Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shalom and Sword

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6
                 Certainly Scripture says Jesus is the Prince of Peace and he has come to establish peace. But could the establishment of peace actually call for a period of unrest? In Matthew 10 Jesus says something that disrupts our assumptions about who he is and why he came.  In verse 34, Jesus says: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
    What are we to make of that? What happened to our Prince of Peace? What happened to "good will toward men"? Jesus says he did not come to bring peace but a sword.  What does he mean?
    First, he's not speaking literally. Jesus is not literally wielding a sword. He never does, at least not anywhere in the Gospels. It's important to put this statement in the context of this chapter. Earlier, starting in verse 5, when Jesus is telling the disciples what they should bring as they go out proclaiming the kingdom, he says don't bring any money, bag to put anything in, don't bring an extra change of clothes, don't bring extra shoes, don't bring a walking stick, don't even bring any food. He certainly doesn't tell them to bring a sword. So Jesus is not speaking literally here. He's using the sword as a metaphor, as a symbol. What does it represent?
    Most of us think of a sword as an instrument of violence. But nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus advocate violence.  Remember, this is also the Jesus who told us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. He modeled that for us as he hung upon the cross when he prayed to forgive those who were in the process at that very moment of murdering him. This is also the Jesus who told Peter to put away his sword, because those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Jesus is not advocating violence or war. That's not what this symbol means. So what does it mean?
    The key is in the word peace. Jesus says he has not come to bring peace. The word he uses here is the Hebrew word shalom, a word with nuanced meaning. It doesn't simply mean peace, as in the absence of violence. It's a peace that comes from wholeness, from being complete—completely put together, unified. It's the wholeness that comes when nothing is missing, when everything is one. So what Jesus says is: I have not come to bring wholeness; I've come to bring the opposite. The opposite of wholeness or unity is division. He's using the image of a sword to mean to divide, to cut, to sever in half.  So he’s saying, “I did not come to bring wholeness and unity, but division.”  This fits the context. After all, in the verses immediately before this, Jesus is talking about how the disciples will go throughout the villages and will be persecuted and hated because of him. I've come to bring a sword, division.
    What Jesus is saying is that his mission is to turn the world upside down, and we see him doing that even from the moment of his birth. When King Herod heard that the Messiah, the divine King, had been born in Bethlehem, Herod was greatly disturbed, so he tried to have this child killed.  Also, when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus as an infant to the temple to be dedicated, Simeon held him and said to Mary and Joseph, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel." In other words, this child is going to turn the world upside down. He is going to bring division.
    This is the first thing we need to correct about our perception of Jesus during this season. At Christmas we don't celebrate the birth of a passive Savior, a pushover Messiah, somebody who just came to make us feel better. Jesus is the most radical person who has ever walked the earth. He did not come to bring peace; he came to bring a sword, to turn the world upside down, to radically alter this world and to dethrone every illegitimate king. The way he did this was by welcoming all people back into communion with God, back into the kingdom of his Father. He invited people who everyone else thought were completely disqualified from being connected to God: the sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes and thieves and drunkards and all those who were on the outskirts of society. He welcomed them back into communion with God. And he welcomes us back into communion with God.
    He overturned the world by showing God's radical, lavish love for all people and then invited us to love God just as much, with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. The reason why this is threatening, the reason why this turns the world upside down, is because to be back in proper relationship with God, to love him with all that we are, means taking something else in our lives out of that place. Every one of us has put something in the place that rightfully belongs to God alone. Just as Herod was threatened by the birth of this rival king, every one of us should be threatened by the birth of Christ, because he has come to dethrone whatever is on the throne of our lives that he alone has authority over. That's why he came to bring a sword; he's here to turn the world and our lives upside down.
Jesus has come to demand our full allegiance, and that will cause division both in us and in our world.           
    Don't be fooled. Don't look at the manger and think only about this innocent, helpless, sweet baby, tender and mild, laying down his sweet head. Jesus is no such thing. He did not come to make us feel better about ourselves, but to demand our allegiance. He came as a threat to every king, ruler, government and nation in this world, including every illegitimate ruler in our own lives, whether that be family or self or career advancement or material gain.  He alone can make such a demand.
    And to him and him alone should we give that allegiance.  For it is then that we find shalom—the true peace that comes from wholeness. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranky Christians at Christmas

