I Just Heard the Phrase “Speech Language Pathology”

I am presently sitting at Emy J’s pretending to be doing something important but actually not. There is plenty that I could be doing but the problem is the two ladies behind me are talking about Speech Language Pathology (Communicative Disorders if you are from UWSP) . Because of the fact that I am fascinated by Pam’s profession I find my ears attuned to anyone talking about it. So I am presently eavesdropping on their conversation. Yes I know I probably shouldn’t be listening in but you aren’t here to chastise me so I will just continue. 🙂

I talked a little last night at Tapestry about our ears and eyes being tuned into things. We all have experienced this. I can hear people talking theology, running, fishing, photography, or any number of other things I am really interested in from all the way across a noisy, crowded room while I have headphones on blaring the Clash’s “London Calling.” My mind just picks up on thing that I am focused on. When I purchased Fred the Sentra I started noticing old Sentras everywhere and considering what they have done to their Sentras versus what I want to do with mine. I’ve seen this attunement with artists of various types. My friends who are musicians hear things in music that I would never pick up on without their help. My friends who paint naturally see colors that I just scan right past. My dad, who is a woodworker, sees things in furniture that I can stare at and still miss. I think the most extreme example of this I can think of right now is Joel S. He is studying soil. The guy finds absolutely amazing things in dirt. Why? Well because he is training his mind to look for the amazing and when you look for it there is apparently some pretty amazing things in dirt.

So that is my wish for all of us for 2013. I hope that we focus our eyes, ears, nose, touch, taste, and mind to look for what God is doing around us. I hope that we all expect to see God dong something and therefore begin to notice that He is doing things all around each of us. I hope that you and I then have the courage to jump into what ever He is doing and be a part of it.

Thank you Lord for all that you did in 2012 and may we believe in you enough to be part of what you do in 2013.

the holy other


I love the movie Solaris, both the 1972 and 2002 versions. Looking up the the imdb links for these movies I found out there is a novel that these movies were based on a novel which I need to read it and I will probably like it to. The movies are about humans having contact with alien life and that alien life being so foreign that contact with it drives the humans crazy. I love it because of the movies’ focus on otherness. It reminds me that coming into contact with the truly other is a dangerous thing.

God is referred to in some theology as the Holy Other. It is a way of speaking of God’s transcendent nature. In Christian theology God is consider both transcendent and immanent. Here are two quick definitions

  • transcendent – God is beyond creation/time.
  • immanent – God is in creation/time

As transcendent God is beyond our understanding. He is therefore not discovered but revealed. That’s why scripture is called revelation. God reveals Himself to us through the immanence of Himself in Jesus Christ. This is important because it speaks of the nature of God and how we interact with Him. Because of His transcendent nature we can never know Him apart from what He reveals of Himself through His immanence. We know Him on His terms and even then He is still a mystery to us. This is why I love Isaiah 6:1-9 so much. In this passage Isaiah sees God and almost immediately his vision of God is clouded by the smoke that fills the room. That brief glimpse of God that is revealed to him shakes him to the core. Because of that vision Isaiah, already God’s prophet, ends up calling out that he is ruined because he is “a man of unclean lips” and he has seen the Holy Other.

Christmas is all about the immanence of the transcendent God through the Incarnation. The Holy Other came to earth as a babe and dwelt among us. I love the way Eugene Peterson conveys it in the Message. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” I hope your Christmas was a celebration of the revelation of the One Who is unknowable a part from His choice to reveal Himself. I hope we are all driven a little crazy by our contact with the Holy Other.

Pros and Amateurs

Seth Godin made an interesting post today concerning the ways professionals respond to amateurs entering their field.

A few years ago, typesetting, wedding photography, graphic design and other endeavors that were previously off limits to all but the most passionate amateurs started to become more common. The insecure careerists fought off the amateurs at the gate, insisting that it was both a degradation of their art as well as a waste of time for the amateurs. The professionals, though, those with real talent, used the technological shift to move up the food chain. It was easy to encourage amateurs to go ahead and explore and experiment… professionals bring more than just good tools to their work as professionals.

