Blasphemy on Sunday morning

“The misuse of meaningful songs, or even only a lack of understanding and feeling in singing them communally, has a devastating effect. When we sing them in real community with the Holy Spirit, we sense something of innermost holiness. Such songs should be sung only at very special moments, only at times of God-given experiences. To suggest songs that were once written in the Spirit, with the idea of producing an atmosphere that does not exist, to sing ‘God is present with us!’ when no one feels that God really is present, to dare to sing ‘Lord of all, to Thee we bow’ when there is no real honoring of God’s greatness in the atmosphere of the meeting is a misuse that borders on the sin against the Holy Spirit.”

— Eberhard Arnold, God’s Revolution: Justice, Community, and the Coming Kingdom

Ugly is the new beautiful

Amidst the call for artistic excellence in worship, we can easily reach standards that Jesus didn’t bother to strive for. Fellow Anabaptist blogger Graham pointed me toward Celtic blogger Carolyn and her composition The Ugly Song.

What would Jesus listen to?

Has the age of reality passed away?

Many people believe the age of miracles (etc.) has passed away. Others insist it’s still here. There is often little practical difference in the lives of these two groups. We all agree that some things haven’t passed away, such as faith, hope and love. But we read the non-miraculous parts of the Book of Acts, and we still aren’t experiencing the same faith, power, joy, love, unity and holiness – the same spiritual reality – that the early Christians did. If believers in miracles read the miraculous parts with an honest heart, we will likewise admit that we don’t see many miracles in our lives, and we have no good excuse for it.

Remodeling in Pompeii

Compared to the Kingdom of God and your part in it, does anything else you’re doing really matter? What should you do now? Should you turn off your computer? Weep? Repent? Click on a different link? Get a drink? We all have answers and goals. But most of the time, we’re answering the wrong questions, and reaching the wrong goals, like a Roman father in Pompeii who finishes remodeling the family room just before Mt. Vesuvius buries it in ashes. When we don’t know God’s will, we have to fill in the gaps with our own will and ideas. Or we can’t live. The alternative is to know God’s will.

Little and unknown

“Keep us little and unknown, prized and loved by God alone.”

Charles Wesley

The world has always been post-Christian.

The UK-based Anabaptist Network announces the publication of a series of books, beginning with Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World by Stuart Murray. “This book explores what it means to be Christian in a world in which Christianity is no longer the dominant paradigm in our society.”

Except that Christians have always lived in a world in which Christianity is not the dominant paradigm. Maybe it used to be different in your society, but it’s always been this way for the vast majority of human beings throughout history. The Christians in China, India, and Africa know that. Ever since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, we’ve been living in a “post-God” world. Read the rest of this entry »

All of us are artists

It is impossible to see how good work might be accomplished by people who think that our life in this world either signifies nothing or has only a negative significance…. If it is true that we are living souls and morally free, then all of us are artists. All of us makers, within mortal terms and limits, of our lives, of one another’s lives, of things we need and use.

— Wendell Berry, Christianity and The Survival of Creation

What would you do for your faith?

“What would you do for your faith; not much, I think. Hence repent, before you are brought to shame.”

– Catherine, burned at the stake, AD 1551, Martyrs Mirror, p. 503