Working Outline for a Book

Since a number of you responded to the report that I was focusing on writing a book (or were you just happy that I would not be posting on the blog for the next couple of weeks?), I have decided to share the working outline.  (Perhaps I might share snippets of the book in the future — no promises, just a “perhaps.”)

Teetering on the Brink:
Awakening into Unknowing
by
Bart L Brenner (Haunted Writer)  & Wayne E Purintun (Ghost Feeler)

Working Outline

1. “I don’t know if it actually happened this way, but I know that the story is true.” (Thoughts about the Bible)

2. What is this Presence that keeps troubling me? (Windows on God)

3. Who is Yeshua and why does he keep invading my space? (Parables about Jesus)

4. Why is Mystery so Mysterious? (Whisperings of Holy Spirit)

5. Will my local Christian community ever resemble Jesus’ basileia theou [kingdom of God]? (the Church and it Leaders)

6. When God and Pharaoh clash inside me, is there any hope? (Culture)

7. I’m a good person, why do I have to be just? (Justice and Ethics)

8. Am I on a faith journey or wandering through the wilderness or just wobbling? (Spirituality)

9. When will my head and heart embrace? (Personal Wholeness and Salvation)

10. In the final analysis, is there any final analysis? (Eschatology and the Last Things)

A Pause

I will not be posting for the next two or three weeks.

This blog has inspired a new venture. With a friend, I am writing a book that draws upon many of the ideas presented herein. More information as the venture progresses.

Singing a New Song

Psalm 98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song,for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

Let your life resonate with a new melody. Sing of the audacity of God, who did not let divinity get in the way but divested existence from the concept of God so that divinity could be experienced in the response to that inner unheard insistence that is claimed in the name of God. If the idea of God has any power, it is manifested as those who claim to be God’s children act in a manner that shows them to be insurrectionists on the Way that leads to the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice. When the peoples of the world look at Israel, it is our hope that they see the insistence in the name of God (perhaps) in action. The earth rejoices and breaks into song; the seas roar in exultation; flood waters cover the earth with gladness; the hills sing in beauty. Add your lyres and trumpets to the symphony of nature. Let the music be in praise of all that is done in response to the insistence in the name of God. Perhaps

What is Required?

Micah 6:8 He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Listen for here is what is being insisted upon us in the name of God. Perhaps. Go ahead and plead your case. Tell everyone what plans you have devised to build the good life. Give your best rationale; lay out your well-rehearsed defense of what you want to do. Then measure that against what we, as a people, have experienced in the name of God. Perhaps. Do you remember Egypt? And the leadership of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam? Recall for a moment the exchange between King Balak and Balaam of Beor or what we experienced from Shittim to Gilgal. As a people we were quite clear — we were the recipients of grace upon grace in the name of God. Perhaps. So, with memory of that sacred history, what is it to which we are persistently and insistently called? It certainly is not all the trappings of the temple liturgies of sacrificing burnt offerings. Is it not much more simple? The insistence that comes upon each one of us in the name of God (perhaps) is that we build our lives around justice, kindness, and humility.

How God is Made Manifest

1 John 5:1-6 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the parent. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep God’s commandments. 3 This is the love of God: we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not difficult, 4 because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith. 5 Who defeats the world? Isn’t it the one who believes that Jesus is God’s Son 6 This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. Not by water only but by water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.(CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Let your life resonate with a new melody. Sing of the audacity of God, who did not let divinity get in the way but divested existence from the concept of God so that divinity could be experienced in the response to that inner unheard insistence that is claimed in the name of God. If the idea of God has any power, it is manifested as those who claim to be God’s children act in a manner that shows them to be insurrectionists on the Way that leads to the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice. When the peoples of the world look at Israel, it is our hope that they see the insistence in the name of God (perhaps) in action. The earth rejoices and breaks into song; the seas roar in exultation; flood waters cover the earth with gladness; the hills sing in beauty. Add your lyres and trumpets to the symphony of nature. Let the music be in praise of all that is done in response to the insistence in the name of God. Perhaps
We claim that Yeshua is the Anointed One of Israel, so we seek to follow the Way that Yeshua lived and taught. In order to do that we attend to that unheard inner voice that we claim in the name of God. Perhaps. We discern the directional arrow of that calling and shape our response to resonate with the persistence of love which reaches out toward the least, the last, the lost, and the left out. The audacity of God leaves the response totally in our hands. Our audacity is to act in such a manner that God becomes a living reality in and through our response. Staying focused on that inner voice of insistence and obedient response to that calling is our testimony concerning the Anointed One of Israel. Yeshua represents what life is to be when lived fully in response to insistence in the name of God. Perhaps. We strive to live in that same Spirit.

Frustrated!

I give up! The right wing evangelicals can have the Christian religion all to themselves. I am tired of trying to defend Christianity by saying that all Christians don’t necessarily believe that way. I am beaten into submission and am willing to admit that Christianity (at least as it is described by the right wing Christian political agenda) is about the preservation of White culture and against women, Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. They can have their pet inventions – intelligent design, fear of minorities, and hatred of same sex marriage. They can keep their Franklin Grahams and James Dobsons, et al. I am tired of trying to reclaim the Bible from the Biblical literalists who think that every word that they agree with is straight from the mouth of God.

