"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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God's Desire for us Human Beings
This Sunday's gospel is a healing story from the Gospel of
Mark. It's one of at least eight healing stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Miracle stories like this one - a healing story - plus
miraculous deliverances from foul spirits, resuscitations, and miracles
involving nature - comprise over 200 verses in Mark's gospel.
That's more verses than the passion narrative -- the stories of
Jesus' betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death -- combined.
Let that fact sink in for a second.
Consider the fact that miracle stories are the subject matter of
almost half the gospel prior to Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem.*
That points to a truth we often miss: God's desire for us human
beings is for healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and joy.
Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, joy is what the author John
Eldredge refers to as the "major theme" of the gospel. As opposed to
the "minor theme" of the gospel which is sickness, brokenness, sin,
Yet Christianity has, by and large, made the minor theme the major theme.
Jesus said (John 10:10) that the thief comes to kill and destroy, but that he came so we might have
life, and have it abundantly.
God's will for our life is not quiet stoic suffering, but an expectation
of miraculous transformation and an abundance of joy and gratitude spilling
over into concrete acts of service. *(Gospel of Mark, Donahue and Harrigan, Sacra
Pagina, page 85.)
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…