living through death

"The only way that you can accept life is if you can accept death.” –Leo Buscaglia

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An Unexpected Visit

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As I was running down a lonely gravel road today, I heard from behind me what sounded like an approaching waterfall. Just as I was noticing this, wind began to blow grass and dust past me from behind. I stopped and spun around only to be stunned by the realization that I was now in the middle of a quickly rotating mass of air. It was about 25 feet across and surging all around me, blowing the grass and dust into a ring of frantic activity. It was marvelously unexpected. I must have looked like a dazed five-year-old standing there in the middle of the road slack-jawed and wide-eyed.

Slowly the vortex began to move off of the road and out into a bean field, contracting and expanding as it went. Not wanting to let the experience go, I ran after it through the knee-high beans. Now the presence of the funnel was even more obvious for it flattened the beans nearly to the ground as it spun over them with enough force to occasionally rip off leaves and send them spinning a hundred feet or so into the air.

I clumsily dashed about for a bit trying to capture the most intense center of the little devil, but eventually I realized I wasn’t likely to experience anything better than I already had already been gifted with, so I stopped. I stood there for maybe five minutes or so watching it work its way across the field, snatching up bean leaves and twirling them skyward. Above me the sky was blue, dotted only with the occasional puffy cloud. Grinning from ear to ear, I pulled some bean stalks out of my running sandals and walked back to the road.

What a strange thing, this life.

Blondeau-Sun Through Clouds

Written by Alex

August 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm

The meaning of salvation

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I was asked by a friend recently what I mean when I make use of the term “salvation.” At the time I was rather surprised, not at the question, but rather that I had been caught talking about salvation. It’s one of those terms that recovering evangelicals tend to shy away from due to its tight association with what they’ve come to see as a fairly cheap idea of “getting saved.” But as I reflected on it, it became clear to me that my dissertation work is really aptly characterized as a project on salvation, or soteriology (in big-word-talk).

ImageSo what do I mean by salvation? Here’s a brief attempt for your consideration: Salvation is that event or process in which one is both made fully aware of the limits of life, and yet, rather than turning back into some form of intoxication, denial, or rebellion, one experiences oneself as “accepted” or “held in being” in such a way that the limits of life cease to create anxiety, and therefore compulsion. Salvation is thus freedom to embrace one’s limits and the courage to engage life to its fullest. The one who experiences this salvation most radically is the one who is able to choose their own death for the sake of life. I think here of, for example, Thich Quang Duc. Surely, such acts could be done in the confidence of some reward in the hereafter, but this is not what I have in mind. I am thinking rather of the sober acceptance of life’s limits with no further guarantee beyond it. It is the freedom to live into the true, the good, and the beautiful for their own sake and not to be deterred by our existential fears, e.g., the loss of money, the good opinion of those you care about very much, personal comfort, or even life itself.

This, I think, gives fresh meaning to the old question: “are you saved?

Written by Alex

May 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

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Scene From a Checkout Line

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As one who lives in an area with a growing population of poorly understood Somali immigrants, this excellent post by Mark Love seemed most worthy of being passed on. It is clearly written by a man who has been disciplined to look beyond his own immediate interests—which is the first step toward relationship, the first step in every act of love. John 4:1-26

via Richard Beck

Written by Alex

September 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm

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Finding yourself

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Written by Alex

September 10, 2010 at 9:42 am

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Augustine via Tillich on truth and ultimacy

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“There were people whom Augustine met who said: Why truth at all? Truth as such is not necessary. Why not stick to probabilities? Why not restrict oneself to pragmatic answers, answers which work? Augustine replied that this was not sufficient, because it leads to a complete emptiness of life. Without something unconditional or ultimate, the preliminary meanings lose their significance.”
— Paul Tillich on Augustine

Written by Alex

May 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized