Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Conceptual Artillery

We need a conceptual framework to understand what is going on around us. Children are the wisest among us in this, as they are innately tuned into the form of story as the way to understand the world.

Scripture is the primary place where we learn story again. The storyline of the Bible arms us with the conceptual artillery we need to live a life well before God. There is a "narrative spirituality" that invites us in and changes us.

God also intends the church community to be a place where conceptual artillery is regained and implemented. We need a safe place to bring everything about "us" and "our world" before God, and if the church fails to provide this it makes life extremely difficult and we have to seek it elsewhere (usually in books). If we cannot find it, we can easily give in to despair.

Many psychological problems could be averted I think if the church were doing this. A healthy spiritual theology (theology that is lived) in the church provides us with the ammunition to live in the story God has put before us.

An example of what I am talking about is found in the book by William Young, "The Shack." The power of this book is the vision of God and how he relates to us that it provides. If we could embrace this vision and learn to "live loved," we would go a long way in being Jesus' disciples. The characters "Papa, Jesus and Sarayu" invite us into a kind of relationship where no sin or wound no longer needs to be hidden or covered in shame.

The church (it seems) typically narrows its vision over time, often in a bad way. With age does not necessarily come wisdom. Sometimes age produces resistance to conceptual change and the freedoms of grace.

Somehow, at the heart of this is the embrace of mystery as not just tolerable, but necessary and beneficial for us. For an incredible (fictional) conversation about mystery see this blog entry: