Wilco’s “Theologians”


Originally posted on Five-Cent Synthesis:

I admit ignorance about Jeff Tweedy as a person, and only know him through his music. The long time frontman of Wilco has proved time and again to be musically curious while well moored in traditional folk, country and rock; a serious songwriter that occasionally has a touch of the chaotic. He also seems to have an eye on the divine, with songs spanning decades that at least tangentially muse upon the subject: Jesus Etc.Theologians, and I’ll Fight.

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The Invisible and Otherness


It hardly is worth repeating that Socrates spent a lot of time in dialogue with others. However it is worth repeating that he spent much of his effort to point out the difference between appearances and reality. As Plato’s interlocutor, one suspects his distinction tends toward the vertical relationship between the forms/ideas and matter that the former eventually articulated. The excesses of that conception excepted, the distinction between what appears and what really is is a perennial one that drives our striving to understand and to live well.

Two themes I have come to notice in Christianity, no doubt belatedly, is the importance of the invisible and presence of otherness. By invisible I mean those realities and their aspects that are essentially beyond our sensible recognition. Are these real? By otherness, I mean the emphasis on that which is beyond our control, the objective nature of the world we live in. It is in light of these two themes that life as a Christian can come into and remain in focus; following the Way, the Truth, and the Life only makes sense when one recognizes there is reality beyond which our eyes can perceive, and the swollen pride that deceives one into subjugating that which cannot be subjugated must be bled (or iced, if you prefer). Continue reading

Millennials Need Worship that’s Been Around for Millennia


Joel:

I would highly encourage our readers to head over and read this post. Why look to create new worship when true worship has existed for 2,000 years?

Originally posted on Hipsterdox:

DSC01969 Thom Rainer, the current CEO of the Southern Baptist LifeWay story chain, recently wrote about what type of worship the so-called “Millennials” like. He defines a Millennial as anyone born between 1980 and 2000, essentially those who grew up watching the rise of the internet and technology, or the pre-9/11 generation. The entire article is very much worth the read and I believe he is accurate. All of it is summarized by one statement toward the end:

And you will hear Millennials speak less and less about worship style. Their focus is on theologically rich music, authenticity, and quality that reflects adequate preparation in time and prayer.

In other words, what young people want is a real worship experience, something that really strikes at the heart. The above statement is really unpacked earlier in the article, where Rainer states,

  1. They desire the music to have rich content. They desire to…

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Two New Websites


First, I’d like to thank Jonathan Anderson for allowing The Christian Watershed to obtain ownership of both Hipsterdox and Orthodox Ruminations. We will keep up all his work and begin to contribute our own.

We’re going to take some time before really adding any new content to both sites as we decide the direction we want to head with both. We do plan on upgrading both sites and taking them in different directions. On both, we anticipate and hope to add guest authors on a frequent basis. While at The Christian Watershed we look at the world through a lens of “theology applied,” we hope to make Orthodox Ruminations a place for Eastern Christian theology and Hipsterdox a place for finding how Eastern Christianity applies to our tempestuous era.

We at The Christian Watershed will meet sometime in early February to hash things out and prepare the sites, with a hopeful “relaunch” on March 1. Until that time, we’ll work to bring some content over in order to keep everything up to date.

In all of this, we pray Lord have mercy.

- Joel Borofsky

A Completely Selfish Request


Possible book cover

Possible book cover

Josh and I want to thank everyone who tolerated this website for the past year. 2013 ended up being our most successful year in terms of readers. Not only did our parents read it, but our friends did too, which was a drastic improvement (we actually had around 24,000 unique visitors for the entire year…not exactly a big time operation).

Our overall goal is to write books and hopefully bring some change to the communities we live in. Of course, in our modern world, anyone and everyone can produce a book. Both of us have worked on manuscripts, but obviously no one would publish a manuscript from some unheard of author (nor should they, that’s an irresponsible financial risk). Since January 1, we’ve averaged around 350-380 views a day. Again, that’s really not a lot, but for us it’s okay. The main driver of views the last few days, however, has been Facebook, or people just sharing what we’ve written.

If you like what you read here, please share it. Our goal is to increase our readers to about 1,000 a day. We feel if we can sustain that number, we can justify self-publishing books (knowing we’d have an audience we could sell the books to). Again, we’re not looking to turn a profit or make a living on this stuff, we’re realist. But we do have to justify the financial costs involved in self-publishing and that can only be done if we know we have an audience that would actually purchase what we wrote.

Of course, this plea also comes with the promise that we’re going to do what we can to write more (that might upset a few people) and write succinctly. Josh, of course, has mastered the art of brevity. I, however, have not. I’ll get there.

