Thursday, January 26, 2006

christianity and my boys

last april i was in the middle of a number of thoughts that i was really wrestling with in regards to what does faith look like, taste like, feel like in this world we are living in. if you have known me for very long, you know that i am not a big fan of the word "Christian" and how it is perceived or defined by most people. i think people who call themselves "Christians" have a misconstrued definition and the people who do not call themselves "Christians" do not have a correct perspective either. i would even say that i probably as well have a wrong definition of the word, so back in april and the few months before that i was really attempting to think about new words or new ideas for what defines following Christ. i think that idea of the gospel and the later teachings from the new testament would direct us to a way of life that follows the ideals and values of Christ.

i have two boys and they are ... Kade who will 5 in March and Evan who turned 2 last november. i am scared to death of the type of faith that i am going to lead them toward and direct them toward and raise them up in. i am NOT too excited about raising them in the ideals and model of "Christianity" that i was raised in. not that is was bad, wrong, or that i don't appreciate all of the people who influenced my life for Christ and shaped me into the person i am today. but i think it was highly influenced by our western american culture and a modern worldview.

but since last april i have been side barred and have taken a long brain break from these thoughts and ideas, but like i said in my first posting i have begun to read again and that is a dnagerous thing for me... because when i read i think and than i can't sleep. ecsepcially if i have no one to brain dump on. so i am beginning to start this journey to figure out this issue for myself and my boys... and all of those that i luv and have been talking about the issue with for the last year or so, minus my brain break.

so i am very interested in hearing other peoples frustration with ... i guess you could say mainstream "Christianity" that is represented on the radio... in most bookstores (i hate the poperi) and that is shared from most pulpits. i know this version is not connecting to many of the people i interact with on a daily basis and the students that i have worked with in the community for so long. i do not want to throw it all under the bus or say it is bad, but i want to begin to ask questions like ... how "Biblical" is the religous right? why are people who are pro-life are for the death penalty? why are people who are for abortion are against the death penalty? is it possible to raise two boys in this country that will NOTgrow up to be greedy and not have the desire to love thier neighbor? ... will they even care who their neighbor is?

well that is all for today... peace

32 comments:

steve w said...

john,
my reading brother, i've got something for you to read that fits in nicely with your post. check it out.

Leaving Jesus Behind, by Miroslav Volf
http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=1529

Ryan Bolger says this about the article:
"...neither religious left nor religious right maintain a gospel-like Jesus in their discussions of faith. The religious left reconstructs Jesus as a propagator of their pet social causes while the Jesus on the right does the same. Both groups abandon the gospel in advocacy of their politics. The irony is that if either of these groups embraced the life described in the gospels, Jesus would exceed the left's demand for social justice and the right's demands for 'right' living. What encourages me is that I have seen a move to an embodied, gospel-like Jesus in the churches I have studied, granting me a hope that we can overcome these dualisms that cripple American Christianity."

Sonia:) said...

I've thought about this a lot too. The first thing that comes to mind is..."I don't care". What I mean is that I don't care what people have heard or have thought before about Christians. When someone meets me I would like to believe that I give them a drastically different impression of how a Christian lives their life. I try to move forward from there. I have been experiencing this in the last few months because I have a new job with people who are meeting me for the first time. I am trying to take this opportunity to get out of old habits of laziness and concentrate on being who I should be ALL the time...not just at church.

Now that I am going to be a parent, I understand your concerns about raising kids with healthy concepts of faith. But I think that you and I are both proof that it is possible for parents who are honestly trying to do the right thing in raising their children to know the Lord can be blessed by seeing them grow up to love and serve Him. Whatever mistakes I will make along the way as a parent I do trust God with the future of my child. What else can I do? Never let them out of the house? :) Those are my thoughts.

pableezy said...

never let them out of the house...hmmm. i like it!

on a serious note though, I agree with sonia. you can only try the best you can. the rest is up to god.

