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Theology Classes Just Don’t Prepare You For Some Questions

“How does God know what we’re all thinking? Does He have a million brains?”

Great Moment at Work: Explaining the idea of a “crust punk” to a homeless guy

When I was in high school I knew someone that was a “crust punk.” Due to his love of the genre he had a certain fetishization of homelessness and would often play the part of being homeless in the Albertan suburbs — which for him meant going to a park and sleeping under the stars. In the course of a day at work I ended up explaining this particular aspect of the punk sub-culture to an actual, real-life homeless man. His response was great:

What the hell, seriously? He should come to Winnipeg for a while, maybe spend a night or two at the Main Street Project. That’ll teach him. He’d go back to him parents and say, “yes mommy, yes daddy, I’ll go to all my classes, I’ll get straight As, I’ll go to university and become a doctor.”

Apparently the fetishization of homeless seems less adventuresome and more idiotic to those that live it, day-in and day-out

My favourite Bad Religion lyric from the new album: “nothing can go on forever increasing, the universe is a different thing.” Or, in Kelsey-speak: “nothing can go on forever increasing unless it can in theory do so.”

Sometimes the Loving Thing to do is to Close the Door

I work at a ministry for the homeless and one of the jobs I have is to stand by the door and to try to make sure intoxicated people don’t get in. Yesterday, during supper, I was standing by the door when a sniffer — someone who gets high by sniffing solvents or gas — tried to enter. I told him he wasn’t allowed in but offered him sandwiches. However, he had his mind set on coffee, but since I couldn’t allow him in for coffee he had to stay outside. He became more and more insistent, causing me to slowly close the door on him and get ready to lock the door if he decided to try to force his way in. As I closed the door at him he yelled “you call yourself a Christian place!?” I closed the door on him because, at that moment, it was the most loving thing I could do. If I did not, it was obvious that he would have done or said something that would cause me to bar him. He was getting agitated, he was trying to get in my face, if I gave him the opportunity I have no doubt he would have taken a swing at me.

People tend to question our faith when we deny them the use of our services because they’re not following our rules — one of my co-workers once quipped “why do people think Christians don’t have any rules? Haven’t they ever read the Bible?” However, sometimes, the loving thing to do is to deny them services when they refuse to accept our rules, to close the door on them before they close that door on themselves.

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Jesus, a Dissident?

I started writing this awhile ago but put it away for a little while to give it some thought before I made it my first post on this here blog. It seems really relevant at the moment given the growing Idle No More movement in Canada and Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. While neither of these are religiously motivated, it seems timely to talk about civil disobedience.

When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well…. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. You have heard that it was said ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…. So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

(Matthew 5:39,41-45, 48, New American Bible)

There’s a somewhat well-known theory on why Jesus says what he does on retaliation. Some propose that turning the other cheeks forces the aggressor to make one of three decisions: 1) strike you with the left hand, the unclean hand, which was the ultimate insult and opens them up to litigation; 2) strike you with the palm of the right hand, an acknowledgement that you were an equal; 3) back away, making you the victor. Likewise, we are told that non-Romans could be conscripted to carry the equipment of Romans for one mile, but no more. This means to have you carry for more than one mile was a crime. This thought gains mileage because Jesus as the originator of civil disobedience seems appealing. It means that Jesus was giving His followers effective yet peaceful ways of resisting the authority figures. But I don’t think this is how we’re to understand Jesus.

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