13 October 2014

archery and interpreting scripture

Just a point to preface this post, this is a reaction to one of my seminary classes. It's roughly written, it is not meant to be a finely tuned final draft. Rather this is a rant about a topic about which I am passionate, one that I needed to express.

In psychology, we talk about psychological research needing to have validity and reliability. I often use the analogy of archery to help explain these terms. To keep things simple, for lack of my own knowledge about archery, when shooting you have a target and an arrow. Let’s say that the target is the question that you are trying to answer and that the arrow is the tests or process that you use to answer that question.
Reliability is being able to shoot in the same area again and again; validity is being able to hit the bulls-eye of the target.

Differences between validity and reliability
For psychological research, studies need to be both reliable and valid however if a study does not have validity, then it has no value. Without validity, a study has not reached it goal. It is said that a picture says a thousand words, so hopefully this picture helps to explain the differences, and importance, of reliability and validity. The main takeaway is this: It doesn’t matter if you can hit the same spot every time if you’re not actually hitting the target.

Yet in my biblical interpretation class, we keep discussing the arrow even after acknowledging that the particular arrow which we are discussing will always be found lacking in validity. It seems to me that each time we have acknowledged that historical criticism is lacking in reaching what we understand to be the ends, the goals, of Scripture.
If Scripture was formed by the faith community through the work of the Holy Spirit for the appointed end of sanctification of the believers, then why do we keep probing a means of interpretation that simply has no interest in that end?

We discuss the characteristics of the arrow of historical criticism like Voldemort obsesses about Harry Potter in his quest for power. We question the arrow and its companion arrows that are made similarly. We ask how the arrow was formed and why it was formed and how to make similar arrows.

But there are other arrows that have entirely different creation processes to choose!

In fact, there is one in particular that I am eager to explore and discuss because it seems to do a lot better job of hitting the target, of reading Scripture with the appointed ends for sanctification. There is an arrow that seems to at least have the potential of hitting the target yet it simply sits inactive, silent. What if we pick up some other arrows and start shooting them? What if we were to find a new favorite brand of arrows to shoot? What if? Maybe if we open our eyes to the possibility of other arrows, maybe, just maybe our aim will improve.

So, let’s lay down this flawed, crooked, and warped arrow that we know will not reach our target and open our eyes to the possibility of other arrows. Because we won’t ever reach our target of being shaped, guided, and formed day by day into the likeness of Christ if we can’t first lay down the arrow of historical criticism. 

05 August 2014

suitcases and spiritual practices

I am currently sitting on the floor in front of my suitcase, , one that is currently piled high with stuff that I am 100% sure I will need. In all honesty though, I probably will not have any need for about three quarters of the stuff. And so, I sit here stuck on what to leave and what to take. 

In a weird way, this reminds me of my faith journey. Recently, I have been reading a lot about a variety of spiritual practices. Practices like praying the Hours, Lectio Divina, class meetings, practices from various contemplatives, journaling, daily devotionals, and Bible apps. Sometimes it seems like I am sitting in front of a suitcase piled high with spiritual practices instead of actually journeying. Isn't the point of spiritual practices to grow my faith, to shape my faith? Aspects that only happen when I am actually "using" them and not just leaving them piled in a suitcase.

I'm not sure where I am going with this thought. But I think I am ready to lighten my suitcase. Because I'm tired of just sitting; I'm ready to go.

27 April 2014

A reflection on I AM

This week at church, we are starting a new series on Revelation. At the service tonight, Pastor Blake asked us to reflect on the first chapter (which I've included below) and to listen to what the Spirit was highlighting and drawing our attention to. This is what came from that time.

I AM who was, is, and is coming.

I AM the Human One.
I AM the one who loves you.
I AM the warrior who has freed you.
I AM passion and peace, fire and water.

Do not fear, for I AM
with you forever and always.

You are no longer like a dead woman.
In me, you are alive: you have life.
So do not be afraid.

I have looked fear in the face.
Look, I am alive - fear did not win!
I have the keys of Death and the Grave.
Do not be afraid.

Listen to my voice of peace:
I am the one who was, and is, and is to come.

Revelation 1**

A revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. Christ made it known by sending it through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the witness of Jesus Christ, including all that John saw. Favored is the one who reads the words of this prophecy out loud, and favored are those who listen to it being read, and keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

John, to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace and peace to you from the one who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before God’s throne,and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, who made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and always. Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him, including those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. This is so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and was and is coming, the Almighty.”

I, John, your brother who shares with you in the hardship, kingdom, and endurance that we have in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and my witness about Jesus. 10 I was in a Spirit-inspired trance on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet. 11 It said, “Write down on a scroll whatever you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

12 I turned to see who was speaking to me, and when I turned, I saw seven oil lamps burning on top of seven gold stands.13 In the middle of the lampstands I saw someone who looked like the Human One. He wore a robe that stretched down to his feet, and he had a gold sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white as white wool—like snow—and his eyes were like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine brass that has been purified in a furnace, and his voice sounded like rushing water.16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His appearance was like the sun shining with all its power.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. But he put his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I was dead, but look! Now I’m alive forever and always. I have the keys of Death and the Grave.19 So write down what you have seen, both the scene now before you and the things that are about to unfold after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands, here is what they mean: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

**emphasis added by the author.

12 March 2014

So long Prince Charming

This is my declaration.

I do not want Prince Charming.
I do not want to be rescued,
or found.
I do not want to be admired, fawned over, praised,
or respected for my extraordinary beauty.
I do not want to hear how I am already beautiful
even though I don't have the right curves, right clothing, right skin, or right BMI.

Because Prince Charming implies
that I must be the princess of the fairy tale.
Because being rescued implies
that I was in harm's path.
Because being found implies
that I was lost.
Because being admired for my beauty implies
that I am my looks.
Because saying that I'm beautiful despite my lack of rightness implies
that there is a standard of beauty.

I am not the fairy tale princess.
(I do more than sleep, sing, and look pretty)
I am not in harm's path.
(I am also capable of getting out of harm's way if by chance I ever am)
I am not lost.
(I am taking the scenic route)
I am not my looks.
(I am a fully embodied human)
I am not less than a standard.
(I am me)

So, don't tell me how hot I am.
Don't tell me how sexy my body is.
Don't tell me that I'm the princess.
Don't tell me that you're Prince Charming.
Don't tell me.

Because I'm not gonna be listening.

** Edited on 13 March 2014: picture and formatting added**

22 January 2014

Overflow: When tears become words

I am raw and broken.
I am a boat tossed in the sea.
Waterlogged and splitting, falling
apart as fiber after fiber
comes undone.

I can't continue, not without losing
the essence of who I am.
What do I do?
Do I surrender to the process?
Do I let myself be unmade in the
hope of being remade in a more
complete and whole way?
What do I do when what I thought
was my purpose is
no longer my purpose?

We talk about our desire to be
real, authentic, intentional.
But what do we do when the realness
is too much, when the unpolished
and ugliness of real overwhelms our persons?

Real requires time spent with the
pain and unpleasant as well as the
joyous and thought-provoking.
Real see the dissonances within living.
But what do we do when Real gets
too real?

I want to pull the mask up.
I want to pull away from Real.
Real is hard.
Real is brokenness.
Real is raw.