Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five Thoughts

#1. a leaf is not green, it only choose to display that color from the variety of possibilities from the spectrum.

#2. the problem with humans is that we're charged with naming and defining things then we forget this and go to war with other humans (who are charged with naming things as well) over these names and definitions in God's name. God gave us the charge, God never said if God agreed with the names or not.

#3. we are like a river. we flow. we have boundaries and banks, and largely we go the path of least resistence. we can dry up and we can also rage and flood. rivers are intertwined with other rivers, they meet and form new rivers. all rivers eventually reach the ocean. however, what do we call a river that's stopped? it's damned.

#4. Find the two points furthest away from one another, then live in between them. Find the middle path.

#5. Why would one become ordained? can't anyone celebrate the sacraments and preach? you know, priesthood of all believers? well, it's like getting your oil changed. anyone can do it, but only a certified mechanic is trained to look for trouble spots and take precautions where a novice wouldn't think to look.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts on the Five Thoughts:

#1 - Leaves don't choose what color to be. They don't think. Evolution has made them green. Sunlight just happens to be mostly red and blue light with not much green. So nature has matched it's ability to absorb light energy to the light that is actually there in the largest quantities.

#2 - Doing things like naming and then claiming God's authority over what we have done is definitely a problem. Retroactively stamping our actions with God's approval is using God as the Ultimate Trump Card Tool to serve our purposes.

#3 - We largely go the path of least resistance which just happens to usually be the least advantageous and often the most destructive. Life only improves through struggle. Rest and comfort are certainly necessary and wonderful but only when they are balanced by struggle.

#4 - Love it. The place where the most truth lies is probably always within the tension in the middle.

#5 - I recently was told by a friend that his bro-in-law who is in seminary stated that if you don't have a theology degree, you shouldn't be preaching. I hope I never hear that dude preach. Certainly there is value in studying scripture in intimate detail, but if God felt it was necessary to a successful relationship with him, I think he would have set things us differently.

Luke said...

dougie-doug, must you be so literal? ;-)

two comments:

#1: Yeah, the leaves appear green because the only wavelength of light not absorbed by the pigment produced by chlorophyll is the wavelength of light for the color green. Thus if it is not absorbed, it is seen by us in the Visible Spectrum.

why did plants "CHOOSE" green? i was taught in my biology class (i minored in undergrad in Bio) that all plants evolved out from the ocean. Green light does not penetrate sea water very well so there was no advantage to being able to capture green light while plants were aquatic. Once they moved on to land the light levels were much higher than you get in water anyway so there was no need for further adaptation. There would have been no selection to develop another pigment.

#5: I can see why your friend's bro-n-law would say that. esp. when it comes to preaching on Paul and John. those dudes are COMPLEX! and if you don't know that it was written in greek in the first place or the context it was written it, there's plenty of bad theology that results.

i don't think one needs to go to grad school to have a relationship with God, but you bet your ass i think that if you're going to be leading a congregation!

Luke said...

anyway.. in a sense, plants did CHOOSE to be green. the ones that didn't aren't around ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yeah...I know I was too literal on that first one, but the scientist in me couldn't resist shooting my mouth off. Thanks for playing along.

Touche on the theology degree thing. You are probably right on that the more I think on it. And let me say that pastoring is probably at the top of the list of jobs I don't want. More power to you, brother.

Yael said...

So, Luke, why don't you shake up your world and start classes to teach Greek to the average person in the pew. When you're done with that, move on to Latin and German so that people can read for themselves the thoughts of those who came before them. To me it just seems weird to rely so much on leaders to interpret everything. I don't suppose many people would be interested in such a thing, however. Different mentality I suppose.

BTW, we teach kids and adults how to read Torah and give a talk on it to the congregation. We say Torah speaks with 70 voices which means there is much value to hearing some of those other voices, too, not just a leader's. So, I'm curious. Do you think Paul and John speak with one voice or more than one? Would a sentence teach just one thing so that the goal is to find the right interpretation, or might that sentence teach many things so that there is no right interpretation as it were?

