Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick Losing Our Muchness

The Mad Hatter: You're not the same as you were before you were much more..."muchier" You've lost your "muchness" Alice Kingsley: My "muchness"? The Mad Hatter: [Points to Alice's heart] in there. “To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.” – Roland Barthes

He set her down on a large boulder and began to slowly walk away. The multi-colored horizon behind them and an unknown future waiting in front of them. She was bewildered by his sudden willingness to leave her all alone in the treacherous world of her own making. She shouted for recognition and then slowly the Mad Hatter turned around and addressed Alice with disappointment in his voice, ‘You have lost your muchness!’ He knew he was supposed to tell her, that somehow she lost her spark. That somehow she had forgotten who she was. This is a scene from Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland. A multi-layered story laced with numerous meanings. A story of redemption and self-rediscovery.

I think the Church is very much like Alice.

We are in a great place filled with wonder and opportunity. A place teeming with life and beauty. But just like Alice, we too have lost our muchness. Our language and words that we have used for centuries have become the 1

Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick very opposite of what they were intended to be. We have created a religion framed around linguistic exclusion. Christianity stands on the precipice of a future waiting to happen, it stands in the gap between losing its muchness and finding it all over again. To understand how we can get it back, we have go back to the beginning.

behind door number one. Everything has an origin. Everything starts somewhere. A first date. A first kiss. A first scrape. A first job. There is a first time for everything. I think this is important to realize when approaching life, that there are these moments that seem to unfold like wrapping paper over a Christmas present. The process never stops. I think our wonder in that process can. We can lose the curiosity of what is behind 'door number one', or what vistas await us around the next bend. Life is full of first surprises, ones that keep inviting us into deeper wonder and curiosity. It is our responsibility to find creative ways with which to sustain our curiosity. If we choose not to follow our curiosity into sights unseen, than we too might become victims of the world that we have helped create. The world is constantly changing. Culture is consistently emerging. Families are currently being redefined, ethics are being redefined, and truth is being redefined. Culture is something we get to add to, but if we choose not to be relevant and redefine and engage our society, than not only do we deny curiosity as a necessary companion in the journey, we also willingly say we don’t want to participate. If we come to accept that culture is changing than we also have to accept the need for our language to change along with it. To deny the need for linguistic evolution is

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick to deny that culture has and is changing. The very incarnation of Jesus is about God invading culture. God participating and interacting with and within culture. The incarnation shows a God who is curious enough to try on new skin. If Christianity claims to follow Jesus than we too should follow suit and re-incarnate ourselves into a new skin that speaks and participates in this new emerging culture.

the sting of second thoughts. My first word was 'chocolate', not mom or dad, just chocolate. Which has been indicative of my life affair with the narcotic of chocolate, which I am sure will ensue for the rest of my life. Chocolate will probably be my travelling companion through adventure of life. Much like language. I needed language to say my first word. I must have heard chocolate plenty of times when I was crawling around diaper-less. Sometimes our words form before we are fully aware of their value in a conversation. Language is an integral part of our society. For those who don't have the ability to speak, they use their body; we call that ‘sign language’. We all have a set of languages we bring into a conversation. The language of they eyes, feet, hands, mouth, hands and arms to name a few. Each stance we make says something about receptivity to what is being said. We've heard it said that 90% of what you're saying isn't coming out of your mouth. Our body seems to subconsciously translate for us. When I was in elementary school, the teacher would spend most of her time giving me these long lectures on how I would need to listen more rather than try to find ways to hang-glide across the desks. Her arms were closed across her chest in a defensive posture, at

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick times; she would use her pointer finger from her right hand to keep me focused. It didn't work. Although I was only eight, I got the message, just not loud and clear enough to change my behaviour.

But words do hold power. They hold influence. What we say can change the world.

Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his prolific role in changing the landscape of Civil Rights for Black American's in the 60's. His words inspired hope, challenged governments, and in the end lost him his life. I think it would be an honest assessment to say that his overall choice of words brought healing within the fabric of the American psyche. Racism is still present, but less so because of the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

Words can also destroy.

German dictator Adolf Hitler used his words to inspire people to kill other innocent people because of their race. Six million innocent Jews. Hitler thought He was doing God a favour. In chapter two of his book 'Mein Kampf' (translated as: My Struggle) Hitler goes on to describe why he is passionate about what he is doing, "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.i" Hitler was convinced in his own words that killing others is a divine act. He was right. Life itself is a divine act of God. To take it away is to assume the role of Creator.

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick

Words can lead us astray.

They can make us believe things that aren't true about ourselves and others. One of the biggest topics on television talk shows today are about people who were told hurtful things when they were younger. Typically, the verbal barrage of angry words were shouted across high school campuses, either about weight, intelligence or financial status. Either way, what was said left a gaping wound for years to come and now they've returned to exact revenge on the words that were said. Really, that's what it is. Those who come back to seek redemption are trying to pry their validation out of the hands of the words that were once said. Sure there was a vehicle where these angry words were birthed from, but the words themselves bring the life-long sting of second thoughts.

verbal gravity. James was the half-brother of Jesus who wrote a letter to the Jewish people who were dispersed throughout the region of Ancient Palestine. Who's he writing to? Religious' people, not to sinners. (We will come back to why this is important later in the book) In the third section of his letter James starts talking about how the tongue has the ability to hurt or give life, " And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way”ii. James was dealing with the reality that we can let things slip out, even words we never intended, and that words as simple as they seem are encased in gravity that we humans can't fully grasp because we're still developing and re-developing our languages. This is why it’s even more important that we evaluate the language we use when speaking with and to others. James uses imagery to demonstrate the awesomeness of words, both healing yet wounding. He is dealing with the power and influence of words over others. He is calling people into a life filled with words laced with intentionality, a new way to be human. A new language for humanity. One that is fully aware of its gravity and place in society. James isn’t being fatalistic here. He is holding out for hope that we can tame the tongue; otherwise he wouldn’t have said anything there at all. He uses animals to demonstrate that humans have and can control them. This is a positive statement, a statement building up to personal potential. Then he talks of the tongue being untamed, he is using the succession to inform us that we have what it takes to control our tongues, to watch what we say. I think this is the invitation from him then and now. To be fully aware of the implications of our words. That when we are in discussions with others that we remove the sting of exclusive language. That we remove the terms that create outsiders. That we revisit what we’re saying and why we’re saying it.

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick When we submit ourselves to a language outside of the idiom of the common man, we are subconsciously yet aggressively asserting not only our distance from the 'other' but also creating an unnecessary barrier within humanity. We are agreeing with the assumption that we are better than them. The evolutionary development of terminology within Christianity has become incredibly bourgeois due to the apparent scientific approach to the religion of Christianity. Let me explain. When we use words such as 'saved', 'grace', 'mercy', 'end times', 'atonement', 'born again', and 'baptised' (to name only a few) in a closed context such as Christianity whether we intend to or not we are sending a message of superiority and creating a class system within the framework of our daily conversations. When we use a system of language as a way to describe one's experience with the Divine and then use that system of language in such a way that it creates outsiders and insiders than we betray the very nature of what the language itself was meant to do. French Semiologist Roland Barthes once said it this way, “Language is legislation, and speech is its code. We do not see the power which is in speech because we forget that all speech is a classification, and that all classifications are oppressive.”

pizza linguistics.

I had a lot of zits in high school.

I looked like pizza incarnate. The acne was so bad that at one point I had to make bi-weekly trips to the dermatologist. I just wanted to wish them away,

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick but as you know zits are nothing like candles on a birthday cake or stars in the sky, you just can’t wish them away! They do their very best to colonize your face and make their presence known. Acne in high school is to be expected, it’s this sort of rite of passage that we get called into, but in no way is it cool.

Acne makes you an outsider.

If you have a lot of it, it forces others to categorize you as someone who is freak-like. This classification doesn’t help with one’s self-esteem nor is it inclusive or healing. People calling you ‘pizza-face’ doesn’t really give you the vote of confidence needed to make it through the gauntlet of attacks that seem to never stop when you are tip-toeing through the war-zone that is high school. These classifications leave bruises, but the kind that take years to heal. Roland was dealing with the oppressive nature of this same exact classification. When we choose to use our words in such a way where we create outsiders, we are following in the footsteps of those who have in our own histories left the scars that we are now perpetuating on others. We create a roster of unnecessary victims that unknowingly accept their lot because they know no other way. Roland wasn’t saying we need to get rid of speech in general, what he was proposing is that we need a new language, a new code from which all can live by. Within Christendom there is a language, a lexicon of words that have created more damage than good. The words we’ve used have the similar sting to those who’ve walked the halls of their high schools and accepted the public shame as truth. Albeit,

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick the intentions may have been pure, but the damage has nonetheless already been done. This book is a journey through some of the words we have used for centuries and finding better ones that heal and include rather than the opposite.

