“In a moment of eternity, while the taste of redemption was still fresh to the former slaves, the people of Israel were given the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. In the beginning and end the Decalogue deals with the liberty of man. The first word – I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage – reminds him that his outer liberty was given to him by God, and the tenth Word – Thou shalt not covet! – reminds him that he himself must achieve his inner liberty.”
and further along….
“We know that passion cannot be vanquished by decree. The tenth injunction would, therefore, be practically futile, were it not for the ‘commandment’ regarding the Sabbath day to which about a third of the Decalogue is devoted, and which is an epitome of all other commandments. We must seek to find a relation between the two ‘commandments’ Do not covet anything that belonging to thy neighbour; I have given thee something that belongs to Me. What is that something? A day.”
~ Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – The Sabbath
It’s been some time, years, actually, since I have blogged and as a result of a need to write again, I am kick starting the Toward Hope blog. I purchased the domain name and am geared up on the wordpress platform. My goal this time around is to use this blog as a place to reflect theologically on life. I am convinced that the hope of Jesus appears in all situations and circumstances and if I can capture a glimmer of it here, it’s bound to serve as a place of learning and hopefully transformation.
My first thoughts revolve around how challenging it was for me to read NT Wright’s Simply Jesus this last week. It was not hard in respects to being a purely academic book, it’s actually quite accessible. The challenge for me is in light of how Wright illuminated the agenda and purpose of Jesus’ ministry. You’d think it’s pretty clear, but actually, there is more confusion about who Jesus was and why he did what he did than any other person in history. He positions Jesus’ ministry as primarily being focused on proclaiming in powerful speech-action that God is becoming King. In Him and through Him. What bothered me was when I started thinking about the implications this has on me and all who profess to follow.
Jesus came to instigate God’s Kingdom and offers in his life the visible manifestation of its economy as expressed in the sermon on the mount. The implications run thick not only through the conventional ideas about personal transformation and growth, but in how we understand and treat our neighbours (I mean it in a global sense) and how the church aligns itself as an agent of truth and reconciliation in public life.
on to my next book….Subverting Global Myths by Vinoth Ramachandra
From Eugene Peterson’s, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places...
“In our present culture all of us find that we are studied, named, and treated as functions and things. “Consumer” is the catch-all term for the way we are viewed. From an early age we are looked upon as individuals who can buy or perform or use. Advertisers begin targeting us in those terms form the moment we are able to choose a breakfast cereal.
For those of us who are reared in North American culture, it is inevitable that we should unconsciously acquire this way of looking at everyone we meet. other people are potential buyers for what I am selling, students for what I am teaching, recruits for what I am doing, voters for what I am proposing, resources for what I am building or making, clients for the services I am offering. Or, to reverse the elements, I identify myself as the potential buyer, student, recruit, resource, client, and so on. But it is consumerism ether way.
I have no complaint about this at one level. I need things, other people offer what I need; I am happy to pay for and take advantage of what is offered whether it is food, clothing, information, medical and legal help, leadership in a cause that is dear to my heart, advocacy in matters of justice, or victim-rights that I care about. I’m quite happy to be a consumer in this capitalist economy where there is so much to consume.
Except. Except that I don’t want to be just a consumer. I don’t even want to be predominantly a consumer. To be reduced to a consumer is to leave out most of what I am, of what makes me me. To be treated as a consumer is to be reduced to being used by another or reduced to a product for someone else’s use. It makes little difference whether the using is in a generous or selfish cause, it is reduction. Widespread consumerism results in extensive depersonalization. And every time depersonalization moves in, life leaks out.”