Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We would do well to take a lesson from the former Soviet Union. For the period following the end of WWII, the strong arm of Soviet control ruled over its multinational empire with an absolute, if fear generated control. Nevertheless, there was social and governmental order which held no mercy for those who attempted to “march to a different (socio-political) drummer” There was no such thing as an open market of ideas. There was simply  Marx and Lenin, and especially Stalin, whose pogroms eliminated millions of people. These were, ironically, part of the process of creating the perfect world, which collapsed following Ronald Reagan’s now famous statement: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” That was the culmination of a number of bold stands taken by the likes of Lech Walesa, an electrician who scaled a fence to begin a strike in a shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, that led, in 1980 to the collapse of Communism in Poland, quickly followed by a similar collapse across eastern Europe (source: Wikipedia)

                For a while there was great rejoicing, at least in the western world, but an amazing thing took place – very much like the collapse of the Roman empire. Many of the nations that had been held captive under the rigid law of the Soviet government, now felt the fresh air of opportunity to reestablish themselves in the peaceful pursuit of their own culture and character as sovereign states. But something preempted such progress with amazing rapidity. Old conflicts and ethnic hatreds surfaced with the ferocity of the Black Death, and these now free nations found themselves locked in genocidal hatred of one another.

                The point of this is simple. Laws imposed with strict force, and quick punishment may keep order, but they do not change people’s hearts. That is the penultimate human problem. As the narrator that introduced an old radio program from the 1940s, said with great authority, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men…?” His answer: “The Shadow knows!? Something far more potent than any legal/political system, no matter how totalitarian,  is needed to change a world that, as I have said elsewhere,  has a love-affair with death. 

                It should be clear (though this clarity is really doubtful), that law is not the panacea to human ills. Yet for so many it would appear that wherever there is a human problem the cry is “make a law!” Legislate, regulate, it’s all the same. Yet it is unquestionably true that we cannot exist without those things. We may sing, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love,…” and we may preach the same in churches, but fallen human beings cannot live unregulated lives without ending in tyranny or anarchy. Legalism, whether in society or in religion is the way of death. The more we are dependent upon law, the closer we get to our own extinction. Given the option between totalitarian enslavement, and an “every man for himself” anarchy, human beings will choose totalitarian control, no matter how much they may hate it, because they know, deep inside, that, as the cartoon character, Pogo Possum said, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.” We choose this path, because we to not see any hope, and we do not see any hope because we refuse to believe that God and love can survive against a world of fallen human beings. So we continue to depend on law as the answer to every problem, and in so doing, we ultimately legislate ourselves out of the possibility of real, significant, and effective change. As Carlos opines, in answer to a question about change, in Spencer Johnson’s book, “Who Moved My Cheese,” “I guess we resist changing because we’re afraid of change.” The unknown is often more fearful than the known, no matter how bad the latter seems. We hope, “Maybe things will get better.” Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. Shall we be free in the truth, or enslaved in what we know? 
                There are other problems that we create by our reliance upon law. The belief, consciously or unconsciously held, that laws is the answer to all problems pops up in virtually every area of society: education, labor laws, zoning laws,  (the list is very long) A man’s word is no longer as good as gold because people are much less trustworthy now. Many issues that ought to be matters of common sense, are, instead,  written into the law, thereby eliminating flexibility. One very damaging product of this is the degree to which it often becomes a stumbling block to innovation. Another is that we operate according to the presumption that “one-size-fits-all.” In other words, we force everyone and everything into categories which do not always fit, like flunking the student who took a test written on paper, but when he was given the same test orally, he scored high. An illustration of our plight can be seen in the recent issue in professional and college football. It came to our awareness because players have taken up a new tactic: four hundred pound players are crashing into each other deliberately. The latest results include one player now paralyzed from the neck down, and numerous others suffering severe concussions. Only lately have concussions come to be recognized as serious problems that can have terrible consequences, sometimes years after the event. Yet we saw reluctance from some to stop the practice and mete out appropriate punishment to those who persist in such aggressiveness. Where was common sense in any of that? Out the window. What was the method of dealing with it? Legal action – regulation. Why? Because they wouldn’t have stopped without regulation. One person heard on national TV commented that football players know what they’re getting into, as if to say, “He got injured…so what? It’s all part of the ‘game’” Translation: His life doesn’t have any intrinsic value.

