"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: The World Changes, and They Die

Monday, November 21, 2005

The World Changes, and They Die

On Saturday, I spent an hour getting a deep-tissue neck and shoulder massage (I'm still stiff from the accident). At some point during the therapist's manipulations, my sinuses popped open and air rushed in. I was stunned. I hadn't realized how stuffed up I'd been.

Then on Sunday, I went to hear retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong, who was in town for a series of talks on Christianity. He acquainted us with the OT's "minor" prophets, talked about humanity's evolution away from (and return to) tribal gods, about spirituality without theism, and about a "nonpersonal" sense of God (beyond our family / power concepts of Father, Lord, Master,etc). God as source of life, of love, as the ground of being.

When he said that we can worship best by "loving wastefully," the audience erupted into applause and I felt a rush of air, my spiritual sinuses clearing.

After the lecture, a young man asked him how to persuade some fellow Christians to see beyond their legalisms.

"Tell them you disagree," he said. "And love them the best you can." He shared his experience of growing up among staunch Christian racists in the South. Many went to their graves with their racial hatred.

"Some people never change. But the world changes, and they die."

I recommend this recent interview with Spong at belief.net (the following is an excerpt):

What's the best verse in the Bible?

The text with which I close most of my lectures is from John 10. They are words attributed to Jesus that members of the Jesus Seminar don't think he ever spoke. I don't mind accepting that. But to me, they are so true to who he is. And that's the phrase, "I've come that they might have life and have it abundantly."

The way that I see Christianity is that its role is to enhance the life of every person. My basis of morality is this: does this action enhance life, or does it denigrate life? Does it build up or does it tear down? And if that's your basis, then you can't possibly be a sexist because sexism diminishes women. You can't possibly be homophobic because it diminishes homosexuals. You can't possibly be a racist because you can't tell people they are lesser because their skin is black. Or any of the other things that have discriminated against people.


  1. so, living life more abundantly means to live it up in the flesh as long as it doesnt tear anyone down?

    Jesus never came to enhance our flesh. He came to take the punnishment for it and to make us overcomers through him so that we will quit living abundantly to ourselves and begin a new life in the Spirit with Him.

    I find it appalling that an educated Bishop used his educated flesh to interpret what it is to live life abundantly.
    When did morality equal abundant life? Apostle Paul would heave at this one.
    Free2beme, do you see this?

  2. If the scriptures were based on this principle there would never have been one war, because that would not "enhance a persons life".

    I'm so glad God didnt stop and ask the question the Bishop uses to weigh his decisions in life. Because God would have never given his dear treasure for us because that decision desecrated the best life on earth.
    Yes, He loved wastefully, but not for one minute did He love sin and Christ on the cross proves he is intolerant of it. Does that make God a legalist?
    But he loves the sinner!

    Christianity was never given to "enhance" life, and Christianity is not an "it" but is Jesus Christ who did not do such a minor thing as enhance our lives,
    but beyond measure has given us our lives back. We who were once dead in trespasses and sins, remember? Or have we forgotten that? We didnt even have life!
    and now, In Christ we have it forever! Thats abundance!
    Enhance? How about a resurrection? Anyone want one? The power is a breath away!

    God help us

  3. If you find Spong's ideas interesting, you might also be interested in the writings of one of his intellectual forbears, Paul Tillich. Tillich considered God to be the Ground of Being or an Infinite Being which sustains us finite beings. Tillich said, "God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him."

    For more information, you can read the Wikipedia entry and some of his sermons.

  4. BH, why do you disparage Spong without taking the time to understand him? He is not advocating hedonism, if that is your concern. He does not pretend to speak for God (like Pat Robertson, for example). Spong is using his gifts to stand against hatred and ignorance in the name of Christianity, and to compel the church to turn away from false idols (such as the idea of "inerrant" scriptures), and turn to love.

    Ilmarinen, thanks for the links. Spong cites Tillich frequently as a mentor.

    I was reminded of Laestadian splits when Spong shared the story of a small town in North Carolina that didn't have enough people for one church, let alone two. Yet there were two, First Baptist and Second Baptist, on opposing corners. One proclaimed "there is no hell" to which the other said "the hell there ain't."

    All in the name of Christian love.

  5. Be careful, Free...
    You might be so anxious to reprove the Laestadian splits that you fall for anything that helps your cause.
    May I remind you that... all in the name of Christ... were these and many other divisions:

    John 7:43
    So there was a division among the people because of him.

    John 9:16
    Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

    Notice, the division is blamed on Christ and because of his teachings. You could say... All in the name of christian love!

    I hear your concern in the need for love, and I echo your concern...but "if you dont stand for something you'll fall for everything" as the old saying goes.

    I spent the morning reviewing the site you gave a link for and I'm sorry to see the "progressive Christianity" this man endorses. I understand him alright. His goal is to get so far from exlusivism that he marches for the right to include anyone and everyone who wants a "god". Anyway they want to get there is fine. Well this is against the scriptures. And they boldly announce in their definitions that the pursuit for truth bring better answers then finding the answer itself. They find more grace in being lost than being saved! Wow. Incredible.
    Absolutes are called dogmatic and "wondering" is full of grace.
    They imply that your search for God is understandably never going to be met with an absolute. They obviously have never met Christ.

    Thanks be to God for never allowing me to rest until I found the One with whom I rest now. I've got absolution alright. And let me tell you, it can be found! I cant even immagine calling my search for it better than the reality of possessing this wealth. Talk about humanism!

    The Bishop's morality based decision making has no mention of God's Holy Spirit. The Bishop's guide is the question of whether or not it "hurts anyone". I understand and can feel your need to embrace such a wonderful thought... but certainly not in exchange for the truth. This is always what lacks in these sort of teachings.

    The Spirit has much higher standards and far more love than those of the Bishop's! What a safer guide!
    I urge you to pray for discernment-
    and never, never settle to be simply on a quest for nothing and find "grace" in the fact that your vague.
    What a disgrace for the word grace!

    I might sound hard, but I'm not a hard nose...please hear my heart!
    Love BH

  6. Many Trails Home11/23/2005 12:37:00 PM

    BH, you are certainly passionate and vocal in your beliefs, and bless you for that. We can hear that your heart is very full and happy in the blessing that you have found, your closeness to Jesus Christ etc. But it is not your heart that is speaking, it is your very human mind.

    I have to say that I do not share your position one bit. Yours is only one of the "Many Trails Home." Even the OALC can be one of the "Many Trails" - I am sure it was for my father, that's what convinced me. Yet you, like the Laestadians, Catholics, Amish, etc etc, seem to claim that your "trail" is the only one. It never could be for me as you describe it, nor could the OALC. (I suspect that you will quote "I am the Way," etc but then so do all the other "exclusives." And how can all these disparate groups be so absolutely sure they know the Way - for someone else?)

    I think you are "hard" and a "hard nose" but so am I at times. We could all benefit by softening our attitudes and reevaluating them: are we REALLY so RIGHT? (very OALC to be so sure we are RIGHT, even when we are no longer OALC). It never hurts to ask God directly: Help me see YOUR TRUTH directly, to the extent that my human mind can grasp it, even if it is at variance with what I have come to understand from the Bible. (If we dare; most don't dare, because of fear).
    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. MTH

  7. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to get to Heaven. We need to go through Him. Yes, He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Exclusiveness comes in when we feel that we have the only direct connection to Him. I don't see that in BH. Faith in Jesus and grace from God is the answer. But we will all find our little niche on this earth, where we worship as we please.

  8. BH,

    I appreciate your discernment. As we "grow" our thinking out of dead traditions, we may have a tendency to adopt anything that sounds much softer, without seeing what is really behind it. Often I've been tempted to overlook questionable writers because they sound so much more "Christian" - as in 'loving'. But.. and this is a new realization for me even at midlife.. following Christ sometimes does appear to be unloving. Many could not tolerate Christs words. "this is a hard saying". But the truly loving thing to do is to speak the truth. There really is only one Way. Not OUR way.. but the Way that Christ has paved for us.

    Thank you BH!

  9. Free,
    Could you explain this clip I took from your post above?

    "and to compel the church to turn away from false idols (such as the idea of "inerrant" scriptures), and turn to love".

    Is this referring to the bible as possibly not being God-breathed and that anyone that thinks it is without err is falsely idolizing a book?

    Its almost hilarious that you said my very human mind was speaking about my happiness in being with Jesus Christ. Do you not know that my human mind is an enemy of Jesus Christ? Within my human flesh dwells no good thing and I will be quite relieved when I am separated from the pest.

    I am sorry that you are still asking the question whether or not you have found the way and that you think we should all ask.
    I am no longer in question.

    "It never could be for me as you describe it"

    The reason you say this does not work for you is because your prayer is that God will show your "human mind" the truth. He does not work that way. He reveals by the power of the Spirit and your human mind will never accept it. It is the indwelling gift of the spirit that God will give you to see the love that the Bishop can not see.

    How can I be so bold about the Bishop? Because he boldly says how he measures love. It is not measured in Christ. It is measured in HIS (the bishops) actions and who is hurt or not hurt by them.

    God's love is much different than that. It is manifested and revealed by the Spirit of God.
    All this comes by prayer... just change two words and open your heart... as you said:

    "It never hurts to ask God directly: Help me see YOUR TRUTH directly, to the extent that my human mind can grasp it"

    Take "human mind" out of that and ask God to take a detour around it and penetrate your heart instead and give you the gift that he says he is willing to give to anyone who will ask for it. The bible teaches us that flesh and blood will not inherit eternal life, that also would apply to our human reasoning.

    I am not afraid of God showing me something different than I formerly understood in the scriptures. I delight in such a thing. I can assure you it has been quite a brain wash since Truth came like a day star to my heart. I've had to let a lot of things go that others pounded in.
    I guess thats why we're all a work in progress. I'm so blessed to be in His hands. I have come to trust the Potter.

    Love BH
    and yes, Happy Thanksgiving
    I wish I could hug Squanto today.
    I really am touched by what he went thru at the hands of the "pale faced" and how he helped those pilgrims inspite of it.
    God is good and I am thankful for this country!

  10. to Breathlessly HIS:
    I am convinced by your option for the "Spirit"--and the heart--rather than the "human mind." I agree with you. And about the inspiration scripture affords. Scripture allows us to receive inspiration from words, which are human things, and, if we are attentive, to make them live as spirit in our hearts. And the result? We are closer to the divine and, following the guidance of the divine, we act and respond to others in ways that bring them closer to the divine. They feel our love.
    In these respects, I feel you and I are essentially on the same wavelength.
    Some things you say seem to be on another wavelength. I am puzzled when you say that "living life more abundantly means to live it up in the flesh." Those are your words, not Free2Bme's or Bishop Spong's. If I understand you, you mean to say that selfish hedonism is not really the way to live more abundantly. There is no argument about this; Free, Spong, and I all agree with you. The way to live life more abundantly is to devote yourself to divine love, which as an indispensable component includes profound respect for others and yourself. This, of course, is wholly incompatible with the exploitation of others that is associated with hedonism. I don't know why you seem to think that other people--particularly Free and Spong--think hedonism is what loving more abundantly means. Of course, I don't deny that there are people--and have been people in every society in every age--that do think hedonism is the way to live life abundantly.)
    Your devotion to scripture is admirable, but I'd like to consider that perhaps you should revere it as one of the ways to approach the divine rather than the only one. There are other scriptures that may be just as wonderful. Moreover, they're available to people who have never heard of the gospel of John. Here is an example of one I have found wonderful. These verses are from the chapter on meditation in the Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva. As you read them, consider that harsh criticism often shows a lack of respect and can be a form of harm.

    129. All those who are unhappy in the world are so as a result of their desire for their own happiness. All those who are happy in the world are so as a result of their desire for the happiness of others.
    133. Forsaking the generation of mutual happiness and the felicity of present and future happiness, deluded people take on tremendous suffering because of harming one another.

    134. If all the harm, fear, and suffering in the world occur due to grasping onto the self, what use is that great demon to me?

    135. Without forsaking one’s own self, one cannot avoid suffering, just as without avoiding the fire one cannot avoid being burned.

    136. Therefore, in order to alleviate my own suffering and to alleviate the suffering of others, I give myself up to others, and I accept others as my own self.

    Doesn't this sound to you like the love that Jesus taught us?

    Happy Thanksgiving, BH!

  11. Happy T-Day, y'all.

    BH, I would say that those who assume the Bible is without error either have (1) a unique definition of error or (2) have not read it carefully. What they do with their assumptions is the important thing, however.

  12. fretobeme...

    Please tell us where You see errors in the Bible!

    (Have You ever read about the Ethiopian reader mentioned in the Bible?)

    H. Finn

  13. LLLreader: I was going to stay out of this discussion, as I have in the past whenever we got into discussing differences in our current beliefs. It's been mentioned many times that we have gone different ways since leaving the Laestadian churches. We WILL think differently because we all are the type to seek and ask questions. I am a liberal Methodist, and I sure don't have to defend my faith to anyone. I had enough of that sort of thing growing up in the OALC. BH, I don't like what you are doing. I know there are new people, who are trying to find their way, who come onto this site regularly. They don't need to hear anyone crashing around, declaring they have the only RIGHT way. God Bless you, worship any way you want--you certainly don't need my permission. AND I certainly don't need your prayers that I will start thinking your way. We aren't here to argue about doctrine. We are here to support each other. Some of the OALC teachings are alive and well in you BH--you as much as called my beliefs "dead faith". Good Grief, get over it!

