My Completely Irrational, Unscientific, Orthodox, Fringe System of Belief (Advent, Part 1)

Over a buffalo chicken wrap and some soggy fries, a co-worker asked, “do you think we’ve reached the place in American culture where Christianity is seen as a fringe system of belief?” I considered his question, and a rattled off nine reasons why, if we’re honest, Christianity should be considered a fringe system of belief to those in the world at large. This Advent season, I’m exploring these beliefs and offering a somewhat surprising conclusion. I hope you’ll follow allow.

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MY COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, UNSCIENTIFIC, ORTHODOX, FRINGE SYSTEM OF BELIEF

POINT 1: We believe in an invisible, eternal, supreme power who created the world with a few words.

In the beginning–or at least in the beginning of man’s history–God stepped into nothing. In that vacuous, soundless expanse, he spoke, and his speaking was the nuclear fusion that formed the sun and all the stars in the universe. He spoke and watched as land rumbled up from deep, as it pushed past the surface of the water and formed basins for oceans. His words were the seedbed for the mighty oaks in Arkansas, the upside-down baobab groves in Mozambique, and the Tree of Life in Bahrain. He spoke, and the birds flew, first the Northern Cardinal with it’s beautiful song–chip chip chippaw–then the blushing flamingo with its obnoxious honk. Insects flew, too–the rugged moth and royal monarch butterfly alike. 

He spoke, and he spoke, and he spoke, and from all that speaking came this gift we call earth. He decorated this first sacrament with ornaments–the dangling Florida oranges, the delicate Chinese orchid, the unsung pine cone. Wishing to share all of this with someone, he spoke the word “friend,” and here we stand.

Yes, as the timeless creed says, “we believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” This is the genesis of our faith, the bedrock of our confession. Does it sound like the stuff of a science fiction movie? Does it sound like an absurdist, fringe belief? These are rhetorical questions. I know the answer.

Thank you for reading. Follow along this Advent season as I explore my Completely Irrational, Unscientific, Orthodox, Fringe System of Belief.

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Begotten Not Made: An Advent Welcome

Advent: from the Latin advents, meaning “a coming, approach, arrival,” in Church Latin “the coming of the Savior,” from past participle stem of advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” + venire “to come.” (Source link.)

Welcome to Advent, the season in which we prepare for the coming of the Hope of the World. Are you following the shining star to the it’s illogical conclusion in the baby’s manger? Is your heart making room?

Today I’m sharing an Advent poem at Elizabeth Marshall’s site. Would you join me?

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Begotten Not Made

And though he birthed the star alight,
he took to manger underneath
the humbled cry of stifled speech,
of own begotten form.

He suckled there at woman’s breast,
the mouth of God on human skin
he spoke before the world began,
to birth begotten form.

Continue reading at Elizabeth Marshall’s site.

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Mourning With the Mourners

Friends, readers, and earnest grievers:

I watched the news of Ferguson unfold last night on CNN. The prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, walked to the podium and delivered a recitation of grand jury deliberations that ultimately ended in the revelation that Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, would not be indicted.

I watched the scene on the Ferguson streets unfold, cross-checked every statement of every pundit with my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I sat in the safety of my home with the safety of my internet, and I watched Ferguson burn.

I am a lawyer by trade and a writer by craft, so you can imagine my temptation to throw my two cents into the fray…

Continue reading this editor letter at Deeper Story.

 

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Photo by Lisa Widerberg, Creative Commons via Flickr.

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A Hiatus

This is what word nerds do: pick a word to describe a particular thing. Consider the word; dig for its roots. Was it a Latin derivation? Italian? Did the barbarians use some distant cousin of the word while tearing meat from spit-roasted boar leg? What were the earliest forms of the word?

For instance, consider the word hiatus. Derived from the Latin, it is said the word finds its origins in the 1560s. In its earliest form, hiatus meant, “a break or opening in a material object,” or an “opening, aperture, rupture, gap.”  It stemmed from the word meaning “to gape, stand open,” and is kissing cousins with the Old English word used to describe a yawn–a tired, gape-mouthed yawn.

Yawn.

Am I a word-nerd? You bet.

This is the long way around saying that I’m taking a little hiatus. I’m checking out for 2-3 weeks (save for one Deeper Story piece) while I finish up a few longer writing projects. I have an article I need to wrap up, and a… well… sign up for my Tiny Letter to hear more about the even longer work.

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Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the mountain view.

 

mountainphoto

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Coffee Black

1.

Most merciful God, We confess
that we have sinned against you
In thought, word, and deed,

All language, action, any twitch of spirit,
swipe of the hand, swipe of card,all adornment,
any symbol or the lack of any symbol,
any icon or the lack of any icon,
all naves, narthexes, transepts,
any foyer with donut platters,
paper cups, and Gospel tracts,
whether forefathers’ common chalice
or individually juiced cuplets,
whether red door or glass,
whether recitation of the old,
old story, whether prayer with saints,
the rooted liturgy,
or lesser laser lights,
whether incense or fog machine—
it all speaks a thing of God.

2.

We have sinned by what we have done,
and by what we have let undone.

These are the thoughts
I sometimes carry in my wallet,
between the sheaves in briefcase,
or in the brown leather change purse
I sought like Italy’s lost lamb.

3.

We have not loved you
with our whole heart;
we have not loved our
neighbor as ourselves

Tuesday’s barista poured my coffee,
slid it across the counter
unsleaved, and unlidded.
I scattered seven silver pieces
across the counter,
without dispensing pleasantries;
a quarter spun like a top
of happy accidents.

4.

We are truly sorry and
We humbly repent

“Room for cream?” she asked;
Palm down, I waived my hand across
the counter in an act of certitude,
of final consecration.

“It would be a sacrilege,” I smiled,
and she smiled like my neighbor-girl.
“Bold words,” she said;
I nodded and carried the secret
of the best theology I know:
all good things needn’t
be complimented by too much cream.

Have mercy and forgive us.

Amen.

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OCTOBER’S TINY LETTER IS HERE!

Sign up for the Seth Haines’ Tiny Letter: A Compendium of Projects, People, Places, and Things. The Tiny Letter is a personal newsletter sent to subscribers once (sometimes twice) a month, and it highlights my personal projects, a few good folks, the places I go, and the things I like. In October’s Edition, I’m musing on the tiny acts of neighborliness, a new project, and a tiny prayer. In addition, the good people at Givington’s are generously offering a COUPON CODE for a discount on Nish Weiseth’s new book, Speak. Don’t miss it! (As a bonus, sign up and I’ll send you the inaugural edition in which I share some BIG NEWS!)

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