                Legalism is the life blood of bureaucracy. Everything must go according to the regulations, no deviation allowed.  Might it surprise you to know God is not a legalist – in spite of Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5? Even Christians have trouble understanding why there is law in the Bible. They see it as a “to-do list,” for divine acceptance. They fail to notice that the sole (exclusive) reason for the existence of the law of the Old Testament, is found in Galatians 3:24: It is not there to provide us with all the proper regulations that, if practiced, please God, and give one brownie points on the way to heaven. It is there to drive fallen human beings to their knees to cry out for mercy, because building a kingdom based on a legalistic foundation is impossible.  We need law only because we are fallen. There is a vast difference between law that regulates human behavior, and another kind of law. The law of behavior regulation works, if you want to be enslaved, or enslave others. The other kind of law (to call it a law is almost oxymoronic, only because of our common definitions of law and its bureaucratic nature). There is what the Bible calls “the law of love,” This is love which governs the heart - the “want to,” not the “have-to.” This love is true freedom, because it recognizes that it is impossible to command love. Love must come forth from the heart as a voluntary self-offering, like that which is demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.

                Law in our age has become an idol which we worship – because we worship ourselves, and we would not voluntarily change our ways without it. And the reason we would not voluntarily change our ways is because we want our own ways, and we do not care about the God of love, and we don’t have the will to give up self to let God govern our hearts.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


As one who has had a lifelong interest in design, both academically and personally, there is, it seems to me, a certain undeniable obviousness to the idea that God, the Creator and Great Designer of reality, had an intentional design and function in mind when He created male and female and named them, collectively, Man. Male and female are designed and clearly intended to go together as a unit. Historically, marriage has been defined and understood by this self-evident design. It would take an impossible stretch to suggest otherwise. Male and male do not serve any sexually fruitful function in keeping with that design. Nor do female and female. This truth is self-evident even for anyone who rejects a religious point of view, and opts for a strictly "scientific" or "evolutionary" view. Everything about the design of male and female works with wholeness-producing integrity. That is not the case in male/male, female/female sexuality.

That is not to say that men and women cannot experience non-sexual, loving relationships with members of the same sex.. Human beings are designed by God for love in its biblical sense: the giving of self for the well-being and good of others, including the wholeness of the community and the entire human family, irrespective of their gender. There are many examples, some well known, some not, in which a deep, selfless love is generated in these relationships. A clear example is the love that binds together soldiers in battle, who often have laid down their lives for their friends.

Some suggest that certain people have an inherent, possibly genetic predisposition toward homosexual relationships. But this notion falls into the trap so common to much current thinking; namely, that all things are "normal," and what is normal is "right." Common sense hardly needs the Bible’s revelation to show us that the world is filled with dysfunctionality on every level. Yet so many are oblivious to, or even outright reject the notion of the fallenness of the world, into which the "Pandora’s Box" of selfishness and anti-love (what the Bible refers to as the power of sin and death[1]), was let loose. It affects not only human beings, but all creation. The fall brought more than sin. It also brought all sorts of aberrations; i.e., thalidomide babies, dicephalic twins, down syndrome children, hermaphroditism, automobile accidents, misunderstandings, war, just to name a few out of conceivably millions, all of which are deviations from God’s design and intention. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that individuals could be born with effects of fallenness (dysfunctionalities) that incline them to have a psycho-physical makeup disposed toward homosexual relationships, which they did not choose as an exercise of their will (though they do choose to express it).

It remains, however that this "genetic" or psycho-physical predisposition is a deviation from the design - an aberration - that which, in a world where everything worked as it was designed[2] to work, would not exist. God does not make mistakes. Mistakes happen because of the dysfunctions of fallenness.

When we see a person who is deformed because of Thalidomide, we do not condemn them (notwithstanding certain ignorant people with a cruel streak who do taunt and plague anyone who is "different"). Instead, most people normally feel a degree of sympathy and concern for those with such aberrations, and extend loving kindness and compassion toward them. Nor would it be appropriate to claim they are "normal," and supposed to be that way, thus denying them any sort of hope of a life consistent with God's[3] design[4]. Instead, society attempts to compassionately seek and provide resources to cope with dysfunctionalities and to help overcome them to the extent possibe. This may be offensive to some, but wishing it were different doesn’t negate the inherent human design and its implications.