J-Lou said...

ok... but what about as i want to prepare them to reach out to the people at school in the community, what does evangelism look like? how do i teach them in the current mindset of "Christianity" how to treat someone who is caught in the homosexual lifestyle. maybe i want answers for me now that i can later pass on to my children.

steve w said...

a good nugget that has served me well as a parent is this:
"Christianity is more caught than taught."
wish i knew who to give credit to. and if you want to change the word christianity to Christ following, that works.

on the homosexuality aspect, there's a really good discussion going on over at one of my favorite blogs
http://www.jesuscreed.org/

urBenLA said...

I understand and I have the same fears for Madi. Not just that she'll live by faith, but that she'll turn into a cookie cutter Christian at a Christian college. I think my fear is that her faith won't be "faith", but tradition or, "the way it's always been". My desire is for her to have a dangerous belief in Christ, and not to get into it because Carey and me are into it and are modeling it, you know. I think my fear is that we really will be just like our parents (not that there is anything wrong with how they did it), but I feel like I don't came to Christ because I fell in love with the person of Christ. I originally came to Christ not to let my parents down and that is a sucky reason to do anything.

The other thing is, if your boys have a close relationship with you and you're open as steve is with his boys, you know they are going to be bringing everything to you because they know you will love and accept them regardless. Not that you'll know all the answers, but that you'll figure it out together.

It's funny for me to read Pablo's comment. I told Pablo that same thing some months back when he was worried about the idea of even having a kid. I mean, the Holy Spirit is going to have to really take care of Madi because I don't want to have her live in a bubble and yet, I'm going to model and set a standard for her, you know? There's a reason it's called "free will". We can't make them be believers, and we wouldn't want them to be if it wasn't their choice, you know?

steve w said...

i think i should add to my previous comment regarding that nugget of wisdom -- it also clearly lays at my feet the responsibility for my deficiencies.

i agree with what ben said about free will, but there is also something to be said for a contagious love relationship with Jesus. deut 6 is a good scripture in this regard. and how can God say that an elder has to have children that have embraced a genuine faith of their own (titus 1:6) if there's not some implied promise from God to do his work in their hearts if we have a genuine and contagious love for Jesus?

i don't think i can fully answer my own question, but titus 1:6 means something?!? and i don't think the implied promise is just for elders.

J-Lou said...

ok... i really resinate with Ben's thoughts and thank steve for pointing to me some good conversation of the issue of homosexuality...

but i been thinking awhile today about some of the responses and i know all of them... but i still find unrest... i think it may have to do with my desire to continue to challenge the "cookie" cutter aspect of Christianity. i know that i will be the role model for my children to follow Christ... but i think my challenge is now what do i want that faith to look like... what do i want to model for them.

also the question of evangelism has a lot to do with the people i am surrounding myslef with these days... they will not take the four laws... they are very postmodern... i am truly trying to figure out how what a faith community looks like that they would be interested in attending and exploring faith...

J-Lou said...

Here is a statment off of the page www.jesuscreed:

"How would Jesus have “treated” homosexuals? The answer to that question is incredibly simple: he would have treated them as Eikons, as human beings made in God’s image who are designed to reflect God’s glory in this world by relating to God lovingly, to themselves lovingly, to others lovingly, and to the world lovingly. They would have been welcomed at the table of discussion, they would have been invited to listen to him, to interact with him, to follow him, and to fellowship with his followers. They would have been challenged to live before God as Jesus taught. In short, they would have been loved by Jesus. Not shunned; not humiliated; not ostracized; but given a seat for as long as they cared to be with him. He would have told everyone and anyone that there was a seat (or place; they didn’t use chairs) at the table for them."

i truly was moved at it and i would like to thank people like laura saenz for living this out and truly being a teacher for me on this issue.

urBenLA said...

"i am truly trying to figure out how what a faith community looks like that they would be interested in attending and exploring faith..."

I am wondering about this very thing for myself. Every once in awhile I question, is this a faith community that I can envision myself and my family participating in, creating, sharing in, living with? And if it's ever a "no, am I the problem or is it? I know that church, especially one of our size, is what I create, what we make of it. I am very responsible for making a place which gays or others will feel welcome in, and unfortunately, I am also responsible for them leaving once they're there.

