A {blog} Worth Believing


THE GOSPEL OF DAN: CHAPTER 1, A (polite) Awakening {An Excerpt}
March 13, 2012, 6:57 pm
Filed under: The Gospel Of Dan

One has to ask why another book about homelessness is written in a day and age when poverty is almost cliché. I’m asking myself the same question. In all honesty, I have a hard time sitting down to write to you. I have no passion to start a revolution; only enough motivation to make a buck by selling books. I am not the social justice fanatic that one would assume me to be. I do not volunteer for the homeless shelter, nor do I even contribute financially to establishment charities… to be really honest, I don’t even pay taxes. So what moves me to write a whole book on suggestions that I have no credibility to exemplify? It stems from my hatred toward the current system. It’s the system, dude, the establishment is corrupt and stuff, man. But seriously, I have lost all faith in social services. I’ve seen too many pushed through the system with no return on investment. I’ve seen too many men come out of shelters with more drug and alcohol problems than when they started. I’ve meet women who have become rape victims since entering into the system (and some of those have graduated to a life of prostitution). I’ve seen more single mothers become dependent on government income to the point where they have forgotten how to be a loving and productive mom; the children they fervently protected when she first walked into the shelter are now in foster care while she’s catching the newest episode of Survivor in the shelter’s lounge. I’ve seen kids get with gangs and devote their life to one of crime instead of a sound education. And, I’ve seen our social services drive social workers to suicide, they find no delight in their work and lose the passions they went to school with just a few years before. This is the reason I have no respect for our social services. I do not donate to shelters or give to charity. I do not pay taxes into welfare programs. I do not volunteer for non-profits. Not even with green eggs and ham.

Rather, I deconstruct the thought of ‘help’. Right now, help means donating, volunteering, feeling tingly inside. But since when has that type of help done good? They say, “give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he still needs money for a pole and bait”. “Help” has been distorted, trampled on by prideful egoism. When we help, it means we have what they lack, we provide and they need, we are above, they, below.

When looking at the etymology, ‘Help’ comes from Helfen (Ger.) and Selpiu (cf. Lith.), particular to the act of serving food at a table… as in “Grab a helping” and “We are serving filet mignon tonight”. This word’s history is tied to food, and the giving and receiving of food. More than that, it is hitched to a celebratory act, where those dining are enjoying each others company in regard to a great event: a wedding, a holiday, a birthday, etc. Help is not meant to be a burden, it is a celebration. Help is not volunteering to work a shelter desk. Help is not donating your expired canned goods to a shelter. Help is not about what you can do for others.

Help is the realization that celebration is in order. Help is eating with the homeless at Gates BBQ, spending $50 on ribs and sharing a plate of sweet potato fries. Help is treating a person as if they were a human, not a drag on your wallet. Help is reminding the woman of her worth. It’s congratulating a child for getting their diploma. It’s taking a man to Denny’s because it’s Tuesday. It’s restoring inherent worth of the individual. It’s celebrating human life. It’s partying like it’s 1999. So, go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.



THE GOSPEL OF DAN: Chapter 6, The Small Town Southern Man {an excerpt}
February 28, 2012, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Rural homelessness is a particular fantasy. You don’t see the stereotypical homeless man in Smalltown, Missouri like you would under the bridges of I-70. The rural homeless man is quaint, modest in nature, and polite in his attempts to ask for your hard earned cash. Rather, he would more likely ask for your newspaper, or perhaps a dollar for coffee, in place of change for the bus. The small town drifter cares little about being fed, as he keeps a detailed schedule of local churches who provide weekly meals for its members. My friend, Dan, is a member of seven churches; he attends each church between 5 and 7 pm nightly. In rural America, one could be sitting next to a vagabond without knowledge of his situation. He blends into the crowd, sipping his coffee with reserve and discipline as if he were any other land owner or business executive. This man memorizes the rules of courtesy, opens doors for the women young and old, offers to bus your table after a home cooked breakfast at the corner cafe. Doing his part to keep the town presentable he picks up cigarette butts from the town square sidewalks, forgetting to mention he stacks them in his coat pocket hoping he will stumble across a discarded Bic in the gutter. Yes, the rural homeless man is not like the city beggar, you need not cross the street in fear he asks you to empty your coin purse. And lo, though he is covert, he is not without sin. This one is a deceiver of men, and simple observation will soon convince you of his chicanery. He is a thief, stealing half-full bottles from the rathskeller’s dumpster. He is a liar, telling you his plans to get into his own apartment by September. He is a cheat, getting free education from the local library, staying current with the news he saw on TV at the laundromat. And above all, he is a fake. For in his mind, everything is fine; he lacks nothing.”