I already have one manuscript that is done and simply needs editing(What Sinners Dare Not Dream: Hope Fulfilled). Josh already has a very short, satirical book published. Point being, we have some things we really want to put out there, but lack the audience to justify doing so. If you like what we write and mostly agree with it, then please share our website via Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, email, or smoke signals (check with the EPA on that last one). If you have a website and want to repost something we wrote, then please do it (just provide a link back to us). If not, then don’t worry about it. Either way, we’ll continue to write on here and our mothers will continue to be proud of us (mostly).

On Pascha (Easter), or the Hope of Things to Come


Icon of the Resurrection

Icon of the Resurrection

Once in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of our sorrows, the pre-incarnate Christ walked within the Garden looking for Man and Woman. He knew what had occurred. He knew His creation had rebelled. He knew the pain and suffering that was to come.

We can almost hear the pain as we read the most overlooked, but painful words within the entire Bible, “And the LORD God said unto them, ‘Where are you?’” God knew where they were, He knew where they were hiding; His question was a rhetorical one. Man answered and admitted to his rebellion and Woman confessed what she had done. The march toward Calvary had begun.

In a small insignificant town in the Roman province of Judea, the Christ child was born. God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, Son of God who was present at creation and the Fall, had come to fix what was broken.

We cannot begin to fathom what the world looked like through the eyes of Christ. For Him to walk in human flesh amongst His creation, to see the effects of sin on His world, what did the incarnate God feel? “Where are you?” He must have uttered to creation as He walked through the various towns of Judea.

God asked Man and Woman where they were, but He did not wait on them to come find Him. He instead went into the world to find them.

God incarnate, who cursed Man for his rebellion, who sought after Man in the Garden, hung upon a cross. The crafty serpent of old thought he had defeated God, but Christ arose, solidifying His solution. The serpent had bruised His heal, but He had crushed the head of the serpent.

“Where are you?” His question echoes throughout human history up to the present age and all the way to when He returns. “Where are you?” As He watches humanity rip itself apart, as He watches humanity turn against Him on a daily basis, He must be asking, “Where are you?”

In the first garden man was cursed with death. In the resurrection the curse on man was lifted. In the first first garden man tore himself away from God. In the garden of the resurrection, God united Himself to man. In the first garden we were cursed because of the fruit from a tree. In the garden of the resurrection, we were saved because of Who died upon a tree. The first garden was a paradise after creation and cursed in the fall, the second garden was cursed but was made paradise because of God’s recreation. In the first garden Man was lost, but in the second garden Man was found.

Yet, in this rebellious world there are those who are covered by His Son. Just as Man and Woman needed a covering to hide their nakedness, their shame, we too have a covering to hide our wickedness, our shame. Our covering is Christ. There is a future hope, an end to our suffering, a time where we will not sin, where we will be done in our rebellion.

There will be a time when those who suffer from physical ailments, from these disease-ridden bodies, shall be given new bodies where such pain is gone. The blind will look into the eyes of Christ and see the wondrous acts of His love. The deaf shall hear with clarity the songs of the angels praising God almighty. The hungry will feast with the Lord at the great banquet table. The orphans shall feel the loving embrace of their Heavenly Father and no longer feel the sting of loneliness.

There will be a time when the oppressed shall experience freedom in the presence of the Spirit. Those who are bed-ridden, those who are diseased, those who suffer constant pain will walk amongst God’s beautiful creation, dancing and leaping across His land with Christ by their sides.

But all of this pales in comparison to the reconciliation we will have with Him. We will no longer offend Him. We will no longer contradict Him. We will be in perfect union with the Father as we fall down and worship Him eternally. We will no longer have to hear those painful and cursed words, “Where are you?” We shall instead hear His soothing words of grace; “I have found you.”

Consumer Eve’s Sermon


Photo: Sean D. Elliot, AP

The crowds had gathered to hear his oration

They turned on their TVs across the nation

The Prophet of Profit was about to speak

Words of despair not meant for the weak

The season of consumption was about to arrive

And the reason for it he was about to contrive

The season lost meaning from a greedy lesion

The reason was against Love we committed treason

_________________

“The November chill cuts through the air

A consumer’s holiday forgoes the share

Work minions and be happy for your toil

Lest in your angst the work shall spoil

Away to your big boxes where the economy thrives

You are free so long as you give us your lives

Ignore disparity in the name of charity

Economic clarity is such a rarity

_________________

Forgo your family and celebrate material

Ignore the spiritual for you are corporeal

Buy the love of your beloved ones

Things for your daughters and things for your sons

Come to the cathedrals of corporate gain and fraud

Pay your tithes and bow before your new god

A god who is not flawed

We laud him and he is worshiped abroad

_________________

Carry on you multitude of wage-slaves

Our lord requires you slog to your graves

The masses demand things to consume

If you cease working it shall be our doom

Work your hours and happily take your low pay

Protest us not, your overlords, for what can you say?

