Amy Vreeman :: 5.27

Amy Vreeman

Amy Vreeman is a musician, a massage therapist, a photographer, a media editor, a pastor’s daughter, and a self-described “Jill of all trades, master of none.”

This week she released Vol. 3 of her annual tribute to Rich Mullins.

We talked with Amy a few months ago while she was finalizing Vol. 3 and we talk about her about her tributes as well as her faith and life.

related ::

Amy’s website
Amy on Twitter
Amy on iTunes
Amy on Facebook
Rich Mullins on Wikipedia
Ragamuffin Gospel

Some thoughts on Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” … part 2

230311_ Love wins

I’ve decided to bring some of my theological musings to the podcast’s website because I think this is a suitable place to bring more focussed thinking… and I’m eager to hear from you, the Something Beautiful community.

The follow post contains some thoughts I’ve had after reading Rob Bell’s latest book… “love wins”. The first part is available (here) and I would recommend you read that first, if you haven’t already. It sets the scene, so to speak, and speaks of this series of posts on the book being in two parts. I’ve decided to expand it further… into at least three parts.

If you want to comment then please do… we (JD, Travis, Stewart, Johnny & myself) will try to respond… but be nice & constructive. If your comment is anonymous and/or destructive, it will be deleted. My life is too short to pander to trolls.



“First, heaven. Now, hell.”

This is how Rob Bell starts his chapter on hell.

Hell is a deeply contentious issue for me. I am like my iPad and want to change “hell” for “he’ll”… because I want there to be more to it than “turn or burn”… I hope He would intervene.

In my personal experience I have met some wonderful people who are good, peaceful, inclusive, loving, caring, kind, compassionate and generous… who weren’t interested in Jesus; and I have had the misfortune to stumble across people who proclaimed the name of Jesus and yet were divisive, exclusive, malicious, deceptive, angry, and hate-filled.

I have always considered it deeply unfair that, due to a moment in time, these Christians have the arrogance to think they are not only going to Heaven but that they also could prescribe and predict those who weren’t.

Into this mindset, I welcomed “Love Wins”… where Bell talks about the literal hells of now and the hell of later:

“There are individual hells, and communal, society-wide hells, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously. There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.” (p79)

We are in hell when we reject all that is good and true in the here and now.

We are in hell when we choose that which is wrong for us… and become trapped in addiction… becoming obsessed with things that bring us death rather than life.

We are in hell when we are oppressed. We are in hell when we are the oppressor.

Hell, as Bell points out, is literal… especially to those caught up in the conflict in Rwanda… or in the former Yugoslavia… or in Manhattan on that terrible day in September, 2001;

Bell then goes on to talk about hell in the context of judgement and punishment… and this is where I struggle… as I mentioned above.

I believe in justice… or, should I say, I believe in the concept where someone who commits a crime is punished with a punishment that is appropriate for that crime.

But I also believe in second chances.

True justice is when wrongdoing is punished then the wrongdoer is restored. Idealistic? Yes… but then I look at what has happened in South Africa under the watchful eye of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and know it can happen.

This is the point Bell makes about hell… and backs it up with the words of the Prophets:

“People are not cast off by the Lord forever, though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” (p86 – taken from Lamentations 3)

As a parent I have had to punish my children for their wrongdoing… which usually included being “sent to their bed” for a period of time with privileges removed… but this punishment is followed, after a given period, by restoration to the family and of their privileges.

I don’t want to punish my children… I just want to love them and ensure they have the very best… but sometimes I need to correct them… I need to ensure they are brought back into line.

But for how long? They are not punished for the rest of their lives for the wrongdoing they have committed… but for an appropriate period of time.

Which brings up my initial heartbreak… I have always considered it deeply unfair that, due to a moment in time, “bad” believers can arrogantly look to Heaven and “good” non-believers are condemned for ever and ever and ever and… well, you get my point.

Bell considers the words used for this ever and ever and ever.

Now, I am not a student of Hebrew or Greek, but i do know that meaning can and does get “lost in translation”.

But to think the phrase “aion of kolazo” can be translated as either “a period of pruning” or “eternal punishment” is scary.

It’s scary because you have, in one hand, a limited period of repair and, in the other, an unlimited period of repair. Both are periods of correction but one is seasonal and limited… whereas the other is unending. If you are a gardener you will know that you only prune when necessary and for a brief spell… if you keep cutting back then you will end up with nothing left… and, as discussed above, restoration can only happen if there is something left to restore!

Bell then discusses the term “olam” which means “to the vanishing point” or “in the far distance”. It comes close to “forever” when it is used to consider the nature of God (psalm 90 for example) but when it is used to describe the period of time Jonah is in the belly of the fish it’s different… 3 days may feel like forever… but it isn’t.

So when we read “eternal” are we putting our spin on the phrase… reading into it things that aren’t there? Maybe Jesus’ eternal isn’t the same as what we’ve come to think of it being?

Which brings me to a very pertinent question posed by Bell… “does God get what He wants?”

I think there are those within the Christian church who are more concerned with getting what they want… than what God wants. We have been divided for so long that sectarian rhetoric has become the norm… the phraseology of exclusion… where if you do not believe exactly as they do then you are “out”.

Exclusion has become the norm. In or out. Us or them. With us or against us. Friend or foe. Saved or lost.

Into this we place the idea of a hell… where those who are “in” are saved and those who are “out” are lost… and there are those folks out there that are really quite comfortable with this.

Let me just repeat that… some people are quite happy and content with the thought that their enemies are condemned to hell.

But wait, aren’t we meant to love our enemies? How is this loving?

The simple answer is… it’s not!

“External punishment” works if we want our enemies to suffer… whereas if we love our enemies and live lives of love then we should seek justice, restoration and “a period of pruning”.

As such, are our subjective prejudices clouding how we interpret scripture..? This is why we must consider what God actually wants!

More on that later.


Rowan Williams and the stories of CS Lewis

Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams | Via WikiCommons

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave three lectures this year as part of his annual Holy Week series — each dedicated on the work of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

This year, Dr Williams, a Narnia fan, has turned his attention to the Christian themes found in the Narnia novels. Dr Williams explained: “The Narnia books of C.S. Lewis continue to intrigue and inspire many, and the recent very successful films have shown that they still have wide appeal. Lewis certainly intended them to be vehicles of Christian teaching. But in an age less familiar with Christian images and ideas than his, how can we best draw out these themes?”

These are a great listen and give a great insight into Lewis’ work and ideas.

Lecture 1: ‘Not a tame lion
Lecture 2: ‘I only tell you your own story
Lecture 3: ‘Bigger inside than outside

(HT Faith and Theology)

nadia bolz-weber :: 4.6

nadia bolz-weber
nadia bolz-weber

this week we talk with emergent-lutheran nadia bolz-weber. weber is the mission developer for house for all sinners and saints in denver, colorado. the community is “an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination.”

she’s also the author of salvation on the small screen? 24 hours of christian television.

nadia talks about missional church gatherings with transFORM:

related ::

nadia’s new website
sarcastic lutheran
nadia on twitter
nadia on facebook
house for all sinners and saints
bluegrass eucharist
kent gustavson
salvation on the small screen

music ::

immortal beats – yourtimeisover
the frozen ocean – drawing circles in the sand

rachel evans :: 3.37

rachel evans
rachel evans

this week we talk with blogger, speaker and author rachel held evans about her journey, growing up in monkey town. she’s recently published a “memoir” about her experience, evolving in monkey town, and shares how she’s learned to ask questions and realize that doubt is a vital part in her faith journey.

NEW: read the announcement about rachel’s upcoming book – or watch the video announcement.

Also we’re trying out a new HTML5 audio player – so try viewing this page on an HTML5 enabled browser (including iPhones, iPads and other HTML5 mobile devices) and let us know if you can play the audio on your device:

related ::

rachel’s blog
rachel on twitter
evolving in monkey town
travis’ interview with rachel

music ::

our media – evolution
sufjan stevens – too much
castanets – worn from the fight with fireworks

travis mamone :: 3.10

Travis Mamone
Travis Mamone

Thomas speaks with Travis Mamone, Converse All-Star wearing, indie folk listening, always questioning, book loving, coffee addicted, emerging Christian freelance writer.

This conversation is the second half of a double interview.  In the first part Travis interviews Thomas for his Coffee Chat podcast.

related ::
travis’ blog
travis on twitter
part one of thomas’ chat with travis (on travis’ podcast)

music ::
cousin silascrystalised steel
cousin silas – newscape 5

A New Kind of Christianity with Brian McLaren

Posted originally on Jonathan’s blog

Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, drops tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 9).

I received a free advance copy from the publisher late last week and have been devouring it every chance I get (which with two toddlers at home hasn’t been that often).

In it, McLaren offers the top 10 questions he’s been hearing from people about the Christian faith as well as 10 responses to those questions (as opposed to answers — which are simply statements — which lead to hate and debate… he expounds much more on this in the first couple chapters).

So far I’m loving everything I’ve read. I won’t say I agree with everything yet (especially since I haven’t the full book yet) but what I’ve read is definitely in line with a lot of other things I’m reading and thinking as of late.
Continue reading A New Kind of Christianity with Brian McLaren

FREE PREVIEW :: The Faith of Barack Obama

Thomas Nelson Publishing has just released “The Faith of Barack Obama” by Stephen Mansfield (the same author who wrote “The Faith of George Bush”.

As a special treat for our listeners (or just those who stumble upon us while surfing the web) we have a free preview of the book available for download.

Download the Faith of Barack Obama preview (pdf)

From Michael Hyatt, Thomas Nelson President and CEO:

Two years ago, virtually no one outside of the state of Illinois had heard of him. Today, he is a household name, not only in America but around the world. Millions find him to be an inspirational and articulate leader—just what we need at this moment in history. Others find him calculating and dangerous—the same old liberalism in a different package.

But love him or hate him, Obama is a force to be reckoned with. He is not going away any time soon, even if he’s not elected this time around. As Mansfield points out, he could run for the presidency as often as he likes over the next 24 years and still be younger than John McCain is today.

And at the center of his identity is his religious faith. As Mansfield himself says, “If a man’s faith is sincere, it is the most important thing about him, and it is impossible to understand who he is and how he will lead without first understanding the religious vision that informs his life.” Obama makes no bones about it: his faith informs every aspect of his political vision.

This is a slim book with a big agenda: to explain Obama’s faith, to put it in historical context, and to explore what it might mean for our collective future.

Download the Faith of Barack Obama preview (pdf)

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing for the free preview.
Also, HT to John for the heads-up.