This Image, in all its majesty, is property of Chris Eversole Photography



The Gospel of Dan: A Worthy Addition
July 26, 2010, 9:08 am
Filed under: The Gospel Of Dan

I have not accepted the futility of hope in finishing The Gospel Of Dan. In fact, I have started a section with the help of some armchair theologians including R. A. Schlarman, C. Eversole, and even the socialist dissenter we have all grown to love and hate, Michael Moore. I have taken upon myself to write an additional chapter to be included in the Canon: The Epistle to the Americans.

I feel that, through the Scot McKnight lens, we as Americans pick and choose which epistles, and even gospel stories, that apply to us, and which letters are to be read contextually, pertaining to the first century church but surely not for us. So then, “by the authority given to me by the Holy Spirit and the State of Missouri” I have written Paul’s message for us, that is, the US. I am not sure if we will include it in the Gospel of Dan, but it is definitely getting some wheels turning. I will post a new chapter over the next few days to give you some time to take it all in. Take a look-see:

The Letter of Paul to the

A M E R I C A N S

1 Paul, an apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ Himself and God Almighty who raised Him, 2 and all the brothers and sisters who are with me, to the ekklesia in the United States:

3 Grace to you and peace from our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from our evil modern age, according to the will of our God, 5 to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

6 I am amazed that you have so quickly and easily deserted him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another, but there have been those before you and even now some among you who have cleverly distorted the Truth of Jesus Christ that is the Gospel. 8 Therefore, let anyone who preaches a message contrary to the one Jesus Christ Himself taught be accursed. 9 For am I seeking my own approval, or the approval of God? 10 I say If I were still trying to please myself, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was preached by me was not my own gospel. 12 And I did not receive it from any man, but I received it as a revelation from Jesus Christ, 13 the same Name in which you pray your prayers of blessing, and the same Name in which you commit the most wicked of deeds. 14 But what I am writing to you, before God I do not lie. You have deserted the Gospel and have perverted the Truth of Jesus Christ.

15 For you have heard of my former life as a Jew, how I persecuted the ekklesia of God violently and tried to destroy it. 16 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 17 But he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 18 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might continue to preach him among the Gentiles. 19 Then the ekklesia was hearing it said, “he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy!” 20 And they glorified God because of me.

21 But now I am writing you to say that, though I am a born-again follower of Christ, you Americans have become dead-again persecutors of our Lord. 22 It seems the whip I held to beat early Christians has been turned over to you, so that you Christians can now carry on my early career of killing Christ. 23 It is the greatest tragedy of all history to see a return to my past practices of destruction of the only thing pure and True in this lowly world, 24 the Good News that Christ came to free the oppressed and heal the broken. 25 For we were appointed in the womb to carry out these tasks from God the Father, yet we, through free will, have chosen to be sons of the Father of Lies. 26 And on his lies, a new Gospel has come into fruition; one where the slaves become slave-masters, the penniless set their eyes on worldly treasures, and the ill die from the sickness of a faithless heart. 27 The Word of the LORD has seemingly returned to Him void. 28 And this my brothers and sisters is simply because the gospel we preach is our gospel, man’s gospel, and is not of revelation from the Living Christ Jesus. 29 Thus our words are not received by God the Father, as you have heard,

“your iniquities have separated you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt.

Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.

No one calls for justice; no one pleads the case of the destitute.

They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;

they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.” [1]

30 Turn then to the Lord from your evil ways, return to the saving grace of Christ and renew your faith.

__________________________________________________________
1 Isaiah 59:2-4


Day V: To Believe Is Human, To Deny is… (also human)
March 6, 2010, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Thoughts on The Church of Peter | Tags: , ,

In the event of the liturgical season, I chose to explore this mystical celebration of Lent, for a better understanding of the concept of self-actualization/exploration/enlightenment, and because it seems all my friends are doing it, and I wonder why my religious background has never pursued such an experience. Last Sunday I shared my findings on Lent and the notion of self-deprivation with Calvary Baptist Church in Clay Center, KS, and found them to be quite accepting of the idea. I used the typical Passage (1) where Jesus urges us to ‘Deny thyself, pick up thy Cross, and follow Me.” Specifically, I was fascinated by the word deny. I’ve been told by sketchy postmoderns(2) that in order to accept Christ, I have to deny Christianity; so far I’ve enjoyed the freedom of their suggestion. Yet, when I was reading this passage in the Concordant Literal Translation, they use the word disown. This word is used another time in the bible, a story also referring to the death and resurrection, when Peter is told he will deny Christ while He is being tried for execution. I feel now that disown is a much better translation of the word. The word transliterated is Aparneomai, and is defined: “To affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone” (3). This then is precisely what happens in the narrative. Peter does not say:

“Well yeah I know Jesus, but don’t worry, I don’t think He is the Son of God”

Instead Peter disassociates himself from Jesus saying, “I know not this man whom ye speak of”(4). Peter disowns Christ, affirming no acquaintance. So then it got me thinking about one idea about why Lent is unbiblical, followed by one other bit of heresy.

Lent asks its patrons to deprive themselves from a pleasure or luxury for 40 days as a means to stronger faith and discipline. After all, we are disciples of Christ, and we must be disciplined right? Well sort of. I feel that by reading these passages, Lent is doing us more harm than good. Of course I speak in ignorance because I have never felt its effects, but I beg you to hear me out.

This word deny in the KJV is immediately followed by an asterisks, where the Strong’s Concordance tells its readers that this word is permanently attached to Strong’s #5663 which explains to us the Inceptive Aorist Tense, where the verb is “considered without regard for past, present, or future time”, implying denial is a never ending process. In English “there is no direct or clear equivalent for this tense”, so we added the word daily after the command to try to express this. This tells us, or maybe just me, that deprivation for a set season falls short of God’s command. In other words, if we only give up smoking, or cell phones, or even take on a task (like exercising or confessing your weaknesses online) for 40 days, we are not doing any good. The point I feel that this passage demands is that we must continually divest ourselves these luxuries, or permanently take on (See Strongs #142) these disciplines without any end in sight. Christ says we cannot put new wine into old wineskins; we cannot bring our experience of enlightenment from lent back into our old selves after Easter is over. Instead, we must look at the inceptive tense of Lent, as to give up for good, to ‘go and sin no more’ (5).

I have another problem with self-discipline and self-denial, as Jesus encourages us to do. We are in a self-help society, with books from ‘Your Best Life Now’ to ‘7 Steps to a Better You” (Click Here To See Other Books Written by: The Antichrist) all telling us that we need to man up (or woman up) and fix ourselves —with ‘God’s help’ of course. But I cannot stress enough how this ideology is flawed. Self-discipline is doing no good for the Self or the Kingdom. It is simply making one a better person in his own eyes. To quote one of my favorite preachers from the 19th century, George MacDonald, “doing the things God does not require of him, he puts himself in the place of God, becoming not a law but a law giver to himself, one who commands, not one who obeys”(6). He continues to tell us “For a man to be his own schoolmaster is a right dangerous position; the pupil cannot be expected to make progress –except indeed in the wrong direction”. Now many have been successful in self-discipline, but what glory does it bring to the Father if we can produce miracles ourselves? Instead, I understand God to be the only source of discipline, and “the diseased satisfaction which some minds feel in laying burdens on themselves, is a pampering, little as they may suspect it, of the most dangerous appetite of that self which they think they are mortifying.”

