Saturday, August 13, 2011

Retelling the Story... Part 1

This is actually something I began months... and MONTHS... ago!
I'm still exploring these ideas. I'm not quite sure where it's all going. I'm putting this up, raw and unfinished as it is, because I think the answers to the questions I'm asking are crucial. And if I stick it up here - I will be obligated to finish the study!! Love to hear the thoughts of others on this stuff...

Just found another blog post that tells a little part of the blog story I've been trying to form in my mind for... ages!  Maybe it will help me actually get it into words. Al Lindskoog's post titled Amazing Grace, over at Communitas Collective points right at the spot I've been trying to direct my words towards.  Actually, quite a lot of Al's writings do (his blog is here, if you would like to wander through them) The bottom line is that the rules don't matter.  It's all about Grace. 

Don't misunderstand me - there is definitely such a thing as right and wrong.  Sin is real.  But living on that dividing line will kill you! It is the way of Grace that gives life.

Let me try and re-tell a familiar story...albeit very much simplified (after all, it is quite a challenge to fit 66 books into a few short paragraphs) but I wonder if you will see in it what I see!

We start with a perfect world.  A man, a woman, living in utopia, in perfect innocence, enjoying the utter beauty of creation, of each other, in simple, intimate relationship with the Creator.  But this is not "plastic perfect".  They are not puppets.  They are free to choose the relationship, or leave it.  & leave it, they do.  They are given the choice to eat from the tree of Life - or the tree of knowing Right and Wrong.  They choose to know right from wrong - & their relationships - with each other and with God, are broken.

Along with knowing right and wrong, comes working to stay alive - survival and self-worth through their own effort.  God, respecting the choice of mankind to live and govern the world by their own effort, gives them the most perfect measure of right and wrong ever devised.  The set of laws He gives them are incredible.  Following them keeps the people healthy, keeps the land healthy, and is chillingly correct when it comes to wrongdoing and morality.

Of course, the people cannot keep these laws consistently - and often do not do so at all.  Living with the knowledge of right and wrong - using even the most perfect measure, results in centuries of conflict, harsh legality, and violence.  And none of this brings about the health and harmony they seek.

So what happens next?


  1. I tried rewriting this story back in the late nineties. I will have to do a search through my papers and see if I have any of it left. I did have it in a hidden file in my head but I think that file has fallen out the back of my brain somewhere.

  2. Hey Kerry, I say "spot-on so far". Interestingly, if you have an iPod, you should consider subscribing to the weekly sermon podcasts from Dayspring Church in Castle Hill. One of their pastors, Tim Ferris (he was the one who did that weekend for us at Hope) has just finished a 4-part series called "Unleashing a Kingdom revolution".

    I am sure you will find it brilliant, considering the pondering you are doing in this area. He explains freedom, grace, law, etc in an amazing and life-changing way!!! Can't recommend it highly enough.

    The other thing I reckon you will love when pondering these things is any of Bill Johnson's books - "When Heaven Invades Earth" is particularly good, but all of them are brilliant and well worth reading in regard to this area.

    In fact, I have been pondering these things for a long time now too, and feel to write my own thoughts down sometime in the months ahead. I will be sure to read your follow up posts as part of my own ponderings.

    Take care.

    Dave Keane

  3. love you my friend

  4. MMmm, thinking about it. I have a slightly different take on it.

    I agree with you that it is all about relationships. But if it was such a perfect world with perfect rules, Christ would not have been necessary to update and improve on the law and prophets.

    The Jewish tribes were not really interested in the "hows" of life, but the deeper meanings. Their allegorical take, is typical of storytelling tribes, of mythical battles and morality plays beyond the day-to-day grind of life. So I disagree entirely that in reality it was a perfect world. That to me, is a storytelling start to a moral lesson, a kickoff that gives us a sense that life can be better, it's a form of historical Utopianism, that most cultures indulge in as a way of having a debate on Utopian dreaming to help choose and act on a better future.

    The Law and the Prophets made huge improvements on the way to live a good life, with rules for living that were a lot healthier than the tribes around them. For example limiting retribution to "an eye for an eye". But as Gandhi pointed out on that rule, we would end up with a world on one-eyed people.

    So Christ charges us with our biggest relationship challenge "Love your neighbour as yourself".

    To follow that through, we have to actually Love Ourselves and Accept Ourselves totally and unreservedly.... and then take that through to our loved ones, friends, neighbours and 'enemies' as well.

    Unfortunately, most of us fail to be honest and accept ourselves to that level, and then are brought up in tribes that then say "They're not us!" in one form or another, as a safety valve from having to follow this Golden Rule of Relationships.

    If we cannot love ourselves and our neighbours as we and they are, no matter who or what we are or they are, at this imperfect moment, warts and all, how can we understand the love of God.

    Getting back to your final paragraphs, it is not knowledge that has led to the atrocities of today and past millennia, but not loving ourselves and others as we should.

    I believe that if we as a species are to survive this very challenging century we have to extend this "love your Neighbour" beyond the human species to a love and respect of all life.
    Edward O. Wilson's Biophilia Hypothesis the idea that humans evolved as creatures deeply enmeshed with the intricacies of nature, and that we still have this affinity with nature ingrained in our genotype.

    Inspiring eco-architect William McDonough puts it into a new Golden Rule, that if we want to survive we "need to love the children of all species for all time." William McDonough Address to the Woods Hole Symposium

    As a society and global civilisation, wer are balanced between a painful and challenging survival or a disastrous failure as a species, with our human induced changes to the planet bringing about our own demise and that of ~95% of species this century with runaway climate change.

    We need a cultural and religious renaissance which acknowledges that we as a species cannot live without us loving and caring for the children of all species for all time, starting with our own inner child and working outwards.

    thanks for the discussion

  5. @Rachel - I'd love to hear your take... your thoughts (which I'm sure have developed and matured, rather than fallen out, lol) are always insightful - & I love that you always have a bit of a different "angle" - so jump on in!!

    @Dave (K) Thanks for the "leads" - I'll do my best to get hold of those books & the podcast. I remember Tim Ferris - he impressed me back then!

    Ahhh! David!! You are always such a BIG thinker!! It will be fun and challenging tangling with you on this one :D

    "I agree with you that it is all about relationships. But if it was such a perfect world with perfect rules, Christ would not have been necessary to update and improve on the law and prophets." You're jumping the gun just a little here, but you've also missed something in my (VEEERRRY simplified) version of Genesis.

    The "perfect world" just WAS. It was actually the choice of rules over relationship that brought separation, conflict, self effort and the list goes on.

    Reread the introduction of the law - introduced as the best possible "law" - but still very much rules/right and wrong/ us and them. the result?? Centuries of conflict. And I think this was the point. Even the most "perfect" set of rules will separate people. It will never bring about peace. If you use rules, you then must judge people against them. You either place yourself with, above or below others in your own estimation. Your view of others becomes heirarchical as you measure their worth against your chosen standard. Another way is needed - & you have touched on that.

    "If we cannot love ourselves and our neighbours as we and they are, no matter who or what we are or they are, at this imperfect moment, warts and all, how can we understand the love of God?" OHHHHH - So VERY true!!! (Can I stick this up on fb??) But we are getting ahead in our story...

    I'll leave the cultural evolution stuff where it lies. You and I are having enough sparring matches on that, but in any case I really don't think it matters whether you view the story as history or allegory. The point (which you have made so beautifully in the above paragraph) is the same.

    Love, Kerry.

  6. Hi Kerry, love your take on the failure and harshness of the rules versus the need for loving relationships...
    as a transgendered person largely still in the closet due to 'the rules' of society, there is a constant reminder by the “rule minders” of the centuries of torture inflicted any gender variant people by the rigid rules of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic cultures as long as these religions have existed and continuing today in more places than not.

    Gender variant people in the myriad forms they take Gay Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Intersex, have significantly higher rates of isolation, suicide, depression, homelessness, lower wages, disconnection from family and community. But in Australia, most churches still prefer to go by the Rules, instead of what this discussion is about, relationships, living and loving people as they are now.

