Tag Archives: Christianity

Addition of Apples and Bananas

This is how I learned math.

Mary has 3 apples. Bob has 4 apples. How many apples do they have together?

Examples make an abstract thing practical, and for some reason they make understanding the abstract more possible.

As Christians, we still learn by example.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:3-7

In this passage, Paul employs the imagery (and example) of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. These three occupations are used as a means to living a better Christian life. He extracts the idea of a soldier aiming to please his commanding officer, an athlete training to compete for a crown, and a farmer’s diligence in the fields and infuses them into the idea of Christian living. The abstract idea of Christian life is made more real by these examples.

But what about the examples themselves? We treat them as a means to our end, but we never acknowledge the examples as ends themselves. Consequently, we are susceptible to consider Christianity in terms of something else. The soldier “does” what a soldier does. The athlete “does” what an athlete does. The farmer “does” what a farmer does. What does it mean for the Christian to “do” what a Christian does? What does a Christian “do”?

The Christian life is an abstract idea, and we’re just trying to figure out what it actually looks like. And my Chemistry professor during my freshman year was convinced he solved the mystery of the Trinity via example of the material phases of water. “Father, Spirit, and Holy Ghost? Well, there’s Solid, Liquid, and Gas. So there you have it. Go and tell your Theology professors that.”

In Matthew 6:9-13, we have Jesus telling us how to pray (emphasis mine):

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Later in the gospel, we are given audience of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night of his betrayal. He walks further into the garden and falls to ground as he wrestles with the impending events: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Emphasis mine).

I was at a friend’s church when the pastor was expositing on this verse. My creative juices suddenly started flowing and I may have totally missed what the pastor was trying to explain. For some reason, like many of my other creative impulses, I started to think about Kanye West.

Kanye killed it–and then he dropped the mic. There really was no better way for him to end that show. Maybe if he had suddenly dissipated before our eyes, but that’s humanly impossible.

So here’s how I’m connecting the Lord’s Prayer with Yeezy’s “New God Flow” performance on BET Awards 2012. When Kanye dropped the mic, he said, “It’s done. I killed it. I said what i needed and you can’t say anything back.” When Jesus was in Gethsemane he begged for his burden to be lifted, but followed that up with, “You’re God. You already did it. You have planned what is necessary and it is perfect. There’s nothing I can really say to you.”

So what if “Christian” rappers dropped their mics after their shows? It would be corny to just drop the mic after each rap, but I think a show could capture a “redeemed” meaning of dropping the mic with good flow of energy throughout the show. I told my friend this and he said the first thing he thought of was pride and how dropping the mic might direct the crowd’s praise to the rapper instead of to God. But I’m convinced that we could train ourselves to see the act of dropping the mic in the following way:

1) It symbolizes that what was rapped is not the rapper’s own, but actually God’s. The mic is dropped symbolizing dispossession of the message conveyed via the lyrics.

2) When the mic is not in the rapper’s hands, who do we look to? Personally, I think about what just happened, what was spoken. Kanye’s rap was infinite, ripe with sick metaphors and allusions. When he walks off stage, yeah I suppose I could still cheer for him, but I could also cheer for the rap and marvel at what it spoke about (which, in the case of New God Flow, is Yeezy).

My hope with this idea is that we can further demarcate prophet and message, person and celebrity. Is this far fetched? Am I just dreaming that every rapper can be as cool as Kanye West? I mean, “Ask any dopeboy you know, they admire ‘Ye”.

This past Sunday I was at church listening to the pastor. I’m not really into the current series: The armour of God. Kyle says that they’ve been studying Ephesians since September. That’s dense. It isn’t my intent to knock on the pastor; he’s an intelligent man. I don’t think I’m fond of his teaching style though.

Regardless, I was listening to him and I noticed his prose. It was, what I call, Christian prose. In particular, it’s one type of phrase that might summarize Christan prose: Contradictory statements. In Matthew 10:34, Jesus claims that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.

Wow! Any knowledgable Christian would understand the meaning of that. ((I think any Christian theologian would tell you that Jesus didn’t intend for that statement to mean that Jesus would bring war, slavery, or some other form of brutality to the world. I think Jesus is getting at the fact that in order to have peace, you have to have justice. In order to have justice, Jesus had to bring it via the sword. The sword, I believe, represents God’s justice which is fully accessible through the function of the Christ.)) It’s that phrase’s — those types of phrases’ — essence that I want to highlight. They’re contradictory statements.

I think that’s one of the real beauties of Christianity. In regard to human nature, it’s such a contradictory belief. There are a number of instances where what we think would be, isn’t so in the eyes of God. The rich man will be poor, but the poor will be rich. The strong will become weak, and the weak strong. The criminal is repentent, but the centurion is proud.

This alarmed me. I think that we are all easily swayed by skilled rhetoric. If I’m not mistaken, the Greeks actually held rhetoricians in high esteem. If you can speak, you can persuade. If you can persuade, you’ve power. Is Christianity a scheme with suavely applied rhetoric?

It’s my belief that it isn’t. If Christianity is Truth (and I believe so), then it should inherently have power. If that is true, then Christianity ought to employ powerful devices like rhetoric. Accepting this, I want to now focus on the beauty of contradictory statements in Christian prose.

Contradiction might summarize the human condition. We are what we don’t want to be, and we want to be what we can’t be. We want the world to be peaceful, but we will never achieve that. We want our spouses to only love us, but that will never be possible. We want our children to live better than we did, but that dream is not foolproof.

Then we learn about Christianity. It teaches that we can achieve, make possible, and guarantee those desires. It’s so contradictory! How gripping is that? The Christian faith pierces directly into what we yearn for. I hardly think there can be anything more beautiful. The real beauty, though, is that ultimately everyone desires God.

Let me end with one of my favorite contradictions. It’s tragically, yet hopefully beautiful. Check out my contradictory statement right there.

To live is Christ, to die is gain. Philippians 1:21.

I might follow up on this entry later. I feel there is more I could clarify and explore.