I haven't posted much recently not because of a Lenten fast but because the past few weeks have been something of a perfect storm. I had a two-week modular course (on problem-based learning, and we teased out some fascinating possibilities and implications for PBL in theological/seminary education), and this overlapped an in-house work seminar that I directed. Plus my wife was out for two separate business trips, and last week our kids were off from school for spring break and my in-laws came to visit for a few days. This past weekend Josiah and I volunteered at a Chicago 2016 Olympic bid event (and got free T-shirts!) and then went to the Adler Planetarium to watch galaxies collide (he was a little nervous afterward about an asteroid hitting the Earth). Last night Ellen and I saw the touring company of Rent (which had two original Broadway cast members). And today is Elijah's 4th birthday! And now it's Holy Week, and we're leading worship for our Maundy Thursday service (but don't have any responsibilities for Good Friday, Saturday vigil or Easter Sunday morning, thank God).
This is probably a good as time as any to report on my Lenten experience. Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection, self-examination, repentance, confession, etc. Some of that did take place in good and unexpected ways, but I'm a bit sad to say that the crush of life and the timing of events prevented this Lent from being overly meditative or contemplative. I did find myself to be less compulsive about Facebook, and I did cut out a lot of unnecessary reading (whether of library books, blogs or news sites).
One thing that I hadn't originally planned on but in retrospect was a good thing was that I read a recent "new atheism" book that I picked up at the library. I was thinking about this during my problem-based learning course because non-religion is now the fastest growing religious demographic. On the one hand this presents a "problem" for the church, but on the other hand, I think the new atheists raise great questions and problems that Christians need to grapple with to greater satisfaction. I would encourage pastors and church leaders to read through at least one such atheism book and give it a charitable read, not immediately with an eye for apologetic argumentation but rather to listen and understand where their irreligious friends and neighbors are coming from and what legitimate concerns and objections they might have about Christian faith.
Of course, my personal perfect storm is nothing compared to the storm that Jesus experienced this week. If you're an avid Facebooker, you might appreciate this clever and astute "A Facebook Passion" that walks through Holy Week through Jesus' Facebook profile and news feed (HT: Eugene Cho). Samples:
- The Disciples have taken the Which Messiah Are You? quiz: The Disciples are a Righteous Warrior: Messiah will triumphantly enter Jerusalem, lead the Jewish nation in a bloody slaughter of the infidels, and rule the world with an iron rod.
-- Jesus is downright uncomfortable.
- Jesus has taken the Which Messiah Are You? quiz: Jesus is a Suffering Servant: Messiah will usher in God's Kingdom of Shalom through radical self-abandonment and vicarious suffering for his beloved people.
-- Judas does not like this.
- The High Priests have given Judas a gift: 30 Pieces of Silver.
- Andrew created a new photo album: Hanging in the upper room with JC.
- John is sitting next to Jesus at dinner.
-- Jude thinks John would make a really attractive woman.
-- Peter is it just me, or does anyone else think John is a total brown-noser?
-- John don't hate me because I'm beautiful!
-- Dan Brown is thinking John is really Mary Magdalene.
-- John does not like this.
-- Mary Magdalene does not like this either...Maybe if I break a whole bottle of really expensive perfume and give Jesus a really good footrub, people will put this whole "John is Mary" rumor to rest.
-- Judas wants the money back he gave Mary for the perfume.
-- Dan Brown is writing.