Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who am I, in my heart? My answer to this question affects my purpose! (This ties in with Merton's writing)

(2nd Excerpt from original posting on Theology of Nuance on October 15, 2006 and a continuation of Diversity Around the Table of the Last Supper)

What is the meaning of Life?
My opinion is that we are to glorify Jesus Christ, and in so doing we honor the Father.

Faith & Politics
1. Faith includes those Spiritual beliefs for which men & women will give their own lives. This makes ‘Faith’ different than ‘religion’ in this discussion. We see Jesus Christ as the model for our faith. Jesus was willing to give his life for his friends, & yet was unwilling to kill. Jn. 10:17-18 "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life…" Jn 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

2. This distinction between "Faith" & "Religion" is an opinion of this writer, and is based on the relatively few passages in the OT & NT where "religion" is recorded in scripture. Note: That "Religion" tends always to reference ones deeds that earn credit and "Faith" tends to address ones attitudes of charity/love and mercy, which follow Jesus’ example. Review Amos 5:21ff; Micah 6:6-7; Jas.1:26-27 Note however, that religion is traditional actions of ritual, not necessarily evil or wrong, but often times tend toward self expressions of duty, obligation, and as such are not love and charity by nature. When rituals of duty supplant mercy and love, evil always results, e.g. Shi’a Muslims blowing up in close proximity to Sunni Muslims, or American Christian Cavalry killing Indian "savages" and thousands of other examples in most all cultures & races.

3. Politics includes in its broadest sense, all ‘public life & affairs’, although we typically limit it in our thinking, to government activities and issues, it actually will include anything that is seen to occur within ‘Public Life’.
With this understanding of ‘politics’, everything in our interpersonal relationships has political implications.

Therefore, how we see our self, affects our attitudes, it forms our biases, it under girds our vocabulary, and it moves us to our actions, either for good or for ill.
Who am I?

(TO BE CONTINUED)

God Bless,
DSM

3 comments:

S. Starr said...

Outstanding DSM. I still wrestle with the question of who I am. As implied in the previous post about my own heritage- theology and politics are inexorably bound together. There is simply no way that theology and politics can ever be totally seperated for an "American Indian".
Theology and politics both combined with equal force to create the reality in which the "Native Americans" now find themselves. "Indians" cannot look either back into the past, at the ground they now stand on in the present or even into the future without taking into account the geo-political theology of the other race(s) that have shaped their story, their reality and/or their future- spiritual or physical. They are in a way bound to the cultural, sociological, poltical realities that have placed them in the circumstances they now live in. Any attempt at evangelizing Indians MUST deal with the geopolitical pretexts that have caused for them such alienation, social disintegration, oppression and dysfunction at all level of personal, spiritual and community existence. Any attempts or philosophical construct that wishes to bring spiritual healing, mental health, economic well being, psychological fulfillment or anything resembling SALVATION for "Indians" MUST be at once a theology of liberation and justice and VERY political in nature. There is no other way. This need for an effective GEOTHEOLOGY is no less acute in the Mideast or in other cultures where people struggle with the institutional realities in which they live. Hence, faith (religion) and politics can never be mutually exclusive for "American Indians" or most other people groupings. The real dilemma is HOW do you keep either politics or faith (religion) in its proper place and perspective. This topic came up just this morning in the Bible class I attended. In class, I made the statement that in conducting the affairs of ANY nation including the United States certain moral compromises had to be made so that the possibility of a TRUE Christian nation was actually not really possible. I said that Jesus was actually pretty plain spoken about this.
The Bible tells us in 1st John 2:15-17:
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

I continued to say in class that in the light of scriptures like these it is readily apparent that the role of the Church then is to BE the Church affecting culture from the roots up (DSM has heard me say this often). The Church's role I continued is not to fix the world or to rule it- but rather to represent God's love and grace to it inasmuch as we are able- to our neighbors and EVEN our enemies. This does not mean that we cannot be patriotic or cannot be civicly engaged- but it does mean that we have to be careful HOW we do these thinghs. I asserted that we as Christians HAVE to be careful and use wise and mature spiritual discerment in our geopolitical lives. After class several people approached me and admitted that they'd never looked at the subject in that way- and would have to think more upon it- but believed the concept I had explained was basically correct. I take no credit for this. These ideas are not my own. In my view its all right there in black and white and red in the pages of the Book Christians purportedly base their conception of reality on.

