Thursday, March 28, 2013

"My Jesus" Song and lyrics by Todd Agnew

Which Jesus do you serve?
Which Jesus do you serve?

If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like this world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent his time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you what to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land?

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand?

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow?
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side, or fall down and worship at his holy feet?

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion,
Is how you see him as he died for your sins;

But the Word says he was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part?
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize him.

Cause my Jesus bled and died,
He spent his time with thieves and the least of these.
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable,
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church,
The blood and dirt on his feet would stain the carpet.

But he reaches for the hurting and despised the proud,
I think He’d prefer Beal St. to the stained glass crowd,
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud;

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a poster-child for American prosperity, but like my Jesus.

You see I’m tired of living for success and popularity.

I want to be like my Jesus, but I’m not sure what that means to be like you Jesus.

Cause you said to live like you, love like you, but then you died for me.

I want to be like my Jesus.

I am still not quite sure what it means to be like you, Jesus, but I'm still trying to figure it out. 

And I am certain Jesus would be accepted at my church.

I wish a blessed Easter to all my readers around the world.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Excerpt from the Book of Sirach

This is an excerpt from the book titled Sirach, or otherwise titled Ecclesiasticus, or The Wisdom of Yeshua Ben El-azar Ben Sira. The Book of Sirach is a part of the Apocrypha or the non-canonical books added to some bibles. Note also that although this book was highly regarded in rabbinic literature, it was not considered canonical in Judaism either. (Sometime I may do a post explaining what canonical meant as taught from rabbinic sources.) The version here is a part of the NRSV Bible.

The Book of Sirach is reliably dated to around 180 BCE by the inclusion of reference to Simon II, who was high priest from 219-196. I find the writing to be beautiful and flowing, with colorful analogies to evoke the imagination. This is an acrostic poem at the end of Sirach explaining the author’s love of Wisdom.

Sirach 51:13-30

While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayers.
Before the temple I asked for her, and I will search for her until the end.

From the first blossom to the ripening grape my heart delighted in her; my foot walked on the straight path; from my youth I followed her steps.

I inclined my ear a little and received her, and I found for myself much instruction.
I made progress in her; to him who gives wisdom I will give glory.

For I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for the good, and I shall never be disappointed.
My soul grappled with wisdom, and in my conduct I was strict;

I spread out my hands to the heavens, and lamented my ignorance of her.
I directed my soul to her, and in purity I found her.

With her I gained understanding from the first; therefore I will never be forsaken.
My heart was stirred to seek her; therefore I have gained a prize possession.
The Lord gave me my tongue as a reward, and I will praise him with it.

Draw near to me, you who are uneducated, and lodge in the house of instruction.
Why do you say you are lacking in these things, and why do you endure such great thirst?
I opened my mouth and said, acquire wisdom for yourselves without money.

Put your neck under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction; it is to be found close by.

See with your own eyes that I have labored but little and found for myself much serenity.
Hear but a little of my instruction, and through me you will acquire silver and gold.

May your soul rejoice in God’s mercy, and may you never be ashamed to praise him.
Do your work in good time, and in his own time God will give you your reward.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Excerpt from "Moral Believing Animals" Part Two

Part II, Excerpt from Moral Believing Animals
From Chapter Five: “On Religion”

           Religion for us concerns a “superempirical order,” an ordered reality that is not normally observable with the five human senses. Religion affirms that such an order is real and consequential, even thought it normally cannot be directly seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. Second, this approach intentionally emphasized the “superempirical” rather than the more commonly referenced “supernatural.” This is because supernatural implies that the unseen order, the “spiritual,” is not a part of nature, and that nature consists only of physical matter.  Yet some religions understand the unseen order is very much a part of nature, a reality inhering in the world or cosmos; some religions also understand nature, the world, the cosmos to be a whole reality comprising both the empirical and the superempirical together. Third, distinguishing the empirical from the superempirical in this way does not mean that the empirical cannot represent or communicate about the superempirical. The distinction is not absolute nor unbridgeable. Indeed, humans, as embodied, sensory animals, normally come to learn about and relate to superempirical orders at least in part precisely through empirical means – through text read, narratives heard, chants sung, bread and wine tasted, icons beheld, water and ashes touched, suffering endured, and so on. Furthermore, most if not all religions hold that in particular circumstances the superempirical may be physically seen, smelled, heard, tasted, or felt – through epiphanies, visions, angelic appearances, miracles, incarnations, ecstatic experiences, demonic possessions, and so on – which many people historically and alive today profess to have witnessed. Fourth the approach here emphasizes the decidedly normative concern of religion. Religion is not simply about providing humans with information or knowledge but also, viewed sociologically, about the proper organization and right guidance of life. Religion tells people not only what is real but also, viewed sociologically, about the proper organization and right guidance of life. Religion tells people not only what is real but also consequently what are good, right, true, wise, and worthy desires, thoughts, feelings, values, practices, actions, and interactions. Religion tells us what for us ought to be, in light of the superempirical reality that is […]

If this is what religion is to us, then what is nonreligious or secular? These may mean the conscious denials of any superempirical order actually exists – the corollary to the positive affirmation that the only and total reality that actually exist is that which humans can empirically observe on a regular basis ( “There is no God; existence is nothing but the natural operation of energy and matter”). Or these may mean that people simply have never seriously considered whether or not a superempirical reality exists, because they have been socialized in an areligious or anti-religious context (such as parts of communist China or Soviet Russia). Or these may mean a passive belief that a superempirical reality may exist but a fundamental indifference to the normative claims that the superempirical order makes about the proper organization and guidance of life […]

Note, however, that to be nonreligious or secular does not mean that one is not a believer, that one does not continually place one's faith in premises, assumptions, and suppositions that cannot be objectively substantiated or justify without recourse to other believed-in premises, as assumptions and presuppositions. Everyone – the secularist and nonreligious included – is a believing animal, ultimately a person of faith… Indeed, the belief that only and total reality that actually exists is of that which humans can empirically observed is itself a statement of faith whether or not its adherents recognize and admit it as such.… Everyone – religious and secular alike – is a moral animal, is constituted, motivated, and governed by moral order(s) existing inside and outside of themselves… What distinguishes religious people from nonreligious  and secular people, therefore, is not that the former are moral, believing animals while the latter are not. What distinguishes them is that the former significantly believed in and are governed by moral order(s) grounded in some superempirical reality while the latter believe in and are governed by moral order(s) grounded in some ordering reality that is not superempirical but imminent (or at least they presume it to be so). All humans are thus, at bottom, really quite similar in most of these respects. Where they differ tremendously is in the particular cultural moral orders to which they commit their lives. (pp 98-100)

Christian Smith, Moral, Believing Animals (2003, Oxford University Press)