Thinking Out Loud

July 15, 2014

Unfamiliarizing Familiar Texts

Filed under: prayer, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:46 am

We ran these on the blog six years ago…

The Beatitude Creed

How about this for a novel creed:

I believe that the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of Heaven.
I believe there will be comfort for those who mourn.
I believe that being meek is a good thing and that those who give everything will inherit the earth.
I believe that those whose heart is set on seeking righteousness will find it.
I believe the merciful will receive more than they think they deserve.
I believe the pure in heart will be blessed and will see God.
I believe that those who long for peace and do more than others think is safe are children of the living God.
I believe in a place of safety for those who are hurt for trying to do the right thing.

I believe that being poor, and ignored and weak, and sick and tired and broken and messed up and kicked around is not as spiritually dangerous as being self-satisfied and clever and well-clothed and well-fed and degreed and creed-ed and important.

~posted July 17th, 2008 at A Life Reviewed blog – Joe and Heather live in Coventry in the English West Midlands


A different version of The Lord’s Prayer

The following is a version of what is commonly known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ However this version is one translated from Aramaic, rather than Greek.

Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes,
who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.

Let Your will come true
in the universe
just as on earth.

Give us wisdom for our daily need,
detach the fetters of faults that bind us,
like we let go the guilt of others.

Let us not be lost in superficial things,
but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.

From You comes the all-working will,
the lively strength to act,
the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.

Sealed in trust, faith and truth.
(I confirm with my entire being)

Some say that the Aramaic is the original, some say the Greek. I don’t know enough to say. The Lord’s Prayer does seem to have its origins in the Jewish Kaddish, a liturgical prayer developed in Babylonia and spoken in Aramaic.

I think it’s a beautiful version, whatever the logistics are.

~ from Kay at The Crowded Handbasket blog on July 25, 2008


Why The Poor In Spirit Are Blessed

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3)

Author and theologian Monika Hellwig gives us the following:

  1. The poor in spirit know they are in need and can’t help themselves.
  2. The poor in spirit know not only their dependence on God and on powerful people but also their interdependence with others.
  3. The poor in spirit rest their security not on things but on people.
  4. The poor in spirit have no exaggerated sense of their own importance and no exaggerated need of privacy.
  5. The poor in spirit are less interested in competition and more interested in cooperation.
  6. The poor in spirit instinctively appreciate family, love and relationships over things.
  7. The poor in spirit can wait, because they have learned patience.
  8. The fears of the poor in spirit are more realistic and exaggerate less, because they already know they can survive great suffering and want.
  9. When the poor in spirit have the gospel preached to them, it sounds like good news and not like a threatening or scolding.
  10. The poor in spirit can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.

~found in files; original source unknown

June 22, 2014

Beating the Heat: I’m Getting Along Swimmingly

Embracing the Heat

It’s been 25 years now since we first moved to our present location from the big city. We are connected to two different small towns, just a few miles apart. One we sleep in. One we work in and attend church and it has the school our kids attended. Give me about three minutes I can name the location of every traffic light in both.

But we’ve never established any kind of relationship with anyone who has a swimming pool.

This isn’t a big problem; summer is fairly short here. But there’s something about a hot day that makes you long to be near a body of water, and the Great Lakes don’t really warm up until late July.

On a hot day, I can be heard asking, “How can we know so many people and not know anyone well that has a pool?”

Until last year.

One day, I simply went out on the back deck and decided that instead of fighting the heat I’m going to embrace it. Fortunately, I don’t sunburn easily. For 20 minutes I simply laid in the sun, and then I went inside for a drink of ice water. And then, I took the watering can, filled it to the brim, and went back outside and poured the water over my head.

Tap water here comes out very cold. Most people don’t do the keeping-a-pitcher-in-the-fridge thing because there’s no need. It felt good. It doesn’t cool the body down as much a swim might, but like the label says, you can always, “Rinse. Repeat.”

A swim in a pool is still attractive, but not as great a need. I thought of that yesterday morning while reading this quotation from G. K. Chesterton:

There are two ways to get enough. One is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

Statistically, most of the people reading this reside in the U.S., where the ‘long hot summer’ is a fact of life. “Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty.” Maybe you’re wishing someone from the city would come by and open up the fire hydrant.  Perhaps you dream of winning a trip to a resort or beach town. Rob Bell told a story about taking a bunch of kids from Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan. Most had never seen the lake even though it was only an hour away and marveled how the body of water seemed to keep going without end.

Possibly the humidity and air quality are making it hard to breathe. Perhaps your property overlooks that of a neighbor who has a pool, and the inequity of it all — plus the fact they’ve never invited you over — just gets you angry.

Just embrace the heat (making sure to limit exposure and use sunscreen.)

Oh, and I just looked in your fridge and you’re out of milk. Head over to the grocery store and take a long, long time to make your purchase. Walk up and down every aisle. It’s not as cooling as a swim, but you might even run into someone else who’s working the same strategy. Maybe the two of you can spend fifteen minutes over a lemonade or a sundae comparing notes. You might even make a friend. Or make a difference.

 

June 17, 2014

When Outrage Becomes Fashionable

Last week Leadership Journal — the same organization that publishes my Wednesday Link List — stirred up a hornets’ nest when they published an article by a former youth pastor now serving time in prison for sexually abusing a girl in the youth group.

For people who have had to deal with any kind of sexual abuse, this article struck a lot nerves, but not in the way you might think. Rather, there was a groundswell of feeling that the language in the piece elevated the author beyond what he deserves, that it appeared to be prescriptive at a time the author should not be giving advice, and that it somewhat soft-pedaled what took place using words like affair or relationship when the legal system would clearly define it as rape.

To publish or not to publishThat Leadership Journal is a division of Christianity Today, Inc. only added to the controversy.

I became aware of this taking place on Twitter — where readers seized the hashtag #takedownthatpost — and followed it early on in real time since I now have more than a passing interest in what happens at LJ and CT. Later Tweets revealed that several Leadership Journal staffers were away at the time, but eventually a three-paragraph disclaimer was added to the beginning of the story, and then, about a day later, the six-page post was removed entirely with an apology.

I think, at that point, removing the article was the only sensible thing to do.

Rather, what concerns me is something I felt while all this was going on, namely that being outraged by this particular article became a Twitter trend. People, some of whom I am quite sure have never paid LJ any attention prior to this, simply joined the bandwagon because that was the correct thing to do.Again, I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of the subject the article discussed. I merely want to make an observation here that for a few days last week, moral outrage became fashionable.

protest signSocial media has the potential to raise issues that are important, but when objection to a particular piece becomes trendy, I have to wonder if the outrage stems from deeply held convictions or if the the publication that is the subject of the outrage is simply being bullied into trashing the piece. As a regular reader of the weekly column by the Public Editor of Canada’s largest newspaper, I know that “You should never have published that article,” is an oft-heard refrain.

The article had it its issues. But as I pointed out in another blog post last week, the rule caveat lector always applies: “Let the reader beware;” or more literally, “be wary.” The author wrote what he felt about the whole issue, and yes, perhaps he is in denial about some aspects of what he did. Then again, maybe he simply wanted to write something that presented himself well.

The other question is one of the appropriateness of the forum the author was given. No doubt some felt that anything in the CT family simply gave the article too much profile; but the outrage that followed would only add to the website traffic.

[][][][][][][]

So…we have guest posts here sometimes. Would I have printed the article?

I think I would have been attracted by the idea that a convicted felon — incarcerated for something he did while on staff of a local church — would want to use my blog to tell his story. The inside nature of the story, or the exclusive release of the story would probably temper my desire to do some careful editing; and communication for the purpose of making changes might have been difficult.

Faced with objection and outrage, I might at first dig in my heels; and then I probably would start thinking about damage control after several days; basically exactly what CT did.

The situation would only complicate if I were working with a skeleton staff during summer holidays.

[][][][][][][]

The writer wanted to do something that would be redemptive for other student pastors who are vulnerable to temptation.

Instead we ended up with something that was prescriptive for editors faced with the temptation to run a story which perhaps should have stayed in the closet.

 

 

June 6, 2014

It’s All About Me!

Filed under: Humor, writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:15 am

James RubartWe’ve previously reviewed four books by James Rubart here: Rooms, The Book of Days, and The Chair. Recently James shared this story on his blog:

A man is enjoying watching a Seattle Mariners game when he finds himself thirsty and decides to get himself a Coke.

As he’s returning to this seat a few minutes later, he hears a voice cry out from high in the stands above him.

“Hey, Tony!”

The man stops and squints into the seats with a frown on his face. A few seconds later, he resumes his path back to his seat when the same voice bellows again. “Hey, Tony! Up here!”

