a bit of a tongue twister, but…

…Yet perhaps it is precisely this that we are being called to: engaging in that most difficult task of putting our religion to death so that a religion without religion can spring forth.

-Peter Rollins, from his new book The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief

A bit of a tongue twister, I admit…  but a very interesting point.

What do you think?  Is it possible for Christianity to be a religion, that is in fact, not a religion at all?  What would that even look like?

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Life after college for Twenty-somethings

Here’s a really insightful post from The Suburban Christian, that I think rings pretty true for people in their 20’s.

A few choice quotes here, but follow the link above and check out the whole thing:

“The evidence suggests overwhelmingly that young adulthood is a time when other social institutions fail to be of much help. . . . [As a culture] we provide day care centers, schools, welfare programs, and even detention centers as a kind of institutional surround-sound until young adults reach age 21, and then we provide nothing. Schooling stops for the vast majority, parents provide some financial assistance and babysitting but largely keep their distance, and even the best congregation-based youth groups or campus ministries no longer apply. Yet nearly all . . . decisions a person has to make about marriage, child-rearing, and work happen after these support systems have ceased to function.” – Robert Wuthnow

“Perceptive observations, and I think they ring true. This is part of the reason I went on to grad school after graduating from college – I couldn’t imagine life outside an educational setting! And I was shellshocked to discover that grad school was completely different from college life, that it lacked the kind of community and relationships that I had experienced in college. It wasn’t until I got plugged in to a church singles group in the spring of that first school year that I really started adjusting to life after college. And I fear that too many of our peers never find that kind of community.” – Al Hsu

NT Wright: “there is life after life after death”

Another fantastic article, as usual, from NT Wright (or Jedi Master NT Wright, as Matt Ritchie has been known to call him).

This interview was conducted with pastors/teachers as the primary audience, but I think that there is a lot in it that is useful regardless of your vocation. Here are a few choice quotes to whet your appetite:

For me, therefore, there’s no disjunction between preaching about the salvation which is ours in God’s new age—the new heavens and new earth—and preaching about what that means for the present. The two go very closely together. If you have an eschatology that is nonmaterial, why bother with this present world? But if God intends to renew the world, then what we do in the present matters. That’s 1 Corinthians 15:58! This understanding has made my preaching more challenging to me, and hopefully to my hearers, to actually get off our backsides and do something in the local community—things that are signs of new creation.

Some people are always going to be offended when you actually teach them what’s in the Bible as opposed to what they assume is in the Bible. The preacher can try to say it a number of ways, and sometimes people just won’t get it. They will continue to hear what they want to hear. But if you soft-pedal matters, they will think, Oh, he’s taking us down the old familiar paths. There is a time for walking in and just saying what needs to be said.

A person goes to heaven first and then to the new heavens and new earth. People stare at you like you’ve just invented some odd heresy, but sorry—this is what the New Testament teaches. The New Testament doesn’t have much to say about what happens to people immediately after they die. It’s much more interested in the anticipation of the ultimate new world within this one. If you concentrate on preaching life after death, you devalue the present world. Life after life after death, however, reaffirms the value of this present world.

And since all followers of Jesus are called to announce/demonstrate/preach the Gospel at all times, I think this last quote is especially applicable to us all:

…To preach the Resurrection is to announce the fact that the world is a different place, and that we have to live in that “different-ness.” The Resurrection is not just God doing a wacky miracle at one time. We have to preach it in a way that says this was the turning point in world history.

See, now you’re not laughing anymore about that “Jedi Master” nickname… ha ha.

Read the whole thing here.

(HT: Out of Ur)

“…suffering will be healed…”

“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.”
-Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Bob, thanks so much for sharing this…

I’ve been tagged…

I’ve never really gone along with these things before, but I decided to just go for it this time.

I’ve been tagged by Matt, and here are the rules as they’ve been described to me:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

OK, let’s see… Nearest book…

OK, that one ended up having a picture on page 123, so there weren’t even 5 sentences. ha ha.

Next closest book… page 123, down 5 sentences…

“But there is another side to it, a side which shows all the signs of the wind and fire, of the bird brooding over the waters and bringing new life. For many, “church” means just the opposite of that negative image. It’s a place of welcome and laughter, of healing and hope, of friends and family and justice and new life.”

-N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian

So, now I’ve got to pick 5 more people to tag… Becky, Matt, John, Heather & Rob… it’s your turn!

Who says we should live by the rules?

I found out about this really interesting site/blog called Location Independent Living. It seems to be outlining how one person was able to start their own business that was not tied to a specific location (web-based, I’m guessing) and how that freed them up to do what it is they really want to be doing. In this person’s case, it seems to be to travel the world.

Check out this excerpt from the About page:

Who says you should live by the rules?

Are you fed up with having to live by the rules that say you have to work really hard, make lots of money so you can buy a house with a big mortgage that you then have to work even harder to pay off, until you can finally retire with a nice little nest egg pension…and finally start enjoying your life?

So were we…that’s why we packed in our jobs, set up our own location-independent businesses, sold our house & most of our stuff and left to travel the world indefinitely, searching for our paradise places.

I think this statement has some interesting parallels for followers of Jesus living in America today. Imagine for a moment, if we replace a few words in the last part of that statement:

Who says you should live by the rules?

Are you fed up with having to live by the rules that say you have to work really hard, make lots of money so you can buy a house with a big mortgage that you then have to work even harder to pay off, until you can finally retire with a nice little nest egg pension…and finally start enjoying your life?

So were we…that’s why we packed in our jobs, set up our own location-independent businesses, sold our house & most of our stuff and redirected our surplus of resources (time, money, creativity, etc.) towards furthering the Kingdom of God by helping those in need around us.

Granted, I don’t think we all have the know-how to setup online businesses, but the principle behind this idea, of not simply going along with the American Dream, is a good one no doubt. I haven’t heard too many Christians in America that are challenging the notion of “work really hard your entire life so that you can rest once you’re really old.”

Where’s the balance in that? There’s got to be a happy medium.

Am I taking crazy pills here? Let me know…

(HT: Lifehacker -> ZenHabits)

Missions in Suburbia

I stumbled on a great list of resources (blogs, articles, books, etc) related to being missionally-minded while living in suburban America. There’s a few things on the list that I’ve seen and heard of before, a few I’ve written about here, and a bunch of new ones. Check it out, and see if there’s anything that might be of help as we learn how best to love God and love our neighbors in the 21st century wasteland that is suburban America: Mission to Suburbia (from the blog of Steve McCoy, called Reformissionary)

(HT: The Suburban Christian -> Joe Thorn)