To get back to Peter’s denial of Jesus, I feel that we have looked at this from the majorities perspective for all too long. As I wrestled with this scripture, I (using my corrupt interpretation of Derrida’s de-construction methods) have decided to flip the criticism to praise, the guilt of denying Christ into a celebration of his infidelity. We understood so far to condemn Peter for disowning Jesus, but I feel that this story shares with us a great truth (little t). for Peter to deny Christ in His absence is exactly what God should expect from us. To deny is to reveal our weakness without Christ. How could He expect anything else? To remove ourselves from the presence of Jesus, is to remove ourselves from the Knowledge of God. And when Jesus returns to Peter afterwards, when Jesus is (physically) present, Peter then affirms his allegiance. And rightly so. To model Peter, when we detach ourselves from the presence of God, it becomes natural for us to disown Him. And in contrast, when we know we are in the will of God, we can’t help but affirm our loyalty. It seems then that the only way we can keep ourselves from being unfaithful is to be in aorist communion with God, for He has made his permanent dwelling place within his Body, the Church.

So in summary, I beg you not to try and fix yourself during Lent, but instead deny yourself so that He can make whole the empty. It is not us who live, but Christ in us. We must decrease so He can increase. We must follow Peter’s example, to refuse weakness by disassociation, in order to truly give up the Self. To deny human nature and allow God to replace it with His nature, which includes, but is not limited to, never ending communion.

_________________________________________________

1. Luke 9:23

2. SEE: Peter Rollins “A/theism” and “the Fidelity of Betrayal”, Tony Jones “The New Christians”, Matt Gallion “My Answer To Pretty Much Every Question You Could Think Of”

3. Strong’s Concordance #533 a(parneÑomai

4. Mark 14:66-72 KJV

5. John 8:1-11 KJV

6. MacDonald, George, “Unspoken Sermons: Self-Denial” pg 365-6



A Quick Look Into My New Book..
January 15, 2010, 11:46 am
Filed under: On Truth and Deciet

I apologize for taking time off from talking to you all about the fascinating theories I have about how the church got screwed up. But I have been setting in on a Metaphysics and epistemology class, despite my 21 other hours of class, and stumbled upon an opportunity to publish some work.

I have recently been making late night stops for coffee and the like at small truck stops off of I-70. I do this because I am just plain weird. I began to write my observations and I plan on assembling them into a piece on why debating philosophy and theology is meaningless, and how we need to embrace the physicality of God, in order to truely make Him known in this broken world. So, here is the introduction of my latest writings from tonight.

The Metaphysics of God

“I will confess that the majority of my thoughts originate from the chemical dependencies that consume me at late hours of the night, namely caffeine and nicotine. My weapon of choice is usually the bottomless cup of day old coffee from truck stops and diners all along the empty highways of the Midwest. Though I have to admit, the tales uttered from these unkempt and overweight men in tattered flannels and impressively matured beards never cease to entertain my unseasoned and adolescent mind. I suppose one has never seen so many hues of grey. Oh, how I wish I could harvest this experience so crudely articulated by these unshaven, barbaric, yet sapient ruffians that we call ‘truck drivers’.

I wonder how metaphysical the God of these hirsute creatures might be.