Ignore disparity in the name of charity

Economic clarity is such a rarity

_________________

Worship your material father you consumed consumers

Show us paper or plastic and ignore all the rumors

That this season used to celebrate Love come to our domain

And on our behalf this Love suffered pain

This is the ancient belief of a false God, a knave

To our new god we worship, all of us, even the slave

A god who is not flawed

We laud him and he is worshiped abroad

_________________

O you humble workers why do you look so sad

You do the work of Economy, should you not be glad

We give you meager wages while we make millions

Because we consume what you sell, you lowly peons

How gracious we are to just give you a job

How ungrateful you are that you just sob

Ignore disparity in the name of charity

Economic clarity is such a rarity

_________________

Buy, buy, buy whatever you can afford

Use your credit and the more you can hoard

Don’t let the crowds get a better deal

Shop early and stay late and take home a steal

Ignore your family and buy their affection

For the god of stuff will guide you from the poor’s affliction

A god who is not flawed

We laud him and he is worshiped abroad

_________________

Stop complaining about what you are paid

Be happy that you’re servants in our god’s trade

What better gift than to be sacrificed to him

So work harder, work happier, and for us please be prim

You need us to give you jobs and income

We need you to sacrifice to our god and then some

Ignore the disparity in the name of charity

Economic clarity is such a rarity

_________________

Bow before our omnipotent and all-holy mammon

Give him your heart and ignore the filthy gamin

For the poor are cursed by our god and are lazy

Show them not love or care for this is crazy

It encourages them to stay poor and not to thrive

St. Darwin was right that only the fittest survive

A god who is not flawed

We laud him and he is worshiped abroad

_________________

Give up hope that the season is about Love incarnate

It is about trinkets, toys, tools, and a beautiful garnet

It is not about a warm fire burning for the poor

Nor about redemption for the drunkard or the whore

Nor about hope for the hopeless coming from above

It is about getting stuff and buying love

Ignore disparity in the name of charity

Economic clarity is such a rarity

_________________

Serve our superior deity and ignore the oppressed

Exploit their work so you may consume at our god’s behest

This is not the season for charity or helping the meek

It is not about a greater reality that we supposedly seek

Reality is what you can touch, feel, see, smell, and buy

It is material and wealth, not some fairy in the sky

A god who is not flawed

We laud him and he is worshiped abroad”

_________________

His sermon over the masses returned to work

As they walked away he could not contain his smirk

He laughed at the supposed ignorance of a few fools

But in his wickedness he did not see the true jewels

That Love conquers and gives meaning to material

And Love’s mission that we celebrate was meant for all

The season lost meaning from a greedy lesion

The reason was against Love we committed treason

Are You a Free Spirit?


A question for you to dwell upon tonight: are you a free spirit? Nietzsche argued that the greatest human beings were free spirits—those rare individuals who transcend mankind, who break free from the shackles of value systems, who no longer follow the herd, who fully embrace what it is to be human (all too human), creating their own values and making their own meaning; rising above what their culture or religion has determined to be right and wrong or beautiful. Does this sound like the type of person you strive to be?

People often tell me that they desire freedom from the constraints of organized religion or from puritanical moral systems, which they believe bring about oppression and unnecessary limitations upon mankind. Some perceive that religion imposes overwhelming intellectual limitations—that is, they believe that religion stunts their intellectual growth or somehow disengages their rational faculties. They want the freedom to believe whatever they deem to be true. Others perceive that religion brings about suffocating ethical limitations—they want sexual liberation, they want to lie and cheat and steal from time to time without feeling guilty about it.

Perhaps the most common form of freedom that people speak about is the freedom to make meaning. Have you ever heard someone say, “life is what you make of it” or “my life has meaning because I make it meaningful”? Statements like these illustrate the type of freedom that I’m referring to. It’s the idea that we have the freedom to make meaning for our lives apart from any standard or universal meaning which applies to everyone. We see this in art as well. There’s no longer a standard for what qualifies as art—art is simply an expression of someone’s inner feelings or emotions. Thus, anything can be art. A jar of urine is art if you feel that it is and attribute to it some form of meaning. There is a real resistance among modern artists to placing any definition, label, or limitations on art. There is a desire for freedom—an unlimited freedom to express whatever one wants however one wants to express it (whether that be through urine in a jar or oil on canvas). There is also a tremendous resistance to the idea that beauty is objective—that something can truly be said to be beautiful. We want the freedom to make that determination for ourselves.

