Wirkungsgeschichte – the in between as lens

Wirkungsgeschichte – concept described by the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer.  Biblical understanding is depends on more than the context of the story events and author.   Gadamer suggested that our ability to perceive the contextual meaning may be inseparable from our frame of reference.  That frame of reference inherently includes the various interpretations of the text embraced between the events and their recording and current day.

——>——– passage of time —–>——–>——–>———–>——–>————–>————->

Event/Recording ————->-[                 empty gap           ]———————————->——Today
Event—>—-Recording—>——————[                 empty gap           ]——————–>——Today


Event->–Recording->–apostles–> middle ages–>—>—>modern—>—->—postmodern->-Today

Not an empty gap between then and now; rather there are multitudes of interpretation and history in the intervening time. These act as a lens through which we perceive the event and its story. Many descriptions describe this in words with negative connotations –  that this “distorts” or “colors” or impedes our ability to interpret the event and the text.

Jesus Walking On Water

Against the Western emphasis on Peter’s failure and ‘little faith’ (v.31), the Eastern tradition celebrates his imitating Christ. With this, the miracle is freed from its utilitarian restriction and becomes the eye-opener which leads to the confession in verse 33.  Walking On the Water — Did He or Did He Not? by Roland Deines, a review of Walking on the Water: Reading Matthew 14 by Rachel Nicholls. <link to reference>


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Bucket List

Puente Nuevo, Ronda, Spain






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Why the Affluent Need the Poor

Judy Wu Dominick

Matthew 25 is “a lifestyle that reflects a heart for marginalized people – a heart that overcomes the prejudices that society conditions us to have and then loves with extravagance the people whom the dominant society would rather throw or lock away.”

To do it well, we must constantly repent of our own racial and socioeconomic preferences, sensibilities, and prejudices, and be counter-cultural.

“We would rather write a check to a charity than rearrange our lives for people with complex problems. …. But it won’t change you because it’s too remote. Because there’s no relationship, there’s no exchange, no mutuality, and no reverse impact.”

Stark contrast  boredom and existential crises vs. actual crises. Paradox: strengthens the faith and courage of the poor vs provoke doubt, fear, and cynicism among affluent.

Different paradigms:

  • charity (retains your power and you as hero; predictable, manageable; transactional). Give money, food, clothing a few times a year
  • incarnational (lay your power down, relational, Christ is hero; uncomfortable, unpredictable, inconvenient). Enter stories, identify w/struggles.

Do you say “That’s too hard. I don’t want to do this again.” Or make a commitment, over time, strength, stamina, look forward to it.  You don’t have to know where to start – just pray. God will answer.

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Theology clarifications

Why Hipster Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber Thinks the Church Is for Losers

  • …right relationship with God…..just standing naked in front of our Creator and receiving the love as broken people.
  • …I’ve just become more and more confused about how Christianity became what it is today, given how it started…. It didn’t start with the religious authorities….with the people for whom life was easy,…. It started with rank fishermen and prostitutes and tax collectors — people for whom life wasn’t easy…that’s whom Jesus chose to surround himself with.
  • Being punished for your sins implies that … God has this score sheet, … God’s going to make some horrible thing happen to you…. We do it to ourselves. …. We create our own hell.
  • Grace actually feels … totally powerless — no power — no agency — feels terrible….we reject it over and over.  You know — working on my own little redemption project over here. I’m gonna see how that pans out.”
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What is the work you can’t not do?

How to find work you love (Scott Dinsmore – TED)

  • what is the work you can’t not do?
  • become a self expert – strengthsfinder
  • know framework/hierarchy for decision making – people, achievement, family, etc
  • experience – what went wrong/right – who inspires you & why?
  • reach for the impossible
  • change your surroundings – environment that inspires possibility?
  • Live Your Legend
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Christian vocational discernment looks at the listlessness of stagnated boredom and the chaos of overworked boredom and says, “Remember why you were baptized? It ain’t for this!” — Alaina Kleinbeck


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Ferguson.  Nauseous. Disbelief. And yet exactly as expected. Or feared.

The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy has invited PDA. How appropriate. A disaster recovery organization coming to a Presbytery named for Elijah Parish Lovejoy, killed 177 years and 2 weeks ago, less than 100 miles from Ferguson, while supporting freedom for all people.

All-or-nothing space is a broken space in which to exist. So many places in which the outcome might have been different.

The prosecutor said only that the officer heard the radio report about shoplifting. Ok, so that’s the officer’s perspective, assuming the two kids are suspects in the shoplifting. Was there any indication of weapons or force used? What level of pursuit and force is warranted for shoplifting cigars?

What was Michael’s perception of the circumstances? Did Michael pay for the cigars or did Michael shoplift cigars?  Has that question been definitively answered?

Officer’s driving an SUV.  So even with or above Michael during the confrontation at the SUV.  Different perspective than from in a squad car. In the absence of a weapon, how much bodily injury could a person outside an SUV cause a person inside an SUV? Is Michael holding cigars in one hand?

Threat and response by gun at the patrol car. Two gunshots. Still no indication of any weapon in possession of Michael or his companion. Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that these shots were in self-defense. Reasonable response may warrant self-protection. Could that include waiting for backup which was apparently no more than 90 seconds away?  Could self-protection include pursuit by SUV?

Was escalation of violence demanded by police procedure?  Why? To what end?  So we can feed the court systems which feed the overcrowded prisons of the nation with the highest rate of incarceration?

Now, it is incumbent upon us lawyers not to just talk about the truth, but to actually seek it, to find it, to live it. What is it in us that seeks the truth? Is it our minds or is it our hearts?

