Friday, November 6, 2015

EVIDENCE BASED FAITH? (a guest post by Saskia Scott)

Today on the blog, we feature a guest post by Saskia Scott...enjoy!

An Evidence Based Faith?
by Saskia Scott

I've heard faith defined as belief despite a lack of evidence – or perhaps even despite evidence to the contrary. I suppose some faith is like that, but it is not the only kind of faith. For example, what would it mean to have faith in science? Does it mean that science doesn't really work, but scientists continue to believe it does anyway? Clearly not. Whatever view you take on the nature of knowledge itself, no one can deny that science does work. That's why it is so  powerful as a tool for understanding and influencing our world.

We can trust science, even when it reveals things that we cannot directly observe    like black holes, quarks, and the big bang. We have faith that these things are real because we have evidence that points towards them.

So what about religious faith? I was having a conversation with a Christian friend a few years ago, and the subject of evolution came up. I said that I believed in evolution for the same reasons that I believe in the resurrection of  Jesus of Nazareth – because I have evidence.

I can't directly observe evolution, because it happens too slowly; and I can't observe Christ's resurrection, because it happened too long ago.  Neither are these events obvious or easy to believe. Everyone knows people don't come back to life (except in zombie films), and the idea that a slow, building-block style process could result in so much complexity is mind-boggling at best.

But the amount of evidence for evolution is very convincing. I have faith that the evidence has been interpreted correctly, and that the experts know what they are talking about. And – here's the kicker – the amount of evidence for Jesus' resurrection is pretty convincing too. It's mostly historical, rather than scientific, but that makes it no less compelling.

We all must choose how to engage with evidence that does not fit our worldview. It does not have to be believed, but it cannot be ignored.

Friday, October 23, 2015

MARK 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 Hopefully you’re seeing the trend…
Time after time, Jesus is asked by those closest to him, how to gain the kingdom of God, how to sit at His right hand, how to gain the world…

And the answer remains constant…serve.
Become a servant to the servant’s servant.
Become as lowly as possible.
Become last.
Become least.

What a tragic message in an economy and society based on click-baiting, amassing Twitter followers, likes, and retweets, seeking over-night fame through YouTube videos, and the increasing charge to dominate the global marketplace.

So how do we enter God’s kingdom?
How do we become first?
Be last.
How do we become great?
Be least.

For the Son of God came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

May we become less, least, and serve.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

MARK 10:17-31

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is[d] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another,[e] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,[f] 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

So may we fully accept and believe that You make beautiful things out of dust, and out of us. 

You are bringing about peace and beauty and wonder - through us.
And you’ve commissioned us to be Your hands and feet.
You’ve given us the task to love the unlovable, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to embrace those that are unlike us.

So while we stress over eternity, may we be reminded that eternity begins now.  Eternity includes the present realities of this world.

And may we feel empowered and sent out from this place, to forsake our own comforts and desires, for the deepest and darkest needs of those that are last and least.

In the strong name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I'd like to engage a reading and praxis of Mark 10 over the next few posts.  I hope you'll become engaged and will consider the words of Jesus.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,[b] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Did you catch the deeper theme in there?

God is, at His core, relational.
And God created us for relationships.
Man and woman and child.

He could have called His work good and complete when He created Adam, but he wasn’t finished.

No, instead, he created a companion. 

There’s something right in the creative order that says relationships are vital to the kingdom of God.

Even God exists in relationship – Father, Son, and Spirit.

Have you ever stopped to think about that?

Surely if God, in His most perfect essence requires relationship, that we do too.

And we are in relationship with one another and the earth. 
All of it ripe for thriving-interaction and life.
When we treat God’s creation with dignity, we reap a wonderful harvest.
When we commit to one another, with love and dignity, we reap a harvest of peace and shalom.

Monday, October 12, 2015

COLUMBUS DAY...a day of regret & sadness!

I remember growing up in a Midwestern community where every Columbus Day we drew pictures of cartoon boats, explorers, and happy Native Americans.  So began the brainwashing of my/our perspectives and vantage points, to expose the wonder in the (white) European's pursuit of conquering seas and storms - not lands and people groups.

