservative.
- That script (technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism) enacted through advertising and propaganda and ideology, especially on the liturgies of television, promises to make us safe and to make us happy.
- That script has failed. That script of military consumerism cannot make us safe and it cannot make us happy. We may be the unhappiest society in the world.
- Health for our society depends upon disengagement from and relinquishment of that script of military consumerism. This is a disengagement and relinquishment that we mostly resist and about which we are profoundly ambiguous.
- It is the task of ministry to de-script that script among us. That is, too enable persons to relinquish a world that no longer exists and indeed never did exist.
- The task of de-scripting, relinquishment and disengagement is accomplished by a steady, patient, intentional articulation of an alternative script that we say can make us happy and make us safe.
- The alternative script is rooted in the Bible and is enacted through the tradition of the Church. It is an offer of a counter-narrative, counter to the script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.
- That alternative script has as its most distinctive feature, its key character – the God of the Bible whom we name as Father, Son, and Spirit.
- That script is not monolithic, one dimensional or seamless. It is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent. Partly it is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because it has been crafted over time by many committees. But it is also ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because the key character is illusive and irascible in freedom and in sovereignty and in hiddenness, and, I’m embarrassed to say, in violence – [a] huge problem for us.
- The ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent quality of the counter-script to which we testify cannot be smoothed or made seamless. [I think the writer of Psalm 119 would probably like too try, to make it seamless]. Because when we do that the script gets flattened and domesticated. [This is my polemic against systematic theology]. The script gets flattened and domesticated and it becomes a weak echo of the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism. Whereas the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism is all about certitude, privilege, and entitlement this counter-script is not about certitude, privilege, and entitlement. Thus care must betaken to let this script be what it is, which entails letting God be God’s irascible self.
- The ragged, disjunctive character of the counter-script to which we testify invites its adherents to quarrel among themselves – liberals and conservatives – in ways that detract from the main claims of the script and so too debilitate the focus of the script.
- The entry point into the counter-script is baptism. Whereby we say in the old liturgies, “do you renounce the dominant script?”
- The nurture, formation, and socialization into the counter-script with this illusive, irascible character is the work of ministry. We do that work of nurture, formation, and socialization by the practices of preaching, liturgy, education, social action, spirituality, and neighboring of all kinds.
- Most of us are ambiguous about the script; those with whom we minister and I dare say, those of us who minister. Most of us are not at the deepest places wanting to choose between the dominant script and the counter-script. Most of us in the deep places are vacillating and mumbling in ambivalence.
- This ambivalence between scripts is precisely the primary venue for the Spirit. So that ministry is to name and enhance the ambivalence that liberals and conservatives have in common that puts people in crisis and consequently that invokes resistance and hostility.
- Ministry is to manage that ambivalence that is crucially present among liberals and conservatives in generative faithful ways in order to permit relinquishment of [the] old script and embrace of the new script.
- The work of ministry is crucial and pivotal and indispensable in our society precisely because there is no one [see if that’s an overstatement]; there is no one except the church and the synagogue to name and evoke the ambivalence and too manage a way through it. I think often; I see the mundane day-to-day stuff ministers have to do and I think, my God, what would happen if you talk all the ministers out. The role of ministry then is as urgent as it is wondrous and difficult.
It has been a little while since I have written about our Swaziland plans. Lucky for you we have some news to share.
We just renewed our passports and purchased our tickets for our summer exploration trip (let’s hope that is $3,600 well spent). We will be flying out of Nashville on July 12 and returning on July 26. Since the flight is over 20 hours (with a stop off in the west African country of Senegal) that will shave a day off our trip each way giving us 11 or so days to explore the country.
Our goal for this trip to get a good feel for the country, and meet with as many people/groups/organizations as possible in preparation for a move to the Kingdom in 2011 (You can read more details about our plans to move to Swaziland here, here and here.) Right now we are hoping to find an organization we can work with for our first six months. That way we can have some stability when we move, but are not having to commit ourselves for multiple years without being very familiar with the specifics.
So far we have made contact with 4-5 people on the ground. We are hoping to follow up on several leads with strong potential and then leave enough time open during our trip so that we can discover other connections we had not planned on. I have a feeling we will be playing a lot of this trip by ear.