. We may sympathize with men and women who are struggling with homosexual feelings and behaviors, and the confusion, guilt, and a host of attending problems - sympathize in the sense that they are dealing with dysfunctionality - an aberration that runs counter to the intention and design of God[5]. Every one of us deals with dysfunctionality in our lives in one way or another. But if we acknowledge God as God, we cannot simply gloss over what is contrary to an all too obvious design and plan. We are called to love fallen human beings as we love ourselves, because of the love that God has so freely given to us - even while we too, remain sinners in process of transformation. Love does not mean simply saying "Yes," to every desire human beings express. The Bible speaks of the hope and promise of an ultimate restoration of the original design, freed from bondage to the power of sin and death.

The bottom line, however, is that homosexuality and gay marriage are absurdities because they are expressions of an attempt to legitimize and make “normal” that which is inherently abnormal, and contrary to both nature and science. It flies in the face of what is real by rejecting the evidence of the exclusivity of male/female marriage (mating), which is what sexuality is, in its essence, all about.[6]

[1] While I use Christian terminology in a few places in this article, the meaning thereof in non-Christian terms comes out the same. It is informative to notice a small part of a large list of behaviors that define the “power of death,” that is, things which are opposed to love in the sense of giving of self for the good and well-being of others, and of the whole. Notice also that the opposite of death is not “life” but “love.” Here’s a sampling: Love is creative, death is destructive; love is selfless, death is selfish; love is interdependent, death is independent; love is healing, death is harming; love is wholeness producing, death is fracturing; love is cooperative, death is competitive (don’t think sports, think war – though it’s only a matter of degree; love is integrating, death is disintegrating; love is uniting, death is separating; love is in-gathering, death is alienating; love is self-sacrificial, death is self-preserving; love is other focused, death is self-centered; love is giving, death is taking; love is understanding, death is misunderstanding; … etc.
[2] Whether one means by God, or by natural evolutionary processes, there is still obvious design. The creation (universe) is not random.
[3] Or evolution’s natural design (but this leads to the point in footnote 4)
[4] From an evolutionary point of view an animal that wanted to mate with its own sex would seem, by definition, to fall into the category of those that were not among the “fittest” that were likely to survive.
[5] Or the natural survival force of evolution
[6] It is interesting to note that this article has been circulated in news media, and, especially to persons in government in my own state, neighboring states, and members of congress, and state governors, all of whom have significant influence on legislation on the subject of gay marriage, etc.. To date it appears that the position taken herein has been widely ignored. The absence of argument leads one to believe that the reason for the lack of negative feedback may be due to what I believe is an irrefutable case against the normalizing of the entire gay agenda.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I was driving up to Manchester the other morning. I was listening to my local classical music station, as usual. The program was exploring Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." You might recall that I referred to Barber, and some others in the earlier MUSIC AND ART posting. A gentleman named Thomas Larson, it appears, has recently written a book which, interestingly enough bears the title, "The Saddest Music Ever Written." Just hearing the title, sent something stirring my soul. Now, several days later, I'm reminded of something C.S. Lewis said: "We read in order to know we're not alone." It was a revelation. I had begun to wonder if I was the only one in the world in whom certain pieces of music have the ability to cause choking up, weeping, tears. That's the way it has happened to me. I'm not always sure what it is about the music that does it, but sometimes I have identified profound joy, or a soul gripping beauty, but also a heart penetrating pathos. I don't mean music with words for the most part, although there are some operatic arias that have a similar power, "La Boheme," comes to mind, and sometmes Pavaroti had that effect. Between his remarks about the depression that filled the life of Samuel Barber, and his constant melancholia, the interviewer played portions of "Adagio..." It is, for all of its "sadness," one of my favorite pieces, as, apparently it is for many. Interestingly, Larson says it has been the music of choice in the funerals of several major figures on the world stage, including a couple of American presidents. It has a profound, even awesome beauty that penetrates deep into (at least) my heart. As I often do with music I'm listening to, I started to hum along with the strings...but found I could not. Instantly, I choked up, and the tears began to fill my eyes, but in this case I could discern that the tears were a response to the "Adagio..." It has an amazing capacity to communicate the pathos, the "sadness" Larson speaks of. I spoke about this pathos in the earlier blog, and I realized, deep inside, that the music is, even if unrecognized by its composer (though Thomas Lawson seems to have realized it - consciously or unconsciously)- the music seems to express an agonizing lament, as if the music itself was communicating the utter despair of the world weeping for itself: "Rachel weeping for her children because they were no more," and the world (at least those in it who have ever heard the piece) knows it, because it reveals itself, not to the superficial level of hearing, but to the understanding depths of the heart. The piece reflects all the tears that are shed because of the darkness, and the terrible aloneness that so many of the living feel. Yet how many would listen to this cry of grief without hearing it? I recall the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept." What for? Certainly it was not because of Lazarus' death, for in a few seconds He was going to raise him from the dead. Rather, Jesus wept because of the very existence within the creation, and especially within mankind, of the power of sin and death that dominates every soul as it comes into the world: every life, every human thought, word and deed, a poison that spreads itself like a plague. It is because of this profound pathos that you and I have been called by God to be the salt (preservative), and light (bearer of truth that sets free) - because God's very purpose is to restore the image of God - the power of love, which is the antidote - the only antidote that can provide the healing balm that overcomes the awful aloneness that the power of death, in the hand of the enemy of our souls, seeks to spread abroad in God's creation; "The thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly."

