Monday, March 24

Odds 'n Ends

Happy (late) Easter! I came to the same conclusion this year that I have the past few years: if the Resurrection really happened, then, shit!—that’s some good news! It’s hard to explain, but for the bulk of my life I celebrated Easter like I was waiting for the tooth fairy. Nice, but no reality. It’s easy to start reading the “After the Sabbath, at dawn, on the first day of the week…” passage like “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” I have to take a step back and remind myself that the Resurrection was an actual, historical event and it represents real eschatological hope. I guess that’s obvious, but how often do we really let it sink in?

Rob Bell had a two-page spread in our local paper, the GR Press. Aside from the fact that I find this feature slightly creepy, I really enjoyed the article. As a former Mars Hill attendee, I was reminded why I have a mostly love-hate relationship with the guy. I can’t deny that my five years at Mars contributed positively to my spiritual growth. Rob has an ingenious way of tackling issues that are on peoples’ minds and hearts in a biblically, philosophically, and theologically sound way while still making the message understandable. I really think he has his finger on the current pulse of disillusionment and search for meaning. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat suffering by pulling out wimpy theodicies and he certainly doesn’t shy away from questioning God.

But from where I’m sitting, the personality cult thing just got to be too much. Mars Hill is Rob’s brainchild, and the culture of the place is what it is because of him. From the very first week it was defined by Rob-isms…calling services “gatherings” instead of services, calling the congregation “all you folks in the gray chairs,” and after we moved into the mall, making endless jokes about how cool it was that we were a church in a mall with a punk rock-looking preacher. People come just to hear Rob, and you can’t really blame them, because when he’s not there it’s pretty dull. Basically I think his strength ended up being his weakness. He is so passionate about Christ, but with his creativity and strong personality everything became too much about him. I’ll take the liturgy and the sacraments over “trampoline” Christianity and velvet Elvis ripping, thank you very much.

I don’t talk about nursing that much on this blog, mostly because I’ve got lots of real-life people to commiserate with. But the latest is that I’m done with my Leadership rotation in Outpatient OR, which translates to no longer having to scrape my car off at five in the morning during the second-snowiest winter ever in Michigan. Hooray! And I have a pretty promising interview in one OR after graduation. Wow, that was exciting. That would be why I don’t blog about nursing.



Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ric Wild said...

So you're a nursing major, eh? I think you might be an undercover theologian. Do you go to Calvin?

Anyway, I know what you mean by the personality cult thing. I used to attend the other Mars Hill in Seattle where Mark Driscoll is the shit and he'll just delete you're email if you tell him otherwise. In the end I stopped attending the church not because of him necessarily, but it was something that always bothered me and probably bothers me more now than it did while I was there.

Now I'm at a polite and respectable New England congregational church and I don't have to worry about these sorts of things any more because the liturgy and the expectation that a service should never go beyond an hour doesn't allow for big personalities.

Ric Wild said...

I'm enrolled at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. I studied theology as an undergrad at Seattle Pacific University so I’m in the midst of doing this weird first-year internship turned into two years to gain some experience. I’ll be moving to Chicago in the fall of ’09 to be real student again.

Nursing by day, theology by night... I like it. You're like a Bible nerd superhero or something.

I like Moltmann. I read his book Trinity and the Kingdom. It was definitely a face melter. He came to SPU this fall which really bummed me out since I'm no longer there.

It doesn't surprise me that Mark would deem Rob Bell a heretic. All it takes is to have a woman elder.

Well, good to have your acquaintance, Rachel. We should be Facebook friends. I'll try and make it happen. Peace.

ajcerda said...

I like the comment about taking the liturgy and the sacraments over “trampoline” Christianity and velvet Elvis ripping.

Brilliantly and amusingly stated!

Teleia Philia

Xristocharis said...

When it comes to the life of Christ I think it's far too easy for us to engage in a kind of apotheosis with Jesus. Even though we confess that He is wholly God and wholly human, we tend to want to just let Him be wholly God and keep it at that. We want a Divine Jesus who reigns beyond the profane, "among the gods" as it were. To remind ourselves that this Jesus really was born, that He was a crying, pooping, vomiting infant; to remind ourselves that He was a child who played games with other kids, and who ate, drank, and stubbed His toe when He ran. These things are more difficult for us to grasp. That He really did teach in the Galilean countryside, and dirt got under His finger nails, or that He probably hit His thumb with the hammer on accident in Joseph's carpentry shop. That He really did die, that nails really did pierce His flesh and actual blood did flow from His wounds. That His pain was actual, His suffering real--and that His resurrection actually happened, that the Jesus of History really did rise from the dead. That almost makes us uncomfortable.

We like the Jesus of the Sky--somewhere, up there, beyond all reach--that kind of Jesus "among the gods" we can be comfortable with. The Jesus of Earth, however, is very uncomfortable, because He's suddenly very near, suddenly He's like us, and suddenly we find ourselves with the inevitable--to claim to be His worshipers means to get our own hands dirty.

It means we have to go to the cross to be crucified too. Do we really believe that Sunday really is coming? How much faith can we have that God really will raise us up, even as we commit ourselves to be crucified with Christ?

D said...

Ha! Thank you for saying shit right after the resurrection! Worth stumbling onto your blog for that reason alone!

So, yeah, I agree with the whole Rob Bell thing. I wrote about it a few days ago on my sight. The personality cult of the leader is downright scary.

Yeah, is Sunday really coming. So many times, I feel like I'm leaving in perpetual Easter Saturdays, when everything is up in the air and confusing.

Thanks for the post.