The man turns and glares for a moment at the spot the voice is coming from, then trudges on.

Not more than three seconds passes before the voice calls out a third time. “Tony! Hey, Tony!”

The man stops, turns, and shouts in the direction of the voice with full force, “My name’s not Tony!”

Part Joke, Part Sobering Truth

We smile when hearing this joke because of the absurdity of the situation, but there’s a bit of truth in there that gives me pause.

The man who bought the Coke has also bought into a deadly lie. He thinks he’s the person the voice high in the stands is calling for, because he thinks the world is all about him.

Can you relate? When we walk into a party or a group of friends who are we fixated on? Yep. Ourselves. We’re thinking about how we look (or don’t look). We’re wondering if people will be glad to see us, or give us a bored glance and go back to their conversations.

When we post on Facebook, are we hoping what we say will encourage someone, or are we more focused on how many likes we get?

I could go on, but I know you understand what I’m driving at.

Ignore the voice from high in the stands. The idea of life being about us is woven into our culture so deeply it’s paralyzing. Advertisers are masters at convincing the masses that life is about them.

But if we’ve surrendered our lives to Jesus, it’s not about us. It’s about others. It’s about walking into the party asking Jesus who we should love on. (Because beyond the brave faces, people are hurting all around us. They need the Life we carry.)

It’s called dying to self. And there is such freedom when we do.

 


Review: Rooms
Review: The Chair
Review: Book of Days
Review: Soul Gate

June 3, 2014

Rural Reflections

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:00 am

So now we’re into day five of sheep-sitting. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

It’s really quiet here.  No trains. No freeway traffic in the background. No sirens from police, fire and ambulances. No having to listen to the neighbours arguing over who used the last of the milk, or the expletives that accompany that conversation. No listening to the baby crying at the home daycare a yard over.

It’s too quiet to sleep. I can’t sleep without some background noise. I turned on a fan, but felt very guilty doing so. Also, my wife hates the fan.

It’s a slower pace in the country. Urban life is simply more frantic and it acts as a contagion, unless you find a way to seal out the city with airtight doors. I’ve been in homes in the middle of towns where you enter and everything is peaceful and serene and the only sound is the grandfather clock ticking, its chimes breaking the silence on the quarter hours. But most people’s homes reflect the pace of the city which surrounds them.

The hens and the sheep know where they’re supposed to be. The written instructions we were left were good and helpful, but the animals have a way of letting you know if you’re doing it wrong. Some of this is instinctual, but some of it is simply the routine that has evolved here. Go off script and they look at you as if to say, “There is a disturbance in The Force.”

The dogs require more work than the sheep and chickens. Maybe it’s because they’re just one step removed from the humans in the household pecking order. The humans of course are the most demanding, the most complicated; but the dogs are a close second.

City people know nothing of the intricacies of agriculture. So this week I learned about the difference between fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Who knew? Country people knew.

The cat seems to be in charge of everything. I get the distinct impression that the cat is watching our every move and is going to file a report when the farm owners get back. There were no instructions left for us in terms of giving the cat food or water, which is rather suspicious, don’t you think?

Closer to nature is not closer to God. I would imagine that there are, in the farm properties near here, some atheists. Getting back to nature does not assure one will make the creator-connection. I think that rather, one interprets what one sees in whatever ways they are predisposed. That said, I think with a longer visit, a person would see nature acting out parables that would point to the divine plan of God, more clearly defined in contrast to man’s attempts to render that plan null and void, which is evidenced only upon reflection. But there are agnostics, atheists and skeptics down on the farm.

Living in someone else’s house for a few days speaks to their character. It’s not a matter of neatness and order, but sometimes I have experienced what can only be called a “house of peace.” It’s not just the rural setting — although I know that adds to it — that makes this a relaxing environment. Visitors to our home might find it reflects something more chaotic.

I love it when people have large libraries. I’m not one of these people who goes poking around medicine cabinets, but I do get downright nosy when it comes to bookshelves. You realize that these are the writers and the ideas that have helped form and shape people into who they are today.

Each of us is unique, but some people do have better lives. I don’t covet this place specifically, but I recognize that while we try to learn to be content in whatever place we find ourselves, there are some situations that are enviable. That said however, I also recognize that the owners of this property worked long and hard to acquire it and maintain it. Coveting is tempered somewhat when you know all the facts.

I will miss this when we’re back home.