  14. "the peace you create for yourself is actually the denial of the son of God."

    That's pretty strong. I got the impression from your comment that you think others with a less exclusive faith than yours "choose" that faith as "the easy way out." Could it be that others have arrived at their faith through a long and difficult process that leaves them no other honest options? Could it be that the faith they have arrived at is just as true and dear to them as yours is to you?

    You think you have The Truth. I get the impression that you think anyone who doesn't have Your Truth is going to hell. That, for me, is religion at its worst. That's what I'm thankful to have left behind.

  15. What BH wrote about is called postmodernism.. if you'd like to read more about it, there is lots of info out there.. Also the "Emergent Church" movement. If anyone is interested, I'll post some links.

    BH, as always, I agree with you. What you wrote is not exclusivism and not a defense of Laestadianism, but Christian apologetics, a defense and examination of the Christian gospel.

    LLLreader, this is all the MORE important for new people to read.. Let's have a truly open and free discussion where a defense of Christianity is not discouraged!!


  16. LLLreader: Oh PLEASE AnonyMouse! I am all for open and free discussion of any kind. I didn't say that BH was defending Laestadianism, what I said was her methods of putting down anyone who believes differently then she does are very OALCish. Perhaps I wasn't very clear. I MEANT that her saying that the peace I feel is actually a denial of the son of God is pretty much what a believing member of the OALC would say about my faith. Statements like "That's so nice", "It is so sweet", "What a convenient religion you have", are sarcastic and mean. This type of put-down does not offer itself to open and free discussion. It reflects what I experienced in the OALC, and thats the part of the Lestadious system that BH seems to have retained--the attitude, not the beliefs. I don't have to defend myself to BH-- I'm a Christian and if she doesn't like the way I practice my beliefs--well Tough Tarts Agnes! I'm not going to attack your beliefs BH--I'm just asking you to not attack mine! Mouse--I'm not against defending Christanity, Im a Christian for Pete's Sake!

  17. OKAY!!! I believe you!!!!


  18. From the dictionary:


    n 1: a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior (syn: Christianity, Christian religion)

    I always believed Christianity was. "Emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior" as it states above.

    I dont understand why AnonyMouse, a Christian, is not offended with me, and why LLL reader, a Christian, is offended... I didnt even know I was attacking you, LLLReader! How could I know that people who call themselves Christians dont want to hear that Jesus is the only way? This whole thing takes me by surprise. I didnt know there was such strong feelings on this blog site about the "many trails" thing. I am a bit new around here.
    In any case you are right in saying I could have left those other remarks out that were sarcastic. I'm sorry about those.
    I could have said what I was pointing out without them.

    This has become quite passionate alright. Even though I am baffled by some of these responses.
    Maybe we need a new definition of Christianity?!!

    "You think you have The Truth. I get the impression that you think anyone who doesn't have Your Truth is going to hell. That, for me, is religion at its worst. That's what I'm thankful to have left behind".

    Ilmarinen, Please at least let me put "Jesus Christ" in the slots where you have the word TRUTH above.
    I know you all know it is not MY invention, this is in that book called the Bible. I do not condemn, but I speak his words and neither does Christ condemn, but the Word will judge as taught in the end of John 12. Jesus did not come to condemn the world or put anyone in hell, but rather to get them out! Worthy is the Lamb!

    I'm sorry about the attitude I've put across. I really am.
    It'd be nice to be able to be frank without hurting people. I agree with you on that. Some people can do that a lot better than I. For this I apologize.

    I feel like you all have backed me in a corner and have your swords out if I dare speak of Christ as the only way.
    I suppose you feel like my sword is drawn if you say He is NOT the only way.
    For both sides this is true. Because we are obviously sold out, you to your beliefs and me to my Savior, the Savior of the world.

    You are willing to accept that about me as long as I dont make you feel bad by stating that Christ is the ONLY Savior who paved the way to God. So, to be accepted here I have to deny the truth. I have to deny Christ as the ONLY way and be more tolerant of how others may find a trail to God. Please tell me if I am misunderstanding you on this!

    "Could it be that the faith they have arrived at is just as true and dear to them as yours is to you?"
    The Bishop teaches the road to truth is where the best grace is- and not in the absolute discovery.
    Thats the first time I've heard there is more grace in unbelief. Would that be faith in something? I am not trying to be a jerk!! this is honestly amazing to me and I have never heard of anybody having faith in being vague! Someone can be very endeared to nothing?

    This has been quite an experience.

    I will close with the words of Paul:
    Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.


  19. BH, I'd rather not debate, as we would have to spend considerable energy just defining our premises and terms so that we could better understand one another. I've been there (too often) and that isn't my best use of time. Suffice it to say that while I disagree with you, BH, you are accepted here.

    Now, a little puzzler: (1) in what significant way do these statements differ, and (2) which are the reported words of Jesus?

    "Those who are not with me are against me."

    "Those who are not against me are with me."

  20. Dear Free...

    with all due respect, I think some sort of premise should be established here. For those who are seeking, it would be helpful to identify the various positions within Christianity. I see Beliefnet labels the positions 'literal' and 'progressive', for example. Bishop Spong is considered progressive.


    Excerpts from the interview with Bishop Spong:

    >>....Therefore to be a follower of this God means you have to try to enhance the love that's available in this world. I start with that God definition and then I say, “OK, what about Jesus?” The claim historically is that somehow through Jesus, God has been experienced. Then you get to the theology that says he came out of heaven and had a virgin birth and went back to heaven--but that's the mythological framework that tries to make sense of whatever the experience was....

    ...I have no difficulty asserting the traditional Christian claim that somehow God was in this Christ. I don't know that Jesus is different from Debbie or Jack, except in degree. I think he's so fully human, that he can be a channel through which people can experience this transcendent God presence. That's a very different way of approaching the Christian story, but it's one that I think is the future, because the old mythology doesn't work....

    ...Take the virgin birth tradition, which is how we explained how God got from outside to inside Mary. The story hasn’t worked since 1724, when we discovered that women have an egg cell....

    ....At the other end of the story, there is the issue of getting Jesus back up to God, which comes into the Christian tradition in the 9th decade, maybe the 10th decade, in the ascension story. It doesn't make sense in the space age. Carl Sagan once said that if Jesus literally ascended into the sky and traveled at the speed of light, then he hadn't yet escaped our galaxy....