Some people don't like to talk about negative things, such as the pathos of the world and the power of sin and death. I'm inclined to think we don't talk about it, or even think about it enough. It should be obvious (but I'm afraid it isn't) that without the first six, and especially first four chapters of the Bible (the "bad news"), the entire rest of the Bible (the good news), would make no sense. Human fallenness would be regarded simply as the way things are, the normal state of this world. There would be no answer to why Jesus should come, live, die on the cross, be resurrected, and all the rest. It would be an "every man for himself" world. The world would be what "Adagio..." reflects in terms of the pain and suffering and isolation of humanity from itself, much less from God. Listen to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." Listen for the revelation of the human soul's condition.

Monday, April 26, 2010


In 1 Corinthians 1, we see a good illustration that helps to define "The Generic Christian." The problem in Corinth was not limited to there and then. It's no less a problem in Christianity today. The Church was born on Pentecost. Some time later, Paul came to the church at Corinth and found the church members quarreling over which of the apostles they should follow.
"I like the way Apollos preaches!"
"Yes, but Cephas' messages are easier to understand."
"No, no! Listen, we should all be following Paul!"
"Baloney! It's Jesus and Jesus only!"
Do you see what the devil was up to? "United we stand, divided we fall." That saying may have come centuries later, but it fit the situation in Corinth, and it fits the situation today - the way it's been since the Reformation. Christians are still arguing over which is the "right" church. History has seen a lot of blood spilled over one denomination versus another. Notice the connection (Or, I should say, "disconnect") with John 17:21ff. Even before the mess it Corinth, when Jesus (in John 6:66) taught something that seemed too hard to do, people started dropping out like gang-busters.

In an article I wrote about the Generic Christian I made note of certain criticisms which have been raised against Christianity. These criticisms may lead us toward some attitudes, qualities and behaviors that reveal what a Generic Christian is. For instance, the first criticism dealt with the very same problem I just mentioned in the Corinthian church. Sectarian divisiveness has been troubling Christianity for a long time. The transformation that comes to fill the heart and life of the new believer who has discovered a love affair with Jesus too easily gets drowned in a sea of traditions and authority, and do's and don'ts. That exciting life changing experience with God gets exchanged for a bunch of doctrinal knowledge. Groups of believers are led into groups that often form around some favorite doctrine that becomes a litmus test for fellowship. If you don't hold to it exactly, your Christianity is in doubt. Such attitudes have been responsible for giving Christianity a bad name. Instead of a vibrant, free, loving faith, the new believer finds the expectation of submission to authority and a religious rigidity that makes the church look and act like dead men, and the church succumbs to a case of spiritual rigor mortis. Yet the people in that group sees itself as holding to doctrinal prejudices which they identify as being in agreement with the rest of the "genuinely" Christian world. What "we" think certainly must be what God thinks.
This kind of thing doesn't just happen in cults.

The Generic Christian, then, recognizes that when it comes to the doctrinal statements of our faith, we don't know it all, and there is room for us all to grow and to allow others to grow, even if we are not growing in unison. "On the count of three, now, everybody say, "I believe..." The Generic Christian also recognizes that it is the Holy Spirit who feveals and leads us to the truths that describe God and His will, and reality.