May 25, 2014

The Young Girl in the Coffee Shop

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:59 am

After about ten minutes, Joe called my cell phone. It turned out that he had the name of the coffee shop right, but had gone to their west-end location. I told him that I couldn’t promise I might not go ahead and order a coffee.

Short StoriesTruth is, I don’t really drink much coffee, but this place has a non-carbonated peach drink that is a refreshing change, even if it consists of about 200% sugar.

I got us a booth near the window and tried to figure out what Joe might want to talk about. He was both a church veteran and a new Christian, if you know what I mean. The discussion could go many different directions.

The two guys in the next booth were obviously regulars. You could tell it by the way the booth seats seemed to conform to their slouching as they conversed while flipping the pages of a local, small-town newspaper.

“Check that out;” one of them said.

While pretending not to have heard, I looked up to see what had got their attention, but the only change was that a family of four — parents, a boy and a girl — had walked up to the counter. These were not regulars. They had tourist written all over them, and I almost wanted to say, ‘Hey, if you’re going to visit our town, check out one of our good coffee houses.’ 

The conversation next door continued.

“Yeah. What’s that gotta be? Twelve, thirteen?”

“I’d say eleven. Damn!”

Okay. A few things came to mind. First, this wasn’t going to be the ideal booth to sit at when Joe arrived. The place was pretty full, but I saw a guy on his last sip in a similar booth on the other side, and if I could watch for the moment he left, Joe wouldn’t be distracted by anything overheard.

Second, I glanced briefly at the young girl. Her top didn’t quite meet her jeans. Clearly the guys at the next booth had the age right. I wondered what might happen if her parents knew that right at this exact moment two perverts were staring down their daughter. The conversation got a little louder.

“What if you knew you’d never get caught?”

“Seriously? Nobody would ever know? For life?”

“Yeah.”

“Life doesn’t give those guarantees.”

“What if God Himself promised you it would be a lifetime secret between you and her?”

The guy at other booth had gotten into a newspaper story, but moved the coffee cup off to the side. I was ready to make my move and make it fast. But first, I had endure more speculative theology at the next table.

“Well sure, what guy wouldn’t?” 

“She sure is a cutie.”

Newspaper guy stood up, and as he did, so did I, swooping in like a vulture to claim the new table, sitting on the side he hadn’t. ‘Thank goodness I don’t have to listen to that conversation;’ I said to myself.

Instead, I found myself staring at the young girl and suddenly there was a voice in my head speaking like I had never heard a voice in my head before.

‘So what if I told you, you could have that girl and there would be no repercussions?’

‘Get out of my head, you stupid voice; I’m trying to get focused for my discussion with Joe.’

‘But play along, what if I told you there would never be any consequences for you?’

‘I don’t even know for sure who you are, but assuming that you’re genuinely able to make that offer, you’re forgetting that I’m married.’

‘You would never bear any — any at all — consequences. Never.’

‘Okay. I hear your offer. A fulfillment of every man’s lustful desire is it? The young girl fantasy? Granted. There would be no consequences for me. But there would be consequences for the girl. You forget there is another human being involved here.’

‘Ah! So it is. You have answered well.’

And then the voice stopped as though someone had turned down the channel on a large audio mixing board, while at the same time turning up the channel with the background sounds of the restaurant.

The girl’s father — who had to be at least six foot four — was now seated thankfully blocking my view of her completely.  Had I just passed some kind of test?

Apparently Joe had already arrived, as he showed up at the booth coffee in hand while I continued with my large cup of sugar juice.  Of all the topics Joe could have brought to the coffee shop that day, it turned out he wanted to talk about some career choices he was facing that might involve him and his wife moving a considerable distance.

“I keep weighing the pros and cons of each possibility;” he said, “but it’s like I hear voices in my head and I think it’s God speaking to me, but then seconds later it seems like it’s more like something the Devil would say, and honestly, sometimes it’s not totally crystal clear who’s who.”

“I know;” I responded. “Sometimes that can be difficult…”

April 27, 2014

On Turning Pro

Filed under: Christianity, writing — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:08 am

 

Over the past few weeks we’ve attended an unusually high number of events at different churches which were themselves inter-church or trans-denominational in nature…

Mrs. W:  There’s that guy again.

Me: You mean that guy at the front?

Mrs. W: Yeah, he’s been at everything we’ve been at lately.

Me: Maybe he’s saying the same thing about us.

Mrs. W: I wonder who he is?

Me: Maybe he’s a professional Christian.