I set out to prove … that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. That’s not the truth, because the eyes of the law are human eyes — yours and mine — and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be evenhanded. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices, so until that day we have a duty under God to seek the truth, not with our eyes and not with our minds where fear and hate turn commonality into prejudice, but with our hearts — where we don’t know better.  Jake Tyler Brigance’s closing arguments in A Time to Kill (1996)

Close your eyes.  I want you to picture your favorite 18 year old: Stephen, Josiah, William, Jeremy. William. Or Robbie. Or Malik. Or Malachi. Or Teran. Or Tomias. Or Chase. Can you see him? That once-little-boy-on-the-edge-of-manhood. Now imagine that he’s been confronted by a police officer. And imagine that police officer shoots him. And shoots him again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.  This last one enters the top of your little boy’s head. And he crumples to the ground. Where his body stays for hours. And hours. And hours. And hours.  What truth does your heart see now?


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Quantum Leaps and Silly Distractions

And it happens any way.  Any way.  The arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  How do I immerse myself in that reality?  How do I turn my back on the insanity?

So,  today it was proclaimed that if rain can’t happen in a church building, it’s so very much safer to sleep on the street. Or in a car. Or on someone’s floor.  Or in a trailer lit with candles.  Or where fires keeping breaking out?  Can you see me now?  The closing of one door opens the way for another.

Some of the most Christ-centered witnesses I’ve ever heard was gifted to us tonight.  Many nights I go home and sit on my bed and cry, because I don’t know how these kids get up in the morning.  I want to work with these kids, but they come from a very different place than I do, and I’ve recognized that I have to change, and I want to do that.  Teenagers, mainstreamed, who cannot read. Keeping the future attorney focused on his goals. Redirecting negative energy into leadership and role modeling.  Identifying the spaces in which a challenging kid softens up.  Helping them learn what I learned from my mistakes, so they don’t have it quite so hard. Haircuts that open transformation.

A simple “no” to the rule “gotta have shoes”. A quiet tolerance for interruption after interruption. A unanimous vote to accept a much-needed gift. A huge gift.  The long, slow process of staying focused on a very important goal. Not being sidetracked by things on the sides.  Visioning the new world and sticking with it.

So despite my inability to hold the tide back, despite my inability to be the savior, the kingdom of God is breaking out everywhere. Everywhere.

So… how do I keep on going on?  Where’s the cord I can’t seem to locate?




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All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us

And Samuel grieved. And the Lord was sorry. ….The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve?” Life moves on, I have a new plan….” (1 Samuel 15:35 –  16:1-13. )  “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time can not mend. Some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold.” (Lord of the Rings) “Life moves on, I have a new plan….” (1 Samuel 15:35 –  16:1-13. )

I think the answer to “how long will you grieve” is that Samuel will grieve forever. The threads are never completely mended; the hole remains.  And still the Lord calls me forward into the new plan. Before I want to move forward.  In directions I don’t want to go. I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. Like the folks in 1835 and 1837.  Do what I can. The appearance is that the call arrives before I am prepared. Resting on the promise that God qualifies the call, that I always have what I need.

No grand statements here.  Just a simple call to a single, little ole me. I cannot do this alone. You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone….This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will. I know what I must do, it’s just that… I’m afraid to do it. Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

In the end, my response will be. I will take the Ring…. Though… I do not know the way.  And trust. One foot in front of the other.  Loving. Calling myself forward. Calling us forward.  Morphing the grief into action.  Live because life comes through living.  Find the rays of light.  They ARE there.

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Leaving Church

Sometimes an attempt at humor is my best defense against deep, deep sadness and lack of understanding.  So here goes….I’m grateful to belong to a congregation that disagrees over issues more significant than the color of the carpet.

I struggle to hold my own wishes at arm’s length when I listen to our oldest members lament the loss of church as they know and want church.  More importantly, church as they have been able to hold it for so many years.  It would be simple to enter into their sorrow if I had any hope that any church I intend will match my visions of church.  The music I enjoy. Even once a quarter.  A more meaningful worship service. Not in pews. With true interactivity. Communion as true meal.  Not square cut cubes of stale bread or wafers.  Worship as action in the community. Generosity of time and resources.  Mercy.  Grace.  Beloved community.  I’ll scoot over so you can sit by me.  It’s ok, I’m broken, too.  Come join us, we’ve heard the gospel message and our light shines in the darkness.  It’s so bright you gotta wear shades!  So when the old folks in my congregation about other activities taking over “their church”, the spaces they are saving for 6 days of the year, I tend toward bitterness and anger. Because I let myself believe they can control my experience.  But only if I hand them the reigns.

There are gifts in this.  I am called to reach further, to acknowledge that pain and sadness and loss is just that.  And to be grateful that their holding on so tightly has forced me in other directions.  It’s pulled me toward other wonderfully rich communities.  I intentionally seek the contemporary music in the Methodists’ Faith Encounters and through Pandora.  The gospel choirs led by Alphonso Simpson.  The dixieland and second line jazz of CCDA in New Orleans and the Bucurie Quintet at the Jazz Worship Service.  The Holiday Festival of Choirs. The Sing-a-long Messiah. The reign of God is broad and pervasive.  It exists beyond the walls of the building in which I gather with the congregation.

Every fourth Sunday afternoon, the Great Banquet unfolds in front me, just as at the Great Banquet at Los Guido. Jesus shows up every single meal.  With meals like that, it’s no wonder that a dried up square of bread is no comparison. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Humble of heart. Mercy. Grace.  I experience them every single day. The crumbling old church building can’t contain them.  There is too much light and power in those experiences.  Time to stop worrying over and fighting against the craziness and step further into the light.

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