Personally, I am a bit jealous (not in a sinful way, just a "good for you, buddy" way) your first 2 blogs have got more comments than any of mine ever have. But you draw people to you, so why shouldn't your blog. Mine is not quite that style, and I'm more likely to repel people.

steve w said...

john, when i read your "i still find unrest" comment, what popped into my mind was something sammy said today on pableezy...

Once a group claims to have an identity, they get comfortable, and they have no more need to try to figure out "who they are." When actually, constantly trying to figure out "who we are" is really, who we are.

i think when you figure out what you want to be looking and living like next month, it will change and be deeper in 6 months, and then it will change and be deeper in... well you get the point. if we ever stop having that unrest, that struggle, we've died -- whether we're still breathing or not. it's about the journey, not a destination.

babybrotheryall said...

I don't like to be classified. It feels like my whole life people have tried to classify me. Even now when I fill out paperwork there are always those questions like race, ethnicity, religion, and blah blah blah... I think Christianity is another classification, even in communities that claim to be Christian I have had a hard time trying to fit into (but not at Gateway). So I got fed up with the title "Christian" or "Christianity". Instead I call myself a "follower of Christ". The word Christian has a lot of baggage and I don't long to be a Christian or to model my life as a Christian or follow Christians. I long to follow Christ. It's not a classification it just is.
P.E.A.C.E.
A.are.T.why?

Tiff said...

steve, just for kicks, is that really you in that picture. my mom doesn't think so.

steve w said...

tiff,
i don't know if you have a bet with your mom, but if you do you're going to have to fork over some cash. what i like though is that people think it bears enough resemblance that it could be me. i chose it just to be funny. but i get comments about it on many blogs, and i'm thinking about finding a 'fro wig just for fun. there's a big convention this summer on the east coast that i'm probably going to, and i've been blogging with lots of people that have never met me, yet they will also be there. if i could find a wig, and rent a tux, i'd probably have hundreds (among the thousands) of people rolling on the floor laughing if i showed up looking like the pic.

babybrotheryall,
i'm so glad you feel like you belong when you're with gateway people. it always breaks my heart when people tell me they tried and didn't fit in. i find that as much as i too would like to drop the word christian from my vocabulary, i'm sometimes forced to use it (almost like we have to use it in this discussion to say what we're not). and what's sad is that the word christian actually means "little Christ." i'd like to give people a reason to think i'm a Christlike person (i really want to be like Christ). but one of the best aspects of "Christ follower" or "following Christ" is that it communicates the process, the journey, the movement rather than being a term that communicates "i've arrived."

steve w said...

hey keep this discussion going (this is too good to drop now), but anybody want to jump back in over at queen teresita's burbank discussion?

pableezy said...

listen yo, i think you guys are overthinking this. you just follow christ.

modeling christianity is not the point. being a christian is. your kids will see that.

evangelization is not the point. being a christian in the world is. the world will see that.

the focus on how to evangelize has become a theoretical discussion and a multi-million dollar business. we can't focus on the theory, we just gotta do.

i am kinda getting tired of the whole postmodern label. basically, i think we should just be christians wherever we are, and the rest will take care of itself. we are so afraid to be called a "christian" and are so busy trying to explain to people why we aren't those people that we don't focus on being different. i'm with sonia. who cares? let's just be different.

now, i'm not anti-theory. just trying to keep the most important thing the most important thing.

Sonia:) said...

I don't even know what the 4 laws are!

I agree with the comments about Christianity being "caught" and how modeling in the home is the key. The Titus 1:6 verse seems to verify that. Maybe it is a natural response of children who see their parents genuinely striving to follow Jesus.