    ....And so every time they could, they make Jesus say, "I am," "I am," "I am," "I am." One of them is "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." And that's the text that turns Christianity into being demonic--in the sense that we have the truth, and the rest of you have to come to God the way we have come to God. And we are justified in forcing you to come to God this way. And that's where you get religious wars.

    ....People don't realize religion is never a search for truth. Religion is a search for security...

    ...When I go to the red states I’m considered a radical Christian, and when I go to the blue states I’m considered an old-fashioned religious man who is trying to call people back to something....


    my comment: After reading this article, I was a bit sorry for the Bishop. He reaches his 70's and has concluded that truth is unknowable, and he really doesn't have any answers for anyone.

    People, if there is anyone searching for Truth outside the only church you've ever known and in which you are unhappy, please know that this is not the only alternative.

    Jesus said "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" John 8:32. I recommend reading CS Lewis "Mere Christianity" if you are interested in a defense of historic Christianity.

    and.. please forgive me for saying this.. but I've been down these roads many times before, and _in my oh! so humble opinion_ anything outside literal and historic Christianity is like a dog chasing its tail. You will go around in circles and never get anywhere, just like the poor Bishop.

    God bless you,

  21. OH! I almost forgot! It's interesting that the discussion of his faith (or non-faith) turns political at the end. Red states and blue states. Hmmm, that intrigues me and yet is disturbing.. because Christian faith - again, historically - has never been about politics. I think of Martin Luther King -- and our founders, for example. No, this is something different.. this is Christianity OR believing in something that is not Christianity at all.

    Discern, people - discern!


  22. It seems to me like mr. Spong is like someone who has a car and starts picking off different parts. Lets take off the windshield wipers, lets take off the windshield, lets take off the wheels, lets take off the headlights, lets take off the rearlights etc... Finally you have just the body left, but alas, it's not going to take you anywhere. So, now you have a car that is good for nothing, what should we do? Maybe we can turn it into a concert hall or a museum?

    By the way, mr. Spong was invited to Finland a while ago as a speaker at some large religious festival arranged by the Lutheran church. He came and spoke and since then the Lutheran church has been arguing about who invited him. One of the suspected culprits has been the extremely liberal bishop of Kuopio, but as far as I know, he hasn'd admitted.

  23. Theo, your car analogy has some merit. Religion is like a car, and if you see your journey as linear, with heaven as a destination in physical space ("up there"), you may have no problems with your vehicle. (Just keep in mind that it was constructed by other hands, is not all-terrain, and repairs may be costly.)

    I can't speak for Spong, but in my view, he is NOT trying to turn our cars into junkheaps or museums, his is trying to get us OUT of our cars to feel the Ground under our feet and the Wind on our faces. To experience God.

    He is a practicing Episcopalian, for heaven's sake. He hasn't junked the car. He is controversial because his faith is not traditional.

    Anonymouse, you call us to be discerning. I agree. But my discerning mind can't accept a literal Bible, an earth that was created in 7 days or a virgin birth. The Bible is fallible like any other recorded human experience, which through the grace of God nonetheless helps point us toward God.

    Does that make me "a dog chasing its tail?" So be it.

  24. Free,
    Thats why you dont want a discerning mind.
    You want a discerning SPIRIT.
    You want the indwelling of this "car" with all its parts.
    Especially the lights.

    I understand you deeply.
    I didnt want anything in that bible. And OH! how I wanted those hard verses out of there.

    So much of it seems so impossible.
    I couldnt get past the sermon on the mount or the 10 commandments.

    Those who say they can handle them fine are liars and legalists.
    Those things were meant to show us the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the unrighteousness of mere humans, hence the harsh words of Jesus toward those that thought they were doing a good job at it.

    The scriptures are VERY different to me today. It is because I gave up and fell at the feet of the One who lifted me and said "I've done it for you". My response to this was slow and careful, suspicious and skeptical, but he did get this much through to me, that if I will give him the chance to prove it we can move slowly as I learn to trust.
    Its as tho my eyes locked with his and I said "I'll follow". From that time on this Savior of mine has taken me on the ride of my life. The Bishop says it doesnt work, but friends let me tell you, if Jesus can walk with me he can walk with ANYONE.
    The Lord stopped by the rose and picked it for me and placed it in my heart and said
    "I am the Rose of Sharon".
    He stopped by the road and said "I am the WAY". He stopped by the sun and said "I am the light of the world". He stopped by the river and said "I am the water of life". He stopped by the ocean and said "your sins are drowned in there, never to be remembered again" and that the vastness of the sea was an example of the endless amount of grace in which a multitude of sins is hidden.
    He stopped by the grave yard and said "with me you'll live forever".
    He stopped by the babies I had and said "with me, your born again".
    He stopped by the dust in the garden and said "I create beauty from ashes" as He dotted my nose with the dust of the earth and smiled and then he said "the King is enthrawled with your beauty".

    -no, the human mind wont take this, but what a romance for the soul and it is not to be compared to a mere Mary Jane or Sally or Tom or John. It is the glorious Lord of Heaven, Risen in all His splendor and reassuring that so much of what I heard about him as a youngster was not true.

    Blessed be the name of the LORD!

    -Breathlessly HIS!

  25. Dear Free,

    the problem is that his "progressive Christian" views (if they are Christian at all) prevent Bishop Spong from becomng what he scorns in others. And he is unable to see this in himself, just as he is unable to see how ludicrous his views are...that is, they offer no more probable or believable solutions to the meaning of life than those offered in Holy Scripture.

    that said, I do respect your right to progressive vs literal beliefs as noted.

    God bless,

  26. Oh my dear BH. You used your very human mind to write every florid word above, mispellings and all, and God bless you for it. You are just you. You are not me, and you cannot define God or Christ or Christianity for me. I'm SO grateful for that. Because I'm free, no longer subject to another person's take on what is spiritually valid. I have tasted the grace and truth and love that you attempt to poetically invoke, but NOT as you have tasted them. Because I am not YOU. So while you're praying for my discernment, order up a smidge of humility, 'kay? Shalom.

