As a Christ-follower of Jewish origins (one not born within the culture of Christianity, but who came to the Church from the outside), I have always found the Church’s original attraction to the idea of Christendom (lit. Christen = Christianity + dom = kingdom: Christianity as a nation or Christian nationalism; fig. the use of power to achieve Christian unity by enforcing uniformity), and its pervasive residual nostalgia for it, intriguing.

The Crucifixion

My only hope is that God is in hell.
If God is not in hell, suicide is justified.
If God is not in hell, I should have done it when I had the chance.

Because when I fell from heaven
And wandered deepest Nothing,
I found that desert oasis
A sad excuse for home indeed
But slightly better than Nothing.
The resident voices drew me in
And informed me of many things
Of the world and of my self
They spoke mostly truth
Told harmless lies to fill the silence.
The only lie that I believed
Was my only source of comfort:
God did not enter that place.

Finally the world made sense.
O, The bounty of solace in Reason!
In this world I am alone in a crowd
In this world I am an orphan in a family of four
I am a hermitess with a husband and child on the way.
But there.. O, There, sisters and brothers!
You feel alone because you are alone!
You feel unloved because God has forgotten you!

So they convinced me, and so I believed.
But though my soul took refuge in Hell,
My limbs carried me to Church,
Into the very House of Truth
And it was there I saw the icon.
And it was that Image
Which tore the shroud before my face…

I wept.

And I saw.

And I beg you, my dear ones,
If the voices make sense,
Run from that place.
Please run.

This is worth reading for those involved in church ‘leadership.’ While it’s not a terribly long article, here are a few excerpts, though I suggest you read it in its entirety. Ken writes very clearly.

…I agree, however, that we need more than pastors.  Entrepreneurs is perhaps one category that we do need, but we need more than that, too.  We need people who are committed to a complementary endeavor to entrepreneurial action—we also need people who are passionate about reflection on experience, because completing the action/reflection cycle is more effective than either action or reflection alone.

I don’t have a ‘catchy’ term for this.  The best I can do is to say that the church, in my experience and observation, needs quite a few passionate accountable visionaries.  There may be some overlap into the categories of pastor and entrepreneur, but it is an area that needs to be developed—and it may need more well-qualified lay practitioners than ordained ones.  The passionate accountable visionary is a person who sees a bigger picture than local congregations, is concerned with quality of Christian life together (not just in the congregation, but across wide areas of the Communion of Saints), and makes imaginative connections between realities and aspirations.  A passionate accountable visionary has is grounded in theology as well as practical knowledge, and is capable of making a theological analysis of what s/he observes and experiences…

…Those who wish to support the passionate visionary’s work are not followers, so much as backers, very much in the sense that this word is used in a business context—they invest in a person’s passion and knowledge, expecting a return for their churches, whether local churches or a wider association.  They have a right, even a responsibility, to ask for regular communications from whoever they support, and any backer could support a number of visionary thinkers…

…The effect would be much like an ecclesiastical version of Dragon’s DenorShark Tank —the return on investment not measured in monetary terms, but the advancement of the gracious reign of God.

"Somehow conservative Christians now “own the rights” to orthodoxy, having taken it away from their liberal Christian brothers and sisters without a fight. Truth be told, liberal Christians were happy to let it go, because if their Conservative sisters and brothers wanted it so badly, how good could it be? Rejecting the rigid exclusivity they perceived in conservative Christianity, which they assumed to be inherent in very concept of orthodoxy, they abandoned it and coined a new term, “orthopraxy” (i.e., right practice), to take its place. Orthopraxy meant living by the principles Jesus taught, which they presumed to be universal. The assumption that all religious practices must spring from a common core of spiritual intention may sound inclusive…but is it really? Or is claiming, for example, that the deepest motivation of the Buddhist search for the detachment of Nirvanah must be the same as the Christian motivation in seeking the presence of the living God just another form of spiritual chauvinism…

…I am suggesting that if we recapture the original, literal meaning of orthodoxy, we will find that it is indeed a profound paradox that both includes and transcends conservativeOrthoproxy and liberal Orthopraxy. The reason that the primitive orthodoxy of the early Church was so paradoxical is that it was grounded in the deep paradox of the Incarnation: the human-divine nature of Jesus Christ and the triune nature of God.”

Unavoidable regret

As much as I’ve tried to live my life with as little regret as possible it seems I have so much already. Less so since I began consciously living within my philosophies. But in life there are numerous situations where more than one decision is right and upon the choosing of one path burns the other. So I have myself awake at night thinking about choices I have made. Not things I should probably dwell on but it happens all the same, often directly after pondering my future. So I am left here in my bedroom driven to tears at the thought of why didn’t I say goodbye. Why did I hesitate. Why did I rush into something that fast. All life is is a series of choices and events. SI believe we are meant to enjoy as much of it as we can and learn from our experiences. But there are so many unanswered questions mysteries of life. If life is meant to be enjoyed why is there suffering and why does it end. If love is a chemical reaction why is it so real and specific to certain people. If nothing created the universe then why is it here, and if something did then what created that. The infinite loop of paradoxes found simply within life itself is enough to drive me mad if I spend all of my time dwelling on it. To think to much is to drive yourself insane with seeking answers that aren’t ever there. One must live to be happy, to be sane. Yet as much as I live my life consciously for the present but with the future in mind. I still find myself thinking about every what if. Now I’ve tried to caught up, I say everything I feel, everything I need to tell someone. I don’t hold back but now it’s too late for alot of things. It makes me think  I reflect on my life and think about every decision ive made and trace the timelines of my life based on other decisions. However you can’t do that before you make a decision there are too many hidden variables,unknown facts. And so i think about what could’ve been but now is all I have so I must just remember to never hold back and do all I can for if I’ve done all I can I can’t regret. But the what ifs will always remain and I feel I’ll always have those sleepless nights of reflection

From Phyllis Tickle's newly-published bibliography on the discussion of Emergence Christianity about my supervisor/mentor's book.

"With a Foreword by Brian McLaren and an Afterword by Paul Zahl, this one has all the bona fides any book could want, and all of them are richly deserved. Howard offers a sharp-eyed analysis of how the Church has arrived at its present permutation, followed by a very accessible and kindly-intended diagnosis of what Her condition presently is. More importantly, perhaps, Howard gives us one of the clearest and most concise commentaries presently available about where the Church may reasonably be seen as going in this time of paradigmatic shift. 

Additionally, each chapter concludes with some penetrating questions about the implications of what has just been presented, a boon not only to individual readers, but also to leaders of small groups.”

The course based on the book begins tomorrow night after 7PM Vespers at Saint Nick’s!

(Read Paradoxy)