I am not sure if DSM considers his work and thoughts on these matters complete. I do know that the last time we discussed these matters he was in my humble opinion very much on the right track. Ultimately, I believe he and I both still have plenty to consider and learn- perhaps learn from one another on these things. I am anxious to see the rest of his work on all of this.

There is another link on this site entitled Vanguard Church. There you will find a lot of commentary from and about a book entitled "The Myth of A Christian Nation". Whetehr one acceptsd or rejects the thesis of this book_ I consider it a major contribution to the dialog on this topic. Check it out.

Blessings upon thee.

D.S. Martin said...

Very good! My mother and father were in class with you this morning and had high praise for your points and candor in making them.
I wish I had been in there also.
The points that you make here are valid.

It is always a matter of attitude of the heart and not actions or deeds alone.

What do we desire for personal/carnal reasons? Against, how many personal/carnal desires we are willing to forego, in order to bring honor to Christ? If I am not willing to give up my national citzenship for Jesus, am I, in my heart, truly a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven.
My heart speaks for me very loudly and very clearly. So, even if I am unwilling to see the truth about my torn allegiance, those who do not share a common national identity with me, will see that my words don't match my heart.

Jesus must be Boss of me unequivocally, and nothing can even compare or rival that focus; not race, not nationality, not law, not constitutions, not family, not Alma Mater, not denomination.

I must always challenge my motives. It is not something I can delegate.

Yes, my wife reproofs and rebukes me when my pride overwhelms my prudence.
And, I am my brothers keeper.
We serve each other well, when we willingly or even eagely ask our brothers & sisters in Christ to hold us accountable. The Church is the original "12 Step Method" of accountability. But, I must always evalute my desires from within.

I am a disciple of Jesus. That is David Shawn Martin. Nothing else that I am, can move that identiy from primacy.

God help me if any modifiers are ever used with my Christian focus. I must not be an/a ________-Christian. Because by identifying myself in such a way, removes Jesus' pre-eminence to stand above all else.

God bless,
DSM

S. Starr said...

This morning I woke early enough to do a bit of reading before having to rise and shine. I found a few passage's in Stanley Hauerwas's book "Cross Shattered Christ" that tie in to what we are discussing here. Hauerwas writes:

..."the past is not the past until it has been redeemed, the present cannot be confidently known except in the light of such a redemption, and the future exists only in the hope made possible by the cross and resurrection of Jesus."

I think that sums up the situation I have referred to concerning "American Indians" and other groups.

Hauerwas also writes something that dovetails with thoughts that DSM has been working with:

" I believe with all my heart that the constant temptation to betray the Gospel, a temptation amply displayed by the history of the Church, cannot be resisted in our day by Christians trying to imitate the false humility of tolerance. Rather, the only resource for Christians to resist the ideological distortions of our faith - distortion all the more tempting because to be "self servingly dramatic" seems a better alternative than to be boring- is our faith in the God to whom Christ prays on the cross.
... that God is the God who is beyond our comprehansion, not because we cannot say anything about God, but because we are compelled to say too much. It is not as if we are short of things to say about God. But rather, we discover a discovery nowhere more apparent than jesus' words on the cross, that anything we have to say about God does not do God justice. ... It's not that God is too indeterminate to be known, God is unknowable because of being to comprehensively determinate, too actual. It is in that excess of actuality that the divine unknowability consists. It is only because God is most determitavely revealed in "My God, My God wy hast thou forsaken me?" that Christians are forbidden from EVER assuming they posess God rather than are posessed by the God they worship."

I am excited by the revelation that this brings to my mind. I also hope it will bring some further understanding to the internal struggle that DSM has revealed in himself through his writings and thoughts concerning these words of Christ from the cross and also the story of Job.