    Why is it that so many other cultures accept gender variant people within the culture and religion without fuss, in many cases even regarding transgendered/cross-dressers as blessed by being able to move across the gender divide and act as a social bridge.

    Born male and spending a majority of time as one, I also feel at home presenting as a female and need to spend time as Danielle daily or weekly for my own wellbeing, and in both facets attracted to women.

    It is sad that those least able to accept my boundary crossing gifts have largely been Christians going by the "book of rules". Many are so "rule bound" that they could not cope with my transgendered status, and do not even consider telling them as the result would be painful.

    Reliable figures indicate that 1 in 20 males are cross-dressers, and ~1 in 732 males in the USA are transsexuals. So just in these two categories of transgender there are huge numbers of people involved, all suffering privately from fear of the rule and not able to enjoy the benefits of real loving and accepting relationships.

    The brain studies and other research indicates that gender variant individuals do not have a choice, its not the "evil" of the rules but the programming of genes or hormones of the uterine environment. Yet these rules mean people like me have been stoned and tortured to death in other cultures and other times, and still suffer significant persecution in rule bound modern society for brain wiring we have no choice over.

    For my own welbeing and to help change social 'rules' for the next generation of LGBTI youth, I forced myself to start coming out to people, also suppressing an intrinsic part of oneself and lying about it, is not healthy. Being aware of the implications for friendships and possible employment consequences makes coming out of the closet a scary process to start off with.

    Women on the whole have been more accepting than men. Many men can't understand another man "demeaning himself" by wanting to dress and identify with their female side. Just about every male sports team in the country has coaches screaming "what are ya? a bunch of girls?" (seems to indicate some bad 'rules' on what it means to be male in our society)

    However it's been largely practicing Christians at both the evangelical and catholic ends of the spectrum, and many inbetween, who have been the least understanding with all the best reasons – “the rules”!

    One good male friend was only concerned that I was not a homosexual as well, but then refuses to acknowledge it, another “Christ! Did you have to tell me!” A couple who appeared to be great friends, told me having claimed they understood, that now there was a new girlfriend "You can now drop all that stuff" and on hearing this was not happening, they dropped me instead.

  7. Through trial and error I’ve learnt to avoid people of the rules and many so-called Christians for the grief and rigid, judgmental attitudes they bring to my life is not worth it.

    We all need to be loved and accepted now as we are. We need a community that has the flexibility to accept people who are different, even when that difference is something they can’t really understand.

    Most people who live by the rules, do not show that love or understanding, instead look for reasons why they are "the in group" and everyone else is different and therefore excluded and discriminated against.

    I am so full of heartfelt gratitude for those friends, including Kerry who have put Relationships in front of the rules and worked to accept my different facets with love and understanding, they give me an insight into the love of the Creator and help create a taste of heaven here on earth.

    so thanks for the discussion and the ideas.
    love Danielle

  8. Hey Dan! Wow! You've taken the discussion aeons from where it started - yet the issues you are raising (how we deal with the "rules", how much more important are relationships to us - really?) are the exact questions I've been asking.

    There are plenty of instances in the Gospels where we see Jesus giving someone the injunction to "sin no more" - but ONLY after he had accepted them, understood them, loved them and reached to their heart as only God can.

    "Many are so "rule bound" that they could not cope with my transgendered status, and do not even consider telling them as the result would be painful" - I believe this highlights a huge discrepancy between our "Church culture" and the way Jesus actually related to people.

    Crossdressing is something I do not understand well, and only because you were honest enough to come out to me, do I have any knowledge of it at all. If I'm honest, I'm not totally comfortable with it (something we've talked about) However you are still the dear friend I have always valued. I feel very humbled that you would see in me the love of the Creator.

    Blessings, Kerry


Feel free to leave comments - I love discussion, & diverse opinions! So comment, add your own thoughts, disagree - you are welcome.

Its okay to comment anonymously if you are shy, but I'd much rather know who you are, & always appreciate it when people "own" their own opinions. Look forward to chatting with you :)