  27. AnonyMouse,
    I don't think I understand what you are trying to say. From my reading of Spong, he seems to say that SOME of the ideas in Scripture (there are many, and some are contradictory) offer a "more probable or believable solution to the meaning of life" than do the those emphasized by the historical church. For example, the church has historically said that woman is less than man, that birth control is wrong, that slavery is okay, that marital rape is okay, that heaven is a place above the earth, that God made all people but chose only a tiny tribe as his favorites and could be called upon to kill their enemies. Etcetera, etcetera. (The 10 commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are not the "hard sayings" by the way! If you want to find hard sayings, start with baby massacres "sanctioned" by God!)
    What is not always emphasized historically but is in Scripture is the transcendant view of the Divine, from the prophets who proclaimed mystery, justice and love as attributes of Jehovah to Christ's compassion and sacrifice and dedication to the outcast of society. Now I'm getting really longwinded, but I want to say that never in the history of the world has the old tribal Judeo-Christianity had such a stake in the future of the world. We owe it to everyone to look hard at these issues.

  28. Free said: I want to say that never in the history of the world has the old tribal Judeo-Christianity had such a stake in the future of the world. We owe it to everyone to look hard at these issues....

    Now you've got my attention, Free - that's a very interesting statement, and I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on it!

    I should probably clarify my earlier posts when I spoke of the defense of historic Christianity in CS Lewis' writings, as an example. What would have been more clear is "a defense of Christian faith". Christianity as an organized religion has lost its way many times throughout history, and yes, the 'church' certainly does need to be examined and seen with a skeptical eye at all times. I would put forth that it is because of sin, and because of the fallen state of mankind that atrocities have taken place. The hard-to-explain 'sanctions by God' especially in the OT are another story, and I don't want to wade into that at the moment.

    No, the hard sayings are not the 10 Commandments.. In John 6 Jesus speaks the 'hard sayings' which caused many of his followers to leave him. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him... I am the living bread..except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.. he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever". These were hard sayings for the Jews, because they had the faith of their fathers, and they could not accept that their former faith of keeping laws and ordinances would not save them. They were not able to understand the words of Jesus - that it was not what THEY could do, but what HE would do for them that would save them.

    This, in my opinion, is the difference between Christianity and other world religions. New Testament Christians are actually in 'passive mode'. There is nothing they can do..they cannot 'choose' to believe.. it must be given, or revealed to them by God. I believe that God does call each and every person on earth at some point in their lives, the knowledge of God is 'written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart' 2 Cor 3:3. We cannot initiate faith, it is always God who initiates... but we DO have the ability to choose either to follow or deny Him. Even then, it is all by grace, as we can read in the first 3-4 wonderful chapters of Ephesians.

    Yes, there are similarities in the wisdom of other world religions and Christianity.. I believe that is because God certainly has implanted knowledge of Himself into every heart.. and wisdom is wisdom is wisdom regardless of who is saying it. But please show me a religion other than Christianity which does not require that we do 'something' to be a follower. A follower of Christ sees the paradoxes of Scripture but I'll leave that for another time as this is getting too long.


  29. I just scanned through all the posts about Spong, and thought I'd post my two cents.

    First, to put Spong into a little bit of context. He's considered pretty radical even by a lot of Episcopalians. I attended an evangelical Episcopal parish for a few years, and he was pretty much thought of as the devil over there. :)

    Now I'm attending a pretty progressive parish, but even here he gives many folks pause. Terms like "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" often come up when discussing Spong.

    While I disagree with Spong's approach to historic Christian doctrines like the virgin birth, I have to hand it to him for raising the issue. By speaking out so boldy and loudly he opens up a space for us more timid types to have a conversation that needs to be had.

    The way I see it nowadays, the phrase "by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man" should invite a conversation, not end it. How do we "make sense" of such a thing in this day and age, with all the medical knowledge we have at our disposal?

    How do we "make sense" of Genesis 1 and 2 in light what we know about biology, geology, and DNA?

    Growing up Laestadian, the answers I got when I dared to raise the questions at all was akin to a small child putting his hands over his ears and shouting "I can't HEAR YOU...I CAN'T HEAR YOU."

    One of the things I love about being an Anglican/Episcopalian Christian is that our tradition is unflinching about bringing EVERY tool we have to bear in the search for God, and understanding God's purpose for our lives, our society, for the whole world.

    This can make things messy, uncomfortable, and complicated, but I think most people realize from their own experience that many tasks worth doing are difficult and often uncertain.

  30. Okay. Here's a question that just wafted through my brain: Just because we can't understand something, does that mean it's fallible?


  31. I did not mean to imply that the "hard sayings" are the 10 commandments and the sermon on the mount.
    But in my experience that is where they began. I see this also in others today, who pick up the bible and in exasperation put it back on the shelf. It was hard for me to pick up the bible at all, never mind read the Old Testament! And Jesus never did make an ounce of sense to me in those days.

    AnonyMouse,I whole heartedly AMEN your post on John 6 as the answer to this matter. Jesus is always the answer to everything, but not just the acknowledgement of him, the very "taking in of him" as he himself states in your reference.

    I dont mind you smirking at my ability to express the romance of my soul but I admit I cant help winking back at you saying that my fleshly human mind is attempting it...
    That is not the typical work of Satan at all. He works to take us OUT of relationship with Jesus.

    No one will ever have more faith than their view of God affords.
    If God is not capable of 'changing the rules' of his own creation to bring Christ into this world through what we call a miracle of virgin birth then I can certainly understand how, in holding this view, one could not believe that he can preserve the scriptures or be fully God and fully man both at the same time, or ascend to heaven and not upset the law of gravity or the speed of light...or for that matter, save the world!

    The more human we make him the less he can do. Scripture tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than then men and the weaknesss of God is stronger than men.

    Idolatry is a god formed by the wisdom of man.

    Undefiled wisdom is in the grace of God.

    I will not disregard your request that I pray for more humility.
    I will say that you are misunderstanding me though, but that seems to be flowing all over the place around here.


  32. How can Christ possibly be the Almighty God if he wasn't born by virgin birth? For me those two things are so tightly linked to each other that I can't see any other way. And please, don't say tha Spong even denies the divinity of Christ because then he also denies the salvation...

  33. How many unborn children are murdered through a "woman's right to chose" every year in America alone?

    Many of the same people who are in protest of the war on terror are defending the turtles and trees along side the right to kill unborn children. Chaos!

    I love turtles and trees, and dont want people ruining them- and I whole heartedly appreciate the discernment of the government to place natural preserves in the growing cities- but I'll never understand how the government can defend the unborn turtle but not the unborn baby. The least they could do is be equal!

    Do we accuse God of acts of violence but then defend our right to do them? Does the Bishop support abortion?

    According to those that strap bombs around themselves and blow up women and children on the sidewalk, or civilians in the subway, etc.. it is thier god that told them to do it. They have simply found a way to get to the "divine" and are doing the "divine" a favor on the way there. If we could hear their testimony before they blow themselves up we'd find it is "love" that gives them such zeal.