      Well, it’s officially the Christmas Season.  We know that because today is the first Sunday of Advent.  That’s the pastoral answer, anyway.  The real reason we know it’s the Christmas Season is because Thanksgiving is over.  In the United States the Christmas Season officially begins on the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday.  If anyone wants to know what the official religion of America is, this tells you all you need to know.  Anyway, I’m not going to spend my time complaining about the commercialization of Christmas; it is what it is.  The fact is, I like buying Christmas gifts, and I like receiving Christmas gifts.  So there.  You have my blessing to give and receive Christmas gifts.  As if you were waiting for my blessing.  Just don’t do it all on a credit card.  If you haven’t saved throughout the year for Christmas, or don’t have the cash to buy everybody everything that they want, simplify.  Put more thought and less debt into your gifts.  And less guilt.  If your kids or your spouse don’t already know how much you love them, a new iPad isn’t going to solve anything.  No, I’m going to use my time and this space to address a much more serious issue, one that I have felt compelled to address the last few years at the beginning of the Christmas Season.  This is my annual article about Cranky Christians at Christmastime.  I’m not talking about Christians who are sleep-deprived from too many Christmas parties or frustrated by the lines at the mall.  I’m talking about Christians who work themselves up into a spasm of righteous indignation because non-Christians don’t want to celebrate Christmas the way a Christian does.
Last Spring, a couple of weeks before Easter, Pam and I were invited to the home of one of her hospital chaplain colleagues, a Reform Jew, to celebrate Passover.  Julie invited all the resident chaplains and their spouses/guests to Passover.  None of us were Jews; all were Christians.  Three of us were ordained Christian ministers.  We gathered in her living room, and on the coffee table were all the elements of the Passover.  We took turns reading excerpts from the Hagaddah, asking the four questions and listening to the four answers.  We ate two types of bitter herbs (recalling the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt), drank the four glasses of wine at the appropriate times, ate parsley dipped in salt water (signifying the tears of the Hebrew slaves), and ate charoset, a sweet, brown, pebbly paste of fruits and nuts, representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt.  Julie explained each element to us—goyim that we were—so that we could fully enjoy the experience.  Afterward we gathered around her dining room table and ate dinner, which consisted of other traditional Jewish foods, including lamb, which Julie cooked herself.  She was our hostess, we were her guests, and we were treated as such.  I was honored to be there.  Julie made me feel special.  It was a wonderful experience.
Here’s what Julie didn’t do: she didn’t expect me to experience Passover as a Jew.  I’m not Jewish, I’m Christian, and it was as a Christian that I experienced Passover.  Julie didn’t chastise me for celebrating Easter but not Passover.  She wasn’t indignant that we Christians had taken her Passover meal, which means so much to her and her people, and changed it into something completely different, using just one of the cups of wine and a small piece of the bread to symbolize the death of our (false) Messiah.  She didn’t use some lame slogan like, “Don’t Take the Pesach out of Passover.”
She opened her home, and made her Christian friends feel special.  More importantly, she opened her life to us and said, “This is who I am, this is what is important to me, and I want to share it with you, my Christian friends.”
We Christians invite the world to celebrate Christmas.  People who aren’t Christians aren’t going to celebrate it like we do.  It’s not going to have the same meaning to them it has to us.  We shouldn’t expect a Jew working the cash register at Bed, Bath and Beyond to say, “Merry Christmas” (the word is, after all, a shortening of “Christ’s Mass”), and we shouldn’t want a Muslim 2nd grader to be forced in a government-run school to sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!”  And when we get indignant when they don’t, we come off looking really, really bad.
We should treat them as guests.  Literally, we should treat them as guests.  Invite them into our homes and churches, let them see how Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth; invite them to listen as we read the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke.  We should say to them, “This is who I am, this is what is important to me, and I want to share it with you, my Muslim/Jewish/Atheist/Hindu/Christian-in-name-only friends.”  Instead of treating them as intruders, interlopers, or transgressors, let’s treat them all—and one another too—as special guests to Jesus’s party.
No more Cranky Christians at Christmas.  Please?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wright's Right: Accepting God as King