Let’s take the word Christian for example.

The word Christian itself is a word we use to define a group of people who believe that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't just a local small town preacher, but that He was indeed the Christ-Messiah spoken about for centuries to come. I think it’s important to point out that Jesus didn't start the movement of Christianity, he did inspire it though. Christian was a term used by those who despised this new movement of Jesus-followers; it was a word to slander the character of those who chose to follow after the person of Jesus. It would be better modernised as a cuss word. It was offensive. The Greek meaning behind the word Christianosiii is where we get the word for Christian. 'Ianos' was used to denote being a slave of the person that one was following. So, in this instance it would mean that people were slaves of Christ. In the ancient world slavery wasn't as taboo as it is seen today, it was more accepted. In fact there were a hierarchy of slaves in this culture. Some were contracted slaves who were either sold into slavery to pay a debt or to fulfil an obligation amongst families; these slaves were much like our idea of slavery today. There were also another set of slaves called 'hired servants' who were more like butlers and house chefs that some have today. It was a more acceptable label. When the Biblical author Paul uses it in

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick some of his letters, he is attempting to redeem the word. He is taking a bad word and trying to make it good. It’s like the young adults in England who use the word ‘wicked’ when describing something they really like or enjoy. For example, “I really liked that movie. It was wicked!” In general rhetoric, wicked is usually in close connection with evil acts or words. In this instance, the word has been redeemed in reverse. It once only had negative implications, but now it can have both good and bad depending upon the context. This is the same with the word Christian, depending upon the context it can also be a destructive word rather than a healing one. Slavery through time has evolved into an act of denigration towards humanity. One of the saddest moments in United States history was the Atlantic Slave Trade that occurred between the 16th-19th centuries. An event that has left wounds too deep for scabs to heal. One website author describes the event like this “Sardines are canned fish that people mainly do not like, an African man would have been in worse condition than that sardine. A black man would have been packed alive with other men only being able to get up to use the ship's toilet or urinate off the side of the ship, if he is lucky. If another man died he was thrown over board or left to rot. Most of them, who survived the ship captain's torture, would be then forced into a life of hard labour. Families would be separated, and some times sent to different parts of the country.”iv It was the moment when one group of people within humanity decided that another group deserved to be treated as a commodity. The moment that happened was the moment that oppression became a marketable thing that the majority could afford to support. Slavery is not a good thing. It never should have been (in or out of the

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick Bible). We have to realize the words we use do have an effect on those around us. Wouldn’t it be a sad thing if we choose to use a word that creates more damage than good? Or employ the use of a word that supports the very thing we are meant to be against? Jesus speaks on the issue of freedom in the book of John, "If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. "v. Jesus' message was one of complete and utter liberation. In another place he tells some of his followers that he no longer calls them slaves but friends. This is directly counter-cultural to the role of the disciple and Rabbi. The disciple was meant to follow and learn from the Rabbi. As you can see though, Jesus' friends felt comfortable enough to ask Jesus questions because He treated them differently than other Rabbi's. He treated them as equals. As people who had something to add to the conversation. The word Christian means ‘one who is a slave to Christ’. This term seems to contradict the very heartbeat of Jesus.

I think we need a new word. One with global implications.

One that doesn’t ostracize or create an insider-outsider mentality, a word that heals and restores what Jesus intended. Rather than offering another word in its place, maybe we can offer an idea. An idea that intentionally invites others into all of our discussions. The Jesus idea or maybe the Jesus inn, (an inn is a place where any and all people come to rest, re-center and re-discover themselves) could be a couple offerings. If we approach Jesus as

