Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson


First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.

 

And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!


Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.

 

Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,

~Lisa

WINE SEGMENT:

Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!

Why? 

Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


 

Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!

Doug-Jackson

Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


 

Interview / chat notes:

 

MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

8:50
Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

9:00
Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

9:50
on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

10:30
on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

11:00
The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

12:30
on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

14:30
James Sire

15:70
Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

18:00
Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

19:00
on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

21:30
HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.

22:20

“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”

 

22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

23:30
on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

24:00
Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.

25:00

Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

26:00
Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

27:20
A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

28:20
How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”

29:30

“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

30:10
Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

31:00
Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

32:00
Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

33:30
My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)

34:00

“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

34:30
“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

39:00
St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

40:00
…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

41:00
…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

44:30
(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”

45:00

“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

46:00
[GOOD NEWS]
Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


 

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Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Fear is Jail

jail

Fear is  jail.

The world has so much information to offer.

Libraries, schools, experts, and the troves of resources on the internet make learning almost anything possible.

But is success probable? Only sometimes.

Education and information don’t create success. If it did, success would be simple and assured.

Since it’s not, there’s always some psychology to understand first.

Namely, fear.

Despite the resources, we hit bumps. We stagnant. We get discouraged. We give up too soon.

We are both afraid to fail and afraid to succeed. We fear the unknown and the too familiar. We fear change and we fear sameness.

Just knowing this can take a few teeth out of fear and can give us a cell key.

cell key

Information can help us through our fear. It’s a tool, key. But, we can sit in a cell whose door is wide open.

We assume information is the solution sometimes. It’s certainly not.

That’s why when you make resources and opportunities available to a frightened population success is still rare.

People–whether they know it or not–get stuck being afraid. Jailed.

But, back to the key: Information.
We live in a time were we can pick so many things for ourselves. The rich and powerful used to corner this market. Not just recently in the Industrial Age, but in every age. Social classes, gender, skin color and many other inescapable factors determined what you could accomplish in a lifetime. No more.

But so much will stop us. So, back to fear. It must be tamed. Always.

A path, a formula, or expert advice make wading through a bit easier. But here is the best key: As we utilize our resources we sill have to be honest that we are fearful and it affects us greatly.

If you sense that you aren’t moving forward, or you’re distracting your self routinely, ask yourself some hard questions about what you fear.

Armed with those answers you can push through if you get brave. Fear will be back of course, but you’ll be more prepared for it. You’ll do battle again and again. Know your enemy. Use your tools. Work your key.

Like Jael, I got you so pegged

Don’t be tempted to …ahem… peg Jael as the Biblical forerunner of the fierce “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”. She was a nobody who cared for sheep and endured the harsh elements.

As a tent dweller of the Kenite clan, she was riffraff to the nth degree. (The spiffy clothing you may see her depicted in is just wishful thinking. A bath would be hard to come by, let alone silk fineries, and dainty hairstyling.)

The Biblical story of Jael is hardcore violence! (10 sec read here)

So-NEVER doubt this, Jael is one shrewd and formidable female; and she clobbers an expert of war, with her own violence, as a part of God’s plan.

She’s sharp, very sharp.

Here lies the mighty Warrior, Sisera…almost pinned down.

Could this be one instance (of many) where a Bible story may effect an impressionable mind?

 

Perhaps envision the scene following a Bible study at a female penitentiary … “Yo, ladies, are you ready to get your Jael on!? Wooo…” Okay, maybe not. But, I can totally see a Bible inspired video game for Christian families….rated T for Teen (of course)… that includes this scene. The object would be to get in the most spike poundings before the warrior wakes up. That’s completely obvious, right?

Incidentally, this story also proves how brilliantly somniferous warm milk can be. Note to self.

Most importantly, this story begs us to root for Jael, and everyone like her. She’s an impoverished foreigner. A diminutive herding woman. And she triumphs in a crucial battle to save a whole nation. Underdog doesn’t begin to describe her.

This isn’t just an astonishing battle tale, or reversal of fortune story, it’s a message of hope for all of us up against the odds. God gives us the strength to peg and conquer our obstacles. God’s character is shown in this and the many underdog stories in the Bible.

Literarily unheard of, this story is like no other. No other ancient literature in the world included women very much, let alone wrote them up as full- blown heroines. But, God captures his heart for us within this story of an unlikely woman who saves an entire people group from destruction.

Remember this:
Undoubtably, you have God’s camaraderie when the odds are against you, or when your foes or circumstance seems too great to overcome.

God has mercy for your “type,” and it is his joy to help you prevail. Keep your hope in the Lord, the Almighty King.

Do you ever feel like an underdog?
What would you like to pin and conquer?

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Faith and Fleecing God- Hoodoo Part II

Gideon and wool

A common tactic among Christians who seek God’s guidance and direction is to follow the example of biblical hero, Gideon. (see Judges 6:1-8:32) Many people searching for God’s will, lay out a “proverbial fleece,” and ask that God show them which way to go. They hope for a sign, or at least a strong feeling.