The second criticism touches exactly on this matter - because we have been given truth in the form of revelation, which has, "once for all been delivered to the saints." But often what that means is misunderstood, and Christians are seen as shoving our own presumably un-provable ideas down everyone else's throats. God has revealed cufficient truth in the Scriptures. We are not called to make sure that other's believe it. As Generic Christians what we are called to do is share what God has done for, in, and through us - the testimony of the truth of our experiences with God, as evidence of the the reality of this immanent, but also transcendent Being. It's up to God through the Holy Spirit to impress that truth upon the hearts of others.

The third criticism leveled against us is: "Don't be yourself, be like us." In many Christian groups the impetus to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord, has taken the a form that goes like this: "Now that you're one of us, here's what you can do, and here's what you can't do." We all know (or should) that's called legalism - which, perhaps more than anything else, undermines the truth of the love of God, manifest in Jesus Christ. The Generic Christian doesn't need to do God's work for Him, by forcing everyone who comes into the church into the same mold.

We all know that we need to grow (who would want a baby to stay that way forever?) If we don't want to grow, there's some question whether we have really come into relationship with Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or God the Father. But it's also clear that everyone grows at their own pace, and some people need to grow in one way, and others in a different way. 1 Cor. 3:6 says, "I planted, Apolos watered, but God gave the growth. The Generic Christian lives out the list of "One-Anothering" behaviors we find in the New Testament: Love one another, bear one another's burdens, encourage one another, and many more.

The fourth criticism is stated thus: "I don't need a lecture. i want to discuss; and not in an atmosphere of theater, but in an atmosphere of love and concern for mutual well-being.But how do you do that in the context of the traditional church forms? (think how long we've been comfortable with that over the centuries) It's curious: in these days when so many are deserting the traditional church, there is supposedly a great interest in spirituality. People claim that they are spiritual, but not religious. They say they believe in God, and that they pray. Some churches have found that by dropping their denominational title they are attracting more people than those that advertise themselves denominationally.

There may be plenty of spiritual hunger out there, but it is being channeled in a hodgepodge of different ways. One Christian writer has spoken of the need for Christians to be a confessing people who commend the Gospel to others. Just as we should confess our sins (and everyone commits sin,. because we are fallen, and needy), The Generic Christian's approach to evangelism has less to do with pushing ideas into other people's heads, and more to do with confessing. Juse as we should confess and be repentent regarding our sins, we are also called to confess that we are Christians; to confess that we belong to God; that we believe the Word of God; and that we are, to the best of our ability, attempting to follow Jesus; and also that we fail again and again. But God is gracious, and picks us up and sets us back on the path. And not only do we confess all that, but we commend it to all.

That brings me back to my question: How do we make what we are all about, available to the world around us? In addition to the title, "The Generic Christian," I think we need a second focal point, which is the overarching term I have used in this blog: NEWGENESIS. You can see that it points to a new beginning. I was thinking on paper recently about NEWGENESIS. tryhing to think about how that term could connect with those who are spiritually hungry, but skeptical - even cynical about the word "church." I came thus far, to this: "NEWGENESIS: A place, or situation, for the pursuit of spirituality for those who don't resonate with the word "church,: but where knowing God, and experiencing God, and practicing the love of God, is what we're reaching for...Together. A time for discussing and mutual sharing of spiritual experience and growth, to encourage one another along the way.

One of the things most everybody thrives and grows on is relationships. The primary stgarting point and focal point for deeper spiritual life is found in relationships. What everybody needs is to find the source of all spirituality via relationship with God. Of course, that relationship, sort of by definition, depends on God's initiative. On the other hand, God will not refuse that relationship to anyone who really, deeply wants it - which implies, of course, that it must be on God's terms, not ours. But it through that relationship that we find both the experience and meaning of love.

However, I think we tend to set up roadblocks to keep these things from happening, even when God would be ready to come into our lives in concrete, personal ways. Roadblocks can come in many shapes and sizes. It might take the form of a difficult person, or something we don't want to do, so we say, "I'm not doing that." But that's where God is - so we miss the connection and the meeting, and the blessing.
So we have to take the roadblocks out of the way. We all need a NEWGENESIS, because we tend to do something that is not really productive.

