Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CIVILITY: gay marriage, chick fil a, maturity, & tolerance*

*i questioned whether i should post this video. social media often seems to bring out the worst in peoples responses to sensitive social and political issues. i decided to go ahead because i think the idea of what miroslav volf** calls "passionate civility" needs to be reclaimed. 

it is a simple and largely lost concept which is basically this: you can believe strongly about an idea, law, or set of beliefs and not have the articulation of that belief devolve into hate, slander, or caricature of an opposing view point (novel i know).

it is based on the understanding that the IDEA should win the day. it's about wading through the messiness of truth.

what is best for you?
what is best for the common good?
where should we derive our understanding of love or sex?
should be it be imposed on others?
how do we live along side opposing views?
what really brings about change?

so i am posting this because i think it's refreshing.
it's uncool.
it's counter cultural.
it's brave.
and it calls out intolerance on both sides of the aisle.

**i also highly recommend reading this by miroslav volf

-andrew mook

Sunday, February 13, 2011

update... busy

i've been pretty busy with
and that whole getting married thing.

i'm hoping to write more here soon. 
in the mean time facebook and the sanctuary blog are the best places to catch me.

hope you are warm and loved,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

God's Anger

I often get asked why the God of the Bible gets so angry. Anger seems too much like a volatile human emotion.  At best, it seems "beneath" our notions of an unchangeable, all-powerful God; at worst, it makes God seem petty or even cruel.  Despite our discomfort, God's anger appears often in the biblical accounts.  I think part of the problem is our mistaken assumption that God's anger and God's love are somehow in competition, as though God's love is somehow tempered or balanced out by God's wrath.  But God's wrath is not opposed to God's love—it is God's love when it encounters sin, when it faces the self-destruction of the beloved.  That's why we can say, as the Bible does, God is love, but we cannot say God is wrath.

Here in Canada where I live, there is a tendency for people to pride themselves on being "nice," on tolerance, on accepting everyone and everything.  Most of the time this is great, but the problem is that "niceness"
 in the face of great violence and injustice takes the side of injustice.  Tolerance turns out to be a convenient label for acceptance of the status quo—having minimal involvement in the lives of others and no investment in their fate.

Recently one of my friends who lives on the streets of Toronto was telling me in great detail the story of the atrocious abuse she experienced as a child.  As I was listening, feeling inwardly sickened but unsure of exactly how to respond, she would pause every so often and say "You're really angry, aren't you?  I can tell—I can see it in your eyes."  Then she would go on with her story.  The truth is that while I did feel angry and sad and confused and any number of emotions at that moment, I'm not sure I was registering much on my face at all.  Her frequent insistence that she could see how furious I was was less because of whatever visible anger I was displaying and more because she needed the affirmation that I was angry, that her pain and
 shame would not leave me untouched.  She wanted reassurance: "You are angry, aren't you?"

What we learn from the story of Jesus is that tolerance is a poor substitute for love.  You can tolerate someone without loving her or him.  And there are some things you cannot tolerate if you love truly and deeply.  What lover is not angry at the betrayal of the beloved?  What loving parents are not angry at the self-destructive behavior of their children?  If God were not angry at the state of the world and the human heart, it would be a sign not that God is "nice" but that God does not care.  As theologian Miroslav Volf has said, "A nonindignant God would be an accomplice in injustice, deception, and violence."(1)

The only objection against God raised more frequently than complaints about anger and judgment is the apparent lack of it—God's perceived restraint in the face of the world's great evils.

"How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to
 You, 'Violence!'
Yet You do not save.
Why do you make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted" (Habakkuk 1:2-4).

"Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O LORD?  Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?" (Isaiah 64:12).

In situations of great suffering and oppression, we want God to get angry and we have the strong suspicion that a God who does not get angry is a God who does not love that deeply.  Only a God who is angry at the ruin of the beloved creation is a God who will act in deliverance.  God's anger means that we are not abandoned or left to our fate.

It is not God's anger that is the problem—God's anger is our salvation.  It is our anger that is the problem.  We project our own personal indignations and
 inclinations toward vengeance onto God.  We use the phrase "righteous anger" to describe our own self-righteous anger.  We deflect our own guilt by outrage at the moral failures of others.  We respond to our anger by taking things into our own hands—either inflicting retribution or becoming self-appointed saviors, trying to fix the problems of others while ignoring our own.

But God is not like us.  God does not have a split personality.  God's anger is not a volatile, self-protective human emotion.  The story of Jesus Christ reveals that God's love for us and God's anger against our life-destroying ways both lead inexorably toward the cross.   And at the cross, God is not in those inflicting the pain but in the One suffering it in order to set things right.

Rachel Tulloch is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Toronto, Canada.

