Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some Science Fun

Fake science, really.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

If you find God too easily

Thanks Andy for posting this thought/prayer from Thomas Merton:

If I find Him with great ease, perhaps He is not my God.
If I cannot hope to find Him at all, is He my God?
If I find Him wherever I wish, have I found Him?
If He can find me whenever He wishes,
And tells me Who He is and who I am,
And if I then know that He Whom I could not find has found me:
Then I know He is the Lord, my God:
He has touched me with the finger that made me out of nothing.

Monday, May 03, 2010

From the Outside In?

It strikes me that there are a number of significant hurdles to be contemplated as we reflect on the invitation to theologically reflect on what it means to be a Baptist denomination, any one of which serves as an obstacle of some size on its own, let alone where there is a range of issues in the mix. Let me articulate some of these:

Complexity – “re-imagining the BUV” assumes we can “imagine” it in the first place, and then understand the complex permutations and combinations which changes to structure might cause. Starting this process is like grabbing hold of a loose thread in a jumper – once you start pulling, you risk unravelling the whole jumper. Building aeroplanes in the sky and herding cats are two images which strike me in this process. I wonder whether it is a little too clinical an approach. Theological reflection is an ongoing process in which praxis is essential. One act of reflection (or a time) without consequent action and further reflection is insufficient, and suggests there is a “right answer” to be found.

Experience – it is fair to say that there are those of us who find ourselves at one end or other of a spectrum: there are those who do not have a positive experience of denominational life, for whatever reason. And there are those for whom participation in denominational life has been a complete blessing. We all read the denominational structures through a particular grid of experience, none of which disqualifies us from recording our observations and communicating them for the good of its future (or should I say, our future, keeping in mind Frank’s observation that the BUV is our denomination).

Understanding – from the outside in. How many of us have a real understanding of what is happening inside the denominational office? Of the considerable complexities which reflect the theological, pastoral, ethical, organisational, legal and administrative issues. The question could be asked as to how effective any reflection is from a distance…

Personal Concern. There are those who believe that speaking out about their experience and concerns will compromise them in terms of future pastoral appointments, and therefore choose to continue to suffer in silence. The only way for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. But there is another risk in speaking out – not having one’s concerns validated by others. There are times when we haven’t been pastoral in our response to one another. The history of the VBMN list shows this. The use of the anonymous post feature of the list has demonstrated the need for a place to vent in complete confidence.

Incompleteness – sometimes we hold strong convictions about something without necessarily having the capacity to offer a potential solution. That’s OK. It is a function and a privilege of community to hear the incomplete thoughts born of pain, angst, or even joy, and to help one another work through the implications.

From the Outside In? Asking us to reflect on something most of us have only experienced at the margins is problematic. There may be longer term strategies unfolding which aren’t apparent, or to which we may not be privy. A change in organisational direction, theologically and strategically, emerges from familiarity with the systems and their impact in relation to the strategic plan, surely. BUT… let us never forget that the central figure and central story of the Christian faith is found at the margins: outside a city wall, amongst the poor and marginalised. If we are to develop healthy denominational structures, we need to hear all voices, all thoughts, because we should be listening for the voice of the Spirit, and not one of self-defense or self-justification.

My efforts in these writings are an exercise in “thinking out loud.” And certainly – as one who has had little contact with the internal workings of denominational life – from the margins. Theological reflection is a conversation. It is dynamic. We all need to offer our half-formed thoughts, impressions and observations.