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick a concept, an idea than it becomes encyclopaedic. Jesus then becomes the incarnation of what all of humanity is meant to look like. If we treat Jesus only as a person who lived and breathed than we become bound to only what Jesus has to offer as a person. This isn’t to deny the historical Jesus; it is to introduce Jesus as a metaphor for something bigger. It is to shake hands with the Jesus who came to show mankind what we’re all meant to be. It is to take his message seriously. Jesus stood for things like compassion, love, he was a hero for the outsider, and redefined weakness as strength to name a few things. If we carry this new Jesus with us than it allows us to offer not only what the historical Jesus offered but it also allows us to creatively apply what he stood for that spans across history, time and tradition. When we participate in this kind of linguistic generosity, we acknowledge the all-embracing message that Jesus came to bring. This new idea has amazing ripple-effects, because if we begin to enable and empower others with the same belief that Jesus had for all those he interacted with, we too might help transform society. When Jesus was sharing the Beatitudes, also known as the famous Sermon on the Mount, he was speaking to such a diverse group of people that included the religious and non-religious, the insiders and the outsiders. He invited them into a new way of seeing the world and each other. The way Jesus interacted with women and treated them as equals in a society where women had no value spoke volumes on how inclusive Jesus really was. He made the religious elite nervous because he was much too inclusive. Jesus would also heal people. Healing was an extreme barrier-breaker. In the days of Jesus, if you were born with a disease you were already an outsider at

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick birth. People would have thought that someone in your family must have royally screwed up for you to be chronically ill or blind for example. They would have had rules in place to make sure you weren’t around ‘normal’ people, most of the time it was outside the city gates. Outside the city gates was the place for the unclean.

You were marked if you were there.

You were also mistreated and abused because you were part of the dirty ones. So, when Jesus finds a blind beggarvi on the side of the road and heals him, he is setting off a chain-reaction of hope. A hope that defies classification. A hope that gives the blind man a second chance to rediscover the world around him. A hope that allows those who mistreated him to truly see the man for who he has always been. Now that the man can see, he can work. He can help support his family. He can pay bills and buy a mocha frappucino. He can pay taxes, which in turn help others. He can see, for him this is a whole new thing just to get use to. The act of healing is inclusive by nature. So, what if the word we now use has caused more bloodshed than healing? We have a history immersed with story after story of how we got it wrong and that somehow we missed the target. Maybe Christianity has sinned against Jesusvii. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it stand to reason that we need something better? One simple act of reversal could change everything, and it could begin the healing process. Maybe this one simple act can include a change of language, and in doing so we began to accept the reality that ‘sticks and stones, although they break bones, words

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick will always hurt me more’. Or as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Healing, in a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” When we accept our responsibility and do something about it, the world begins to turn once again. When we come together and reclaim the message of Jesus as something that attracts rather than repels, we too stand on the mount with him and proclaim that everyone everywhere has what it takes to be him in the here and now.

linguistic anarchy. When someone hears the word 'McDonalds', the golden arches come into full view. When someone hears the name Mother Teresa, they think of an older woman who was filled with intense compassion for the world. They don't think of a man in his thirties. Why? Because language makes sense of the pictures around us. Language is in and of itself a symbol. For example, when you think of McDonald’s, you might think of a Happy Meal or Ronald McDonald. When you think of a Church, you might conjure up an archaic building with a cross on top of it. If you think of a Buddhist, you might assume someone with no hair adorned in a long robe or maybe even the Dalai Lama.

Language makes sense of our world.

But, the danger of language is that it also removes the emotional connection between the person and the object. It subconsciously creates

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick uncomfortable distance between people and the created objects that surround them.

Once we label something it can no longer be anything else if the rest of our society agrees upon it.

For example, if you ask someone to grab you a cup, they wouldn’t give you a plate or a wrench. They will give you a cup, not necessarily because the cup is a cup, but because as a society we all have come to agree that a cup is something you drink out of and has a deep hole in the middle of it for holding liquid. Without getting too much deeper into this, why is this important? I think we have to come to a point where we have to realize that a lot of our language within Christianity has been moulded by a majority. Contrary to popular belief, the majority isn’t always right. Cultural critic Matthew Arnold once said “The mass of mankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are; very inadequate ideas will always satisfy them. On these inadequate ideas reposes, and must repose, the general practice of the world. That is as much as saying that whoever sets himself to see things as they are will find himself one of a very small circle; but it is only by this small circle resolutely doing its own work that adequate ideas will ever get current at all. The rush and roar of practical life will always have a dizzying and attracting effect upon the most collected spectator, and tend to draw him into its vortex…” What if Christianity has gotten stuck? Frozen in time. A captive of history? Arnold is inviting us into a new kind of linguistic anarchy. One that isn’t destructive. One that accepts the

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick realization that we may have lost our ‘ardent zeal’. That we may have become numb to the life-altering, all-encompassing message of Jesus.viii So how did this all happen? synaptic habits.

