Rhythms of Grace

Abide is the Missional Community of St James & Emmanuel, Didsbury

Abide has been going now for six months and finds its identity in two places.  Firstly in gatherings and then secondly in a missional lifestyle focused around the ‘Five Rhythms of Grace’.  They gather every second Tuesday for a shared meal and then on the fourth Sunday of each month for an experimental service, alongside this they are involved in various missional activities in our locality.

The term, Rhythms of Grace, is taken from Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 11:28:

“Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."

Rhythm One
By God’s grace, I will seek to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Rhythm Two
By God’s grace, I will be open to the presence, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

Rhythm Three
By God’s grace, I will set aside time for prayer, worship and spiritual reading.

Rhythm Four
By God’s grace, I will endeavour to be a gracious presence in the world, serving others and working for justice in human relationships and social structures.

Rhythm Five
By God’s grace, I will sensitively share my faith with others: participating in God’s mission both locally and globally.

These five rhythms are not rules that dictate behaviour, but a starting point to help to understand who we are, and what we need to do to grow as disciples of Christ.

The Rhythms of Grace have been developed by the Community of St. Chad in Lichfield Diocese.

Firefox 19+ problem with reading and printing pdfs

FF 19 has its own built-in viewer for pdf files. It does not seem to work properly. Displays are either poor quality or blank. Printing uses wrong typefaces and bad character spacing. Some colours prints and others do not.

Thankfully, it is easy to revert to using some other pdf viewer, such as Foxit or Adobe Reader.

Go to Tools / Options / Applications and scroll down to “Portable Document Formay (PDF)”, and change it to your preferred pdf viewer.

Problem is solved!

Another same sex marriage insight!

My blog feeds are awash with articles on same sex marriage but this one caught my eye.  My guess is that Doug Mainwaring and I are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. He being the co-founder of National Capital Tea Party Patriots whose core values: Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets. He is also a gay man who brings an interesting insight to the debate about single-sex marriage.

Here’s the problem: The national discussion of same-sex marriage treats the issue like a game of checkers, where opponents can quickly gain each other’s pieces without much forethought about the consequences. This unreflective view of the discussion has prevented any real debate.

In years past, defenders of marriage found it easy to win the battle on the checker board. Appeals to religion and tradition won hands down almost effortlessly. While same-sex marriage advocates argued for a more thoughtful consideration of the topic, they were mostly just bulldozed over.

The tide has turned. Same-sex marriage proponents now have all the “kings” on the board, and rule it. One only needs to consider media headlines from the last few weeks. We are bombarded with approvals of same-sex marriage. To the casual onlooker, not steeped in this issue, it would seem that conservatism has embraced same-sex marriage. Each day brings fresh news of Republican political elites, Fortune 500 companies, NFL members, and even Dirty Harry himself, Clint Eastwood, throwing their support behind genderless marriage.

The game we are actually playing is chess, not checkers. This sounds confusing, because chess and checkers are played on the exact same sixty-four square game board. Checkers is easy and it’s fast. It’s one of the first games children learn how to play. Chess is hard, requiring thought about the intended and unintentional consequences of every single move that may or may not be made.

In developing their goals for policy and law, politicians often look no further than the next election cycle. They’re concerned about votes. Supporting same-sex marriage now looks like a winner for them.

It also looks like a winner for media outlets, concerned about revenues and readership, and for large corporations, eager to polish their images and create goodwill. Few of these outlets are interested in playing chess because a quick win at checkers is more important to them.

The sense of urgency regarding same-sex marriage, now palpably frenetic, is in itself a sign of our national discussion’s devolution into nothing more than slogans and emotions.

Our nation’s individual state legislatures and courts—including the Supreme Court— need to apply the brakes. Now.

As in chess, the unintended consequences deserve sound consideration.

Genderless marriage now enjoys an aura of equality and fairness, which suggests that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had same-sex marriages in mind as they penned their magnificent giant leap forward for humanity. While this situation is highly unlikely, those who selfishly seek additional “rights” for themselves have found their justification in the penumbra they now sense surrounding legitimate civil rights.

