Thursday, March 18, 2004
Good space, bad space, God space :: Brueggemann's approach to the Psalms

I've been thinking a lot recently about Walter Brueggemann's approach to the psalms. Basically he suggests a functional approach and sees psalms as speaking from and to three settings in life:
Now, with various groups of students, and in my own life, this cycle describes what people live. We (or at least my students and I) do live through such cycles. It's a useful and illuminating way to read the psalms.

I think of it as the "good space, bad space, God space" approach, because it's always in the reorientation phase that I feel closer to God.

Now for the rub, "our" (= Western, Internet reading) culture as a whole is clearly in the orientation phase. Individuals may be disoriented (I'm forever talking to them, often I am them) but the culture is comfortable, thank you.

So, what is an appropriate spirituality for the "good times"?

At this point Gen-X and my kids will chorus (with some justification) saying that for them times are hard - they have student debts etc. that I never had - but seriously the TXT generation says 'times are hard'??? No, folks, whatever age we are, we Internet Christians have never ever had it
so good.

So, what is the appropriate spirituality?

Hairshirts and flagellants whips? Nooo thanks!
The prosperity gospel? (Could I preach that to my ex-colleagues in Kinshasa... Or to your friend with cancer?)
The eyes-tight-shut, and enjoy-the-feelings spirituality of the world around us...

Or WHAT???

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Faith: who is the enemy?

How strange some Christians are. As Andrew's comment (to The West: Freedom of conscience reminds me, so many of us seem to think of Muslims, Hindus and other non-Christian religious people as our opponents. (Or at least we sometimes sound that way...)

How blind! In the West, we live in a society that in its public speech denies spirituality, or seeks to relegate it to each individual's 'private' world. While the public space is aridly materialist.

Our neighbours are (by this) denied the creator's touch in their lives. Under these circumstances, how can we see those who seek God in the wrong places as "the enemy"?

Surely the first and greatest enemy is the one who denies God, deadens spirit and proclaims that matter is all-powerful, all-giving, all we need to experience heaven on earth is consume more.

But that enemy we welcome into our homes, eagerly invite into our heads... It's not just the poor we starve through our greed, we condemn ourselves to spiritual starvation rations (Am 8:11-12 but read the whole chapter!)

Sunday, March 14, 2004
Free Internet :: Making an honest living

I've been thinking about Steve's ongoing dis-ease about the freedom of Internet publication. (Most recently here & here & here with an "Open Letter to Steve")

I like and admire Steve. But concerning the Open Letter to Mel, he does seem to have responded niavely. If I did not know him well I'd have said disengenuously [if I could spell it].

Steve published the piece, for all the world to see, under a Creative Commons Licence. The particular licence he chose is precisely designed so that users "are free:
* to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
and even:
"* to make derivative works".

Creative Commons embodies the spirit of the "Old Internet". Free-for-all to encourage creativity, generosity and the general good.

Of course the Old Internet is dead, once Warner Brothers and the big battalions got into the act (and after many lost their pants in the DotCom bubble), it's settled down as a place where pornmongers and Big Entertainment can thrive, alongside sellers of largescale business information.

What Steve and many others really need is some way to make an honest buck out of our writing. Micro-payments would allow this, but though the technology is ripe they have never "caught on".

Question: How often over the last few years has web-guru Jakob Neilsen proclaimed the year of the micro-payment?
Well over a year ago, The Parish Pump blogged at length on the subject...

Till the year of the micro-payment, you can have controled access by a few and payment - print.

Or free access and loads of comment and interaction with your readers - but no cash - online.

But we can not have both....

Friday, March 05, 2004
The West, home of freedom of conscience

Religious liberty has been in the news recently - or rather it hasn't. What with the French seeking to ban Muslim headscaves in schools, but allowing "small crosses". Here in NZ it's a our esteemed education minister who castigates a school for providing a Muslim prayer room for its 130 Muslim students. Turns out he didn't have all the facts when he blew off (though that seldom stops a politician;).

But what gets me is the silence of the lamb's people. Why aren't Christians in both countries campaigning for freedom of religion for our Muslim sisters and brothers? Is it because we all believe the US/UK line that they are somehow the enemy, or is it that we only care about our own freedom?

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