As I go through life here, I am realizing that I am at least two months late in learning about close to everything. I enjoy music and the new happenings, but usually find out about great stuff long after. Here are a couple examples.
-Over the last year, I have been increasingly enamoured with Hip-Hop, especially the Stones Throw crowd. A couple months ago, they announced that they were releasing an album called Ruff Draft by J Dilla, who died last year. I was really excited because I thought Donuts and The Shining were the only solo albums we would ever have from him. I emailed Paco about this "exciting new album." He was glad for my excitement, but pointed out that Ruff Draft came out long, long ago and this was a re-release.
-The slow uptake is automatically built in to living in Denver, America with film. I usually miss great new films, because I watch trailers on international sites, and then forget about them until they have been on DVD for about a year. Anything "new" to me is at least a year old.
-I am also bad at knowing what new authors to read in fiction-land. There are billions out there and all but about 4 are terrible. I don't have much time to read what I want, so I don't want to read crapp-ies. I learned about McSweeney's about two months ago, a great gang that has been around for over ten years.
That was all to say that I am continuing my inability to be on the cutting edge. Yesterday Shalom David told me Greg Boyd has a blog. I was so excited, so I went there (gregboyd.blogspot.com) and realized this had been going on since September of last year.
Greg talked about some stuff concerning memorial day that I was thinking through a lot on Monday. How do I approach Memorial Day when I am entirely against war and am not truly a part of any kingdoms of the world, while at the same time, I greatly respect people who literally put aside themselves and their lives for a cause? If my beliefs about world systems cause me to disrespect persons, I am missing the message of God, just as those who uphold pragmatism above the call of the Kingdom are missing the message. I think the problem lies in the fact that many persons think that if I don't support the government they gave their life to, I do not support them. This is seen in those who think that those opposed to the war in Iraq do not support the troops. Logically, this is a false dichotomy. Yet emotionally, it holds fast.
I especially run into this personal conflict at the Seminary when there are people in the military that go to the Seminary. On the one hand, I love the people in the military. On the other hand, as followers of Jesus, I feel that my brethren and sistren in Christ who are in the military are so drastically missing the message of the Gospel. Back to the first hand, there is a need for Chaplains. I do not think we should abandon the people in the military to themselves, just as I would not others to abandon me to myself. Back to the other hand again, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, how can we be effective Chaplains, because being a chaplain necessitates support for the cause and nation and all that. Otherwise, you will alienate yourself and drag morale.
These are the issues I struggle with very personally. I draw a comparison to how Dr. Sanders used to teach us that sometimes people need a pastor, not a theologian. I.e. Somebody's brother dies and you say, God has a reason for this. Sometimes I wonder if this is the same, but it's not. What I am talking about is intensely ethical and cuts to the heart of the Gospel. It is not some theoretical theology. The Kingdom of God is the very basis of our life and breath as followers of Christ. In that Kingdom, there is no room for violence, only love. This love is so subversive and insane that we would sooner be murdered in brutality than bring a hand against the object of our love. And the object of our love is every living human being. There is no place for dual citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God or kingdoms of the world. The Kingdom of Love and Peace is breaking into this world because of the love of Christ in us and through us. If we ever believe that a human is our enemy to be treated with violence, we sacrifice the presence of the Kingdom of God and make a mockery of the cross.