Category Archives: Just Random Stuff

The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley

The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley begins with an epigraph by Arthur Bury from 1691, making the claim that the naked gospel “was the gospel which our Lord and his apostles preached,” which is what I expected this book to do. I expected to read a new take on Jesus theology, in which I would learn a bit more about what Jesus said and did and the ways in which those actions were revolutionary. I would have loved this book if that had been what it really did. What I got instead was a whole different story involving Paul, a Jew who supposedly grew to have no use for his traditional religious upbringing, and those people who came after Paul who also saw no need for relationship with the Jewish Scriptures. How, can I ask, does this present “the gospel which our Lord and his apostles preached”? Instead, possibly the epigraph should have been a quote from Origen who thought that Paul “taught the Church which he had gathered from among the Gentiles how to understand the books of the Law” and then ignore them. It seems as if Farley spends quite a bit of time discussing Paul and Paul’s aversion to his own tradition, which doesn’t seem like a Naked Gospel, but more of an interrogation of Paul. That being said, this book isn’t all bad; it just wasn’t what I expected.

Farley provides an excellent critique of our desire to remain staid in our own complacent following of hollow rules that we perceive make us good Christians. However, I am not sure that early Christians would agree with his reading of the meaning of old and new and the ways that he argues Christians are called to live a new life without considering the laws or the Jewish Scriptures. It makes no sense to advocate the very heavy disregard for the early Christians’ previous religious experience, especially because there is substantial evidence to the contrary. In fact, the very people Farley discusses—Peter, Paul, and the other apostles—did not leave the Jewish faith. They merely reconfigured their previous beliefs to fit with their newly acquired faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Particularly, Matthew adheres to his Jewish roots as he tried to convince both Gentiles and Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. Making such an adamant break from discussing Jewish traditions and religion is a major weakness of Farley’s text. I do agree with his assessment that Christians need to learn to avoid “the painful symptoms of un-necessary religion” (31), but does this need to be done by completely breaking away from tradition or previous manifestations of religious worship? I think not. Even Paul, who Farley quotes sometimes very out of context, references his own religious and secular traditions as well as the religious and secular leaders of his time.

The main tenet that Farley proposes with which I agree is the idea that we are free from sin. We are always already forgiven, and too many Christians don’t realize it. They are crippled by the perceived necessity to keep accounts of their sins and to compulsively ask forgiveness for those sins, sometimes to the point of unhealthy self-reflectivity and analysis. I love the song “Everything Glorious” by David Crowder Band, because it makes this claim so well. I think Farley is getting at the same question as Crowder: “You make everything glorious and I am Yours, so what does that make me?” According to Farley, “It’s important to understand that we’re joined to the risen Christ, not to a dead religious teacher” (180). I would even take this a step further and say that we are the risen Christ. Whatever is to be done on this earth now, is to be done through us as we are the manifestation of the work that Jesus did on the cross. We are required to be Christ to people: “Genuine growth occurs as we absorb truth about who we already are and what we already possess in Christ” (187). I concur.

In short, I liked this book because it challenges several commonly held beliefs in contemporary Christianity, such as the idea that we have to change who we are to be perfect Christians. As Farly writes, “Having Christ live through you is really about knowing who you are and being yourself. Since Christ is your life, your source of true fulfillment, you’ll only be content when you are expressing him” (194). I agree but my main complaints about this book can speak directly to this idea: what if the way you experience Christ living through you includes a love for and an adherence to those “Old Testament” ideas that he claims are null and void? Can we really claim that the naked gospel is a gospel void of any sense of tradition or Jewish scripture, relying solely on tradition and reason to inform our actions as Christians? I don’t think so. I don’t think this is really “Jesus plus nothing.” It’s more like Jesus nothing with a heaping helping of misread Paul. I would recommend this book, simply so people could wrestle through all of these ideas as Farley adeptly challenges the reader to think critically about a variety of ideas.

You can read this and other reviews of the same book at Viral Bloggers.

A Little Video I Stole From A Student

70 Million by Hold Your Horses ! from L'Ogre on Vimeo.

Thanks, Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dear Pittsburgh Pirates,

Thanks for being in last place in the National League. I feel very good about myself for choosing to be a fan of your team this year. My self-esteem needed this boost, and I am sure yours did too. Could you try hard not to completely suck for the rest of this year? If Baltimore ends up with a better record than you do, we’re through.