(1) Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and
 Reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 297.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

this years need

"The need is greater this year than I've ever seen it. One little girl didn't want anything for herself. She wanted a winter coat for her mother."

"Head Elf" Pete Fontana at New York City’s main post office, who leads a staff of 22 people in sorting 2 million letters in Operation Santa, which connects needy children with "Secret Santas" who answer their wishes. (Source: USA Today)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

advent 1

Advent says hope is real. It drives us to look for it. To find it in the everyday. To find it the unexpected.
Advent is a season of expectation—of arrival. In the Church calendar, the four-week Advent season is the time in which we anticipate the coming of Christ into the world. It is a time in which we look to find hope, peace, joy, and love.
Yet, “the world must be experienced as it really is and not in some pretended way.”*
Advent confronts the cynicism of the heart with the insistence that God has not and will not abandon the world, hope is real, and something is coming.
And so each December we enter into a season of waiting, expecting, and longing.  We open up and turn our hearts  in the direction of that day. That day when the baby cries His first cry and we, surrounded by shepherds and angels and everyone in between, celebrate “Love come down.”
We really get into creative liturgy around this season at Sanctuary. We have some orginal readings based on the next four weeks, some interactive art pieces, a new film, and lot’s of music.
Sanctuary will start quietly and reflectively at 6:30. We will spend the first 20min or so around the theme of Advent before engaging in our ongoing teaching series through Matthew. Excited to be with you during this season.
hope and peace to you.

- graphic by jeffrey bondorew / QuoteW. Brueggemann in The Message of the Psalms /  Mars Hill thoughts

Thursday, October 14, 2010

bob dylan's words

An interviewer asked Bob Dylan how he got into rock and roll…
Carelessness. I lost my one true love. I started drinking. The first thing I know, I’m in a card game. Then I’m in a crap game. I wake up in a pool hall. Then this big Mexican lady drags me off the table, takes me to Philadelphia. She leaves me alone in her house, and it burns down. I wind up in Phoenix. I get a job as a Chinaman. I start working in a dime store, and move in with a 13-year-old girl. Then this big Mexican lady from Philadelphia comes in and burns the house down. I go down to Dallas. I get a job as a “before” in a Charles Atlas “before and after” ad. I move in with a delivery boy who can cook fantastic chili and hot dogs. Then this 13-year-old girl from Phoenix comes and burns the house down. The delivery boy – he ain’t so mild: He gives her the knife, and the next thing I know I’m in Omaha. It’s so cold there, by this time I’m robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. I stumble onto some luck and get a job as a carburetor out at the hot-rod races every Thursday night. I move in with a high school teacher who also does a little plumbing on the side, who ain’t much to look at, but who’s built a special kind of refrigerator that can turn newspaper into lettuce. Everything’s going good until that delivery boy shows up and tries to knife me. Needless to say, he burned the house down, and I hit the road. The first guy that picked me up asked me if I wanted to be a star. What could I say?
Then the interviewer asked, “And that’s how you became a rock-’n'-roll singer?”
Dylan replied: “No, that’s how I got tuberculosis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

sufjan and the good news

below is an excerpt from an interview at The Quietus on October 12th.

...Is it good to work with people who have faith? I guess it wouldn’t be as easy working with drug addled lunatics right?

SS: Hahaha. [Pause] What’s the question?

I should probably rephrase it. You’re a Christian, so it’s probably easier to work with Christians than some heathen hoovering up cocaine every day...

SS: Yeah. [Long pause] What?!

What I’m asking is, is it easier to work with somebody in the same faith instead of somebody of a secular disposition?

SS: [Pintersque pause] Ahhh no, not at all. I don’t draw lines when it comes to my work. People I work with come from all over the place. There’s heathens and potheads in my band. I love them all, so...

Being an artist of some repute do you find the calling to spread the Good News sits awkwardly with your profile? Is it difficult?

SS: Not necessarily, you know, I think the Good News is about grace and hope and love and a relinquishing of self to God. And I think the Good News of salvation is kind of relevant to everyone and everything.

I find as I get older due to a sequence of events spirituality becomes more intriguing, though having been indoctrinated with the hard line dogma that I’d go to hell if I didn’t follow certain practices and believe very specific things, I was quite angry about Christianity for a while.

SS: Oh dear.

I suppose you could call it Protestant guilt.

SS: The church is an institution and it’s incredibly corrupt obviously, but that’s because it’s full of dysfunctional people and people who are hurt and battered and abused. It’s very normal in any institution to have that kind of level of dysfunction. That’s unfortunate. I find it very difficult, I find church culture very difficult you know; I think a lot of churches now are just fundamentally flawed. But that’s true for any institution you know, that’s true for education, universities and it’s definitely true for corporations because of greed, and I think part of faith is having to be reconciled with a flawed community. But the principles, I don’t think the principles have changed. They can get skewed and they can get abused and dogma can reign supreme, but I think the fundamentals, it’s really just about love. Loving God and loving your neighbour and giving up everything for God. The principles of that, the basis of that is very pure and life changing.