I think it has to do with our synaptic habits.

When we create habits in life, for example, the habit of paying our bills on a monthly basis, our brain interacts with the process. Our synapses are messengers that help carry messages to the brain. Think of it like electricity, the synapses surge through the neurons to our brain and bring the necessary information along the pathway. When we create habits, the synapses create shortcuts along the pathway to our brains. From that point on the habit isn’t just a habit, it’s the new truth. If anyone comes in and tries to change that habit or challenge it, they are challenging not only your habit but your truth. This is what it means to ‘change your mind’; it’s an actual reprogramming of our brains to accept new alternative information. It’s not an easy one, but a necessary one. Imagine if we still believed the world was flat, we don’t, because someone came along and challenged our synaptic habits.

Someone changed our mind.

Unfortunately, I think for centuries now we have been in a place where our synaptic habits have been controlling the information or theology we

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick receive. Our habits have become truth. Our traditions, historical or theological tend to fall into the category of synaptic habits. Things we have become used to. We now call home. The only way to break these habits is to learn new ones, replace the old with the new. This is not a comfortable process, I get that, but that’s why we need the anarchy that Roland was encouraging. We need to walk away from linguistic and theological standardization. Thedoro Adorno once commented on musical standardization and how it relinquishes choice from our grasp, “The necessary correlate of musical standardization is pseudo-individualization. By pseudo-individualization we mean endowing cultural mass production with the halo of free choice or open market on the basis of standardization itself. Standardization of song hits keeps the customers in line by doing their listening for them, as it were. Pseudo-individualization, for its part, keeps them in line by making them forget that what they listen to is already listened to for them, or "pre-digested". Some people that listen to the radio might have a favourite radio station they listen to because the disc jockeys create a play list that the listener enjoys. What is happening is that the songs are being chosen for you and me, and then from those choices we choose which radio bumper sticker we want parading around on the back of our car. The disc jockeys choose the song list for us, not the other way around. They give us the illusion of choosing the songs we prefer when we choose which radio station to support, but really they are ultimately choosing. This idea of standardization has crept into the church. In some churches, standardization is subconsciously introduced by the need to agree to certain things about the validity of the Bible. For other churches, it is

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick endorsing a style of music or a denominational creed. Either way the church has fallen into the dangerous quicksand that is cultural standardization. The hope is that we can come to a place where the church can be a safe harbour that all people can come and participate in, rather than a collection of pewfilled clones. What the Church is now is not what the Church is meant to be. It’s a movement, not a static group of people. A body as Paul says. A body moves and breathes and is alive. It thinks, cries, feels, gets injured, and can also grow old. I think the Church has grown old. Afraid of change. Some things need to change. We need to cut the umbilical cord. We need to know we are capable of making such necessary changes. I think we might need to revisit tradition and what it is and what it could be in light of these new discoveries. polyphonic tradition. Half of why we are brainwashed to believe what we have come to call Christianity is due to how we have defined tradition. According to the dictionary tradition is defined as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice.ix” The Jews perpetuated their tradition through oral story which they then compiled into a book of stories to pass their traditions on to their children. Traditions also run deep into the fabric of our society today. Shaking hands is one tradition that dates back to 5th century Greece. The tradition originated as a symbol of peace by demonstrating that the two people meeting didn’t have a weapon in their hands. It was an act based on the ideas of equality, balance and trust. I stayed with this family in Canada for 6 months and got to participate in a

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick family tradition known as pizza night. Every Friday the whole family would get together and grab some dough, vegetables, and pepperoni and make their own homemade pizzas. Then we’d all hop in the car and go and pick a movie as a family. As you may already know, this tradition pleases me very much! Our society is riddled with tradition. Some people use the word tradition as something that we are not allowed to challenge or revise, but what if tradition wasn’t historical? What if tradition didn’t have to follow a pattern through time? What if tradition could be seen as an ethic or as polyphony of voices? Polyphony is defined as “a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).” If we begin to look at tradition as something that is and can be created by many voices rather than one than tradition can become something that we all work together on. If we see tradition as an ethic or higher law, than we get to build upon what this ethic looks like. Think of it like a group project, or a diarama, remember those? I loved these. The assignment was to create a 3-D visual display about an event in history that you were studying at the time. It was like IMAX before IMAX. Tradition can be something we do rather than what we uphold. Tradition can be something that is maleable rather than something that eventually grows stale and dies. The danger is if we don’t challenge our traditions than the traditions tell us what to do rather than God. Jesus dealt with this very issue. Jesus’ friends were walking through some fields of grain and some of them decided to have an early morning snack. Some of the religious leaders, like old men in rocking chairs, peer out into the distance and see these

