The Dead Theologian

Hi, my name is Cayley, and I am a theology student.dead theologian 2

(The blogsophere in my mind responds with: Hiiiiii Caay-leey.)

Is there a support group for people like me?  I’m pretty sure there should be one!  I have a feeling that the answer should be “yes, of course!  It’s called the church, silly!”  Unfortunately, I have the feeling it’s not quite so simple.

The problem with studying theology is that it becomes awfully easy to dismiss God as part of your studies.  (Here you go, God, here’s a nice box for you to stay in, right beside Ancient Greek and Demonology.)  It becomes far too easy to dismiss miracles – after all, they happen all the time in the Bible. And speaking of the Bible, that has a habit of becoming a little too much like a textbook.  Nope, better read something else today – just for your own sanity.

It terrifies me that a person who wants to study God would become the person to dismiss him and so easily believe lies!  It scares me even more that I am that person.

I called this post the dead theologian for this reason: we know we’re made alive in Christ.  We have the Spirit of the Living God in us.  We have been raised into the fullness of life with Christ…  Yet something seems to have died.  It’s hard to place my finger on it, but I know it’s dead.  Inside this living, breathing, born-again theologian wanna-be is something festering.  It’s the dead theologian syndrome.

So how do I combat the rigor mortis that is taking over my spiritual life?  How does this dead theologian live again?  Well, as I type this, I realise that the answer is quite simple… it’s just that, as per normal, the practice of it is not quite as easy.

Remember good ol’ Ezekiel way back in the Old Testament?  Well, he had a similar question when faced with a pile of dead bones.  He just got to do it in dialogue and slightly more eloquently.  The Lord asked him if the bones could live; if they could rise again.  And Ezekiel’s reply?  It wasn’t a sigh and a shake of the head.  Ezekiel didn’t hold a memorial.  He simply replied with the only thing he knew for certain: You alone know.

And lo and behold!  The bones lived!  God breathed his Spirit into those dead, dried up bones and they lived!  Those things were well passed rigor mortis.  Those things were practically decomposed.  I’m thinking elephant graveyard in Lion King.  Creepy, right?  Yet God made them live.dead theologian 1

That same Spirit lives today, and that Spirit is in me – I simply need to give myself over to God completely and allow Him to do His work.  As I said, harder in practice…  I’ll take a guess and say that what’s required is a broken, begging, fearful and worshiping heart.  I’m guessing God is asking for free reign. And this is one outlandish request I am more than happy to agree to!

Casting Crowns came out with a song some time ago with words that went like this:

A pastor stands before his congregation
Once a mighty army for the Lord
But now he stares into the lifeless eyes
Believers leading carnal lives
He wonders what they’re fighting for
But driven by a calling on his life

He spoke God’s word like
He’d done a hundred times before
But this time he comes broken and weeping
With tears of a broken heart
And he cries out to the Lord

Oh Lord, send Your wind into this valley
And breathe the breath of life into their souls
And raise them again a mighty army
For soon these arisen warriors will battle again
For they have been filled with the spirit wind

dead theologian 3I’m going to start praying hard for that Spirit Wind.  And I don’t need a theology degree to know that God answers prayers!

And that support group I so desperately need?  Well, church family – sorry for you, but you’re going to have to help this family member who needs to go to rehab…

 

PS.  If you know me personally, please don’t comment to me on what you’ve read here.  As Flannery O’Conner put it, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”.

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FROZEN (be warned, there are spoilers)

frozen 4I realise there are probably a million blogs already on this topic, but here’s my two cents anyway.  I want to recognise the genius that is Disney’s latest offering: FROZEN.

There are about a million things I could gush about, from Olaf the snowman who “likes warm hugs”, to Idina Menzel’s incredible power ballad that results in pure awe, but instead, I want to talk about the point that I think Disney was trying to get across.  See, hidden beneath love-sick teens who “finish each others… sandwiches!” and really awkward duets between one person (“But people smell better than reindeers, Sven, don’t you think I’m right?”), there’s this awesome line that I’m pretty sure is the crux of the story.  And it goes something like this:

“Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart”

frozen 1And we all assumed it was Anna’s heart that needed thawing…

Now maybe I’m stretching metaphors a little too far here, but in my (unabashedly weird) mind I’m seeing some seriously Biblical imagery making an appearance.  “Love covers over a multitude of sins” ringing any bells for anyone?  How about the persecuted one giving up their life for someone who causes pain and is, let’s admit it, pretty selfish?  Still nothing?  How about someone trying to kill the person in charge so he can rule the kingdom?  I’m really hoping something is getting through now…

I know I’ve spoken about this before, but there’s this awesome thing that Disney does which combines timeless movies with timeless truths! In this particular movie what we see is a sacrificial love that covers over the unstoppable results of a frozen, selfish soul.  Did you notice how Elsa realises her power and the damage it causes and runs away, then her sister goes and searches for her!  When Elsa refuses to come back, Anna doesn’t give up.  And when Elsa starts to destroy everything, Anna gives up her life for her!

