Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: Other

The Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of FracturesThe Other: Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of Fractures by Kester Brewin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

on page 175 Kester Brewin states what Other is all about:
In a sense then this book is simply a plea to see Jesus' summary of the law (Love God, Love People, Love the Self) as a new form of development practice, one that sees the face of the other as its sacred text.

Love God. Love Others. Love the self. that's it. simple isn't it? perhaps not...
Brewin's writing style kept me coming back to this book. admittedly there were times when i had to put the book down. at times i felt as though i was reading the words but not initially comprehending what i was reading. none the less i couldn't stop thinking about my relationship with the 'other.'

i think this book has made me more self aware, aware of God and (hopefully) aware of the 'other'. defining who is the 'other' in my present surroundings is my current dilemma. but i think my eyes are being opened more. perhaps some 'others' have already crossed my path. did i attribute conversations or assistance as God given, ordained times to be love? perhaps not always.

some of my favorite sections of this book dealt with 'embracing transcendence and immanence'; 'embracing the stranger and the dangerous place'; 'temporality'; 'losing our lives'; etc.

part four titled Loving the other in praxis was brilliant and practical. how do we practice loving the other? there is enough talking about it... enough theology... what about action? these sections in part four were highlights: Engaging the other within the self; Engaging the other within our faith; and Engaging the other within our communities.

kester brewin might be wrong. as he states on a blank page before the table of contents. but he might be right, too. this quote on page 133 sums it all up: "We will, in other words, begin to love the other when we love ourselves enough to allow God - who is love - to lead us." i think he's right.
Jesus states the greatest commandment in Matthew 22. (Love God. Love Others. Love the Self). Brewin tackles this commandment with grace - looking deeply into all three. (frankly - as many times as i've read that commandment, even studied that commandment, i've never focused on the 'love self' part) Brewin paints a picture where all three intersect in harmony. now i am beginning to see how that might play out in my life. As the back of the book states: what kind of selves do we need to be in order to live in harmony with others?

Brewin's Other is making me think... i wonder how long i can chew on his words before i either live them out or forget. i'm hoping i'll remember. i'm hoping this book continues to stick with me.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

we are falling out of love

With our every move covered by CCTV, our every click monitored by government agencies, our lives narrowed by what we are told we can believe, the flows within and beyond us are reduced to a trickle. In other words, we are falling out of love. With rising depression, addiction, obesity and mental ill-health we are falling out of love with ourselves. With fundamentalism and constant arguments over sexuality and battles for numbers we are falling out of love with God. And with knife crime and school massacres and racism and fears over asylum and economic protectionism we are falling out of love with those we perceive are different to us and pose a threat to us.

~Kester Brewin

from his book Other [page 165-166]

related post: We have house trained God

Monday, October 18, 2010

of happy trails and morning ails (or what trees would tell me if they could talk)

there's a stretch of trail that runs a few miles here and a few miles there out on the edge of town. it's an old Nickelplate railroad path - with the tracks now removed. i've been down this trail many times... on foot and on bike. this morning, the trail was nearing the end of a life cycle, giving it's all - breathing out color and at the same time, expunging its last bit of air. the outgoing air was fuel to my feet and legs. it wasn't energy-burning fuel. i was breathing in consistency.

i soaked it all in. i drank it up. the mental image of the long trail, coated with leaves, sun soaked and damp from the morning dew has now been forever ingrained within my mind. the fall foliage served as a playground for the birds of the air and the hidden creatures of the ground.

what is it that makes creation so spectacular? the cycle is repeated; the seasons the same. the sun rises and sets everyday. the gladdening light shines upon the land. the wind blows. the leaves fall. the flowers and trees die and then spring to life again every year. this is nothing new. what is it about nature that seems so fresh - when we take the time to engage with it?

like a forgotten friend, the trail is there. waiting for me. for you. for us - to take to the path - to set ablaze the road. to leave our footprints on its terrain - as if to serve as a sign of our temporary engagement. the rocks cry out and rejoice, thankful for our presence.

there is a connection between the earth and man. perhaps because we once came from the dust.

the trail of beauty was a trail of its own demise - its impending death continually serving a purpose, a necessity of nature and of the world. its necessity breeds my fidelity, ability, propensity and supremacy. i conquered the trail with invigorated steps.

to be at one with nature is a beautiful thing. to connect with a Higher power through the chill of the morning air, the color of the fallen leaves, through the words and lyrics of my iPod companion - it made for an experience to be embraced.

and i embraced it.

soon, the death of nature will be covered in white. my moment this morning will sustain me until the coming spring.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Book Review: Exercising Your Soul

Exercising Your SoulExercising Your Soul by Gary Jansen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exercising Your Soul was just what i needed. i purposefully took my time with this book - as i did not want to miss a thing... it seemed my slow pace was just what i needed in order for the words and meditations to fully sink in.

Gary Jansen paints with words and the canvas of pages seemed to be a landscape of practical ways for me to connect with God in new, contemplative and fresh ways. he provided for me a much needed opportunity to experience the freshness of the Holy scriptures.

his stories and anecdotes resonated with my soul, with simple prayer practices that might take 15 minutes a day.

the best thing about this book is its simple approach. Part IV: Exercising with the Parables was particularly enlightening. There is a richness found within this book that i am certain will draw me back to it, when i am in need of a fresh encounter with God and the Spirit.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

four simple steps (to building community)

Four Simple Steps.
Tim Beck, New Church Start Team Chair, East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church
Youth Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Louisville, Ohio

Everybody needs somebody. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to be wanted. It’s plain and simple, isn’t it? We all know that. We’ve all felt that. At the end of the day acceptance is what mankind desires most. People want to be a part of something but more importantly, people want to be a part of something greater than themselves. People want and need community.

That begs the question: what is community? In short, community (among other things) is a group of people with common characteristics or “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

If we want to live up to the expectation to ‘build up the church’ and advance the Kingdom, then we have to start with community. We have to enable people to be a part of something. We have to be the connection, the glue, that binds us all together, with Christ at the center. Creating an environment for people to interact with each other and with God might be the single most important building block of the church.

We must not forget what Christ did best: He built community and established relationships with ‘the least of these’; He discipled the disciples, loved the unlovable and reached the unreachable. How can we do the same? I propose an ethos of four simple steps that each of us can take - with hopes of building genuine community that compels people to follow the way of Jesus.


Love God and people (Matthew 22:28-40). No exceptions. It’s the greatest commandment, after all.

Create and inspire others to connect with God. Made in the image of God, man can use creativity to inspire and help others connect with God through interactive, out-of-the-box methods. Because of creativity, we are made new (Ephesians 4:24).

Share your story and God's story. The Good news should be shared through words and actions. St. Francis said 'Preach often, if necessary, use words.' Whatever the method, share your stories with others and along the way share God's story of love and redemption. Help others see the connection between their story and God’s story. May our stories inspire generosity and genuine community as we share the truth of the cross.

Respond to the needs of others and to the call of Christ. Ecclesiastes 4:9-1o says 'pity a man who falls and has no one to help him up.' Strive to become aware of the needs of others. Remember that Jesus said 'whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me and whatever you have not done to the least of these, you have not done to me.' Aim for selfless, not selfish community.

This is what I hope the Spirit of any community will be. Now comes the challenge to 'live it out.' Take the steps. Build community. Grow the church.

Friday, October 01, 2010

We have house-trained God

we have house-trained God. We have localized, accommodated & claimed ownership of God, and fabricated a sort of divine social contract with 'him'; only 'he' can use his great power to smite our enemies. We will be obedient subjects - so long as we are protected and prosper.
~Kester Brewin

from his book Other.