Same-sex marriage will not expand rights and freedoms in our nation. It will not redefine marriage. It will undefine it.

Same-sex marriage will do the same, depriving children of their right to either a mom or a dad. This is not a small deal. Children are being reduced to chattel-like sources of fulfilment. On one side, their family tree consists not of ancestors, but of a small army of anonymous surrogates, donors, and attorneys who pinch-hit for the absent gender in genderless marriages. Gays and lesbians demand that they have a “right” to have children to complete their sense of personal fulfilment, and in so doing, are trumping the right that children have to both a mother and a father—a right that same-sex marriage tramples over.

Same-sex marriage will undefine marriage and unravel it, and in so doing, it will undefine children. It will ultimately lead to undefining humanity. This is neither “progressive” nor “conservative” legislation. It is “regressive” legislation.

Nowhere on any marriage license application in any state are the applicants asked, “Do you love each other?” Yet this is the basis on which same-sex marriage proponents seek to change our laws. Is the state really in the business of celebrating our romantic lives?

The mantra I heard repeatedly in Minnesota was that “marriage is about love, commitment, and responsibility.” But these three things are not the state’s interests in marriage. Marriage, from the state’s perspective, is about kids. Period. That’s the reason the institution exists. We should tremble at and fear the notion of undoing it.

Nothing in the guise of something

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.  Žižek on Coke:

"I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it [it has no use, unlike] water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst. Coke functions as the direct embodiment of "IT", the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions.

It is the mysterious and elusive X we are all after in our compulsive consumption. Since Coke doesn’t satisfy any concrete need, we drink it only as a supplement. It is this very superfluous character that makes our thirst for Coke all the more insatiable.

Coke has the paradoxical quality: the more you drink it, the more you get thirsty. So, when the slogan for Coke was "Coke is it!", we should see in it some ambiguity – it’s "it" precisely insofar as it’s never IT, precisely because every consumption opens up the desire for more.

The paradox is thus that Coke is not an ordinary commodity, but a commodity whose very peculiar use itself is already a direct embodiment of the [overwhelming] surplus.

This process is brought to its conclusion in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke. We drink a drink for two reasons: for its nutritional value and for its taste. In the case of caffeine–free diet Coke, its nutritional value is suspended and the caffeine as the key ingredient of its taste is also taken away.

All that remains is pure semblance, an artificial promise of a substance which never materialised.

Is it not that in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke that we almost literally drink nothing in the guise of something?"

Believe without believing

My view is that the "single-sex marriage issue" will become yet another master-signifier within the Christian world.  A master signifier is an vacuous organising principle created from a fantasy but which allows a person feel good for what he or she has done or believes. Yet it demands nothing of this person. In essence it enables us to “believe without believing,” in Žižek’s famous words. It allows us to be Christians without it meaning anything material to us.

"There is a real danger that single-sex marriage will becomes an identity marker amongst Christians – another fracture in the unity of the worldwide church. I call this turning it into a Master Signifier – a ideological given.

This works against God in Christ doing anything different among us and our sexual lives. In essence, we cement the status quo firmly in place with all its antagonisms. We get nowhere. There is no open space for sexual redemption.

We need to create space for a whole new conversation. Sadly, my guess is, neither side wants this."

http://godmanchesterbaptist.org/real-marriage

So it is with interest that I saw these two news reports.

Clearly, many Christian leaders worldwide are now having to express their view on single sex marriage – to take a position on this master-signifier: Rob Bell Comes Out for Marriage Equality.

I find myself agreeing with David Fitch about Bell’s comments:

Who is Rob Bell speaking for/to in affirming gay marriage?

His (former) church [Mars Hill – unlikely]? Christians at large? The press? Culture observers? Gay Christians? Why or who should be paying attention to him? and Why?

More and more I’m seeing Christian leaders who have no congregation/people they’re accountable to (who yet carry media/publishing driven leadership) create division with pronouncements.

When we listen to a Christian leader we should first and foremost look at place of ministry/accountability from which he/she speaks.

And this is what happens when someone challenges this new morality:  Folk Legend Incites Mass Walkout With Anti-Gay Speech… In San Francisco

 

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