"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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When our children were little, one of our favoritestories to read them was The Runaway Bunny.
At one level, the story is about a little
bunny rabbit that keeps running away from its mother, and all the things his
mother does to bring him back to her.
But surely the story is about something
else, too:it’s not just a story about a rabbit and his mother.
Surely this is
a story about God, and all the different ways we human beings try to run away
from God, and the things God does to bring us back to him.
Scripture teaches us that “God is
love.” (1 John 4:8).
It’s not just that God loves: God really is love…
God is so much love that God just
couldn’t keep it to himself.
So that is at least part of the
reason God created the world – not just any world, but this world, this
beautiful world – the sky and the seas, fish and birds – and plants – God
created those things as a way of expressing his love for us.
But from the very beginning, we have tried to run away from God’s love.
So God says, in effect, “if you,
humanity, run away from me in creation, then I’ll bring you back through my
special people – Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and Moses. I will send you laws,
Ten Commandments, to live by, so you’ll know how to love me and love each
We said, in effect, “well if you
send Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses, we won’t listen to them, and we’ll
forget your laws.”
If you forget my laws, said God,
then I’ll send prophets to remind you, remind you how much I love you and how
you should love each other.
If you send prophets to remind us,
we said, we’ll ignore them – we won’t listen to them.
If you won’t listen to my prophets,
God said, then I’ll become whatever you become, I’ll become one of you…a human.
I’ll show you myself how to love one
another and me.
And so God became one of us.
This is the kind of love we’re
talking about: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…he loved
us so much he became one of us, a human, in Jesus.
And what did God-made-human say when
he was with us?
He said “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart,
All your mind,
All your strength,
And love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no law…no commandment
greater, or more important than that.
Well…as the events of Holy Week
recall, we – humanity – ran away even from that love.
We did more than run away from it:we killed that love.We nailed it to a cross.
(Humanity cannot run any further
away from God’s love than that.)
But – as the events of Easter
morning will remind us – on the first day of the week, very early in the
morning, the women went to the tomb to see Jesus’ body.
The stone to the tomb had been
rolled away, so they went in.
But when they got inside, they
couldn’t find Jesus’ body.
It wasn’t there.
Then all of a sudden, two angels
were standing there and all this light was around them, and the angels said,
He is not here. He is risen.
Don’t you know?
Can’t you hear God saying,
I will fish for you,
climb for you,
dig for you,
stretch out my arms of love
take everything you have to offer
But I WILL catch you in my arms and
There is nothing, nothing, nothing
you can do to make me stop loving.
Can’t you hear God saying,
might as well quit running, and be God’s beloved child?
For Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that this year. What I'm fasting from this Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
(Let me be clear: that does not mean giving up news or otherwise burying my head in the sand: it means staying informed while finding ways not to get pulled into a downward spiral of feelings of numbness and helplessness; it means giving up unproductive feelings like hopelessness and resignation and taking on visible behaviors like giving encouragement and taking action.)
It means making visible -- here, on my blog, and even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories…
So for Lent, I was thinking of doing the typical fasts: fast from Facebook and take up reading, fast from petty vices like overindulging in sweets and alcohol and take on moderation, yada yada yada.
But I'm re-thinking that.
Now one of the things I'm thinking about fasting from during Lent is discouragement. That means cutting back on what is so often the source of discouragement, which is a tendency to gorge on, or dwell on, bad news.
That would mean taking on encouragement: to make visible -- even on Facebook -- the good.
Because the problem is -- to paraphrase the community organizer Rich Harwood -- a lot of times we see "good news stories" as being quaint -- they are tossed in at the end of the news as an inspiring story, or put in the style section. But stories of good things happening -- people coming together to do things, is not a touchy-feely, feel-good story, but something affecting real change.
So for starters: I'm inspired by the leadership example of…