I thought it was an excellent point because I’ve heard a lot of this with photographers talking about lots of people who get dslr’s and then proclaim themselves professional photographers. I understand their complaint but I also think that a large part of that complaint is that often the reality is that their skill won’t stand out enough for people to be able to tell the difference between the quality of professional work and that of amateurs with good equipment. Godin calls them careerists, i.e. people who have the career but whose skills aren’t really good enough to be professional.

I bring this up because I think the same thing is true with many ministers. Often they become scared of the person who has put his/her nose into a little theology. Some ministers view these people as threats and worse call them trouble makers. Why? Well sometimes they might actually be trouble makers but that has nothing to do with them having a little theological knowledge. I think these people are often viewed as threats because the minister doesn’t actually have a good enough theological knowledge to deal with them. The minister’s fear is more about his/her lack of skill than it is the person he/she is dealing with. The answer? Probably for these ministers to bone up on the theology they studied back in seminary because some of them have unfortunately never touched it again.

Lambeau On A Cold Day

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In 1980 I became convinced that James Lofton was the greatest receiver in the NFL and since he played for the Green Bay Packers they had to be the best team in the NFL. Lofton later left the Pack and turned out to probably not be the nicest guy but I never stopped loving the Packers. After all Bart Starr played for them so there was plenty of reason for this Alabama boy to pull for the Pack. I pulled for them when we were in Cowboy-country. I pulled for them when we were in Chiefs/Rams country and even decorated a section for the Packers during the First Baptist Church of 2012-12-23 12.12.14Carthage’s Super Bowl party because they should have beat the Cowboys and gone to Super Bowl XXX. Finally I pulled for the Pack when we were in Saints territory.

I never thought I would be able to go to Lambeau field. That happened when I ran the Green Bay marathon and then I thought I would never be able to go to a game. That changed last year when I got to go to a pre-season game at Lambueau. Today I got to do one better by going to a VERY COLD regular season game in Lambeau. A cold game at Lambeau is about as quintessential an NFL experience as you can get. It was AWESOME! Not only did the Pack win, they dominated. 55 to 7. The Pack would have even had a shutout if it weren’t for one play.

I guess the next step is a Packers/Bears game at Lambeau. That would have to be good. Almost Iron Bowl like

I even kind of enjoyed the two drunk guys behind us who claimed to be the biggest sports fans around and then kept asking “how did we get the ball?” They paid a lot of money to have the privilege of paying really high prices for beer and ignore the game.

Thanks Kayleigh and Joe for inviting us. It was great. Go Pack! Go!

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Without Sacrifice

The pagan Sallustius wrote

Prayers without sacrifices are only words, with sacrifices they are live words; the word gives meaning to the life, while the life animates the word. “On the Gods and the World

I don’t usually turn to 4th century pagan authors for instruction concerning my faith but I think Sallustius’ point is very much in line with one of the major teachings of scripture and that is that our words are powerful only when matched with action. For example James says

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ need to remember that are words are only powerful when they are a part of action and faith. Anyone can say something when it costs them nothing. There is no bravery or admirable quality in making a fine speech about trusting in Christ. The brave and admirable quality is found when someone’s words are backed up by action and sacrifice. Such words are costly and through their costly nature God makes them powerful.

Now Sallustius was talking about literal animal sacrifices which were a part of his religion. Our sacrifices are different. Our sacrifices are personal. They involve our time, our money, our attitudes, our energy, and more. This past Sunday night at Tapestry I talked about some of the Christmas cliché’s like “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “keep Christ in Christmas” (this last one drives me nuts – if your god can be chased out of something then  he isn’t God.). I think those statements are weak and pathetic usually because there are no actions or sacrifice behind them. You say “Jesus is the reason for the season” and then celebrate the Incarnation the same way as those who don’t believe anything about Jesus. You say “keep Christ in Christmas” and then remember His birth in manners that ignore people in need who bear His image. Weak. Pathetic. Powerless.

Come on people! May we live in such a way that our Christmas words and prayers have sacrifice behind them and they are thereby powerful. May we celebrate the birth of Christ in a manner that pleases Him.

SIDE NOTE – While searching for a link for this post I found this icon of Christ and it maybe my favorite image of Jesus for the next month or so (I have a odd fascination with weird images of Christ). It looks to me like Jesus as a grumpy, Jewish, middle aged man whereas Jesus was only the latter two of those three descriptors.