It’s such a beautiful story!  We’re all pretty much sold on this amazing love story where for the first time in forever (See what I did there?) an act of true love is not true love’s kiss.  So why can’t we be sold on the original story?frozen 2

My youth pastor likes to ask why we don’t rave about Christianity the way we rave about movies.  I haven’t shut up about Frozen – I quote lines, sing the songs, download the sheet music… write blogs… but why on earth did I shut up about Jesus?  I mean, let’s review that story – Cayley realises she is full of sin and hopelessly lost, so she runs away from everything so she can let her sin go.  But Jesus follows, even when Cayley refuses to go back.  Jesus never gives up and goes on this incredible quest to save Cayley from herself!  Finally, in an act of true love, Jesus gives up his life for Cayley – and she is made into a whole new person because of it.

I would read that story and watch the movie! And not just because my name is in it…

Let’s get excited about Jesus again!  Seriously!  It’s all well and good falling in love with Idina Menzel’s voice, but how about falling in love with its creator?!  I mean, she didn’t get that awesome on her own.  And Frozen is not an original story…frozen 3

PS.  If you liked this, check out http://ineverymovie.blogspot.com/2013/12/frozen-cant-control-curse.html   , I’m telling you now it’s better than my drivel.

Clouds

In my head I know that clouds are nothing more than water in the sky.  Schooling and education tend to knock the romantic out of you like that.  But try as my teachers would, there was a little girl – a little romantic – who could never be knocked out of me.  My mind and my heart don’t have to be on the same page all the time, and, honestly, they normally aren’t.  And I like it that way.

One thing about sitting in the car for 12 hours is that it gives plenty of time for cloudsendeavours such as cloud-gazing.  I particularly like what I call fairytale clouds.  Those are the big fluffy ones with flat bottoms and big puffy tops, just like In the storybooks!  But then there are the jagged, geometric ones – they look like someone took a pen full of cloud and constructed them.  Then there are the sweeping, immense ones that dominate vast majorities of the sky and act as anchors.  Little clouds spread their wings and float off the anchor cloud, and tired, heavy clouds return to rest.

Clouds are a happy place.

But the best thing about clouds is that they are forever changing.  I sit in the car and label them – a cat pouncing… a seal… a duck smoking a pipe… a hand full of cauliflower… But I look up two minutes later and everything has changed.  Now my kitten looks more like a clam talking to a Smurf.

The sky gets to be creative.  Everything changes, but everything remains.  The splendour of the sky is never-ending but it’s never constant.  One day the sky will be brilliant azure, and the next, it will be heavy grey.  It’s like the clouds are playing a great big game of hide and seek, and when they’re tired, they come out to play charades.

Clouds are like life.  No really!  Hear me out on this one…

We’re forever moving, forever shifting and changing. We chase something on the horizon only to realise that the horizon is as fickle as we are.  So we choose to be stationary. We sit in our situation trying our hardest not to change, and we find ourselves compromising into something else, being pushed on by others, or simply falling to pieces.  If clouds are inconsistent then my life can definitely empathise!clouds 2

I remember hearing once that the only constant in life is change.  I hate that saying!  Why must everything change?  After all, change is hard.  Girls know how hard it is to change outfits.  Anyone who’s moved will tell you how hard it is to change your address.  Changing lightbulbs – as humorous as the thought may have become – is even becoming complicated.  (How many bumbling bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?)  Why must change be the only thing we can rely on to never change?

But then I think about those clouds.  Can you imagine what would happen if they never moved?  How could regular life continue if the water cycle decided it was over change and it would rather stagnate?  No more evaporation.  No more rain.  No more snow.  No more mist or dew or hail or cloud cover. Quite simply, we could not survive.  Change is what preserves.  Change creates growth and development.  Change is what keeps everything from falling apart.

None of this means I like change.  Mostly, it means I got rather philosophical when I looked at the sky one day.  But perhaps through the practice of putting whimsies into words, I have managed to contain the thought that change is beautiful and maybe help me one day when the change in life seems like just a bit too much to handle.

And maybe next time you look at the sky, instead of seeing cumuli nimbus,   you’ll see an acrobat about to do a backflip off a saxophone…  Or at least something equally outlandish.