“Do you see the special marking lines of God’s thumbprint on that scoundrel’s cheek?”
It’s been a good year.
Saw several amazing breakthroughs with several people groups in Mali, West Africa. The work leaped ahead and became ten times larger than i could manage or even count.
I returned to Canada knowing full well we could not re-enter Mali. The kidnappings near by, and the slow and steady destabilizing of the central Mopti region was bad news. There was a change coming for me in my relationship with Mali.
The lobster season saw reasonable catches with a great price for the first time in well over a decade. Every fishermen on the east coast is taking advantage of this time to fix, repair, upgrade, or entirely replace boats, powerplants, gear and equipment. It’s been a rebuilding frenzy. I finally got my gear back up to a well rebuilt state though my boat upgrades were just a costly new engine that ran very well for me, thankfully.
A lot of rebuilding, restructuring, and whole new foundations, not only concerning Africa and fishing, but in every other aspect of my life also.
I’m still walking through a deconstruction/reconstruction of my faith too. Mine has been an eight year process so far.
With any deconstruction it is a struggle for the tribe to observe this kind of process. In ways the process seems an evil, a kind of sacrilege to many of them. It’s difficult to accept that to become strong we must tear things down before you can build something of strength. Once we discover what we really believe, not simply what we have been told, we can begin to grow. At times we should permit old things to die so new birth can occur.
” ….. unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” ~Jesus
It all seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it. But it gets us to the core of who we are, what we believe, what values and reality our whole existance from this day forward (marriages, family, faith, children, and jobs) is to be built on.
One look around, by any honest believer at the state of the Christian Church makes it clear that what most of us possessed was not the core. If we had found the core of Christ, we would not see so many walking away from all this. Yes, church, you are the problem too, it’s not just them. About time you go to confession yourself, instead of pointing fingers at folks tired of your drama. Many churches and a significant enough percentage of church folk are too depressing and self absorbed in their own program to be around, and they haven’t a clue how socially awkward or insufferable they have become. Oh there are wisely gems in there as well, people of hope from whom we should consider every wise word from.
Some are in the deconstruction/reconstruction phase. Others could very well be in a full out demolition, to never return.
However, I’m not so quick to ascribe demolition to others anymore. Because i know some are thinking the same thing about me. Even though I’ve arrived at a deeper and more secure love of God through Christ than I’ve ever experienced before.
I read this some time ago, and it stuck with me.
“It seems to me we need to rebuild our whole notion of religion from the bottom up. All too often religion—and Christianity in particular—has focused on continually re-icing a collapsed cake rather than baking the bottom layers properly. In other words, we keep redoing the “fixings”………” Richard Rohr. Daily Meditation, Jan 2, 2017
Deconstruction looks a lot like quiting. But i had to exit from this loop of an existance where tweaking and re-doing “fixings”, to a place where tweaking was no longer the main conversation of how to stimulate a growing faith.
And here I am. I’ve discovered that connection with God the Father through Jesus is not complicated. It is really quite simple, so simple as to be unattractive and possibly even unappealing at first glance to most. So we run toward the flashier fantastic models.
I no longer believe in the perpetually angry God of the fundamentalist that our culture is repulsed by anyway. I’m with John Whesley on Calvinism (particulary predestination) being the most graceless doctrine ever devised, making God look like a violent, loveless and stingy devil.
“Good theology is still important. Your image of God creates you. You become the God you worship. If your God is an eternal torturer, then torture is validated. If God is presented in the image of a king, then we’ll all want to be kings. If God is Trinity—love and relationality—that creates a very different kind of humanity. ”
~ Richard Rohr. Daily Meditation, Jan 2, 2017
I see God’s big fingerprints all over this world and there is a big blotted thumb print on the face of people, even that scoundrel I know over there. Do you see the special marking lines of God’s thumbprint on that scoundrel’s cheek?
Do you not see the fingerprints of God outside our churches, and on the church that is forming outside our churches, and inside our churches- but underground?
There is a tribe rising who want to focus on the core. Not content to play with the fixings. They have always been there, in every church denomination, be it Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and even within Fundamentalists. The only difference between today and some time ago is that the powers subdued them into being compliant soldiers, giving just enough business so that they got distracted and they stayed within the program.
However, every fifty or hundred years or so, masses of people, all over the world, stand up. Sick of the silence, the rote, and constant circling of the religious wagons. They rarely speak (they know that brings vitriol), they just move, and God moves with them. Not only them. But with them too!
It shocks the establishment.
We are in these times. Our partents built a nation, homes, nesteggs, churches, buildings and organizations. We grew up on the economics of spend, build, buy, educate, job, free sex, more sex, drugs and a great deal of introspection, seeking “inner self”, and sanctuary.
Frankly, it didn’t work. We are more discontent than ever. We despise others of differing views more than ever. We can no longer love as Jesus loved because we lost the source of the magic.
Unlike the west African men who were explaining to the westerners why they slowed down the pace; they were waiting for their souls to catch up, we keep driving forward. We left our soul back there somewhere, but we are not exactly sure at what point it happened.
Africans sense our western rushing about, to accomplish too many things, is costing us a great deal; our humanity, our soul even.
We have put such a driving force onto our lives that we’ve run our bodies and souls past God and way out ahead there, somewhere. God never caught up, we know it, we sense it.
“Good theology is still important. Your image of God creates you. You become the God you worship. If your God is an eternal torturer, then torture is validated. If God is presented in the image of a king, then we’ll all want to be kings. If God is Trinity—love and relationality—that creates a very different kind of humanity. ” ~Richard Rohr
Where do we begin?
You do not have to buy into anything you do not wish to. It is not required you become a clone of the narrow people in that church we are in some way associated with by birth, history, or family. This is not about religion, sacred buildings and the crazy narrow actions of some well meaning but crazly out of touch religious folk.
Sit down for a dozen minutes or so. Sit in the total quiet. Avoid stirring and moving much. Look at nature and after those dozen minutes of peace say something like this out loud.
“I am deeply loved by God.”
I am deeply loved by God.
I am deeply loved by God.
Will you show me the good path God?
Then just sit there for a time, sensing the thumbprint. Don’t expect a road map to appear. Just a sense of a confirmation that this moment is good, meaningful and worthwhile. Let that be enough of a start.
“The Church begins, not with a pious individual, but with God.” Hans Küng
From this awareness we begin. You’ve nothing to fix. Because you can’t fix a thing anyway.
God loves you. You are ok. It’s a good enough beginning.
Just look at those cheeks you have!
Welcome to the tribe of thumbprinted Scoundrels.