Blaise Pascal pointed it out very clearly. He said that, unfortunately, we live right now; right now is where life is happening. Right now is where we make things happen. But most of us don't focus on the now. Our focus is either on the past, filled with regrets, or what if's, orwhat could have been. All of that is already past, and there's little we can do about it. Or, our focus is on the future, full of wishful thinking, and I-hope-so's and fantasies. Jesus instructs us not to let now slip by, out of regret for the past or fear of the future. He is here, and He is now, and always, and that's where we can do something,


Of all the people who crossed paths with Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees were the ones who gave Him the most trouble. Recently I had one of those "Eureka moments," when something that should have been obvious all the time, wasn't, but now is.The scribes (being about the only ones who knew how to read and write), were the people who did all the record keeping in society. Need a clay tablet of your birth certificate? Go see so and so, the scribe. Need a papyrus contract drawn up...You know who you gotta see! And then, the Pharisees! Want to find loopholes in the Torah? You got it! The Pharisees were masters of the legal loophole, always keeping everybody in line, waving fingers in their faces, ready to pounce on the slightest infraction or the law that somebody else might commit. I don't know about you, but one of my pet peeves is bureaucracy and bureaucrats. They are those people who were driven to go by the book. No deviation (except when they're the ones who need to get around the law) They lived by rules. That's how they came to know all the loopholes. That's why Jesus was so upset by them. Their approach to life was rules, rules, rules. But no compassion, no leniency. (think: woman caught in adultery; not to mention the unanswered question of where the guy was who was caught with her). One of the things about that is what we see in the world today. Modern American legislators (not to mention all those in other places on earth, from the local level right up to the Congress, have the same problem. The law is the law is the law. No mitigating circumstances. The law can't handle grey areas - only black and white, true or false. There are no alternatives. Have you noticed how, in very critical areas of American life, where there is obvious need for reform, correction, going back to the drawing table, getting rid of things that don't work, like, for instance, in the field of education, or, perhaps above all, government, we have so often legislated ourselves out of the possibility of change - because bureaucracy is rigid, written in cement - no deviation. The rules are the rules, and they can't yield to need, or good sense, or any other sensible thing that might lead to real, useful reform. There is too much at stake, too many vested interests in the status quo, and both an inability, and an unwillingness to entertain serious transformation. Change? No. no, You can't do that, it's against the law. Change the law? No. no you can't do that, too much red tape involved, and what would the congressmen and senators do if they couldn't get all those perks? The best we can hope for is talk about the problem, but it's against the law to do anything about it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I used to wonder about the wedding at Cana. We're told that that was Jesus' very first miracle. From my trips to India, I've come to realize that in some cultures, when there is to be a wedding, it's a very big deal. I mean, like, whoever you may know - may have had contact with - ever...well...it's an offense of you don't invite them. I suspect that's the way it was even back in Jesus day. The father of the bride was throwing a really bi---gg blast for his daughter.

Now I have to tread carefully here, but acknowledging that there are those who are shocked to discover that Jesus actually drank real wine (inhale! gasp!"No...really??? Yes, really. "Not just grape juice?" Get a life!

Anyway, Jesus and his disciples were invited to the reception, and as you all know, at a certain point Jesus' mom leans over and whispers in his ear, "They've run out of wine." To which, Jesus replies, essentially, "Oh, so what?" Well, I gather that Mary knew he got her point, and she simply caught one of the stewards' attention, and told him to "do whatever he says."

So there are these big crocks over in a corner. They were used during Jewish holy days. They would fill them with water, and then the Rabbi would say a blessing over the water to consecrate it, so that the people could wash all their pots and pans in the holy water, which would make them holy, and therefore the food they cooked would also be holy, and nobody would be defiled by eating defiled food. But this wasn't one of those holy days, so the pots were over there in the corner, empty. The text tells us that there were six of these big crocks, that held about thirty gallons each. Six times thirty...that's 180 gallons as I count it. And Jesus tells the steward to fill them to the brim. Right! "Yes, sir, you got it."

So the stewards fill the pots. Jesus tells them to draw some out and take it to the head waiter, in the process of which they discover that this water has turned into wine; not just any wine, but the finest kind. 180 gallons. That's some party!

