Beach Front Property for Sale

Exile, not the most sought after place to hold residence. Yet it seems the Judeo – Christian faith finds itself largely in exile.  Happily?, not so much. Exile is not exactly beach front property.  Being in exile is being away from home and from what is familiar. In exile life is discovered in a new land, with a new language and a unfamiliar rule of law. Unlike beach front property, it can feel limiting rather than expansive.

“Exiled from what?”, you say. Exiled from the Judeo- Christian arbitrator for authority.  Simply said, the authority of the scriptures as the value determiner of good and evil, life and faith, morality and immorality no longer holds the weight and value as it once did in our culture.  The church’s appeal for authority has been marginalized in culture. Culture has a new king and society has embraced that rule. Many followers of Jesus seem disoriented in how to live as a missional people in this new land.  Our voice in appealing for scriptures as the definer of truth is either limited or it is fully muted.  This is not the first time the church has been marginalized nor is it all terrible.  Exile is a time where we shed some dead skin of our tribal thinking. It is also a time to learn the language of a new culture in order to converse.  At times we, the church universal, have handled the authority of scripture and the posture of God inadequately and without love.  Part of exile is experiencing the consequence of that misrepresentation.  Yet, God’s voice is not as limited in exile as it often feels.  As in the case of the people of God exiled in Babylon, He passionately continued speaking.  In our exile today, He too is still committed to the human race and His passionate love through his son.

The Book of Daniel is a book about the exile of the people of God.  It opens to us as we see a community of faith (southern kingdom of Judea) taken into exile as the King of Babylon plungers their homeland.  Marched off to a foreign and unfamiliar land the People of God must look for a new way to see and find the Kingdom of God around them.  It is disorienting, confusing, and unnerving as the rules and ways in which they experienced their faith and their God seem to be changing.  God did not change but the ways and rules in which people heard him and engaged with did.  In exile they were no longer in charge of the story, the meta-narrative over the culture.  They were simply participants in a society, a missional people in the grassroots of culture.   They had neither positional or functional authority to appeal to the rule of life that was so familiar to them (the Torah).  The upheaval had to revolutionize their response.  Eventually they gained authority in relationships but through humility and serving people and submitting to God. Daniel become a interpreter of dreams, the language of their culture and through that language authority was once again gained.

Here is the exciting part of their exile.  Some of the best God stories in scripture happened in times of exile. They happened because this power shift created a kind of desperation that is often otherwise missing.  They happened as an authentic authority was reclaimed.  Authority was no longer sustained through the front door of their Jewish religion or an appeal to the Torah as the rule of life.  The authority did not change for them but for their hearers and therefore a new language had to be found. Similarly today you often cannot carry on a conversation in culture and appeal to “the bible says” in any form that will receive a hearing.  While the bible does say, like in Babylonian exile, we must discover fresh ways to be heard again in exile….  It seems part of that hearing is learning to listen and have conversation. We need a fresh humility and a fresh encounter with the living God to learn to live and love in exile.  We need to find that though exile is not beach front property it can be expansive.

What do you find people in your life use as an authority as it relates to determining truth?  What authority speaks to people in your life?  Do you find you are marginalized in trying to speak about the authority of scripture?   What new language has authority in our culture today?

From ground zero in exile

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on January 25, 2010.

11 Responses to “Beach Front Property for Sale”

  1. A few things came up in me as I was reading this week’s blog. (1) A cringing feeling, as I pictured Evangelicals trying to ensnare the rest of Canada into the Evangelical Conservative Agenda and to recognise the “authority” of the Bible; (2) questioning of my own anti-Evangelical-Agenda position and wondering how much in me is still a pissed-off teenager; (3) a hearty agreement that how it was the Judeans were to be in Babylon was not as dominators; (4) a sadness that so often the oppressed becomes the oppressor as soon as given the chance; (5) mixed feelings over the post-modern value of making subjective experience the king of authority, rather than presuppositions or a meta-narrative.

    I suppose I’ll start at the last and work my way up.

    (5) I highly value being a generation y-x cusper. I highly value being able to feel comfortable not crossing “t’s” or dotting “i’s” and still feeling like I have integrity: what I mean is, I highly value my definition of “integrity” as honesty, rather than a question of ethics or morality. But I also grieve that hedonism has choked out most of my friends. I grieve that it nearly choked out me.

    (4) As for the oppressed becoming the oppressor. That hardly applies towards “Christians” in Canada. We have always been the oppressor. From our earliest roots of genocide against the First Nations, we’ve been steadily working for the wrong kingdom for hundreds of years, sadly, without even knowing it. Or look at what’s happening in Israel / Palestine. Yes, the Jews suffered throughout history, bigtime. But look what they are doing now…now that they can. Or take it down a whole lot of notches: I grew up in the church and grew to really despise churchianity. Yet now I’m a pastor. Does that mean I’m going to stomp all over people and dismiss people and manipulate people? What will prevent me from it? First off, I think I will do these things, as much as I don’t want to; secondly, the prevention of these things is in the abiding with the Holy Spirit amidst autentic and genuine human relationships. My co-pastor is my best friend and so there’s some hope there, as we stumble around, begging God to save us from ourselves.

    (3) Is there a way that we can stay humble? Especially after it has occurred to us that we are being humble? What is the balance of being missional yet without falling into the trap of attempted-imperialism as soon as we see “progress”? I have no authoritative answers. I reject the concept of expert, I don’t value the idea of mentor. I love the idea of friends. I highly value Jesus-centred desperation. As soon as we get a handle on stuff and being to figure it out and package it, we already lose it, no? And isn’t that what Judah’s situation in Babylon was lacking? Their paradigm of God’s Chosen Protected People was blown apart. They were humbled, they were desperate. But why is it that as soon we have a mountain-top experience, we think we’re mountaineers?

    (2) Leading me to questioning my own angst. In my pissed-off-ness towards Evangelical-Political and Moral agendas, do I not think I know better? Where is the room to know better? Even if, in my church and my closest relationships, there is an experience that is desperate and honest and humble towards our unknowing yet very realised need for the Holy Spirit, is there any place for me to stand up and “be counted” or is it an immediate sign of corruption? My value that grassroots movements are the only legitimate ones – where does that come from? Logic? Experience? Anti-establishment angst?

    (1) I am sick and tired of the Evangelical Agenda. I am sick and tired of trying to crusade “our” way to biblical authority being Authority in our nation. I am sick and tired of the rally-cry to “protect the sanctity of marriage,” by letting the whole of Canada know that Christians don’t want gays to marry. I am sick and tired of the definition of Christian Success being about money and status and a good job with a good family.

    (2) And yet in my angst, am I not the same? In my desipsal of the Religious Right (An American term that I think applies amongst Canadians, too) do I not struggle with the same kind of lovelessness that they do? Just me towards them instead of them towards “sinners”? Where is the authority for how to think? Where is the authority for what to feel?

    Here’s a question: in telling stories to each other about our experiences of how we perceive God to be moving, are we not simply changing the measuring tape, yet still measuring? How do we measure? Are we supposed to? Do we even know how to measure?

    What if we are to start valuing the authority of the Bible ourselves? In our relationships? I admit that I can be perceived as being very judgemental; but I’d say most people who call themselves Christians don’t value the authority of the Bible, either, along with the secular society. What if we start valuing what it says instead of picking and choosing what the value and what to leave? What if in our relationships we actually invite the Holy Spirit to lead us?

    Yeah, but when I’m talking with a Conservative Theologan (which happens, oddly enough), they “have” all the answer. They “have” it all worked out. Their theology is seamless. Their moral outrage is “justified.” But it is very often incredibly different from where I come out…and we’re talking about the same God and the same Saviour and the same Book! What is the measure? “They will know you are My disciples if you love one another….”

    Maybe we won’t have to measure. Maybe it’ll just end up being. Because (back to the oppressed becoming the oppressor) once we start to measure and become impressed with out measurements, haven’t we already lost? (1 Chron. 21:1 scares me…a lot).

  2. I think this is about to be a huge can of worms but, here goes….

    What if I were to bring up the perspective that Phyllis Tickle is becoming a huge voice for (and I dare to say that she speaks also for my perspective and for countless others who may be too timid to go there) when she points out that the Great Reformation was a dismantling of an abusive power system which held authority (as per their standards) too tightly, and Sola Scriptura was the ultimate form of divergence in order to rediscover the Truth that Jesus was constantly revealing. I (as an increasingly happy heretic) agree with Phyllis Tickle that this new reformation we are experiencing is one which once again allows us to overthrow an ancient and decaying power system (the Religious Right and even Evangelicalism ) which also CLAIMS to hold the Bible as the one and only source of authority and revelation for our faith. Tickle purports that if many of us were honest, we would agree that we do not hold scripture as our ultimate authority, but would rather look to several sources (Holy Spirit, creation, history, scripture, relationship) at the same time for a more balanced, and, in many post-modern minds, a more holistic approach to faith and spirituality.

