Tag Archives: devotions

Redemptive Violence and 24

A few weeks ago I listened to a Robcast about the “lie of redemptive violence.”  In this podcast, Rob Bell explains how this idea of redemptive violence–that violence in retaliation for wrong-doing can be justified–is deep in our society…and even in our theology.  But it’s really a myth, and he goes on to talk about how the “Jesus narrative” provides a powerful alternative to this myth of redemptive violence.

So I had this podcast in my mind and was pondering this concept of redemptive violence, when I had a brief window in my regular schedule of television shows and was looking for something to watch.  So (don’t judge me) I settled on the final season of the show 24.  In this final season, counter-terrorism expert Jack Bauer is called on once again to save the U.S. from the threat of a terrorist attack.  Jack Bauer spends the next 24 hours trying to neutralize the threat in order to preserve peace.  And, of course, in quality mediocre television drama fashion, lots of people are tortured and killed in the race against time.  And at the last minute, the president of the United States has to decide what lines can or cannot be crossed for the sake of a signed document called a ‘peace treaty’.  To the show’s credit, it does not tie all the pieces together nicely at the end, and the whole thing ends with a bit of a question about who exactly ‘won’ after all that fighting and revenge.

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This confusing of the languages…

I was in the States for 8th grade, and near the end of the year was getting ready to go on a summer mission trip to Mexico with a friend’s youth group.  One day as we were getting ready for P.E. and reflecting on the orientation meeting we’d been to the night before where we began learning basic Spanish phrases.  Our conversation went like this:

her: “Why do we have to learn Spanish?  Why doesn’t everyone just speak the same language?”
Me: “it’s because we messed up at the Tower of Babel.”
Her: “…the tower of what-now?”
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Worthiness and Poverty

I recently began reading the book “When Helping Hurts,” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.  I’ve heard about this book in the context of reflecting on attitudes and methods used in “Christian Outreach” that are…less than helpful.  I’m reading it to increase my capacity to engage a conversation about the attitudes and methods of ‘mission’ in my local context and in other environments.

A few chapters in, the authors are offering a ‘theological framework for poverty.’  I’m not sure I agree with everything they’re saying, but much of what they say is not untrue:  poverty is not just material, poverty is spiritual, relational, emotional, etc…and any ‘help’ that’s given that only addresses material poverty ignores the other dimensions.  And “until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.”  I don’t disagree.

But then here’s the question posed at the end of the chapter:

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Deep Breathing and such

I would claim that I’m not one for the more ‘spiritual’ spiritual practices–like yoga, contemplative prayer, holy stretching, etc.  I can remember snickering and scoffing at such practices in college and as a younger adult.

Inevitably, when I found myself in a context where we were invited to sit straight in our chairs, breathe deeply, place palms gently on legs, focus on your breath, etc… I would get nervous.  Surely someone is watching me try to do this, I would think.  I wonder what they think of me?  I wouldn’t be able to silence the voice(s) in my head running through a plethora of headline-esque thoughts that would make the CNN news ticker look calm.

And then I went to the Taize monestery in France.  Taize worship/prayer is all about silence and repetitious singing.  One simple chorus over and over, followed by long periods of silence.taize prayer Continue reading Deep Breathing and such

Two extremes of self-interest

“This passion empties one of self.  One does not “self-empty” by focusing upon oneself.  One is emptied of self to the degree one is overcome by the needs, pain, hopes and desires of others.  When concern for others takes one utterly beyond self-interest, beyond obsession with achievements and self-obsessing guilt over failures, beyond self, then one receives of the comfort of an Easter “yes” so overwhelming, unconditional, undeniable, and absolute that it is experienced as unfailing and forever–a yes more potent and enduring than any imaginable no” (Reflection on Phil. 2:1-13 by William Greenway in Daily Feast Devotional)

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Sunrise reflections


“When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the hands of families and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as yo do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of King Esarhadden of Assyria who brought us here.”  But Zerubbabbel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of families in Israel said to them,

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