Mrs. W: What?

Me: Maybe he’s here like we are, only professionally.

Mrs. W: Then he’s possibly doing a terrible job of it.

Me: Why’s that?

Mrs. W: Well, he’s probably not getting paid to be here right now.

Me: …I keep thinking there’s a blog post in this.

Image 42714

I have to be honest, I find the idea of a “professional Christian” intriguing. But honesty compels me to admit that they already exist. We have “celebrity Christians,” who like their secular counterparts are famous for being famous. So why not have–

[We interrupt this blog post for a special announcement: Paul has absolutely no idea where he's going with this. He has fallen into some kind of stream-of-consciousness writing thing not realizing he has become unconscious mid-process.]

–which, if you try it, could be both spiritually and financially beneficial; and is possibly the best idea I’ve ever posted here.

March 18, 2014

Your Critics are Your Friends

celebrity-jeopardy Driscoll Noble Furtick

The above picture is taken from an article by Matthew Marino at the blog, The Gospel Side, titled Celebrity Jeopardy, Pastors Edition. In it he said one thing that for me really nailed it:

Last summer, in a post entitled “When did evangelicals get popes?” I pointed out the ironic similarities between celebrity video-venue preachers and the papacy that Protestantism rose in protest against. Extending the irony has been Pope Francis’ humility this year in contrast to the growing list of celebrity pastor abuses…

I encourage you to read all of it.

Like Matthew, I got comments — by email, Twitter and on the blog — that my emphasis on this topic and of Driscoll in particular was skewing too negative. But I think that there’s a time and a place to raise awareness of issues and thereby hold leaders accountable.

And if Warren Throckmorton’s blog post yesterday is accurate, maybe now is the time to back off:

…As it turns out, the publisher, Harper Collins Christian, has now corrected the section in question by quoting and footnoting the section of Ryken’s book I identified. Nearly all of the problems I identified have been addressed…

More to the point, there’s been an indication of true repentance as posted at Christianity Today yesterday in an article titled Mark Driscoll Retracts Bestseller Status, Resets Life.

…In the lengthy letter via Mars Hill’s online network, The City, Driscoll reflects on what he has gotten right and wrong over the past 17 years, which have seen the church he founded grow beyond his expectations to an estimated 13,000 people worshiping weekly in 15 locations in five states. Many praised the statement on Twitter for its humility, while many others said it still left their concerns unresolved…

[The full letter was leaked on Reddit.]

In Proverbs 27 we read,

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.  (ESV)

If I am critical of the prominent writers and pastors who have been the subject of recent brought-on-by-themselves controversies, I am doing so as an insider, as someone who wants to see the scandals off the front page of the Christian websites and blogs. So we bring things into the open hopefully for a short season in order to see a turnaround and as a preventative that things don’t get worse.

Several years ago I wrote a paraphrase of II Tim 3:16, the verse that talks about scripture being useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. While I am NOT drawing a parallel between a blog and God’s holy word, in the paraphrase I noted that scripture:

  • shows us the path God would have us walk
  • highlights when and where we’ve gotten off the path
  • points the way back to the path
  • gives us the advice we need to keep from wandering off the path in future

Now mapping that back to the verse in Proverbs; this is the kind of thing I hope that we would do for and with one another. “As iron sharpens iron…”  The goal should be that we would raise the standard of integrity, point out when and where we leave that path, find the way to get back on track, and put safeguards in to place that stop us from wandering.

Furthermore, I would want someone to do that for me.

March 16, 2014

When Did Jesus Experience Grace?

coffee time

A conversation joined in progress…

“…she never brings anything to a potluck dinner, they just show up. He never comes to a church work day. They don’t attend Bible studies or prayer meetings.”

“But what’s that to you?”

“I think we’d all like to know if they’re all in.”

“Why do you need to know that?”

“Because it would be nice to have a conversation with them that wasn’t superficial; that wasn’t just all about the weather and the school their kids go to. It would be nice to know where they stand.”

“Why don’t you just ask them? Say, ‘So what’s God been doing in your life lately?’ Or, ‘What’s God been teaching you lately?”

“You can’t just start a conversation cold like that.”

“Maybe not at the grocery store, or with a relative stranger, but this is church, you sit in the row behind them every single week.”

“It would be awkward.”

“So here’s a question for you: Was Jesus ever the recipient of grace?”

“Wait. What?”

“Was Jesus ever the recipient of grace?”