Do you believe that God can be reached through other faiths? John 3:16 categorically states Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" and nobody can get to the Father expect through him. A lot of people take that very literally and don’t believe you can find spirituality through Buddhism or Islam or whatever...

SS: Yeah, I mean who can know the mind of God and who can be his counsellor? It’s not man’s decision, you know. If God is infinite and he’s in all of us and he created the world then I feel there is truth in every corner. There’s a kind of imprint of his life and his breath and his word and everything. You know, I’m no religious expert, and I don’t make any claims about the faith. All I can account for is myself and my own belief and that’s a pretty tall order just to take account of myself. I can’t make any claims about other religions. There’s no condemnation in Christ, that’s one of the fundamentals of Christianity.

The Gospels are a good read, and then you get Paul ruining everything with his right wing attitudes.

SS: Well Paul is a good reference for the character of church institutions, the setting down of cultural principles. Because God is the church and the church is an institution and the institution is culture; you have to reckon with all the trappings of culture and that’s kind of what Paul designed. You know, that was his role. You can’t read it without looking at it in the cultural context of the time and place, it’s inherent you know.

Church originally was a body of people and it had nothing to do with a building.

SS: I mean it’s weird. What’s the basis of Christianity? It’s really a meal, it’s communion right? It’s the Eucharist. That’s it, it’s the sharing a meal with your neighbours and what is that meal? It’s the body and blood of Christ. Basically God offering himself up to you as nutrition. Haha, that’s pretty weird. It’s pretty weird if you think about that, that’s the basis of your faith. You know, God is supplying a kind of refreshment and food for a meal. Everything else is just accessories and it’s vital of course, baptism and marriage, and there’s always the sacraments and praying and the Holy Spirit and all this stuff but really fundamentally it’s just about a meal.

And there’s the cross of course. It’s an extremely powerful symbol and it has permeated into some of the greatest art and literature of the last couple of thousand years, but it’s peculiar that people wear an object that represents the putting to death of their Lord.

SS: It’s really morbid. It’s a really morbid symbol you know. It is very grotesque when you start thinking about it. But it’s also beautiful you know, it’s the ultimate sacrifice. And I think it relates to the meal as well because it’s Christ giving up his blood and flesh as food and that then itself is the giving up of his body for eternal life, therefore salvation.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

desmond tutu

"There's nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible. If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible."

Desmond Tutu, in September 2008. Archbishop Tutu ended his public career today at 79 years old.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

to see. ( two poems for perspective)

Walt Whitman

(from To See God)

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty four, 
and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God 
and in my own face in the glass,
I see letters from God dropped in the street, 
and every one is signed by God's name.

(from Psalm 139)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately aquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, you know it all.
You enclosed me behind and before,
And laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it...
For you did form my inward parts;
You did weave me in my mothers womb.
I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well...
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

wild geese

a poem by Mary Oliver
from Dreamwork (1986)
Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' 
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." 
-Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, August 16, 2010

how to fight a war - no fear in death

Top row (l to r): Daniela Beyer, Jawed, Dan Terry, Glen Lapp. Bottom row (l to r): Tom Little, Mahram Ali, Brian Carderelli, Cheryl Beckett. These eight, plus two others, were killed by Taliban.
"We want to pay tribute to each of our colleagues who died, to their commitment to serve the Afghan people. Those who have known them and seen them at work can do nothing but pay the highest tribute to them ... In some news articles, the people on this team have been described as 'saints.' This is not how they saw themselves. They were basically selfless professionals willing to spend their lives and energy in a meaningful way."

The International Assistance Mission, on the 10 members of their team killed Friday in Afghanistan.

IAM is an international charitable, non-profit, Christian organisation, serving the people of Afghanistan, through capacity building in the sectors of Health and Economic Development.

my prayers are with the ten and their families and friends. They are part of a story, an advancing kingdom, of those who have lost their life serving Jesus (hebrews 11).

where oh death is your victory, where oh death is your sting.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

some church

Church is where we are reminded of the revolution of 
sacrificial love - the cross and resurrection. 

Church is where we learn to lay down our hurt, brokenness, and masks.

Church is where we renew our intention to see God everywhere. 

Church is where we learn to love our neighbor. 

Church is where we sing. 

Friday, August 06, 2010

bear with

Romans 15

 1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. We should all please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.    5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

the reality of pornography

be honest.
bring your issues into the light.
tell someone.
seek accountability in community.
you are loved.

[click the image to read]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

love your enemies