One thing we have found is that it is much easier to get a hold of the Western Christian organizations than it is to contact the local and secular organizations. Unfortunately we are also finding most of the Christian groups are a bit too evangelical and charismatic for our comfort. We are open to working with Christian groups, but we want our focus to be on indigenous solutions and community development, not proselytizing. In many ways Beth and I feel like we would do better with a “regular” job where we can live out our faith a part of it. Our main focus in moving to Swaziland is to expose Mikayla (and ourselves) to life outside the United States so our worldview can be informed and shaped in a global context. Of course we want to be apart of something good and make an impact where ever we are, but that is not our primary goal.
Of other Swazi news, Beth and I have been working on our siSwati, but I must admit we are not as dedicated as we should be–we are still working on the standard greetings and responses. Hopefully by July we will have the basics down and then can spend the next year mastering it.
That’s the update for now. I will let you know more as it develops.
There is outrage in this country, but I fear it for the wrong reason.
A story just broke this week which revealed the weapons company Trijicon has been branding their military rifle scopes with Bible verses. I have included one such example below. The ACOG4X32 model number ends with "JN8:12" – a reference to verse 8:12 in the New Testament Gospel of John. The fear is that this constitutes "proselytizing" and thus is outside the regulations. People have been outraged that such blatant Christian influence was allowed to find its place in our military.
Oh believe me I am upset by this, but not for the same reasons the ACLU is upset. It is more likely someone will convert to being a fan of Nashville Hockey by flying an unmanned drone than it is someone will become a Christian after using these sights. What is frustrating to me is how offensive this juxtaposition of worldviews is. In John 8: 12 Jesus says:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
That is written on the side of a device used so you can see people more clearly so that you can kill them. Does anyone else see how screwed up that was?
The entire life, death and resurrection of Jesus points to a life of non-violence and sacrificial subversion. Jesus embodies love, grace and mercy, yet his words are used to brand an instrument of war and destruction.
We might as well name our next warship the USS Martin Luther King Jr. or put a picture of Ghandi on our nuclear weapons. I am not worried Muslims will be offended by this verse on the side of a rifle scope. I fear they will be upset when we use this rifle scope to kill them.
I guess I must admit that I do fear proselytizing, but not in the way many have expressed. I am not worried about people sharing their faith in Christianity through verses written on a scope. I fear people will continue to be converted to this false gospel that the way of Jesus is one of force and privilege. I fear people will convert to seeing an American Jesus and ignore his radical message of peace, love and non-violence even in the face of oppression and persecution.
Trijicon messed up when they put this verse on their product. Not because it broke military regulations, but because they have grossly misrepresented the savior they have claimed to serve.
I fear the legacy of Martin Luther King has been lost in popular society. We have acknowledged his role in bringing about racial equality, but have failed to remember his poignant words concerning peace and systemic injustice. He not only fought (non-violently) for equal rights, he stood firmly for the cause of universal peace and justice regardless of who it was standing against it.
King was notably critical of the inaction and complacency of the church. I am reminded of this as I reread his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He does not mince words in calling out those who stand by in the face of hatred and oppression. Many of his words perfectly mimic the juxtaposition of hope and pain that I feel concerning the church. I have included a few segments from the end of his letter (emphasis mine).
I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who ‘has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.
In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
I am not a very sentimental person and rarely get caught up in traditions or holidays, but today represents a significant day of remembrance as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This man was so influential in my life and my understanding of the world that we named our daughter after him (Mikayla Lillian Kickert). It was an honor this morning to march along side my brothers and sisters and to have my daughter join us. Here is a picture of me and little MLK from this morning and a shot from the march:
If you haven’t already done it, please take the time to listen to MLK’s prophetic “I have a dream” speech. I still cannot listen to it without tearing up. I have included it below for your convenience
Finally, I want to share with you a prayer that I wrote several years ago to commemorate the day. The following is an invocation written in 2008 for the annual MLK remembrance service in Bowling Green. It is inspired by the UMC Book of Worship prayer for such occasion.
God of all creation, we stand together today and acknowledge your presence among us as we seek to be your people united in love. As we worship today, we pray that you grant us a glimpse of your Kingdom. A kingdom where everything is made new and all nations walk together in the light of your Glory.
