Saturday, August 06, 2005

Life Together: Community as Divine and Not Our Ideal Reality

Bonhoeffer writes:

“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty mood that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he seems the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.” (Life Together, pp. 27-28).

Bonhoeffer treats community as Torrance does with the sacraments: “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by Godin Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it” (p. 30).

Harpers: link to article

Seems like Sojourners has posted the full Harpers article. This link should get you to the article I was blogging about, for those of you who don't have a copy of it. (cut and paste the URL below)

Headed East

Hello All! Laura D. here! Thanks for the invite, Ben. The creation of this arrives at the perfect time for me. I have BIG NEWS! After 13 years (dang that's a long time) in the Valley, I'm headed "home". This September I'm moving to Boston (funny I don't say "moving back"), well technically Somerville, right across from Tufts. I'm so excited and so scared too! It should be fun. Jessi's (little sis) roommate bailed on her, just as I decided I need to sell my soul to DSS to pay the bills. I have interviews coming up this month and should have something by the time I move :) Questions? Drop me a line! Hope to see you before I leave. -LD

Friday, August 05, 2005

Box Update

Jess asked about an update on the box, so here it is as of today. The dots are pink. They look a tad white in the photo. This is as much as I could do today without smuding the wet paint. More later.

Life Together

So as I have started working and getting into the groove of that, the pure discipline of "work" has allowed me to begin other disciplines. While work leaves me with less time on my plate than school did, it's made me want to do certain things. I think physical work especially helps me to stay in the groove, so that when I come home I'm ready to do something. Office work just saps me, especially when I'm trying desperately to justify my existence. Anyways, here's what I read in Bonhoeffer about reading scripture that somehow kicked me into gear (italics mine, parenthetical statements like this one are mine too):

"The prayer of the psalms, concluded with a hymn by the family fellowship, should be followed by a Scripture reading. "Give attendance to reading (I Timothy 4:13). Here, too, we shall have to overcome many harmful prejudices before we achieve the right way of reading the Scriptures together. Almost all of us have grown up with the idea that the Scripture reading is only a matter of hearing the Word of God for this particular day. That is why for many the Scripture reading is only a matter of hearing the Word of God for this particular day. That is why for many the Scripture reading consists only of a few, brief, selected verses which are to form the guiding thought of the day. There can be no doubt that the daily Bible passages published by the Moravian Brethren, for example, are a real belssing to all who have ever used them. This was discovered by many to their grateful astonishment particularly during the church struggle. But there can be equally little doubt that brief verses cannot and should not take the place of reading Scripture as a whole. The verse for the day is not the Holy Scripture which will remain throughout all time until the Last Day. Holy Scripture is more than a watchword. It is also more than "light for today." It is God's revealed Word for all men, for all times. Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such.
As a whole the Scriptures are God's revealing Word. Only in the infiniteness of its inner relationships, i nthe connection of Old and New Testaments, of promise and fulfillment, sacrifice and law, law and gospel, cross and resurrection, faith and obedience, having and hoping, will the full witness to Jesus Christ the Lord be perceived. This is why common devotions will include, besides the prayer of the psalms, a longer reading from the Old and the New Testament.
A Christian family fellowship should surely be able to read and listen to a chapter of the Old Testament and at least half of a chapter of the New Testament every morning and evening. When the practice is first tried, of course, most people will find even this modest measure too much and will offer resistance. It will be objected that it is impossible to take in and retain such an abundance of ideas and associations, that it even shows disrespect for God's Word to read more than one can seriously assimilate. These objections will cause us quite readily to content ourselves again with reading only verses (or not reading at all).
In truth, however, there lurks in this attitude a grave error. If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend even a chapter of the Old Testament in sequence, then this can only fill us with profound shame; what kind of testimony is that to our knowledge of the Scriptures and all our previous reading of them? If we were familiar with the substance of what we read we should be able to follow a chapter without difficulty, especially if we have an open Bible in our hands and participate in the reading. But, of course, we must admit that the Scriptures are still largely unknown to us. Can the realization of our fault, our ignorance of the Word of God, have any other consequence than that we should earnestly and faithfully retrieve what has been neglected? And should not ministers be the very first to get to work at this point?"

Gotta get back to work. Thanks to invites for blogging, I am here. I shall endow you with more wisdom and foolishness later.

"The Lord be with you, and also with you."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

August Harpers is a MUST Read

Ok folks. I went to Hastings today, bought the new August Harpers and sat on the common reading it. The article, "The Christian Paradox; How a Christian Nation Gets Jesus Wrong" is an absolute MUST read. Not only is it a well written essay by a Christian insider critiquing "Christian" America, the Religious Right and the "me me me" mega church movement, it is extremely well written and even humorous. Time and time again I laughed out loud as I read, right there on the Amherst Town Common. I just now read it aloud to Baird and we were dying laughing. It's straight to the heart of the issue; Jesus says to love your neighbor (ie the poor, needy, downcast), share not hoard, sell all and follow. The author leaves little or no room to wriggle; the unsuspecting reader is pinned. If you can deal with spending $6.50, go out and buy it (Harpers deserves our business for printing this radical stuff!). If the $ is not there, go to a library...or talk to me. I am going to write Harpers for permision to reprint so I can mass distribute this one...... hopefully they won't take a month to answer - or say NO WAY.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

New Harpers Article

Here's a great quote....
"Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that 'God helps those who help themselves.' That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor."
- Author Bill McKibben, in his Harper's magazine essay, "The Christian Paradox"
A well written and even humorous tho disquieting (ouch!) excerpt is at:
Buy the magazine for the full's one to chat about for sure!!

Duct Tape Art?

Hey for all you duct tape artists out there...check out this site. I heard about it thru Sojourners Mag online:
(cut and paste the URL... I can't remember how to create link and client is waiting in waiting room..oops)


hello everyone! names aaron, nice to be here. For more info check me out at

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Like My Blue Box Now?

Isn't it beauteous? I know, you're thinking:
Ok, Carol has really lost it now.
What a terrible paint job on that formerly lovely blue box! Ha Ha Ha...well, maybe you can tell, but it is taped off. Hopefully once I remove the blue painter's tape it will reveal some nice clean lines. Then I will hand paint more detail, several layers of it in fact.

More later.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

On to Creating

Now that I am finished un-doing things (reference to the move out of the Fairview House) I am back to creating. Tonight I painted 4 bird houses and a wooden art box. I had previously primed them (on Tuesday eve) but now they have their base colors. I intend to decorate them with wild and fascinating patterns. We'll see if I attain this creative goal. More later...........