Ash Wednesday (1 March 2017) begins the forty-day season of Lent
as we journey toward the Cross and the empty tomb of Easter.
An old biblical translation of 1 Peter 2:9 refers to Christians as a “peculiar people.” Or to paraphrase Forest Gump, peculiar is as peculiar does. Living as a Christian ought to set one apart from the ordinary, the usual, the expected, and routine. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for radical change, renewal, and transformation — a lifelong process of conversion.
In that sense, every account we read in the Bible about people encountering God qualifies as quite peculiar indeed. And how those encounters often transformed their lives and their communities made those characters themselves at the very least odd and strange.
I created this blog for reflections, musings, observations, and the occasional audacious thought-experiment as a way to tease out how the peculiar character of Christian faith can renew the Church and, in the process, change the world. And not a moment too soon. “Business as usual” just won’t cut it in a world of unrelenting violence, despair, an unprecedented gap between rich and poor, and planetary environmental degradation. Just to suppose that Christian faith and practice can address such challenges effectively is itself a rather peculiar claim; and I believe that Christianity can do precisely that.
These days, atheism is more trendy than Christianity. But I still believe that Christian faith is a living tradition, brimming with the potential to transform not only churches but the wider society with bold faith, vibrant hope, and sustaining love. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And I’m eager to learn even more from others.
In this blog, “peculiar” will sometimes mean odd, strange, extraordinary, but also something like “queer.” All of those are synonyms in most dictionaries, even though today “queer” usually gets tossed around like an insult for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). I prefer the old-fashioned definition, which “peculiar” captures much better. To be sure, LGBT people often have some great insights into what that means and looks like, both in the wider society and in Christian churches — and I’ll draw on some of those insights here. But I have a much larger horizon in view. I’m eager to retrieve the most peculiar bits of Christian history for the sake of renewing Christian witness in the world today.
You can read a bit more about this and about me by clicking on the “About PF” tab above. For the latest blogging posts, click on “Commentary.” And please join me in this conversation, which may seem new but is really many centuries old – and still compelling!
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10
“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing scare you, all is fleeting, God alone is unchanging. Patience everything obtains. Who possesses God nothing wants. God alone suffices.” – Teresa of Avila (16th century)
“All will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.” – Julian of Norwich (14th century)
“Si comprehendis, non est Deus.” (If you understand it, it’s not God.) – Augustine of Hippo (4th century)
“Concepts create idols; only wonder understands anything.” Gregory of Nyssa (5th century)
“The finger is not the moon.” – A Buddhist saying, referring to doctrine as only pointing toward the reality it wants to evoke, which is just as true for Christian doctrine
“When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C. S. Lewis (20th century)