  34. I want to add that the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments still should be just as “hard” as the other areas of "hard" for anyone who has not yet taken in Christ as the answer to them. In my opinion the whole bible is impossible and unacceptable without the love of God manifested in Christ and to read it without Spiritual englightenment from God is to find death and hopelessness.
    When Christ spoke the value into the Ten Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount they took on an even more impossible command. Anger becomes murder, lust becomes the very act of adultery, etc. etc. the list goes on… I know someone who nearly committed suicide over this.
    Yet, Christ did not speak this so that we might try harder. He was driving home the point of our inability to perform for God what only He can perform. When truth comes to us we understand that the Holy God is not looking for our performance but our transformation by faith into the work Christ has done on our behalf. Thus, ‘be ye holy as I am holy’ is no longer a demand of our performance but a test of our faith. As it is written, “examine yourselves to see if you be in the faith”. There is only one faith and that is to be in Christ Jesus. To take it a step further it is not human faith, but God given, as AnonyMouse has shared with us.

    Faith is the power of the Holy Spirit given to us. Any other definition of faith is void and falls into the category of those who walked away from Christ in John 6. When Jesus asked Peter, "will you also go away?"
    Peter’s answer was “where could I go, for you have the words of eternal life”.
    At this site, it seems there are many places to go. But one must deny scriptures and Christ to accept that. So in a nut shell, the whole bible is either completely contradictory and full of error, or completely perfect and full of truth.
    If you are a Christian then you are against yourself if you take the source of truth, the word that Christ says can not be broken, and begin to dismember it until it fits into the human definition of love.

    This discussion makes me think of a debate between a Christian and an Atheist. When the debate is finished the “Christian” borrows from both sides. A house divided against itself will not stand. Jesus faced the same type of people in Mathew 12 (I think it is) when they accused him of being Beelzebub, the father of Satan. The same ones who were supposedly on God’s side were against Christ, and called him the devil. The Bishop did the same thing when he said that Christianity becomes demonic if it is founded on Christ as the only way.

  35. BH, remember that we do not have Christ's own words, we have only human reports of his life and words, written long after his life, and the accounts often contradict each other.

    You cannot seem to think outside the box. Once you do, you will see that the diversity you find here on this blog is the tip of the iceberg.

    I am a Christian and while I think "Christ is the only way," I clearly do not define "Christ" as you do.

    While I'm not yet familiar with Spong's ideas about exclusivity, I do think it is dangerous for Christians to say, as many apparently do, that there is a magic verbal formula that sets us apart from the rest of God's creation, who is by definition -- um -- Goddamned.

    Even those who finesse the verbal formula part often seem to think they can discern just who is and who ain't
    "Christian" by their own tightly-held standards.

    With tribal Christianity in ascendancy these days, many who yearn for the experience of God are too repulsed by Christians to seek Him. If you are such a seeker, don't let anyone (least of all me) define God for you.

    Seek and you will find the Undefinable.

  36. 2 questions.

    In your opinion, what is the magical verbal formula and what is tribal christianity?

    (if you have the patience to tell! )

    :) BH

  37. Many Trails Home11/28/2005 05:38:00 PM

    To BH primarily: I have scanned thru all the postings of the last few days, and it all seems a bit much. To me personally, Free sounds like the "voice crying in the wilderness." I am quite sure that most of you don't get what she is saying at all, have not experienced her position.

    But for BH I would say: Do not pray for me without first asking my permission. You really do not have the right. You have NO IDEA of the condition of my soul / spirit and the condition of my relationship with God. Therefore, you have no right to pray for specific "enlightenments" for me; ie to experience what you have experienced, for instance. Bless you for where you are (I will say "in your spiritual evolution" even tho I suspect you will protest mightily) and bless me also. But do not pray for me. MTH

  38. MTH- au contraire :-)... I have experienced much of what Free writes about.. a 'voice crying in the wilderness'. That is why I don't discourage her search, I respect that she is brave enough to bring out controversial thought.. We NEED to look, and not be afraid, of what is out there.. it's just that it's wonderful to come to the place in life where I'm not afraid to trust. But the journey here, and always, is long, lonely and painful at times. And I don't want to make it sound trite or too 'fundy'.. but when the enlightenment or revelation comes, it will be life changing! On the other hand, we all need to be brave enough to kindly and gently disagree when we do, indeed, disagree.. not taking the "Truth" into our own hands and bopping someone over the head with it (I detest that myself!), but trusting that by speaking from our own understanding and experience it may help another on the journey.

    God bless,

  39. Has anyone else noticed that the more long-winded a post is, the less it has to say? ;-) In that spirit, I will keep this one short.

    I'm interested in hearing Theoforos elaborate a bit on his view (or the Eastern Orthodox view) on how Christ's divinity is linked with the virgin birth.

    More broadly, I'd like to hear people explain how they think the virgin birth works. It seems to me that the creeds affirm the virgin birth, yet how such a thing could happen is left a mystery.

    I think the purpose of theology is to try to "make sense" of these mysteries, to deepen our knowledge of the faith and draw us closer to God.

    Ironically, however, if a theological explanation is too successful, drowning out other possibilities and stamping out the mystery and paradox at the heart of so many of these affirmations, theology can have the opposite effect, driving people away from the faith that, had they been given the opportunity to work it out themselves with fear and trembling they would have accepted.

  40. Many went to their graves without faith.

    "Some people never change. But the world changes, and they die"

    Thats true, the world changes, but Gods word doesn´t.

    H. Finn

  41. I thought Free just explained it as 'Undefinable' and now you want specific definition to the mysteries of God in how He could pull off a virgin birth right under our nose and we little pee-ons cant figure out how!

    It is by FAITH we believe, not by coming up with a way that you could also clone a virgin birth.

    Seek for the Third Person in the Godhead and you will find the mysteries of God are true!


  42. Free,
    I know you didnt call the "virgin birth" undefinable but you referred to God as being so...

    which brings me to the point above.

  43. One more thought for today:

    The reason I have so "little to say" is because around here the scriptures have so "little to say".

    So your right in saying I have little to say. This discussion is not interested in basing itself on God's Word in the form of the Holy Scriptures being true.

    The most amazing part of this to me, is that the more we hash this out the more reliable the scriptures become to me. So, its helping me on my journey too!

    Thanks for bearing with me, you all!


  44. Where did the post from 'Terve' in support of BH go? I just read it and now it's gone!


  45. BH, please don't be quick to take offense. You have plenty to say and are welcome here. My apologies if any of my words were disrespectful.

    Be warned, I will delete any posts that are accusatory. We're all adults here (I think), so use your best manners.