Luke said...


i believe you've completely misread me. it's good to know about the other languages and leaders and the history of what has come before... i know you understand that concept, your ancestors are never far away from you as you so stated yourself. Christianity has lost this mindset and thinks that they can pick up the bible and it is self-apparent on the first read. we've lost our history and it's caused some really bad theology like fundies, 7th day adventists, various cults, and Messianics ;-)

for example, sola scriptura does not mean "only the bible!" it means "no doctrine." Luther and the reformers still had methods in which to study the bible as most were trained humanist scholars.

"We say Torah speaks with 70 voices which means there is much value to hearing some of those other voices, too, not just a leader's."

all interpretations are useful, some more useful than others. good to know where you came from. otherwise you just tune into one voice to interpret... your own.

"So, I'm curious. Do you think Paul and John speak with one voice or more than one?"

absolutely more than one! Paul is no where near systematic and monolythic himself! all books of the Gospels have a different take, sometimes multiple takes in the same book. the only two i can say match up with any consistency would be the Synoptics (then there's the synoptic problem) and then Luke/Acts because that seems to be written by one author.. but acts doesn't match up with Paul's letters and the letters don't really match up to themselves... and don't get me started on revelation! ;-)

Yael said...

Hi Luke,
No, I think I read you OK, but perhaps my tone comes across as abrupt.

I'm too tired to write anything coherent at the moment but thanks for your in depth response.

Luke said...

Np Yael. I misspoke as well, by "no doctrine" for sola scriptura, I should have said "no dogma, and no doctrine that's not explicitly in the bible."

We all make mistakes, such is the limitation of the written word (which is even more limited from a tired mind!)

Yael said...

Thanks Luke, I'm a little more alert at the moment. I got a whole 8 hours sleep between Monday and this morning, my younger son has been very sick, my older son had his cell phone destroyed, I lost my wallet, I blew sky high with Rabbi....one hell of a week. But, I got a couple hours sleep this morning, one son is feeling better, the other has a new cell phone, my wallet is still lost but at the moment I don't need it anyway, Rabbi and I always get over our spats and I had a couple people tell me how much they enjoy the teaching emails I'm sending out...so...life is good.

I intend to write my own post spinning off of your comment about the loss of history. Why does history get lost and what risks would be involved if one were to attempt to reclaim it. I always thought Christianity would be so much more interesting if people knew who had gone before them, the problems they had faced and the wisdom they had accumulated over their lifetime. I know you all believe Jesus is the perfect example of how to live, but it seems to me there were probably other people through history who could also teach much about how to live or how not to live!

But, I suppose it comes down to individuality vs community. Do you think history can have a place in a religion that puts all the emphasis on an individual's relationship with Jesus rather than on a communal relationship with God?

Thanks for the convo.

Luke said...


sorry to hear about your recent run of bad luck. hope things will come out okay in the wash. maybe someone stole your wallet while you left it by your keyboard. i saw a commercial where robbers are now able to cut our your screen and take things... but i have a flatscreen so they'd have to be really skinny.

"Do you think history can have a place in a religion that puts all the emphasis on an individual's relationship with Jesus rather than on a communal relationship with God?"

funny idea.. i don't know where this "personal relationship with Jesus" stuff comes from and i cringe everytime i hear it. it's not something i see as universal in Christian theology, although it is rather rampant.

i was raised catholic and that theology is very much about the saints and those who have come before you and that the individual is only as good as his/her contributions to the community. i rejected this at first thinking that this was a really bad model and rubbed against my individuality.

then i realized that this is an "American pop-Christianity" phenom and it's throughly Plagian worldview.. i.e. heresy because St. Augustine "won" the debate. America is suffering largely due to this view of individual over community. it's a view i tried on and it didn't fit, so now i'm back to my catholic understanding sans the rigid sexist hierarchy.

so i think my view is closer to yours than you'd think. individuals do matter, but that's no reason to come to church. the best way to find one's identity is not through a lone path of self-discovery, but it's with people and what one can do for others where the best and most truest form of self-discovery lies.