Plenty of Christians, alas, have imagined that a “divine Jesus” had come to earth simply to reveal his divinity and save people away from earth for a distant “heaven.” (Some have even imagined, absurdly, that the point of “proving that Jesus really did all those things” is to show that the Bible is true—as though Jesus came to witness to the Bible rather than the other way around.) It has been all too possible to use the doctrine of the incarnation or even the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture as a way of protecting oneself and one’s worldview and political agenda against having to face the far greater challenge of God taking charge, of God becoming king, on earth as in heaven. But that is what the stories in the Bible are all about. That’s what the story of Jesus was, and is, all about. That is the real challenge, and skeptics aren’t the only ones who find clever ways to avoid it.

Wright, N. T. (2011-10-25). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (p. 149). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Warren Haynes Singing and Playing

Here's the video I promised the other day.  It will give you a taste of Hayne's music, his voice, his virtuosity.  A quick apology about the video, which was shot with my phone.  When I turn the phone from horizontal to vertical--or portrait to landscape, if you will--the image on my screen adjusts, but apparently the recording doesn't change.  So there will be a portion when I turn the phone horizontal when the video will turn sideways.  Sorry about that.  Maybe just lay down to watch, or close your eyes and listen.  In my opinion, it's worth it.

Wright's Right: The Second Coming and Patience

Believing in the second coming itself is anything but arrogant. The whole point of it is to insist, over against not only the wider pagan world, but against all self-delusion or pretension within the church, that Jesus remains sovereign and will return at last to put everything right. This putting right (the biblical word for it is “justice”) is the sort of sigh-of-relief event that the whole world, at its best and at many other times too, longs for most deeply. All sorts of things are out of joint, both on a large and a small scale, in the world; and God the creator will put them straight. All sorts of things are still going wrong, corrupting the lives of human beings and the larger life of the environment, the planet itself; God the creator will put them right. All sorts of things are still wrong with us, Jesus’s followers; Jesus, when he comes, will put us right as well. That may not be comfortable, but it’s what we need. Believing he will do it is part of Christian humility. Waiting for it is part of Christian patience: 

When the king is revealed (and he is your life, remember), then you too will be revealed with him in glory. (Col. 3:4) 

Beloved ones, we are now, already, God’s children; it hasn’t yet been revealed what we are going to be. We know that when he is revealed we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Wright, N. T. (2011-10-25). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (p. 201). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Haynes Alive

For years I had read about Warren Haynes and his band Gov't Mule in guitar magazines, but this past January I decided to give a listen to him.  I listened to some previews on iTunes and really liked what I heard, so I downloaded the Gov't Mule album, Deja Voodoo--and proceeded to listen to nothing else for two whole months.  Then I downloaded one of his solo projects, Tales of Ordinary Madness--and listened to nothing else for another couple of months.  Since then I have downloaded a few more albums, and Warren Haynes is pretty much all that I've been listening to all year.  (Exceptions being a little country music recommended by a friend--Jason Aldean, "My Kinda Party"; James Wesley, "Didn't I"; and some blues by Joe Bonamassa.) 

Haynes has long been known for his work with the Allman Brothers, but his Gov't Mule and solo projects, while not cut out for Top 40 radio play, are what has garnered him a very loyal following.  His is the kind of music I really enjoy--guitar-driven, blues-based classic and southern rock.

For Christmas Pam wanted to get me tickets to one of his concerts and asked Clark Briggs, for whom I built guitar #3, to find out if and when Haynes was going to be in the area.  Clark found out that Haynes was going to be in Silver Spring at the Fillmore on November 19, but asked Pam if he could take me there as a birthday gift.  She graciously said yes.