Let’s think about Gideon for a moment. When God called Gideon to lead his people in victory over their oppressors, the man was hiding out in the bottom of a winepress threshing wheat. Remember, to thresh wheat, one needs the wind, and open air, so the chaff can blow away, and leave the kernels behind. (One doesn’t get much of that, in a pit of a winepress.) This man was scared silly. One can’t expect to feel even much of a breeze in a hole! God calls him “mighty warrior” too. HA! What a sense of humor! He was either being totally sarcastic, or meant Gideon could be this with God’s divine intervention–in the future. (or maybe both, I wasn’t there to hear the Angel of God’s actual tonal inflection) ;)

Then, Gideon starts mouthing off, acting all bitter, and asks that the Angel of God to actually prove he is really God. To my knowledge, no one else in the Bible is this brash. Graciously, God permits this, instead of just smiting his sorry butt, he obliges him, and burns up a meal, right in front of Gideon. This, of course, scares the snot out of Gideon, and he believes, sort of. He’s still a big-time coward. God instructs him to take down his family’s idols that they all worship. God’s not a big fan of idols. DUH. God was already putting up with a lot of bologna. This garbage removal is an obvious “first things first” order of business.

Everyone in Israel knows you should not worship idols, EVER (they all are aware of those 10 Commandments, and laws of Moses stuff.) Gideon is totally justified to rip them down immediately; so he marches over and does it, no problem. NOPE. Not at all. Gideon goes the cowardly route, and tears down the family idols, by sneaking out to do it in the middle of the night, with a few buddies.

After gathering troops, still, Gideon struggles to feel right or the least bit courageous about God’s calling, or God’s Almightiness. This unlikely victor asks for, not just one miracle, but 2, yes two, miracles, before he follows God’s direction. Very presumptuous, indeed, not to mention faithless.

Here’s the kicker sometimes left out in this hero’s story. After a mighty, and completely miraculous victory, over a powerful and oppressive enemy, the Midianites (with a tiny fighting force of just 300), Gideon constructs a sacred golden object in his town that is soon worshiped by him, his family, and the whole community. WTHuh? I think Gideon and his ways boarder on ridiculous. He’s quite ordinary, in fact. Just like you or me?

While some use the fleece part of the story as a prescriptive idea for determining God’s will–a genuine way to find God’s guidance and will–I believe the Bible includes it as a failure of faith on Gideon’s part, one of several. Really the entire story is part of a greater witness to an idolatrous and unfaithful era in the times of the Judges. It’s really not a picture of Gideon as a good follower, at all, but instead a picture of God, and his forbearance with a very weak individual, a supremely unlikely leader, and a faithless people he has called his own, and wants to save. God continues to use misfits, and losers in his is amazing Story, but we don’t have to emulate these folks in their weaknesses.

In reality, Gideon was like a lot of godless inhabitants of the region; he was a superstitious sort. This was an unfaithful and tumultuous time in Israel’s past as they co-opted with many ungodly practices. Are behaviors of Gideon’s type really the best for us, or the most advisable? I say, “No.”

So if not, what should we do? I’d love for you to weigh in here on this! But, I’ll put in a few ideas.

First, we shouldn’t think of spirituality/the Divine as magic. “If I do this, I’ll know I should do this thing here, if this such thing happens.” Totally hoodoo. That is trying to get God to jump through hoops, so we feel more comfortable. Yes, sometimes God works with this shortcoming in us, but we should also understand that God will purposefully let us flounder sometimes.

Which way to go, or what to decide, might be part of our growth process. Also, Biblical narratives show that God will purposefully allow us to encounter temptation, or the opportunity to make an unwise choice.

Loyalty, and a close walk with him is one of the best guards against going hoodoo with God. (I call this close walk, Practicing the Presence of God. So did Brother Lawrence.) If we are being loyal/obedient, and we thoroughly love God with all we are, it is much easier to choose what God wants for us. And I really think it’s not always just one specific thing we have to pick that is his “will” for us. Sometimes, it’s the situation of good, better, and best. God doesn’t bite his nails wondering if we’ll pick the right thing, and then viola– “be in his will.” He redeems situations, even the foolishness we get ourselves into. It’s that much better if we pick wisely, and make him the center and glory of our decision making.

Yes, sometimes God will open and close doors, and almost seem to force our hand. If we love and trust him, we’ll be okay with that, knowing that he will do that sort of thing for our best benefit and interest, (though it may be hard to see what that is at the time.) To test God, by fleecing him, is to deny ourselves the opportunity for a close intimacy with God. He is a relational Being. He gives us opportunities to walk with him by faith, and not just by sight.

I would love to hear your responses to this post.

Leave a comment, if you will.

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