Just like we read in college group last night...1 Timothy says to "hold the faith with a good conscience" several times. This is what we should be striving for and it looks different for everybody.

urBenLA said...

yeah i agree with you pablo. "postmodern" has been hijacked by Williow Creek and those cats and now is a suburban term which has replaced "seeker sensitive" none of it matters, I agree with... someone, that these labels, "christian", "postmodern", "homosexual", "liar", "bald", "bad typist", ultimately end up being a negative thing, either to us to those who are represented by those labels. And we should try and steer ourselves away from them. I don't know what post-modernity is anymore... i remember what it was when i was in college (10 yrs. ago), and how as an ideology people believed in several things and piecemealed a belief system (out of several religions) together out of what worked for them. Then somehow a few folks in the church embraced the term, and now folks are misusing it left and right in their sermons to sound relevant to today's culture, but it doesn't work for us to relate our worship experience as "postmodern" when it's become what it's come to mean being associated with.

also, Steve, the link for Theresa's comments on Burbank is here, but I know you're against using code, so I don't blame you for not putting in the link. hehe.

urBenLA said...

I wish these columns were wider. i dislike scrolling down so far(I am trying not to use "hate" so much because of some scripture I've been reading). Thank God for the scroller on my mouse!

urBenLA said...

I liked the topic of postmodernism s much, I started a post about it and it's relation to our ministry on The Gathering site. Feel free to comment there.

The Yepiz Zone said...

i am scared to death of the type of faith that i am going to lead them toward and direct them toward and raise them up in.

Bro, knowing the type of person you are and the way those boys look at you. I say "don't worry" cause God is taking care of you already. Although you may disagree with "traditional" Christianity, you have been a great model of a follower of Christ. Put aside all worries about theology and just trust God to help your boys see you at work loving God and People. You and I may disagre about theology, post-modern, modern Christianity, etc. But what matters is our actions. This is where I feel you shine for your boys. Your boys will see the John that I see. A man who truly cares for people. That my friend, is the best theology you can pass down.

Tiff said...

I want to make a comment to a question John posed on his original post: "why are people who are for abortion are against the death penalty?" John I don't know if you were actually asking this question but I have an answer for you (at least my perception of that situation). Generally people are not for abortion, they are pro-choice. Pro-choice is not the same thing as 'for abortion', it means that they support the choice they are not necessarily encouraging abortion (not that there aren't people who aren't). It is a legal position pro-choice is about thinking that people should legally have the right to choose to have an abortion or not to have one. So, people who are for the choice are often also against the death penalty. This is because when someone is sentenced to the death penalty someone else is choosing for them. I know you're wondering "what about the choice of the embryo?", well I don't know it's not my opinion I have one of my own.

There probably are people though who are for abortion and I don't know who they are.

mishael53 said...

hmmm... i also believe that one of the most important things a parent can do for a child is to constantly be in communication with them - to challenge what they're taught, reading, watching, listening to. although we youthworkers believe that we are shaping the world, doesn't it still ultimately come down to the parent and the foundations they're laying down? my faith has been shaped as it is not just because of what i've been taught, but more so because of the many dialogues i've had with my mother and her willingness to disagree and discuss certain viewpoints. as you struggle, shape and continuously grow in your faith, your children will see that "realism" in you and will be much more appreciative of that in the long run. wait, isn't that true in our lives with all those we interact with as well? ;)

Samdog said...

John,
First I have to say that I agree with you. This is what I have been dealing with ever since I was in Junior High and I was noticing the unusual amount of smiling faces but the usual amount of uncool people. Then I started realizing that our "religion" seemed to be built on labels that stood for good things but that hardly anybody knew what they meant. Then I realized that if that was the case I would have to think about what they meant for myself. Thinking for myself, what a concept, Brilliant! (To quote the Guiness commercial) It seems that this should be one of the major ideas being taught in our church. If it isn't, then it our religion really is a form of mind control. An opiate for the masses.
In this book I was reading it and it talked about the struggle between knowing whether to not worry about "the organization of Christianity" and just figure things out for yourself and go where God leads, or to stick with this "organization" and try to fix it. Or is it past the point of no return? Cut your ties and trust God.
Hearing a lot of discussions recently, it seems that a lot of us are at this point. I know I am. I think that this is actually a great place to be, and maybe where all Christians need to be all the time. We need to always be analyzing what part of our belief system was man made and which part was made by God as translated through Jesus and as directly revealed to us through our relationship with him. If we don't have the ability to constantly question what we believe and what the truth is then our religion really is a form of mind control. One definition of religion is : A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.(dictionary.com) It seems that you cannot seperate the term religion with the words man made. We need to constantly be evaluating the symbols, labels, rituals, culture, bad habits, etc. of our religion to make sure that they do not interfere with the philosophies that they were based on in the first place. If we can't do this then we need to ditch them. If you can't seperate those things from the religion, then you need to ditch that too. We are supposed to not hold anything as more important than God. And that is my point. Christianity is a thing. John, you are just doing what you are supposed to. I group of people like you should be working to destroy these destortions, not creating them. Could a group of people questioning the human created culture of Christianity, like John and others, actually be called a church? Hell yeah, that's what a church is! Keep it REAL.