Last night was November 19.  The Fillmore is not a large venue, but it is very cool.  The concert was general admission, standing-only.  Clark and I were 20 in line, which means we were able to get right on the rail in front of the stage.

Oh. My. Goodness.  All I wanted was to be close enough to be able to watch Warren play, but I was within just a few feet.  It was all better than I expected.  An amazing night of music.  It was the last night of the tour, and they seemed energized.  They had fun.  There was joy on the stage and in the audience.

Here's some pics from the concert.

Haynes recently switched from a Gibson Les Paul to a Gibson hollow body, not sure if it's a 335 or maybe a 333.
This girl could sing!  There was soul all through her voice.
Here is my favorite picture.  Warren isn't in pain, he's just bending the heck out of that string.  When you bend a string you are squeezing every ounce of feeling from the note.  No other look is possible when getting that much blues out of your guitar.  Trust me on this.
After two sets and an encore that was almost as long as the second set, a final goodbye at the end of the tour.

I have some video that I will post but that will have to wait.  I first have to upload video to YouTube, and my DSL here at home can't handle the bandwidth required.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wright's Right

I'm going to start a new series of posts that I am calling "Wright's Right."  These will be quotes, mostly without commentary from me, from his writings.  Wright is the biblical writer who has been very influential in my own thinking--and I am not alone.  He is among the most prolific of writers, and writes at different times for scholarly, pastoral, and popular audiences.  I just finished his latest book, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters, and I highlighted a number of passages that I'll be interspersing among my other posts in the near future.  Here's the first: 

The disciples wanted a kingdom without a cross. Many would-be “orthodox” or “conservative” Christians in our world have wanted a cross without a kingdom, an abstract “atonement” that would have nothing to do with this world except to provide the means of escaping it. Many too have wanted a “divine” Jesus as a kind of “superman” figure, a heavenly hero come to rescue them, but not to act as Israel’s Messiah, establishing God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven. Jesus’s shocking combination of scriptural models into a single vocation makes excellent historical sense; that is, it explains at a stroke why he did and said what he did and said. But...it remains as challenging in our world, and indeed in our churches, as it was in Jesus’s own day.

Wright, N. T. (2011-10-25). Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (pp. 173-174). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Consumerism Aftermath, Pt. 1: Tearing Down the Walls

     Consumerism has hit Christianity in the United States, and brand loyalty is fast eroding.  I wrote about this last week, and while it is fashionable for commentators on Christianity to bemoan the way that consumerism has hurt the church and diluted its message, I want to assert, without denying the corrosive effects, that there are some positive trends that we are seeing in the landscape of Christianity that are a direct result of this consumerist attitude that people are bringing to the church.  Just off the top of my head, I see these things happening:
· As denominational distinctives get blurred, denominational walls get torn down
· As denominational walls get torn down, denominational theology becomes more democratic
· As theology becomes more democratic, Christians from different backgrounds and points of view talk to and learn from each other.
· As Christians talk to and learn from each other, we learn to respect and admire the totality of the 2000 year history of Christianity.
· As we re-claim all of Christian history, we enter into dialogue with Christians from different ages and epochs.
     All of these are positive developments, and need to be more fully explored.  Let me tackle the first one.  Historically, each denomination has some key elements that distinguish it from other denominations.  Presbyterians, for instance, are the spiritual descendants of John Calvin and hold to some form of Calvinism—the total depravity of humans, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.  In other words, God chooses who He wants to save, and there’s not much we can do about it.  Methodists, on the other hand, believe that humans are free to accept or reject God’s call or election to salvation, but that is really not the thing that historically has distinguished Methodists from other denominations, but rather their belief that the Christian is to pursue holiness or perfection as our chief object, and this through the method (hence the name) of small accountability groups.  This, of course, is an over-simplification; both Presbyterians and Methodists would point to other aspects as distinctives as well.  For Baptists, this issue of predestination vs. free will is not distinctive; there are Calvinist Baptists and free-will Baptists—right in our congregation.  Historically, Baptist distinctives are as follows: Believer’s Baptism by immersion—it’s in our name, after all; soul competency—the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply Scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit ; the priesthood of all believers—the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate directly to God without imposition of creed or control of clergy or government; the autonomy of the local Baptist church—that Baptist churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger Body of Christ; and religious freedom—the principle of separation of church and state. 
The thing is—these things aren’t that distinctive anymore.  There are other Christian denominations that are strong advocates for religious freedom in the way that Baptists have historically advocated.  Similarly, there are more and more denominations that practice Believer’s Baptism by immersion, more and more that believe in soul competency, the priesthood of believers.  Similarly, we are all learning from the Methodist’s emphasis on holiness through accountability, and the Presbyterian emphasis on God’s sovereignty, the Pentecostal emphasis that the Holy Spirit is active in visible ways in the lives of believers, the Orthodox Church’s emphasis on the mystery and beauty of God, etc.  As the lines between denomination get blurred, the walls between believers get torn down.  Actually, to be honest, the denominational institutions still insist on their distinctives.  The institutional walls still exist; it’s just that individual believer’s no longer pay much attention to them.  And that’s a good thing.  Jesus never intended that his followers would rebuild new walls to replace the wall between Jew and Gentile that he tore down.  Disciples of Jesus build bridges, not walls.

