today we his friends died

At this point, Jesus was to them, (permanently,) dead. Pick up the pieces yourself. Game over.

The ghastly Friday where Jesus was stripped of all His earthly identity culminating in His death, must have been terrifying to watch. How did Jesus’ disciples feel?

As the weight of the experience of Jesus slowly sinks into my mind and throughout my busy day, I wonder. How did Jesus’ disciples take it? Did they even sleep?

They certainly shared in His suffering because of how their lives were intertwined. They had given up everything for Jesus and lived a carefree, happy life with Him. They could pluck grains to snack on on Sabbath and Jesus would tell off the Pharisees. They could get away with not doing the ablutions before meals, and Jesus would have their back. They drove away demons in His name. They survived a storm because Jesus calmed it. Things were really good with Him.

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I would rather have a learning spirit, than teachability in myself and others. An independent learner is a thinker who gleans through materials with a passion for inquiry, reason and to seek the truth. A teachable person is a passive recipient from whoever he calls his mentor, with no mind of her own. When I think of a learner, I think of those who, at the time of the Lollards treasured the Bible in its English translation – to learn for themselves, to discover God for themselves. (This was even wrested from them after the death of John Wycliffe.) When I think of the teachable, I think of those contented with the unreachable Latin version and being teachable, blind to the bullying done by those in authority. The Reformation was built by learners for others to be learners too. How do we learn? By replacing compliant teachability with a learning spirit.

The Reformation has left an indelible mark on the Christianity and the world today – both good and bad, in every sphere of life. As we commemorate its 500th anniversary this year, I hope to learn more on the Reformation and to reflect on the past and how they have influenced today, and perhaps, find some gems for living tomorrow.

Review: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, a clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Chapter 2 – Of the liberty of thought and discussion

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill is a classic that is useful to be relearned for our modern age, although it was a product of its own time. This five-chapter document presents an invigorating and dynamic discussion on the importance of liberty of opinion and action, particularly in the backdrop of the felt legacies of Calvin and Knox in the post-Reformation period. Written in early [Correction: middle] 19th century England, Mill produces a passionate and heartfelt review of English civilisation about [Correction: over] 300 years after the Reformation, points out dangers and possible ways forward. I’m peppering this article with quotes from the article for a taste of what he had to say.

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Nouwen, The Genesee Diary 1985, p 38

Some things are unexplainable. I guess the contemplative life is one of these things. Father Marcellus read a story about Beethoven during dinner. When Beethoven had played a new sonata for a friend, the friend asked him after the last note, “What does it mean?” Beethoven returned to the piano, played the whole sonata again and said, “That is what it means.” This type of response seems the only possible response to the question, “What does the contemplative life mean?”

Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary

“The image of God is not so much something we possess, as what we are. To be human is to be the image of God. It is not an extra feature added on to our species; it definitive of what it means to be human.”
– Christopher Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

The work of God on earth

Gleanings from Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright (Part 3)

…the situation in the world demands that God fixes it Himself.

To be honest, Tom Wright doesn’t tell anything particularly new in his book that I haven’t heard of. For example, my belief system includes the resurrection (check), the new heavens and the new earth (check), the mission of the church in the world (check), the reinstating of humanity-under-Christ as the rightful stewards of the earth under God the creator (check). But what he does is to reaffirm that these represent the fundamental backdrop from where the biblical narrative springs forth.

He arranges the facts of the biblical narrative to a coherent worldview that both transcends and encompasses our individual / private experience of God to a larger framework of creation. This is paramount to Tom Wright’s work, and again, this is not new. What I am seeing is this — we cannot extract our personal faith in Christ and moral piety from the broader existential question of our role as stewards of the earth. In my own reading of this and my own arising position, piety is holiness, but holiness is not piety per se because piety is only a subset of holiness; and morality is stewardship but stewardship is not morality per se because morality is only a subset of stewardship. And I would add that not only are individuals co-partners of God, the whole of humanity was meant to be co-partners of God.

We move on to the next part of my reflections from Surprised by Hope.

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