    I'm in a rush today but hope to have time to answer your questions later. The short answer is that "formulae" vary from church to church and Christian to Christian (creeds, vows, etc.) and "tribal religion" is one that claims exclusivity (God's elect).

    Have a lovely day!

  46. I have been smiling all morning as I put this together. I'm not offended and I'm not mean. I hope this post below sort of clears that up. This silly story I created explains the best way I know how to say this...

    Once upon a time there was a pesky little mouse. The little mouse was full of energy and full of zeal for her creator. Sometimes too much, and it would get her in trouble. One day while her mother had her head turned the mouse jumped into a fancy conference room where a group of very distinguished guests from all over were conducting a very important meeting.

    Many important decisions were being made at this meeting and this pesky mouse was jumping all over the place interrupting the business. A few of the guests recognized the mouse and knew who it belonged to. They knew the mouse was dearly loved and even had a place where it’s energy could be fitly used. Others thought the thing should be put in a trap and placed where all the rest of pesky mice are put. Finally, the leader who had called the meeting together said, “Let the mouse be free, and let’s get back to work”.

    When the meeting adjourned for a break, the one who had recognized the mouse went and took hold of the thing and said “go along, little one, so that we may make better progress”. The little mouse recognized the plea and squeaked one more squawk as it hopped away and left the fancy conference room.

    Some of them at the conference could not help but let out a huge “good riddance!”
    But some of them hoped they would see that pesky little mouse again someday.

    The pesky little mouse would like to say “Merry Christmas, God bless you and “it’s a wonderful life”. I wasn’t meant for fancy conference rooms. I was meant to play in the field and dig deeper and squeak and squawk here and there and escape the cat, If I can!

    ----- So Long!


    Free, thank you for your cordial heart. I REALLY like you. AnonyMouse, thank you SO MUCH for the push. It was from God.
    Even if you dont know it.

    squeek, squeek!

  47. You're welcome, BH! I know you speak from the heart, which not easy when you know that others have differing opinions and beliefs.. and I think everyone here has/will experience that.. including Free. So it takes courage for anyone who dares to put thoughts to keyboard! lol Have a great day!

  48. Good heavens, Oven Mitt, are you trying to give the readers here a heart attack?! You've outSponged Spong. Seriously, thanks for your reflections. I look forward to pondering them.

  49. Many Trails Home11/29/2005 05:33:00 PM

    I love it. Now THAT I can relate to. . . . "and the greatest of these is love." MTH

  50. Dear Oven Mitt,

    Of COURSE! I love your description, though I remember hearing it as atoms rather than molecules. But it does tie us all together very intimately, doesn't it?
    And, Free, I think you are a very wise and knowledgeable person who comes across as warm and loving. Thank you for being here for us.

  51. BH, I think you misunderstand what I'm asking. I'm not asking you (and others) to define in some once-and-for-all cut-and-dried way what the virgin birth is. I'm asking you (and others) to elaborate on their understanding of it, how they "make sense" of it.

    I expect each person's reply to help me understand them and their faith experience better. These sharings might even illuminate something in a different way that will help me in my own faith walk.

    It seems a bit disingenous to be "all over" Spong for his attempt to make sense of the virgin birth, when you aren't willing to articulate anything beyond what is essentially, "just believe it and shut up!" I've had quite enough of that growing up Laestadian, thank you very much. :)

    Do I think anyone here (including myself) has the corner on explaining these mysteries? Of course not. I think insofar as they reflect the true nature of God they will defy our comprehension.

    Yet I am drawn like a moth to a flame.

  52. Many Trails Home11/29/2005 11:04:00 PM

    Tomte, having nothing better to do at the moment, I will try to take you on. I am likely to offend a lot of folks, but then I don't believe the Bible is any more infallible than the pope is! (And it was, of course, the Catholics who "created" the Bible - in the form that we have it - and pronounced the infallibility of both).

    I do not think it is necessary to "believe" in the virgin birth to love Jesus with all one's heart and try to walk in his footsteps (although I do have an opinion about it, having "asked" and been given an "answer".) Once we get back to "first principles" ie love the Lord our God and our neighbor etc, then it really does not matter if the virgin birth was a true miraculous incomprehensible event or not. In fact (and here's another "heresy"), I don't think God cares a fig what we "believe" as long as we listen to his "still small voice" and do our best to love - first God, ourselves, then our neighbor.

    God, of course, is incomprehensible, but then so is much of his creation - the Milky Way, for instance. The fact that we are here at all is miraculous. I know of and have experienced many, many things that are inexplicable and I would not even describe here because I would be met with "unbelief." So I have no problems with "miracles" and "mysteries" - they are mostly things that we simply do not understand, due more to our own limitations than because they are inherently unexplainable. Even though I have a math/science background, I do not require an explanation to believe the evidence of my own experience. The "flame" to which I am drawn is the magnificence of God and the glory of his creation. Many blessings. MTH

  53. This has been an engaging discussion so far, and one reason why is that I'm hearing viewpoints I never heard in my Laestadian upbringing. I was raised on a hyper-literal interpretation of the Bible, as if God had handed us the Bible with the letters still warm from being drawn by his finger.

    There was no acceptance of interpreting Genesis 1 and 2 in any other way than that the forms of life we see today were present in their same form at the time of creation. When I learned that that interpretation was strongly contradicted by God's natural revelation, I realized my faith was based on evolution-denial and lost all faith. I still haven't found it, because I lack any reason why I can say that I think "God" as a personal Father-figure in the sky is anything more than fantasy or wishful thinking.

    If we define God differently to mean the spark that motivated the Good Samaritan, the source of all wonder and beauty inherent in nature, and the nail on which we hang our hope for the hereafter, I can subscribe to a belief in God. But this God is so different from the traditional Laestadian God, all Laestadians I've talked with until recently have considered me to be in unbelief.

  54. To Tomte's question about the link between the virgin birth and the divinity of Christ:

    My comment was mainly based on the fact that you can only have one father and one mother, not for example two fathers and one mother. The essence of the salvation is that Christ got the fallen human nature from his mother, Mary and the divine nature from his Father, God, and saved the fallen human nature through this union. If you add a human father you end up with a mess. Of course, there is the adoptionist view (=God entered Christ who was originally just a normal human being), but I don't know how they get it to work, you tell me...

    Besides, if Jesus had a human father and also was God, this would mean that a change took place in God when Jesus was born because two human beings make a new person. Whereas in virgin birth, there is no new human person, just the incarnated God, who gets his human nature from Mary.

    The virgin birth is a mystery, impossible to explain, but as it is said in a song on an Orthodox music cd I bought a couple of days ago: "when God wants, the order of the nature is overcome". The song refers to the virgin birth, but the same applies also to other mysteries, e.g. the resurrection and the ascension.

