Wednesday, January 31, 2007

movement four

coming to see

Growing up in the Catholic faith, I knew very little about the Bible. While I was familiar with the famous stories, the Bible’s depth was mostly lost to me. To be honest, not much has changed. Though I am familiar with the message of the Gospels, I have not made reading the Bible a regular activity. I have, for much of my life, been turned off by safe, “god-in-a-box” theologies, something I’ve attributed to bible readers. However, as I dive deeper into the Bible, I’m finding that which is most biblical is usually the least safe. At this point I have to make it known that I am aware how my artist-eyes read into the Gospels and come out finding the dangerous message Jesus speaks of. It is also because my artist-heart is desperate to be a part of something greater than myself; to be a part of something I’m willing to die for.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

movement three

the problem with our eyes / the problem with our hearts

If I’m honest, I want to believe that my interpretation is the right or better one. There is something that happens to us when we are “right.” Quite simply, it feels good. Augustine would say, however, that when the argument or conversation centers around which interpretation is correct instead of which interpretation best glorifies God and our neighbor, we have perverted the dialogue and stunted our growth. If we’re only arguing for what is right, we cannot move forward. Making well-stated cases for this or that theological point just doesn’t go far enough. If facts are where we start and stop I have to wonder then if we believe facts can transform a human heart? Again, it is my heart that needs to change, not simply my mind. Having experienced a change of heart, I find that my vision changes also.

Unfortunately, upon having new vision, things don’t always become “clearer”, in fact, they usually get muddier. And so what do we do when we have been told that things will become clearer when Jesus says that they won’t? This may further paint me as a postmodernist at this point, but I am often struck by preachers who profess that life with Jesus is easier; and while I believe the way of Jesus is the best way to live, I certainly don’t find things easier. Instead I’m left seeing things much less clearly, and with usually with more questions.

Monday, January 22, 2007

movement two

the problem with interpretation

So if this "dot of hope" is my hermeneutic, we begin to see the huge complications of interpretation as we realize that everyone comes to the table with their very own, equally complex hermeneutic. We approach the author and text with a set of circumstances that include life experience, church background, family dynamics, skin color, and socio-economic status. This list is by no means exhaustive, as the lenses that color what and how we see are infinite. The first stance we must take in beginning to understand the interpretive process is being aware that we all come to the conversation seeing something different.

the problem with seeing

Thankfully, I have discovered that I am not alone in my unseeing. And so I am compelled to ask, what is it that keeps us from seeing clearly? Obviously it can be that our own hermeneutic clouds our vision at times. But even if this weren’t the case, I wonder whether or not I would want to see clearly. What does seeing “clearly” actually mean? Does it mean that I’m seeing “rightly,” “righteously,” “holy,” or “biblically?”

So how should we see? Perhaps the most important question and one that I don’t hear spoken of much is, how were we made to see? If all we’re doing is attempting to divine the correct interpretation, I wonder if that prevents us from pausing to consider how God built us to see. If we can agree that we were created in the image of God, and that our faces reflect the glory of God – then what does that say about our eyes? If our faces reflect – what do our God-eyes see?

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep if forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sound. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. Finally with a shuddering wrench of the will, I see clouds, cirrus clouds. I'm dizzy, I fall in. This looking business is risky.
- Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek

Sunday, January 21, 2007

a personal hermeneutic - in five movements

Sitting here a few days before we really launch into the spring trimester, I'm struck by all of the papers I wrote last term. I find that as I get them back, I've actually forgotten that I wrote much of what I wrote. Not that I forgot the content, per se - but amidst the mess of this place I simply forgot that I had set myself down and tried to put my thoughts on paper. Amazingly some of my thoughts feel new even to me.

All along we've been asked to explore our personal hermeneutic. I was just as confused by that term when I started as many of you might be now - so I've created a diagram. I've also congealed my personal hermeneutic down into five movements. Over the next few days I thought I'd go through it movement by movement. Movement one begins now...

movement 1 - the beginning


The world has been spoken.

A single heart breaks.

A great wind comes.

Thousands of pieces are scattered across the universe.

A blanket of fog covers the tiny planet.


With a weary soul and some very worn out shoes, I have begun the search to recover the pieces of my heart. The problem is that most of the time I cannot see exactly where I am going. My vision is impaired; I cannot see clearly. I am confused and unsettled.

I am an artist.

Through the fog, I am inclined to see the world in terms of beauty and despair. It's an artist's job to constantly observe and explore new things and to discover new ways to look at old things. I am an explorer, forever wondering how things can be done differently or better. My heart beats fast when I consider the idea that we could be more than we are. I believe that God is wild, creative and mysterious, so the God I see doesn't make much sense. I am in love with awkwardness and while I'm not always comfortable with God's craziness, I am inspired and awed by it. My heart sees both humor and sadness. My heart sees the light and the dark. I do find that this place of seeing can be rather lonely, however. In a world that demands comprehension, especially concerning unseen deities, I often find myself in a place of aloneness for I want to experience God, not explain Him. While an explanation can change your mind, only an experience can change your heart.

Because I have experienced some abuse in my childhood, my hermeneutic is pervaded by feelings of justice, advocacy, and protection. I seek to challenge those that are in power and rise up those who are not. I long to protect those who are unable or unwilling to protect themselves. I feel called to be an advocate for hearts that feel they don’t have a voice or have been told not to speak.

In the end, my hermeneutic is coated with the tension between hope and fear. I have found that I seem to have more hope for others than I have for myself. While this ratio continues to level itself out, I am fearful to have more hope than I already have. My fear is that if I have real hope and things actually change, that I will then be held responsible and accountable for that change. My hermeneutic centers around this idea in what I refer to as my “dot of hope.” It is a little white dot that sits in the center of my heart calling me back to who I was made to be. Thus, I cannot help but see the texts I encounter in light of my little white dot. While my dot of hope may not seem like much, according to Jesus, it is all that I need.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

join the wrestling team

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