That’s our distinctive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Throughout most of the history of Christianity, brand loyalty has been strong.  Whatever brand of church you were born into, that’s where you stayed.  Of course changing brands wasn’t that simple back in the day—there were no options.  First, there was just the Church.  Then, there was the Coptic Church, which split away from  everyone else, and the Church.  Then there was the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, which went their separate way.  But even then a person didn’t really have a choice, given that these churches were geographically—and therefore socially—restricted.  If you were a Christian in Egypt you went to the Coptic Church; if you lived in Greece or Eastern Europe, you went to the Orthodox Church; in Western Europe, the Roman Catholic Church.  A Christian living in Gaul really didn’t have the choice to go to the Orthodox Church down the road—unless by “down the road” you meant a few thousand miles down the road.
In the West, the Protestant Reformation brought new brands of Christianity, and choices somewhat increased.  In Germany, for instance, your choices were the Catholic Church or the Lutheran Church, and that’s pretty much it.  But after a generation or two of the Reformation there really wasn’t that much crossover, if any.  If you were born Catholic, which meant your entire family was Catholic, you stayed Catholic.  To change would cut you off , not only from your family, but your entire social structure.  Same if you were born Lutheran.
This is an over-simplification to a degree, but not by much, and certainly not by comparison to what followed as religious groups, seeking religious freedom, came to the New World.  Within a few generations you had Congregationalists, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Catholics living in the same state, same city, same township.  You may have been a Lutheran farmer whose nearest neighbor a mile or so away was a Mennonite.
But while all these different brands came in close proximity to each other in the United States, brand loyalty was still extremely strong.  People just didn’t switch brands that often, and there was a high cost for doing so.  Then came television, and with TV came advertising to an extent not seen before, even in the days of radio.  As the years went by marketing became more and more sophisticated.  Consumers began having more choices of cars, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc.  The shopping mall came along and it flourished, giving people choices of stores and products under one large, climate-controlled roof.  Brand loyalty was still high.  Among the WWII generation you would still hear men call themselves Ford men or Chevy men.  And Baptists were always Baptists, Lutherans were always Lutherans, etc.
Not so for their children.  This generation, the Baby Boomers, came of age alongside the television, and they were the first generation that grew up marketed to.  Brand loyalty began eroding.  If the toothpaste they were using didn’t include fluoride, brand loyalty didn’t keep them from switching to a new brand that did.  Or that promised whiter teeth and fresher breath.  Companies could no longer rely on brand loyalty to keep their customers; they had to always be better than the rest.  And the bar kept rising.
So it shouldn’t be any surprise that when the Boomers came of age and started having children and returning to church in the 1970’s and 1980’s we began seeing the erosion of brand loyalty in church life as well.  If a husband and wife who grew up Baptist moved to a new town with their kids (or because they had kids decided to go back to church after a long-layoff that started in college), the Baptist church or churches might be the first churches they visit, but they likely visited other brands as well.  And the determining factor of where they eventually joined probably had little to do with the brand—it was almost solely based on the quality of the children’s and youth programs.
The result in this shift in mentality to a consumerist approach to church shopping is a marketing culture it created in churches that sought to gain the greatest numbers of religious consumers.  And while this is not new, and the weaknesses and flaws are apparent, what is new is that some very positive trends are coming out of this consumerist/marketing culture in church life.  I’ll explore some of those exciting trends in the next few posts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