I wonder, however, if Nietzsche’s free spirit is truly free? I wonder if those of us who strive for this type of freedom are actually placing ourselves into bondage? What if, in our desire to be free spirits, we have actually enslaved ourselves to one of the most tyrannical and destructive dictators of all? The dictator to which I refer is of course self love. By self love I do not mean having a healthy self image (something we all should have); rather, I mean the placing of our pleasures and our needs as the very end of (i.e. the purpose of) our existence. When we direct our lives in accordance with our unbridled passions; when we make decisions solely based upon what is beneficial to our own wellbeing or to what brings us the most pleasure or satisfaction–this is self love. Self love is all about fulfilling any sexual urge or fantasy we might have, expressing ourselves in any way we want (without recourse to the good, the noble, or the beautiful), and about living life to feed the ego. The free spirit, in her desire to break free from values, from universals, from absolutes, ends up in bondage to her own arbitrary emotions; to her own ego. Rather than being a rational human being, the free spirit is more akin to a horse following a carrot on a stick—wherever the carrot goes the horse goes.

A free spirit, enslaved to self love, ultimately brings bondage and enslavement to others as well. In the eyes of the free spirit, people become simply a means to an end—objects to be used for personal gain. This happens whether the free spirit is aware of it or not. For example, you begin to think–perhaps only in your subconscious–of your girlfriend as a sex object; of course she is a person, but in practice she is nothing but a means to satiating whatever sexual desires you might have. She, in turn, is obligated to fulfill your sexual desires no matter how uncomfortable or dirty it might make her feel if she wants to keep you. You degrade her (maybe you don’t even think of it this way); you reduce her to a mere tool for masturbation and whether you realize it or not, she has become your slave. But, perhaps, she has enslaved you too. Perhaps she knows–even subconsciously–she can get something she wants out of you (money, power, respect, companionship . . .) if she gives you the sex that you want? In this case, you are ultimately her slave–not unlike the lab rat that won’t stop pressing the button which gives it sexual stimulation (to the exclusion of the button which dispenses food) and, in the end, dies of starvation.

St. Paul spoke of this type of self love in his second letter to Timothy:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self,       lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:1-4)

This type of self love, which is the root of all sin, leaves us in bondage. We become slaves to sin–slaves to our unbridled passions, slaves to our ego, and slaves to each other. The freedom that we so long for turns out to be nothing but an illusion.

Freedom, true freedom, can only come through Christ. Jesus not only brings us forgiveness for the pain and suffering and oppression we bring into the world, but offers us an escape from the tyranny of self love. Jesus gives us the freedom to love what is truly beautiful and truly good–the Creator and sustainer of life Himself; and to love others who have been made in His image. This, in fact, is the essence of Christianity: to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

The follower of Christ, imaging God Himself, makes love the end or, the purpose, of his existence. By love I do not mean some fluffy sentimentality or warm sensation that one experiences in his stomach. I mean the act of sacrifice–of self giving. St. John said: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Later he states: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). God is love, not in some abstract way, but his very nature is love. Within the blessed Trinity we see the existence of three persons, joined together by nature and eternally pouring out themselves, sharing themselves, submitting themselves to each other. We see true love. In the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ we see this love, this self-giving, spilling out into creation–we see the Divine Logos humbling Himself, giving of Himself, even unto death. We see true love.

The true free spirit is the one who embraces this love, who breaks free from the chains of self love and into the liberating arms of self-giving. So, the question remains: are you a free spirit?


Joel:

I’m reposting this as it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Namely, why is it that atheists are so set on adopting Christian morality within the secular name? Such an action is quite impossible; this is something Nietzsche saw (simply read Book V of “The Gay Science”). Perhaps others see it, but are simply too afraid to admit it.

Originally posted on The Christian Watershed:

A long time ago in an ancient kingdom, the young peasant decided one day to go throw rocks at the king’s castle.

As the young peasant was walking along the street with an angry look on his face, an old fellow with a big bushy mustache and a thick German accent came up to the young lad with an inquisitive look upon his face.

“And where might you be going?” asked the old man.

“I am heading to the castle to throw rocks at the king’s windows.”

“And why might you want to do that?”

“What concern of yours is it old man?” the young peasant replied.

“Ah, have you not heard of me? I am the greatest spectacle this town has ever seen. My name is Zarathustra. Many find me crazy. Many others hate me. But I hold out hope that one day someone will grasp my teachings. Until…

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