Cherry Picking for Jesus ~ conversations in a radical key

radical: adj. arising from or going to the source; adj. favouring or effecting revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions or institutions

A vision to live by

I am often asked “does God exist?” and as a Christian, I affirm that there is a God. Yet being a Christian is not a matter of subscribing in the first instance to the proposition that a Supreme Being exists. This is where my atheist friends usually go astray – for it bears reminding that God does not exist as an entity in the world.  When I, in company with other believers, recite the ancient Apostle’s creed “I believe in God the Father ….”, this is first of all a performative act rather than a propositional statement. It is akin to saying “I love you” rather than “I just know that there is an Invisible Pink Unicorn prancing out in my backyard”.

So where does that leave me? I find God in many ways – mystical experience, participating in the Eucharist, reading my collection of spiritual texts (my staples include the bible, the rule of St Benedict and the Martyr’s Mirror), the company of friends, the beauty of nature … the list goes on.

Again, why be a Christian?  I draw here upon the Anabaptist tradition of Christianity with its’ central focus on Jesus and his ethic of enemy-love.  I remain Christian partly because I think the traditions of Judaism and Christianity provide a richer lode for ethics and resources for insights that are subversive of prevailing ideologies. I draw attention here to the idea of a nonviolent god who renounces power and how the truth of human history is disclosed in a mutilated body – in the one who spoke for justice, truth and love and was killed by “the powers that be”.

Such a narrative is subversive if only because we as human beings are so implicated in violence (even those of us who are pacifists continue to discover the webs of violence that we participate in) that it requires an extraordinary act of imagination and even chutzpah <I so love that word!> to disavow the innumerable gods of power and violence that we have given allegiance to.

Here lies, for me, the radical nature of the vision that I subscribe to here – it is one that I believe provides a place to stand whereby prevailing orthodoxies can be critiqued. It is a joust with rival traditions of enquiry to discover weaknesses and reshape our ways of life accordingly.

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Conversations in a radical key

Today is a good day to start blogging as it is my birthday.

I did think to begin on New Year’s Day 2009 but never quite got around to it.  Possibly because it just seems artificial to start on 1 January – it reminds me of why I’ve never followed the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution since there are good reasons as to why one should resolve to do something at any time.

There is no need to start from stratch in any case – I find that one picks up a conversation midstream – whether that is by reading a book by a favourite philosopher or theologian, or sitting outside at a cafe on Brunswick Street talking with a friend.

I selected for my blog the theme “Conversations in a radical key” to indicate both my interest in conversation and my stance in relation to a variety of options, religious, political, cultural and so forth.  Nearly 10 years ago, I pondered in an essay (published in Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith edited by Debra R Kolodny) the various radical strands that make up the narrative that I retold as my life. I find it a source of endless fascination that we are story-telling creatures that seek to understand ourselves narratively.

I think it important to be able to tell the story well – though I don’t intend to turn my blog into a confessional!  My preference is for a reflective mode – where I pick out insights from books that I read along with explorations of my own – and I invite commentary.