God on the Brain

In their book, How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and therapist Mark Robert Waldman  conclude that believing in God is good for your health.  Based on evidence culled from brain-scan studies, a wide-reaching survey of people’s religious and spiritual experiences, and the authors’ analyses of adult drawings of God, they made the following discoveries:
· Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.
· Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain, altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
· Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety and depression and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love.
 It’s the last one that is interesting to me, not because it’s surprising—I imagine a having a strong belief in a punitive God would indeed result in increased anxiety and depression while believing in a loving God would naturally result in feelings of security, compassion, and love.  I didn’t need a neuroscientist to tell me that.  What makes it interesting is that so few people believe in such a God.
According to the authors, Americans view God four ways.  “Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all assign a personality to God.”  These personalities are as follows:
· The authoritarian god (32% of us)
· The critical god (16% of us)
· The distant god (24% of us)
· The benevolent god (23% of us)
So only 23% of religious people have increased feelings of security, compassion, and love.   Put another way, at least 48% of religious people have heightened feelings of anxiety and depression.  (I’m assuming, of course, that both an authoritarian and a critical god would be punitive, but I think that’s a pretty safe assumption.  I didn’t include in that 48% a distant God, since punishment would seem to entail engagement.  Nonetheless, one could argue that being distant and unengaged is a form of abuse if not punishment, but at the very least no one would describe a distant god as being warm, compassionate, and loving any more than we would call a distant father those things.)  That doesn’t surprise me, I’ve worked in churches all my adult life  and have seen and read enough about church life to know that they are often very anxiety-ridden places. 
If this is in fact true, that only 23% of religious people believe that God is principally benevolent and loving, we all ought to be concerned.  My favorite theologian, N.T. Wright, tells of the time when he was talking to an Old Testament professor when a student approached and said to the professor that she didn’t like the God of the Old Testament, that he was mean and wrathful and judgmental; that she preferred the God of the New Testament, full of grace and mercy and forgiveness.  (It strikes me that this was not a very graceful thing to say to a Christian professor of the Old Testament, but I digress.)  She went on to say that as a Christian she was obligated to follow the New Testament God, not the Old Testament God, to which the professor pointed out, quite calmly and gently, that the Old Testament God was the God of Jesus Christ.  There is only one God in the Bible, and, sure, there is fire and brimstone in the Old Testament, no doubt, but Jesus didn’t just show up and introduce a whole new way of viewing God that was different from the God revealed in Scripture.  This loving, benevolent God is found from Genesis through Malachi; Jesus just pointed it out.  Drawing from the Law and the Prophets—and principally from Deuteronomy and Isaiah—Jesus taught that the nature of God is to love and forgive and be merciful, and that he, Jesus, was the fulfillment or pinnacle of that understanding of God.
Jesus himself was the epitome of compassion and love. 
So why do only 23% of us believe in his God?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marlin's Fingers

In July I decided to take some guitar lessons to break out of a rut in my soloing, so I signed up with Marlin King at Make N Music.  Marlin has been playing and singing in bands since he was a teenager, and he's in his sixties now.  He shows me so much stuff that I end up forgetting much of it before I can get home, practice it and solidify it in my memory, but a friend of mine suggested videoing some of it with my phone.  What a great idea!

This video is Marlin playing against a blues backing track.  He's showing me stuff, but mainly I'm just enjoying watching him play, and thought you might enjoy it also.