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick ruffians breaking the Mosiac Law. Moses had decreed that because God rested on the 7th day, than the Jews who follow Him must do the samex. One thing that you don’t do in Jewish culture is challenge the tribal prophet, if you do, your popularity goes down very fast! Then Jesus shares a story about how King David, an important person in the history of the Jews, ate a meal on the Sabbath and on top of that ate consecrated food saved for the priestsxi! Then Jesus says his famous line “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Jesus doesn’t just challenge their prophet, he challenges their tradition. In fact, its as if he is saying ‘people are more important than tradition.’ Jesus is offering a new way to see tradition, not as something unmovable but as something that is shaped by man, in the Aramaic man is pluralized, so a better rendering is humanity. Humanity is responsible for shaping tradition, not the the other way around. This is why we need a new kind of worldview when approaching tradition, no longer can it be seen as something we are imprisoned to, but maybe it can be embraced as something we get to help shape and form. I think this new way of looking at tradition has to start with an anarchy towards some of the traditions we have accepted. The next few chapters will do just that.

good anarchy. Anarchy can also be a good thing when it wakes people up to the real inheritance of their greatness. Jesus believes we all could be just like him, in every way. He says in one place that he is the light of the world, and then later on states that we are the light of the world. He is making a point here.

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick That we have what it takes, but for us to live that reality out, we have to come to accept that we like Alice may have lost our muchness. This muchness includes the responsibility to be relevant. The responsibility to invite others to rest under the same umbrella. The responsibility to see that words matter and can change the world. This responsibility is one that doesn’t stop, if anything, it evolves and changes and invites us all into its very own muchness. So, where do we go from here? I think the first step is to reject our numbness. To cast off our fear of change and move forward. To find new words for a new generation. We don’t need to get rid of language, we need to reinvent it, bring life back into it. We need a new kind of language that speaks into society, that is relevant, that is emotionally connected to those around us. A language that is alive rather than dead. Maybe we can come to a place where we instinctively believe in a world where all people have something to bring into Christianity. The way we do this is by understanding that the words we have been offering to the world have lost their ardent zeal, that because of post-enlightenment theology they have become cumbersome. When a ship got too heavy and there was a chance it might go down, because the cargo was overloading the ship, they would jettison items off the side of ship. It was a declaration that as a ship they needed to move forward. That as a company of people, a band of brothers, they all were committed to forward motion. I think we should follow after them, and jettison some of our language too. I think this is an important step in our journey, that we have to divorce ourselves from words that may have become theologically cumbersome and defective and allow more space for new life to arrive on the scene. It’s both exciting and

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Colloquial Christianity: Finding God Outside of Theology by George Elerick scary, but it can be done. If we believe we have something to offer the world, than change is necessary in light of all of the many cultural shifts occurring. If we continue to the stay the same and expect different results than we are by definition insane. Barthes said it this way “The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.” We need new meanings that include rather than divide. Heal rather than hurt. Words that dream of hope rather than denigrate the world. Christianity needs to emerge out of the ashes to find itself again. I believe in a Christianity that is alive and well, but just like the body that Paul calls us, I think its time to grow and mature and allow the growing pains to move and morph us along into a new century where Jesus still has something relevant to add to the conversation. Are you with me? (If not, don’t turn this page!)

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i ii

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (James 3:6-12) - NASB

iii iv

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Christian

http://www.cyberlearning-world.com/nhhs/project/slavship.htm v John 8:36 vi Mark 10:46-52 (NLT) vii This doesn’t mean we have to continue getting it wrong either. viii Cultural Theory and Pop Culture by John Storey ix www.dictionary.reference.com x Exodus 31:16-17 (NIV) xi Leviticus 24:5-9 (NIV)

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