Sunday Stuff – starts here

Sunday Stuff
Every Sunday I’m going to post stuff I think is worth sharing. Most of it will be new stuff, some of it will be old stuff. Some I came across myself, some I have been recommended. Whatever it is, I hope it is of interest to you.
Disclaimer: By including content here I am, not implying I agree with every word in each article, tweet, blog, post but I think there is food for thought, or something entertaining therein. The content remains that of their author.
I’m not going to report this disclaimer every week  :)
Aaron Armstrong on Blogging Theologically: Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

“Over and over again in the Bible, we see men and women who are given far more than they can handle. The prophet Jeremiah is a great example; he was charged with preaching repentance to the people of Israel, a calling that caused him to be beaten, plotted against and rejected by everyone, even his own family.”

I found this a while back but it has stuck with me and came back in force this week when I found myself overwhelmed by the amount I’d honourably taken on, but then found I could possibly fit in. I usually have to reach breaking point before I recognise I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and I had a proper breaking point this week.

My tendency is to feel guilty about letting people down, and showing myself up for not being strong enough to do everything that *needs* to be done. This is often made worse by me buying into the notion that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. This blog explains why, actually, he does frequently give us more than we can handle and what we should understand from that.

The Gospel Driven Church: Jesus was Religious

“And the really controversial point we ought to make is this: Jesus did not hate religion. He was in fact a religious person. We are used to using the words Pharisee or Pharisaical in the pejorative senses, as labels, but in Jesus’ day, the most faithful, biblical religion going, for all its problems, was the religion of the Pharisees. Between Zealots on one side and Sadducees on the other, the Pharisees had carved out a decent niche as the “evangelicals” of the day.”

Following a talk at my church last week on how to engage with people different to ourselves, I was struck, not for the first time, about how we use the word religion/religious. The speaker talked briefly  about how Jesus didn’t “do religion”. This was, on the surface, at odds with something I’d recently read when beginning a look at Jewish 1st century practises and cultural context of the writing of Mark’s gospel.
Personally, I often feel at odds with the tendency to demonise words and phrases because they don’t quite fit our present context, especially when the world has decided they have negative connotations. This all means the church has to disassociate themselves from those words and sometiumes we lose sight of their real meaning. I don’t mind being called religious, if when the speaker says it in terms of how I *do* my faith. I do go to church every week, I pray and try to read my bible regularly, I follow rules – I am basically religiousin at least one definition of the word. I don’t want to be seen as doing religion for religions sake of course but religously doing my faith isn’t a problem for me.I think Jesus was the same in many ways, He celebrated the festivals, went to temple, read, prayed, studied as the law told Him to. As we are told, He fulfilled the law, He didn’t abolish it.

I’m not suggesting this is something I am going to tomp about, I don’t intend on fighting to reclaim the word religious. I know the connotation of religion is desperately difficult for some, but I think the point in the article about Jesus actually going about his life ‘religiously’ has some important lessons for the modern Christian in how we approach our lives. I don’t want to be ashamed of being diligent, methodical and structured. in how I do my faith. However I also recognise that is what works for my personality type. Many others are much more spontaneous with how they do their faith and so this whole point wouldn’t make much sense to them - which is as it should be.

There has been a great video by Jefferson Bethke doing the rounds recently (included in the blog above) who describes why he hates religion but loves Jesus. This blog is a really interesting response to that video as well as elaborating further.As the blogger says, I think it is a shame people will miss thoughtful and fair critique of the video because it is popular and trendy.  Bethke has a lot of great things to say (and has actually responded to some of the criticism he has recieved, humbly and wisely, explaining he didn’t quite get it right in some places.)  I think we have to be really careful of agreeing with everything about an opinion because it is couched in cool.

“Jodie Marsh, as it turns out, is pretty amazing. She was a straight A-student at school, and wanted to be a vet. She was smart enough, hard-working enough, certainly ambitious enough. Then she went to secondary school. And was bullied. For being “ugly.”

Lou’s blog is a very interesting look at an unlikely feminist hero and certainly got me thinking. I was humbled to read Jodie Marsh’s story, as I was badly bullied at school, by teachers and pupils. It never got violent, but I vividly remember when one girl urinated in my lunch box. I reacted to it in a variety of ways, mainly inwardly, developing outward nervous habits that attracted more attention. But it never, thankfully, put me off learning or made me second guess my talents. This doesn’t happen to everyone though. There is a thoguht running my head about the feminist angle of this issue – which I will blog in more detail.

“What do we mean when we say that the church is too feminine? And, why do I care? I care because how the church defines feminization exposes how the church feels towards women in general.”

This blog isn’t getting a long intro because it is a topic I’m really spending some time thinking about and will probably blog more coherantly in a while. Suffice to say the latest gender related crisis is something on my mind.

“[The Bishops] are talked about as rich men with no idea that £26,000 is a fortuner for some, or leftie men being typically obstructive, or naive men who don’t realise the coffers are empty, but never as Christian men who are perhaps just trying to say what they think Jesus would have said.”

An interesting dissection of Former Archbishop Carey’s response to the Bishops’ stance on the ‘benefit cap’.

Some of my fave tweets of the week:
@tmorizot: “Christian emphasis should always be on love, not passive attitudes of nonjudgmentalism”
@TheSteadyTable: “Not everything you write has to be publishable. Give yourself permission to write rubbish sometimes; it’s good practice. #21tips #writing”
@simonparke: “Friday’s Theology Corner! ‘Blessed r the poor in spirit’ means ‘Happy r those not wilful for their own advantage or scheme’”And other cool stuff:

Lego Man in Space - yes really! Using home-stitched parachute and equipment found on Craigslist, two 17-year-olds send Lego-naut 80,000ft into the air!
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