So, what's the deal? What's going on here? Is Jesus' first miracle merely a frivolous demonstration of supernatural power for the sake of a party? I don't think so. Notice a few important points: First, those pots were only used to hold consecrated water that was thought to cleanse defilement from normal, day to day use in a secular manner. Second, in fact, that water never cleansed anything from spiritual defilement, whether pots or the people who used those pots. By turning that regular old normal water into the very highest grade wine, Jesus was creating a picture. Much later in His ministry, about the time of Passover, which comes around the time we celebrate as Easter week, Jesus would be eating a meal with his disciples, and he would take a cup of wine, and tell them, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood..."

By turning that water that was powerless to accomplish any sort of spiritual cleansing, into wine, symbolizing His blood. Jesus was pointing to the events that would come at the most crucial point near the end of his ministry. He was pointing us to the only thing that can, or ever could, actually cleanse from the defilement of the P/S+D (power of sin and death; namely, His shed blood on the cross freely given for "as many as would receive Him," to whom He "gave the right to become children of God..."

Far from being a frivolous act, Jesus was painting a picture of why He came, and what He came to do. Of course no one at the time had a clue what it was all about. All they knew was they now had some really good wine to drink at that wedding. Unfortunately, there aren't too many people who get it, even now. So many would be interested in the wine, but don't have any interest in its message. How many miracles does it take before a person hears the voice of God calling them to partake of the real thing.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


Given the shifting sands of spirituality, or lack thereof, in recent decades, and the decline of the church as we have known it in modern life, and in all its variety of specific forms and manifestations, there is a desperate scramble among churches to find means of self-preservation. I suspect some might object to that last term (self-preservation). Yes, I have no doubts that some Christian leaders (myself included) are willing to concede that God can do what He wants, since He, after all, is in control, even in the demise of local bodies of believers. But the concern for self-preservation is a reality nevertheless, even if we have no idea what shape that may take, or what changes it might demand. To find new ways that are genuinely useful, and at the same time are faithful to the Word, the Will, and the Ways of God, is the only way to rebuild a crumbling edifice. As Paul said, “There is no other foundation than the one that is laid, which is the Lord Jesus Christ."

It seems to me that NEWGENESIS is one such instrument for rebuilding; it is a NEW BEGINNING/BIRTH, but the shaping of that rebuilding has to be God’s doing. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” At the same time as Christians we understand that God does what he does, most of the time, only as we put ourselves in the place where He can do it (whatever it may be) through us.

The goal is definitely not to make a new church, or a new denomination, or even a new “movement.” Rather, it seems to me, the goal is to “present our bodies as living sacrifices,” and to “follow” Jesus, and to “know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” God, after all, has an agenda for us, one which takes precedence over anything else we might do by way of works. It is to “be conformed (and therefore changed) to the image of His Son.” Have we understood that statement too superficially?

But HOW is NEWGENESIS to be an instrument for rebuilding? And let’s be careful with that word, rebuilding. What is it that we are to build upon the foundation which is laid? More of the same old, same old? What is the same old, same old? Is it a repeat of what we have been doing right up till now, only with fresh paint? Could Jesus work without pews, and stained glass, or “The Gloria Patri”? Is the new music any different than the old music, except with drums and guitars, and different words (and maybe less doctrinal hymns)? Could Jesus work without the buildings we’ve gotten used to? Could the Holy Spirit lead some one way, and others another way, and yet keep them in harmony and unity? That hasn’t exactly been the case all along. The part about different directions has been the case (thought it remains to be seen if it was the Holy Spirit’s doing or not). The part about harmony and unity is another story. Maybe we don’t have the faintest idea what Jesus will do. And we have all these stereotypes that we will no doubt find hard to let go. We find it particularly hard to not be in control – which may be why we aren’t coming up with the next “program.”

Right off the top of my head, It seems that NEWGENESIS is potentially, and perhaps temporarily, an online gathering place for discussing, discovering, and sharing the spiritual journey – not only for persons who don’t like church, but for whoever wants to enter the conversations. Of course it would not be much fun, if some theological know-it-alls barged in to make sure everybody “gets it right.” There are ways to deal with those who try to hijack things.

I recall some time ago my son and I had a conversation along the lines of how, during the middle ages, the church was, in essence, the equivalent of the welfare system of the day. It took needy people in, and in turn they contributed to the agricultural labor pool, or equivalent. My lament was that in our day we could hardly do that without OSHA and a billion other bureaucrats shutting it down. More later.