  55. Hi Ilmarinen,

    I have a problem with the word "literal" - Hyper-literal, as you said, would probably be a closer definition to what is used here as a comparison to progressive. I believe in a literal interpretation to a point.. for example.. when it says we look through a glass darkly.. well..not literally. There is a spiritual or allegorical application, as in the parables. This is what makes the Bible so interesting, to me.

    It seems that we humans like to think we are capable of understanding God. And yet, we are speaking of the supernatural..That would be my take on the virgin birth also.. I believe that it happened, but I don't know HOW it happened, because the supernatural cannot be explained in human terms. So maybe it comes down to whether or not we can believe in the supernatural at work in our natural world.


  56. wouldn't it be nice to go over and use the Yahoo group? it would be easier to keep track of conversations and responses to individual people.. I see someone signed in there, wondering how it all worked.. Groups like Yahoo are great for encouraging discussion!

    AnonyMouse.. Argine234 on Yahoo.

  57. I agree with AnonyMouse. If you reply to a message in a yahoo group, the headline always tells what post you are referring to. Easier to keep track of the conversation or actually the conversations because often there are several different topics discussed here under the same discussion. Even better would be to use a discussion board with a tree structure that shows the structure of the conversation.

  58. Many Trails Home12/01/2005 12:50:00 PM

    Hi Theoforos and Ilmarinen: These are responses to semi-random pieces of your posts. First, re the cd song: I think that God CREATED the "order of the universe" ie the "laws of nature" and therefore God is not likely to overcome them, any more than God is likely to abolish our free will. However, there are laws and forces of which we may not be aware, do not understand, and cannot measure that God may employ when required, and I think it is these instances that we refer to as "miracles" and "mysteries." Therefore I see no contradiction between science, God, and "miracles."

    Second, if God is not an "old gray-haired, long-bearded man sitting on a cloud in judgment," then what is he? First, of course, the "unknowable" as LaoTzu would say, or any number of approximations. The most obscure, I think, from Joel Goldsmith, is "Creative Principle." It is very difficult to think of "Creative Principle" as a "loving father," even tho' it may very well be, and so we use any number of euphemisms which are easier for us humans to relate to. Nothing wrong with any of that, as long as we don't insist that others also buy our construct of God as, for instance, a male "person" sitting on a cloud pointing his finger. When Jesus said, "Love the Lord" etc, that is truly all we need. Many blessings. MTH

  59. How do we get to the yahoo group?

  60. You can get to the Yahoo group by clicking on the "Yahoo" banner on the home page of this site.. or try this: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/XLLL/

    You'll need to sign up for a Yahoo account, which is pretty easy to do. See you there!!


  61. Re: Bullheadedness vs. Sisu

    I consider myself a bullheaded
    Finn like many I grew up with
    in the Copper Country and on
    this site.

    Is this a nationalistic trait?

    Is this why there are so many
    splits with very little compro-
    mise ?

    Is this the same as Sisu ?

    I sometimes wonder !

  62. Troll from LLLreader--I got a kick out of your post. I have sometimes wondered the same thing! Picture Finns in church--one preacher's supporters sitting in front, while those that don't agree with him sitting in back, creating a commotion. Then when another preacher speaks, the crowd switches places. When I posted that little story a few weeks ago I didn't think of it as sisu--that definitely comes under the heading "bullheaded". Then we have the Winter War, I believe in 1943, and the Finns were so brave--THAT'S sisu. theoforus-yes, Christ could not have had a human father just for the reasons you said--at least in my opinion--thank you for that post.

  63. The Winter War took place 1939-1940 and was definitely an example of Finnish Sisu.

  64. LLLreader: I hope many of you check The Winter War link that anonymous posted above. The article from Wikipedia is full of information. Thanks so much. Tonight at the kid's Christmas program practice at church it was announced that the Christ Child in the manger scene will be a real baby. My beautiful Grandson, with his curly hair and lopsided sheep costume, looked up at me wide-eyed and said, "Grandma, the REAL Baby Jesus will be here". Yes, he will be---God bless us all.

  65. Many Trails Home12/07/2005 09:15:00 PM

    This site sure has gotten quiet. Is it the season? Is everyone too busy? I'm just going to throw out one comment, backing up to the beginning: I don't see anything at all wrong in "living LIFE (human life) abundantly" and I suspect Jesus did not either, as he did, after all, feed people, heal them, manifest wine, etc. Is that not living life abundantly? Anyone who thinks "living life abundantly" is equated to promiscuity, drunkenness, etc. has no idea of what abundant living might feel like! It should feel GOOD! And that means good to the soul as well as the body. We are "bodily temples" are we not?

    May we be grateful for our bodily temples during this holy season. And dedicate them in the service of the Lord. Many Trails Home

  66. My former mother-in-law who hailed from a mountainous region of the south, used to talk about living "the good life." She was an interesting character, as she wanted to pray piously before every holiday meal and evoked Jesus' name for help on a frequent basis, but otherwise thought nothing of living with boyfriends without benefit of marriage or partying it up or even some things I would not want to mention on this site. To her, "living the good life" was living it up in the flesh, drinking, gambling, and fornicating. Otherwise, she did not really seem to have any aspirations either socially or economically, as long as there was money to party she was happy. I had another friend who was aspiring to be upwardly mobile, and for her living the good life was fine clothes, fine cars and houses, and fine food at fine restaurants. Growing up as a Finnish-American from a laestadian-derived church, my take on the "good life" which was my aim for the future, was living a pious life, with nourishing food, adequate warm shelter, a healthy marriage, several good children, a close extended family, and enough money to make my bills but not enough to tempt me away to hedonism.

  67. Say, I just read something on a site that occasionally has really great stuff. On the nature of god (and the kingdom of heaven), there is a beautiful piece by Albert J. Raboteau, an African-American scholar who is also an Orthodox (e.g, Greek, Russian, Syrian) Christian.
    He quotes, at the end, an Orthodox priest, Father Schmemann:

    “The Church is left in this world, in its time, space and history with a specific task or mission: 'To walk in the same way in which He walked' (1 John 2:6). The Church is fullness and its home is in heaven. But this fullness is given to the world . . . as its salvation and redemption. The eschatological nature of the Church is not the negation of the world, but, on the contrary, its affirmation and acceptance as the object of divine love . . . the entire “other worldliness” of the Church is nothing but the sign and the reality of the love of God for this world, the very condition of the Church’s mission to the world. The Church thus is not a “self-centered” community but precisely a missionary community, whose purpose is salvation not from, but of, the world.”

    I highly recommend it to you all.