Some nights I would overhear a man explaining what seems to be a tangible manifestation of heavenly characters who he tends to refer to as ‘Grace’ and ‘Forgiveness’. He must spend a lot of time with those fellows while alone on the open road, for he seems to acquaint them just as well as the waitress refilling his coffee whom he calls by name. Looking around, I can’t help but think that the men he describes wouldn’t seem to be regulars in an atmosphere of this repugnance. Though, he reassures his audience that They are as present as the ‘cute little lady’ serving the entire smoking section.  But as for the majority of the patrons here, I ponder if their conversations over greasy platters of life-destroying elements known as the ‘late-night special’ ever consist of philosophical questions of the existence of God.

Tonight, my server’s name is ‘Rad Rachel’. She took an extra shift in hopes to collect enough tip money to purchase a required poetry book for her evening undergraduate class. I could tell the moment I was seated that she had been here all night; the weariness in her eyes makes it apparent to anyone willing to take a moment to catch a glance at them. I wonder if poetry is worth working 5:00 to 3:00 on a school night. Or perhaps is it worth the vulgar terms I refuse to repeat in this early morning confession, or the ferocious demands bursting from her manager’s dehumanizing orifice I reluctantly call a mouth.

“C’MON RACHEL, REALLY?!!” he shouts.

I was lucky enough to engage in slight conversation as she ran between four other tables in the section.

“Would you like to hear something obscene?” she asked me.

“If I was in an orchard, I’d be pickin’ her fruit all day”, a ‘joke’ she overheard her perverse slave driver share with a seemingly unamused cook. I wonder if she read the fine print on the application for employment. You know, the part in her job description where she would routinely endure lewd harassments and rowdy eight-tops, whose intoxication leads them to conveniently forget to leave a tip.

“GET UP!” he barks.

I invited her to sit with me for a moment for a smoke break, but ‘clean up’ seems more of the essence to this high-strung taskmaster.

I regret to think that a metaphysical God is required for her imminent rescue from this tolling, phenomenal and present ‘Sheol’ –and I suppose it isn’t ironic that the term resembles our 21st century word ‘shit-hole’. I decide to stay until she gets off work, trying not to think about which semi truck they scraped the motor oil out of to make my pot of coffee. I feel like an asshole leaving this young lady a thirty-five cent tip. Maybe my kind words and questions of inquisition will bring her hope enough to get through the remainder of the week. I think I better come back tomorrow night and leave a few extra ones on the table to make up for it, as I’m sure she will return for another agonizing attempt to pay for school on pocket change from cheap truckers and stingy, unsympathetic, wannabe elitists like myself.

As I wait for her to finish up rolling silverware, I can’t help but return to my original thoughts. Should I continue to bother myself with the metaphysical God of great philosophers as Aristotle, Kant, and Kierkegaard, or even contemporary thinkers of today, Caputo and Vattimo? I venture to assert I won’t get a chance to debate my interpretations of Plato’s ‘Theory of Forms’ nor Derrida’s ‘Postmodern Condition’ between conversations centered on Kenworths, ice packed mountain passes, or the evil doings of our ‘nigger’ president. Perhaps a metaphysical God is not the God these people need to hear from tonight. Perhaps I have the chance to make this place a metaphysical-God-forsaken place. Perhaps I should return tomorrow and leave a twenty under the saltshaker.”



Day IV &1/2: [Re-Cap] on Why I Am Blogging
December 29, 2009, 9:17 am
Filed under: Thoughts on The Church of Peter

Let us not forget where our journey is leading us – to hope for authenticity and organicism through decomposition[1] of our own thoughts on the New Testament Church. I may be jumping around quite a bit in the NT but my main concern is to ideally help develop a biblical Church, tho not in the since of the word that we understand. By no means am I jumping on the hott new bandwagon of imitating or replicating first-century church, nor am I trying to make it generationally relative. I am instead trying to understand why our Messiah would choose a man like Peter to found the church that He intends.

