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…. Well, actually, I’m back and still “In Exile”. It’s been nearly two years since I last made an entry in my blog “Ron In Exile”. Why the long hiatus? Mostly due to lack of time (teaching and performing took up a lot of time). But I also did it for the sake of my spiritual health. Though I found blogging about spiritual issues helped to clarify what I believed and why, I also realized that it held a potential danger for me at that time.  One can spend so much time reading books, and thinking about subjects to write about, that it becomes easy to believe that one embodies the truths they’re writing about. In an earlier post I quoted Helmut Thielicke and wrote:

“‘Theology makes the young theologian vain and so kindles in him something like a Gnostic pride. The chief reason for this is that in us men, truth and love are seldom combined’ (Thielicke).  As theologians, since God is love, our study of God should make us more loving, otherwise it is a vain intellectual pursuit.  If we use knowledge to control and intimidate, or as a shield to mask our own insecurities, then we become nothing more than Pharisees seeking to justify ourselves at the expense of others.  It’s too easy to confuse intellectual understanding with actually walking in the Spirit.  “Possessing” knowledge about some spiritual truth does not of itself make one more spiritual.  It may in fact lead to self-deception.  If theological study does not cause one to live into the truth revealed to them, then his theology has failed him, or better yet, he has failed his theology.  It is a sobering warning Thielicke gives when he writes, “Whoever ceases to be a man of the spirit automatically furthers a false theology, even if in thought it is pure…death lurks in the kettle” (p.36).  Living the truth is what makes a man spiritual. Being a doer of the word is what brings life.

And so I took some time to try to live into some of the truths I believe God was trying to work into my life during that season. I read no new theological or ministry related book that wasn’t devotional in nature, but I did listen to lots and lots of new music, read and performed in several plays, and spent more time getting to know and learning how to better love the family members and neighbors that were around me. Death was “lurking in the kettle”, and I’m still learning, but I do feel more rooted in love and ready to start blogging again. I hope you’ll follow along.

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Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung respond to Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/03/13/rob-bells-love-wins-a-response/

“Stand still, and allow the strange, deadly restlessness of our tragic age to fall away like the worn-out, dusty cloak that it is–a cloak that was once considered beautiful. The restlessness was considered the magic carpet of tomorrow, but now in reality we see it for what it is: a running away from oneself.”

Author Dick Staub reflects on the need to slow down.  http://www.thekindlings.com/2011/02/04/slow-down-you-move-too-fastguest-blogger-dick-staub/

 

Okay, not really, but I have changed the name of my blog from “Roc”  to Ron In Exile. “Roc” has been sent into exile from the blogosphere due to the fact that  ROC also stands for the Republic of China. Apparently there are a number of websites that use some form of  “Roc in Exile” in the name of their website or organization. I suppose I could just learn how to spell “Rock” and leave it at that, but its probably better that people will now be able to associate my full  name with the blog. You can still find me at rocinexile.wordpress.com.

Peace,

Ron Mcclelland

Earlier this week Fox News TV host Glenn Beck made some comments about social justice, where he told christians to “run as fast as you can” from their church if it promoted “social justice”. I know that for many, “social justice” is perceived as a code word for liberal theology, or socialist politics. But the Bible actually has much to say about both the Church’s and the government’s role and responsibility on justice in all its forms, including social and economic (I’d rather just call it justice and avoid the baggage we bring to the concept). Consider the old testament city of Sodom. Much is said about Sodom and her sexual sins, but here is what the prophet Ezekiel had to say:

 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

Interesting. Not a word from this major prophet about her sexual sins, but instead he names the city’s pride, gluttony, indifference, and apathy and contempt toward the poor and needy as the “sin of Sodom”. And the prophet Daniel, speaking to the government leader of his day, had this to say:

“Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you:break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

And Jesus:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35

The truth is, you can’t read the scriptures, First or Second Testaments, without confronting the government’s mandate to show (and execute) justice, and the Church’s call to show mercy and justice. But when we try to gauge the government’s role, how much and what degree of involvement in our lives, things get a little more complicated. Thus the need for theologically sound and biblical teaching from Christian leaders, and not opinions from television hosts and radio pundits. I understand what Beck is after, what he’s trying to do in shedding light on political agendas. We can’t correct injustices by unjustly stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, though I welcome the government’s role in ensuring that the rich do not become so by exploiting others: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people” (Isaiah 10:1, 2). Government has a role to play in regulating and preventing this.  And Jesus himself says that, “A laborer is worthy of his wages”, including the wealthy (and is there a discernible difference between a minimum wage, a just wage, and a living wage?). God is concerned about such things, and scripture attests to it. Nevertheless, more nuanced and biblically informed teaching on the subject of justice; social, economic, or otherwise, is needed if we christians are to think and act “Christ-like” and honor God’s call to “Do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 

If you care to read more on the subject, check out the post at Out of Ur entitled: How Not to Talk about Justice: http://www.outofur.com/archives/2010/03/how_not_to_talk.html.

Peace,

Ron

Scot McKnight has begun a new series of posts on being liberated from legalism, a topic very dear to my heart. His broad definition of legalism:

“Legalism is any practice or belief that is added to the gospel that compromises the sufficiency of Christ as Savior and jeopardizes the adequacy of the Spirit in moral guidance.”
You can check out Liberated from Legalism 1 at Jesus Creed: http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2010/03/liberated-from-legalism-1.html#more
 
Ron

“The sober truth is that at this season in American life, when our non-evangelical neighbors hear the word evangelical, they think of politics before they think of the gospel.” – Aliens and Citizens 

The Christian Vision Project has posted a great article by Jordan Hylden entitled Aliens and Citizens, where he reminds God’s people of the importance of remembering our identity as aliens in a foreign land, even as we “seek the good” of the cities we live in:

“In trying to come to terms with our paradoxical responsibility, theologian Stanley Hauerwas’s dictum can be helpful: “The first responsibility of the church is to be the church.” That sounds right, but what does it mean? He explains: “The church doesn’t have a social ethic; the church is a social ethic.” Hauerwas reminds us that before we go off trying to come up with whom Jesus would vote for, we first have to understand what the church is. And when we think about that, we start to realize that the church has a politics (from the Greek polis, or body of citizens) of its own—that is, a way of living together as the body of Christ that shows the world a “more excellent way.”

You can read the whole article here: http://www.christianvisionproject.com/2008/11/aliens_and_citizens.html

Peace,

Ron

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the Devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor.” – Pat Robertson

UrbanFaith.com has posted an article on Haiti and their supposed pact with the devil. What do you think? Was there such a pact? Or is it, as one commenter at UrbanFaith said, absurd to think that “God conspires with the white man to enslave, but the devil conspires with the Black man to liberate himself?”

Here is a quote from the article by Lakita Garth-Wright:

“It is apparent to anyone who knows the history of Haiti that the real dealings with the Devil have been three-fold: First, its initial contact with European colonization and the satanic institution of slavery; second, the nearly century’s long embargo that the West imposed on the island as retribution for liberating itself; and third, the economic exploitation perpetrated against Haiti by those very same Western players in modern times, as well as the poverty prostitution the nation has been forced to perform for the Devil’s spawn — the Bretton Woods system and its minions. The fact that the Haitians themselves have had a hand in their own suffering is well publicized, sampled, looped, and mixed. But it takes two to tango.”

You can read the rest of her post here: http://www.urbanfaith.com/2010/01/pat-robertson-was-right.html#comments.

Ron

“Could you talk a little more ‘Black’?” – White theatre director at my first professional acting audition

“Why you talkin all white?” – Black classmate of mine in Jr. High School

“Two things everbody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves” – Zora Neal Hurston (“Their Eyes Were Watchin’ God”)

Senator Harry Reid has come under fire with calls for his resignation due to a racial comment he made in private, but was recounted in “Game Change”. During the 2008 presidential election, Reid was quoted as saying that Barack Obama would probably be successful as a candidate because he was “a light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Well geez! Me and countless, and I do mean countless, other African-Americans said the same thing! Because we’re racist? No. It’s out of an awareness of the social climate we live in, and what facilitates success in a racialized America (by racialized, I mean race consciousness, not racist). 

  As a student enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University’s Theatre program, students were required to take voice and speech classes. Because the program was dedicated to training students who could perform the Classics, i.e. Shakespeare, Checkov, Moliere, the Greeks, we went through arduous training to not only learn other dialects, but also to unlearn any regional dialects we may have brought with us. The idea was that if we students were to perform the classics with our “native” dialects, some from Brooklyn “Nu Yawk”, England, Latin America, Texas, Russia, well… no one would really accept us as authentically living in the worlds we were trying to portray on the stage. We would lose credibility. As a foundation, we were all taught “Standard American English” (which most Americans do not even speak). Some African-American students resented being “stripped” of their dialect which they saw as a part of their cultural identity, and saw it as an attempt by “The Man” to coerce them into assimilating into “White” culture. Actually, it was a service to us (I am an African-American) by making us more  skilled in our chosen field. We understood the distinctives of black dialect, even if not all of the African-American students spoke in it.

Although I’m disappointed that people equate “Black english” with a lack of intelligence, nevertheless, there is such a dialect, and in many circles, no one who speaks poorly, or has a poor use of proper english, is seen as highly intelligent, fair or not (and it is unfortunate). And yet, there is a need to connect to the masses, on their terms and in their vernacular, or as Paul the Apostle has said: “To be all things to all people, that you may win some.”  The truth is most of us, Black people included, know that not all Blacks speak in “black english”, and so does Senator Reid, and that some do. That there are some who use “proper” english, and some who can do both when necessary. Reid simply acknowledged this fact, which only highlights the silliness of pretending we don’t know what Reid is talking about when he speaks of a “black” dialect. I for one, as well as many African- Americans I spoke with during the presidential campaign, commented on how Obama would go in and out of his “Black-cent” based on the audience and the message he wanted to send. So, attacking Reid for saying out loud what we were already thinking (Come on, admit it), is hypocritical. 

African-American conservative John McWhorter (due to the subject of the post, I’m intentionally pointing out ethnicity to show diversity of thought on this issue), a scholar, author, and linguist, who is fluent in five different languages (including “black english” I suppose ;-0), had this to say about the Harry Reid controversy: 

“In mentioning that Obama doesn’t speak in “dialect,” Reid acknowledged something many blacks are hot and quick to point out, that not all black people use Black English. Okay, they don’t – and Reid knows. He didn’t seem surprised that Obama can not sound black when he talks – he was just pointing out that Obama is part of the subset of blacks who can. He knows there is such a subset. Lesson learned. Indeed Reid implied that black dialect is less prestigious than standard, such that not speaking it made Obama more likely to become President. That is, he implied what we all think too: Black English is, to the typical American ear, warm, honest — and mistaken. If that’s wrong, okay – but since when are most Americans, including black ones, at all shy about dissing Black English? And who among us — including black people — thinks someone with what I call a “black-cent” who occasionally popped up with double negatives and things like aks could be elected President, whether it’s fair or not? Reid, again, deserves no censure for what he said unless we’re ready to censure ourselves too.”

You can read John McWhorter’s article here: http://www.tnr.com/blog/john-mcwhorter/reids-three-little-words-the-log-our-own-eye

Peace,

Ron

Dan, over at Cerulean Sanctum has followed up his last post, “Your Holy Spirit is W-A-Y To Safe”, with an addendum:

“Should churches see revival in the days ahead, I believe that those touched by genuine moves of the Holy Spirit are going to be those OUTSIDE traditional charismatic church venues. These will be churches where people have been earnestly praying for God to shake them out, churches filled with people most desiring of repentance, not charismata.” http://ceruleansanctum.com/2010/01/not-to-us.html.

Ron

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