“That’s just wrong.”

“Did Jesus ever experience grace?”

“Grace is for sinners. Jesus was without sin.”

“Are you a sinner?”

“I was a sinner; but now I’ve passed from death into life.”

“Have you ever sinned since? Maybe even this week?”

“Yes. Absolutely. So have you.”

“Does the grace of God meet you in that place?”

“Yes. But that’s different; second Corinthians 5:21 says, ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ He had no sin, or some translations say he knew no sin.”

“You just happen to know that verse?”

“It was on a Christian radio on Friday while I was driving to work.”

“And you memorized the reference?”

“My sister’s birthday is 5/21 so that helped. So when did Jesus experience the grace of God?”

“What is grace?”

“Grace is unmerited favor with God.”

“So the answer is, ‘At his baptism.’ A voice from heaven, the voice of God, says, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”1

“And…”

“He experienced the favor of God even though he hadn’t done anything yet. This was the outset2 of his public ministry. He hadn’t taught anything, he hadn’t called disciples, he hadn’t healed anyone. It was unmerited in the sense that he hadn’t commenced his spiritual work.”

“But he had been alive for 30 years at that point. He always had the favor of God. Luke 2:52 says, ‘Jesus grew…in favor with God and man,’ so this was something he had earned over time.”

“But the people at the Jordan River didn’t know all that. To them, he was simply one of many being baptized for the forgiveness of sin and then God says he is ‘well pleased’ with him. We tend to think of that as more of an end-of-life pronouncement from God, as in ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ 3 In other words, he has already been made a recipient of the favor of God.”

“But that has nothing to do with works, he was well-pleasing to God because of who he was, not according to anything he did. It’s the same with us, like that verse that says, ‘Not by works of righteousness that we have done…but because of his mercy.’4 There’s nothing that we do that ultimately earns us the grace of God. It’s who we are not what we do.”

“Exactly. So maybe it wasn’t grace in the sense of being freed from punishment because Jesus was, as you said, without sin. But it was a favor with God that preceded everything he was about to do over the next three years.”

“Okay. You could think of that way I suppose, but how did we get on this topic again?”

“The family that sits the row in front of you at church…”

“…Oh…yeah…”

“Could it be the grace of God is working and operative in their lives in ways you just don’t realize?”

“…Hmm…Maybe we need to get to know them a little better…”


1 Matthew 3:17

2Harmonization of the Life of Jesus

3Matthew 25:23

4 Titus 3:5

March 9, 2014

The Possession of Ideas, Part 2

The corollary to yesterday’s discussion is that if I do choose to copyright my blog writing here, I am basically saying this is mineI wrote this, I created it, it was my talents and my gifts that went into creating it.

I’m glad the Biblical writers didn’t feel that way. If you believe in plenary inspiration — that God birthed ideas within them but they stylized it and added their individual touch to the writing — then even if you hold that “all Scripture is inspired” (which I do) you could still make a case that they could copyright the particular words used.

copyright 2But some would argue that even if you say, “This came entirely from God and I shouldn’t really take any credit for it;” if you want your writing to reach the greatest number of people, then you’ve got to put somebody’s name underneath the title.

That’s essentially the case with Jesus Calling. I don’t want to get into the larger debate on that book, because it’s been done elsewhere  (with 100+ comments) but if, like the classic God Calling, the “authors” feel that this book is the equivalent to Dictation Theory in Biblical inspiration, realistically, nobody’s name should appear on the cover. I wonder if “by Jesus” or “by God” would sell more or fewer copies than “by Sarah Young.”

You can however engage the commercial marketplace and at the same time take no money (or very little) for your wares. Keith Green is a name that some of the younger generation don’t know, but Keith basically said that if anyone couldn’t afford his records or cassettes, he would send them copies free of charge. It was radical at the time — and would be even more so today — and Keith took ribbing that perhaps he was also going to ship stereo systems to people who had nothing on which to play the music.

Keith GreenKeith Green would have loved blogging — he’d have about ten of them — and would be fighting hard for the open source blogosphere we talked about yesterday,  and also almost exactly two years ago. (The post then was triggered by an irate blogger at C201 as well, so we’re running one complaint every 700+ articles, which isn’t bad.) In fact, Keith would argue for open source thinking in a variety of Christian media and art.

Bottom line: We have to be careful about holding too tightly to the things of this world including possessions that are tangible and those which are intangible such as intellectual property.

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