But alas, truth is truth.

There are no cartoons (to my knowledge) that explain the evil savagery behind Columbus Day.  A land more vastly populated than Europe itself, was sought after, for gold, spices, and slavery.  Puffed up with weapons and disease, Europe made its descent on the Americas.

The gross genocide in the name of manifest destiny, Christianity, kingdom, capitalism, and exploration, took more blood than it left.  You know the lie...everything of worth is bought with blood, sweat, and tears.  So it goes with Columbus Day.  Only the blood, sweat, and tears, came from the millions of Native Americans that were systematically enslaved and killed.

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. They would make fine slaves. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” -Christopher Columbus

May we no longer exalt our sins.  May we no longer treat Columbus Day as something to be honored.  May we no longer perpetuate the systematic brainwashing of our children and communities.

Instead, may we use this Columbus Day to beg our forgiveness and acknowledge our deep regret!

Father, forgive us...for we knew what atrocities we were doing, and did them anyway, in your name, and under your banner!

With sadness and regret,

Friday, September 4, 2015

Love is...

Love is free

Love holds no merit, no system of payment and return on investment

Love gives

Love laughs

Love cries

Love is like a mother – forever increasing in care, compassion, and hope for her child

Love is like a father – protector, provider, and mentor

Love is many things…

But let’s remember that all of the words and metaphors we can create to describe love, is an attempt to put words to the very nature of God.

God is love.

With the same breath that he breathed life into humanity, he breathes love into all of creation.

So with the love of God, the Father, may we too love one another.


Monday, August 31, 2015

The Uncanny Resemblance Between the GOP Debate and the 2015 VMA’s…

Yes, you read that right.  I’m connecting the dots (with great concern) that the GOP candidates resemble the same cultural disappointment and inevitable future that I saw, while watching last night’s VMA awards.

If you watched the VMA’s, i’m sorry that you lost those 2-3 hours of your life.  You’ll never get them back.  If you watched the FOX NEWS, GOP Debate on August 6th, again I apologize that you wasted those 2-3 hours of your life.  They are gone.

So where’s the resemblance?

Last night on the VMA’s and a few weeks ago at the GOP debate, we saw political-products project a future that is healthy for no one.  Both “events” were pure spectacle; individuals pandering to selfishness, power, and extremism, with no regard to what future implications may be.

On one hand, Donald Trump embodies a "self-made-man" that’s popular for speaking his mind - regardless of truth, sexism, equality, and public health and/or policy.  On the other hand, Miley Cyrus embodies a "self-made-woman" that’s popular for speaking her mind - regardless of truth, exploitation, and or health.

**I use “quotes” because they are made by inherited fame, wealth, obnoxiousness, gaming the system, and media machines.

They do what they do, because they want to.  They are bought by no one (at least that’s what they spew).  And despite their grotesque representation of culture and outlook for the future, they are gaining in popularity and influence.

Miley is a court jester and the crowd goes crazy.  Donald is a carbon copy, only his crowd is older and whiter.

INFLUENCE - really?

Yes, both have incredible influence. 

Miley’s circus and over-the-top antics poured into nearly every acceptance speech, performance, and video at the VMA’s.  The crowd ate it up hook, line, and sinker.  Donald’s candor and language, and basic disregard for human life (i.e. women, immigrants, foreigners, etc) have pushed the other candidates further to the extreme. 

Case in point: we’re now treating immigrants like Fed-Ex packages.

Miley is a product of her label.
Donald is a product of his brand.
(And both have laughable hair.)

Art and politics have always danced together; and at times, have created better cultures.  They push the limits beyond status-quo.  They create conversations that work to build better societies.  I cannot say that for the GOP field or the VMA’s. 

We will be worse-off if we are lead by these jokers with microphones.  We can of course throw our money and support to them.  But don’t complain when you inherit the future you’re applauding - nothing short of an exploitation-circus.