    Yes, I know there are many who are freaking out at what they’re reading right now, but don’t worry, I’m quite comfortable being whatever you think I might be when I say I progressively do not consider scripture to be the ultimate authority for life or faith. What this doesn’t mean is that I don’t consider the bible to be a source of Truth-I definitely do. I just don’t consider it infallible, nor the ONLY source of Divine revelation, nor where the buck stops when it comes to very real issues humanity faces every day. This being said, one cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. My opinion is, where there is Wisdom and Truth to be found, one should go there! I have read scripture with more authenticty and open-hearted acceptance more in these last few years than I ever did when I thought I needed to view it as something other than what it was, and I’m happy for that peace.

    I realize, of course, that many will write my views off as being from a religiously “damaged” background, and I won’t bother denying that. What I have found is that it’s by far more challenging to live faithfully and seek God’s Kingdom when the world is no longer black and white, when religious code and biblical standards I spent several years and thousands of dollars studying completely fail to hold relevance in my own life or those around me, and when the laws of the generations before me no longer give space for love, grace, and the heart of God in my culture.

    It isn’t my intention to marginalize anything or anyone in stating this…I’m glad the question is being asked because I am encountering it more and more on both sides, and even in this middle ground I so often find myself in!

    But what if this new “great emergence” that has such wide-ranging labour pains is truly about seeing God in the greater picture, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through every source She chooses, and opening our hearts to the experience of being loved and extending love to others as the ultimate expression of the Divine? What if?

    I am sensing a lot of worms right now….

    • Sandra,

      Thanks for putting yourself out there. I am sure you feel somewhat vulnerable saying things that could be taken differently than you may have meant in the limited time and space you have to say them. And the limited knowledge people have of who you are.

      What maybe I would interject into the equation in this conversation is around the fallibility factor. I hear what you are talking about in taking scripture into the larger holistic sense of creation, history, relationships, etc and I think many of us practically do that, we maybe just don’t acknowledge it in the same way.

      When we say the scriptures are infallible that in and of itself means varying things to varying people. Every word, every concept, every thought… what is infallible? I think for me the scriptures hold a meta- narrative for us. They appeal to larger story, the character of the one who made us and His intentions for humankind. That part is infallible for me – The God of the bible. What I have seen is the interpretors (myself included) are not infallible. I would say interpreting scripture should be set against some of the other things you have proposed – creation, relationship, etc. In fact the scriptures have been and can be used to say a lot of things. There are what Sponge calls “terrible texts”. You could find cause to oppress women (book of Timothy, to lie (Genesis), to validate polygamy (life of David) or have bad science (Joshua stopping the sun) and so on. Where lies the fault. I think with us. I think the immovability of our interpretations is where we get into trouble and need to admit fallibility. When the bible is used as a wild card in relationships, a power move in leadership and and comfort for our brokenness we diminish it and ourselves.

      I remember a time when I couldn’t read the scriptures. It brought me much condemnation, much guilt and much despair. My problem wasn’t the scriptures my problem is I didn’t know the character of God and/or the meta – narrative deep inside. I could only hear it through my lack. The big story, the character of God, the intentions of the one who made me were confused within.

      While the scriptures help us see that I would agree that at times it is the other factors that give us mirrors to determine accuracy. I am just not sure I would put equal weight on the other things. For me watching relationships (healthy families interact) and creation healed me to where I could feel and see a God in the bible I had never seen in my real life or in previous readings of the bible. Up until then my God was mean, condemning and a guilt distributor. That inaccurate picture was the internal lens from which I read the scriptures, not the scriptures themselves.

      that is my thoughts to the conversation…

      • Thanks for your response Todd. I appreciate your unwinding of things like infallibility and the negative affect wrong-thinking can have on our view of the scriptures. Though I agree with about 98% of that, and yet still have some diffferences regarding authority, the great thing is that we can all share those differences here and still recognize we are all connected to the same source of Love and working towards the same vision, which is God’s peace, grace, and love for the entire world. So thank you for creating a space where we can ponder, interact, and be challenged. It’s inspiring!

  3. Thanks Todd for your thoughtful comments.

    My immediate thought is that the common ground for dialogue in this environment is around the marginalized. I’m struck by how open our culture is to the input of people of faith when it comes to caring for those touched by disaster, especially in Haiti at the moment. It seems that our shared, human identity as bearers of the God-image is never more clear than when we respond to human need in tangible ways.

    There’s something about caring for the poor, sick, needy, and marginalized that just rings true in the human heart. I’ve noticed that this is especially the case when those in need are children or adults who have disabilities that limit their choices.