I have a new found skepticism toward developing theologies from Paul, not from dislike of him, but because the Evangelical Church tends to idolize him as the true founder of modern Christianity. It seems that we strive to break down Jesus’ plan for His church into simple ‘do and don’t/black and white’ methods of doing church, and we have taken Paul’s suggestions of holiness and righteousness and created moral doctrines from them. My problem with our current dogma is that the name of Jesus can be removed from our Gospel and unfortunately our church would look the same as it does now. We have removed the organic dimension of faith that Jesus requires of His Church and replaced it with “7 Steps to a Better You”. Our pastors preach against Humanitarianism from the pulpit but fail to give us a corporeal alternative to put our faith in.  Perhaps it is fear that their congregation will realize that humanitarianism is doing a better job of being the Church that Christ intended than they are. Of course some then would say that the emerging church is simply a humanitarian act to better society because it’s ‘the right thing to do’ and faith in any kind of God would be obsolete. At least that is what Evangelists tell me when I preach ‘sell your possessions and give to the poor’.

Anyway, as I was saying, I am simply striving to find, or rebuild, an Ekklhsia[2] that isn’t afraid to trade their moral regulations and traditions for a biblically supported living, breathing, life giving communion with God and his people. And I feel that we can better know how Christ intended for us to be if we decompose our set in stone ways of reading the New Testament. I suggested before that the book of Acts was not a prescriptive manual to making a Godly church, but rather a descriptive narrative of what kind of church we could be if we depend and rely on Christ and live by his teachings. I know it is cool to look through Acts, pick out rituals and traditions, and replicate it with an archaic and premodern feel, but I disagree with those who say that Acts is the only way God intended his church to be. In order to be an authentic Ekklhsia, I prescribe that we first spend time with Christ, listening and learning from Him, and then it will organically develop and we wont need hundreds of books and blogs about how to be a better church.

But what do I know, I’m an a/theist[3]


[1] “Decomposition” RLV def. “To let die naturally and organically, to allow for rebirth through death of a process of breaking down, organic de-construction” (2009)

[2] Frank Viola, Pagan Christianity

[3]Peter Rollins “Set Apart”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M65JTRhObV4



Some New Stuff
December 28, 2009, 2:15 am
Filed under: Random

My apologies for taking so long to update, tho I am excited to converse with you about some new ideas I have been wrestling with.

First of all, I was introduced to what is called “The Concordant Literal New Testament”, translated first in 1962 and finally finished in 1983. It seems to be known as the most accurate and, most importantly, unbiased translation of the original scriptures, using all resources available to make sure to literally translate each word, as it is believed that God intended and destined each and every word written. This is possibly the only English translation worthy of ever being considered “God breathed and divinely inspired.’ Nonetheless, translating anything into other languages can always fall short of the glory of the original. So adhering to the postmodern philosophy of skepticism, “The compiler of the CLNT, the late A. E. Knoch, was painfully aware of his shortcomings in this regard. He therefore sought to emphasize the necessity of shielding himself against his personal views, his inherited tendencies and traditional errors. This lead to the concordant method of translation.” [1] You could almost say he ‘De-constructed’ his own way of translating the Greek, and sought to truthfully translate the words, no matter what they might say when he was finished. But rest assured, his committee claims to hold the least amount of bias compared to any other translation. I suppose it takes faith more than a mustard seed to believe that this is truly what God meant to say to us, but for now, I will roll with it.

Secondly, I got to spend some time in the apocryphal writings of Peter, in which I intend to write about in this entry. To start off slow, I studied the relationships between 1 and 2 Peter, and compared them with the Gospel and Acts of Peter. So then let our journey begin with the letters that we Christians have easy access to, and we can discuss the Apocryphal literature later.

.. wait I will edit this later sorry


[1] CLNT, Introduction: The Concordant Method. ‘Concordant’ according to the Webster’s Third International Dictionary, means “Agreeing, corresponding, harmonious, consonant”. It was the purpose of the compiler to make a translation that agreed as closely as possible to the original language of the Scriptures.