We thank you for your servant Martin Luther King Jr. who lived out the principles of your kingdom, and through his prophetic voice, offered the vision of what could be. May we be challenged by his courage, emboldened by his passion, and inspired by his actions. But heavenly father, may we not rest of the laurels of his godly work, but instead strive together to bring deeper love and greater unity as we all seek to live out your calling on our lives. May we, even today, experience the same divine discontent that spurred Dr. King to be a voice for justice and an advocate for love.
Today we remember the conviction of Dr. King, who said:
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Therefore, let us pray for courage and determination for those who are oppressed. And at the same time, may we not be blind to the oppression we bring, nor deaf to the voices crying against it.
Today we remember Dr. King’s words that
True peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.
Therefore let us pray not only for relief from tensions and conflicts, but for a just and compassionate world. May those who work for peace in our world be those crying loudest for justice and may we find peace not in the comforts of life, but in the tension that comes from standing in the gap.
Today we remember Dr. King’s insight that:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, because we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny,
Therefore, let us pray that we may see nothing in isolation, but instead find ourselves unified in love and perfected in peace. May we rejoice with those rejoicing, and mourn with those morning. And today father, may we join the struggles of those bothers and sisters throughout the world who are striving for peace and justice.
Today we remember Dr King’s lament that:
The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound, often the arch-supporter of the status quo.
Therefore, let us pray that neither those gathered here today nor any congregation of Christ’s people may be silent in the face of wrong, but that we may be disturbers of the status quo when it comes into conflict with God’s Kingdom.
Finally, we remember Dr. King’s prophetic words that:
The dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Therefore, in faith, let us contend against evil and make no peace with oppression so that we join in the legacy of Dr. Martin King Jr. and work together to fulfill the vision he shared of your Kingdom come.
Lord, while we still hear jangling discords in our nations, may we be beautiful notes in the symphony of brotherhood.
In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace we pray, Amen.
Once again I break from my normal posts of esoteric ponderings and theo-political rants to bring you a recipe we have been cooking up (don’t worry, I don’t intend to make this a habit.) Beth and I have continued our Thai cooking kick and have loved what has come from it. Here is a hearty soup we have made a couple times. It is flavorful, spicy and brings a very pleasant sweetness. It is not overly complex and the ingredients can be found in the international section of most major grocery stores. If served with rice, it easily makes a meal.
Thai Coconut and Curry Soup
[Serves 6 // Prep time: 20min – Cooking time: 35min]
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 pound cubed Chicken (Tofu may be substituted)
- Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
- 4 cups (32 oz) Chicken Stock
- 14oz Coconut Milk
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped Ginger
- 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 3-4 Large carrots sliced into discs
- 3-4 Celery Stalks chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, OR 3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (may be omitted)
- 1/2 large onion sliced
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic (2-3 cloves)
- 1 Bell Pepper chopped
- 1/2 – 1 Tbsp Thai Chili Paste
- 2 chopped Basil Leaves
- Cilantro (to garnish)
- 6-8 cups Cooked Rice (roughly 1.5-2 cups uncooked rice)
Put 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. When it reaches temperature, add 1/2 pound cubed chicken. Season with black pepper. Cook until chicken is done.
Add 1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste and cook an addition 30 seconds while stirring continuously. Add 4 cups chicken stock (add less for a thicker soup), 14oz coconut milk and 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger. Bring mixture to a boil.
Once mixture comes to a boil, add 1 Tbsp lime juice, (if you omit the Lemongrass, add an extra Tbsp lime juice) 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1/2-1 Tbsp Thai chili paste (depending on how much “kick” you like your soup) and vegetables (carrots, celery, lemongrass, onion, garlic, bell pepper) Return mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables have soften but are not mushy (approx. 15-20 minutes). Salt and Pepper to taste.
Right before serving, stir in 2 chopped basil leaves. Top each bowel with cilantro and serve with rice.
Note: Soup can be ladled over the rice, or the rice can be added to the soup depending on personal preference.
It is bad enough that your theology is atrocious… must you really play the “God’s Wrath” card within 24 hours of the most devastating natural disaster since the tsunami.
I would break down all the theological errors and examples of eisegesis in this argument that God is punishing the Haitians, but the hateful, tactless Pat Robertson does not even deserve a response.
I don’t know if you all have seen this yet, so I thought I would share. It is a satirical piece by Ray Stephens entitled “Would Jesus wear a Rolex.” In addition to the video, I have included the lyrics below.
Obviously the song is written in a humorous way, but many truths are told in jest. Would Jesus wear a Rolex? Would he have a 52″ television? Would he drive a Lexus? Would he drive at all? Would he take a $100K+ salary? Would he take any salary? Would he live a life of luxury? Would he live like an average American?
I have a sneaking suspicion we all know the answers to these questions, but are we bold enough to try and follow his standard?
Woke up this mornin’, turned on the t.v. set.
there in livin’ color, was somethin’ I can’t forget.
This man was preachin’ at me, yeah, layin’ on the charm
askin’ me for twenty, with ten-thousand on his arm.
He wore designer clothes, and a big smile on his face
tellin’ me salvation while they sang Amazin’ Grace.
Askin’ me for money, when he had all the signs of wealth.
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself
Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressin’ room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there’s somethin’ I’d like to know
Could ya tell me, Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show.
Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs, yeah, a try to hide His worth?
Take money, from those poor folks, when He comes back again,
and admit He’s talked to all them preachers who say they been a talkin’ to Him?
Just ask ya’ self, Would He wear a pinky ring,
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well there’s somethin’ I’d like to know:
Could ya tell me, would Jesus wear a Rolex,
Would jesus wear a Rolex
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show-ooh-ooh?
Beth and I have always had a special place in our heart for Thai dishes. In fact, for our rehearsal dinner we rented out the entire Thai restaurant and offered a buffet. However it has only been recently that we have ventured into cooking our own Thai food.
Below is a recipe for one of our favorite dishes called Pad Kee Mao or more popularly "Drunken Noodles." This is an amalgamation of several recipes I found online and then adjusted to taste. Most of the ingredients can be picked up at grocery stores with a decent international section, or at your local Asian market.
Pad Kee Mao (Thai Drunken Noodles)
[Prep time: 30min // Cooking time: 30min]
- 12 oz package medium rice sticks (rice noodles about the width of fettuccini)
- 1 pound chicken
- Oil (Peanut, Canola, Vegetable, etc)
- Black Pepper
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Cilantro
Stir fry components (adjust to meet your preferences)
- 4-5 Baby Corn stalks cut into 1” pieces
- 2 Medium carrots sliced into thin discs
- 1 small can bamboo shoots (drained)
- 1 small can sliced water chestnuts(drained)
- 2-3 stalks of celery sliced
- 1 bell pepper (red, yellow, green or a combination) sliced into 2” strips
- ½ medium onion sliced into thin strips
- 4-5 Shitake mushrooms
- 2 Tbs minced garlic (4-5 cloves)
- 1-2 Tbsp Thai Chili Paste (2 Tbsp is noticeably hot, but still tame by Thai standards)
- 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbsp Golden Mountain Sauce (a very flavorful soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Lime Juice (1/2 fresh lime juiced)
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp Rice Wine (use Cooking Sherry if unavailable)
- 1 Tbsp Black Bean Sauce (or substitute Hoisin Sauce)
Begin by chopping all your stir fry vegetables as this can be quite time consuming. If you are using dried shitake mushrooms you will need to soak them in hot water for up to 30 minutes so plan accordingly.
Cut up 1 pound of chicken (thin strips are better than cubes) and cook in large skillet with 1-2 Tbsp oil and black pepper to taste. [Note: We have found it easiest to cook large pieces of chicken until they are about half done, then remove them from the heat to cut into smaller pieces, and then finishing cooking in the skillet. It is less messy and easier to have consistent pieces.]
While you are cooking your chicken, begin preparing your rice noodles. You will break the noodles into 3-4” pieces, place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let these sit 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Prepare your sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
[Vegetables, Brown Sauce and Noodles]
Once your chicken is cooked, drain it and set aside.
Add 1-2 Tbsp of oil to a large skilled (use the same one you used for the chicken if you like) and bring up to medium-high heat. Add your stir-fry vegetables and sauté. If the vegetables begin to dry out, add a small amount of water. Cover between stirrings. Vegetables are done when they are firm but no longer crisp.
Add the chicken back in, along with previously prepared sauce and cook a 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the noodles (drained). If your skillet is not large enough, you may need to transfer things to a large pot at this point. Add 3-4 chopped basil leaves. Cook until noodles begin to absorb the sauce and the basil leaves begin to wilt.
Remove from heat and serve on plates garnished with cilantro.