    I’m no expert, but my gut feeling is that we’re hard-wired for personal responsibility. This, in itself, is a can of worms, but it strikes me that even the hard-core atheist, whether s/he admits it or not, senses some inner drive to care for children in need. Jesus told us that even we, who are evil, like to give good gifts to our children. He was right, of course, and in more ways than one.

    Anybody remember the Sting song entitled, “Russians”?

    “Mr. Reagan says he’s protecting you
    I don’t subscribe to his point of view
    But what can save both me and you
    Is if the Russians love their children too.”:

    There’s a rhetorical question in Sting’s poignant lyric — do the Russians love their children?

    I guarantee you, they do. They’re hard-wired to love them. Even if we can’t agree on anything else, we can agree at the deepest level of our shared humanity on one thing — we love our children and will do whatever we can to protect them.

  4. What do you find people in your life use as an authority as it relates to determining truth?
    The people I am thinking of (first off, they are young), they consider time, heart, commitment to one another, as the basis for authority. Not pulling authority card in any fashion but the overwhelming sense of unconditional love and acceptance that time, heart, and commitment brings. The honesty is huge…not the “speaking the truth in love” kind of honesty I might think of. But the honest and transparency that says, “I am screwed up and find that I am deep up to my chin in shit” kind of honesty.
    Are you honest about your needs and desires.
    I try all the time but many times I discover I am not sure what I desire or need because I have submitted to a false kind of “serve everyone else and get lost” approach. Where did I go?
    What authority speaks to people in your life? I think I answered that above….waiting for the invitation is so hard to do. It is all in their hands! I have authority when it is granted. I believe I have the authority to pray cause God gives it based upon my degree of love or my commitment to the other.
    Do you find you are marginalized in trying to speak about the authority of scripture? What new language has authority in our culture today? I think I have retreated to speaking out of that authority that I am living ONLY and therefore have any claim of authority because I have submitted to it. Caution though it will be tested. The greatest authority I have seen is the authority of love. A love that does not remind the other of their mistakes or sin but one that presses forward and often is quiet. Russ

  5. “Do you find you are marginalized in trying to speak about the authority of scripture”? – Oh, to earn the right in my oikos to be considered “…chief of the magicians, enchanters,astrologers, and diviners.” To be granted the privilege of having “…a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems”. – Our level of authority is now determined largely by our willingness to invest in lives, lay our lives down for those unlike ourselves, and to stay the long haul in relationship so trust can be built. It is from here that the authority of scripture can take hold…demonstrations of the supernatural kingdom power many of us long to see again…the authority of scripture demonstrated, walked out in daily life.

  6. “what a mess the world is in, i wonder who began it? don’t ask me, i’m only visiting this plantet”

    Larry Norman

  7. Beach front Property for Sale – Life in Exile.
    As I have been reading the “Left Behind Series”, it’s interesting to ponder the plots of the story as reality and what that could look like. They create a one world religion which stipulates that all religions have to be tolerant of all other religions. Well at first at least and then it all deteriorates as Satan takes over the world.
    This idea of tolerance and acceptance of all things was something that I could not get my mind around. It seemed like a circular argument that could not be resolved. I feel a bit like that living in today’s society. When you have the truth how can you then accept anything less. I get overwhelmed by all I see in the world and wonder who is saying it’s OK. What is the moral compass? It’s even hard to watch TV because you may be able to select your show but you sure don’t get to select the ads they show during it.
    I sit by and do nothing but feel compelled to do something. I wonder who I tell. I wonder how to approach the subject with others lest I offend them and lose credibility. I’m silently outraged but we have gone too far and are past the point of no return…I fear. It’s like the Emperor’s new clothes. I wonder if I’m the only one who is appalled by certain things (many things) and I don’t do anything because no one else seems bothered by it. I wonder how the message of the Gospel can speak above the message of the magazines lining the shelves in the supermarkets. How does the message of Jesus speak above all the other messages out there screaming at people that whatever they do is OK.
    It’s easy to choose not to look and listen to all these messages but how do we survive among all those that do. We see constant evidence of the destruction the lies are having in people’s lives. They still need Jesus desperately so at some point we have to make the truth be heard above the pretense of tolerance and acceptance. I do and don’t have a grid for a lot of what I see around me. In a way I understand it all but everything in me wants to change it, wants to scream the truth and tell them not to buy the lie. It’s like watching a car wreck in slow motion and being helpless to do anything. I take this to God and ask Him to help me work it out. I ask that His will be done and to show me a way through this messy world, one that I hardly recongnise at times.

  8. […] The busiest day of the year was January 25th with 82 views. The most popular post that day was Beach Front Property for Sale. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s