The Yepiz Zone said...

Tiff. When someone is "pro-choice", it is similar to saying "I'm ok with it continuing to happen." that is why i personally am against abortion/choice/whatever. Also, it is to complex to morally say that abortion and the death penalty are equivalent. They are not. An embryo has not done anyhting wrong to be chosen it's own fate. Where the murderer on death row knew there would be a consenquence; That is the difference--choice. The irony of "pro-choice" is evident in word usage.

Tiff said...

Alex, I don't think it is the same thing as saying "I'm okay with it". Do you think that if abortion was illegal that there wouldn't be abortions? No. It wouldn't stop people from having abortions or aborting babies themselves. I think that Pro-Choice people understand this. It's more like "It's better/safer if people have a choice". Also I am not saying that abortion and the death penalty are equivalent. What I am trying to explain is the line of thinking.

Alex you said: "An embryo has not done anyhting wrong to be chosen it's own fate. Where the murderer on death row knew there would be a consenquence; That is the difference--choice. "
You have a good point here. I like this point. I am going to rethink my explanation. Although i do not think that Pro-Choice people who are against the death penalty think about this point or at least they don't find it to be valid.

J-Lou said...

Ok... I am having flashbacks to the beginning of the gatheriing and trying to explain what postmodernism is and is not. Why we needed a ministry like the gathering to begun to dialogue about faith. Modeling Christ is great and I am all for that...it is what gives us the platform to share the gospel. But when I here the gospeled shared it is not the gospel of the scripture but an americanized version of it full of words that were created by modern people for modern people.

Oh. By the way tif. I liked your thoughts on my question.

And alex here is a thought... Is the death penalty truly justice if the poor are the only ones that are affected. Because if you have money in america you can pretty much get around the law and if you don't u could be inocent and still headed for the death penalty, so I oppose the death penalty because it is not justice in acountry that can keep the guilty away from it with money and can put the poor in it because of a lack of funds. My two cents... Man I have a lot on my mind and no place too talk, so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Ok... I am having flashbacks to the beginning of the gatheriing and trying to explain what postmodernism is and is not. Why we needed a ministry like the gathering to begun to dialogue about faith. Modeling Christ is great and I am all for that...it is what gives us the platform to share the gospel. But when I here the gospeled shared it is not the gospel of the scripture but an americanized version of it full of words that were created by modern people for modern people.

Oh. By the way tif. I liked your thoughts on my question.

And alex here is a thought... Is the death penalty truly justice if the poor are the only ones that are affected. Because if you have money in america you can pretty much get around the law and if you don't u could be inocent and still headed for the death penalty, so I oppose the death penalty because it is not justice in acountry that can keep the guilty away from it with money and can put the poor in it because of a lack of funds. My two cents... Man I have a lot on my mind and no place too talk, so sorry.

Tiff said...

Thanks John

QueenTeresita said...

I second tiff's "Thank you," I couldn't have said it better. Personally, I have always been against the death penalty. I also agree with your comment about homosexuality, God calls us to reach out to all.

The Yepiz Zone said...

Anonymous said... Is the death penalty truly justice if the poor are the only ones that are affected.

Let me answer that question with another. Where does most of the violent crime in America occur; and does that have anything to do with the "poor" getting more death penalty sentences?

Also, don't fault rich people for having the resources to get the "best defense" available. Are they to "just give in" and not use money?

By the way...who the heck are you "anonymous?"

Tiff said...

anonymous is John, the previous post is the same thing and it's posted by J-lou