Sincerely,

A Newly Devoted Fan

Things I Am Afraid Of or My Phobias

The title of this post sounds a bit like an essay that I would never assign to any of my critical writing classes, but it is one that I would assign every semester to any creative writing class I might teach. I think this is a fascinating topic for many reason. One: I think our phobias say a lot about who we are. Two: By writing about our phobias, we get to explore not only what we are afraid of, but also why we are afraid of it. Three: Who doesn’t love delving a little bit deeper into her own psyche just to find out that the irrational fears she faces everyday are possibly very rational. Here are my phobias that I would like to one day write about:

  1. Haphephobia: A fear of being touched—I don’t liked to be touched for pretty much any reason. I don’t like to hug people or to have them walk up next to me and put their arms around me. So, if you have ever received a hug from me, consider your self lucky.
  2. Vaccinophobia: A fear of vaccinations—I think vaccinations are a ridiculous waste of time and money. We have diseases for natural population control, and we have vaccinations so large pharmaceutical companies can make money. Plain as that.
  3. Scatophobia: A fear of fecal matter—I don’t mind my own poop, but yours better not come near me. Also, I have a dog who I think is scatophobic because he literally runs away from his poop every morning.
  4. Pnigophobia or Pnigerophobia: Fear of choking of being smothered—This actually also extends out into a fear of drowning. Really I am afraid of not being able to breathe: drowning, choking, asthma, suffocation, or strangling.
  5. Nyctohylophobia: Fear of dark wooded areas or of forests at night—This actually has more to do with a fear I used to have when I had my Jeep. Whenever I would have all the windows and doors off, I was always afraid a deer would jump in when I was driving past a cornfield. It would then proceed to bite me in the next or hoof me to death. Since I love to camp, I think my fear has more to do with the deer.
  6. Gephyrophobia or Gephydrophobia or Gephysrophobia: Fear of crossing bridges—This only applies to really high bridges in interstates: The Chicago Skyway, a bridge in Milwaukee, the bridge to South Padre, one in Corpus Christi, and one in Dayton.
  7. Emetophobia- Fear of vomiting—Seriously, I will bargain with God to keep from throwing up. Ew.
  8. And, probably my most serious fear whose name I cannot locate: falling through the upstairs  floor into the level below—When I lived in an apartment on any floor but the first, sometimes I would have difficulty falling to sleep at night because I would worry about my bed (with me in it) falling through the floor into the apartment below. I would imagine myself waking up in the first floor apartment with its inhabitants staring at me. Now, since our bedroom is just above the dining room table, I think that the bed might fall through and land on the table and then the whole lot of us will end up in the basement with the cat litter pans. Ugh.

So goes my list of irrational fears.

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I am thankful for people who understand my idiosyncrasies.

Food: I ate everything in sight. It happens on the first day of, and the few days leading up to, your period. Sue me.

Exercise: See above sentence. I was too lethargic to exercise. Tomorrow, though, I am going to kick the heck out of five miles.

Another Collection of Found Objects.

Since I left Facebook, I suppose my blog has become the place for me to collect those things which I normally would have shared on my profile. I think this new-found freedom from complete voyeurism has forced me to only post those things that I care enough to open a new post and actually type something in. I know that some things can be shared onto WordPress via the share function on some media and website interfaces. This video was not one of them, but it is definitely worth the opening and typing.

The Lost Tribes of New York City from Carolyn London on Vimeo.

Obviously, there are several problems with the video, not the least of which is the title. “The Lost Tribes” delineates groups of people into their most primitive categories, but since the groups interviewed are typically groups who are already disenfranchised, the title becomes even more of a problem. Of course, one could argue that Carolyn London is simply giving voice to those who are normally voiceless, and she is allowing a broad spectrum of people to speak on their own behalf. Although, I wonder if London wasn’t giving them the opportunity to speak to people with some privilege through our computers, would most of us even want to listen at all. I mean, if the person who is the voice of the suitcase came up to one of us and started talking to us on the street, would we give her the five minutes of listening time we give to her because her voice is coming out of a visually altered, animated, talking suitcase?I am not sure most of us would, but because it is kitschy and cute and it comes from our cyber-screens, we listen. And, then, there is the fact that people, the always already marginalized, are rendered as inanimate objects like telephones and suitcases, but that is a whole different problem.

Well, the video, however problematic, is still worth a watch. If for no other reason than for to agree or disagree with me about its worth.