Yael said...

I'll have to be careful of hands reaching through keyboards....although this time I wasn't home so no possibility of that happening this time!

Interesting points you make. Rabbi talks about how much easier it is for Catholic converts to Judaism to grasp what Judaism is all about, as compared to us protestants.

I have found the same thing in conversing with Catholic friends about religion, this understanding of the value of tradition and history.

Sorry to have made you cringe, BTW. I find it interesting in all our journeys, sometimes we end up so close to where we began while at the same time so very far from our beginnings; my parallel universe image.

I am never surprised to find views among the Canon that are close to my own. The thing with the American view of individuality is so many act like if we live for a larger community than just ourselves we become lost in a sea of mindless followers. Sure and that has happened to both of us!

Anonymous said...

Ooh. Time to catch up! Please note that while I do not accept theism, I will treat the monotheistic assertion axiomatically in the response to thought #5.

1.) Deciduous trees don't grow in the tundra, but that doesn't mean they hate the cold.

2.) Are we charged with naming and classifying things in the sense that a Dominionist would claim, or do we do it simply because it makes it easier for us to study and analyze them?

5.) I'm driven to believe that the so-called "priesthood of all believers" was never meant to say that all people are charged with going out to spread the so-called Truth. It also wasn't meant to say that ignorant fools could claim spiritual authority over others and make them believe in woo-woo nonsense like creationism, or "faith healing," or even that some jackass in a suit and tie has a two-way radio with God.

Rather, it was to say that priests have no authority over you, so stop listening to them as if they speak for God! It was to say that no man is elevated above any other in the eyes of God. (Emphasis intentional.)

That, of course, begs an important question: "Why are there Christian priests in the first place?" It's a question that has always bothered me. Is it pride or delusion for them to believe they have cognitive powers far exceeding those of the lowly everyman?

Luke said...


welcome to the blog, good insights!

you don't accept theism? this maybe a hard blog for you to read then ;-). odds are, if you were to describe the details of theism, i may not accept it as well.

great insight on the priesthood of all believers, you nailed it in the historical context! the ironic thing is, by insisting that all people had a responsibility for their own spiritual state, the reformation gave rise directly to the growth of individualism and modernity. it required ordinary people to become better informed about their religion, and in producing the means to service that need (printing, literacy, and a unified and coherent vernacular) it further encouraged the trend. it also contributed to the rationalization of the world, hence to the growth of modern science and technology and thus inadvertently to the erosion of religion.

so why are there priests? or even clergy and pastors of any sort? not everyone has the time to research or consider all things in the bible, commentaries, or what not. that's why many go to church is to learn.. at least that was my foray into church. the trick then becomes finding a church that teaches anything worth learning about.

Anonymous said...

Heh. Actually, I'm familiar with your site through de-con. For the record, I don't find religious 'blogs like yours hard to read at all, and honestly, I read them often. The subject of religion fascinates me even though I don't accept it myself. On the other hand, I readily admit that I did go through a short-lived antitheistic phase, but that's neither here nor there.


Luke, I think you've hit the nail on the head on pretty much all of your points, esp. with respect to its implications. Granted, people don't have -- or don't make -- the time to really think about their religious beliefs. They go to church for the same reason they go to school. The difference I think lies in the question: are they actually learning from teachers, or are they instead being manipulated by priests and their parlor tricks?

Luke said...


"The subject of religion fascinates me even though I don't accept it myself."

i gotta say that you're my kind of people! honest, diplomatic, curious, and not afraid to think about things, even if they are the opposite of what you believe.

i look forward to reading more of what you have to say both here and at your blog. welcome and RAWK!