I am tired of the “Christian” perspective which suggests that every important idea was hatched in the 1st or the 5th or the 13th or the 16th Century. I am frustrated hearing school board members and local politicians cite the Bible as the “final” word about climate change, sexuality, science, or community issues.

I want to follow in the footsteps of a brown Middle Eastern Jew who lived more than two thousand years ago, a man named Yeshua, who thought people ought to care for one another, stand in solidarity with those rejected by conventional society, and oppose the principalities and powers of the powerful and privileged.

I want to pay attention to an inner divine urge to do justice, be compassionate, and present my self with humility. I want to connect with people without regard to whether they will be invited to the next cocktail party; I want to sit with those who are stared at on the streets and who would not be welcomed with open arms in most churches.

I am frustrated with members of reasonably progressive churches debating budgets instead of mission priorities, blaming membership losses on theological differences, and being clueless about why their grandchildren don’t want anything to do with church.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer called for a “religionless Christianity.” I am ready to settle for a religionless anything. I want to be able to live my final years learning new things; stretching my imagination creatively without having to defend a Christianity that has failed. I want to honor the integrity of the divine spirit I experience in other people. I want to discuss important issues with people from diverse backgrounds and differing perspectives without fear of retribution for them or me. I wish civilization had a CTL+ALT+DEL function to reboot it. But, no such luck. So, I guess I shall have to continue to read, and talk, and teach, and write – hoping that I might be rebooted, perhaps with one or two or three others along the way.

Dealing with Needs

Luke 11:5-6         
5 He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’  
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

What are we to say about a host who wakens a friend, asking for bread to feed a traveler? Intensity in pursuit of compassion trumps convenience. Howes suggests that there is a second meaning — namely, there are times when our inner being mediates between psychological needs and the inner God-process. Whether dealing with the needs of those around me or my own inner needs, persistence partnered with the perspective of the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice is called for. Perhaps it would be beneficial to treat the needy ones around us or within us in a manner like unto that of our children — responding by providing that which has the best chance of moving them toward health and wholeness. That is the way the God-process works.

What About You?

Mark 8:27-33         
27 Jesus and his disciples went into the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One[a] must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Yeshua decided to check out how he was being perceived by the crowds. The disciples indicated that some saw him as a John-the-baptizer-type of apocalyptic preacher; others, Elijah re-vivified; many simply saw him as being in the long line of the prophets of Israel. Then Yeshua turned the tables on the disciples, “What about you? What do you think about me?” Peter jumped in, “That’s easy. You are the long awaited Messiah.” Yeshua told them not to spread such rumors about him. Then he began to teach the disciples — not about the Messiah, but about the Humanity’s Child. When living a inner life of full communion with the inner God-process and an outer life of resisting the Domination System, the result is inevitable rejection and suffering and probably death. He added that death cannot defeat Humanity’s Child — kill off one person and the same spirit is in another… and another… and another… Peter, brash peer-leader among the disciples, took Yeshua aside and suggested that these teachings were not helpful. In fact, they were disturbing. Not daunted, Yeshua returned to the group and said, “If you reject what I have just said, you are giving in to the power of the Domination System that wants to control your every thought and tame you so you won’t resist. That will sap the life out of you.

Drawing the Circle Larger

Luke 11:14-20         
14 Jesus was throwing out a demon that causes muteness. When the demon was gone, the man who couldn’t speak began to talk. The crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He throws out demons with the authority of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.” 16 Others were testing him, seeking a sign from heaven. 17 Because Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom involved in civil war becomes a wasteland, and a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 18 If Satan is at war with himself, how will his kingdom endure? I ask this because you say that I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul. 19 If I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul, then by whose authority do your followers throw them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. 20 But if I throw out demons by the power[a] of God, then God’s kingdom has already overtaken you.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

That which we don’t understand we criticize. Yeshua was criticized for the healings that were taking place. Was he just a disciple of Beelzebul? His answer to the critics was not anger or rebuke, but teaching. The critics support other exorcists, without declaring them to be agents of Beelzebul. Rather than using this teaching-learning moment to enhance his status in their eyes, he says something rather remarkable. Acknowledging exorcisms is evidence, not of their identifying miracle workers, but of their having the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice dawn around them. Telling them that they are part of the Commonwealth suggests that there is now more work for them to do — namely, to integrate those exorcised of demons back into society or, more to the point, to join them in the Commonwealth.

Cozy Up to Lady Wisdom

Proverbs 7:1-5          1 My son, keep my words; store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and live, and my instruction like the pupil of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister”; call understanding “friend,” 5 so she might guard you against the mysterious   woman, from the foreign woman who flatters you.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

 Dear friend, pay close attention to the insistences and callings that come in the name of God. Perhaps. Over the years our tradition has standardized and systematized those insistences as aphorisms and commandments. Abide by those aphorisms and commandments, learn from them, let them become a part of you. Cozy up to Lady Wisdom; treat her as if she were a member of the family. Trust your insight and intuition together with Lady Wisdom, the aphorisms, and the commandments. They will keep you from being seduced away from living into your calling in the name of God. Perhaps.